Thursday, February 28, 2008
The story was eventually broken by foreign news websites - notably the Drudge Report today - and the consequence, as Snow acknowledged in his questioning, is that now the prince's continued presence on the front line is far more questionable.
Snow made much of the fact that this 'black-out' was not appropriate for a free media, but his freedom seems to be a freedom from responsibility as much as anything else. If he really believes that a voluntary, responsible decision amongst British news editors is the same as the severe, often violent repression suffered by editors in totalitarian states, then he really isn't fit to present the news in a free society. Prince Harry may or may not be able to continue fighting one of his country's wars; Jon Snow really shouldn't be able to continue warping his country's news.
Monday, February 25, 2008
UPDATE: It is noticeable that Iain Duncan Smith is the only former leader not to be interviewed in this programme, and Portillo has not mixed his words in describing IDS's 'consistent disloyalty' to Major.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
On my way through Russia I was increasingly tempted to use the word “fascist” to describe the essence of Putinism. I held back partly because the term is much overused as gratuitous abuse and partly because I knew how offensive it would sound to those whose parents and grandpar-ents had died in their millions to save the world from fascism in what Russians call “the great patriotic war”.
Many political scientists have wrestled with the concept of fascism, trying to clarify its distinguishing features. Authoritarianism is, of course, a defining characteristic; so, too, the elevation of nationalism to the status of a paramount virtue; the manipulation of the electoral system to preserve the outward forms of democracy while strangling its meaning; an intolerance of serious opposition and, crucially, the emergence of a strong leader supported by a powerful vanguard drawn from the business elite or the leaders of “corporate capitalism” or, in Eisen-hower’s phrase, “the military-indus-trial complex”. Putinism has all those characteristics and more.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
However, it was certainly clumsy, and the Tories need to buck their PR ideas up if they want to come across as a winning opposition. After all, any school child can tell you that Auschwitz remains one of the most emotive aspects of Europe's recent past, and should be mentioned only warily.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Darling doesn't really seem up to the job, but as is so ofetn the case in politics he suffers from bad luck, being handed the headship of the Treasury at a time when several chickens were busy coming home to roost. Northern rock merely exemplifies other problems, but it is true that Darling's hesitant - and costly - response over it has merely seen his reputation ditch further. Many of the problems he is dealing with could be attributed to his illustrious predecessor, and it is as an air-raid shelter that Gordon Brown probably finds him most useful. Nonetheless, in politics luck is nearly everything, and Darling doesn't have it. Speculation about his successor centres on Ed Balls, the current Schools Minister and member of the elite Brown inner circle. Balls is an appalling centraliser, and the world of schools would be well rid of him. It would in fact be a rather nice irony to see him in post at the Treasury, where he previosuly wielded huge influence as Brown's adviser, and watch him deal with the mess he left. It would, incidentally, also mean that his wife, Yvette Cooper, would have to be moved to a new job - she is currently the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.