Friday, January 27, 2006
Friday, January 13, 2006
In defence of George
The continual criticism of George Galloway is getting wearisome to be honest. The Independent devoted three pages to what a disgrace he is during the week; Richard & Judy have a daily segment on Celebrity Big Brother, which inevitably turns into a discussion of just how cruel Galloway is being to Jodie Marsh; and it all came to head for me watching Question Time last night, where Mark Oaten, Norman Tebbit, Mariella Frostrup, and Ed Balls (is there anyone in parliament any more bile-boilingly smug than this odious man?) and Matthew Parris were discussing what a joke Galloway is for being on the show, and how he is neglecting his duty to his constituents. It was time, I thought, to try and redress the balance.
George Galloway is a man of principle. He has a strong sense of morality, and this dictates his political positions. He backs these positions to the hilt with strong argument and rhetorical flair, something that is well documented. Obviously, someone with such strong opinions is going to cause a reaction opposite him, hence Galloway faces such strong opposition from such large portions of the media and political class. Almost invariably, Galloway comes out on top in such confrontation – he has undoubted skill, shown in the Senate last year, and shown again in the election, where he led his party to win a seat in its first election, an entirely unprecedented feat.
This, naturally, rubs his opponents the wrong way, and so they seize upon anything they can in an effort to discredit the man. The infamous meeting with Saddam Hussein, and the continuously quoted out of context 'Sir, I salute your strength, your courage, and your indefatigability', the continued (and entirely fabricated) controversy surrounding the Oil-for-Food programme, and any payments Galloway may have received from it. All of this provides opponents plenty of firepower with which to discredit him.
But why does Galloway generate so much controversy? Because he has no sense of PR, and rightly so. He values his principles over his public-image. He believes firmly, that the truth, and justice, will out, no matter how he is portrayed. And this leads to situations, such as the Hussein meeting in 1994, which would be unpalatable to any other western politician because of the negative PR it would generate. Galloway had no sense of this, but instead went to show his opposition to UN sanctions in place against Iraq, which were starving the poor of the country.
And so to Big Brother. Galloway saw this as a chance to push forward the anti-war argument to a bigger audience, but any such discussion has been edited out by channel 4, and Galloway is continuously bleeped out on the live coverage. It is effective censorship by channel 4, masquerading behind, I presume, this Ofcom set of guidelines. However, double standards are clearly present here, as debate about animal rights is allowed to be aired, whereas people agreeing with Galloway about the war on the first night are edited out. So Galloway is effectively silenced, and his reason for being in the house is removed.
And so it is galling to watch centre ground luminary Mark Oaten, and New Labour lackey Ed Balls mock Galloway, to an appreciative audience (many of whom confessed to be looking for a party to the right of the Conservatives to vote for – step forward the BNP), for making, as Matthew Parris called it ‘a PR blunder’. It highlights just how far style has become prioritised over substance in British politics. The contrast was highlighted by Mark Oaten, who just five minutes earlier had confessed that the three parties, now fighting over the centre ground, lacked any philosophy, any principles.
Galloway comes up against such strong opposition because he is an anomaly in modern politics – he prefers substance to style. It is a sad state of affairs when this is regarded as something to be criticised for.
(see also: Zoe Williams in The Guardian)
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Memorial fountain for the Queen Mother
Apparently the Royal Family are looking to build a fountain as a memorial to the Queen Mother, and have asked artists to send in their ideas for the fountain... I thought all you loyal readers would like to see my entry before I sent it of to the palace.
Perhaps a brief explanation is in order. My memorial shows the Queen Mother riding godiva style on a horse, showing both her love of the animals, and also allowing gratuitous 'pubes n' tits' pictures (original plans to make the horse shit money, showing her love of gambling, proved too difficult to construct). The horse is showing trampling a group of non-specific darkies, as I'm sure it's what she would have wanted. And finally, rather than water in the fountain, my memorial will have gin, which will liberally spray forth from the bottle she holds aloft, rather like Liberty's torch.
I await the palace's response.
Firstly, to the National Secular Society, as I'm always one to jump on a bandwagon, after 'The Root All Evil?' documentary on channel 4 last night, presented by Richard Dawkins.
And secondly, after he declared himself to be finished with blogging (a decision which lasted weeks), Luka Majuka has dipped his toe back into the blogging waters once more, with a changed address, Head Left. That isn't to say he'll be posting anything any time soon, but we can live in hope.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
More Big Brother
Call me Mr Silly, but is it really sensible to let Michael Barrymore into a house with an indoor swimming pool?
(I'm obviously referring to his lack of confidence in the water. Which is odd, because cocaine usually fills people with confidence, although one should always follow doctors advice and not swim up to two hours after your last line)
Friday, January 06, 2006
So George Galloway is in Celebrity Big Brother this year, which is all well and good. As is this rumour aired in Pandora in the Independent today:
* Could Oona King perhaps be tempted to follow the well-trodden path from political has-been to reality TV starlet? I only ask because sources at ITV say the former MP was asked to compete in Dancing On Ice, a version of Come Dancing, to be fronted by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.
"For some reason, Oona never made the cut," I'm told. "We don't know if it was her decision or ours, but it's a missed opportunity: look what reality TV did for Neil Hamilton and Ann Widdecombe."
King's office says she's on holiday until 15 January. This has led to separate (and, at the time of going to print, unconfirmed) rumours that she'll be jollifying Celebrity Big Brother.
Apparently BB will be as sadistic as ever this year, if not more so. I don't know if I can think of anything more sadistic than introducing Oona King into the house after a week or so, just to watch GG chew her up and spit her out on live television. Jolly watching all round.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Little Britan receives award for comedy writing...
An infinite number of monkeys could write Shakespeare, but it only takes two to come up with Little Britain.
Last night, David Walliams and Matt Lucas were awarded with the inaugural Ronnie Barker award for Comedy Writing at the British Comedy Awards. It is, appropriately, an absolute joke.
Little Britain engages in the cheapest, laziest form of comedy writing, that is, catchprhase comedy. It is the reason it is so successful - the catchphrases translate so very easily into playground language, mainly because they're not too far from it already. While in the first series, there was some element of intelligence in the writing, that has been ironed out in favour of crude stereotyping and the ever-present catchphrases.
The actual humour of catchphrases escapes me. How often is it funny to hear somebody say 'I want that one'? Yet the studio audience, and presumably the audience at home (the show receives absurdly high viewing figures), relish the prospect of this line being said twice an episode. Some would argue that the hunour comes partly from knowing what is going to happen next, but if this is true, then LB lacks the imagination to make the journey from premise to punchline entertaining for the viewer (a failure which is highlighted by the absurd, entirely predictable, but hugely entertaining comedy of errors 'The Worst Week of My Life', shown after LB). Even The Fast Show, the last big catchphrase comedy show, showed imagination, and allowed characters to develop within the established framework of 'what they do' - look at Ted and Ralph, for example.
By all means award Little Britian for gaining high audience figures, or selling a huge amount of merchandise, or even opening the gates for getting comedy off BBC 3 and onto the mainstream channels, but don't reward Matt Lucas and David Walliams for the quiality of their writing, as any quality is woefully absent.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Boris Berezovsky - motivated by greed
Boris Berezovsky was the subject of the opening episode of a BBC 2 documentary last week, 'Russian Godfathers' Berezovsky is one of the oligarchs who rose to prominence under Yeltsin. WHat sets him apart from Roman Abramovich et al. is that Berezovsky gained huge political influence in Moscow. So much so that it was him who proposed Vladmir Putin to suceed Yeltsin, which of course he did without election.
Things changed for Berezovsky when Putin took advantage of the huge wave of public support he had and turned on his makers - Mikhail Khordorkovsky, CEO of Yukos oil firm was imprisoned, Berezovsky himself was exiled, and is wanted by interpol. He currently lives in Britain, who granted him political refuge, and Israel, where he his allowed back due to his being a Jew.
Berezovsky now has one mission - to bring down Putin. He operates mainly through his newspapers in Russia and the Ukraine. However, he also financed the Orange Revolution that took place in the Ukraine last year, in which the Kremlin backed Viktor Yanukovych was displaced by the populist Viktor Yuschenko. The protest in Kiev that stretched out for weeks were funded by Berezovsky, in an effort to undermine the Kremlin's influence.
Berezovsky claims his motivation is to do what's good for Russia, and to bring democracy to the country. This is utter rubbish. The man has become obsessed with power, and is trying to win it back. Berezovsky had no regard for democracy when he put Putin in power with no election, and if he still held influence in Russia, he would still not care a jot for the will of the poeple. It is only now that he is exiled that he sees that the word 'democracy' is his key to regaining power. It is a pitiful and cynical manipulation of language that he his employing to justify his actions, and unfortunately it acts to cheapen that which he involves himself in, such as, regretably, the Orange Revolution.