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Showing posts from November, 2009

Westminster Conference

L6 students - go to the new admin blog for details about Monday.

New UKIP Leader

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a former Tory peer, has been elected to lead UKIP, in succession to Nigel Farage, who is concentrating on his parliamentary election campaign in Buckingham to oust John Bercow. Pearson came to speak to the sixth form at SGS a couple of years back, and was a decent, committed gentleman with no real gifts of advocacy - at least not to this audience. Nonetheless, this means that we have now been addressed by both the present and past leaders of UKIP - what a very UK-minded school we are!

Obama and Reagan

Two articles considering the comparison of Barack Obama with his conservative predecessor Ronald Reagan. Alex Massie in the Spectator, and Andrew Sullivan in an earlier Daily Dish post.

Dishing the Christianists

Andrew Sullivan's prolifically kept blog has an interesting post on the issue of Christian contributions to the body politic. Sullivan writes from America, where the Christian right form a significant voting bloc, and often hold Republican politicians in particular in thrall. Their strong stance on abortion and gay rights significantly distorts the political dialogue of the US. Sullivan writes of a "Cafeteria Theocracy" in this post, asking for Christian morality to be more consistently exhorted across the political spectrum before it can claim any great authority.

The Nightmare of Being Hung

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The Observer's IPSOS poll today shows a narrowing lead for the Tories over Labour, giving rise to much speculation in that paper about a hung parliament after the next election. Two articles worth reading on this scenario are Andrew Rawnsley's commentary, which deserves a separate entry really, and a piece by Roy Hattersely, in which the former Labour deputy leader recalls the time that he was a minister in a minority government (James Callaghan's). He doesn't think much of the experience, and ends his article with a clarion call for conviction politics - "What our democracy needs, above all else, is the politics of conviction".

Hmmmm, really? I mean, Nick Griffin certainly doesn't lack conviction. Margaret Thatcher's conviction was one of the most wildly divisive elements of politics in the 1980s. Tony Blair certainly had plenty of conviction about the need to fight a war in Iraq. Adolf Hitler was, in many ways, the ultimate conviction politicia…

Europe's Grey Move

The massed ranks of euro-sceptics could, if they had a mind to, breathe a small sigh of relief this evening. The announcement of which two politicians are going to take on the shiny new pan-European roles created by the Lisbon Treaty - that of President and the ludicrously named 'High Representative' - has sent most people racing to their political almanacks to find out who on earth they are. To be fair, Herman van Rompuy, the Belgian premier now destined for greater things as President of Europe, has apparently been a much liked, and very able, prime minister of a nearly disintegrating Belgium. Baroness Ashton, however, Labour's successfully nominated High Representative, has barely been heard of in her own country, and certainly never done anything as undignified as stand for election. She appears to have been appointed as a bit of a trade-off in the dinner meeting that made the appointments, but the fact is that neither she nor her new boss have the personal authori…

The Brown Rap

Wonder if the Labour Party are wondering whether they can somehow get Jon Culshaw to do all of Gordon Brown's appearances between now and the general election - Culshaw's Gordon Brown rap is certainly worth watching.

Why Cameron Should Steer Clear of the Sun

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We may be used to an amoral, cynical and manipulative press, but the Sun newspaper continues to push the boundaries ever further out. The story about grieving mother Mrs. Janes, and the Gordon Brown letter, represent yet another of its many low points. As has been blogged on other sites, there is a legitimate political story about the lack of equipment being given to soldiers, which was a contributing factor to the death of Mrs. Janes' son. If the government is not properly protecting its own soldiers, then it should clearly be answerable.

On the other hand, to lay in so heavily to Gordon Brown for his handwriting, and to connive at the publicising of a private phone conversation made by him, seems to reach the pits of reprehensible journalism. Mrs. Janes' desire to attack the man she clearly sees as being responsible for her son's death is understandable, given the trauma she must be going through, even if it seems unfair to the prime minister. For the Sun to play alo…

The Ironies of Commemoration

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Stood in the cold last night admiring the sparkly array of fireworks and the HUGE bonfire that had been lovingly created, and got to musing about the sheer irony of November 5th. There was the impressively reconstructed Guy Fawkes on top of the bonfire, and we were all to cheer when he finally caught fire and fell. Cheer? The one man who tried to put parliament out of our misery? In the year of the expenses scandal, I wonder how many have reflected on their celebration of the capture and execution of the man who failed to blow it up!

Then there was today's always moving Cenotaph service. Who is prominent in placing the wreaths? Why, the politicians whose often poorly drawn policies create the conditions for the sacrifices we are commemorating. War is, after all, merely the pursuit of politics by the use other people.

You can read one Euro-sceptic's attempt to right the wrongs of historiography on Guy Fawkes here.

Rowing Back on a Referendum

Serious Tory rowing back on the issue of a referendum about Lisbon. Even Daniel Hannan, whose whole raison d'etre is to be a voluble euro-sceptic, is resisting any criticism of the new Cameron policy on Newsnight. William Hague announced the row back earlier - despite lots of huffing and puffing about the need for a referendum, now that comrade Klaus has ratified the Treaty for the Czechs, being the last to do so, Lisbon becomes law, and there is no going back. So no referendum. Which is of course the pragmatic policy, but is there more to it? Why is the situation over Lisbon not the same as the original decision to join the EEC, subjected to a retrospective referendum in 1975?

Some possible answers -

1. David Cameron is secretly relieved that he can drop the whole referendum idea. Lisbon is not actually a game-changing treaty (the Single European Act - signed by Margaret Thatcher for the UK - and Maastricht were more significant) and squabbling over its demands would have de…

X Factor's Twins Are the Only Stars

Well, it's not quite my view, although amongst a slew of distinctly average performers, at least they are an entertaining act, and no-one says we have to like the people we watch. For an alternative view of X Factor - and yes, I know it's not politics, but there's an 'Etc' in the title here - have a read of Bryan Appleyard's less than positive view; however, he's the one who seems to think the twins are the real deal in an unappetising show!

Why Brown Wants Miliband at the EU

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It's not particularly difficult to work out why Gordon Brown might be promoting David Miliband for the extraordinarily named "High Representative for Foreign Affairs" job at the EU. For all that Miliband's stock has fallen in recent months, and he looks far less of a possible leadership candidate than he used to when we didn't know him so well, Brown is still anxious to get him out of the way by the time of the post-election fall-out. Miliband is a Blair protege, and Brown would prefer a clear run for his own people, who include the unlikeable Ed Balls, and the younger Miliband, Ed. So - give David to Europe, and there you go! Europe has always served the useful purpose of being a place of exile for politicians who have served out their domestic usefulness, although Roy Jenkins (who returned from being Commission President to form the SDP in the 1980s) and Peter Mandelson have proved that there can be life after death for anyone exiled there.

I'm not sure,…