Thursday, May 01, 2003
The Israelis say that the suicide bomber who killed three people in Tel Aviv was British - and they're looking for another Brit who may have been his accomplice. Is Jeremy Hardy still in the country ? Hardy was the subject of a sycophantic BBC R5 Simon Mayo interview last week, in which he said that the Palestinians didn't really want to drive the Jews into the sea. OK, he admitted, they talk about it, they sing and write poems about it, they teach the children about it, but 'it's really just hot air'. Simon gave him a typically easy ride - introducing him as 'the man who stood up to the Israeli Army'.
Pundits - and politicians - attitudes to the BNP fall into two categories. One - the 'they're trying to tell us something' school - say that voters concerns are valid and must be addressed. David Blunkett is the exemplar of this view - though his idea of addressing voter concerns is the soundbite and the 'initiative' - which will either quietly be forgotten or overturned in the courts. The second is the 'no platform for fascists' view, held by most on the Left - that addressing voter concern is 'playing the BNPs game' and 'pandering to racism'.
Johann Hari falls well into the left category in yesterday's Indie, judging by the first paragraph - does anyone know what the rest of the argument is ?
Between the Tory party, so guilt-stricken that they disowned John Townsend for unexceptional (if not terribly historically accurate) remarks, and the BNP is a vast swathe of political territory which the Tories have abandoned and which the new friendly BNP is colonising fast. If PR was introduced tomorrow I think they'd get 20% of the vote - because people reason that if the main parties all hate them, they MUST be doing something right. And for the white working class a BNP vote wouldn't stick in the craw as a Tory vote would. But I'm grateful to the Weekly Worker for a link to a truly creepy BNP document buried in their site. As someone who loves the Brits (and particularly the English) for their culture, or what remains of it, rather than their genes, I find their argument that with the wrong stock you can NEVER be a Brit quite dreadful. I know children with one foreign-born parent who are more British than most natives, and have been brought up in the culture. And my own father was not born British. To quote Churchill 'what is the use of being against a man simply because of his birth ? How can any man help how he is born ?'
Of course Churchill had a foreign parent !
I don't believe the British people would actually follow a race-based programme ....
Update - Jeremy Hardy appears to be innocent on this one .....
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
St. George - the Struggle Continues .
The BBC have more or less ignored St.George this year, with the exception of the 'Today' programme, which has an item every day on who should be his replacement (today's candidate 'that holy blisful martyr' Thomas a Becket). After all 'he wasn't even English'. Funny - what happened to diversity ? I think it unlikely we'll see similar BBC campaigns against non-Brits like Peter Hain and Dr. Beverley Malone.
And James Naughtie welcomed the gun amnesty, with '20,000 guns taken off the streets'. Like the old lady with 72 of her late husband's rifles in the attic. Thank heavens that thanks to the amnesty she'll no longer be renting them out to armed robbers.
Sorry, even R5 have a succession of people pointing out that only a fraction of these guns were ever on the streets in the beginning. I would lay odds that gun crime will continue to increase, and that it'll continue to become more difficult for a law-abiding citizen to own one.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Oh dear ..... David ('the BBC is not biased so please give me that job - school fees are going up next year') Aaronovitch is presenting 'Pick of the Week' on R4. Opening with doggerel poet Benjamin Zephaniah's Bob Marley biography prog (which I listened to and which was actually rather good), he tells us how he loved 'No Woman No Cry' as a student - then blows it by describing the song as 'a kind of 'I Will Survive' for lads'. Come on, David. It doesn't mean 'don't cry if you haven't got a woman', it means 'turn off the waterworks darlin' !' as any fule kno.
Wasn't the flip side 'Kinky Reggae' ?
The Indie is now at water level, the scuppers are awash and they've introduced charging for the website. Even the Times gives you all todays issue online - you don't even get the day's leaders on the Indie ! I guess with sales at their current levels they hope people will pay up for their fix of anti-U.S. bile. No chance at a quid a throw. And to my horror they've infected my PC with some cookie which means that all the Yazza articles in my Internet cache are suddenly unavailable.
Looks like Guardian Online will have more clout than ever. Times is pay-for, only Telegraph is free and it's so slow and cumbersome that I rarely use it.
I agree with Peter Briffa, if one more writer jumped ship it should have been Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, or the Yazzmonster as he affectionately calls her. Natasha Walter is just a less bitter (and why not ?) Joan Smith - let alone not having to read their articles, you could write them as well. A typical article might be headed 'Women Are The Losers In These War-Games' or 'Forget Private Jessica, Why Are Women's Wages In The U.S. Only 71% Of Men's ?'. Reminds me of the spoof New York Times headline 'End of World Announced - Women, Minorities Will Be Hardest Hit'.
Last week saw two anniversaries of crime victims who didn't get justice, the 10th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence's death and the third anniversary of Tony Martin's imprisonment. The first attended by newpaper articles, TV and radio specials, the second unobserved. I listened to a R5 Simon Mayo interview with Duwayne Brooks, the young man who was with Stephen Lawrence when he was attacked and murdered. He’s written a book on the affair (with, inevitably, a Guardian journalist) and was plugging it (he actually answered one question ‘if you want to know you’ve got to buy the book - available at all bookshops’ – you could hear Simon Mayo’s eyebrows being raised and his next question was ‘are you doing this for the money ?’).
It was a sad interview in all sorts of ways, from Stephen Lawrence being ‘different from the normal black school kids – there’s a lot of single parents and he stood out ‘cos at parents evenings he had a mum and dad come’, to the revelation that a psychiatrist had recommended he not be called as a witness in the private prosecution brought against the alleged killers, but the Lawrence team under Imran Khan continued the case ‘for political reasons’.
I am amazed at the English liberal guilt and hysteria which surrounded (and still surrounds) this case. I remember particularly an edition of the R4 show 'Any Questions' soon after the publication of the McPherson report. In my student days we called the programme 'Any Fascists'. How times have changed. Jonathan Dimbleby asked the audience (from a country town - I think in Somerset) if they thought Britain was a racist society. Every hand went up. 'OK', said Dimbleby, 'how many of you would consider yourselves racist ?' Not a hand raised.
At this point I remember thinking there was something wrong with educated English society. Apparently racism was everywhere (but not in this room). There was no reason to think this audience unrepresentative of middle-class England. I thought of Salem and witches. And this feeling was reinforced when Lord Williams of Mostyn said in the Lords a few days later that 'the most dangerous person is the one who says he hasn't got a racist bone in his body. Because he doesn't know what he doesn't know.'(this last line appears to have been dropped from the Hansard record) When the Labour academic Norman Dennis called the McPherson enquiry 'a Stalinist show-trial' I think he was spot-on - in that the enquiry, like the show trials, was a piece of political theatre where the foregone conclusions were reached in spite of, not because of, the evidence.
But the atmosphere around the enquiry, which made the travesty possible, the belief that racism is everywhere (though no racism was ever found by McPherson, hence his invention of 'unconscious or unwitting' racism) - was straight from seventeenth century New England. Think of John Grieve at Scotland Yard, a brave and dedicated man, confessing his racism ('I am a racist. I must be because Sir William Macpherson of Cluny said that I am; the Home Secretary said that I am; countless members of the public at the inquiry hear-ings said that I am ...') like one of those brainwashed U.S. captives in Vietnam.
The legacy ? Apart from the surge in street crime ? Well, if you can call yourself a 'diversity consultant' there are plenty of opportunities.
I was in a Government legal department a day or two ago. The walls and stairs were covered with anti-racist and 'diversity' posters, and as I awaited my appointment I could read the rules against discrimination of any kind on grounds of sex (sorry, gender), race, disability or sexual orientation.
During my interview I noticed a Bible on a shelf, used for swearing affidavits. 'Do you have a Koran ?' I asked. 'Oh yes', said the woman behind the desk, 'but women aren't allowed to touch that - I have to ask a man to get it.'