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Showing posts from July, 2011

THE HOUR BBC 2

I have a particular interest in the 1950’s since it was the decade in which I was born, at the very tip end of 1955, ten years and seven months after the end of World War 2. It is a cliché now that the past is another country moreover as Alan Bennett observed no era is quite as remote as the recent past, the stereotype view of the fifties being a grey interregnum between the vivid black and white newsreel violence of the forties and the Technicolor explosion of the 1960’s, long ago and far away. Here however it is presented as a period with a strong electric undercurrent, a strangely dark, though somehow exotically glamorous place, caught in a time warp, unable to escape from the oppressive weight of a hierarchical past where everyone knows their place. Enter the angry young man, all cigarettes and the intense typewriter clacking, if not literally, then in his head, determined to wrench the oppressively dull and reverential world of the BBC into a reality of a world that contains the …

THE FICTION OF MRS MENSCH

In the current political climate you would think that it would be nigh on impossible for a tabloid journalist to seize the moral high ground, but no, this amazing feat was achieved by British MP Louise Mensch, a writer of 'chick lit' fiction,who lied about the former Daily Mirror and News of the World editor Piers Morgan. Under the cloak of parliamentary privilege, she made up a quote from a book he wrote some years back which is now widely acknowledged to be fictitious. She has subsequently refused to repeat her accusations outside of the protection of parliamentary privilege. Parliamentary privilege is an extremely valuable and powerful tool and carries with it extremely high levels of responsibility, for someone to use it so cavalierly with no respect for the facts represent an extreme abuse. Mrs Mensch chose the moment of her greatest celebrity, as an MP interrogating the Murdoch’s with a world wide audience to conduct this abuse, it is the cowardly behaviour of a self pub…

THE NORWEGIAN MASSACRE

This morning I watched the terrible scenes from Norway and felt that awful sense of dis-ease when witnessing the execrable depths to which human beings can sink. There was something particularly grotesque about a murderous assault on young idealistic social democrats, part of the great European socialist tradition, the best and brightest attending a camp to share ideas, sing and dance and presumably enjoy teenage romances and the summer sunshine. So many dead children, their bodies hastily covered, lives un-lived, promise unfulfilled, my human rage that the man who slaughtered them was still alive, the pain he has brought beyond his comprehension.
In the reporting and media speculation of this event there has been some rather unpleasant undercurrents. The right have never been comfortable with the success of Scandinavian social democracy and there has been an extremely nasty whiff of Schadenfreude, as put in the words of ex MP Edwina Currie ‘well we always knew there was a dark side …

WATCHING THE DETECTIVES

Yesterday I watched the Home Affairs Select Committee grilling the key senior police officers involved with the News International phone hacking affair, amongst them Andy Hayman former Assistant Commissioner. Mr Hayman’s tone during his attendance before the committee was astonishing, his swagger, bluster and braggadocio jaw dropping. Here was somebody who had been a senior police officer, a public servant parading the moral character of the spiv, he did not actually say ‘leave it out,’ or ‘do me a favour,’ but his grinning demeanour spewed contempt for the committee. Here was Private Walker from Dad’s Army with all the charm of the Kray twins. Here was a man who at the same time as having oversight of the investigation into News International was wined and dined by them and who, having been forced to resign from the Met for inappropriate conduct, emerged two years later as a News International hack. This route incidentally followed by the supervising official at the Crown Prosecution…

MR MURDOCH'S DUNG HEAP

There is a famous scene in Casablanca when the local police chief is asked to find an excuse to close Rick’s Place, run by Humphrey Bogart, “I’m shocked,” he declares, “shocked to find gambling taking place,” at which point he is handed his winnings. The scene came to mind yesterday when Rebecka Brooks former editor of the News of The World [NoW] declared that she was "sickened" by the "devastating" claims about Dowler, adding that it was "inconceivable" that she knew the investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, had been asked by journalists at the title to hack into Milly's messages – still less that she had sanctioned their actions.’* Inconceivable is an interesting word, what does it mean in this context? Either I stole a wallet or did not steal a wallet, how would the jury feel if I stated that I felt it was ‘inconcievable’ that I stole the wallet, that Mrs Brooks has difficulty in conceiving her engaging in such wrongdoing is neither here nor there.


There i…

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING

This mornings papers contain reports of Prince Charles whom according to the Mail on Sunday, “has summoned Cabinet Ministers, sometimes accompanied by their mandarins, for private talks at Clarence House, his official London residence………[papers obtained] under the Freedom of Information Act show that he appears to have focused on Ministers responsible for his ‘hobby horse’ issues such as global warming, conservation, architecture and agriculture.”*

This is not new, Charlie has form, during the Blair years he consistantly overstepped the constitutional boundary that separates the monarchy from the executive, the royals expected to observe strict neutrality at all times in return for the constitutional settlement. Now this boundary has always been illusory, whenever the interests of the royal Mafioso are threatened the lobbying seriously kicks in. Charlie however has raised this process to a whole new level, not content with special pleading for more handouts from the taxpayer, for ordi…

NEW EDUCATIONAL VALUES

I know little about the developments in higher education around the world but know that in this country we are witnessing the slow strangulation of the concept of the university as traditionally conceived, a place of learning for its own sake, for the enrichment of young lives, extending and developing their experience, a place in which to live and grow and advance the total sum of human knowledge.

Already humanities are no longer funded directly by the Department of Education and Science. Education is promoted purely in terms of its economic value; recent changes intended to introduce are now intended to ‘competition’ in the newly developing graduate production industry. The new models are the accountancy ‘schools’ or low cost institutes offering ‘no frills’ degrees to student, often whilst studying from home. Everything geared towards narrow definitions of employability. Some major universities will continue to function though primarily for those who have money or the confidence to b…