Showing posts from March, 2013

Michael Goveathonics

Michael Gove believes himself to be the greatest historian living.  Only he really understands how to impart the most important historical knowledge to youths in schools.  Nothing else really explains his fantastic new history curriculum, which breezily rejects the advice of top historians, and of all the rather less academically inclined practitioners of teaching history, and instead gives us the Gove History of Britain.  When he and his two advisers played the game "who do you think are the most important figures in making Britain great" and turned it into a would-be history syllabus, they were merely assuring each other that they really did know better than anyone else.

Well, it turns out that this is but a small part of what is going to be the only subject on the Great British School Curriculum - Michael Goevathonics.  It is outlined, ever so clearly and horrifyingly realistically, by comedian Stewart Lee in his Observer column today.  Lee reminds us that Gove was once …

Eddie Mair Skewers Boris

Most interviewers succumb to Boris Johnson's peculiarly bumbling charm and thus fail to really nail him on political or personal issues.  It remains something of a mystery as to how this most flawed of politicians remains such a public favourite, but this morning one interviewer did at least manage to treat Johnson as a politician and not a celebrity, and quietly stuck the knife in with nearly every question.

Somewhat ill advisedly, one suspects, Boris has agreed to be interviewed for a documentary about himself, "The Irresistible Rise of Boris Johnson", to be shown on BBC2 tomorrow evening.  The Marr Show's presenter for the day, Eddie Mair, was thus on interviewing duties with Boris this morning.  Mair is already one of the BBC's most highly regarded interviewers by those who appreciate well informed and forensic interviews.  His on-screen honesty was a gem when he fronted 'Newsnight' at the time that programme was under the microscope for its Jimmy Sa…

Culture Break - Cloud Atlas

I don't think I'm ever going to make it as an up to speed reviewer, but I did finally get to go and see the extraordinary film "Cloud Atlas" - review is here.  Very engaging film, visually brilliant of course (it's the Wachowskis after all) but possibly didn't quite meet its ambitions.

The Spectator's No

I'm certainly pretty clear that I think the press is too monstrously arrogant and out of control to avoid external regulation.  My previous two posts, and the links therein, bear this out.  The screeching noise from the media itself has added over the last couple of days to the impression of arrogance.  Nevertheless, the argument against regulation can still be made in a reasoned way, and the Spectator this week has attempted to do just that.  I'm not convinced the Spectator would be likely to fall foul of the new demands for press integrity contained in the proposed legislation, but despite its tastelessly tabloid-style cover this week, editor Fraser Nelson presents the case against the Charter, blogging his conclusions here, which seems to encompass his fear of a threat to the freedom of online expression too.  The main article is in the magazine's print edition.

More Press Noise

The press are certainly able to make a lot of noise.  Most of the country may not be that bothered about press regulation, but it has definitely become the NUMBER ONE ISSUE for the denizens of the media class.  The Budget is almost looking like light relief tomorrow.

There are a few voices of sanity if you look hard enough.  Amol Rajan in the Evening Standard yesterday commented on the dangers of victim justice, while Will Sturgeon on today's Media Blog provides a reminder of exactly why press regulation is on the agenda, and it's not to do with politicians trying to extend their power, funnily enough.

But there is also still plenty of group press hysterics to keep us all entertained, nowhere more obviously than in Quentin Letts' parliamentary 'sketch' in today's Mail.  Letts is so focused on pouring vitriol over the heads of any MP who dared suggest that press regulation is needed that he quite forgot to be funny.  Or maybe that's become his house style n…

Freedom of the Press? Or Abuse of Power?

A powerful and over-mighty institution that has abused its power, lied publically over the years, ruined the lives of innocent people and vigorously defends its right to attack all manner of individuals in ways that are likely to cause stress and ongoing emotional damage, may possibly be subject to some form of regulation.Had this been any other institution – the police, perhaps, or the National Health Service – there would be no shortage of pious articles in the press to call for stronger, probably legally backed, regulation.But the institution in question today is not any of these public services.It is the institution of the press.The privately owned, unregulated behemoth that strides unchecked across the landscape of Britain.So fearsome is the power wielded by this institution that the Prime Minister quails before the very thought of taming it.The man whose government is happy to attack teachers for not doing their jobs, or health professionals for failing in their duties, has ste…

Do voters believe in Santa Claus?

There's a nice line from Andrew Rawnsley in his assessment of the Eastleigh impact for today's Observer.  After reviewing the list of UKIP manifesto pledges, which combine both a reduction in taxes for everyone and an increase in spending for everyone, Rawnsley says that UKIP "must be the only party to be led by people who still believe in Santa Claus".

Perhaps so.  But the greater concern is that it seems to be voted for by people with a similar belief pattern.

Eastleigh's Lessons

That the Liberal Democrats won at all is a minor triumph for them and let no-one tell you otherwise.This is a party which was mired in a truly demeaning scandal during the last week of the Eastleigh by-election campaign, whose media operation looked utterly out of condition and whose leader was subject to the sort of scrutiny usually reserved for pariahs and criminals.Add to that the fact that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems enjoy the support of not one single major media outlet, but can count on the active hostility of all of them, and this really does start to look like an extraordinary triumph.No leader since John Major has received quite such a pasting from the right-wing press, but at least then some papers still maintained a veneer of regard for the party Major was leading.No such exceptionalism exists for Nick Clegg.Any triumph he gains, any achievement he chalks up, is and always will be done in the face of an extraordinary hostility from mainstream press outlets.

So how did the …