Saturday, April 23, 2005

Bowing by the Beeb.

A new trend in BBC coverage seems to have been thrust at me recently: that of the deferential coverage of China. Report after report has told of the Chinese anger against Japan as though a)The population of China has spontaneously arisen in response to Japanese provocation and b)The Chinese government, having nothing to do with the public responses to Japanese actions, has acted to subdue them despite having sensible grievances against the Japanese. This is a good example.

Surely this is just a superpower flexing its muscles, and surely the BBC, with its usual fairmindedness, would act to balance out the scales, as it seeks to against the US hegemon (alleged)?

Oh, I forget, we have to be deferential and polite to the Chinese. Meanwhile British ex-servicemen and families, who suffered at the hands of the Japanese, are, I suppose, merely nursing old grievances- that is, according to my BBC schooling. The results of a search of the BBC site which used the words 'Japan British Prisoners war' can be viewed here. There are no immediate results relevant to the case of British prisoners held under appalling conditions by Japan, and this one, found on the second page, merely talks about a new tourist attraction founded on the slave railway between Thailand and Burma, yet the Chinese anger, 60 years on, it practically unquestioned by the BBC.

The only recent BBC entry which mentioned warcrimes and Japan, referred most directly to warcrimes- but John Simpson was talking about Nagasaki and Hiroshima, which of course helped to hasten the end of the treatment of British POWs in ways unimagined by the Abu Graibised public consciousness. A serious film for the graphic modern mind remains to be made, if anyone can stomach it.

So let's summarise, on this St. George's day:

Grievances from British victims can be sidelined. Grievances from China must be mainstreamed. The only unequivocal warcrimes from the period that we will foreground are the Allied uses of the nuclear option against the vicious Japananese resistance.

That'll be balance, Beeb style.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Good News.

Warmest best wishes to Frank Gardner as he resumes his work following his convalescence in the wake of the awful attempted terrorist execution that he suffered in Riyadh last June. His life has been changed permanently, but he survived and is telling a little of his tale on the Beeb at the moment. Sadly Simon Cumbers wasn't so fortunate.

I'd also like to say, while I'm being a slightly above-decent fellow to the Beeb for a while, that I don't harbour any grudges towards any of them; not least someone I often snark at- Paul Reynolds. It's that they set themselves up at the head of a society I find it impossible to hold back from questioning that makes me seek to undermine their role- if possible.

Scum on top

After Paul Reynolds' tour de force contrasting The French success in maintaining their flagship enterprises with the demise of Rover, it seems very pertinent to link to this news report showing how trade with China can really be secured. I have to admit I was relieved to be led to understand that China wasn't interested in Rover, so that our foreign policy (such as it is under the Eurobrolly) wouldn't be determined by the flow of Yuan to Brum. Now we just have to watch for the French Cockerel trying to crowbar us into appeasing China via the CFP (Common Foreign Policy).

Samizdata, from which I discovered this latest French perfidy, also offered this interesting Observer half-condemnation of the Blairite strategy for Rover- sourcing the trouble right where it struck me it belonged, with Byers' promotion of the BMW-Phoenix deal.

It's the fact that the Guardian suite can produce this kind of sense that makes you weep for the Conservatives' incapability (in advance of their supposed poll failure):

'Now we are asked to believe the real plan all along was to ease the workers into redundancy, and to view industrial policy as an extension of the social security department.'

All of which turns me- almost, almost- to seeking religious succour in the comforting stability of the Roman Catholic faith, which unlike Rowan Williams has a semblance of self-respect.

In this vein it was amusing for me to find what a lot in common Larry from BlameBush had with Timthy Garton-Ash from the Guardian in their view of the new Papa- proving that the Graun hasn't yet croaked and been reborn as a sensible newspaper.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Election Comment... has been somewhat lacking from this blog so far.
Well, on this blogger's part there was a little sharp intake of breath as the Conservatives went into the campaign putting pressure on Labour, albeit having to ride their gaffes as they did so. Would it work? I wondered. Were all the people I admired wrong in considering Howard a duffer in a lawyer's guise, possessing only the patina of well-heeled experience in high places, rather than the judgement needed to expose the Blairmonster?

Well, there is something like this Larkin poem about the Conservative's campaign, and even US Conservatives don't know who to root for (unless it's Blair). Even Steyn would vote for the big B's grinning mug (and it has to be said Howard is wrong to attack on the smug smile front as he looks every inch as smug in his own way)

To top that off, the polls show a general Conservative slum of percentages huddled bleakly at around the 30 mark (well, a little above, being charitable). This despite the fact that I'd say the 'base', so-called, is fairly well motivated.

Melanie Phillips has been lambasting Howard for months and months, especially over his Iraq war opportunism, and I think she's taken time out from Howard bashing (being, as she is -I believe- a Conservative at heart) to lambast Blair for his unwillingness to take on his critics over the war. She's right there too, though I think the whole phenomenon Howard has failed to understand, completely, and Blair has failed to take to heart, is that the party that will succeed in changing this country in a genuine way is the one which stands up and argues with the British people, as it were, man-to-man, as fellow adults, with adult complexity. Naivity, perhaps, you may say- but courage and naivity often appear the same when we're trapped in a cycle of cravenness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Serial abuser Bolton

It must be the way he looks or something -perhaps he cuts his own hair- but everyone has it in for John Bolton, President Bush's nominee for UN ambassador.

As Mark Steyn points out, he's been accused of grave offences such as standing with hands on hips.

Maybe a bit camp, but does it warrant the Beeb's parroting of his proposed status as 'serial abuser'? I quote:

'When asked by correspondents whether accusations that he was a serial abuser stood up, she [Condi Rice] said: "It's certainly not the John Bolton that I know or that a lot of other people know."'

Indeed. The Beeb's list of accusations is about as devastating as the crushing 'hand on hips' episode. I only hope I never make anyone that angry.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Through a glass, darkly.

Forgive my attempt to beef up my headlines after some lame ones recently, but the thought occurred to me that if the BBC consider a Eurosocialist EUtopia to be their idea of heaven, in only makes sense for them to report it as though partiality in their coverage was natural.

Paul Reynolds has an article about the EU Constitution which majors on the contrast between the French and British approaches to business highlighted by the demise of Rover. I thought Steyn summed up the British attitude perfectly when he said 'I would hazard that most Britons psychologically closed down Longbridge a generation back.', and followed it up well when he said 'Permanence is the illusion of every age'.

Indeed. And we Brits, while accepting the latter point and preparing for the consequences using the former strategy, have tended to tolerate any kind of Canute (eg. Phoenix) who promised to stop the tide of history and maintain prestige ventures like MGRover.

It's therefore impossible to go along with Reynolds' idealised notion that somehow our attitude is that 'For the UK it is a matter of regret that the last major British manufacturer has gone, but it is not a matter that will change government policy. The market has spoken and the market must decide.'

The fact that we are not oriented the way the French are doesn't mean that the market is somehow rampant in the UK (don't forget Mr Reynolds that we are part of the EU). To say so seems disingenuous.

As the EUserf points out covering similar territory, 'Companies need to be protected alright, but not from the competition. Rather they need protection from the ravages of rapacious tax collectors and regulation wielding Eurocrats.'

In his article Reynolds goes on to make a list of the things the French are doing better than we are, including the openness of their debate on the European Constitution. Amongst the nuggets, 'Few people in London know that their supplier, EDF, is actually Electricite de France.'. Speaking as a regular payer of Wanadoo internet charges, I know exactly what I pay the French on a regular basis, and though I don't pay EDF for my electricity I knew that Londoners do.

But what's missing from Reynolds' little fit of brand-envying prose is the fact that despite these wonderful headline names France can still boast unemployment of ten percent. This contrasts sharply to Britain's economy, denuded though it is of brand manufacturers- though, having said that I expect that Mr Brown has fed in enough fat tissue to the economy to see the British unemployment wasteline grown considerably in the coming years (it's already starting).

For Reynolds, the reason for the French opposition to the EU Constitution lies in the perception 'that free market doctrines are embedded in the new treaty in a way that makes the kind of social and industrial policy that is such a feature of French life much more difficult to pursue.'

For me, meanwhile, the reason for the French intransigence is their confidence that they are the arbiters of the future of Europe, and their conviction that (given the servility of British Pols to the Euro-agenda) they could soak the Brits a bit more and gain more accommodations for the various 'features' of French life that they hold dear.

But anyway, EURef gives a list of real rather than existential incursions into British economic freedoms, starting with one that directly impacted Rover's sustainability. While Britain grins and bears the ministrations of a statist system modelled on France's economic strategy, France seeks to make sure the project doesn't depart from the script.

Funnily enough Reynolds didn't put it quite that way. We'll just have to wait until we get to heaven. Update: the Rottweiler Puppy weighs in.

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