Saturday, August 13, 2005

Tragic Cookie

I haven't mentioned the death of Robin Cook, I don't think. I didn't find out about it immediately, and when I saw some headline a couple of week back, I thought it must have been referring to some other high profile people whose health is very fragile.

For what it's worth I do think of Cook's death as a tragedy. Not, as sometimes, because you feel that a person still has much to give. I didn't feel that way about him. In fact the opposite was true- i felt he was washed up. I felt that misjudgements and ill-judged actions in all areas of his life had left him drained- a husk of an immensely promising man. No doubt he was still down to earth and what not, as people say- but if Tony Blair didn't attend his funeral out of pique rather than the need to rest his own slightly peaky frame, I could understand why.

Cook was losing no opportunity to turn the knife on Blair, and had a rationale behind that of contempt for the PM, especially in his judgement over Iraq. I don't think the little man's judgement, acid though it was, was any longer focussed or balanced effectively- and despite his looks he loved acting as a poster boy for the anti-war left. Altogether Cook's deep resentment of Blair- very little of it fair- would suggest that the last person he would want to envisage at his funeral would be the nemesis of his political ambitions. An interesting contrast to Lady Thatcher's presence at Ted Heath's funeral- while in that case I imagine there'd have been consultation about Heath's wishes in that regard, as we all know the history there. Maybe the 'great sulk' of our Edward was finally over- but Cook's has never been adequately recognised or understood. Perhaps Blair does understand it. Perhaps he even a little respects it.

ps. I've just realised that McCririck's comments included the Thatcher parallel. (Nice Scotsman article here.) All that differs is our interpretation of the facts.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Just to say I am away for a few days and will probably not have time to post much. I'm exploring Krakow .

Thursday, August 11, 2005

You know, I'd be so sad if Italy quit the Euro. One couldn't blame them. It's hardly a dynamic club to be a part of- as the BBC reports with the revealing defence that 'the performance was slightly better than feared'.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Reach exceeding grasp with the BBC. Unparalleled in its cultural reach to find out what's happening somewhere completely obscure (I think the AP is too biased even to count, and Reuters' bread and butter is found in obscure reporting- yet the BBC lavish correspondents all over the world despite being just another national broadcaster), and capable of tallying these things into a story, the BBC has little clue why things happen, relying on a very tired stock of ideas and the words of utterly unreliable governments who by moral equivalence have to be worked up into possessing some kind of authoritativeness.

Hence, an allegedly cancerous man's bus suicide bombing in China is explained via a tired old template that you sense is well known to the Chinese authorities:

'The motive for Monday's attack is unclear, but it follows criticism by medical professionals that the costs of healthcare have risen beyond the means of many people living in rural areas.'

So rather than chalk this one up to the global jihad, as this poster would have it, we are supposed to think this is a protest at globalisation and the loss of Chinese socialist security.

According to the Jawa's reasoning:

'What many people in the West are unaware of, is that China is fighting a low-level Islamist insurgency in its Western provinces. Fujian Province, however is not in Western China but in Southeastern China. Not generally a hot bed for Islamist sentiments.'

Well, all I can say is their awareness would not have grown from the BBC's reporting of the incident. But really- a suicide bombing to protest at lack of cancer treatment? Well, maybe in China... I don't know.

However, one commenter at the Jawa thought very differently:

'Fujain province is 30% Muslim and they had huge riots there about 6 months ago as the Muslims want Sharia law.
This is certainly Islamist 72-virgin job.
Shame on Islam and Muslims who support Islamic government (which is about 80% of Muslims).
Criticism of Islam should be decriminalized.'

As I mentioned, I don't know the full truth of this, but Reuters carries the same story with the same apparently state-sponsored explanation, and a little more detail. Remembering the way that eyewitnesses proved unreliable in London, and remembering that eyewitness in police states can be a touch influenced by official expectations, we can't give too much credence to the lucky lady who got off the bus early. Neither Reuters or the BBC stress the haste with which the Chinese Government's explanation has covered all the interpretations of the story.

Meanwhile, as this story reports:

'Both the Russian and Chinese governments are confronted by mounting Islamist radicalism and separatist movements on their soil that are believed to be fueled and financed by al-Qaeda. The US-led military operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda were therefore perceived in Moscow and Beijing as being in their interests. '

Could it be that this bombing is one more shot across the bows of the Chinese Government?

And this source may shed some light on the issue:

'The conflicting movements of Uighur separatism, abetted by Islamist organizations abroad, and Chinese internal and economic interests, suggest that further and serious conflict may be expected.
The dearth of research into radical Islam in Asia is in itself a cause for concern. One reason for this may be that states affected by separatism such as the Philippines, Thailand, and China prefer not to admit to a problem. This may be cultural. The Asian concept of saving face may be an element of the difficulty. It may, however, be a fear of losing overseas investment if there is an emphasis on factors that suggest future instability.'

China certainly has an Islamist problem. How far it extends is an interesting question- but Fujian is one of the historic stopping off points for Islam in China and undoubtedly part of the sphere of Islam's historic ambition.

This as Mauritania goes the way of all Islam infested backwaters, and the BBC finds someone to blame it all on the US and Israel: 'Most Mauritanians believe that the US has double standards when it comes to dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... The Americans have failed the Mauritanian regime... a large Israeli-built hospital in Nouakchott is boycotted by most Mauritanians on principle... there is a feeling that US President George Bush is leading a crusade against Islam.'

But it's ok- all is well with the world- like so many 'leading journalists' he's Londonistan-based.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Blair sees back of comical Bakri? Or not maybe.

It could have been the first fruits of Blair's tough line on treason- but it could also be one of the last. It's good to get rid of Bakri, even if his al mujahagoon rabble had already wound up, having served a purpose. He says he's coming back, but five weeks either means his mother thinks he needs feeding up, or that he's giving himself time to assess the situation and whether uncle T.B. calms down at all.

The treason issue, added to this recent Sunday Times expose, seems to have turned up the heat on old Mohammed. But is it enough? No, it seems to me.

As I may have hinted above, Bakri is a joker, a man who can hardly articulate the English language and who gives his exhortations while picking on some else's chicken and chips- having arrived at his rabble-rousing two hours late. If he was a genius perhaps I might see that as charisma at work, but I'm sure he's not that. On the other hand he could certainly be a lot more careful about his appearance, actions and language than he has been- so his goonishness is surely partly an act. If he has contacts with the Al Qaeda leadership then it's only a sign that bin Laden, as so many intellectuals from upwardly mobile classes do, knows how to use a rabble for his own ends, and Bakri's an idiot useful enough for that.

I saw an effete (I mean really effete) Telegraph journalist opining on Sky recently that the July bombers must be rather dim wits. He wasn't specifically referring to the failed bombers, but to such bombers in general. People like Bakri and followers certainly reinforce that stereotype, but it's one dimensional and deliberately so. Bakri and friends may get out of control, but they reinforce the respectability of the Iqbal Sacranies of this world- and it's people from Sacranie's class who are the heavyweights who really inspire the kind of people deep enough and organised enough to perpetrate terrorist acts. I don't think Blair's bureaucratic gnashings will really nip those buds- even if they give that appearance.

And speaking of Blair's bureaucratic gnashings, it was interesting to read Charlie Falconer adjusting the spin after the public mind had been turned by it, saying that 'it is "extraordinarily unlikely" treason charges will be used against outspoken Islamic radicals.' I guess he doesn't want Bakri to think Uncle T.B. is all that angry with him.

It was also interesting to read, regarding the prospects for a more French style inquisitorial court system to deal with the folly of the CPS, er, sorry, the terrorist threat, that 'The Home Office says any idea of moving towards a French-style inquisitorial, rather than adversarial court system, is "very long term" and not being actively considered.'

Fascinating that it's on the long term agenda at all- along with all the other capitulations to the Euroculture, no doubt. Slipping in such nuggets amidst an issue of absorbing potency is the political version of laying cards on the table- for whom is an interesting question.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Bring out the old words.

Blair seems to have decided that he needs to take some old-fashioned words out of the New labout spin locker to inject some stiffness into the upper. I didn't even imagine that Blair and co. had bothered to keep the word 'treason'- but here it is restored for new spinning duty, dutifully disseminated by our national boredcaster.

It's absolutely amazing, too, to think that we only abolished the death penalty in 1998- even though I used to remind people regularly who thought we didn't have it all, querulous pedant that I was. It was the inactivity of the penalty for over half a century that made it seem like a joke term; like describing a volcano as a volcano when it's been inactive for a thousand years. But now, Blair presents, in archetypal Blair fashion, the all-new, defanged, nuLabour charge of treason. I'd like to think that Galloway might be first up, though as with everything else Blair's government has managed to take all the fun out of it before deployment. Dumb Jon has some wise words on the Blair's other spinnouncements.

Update: I should have pointed out that the death penalty for treason had been inactive for over fifty years when it was abolished- the death penalty for murder had been enacted as recently as 1965. Timeline here.

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