Monthly Archives: June 2010

No Alanis, this is ironic…

This blog hates many things, as the name suggests.  Top of the all-time shit-list though, is the British tabloid “news”paper known as The S*n.  This earlier post explains why.

Now, as much as I love to hate, there are many things I genuinely love and WordPress is one of them.  Absolutely lovely, easy-to-use blogging software which crashes through busyness very rarely, despite the more than 200,000,000 posts about cats, cheese and other varied topics it is hosting.  Marvellous.

I also like the way it points you in the direction of other similar posts through the ‘automatically generated links’ section which it adds to the end of every post (click on the post title if you haven’t seen this before.  It is exciting!)

That said, it was with some disquiet that I noticed the automatically generated links added to the end of the post before this one: ‘Mawkish brutality‘ included one to – are you getting this Miss Morissette? – The S*n’s pictures of the aftermath of the Cumbrian murders.

I have been in touch with WordPress’ lovely support people and it seems I can’t get rid of this link without removing all of the automatically generated links on ten minutes hate.  So as I don’t want to do that, the link has to stay.

But please:

And that includes clicking on links.

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‘Mawkish brutality’

Tabloid Watch has an excellent article here about Cumbrian MP, Jamie Reed, and his reaction to the media coverage of the murders committed by Derrick Bird.  It is a moving speech, one that deserves to have a wider audience, particularly because he really doesn’t pull any punches in his condemnation of the behaviour of certain members of the national press.  Of course, we know that they have a considerable amount of form in this area:

To give a parallel – I know that this is a difficult issue – certain national newspapers have elicited feelings in my community similar to those that were elicited in Liverpool by the way that the Hillsborough tragedy was reported

It is a fair comment, as I don’t think I was the only one horrified by the lengths that the papers felt it was necessary to go in order to ‘get the story’ and their lack of sensitivity towards those caught up in the tragic circumstances.

I would like to wish him good luck with his campaign to encourage newspaper editors and journalists in the ways of decency especially as, if recent PCC rulings are anything to go by, he will be needing it…

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Happy Birthday George

ten minutes hate will be marking the occasion with a dram of Jura and one or many of these.

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Building a dream

Diane Abbott called it right.  According to Paul Waugh on Twitter:

As well they might.  But do not be mistaken, although Liberal Democrats with narrow majorities over Labour MPs will be rueing the day they lined up for such a shafting, it is all of us who will be getting fucked.

Royally, in fact.  While the Queen struggles to get by on £7.9m, while the banks cough up an estimated £2bn per year in return for the £850bn they were gifted, pensioners, the disabled, the unemployed, those claiming housing benefit, lone parents and pregnant women – fat cats one and all – will be ensuring that Britain’s books are balanced by the time of the Olympics after the one we are still spending billions on.

Whatever else you think of it, it is no-one’s idea of progressive. Nor is the raise in VAT, of which the richest 10% pay one in every 25 pounds of their income and the poorest 10% pay one in every seven pounds.  Meanwhile our corporation tax will now fall to a level that, according to the Channel 4 News FactCheck, will make it the fifth lowest in the G20.  Hooray for corporations!

Still, at least the cider tax has been reduced.  I suggest you lay in a few bottles before the VAT goes up.  You will soon be needing the warm glow and sweet balm of oblivion that they can provide, along with this beautiful evocation of Depression-era survival techniques from Tom Waits:

A warning: the last time Conservatives tried cutting public spending in response to a global financial catastrophe, it did not end well.  See you on the bread lines.

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Iceland gets its mojo back

Go on, admit it, you were all set to hate them forever for ruining your holiday and stranding you in Bali…

… and then they go and do this.

If it weren’t for the price of booze, I suspect most journalists would be on the first plane!

In honour of Iceland, today’s musical hit comes from the Sugarcubes:

Photo borrowed from Science Blogs

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World Cup naysayers

The World Cup is here and isn’t it glorious? The sun shines and I manage to fit in an early morning stroll on the beach before heading home to watch three almost back-to-back football matches EACH DAY. Envy my life!

Of course, the commentators are as stupid as ever.  Life in South Africa is far from the glorious multi-cultural paradise that the broadcaster’s musical montages portray.  There are too many 0-0 or 1-0 scorelines.  Even Fabio Capello got in on the act with a proper moan about the tournament ball.

But I refuse to get involved in this naysaying.

So what does it matter if the only game scoreline I have correctly predicted so far was that between the Netherlands and Denmark?  I wasn’t seriously expecting to win the sweepstake anyway.  And so what if there have been so many nil-nils, are you all Americans or rugby fans?  A game with a scoreline of nil-nil can still be full of great moments.  And when the goals do come, they range from easy tap ins, to ones that should never have gone in via those that prove God is not an Englishman, whatever the Daily Mail thinks.

Most importantly, the 2010 World Cup has brought us the phenomenal talents of MC (Archbishop) Desmond Tutu.  What a guy.  (Ignore the slightly dodgy French voiceover here and just check out his dancing):

What’s not to love?  I say, let us get on with enjoying the World Cup for what it is: lots and lots of football matches one after the other.  And let us feel especially grateful that the vuvuzelas are drowning out most of the commentary!

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A warning to children

Children, do not bully the weird kids at school, for they may grow up to be a Treasury secretary and exact a most terrible vengeance on us all.

Picture borrowed from here

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Why Labour lost

Following a defeat or set back it is natural to contemplate what went wrong, human nature having developed this tactic to avoid repeating mistakes forever.  One of my favourite and oft-quoted pieces of wisdom is that one, sometimes attributed to Einstein, about the definition of insanity being expecting a different result from the same action.

A political party displaying this most human of traits should therefore be an encouraging sight.  The Tory ‘brand’ wasn’t deemed to be detoxified until they had fought and lost two elections on the issues that had helped to turn everybody off them in the first place – immigration and Europe – so it is refreshing that the Labour party is wasting no time in beginning the process of staring at its navel.  Like a chorus of Wodehousian aunts, there have been no end of  ‘where it went wrong’ articles  seeking to assist Labour in this endeavour, so ten minutes hate has cut through the chatter to bring you two of the best.

The first is from Max Dunbar and targets two key points: the reaction to ‘dog-whistle’ scapegoating of welfare claimants and immigrants and the expansion of the intrusive security state, neither of which pleased the right-wing nor garnered much support on the left.  We have indeed reached a pretty pass where the coalition government can claim to be on the left of the previous government on its prison sentencing policy.  (H/T to Chicken Yoghurt for the link.)

The second article is a longer piece by Ross McKibbin, which begins with an intriguing break down of the electoral results.  It is interesting to learn that:

Despite very favourable circumstances the Conservative vote is proportionately much lower than it was in 1992

as well as hear of:

the continued failure of the Conservatives to make any gains among voters in the AB classes – the upper and solid middle classes, 57 per cent of whom voted Labour or Lib Dem, in almost equal proportions. In 1987, for the first time, the majority of those with university degrees didn’t vote Conservative, and they have not been won back

In spite of all the propaganda, it seems we are not heading straight back to the 80s and Thatcherism red in tooth and claw.  Which is almost a shame for the Labour Party, as it would make life, electorally at least, much easier for them.  They know how to fight those battles.  Instead, they are going to have to engage in some careful thought to bring about a reversal in their electoral fortunes.  One reason for so many differing opinions on the matter being aired is that there are a litany of different areas to choose from – was it the NHS, immigration, education – and each commentator has their own pet reason for the loss.  Mr McKibben cuts through all of these when he urges the Labour Party back to basic principles:

There are moral lines no social democratic party should cross and Labour has repeatedly crossed them. The result has been policies that are socially and morally objectionable as well as politically futile

A recognition of such would be a good place to begin.  Then they could approach the problems so concerning the leadership candidates from the correct angle.  This will require a deeper understanding of the issues than can be gathered from the tabloid front pages:

Those who worry about immigration usually claim that immigrants take British jobs and/or British houses. Neither is actually true; what is true is that there is an acute shortage of social housing, and that Labour connived at the shortage…  the housing shortage was, therefore, a source of real social deprivation

Let’s see if Labour can meet that challenge and avoid the temptation of a return to the old habits of setting policy by whatever plays best with the Sun, Mail and Express editors.  To use an overwrought footballing metaphor, there is everything to play for…

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If it is true, as H. L. Mencken suggests, that ‘no-one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public’, perhaps it is equally true that no-one ever lost power in the UK by underestimating the stupidity of our electoral system.

The Tories attempt to win an election with a leader who is their own version of Blair-lite, then the leadership election looks likely to throw up the possibility of Labour fighting the next one with a version of Cam-light: David Miliband.

Still, at least there is going to be a contest this time, the powers behind the various Labour thrones having realised there is no sense in allowing another leader to be anointed, after how well that worked out for Gordon Brown.  Yet it is undeniable that Miliband the Elder is the front-runner.  Can I be the only one to find this strange?

David Miliband voted very strongly for the last parliament’s anti-terrorism laws, a stricter asylum system and for replacing Trident.  He was very strongly for ministers being allowed to intervene in inquests, brought in after the Kelly and Menezes inquests caused a few blushes on the government benches.  He was both strongly for the Iraq war and strongly against any kind of inquiry into the Iraq war, an exact reversal of the feelings of many Labour Party members on the subject.  He has some very interesting views on the torture of terrorism suspects and the public’s right to know what its government is up to.

In short, there is a real possibility that, once again, the party established to act for the interests of working people via left-wing principles and ideals may end up with a fairly right-wing leader.  How, one wonders, can Labour have the brass balls to call itself a left-wing party any more?

(For comparison: Nick Clegg was anti the terrorism laws, replacing Trident, ministers intervening in inquests and a stricter asylum system.  David Cameron was against the anti-terrorism measures and ID cards, for the war but also for the investigation and flip-flopped a bit on asylum, as you would expect with the right-wing press breathing down his neck.)

The party of the workers has always been slightly ashamed of its lowly routes, the first Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald was also arguably the first ‘champagne socialist’, much preferring hanging out with Duchesses at their country seats to sitting in pubs singing the Red Flag.  But at least the ‘s’ word did appear then!  Now Dave Semple wonders if Labour and socialism can have anything left to do with each other, while Obsolete sees this attempt at debate as a postponing of the inevitable.

It appears that as we head into our ‘future filled with cuts‘ those alleged to be fighting on ‘our’ side will be arguing straight from a Daily Mail editorial for the shrinking of the welfare state, tougher immigration laws and freeing business from pesky regulation.  As Chicken Yoghurt notes, the dividing lines between our rulers will be shaved until wafer thin.

Still, at least it gives me an excuse to post this intriguing insight into the future of British politics:

Three parties, in different coloured rosettes, with a broadly similar aim of shafting the electorate helping hard-working families.  Four legs good, two legs better!

*Or if I didn’t write the post myself would it be Milivanilliblogging?

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How much??!

They spent over three hundred grand on the CPS website.

Julia spent the square root of feck all on ten minutes hate.  Which one do we think looks better?

Think I might change tack and start tendering for government IT contracts.  At this rate I could undercut all the competition and still have enough to keep me in single malts, vintage Penguins and rare, hand-crafted fountain pens.

Photo from the Guardian, hat tipped to the ever-wonderful Richard Wilson

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