Facebook, Politics, The Guardian, web

Facebook uncovered (if only trees and Guardian columnists could count)

This would be quite an interesting background check on Facebook’s owners’ peculiar brand of right-wing modernism, but then you find passages like this:

After 9/11, the US intelligence community became so excited by the possibilities of new technology and the innovations being made in the private sector, that in 1999 they set up their own venture capital fund, In-Q-Te

Even trees must know, by now, that 9/11 was in 2001. And by the time trees learn that 1999 is before, and not after, 2001, Tom Hodgkinson – the article’s author – will be still trying to work out how to sign up for Facebook.

Having said that, I don’t like Facebook myself.

Britain, gordon brown, labour leadership, Labour Leadership Contest, Labour Party, mainstream media, Martin Kettle, old media, Politics, The Guardian

The Selfreferential Guardian

In Saturday’s Guardian, Martin Kettle, commenting Brown’s campaign launch, asks

Will the lost Guardian-reading Labour voter really be as enthralled as Brown hopes at the prospect of greater scrutiny powers for MPs?

Now, the British electorate is composed of almost 50million voters, half of which are active, and the Guardian sells 366,000 copies (*), a good chunk of which are read by people who still vote Labour and by people who never voted Labour. Should we really assess Brown’s speech by whether it has appealed to the lost Guardian-reading Labour voters?

Britain, Financial Times, Google, newspapers, old media, Politics, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Herald, The Independent, The Scotman, The Sun, The Times

British Newspapers circulation

Google appears to be pretty useless if one is looking for information on British newspapers’ circulation figures. So I decided to make up for that. Below are the figures (taken here, registration needed) for April 2007:

The Daily Telegraph 898,817 (+ 0,29 on March 2007, -0,14 on April 2006)

The Times 629,157 (-1,62 on March 2007, -3,92 on April 2006)

Financial Times 452,930 (-1,76 on March 2007, -2,01 on April 2006)

The Guardian 366,556 (+0,1 on March 2007, -2,1 on April 2006)

The Independent 249,536 (-1,26 on March 2007, -1,34 on April 2006)

Scottish papers: The Herald 69,829, The Scotsman 55,645.

Just to get an idea of how this compares with tabloids: The Sun 3,047,527, The Daily Mail 2,300,420, The Daily Mirror 1,537,143.

Britain, Conservatives, democracy, general elections, gordon brown, House of Commons, labour leadership, Labour Leadership Contest, Labour Party, LibDems, Politics, The Guardian, Tony Blair

We, the people, are owed nothing less than a general election

There is something seriously distasteful about the way in which Gordon Brown has opened his Labour leadership campaign. He is not campaigning for a general election; he is not campaigning to become Prime Minister. He is, only, campaigning to become the leader of the Labour Party. So Brown should really spare as statements like the following:

I want to lead a government humble enough to know its place (*)

It is only a consequence of the system, and an unwelcome one, that, by becoming leader of the Labour Party, he shall also succeed Blair as this country’s next Prime Minister. Both the LibDems and the Tories have called for a general election when Blair goes. Neither believes in it, nor do they try to hide the fact that they don’t really want it either. The LibDems are shuttered, and they need time to pull themselves together. Possibly under a different leader. The Tories are on the rise, but they appear to think that they need more time to rise high enough to beat Labour. And the Scottish Elections results confirm that: Labour is so far ahead that it takes huge advantages in the polls to gain tiny advantages in the number of seats (it’s not just partial PR).

But this is not the point: the other parties call for a general election because they know they ought to; and they ought to because it is undeniably the fairest way of deciding Blair’s successor. The interesting thing is that Brown’s only argument for succeeding Blair without asking the electorate is that it has happened before – it happened with Major, for example. Now, it’s true that, in this country, in the absence of a constitution, past occurrences carry legitimacy. But they can only do so if they were themselves legitimate. In short, if there is any reason for thinking that a general election isn’t necessary. And Brown hasn’t provided any reason aside from the fact that is has happened before.

It could be proposed that the reason is the fact that the present Parliament has been elected to serve a full term, and that therefore, until that term expires, the present Parliament has the authority to elect the new Prime Minister. This is true; but it is also true that the present Parliament has been elected on the understanding the Tony Blair would himself serve a full term. Since that arrangement with the electorate has not been respected, the electorate is now due a general election.

But we aren’t gonna get a general election. And it is disgraceful that Brown is shamelessly campaigning to become Prime Minister. It is only the Labour Party that will have a say – not the country. So Brown should only appeal to the Labour Party, because the country is completely powerless. And here there is another detail of paramount importance: even if one accepted the previous argument about the legitimacy of the present Parliament, and their right, bestowed upon them by the people, to elect the new Prime Minister, it is indeed not the Parliament that will elect the new Prime Minister. It is the Labour Parliamentary Party, the Labour membership, and the unions. The latter two, evidently, don’t share the right that the MPs might have if one accepts the previous argument, which I don’t.

In short, we ain’t gonna get a general election – we’ll live with that even though it ain’t just nor fair. But at least Brown could show some respect for this country’s democratic system by campaigning, only, for the Labour leadership. One final point: it would also be a good way to distance himself from the Blair years if Brown gave the impression, from the outset, that he understood the difference between the Labour Party and this country’s government. They have been one and the same for the last decade, but they are two distinct institutions. And when a party begins to forget that, then it is time for that party to go – opposition is a very good cure for that kind of allucination.

Africa, Britain, god, Jackie Ashley, Politics, poverty, starvation, The Guardian

The Guardian of Privilege

Ashley at her best (I’d better stop read her before this blog becomes a Ashley-watch): yesterday she was actually cheering for starvation. Look here:

We talk earnestly about the spreading of democracy across Asia and, one day, Africa. But if it is accompanied by the material profusion and waste enjoyed by the western democracies – and that’s what billions of others want – then God help us all.

Dear God, please do help us! What are we going to do when everybody will actually have enough resources to survive? But I’m sure that, in your infallible foresight, you are have already been working hard to avoid such catastrophe. That would, indeed, explain many, many things…

Blairites, Britain, David Miliband, gordon brown, Labour Party, Politics, The Guardian, Tony Blair, Uncategorized

Granita 2

For a while now I have been thinking that Brown is willing to offer Blairites a new Granita, inevitably shorter, given his age and experience (read: the fact that he isn’t PM yet, but the public is already tired of him). Confirmation comes today, through Jackie Ashley’s column. She appears to be arguing that Tories fear Brown more than they fear Miliband, but in the end her message looks much simpler: please, please, Blairites, give Brown a chance (and he will reward you):

Come the general election it will not just be a choice between one man or another. The teams matter too. On the Tory website the team, and their problem, are vividly displayed: one young guy in an open-necked shirt at the top, and a platoon of fusty-looking characters in ties. Brown’s cabinet will be the reverse – a mature character in charge, and a lot of young faces around him.
Brown has been telling friends that he does not intend to be leader for ever, but to pass on within a few years to the next generation. Now he needs to embody that message in a new team.

The offer is now public. Miliband only needs to decide whether he’ll be happy to be Chancellor – or maybe Foreign Secretary – or whether he wants the top job. After all, not only today Brown can offer less than Blair could in 1994, but also his offer will inevitably appear not as juicy as Blair’s offer looked to him then: because it has happened already; because the Tories are on the rise, and because Miliband might actually have a chance if it came to a contest.

Britain, Conservatives, discrimination, Labour Party, New Labour, Politics, The Guardian, the left, Tony Blair, unemployment

The New Guardian

I have always found it stunning how The Guardian pretends to be this huge critic of the New Labour government while at the same time, when it really matters, like near elections, it always knows where to stand (and stands there unashamedly): with New Labour. You can also consistently find this tendency in articles that attack the Tory, like last week’s piece (by Jackie Ashley) on family values. I was surprised (but really reassured) to find Ashley falling wholeheartedly for the kind of New Labour rhetoric and propaganda from which The Guardian would, and should, supposedly, pride itself to be immune:

The real problem is a small proportion of deeply disadvantaged, poor, unambitious, badly educated people whose lives are falling apart before they have even begun.

Now what’s really surprising about this is not even that Ashley is blaming the poor for being poor; but that she buys into the idea that this is a “small proportion” of the population. Sure enough, Blair‘s legacy has largely depended on having enlisted lots of people to the ranks of the middle classes; but that maneuver depended on isolating, possibly even for good, a part of society, that Ashley seems to think it’s “small”. Not even the B. man himself would dare to say that. But I guess Ashley never sees them, the “small” people. And that’s the other truth about The Guardian and socialists in general: you can try to stand for folk to which you don’t belong, but it won’t last – and, more importantly, it will always end up in tears; ask History.

So one goes through thousands of annoying, badly argued, bias, unsurprising Guardian‘s articles, to find, in the end, that they can’t come up with anything better than New Labour‘s own vision for Britain – and at least Blair‘s speech-writers can sugar-cover it quite nicely.

p.s. thanks to Dave On Fire for the funky quotation tip.