Category Archives: Gordon Brown

Flee(t)ching

Now there’s a word that has even the OED a bit puzzled, at least over its etymology:

Etymology:  Of obscure origin; the identity of the senses with those of Old Germanic *þlaihan and its derivatives (Gothic ga-þlaihan to treat kindly, console, Old High German flêhôn , flêhen to fondle, flatter, beseech, Middle High German vlêhen , modern German flehen to beseech, Dutch vleien to flatter) suggests that the word may represent an Old English *flǽcean < Old Germanic type *þlaikjan , related to *þlaihan , as Old English tǽcean teach v. to téon( < *tîhan).
Sc. and north. dial.
To beguile, cajole, coax, wheedle; to entice, wheedle into going, to a place. Also, in good sense: To beseech, entreat. Also absol. and intr. (const. onwith), to speak coaxingly or beseechingly; to flatter, fawn.

My interest is the Sc. and north. dial. bit.

Burns has the words:

Duncan fleech’d, and Duncan pray’d,
         Ha, ha, the wooin o’t!
Meg was deaf as Ailsa Craig,
         Ha, ha, the wooin o’t!
Duncan sigh’d baith out and in,
Grat his een baith bleer’t and blin’,
Spak o’ lowpin owre a linn;
         Ha, ha, the wooin o’t!

Time and chance are but a tide,
        Ha, ha, the wooin o’t!
Slighted love is sair to bide,
         Ha, ha, the wooin o’t!
“Shall I, like a fool,” quoth he,
“For a haughty hizzie die?
She may gae to—France for me!”
         Ha, ha, the wooin o’t!

From Burns’s Ayrshire — as one would expect — it was transported into the Ulster dialect:

When fleechin winna do, you’ll even
Attempt to frighten them to heaven!

And that fleechin/frighten contrast, to be honest, is where this post originated. Somehow that quotation came to mind with Gordon Brown’s stomping performance today:

Mr Brown urged the silent majority “to be silent no more” and to “let no narrow nationalism split us asunder”.

“Have confidence, stand up and be counted tomorrow,” he told the final Better Together rally in Glasgow. “Say to your friends, for reasons of solidarity, sharing, pride in Scotland, the only answer is vote No.”

“What sort of message would we send out to the rest of the world, we who pioneered a partnership between nations, if tomorrow we said we’re going to give up on sharing, throw our idea of solidarity into the dust?” he said.

“This is not the Scotland I know.”

An earlier speech by Brown:

… criticised Mr Salmond’s followers.

“They dine out on Scottish ideas of equality. They talk as if they actually believe it,” Mr Brown said.

“But when you look at the actual policies of the SNP, there is not one measure in their document that suggests there would be a higher rate of income tax for those at the very top, or a millionaire’s tax at the top of council tax, or a mansion tax at the top of stamp duty, or even the bankers’ bonus tax that is proposed for the UK.

“They have no way of raising the money to pay for all the expensive promises they have made.”

Mr Brown said Nationalists’ proposals to cut corporation tax would benefit large companies, including energy firms.

“The biggest beneficiaries of the SNP’s tax policy are the shareholders and directors of the privatised energy companies in Scotland,” he said.

“The beneficiaries of an independent Scotland are not the ordinary people of Scotland but the richest directors of the most profitable, privatised companies in Scotland.

“When you look at the Scottish National Party policies, inequality and poverty will survive until doomsday if 
Alex Salmond is all that confronts it.”

I look at the sheer potency of that, and the last sentence in particular, and wonder if any other public speaker could get away with it. When Britain gained its most powerful political voice, the Scottish Kirk lost a magnificent preacher.

And thence to America

The Federal Writers Project was part of the New Deal’s WPA. It generated the American Guides Series,  and one document of that was The Ocean Highway, from New Brunswick to Jacksonville, Florida. Again, it is not surprising that these Guides have enjoyed a revival, been republished or adapted for modern media. Once Michael Portillo has finished with his Bradshaw (if ever), those Guides might offer him another prospect. Somehow, though, I cannot see the bold Michael hoboing:

There’s a lonesome freight at 6.08 coming through the town
And I feel like I just want to travel on
Done laid around, done stayed around
This old town too long
And it seems like I’ve got to travel on.

— Another lyric Bob Dylan “acquired”.

The authors of The Ocean Highway,  by page 189,  get to Hatteras, North Carolina:

The people of this section are weathered and bronzed, and have unusual independence and self-reliance. They speak in broad Devon accents. Many of the older families believe they are descended from English sailors who were shipwrecked on this lonely shore. Most are members of well defined clans. Archaic words and phrases have survived, and the distinctive banker enunciation gives them a special quality.

“Couthy” is the local word for capable; “heerd” is the pronunciation for “heard.” “Don’t fault  me if I’m scunnered” means “Don’t blame  me if I’m disgusted.” The mainland is usually referred to as “the country,” and day begins at “calm daylight.” “Disremember and “disencourage” are frequently used. “Fleech” means to flatter, not a complimentary term since the native is sparing with his praise. His pocket is “a poke,” a kiss is a “buss,” and a man’s sweetheart is his “may”.

Not Devonian, more County Downian.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gordon Brown, Literature, Northern Ireland, politics, Scotland

Nemo me lacessit impune

The motto of the Stewarts, then of the Order of the Thistle, then — by extension — of Scotland. If you don’t get it, try plucking thistles.

So to ninety minutes of street theatre, as seen the top of Edinburgh’s The Mound, with several thousand Orangemen (and women) parading for the “No” message. Let’s have no messing here: this lot aren’t into “Better Together”. Their message is the simple two letter one.

Nemo me lacessit impune

Look at them. You don’t have to agree with them, or like them. Once upon a time they were happily termed “the salt of the earth”.  Pluck at them, and like plucking thistles you’ll bleed.

My relationship to the Orange Order is distant, acquired by marriage into Ulster Protestantism.  Oddly enough, that worries British Civil Service interviewers less than a single attendance, about 1964, at a public meeting of the Wolfe Tone Bureau (yes … a Sinn Féin front) and a badge-carrying association with CND. I suppose in my entire life, on numerous visits to Northern Ireland, I have brushed with the  Orangemen on about three occasions.

Yet, I am reminded of Alan Coren’s magnificent line (on The New Quiz two days before the People’s Princess had a fling with Pillar 13 of the Paris expressway): “I don’t know anything about land mines or Princess Di, but I do know you’d be mad to poke either of them.”. In the same mood, one would be a fool to tangle with the Scots Orangemen.

And so to Jonathan Freedland in today’s Guardian:

Nigel Farage was in Glasgow today, about as welcome a sight for no campaigners as … the 10,000 members of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, who are due to march in Edinburgh tomorrow. If you’d asked Alex Salmond to name the image of the United Kingdom he’d most like to stick in the minds of wavering Scottish voters in the final days before Thursday’s independence vote, he might have named either Ukip or the Orangemen. He’d surely not have pushed his luck by suggesting both – within 24 hours of each other.

Whatever the merits of the rest of Freedland’s piece, and accepting his disdain for the self-anointing Farridge, on the matter of the Orangemen, he is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Scotland is scarred by historical and ingrained sectarianism. Since Donald Dewar’s term  as Scottish First Minister, there has been a concerted effort to come to terms with the problem. My suspicion is “El Presidente” Salmond and the “Yes” Campaign have worsened matters seriously.

For why?

Well, the tone of “Yes” has been social division. The underprivileged have been promised copious quantities of jam tomorrow. An independent Scotland would run glutinously with milk and honey. The unwritten assumption is this would be paid for by the middle-classes. Rentagob Jim Sillars was the loudest:

 FORMER SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has claimed there will be a “day of reckoning” for major Scottish employers such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life after a Yes vote.

Speaking from his campaign vehicle the “Margo Mobile”, Mr Sillars insisted that employers are “subverting Scotland’s democratic process” and vowed that oil giant BP would be nationalised in an independent Scotland…

He claimed there is talk of a “boycott” of John Lewis, banks to be split up, and new law to force Ryder Cup sponsor Standard Life to explain to unions its reasons for moving outside Scotland.

He said: “This referendum is about power, and when we get a Yes majority, we will use that power for a day of reckoning with BP and the banks.

“The heads of these companies are rich men, in cahoots with a rich English Tory Prime Minister, to keep Scotland’s poor, poorer through lies and distortions. The power they have now to subvert our democracy will come to an end with a Yes.”

He added: “BP, in an independent Scotland, will need to learn the meaning of nationalisation, in part or in whole, as it has in other countries who have not been as soft as we have forced to be. We will be the masters of the oil fields, not BP or any other of the majors.”

Mr Sillars, whose wife, MSP Margo MacDonald died earlier this year, said that under an independent Scotland, Standard Life would be required by new employment laws to give two years warning of any redundancies – and reveal to the trade unions its financial reasons for relocation to any country outside of Scotland.

“What kind of people do these companies think we are? They will find out,” he added.

Were there to be a “Yes” vote, it would release the passions of extremists on both sides. Already Jim Murphy had to suspend campaigning because of concerted intimidation. Alastair Darling was talking, as far back as February, of businessmen and firms being coerced, and today:

Alistair Darling has urged Yes Scotland to curb a surge of “frankly unacceptable” attacks on the no campaign, including a spate of assaults and the destruction of pro-UK posters and billboards.

The former chancellor told the Guardian that the growing intimidation and targeting of the no campaign by a small minority of the yes camp had “crossed the acceptability line” and needed to be stopped.

“There has been dark aspects on this which need to have a light shone on them,” Darling said, accusing yes campaigners of systematically defacing or removing pro-UK placards and billboards in towns such as Inverness, and on major roads throughout Scotland.

And what after Thursday?

We have some handle, thanks to the Gordon Brown proposals, of how a “No” voter wouldd extend Devo Max as a palliative to the minority. It looks a sensible plan — in fact what the SNP were seeing as the end-game, before they found themselves hung by their own election promise.

What we don’t have — apart from the excesses of Jim Sillars — is any appreciation of how a “Yes” vote wouldd accommodate the other half of the population. Which includes those Orangemen. Like Princess Di or land-mines, you’d be nuts to mess with them.

And, if there’s anything more frightening than an aggravated Orangeman, try the female of the species — at least one lady who was marching several miles in her four-inch stilettos.

Daughters of the Somme

 

2 Comments

Filed under Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, Guardian, Northern Irish politics, Scotland, SNP, social class

The Times they are a-churning

This could be one of those intrusive Malcolmian asides. Indeed, that was how it started in another post that is cooking.

Let’s keep it as main text.

Malcolm’s morning trip to the doctor’s surgery allowed him to read Andrew Adonis’s account,  Five Days in May, of life in Downing Street, while the Quad were stitching up their ConDem package. This is being serialised in The Times.

Unless one is possessed of Mark Packian  (who will be featured in that other post) partial eyesight, Nick Clegg (along with the endearingly peremptory Captain Ashdown) does not emerge well.

This is part of the entry for 4pm Monday, May 10, 2010:

Gordon confirmed that Labour would definitely offer AV legislation and a referendum.

The issue now was the status of the Lib-Lab talks. They were for real, Clegg responded.

But, GB pressed, would he say that the talks with Labour were on the same basis as with the Tories?

“Well, we don’t want to bounce ourselves,” said Clegg, uneasily.

So they wanted to negotiate a final deal with the Tories while merely listening to representations from Labour.

The decision — at least on Gordon Brown’s part — was confirmed after Tuesday’s 1pm final Brown and Clegg meeting:

Ming Campbell, the most pro-Labour and pro-Gordon of the senior Lib Dems, erased any lingering doubts when Gordon spoke to him on the phone at about 4pm. “I wish it were otherwise,” said Ming, clearly dejected. Gordon called Vince Cable, who said much the same.

“OK,” said Gordon, putting the phone down. “I’ll do the call with Clegg at five. Get everything ready for the Palace immediately afterwards.”

Even in that 5pm phone-call, Clegg is procrastinating:

“I’m really sorry, but I still haven’t taken a decision,” was Nick’s opener. “Genuinely, I mean this. I’m sitting here with Vince and the party meeting now isn’t until 8.30.” […]

“I can’t wait that long, Nick. I can’t wait the whole evening,” Gordon said, urgent, insistent. “The country expects a decision.”

“Just two or three hours then,” said Nick, almost pleading.

And so Clegg bought himself another hour:

6.30 came and went. Still no Clegg call.

At 6.45, Sue put another call through to Tim Snowball in Nick Clegg’s office.

“I’m sorry, he’s in a meeting and I can’t get him out, ” said Tim.

“It’s really got to be now, Tim. It absolutely has to be,” said Sue.

Thirty seconds’ silence then Nick Clegg on the line.

“Gordon, I’ll tell you what’s happening,” Nick began. “Following our conversation this afternoon I’m basically finding out how far I can push the Conservatives on Europe. I genuinely take to heart what you said about that. We need some sanity on Europe. We can’t seek to renegotiate. I’m trying my best …”

“I’ll tell you what’s happening …”, “basically”, “genuinely”, “some sanity”, “I’m trying my best …” It all seems somewhat pathetic. And unconvincing.

Adonis’s account immediately continues:

Gordon interrupted. “I need to resign immediately  Nick. I can’t leave this hanging. I can’t be hanging on to power while we can’t get an answer.”

“But Gordon, this isn’t over yet …”

“Nick, you are continuing negotiations with the Conservatives and you have rejected a deal with us.”

“No, Gordon. Today is Tuesday. We have only just started the talks. We have not rejected you. We are trying to play our role, to find a stable coalition.”

“I have to do the right thing by both the Queen and the country,” Gordon continued.

Nick again said he hadn’t made up his mind. “As you know the working group weren’t able to answer some of our questions …”

“Nick, it’s past that. I have to resign as people don’t understand my clinging on to power.”

“Why? In other democracies trying to do this takes weeks. It’s quite right for us to to do it methodically.” His big concern remained Europe, he added.

What was Clegg’s end-game here? Was it to remain centre-stage for weeks, in some kind of Belgian government stand-off? Or was it part of the Cameron-Osborne choreography, with Brown forced to sneak out of Downing Street in the depths of the night?

Back with Adonis:

“Nick, you’re a good man. But I have to respect the British people. They don’t want me hanging on. I wish you well in the future. I think your decisions are important. I prefer the progressive way forward …”

Nick interrupted, reverting yet again to the negotiations not having gone well, particularly on the economy.

More shaking of heads in the inner office. David Muir [Brown’s SpAd] texted Jonny Oates [Clegg’s Chief of Staff]: “He’s not bluffing.”

Gordon: “Nick, I’ve no choice. I have thought through the implications. I cannot go on for another day. Your are negotiating with another party…’

Nick, dramatically: “Just five minutes. There are two more people I have to speak to. Then let’s speak again. Please.”

A collective groan in the inner office as the line went dead.

We are now in the dénouement:

The No 10 staff were now crowding into the war room, along with Sir Gus O’Donnell and senior Cabinet Office officials.

Five or so minutes later, Nick Clegg again. “Gordon, I cannot give you assurances. That would be acting dishonourably. But please, please don’t resign…”

“I can’t delay. I’ve got to resign now, Nick. I need to go to the Palace.”

“You are holding me hostage. You don’t need to act unilaterally. We have only spent five days holding these important negotiations. I can’t do anything about that …”

“No, Nick. I’ve got to go to the Palace. I’ve got to resign. I haven’t any choice now.”

“It doesn’t need to be like this …”

“It does, Nick, I’ve got to resign. It’s got to be now. I wish you all the best for the future. You’re a good man, Nick. I’ve got to go now.”

We wouldn’t want Nick Clegg to be perceived as acting dishonourably, would we?

 

1 Comment

Filed under David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Lib Dems, Nick Clegg, politics, Times, Tories.

29 — and counting

But not pleading.

On Saturday (conveniently after the daily newspaperman’s working week) the police arrested four more of the Murdoch hordes. Not just any Wapping layabouts, but the Sun‘s brightest and best: the head of news, the chief crime reporter, the ex-managing editor and the deputy editor.

You would look hard in the Currant Bun to find any details.

As Nick Davies, the Guardian‘s rottweiler, notes:

This may be the moment when the scandal that closed the NoW finally started to pose a potential threat to at least one of Murdoch’s three other UK newspaper titles: the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times.

Interesting that and the Sunday Times. Lest we forget, The Sunday Times hacked and blagged Gordon Brown, not for any “public interest”, but because it suited the Murdoch political agenda.

Moreover:

The four who were arrested on Saturday – like the 25 others before them – have not even been charged with any offence. But behind the scenes, something very significant has changed at News International.

Read that one again: the Murdoch empire is now shovelling the dirt on its former (and present) employees, and anyone else outside the charmed inner circle. That includes the Chipping Norton set. Which must make for a truly idyllic work-environment.

Hence Malcolm’s mental image:

1 Comment

Filed under Conservative family values, crime, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Guardian, Independent, Murdoch, politics, sleaze., Sunday Times, Tories.

Gordon Brown “hacked” — quelle surprise!

It’s a Bank Holiday edition. No celeb deaths. No tsunami. So the front-pages have been “in salt” for some time.

So to the Independent’s big splash (but no tsunami):

Gordon Brown’s Downing Street emails ‘hacked’

 Computer crime by press may be as widespread as phone scandal

Despite the “Exclusive” tag, this is as surprising as stale Christmas cake. The “evidence” is cited as:

    • Mr Brown’s private communications, along with emails belonging to a former Labour adviser and lobbyist, Derek Draper, have been identified by Scotland Yard’s Operation Tuleta team as potentially hacked material.

Well, actually chaps, that doesn’t come as a shock.

The simple fact that any dirt on Draper oozed out in the pollution propagated by Paul Staines, a.k.a. “Guido Fawkes” should tell us it came by devious means. Total masochists should pursue the thread by reviewing Staines’ own “Derek Draper” tag. What we didn’t know then, but fully appreciate now, is that Fawkes is an orifice through which Tory HQ and the bits that even Murdoch couldn’t excrete were deposited in public view.

  • Mr Brown has previously accused News International of accessing parts of his private life including his bank accounts. He said he “could not understand” why he had the protection and defences of a chancellor or prime minister, and yet remained vulnerable to “unlawful or unscrupulous tactics”.

Well, that’s news as recent as last July. The Guardian was far more explicit then, and tied in:

  • Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who specialised in phone hacking for the News of the World,
  • the Sunday Times who “blagged” the Abbey Nat on six occasions and Brown’s lawyers, Allen & Overy at least once.

The Guardian noted:

Brown joins a long list of Labour politicians who are known to have been targeted by private investigators working for News International, including the former prime minister Tony Blair and his media adviser Alastair Campbell, the former deputy prime minister John Prescott and his political adviser Joan Hammell, Peter Mandelson as trade secretary, Jack Straw and David Blunkett as home secretaries, Tessa Jowell as media secretary and her special adviser Bill Bush, and Chris Bryant as minister for Europe.

The sheer scale of the data assault on Brown is unusual, with evidence of “attempts” to obtain his legal, financial, tax, and police records as well as to listen to his voicemail. All of these incidents are linked to media organisations. In many cases, there is evidence of a link to News International.

And, of course, there is no greater defender of News International’s “freedom of the press” than Staines/Fawkes — there’s another tag for that one.

A bit further back Damian Green, then Opposition Tory immigration spokesman was arrested because a Christopher Galley had been filching Home Office papers and passing them to Green. That was in breach of Galley’s Official Secrets Act signature. One account has it that Green was leading Galley along by promising promotion in Tory circles. Again, by no coincidence, Galley went on to be “employed” by … you guessed it! … Staines/Fawkes!

Where the Independent story is correct is linking to the very serious cyber-attack on Peter Hain at the Northern Ireland Office. Again, that is no “new” news. Shaun Woodward, Hain’s successor at the NIO, was asking the questions last autumn:

… if the Metropolitan police’s investigation – as part of Operation Tuleta – proves conclusive, the consequences could be very grave. Since its inception in the 70s, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland has been privy to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, so this touches on all aspects of national security. Was it an attempt to breach secure email accounts of the Northern Ireland Office? Did private detectives read confidential communications between the secretary of state and the prime minister? Was a Trojan computer virus used to try to gain access to other third parties with whom the secretary of state was in email contact? What of foreign governments, if the attack was on Peter’s secure account? …

So we need urgent answers to these fresh hacking questions. Was Peter Hain’s computer hacked? Was mine as his successor? What information, deliberately or otherwise, may have been passed to those engaged in Irish-related terrorism today? If proved, any such criminal actions would put at risk not only the politics of Northern Ireland but the peace process itself.

The Leveson inquiry must now look into this issue. If true, it represents a new dimension to the irresponsibility of those in the media who have systematically put themselves above the law.

Ah, Malcolm hears you say, but Hain’s private life was a legitimate subject of enquiry. Except that wasn’t the point of the hacking. It also involved targeting PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde. Any comic relief was that:

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr has claimed his mobile phone was hacked when he was a junior minister in Belfast.

For those who missed it on its first outing, Malcolm addressed the murky links between News International and ex-employee hackers of the notorious Force Research Unit, at Thiepval Barracks, in Lisburn, in previous well-visited posts.

2 Comments

Filed under blogging, Britain, Conservative Party policy., crime, Gordon Brown, Guardian, Guido Fawkes, Ian Paisley Junior, Independent, Labour Party, Law, Metropolitan Police, Murdoch, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish politics, Paul Staines, politics, sleaze., Stormont

Being hand-wrung

Ed Miliband’s word-play — yes, “scripted” — was a good one. It may even prove devastating:

I think the short answer is that six weeks ago the Prime Minister was promising his Back Benchers a handbagging for Europe, but now he is reduced to hand wringing. That is the reality of this Prime Minister. The problem for Britain is that at the most important European summit for a generation, which matters hugely to families and businesses up and down the country, he is simply left on the sidelines. Is not the truth that we have a Prime Minister who is caught between his promises in opposition and the reality of government? That is why Britain is losing out in Europe

Today the Eurosceptic (that’s understatement taken to a new level) ConHome website has been running a Rolling record of Tory MPs’ comments on new EU Treaty. None are favourable to Cameron. This one is particularly notable:

5.30pm Paul Waugh reports that Edward Leigh said the following in a Westminster Hall debate this afternoon:

LEIGH edward MP“We have had enough of reading of British prime ministers over the last 20 to 30 years in the days preceding a summit that ‘they will stand up for the British national interest’ and then coming back from a summit with a kind of Chamberlain-esque piece of paper saying, ‘I have negotiated very, very hard, I have got opt-outs on this and that and I have succeeded in standing up for British interests’ ‘

Waugh is worth watching and (having defected from the London Evening Standard, where he was restoring some degree of credibility) edits Politicshome, the other arm of “Lord” Ashcroft’s web presence.

If Tim Montgomerie at ConHome is nipping at shoe-heels, Waugh’s piece detects a knife closing on the jugular. It is entitled The 1922 Nuclear Option:

 A room has been booked already for a Monday meeting of the ‘centre right group’, timed to discuss the next moves after the PM delivers his Commons Statement on the EU summit at 3.30pm.

Just as Cameron doesn’t want to give away his negotiating position in advance to Merkozy, neither do the Eurosceps want to give many clues ahead of Monday.

Yet there are alread some thoughts going around. One idea was for an EDM urging a repatriation of powers on the back of treaty process. I hear that David Davis and John Redwood were the candidates to table it, but there was some reluctance to go ahead unless well over 100 names could be guaranteed. A motion is also being mooted. We could even get an Urgent Question a few days after the PM returns.

But there is one nuclear option that is even being considered: putting in leadership challenge letters with the 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady.

Let’s be realistic here.

A challenge of any sort, however staged, however notional, however theatrical, would presage the end of David Cameron as Tory Leader, and — in the middle term — as Prime Minister.

It’s not been glad confident morning again! since he was seen to blow it in April, 2010, by failing to counter the LibDem surge and to choke off a terminal and badly-wounded Gordon Brown. Was it for this we spent £15 million? (And a stack more before the regulations kicked in.) Probably three times the amount Labour could afford. And a country mile beyond anything the LibDems could scrape together.

When the ConDem coalition was compacted, the gilt was already off the gingerbread. Any “sell-out” now to Sarkozy and Merkel (and anything less than bringing them back in chains attached to his triumphal chariot will be seen thus): Cameron forever compromised and diminished. In Tory Clubs and committee rooms across the country, where euroscepticism — if not EUphobia – is the norm, it would be The Lost Leader:

We shall march prospering,—not thro’ his presence;
  Songs may inspirit us,—not from his lyre;
Deeds will be done,—while he boasts his quiescence,
  Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,

Waugh has it bang to rights (in this case, far Rights):

The real problem for Cameron has been a lack of party management in recent months. He blundered his way into the 81 rebellion and in recent days has been egging on some Eurosceps with the odd throwaway line.

The very latest was in the Commons in PMQs when, under repeated fire from his backbenches, he uttered this hint that he would repatriate powers over the City and other areas:

“I think there is an opportunity, particularly if there is a treaty at 27, to ensure some safeguards, not just for that industry but to give us greater power and control in terms of regulation here in this House of Commons.”

‘Greater power and control’? Really? That was a pretty sweeping statement by any measure.

Icarus revivus

Cameron flies by the seat of his pants. He “wings it”. He unfailingly shows all the attributes, and the weaknesses of the PR-man he was, and is.

Suddenly he has reality, a climactic moment, and a hard study, thrust upon him. He had, and has the great language, the clear accents, so — for a while, a brief moment, his party:

loved him so, followed him, honoured him,
  Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,

but, when he is seen to get this one (and/or the next one) wrong:

One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,
One more devils’-triumph and sorrow for angels,
  One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
Life’s night begins: let him never come back to us!
  There would be doubt, hesitation, and pain …

Next Wednesday, PMQs, we need another opening, terse, pointed question from Ed Miliband. It won’t be the killer. It will be another nail in the coffin.

What will kill this ConDem government isn’t the economy. It’s Europe.

Leave a comment

Filed under Britain, ConHome, Conservative Party policy., David Cameron, Ed Miliband, EU referendum, Europe, Gordon Brown, Paul Waugh, politicshome, Quotations, Tories.

Confusing Campbells (and others)

It’s habit, rather infantile, and a bad one.

Whenever the BBC news-reader says, “And here is a report from our Scotland correspondent, Glenn Campbell”, Malcolm goes into auto-pilot and sings along:

Malcolmian aside:

The Old Boy, in his teaching days, had a regular party-piece about the relevance of popular song to contemporary history.

That Jimmy Webb song from 1969 featured, as the nearest thing to popular culture that the anti-Vietnam War movement achieved.

Especially when here were certain problems playing the obvious first choice for that political moment:  the Country Joe and the Fish clip from Woodstock, complete with integral Fish Cheer. That, at full blast (the only way to go!), in ear-shot of prurient headteachers, wasn’t a promising career move.

But, still, what the hell

Eventually, inevitably, a smart-arse student intervened that Galveston wasn’t about Vietnam, Webb was thinking of the Spanish-American War. Which, to Malcolm’s disgust, is the authorised version.

Good student, though, that kid: about the only one ever to know of the Spanish-American War. Subsequent discussion proved he was a Dylan freak, and had picked up the reference from With God On Our Side. We know Bob’s and Joanie’s, so here’s Judy’s (about the acoustic best YouTube can manage):


The Scottish connection, please, Malcolm!

What? Wasn’t Joseph Allen McDonald, of excellent Scottish Presbyterian pedigree, good enough to fit the bill?

Still, back to the Campbells.

That was with Paul Waugh today, here verbatim:

[Gordon] Brown even appears to have a new-found gift for media management. Although he was expected to appear on 5 Live last night, an interview didn’t materialise. Instead, he chose to give an exclusive to the BBC via its Scotland * correspondent Glenn Campbell.

That’s a very fair assumption: Glenn Campbell (above, right, with Auld Reekie background) does many of the BBC Scotland programmes with a political lean.

Waugh’s asterisk takes us to the footnote:

*UPDATE: BBC NewsChannell controller Kevin Bakhurst has Tweeted me to say that the Glenn Campbell in question was not the Scottish corr, but another BBC reporter with the same name. I remain slightly baffled as to why it wasn’t Nick Robinson or LauraK who were allocated the interview.

There’s only one video clip to match this rush of Campbells. So, beware! The Campbells are coming!

It’s certainly true that, by contrast, Kuenssbergs (Laura of that ilk, elegantly, left) don’t come in droves, especially equipped with that cultivated lowlands accent.

As for Nick Robinson, the BBC may claim the ex-President of the Oxford University Conservative Association, but Malcolm recognises another, a namesake from TCD (and therefore of greater global and academic significance).

This superior Nick Robinson married the fragrant (and very, very bright) Miss Mary Bourke, also of TCD.

Mary Robinson

Now, didn’t she make good — all the way to Áras an Uachtaráin and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

When comes such another?

Leave a comment

Filed under BBC, folk music, Gordon Brown, Ireland, Irish Labour, Irish politics, Murdoch, Music, Paul Waugh, politics, politicshome, Scotland, Trinity College Dublin