The Harriet Harman "ginger rodent" remark, what is it? Could this be a joke or an insult? On the other hand is it an example of drollery or defamation? Then again an observation or a slight? You do see the problem don't you? Being who she is, Harriet Halfmoon, would not do things normally, there would be a reason. Most of the time she's not just 'doing things', oh no! She's doing things on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed. That would keep most folk busy but then Hurrypot Harpoon also administers to the vulnerable. And you have no idea how many of that tribe stalk the earth. They seem to multiply like flies. Don't forget this is all straight-forward stuff too. When you factor in the gender related work load, it's mega.
The noise is deafening, there's so much upset about the politics of the moment. David Cameron's attempts to reform Housing Benefit have, along with the hope of doing the right thing at the EU budget talks, formed a manic duet; and that's this week. Last week the big noise was the proposed Immigration Cap. Alas for the coalition all of these topics are rooted in EU related problems. This is so annoying as the EU was supposed to be a 'done and dusted subject'. It was supposed to go away and leave them to get on on with receiving the adulation of a grateful public happy with the outcomes of their constant efforts on the nation's behalf. These three things: Housing Benefit (HB), the EU budget (EUb) and the Immigration Cap (IC) are related and not just by their decibels and date.
The relationship is based on immigration, economics and welfare and 'fairness'. It will take a while for the heat generated by the HB proposals to turn into light. But even at this early stage common sense tells us that the present way of dealing with HB is unsustainable. Change had to come because we could not economically afford to continue with the current system. While common feeling suggests that when the spotlight falls on the high level levels of immigration into our cities, especially London, this too is not sustainable.
If you want a job done well then choose the best worker you can find. So when it comes to reporting on anything to do with London politics then Andrew Gilligan has made himself the ultimate craftsman of this specialised trade. Gilligan's apprenticeship was served sifting through the fine detail of Ken Livingstone's two terms in office as Mayor of London, this made him many enemies. However, it also brought him the 'Journalist of the Year' award see HERE.
The police would no doubt have been happier had Gilligan not been in the habit of always describing the former head of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, as Nulabour's "top copper".Another Gilligan case proven when we recall that Blair was dismissed by the new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, for being a road-block to progress.
The left loathe him, one Guardian journalist very much so, but Gilligan showed his worth and independence by becoming a skilled 'Boris watcher' in no time at all. By contrast the Guardian journalist seems to have dropped off the radar.
It was natural that the less than wonderful Lutfur Rahman and the IFE, the Islamic Forum of Europe, should come to the attention of Gilligan.
It always the little things. But then, in politics, what are the little things; how do you spot them before they become big things? At the moment the conventional political folk are besotted by the coalition's attempts to cut back waste, or just cut back, and so restore the financial health of the UK. The state broadcaster, Al Beeb, has a ready stream of factoids showing how babies will die and we will all have to learn to make tea from tree bark. Some other news reports, usually more right of centre, concentrate on defence cuts. This is presented as if the armed services are a sort of extreme sports club for gentlemen and should be left to do their own thing without interference. The notion that this has to be paid for is not addressed. It all a bit like Arthur Scargill's miners strike, "just let us dig the coal, it's our right".
Watching the Labour leadership battle was a strain, it went on far too long. The tedium numbed many a person's brain and so skewed their judgement. Common sense, not always on show with anything to do with Labour, favoured the Miliband bothers, the rest were make-weights. Before the ballot it was wise to say David Miliband was likely to win, which this blog did. For this would have been the sensible thing to happen but common sense versus Charlie Whelan is not a fair fight so the younger fella got it. During the hustings as the months rolled by the other big battle, Ken Livingstone versus the rest, was being played out to a London only audience. Whoever won the leadership battle would have to come to terms with Livingstone. For he was always an odds-on favourite to win the nomination and to do so 'on his own'.
What to make of Angela Merkel and her comments on modern Germany? See the response from the Guardian and the Telegraph. This is a rather complicated situation with several powerful ingredients. There is Merkel herself, the symbol of a united Germany. The multiculturalism of which she was speaking can be seen as either a race or religion based concept, or perhaps both. Then there is the economic aspect behind her comments, modern Germany, the EU and the collapse of world markets that are giving Germany the jitters. In other words it's something for everyone, something to latch onto or to reject. Always a darling of the liberal/left Merkel will have upset many of her fans. Much as the liberal/left have created Obamamania, they have drooled over Merkel. Born behind the Iron Curtain and now the leader of the largest country in the EU. Thus assumed to be the de facto champion of the EU and a woman.
Someone is wasting their time, but who? Andrew Marr caused a bit of a stir, though not as much as he might have thought, with his comments on the blogosphere. Now we have John Simpson and his pennyworth. Marr, speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival gave his opinions of blogging thus -
Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all. A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people, OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk.
Isn't it wonderful when people say what they really think? However, as mentioned above, Marr's words won't have reached the audience in the way he might have hoped. I know many people turn him off when he appears on their screen. The very cruel leave him on but have the sound off, this man entertains, oh yes he does. But does he inform us? Probably not. The term Mainstream Media, usually written as MSM is seen a lot, what does it mean? If you take it to mean all of the non-blogging media then this is too crude.
The financial trouble that "began in America", as Gordon Brown was always keen to remind us, still lumbers on. In this post the effects of the trouble were looked at and the proximity theory explained, well now there is more to consider. In one of the best articles of the weekend another theory is put up for scrutiny. This suggests that the UK and Ireland did not fully understand what was going on, 'wrong maths' was to blame. In the Celtic tiger post the relationship between the Irish and ourselves was dealt with and the main reason for the UK's lucky escape from the trouble facing Ireland was not being a member of the euro. Lumbering on indeed, as the crisis has been doing this for so long we have become accustomed to it, and also for so long that some serious analysis has been possible. Doing this has been Tim Bush, he trained as an accountant and is a regular writer on the academic end of accountancy.
David Davis - if you mention his name in some quarters the reaction is extreme. There's a person I'd describe as 'traditional Tory', who goes into a tizzy and talks of a "toys out of pram moment"; this refers to Davis resigning from his parliamentary seat on a point of principle. It's like a man thing that is, real men don't do this. However, Davis and his principles are also misunderstood in more leftward leaning circles, look no further than the Guardian and dog-in-the-manger Michael White, here it would seem it's simply traditional leftie tribalism. It's tempting to assume that, as Davis upsets such a broad spectrum of people, he must be doing something right!
Can you remember the Celtic tiger? This now extinct animal once roamed the financial world unchallenged by any predator. So what happened, what did it eat and why did it die? Well first a quick look backwards. The romantics would have you believe that Ireland has always lived under the yoke of the British. And if you are looking for a nation of romantics then look no further than the Irish. Also, if hyperbole could be exported then the whole Irish population would be fabulously wealthy. Put the two together and you get the foundation of the ongoing theme 'Brits bad, Irish good'. Using this as a platform, umpteen novels and plays have been written and, ironically, some have made the authors rich.
We could call this the proximity theory - as for example Russian and Finland, yes the latter has a right to complain but in the case of the UK and Ireland it is, I think you will agree, a bit different. Here it's a mixed bag, advantages and disadvantages. Has there been a tradition of Finns going to work in Russia? I think not. Likewise did the rouble ever support the markka? Whoops! Showing off again! The markka predates the euro in Finland. The fact is, life was hard in post WW2 Ireland but then so it was in most of Europe and for roughly the same reasons.