04 March 2010


Frederick I Barbarossa became King of Germany in 1152.  Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico in 1519.  The National Institute for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck was founded in 1824.  It was renamed the Royal National Lifeboat Institute in 1858.  Jeanette Rankin from Montana became the first woman to serve in the US House of Representatives in 1911.

Born today:  Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), Alan Sillitoe (1928), Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), and Kenny Dalglish (1951).

It is the feast day of St. Basil and his companions.


  1. Just got an e-mail from LP Wales about Michael Foot. Some really moving tributes.

    They also included Gordon Brown's - notable only for the absence of the S word!

    Welsh Labour's general sec however said 'We have lost a great socialist and a splendid human being'

    I'll go with that!

  2. But don't listen to the awful mocking 'tribute' in the graun - Simon Hoggart and michael White.

    Nasty mocking piece- just what you'd expect really.

  3. Michael Foot, one of the greatest Prime Ministers Britain never had.

  4. Sheff - great quotes from Mr. Foot last night. Do we have anyone - anyone - in politics today who thinks that way?

  5. Sad,sad news about Michael Foot. Just as depressing are the supposed eulogies from the vilest of vile Newlabbers. Gerald (I'll have an £8,000 telly on expenses) Kaufman is particularly odious in today's Times

  6. Radio was playing lots of excerpts from Foot's speeches yesterday - fabulous stuff, can't imagine any of the current crop, really, being that committed and 'real'...

  7. It is a sad state of affairs, when the only viable successor to Foot, as an orator, is the boy Hague!

  8. Sad about Michael Foot, one of the last links with the old Labour originals of the 40s and 50s. But I have conflicting views about him; he was far from right about everything, and too much of a romantic when surrounded by hard-faced political operators. Still, he had an impossible job as leader, squashed between the SDP and the Bennite/Militant entrists, and held the party together for Kinnock, particularly, and Smith to inherit.

    Not sure about the oratory, either. But he was a great writer, and a great symbol. How come Benn became a national treasure instead?

  9. Oh God, Gogarty-esque column up by a 19-year-old who is taking something of a kicking.

    Mind you, as her thesis is 'politics is meh, I can't be bovvered', perhaps rightly so.

  10. Philippa - Yes; depressing, isn't it? It's interesting that she comes from CtrlAltShift, though, the Christian Aid youth front that got into trouble for publishing antisemitic material on Holocaust Memorial Day. Other Guardian yoof contributors have been pulled from there as well, maybe because the Guardian's own Bibi van der Zee is a contributor. The writer also has Natalie Hanman and the moderators in her corner.

    Must pop back and see if the shoeing is continuing...

  11. PeterJ:

    I entered university in 1976 and the head of department got into a conservation with me in which Tony Benn cropped up. The Head said that Tony Benn was much vilified and misunderstood. Later, in 2004 & 2005 emails convinced me that Mr. Benn is a good cut above the later lot.

  12. Much as I hate to see a young contributor getting a BTL mauling, when you come in as a cross between a 'Skins' character and Kevin the Teenager displaying wilful ignorance then you're going to get it in the neck.

    A wholly depressing article.

    Until I went on to the Naomi Klein article and saw MAM take the mauling of his life.

    That cheered me up no end.

  13. Philippa: Those who have a go at her only do so because she is a woman and they are misogynists. (This line of reasoning is pretty en vogue in Germany at the moment, be it 17 year old bestseller writers who are found out having stolen passages from other books, to Lutherean female bishops ignoring a red traffic light because they have 1.54 per mill - any man who critizes their behaviour is a storm trooper of the patriarchy.)

    And now, I'll have a look at what's going on there ...

  14. @Medve

    I was at university a little earlier than you, and my political teeth were cut during the Heath/Wilson elections of 1974. In those days Benn was in and out of cabinet for various reasons, and only arrived in national consciousness when he had the Militant boots on the ground after Thatcher took power in 1979. His views became more and more bizarre, and his divisive deputy leadership bid against Healey didn't help; it split local parties, and if he'd won rather than narrowly lost things would have got even worse.

    A lot seems to have been forgotten these days, and he's regarded as an eccentric uncle. A step above the current Labour crop? Well, yes, but that's not much of a step, is it?

  15. That yoof article really is beyond the pale. 50 Cent? Jesus christ, how did this girl get anywhere near a politicial youth organisation? It really is a depressing piece, really depressing.

  16. your grace, thanks for the tip, will pop over and pick over the rubble.

    laurie penny article about 'crazies' possibly about to take a similar level of kicky.

  17. am halfway through the klein thread and, yes, am feeling very cheered...

  18. Afternoon all

    A MAM mauling? I must get over there quickly...

  19. He's a total troll. First on the thread every time with his despicable support of all that is wrong on the world.

    But waving the flag for Pinochet is really scraping the bottom of the barrel, even for him.

  20. I note that Ms Sherine has a new hairdo and has had to draw attention to it by pretending that she's fed up with strangers asking her where she's from.

    Who's zooming who in the Guardian. They close the comments on the controversial threads but keep this open presumably hoping that the comedy writer will sound funnier the more people read it.

    BTW I thought GB was reasonably heartfelt on Mr Foot.

    Is MAM a girltroll or boytroll

  21. MsR

    I have no idea if MAM is a girl or a boy. Rumours abound. Whoever they are they are one sick puppy.

  22. Hello all.

    How nice to see that MAM is getting a mauling.


    There's a school of thought round here that MAM is indeed female. deano's got it sussed & generally refers to MAM as herm.

  23. MAM is a swarm of young interns at tory HQ, they got a bonus when it won Ciffer of the year. The start of the rot if you ask me...

  24. I thought the winning theory was that MAM is a black-ops computer programme that's managed to escape from NORAD but somehow got stuck in the Pluck server...

  25. Just read the Klein thread. Glad to see MAM has had his head shot off and rightly so. Why I wonder, is he the only BTLer who has gone ATL and kept his annonymity. I want to know how the little creep swung that one.

  26. @philippaB I only associate Norad with tracking Santa so please don't put MAM on that map!

  27. The yoof thread has been quite something. Had to do lots of w*rk today so have only been able to catch up to about 2.20.

    MsR - I thought Sherine's piece was a light-hearted bit about conversations you dread. I've had lots of similar ones, although it hasn't been implied to me that I somehow don't belong in the country I was born in. A lot of people seemed to miss that point on the thread.

  28. Is NORAD not the NSA system? Ah, maybe not then. Although Santa v MAM would be an interesting smackdown...

    thauma - aye, I thought Sherine's thread rang pretty true, from stories I've heard from various mates. Posted the 'watford' one, thought better of another mate's response (reported by a mutual friend) when he got it from a workmate, went:
    Them: Where you from then, Chand?
    Him: Coventry
    Them: Nah, but before then?
    Him: I was born in Coventry. Check the accent.
    Them: Nah, like your family and that, where d'you come from?
    Him: I'm your boss, yes?
    Them: Yes
    Him: I come from 'I can get you fired'. It's your round.

  29. Philippa - excellent virus post on the Crazies thread!

  30. I come from 'I can get you fired'. Genius!

  31. thauma - ta! result of a very odd conversation yesterday morning with flatmate - couldn't resist, when I saw the piece

  32. Just wanted to pop in and give a quick cyber hug for Sheff. So sorry for your loss.

    I have family visiting at the moment so no real time at all to drop in. And quite gutted that I haven't got time to see MAM get a kicking. Maybe later this evening! They are probably going tonight. Just had to have a quick read up of all have missed on the UT for the last few days, courtesey of a little white lie about needing a 'quick lie down'. Mwahahaha.

  33. Aaargh.

    Have been trying to get hold of a great and good friend for a couple of weeks now, and have just succeeded in reaching her complete arsehole of a husband, but not her. She is living in the Gun-Totin' People's Republic of Texas.

    So, she and I having shared many a glass of wine whilst bemoaning the vicious bastard she stupidly ended up marrying, I post this song (again) as a tribute: simply not good enough.

  34. Libby Brooks article up recently ... weiiiiird!

  35. For Deano, from Libby's thread:

    SchoolBully: Turgid and impenetrable. It reminds me of the old Truman Capote joke about Jack Kerouac' : 'This isn't writing, its typing.

  36. Sorry to hear your news, sheff. Nice rum tribute though.


  37. The Graun are leading again on Ashcroft with the story that he channelled the £250k bill for the opinion polls through Belize, thus avoiding VAT.

    Not really a big story in itself, and as we'll be told ad nauseam on the blogs tomorrow, tax avoidance is perfectly legal.

    But the Tory spokesperson's line, distancing themselves from it by claiming that "we do not recognise this as Conservative party polling" is weak as piss.

  38. OK..fell for it...looked at the yoof thing. What a crock of shit CIF is.
    It's bad enough they put up a piece from someone with nothing to say who lacks the ability to even perform that adequately, but to then try and 'engage' with her is just fuckin outrageous.

    If they're going in for stunts full-time now, can't they try something life threatening? I fuckin despair...what a gang of fuckin arsewipes.

  39. "If they're going in for stunts full-time now, can't they try something life threatening?"

    You don't think they've been trying that for some months now, mate?

  40. Loved the post on that thread from Isabella Mackie about what an outrageous punk she was when she was a yoof, orange hair and black lipstick and two fingers to authority without a care for the consequences.

    Always easier when you know that your Dad's gonna give you a job on his paper once you've gone through that awkward phase.

  41. "The Graun are leading again on Ashcroft with the story that he channelled the £250k bill for the opinion polls through Belize, thus avoiding VAT."
    Oh, for heaven's sake. So he, personally, or his corporation, in Belize, 'benefited' as the real customer from those services?

    Hasn't 'use and enjoyment' been brought in for everything yet?

  42. It's avoidance, Philippa. Nobody cares about avoidance.

    If we did, we'd be firebombing the offices of KPMG and launching airstrikes on Liechtenstein.

  43. I'd start with S-----y C------s and G---t T----n meself, but I see what you mean...

  44. Have read the LIbby thread.

    have necked a couple of painkillers and poured a glass of wine.

    still lost.

  45. Actually, PB, I'd start with the Isle of Man.

    I'm easily scandalised when it comes to tax havens, but when those tax havens are being subsidised to the tune of c.£200m a year by the UK government so that they can stay afloat, and then budge up on their lifeboat to make room for British entrepreneurs to avoid UK tax, I wonder why I bother doing what I do for a living...


  46. Nice one thauma!

    "After ....a hallucinatory seizure in 1980 that required hospitalization, Capote became fairly reclusive. These hallucinations continued unabated and scans revealed that his brain mass had perceptibly shrunk"

    A well qualified literary critic - methinks not. A waspish diminutive toerag - methinks so.

    Still I enjoyed 'looking him up' and his biography was an interesting read. Having read nothing at all of his, I think it a gap I should remedy. My education is ,as ever incomplete.

    The provocative photo of him as a male Lolita is amazing!