26 May 2009

Daily Chat 26/05/09

Fairly ho-hum assortment of events on this day.  In 1647, Alse Young is the first person in the American colonies to be executed as a witch.  In 1906, the Vauxhall Bridge opens in London.  Celebrating birthdays today:  Levon Helm, Stevie Nicks, Lenny Kravitz, Helena Bonham-Carter and Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark.  It's National Sorry Day in Australia.


  1. "It's National Sorry Day in Australia."

    No amount of apologies can make up for that accent...

  2. That’s a bit harsh, Jay.

    The Untrusted means never having to say you’re sorry.

  3. Dan Pearce

    Quote of the day on my Google gadget:

    "Biography lends to death a new terror."

    Oscar, of course.

    He is silent on the subject of cartoons, however.

  4. Jesus christ, that Joan Smith article, i literally couldnt get past the first line, that combined with the heading and subheading was enough to leave me feeling slightly sick and wishing hospitalisation on the author.

    And as for that weasel little shitbag Cameron, what a masterful lesson in sounding pretty whilst saying nothing, what a vile little Tony he is (in both senses). And his outright ruling out of PR has left me hating the Tories nearly as much as i hate newlabour. Turkeys never vote for Christmas. People are going to have to work very hard to get an electoral reform referendum on the ballot paper at the next election, and extremely hard to get the snivelling twat Cameron to introduce it. Electoral reform is the most pressing of all.

  5. "That’s a bit harsh, Jay."

    I thought it was pretty lenient.

  6. sartrecastic26 May, 2009 09:58

    Well, this is disconcerting.

    The sheer volume of ads on CiF appears to be preventing it from loading. I get redirected to the url of some ad element or other which is broken, or the various O2 flash bits load all akimbo and half the actual content never materialises.

    They really need to do something about that. I would suggest I'd pay for a site with no ads, but... Well... I can get it for free with adblock (which I can't be arsed to install on this login right now.).

    I think if there were some kind of subscription to CiF that gave you extra tidbits and gimmicks I might buy it though. Maybe.

  7. sartrecastic26 May, 2009 10:11

    Bloody hell, David Cameron's grammar really IS appalling. This man went to Oxford? I think too much time spent making speeches and not enough time spent writing has stuffed up his English.

    Why, incidentally, does he feel such a need to use contraction after contraction after contraction in his prose? "Isn't", "that's", "mustn't". For God's sake. I realise it was pilfered from a speech but, for the sake of sanity, he could have done something about them.

    Well, there goes any chance he ever had of getting my vote.

    Feel free to attack my language if you feel I am showing rampant hypocrisy. I would deserve it.

  8. Happy birthday Levon Helm !
    Haven't got time to CiF today. Probably just as well by the sounds of it...

    As for 'National Sorry Day', is that the morning after 'National "Brace Yourself Sheila, I've Got My Mojo Working" Day' ?

  9. "Well, there goes any chance he ever had of getting my vote. "

    Ditto. Vile little weasel. His stance on PR does, however, completely blow out the water the tiresom drivel about how MPs are decent folk who go into politics to help people and improve the country. Any one who seeks to maintain FPP is by that fact alone an enemy of democracy and a self serving bit of scum.

  10. Dear Thaumaturge, thanks for that- a new one on me. Have you had a look at "Oscar, The Second Coming" yet? I feel sure he'd approve...

    I remember my kids used to speak with question marks at the end of each sentence after watching 'Neighbours', speaking of Australian accents...

    I must say, I view The Telegraph with more respect these days, particularly after its sterling work in exposing the Westminister sleazebags. It's The Times I can't stand...

    Another hot day here in Umbria...

  11. sartrecastic26 May, 2009 11:01

    It's all a bit rubbish.

    The Tories' plans for "the ending of state monopolies on state education" don't really do a thing. Essentially it sounds like a load of waffle that will "assuage" the middle class and do nothing for the poorest. How will Cameron's proposal end class segregation in schools? It won't; it will probably make it worse, as the parents of the poorest largely won't be the ones braying to send their children to a "better" school [i.e. a school with more middle-class children]. How will Cameron's proposal end the inherent inequality of opportunity that comes from inequalities of wealth? Well, it certainly won't do that. God forbid.

    His mention of parliamentary reform is utterly dismissive. "Oh yes, of course there must be some of that but more importantly there is this ideological vision that I must tell you about."

    Yeah, he's a real people-power person. As if.

  12. Dan - it was a new one on me, too. Have not yet had a chance to look at The Second Coming (Yeats, surely? ;-) ) but will try to do so soon.

    Have not had the courage to read Dave's article yet. I was sickened by someone else's this morning (can't remember her name) who said, oh, most MPs are lovely people, really, and we shouldn't get so strident about attacking them.

    Well, the seemingly very few MPs who have not fiddled their expenses must have known the others were doing so, and did nothing. So guilty of complicity.

  13. sartrecastic26 May, 2009 11:16

    Bloody hell. The more I think about it, the worse it gets. Surely "ending the state monopoly on state schools" simply translates to PFI for education? He nearly had me going there.

    For some reason I can no longer copy and paste on this computer either but althebald's comment at 6.08am really sums it up.

    It's almost enough to get me to vote Labour. Almost.

  14. sartrecastic26 May, 2009 11:21

    or MartyninEurope at 7.30am.

    I'm posting too much.

  15. sartrecastic26 May, 2009 11:40

    Incidentally, where does everyone stand here? http://europrofiler.eu/

  16. sartrecastic
    More PFI maybe, but only if they can raise the venture capital.

    The government is now putting on hold hundreds of projects, or in the case of the NHS, underwriting the venture capitalists, (and hence making a mockery of the core PFI principle of shifting "risk" away from the ex chequer and onto to the provider.)

    Anyway, (and as I suspect you might sympathise with this) PFI is, as far as I'm concerned a criminally profligfate way to run these new-build / improvement / maintenance programmes. I I had even heard that it was viewed sceptically among Tories now. Maybe I heard wrong... maybe Two Brains Willets is scheming up something new ?

    Whatever, Allyson Pollock is the authority on these matters, her articles are always well worth a read.

    I can't vote Labour, for a number of reasons, but not least because of PFI. Disgraceful.

  17. "I can't vote Labour, for a number of reasons, but not least because of PFI."

    Yep, its right up there, a truly criminal theft from the public.

  18. Jay
    It's beeen one of my chief concerns for a number of years, and hardly any one has written about it on CiF. Even though the broadsheet have given decent-ish coverage.
    I've posted a number of copmplaints about this over the years.

    It has been Labours best kept secret. if the public knew about the full on cost implications for the next thirty years, there ought to be a massive outcry. Our kids generation will pick this up. Our kids who are already spending up to £30k on a dubiously appropriate education and can't get jobs or afford decent accomodation.

    Sod the expenses; that just reveals something about our politcal class' complacency and arrogance. PFI is fucking scandalous and the Tories must be in awe of how ZanuLabour ran with this, in the 1990s, rather marginal pet project of theirs.

    The craven bastards.

  19. "The craven bastards."
    Labour that is. My ranting clouded my ability to type or construct a sentence properly... Got to love blogging !

  20. sartrecastic26 May, 2009 12:38

    Monbiot has had quite a few articles about it recently, although mainly related to global-warming-y sorts of projects...

    It is fairly astonishing that such a policy has been allowed to go on for so long unmolested, and that people like Brown actually still seem to think it is a good idea. I mean, the Tories are just into that sort of thing; what's Labour's excuse?


    "Our kids who are already spending up to £30k on a dubiously appropriate education and can't get jobs or afford decent accomodation."

    £30,721, in my case...

  21. sartrecastic
    "what's Labour's excuse?"

    Well I wondered this for a long time. The primary reason was to renovate or replace £Bns worth of NHS assets off-balance sheet, hence keeping those desperately important ex-Tory voters on board in the first term and displaying for all to see Broon's magnificent 'prudence'. Prudence my arse. But - the public fell for it.

    Another argument I've heard was that, whereas with the Conservatives it was a just matter of Tory ideology to introduce PFI, with NuLab it was a matter of keeping the City on their side. When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense, and puts Labour's cravenness in pretty fine relief. Much more urgent for Labour to get this rolling, hence the astonishing exponential rise of PFI after the Tories were kicked out.

    Monbiot does manage to get some useful technical / cost aspects to his pieces too, fair point - but because it's Monbiot, people automatically get onto the Global Warming "debate" (groan) and the rip-off to the country gets lost...

    All in all, we were clearly mugged over Iraq. I am concerend that, while they've got really useful writers like Prem Sikka wrigin on the banking collapse, they've never asked Pollock to write a word about something that is going to bankrupt some of our local authorities if we're not careful.

    (Oh, and good luck getting that one down by the way. I assume from your posts you had a pretty reasonable plan in place though, unlike many...)

  22. I've been ranting about PFI to everyone I know for several years now, unfrtunately to no effect. It seems very few people, including quote a few people who are intelligent and politically aware, can take in an argument that takes more than one clause to explain, or think in terms of large sums of money.

    To me there's one blindingly obvious reason for the existence of PFI. If you just want to keep it off the balance sheet, there's no need for you to pay so wildly over the odds. The only reason anyone spends more of other people's money than they need to for something they can get a whole lot cheaper is because they're taking a cut of the difference.

    Another thing nobody's pointing out. The economy's in a mess because the property speculation market ran out of control. The government could have taken action to restrain it, but didn't - because all the MPs were making a lot of money selling "second homes" they were buying and doing up on their expenses. The expenses regime actually gave them a disincentive to manage the economy properly.

  23. paddybrown - yes, and they handily exempted themselves from stamp duty (and capital gains tax) whilst raising it for everyone else in order to bring in the money required to pay for the expenses they were fiddling....

  24. "The economy's in a mess because the property speculation market ran out of control."

    ...which began at a time when brokers and bankers wanted to pile their enormous - I mean colossal - city bonuses from the dotcom, media and telecoms bubble into something solid - castles in Scotland, and mansions in London...

    The obscene profits BT were making just before the turn of the century made them highly unpopular, and Brown rightly identified that the public would get behind a one-off "windfall" tax of several £bn, as well as imposing the mind numbingly high costs on the 3-Generation telecoms licenses (£20bn-£30bn for the four UK players while e.g. Finland, Italy, charged, er, twenty grand a piece to enter a "beauty contest")

    So instead of hitting the other players behind dotcom/media/telecoms racket, the government chose an easy edifice - BT - who even a hardened street drinker would have heard of.

    This while the City players got absolute fortunes out of the market. And as for BT, not one of their consultants, directors or board members was affected in the slightest, but it certainly accelerated their abysmally managed off shoring programme - from which they've never really recovered.

    And you're right paddy - Brown didn't lift a finger when property market started going batshit because of all this profiteering. After all, a even comparative lefty Michael Meacher had around nine properties in his portfolio in 2001...

  25. Monbiot has covered PFI brilliantly over the years, not just on the Graun but also in his books. I dont really put too much weight with the balance sheet argument, to be honest. Its useful, no doubt, but i dont think it the primary factor.

    If you look at NewLabs general ethos throughout it has been relentlessly geared to appeasing the City and the elite in general. When you look at PFI in the context of their reign as a whole, it seems to me that PFI is simply a way of transferring vast amounts of wealth from the public to the private. Newlab have proved time and time again that thats where their priorities lie - the elite. When they get booted from office they will start picking up the rewards, lucrative private sector posts.

    PFi is so hideous that even a child could see who its beneficiaries are - and it certainly isnt the taxpayer.

  26. Yup- PFI has been a very well kept secret. The British establishment has always been good at keeping secrets which is why I have a sneaking admiration for the US- their secrets tend to leak out (still waiting for 911 truth to emerge, though).
    The Cif articles have now lost all savour for me and I find myself treating Guardian stories with the suspicion usually reserved for the other dailies- all very sad.
    And I've no intention of reading Cameron's article...

    Thaumaturge: Are you saying "the Second Coming" is a Yates quote?
    What I know about Yates could be written on my little fingernail with a magic marker...

  27. Dan - yes, it's a poem by Yeats. Posting in entirety as I'm pretty sure it's out of copyright!

    TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  28. Thanks thaumaturge. That made me go off and read up a bit about Yeats rather than just call Patricia Hewitt nasty names. Much more useful !

  29. Careful, thaumaturge, we don't want to raise the tone of the place....

  30. Monbiot's current one is about how frustrated he's been trying to get people to see that PFI is the real scandal out there, to no avail.

  31. Sorry, Montana, I'll try to do better!

  32. Oh right- yes, the last two lines are very familiar as are the last two lines of the first stanza. Good poem- thanks for that, Thaumaturge.
    (I like "The "Lady of Shalott" and "The Ancient Mariner")
    I'm afraid my use of the phrase "The Second Coming" stems from much coarser origins (no doubt reflecting my coarse education).
    And it refers to his rebirth in 1998...
    You know where it is, don't you? Oscholars.com in the colour section.
    Sorry about the shameless self publicity, Montana, hope you don't mind...

  33. Ah yes -

    Out flew the web and floated wide
    The mirror crack'd from side to side
    'The curse is come upon me!' cried
    The lady of Shalott.

    Feel like that most mornings when I realise I have to go into work.

  34. Dan - the link off oscholars.com doesn't work. Or rather, there isn't one! There's an icon with no link behind it.

  35. Did Yeats foresee the bright new dawn that is The Guardian's 'New Politics'?

    'The Great Day'
    Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot!
    A beggar upon horseback lashes a beggar on foot.
    Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!
    The beggars have changed places, but the lash goes on.

    He was a cheery cove, that William Butler.

  36. I see that that god-awful Joan Smith's MP partner has a piece in today. *Sigh*

  37. Well, thnk of it this way, the pairing of MacShane & Smith stops four people being miserable.

  38. Monbiot is rapidly becoming one of my top ten. I used to find him a bit shrill and alarmist five years ago.

    But he knows his stuff about the new protest legislation, and clearly, also about PFI.

  39. Evening, Untrusted ones! Not really had a chance to look at everything on CiF yet. Sounds like I should give the Cameron piece a miss on health grounds, though.

  40. Dear Thauma, (may I call you Thauma? I think it's better without the turge- sorry, don't mean to be rude) that's weird. I just google oscholars or oscholars dan pearce and it comes up no problem. There are about 8 different magazines on the oscholars site including Rue des Beaux Arts (Try googling that) which has my Oscar comic in French (classy, eh? I didn't do the translation)
    Give it another go.
    Best of luck.
    Incidentally, the first 100 frames or so were drawn 12 years ago when I packed it in through lack of interest (and lack of cash). A year ago the editor of Rue des Beaux Arts contacted me and asked if she could run it so I said yes and started it up again. No money though. Story of me bleedin life...

  41. dan - i found a link but i couldn't click on your bit of it, for some reason. sounds like a good cartoon idea though :o)

  42. sartrecastic26 May, 2009 19:56

    forgot my self-imposed exile from Israel-Palestine threads for a second there.

    what was i thinking. only the lord can save me now.

  43. sartrecastic

    It's a veritable quagmire.

  44. Sorry, sartrecastic, but the lord is busy this week...

  45. saemus milne's piece shows us that its not only PFI that the media (including Cif) are keeping quiet about.

    Its still slow but anger is building. The problem is that too many union leaderships are still in Nulabour's pockets.

    I wouldn't argue for removing the TU link with the labour party though - thats just what the bastards want.

    Speaking of which i have just had an invite from my local LP to buy a raffle ticket (costing £10)to win a ticket to a dinner - guest speakrer a Gordon Brown!! Is he any good!

    They must be f'ing joking!

  46. You could always sell your winning ticket on ebay, annetan. And maybe donate your winnings to a worthy cause!
    Or we could nominate someone from here to send in your place - Hank gets my vote ...

  47. Yes but I'd have to win it first! I'm the sort of labour party member they thought they had got rid of you know the sort that thinks twice about paying £10 for a bleedin' raffle ticket.

    Oh and I wouldn't wish a Nulab dinner on anyone!

    I keep getting e-mails from the LP from Gordon, David, Harriet hazel...

    I really must block this spam.

  48. sartrecastic (great name by the way. Don’t think I complemented you on it yet) & Montana:

    In case you're still around and still wondering, here’s Tom Waits to tell you why the Lord is unavailable this week.


  49. Yep, you're right, a NuLab dinner might not be a venue of choice for many of us, and my idea of a jest could be misinterpreted as a punishment verging on torture, so apols to Hank if he's offended!
    Honestly though, a tenner for a raffle is extortionate for most folk - I'd rather give the money to my mate so she doesn't have to go to bed at 8pm in the winter, to save on heating costs. I'm sure you can think of a better way of spending it too.

  50. La Ritournelle returned after an increasingly long sojourn in the Wilderness of Real Life and went back to discover that Comment is Free was full of shit. I've posted an open comment to that arsehole Matt Seaton.... Comment isn't free.. it's a fucked, faceless, asinine wankfest.... wot a fucking shame and a sham.... fuck the Guardian.....fuck them all