Sunday, February 27, 2005

Tory Moderniser: The Tabloids Ate My Homework

Personally, I never rated Douglas Hurd, but you've got to give him some credit for penning such an honest insight into the world view of the Tory moderniser. If you're in a hurry Douggie has fortunatly provided one sentence which sums up the essence of their philosophy:

I suspect that every home secretary would agree with Charles Clarke’s final conclusion that there was no advantage in altering the present law which permits the reasonable use of force against burglars
Ah well then, that settles it! Hurd doesn't even appear to conceive of the idea of the Home Secretary as the servant of the people and the Law as the reflection of the common morality. It is against this background that we should judge his complaints against the newspapers. Indeed, Hurd's charge sheet is a perfect example of the rule of thumb that 90% of the time when people attack 'the tabloids', they really mean 'the public'. Criticisng the tabloids is just a way of calling the public STOOPID by proxy. We're all honest-to-goodness, salt-of-the-earth types, but those nasty tabloids keep warping our tiny, little minds:

Anyone interested in prisons or our criminal justice system knows how the public are pushed towards brutality by part of the press — by the reporting of court cases, the exploitation of the understandable misery and anger of vulnerable victims.
Are you getting that ? Us primitives are being manipulated by the tabloids and their cunning strategy of reporting what goes on in our courts, and reminding us that it's not all some detatched intellectual exercise. I can see why m'learned friends would be anxious not to remind us that their Gramscian lunacy has real-world consequences in terms of shattered lives, but I'm not sure why anyone should think the tabloids should help them along in their deception.

As if to ram home the point that Tory modernisers have given up dealing with the public, in favour of seeking asylum on the Islington dinner party circuit, Hurd chooses to attack one paper in particular. Can you guess which ?

In its triviality, the press supposes that we cannot absorb sustained argument. It prefers to deal in symbols. These are selected to stimulate one of the three qualities which the press particularly favours in its readers — brutality (including envy and blame), fear and sentimentality. These qualities seem to be particularly highly regarded in the Daily Mail.
Now, let's get this clear. The Daily Mail is Britain's biggest selling paper, and generally pro-Conservative. The modernisers often cast the Tory Right as this decades' Militant. Well, here's a moderniser effectively calling eight million potential Conservative voters idiots. So which side of the Party is really disloyal ? Which is too extreme to engage in practical politics ? Hurd's rantings bring to mind the old joke about the GDR government dismissing the electorate and appointing a new one. Apparently, the reform Hurd has in mind for the Conservative Party consists of throwing out all the Conservatives.

At risk of stating the obvious, newspapers face election every day. There's a word for editors who let their papers get out-of-sync with the public: unemployed. The Press deals in extremes, but its flaws are those of the public writ large. Great leaders recognise that fact, weak ones….well, here's Hurd again:

Politicians are there to use their judgment; if they abdicate that task too often, there is no point to them. We can remember dangerous dogs, the firearms legislation after Dunblane, and, more recently, questions of gambling and drinking hours.
Would it be excessively 'tabloid' to point out who was in power when the Dangerous Dogs Act passed and the first round of post-Dunblane witch hunts occurred ? Let's not mention the Balkan experience. That's what Hurd is really on about. Just as Hurd tacitly admits that to report fairly on what happens in our courts is enough to rouse public anger, so any fair analysis of the philosophy espoused by Hurd and his fellow travellers would be devastating. That's the thing that really bugs them - they have the right CV, the right pedigree and they're the talk of the cocktail circuit, but every time their ideas get exposed to real people, they get laughed at.

Bible Makeover

Say what you want about Ken Livingstone, but he does do a smashing job of exposing the absurdities of Liberalism. As Scott points out, Livingstone can't hardly complain about being labelled an anti-Semite - after all, he helped foster an environment where people were branded racists on far weaker evidence.

Then again, for all the pounding away at PC from the Right, it looks like it's the Left that'll finally free us of this garbage. As Livingstone perfectly exemplifies, language that ten years ago would resulted in the speaker being labelled a Nazi is now perfectly welcome in Liberal circles (not that that's an entirely positive result). Similarly, with every passing minute since a certain person became US Sec State, the Left has started sounding more like Bernard Manning.

All of which gives me a perverse sense of anticipation, given that it is the African and Asian branches of the Anglican church that has been most resolute in upholding Christian traditions. The Left has made a good start, comparing opposition to gay Bishops to slavery ("Yes, Julian, people refusing to give you a job as a bishop is exactly the same as abducting you to a foreign continent and working you to death"), but I bet that's just a taster. Remember, a moron rapping about raping white women and killing Jews is an authentic guardian of black culture, but a Kenyan Christian is just some primitive fool.

A Liberal Screams....

While Eason Jordan got the ol' heave-ho over his moonbat theorising, the BBC appears more relaxed about it employees turning up for work in the latest tinfoil fashions. For an insight into why, consider this comment I received from a BBCoid over my report on Nik Gowing's rantings:

I have just read Nik Gowing's original piece which you find so objectionable.
Yes, you read the piece because I linked to it. On the other hand, the BBC's attempts at balance involve interviewing fellow travellers about what their opponents might say, if the Beeb would ever interview them. So, tell me about journalistic ethics again ?

It is factual, well-argued, and not in the least rabid.
This is how Liberals argue. They get caught bang to rights, then insist point blank that everyone else is insane. For the record, Gowing claimed that the US and Israel were involved in a Vast (and doubtless Right-Wing) Conspiracy to murder critical journalists. This is factual, well-argued and non-rabid ? To ask the question is to answer it.

I suggest that any readers of the comment above should go to the original and read it for themselves.
Yep - that would the comment linked to in the article - I repeat my earlier comment.

Perhaps they will then be able to judge who they would rather have bring them their news - highly experienced journalists such as Gowing, or politically-motivated know-nowts.
Ah, yes, the abuse. This is Liberals superior intelligence in action. 90% of Liberal arguments devolve down to some variant of YOU'RE STOOPID. This is the true measure of how Liberals feel about democracy. The Left wets itself about supposed grass-roots activists taking on multinationals, but they start channelling medieval popes when they get called to account.

I think you can guess which I would rather trust.
Trust whoever you want. Some of us like to see actual evidence. But if you're going to take the rantings of nutty Nik at face value, at least do us the favour of stopping sneering at US Christians - at least they're honest about their views being based on faith.

George W Bush Is A Poo Brain

Jeremy Vine has always struck me as the type of bloke who is more than usually likely to be found hanging around primary schools. Imagine my relief when last Thursday's show proved that he was really just looking for inspiration. First item was - I kid thee not - a debate on who's more frightening Putin or the BushChimpler. Needless to say, there was no one arguing the 'Grow Up & Get A Life' position. Does anyone who can be trusted with sharp objects really lie in bed at night terrorised by the thought of Vlad or Dubya ?

Of course, that's the thing. We had some ex-Guardian loon banging on for ten minutes about the evils of BushCo (apprently, they haven't established democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq, after all - they must be plastic fingers that got inked) then Jegsy asked the 'Bad Vlad' guy how he would argue against that and he frankly admitted that, actually, he agreed with it all. Ah, yes. That was the deal. This was the Beeb's definition of balance: 10 minutes of unhinged ranting about Bush balanced by 10 minutes about A N Other. Expect further debates on whether Bush is as corrupt as Robert Maxwell, whether Bush is loonier than David Icke and whether Bush is more dangerous to kids than Ian Huntley.

This is public service broadcasting!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Tip For The Day

When trying to quell suspicions that you're a collection of out-of-touch elitists with no interest in serving a large part of your customers, try to do better than breezy arrogance, a stupid canard and an absurdly biased example. Otherwise, you end up with something like this:

Every day, BBC News is accused of bias by small sections of the audience. It's either pro-Tory, pro-Labour or pro-anyone but the complainant. In the run-up to a likely general election, we asked Andrew Marr to respond.
I wonder what the reaction would be at the Beeb if any other company sneered at customer complaints this way. If Railtrack had dismissed complaints like this, we'd never have heard the end of it.

Aside from the high-handed tone though, the substance of the point is absurd. Sure, some people attack the Beeb for being too right-wing, but they also attack the Lib Dems & Labour for being too right-wing. Speaking personaly, I'm fat - and that would still be true even if Michael Moore was my next door neighbour, and so it is for the BBC and bias.

Besides, despite what the Beeb likes to imply, questions of BBC bias aren't mere matters of taste, nuance and the like. Take this one from last week. Marr can indulge in whatever polysyllabic adjectivising he wants, but the information given was objectivly not true. Never mind the Beeb's attempt at 'cheat & retreat', does anyone really think that a similarly vile slander aimed at one of the Beeb's favoured victim groups would be aired ? That's your bias right there.

But, it gets worse:

If [the general election] sounds complicated, the European constitutional referendum, assuming it takes place, will be even harder.

Individual parties are split. The "yes" campaign will be united in calling for a single outcome - the EU constitution ratified.

But the "no" campaign will include a range of opinions, from people who are not happy with this particular constitution, to people who believe our national interest requires leaving the EU as soon as practicable.

Fairness, or balance, will involve explaining this without implying the "no" campaign is incoherent, simply because it is divided on the ultimate outcome.
Say what ? By that measure the 'yes' campaign is similarly diivided, comprising as it does folk who want a single country of Europe right now, people who want to work towards a USE and even people who claim it's all just a tidying up exercise. More to the point, why even mention incoherence if you don't think it applies ?

If you believe that I and my colleagues at the BBC are honestly and rigorously trying our level best to be fair, and that we do not have preconceived political positions, then you will be likelier to relax and concentrate on the information, not the informant.
But that's the point. Even in an article disavowing bias Marr slanders the Eurosceptics - and his editors let him -most probably because he doesn't see it as bias at all. He thinks it's a truism that the Eurosceptics are a ragbag of prejudices while the Eurofanatics are the very model of coherency, and there's no one around to tell him differently. That's the thing - for all this talk of diversity, the only type that really matters is the type they won't support - diversity of opinion. As long as the publically-funded BBC is allowed to remain a political monoculture then it can't help but continue to be biased.

Root Causes

Our future PM notes that the Countryside Alliance is now bulking up Conservative canvassing. That is good, but it just emphasises how rare this sort of thing is. On the dark side there's no end of supposedly-independent organisations ready to carry water for the Left. Of course, one reason for the disparity between the L3 and Conservatives is simply this: we have jobs. Still, there's something more to it than that. While IDS can write about the internet enabling people to punch through the Metropolitan bubble, his fellow Conservative MPs are busily planning to cut their own members out of the leadership elections. You can see why they'd want to though, they wouldn't want to be stuck with a loser like IDS when they could have a real winner like Howard. Ahem!

That the Conservative Party lacks the supporting infrastructure that is SOP for the Republicans over the water is, at least in part, a deliberate choice by the Party. As a result, not only are the Conservatives deprived of resources and bodies, but there is also a psychological dimension to all this. Back with Peter the C: here he is pointing out how the Conservative Party has managed to end up to the left of the public on key issues. Of course, it may be true that the Conservative Party is too far to the right of the public on other issues, but that just rams home the point that this is a Party that has become detached from the proverbial man on the Clapham omnibus. The Party has been seduced by the Metropolitan elite to the extent that they have no faith in their own philosophy, such that they won't say what they actually think. This mean that on issues such as crime, where all the indications are that the public supports a hard line, the Party soft pedals. Meanwhile, the same reluctance to explain the Conservative philosophy on areas such as healthcare and the like leaves the ground clear for the Left to explain what the Tories really mean.

That last point is important. Unlike US Republicans, the Conservatives have been conscientious objectors in the Culture Wars, yet trying to promote Conservatism in a Liberal-dominated culture is doomed to fail. Conservatives must engage with the underlying culture. To take one example, here's JohnJo on the cultural aspects of gun ownership.

Yes, yes - you may hate guns, think they're evil, whatever, but the general point remains true: JohnJo argues that campaigning for greater gun ownership in a fundamentally hoplophobic culture is a losing proposition. Instead, gun owners must try to take on the culture, breaking down taboos and confronting stereotypes. Whatever the specifics of gun ownership and the like, this is exactly the type of thing the Conservative Party should be supporting.

Needless to say, the Left - Gramscian as ever - has long recognised the benefits of fighting KultureKampf. Consider, for example, the role of supposed 'consumer groups'. Has anyone ever heard of a report from these people claiming that everything is just ducky, let alone one arguing for less regulation ? On the contrary, these people serve a dual role. Of course, they provide a figleaf for further governmental obtrusion into private business, but there's more to it than that. These people seek to cast the world of private business as a snake pit, with all the cards stacked against any ordinary bloke like you, so you'd best stick close to Nurse. Just as long as the Conservative Party will not call organisations such as the Consumers Association what they are: unrepresentative groups of extremist left-wing zealots, then they will face an uphill struggle promoting greater personal responsibility. Und so weiter across the board.

Finally, consider this: Conservative grandees often sneer at the American Right precisely because they don't hesitate to fight the war street by street. It's too chaotic, too ranty, full of loudmouth idiots like Coulter and Rush, instead of the refined, civilised, even cultured Conservativism that prevails in Britain. But just look who's in power.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A Loser Speaks

Yowser! 82% of the public support the Conservative Party's proposed immigration reforms. Normally, you can't get that much agreement on whether the Sun will rise in the East. Amusingly enough though, support falls when people are told that these are Tory policies. Who'd have thunk that associating an idea with a cesspit of sleazy, vile, corrupt, amoral, perverted, snobbish, treasonous, lazy, deadbeats would tarnish it ?

You may be able to guess which aspect of this the ever-unbiased Beeb emphasises. Equally, experienced Beeb watchers should be able to guess who they went to for a quotation on this situation. Yep - if you guessed Stephen Norris, you are a WINNER. .. Oops best make that 'Leading Tory Steve Norris'. Leading what exactly ? The 'Association of Media-Friendly Potemkin Conservatives' ?
Anyway, Norris sez what the Conservatives really need is a fat, fatuous Northern Uncle Tom to show that they're "different from the party of the past". Considering that the Party of the past won elections, it seems like they're already doing a pretty good job of differentiating themselves.

Needless to say, the not-so-great man's prescriptions are equally asinine. "I worry that some of the issues prioritised so far, like immigration and tax cuts, are designed to appeal to our loyal supporters and won't be enough to persuade the unconvinced." I mean, excuse me Fat Boy, but 82%! Either Tory core support is a lot larger than you'd think, or Norris defines an 'unconvinced voter' as a pot-smoking social worker in Lambeth. Or possibly Norris's talking garbage. Again.

How exactly is Norris qualified to talk about winning over voters anyway ? Norris is the living embodiment of the media/human divide, he's feted in the press as the very model of what the Conservative Party should be, but every time actual, real people get a chance to give their verdict on him, they give him a good kicking. The Conservatives are the biggest party in the London Assembly and they have MEPs in London, so there's no reason why a Conservative can't win, yet every time Norris goes for it, he gets annihilated. Those little sermons about electability would have a lot more credibility if he could ever get, y'know, elected.

Amusing though it is to consider the Grand Canyon size chasm between Norris's posturing and his actual achievements, we shouldn't let the epic scale of his failures blind us to the absurdity of his actual points. Norris would have us believe that we live in a post-ideological world, where the public is turned off by conviction politicians, in favour of politics as therapy and managerialism. Hey - there's not much you can say in favour of Ken Livingstone, but at least he's no Tony Blair. Not only is Livingstone an unabashed moonbat, but his most significant (nay, only) achievement in his first term was to introduce a whole new tax on commuters. If you wanted to test the hypothesis that the public prefers touchy-feely managers over angry and divisive ideologues, then you couldn't do better than a match-up between Norris and Livingstone. So far, the experiment been carried out twice, and both times Norris has been exposed as a flatulent babbler.

Here's the bottom line: Conservatism is popular, Conservatives aren't, so Norris has decided that the answer is to throw ideas overboard and base strategy on charm and personality. Doubtless some would dispute this characterisation, but what else is left after Norris's 'Everything Must Go' modernisation ? A Norris Conservative Party wouldn't argue on the basis of policy, they'd argue on the basis that they would the same stuff as Labour but, y'know, differently. But, again, we should not let the absurdity of the specific position blind us to the moronic nature of the underlying thesis.

Compare and contrast the most successful Conservative leader of the past fifty years with the most successful Labour leader. No one doubts Mr Blair's thespian talents, nor his ability to read the nation's mood, but when it comes to areas such as public sector reform, what exactly has been achieved in the last eight years ? Liberalism has no answer to the failings of, say, the NHS, other than more of the same. Conservatism, on the other hand, really does has something meaningful to say about how to improve public services, yet the modernisers would disavow all that. That's the irony here, for all their supposed devil-may-care radicalism the modernisers shrink away from engaging with the realities of politics. Want to know how to improve schools ? Don't ask Norris. Improving cancer care ? Sorry, he's on his coffeee break. Slag off Baroness Thatcher ? Now you're talking. Then again, Baroness Thatcher was almost a mirror-image of Norris: unabashedly ideological, genuinely radical and straightforward….oh yes, one other thing - she actually won elections.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

In Praise Of Plagiarism

The Educrats are worried. Plagiarism is on the rise, and not just on blogs. Personally, I've never seen the problem with it - I always looked upon plagiarism as condensed research. Besides, the educrats can't hardly complain, as even their own report admits:

If these students enter programmes where the 'rules of the game' are unclear, they might continue to use tried and tested approaches and thereby, inadvertently, plagiarise

Yes, indeed. Education is so mired in bureaucracy and sloth that plagiarism is the only logical answer. Take mark schemes, for example - lottery or what ? Instead of setting out an actual logical argument, students instead find themselves trying to guess exactly what it is about the English Civil War that Prof Smith thinks is important. Forget all that talk of learning to think independently, true success goes to those able to guess the contents of the examiner's check sheet.

Anyway, who's better equipped for life in the real world ? On the one hand, we have a guy dedicating hours to tracking down one specific report in a 1997 issue of Journal of Molecular Biology, on the other we have people setting up informal working groups amongst their peers, establishing relationships with students from previous years, outsourcing to subcontractors and the like, using a variety of communication strategies and technologies.

Doubtless, the traditionalists may claim students learn more from their time in the library, but is it stuff anyone needs ? I doubt even the average PhD student actually uses more than 10% of what they learned at undergrad level, but there'll always be a job for the man who can find a way to get to the pub quicker.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Weasel Happy Hour: Two4One Deal

Has there ever been a more pathetic lobbying body than the Portman Group ? Supported by the major drinks companies, these people are the Vichy Government of hooch. Supposedly representing the industry, their MO is to throw themselves on the mercy of the court on even the most insane of charges. On one side we have the Neo-Prohibitionists, lying, deranged, fanatics every one of them, while on the other there's the Portman Group, hand-wringling, snivelling appeaseniks.

Yet, just when you thought they'd hit rock bottom, they call in the blasting crew. Or rather the no-blasting crew. Yep - what's worse than appeasing Neo-Prohibitionist loonies ? Appeasing Neo-Prohibitionist loonies and hoplophobes.

Remember, if this sort of thing isn't stamped out now, then.... what exactly ? Will citizens of previously good character be driven to start hosing down pubs with automatic weapons ?

Actually, of course, there is a link here. Both the Neo-Prohibitionist and the hoplophobes - where they are not, in fact, the same people - deny human agency. Vitamin XXX makes people kick other people to death, just like the rays from a Beretta can drive even the most pacific of individuals into a killing rage. Evil doesn't exist - except in the form of Big Business and certain inanimate objects. We're all victims, and only Big Government can save us. But where does the Portman Group fit into the wider picture ? Well, here we have a body that has tried to adapt to the onslaught of absolute fruitcakes by internalising the whole laundry list of criticisms haurled at it. No charge has been too silly for the Portman Group not to take seriously, and no opponent has been too deranged for them not to reach out to. The results ? Ludicrous charges have been given spurious credibility and dyed-in-the-wool fanatics have been allowed to posture as respectable commentators, and what exactly has the Portman Group got in return ? Nada. In short, the Portman Group is the perfect example of the philosophy of the Tory modernisers in action, and about as succesful too.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Dept Of WTF ?

Via the Englishman comes news of another special interest group making its way up to the trough:

Cycling is not being promoted or funded well enough by the government, a sustainable transport watchdog says.
Get a bike, ride it. That's about it really.

Actually, I think the whiners themselves sensed they had a weak case, hence their reliance on that well-known tactic, the ludicrous comparison with Europe:

The National Cycling Strategy Board said the level of cycling in Britain is among the lowest in Europe with only 2% of journeys being made on two wheels.

Mr Justice Humpty Dumpty

Liberals often claim Conservatives are prejudiced. This is their attempt to pass off their complete inability to learn from experience as an asset. The goldfish-like collective memory of the Liberals causes all sorts of trouble - take the Parole Board, for example - yet it does have the advantage that Liberals trying to con the public into accepting their latest piece of moonbattery frequently forget the presence of a large elephant in the room. Which bring me neatly onto the question of self-defence.

Last week, the Government announced a bold new policy on self-defence, namely keeping everything the same. Apparently, we're all deluded. Actually, the law is just fine as is, it's just us lager-swilling imbeciles who don't understand it. The Government loves the idea of people defending themselves. Really.

Call me cynical, but the fact that they chose to announce this policy as meaning that people could kill burglars suggests that the leopard hasn't exactly put in for a whole new set of spots. That's what we want, of course. We want to kill burglars, and put their heads on spikes. Every person who ever spoke out against the current laws is a slavering sadist with an uncontrollable bloodlust. Not to give aid and comfort to the enemy, but Liberals, here's a tip: if you're trying to bamboozle people into thinking that you're taking their concerns seriously, you may want to avoid stereotyping them as a bunch of Hannibal Lecters.

As it happens, the supposed revelation that it's lawful to kill a burglar is absurd. The L3 remind us that it's legal to kill intruders providing you're using 'reasonable force' - well, yeah: by definition, if it's ruled as 'reasonable' then it's legal. The point is that what's 'reasonable' is so loosely defined it can mean almost anything - and what it means with the current legal establishment is that 'reasonable force' is a virtual oxymoron. That's what the public wants - not the right to rack up huge bodycounts, just the right to defend themselves free of the risk of a bunch of activist twerps spending 18 months to 'prove' that they acted unreasonably.

As long as the law is drawn up so loosely, then it offers opportunity for an agenda-driven legal establishment to push the party line. For proof of that, look at all the pots and pans thrown at those who do defend themselves. From the blank cheque given to the initial investigation, to the elastic definition of admissible evidence, all bets are off. Ever taken drugs, met a BNP member or been in naughty chat rooms ? Defend yourself against a criminal and this'll all be brought out in court. But now these people want us to trust them.

As it happens, we have the perfect litmus test available to determine how serious these people are. When first the subject of changing the law was broached., the CPS helpfully released figures showing that there were very few actual prosecutions of householders for defending themselves. Take that, Conservatives! Only problem was that the figures were completely bogus. Never mind Civil Service impartiality, isn't there a problem with prosecutors who make up evidence ? Apparently not.

That's the key point. Even while they're on their best behaviour they can't stop lying. They claim there's no institutional bias against self-defence even while producing bogus figures designed to weaken the case for a change in the law favouring those who defend themselves. Just as long as these people are allowed the latitude inherent in 'reasonable force' then they will continue to use the law to punish those who defend themselves. Of course, that's a good reason to change the law, but what of the wider issues ?

The way the legal establishment has connived to deprive members of the public of their basic right to protect themselves is symptomatic of a wider phenomena. The old joke says that the Left is quite happy for things to be settled democratically, providing only twelve people get to vote. We can make whatever changes we want to the law, but as long as it is left in the hands of an unrepresentative group of agenda-driven hacks the best we can hope for is a delaying action. As with much else in Britain, we are faced with a Gramscian assault the nature of which the Conservative Party shows no sign of comprehending.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Start The Clock

The tension is all consuming. Who'll be the first L3 journo to pen a hand-wringing article about this ? And how many times will the Liberal media refer to it in the next six months ?

Speaking personally, I think His Lordship nails it.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Oh, That Bias!

Check out the headline on this Beeb story. Yes, indeed. It's the logical conclsuion of the Liberal fliratation with post-modernism: robbing banks is peaceful, but pointing out that someone is robbing banks, why, that's just mindless thuggery.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

MSM Unhinged

Apparently the election was the last straw: the MSM have let go of their last grip on sanity and gone right over the edge. Needless to say, the Freepers are a scream over this.