What's in Paisley's Pants? Political ramblings about things that catch my attention... (rather than some smutty double entendre...)

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

We laugh less now than we did in the 50s

So says the finding of some scientific report that Richard and Judy talked about today. Not strictly true. I know that I laugh much more now than I ever did in the 50s.

Also espoused by R&J, political correctness is dead. Hoorah! Lets stick it up the nig-nogs once again!

My thoughts on Europe

The title of this post is a little misleading. I have absolutely no thoughts on Europe, as I'm too busy flicking between Celebrity Love Island and Big Brother whislt downloading the Crazy Frog ringtone, before going out and happy-slapping someone wearing my hoody, all the while trying to squeeze more topical things into this post, with a faint air of desperation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

10,000 men and all that

Met* the Duke of York yesterday. Had a funny body odour, kind of like new paint. Probably runs in the family.

*I say met, he walked right past and ignored me...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Picking at scabs

Almost as satisfying as the clotted blood variety.

Scabbity scab scab scab scabbity scab. Scab scab scab scabby Wogan scab scab scab. Scabbity scabbity scab.

Bet he's not really Irish either.

Recapturing the 50s, becoming more conservative, and burying heads in sand.

An interesting article in the G2 section today on the rise of an industry dedicated to serving a growing nostalgia for 1940s and 50s Britain. Andy Beckett proposes that this is indicative of an abandoning of the British inferiority complex. This is wrong: instead, it indicates the continuation of that complex, and the rise of conservative urges to return to a more innocent and better past.

Beckett gives examples of the success of shops specialising in nostalgic products – the picture shows a 1950s sweetshop, fronted by a man with a waxed moustache; the article opens with the change in fortunes of a couple who used to own a clothes shop selling 1940s garb which had to close, and are now having great success with a very similar shop in the middle of Norfolk; there is talk about he rise of fish % chip shops, and their conversion to (I presume) gastro-chippies. The value of beach huts, the regeneration of seaside towns, and the trend to buy ‘knobbly old potatoes from farmers’ markets’ are all given as evidence of the resurgence of interest in all things British. I can’t help but feel that he is a little misplaced.

The trends do not indicate the discarding of the British inferiority complex. If that was the case, then people would be interested in British invention of the early 21st Century, not of the mid-20th. British fashion and style would be popular now, and held up with pride by the media – as it is, British fashion designers go and work for European fashion houses, and the London fashion week has become a showcase for Princes Trust teenagers making clothes from the contents of a rubbish bin. The fact is, the trends do not show a resurgence in desire for British things per se, but very specifically a resurgence in British things from the past – the 50s are in demand now, just as the 60s were in the 1990s.

The 50s represent a golden age of innocence: Britain was coming out of a war victorious, and heading into a period of prosperity - they had never had it so good. The mood of the country was buoyant, and it was epitomised by the 1951 Festival of Britain, which celebrated all things British. Why would channel 4 choose the 50s for a television experiment comparing the education of two eras? Because the 50s epitomises so many things in the mind of the viewer – life was simpler then, neighbourhoods were friendly, children were safe playing in the street, the state provided for all our needs – and did so effectively, and we were unimpeded by all this modern political correctness rubbish. The real threat of nuclear war was not yet hanging over the country in the early decade, and while relations between Russia and America were growing colder, they were still relatively stable. The world felt safe.

It is easy to see how this particular sandbox can seem appealing to us now. If we believe everything we read – and many people do – we live in a world of uncertainties. 9/11 threw the western world into a state of turmoil: we were no longer safe, and what is more, we cannot see our enemy. George Bush’s Star Wars defence system couldn’t stop the planes hitting the twin towers, no more could Spain’s intelligence services stop the Madrid bombings. We don’t know whether to trust our Government any more. We’ve started fighting a war against an invisible enemy, an enemy which we can never catch, which produces a war which will never end. We have been told to suspect everything – bags in airports and in train stations, people acting suspiciously. We need ID cards, we need to put people under house arrest, we need to torture people in prisons. We must kick out these Muslim hate agents. We must curb immigration. We must stop immigration. We’re letting in terrorists, the terrorists are already here, they’re being trained in their hate-mosques. It’s not a call to prayer, it’s a call to arms. Left and right are no longer there – left is in the centre, right is out of sight. The left went with the miners and the Trade Unions. Call-centre workers don’t form unions – which doesn’t help when their jobs are outsourced to India. Everybody has a 2.2 in business management, nobody has any skills any more. Get a vocation, people say, but then complain that the vocational courses offered are meaningless. How simple the 1950s must seem to people caught up in this madness. In the 50s, boys learnt woodwork at school, the girls did sewing – wholesome, practical skills. People went into apprenticeships, very few went to university. Women stayed at home, men went to work, children went to school, nobody wore hoodies. It is a balanced, calm, certain idyll.

Why did we look to the 60s during the 90s? Because the 60s represent revolution. Coming out of the Thatcher years, we felt staid and grey – and John Major reflected this. In came Blair, with his charm, charisma, giving ‘party politics’ a whole new meaning. It was a breath of fresh air through the place. Many people wrote before this years election about how they felt let down by Labour. The expectancy in 1997 was there: people were ready for change, and people would embrace change. ‘Cool Britannia’ came in (albeit briefly), and people looked back to the last time Britain was cool, the 1960s, and drew its own parallels. In place of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles were Blur and Oasis; instead of Alfie, The Italian Job and If… there was Trainspotting and Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (not necessarily good, but popular); George Best and David Beckham. But the 60s was also charged with revolutionary feeling – feminism, student protest and all that. This was the thing that was lacking in the 90s, where people were still too stuck to their material wealth gathered under Thatcher, and too focused on getting nice wooden floorboards and a lovely minimalist living space. This could possibly be one of the reasons people felt let down by New Labour.

The nostalgia for the 50s is nothing more than the collective ostrich burying its head in the sandbox of a rose tinted history book. However, it also represents something which could be slightly more sinister – the move towards a more conservative agenda. 50s Britain is overwhelming white and middle class – that simply isn’t reconcilable with the reality of Britain today. (The fact that the Windrush arrived in 1948 has been neatly edited out.) There is a desire for conservatism – we want to be safe in our homes, we want to have our children educated properly, we don’t want to be overrun with immigrants. We want to be able to trust our Government to do this for us.

Britain is still in the grip of its inferiority complex. Britain today is adrift in uncertainty, and the trend to go back to the 50s is simply people trying to recapture a seemingly more innocent and simpler age. It is possible that with this trend will come the more disturbing move towards a conservative agenda, to try and recreate 1950s Britain, or at least the feeling of it.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Things that annoy me at the moment

1. These fucking Sudoku puzzles. I don't care if everyone's talking about them. I don't care if I could be a Sudoku Grand Master. All I care about is that I'm able to read the paper at some point during the day. It is made very difficult for me when some scrotum insists on staring at a grid of numbers for 40 minutes, writing in a 4, scribbling it out, distractedly drawing a moustache on Jacques Chirac, before tearing out the damn thing and ripping half the paper with it.

2. Newspaper humourists that insist on attempting to write in the style of George Galloway's speech. We have this effort in the T2:

“Sure, jump in. Say, aren’t you that political guy from the UK? I bet you meet with the Queen all the time, huh?”

George was indignant. “Cab driver, you drive a most cavalier idea of a cab! This is just more smoke to smokify your smokescreen,” he declaimed. “Listen: I. Have never. Met anyone, nor. Has anyone I may have met. Had meetings with any person. Who may have met anyone else in any meeting. If you had met such a person, why not produce him?” (by Dave Mattin)

Or there was the contribution from Matthew Norman in the Independent yesterday, unfortunately not available on the internet (at least, I can't find it). Listen to me. I. Find your coloumns. Absolutely and unequivocably. Unfunny. You cunts.

That's about it actually. There was more, but I can't remember it, so it can't have been that annoying really.

Leaked E-mail Reveals Truth Behind Blair’s Hospital Trip

An e-mail leaked to Paisley’s Pants last night revealed the true reason behind Tony Blair’s trip to hospital on Thursday.

The e-mail sent by an aide to all cabinet ministers disclosed that Blair had suffered severe tissue damage to the colon and anal sphincter. The e-mail also details the treatment Blair received in hospital.

The e-mail does not, however, shed light on how the injuries were sustained. That was revealed after Paisley’s Pants did some investigation of its own.

On the telephone to a senior government employee, Paisley’s Pants discovered that Blair received the injuries from a rather unusual accident.

It was just after 10:30 PM in 10 Downing Street, and Cherie Booth, top QC and wife of the PM sat down to do her daily Sudoku puzzle, only to find that Blair, 52, had gone and filled in the numbers already. Booth flew into a rage, and proceeded to thrust The Times newspaper up Blair’s arse.

The source disclosed ‘Things are a bit tetchy in the household at the moment. Cherie’s gone into rehab, and Tone is still pulling fragments of Libby Purves out of his arse. He shit a bit of Alice Miles yesterday.

‘A slipped disc?’ he continued ‘That can lay you up in traction for months. I told him it was a silly cover up. Nope, there are other reasons he’s walking a little stiffly.’

Peter Atkinson, tory spokesman for Blair’s Arse Affairs and Defence said yesterday that he wished Blair the speediest recovery, and that it would not be appropriate to turn this incident into a political issue, but you wouldn’t find Michael Howard doing that if he was PM.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Heard a joke... it was quite funny

So I thought I'd put it on here.

There's an anarchist walking down a country lane, and he's got a bomb in his pocket. He sees someone cominh the other way, and he thinks it might be a policeman. Not being in the mood to bring down the authorities just yet, he throws the bomb into the field next to him, where a bull eats it.

What word best describes this situation? Abominable.

And what word best describes the situation five seconds later? Noble.

Ha ha.

Soya responsible for the destruction of the rainforest

So it is claimed here.

And you thought getting Tarquin's non-dairy milk for his cereal was harmless? Just imagine what Ophelia's tofu sandwiches are doing to the whales...

Not to mention the damage the fucking jeep that you insist on driving your child (singular) to school every morning is doing to the place.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Coincidence? I think not...

So Labour get re-elected, and Kylie announces she has cancer.

Is there no low these beasts will sink to?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Nothing in the news...

(I mean politically, of course. I think it would be more than a little crass to describe the massacre of 500 Uzbekisatni protestors as 'nothing')

Here we are, basking in the aftermath of an election: an election which signalled the first heartbeats of a regenerated left-wing; that signalled to the tories that they may actually have to try and win votes, rather than just keep them; an election that has fooled the Lib-Dems into thinking they are electable; an election which has managed to wipe that grating smirk from Tony Blair's face; an election which put a funereal cloud over the New Labour project. This was an election which by all rights should have put some life back into a political system that has been strangled by the political marketing machine of New Labour. So why does everything feel so odd?

There is a strange air in politics after the election, and the only thing I can really compare it to is the slightly guilty tweak in the stomach of a teenager after his first self-induced ejaculation. That feeling that somewhere, at some point, he will be made to pay for this, and that somewhere along the line in the past, something went quite wrong that he ended up doing it in the first place. The desperate way that politicians are scrambling to change leaders, to rid themselves of the seemingly tainted past which clings to them like a bad smell. The feeling that maybe we all got a little too excited about the whole thing at the time: there was so much to write about then, we are now left with an empty feeling - we have gorged so much on political backstabbing, on dirty campaigning, on accusations of fraud and lying and racism, that now we are left with a massive appetite, but nothing to feed it. The hollow in the stomach signals to us that we have surfeited on commentary, and the inbred reaction to excess is as ever, guilt.

A quick look around blogs is quite revealing - Dead Men Left goes all academic and quotes lots of statistics; Lenin picks out little ironies from Jack Straw; Apostate Windbag picks up on the political affiliations of a basketball player (albeit the Most Valuable one...); while Harry's Place is busy rehashing old accusations of George Galloway's alleged fraud, while stating that Uzbekisatn is in desperate need of a 'process of democratisation', which when put in context of the last 'democratisation', is an ominous sounding phrase. Even perfect.co.uk gives an unmerited amount of coverage to the plan to ban hoodies. I have picked out just five, but they seem to be typical of the whole.

There is simply nothing to write about, hence the reason the hoodies story is given so much coverage: there is only so much one can write about political parties devouring themselves from the inside out.

I'm sure this affliction will go away soon, once parliament starts and Blair starts trying to lead the Labour party (I will watch with gleeful shcadefreude at his efforts to control a reduced, and hostile, majority).

Monday, May 09, 2005

"The times they are a-changin'"

The fallout from the election is beggining to settle, and it is looking particularly noxious for Tony Blair. Labour rebel backbenchers would only need 72 names to force a leadership election - they got 62 last year, and it is not a huge stretch to think that there are 10 Labour MPs whose majorities are looking a little thin after this last election, and will blame Blair. There are those in the party who think that these rules only apply when the party is in opposition - if that is the case, then there is a complicated procedure involving the annual conference calling a special conference, and electoral colleges and majorities and that sort of thing. Of course, this sort of thing may not even be necessary - Blair could be ousted by men in grey suits from smokey filled rooms (by which I don't mean Blair will be attacked by cliches).

As to Blair's replacement, Gordon Brown still looks to be a dead cert. However, it is unlikely to simply be coronated as leader - he will face some sort of competition from the left. For too long have New Labour neglected the Old, but as the New Labour support crumbles on the left, Old Labour's support for New will become more and more important. This could herald a step to the left fror the party, which could well open up ground in the middle for the Tories, if they elect the right leader, to get a toe into. I'm not saying that a move like that would grant the Conservatives power, but I think it would open up some debate over who rules the middle turf.

It will be very interesting to see which side wins the Tory power struggle - Fox or Davis on the right against Duncan or Rifkind on the left. I can't help but feel that it is absolutely crucial for the more liberal wing to win. If not, the conservatives simply do not have a hope of regaining power.

Dead Men Left is mooting that a tory coalition with the Lib-Dems would make 'perfect sense', something which seems to be echoed by Alun Duncan in an interview in the Independent. WHile not expressly backing them, he certainly picks out the 'orange book crew' (as DML calls them) as being along the right sort of lines. He says:
The Liberal Democrat "young turks" including David Laws, Nick Clegg and Ed Davey, vilified by some in their own party for producing the "Orange Book" proposing market-based solutions, are just Mr Duncan's sort of people. "The Orange Book liberals should feel happy in my sort of Conservative Party," he said. "What is more, we would then all have a future. There is a tradition in Liberalism which overlaps significantly with Conservatism, someone like Menzies Campbell, for example; it's liberal economics, non-statist and one that enjoys and respects diversity. That is my sort of politics. Apart from high tax, some of their thinking is very cogent, a bit trite but cogent."

This definately leaves the door open for cooperation should someone on the right of the tories win the leadership. As it is, if the right wins again, the the Tories would carry on down the same road. Duncan says that the Conservatives simply do not understand the country they aspire to govern, and that they must now catch up if they ever want to look seriously electable. Electing someone like David Davis would be a backwards step in doing that.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Idiocy courtesy of Harry's Place

"Tony Blair has seen off 4 Conservative Party leaders and even at a time when British soldiers continue to die in a hugely divisive foreign war, he has led the Labour party to an unprecedented third-term with what would be considered, in any other circumstances, a more than healthy working majority. If the Conservatives could not beat Labour last night, then when?"

The reason the Conservatives could not see off Tony Blair had nothing to do with Tony Blair's brilliance, and everything to do with the Tories ineptitude. In Michael Howard, they have a leader that only drove the party to the right. This merely continued the trend started by IDS and Hague. Sometime soon, the Tories will realise that the only way for them to win an election is by using exactly the same tactics that Labour did - target the middle ground.

A party cannot win the middle ground by extolling far right immigration policies. Similarly, a party cannot win the middle ground by proposing radical redistribution of wealth. A party wins the middle ground through appealing to the blandest common denominator, and then dressing it up to seem like the best option available. Communitarianism is a good example of this. When an ideology is so bland, it is simply impossible to attack it, as there is nothing to latch on to. To call it unprincipled, as many would view it, is to be labeled as an extremist.

Tony Blair won with a majority of 66. This compares favourably to other majorities, and is unprecedented in terms of a third term majority. However, one must remeber that Tony Blair had a majority of 167 in the second term, and 179 in the first term. In these two periods, Blair was untouchable, and he only dropped 12 seats. Coming into the thrid term then, to drop 101 seats is disastrous. The only reason Blair is still in power is because he had such a huge majority in the first place.

No doubt there was a protest vote against Labour. However, this is likely to have been forgotten come 2009 when the next election will be. If New Labour are still going (about which there still remains questions) and the Tories are still ploughing the same right-wing furrow they are now, then Labour will win again, but with an increased majority. However, if the tories can turn themselves around, and start to appeal to the middle ground voters, then they could very easily win in 2009 - Labour will go into that election looking rattled and tired of power, and if the tories can look dynamic enough, they should be able to push Labour very close.

How can we move on?

"In addition, I know Iraq has been a deeply divisive issue in this country. But
I also know and believe that after this election people want to move on."

How can we move on when civilians and troops are dying every day in Iraq? How can we move on when the man who misled us into a war is still in power? How can we have closure on an issue which cannot close? The war on terror, by its very nature, cannot finish. How can we be expected to lie down passive in the face of such injustice?

We must continue to protest and fight and argue and stand in the way until the troops are out of Iraq, Blair is out of power, and the 'war on terror' becomes a war on what causes terrorism - poverty, inequality, trade injustice, imperialism. Until we have acheived this, we cannot move on.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Well done Carl Beaman

I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Carl Beaman, ex-potential leader of the Veritas party, and Veritas candidate for Somerton and Frome. Although you only polled 484 votes, I'm sure you deserved every one of them. And hey, sometimes we just don't get the breaks, do we?

Or it could be that people don't particularly like your party's particular brand of xenophobioa.

I suppose I should also congratulate you, and the rest of the right wing, for managing to help increase the BNP's vote in the country. They polled roughly 5% in the constituencies they stood in. There are proven links between politicians talking about immigration, and stirring up base instincts within people, and increases in racial attacks. There is no doubt that the shift to the right in politics, caused by UKIP and Veritas, has allowed the BNP to make the gains it has. The 2006 council elections will shock a lot of people when they see how well the BNP do. I hope you, and the rest of your vile party are proud of being in some small way responsible for the slow building of fascism in the British political system.

Georgie Boy did it!

But I'm sure you all know that by now.

Blowing my own trumpet

As predicted here, Peter Law won the Blaenau Gwent seat. What is surprising is the size of his win - a 49% swing away from Labour. He won by nearly 10,000 votes, overturning a Labour majority of around 20,000.

Hurrah for the democratic process!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Maybe Tony Blair is like the rest of us...

Tony Blair was asked how big Labour's majority will be. He replied that talk of a guarunteed Labour victory 'sends a chill down my spine'.

I'm glad he's not the only one.

Nuclear weapons

Another leak, although I’m not sure how beneficial this will be to Labour, or even how much impact it will have on the election, but Blair is planning to authorise a £10 billion replacement system for when the Trident nuclear submarines are taken out of action.

Not only does this contravene the NPT on nuclear weapons, but it is downright hypocritical to demand of other countries that they give up nuclear weapons, but develop our own systems at the same time.

Britain has no need for nuclear weapons. The chances of us being drawn into a nuclear conflict without the Americans are next to nil. Further to this, they are impractical to use in warfare, they are indiscriminate, they are no effective threat to the terrorist cells that we are supposedly at constant risk from, and the results of their use are horrific. One country possessing nuclear weapons only inspires others to do the same – look at India’s development of the Bomb, which it saw as crucial if it was going to be taken seriously on the international political stage.

The CND website is linked at the side of the page. Go and visit, and join the campaign to rid the world of this unnecessary evil.

Cynical reasoning behind the Iraq intelligence leaks

(Second time I’ve had to write this now – internet is playing up… grr…)

I may be being too cynical in suggesting this (although some might argue that there is no such thing as being too cynical with this government) but I can’t help but feel that the timing of the Iraq leaks last week is all a little convenient.

Labour is facing a problem, in that its core vote is simply not motivated enough. According to MORI, around 60% of Labour supporters are certain to vote, compared with nearly 80% of Conservative supporters. (Incidentally, this is part of the reason why the MORI polls are so much closer than the rest – they only include certain voters. The gap is currently at 2 points.) Labour supporters appear to have become complacent that Blair will win.

What more useful, then, than a spate of very critical media coverage, showing Blair to be a liar. Timed a week before the election, it is enough to spur the Labour support into rallying around the flag, but is far enough away to ensure that the negative campaign does not impact too much on the vote.

As I posted recently, the war is only really an issue in certain constituencies. On a national scale, the fodder issues of health, education, the economy, and (possibly) crime will decide the election; and of course the Reagan ‘feel good factor’. As the News of the World declared when it was nailing its Labour colours to the mast, ‘despite Iraq, it’s the home policies that will count.’

It is cunning and manipulative, and probably came straight from the arse of Alistair Campbell.