Monday, October 02, 2006

BACK ON TRACK

Being a Glass-Half-Fuller, I was being wildly optimistic when I suggested I might be back over a week ago. Have had tons of stuff to deal with, which I have, and now find myself with tons more stuff to deal with, albeit at my own pace. So, as you were then.

Whilst I've been away there was much ado about the Labour Party Conference, summed up rather nicely by Anatole Kaletsky:
So in the end it wasn’t Brown versus Blair. It wasn’t even Gordon versus Cherie, or Ed and Damian versus Alastair and Peter. It was the journalists against the Labour Party or, more precisely, media sensationalism against dull truth.
...
The only real “story” I heard, whether on or off the record, even from the most partisan sources was about unity: that the feud between Mr Blair and Mr Brown was essentially over and that, after a largely symbolic leadership contest, the party would back the overwhelming winner, Mr Brown. Call me naive, but this seems to me a full and accurate description of all the important events in Manchester this week — and of the outlook for British politics in the coming months as the transition from Mr Blair to Mr Brown continues its inevitable and stately progress.
...
What is my evidence? The strongest evidence of unity was ironically, the Cherie Blair “that’s a lie” incident. Manchester this week was crawling with resourceful and aggressive political journalists who left no stone unturned to find some new casus belli with which to reignite the Blair-Brown war. So what did all these media bloodhounds bring home? An almost inaudible comment, supposedly muttered under her breath by the Prime Minister’s wife, who is not even a politician, and overheard not by some eminent BBC, Sun or Guardian pundit, but by a US wire-service reporter on her way to the loo. If this was the strongest “Blair-Brown feud” story that the best and brightest of British political journalism could come up with, then surely the Labourites have beaten their swords into ploughshares and the ultra-Brownites can now lie down with the über-Blairites. The fact is that, apart from that one eavesdropped remark, the really extraordinary story from Manchester was the absence of a single aggressive statement from either the Blair or Brown camp against the other.
and Stephen Pollard:
What a load of hypocritical tossers (pardon my language but it's what they are) those Labour members are. They've spent the past decade bitching about Blair, and now that he's off into the sunset they cheer him to the rafters. Well live with it, you idiots. You're the ones who wanted rid of him, forced him to announce his departure, and rendered him impotent. Ha-bloody-ha: now you're going to have to live with the consequence:

Mr Unelectable.
If Pollard's views accurately reflect the electorate, Labour could well be in trouble. But a YouGov poll for the Telegraph suggests British voters are as cynical about the current Tory party as they are of backstabbing Labour Ministers. Gordon can breathe a sigh of relief. For now.

If the Tories get a big conference bounce he'll have to start looking over his shoulder. Welcome to Tony's World.


In other news, there was a big hoo-hah over the NIE report into the bleedingly obvious and a PIPA poll of Iraqi public opinion. Predictably, the devil is in the details, a lesson to all who jumped to premature conclusions based on reports they might have read that emphasised only certain aspects of each story. Two breakdowns I found useful were at HP and over at the Boston Herald where Jules Crittenden summarised things rather nicely:
Also in the news last week, poll results from a University of Maryland public policy institute found that 94 percent of Iraqis hate al-Qaeda. But two-thirds of Iraqis want U.S. troops out within the year. A majority of Iraqis believe the U.S. presence fuels the violence, which is interesting because most of the violence is now Iraqi on Iraqi, Sunni vs. Shia. This remains the most difficult part of the Iraqi equation. Saddam Hussein’s answer to it - the murder of hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shiites - only fueled the current strife.

Curiously, the poll found a majority of Iraqis believe the departure of the United States will boost support for the U.S.-backed Iraqi government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his tough-on-militias unity government, which Americans fought and died to establish, has the approval of six in 10 Iraqis. Two-thirds of Iraqis believe Iraq will still be one country in five years. Iraqi confidence in the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces is rising. Apparently, America’s unwelcome presence is producing results.
When the eventual withdrawal does come, will the Stoppers be claiming victory because they've been calling on Blair and Bush to bring the troops back home since Day One? I wonder.


Next up, in a blog-ramble chasing reaction to David Aaronovitch's excellent No Excuses for Terror on Channel 5 (check ModernityBlog for some tips on how to download the whole lot), I came across this rather nice advert over at MPACUK:
58 years, eh?

As Charles says, with this poster not only do MPACUK reveal their hatred of Israel but they show their general stupidity as well:
The Chinese and Japanese text on the sign reads, “End your job.” Not “End the occupation.”

And the Russian text reads, “Finish your homework.”
And shame on the University of Chester for advertising their Muslim Youth Work JNC on the MPAC website. I've no problem with the concept of Muslim Youth Work - after all, before the Daily Mail pick up on this I ought to point out that Chester offer a Christian Youth Work JNC as well. It just seems a little rank that an institute of education is helping to fund such an ignorant organisation.


Finally, remembering that MPAC are affiliated with the Stop the War Coalition, it was with some interest that regarding Darfur I read on the MPAC website:
Currently the situation has reached stalemate with the Sudanese government digging their heels in and many more civilians will continue to suffer. It makes it our job to continue to lobby our leaders to move quicker and further towards resolving the conflict, much as Bob Geldof did today by calling for Superpowers to acknowledge their role in helping to resolve the conflict. The conflict will only be resolved when the Sudanese government is forced to back down and the UN must be pressurised into acting swiftly.
That seems a bit out of kilter with what the Gorgeous One has been saying recently (hat-tip: Disturbingly Yellow). And let's not forget Galloway's stance on Hezbollah differs markedly from North Koreaphile Andrew Murray's. Maybe it's time for the Stoppers to have a Euston moment and reveal what they do have in common. Here's a suggestion to get the ball rolling:

"Despite being an anti-war organisation, many of us were not opposed to Hezbollah rockets shelling civilian targets in Israel."


And completely unrelated to everything else, I'm not sure which of the following has cheered me up more:

Webb and Mitchell coming up with the funniest sketch show I've seen in years:


or Solskjaer putting two past Newcastle in yesterday's training session:





And just as a reminder of just how good the fella was in his prime, here's him coming off the subs bench and scoring four goals in ten minutes against Forest:



And back to work...

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