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Showing posts from May, 2010

To Avoid Confusion

It's come to my attention, thanks to the wonder of Google, that there's another site called Caustic Comments out there on the interweb, and what's more it's a fundamentalist Protestant site connected with Dr Ian Paisley. Now I don't intend to change the name of my blog, but to avoid any confusion, mine is the one that's just as rude about Protestants as Catholics. No Popery (or potpourri)! John Knox was a numpty!

Koan for Cocker

A throw-away line of Jarvis Cocker's in a Guardian interview, "I would like to believe in an afterlife; it makes things more palatable. But I'm not banking on it" struck me as neatly encoding a fundamental linguistic/philosophical truth. Take Cocker's observation and replace the word "afterlife" with anything at all and the sentence retains its sense: 

I would like to believe in an orange bluebell.
I would like to believe in an effective mayor of London.
I would like to believe in intelligent life on another planet.
I would like to believe in a free market.
I would like to believe in a Lib/Lab coalition.

We're all free to believe in any of these things, and we would all be wise not to "bank" (unfortunate word perhaps) on their existence. Precisely because there is no afterlife IT DOESN'T MATTER IN THE END, or to put it another way IT'S ALL MATTER IN THE END. 

Cool Rulers?

"The Blair government has embarked on a more radical program of reform of British institutions than many expected, but it is a program that seeks to cut out  dead wood from both the left and the right; welfare dependency as well as hereditary peers, entrenched anti-business attitudes as well as social exclusion. To the extent that the New Labour project involves demolishing the legacy of World War Two and the post-war consensus, Cool might seem to be an appropriate ‘branding’ for the party. Certainly the Tories appear to think so, and their choice of a new spin-doctor  suggests that the main priority for Tory strategists is not currently to produce vote-winning policies, but to rebrand  themselves as the ‘Naturally Cool Party’. This is not quite as daft as it sounds, since a Tory party with softened social policies might be able to attack New Labour from a libertarian direction - perhaps even by promising to legalise drugs, though we wish lots of luck to the person who first trie…

Left for Dead

I don't believe that the LibDem/Conservative coalition is a sham, and that Cameron will shortly cast off his mask and emerge as a blood-thirsty tyrant. The bad news is that even so, next week's package of emergency cuts will mark the final demise of the British Left.

We have just lived through a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Left, with neo-liberalism revealed as completely bankrupt, banks and "market forces" universally detested and a feeling in the air that structural change  was finally possible. Yet the Left has failed so comprehensively to grasp this opportunity that the Right's agenda of devastating cuts predominantly loaded onto the public sector has prevailed. Everyone talks as if the deficit is the only important problem, that immediate cuts are necessary. I feel desperately sorry for the BA cabin staff who are set to be the first victims. Any sort of halfway sensible Left could have told them that now is not the time for a showdown, but instead …


The most amusing episode of the post-election limbo days was that spat between Alistair Campbell and Adam Boulton of Sky News. Who'd have thought that I'd ever be rooting for Alistair Campbell to pick a fist fight... and win it. That Peter Capaldi would definitely have clocked him. The less amusing side of the affair is that it made me wonder whether Sky News is revving itself up to become a Fox News for the UK. 

Coalition looks like it might prevent the Tory Right from fulfilling its revenge fantasies, so it would be quite convenient for them to have a malign goblin chattering from the sidelines whenever any LibDem-tainted compromise comes before parliament.  I'm sure they're constructing a Glenn Beck replica somewhere in an attic, perhaps using stem cells from Norman Tebbit and Play Dough. Just need to wait for a thunderstorm... Igor, fetch the jump leads.