Friday, October 9, 2009

Taking Offence: Satire and Offence

freewordIf you are in the Islington area tonight, Guido is chairing a discussion with Martin Rowson, leading cartoonist and author, Caspar Melville, editor of New Humanist, to discuss the impact of the growing sensitivity to offence on political debate.

More details here.

Kaminski : “New Statesman’s Shoddy Journalism”

Almost every time Guido writes about James Macintyre an email arrives in the inbox complaining about everything from mis-spelling his name to not giving the whole truth. Once he complained bitterly that some nuance was wrong (that he hadn’t formally applied for a job with Ed Miliband, but had been considered for a SpAd job with Miliband and was furious when he discovered that his close buddy Derek Draper told Ed not to hire him – if you are really interested).

The tone is often: “Are you going to correct that o’ fearless truth seeker? Or just bathe in inaccuracy as ever? Which one?”

Macintyre’s journalism, such as it is, and Guido is in a position to verify this with documentary evidence, often amounts to little more than emailing a Labour spin doctor, and asking them have they “got any dirt”. He was not so long ago sniffing (pardon the pun) around for cocaine-related dirt on Cameron. Fair enough, Guido is in no position to criticise Macintyre for muck-racking. This was the manner in which he got his famous “Obama thinks Cameron is a lightweight” line. It was fed to him.

Macintyre has been pushing the Labour spin line that Michael Kaminski, the Tory ally in the European parliament, is some kind of anti-semitic, far-right extremist. Some have been urging Kaminski to sue the New Statesman, Kaminski tells Iain Dale in this month’s Total Politics

What I’m facing here in the UK is not only a very disappointing standard of political debate, but very disappointing standards of journalism.  Rabbi Schudrich made a statement about the allegations in this magazine. He sent them a statement and they ignored it. They didn’t print it.  Rabbi Schudrich made it very clear that he didn’t want to make any political statements about me, but he wanted to make clear that he has nothing against me and does not regard me as an anti-Semite.  Come on. Just recently, I came back from Israel where I was received at the top level of government.  I had my statement posted on the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs.  The Israeli ambassador to Brussels accepted my invitation to visit our group next week; can you imagine that the Israeli state would receive me if they had any doubts about my attitude towards the Jewish people and the state of Israel?

Now it is clear that either Kaminski or Macintyre are not telling the whole truth, and the Rabbi is the one in a position to settle this outright once and for all. The word is that Rabbi Schudric is going to make a definitive statement.

Quote of the Day

Friday Caption Contest (Katherine Jenkins Edition)

Sir Michael Clarifies His Mistooks

In a piece mocking my old friend Sir Michael White earlier this week, Guido incorrectly suggested that at a fringe  meeting he mistook someone for Ray Lewis, when in fact he says he mistook them for Shaun Bailey.  On the Guardian politics blog this morning Sir Michael writes that Guido is a loyal and credulous Tory on the basis of this logo posted after the Cameron speech:

its-in-the-bag

Which is of course such an off message piss-take, rather than a credulous knicker-wetting show of enthusiasm, that it made CCHQ press officers wince.  Sir Michael should really count to ten before writing his 1000 word huffs…

Change You Can Believe In?

ready-for-changeReflecting on Cameron’s speech it strikes Guido that it had some good themes, particularly the attack on Big Government; “government got too big, promised too much and pretended that it had all the answers” and the little reported promise of a return to sound money policies.   The emphasis on the family unit as the essential foundation of society, the emphasis on lower taxes for the lower paid and the education reforms which are the most exciting manifesto promise from the Tories, all sound good.

What is a little unconvincing is the idea that in government the Tories will roll back Big Government, policy after policy is statist; the Tories are proposing 17 new quangos, threatening to put up taxes and devoid of privatisation proposals. When the leader of the LibDems is sounding more right-wing on taxes and implementing “savage spending cuts” than the leader of the Tories, you wonder who is really offering real change?

Prime example of the Tory credibility deficit: it was George Osborne who committed the Conservatives to match Labour’s spending plans until 2011, to howls of outrage from many of his supporters – Tim Montgomerie was very vocal that this was a big mistake, John Redwood was diplomatically unimpressed.  Now the Tories decry Gordon Brown’s past overspending and his fiscal recklessness in every speech. Do they think we have forgotten that it was they who supported those very same spending plans?  They were asked repeatedly at the time what would happen if there were no “proceeds of growth” to share and ducked the question.  The Cameroons have bought into the Finkelstein argument – which is entirely political – that it is expensive to be radical, that it is nigh on impossible to dramatically change the course of the ship of state, that  across the board tax cuts are politically and economically too difficult.  So much so that these aspirations are hardly voiced.  If you don’t aim for the stars you won’t even get off the ground in  government, the civil service and vested interests will thwart pragmatists every time.

Except in education policy the rhetoric of change is not matched by commitments to really radical change.  The rhetorical onslaught on Big Government is not matched by a commitment to shrink the proportion of GDP swallowed by the state.  In some parts of Britain, particularly in Scotland and Wales, the state sector is of Soviet proportions to the local economy, with public sector employment dwarfing the productive sector of the economy.  That has to change, Cameron half-quoted Martin Luther King; “When you are right, you cannot be too radical…” – so offer radical change.


Seen Elsewhere

Does Europe Really Want Britain to Quit? | Nick Wood
Immigration Nation | Hopi Sen
Tories Choose Anti-Israel Candidate in Rochester | JC
Osborne’s Daycare Obsession is a Time Bomb | Kathy Gyngell
BBC Marr Pinko Trying to Ban the Queen | Speccie
Eric Hobsbawm: Companion of Dishonour | Standpoint
Guido Party Gossip | Iain Dale
Russell Brand Comes Out as 9/11 Truther | Guardian
Health Revolution is Underway | Fraser Nelson
UKIP Gets Professional | Red Box
Kelly Tolhurst Wins Rochester Open Primary | BBC


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Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Cameron’s refusal to pay the £1.7 billion EU bill by December 1st:

“Well, then he’s gonna pay on December 2nd”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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