Friday, 26 March 2010

Let's all play Gruesome Twosome...

I've got a fun parlour game, if anyone wants to play. It's called Gruesome Twosome. The object is simple: just think of the two most loathsome people of either sex that you can dredge from the deepest recesses of your hate glands. Then imagine them, er, getting it on, in the parlance of Marvin Gaye.

My candidates for your most earnest consideration: Diane Abbott and Marcus Brigstocke.

Top that.

PS For clarity's sake, the above is is my comment on the latest Spectator blog entry by Rod Liddle:

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Boris skewers the Lib Dems

I hadn't tuned in to Boris Johnson's Telegraph column for a while, but this quote reminded me of why I enjoy his writing so much:

The Lib Dems are still down at about 20 per cent, or less. They show no sign of ceasing to be the third party in British politics. They remain a dustbin for the votes of all those whose policy on cake is pro-having it and pro-eating it, and who think you can govern the country by sucking and blowing at the same time.

As it goes, I have quite a lot of time for the Lib-Dems - I am, after all, pro-cake, pro-having it and pro-eating it - and it would be interesting to see what they would do in power. However, that particular democratic experiment is probably a luxury we can't afford for the time being. (The voters, of course, will have the final say on that).

Regarding the ongoing speculation about Ken Livingstone standing for Mayor of London in 2012, and the threat or otherwise that this poses to Boris, I think the following:

Only Boris knows to what extent he wants to hold on to the mayoralty - as opposed to returning to parliamentary politics. Like many a footballer, I'm sure he ultimately wants to play at the highest level. If Cameron fails to become PM after the next election, Boris as an election-winning Tory and reformed homme serieux would now be a serious contender for the leadership. On the other hand, in the event of a Cameron victory there might not be too much on offer for Boris in the short term. His best hope of becoming PM - which I'm sure remains his ambition - is to play the long game and wait until he is needed.

I'm not sure how things would play out in the event of a hung parliament, except to say that, as above, Cameron's leadership would have been discredited and he would have to give way to someone with more of a rapport with the voters. Enter Boris, stage right. In the meantime, though, being mayor is good for Boris's profile, and allows him the time to write his Telegraph column. Regarding the threat from Leninspart, he's beaten Ken once already, and I think he would beat him again using the same method of courting the "doughnut" of outer-London boroughs who will never agains subscribe to Ken's chirpy brand of identity politics.

Anyway, that's what I think.

PS For those who are interested, I can highly recommend Boris's novel, Seventy-Two Virgins.

Monday, 25 January 2010

More on children's social services

Further to my previous post, Rod Liddle kindly got back to me. He wrote:

C.Cole - yep, very fair points and well made. I meant both first and second of your interpretations. The central point though is that some people are too stupid to bring up children; I would argue that is almost certainly the case with the parents of the two boys. And then we prosecute them. We could have got in BEFORE there was trouble by making the sort of analysis made by those other social workers. But yes, you have a point, there should be a common sense middle way.

My reply:

Rod rightly notes that "some people are too stupid to bring up children". It’s a bold point, and one that's not often made openly, because people expect the next plank of the argument to be a call for compulsory sterilisation or suchlike.

For my own part, I certainly think some forms of intervention in family life can be justified on the harm principle in some cases. However, from what I have read of it, the case of Mark McDougall and Kerry Robertson does not appear to be one of them. The Daily Mail story cited by Rod documents an abuse of state power of the grossest and most chilling kind. It is as though the Fife social workers on the case regard Kerry as their property in some way.

First off they prevented her and her partner from marrying on the grounds that she was not intelligent enough. That's an outrage in itself. Now they have taken the couple's baby away. Given that Kerry is not a lone parent, how can there be grounds for doing this?

I posted again:

To lighten the mood, let me share the following story about Paul Dacre, whose paper is currently championing Mark and Kerry’s rights in this case. It is taken from a superbly readable Guardian profile of the great man back in 2001. Here goes:

There is one particular story that former staff of the Daily Mail like to tell about the politics, in the broadest sense, of their old paper. A while ago, the newsdesk there noticed a report from a local press agency. A young baby had died from being fed adult food. The Mail immediately got excited: it could interview the grieving parents, make the tragedy the basis for a campaign, and warn the nation of a previously unsuspected danger.

The couple were contacted, and offered £250 for an interview. They agreed, and talked eloquently and at length. A double-page spread - the Mail's traditional mark of a significant article - was put aside in the paper. For the photograph, the parents, who were not well off, were encouraged to look smart: the husband in a suit, his wife in a dress, both of them holding hands.

The morning the feature appeared, it was judged a success at the Mail. The article was by turns sensitive, alarming and full of useful advice. Paul Dacre, the editor then and now, approved - and from him all official sentiments flowed. But then, at lunchtime, Dacre's tall, slightly stooping figure was spotted beneath one of the television monitors hanging from the low ceiling of the open-plan office. Everybody nearby, as it was usually in their interests to, stopped work and looked and listened.

Dacre was watching the one o'clock news with his narrow eyes: on it were the bereaved couple, with messier hair than before, wearing tracksuits and trainers, smoking: not the Mail's sort of people at all. The editor, who is 52, spotlessly shirtsleeved, brisk in his diction, with hair like a cerebral Tory minister, was heard to growl. Then he spoke: "These people couldn't bring up a fucking hamster!"

Paul Dacre article link:

Rod Liddle's blog appears at the following location:

Sunday, 24 January 2010

My response to Rod Liddle on children's social services

The post I'm responding to:

My response:

"Two chunks of hermetically sealed outrage, then, with no conceivable link between them."

Sorry, Rod, I'm all in favour of coded meanings, but you're leaving yourself wide open to misinterpretation here - which I hope isn't a consequence of the usual idiots trying to use your words against you.

On the first reading I took you to be pointing up a contradiction in public attitudes to social services - ie we howl in protest when they take action, but also howl in protest when they fail to act.

Then it occurred to me that you might be pointing out that if social workers didn't spend their days persecuting easy targets like the mum with learning difficulties - even going so far as to track her to Ireland, for fuck's sake - they might find time somewhere along the line to do something about scum like the family whose sons tortured those poor kids. The contrast is instructive. In the first instance they fail to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who, so far as I can discern, has never harmed anyone. And in the second they endlessly indulge a couple who it turns out they might now finally get around to prosecuting for "child neglect".

My money's on the second option, but feel free to disabuse me.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross nominated for British Comedy Awards

My comment relates to this Guardian article.

Guess what, folks? Ross and Brand haven't just been nominated - they're going to win their respective categories. Why do I think this? Because I reckon their fellow comedy performers will use the vote to send a big "fuck off" signal to everyone involved in the hysterical witch hunt of the other week. And rightly so, in my view.

By the way, toongimp, I don't think you can paint the hysteria as exclusively right-wing. Sure, the Mail and the Sun jumped on the "scandal", but there were plenty on Cif calling for Ross and Brand's heads. A clear majority, even. All of whom should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves and their lack of a sense of proportion.