May 2005

Strangeness&The art of blog24 May 2005 05:29 pm

I can post but I can’t see my own blog. It’s a blank white page. I can read yours though.

Can you read this? Am I here? Is this an existential crisis or no. 750 of a series of Blogger glitches?

American politics&British politics&Pop culture&Self&The art of blog21 May 2005 12:16 pm

Hello ladies and gents. Apologies for the lack of service lately, but these things happen on this blog occasionally I’m afraid. It’s all part of my plan to lose all my loyal readers and end up blogging into the ether with nobody watching. No, not really.

Hope you’ve all had a staggeringly good two weeks, or thereabouts.

I’ve changed my mind slightly since the election. Although I still dislike Galloway as a person, I’m very much enjoying his one-man anti-war tirades. He’s an arrogant fellow, to be sure, but great value as an orator. Watched his Senate performance from beginning to end, and I’m sure it was a lot more entertaining than the latest Star Warszzz.

Obviously, none of you Brits are reading this now, because you’re all at the supermarket buying 400 cans of lager (in preparation for the FA Cup this afternoon) and a selection of continental delicacies (for your ultracamp Eurovision party tonight). Right? No?

British politics&Pop culture06 May 2005 01:30 pm

Mark has handily pointed out that the video of George Galloway and Jeremy Paxman’s now legendary post-win interview is available to view on the BBC website. I can’t get the sound to work, but hopefully you’ll have more luck.

British politics05 May 2005 10:02 pm

5.05am OK, enough’s enough. Dawn is tiptoeing across the horizon and foxes need their beauty sleep.

Labour’s had their dangerously overwhelming power cut down to size. The Lib Dems have increased their representation, which is a good thing. The Tories have made some slightly distressing inroads, but at least they didn’t win. The extreme racist parties (BNP etc) haven’t won any seats. It’s a manageable verdict.

By the way: if you’re reading all this at a more godly hour, you might find it makes more sense read from the bottom upwards. You might find it makes no sense at all and decide to skip the lot, and that’s OK too.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

5.00am Paxman vs Galloway – an explosive interview. Expect this to be repeated regularly on TV news tomorrow.

Galloway was his usual aggressively arrogant self. So was Paxman. Paxman relayed accusations from other MPs stating that Galloway was “a demagogue” who was “exploiting racial tension in the area”. Galloway did himself no favours with his standard self-aggrandising conduct. After a couple of minutes of egomaniacal posturing on both sides, he stormed off after 2 minutes because “I have a lot of people who want to talk to me tonight”.

Sorry, Galloway really is loathsome. I don’t often go along with the views of the studio presenters, who apparently feel equally uncharitably about him. But he really is a nasty piece of work. Worst of all, I feel irritated that his manner of expression may actually do the anti-war cause a disservice, by association. (I still appreciate Red’s very valid point about the message his victory sends to Blair though.)

4.35am And here it comes. Oona King has lost her seat to George Galloway. One more casualty of the illegal Iraq war. RedOne will be pleased.

Galloway’s making an inflammatory speech about how Labour need to sack Tony Blair tomorrow morning. He’s also laying into the “corrupt” local borough council. He says King’s defeat “was not her defeat. It was a defeat of New Labour” and predicts she will be back in politics soon. He’s even slagging off the returning officer, which is unprecedented. I agree with everything he’s saying in the speech, yet still recoil from him as from a poisonous snake.

King, in turn, is doing a face like a bag of spiders. I even feel a bit sorry for her, having to stand there and listen to Galloway’s roaring rhetoric.

Tony Banks has popped up to blame the anti-Oona King feeling among Muslims in Bethnal Green on the fact that “she is a mixed-race woman, pure and simple”.

Andrew Marr calls it “a punch in the solar plexus for Tony Blair”. More violence. Think of some new metaphors, commentators, please.

4.30am It’s now official – Labour have won. Mick Hucknall and Chris Evans are probably gulping champagne and gyrating in sheer joy, even as I type. I wish I hadn’t just conjured up that mental image.

4.20am Michael Howard’s safe. His speech was mildly amusing – “We’re going to have a darkie and some birds in the shadow cabinet! See, we aren’t bigots!” – but not enough to make it interesting.

Yawn. Getting bored of it all now, particularly as Labour have clearly won already. I might just wait for Oona and George’s result and then leave them to it. As it is, I’m the last one here still standing. Sitting. Whatever.

Love the way both Howard and Blair thanked the police first in their acceptance speeches. “I’d just like to thank the 900 cops, spooks and thugs who are standing all round the venue with really big guns, preventing any lethal vengeance being wreaked on my sorry butt by a disenchanted populace. Cheers.”

3.55am Robert Kilroy-Silk’s seat has been counted and Labour won with 22,472 votes. Kilroy is scuppered, with a mere 2,957 votes. To put this in perspective, the (far more respectable) Church of Militant Elvis Party got 116 votes. A-thankya very much.

It’s reassuring that UKIP and Veritas’ preposterous Bring Back The Shilling campaigns have been so resoundingly rejected by the electorate.

3.45am Chris Evans and Mick Hucknall are waiting anxiously for the results at the Labour post-election do. Whoo, how I wish I was at that bacchanalian shindig. Dear oh dear.

Has anyone else noticed the Nicholas Soames/Jabba the Hutt resemblance? Now there’s a man who knows his way around an adult baby fetish party. (Just a guess.)

3.25am Charles Kennedy’s back in. Blair’s just given one of his am-dram oratory performances to his local Labour club, reiterating that his own majority has increased and that Labour were about to win “an historic” third term. Juxtaposed with Reg Keys’ speech, which took place just half an hour ago, this glee looked rather like dancing on graves. He’s still looking hollow though, and both he and Cherie are feigning smiles.

2.50am Reg Keys just gave an impassioned anti-war speech on behalf of his dead son, and the Prime Minister was forced to stand immediately behind him and – for once – listen. Reg Keys spoke of the “controversial” war and his grief. Cameras zoomed in for an extreme close up of Blair’s pained expression. He swallowed. He looked straight ahead. He looked down. He looked straight ahead again. He looked deeply, deeply troubled. TV moment of the year, no contest.

2.25am Arse. Blair is back in with a resounding majority. However, the soldier’s father Keys got well over 4,000 votes, which does offer a message if Blair wishes to take it. Weirdly, he and Cherie look gutted rather than triumphant, with forced smiles and shattered faces. Cherie looks on the verge of tears. Blair looks like he’s lost rather than won. God knows what’s going on there. Perhaps more family problems of the sort that he experienced last year? (I would be more explicit but there’s a media blackout on the issue and I’m not sure if it would lead to a fleet of black helicopters taking me away in the dead of night.)

2.10am Latest observations: (1) Alistair Campbell is vile. Stating the obvious, I know. (2) Oona King has turned up clinging to her partner in a “Look! I’m not sleeping with Jack Straw!” kind of way. Pshyeah. (3) Blaenau Gwent has gone from Labour to an independent ex-Labour candidate, whose independent status occurred as a protest against the all-female shortlist which the Labour party attempted to impose on the constituency. Hm. (4) Blair is pacing at his counting house, looking like a frightened bunny. Still no moral support phone conversation from George, Tone? Men, eh. They say they’ll call, and then they go out with their mates and forget. He’s so not worth it, babe. (Ha.)

1.25am The language of elections is that of violence. Talk of “decapitating”, “taking scalps”, “giving Blair a bloody nose”, “the seat fell to the Lib Dems”, “taking a beating”… It’s quite unpleasant. An old-skool super-masculinist approach.

I have half a mind to launch into a Derridean diatribe about the fact that the mainstream use of such warlike language perpetuates the acceptability of violence per se and hence promotes an environment in which violence, and war, are tolerated. But I just did that out loud to nobody in particular, so I’ll spare your tired eyes.

1.02am Gordon Brown’s back in, by the usual 40 quadrillion majority. Still waiting for Sedgefield. All fingers and toes crossed for a subversive result, which makes typing difficult.

12.55pm Putney has gone from Labour to Tory. The winning candidate looks such a stereotypical south-west Londoner. She may not be, but she sure looks the part.

Prescott’s safe. And Blunkett’s back in. Look out for his discreet return to the Cabinet following Labour’s inevitable overall win.

No news on the hotly-contested Bethnal Green seat so far, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Galloway (Respect) wrestled it away from King (Labour). They’re both somewhat objectionable, for various reasons, so no great excitement for me. But I know others are watching with great interest.

Speaking of which, gossip abounds that Oona King and Jack Straw are enjoying each other’s company rather a lot. Like all inter-Parliamentary liaisons, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

12.15am Swiss Toni’s MP, Ken Clarke, has just exhibited outlandishly high levels of arrogance in a brief BBC interview. If this were a Greek play, you’d expect his safe seat to be scuppered tonight by divine retribution.

David Blunkett said a few words too, but I slipped into a coma upon hearing his flat monotone and remember none of it.

A few more results in, all Labour safe seats, all held. We’re still waiting patiently for random fireworks.

11.35pm I was wrong. There’s been a fight between two candidates in Romford and one has been hospitalised. I sense the usual elegant manners of the BNP. Pure conjecture at this stage, but we’ll see. Plus a verbal scrap has just developed between Shirley Williams, Ian Hislop, Ann Widdecombe and Jeremy Paxman. Go on Shirl, you could have that Paxo any day.

11.20pm All very dull so far. One result declared (Sunderland South) with Labour winning comfortably.

Jon Culshaw’s strangely camp Blair impression + Natasha Kaplinsky’s searing political analysis = insomnia cure. Meanwhile, ITV is showing a glittering array of C and D list celebrities on a boat.

I’ve got a feeling nothing of any interest is going to happen until about 1am. Tsk.

10:00pm The polls are closed. Exit polls predict Labour win, with their majority cut drastically to 66.

Everyone in this room is crossing fingers for Tony to be booted out of his nice safe seat. England’s dreaming, but hey.

The BBC graphics seem to have been designed under the influence of powerful hallucinogens. More later.

British politics05 May 2005 03:03 pm

The General Election is today, folks. But you know that already.

I voted earlier. As mentioned previously, I chose the Green party. Their candidate has no chance of winning the seat. But, as George Monbiot says of “wasted” votes, “this is the most intelligible means by which I can explain to whichever party wins the policies I would like it to follow.”

Hoping for a few fun surprises tonight, à la Portillo losing his seat to Twigg in 1997. There’s a large anti-Blair campaign in his constituency, Sedgefield, and it’d be deeply thrilling if the Prime Minister himself managed to lose his seat. Oh, how we would laugh.

Time will tell. Tick tock… Vote, Brits! (if you haven’t yet)

British politics&Pop culture&Race03 May 2005 11:39 pm

I have been unable to write any substantial pre-election babble in the last few days, due to the fact that:

  • we are effectively being asked to choose between killers, racists and dullards, and this is monumentally disheartening;
  • I watched that Tony Blair/Jonathan Dimbleby programme on Monday night and almost imploded in a fit of rage when some astonishingly dim woman started bandying around drivel like “political correctness gone too far” and “ignoring the indigenous people of this country”. WHAT INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, you halfwit? The Saxons? You’re a purebred original, are you? Even though humanity probably began in Africa and – whoops! here’s where your argument falls down – migrated elsewhere? And how can you have too much correctness? Either something is correct or it is incorrect. There are no degrees of correctness. This is like saying something’s “very unique”. Either it is or it isn’t. No excess or varying shades are possible. If you had bothered to master the language of the “indigenous people of this country”, you’d know. AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHH.

And relax.

I still plan to watch the whole pantomime live on Thursday night though. If you’re very unlucky, I may end up throwing some live real-time coverage of it on here. Tune in! Or go to bed, or whatever.

Hope you all had delightful May Day bank holiday, Britishers. Hope you non-Brits had fun too, even though you didn’t get to take Monday off work.

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