Friday, November 30, 2007

Desperately Seeking Susan to Close

There are some things that you can see coming a mile off.

When will theatre producers realise we want to see either new and original musicals like Avenue Q or the classics, not just rehashed nonsense based on films/pop music. I blame Mamma Mia and We Will Rock You, their success has led every faded pop star to believe that the audiences want to hear their songs in a "new" way. We don't - now bugger off and leave us singing about Porn.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Pointless Rule - But Your Rule

I've never been a fan of PPERA (the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act). You know the one that made the simple process of elections and donations to political parties a whole lot more complicated. And doesn't know the correct word is actually referenda. And established that idiotically useless body The Electoral Commission.

I never saw a reason to have to report donations to parties. The vast majority of which have always been open, honest and done with no intention other than helping parties out. But the Labour Party in their infinite wisdom brought in PPERA and established the Electoral Commission. So despite me not really seeing a reason to it all I obeyed the law on reporting donations. And it was generally really simple to understand and comply with.

Which makes the Labour Party's knowing acceptance of donations via a third party from David Abrahams incomprehensible. There is no room for doubt in the law. No wiggle room.

The Act states that a donation is (among many other thing):

"any reference to anything being given or transferred to a party or any person is a reference to its being so given or transferred either directly or indirectly through any third person;"

OK - a bit wordy, but you get the gist.

When Peter Watt says he didn't know he couldn't take a donation through a third party he is either lying or so utterly incompetent he should never have been in his position. Either way he was quite right to resign.

The Labour Party has to realise that when it brings in these annoying and pointless laws they don't just apply to the evil Tories (who they were doubtless introduced to trip up) but to themselves too.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oxford Union Debate

This story about BNP leader Nick Griffin and Holocaust denier David Irving speaking at the Oxford Union has troubled me. It gets to the very heart of the limitations of free speech. Just because people's views are abhorrent - and blatantly wrong - does this mean they shouldn't be allowed to express them?

Generally I would say I come down on the side of freedom of speech, but I have real mixed emotions with this one. Partly because while I think anyone should be able to express an opinion I think there has to be limitations on being able to insult other people. Holocaust denial, for example, is not a matter of opinion. The Holocaust happened and to deny it is not simply to challenge historical wisdom but is a form of particularly nasty anti-semitism. We shouldn't stand by and allow people to be blatantly racist or offensive.

Of course, freedom of speech and allowing someone to be able to voice their opinions is not the same as inviting them to do so or engaging in debate with them. Nick Griffin and David Irving do have the right of freedom of speech but I have the right not to listen to them or take part in debate with them. This is the right the silly little boys of the Oxford Union should have exercised when considering who to invite to speak at their debate. To invite one Holocaust denier to your debate is bordering on distasteful, to invite two is opening yourself up to queries about the reasons behind your invitations.

Oxford Union should be ashamed of themselves today - as should everyone who legitimises the opinions of these men by taking part in debate with them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Silver Lining

The financial data fiasco is a nightmare for everyone involved. We assume, even if we don't like the politics of a particular governing party, that we can trust the "Government" to keep our information safe.

If there is one silver lining to a very dark cloud it will hopefully be that the suggestion of having a National ID card system will be closed off for good.

ID Cards are un-necessary, expensive and an attack on our basic civil liberties. We don't need to put all of our data on a piece of plastic just so that some jumped up oik can demand to know who I am.

So - who still thinks the Government holding all our personal data is ok?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Does The Spectator Know Anything About Scottish Politics?

First of all let me say I am a huge fan of the Spectator. When I was a student and got a cheap subscription I would love it hitting the floor on Friday mornings. And I also think that Alex Salmond did a top-notch job at winning the Scottish elections this year. A brilliant campaign led by a charismatic figure which really changed the face of British, not just Scottish, politics.

Having said that I am at a loss as to why Alex Salmond won Parliamentarian of the Year. And my confusion comes with the comments of the editor of the Spectator. He said:

"Whatever your view on that great question, the judges felt it was right to salute the man whose brilliant tactics in the Scottish Parliament laid the foundations for an extraordinary victory."

Now the first half of the statement, right up until tactics I have no problem with. But I do wonder if Matthew d'Ancona, the editor of the premier political magazine in the country knows that until May Alex Salmond wasn't a member of the Scottish Parliament. His tactics were great, they did lay the foundations of victory, but they weren't laid in Parliament. So is this a snub to Nicola Sturgeon who was brilliant as leader of the opposition in the Scottish Parliament, another snub to Scotland by the English establishment who just don't care enough to know the basics, or (much more likely)shoe-horning recognition of Salmond into some category, no matter what one it was?

Anyway - well done. A richly deserved victory if a little bizarre.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rehabilition Is A Good Thing - Unless Of Course You're A Tory

I've been a bit knocked back by the response to the news that Iain Duncan Smith has asked Jonathan Aitken to head a working group looking at prison reform. It's as though the sky has fallen in with suggestions that this is the start of his political comeback and that the Tories are looking back to the days of sleaze. Particularly smug and insulting is Tom Watson's take on the issue.

Jonathan Aitken committed a serious crime and it was right that he went to prison - although I'd like to see a breakdown of non Conservative Party members jailed for 18 months for perjury.

Surely the point of prison isn't just to punish, although it is an important part of the process - the most important but. But there is also a huge rehabilitation role to be played. Just because you're rich, or come from a Conservative background doesn't mean you are exempt from being rehabilitated. It seems to me that Jonathan Aitken is actually an ideal person to help with this. He has been in the prison system but because his background is one of privilege he hasn't had to rely on it for his future after jail, therefore he can look at it both from an involved and detached perspective.

Just because someone commits a crime shouldn't mean they are stigmatised for the rest of their lives. If they, like Jonathan Aitken, have served the sentence that they have been given and can make a valuable contribution to society this should be allowed.

Tom Watson and other sneering lefties should remember that when they attack Jonathan Aitken for having a life after jail they're attacking every single former prisoner attempting to move on. Unless of course this only applies to Conservatives.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ugly Betty Trailer

I'm sure it makes me the most shallow person alive that this makes me quite as happy as it does.