Sunday, 26 September 2010

Ask Not What Essex Man Can Do For You

I tend to avoid CiF, but got so miffed with Julian Glover's awful articles, I wrote a post today which got 81 recommends, facetious and daft though the post was.

Seems to me that the tide is turning against neo-liberalism.

What really gets me is just how desperate many on the 'neo-liberal left' as it were, are to save far right economic policies. Just look at this. 'Britain's in Love with the coalition' apparently. Ok, maybe a vast percentage of lib dem voters have regretted their decision, and the cuts haven't come into place yet, but lots of metropolitan journos love the coalition, so nuff said.

'One of the biggest reasons for Labour's failure at the last election and for its significant losses in the Midlands and the south-east was its failure to retain the votes of a particular group of voters, termed by companies like Experian as "Happy Families". These families tend to live in new-build housing, many have got young children, have a household annual income of £20,000 to £30,000 and are cash and time poor. They depend heavily on their car and really feel the pinch when petrol prices rise. They are utterly demanding of opportunities for their children and want the very best in terms of service provision. They increasingly expect public services to be tailored to them in the same ways private sector companies like Amazon fit around their needs. While they account for 10% of the total population, in southern marginals like Milton Keynes South, they account for nearly 40% of the electorate.'

The hard electoral arithmetic is that if you don't win with this group, you can't win.'

In other words, try to appeal to the most selfish instincts of lower middle class east Anglians and you'll win? Sounds an ideal policy. After all that's how Atlee got in isn't it? He told a few thousand East Anglians that they'd have some more dough in the kitty if they voted fat boy out? And that's how Harold Wilson won a string of elections?

The truth is that Britain is at an impasse. Neo-liberalism has failed. But what is to come next? I personally believe that Social Democracy is the solution. But will there be a force to articulate this? The money for 'progressive' causes seems all to go towards socially liberal AND economically liberal media sources.

It is mad that our country has such a narrow spectrum of political opinion. Yet I suppose the neo-liberals have something which no tyranny has had: a political and media establishment with a near complete consensus on economic and foreign policy. Given the mood of resentment NOW and Ireland's double dip recession from their slashing spending, I feel certain that some oposition will come up. But I can't guarantee it will be as pretty as social democracy.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

What does it benefit a country if it polices the world and loses its soul

Whilst I think the current Tory party are a sinister bunch of idealogues, and their lib dem lapdogs far more odious (because they immediately betrayed their election pledges), one positive outcome has been that I've noticed a marked decrease in Russophobia in the Brit media and political discourse.

Too little apparently for 'democracy' advocate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, AKA Russia's most unpopular man. This billionaire was sent to the poky for illegal dealings, resulting in his becoming immensely wealthy when other Russians were famished.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad to see Khodorkovsky idealising Britain as a land of 'democracy'. Just look at Nick Clegg's selling out, and The Observer's response:

'But read today's brilliant Observer leading article for an explanation of why Clegg is hugging the Tories close instead. He's not stupid. He's not a Tory in disguise. He's being brave and smart.'

Yes, it was very brave and smart of Clegg to tell voters that he opposed the Tories cuts in the run up to the election then totally support the Tory cuts when he was elected. If you ask me 'brave' isn't an adequately flattering term; he deserves a medal for being so heroic.

Glover later patronises a commentor:

'Oh - and if Tories are Tories and Blair is a Tory and Clegg is also a Tory then you will wait a long time for an election not to be won with a majority by "a Tory".

Labour did it in 1945, 1950, 1966, 1974 (just) - any others recently...? Perhaps it's just that voters like leaders you see as Tories.'

Yes, except that people voted for Labour to keep the Tories out and the coalition only squeezed in because the Lib Dems ran as a party far to the left of their current position.

It just sickens me what a country Britain has turned into. It isn't just that laudatory epithets are heaped upon dishonest plutocrats, but that they are done so with evident sincerity.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Unintended Consequences

I feel very reluctant to write anything about The Pope's state visit to Britain. As a pastoral visit I am pleased and feel supportive for his traditional theology, his courage in fighting against relativism and the encouragement it will probably give to the British Catholics. As a 'state visit' I'm not so sure. This is primarily because there is a lot I don't really get about Catholic culture. For those who're baptised Orthodox, things are pretty simple: you're an Orthodox Christian if you say the creed and receive the sacraments. You're a culturally-Orthodox agnostic if you go to the occasional service to listen to the divine liturgy and meet people but can't recite the creed or receive the sacraments. And you're not Orthodox if you don't go to the services and hate the faith.

Perhaps because there doesn't seem to be such a thing as a 'lapsed Orthodox', I'll never get articles like this. 'I was baptised Catholic, I don't believe in God, couldn't recite the creed or receive the sacraments, but that's not to say it's none of my business. If I did go to church then I might not go to the church because I don't agree with the Pope so I'm entitled to be patronising towards people who do go to church and receive communion because I wouldn't agree with them if I did go to church even though I don't go to church and wouldn't go to church even if they did things the way I want them to'.

And because Benedict XVI is being invited on a state visit as a cultural figure, I don't really know what to make of it given that many people who feel affiliated with his culture don't seem to have much affiliation for the whole religion thing.

It's not entirely surprising that Johann Hari claimed that he got lots of praise from 'Catholics' for his piece of drivel here. Those who remember those 'secular cards' where white atheists use wisdom and rationality might want to read this. Or maybe even Hari's own links, which demonstrate that he's speaking drivel.

Speaking of which, Poly Toynbee tries to outdo him. I'm not sure which one of these intellectual midgets coined the term 'the religious', or indeed if either of them were (ahem) 'clever' enough to do so. But Toynbee plays it for all it's worth. Though she says something oddly illuminating:

'On Friday he meets the Archbishop of Canterbury, who ought to send him off with a flea in his ear for trying to seduce over to Rome Church of England clergy opposed to women bishops. His beatification of Cardinal Newman for converting to Catholicism is an affront, along with his claim that Britain's Equalities Act "violates natural law" for banning discrimination against women and gays.'

In case anyone doesn't get the politics of Anglicanism, I don't either really. But it generally breaks down to this: some Anglicans are Protestants who think that ministers are just people in general; other Anglicans are Apostolic and believe that the Priesthood is a succession carried down from Christ through men. Subsequently, a lot of the Apostolic Anglicans want to leave the Church. So why should that be of interest to Toynbee? Firstly, because the Protestant faith has given Britain a sense of being different and superior to Europe. Secondly, because Anglicans are uncle Toms in new atheist Britain who set a standard that other churches are judged by. Needless to say, it isn't as if they're respected or anything by the atheists (far less small-o orthodox Christians, in the Anglican communion and out of it) but they are a useful tool.

Also Toynbee has a curious obsession with women's bodies in the faith because it seems to me that oddly enough it's secular blokes who consider themselves feminists who really have a weird obsession. Take this article on Lady Gaga's latest stunt. If a bloke said 'I'm afraid of losing my creativity through my willy', would he be regarded as a silver-tongued wit, or maybe just a dysfunctional weirdo? But because a woman says this kind of thing it's clever to the secular feminist blokes.

Having said that, if anyone thinks that Blighty is a land of metrosexual drones, think again. Violence, rudeness and aggression are many-headed hydras that are omnipresent in our streets where pockmarked youths will start harrying anyone seen reading in public. Can we really feel so smug about secularism? Especially as they are outbreeding the (cough) middle class atheists. Yes, they might not have much more time for church than the Rationalist Association's archetypal atheist, but it's pretty clear that the Rationalist Association's ideal of an atheist wouldn't wear burberry and that their (cough) middle class atheist would be on their knees begging the vicar for a lift if he had a car and they were in an inner city region on a Friday night.

Still, back to the Pope's visit. Things are getting stupider by the day. This letter, however, is in its own way interesting for demonstrating how wrong Matthew Arnold was in his Athens/ Jerusalem dichotomy. Look at what a meagre bunch this lot generally are: Steven Fry is a likable and affable chap, but his achievements don't really go much further than being a famous Brit who's more likable than Anne Robinson or Simon Cowell. I was sorry to hear that Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with Alzheimers, but really, is this writer of abysmal, adolescent farce really the best arts figure they can conjure up? And look at their points of condemnation:

'Opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids.'

What? Not supporting efforts to stop poor people having children and instead supporting the surest method of stopping AIDS? The horror.

'Denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women.'

I think this really sums up a lot of the creepiness of many 'new atheists'. Are they saying they support abortion for 'the most vulnerable' but they respect the Vatican's view that unborn children shouldn't be disposed of if they are inconvenient? Of course not: they like to keep a foot in the camp of self-righteousness without going against the consumerist status quo about life.

'Promoting segregated education'

This hits home the suburban cosy view that secular schools are morally neutral and that it isn't the case that they will be exposed to values which have been pumped into other kids through the internet and TV. Maybe it's all very well for the Dawkins and Pullmans to send their kids to public schools in the 'burbs. But many working class Catholics might not want the same thing for their kids.

There are some criticisms of the Vatican I would find it difficult to dispute. But it seems to me that the open letter is notable for having two children's writers as its most popular literary figures.

Could it be that as it becomes increasingly obvious that secular Britain is a dangerous kindergarten that Titus Oates style hatred of a certain minority might be less appealing? Of course, it will be appealing to the childish people that our society lionises: but maybe the rest of us can't be bothered getting on our high horses. Furthermore, as a historian I see anti-Catholic predjudice as a great evil in British history that has never been addressed.

Of course, that isn't to say that the Roman Catholic Church is above criticism. But in an atomised and cold society, brutal demagogues find it easy to incite hatred at a close-knit diaspora. It is precisely because fundamentalist Protestantism had failed to unify British society that it found such ugly outlets. I suspect one can say the same thing for fanatical atheism.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

History against Humanism

I reckon that I'm opposed to humanism as a historian rather than as a Christian. Taking our own country especially, with the oldest and proudest history in the world, according to David Cameron, there are some evidently nasty things about human nature. Just read about the 16th-17th Centuries.

But some observations about folks in general:

-There are many people who inwardly find it hard to believe that something can't be their business
-Whenever the state has told people that something is their business when by any ethical standard it isn't, it never lacks its fair share of informants, nosey parkers and spies
-There are many people who like to think they share in other people's achievements, purely by believing/ not believing in something
-There are many people who like to think they are smarter than they are. And no organisation has ever lacked fanatical adherents after telling people that they are pretty sharp cookies by default.
-There are many very stupid people who like to think that they are cleverer than they are because they believe/don't believe in something.
-There are many lonely people who are looking for belonging, and they will owe strong allegiance to a group where they feel they belong.
-There are many selfish people who want to feel good purely by not believing/believing in something
-There are many people who will want to feel self-righteous anger at people who've never met them, wouldn't want to meet them and would have no interest in meeting them. Religion and irreligion can both fulfill this need.

For this reason I find this website really disturbing. Just look at its title 'rationalist association'. Sounds cool, how do I become a member of the rationalist association? An IQ test, or summin? What? Oh, just not believe in God. That's cool, but I was led here by this man. And Hari isn't the only atheist I've seen praising Melanie Phillips, who also stands for everything negative about religious culture. Then there's this cartoon:

Get it, the Pope is oppressing poor, stupid people in the third wor- oh, did I say 'stupid', I meant 'poor helpless victims', or does that sound patronising? Who cares, it's right isn't it. Especially what with him getting them to have kids.

Then there's these cards; clever white atheists and agnostics are beset by stupid darkies apparently. Such is the state of modern Britain. I suppose though, it is good to know that atheists are more exasperated than angry. Hopefully exasperation at the inferiority of other people won't lead to massacre of the faithful like what happened in Mexico, China, the USSR, Communist Poland, Nazi Poland, Viet Nam, Cambodia etc. And so great to know that the group that includes Hitler, Lysenko, Mao, Stalin etc. is so perfectly rational (and obviously I'm not saying that these people are typical atheists but that surely they should stop people from letting their egos expand purely because they don't believe in God; I mean even my benchmark for feeling good about myself is slightly higher).

Perhaps I wouldn't find these things quite so disturbing if I actually genuinely believed Britain to have a robust rationalist movement. I don't. The very success of Johann Hari's illogical, historically illiterate drivel* is evidence of this. And whilst the atheists like to patronise Britain as a land of rationalism due to low church attendance it is also a country that consumes vast amounts of drugs, alcohol, sedatives, depressants, anti-depressants, stimulants, sweeteners, TV, electronic gadgets, and which has a very low regard for reading or education.

Britain is also a country with a largely disenfranchised majority, vast differences of wealth, high unemployment and a high proportion who work in jobs they are overqualified for and immense anger and hatred. To me it seems a country full of people who are desperate for a sense of meaning, and if the economic crisis leads to a depression, then the bread and circuses might come to an end. I don't think Britain will be a pretty country when that happens.

It seems to me that 'humanism' offers an ideal religion for this outcome. It has a strong (though I think very superficial) sense of fellowship, an unembarrassed attitude towards narcissistic self-praise, a belief that rationality can be reduced to a few axioms, a moral code that is seen as equally axiomatic, a surprising degree of compatibility with racist views of Western superiority and (perhaps most of all) a common enemy which provides the cement between dissimilar people.

Of course, some would say that the same thing applies to many religions, and I would entirely agree. However, to say that because religious societies can have some flaws does not mean to say that the same primates in an irreligious society cannot have the same flaws. Surely to say so would be profoundly irrational?

*Hari wrote:
'The smart, questioning and instinctively moral Muslims – the majority – learn to be silent, or are shunned (at best). What would Christianity be like today if George Eliot, Mark Twain and Bertrand Russell had all been pulped? Take the most revolting rural Alabama church, and metastasise it.'

Presumably he means if writing by these authors was pulped, but if it wasn't for Anglo-Saxon writers then churches in non-Anglophone countries would all be in the (as it were) dark ages? Also gotta love Hari's idea that 'smart' and 'moral' Muslims 'learn to be silent'; in terms of being clumsy and patronising he pretty much outdoes Chris Morris's 'who says AIDS guys are puny'

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Oh Tony Boy

You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh.

Our dear ex-leader has cancelled a book signing in London:
He added: "I'm really sorry for those - as ever the majority - who would have come to have their books signed by me in person. I hope they understand."

Strange in a Stranger Land

Following on from the Morrisey post and why I find it bizarre that people think immigrants are diluting British culture, I was walking down the street yesterday and I saw someone asking two young soldiers (who looked about 12 and 14 respectively) to pose for a photo.

This gave me mixed feelings. On one hand I was grateful that the guy was making the soldiers feel important and valued. I'd guess most of our soldiers know the two most recent wars we've been involved in are deeply unpopular, and whilst they also hopefully know that we hope for their safety and mourn at their deaths, it really must be psychologically gruelling knowing that you enlisted to defend the country but you could be horrifically maimed or killed for a war that the people don't want, and which has no ultimate goal. For this I thought it was quite touching.

On the other hand I think that it is dangerous to sentimentalise the military. I find that's a path that leads to the demented Fox News world whereby the very people who think no cause is too stupid to send American soldiers out to be killed in are the very ones who claim to be backing the military.

Anyway, as I was pondering this dilemma an astoundingly gormless (but nonetheless very confident) middle class young man started doing wolf whistles at the soldiers and saying 'sexy'.

That really annoyed me more than I expected. Bearing in mind the two soldiers didn't look old enough to shave, I thought that it was exceptionally disrespectful and offensive.

As far as I feel, Britain is a changing country. Thankfully I think overall Scotland has changed less than the rest. But I really don't see what migration has to do with it. Being a bit of a nutter, when reading for friends' children, I keep hoping they'll ask me to read a Dick and Jane book because I love the Britishness of it all (my friends kids are half-Greek by the way). But frankly, I'm sure that few modern Brit kids do read them: they're probably more likely to be shooting cybernetic police men on their playstations. The rudeness of modern culture is quite astounding, but instead of inventing straw men to blame (like immigrants) it's as well to try and make the case against such rudeness and trying to speak up FOR traditional British values.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Ringleader of the Tormentors

It's always difficult when you see a person or a country that you admire being attacked for just reasons.

And this time, it really does seem that Morrisey has said something truly awful.

However, I can't help feeling that Te Graun's coverage is exceedingly poor. A journalist, whose name seems to have been invented by Chris Morris, Alexandra Topping writes:

'But tomorrow he reignites a simmering row about his views on race in an interview in Guardian Weekend magazine, in which he describes Chinese people as a "subspecies" because of their treatment of animals.'

Don't know if you can write in the continuous tense about tomorrow, but then Te Graun didn't get its nickname name for nothing. However, surely if it's so offensive Te Graun can decide not to publish the interview? After all, they are getting on their high horse because Morrisey's trying to attract attention by being offensive. Surely they aren't going to do the same thing whilst adding cowardly disclaimers? If anything that would be even lower. Especially from a paper that published an editorial saying 'Justice and reason have finally prevailed after nine months of mass hysteria on both sides of the Atlantic, hysteria and moralistic prejudices' after a middle class director who raped a thirteen year old avoided being extradited.

And did they have the same banner when Martin Amis called for people to get rough with Muslim kids? Did this receive so many throat clearing condemnations? No, because no one has any idea what Martin Amis 'thinks'. It's just a group hallucination that he is any kind of intellectual. And anyway, he offered the disclaimer that it was a thought experiment, which I'm sure settled a few minds.

By contrast, their coverage of the Morrisey song Bengali in Platforms is also completely idiotic. One of Morrisey's gifts is for ambiguity. Is this song written from the point of view of the Bengali or from the point of view of Morrisey looking at the Bengali or the point of view of someone else looking at the Bengali? It's never stated. That's the beauty of Morrisey's songwriting.

Then there is the same thirty year retrospective of Morrisey's supposed racism. Firstly, I find it amusing that wrapping himself in a Union Jack is so controversial. How many British rockstars wear the Stars and Stripes? In truth despite or because the USA has oppressed so many nations, it is seen as the de facto flag of Britain by many. Secondly, he write another cryptic song called National Front Disco.

Lastly there are his comments on immigration into England, which is far from being a simple issue. I notice that no-one actually tried to refute his view that British identity is diluted by large scale immigration. Personally, I don't care that much, because so many British want to assume an identity that is more American than anything else. Yet I think that it is precisely because it goes without saying to our elite that Britain should be morphing into a little America that they found Morrisey's comments offensive.

Is there also an element of class hatred? This is difficult to tell because Morrisey's comments on the Chinese sadly were very offensive. Yet I can't help feeling rather negatively about other Graun comments:

'And then, let's not forget, there is the rest of a vast catalogue that has nothing to do with race. In the best of it – from There is a Light that Never Goes Out to I Know it's Gonna Happen Someday – the words mix with the music to speak to a human condition that defines people of every race. And that, I am sure, is what will be remembered long after this silly old man has finally got off the stage.'

There is little thought that Morrisey might apologise for his comments, or redeem himself in some way. But then, could this be a thought articulated before Morrisey even opened his big gob on the subject of the Chinese? Could it be that they really don't want a rock star of working class origin to continue on the stage? Maybe there is a paradox in Morrisey's career. On one hand, he could be seen as the ultimate working class boy made good. On the other his career path was so contrary to the simplistic path of neo-liberal dogma, writing his songs when on the dole, writing 'Margaret on the Guillotine' when he was getting rich.

Indeed, whilst the sight of our national flag can bring so many 'leftists' out in hives, the brutality shown towards the industrial poor is one area where they have little dispute with the neo-liberals. Many of the others who showed anger at Thatcher (whose views on privatisation, manufacturing and the industrial regions are pretty centrist by today's status quo) such as Roger Waters are now happier with the Countryside Alliance than any working class movement.

In this day of middle class boring musicians, meaningless music with no social awareness, idiotic lyrics which only use ambiguity for sub Carry On style entendres and abysmal melodies, I think Morrisey's achievements look greater by the day, even as the idea of an intellectual, individualistic rock star whose work thrives on irony and ambiguity is seen as a dated concept. I would be sorry if indeed he did 'leave the stage', though sadly I think if he did he would have to admit it was partially his own fault.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

There you Go Again

Te Graun has been looking into the abyss of Bliar's memoirs and seeing their own reflection:
'We know all we want to know about Brown the grump; Blair says nothing fresh on this. But as to Brown the irredeemable statist, the roadblock to reform, as the Tories used to put it, he is revealing.
Their shared government was riven by an ideological dispute, not just one of personalities, from the start. The disagreement is most explicit at the end: Blair's attack on "state spending dressed up as fiscal stimulus", his mockery of the resurrection of Keynes by people who like big government.'

Yes, Tony the enemy of 'big government': unless that meant invading Serbia, invading Afghanistan, invading Iraq, wanting to extend the period of time someone could be held without trial, blanket CCTV surveillance, helping Israeli planes fuel when they were blowing up Lebanese kids, saying nothing when the Americans were dropping white phosphorus on Fallujah, letting civil liberties collapse, pumping money into the banks, introducing laws that photographers can be imprisoned for ten years without evidence of wrongdoing. Not to mention continuing the neglect of poor areas resulting in an uneducated underclass that will be dependent upon the state.

Of course, Tony was the enemy of 'Big Government' if this means the people owning the means of health, transportation, manufacturing and income. However, frankly, in 21st century Britain this is what the English middle classes seem to fear most. I just wonder how long it will be before Social Democratic Europeans will be the subject of French Revolution era caricatures of mindless, ape-like peasants?

Glover bends his knee to Fettes boy Bliar:
'Yet the impressive thing for such a commanding figure, the only rival to Attlee in Labour history, is that he confesses to an absence of control.'

Yes, Harold Wilson was a tactical and intellectual giant next to Bliar but he was somewhat common wasn't he? Let's focus on how impressive it is to show a lack of control and thought. Yesterday I ate fifteen pies. Isn't that impressive? What? Lack of control isn't impressive if it's in dirty commoners, it's only a madey upey sort of pseudo-compliment for sycophantic 'liberal' journos to give to a rich person who's failed by almost any objective standard? That's interesting. Are there plenty more where that came from?

'There are also standard grumbles, such as a sustained attack on the media – odd from a man who courted Rupert Murdoch and admits to "a grudging respect and even liking for him".

But since that is what he thinks, he is right to say it. The book is redeemed by such truths. Blair has a world view and is unafraid to describe it, bigger and bolder than anyone else. You can say he was mad. You can say he was a flawed genius. But you can't say he didn't matter.'

See it is redeemed because he's honest about liking and respecting a misanthropic Australian market fanatic whom he was allegedly saved to save Britain from? Would someone not from Fettes be 'redeemed' by that?

No, I suspect that the class system is stronger in Britain than it's been since the 1940s. The only problem is that our 'betters' no longer have any social conscience. Come a reborn social democrat movement.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

21st Century Schizoid Man

I'll never forget the day that Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair. Within an hour every tea-cosy, every sugar cube and waste paper basket was nationalised. When I stepped out into the street I thought they'd started shooting the remake of Red Dawn in my own town. Red banners everywhere, soldiers with AKs looking for enemies of the people. It was crazy.

What's that? It sounds like I'm speaking bullshit? Well spotted, I am speaking bullshit. In truth I have no recollection of what day, month or year it was that one plutocratic pro-surveillance, pro-humanitarian intervention, pro-privatisation, pro-banker New Labour type came and when another went.

And what with the absolute nothing of Bliar coming out with his (no doubt ludicrously self-serving memoirs) it seemed that Te Graun had really captured the Zeitgeist:

They even brought out their oily untermensch John Crace to come up with yet another of his sarky pisstakes for anyone who can be bothered.

Ah but what greeted me this morning?

Appears that the article last night was wrong. Mega wrong. Bliar's book is really a fount of wisdom for the young uns. And a careful analysis of how Brown lost the election.

'But his book reveals numerous occasions on which the struggle between the two New Labour titans sapped the strength and direction of the government, leading Blair to delay his handover to his chancellor.'

Just so's you know, when I previously described the Blair/Brown conflict as a clash of the Titans, I was being sarky.

'Blair nails his policy colours to the mast in his memoir by launching a sustained attack on the belief that the financial crisis means that voters want the return of the state as a major economic player.'


"Labour won when it was New Labour," Blair writes in his memoir. "It lost because it stopped being New Labour."


"The problem, I would say error, was in buying a package which combined deficit spending, heavy regulation, identifying banks as the malfeasants and jettisoning the reinvention of government in favour of the rehabilitation of government. The public understands the difference between the state being forced to intervene to stabilise the market and government back in fashion as a major actor in the economy."

Uh, yes. Brown was a notorious enemy of the bankers and savagely attacked them entirely unjustly by blaming them for their mistakes. And even before that Brown disastrously regulated the banks. The Brown in Tony Bliar's head that is. And look at his Reaganesque use of the word 'government' without an article as a commodity rather than as an immensely complicated construction. Couldn't 'government' take over public transport to make it more efficient? Can't 'government' do better at educating people? It's Bliar's very Reaganesque vocabulary after running a supposedly Social Democratic party that demonstrates the paucity of his thought.

Reading Te Graun really makes me feel that the left is pretty irrelevant now. It has never gotten over its yeoman servitude, and the idea that there is any interesting ideological debate between Blair and Brown only makes sense in the light of Britain's class system.

Perhaps the editors did try to feign a lack of interest in Bliar's big book of bullshit, but they just couldn't sustain it. Everyone knows that Bliar was a disaster, but the Fettes boy will still effortlessly gain kneebending reactions in the Metropolitan middle classes.

So I say, bring on a pure form of social democracy, divorced from identity politics and 'humanitarian intervention'.

Of course there is also a need for a civil liberties left, but it says everything that this interesting news piece was shunted out of the limelight by Te Graun in favour of Bliar's book. And in fact Te Graun showed little interest in the Tomlinson case which was primarily brought to light by responsible citizens. Could it be that social democracy can do better whith the Guardian, the Labour party and other neo-liberal sell-outs? Given the financial situation of the Labour Party, Te Graun and The Independent, we could be about to find out.

To its credit The Guardian does produce foreign journalism like this, which is very important, given that the right wing papers tend not to criticise that lovely outpost of progress in the Middle East. But I do think that it is untenable in attempting to uphold a kind of liberalism that is too right wing for social democracy and too socially liberal for the right.