British politics

British politics&Human rights&Pop culture&The art of blog07 Dec 2005 10:15 am

Judge Apparently The Telegraph has briefly quoted your own Foxy in today’s paper. I haven’t seen a print copy yet, but I’m told it’s on page 19. The web version seems to be here.

Non-Brits, just to explain: The Telegraph is an extremely conservative (with a big and small C), right wing, Establishment broadsheet daily newspaper, beloved of the ruling class.

I look forward to a short boost in readership comprised entirely of High Court judges, Tory MPs and minor aristocracy. (Is it too soon to take them aside and explain they might not agree with everything they read here?)

British politics&Human rights05 Dec 2005 07:02 pm

Here come the brides Today, we have a piece of new legislation that makes the country better, not worse. And that’s not something you can say every day.

As of today, gay couples can register their partnership and receive the same kind of legal rights as heterosexual married couples. The law has been in place since November last year, but changes to all the applicable administrative systems have taken time. From now on, civil ceremonies between same-sex couples will be officially recognised.

Here come the grooms Of course, the government has wriggled out of using the word “wedding” in the Civil Partnerships Act, presumably to alleviate the concerns of those upstanding citizens who feel two people promising to love and take care of one another for life is an abomination.

But the sophistry of calling it “registration” rather than “marriage” doesn’t hide the fact that this is one of the biggest British civil rights gains in recent times. Over the last few years, ministers have seemed more comfortable eroding their constituents’ liberties than increasing them. This is a positive step indeed.

Loved up Couples who register their partnership – and let’s refer to it as “marry” regardless, shall we – will be assessed for benefits, immigration and state pension rights as a couple. They will be able to succeed tenancy agreements in the event of one outliving the other. They will receive due compensation in the event of an accident. They will be recognised under inheritance laws. If they choose to split, they will need to dissolve their partnership through the courts, just as straight married couples do. If they have children, the absent parent will have rights of contact.

So I’m looking forward to the summer already, when I hope to get twice as many wedding invitations as usual. I think I’d better splash out on an outlandishly chic hat.

American politics&British politics&Middle East&News media&The art of blog26 Nov 2005 10:35 am

Publish the Al-Jazeera memo, Tony, you power-crazed maniac
Did George Bush order the Al-Jazeera headquarters in Qatar to be bombed? Or did he not?

If he did, did Tony Blair attempt to talk him out of it? Or did he not?

The Daily Mirror says yes. The British newspaper was gagged by the Attorney General after revealing the existence of the memo.

David Keogh and Leo O’Connor, civil servants who handled the memo, are due to appear in court next week, charged under the Official Secrets Act.

Until the memo in question is published, we cannot know for certain. What we do know is that its contents are sufficiently important that a D-notice was slapped on them, forbidding publication. Any editor who does so will be prosecuted for violating national security. To even the least politically-minded, that gesture speaks volumes.

Thankfully, Al-Jazeera aren’t taking this news lying down and are demanding that the memo is published. And several editors (including Tory MP Boris Johnson of the Spectator) and a legion of bloggers (like our own Red, who also designed the jazzy button at the top right of this post) have announced that they’ll happily publish the memo if they’re given a copy.

The Official Secrets Act is supposed to protect the safety of the country, not protect the current government from political embarrassment. I hope the brightest legal minds in the country will put their efforts into making this distinction if David Keogh and Leo O’Connor go to full trial.

If I happen to come across a copy, I’ll post it here and email it to every likeminded editor and blogger I can find. If another blogger or editor publishes the memo, I will be delighted to reproduce it on this blog, and so will plenty of others.

What will they do, arrest us all? Let’s see.

British politics&Pop culture&Writing11 Nov 2005 10:38 pm

Tube badge < << This is a badge I got last night at a Mark Thomas/Robert Newman gig. I quite like it.

Having been very irresponsible for most of the week, I need to catch up with my NaNo word count this weekend. Think I need to do about 10,000 words to get back on track. Yikes.

Still, last minute panic working is my normal modus operandi, so I won’t worry too much.

Hope you’re all having a marvellous weekend, and that your own novels (where applicable) are running like clockwork.

British politics09 Nov 2005 05:44 pm

The Botox King Hooray! – Tony “God” Blair has lost the Parliamentary vote on 90 day detention without charge.

Boo! – They’re making it 28 days, which is double the previous legal limit.

But even so, I offer a massive portion of freshly-picked YAY! with dollops of whipped WOO! to those members of the House who dared to scupper His plan.

Thank you, MPs. You aren’t all lazy, punchable twerps. (And that’s some concession.)

American politics&British politics&Middle East26 Oct 2005 09:18 pm

Can anyone explain to me how I’m supposed to be deeply affected by the thought of 2,000 dead American military personnel in Iraq, while simultaneously not being bothered about the 100,000 Iraqi civilians who died violent deaths in the same period?

I’m having a few problems with that one today.

Boy weeps in Iraqi rubble

As always, visit BugMeNot for a login if you want to read the Lancet report for yourself.

British politics20 Oct 2005 06:48 pm

Looks like Britain’s getting some shiny new weapons of mass destruction.

The nuclear power plant at Aldermaston in Berkshire has recently been given a bountiful budget increase. Nagasaki mushroom cloud Not just your average inflationary rise: the budget has doubled. A hefty £2 billion of our tax will go to the Aldermaston plant over the next 3 years.

The Government claim the 100% increase in funding is to maintain the existing Trident warheads, and certainly not because they are planning to build new ones.

Yet the Aldermaston plant admits it is also planning to recruit 1,000 extra staff as a result of this budgetary increase. How many nuclear physicists does it take to change a lightbulb? How many to “maintain” existing weapons?

One local newspaper in the Berkshire area notes: “Both AWE and the Ministry of Defence have denied the money means the go-ahead has been given to build a new generation of missiles at the site. … But there is no explanation why 1,000 new jobs are needed if Trident’s successor is not to be built.”

The (uncredited) reporter asked a spokesperson for the Atomic Weapons Establishment for an explanation. And she or he received this response: “People are leaving all the time – it’s ensuring we have the skills base to carry out our mission. We are not building a Trident successor and any decision to do so will be a Government decision. Ministers have made it clear in published statements no decision has yet been made.”

Not many businesses increase their workforce by 25% on the offchance that a few staff might leave. I think we’re getting ourselves armed to the teeth, my friends.

So it’s just as well countries like Iran are developing their own nuclear programmes really. How else are they to counter the mafia-style threats of rogue states like Britain and America?

And, closer to home, the cancer rate in Newbury, West Berkshire (the area where the Aldermaston plant is situated) is 40% above the national average (original study source: Berkshire Health Authority, 1997). So local residents probably won’t be welcoming the news of renewed arms production either.

We are officially in the Axis of Stupid.

British politics17 Oct 2005 07:28 pm

Police from five different British forces are undertaking “vital training” (yes, “vital”, it says here) so that they can learn how to protect the Queen from underwater bombs. That’s five (5) different police forces. All abandoning their communities while learning how to better protect Her Maj.

Now, call me a rampant anti-monarchist if you will. In fact, you may as well, because I am. But three questions spring to mind.

1 – Isn’t this hysterical measure a bit of a kick in the face for anyone who is forced to take public transport every day, not having been born into the sort of stagnant gene pool that garners you a fleet of armour-plated Bentleys?

2 – How much is all this costing us?

3 – And how dangerous is an underwater bomb for someone living in a reinforced palace and two castles? The article says this extravagant palaver is to protect Queenie “if touring Windsor Great Park and the river”. If she’s worried, perhaps she could not wander around those places? Or would that be letting “them” win?

Take the tube tomorrow, Ma’am, and see if that makes you feel any more comfortable with your normal routine. Tell you what, I’ll even shell out for your Oyster card. Can’t say fairer than that.

British politics&Pop culture13 Oct 2005 06:31 pm

After a very enjoyable evening – which was much more fun than most launch parties, I can tell you – the Urban Fox Blog is officially open for business. Hurrah!

Much as it seems a shame to lower the mood so soon, I couldn’t help but notice it is this dreadful woman’s 80th birthday:

You’ll notice the presence of Timmy Mallett, who is brandishing his large foam prop at her. (Anyone who was not a child in Britain in the mid 80s: don’t ask.)

Sadly, the plan to finish her off by using a real mallet backfired, when it was revealed that her lacquered hairdo was made of the same material as nuclear bomb shelters and could thus repel any such attack.

So British democracy had to suffer the heavy blow instead.

(Right kids? Yeah. Tch. We ‘ate Fatcher. Yeah.

This is all getting a bit Ben Elton circa 1984. I should take the sparkly jacket off really.)

Anyway, you may want to stay out of the Hyde Park area tonight. If you don’t, you run the risk of seeing the likes of the Queen, Jim Davidson, Joan Collins and Andrew Lloyd-Webber, who will be making their way to the vicious harridan’s birthday party.

Such a shame that I have a prior engagement.*

(* tidying my sock drawer, anything)

British politics&Middle East27 Sep 2005 05:52 pm

Running the country must be an easy job. Apparently Blair gets so much free time, he can moonlight as a sales executive for BAE, the British arms manufacturer.

To whom was our very own military Avon Lady trying to sell these instruments of mass slaughter?

Why, those brutal fundamentalists – sorry, I mean our dear friends and allies – Saudi Arabia.

In return, the Saudis are allegedly asking for a few favours. They want two asylum seekers returned to them, perhaps to give them a stern talking-to. They want British Airways to forget all that “terrorist threat” silliness and start running flights back through Riyadh.

And they want the investigation into corruption involving the Saudi royal family and BAE to be buried.

So being PM, “bringing democracy to the Middle East” (selectively) and devising draconian domestic anti-privacy laws must all add up to part time employment.

If Tony has any more free time, perhaps he could pop up to Sedgefield and see if his constituents need a hand with anything?

The man has now slipped beyond parody.

Soundtrack to this post: Killing An Arab – The Cure

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