Blog : Posts tagged with 'Gordon Brown'

*

Spearhead From Space

In which FP gets worried that the PM is a potential Doctor Who villain


Since the election, I’ve felt a bit sorry for Gordon Brown, what with all the people who have rushed to gloat and put the boot in since his progressive downfall started. Last week’s Have I Got News For You featured a montage of his strained-looking toothy smile, his clunky body-language, as if the ability to smile and shake hands smoothly was indeed what really mattered in a leader. I can sympathise partly because my own smiles are often as bad as his, especially if I’m trying to pose. When I’m smiling for the camera, everyone else shuffles their feet and small children run away crying; so when people make fun of Gordon Brown for suffering the same problem, he definitely gets my sympathies.

People’s reaction to his clunkiness, though, just goes to show how much people are concerned today with style and slickness over intellect; and Gordon Brown’s defeat, which people are already treating as much less narrow than it actually was, is only going to reinforce that. When we see David Cameron and Nick Clegg standing together, I get an uneasy squirming horror-film feeling that something is not quite right: that we’re not watching real people, but some sort of shiny artificial human-mimicking lifeform whose twin bodies are slowly converging onto one set of features. By the end of this parliament, we’ll be ruled by Cameregg, one creature with two identical bodies, identical faces with features so blandly generic you could barely pick them out from a crowd. Ed Balls, and the Miliband brothers, might well be part of the same species: some sort of bizarre alien trying to put on a human face but turning into an inhuman everyman. It might just be the effect of modern spin-driven media-friendly politics – or maybe the Autons are real after all.

3 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Awoken by the political hubbub

In which there has apparently been a lot of fuss over nothing


Well, yes. It’s been quiet round here, hasn’t it. And, as I’ve said before, modern politics makes me want to retreat further into a bunker. There’s a reason why the three sane-and-national parties are so close together in the polls right now: on the surface they’re so close together on everything else. Do you support the ex-public-schoolboy who wants to cut taxes on business and cut public spending, or the ex-public-schoolboy who wants to cut taxes for lower incomes and scythe public spending? Or, of course, the ex-university-firebrand who is also going to cut public spending, but not yet? If you don’t like those, there’s the right-wing fringe: the doddery old chap who leads his party from the House of Lords, who responds to most questions with “I’m not a professional politican, so I don’t know all the details or what’s in our manifesto – can you ask me the questions I wanted you to ask me, please?” If you don’t like his apparent lack of knowledge of most things his party plans to do, there’s always the Cambridge graduate* who thinks that Ireland is part of Britain, and that none of those nasty foreign types should be allowed to settle here unless maybe they’re from a country like France where potential voters might want to retire to.** There’s probably a left-wing fringe, too, but they’ve not popped up on my radar.

Having said all that, I do feel slightly sorry for the former university firebrand, who, I’m told, caused havoc with the administration of my own alma mater back in the 1970s. Because, to be honest, I’m fully aware that politicians aren’t angels. Practically everyone I know, everyone I’ve ever come across, is willing to be polite to someone’s face, then complain about them behind their back. We’re all happy to say things in private, when we think it’s private, and we don’t expect that our enemies are listening in. If there’s one thing you can criticise Gordon Brown for over the events of yesterday, it’s that maybe he was too polite in public, and wasn’t willing to stand up strongly enough for what he presumably believes: that people who ask vague and poorly-stated non-questions that imply they don’t like the free movement of labour in Europe are, bluntly, wrong.

My vote, to be frank, doesn’t exactly make much difference. I live in one of the safest Labour seats in South-West England, one which even Michael Foot didn’t manage to lose in 1983. To move it to either of the other parties would need a monumental local swing: 13% for it to go Liberal, 15% to go Tory. The last local elections did see some movement towards the Liberals in some wards, but not, I think, enough to unseat our MP. Because of that, I don’t have any real expectation that the option I choose next Thursday will make any difference at all to the overall result. I’m fairly sure I promised one of our local councillors, too, that there was no way I was voting Labour whilst he still wanted to build a guided busway through Ashton and Spike Island; he still does, I assume, so I feel duty-bound to uphold my promise. Unfortunately, the Liberal Democrats also seem to like the idea, so it looks like this may well be the first election in which I end up spoiling my vote. Having said all that, though, the fuss over Gordon Brown and Gillian Duffy*** has had one effect on my voting intentions. For the first time in a couple of years, I’m considering voting for Labour.

* Robert Graves had a lifelong antipathy to Cambridge graduates. I must say, I think his instinctive reaction to them was wrong; but possibly, in this case, it would have been justified.

** Or they know how to build the nuclear power stations that he’s going to fill the country with, of course. I wonder how much uranium we have left.

*** Whose anger at being called a bigot is slightly tempered by the fact that she didn’t really understand what the word meant.

3 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Estates-General

In which we discuss differences between Britain and France


Politics seems to have become a bit of a grind at the moment. The same stories, over and over, over and over until all the details get confused; the government pushing on grim-faced against public opinion, and the Tories trying to jump onto the election-calling bandwagon on the grounds that they expect to win the election and want it to come along ASAP. It might be the sort of politics that needs doing; but it’s not the sort of politics that stirs the imagination. It’s hardly another revolution.

Jeremy Paxman announced on Newsnight tonight that the Prime Minister had announced a National Convention on Democratic Renewal. Either Paxman made a slight mistake or my ears did, because elsewhere on the Internet it’s described as a National Council on the subject. I was slightly disappointed. I liked the sound of a National Convention, possibly because I’ve been reading about the French Revolution a lot lately. By the time the French called elections for a National Convention, to create a French Republic, the Revolution had already been revolving for three years or so, through a succession of failed democratic structures one after the other.

Those democratic structures had different names, over the years, and differences in detail; but at heart they all derived from one concept: that the nation’s elected representatives are a sovereign body, because they represent the will of the people. They became France’s de facto sovereign body in June 1789, a few weeks before the Bastille fell; and its de jure sovereign body over the following months as they created that country’s first written constitution.* The National Council on Democratic Renewal, though, doesn’t sound like any of these French assemblies. Rather, it sounds like an earlier French assembly from 1788: the Assembly of Notables, a handpicked crew gathered to debate ways to save the country from ruin. In one sense, they failed, because their recommendation was for a democratic and representative body to meet in their place. I doubt whether the National Council on Democratic Renewal will come up with any recommendation quite so revolutionary.

Then again, that’s probably a good thing. You’ve probably heard about the actress and TV presenter Lynda Bellingham, who, a couple of months back, called for a revolution along French lines. I’m not sure if she realises quite what the French Revolution involved: that it wasn’t just a quick riot followed by a bit of workaday guillotining of the king and some aristocrats. Indeed, the king stayed on his throne for the first three years; the mass guillotining of “counter-revolutionaries” started a year after that, by which time France had provoked a major European war. All in all, revolutionary government lasted for about 12 years in total; think back from today to the election of Tony Blair. That’s how serious a revolution is.

* After the fashion of the American one which, ironically, had partly led to the French Revolution. It was the French who saved America in the American Revolutionary War; and it was the American Revolutionary War which bankrupted the French royal government.

** which the British were heavily involved in, even capturing one of France’s main naval ports at one point.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , ,

*

Maybe things are changing, after all

In which politics might actually be looking up


When yesterday I wrote that everything was changing in politics, I was being largely sarcastic. I didn’t realise, though, that some things have changed slightly, in a small way.

A while back – over a year ago, in fact – I wrote about one of the things I hate about modern politics: the fact that all speeches, all announcements, are leaked to the press, trailed in advance, revealed to the papers, so that no political announcement, when it comes, is ever a surprise if you’ve been listening to the news. If you’re going to do that, why bother to do the speech at all?

Well, the other day, the new Prime Minister gave his first speech in Parliament since getting the job. And noone, other than the government, knew what was going to be in it. It’s a small step, and I’m not suddenly going to start loving politicians because of it. It’s a start, though, and it’s in the right direction.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , ,

*

Budgeting

In which the rules of the game are set


Last year I realised the Budget Speech was coming, and tried to guess what would be in it. Because, all in all, it’s usually fairly obvious. More taxes on things the government would rather you didn’t do, like drive around (all those roads need mending, you know) and smoke (those hospital beds don’t empty themselves). Lower taxes on whatever is the political fashion of the moment, or whatever will pull in the currently-targeted voting sector (the well-off but not hugely rich middle classes, at the moment).

This year, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to guess at. It’s random, little bits picked from here and there, without much of a cohesive feel to the thing.

The BBC has a cunning device which tells you how much better or worse off you’ll allegedly be, with all the various budget changes. I’m going to be a whole £25 per year richer, apparently. Which is fine – except that the calculator behaves as if all the changes were happening immediately. They’re not. All the things which will cost me money are happening straight away; all the things which will cost me less don’t happen for another year. Bugger.

The main purpose of the budget, I think, isn’t to keep Britain running smoothly or anything like that. It’s to make sure that Gordon Brown’s successor toes the line and does What Gordon Wants. A year from now the next budget will come along, with a different chancellor, but that promised tax cut still isn’t going to have come into effect. What chancellor, under Gordon (he assumes), is going to dare revoke it?

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , ,

*

Predictive

In which we thank people and skim over a few other things


Well, I was glad Gordon Brown did take my hints on a couple of things.* I’m just disappointed that he didn’t single out blue cars for rebates.

Thanks to everyone who commented on Tuesday’s whining post, both on the site and privately. I’m still doomed, though. More on this to come soon, I’m sure, along with musings on those people who leave their abusive partners, only to go back to them a few months later. When they could easily find some much nicer people who aren’t abusive,** if they wanted.

Current small reasons to feel pleased with myself: I’ve managed to completely avoid watching anything at all to do with the Commonwealth Games, even though one of the medal-winners is a teacher at my old school. Hopefully I’ll manage to keep avoiding it until all the fuss is over again.

Current small reasons to get pissed off: the computer keeps crashing, usually at the most inappropriate moments. I know what the problem is: a very obscure bug in the disk controller driver which very few people have come across, and nobody seems to know the cause of.*** Bah.

On the other hand, I do have a large box of biscuits on my desk at the moment. But not for long, I suspect. Hurrah!

* although, to be fair, everyone else in the country had already vaguely guessed the road tax changes.

** ie, me, or Big Dave

*** it only comes up if you have a Promise SATA disk controller, a Maxtor SATA disk, and are running one of some Linux 2.6 subversions. But not all – the problem apparently disappeared in one revision of the driver, only to come back in the next.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Monetary

In which FP sorts out the nation’s budget


As that nice Mr Brown of Ferryhills Road is going to deliver his budget this afternoon, I thought it would be a good idea to give him a few tips. So, in nice easily-digested bullet-point form, here’s the Symbolic Forest Budget 2006 – quick, clear the BBC1 schedule and get Evan Davies on standby!*

  • Higher taxes for married people.
  • and anyone else who can get a date at the drop of a hat (sorry, Big Dave)
  • Lower taxes for single people
  • especially ones who are doomed to stay single for all eternity (it’s only fair).
  • Higher taxes for big cars. You only need a 4×4 to take the kids to school if you live in, say, the tiny Welsh hill village of Llwybr Cyhoeddus.
  • Smaller taxes for little cars. Especially blue ones.
  • Lower taxes on beer produced by small independant breweries.**
  • Higher taxes for carbonated urine beer produced by big industrial ones
  • No tax at all on gin
  • Or tonic.
  • No taxes on any expensive cameras or other gadgets I might want to buy in the next year.
  • More cake

That should get the economy nice and stimulated. There you go, Gordon; hope this helps.

* But don’t mention the rumour about his body piercings.

** Especially ones named after large, brightly-coloured animals.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , ,

*

Short snippets

In which things are fragmentary


Blogging has been sporadic this week, because I haven’t been too well. I’m still not well, but I thought I’d make an effort. In case you’re wondering, it isn’t because of you. It’s lots of little things all building up together: stress at work from my boss, stress at work from the perpetual office redecoration, and the feeling of eternal loneliness you get when you’re spurned on multiple interweb dating sites* at once. I’ve tried not to tell you about that.

Similarly, this post is lots of little pieces. It’s because I’ve been reading Troubled Diva Xtra, which is to normal blogs what crack is to cocaine.

Seeing Dunfermline in the news has brought back memories, particularly of walking past Gordon Brown’s rather nice house. Pointless trivia: he’s a near neighbour of Iain Banks – I wonder if he voted Liberal.

Tonight, for the first time, I watched the DVD which came with the new Belle and Sebastian album. I think I vaguely remember someone putting out an appeal for people to dress up in 70s-style clothes and go to the DVD filming. The main thing I noticed about the audience:** they look just like 00s hipsters trying to dress in a 70s style – because that’s what they are, obviously – and nothing at all like actual 1970s people.***

More search hits: “the it crowd zx81″ and “the it crowd camel”. For reference, if you saw it and were wondering, the camel picture on the set of The IT Crowd is the mascot of Perl, the wonderful and spaghetti-like computer language, whose official documentation includes comments like “if you think this [basic feature] is weird, that’s because it is.” Must get this post finished before the next IT Crowd episode is on the telly.

A search hit too far: “suzie dent topless”. What sort of sick, twisted daytime telly fan are you?

Proper posts I promise I’ll write soon: Jan Mark and Zeno Was Here; a longer piece on the Dunfermline byelection; the return of Books I’ve Never Managed To Read; My Slightly Barking Holiday; a proper review of the B&S DVD; and I might even finish writing about ravens in mythology. Oh, and anyone who can find at least three of my online personal ads will get a Special Extra Bonus Prize which I haven’t thought up yet. In fact, suggestions for a Special Extra Bonus Prize are welcome too.

* Both vanilla and otherwise.

** apart from the woman in nice boots in the front row.

*** I have to admit, I’m going by photographs here.

No comments yet. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

*

Stereotypical

In which Boris Johnson might help perpetuate a stereotype


According to yesterday’s Observer, Boris Johnson is planning to stand for election as Rector of Edinburgh University.*

I’m not among the relevant electorate, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Aside from the fact that he can hardly spend much time on the job, it’s hardly going to do very much for the university’s reputation. Edinburgh is already known as the university for posh, rich English kids who aren’t bright enough for Oxbridge; voting for someone who carefully cultivates a reputation for being posh and bumbling is hardly going to help.

* I’m quite pleased that I managed to avoid the cliché of adding “…is planning to follow in Gordon Brown’s footsteps by…” Aaargh, damn, I’ve spoilt it now. At least Brown’s Rectorship had a lasting effect: he annoyed the University management so much that they banned students from standing for the post.

5 comments so far. »

Keyword noise: , , , , , , , ,

*

Search this site

*

Contact

E: feedback [at] symbolicforest [dot] com

IM: Ask me if you'd like to know

*

Post Categories

Artistic (118)
Dear Diary (349)
Feeling Meh (48)
Geekery (109)
In With The Old (34)
Linkery (37)
Media Addict (164)
Meta (79)
Photobloggery (94)
Political (113)
Polling (7)
Sub category (19)
The Family (31)
The Office (70)
Unbelievable (53)