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Why do people believe in the BNP?

Why do people believe in the BNP?

So…

For what it’s worth, I think the BBC had to treat the BNP – and Nick Griffin – as any other politician. To set up a rule deciding on which political parties deserved coverage – and then to ignore it because you didn’t like the results – would be about as unBritish as you can get.

But the results haven’t exactly been good. 22% of people polled by the Daily Telegraph say they would consider voting for the BNP, while the News of the World’s poll of 504 people found a third backed the BNP policy that UK-born ethnic minorities should lose all benefits to pay for them to leave, whilst in a comment article (now deleted), the Daily Mail suggests that second-generation immigrants born in the UK aren’t British (while also trying to denounce the BNP). Which would include Winston Churchill, Prince Charles and Stephen Fry. At least two people on my blog reading list have decried the BNP while stating that immigration is now a huge problem as far as they’re concerned.

So Pandora’s Box has snuck into the UK, and been opened. But how did it come to this?

Well, it would have helped enormously if the issue had been played, rather than everyone concentrating their firepower on a small relatively insignificant political party (although it did attract nearly 6% of the votes at the last European election).

The anti-fascist protesters seemed far more interested in making a big noise and getting on the news than actually, y’know, trying to stop Nick Griffin getting onto the programme, as their stated aim was. After all, he snuck in by the back way, which isn’t exactly a state secret – there are five entrances into the complex, after all.

The whole point of Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time was that he was meant to be regarded as a normal politician. So why have a scenario where the programme might as well been called An Evening With Nick Griffin, with every diverse person you can think of lining up to take potshots at him? If I was a disgruntled white working-class voter watching that, I’d have been far more inclined to think Nick Griffin was right. (Although the BBC said it just drew a random selection of people from where it was being recorded – West London in this case – and the questions asked were ones chosen by the studio audience)

It should have been a ‘normal’ programme, with him being asked questions about, say, the Royal Mail strike instead of letting him turn it into a bite-sized voxpop of what his policies were. After all, if the Greens or the Communists were invited on, Question Time wouldn’t be dominated by environmental or communist issues.

The political parties and the Establishment have seemed far more interested in ignoring the BNP and their associated issues, instead of perhaps engaging with the electorate. Thus, we have a situation where a few people genuinely seem to believe that the British government is far more interested in helping asylum seekers than British people.

Which flies in the face of a reality where legal routes into settling in the UK are very bureaucratic, and puts a lot of obstacles in the way of my (white British) friend trying to settle in the UK with his (Korean) wife and in the meantime the British government deports women dying of cancer, locks up the children of asylum seekers, leading to things like a ten-year-old Nigerian girl trying to commit suicide as she sits waiting in an “immigration removal centre” and the Catch 22 scenario whereby the Home Office won’t kick people out but neither will it allow them to apply for legality in the first place.

Yes, being against immigration isn’t being racist. But the talk is already moving on from “new” immigrants to current immigrants and their sons and daughters. If you saw me walking down the street, I wouldn’t look British. But I sound, feel, and am British. How long will it be before I have to carry an identity card – or a yellow star – to prove that to people?

Dude, life is not like the TV show that you make…

Dude, life is not like the TV show that you make…

Imagine if Jonathan Ross had been blackmailed over numerous affairs he’d had with women he worked with, by the producer of Crimewatch.

That’s the equivalent of what’s happening in the US, where Robert Halderman, one of the producers of 48 Hours Mystery, is charged with attempted extortion. He allegedly tried to extort $2m from chat-show host/king David Letterman over the fact that two consenting adults had decided to have sex with each other.

There are differences – for a start, Jonathan Ross has not been having affairs, and has been married with kids for 20+ years.

I was in mid-transit flying between London and Cleveland via Minneapolis as this story broke, so I didn’t catch much of it. But I did note all of the airport TV screens were tuned to a CNN discussion on the issue. And not what might have been the other big story of the day, Rio De Janeiro getting the 2016 Olympics. I didn’t hear that until HyperHam mentioned it two days later…

RIP Patrick Swayze

RIP Patrick Swayze

The 1990s were a confusing time if you were a bloke trying to figure out how to be a bloke. The choices seemed to boil down to being the waspy, sensitive “New Man” (aka today’s emo) “New Man” stereotype pastiche, or the “Lager Lout” (out all night in pubs, drinking strong beer and starting brawls in nightclubs) stereotype? (I’m sure the advertising industry has, as ever, much sexier phrases for these stereotypes).

Patrick Swayze, bless him, seemed to prove that you could dance, love, and even cry, while simultaneously being able to knock seven shades of crap out of bad people and even indulge in a spot of bromance with an FBI agent. Quite a huge range for an actor who never even went to acting school. He even looked alarmingly good for a man of 50 in Keeping Mum. And he even managed to stay married to the SAME WOMAN for 30+ years or so.

So the fact he’s succumbed to cancer, which is one of the most vile diseases sapping all life energy out of its sufferers in a long slow death, is, to say the least, quite sad.

He was a terrible singer though. Even if I do somehow love this song – and any song that can survive a wonderful mashup with the Pet Shop Boys’ Minimal has got to be a great song despite anything you can throw at it…

and it’s not just me. Particularly interesting thoughts come via the usually snarky The Onion AV Club and Overthinking It

Wales has no culture … ?

Wales has no culture … ?

So it would seem, according to the learned judging panel behind the UK’s first ever “City of Culture” competition. 29 locations – including “The Countryside” are nominated.

Not one of them is in Wales. The closest you get is Chester, which is very un-Welsh.

Announcing the list, Ben Bradshaw, Culture Secretary, said that it proves “that cultural life most definitely does not begin and end within the M25”. It seems to end on the Welsh borders, according to the committee…

Money money money

Money money money




lust money

Originally uploaded by catsfather

The ongoing saga of MP expenses has opened up a veritable kettle of worms in terms of what people earn, what they expect to earn – and crucially, how that compares to the rest of the population.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has a handy calculator that compares your income against the British national average (£390 for a two-adult household, after taxes and benefits).

My details against the IFS calculator show that I have a higher income than around 85% of the population. Then again, I’m in a single household with no dependents.

I’m reasonably happy with my salary – I don’t feel rich, but I don’t feel poor either. I’m not buying Tesco Value baked beans, but neither am I buying organically grown gourmet beans flown in from Fiji. But then once I discovered that some people earned far more than I did, I was slightly peeved for a while – for no good reason. My income hadn’t changed at all, but the knowledge that other people were doing far better than I did suddenly started to rankle slightly. For no good reason.

There’s a fascinating – if somewhat biased article – in The Guardian about the *emotional* gap between those working in the City and their reality. How everyone in the City assumes they’re working for a slave’s wage, yet can’t grasp the reality that they are far better off than most people. Because, alas, most people aren’t around them – they only see their peers.

Which is probably why MPs had no clue that the rest of the country would see what they were doing as thieving.

I’m fairly sure most of my friends would consider themselves to be average wage-earners, not earning that much more or less. But then the reality is, in fact, that they’re probably all earning far more than say 75% of the population.

Swine flu – the Asian perspective

Swine flu – the Asian perspective

Me in a gas maskNever let it be said that the Chinese do things by half.

A friend of my parents flew over from South East Asia to spend some time with my parents in the UK. Amongst the things he brought with him were a set of face masks for my parents – it seems that after the 2002/2003 SARS outbreak, many households in Asia already had one of these and he thought it might come in handy. Fortunately, despite my coughing and sneezing, nobody has yet seen fit to actually wear one in this household, at this stage.

At least, till we watched the latest news from the Chinese Channel (run by TVB, one of the two major TV broadcasters in Hong Kong). This is one of the ways in which many Chinese ex-pats in the UK get their news.

So we have a reporter standing outside a Beijing hospital where there are a couple of suspected cases. Said reporter is wearing a surgical face mask while talking directly to the camera. And there’s also live coverage from the Hong Kong hotel where 300 guests and staff have been quarantined for a week after one guest reported suffering swine flu symptoms, although this reporter was brave enough not to wear a facemask.

Of course, if a virulent virus took hold in Asia, it’d be virtually impossible to stop. If nothing else, Chinese eating customs mean that when the whole family eats, everyone grabs their morsel of food from a central dish, with chopsticks clashing wildly sometimes…

Cadburys’ made liquorice lozenges. Called Nigroids.

Cadburys’ made liquorice lozenges. Called Nigroids.

Nigroids from Ernest Jackson Madame Laudanum popped down to her local chemist, and found a tin of liquorice lozenges. Called Nigroids. Through a bit of Googling, we discover that the manufacturer of said Nigroid liquorice lozenges – Ernest Jackson & Co. Ltd – are apparently owned by Cadbury’s.

I’m still rather amazed they’re still called that. What possible reason would you have for calling liquorice lozenges Nigroids ?!

2010 Update: They now appear to be called Vigroids. Which is nice.

Starbucks disses the UK

Starbucks disses the UK

It’s almost become a science-fiction staple to depict dystopian futures where corporations are running the world, as opposed to countries. Which doesn’t mean it hasn’t already happened.

Despite Starbucks seeming to own every other coffee store in London and Edinburgh, it’s still not doing very well. Which hasn’t stopped the Starbucks chairman from describing the UK economy as being in a “spiral”. As usual, like someone pointing out the Emperor is somewhat naked, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson defended what’s left of the British economy, apparently launching a tirade of four-letter words towards Schulz in private. But then (as any follower of British politics knows), he’s never been one for the calm timid retiring speech.

I’m personally getting somewhat tired by capitalists and economists bleating on about the media talking down the economy, and that if only we had some common faith we’d get past this recession into a bright sunny future. If the economy is doing so badly that the only thing stopping it falling apart is delusional talk, then the sooner we can reboot the system and start again, the better.

Just as long as I get to keep my job. Unemployment is no fun.

The Obama effect – from London

The Obama effect – from London

– At a gig last night, comedian Mark Thomas said: “After tomorrow, it will now be safe for Americans to hold their hands up when a comedian asks if there are any Americans in the room. You are no longer a symbol of tragedy, violence and brutality …… any Israelis in?”

– There was some BBC coverage from a college in Tottenham, where the mostly-black students were all glued to their big screens

– For most of today, it was business as usual. Then as soon as Obama’s face showed up on the monitors, people started drifting away from their desks to the big-screen television on the top floor. People started sticking their heads out of meeting rooms. By the time Obama came to spoke, the desks were relatively empty.

– Huge laughter came up when the Reverend started saying: “we are grateful to be Americans”. Bless, you haven’t lost your gift for hyperbole…

– The inauguration music was apparently composed by John Williams – the same man who composed, amongst other things, the themes to Superman and Indiana Jones. The temptation to slip a couple of Superman bars in must have been over-whelming…

I’m just wondering whether Dubya made promises to unite the nation, be friends to the world and give everyone unlimited rice pudding in his inauguration speeches. But at least Obama’s got a free pass for a year or so, I think. Then again, we gave one to Bush after 9/11 and look what happened… oh, and Jon Stewart compares Bush & Obama’s inauguration speeches

PS: Only real Doctor Who geeks will get this

On this almost historic day…

On this almost historic day…

Secret Asian Man

(It does have to be pointed out that 20 years from now, we’ll think of today in the same way we think of the Moon landings. Cool, but let’s get back to reality…)

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