Showing posts from July, 2010

Obama Administration Running Scared of Fox News?

US liberals are furious about the Sherrod affair, and particularly the belief that the supposedly liberal Obama administration might be running scared of the relentlessly hostile Fox News. Cenk Uygur on Huff Post here, and the 'Young Turks' video take are examples of liberal anger. Who's to blame? The firedog blog sees Rahm Emanuel as responsible for ignoring the liberals and embracing Fox!

Bush III?

Would America elect another Bush? Obama's current poll difficulties are being over-rated (his popularity has actually remained pretty consistent over the past few months), and the Republican field is very uncertain - but still, another Bush?

Conservative Future

There's an excellent write-up of a debate on the "Future of Conservative Thinking" on the Platform 10 blog. Andrew Sullivan sees the British example as being the way of the future for their American cousins, if the American conservative movement really is interested in progressing. He concludes:

They [the British Conservatives] take climate change and civil liberties seriously; they are investigating torture; they are including everyone in conservative values. Can a reform Toryism save American conservatism? Or should I have stayed in Blighty?

Breitbart v. Traditional Media

Breitbart, who publicised the Shirley Sherrod video, makes no pretence at being a proper journalist. He's there to mix it up and push his agenda as much as possible, even if it means using misleading, edited video material. Fox News is not much better. But do the traditional US media really need to follow suit? This post on Daily Kos asks if the traditional media isn't losing integrity fast over the way it simply regurgitates Breitbart and Fox.

And the British Right Move On To the Attack

Conservative Home's Tim Montgomerie has identified ten 'attack' pieces towards the Coalition in today's Daily Mail. His conclusion?

Part of the Coalition's problem is that the Right lost out in the post-election reshuffle. Chris Grayling and Nick Herbert, for example, are voices that are now rarely heard but would be useful in reassuring the Mail and the increasingly anxious Sun.....Cameron needs to love his party and natural supporters now, as protection for the unpopularity that will come when the cuts start to bite.

As Cameron and Clegg press ahead with their extraordinary coalition experiment, seeking to bring a new sharpness to the British centre, so they will both feel the heat of the right. Cameron's party, with Conservative Home in the lead and and the denizens of the right-wing commentariat as heralds, will demand more right-wing policies to define the government they believe should be theirs and theirs alone. The Liberals will face a pincer movemen…

The Evils of the American Right

Until Monday, Shirley Sherrod's was not a name that would have inspired widespread recognition in America. A black lady working for the US Department of Agriculture in Georgia, she was a worthy, hard-working but low ranking government official. Then a right-wing website broke a video in which it claimed she was advocating racist, anti-white policies. She appeared to be suggesting that she had not given a white farming couple the 'full force' of her support in helping them to keep hold of farming land they were in danger of losing. The website which showed the video,, owned by right-wing activist Andrew Breitbart, has a history of inaccurate scoops, but this didn't stop a fire-storm breaking over Ms. Sherrod's head. She was subject to strong outbursts by Fox News anchors, notably Bill O'Reilly, and eventually asked to resign by the Agriculture Secretary. Even the Civil Liberties Association, who hosted the video-ed meeting, supported her …

Cameron's Clarity

David Cameron has impressed as Prime Minister, particularly in his commitment to making the Lib-Con coalition work, and perhaps even to use it as a vehicle to marginalise the right-wing and reinvigorate a centre-right. His message to defeated Tory candidates yesterday was a severe one for the plotting right-wingers - that there is no hope at all for a party which veers rightwards. He was clear in his belief that, whatever flaws the tory election campaign may have had, they do not include a need for the party to have been more right-wing.

As Conservative Home and the restless old guard backbenchers continue to shuffle around uneasily and wait for a chance to undermine the coalition, Cameron's own steadfastness in defending it is much to be welcomed. Conservative Home's editor, Tim Montgomerie, was meanwhile having to reassure his readers that he did not in fact believe in a snap election to dump the Liberals. The main problem here is that such a rumour was so eminently belie…

Peter Mandelson's Honesty

Not many people are actually feeling very welcoming towards the good baron at the moment. Last October it almost seemed as if the Labour Party had really begun to love him. I'd hate to put him up in front of a Labour audience now. On the other hand, it is difficult to see why conservative commentators like Peter Oborne are so vigorously against him. Mandelson's vial of regurgitated poison is giving the coalition a further honeymoon lease.......ah, that'd be the reason then! His memoirs, though, certainly don't deserve the bile being directed towards them by those not directly implicated in his tale of treachery and deception. Unlike many memoirists, Mandelson is not making some sort of claim to higher reality in justifying his fast off the presses tome.

Mandelson has never made any claims to some spurious form of moral authority; he doesn't preach at us from some mythical pulpit; he has always been a manipulative spinner, a master of the dark arts of politics …

Cameron's Grace as PM

David Cameron's election may not have been accompanied by much fanfare or expectation, given the nature of the election results and the need to form a coalition, but he has made an increasingly positive start as Prime Minister. The Guardian's Martin Kettle, from the left, is full of praise for the way Cameron has so far managed his office, while the Spectator's David Blackburn considers the coalition to be the making of Mr. Cameron.

Not that this praise is going to mean much to the unreconstructed rightists in the Tory Party, who are fearful of the party's leftward momentum under its coalition leadership, and are manouevring anxiously to undermine the coalition and be ready to replace Cameron as soon as they can. Three right-wing MPs have been elected to the Board of the Conservative Party, and they include newcomer Priti Patel, who cut her political teeth organising against Tory MPs as press adviser to James Goldsmith's Referendum Party. Conservative Home, meanw…

Gove's Apology and an Education Nightmare

The period following the A-level exams becomes a bit of a period of blogging withdrawal for me, and perhaps, too, the hot early summer is inducing a degree of lethargy! Nevertheless, the recent education storm is worth breaking the blogging break for.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, may have endured a torrid couple of days following inaccuracies in the list of changes to the school rebuilding programme, but whatever the political difficulties he can certainly hold his head up. His genuine and heartfelt apology to the House of Commons, and afterwards, represents something of a novelty in modern politics, a minister who takes responsibility and can say sorry for something his department has got wrong. The Blair/Brown years made us all too used to the unedifying spectacle of ministers using any verbal perambulation they could to avoid accepting responsibility for anything that went wrong. 'Sorry' was a word uttered only for crimes and misdemeanours with which you could …