Monthly Archives: January 2005

Howard woos TalkSport…

Over on the Boris blog, the exciting debate continues on the comments section.

Someone calling themself ‘Monkey’ commented that:

Howard has made several intelligent manouvres in the past few days. Appearing on Talk Sport (the UK’s most popular radio station, (with a major demographic of working class men) was a great idea. He’ll be back again next week on the ‘james whale show’ (contreversial, populist right wing shock jock), which should be interesting. All of the Talk sport pundits are now rooting for the tories. Not a bad days work eh?

Errrr…. Intelligent move? As I responded:

Have you ever listened to Talk Sport? They’re the biggest bunch of swivel-eyed crypto-fascists on the airwaves. The Tories are attracting votes from the BNP. Woo-hoo!

This article by Steven Wells (a writer I’ve always loved since I first started reading him in The NME) in The Guardian sums them up nicely:

Back in March, I went to the Millwall-West Ham game. I didn’t see many black people down the New Den. But neither did I hear any racist chanting. Not a sausage. Not a dicky bird. Not a single solitary Sieg Heil. They’re very touchy about racism down the New Den. When some of the visiting West Ham fans – 4-1 down and ringed with riot plod – tore down a Kick Racism Out Of Football banner in frustration, it seemed as if every Millwall fan in the ground turned to the press enclosure and pointed at the naughty East Londoners. Some of them were frantically scribbling in imaginary notebooks. Others were pointing theatrically and miming – Them! It’s them! Not us! Get it right!

It was good to see. Not just the prominence the club hierarchy gives the anti-racist campaign – but also just how keen some Millwall fans are to distance themselves from their racist reputation. I very much doubt that racism has been eradicated at Millwall. But it has been made unacceptable. Even better, it is now considered embarrassing. And I think that’s brilliant. I think Kick It Out is brilliant. We all do – don’t we?

So why is it then, that when the UK’s most popular commercial sports radio station (with a claimed listenership of over eight million, nearly all of them football fans) gives a platform to nationalist bigots, quasi-fascists and racists of every strain, nobody blinks an eye?

When the Hutton report was published, TalkSport had a bit of a dilemma. For the two institutions TalkSport hates most are the Blair government and the BBC. What to do!? What to do!? The station’s single brain-cell hive-mind was nearing meltdown. The knee was primed and all set to jerk. But in whose bollocks? The crypto-communist BBC? Or the grinning Stalinist jackanapes, Tony Blair?

But one elderly female caller was in no such a quandary. She cut through all the silly shilly-shallying by pointing out that the BBC pursued an agenda of – wait for it – “internationalism, multi-culturalism and political correctness”.

“Internationalism” – as you probably know – is one of the code words Nazis use for Jews. Or Jewishness. Or, more usually, the international Jewish conspiracy (see also “cosmopolitanism”).

The woman then went on to say that the BBC pursued this agenda “despite the fact that the majority of people in this country aren’t multi-cultural”. Now this was a new one on me – the use of the word multi-cultural to mean non-white. As in “I’ve got nothing against your multi-culturals, I just wouldn’t want one marrying my daughter. Or living next door. Or reading the news. If you catch my drift.”

Now TalkSport’s presenters – as fanatically anti-union, savagely pro-Tony Martin and hysterically xenophobic as they are – are not Nazis. They make this clear whenever a Nazi caller makes a Nazi point. Which happens quite often. Because TalkSport might not like the Nazis – but the Nazis love TalkSport.

This is evident from even a casual trawl through the UK’s far-right websites. Debates about immigration on TalkSport are flagged in advance and later, Nazi callers boast about their performance in chat rooms.

But how could the Nazis not love a station that debates (seriously) whether the word “paki” is more offensive than the word “brit”? Where a presenter can claim that regional accents are disappearing because of “too many immigrants”. And that a boat full of asylum seekers “should be sunk”. And where, on the 12th of September 2001, the question was asked, “I wonder how all those politically-correct people are feeling this morning?”

And where one presenter – the unlovely Mike Dickin – has banned trade unionists from his programme.

Our only hope is that some day the sports fanatics who run the relatively sane part of TalkSport – the sports bit – will get together with the right-wing morons who run the utterly insane part and say – hang on, these footballers, tennis players, golfers, boxers and track athletes we keep banging on about? You do realise that a lot of them are, well, black, don’t you?

Maybe someone at TalkSport – maybe even Mr Kelvin MacKenzie himself – will make the connection between his station’s consistent stream of hateful refugee propaganda and the attacks that take place on asylum seekers (and other randomly selected “foreigners”) whenever anti-immigrant hysteria in the media reaches one its increasingly frequent crescendos.

And maybe, in the mean time, all those soccer clubs – and other sporting institutions – who so proudly boast of their anti-racist credentials, could boycott TalkSport. Until it cleans its act up. Until it stops giving sustenance and succour to racists who would destroy our sports if they ever achieved power.

Because TalkSport – as it operates at present – is an obscenity.

Ill

Not much fro me today – sorry. As if anyone is reading anyway! Have the ‘flu and it’s vile.

Okay, probably not the ‘flu. But a very nasty virus. I am at the same time freezing and sweating, which isn’t nice – and probably more than anyone wnated to know.

Purchases

Got paid today and so a pretty good haul was the order of the day in Waterstone’s:

  • The Master – Colm Toibin
  • The Wind-up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Marakami
  • Love, Sex & Tragedy – Simon Goldhill
  • The Remains of the Day – Kazuro Ishiguro
  • Amsterdam – Ian McEwan
  • So Now Who Do We Vote For? – John Harris

All were in the 3-for-2 so only spent £30. Only! Anyway, because of my massive outlay, I did at least get a freebie copy of that Waterstone’s magazine which is handy to have near the toilet.

Boris Gagged

According to the Boris Blog, Mr Johnson’s regular column has been dropped from today’s Torygraph in favour of a rather dull piece by Michael Howard trying to justify his dodgy immigration policy, reproduced here in all its swivel-eyed glory because of the Torygraph’s stinky registration requirements (itself an appalling encroachment on the rights of browsers…):

Migration needs to benefit all Britons
By Michael Howard
(Filed: 27/01/2005)

The first responsibility of Government is to control the nation’s borders. But this Government has comprehensively failed in its duty to police entry to our country.

For all those of us who believe that Britain benefits from immigration, the Government’s failure is a particular tragedy.

Modern Britain is immeasurably better off as a result of the new Britons who have made their homes here over the last century. We all benefit from the social diversity, economic vibrancy and cultural richness which immigration has brought.

But, if those benefits are to continue to flow, we need to ensure that immigration is effectively managed, in the interests of all Britons, old and new.

If we are to maintain good community relations, then the number of new citizens we welcome has to be controlled. As the Government’s own Community Cohesion panel has pointed out, when it comes to securing public assent for new migration: “The pace of change is simply too great at present.”

If we are to maintain support for immigration, people have to be reassured that the numbers coming here are publicly known, widely accepted and efficiently managed.

The current system doesn’t provide that reassurance. The numbers have risen, without the public, or Parliament, being asked, from less than 50,000 a year in 1997 to more than 150,000 people a year. The Government has admitted that it doesn’t know precisely who is entering the country. And David Blunkett has conceded that the Government sees “no obvious upper limit to legal immigration”.

The result of this chaos is additional pressure on overstretched public services, with the poorest paying the highest price. As the Community Cohesion panel also pointed out: “The pressure on resources in those (disadvantaged) areas is often intense and local services are often insufficient to meet the need of the existing community, let alone newcomers.”

The failure to control our borders also poses a threat to national security, with the system potentially open to abuse by terrorists or organised criminals.

Indeed the role of organised crime in our immigration system is one of the most tragic aspects of this whole scandal. Because of this Government’s failure to have an efficient and transparent system, an opening has been created for people traffickers who exploit migrants and force them into the underground economy.

The principal route for economic migrants should be the work permits system. But under this Government that system has fallen apart, as the British consul in Bucharest pointed out, only to be disciplined for telling the truth. The Government insisted that 90 per cent of applications be decided within 24 hours. But that makes serious checks of the kind a Government serious about immigration would insist on all but impossible.

To object to this mess isn’t racist. It’s plain common sense. No Government could possibly be proud of a system which breeds fear, encourages illegality, stokes prejudice, allocates resources irrationally and undermines our national security.

In 1997 the Government’s immigration budget was £200 million. Now it’s nearly £2 billion. In Australia, they spend just £286 million policing their immigration system. Even through they process three quarter of a million more applications than we do.

How can the Government defend its inefficiency when a better system is there, ready to adopt?

We will set an upper limit on the number of people we take, which Parliament will debate and the public can accept. Within that limit there will be a quota for asylum seekers. We will ensure that those we take are those in most need rather than those whom organised criminals smuggle to our shores.

We will continue to ensure our economy benefits from new skills and diversity by having a rational, point-based system of work permits based on the contribution each new migrant can make.

And we will safeguard our security by having a 24-hour watch kept on our ports.

These proposals won’t bring the current chaos under control overnight. The scale of the problem is too big. But they will allow us to restore order to our immigration system, as Australia has done.

If we are to restore order, however, we need to ensure that policy is decided in accordance with the needs of the British people – something Labour refuses to do.

The Prime Minister will not withdraw from the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees even though he has conceded that “It was drawn up for a vastly different world in which people did not routinely travel huge distances across multiple borders.”

And he cannot set a limit on the number of asylum seekers Britain should accept, because his Government has ceded control of huge swaths of immigration policy to Brussels. Despite the Prime Minister’s claim in the House of Commons that he has not given up the power to set our asylum laws, he has signed up to every directive on immigration that has come from the European Commission. He has surrendered the powers necessary to police our borders. A Conservative government would take back these powers and say no to the further loss of control which the European Constitution would bring.

We have a detailed, costed timetable for action that addresses work permits, asylum, immigration loopholes, national security and our international obligations. It is rooted in the experience of other nations, and underpinned by our belief in fair play for all. Above all, it is designed to make immigration once again an efficient, successful and tightly managed process so that the chaos we face today becomes a thing of the past for ever.

  • Boris Johnson returns next week

For shame! let’s just hope that Boris does return!

The Rotters’ Club

The first episode of The Rotters’ Club was on BBC2 last night and it was, as I suspected, a disappointment.

ono No Komachi and amner discuss it on Palimpsest here – I’ll add my thoughts from here to there when I get home – still problems with posting to Palimpsest at work, worse luck.

I agreee with amner’s point – how can they do this in three one-hour episodes? It is too fragmented, the storyline jumping about all over the place. The book does this, but of course in reading it you take a lot longer than 3 hours. TRC is a story to be savoured, with details and plots drawn out slowly. The TV show blattered the viewer with detail after detail, the comedic elements coming too fast after the moments of pathos. The jump from Ben Trotter successfully praying for a air of swiming trunks is funny, but suddenly he is attending church without a proper explaination.

I think the series will have a few funny set-pieces, largely those which have been lifted straight from the book, but that the rest of it will be a rather confusing experience for anyone who hasn’t read the book.

My Thoughts on Flickr

Flickr is brilliant. A really great service, easy to use and full of features.

It’s basically a place to store digital photos online. You upload the ones you want and Flickr automatically makes them available in a few different web friendly sizes, so you don’t need to bother resizing them yourself.

You can then make them available to people to see through Flickr itself, or produce HTML code to display them on another site – this could be a really way handy for Palimpsesters to display images in their posts on the forums. I might look into it and get a little guide written.

The other cool thing, as I demonstrated below, is that it can post photos direct to a blog. If you are using one of the big services, like LiveJournal, Blogger or TypePad, this works with ease. With a system like WordPress, like I use, it is a little trickier. For some reason, when I post photos through Flickr, it comes up with an error saying that it hasn’t worked…even though it has! Never mind, I can live with that. Also, it puts the posts in the ‘Life’ category, rather than in ‘Photos’ and it doesn’t add a title to a post. These things I have to do manually, but it is easy enought to pick up on the next time I am blogging.

Flickr is a cool site, and no mistake.