A little over a week ago I came across a little “gotcha” story of political news, or rather gossip, which stuck in my mind, not because of the of the commonplace instance of political insincerity it revealed, but because of the way this story reached what we still call the newspapers.
Celebrity Corbyn cheerleader Paul Mason caught on video expressing his doubts about the LAB leader saying he should be replaced by Clive Lewis
One of the tireless advocates of Corbyn during the prolonged LAB leadership battle in the summer was the ex-Newsnight correspondent Paul Mason. As you’d expect he’s articulate and good on the telly and figured prominently in the coverage of the election.
But there’s one video of him which he’s probably less keen about. He was caught by someone sitting near him in a bar in Liverpool as he talked about Corbyn’s failings and lack of electoral appeal. This has now found its way into the hands of the Sun which is giving big coverage this morning.
This is one of the dangers about the modern world. Most people have smartphones with pretty sophisticated video facilities which they carry with them all the time.
The quote is from by Mike Smithson of politicalbetting.com. The emphasis was added by me. It is funny to see the “postcapitalist” journalist Paul Mason caught out, but disquieting to think that this is the future for everybody even slightly famous. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s famous meeting at the Granita restaurant in Islington in which Blair is said to have promised to pass the sceptre to Brown would not now be possible. Famous and powerful people must now remove themselves even further from normal people in order to have any hope of privacy. Is this on balance good? I don’t know.
However much I worry, the ability of every ordinary person to spy on the media-political elite (a category that most certainly includes the former Newsnight Business Correspondent and Channel 4 Economics Editor) is one of the few things that might temper their belief in their right to spy on and “expose” everybody else. It also reminds them that what constitutes “news” can be decided by people other than them.
Related: Perry de Havilland’s post from 2010: Why I Support Wikileaks
David Thompson has up a most interesting post:
Don’t Oppress My People With Your White Devil Science
In the video below, filmed at the University of Cape Town, members of the science faculty meet with student protestors who wish to “decolonise” the university and not pay their bills. During the meeting, one of the staff, one of the “science people,” points out that, contrary to claims being made by a student protestor, witchcraft doesn’t in fact allow Africans to throw lightning at their enemies. He is promptly scolded for “disrespecting the sacredness of the space,” which is a “progressive space,” and is told either to apologise or leave. The offended speaker, the one claiming that Africans can in fact throw lightning at each other – and who disdains “Western knowledge” as “very pathetic” – then uses the apparently scandalous reference to reality as the sole explanation for why she is “not in the science faculty.”
There follow some related links. I’m afraid I can’t remember which I read first to give proper credit. I think my brain has been frazzled by all the witchcraft flying about.
A quick science lesson for the #ScienceMustFall idiots. I sincerely hope that the unnamed staff writer who wrote this reply for what seems to be a Zimbabwean online publication is more representative of the state of scientific thought in Africa than the Social Justice Witches.
Tim Blair reports that science is a product of the (very pathetic) West.
What did Newton know? Rioting students determined to defy gravity, reports the Times. It’s behind a paywall but sufficiently decolonised people can overcome that with a spell.
Science Must Fall: it’s time to decolonise science – The Spectator‘s Coffee House blog.
Fallism: Into the intellectual abyss – Michael Cardo, a South African MP for the opposition Democratic Alliance, wrote a good post lambasting the cowardly response of the UCT authorities.
This might be the ur-video, posted by someone called “UCTScientist”.
Oooh, here’s a good one, from the University of Cape Town Left Students Forum: “As the UCT LSF we will like to clarify our position on a recent statement by a member of the movement, captured in a viral youtube video #ScienceMustFall”. I bet you would.
By the way, “#ScienceMustFall” is not a parody name imposed upon these students by imperialist Western witchcraft-deniers. It is what they call themselves.
It seems these people do not want to pay fees for university, and also do not want to be taught Western science. Thinking about it, that might not be so difficult to achieve. Could they not go to learn at the feet of a shaman, who obviously would not take money to pass on his wisdom, and let the silly people willing to pay to learn Western science do that?
John Stuart Mill, 1848:
“Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being. They have enabled a greater population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers and others to make fortunes. They have increased the comforts of the middle classes. But they have not yet begun to effect those great changes in human destiny, which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish.”
The Guardian, 2016:
“English man spends 11 hours trying to make cup of tea with Wi-Fi kettle.”
Yesterday something reminded me of the Space Cadets:
The series described itself as the most elaborate hoax perpetrated in television history. The title is a comical reference to the slang phrase, which is used to describe vacuous, gullible fools, untethered to reality (compare airhead). It was not clear if the contestants were aware of the show’s title, although a whiteboard in the ‘barracks’ had “Space Cadettes” [sic] written on it during one of the parties organised in the facility.
A group of twelve contestants (who answered an advert looking for “thrill seekers”) were selected to become the first British televised space tourists, including going to Russia to train as cosmonauts at the “Space Tourist Agency of Russia” (STAR) military base, with the series culminating in a group of four embarking on a five-day space mission in low Earth orbit. The show and space mission contained aspects of Reality TV, including hidden cameras, soundproofed ‘video diary’ rooms and group dormitories.
However, the show was in fact an elaborate practical joke, described by Commissioning Editor Angela Jain as “Candid Camera live in space” and claimed by Channel 4 to have cost roughly £5million. Unknown to the “space cadets”, they were not in Russia at all, but at Bentwaters Parks (formerly RAF Bentwaters, a USAF airfield from 1951 to 1993) in Suffolk staffed by costumed actors, and the “space trip” was entirely fake, complete with a wooden “shuttle” and actor “pilots”. Indeed, during the shooting of Space Cadets, smokers amongst the production crew were given Russian cigarettes to smoke in case any of the cadets discovered the butts. The production crew went so far as to replace lightswitches and electrical outlets in the barracks with Russian standard. In addition, three of the Cadets were actors, included to misdirect any suspicious cadets and to help reinforce the illusion.
At the time I talked about it a great deal, as everybody did, but I could not watch it for more than a few seconds at a time. Too close to home. On discovering that it was a hoax one of the cadets said, “I was planning my speech about achieving my childhood dreams. I’m a little bit broken-hearted.” I was a little bit broken-hearted for her. I, too, had grown up dreaming of space. The cruellest aspect of the show was that it made clear to the world that the cadets had been selected for their credulity and lack of scientific knowledge. Like many of those reading this I would have “failed” that particular test. But let us not put on airs; it is proverbial among scammers that there is good hunting to be had among educated people who think they could never be fooled by anything.
Why am I still thinking about these nine innocents sold a pup when a whole decade has gone by? Millions agree to take jobs and find them not as advertised. Billions agree to take spouses and find them not as advertised. Such is the way of the world. At least the cadets were handsomely paid. Enough, I assume, to head off any lawsuits about breach of contract – and I would imagine that those contracts were written by clever lawyers in the first place. If the cadets had been the type to read every sub-clause in a contract they would not have been chosen to be filmed larking around in a wooden replica spaceship allegedly equipped with gravity generators.
My memory was triggered (not, like, triggered triggered; just triggered) by all the talk now about consent. I am not thinking primarily about sexual consent, although that is relevant, but about the increasing sensitivity around posting any photographs and films of people without their permission. This new sensitivity isn’t just politically correct wailing. Brian Micklethwait of this parish finds it entirely consistent with his libertarian principles to take care to hide the faces of ordinary people he photographs, as he mentions here, even as he points out that the case is different for public figures. The world has changed. The internet never forgets a name. It is getting closer to never forgetting a face. When the cadets signed their contracts that wasn’t so obvious.
Willie Penrose, a Labour member of the Irish Dáil, is singing an old song from a tradition known all over the world:
Musicians hold sing-song outside Leinster House in bid to get more radio play
LABOUR’S WILLIE PENROSE wants to get more Irish music played on the radio – and says that a proposed bill of his could save thousands of jobs in the process.
So he gathered up a group of Irish musicians and brought them for a sing-song outside the gates of Leinster House this morning, while a host of Labour TDs looked on.
Longford-Westmeath TD Penrose, who is presenting the bill to the Dáil today, said that it seeks a quota of 40% airtime for Irish music – and that this means “of all genres once it’s Irish music”.
Asked if it specifies in the bill how a song is determined to be Irish, Penrose “we’re working through that, yeah we are”.
“We are not asking for much – this has been in France for the last 20 or 30 years, 40% quota, it’s in Canada – there’s a 90% quota after being introduced in South Africa in recent weeks,” he said.
The 90% quota was brought in by national broadcaster SABC in South Africa.
Penrose said there are “8 – 10,000 jobs depending upon [the bill]“, but didn’t detail where these jobs are located within the Irish music industry.
Following the link about South Africa took me to this BBC story:
SABC radio introduces 90% South African music quota
The BBC describes the quota in lyrical terms:
South Africa’s national broadcaster SABC has brought in a new quota system, requiring 90% of the music played on its 18 radio stations to be homegrown.
SABC says the move, which has been hailed by local musicians after years of campaigning, will promote South African culture and heritage.
“We believe that is important for the people of South Africa to listen to the music that is produced for them by the musicians in South Africa,” SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago told the BBC, explaining the decision.
Jazz musician Don Laka, one of the leaders of the quota campaign, celebrated on his Facebook page, thanking SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
“Today I am proud to be South African. This man Hlaudi made me share a tear for the first time in many years… Freedom at last!”
Local hip-hop star Slikour described it as the music industry’s version of “Nelson Mandela coming out of jail”.
The governing African National Congress also welcomed the decision, saying it will empower local artists and help spread African culture at home and throughout the world.
Many South Africans have taken to social media to celebrate the announcement, saying it will help to showcase the country’s musical diversity.
It almost seems a pity to tear oneself away from sharing these glad hosannas to look at a couple of ominous lines some grinch has inserted into the same report:
…this is just for the next three months – subject to whether the listeners want it to be a permanent move, industry insiders are hoping that it will help boost the profiles of local artists.
There is no limit to the amount of foreign music commercial stations play.
Going back to the report about Mr Penrose’s Irish Music Quota Bill in TheJournal.ie, some of the comments strike a discordant and ominous note:
“You want to kill off Irish radio entirely? Force stations to play at least 40% of Irish music.” – Peter McHugh
“And Number 1 this week is Ariana Grande’s ‘Into You’ and to comply with the Irish Music Act here it is as sung by Brush Shiels” – Daniel Patrick Carry
Unlike Mr Penrose, I am not musical, and I don’t keep up with these internet thingies the young folk use … but isn’t there a thing called “music streaming” now?
The Electoral Reform Society has released a report about the conduct of the EU referendum called “It’s good to talk: Doing referendums differently after the EU vote”.
The title “It’s good to talk” suggests a conversation, a dialogue. Unlike some commentary by prominent Remain supporters, it does not seek to rule that some people are not qualified to take part in the dialogue at all and their votes should be disregarded. In fact if I chose to use this particular document in order to criticise a paternalist tendency in British politics, it is because it shows this tendency at its most well-meaning. But however reasonably expressed, the purpose of the measures suggested by the Electoral Reform Society is to stop the wild voters ever getting loose again.
So it’s time for a root and branch review of referendums, learning the lessons of the EU campaign to make sure the mistakes that were made in terms of regulation, tone and conduct are never repeated.
“Regulation, tone and conduct.” How very British, how very Sir Humphrey! Yet the people who wrote this probably object to being called “The Establishment”. The report assumes that the referendum was ill-regulated and that the referendum was something that should be regulated. By people like them.
We’ve made nine key recommendations to improve the conduct of future referendums. They are:
Laying the groundwork
1. Mandatory pre-legislative scrutiny for any Bill on a referendum, lasting at least three months, with citizens’ involvement
2. A minimum six-month regulated campaigning period to ensure time for a proper public discussion
3. A definitive ‘rulebook’ to be published, setting out technical aspects of the vote, as soon as possible after the passing of any referendum Bill
1. A ‘minimum data set’ or impartial information guide to be published at the start of the regulated campaigning period
Written by their sort of people, containing the information that their sort of people think is relevant, impartial in the sense of being in the middle of the spread of opinion that is socially acceptable for their sort of people.
2. An official body should be given the task of intervening when misleading claims are made by the campaigns, as in New Zealand
“An official body” means a body with power. “Given the task of intervening” means given the power to silence. And, of course, the official body will be staffed by suitably qualified people. So some more of their sort of people will have new powers to censor the unenlightened.
3. Citizenship education to be extended in schools
I don’t really need to say it, do I?
alongside UK-wide extension of votes at 16
With the result that those who have only known a life where the majority of their waking hours were spent under the control of the clerisy will mostly vote as directed. There is another point, too. The extension of the franchise to children is no longer an anomaly if all the voters are treated as children. Like children, all the information they receive will be censored and filtered by their wise teachers, who get to decide what claims are misleading.
1. The government should fund a resource for stimulating deliberative discussion/debate about referendum
2. An official body should be tasked with providing a toolkit for members of the public to host own debates/deliberative events on the referendum
“Providing the toolkit” for debates is an example of the agenda-setting power.
3. Ofcom should conduct a review into an appropriate role for broadcasters to play in referendums, with aim of making coverage/formats more deliberative rather than combative/binary
It’s a referendum, for goodness sake. How can it be other than binary? Ah, I think I know. I came across many comments by Remainers saying that the simple option “Leave the EU” was too easy and the question in the corrective referendum should be broken up into multiple different flavours of Leave plus one flavour of Remain. This would have the happy effect of splitting the Leave vote.
We think our new report, ‘It’s Good to Talk: Doing Referendums Differently After the EU Vote’, will be a useful resource in tackling the big questions about where we go from here when it comes to referendums. We hope you agree.
I do not agree. The report suggests various measures that would reduce the chance that polite conversation will be interrupted by shouting. Another way of putting that is that the report puts forward measures to make it harder for angry, inarticulate people to be heard, harder for them to sense that they are not alone, harder for referendums to fulfil their function of yanking the people’s representatives back into contact with what the people actually want.
More than that though, we hope the recommendations we suggest lead to some genuine change so that the public get the referendum debates they deserve in the future.
The wording is revealing. Although the mention of the public getting what they deserve is meant politely rather than literally, debate is seen as something the public get given to them, not as something they do themselves, however raw and “combative” and “binary” it may be.
Justin Webb writes in the Times:
Bomb is a sign of hatred in American hearts (£)
Amazing what these Americans can do just by thinking about it. Webb, or whatever sub-editor wrote that headline, has finally acknowledged the truth first revealed in dramatic form sixty years ago:
Commander John J. Adams: In return, that ultimate machine would instantaneously project solid matter to any point on the planet, In any shape or color they might imagine. For *any* purpose, Morbius! Creation by mere thought.
Dr. Edward Morbius: Why haven’t I seen this all along?
Commander John J. Adams: But like you, the Americans forgot one deadly danger – their own subconscious hate and lust for destruction.
Dr. Edward Morbius: The beast. The mindless primitive! Even the Americans must have evolved from that beginning.
Donald Trump must have an especially American id. He is always calling violence upon himself by the sinister power of his subconscious.
By the way, monsters from the Dallas branch of the id also killed Kennedy: “The city of hate had, in fact, killed the President.”
Update: Evidently Dallas is a sort of wi-fi hotspot of the id. The fabric of reality wears thin in Texas. (Oklahoma isn’t so bad, being protected by Rodgers & Hammerstein. And New Mexico votes Democrat.) Getting back to Dallas, no individual can be blamed for the recent murders of policemen there. In Texas such things are inevitable.
From the Guardian:
Momentum to start children’s wing to boost ‘involvement in labour movement’
Momentum, the social movement set up to support Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, is launching a children’s wing called Momentum Kids.
Momentum is organising a fringe festival, The World Transformed, alongside next week’s Labour party conference in Liverpool and Momentum Kids will launch with a creche for parents attending the event.
Momentum claims it will then spread nationwide, aiming to provide cooperatively run childcare, including breakfast clubs, for parents who want to get involved in political activity but find it hard to fit around their caring responsibilities.
The new group is also aimed at “increasing children’s involvement in Momentum and the labour movement by promoting political activity that is fun, engaging and child-friendly”.
A perfectly justified question to put to John McDonnell in the light of this report from the Telegraph:
John McDonnell welcomed the financial crash and called himself a Marxist, newly found footage shows
John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, welcomed the financial crash that wrecked Britain’s economy and insisted he was a Marxist, newly uncovered footage shows.
Mr McDonnell, who is Jeremy Corbyn’s closest political ally, is seen in the 2013 video saying that the economic upheaval proves the faults with modern capitalism.
At one point Mr McDonnell, who was a backbencher at the time, says of the crisis: “I’ve been waiting for this for a generation!”
The comments are documented in a YouTube video viewed less than 60 times which was posted on the website on March 16, 2013.
Here is that video: John McDonnell MP Speaking at communities against the cuts meeting 16-3-13. The relevant extract is between 07:10 and 07:35.
In a video entitled “John McDonnell MP Speaking at communities against the cuts meeting”, the man now in charge of Labour’s economic policy is seen discussing the crisis.
“We’ve got to demand systemic change. Look, I’m straight, I’m honest with people: I’m a Marxist,” Mr McDonnell is seen saying at one point.
“This is a classic crisis of the economy – a classic capitalist crisis. I’ve been waiting for this for a generation!
“For Christ’s sake don’t waste it, you know; let’s use this to explain to people this system based on greed and profit does not work.”
Most of the comments I have read seem to think that his “welcoming” the financial crash of 2008 is the main story. I don’t see it that way. He could reasonably claim (added later: he has claimed) that it was said as a self-mocking joke about the way Marxists have been predicting the imminent demise of capitalism for years and only now, it seems, has it finally happened. No, I think the damning part is “I’m honest with people: I’m a Marxist.”
My title for this post was also intended as a historical joke. There is no doubt about what party Mr McDonnell belongs to, the Labour Party. The doubt that arises in many people’s minds is whether under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership this is still a party normal people can vote for without going the full Venezuela. We know he is now and has long been a member of the Labour party, but someone will inevitably now ask Mr McDonnell, “Are you a Marxist?”
In 2013 his straight and honest answer was “Yes”. If he answers “No” three years later, will people believe him? When did he change and why?
If he answers “Yes”… this man is Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Update: Mr McDonnell appeared on Question Time last night. He was asked by David Dimbelbly if he was a Marxist, in the light of that video. Watch the first half minute of this clip to see how he responds. At 15 seconds in we have:
Dimbelby: “Are you a Marxist?”
McDonnell: “No, I’m a socialist.”
Dimbelby: “Well, why say, ‘I’m a Marxist'”?
McDonnell: “Because actually I was trying to, I was demonstrating, a prediction of the capitalist crisis at the time.”
Anna Soubry’s lengthy attack on him afterwards becomes tedious, but she got a solid round of applause for her initial indignant restatement of fact in the face of this farrago: “You said, ‘I’m a Marxist'”.
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
It has been fifteen years. Throughout that time most people, however much or little they valued liberty, have talked as if a loss of liberty were the price of increased security. Even Benjamin Franklin’s famous words quoted above assume this tradeoff.
What if it were not true? In what ways could more liberty bring about more safety?
Alexandra Wanjiku-Kelbert, who will help train you as a socialist campaigner for three thousand quid, has done a beautiful thing. Not only has she caused the left to lie down with right on the Guardian comments pages, she has made the left to lie down with the left. Verily, the Corbynite and the Blairite shall dwell together and jointly speak trash of Ms Spellcheck-Kelbert.
Here is the article that gave rise to such wonders:
Climate change is a racist crisis: that’s why Black Lives Matter closed an airport
Today we are saying that the climate crisis is a racist crisis. On the one hand Britain is the biggest contributor per capita to global temperature change.
Those who closely follow the carbon dioxide emissions league tables (app available on Android and iOS) will have been surprised by this sudden promotion of Britain to the top spot. All will be explained if you click on the link. You will see that the figure she quotes for each nation is calculated over all time. Seriously, they are blaming Britain for having been first with the industrial revolution.
It is also one of the least vulnerable to the effects of climate change. On the other hand, seven of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change are in sub-Saharan Africa.
We’re not saying that climate change affects only black people. However, it is communities in the global south that bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change, whether physical – floods, desertification, increased water scarcity and tornadoes – or political: conflict and racist borders. While a tiny elite can fly to and from London City airport, sometimes as a daily commute, this year alone 3,176 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean, trying to reach safety on the shores of Europe.
Got all that? Climate change causes racist borders.
We are coming under fire for the fact that the protesters on the runway today were all white. That is not an accident.
True enough. The SWP (for it is they) can’t be fussing with their lineup of professional protesters every time there’s a black theme month.
The BBC reports:
Bolton transgender councillor comment treated as hate incident
A comment in which a transgender Tory councillor was called “he” by a Labour rival is being treated as a hate incident by police.
Zoe Kirk-Robinson, 35, said Guy Harkin, 69, referred to her twice as a man in a debate at a Bolton Council meeting.
The hate crime ambassador, who transitioned 10 years ago, said the comments on 24 August “hurt a lot” and she reported them to police.
Mr Harkin has apologised. Police said “hate incidents are not tolerated”.
Mr Harkin said: “I inadvertently referred to her as a he during a heated debate.
“As soon as I was made aware of it, I apologised… It is something and nothing.”
A GMP spokeswoman said: “Hate incidents will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester.”
Metro takes the story further:
Councillor refuses to take punishment for calling transgender woman ‘he’ instead of ‘she’
After reporting Cllr Harkin to Greater Manchester Police, officers downgraded it to a ‘hate incident’ rather than a ‘hate crime’ and advised the pair to talk it out through a restorative justice programme.
But the former Labour mayor has refused his punishment, maintaining that his comments were just a ‘slip of the tongue.’
The political affiliations of the parties add spice to this story, don’t you think? When Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced a purely subjective definition of a racist incident following the MacPherson Report, and then in 2006 added new provisions to the Public Order Act 1986 to cover “hatred” based on sexual orientation in the same way that racial hatred had been covered before, I doubt the legislators envisaged the roles of denouncer and denouncee falling this way round. Perhaps, too, they did not envisage that things would go so far that a misspoken word would bring the police to the council chamber. I expect they were quite sure that these laws would never be used against people like them.