Dead Men Left

Sunday, January 29, 2006

De Menezes shooting: police "falsified evidence"

If you've not seen it already:

Extraordinary allegations that Special Branch officers deliberately falsified vital evidence to hide mistakes which led to the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes at a south London Underground station were made last night...

Alterations were hastily made to amend the wording of the official log once the shocking truth emerged that the dead man was not, in fact, the extremist wanted in connection with the failed 21 July Tube bombings.


It's a been a funny few weeks, all told, and there's still a few puzzles:

1. Why didn't Pete Tatchell out Simon Hughes at any point? If memory serves, he at least nodded at Hughes' sexuality in his account of the 1983 by-election, The Battle for Bermondsey, and has dropped hints since. Regardless of the merits of the tactic, why no outing of Hughes?

2. The same papers now running homophobic campaigns against the Lib Dems are the first to denounce assorted imams and preachers for their "homophobia". Tatchell's conversion from "homosexual terrorist" to national treasure has depended in no small part on his willingness to offer appropriate liberal cover for the Right. Being charitable, Tatchell seems blind to the context of his actions, and how his words will be taken and used. There must be a point at which he realises that the Sun - that's the same Sun this week reporting that "SECOND LIMP-DEM CONFESSES" and "ANOTHER ONE BITES THE PILLOW" - is no friend of gay rights.

3. Consternation that a newspaper can obtain an individual's telephone records. It would appear to be alarmingly easy. A friend of mine had reason to contact one of the Murdoch papers; they subsequently rang his mobile phone operator, pretending to be him, and asked that they check the last few numbers he'd dialled. The phone operator happily complied. (The friend only discovered this later, when some his acquaintances had received calls from the paper in question.) Moral: don't ring the press from your mobile.

4. This is down to the Cameron effect, in part: the old order is reasserting itself: Britain has a stable two-party system and any funny ideas the minor parties might otherwise have need to be kicked into touch, now that the Tories' "credibility" is restored. (There is a glaring contrast between the soft-soaping of senior Conservatives' private lives, and the scouring Lib Dems receive.)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Dissolve the people, and elect another


If Hamas does take power, the Middle East peace process could be placed in serious jeopardy.

Everything about this casual sentence in the middle of an alleged news report is wrong to the point of absurdity.

"Lord Coe is greatest Briton"

Bloody hell. Are we really such a shower of shits?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Interesting new word usage:

The sense of crisis engulfing the Liberal Democrats has deepened after one of their parliamentary candidates defected to the Conservative Party.

Adrian Graves, who stood at the 1997 and 2005 elections for Suffolk West, said his decision was a response to David Cameron modernising the Tories...

Mr Graves is the first prominent Liberal Democrat to defect to the Tories since Mr Cameron became leader last month.

"Prominent", here referring to an unsuccessful Parliamentary candidate of a party one of whose own frontbench MPs was genuinely shocked that someone he was paying for sex would recognise him. "Prominent".

...speaking of "celebrity", I see Lenin is being interviewed over here. He may "want no part of this narcissistic gang of petit-bourgeois navel-gazers" but they'll catch up with him in the end.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Not a whale in sight

(Alongside the usual searches for "bum sex" and "golden showers", I'm now getting hits from "Sarah Teather gagged". What is it with Liberal Democrats?)

Meanwhile, current events in Mongolia are failing to impress Jamie. And, whilst you're here, Ben Watson's obit of free-improv guitarist Derek Bailey; I missed news of Bailey's death over Christmas - I'd only seen him play live the once, in fact, but it has stuck with me: an extraordinarily intense noise that recordings don't really do justice to.

Begging the question

Like so:

Worthy, wholesome and usually erring on the cautious side, he seemed one of the most unlikely characters in Westminster to risk a top-flight career for the sake of sordid sex with a male prostitute.

At least no poor dumb animals were hurt this time round.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Where's your daddy gone?

Not shedding too many tears over this:

Fathers 4 Justice tonight announced it was to disband following reports of a plot among a "dark underbelly" of former members to kidnap the prime minister's five-year-old son Leo.

Matt O'Connor, the founder, told Channel 4 News he would "cease all operations and call the campaign to a close" because the group could no longer continue in the light of the negative publicity.

It's not the "dark underbelly" that bothers me most; they're unpleasant, but these kidnap plotters are plainly fantasists. It's the presentation of the most vicious backlash politics as cuddly superhero larks. Labour blogger Antonia Bance has more.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Mind the Tax Gap"

The Tax Justice Network have just published the results of their investigation into the tax affairs of the UK's 50 largest corporations. The findings should not come as much of a surprise. From the Observer's write-up:

Britain's 50 biggest quoted companies have avoided paying corporate tax worth £20bn over the past five years, according to a new report...

A detailed study published by the Tax Justice campaign group shows that Britain's largest companies are already paying far less thax than might have been expected. Over the past five years, the biggest 50 have paid just 24.5 per cent on average to the British Exchequer and other tax authorities.

Compare this with the opinons of Digby Jones, head of the CBI:

...many business leaders are increasingly alarmed by the worsening situation and why the government's indifference is so frustrating. These are the people who make the decisions about where to put investment or whether to move to a more competitive tax environment.

Give them an inch and they take your arm off.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tough on crime, except fox-hunting

I noticed that man Cameron, suddenly squeezed from the limelight by the merry antics of other party leaders, ahem, writing in the Guardian the other day. On one level, his attempt to reposition the Tories in the “centre” could not be clearer:

Blair has had nearly nine years in power. He could have mounted a systematic challenge to one-dimensional, knee-jerk populism.

Worth remembering that Cameron wrote the 2005 general election manifesto that demanded 20,000 extra prison places, 5,000 more police, and “proper discipline in school”. So sudden is the switch that it is tempting to conclude that very little is behind it other than “sensation-seeking, turning-over-the-furniture, épater les bourgeois predictability“, and that the Labour voters appealed to will prefer the real thing to “Labour-lite Conservatives.”

I think this is wrong. I may be overestimating their abilities, but Cameron and posse are doing something a bit more subtle than grasping blindly after New Labouresque cliches. The prospect that they actually are trying to redesign Conservatism, roughly along the lines suggested by various neoconservatives, should be taken seriously. Take the Gaurdian article, linked to above.

Instead, we'll set out ideas such as our proposals for Social Enterprise Zones, which would remove the many regulations and bureaucratic obstacles that hold back social entrepreneurs. We want to create a level playing field for the voluntary sector and social enterprises so they can win more contracts to deliver more community and public services.

It’s given a fancy spin, but what here is so disimilar from the aspirations of conventional Toryism? Cameron’s asking for more privatisation (“create a level playing field”) and philanthropy (“social entrepreneurs”). It’s a suitably modernised version of standard Tory rhetoric, but the desired outcomes are the same.

There is a convergence taking place, but it is one the Tories are trying effect on their own terms. This is much as New Labour converged on the governing Thatcherite consensus, but did so by way of its own traditions, and arrived at something near-unique. The key difference is that, to create New Labour, the last vestiges of utopianism had to be stamped out. Even the most fossilised and decrepit of right-wing, Old Labour union bureaucrats retained the sense of opposition and optimism that is built into the language of class. The Tories, never having been utopian in even the weak sense intended here, should have no such difficulty; where their problems lie is in their (hopefully fatal) belief that New Labour won its three elections, rather than the Tories losing them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

New blogs

The exponential growth of blogland continues. Pretty soon everyone in the world will have their own blog, except for the 70-80% of humanity who've never heard a dial-tone, but they're poor and irrelevant.

Disreputable Lazy Aliens seems to run by a potty-mouthed anarchist. Which is a good thing, readers, anarchists should be potty-mouthed, I expect nothing less, it's like the sudden eruption of the suppressed radical ego in a society of bland and straitened conformity. Speaking of which.

Through the Scary Door, meanwhile, has a peculiar tale from De Beauvoir Town. Scary doors aplenty.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Kennedy: not dead, merely drunk (once)

Kennedy on his way out - quite inevitable, when a poxy little magazine edited by greasy sixth-form debating society nerk can somehow inspire national headlines regarding your imminent departure.

The Lib Dem dynamic - so to speak - is a little hard to discern. If he hadn't just (apparently) ruled out standing himself, I'd assume Mark Oaten would receive a media-led Cameron bounce to the top, thus ensuring all two (and a half) main parties have exactly the same leader. God knows what'll happen now. I suggest Maggot from GLC as a good interim.

"Die, you bastard, die"

It was a branch of the dockers' union that sent the pithy telegram, recorded above, to General Franco as he lay on his death-bed.

A commendable sentiment for a tyrant, don't you think?

The Society of the Spectacle, or, It's Crazy But It Might Just Work

Always good to have advanced warning, even if at short notice, even if you assume someone is winding you up.

Still, George in the Big Brother house is quite something. What to make of it?

One the one hand, there is

"Sir, I salute your courage, your strength..."

...on the other, there's this and this. There's the occasional dropped bollock (see above) but otherwise the guy has got an uncanny political ability. His political judgement is, in general, superb.

More particularly, I can't think of a politician who better knows how to handle the media - how many won libel cases? how many inerviews? how many TV appearances? I have no idea, absolutely none, whether the Big Brother appearance will work out. But there's no other MP who could come close to pulling this one off... and if he does, of course, it'll be quite spectacular.

(You know what pisses me off? Whining about "missing votes". In a two party Parliamentary system, with a rock-solid whipping system, there's little bloody point turning up for most votes. Big Brother's going to a reach a bigger damn audience than an ill-attended speech, broadcast exclusively on BBC Parliament, will ever do. So good luck to George, and let assorted Blairites and wannabe progressives suddenly discover the unlikely merits of Crown-in-Parliament and woolsacks.)

...incidentally, here's a bunch of BB fans on GG...

Update: Unbelievable amount of comments, below, on an ephemeral TV show. Presumably we are all, like George, prisoners of the Spectacle.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"Tortured as MI6 watched"

Socialist Worker has an account from one of the Pakistani-born men tortured in Greece under the eyes of MI6:

Munir Mohamed, one of the three, said, “On 17 July we were in our garden when seven or eight persons claiming to be police appeared. They showed no identification and asked for our mobile phones. I was the only one not having a mobile.

“I was a newcomer in Greece from Pakistan and I hadn’t yet bought one. They said, ‘You are a liar. You have hidden your mobile.’

“So they took me to a separate room. They handcuffed me, pressed me against the wall and started beating. After a while they took me outside with the others. I had blood on my lips.

“They put our shirts on our heads and put us in a van and took us to an unknown place. There I was kept separated. They interrogated me for about two and a half hours. They were asking, ‘What do you know about London? What happened in the tube?’

“They were threatening me. I stayed there two days. Then they put me in a car and took me to another unknown place, still blindfolded. I stayed in that second place for five days. The interrogation continued there, three times a day.

“When they finally let me go, they told me, ‘Don’t you dare tell a word about what ­happened in here. If we find out you said something, either we’ll bring you here again or we’ll cut your throat’.”

As if by magic

Letter in the Guardian the other day:

Brian Wilson, the former energy minister, talks of the need for Britain to have indigenous energy supplies such as nuclear (Russian gas row reignites nuclear debate, January 2). As the fuel for nuclear power stations is uranium, could he let us know where the indigenous supplies of uranium are located?
Graham Jones


Germany will review plans to close nuclear power plants at a national summit after a dispute between Russia and Ukraine cut gas shipments to Europe, Economics Minister Michael Glos said.

It'd be quite funny if it weren't so worrying. The long-term problems of conventional energy shortages and climate change have produced the most crassly short-term response possible. The complete failure of imagination on the part of New Labour and the CDU is not surprising, obviously, but do they really take us for absolute chumps?

Oh, and incidentally:

The cost of cleaning up the sites of Britain`s aging nuclear power stations could be more than $121 billion, up from an earlier estimate of $96 billion.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, set up last April to supervise state-owned nuclear plants, says it is 'almost certain' the earlier estimate will need to be revised upward to adjust for revision and to account for additional costs resulting from a closer look at some of the older nuclear sites, reports the Independent newspaper.

Oh happy day.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year irritations

This lot must be high up on the list, I feel sure... as if, as mentioned earlier, Brown wasn't an impeccably neoliberal Chancellor, ultra-Blairite plotters gather in darkened NW1 rooms to find a more suitable candidate for PM. (Incidentally, never mind Brown's neoliberal, free-market credentials: what's with his neocon flirtations? Glowing blurb praise for long-standing confidant Irwin Stelzer's anthology Neoconservatism, hints about being "proud" of Britain's imperial past, and now recommending Gertrude Himmelfarb's implausibly Francophobe history of the Enlightenment. All very strange for a, ha ha, closet socialist, mmm? Strikes me that he's-a-secret-lefty isn't going to work... shades of the demon eyes, in fact.)

(Also irksome, with apologies: recent comments box issues due to an overly-ambitious attempt on my part to swap comments provider; the net result of which is that previous comments on posts have, erm, disappeared - annoying, but since Haloscan deletes everthing after two months or so, anyway, probably not that annoying.)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy new year etc. This is ideal for stinking hangovers.