The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Posts Tagged ‘Tony Blair’

Liberal Luvvie Lord Leveson Likes Lunatic Lefties

Posted by The Futility Monster on May 28, 2012 @ 22:09

I’m sorry, I can’t substantiate the title of this post. It is not even possible.

But I just couldn’t resist.

Who knew, after all this time, that behind Leveson’s mysterious Blue Curtain was a secret gateway direct to the headquarters of the Stop the War coalition?

It had often been speculated that maybe there was some sort of jacuzzi, where the many attendants Max Mosley was so fond of take care of his every need, but the tabloid press were just too scared to report it.

Others thought that maybe it was a portal to some other dimension where the press behave impeccably and only report the facts after triple-sourcing every lead.

But no. It harboured much darker secrets than that.

Who next bursting out from behind the Curtain? George Galloway? Matthew Kelly?

Gotta love the Leveson Inquiry.

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The Sleaze In Waiting?

Posted by The Futility Monster on February 9, 2010 @ 10:03

The things I manage to find sometimes impress me. Not today.

Nobody’s perfect. Most of all, politicians. It’s a familiar refrain around these parts, but they are just as human as the rest of us.

And, as a stark warning as to what lies ahead, this morning The Times are running a story regarding a £50,000 payment received by Conservative MP Liam Fox, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence.

It’s not a particularly damaging story in reality. There is no suggestion of anything improper in response to the payment, but the danger signs are there regarding conflicts of interest. The payment was made by a businessman with significant interests in the defence sector.

In this case, the donor, Jon Moulton, is apparently a long-standing contributor to Liam Fox’s coffers. What he gains in return for this is open to question. A warm fuzzy feeling inside?

There aren’t many people these days, and I’m almost one of them, who would believe that serious political donations are made with no expectation of reward and purely for altruistic purposes. And I suspect most of us are especially cynical about donations made by people with significant business interests.

Labour were elected on a pledge to be whiter-than-white. It didn’t happen. Laughably, the whole image vanished within the space of a couple of years with the Bernie Ecclestone donation which, very co-incidentally, managed to delay the introduction of a ban on tobacco sponsorship.

The Tories will be hoping they can escape for at least a few years without any major allegations involving cash.

But it won’t happen.

Cameron has made no such pledges equivalent to Blair, but there are endless promises to clean up politics and dust out the old mantras of campaign finance reform. Maybe they’ll even do it unilaterally when they rise to power as a way to smack down Labour’s union funding. It would be nasty of them, but it would be entirely within character.

The trouble is that in spite of the reforms over the years, politics, lobbying and influence-peddling is awash with more cash than ever, even in these troubled economic times. The amount of money being spent by insurance, health and banking corporations in the USA to buy off the Senate is a testament to that.

It’s why I made a prediction at the start of the year that the Tories will be embroiled in a scandal of some kind. It’s just inevitable. There have been the odd rumblings while they’ve been on their ascent to power, but nothing too damaging to shake off.

But once you’re in power, suddenly those cheques gain an extra nought to the end of them…

Can they avoid the temptation?

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Is Blair Lying?

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 29, 2010 @ 10:33

Turns out this 1997 Tory poster was accurate all along...

Well, there is a good way of telling. And it’s so clichéd I don’t even need to tell you.

This morning I’ve been watching Blair answer questions at the Iraq Inquiry.

He is still an old master, and he is thriving in this environment where he is given free reign to deliver monologue after monologue about his sincerely held beliefs.

There’s no doubting that this man utterly believes, in every fiber of his being, that he did the right thing. What he sees that no one else does is remarkably unclear.

Even worse, the Inquiry panel members are not particularly probing, and continue to ask gentle questions which give Blair even further opportunity to justify his madcap schemes.

Indeed, Blair has just this second claimed, with a straight face, that his “probing” interview with Fern Britton was such a grilling that she managed to get him to say something he didn’t mean: i.e. that if he knew then what he knows now that he wouldn’t have made an argument to justify the war on WMDs.

The Iraq Inquiry is extremely forensic and full of legalese. Answering an accusation which requires a yes or no answer with “Well, that’s nonsense” is not actually an answer. It merely suggests that that particular accusation is incorrect, but it doesn’t mean a slightly changed version of it could be correct.

Again, this is something Blair delights in. With his legal background, undoubtedly thorough preparation, and his genuine talent for acting, he can deflect and redirect any question and actually get away with it. Questions on Iraq, well our whole attitude towards “dictators” changed as a result of 9/11… even though no one actually asked about 9/11, and 9/11 had absolutely nothing to do with Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

The problem for most people is that this is just not interesting any more. Most people have already decided Blair lied to the country over Iraq, for whatever reason – though everyone has their own favourite justification.

This Inquiry, while interesting in a narrative/historical sense, and may draw some interesting conclusions for lessons learned, will not actually answer the question as to whether this war was the right thing to do… and really, that’s all that matters to most people.

All I can say is that we are extremely fortunate that this lunatic is no longer our Prime Minister. After saying this morning that he would be pushing just as hard on Iran at the moment, because of the nuclear issue, he would have us – potentially – on the verge of starting yet another conflict.

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No World Cup In North Korea? Let’s Invade Them

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 25, 2009 @ 10:03

I wouldn't mess with him either

The news breaks this morning that, apparently, the North Korean regime is going to ensure that it’s long suffering residents will only be able to see their national team play if they are fortunate enough to achieve yet another Glorious Victory.

Denial of the facts and rearrangement of them to prove otherwise is as old as humanity itself. Repressive regimes certainly don’t have a monopoly on it. After all, its what our politicians attempt to do on a daily basis. Spin is the name of the game.

The real difference is that rather than sitting back and taking such arrant nonsense from our politicians, we are, for now, allowed to hit back. Well, I say we, but most of us just sit back and let the media do it on our behalf. That’s not always a good thing, but it’s better than nothing. And it keeps those dastardly pols on their toes.

But what intrigues me most is that we like to forget about North Korea. OK, we’re a bit worried about the crackpot in charge of the country, and whether he has or hasn’t got nuclear weapons. But otherwise, we don’t really have anything to say about the fact that the vast majority of the country are living in great poverty, and the regime doesn’t tolerate any dissent.

Over here in the West, we call those human rights abuses. Sometimes we use terms like “crimes against humanity” or even “genocide”.

When it suits us (which is definitely not when anyone talks about China), we like to use such positions to sit atop a high horse of moral superiority. And, perhaps, rightly so. After all, in a direct matchup between state-sponsored murder of trouble-makers we really ought to come out much lower than they do.

Some years ago, some of you may remember a small conflict that occurred in the Middle East. It involved a country called Iraq. There was an exchange of gunfire, and a small handful of military largesse, and soon enough we’d got rid of the blighters. Our justification at the time was that the country was posing a grave threat to the West. “45 minutes from destruction”, some fella quipped. That convinced everybody.

As the years passed, we realised we’d been duped a little. It seems, in fact, that the leader of the country was playing us along, hoping we’d believe he did have weapons of mass destruction and so would leave him alone just in case he was crazy enough (and he was) to use them against us.

But just like politicians, they cannot be trusted. All of a sudden the war was never about WMDs. No. It was because the leader of Iraq was an “evil dictator”. A brutal repressor of human rights. Stock footage of the man firing shotguns off balconies and ordering people to be executed soon rolled on the airwaves. Apparently, without us even knowing it, the war was actually fought to liberate the Iraqi people of such tyranny. And who could disagree? The man was batshit, after all.

Yet there remained troubling questions to those who were sceptical all along. “Why Iraq? Why now?” was what they used to say, before they would get shouted down by some Blair character for daring to have no compassion for the suffering of their fellow humans in Iraq.

It was classic memory hole stuff. The original pretexts for war were shuffled into the fire, and an ex post facto justification emerged.

The unfortunate consequence of such a doctrine can be seen in the headline to this post. A little facetious, yeah, but I’ve gotta get your attention somehow.

Got a repressive regime? Genocidal tendencies? Feeling the need to butcher a few of those people with the wrong skin colour or religion?

Well watch out, cos the World Police will soon be knocking on your door. Maybe. If they can be bothered.

And you aren’t China, or one of their chums.

Here’s to realpolitik!

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Newsfelch: 02/10/09 – The Wheel of Life

Posted by The Futility Monster on October 2, 2009 @ 06:43

A translation of this image would be very much appreciated.

A translation of this image would be very much appreciated.

It’s one of those mornings where time is tight… and, in any case, I haven’t wrote much about what’s going on in the world lately, so this seems an opportune moment for some Newsfelch!

  • Could I be wrong? Could my bold prediction that President Blair would not happen be yet another miserable failure? The Times certainly seems to think so. I still find the notion outrageous, that a man that caused such damage to the European relations in the Iraq war could be seen as a credible candidate for the post. But politics is weird…
  • The Tories are going all Obama on us, apparently. Their new organisational tool – MyConservatives.com – will help rally and organise the grassroots activists in an attempt to form small campaigns with greater involvement from local armchair supporters. It will be interesting to see how they get on. Political activity is seen as somewhat lame in this country; will an increasingly apathetic electorate learn to get involved?
  • Brown suddenly loves the alternative vote. Shame about the fact that AV can, in many cases, be less proportional than the current system. I haven’t decided yet, but I think this is one Lib Dem that will be opposed to Brown’s sudden new-found love.
  • The EU treaty rumbles on in the background. How will Ireland vote? In favour, I fully expect. Good. I’ll be glad when this tedious nonsense gets buried and we can move on to more substantive EU questions. Like a common asylum policy. Now that would be an extremely good thing for the EU to sort out: and it would reduce the number of asylum seekers/refugees that we take. How could any UKIPer be opposed to that?!
  • And so they should. Blair blocked any chances of a prosecution of BAE last time. There’s something very fishy about their operations, for sure. Let’s root it out.
  • Latest polling is showing, apparently, how fickle the electorate is. A speech here and there and the polls move violently. And I can’t really imagine that tens of millions of people are interested in party conferences anyway, but nothing else can be moving the polls so much. But this is why I haven’t covered the Lib Dems high percentages in the polls earlier in the week. Stick to the Monster’s Poll, that’s what I say. Solid and dependable!
  • Finally, it’s beginning to look more and more like the NHS is going to have to be the front-line in spending cuts. Cameron’s pledge to ring-fence the NHS budget always did seem a little hasty, but was obviously motivated by media image. As usual…

And that’s quite enough for now. Time for a 2.5 hour train journey to Rochdale. Which, bizarrely, is longer than it would take to get to London from where I am. But maybe that’s intentional…

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President Blair?

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 16, 2009 @ 01:52

As pictures go, this one from the BBC News article is stunning in its malevolence. Do you think the BBC are trying to tell us something?

As pictures go, this one from the BBC News article is stunning in its malevolence. Do you think they're trying to tell us something?

Not on your nelly.

Yes. I know we’re all getting excited about the news.

But it’s not going to happen. No matter how much Glenys Kinnock – yet another Labour crony ditched into the Lords forever without the British public having any say on the matter – wants it to happen, it won’t.

How can I be so sure? Well – it’s fairly simple.

We’re talking about the EU here. The EU is not a place for divisive figures. Getting 27 countries to agree on the figurehead that will represent them is bad enough for the European Commission. That’s why whenever there is a vacancy (and fortunately there isn’t), the whole of the EU grinds to a halt while the necessary horses are traded.

The end result is always the most inoffensive, middle-of-the-road candidate possible. One who isn’t going to rock the boat or cause too much controversy. A technocrat as much as it possible within the EU.

Do you think Tony Blair fits that bill?

Of course he doesn’t. No candidate with a track record of warmongering is going to make it across the first hurdle. These things have to be decided unanimously. Any one country could easily gatecrash the party by saying they will not support him. They don’t even have to propose an alternative. They just have to say no, and the search begins again.

In some respects, though I despise Blair for the lies he told when he took this country into war, it would almost make the EU interesting if he did get the job though. It would give the EU a very strong figurehead who, if he stayed on his brief, could make a very persuasive case for forging ahead with economic and political union.

It might also generate the chance of some real reform. Because, like I said, nothing will ever change in the EU because of its necessarily consensual nature. The only consensus appears to be on what is already in place: which is what makes even minor tinkering so difficult.

No. We’re doomed to a boring EU forever.

No wonder everyone hates it.

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The West Wing of 10 Downing Street

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 30, 2009 @ 01:11

The late (and legendary) John Spencer as Leo McGarry from The West Wing

The late (and legendary) John Spencer as Leo McGarry from The West Wing

After reading this post on Political Betting I began to wonder how many people in David Cameron’s inner circle are fans of the West Wing. Or perhaps even Cameron himself enjoys a little dabble with Martin Sheen, et al.

The rumours are abound after Tim Montgomerie on Conservative Home lit the blue touch paper suggesting there might be some sort of other role for George Osborne. Could it be more akin to a Rahm Emanuel?

Every leader has to have their go-to man. Their fixer. Someone they trust implicitly because they know they have no leadership ambitions. It worked perfectly for Blair and John Prescott, because it was obvious Prescott was doing his last big job ever in politics. He was charismatic, a formidable opponent, a bit of a bully. Prescott did a job for Blair in keeping the party united, and was rewarded handsomely. Can you think of any other politician that might have got away with punching a member of the public in the face (no matter how much they deserved it)? Neither can I.

The problem with Blair and Prescott was that in order to maintain a ludicrous façade of Cabinet government, Prescott was given various ministries and Secretary of State roles, from which he unleashed a terrible wave of incompetence. Transport was his first failure. Then planning, local government, et al. Rather than just admit that he needed to have someone in the Cabinet who had no Cabinet responsibilities, and thereby admit to the growing presidentialisation of the office, Blair went out of his way to give Prescott something to do, pretending that there was a Cabinet “of equals”.

Personally, I’m done with the pretence that we have Cabinet government in this country. Cabinet government has been dead since Thatcher. We have a combination of a presidential Prime Minister (which is actually worse than a US President, since a US president has checks and balances) and a Whitehall bureaucracy that looks after itself and preserves the status quo very effectively.

Everything about our political culture revolves around a presidential idolisation of the party leadership. We vote in elections on the pretext of a local MP, but in most people’s mind is who they’d like to see as Prime Minister. The party leaders are increasingly the focus of all media, regardless of topic. Brown regularly makes statements in the Commons which could easily have been made by the relevant Secretary of State, which in turn gives Cameron the chance to reply. The party leaders also hold regular press conferences; Cameron even goes so far as to holding his in front of a “Rose Garden” backdrop.

In such presidential systems, there is inevitably one figure that fills the chief of staff role. If Osborne is destined to be Cameron’s Chief of Staff, then it would open up a very new and somewhat exciting page in British politics. At last we’ll have a tacit admission that the Cabinet is dead, and that there is a hierarchy of ministers – something that is essential to deal with the pressures of modern politics and media operations. At last we’ll have the most senior member of staff free of all other ministerial duties, allowing them to focus solely on knocking together the necessary heads in order to deliver the government programme; or, indeed, work in the opposite direction by keeping the leader in touch with party opinion.

Perhaps if Gordon Brown had a proper Chief of Staff he would have someone honest enough to tell him straight: that he has no chance, and that all around the Labour Party is in need of a clean-break, not another relaunch.

In other words, a proper Chief of Staff can do the arm-twisting and the sweet-talking, and be the eyes and ears on the ground, leaving the so-called Prime Minister free to focus completely on the broad picture. Meanwhile, you don’t get a ministerial post neglected or abused for the sake of ego – much as Ed Balls does with the Children, Schools and Families brief.

But most importantly of all, it would be the beginnings of a long, steady process that might, just might, see us get a system which has better ways and a definite framework for restraining the unfettered power of the executive in the British system.

That would cheer all of us liberals up.

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