Some cynical nihilism, or, a revolution in the People’s Republic

We in the People’s Republic now realise that we have spent a totally deficient amount of time over the last year’s blogging activity on fostering a culture of cynical corrosive nihilism. We are obviously hopelessly out of step with the zeitgeist, what with our all-too-frequent postings on such subjects as the teaching of history, Herbert Spencer, Anglo-Norman linguistics, urban planning, psychological profiling and our interminable difficulties with British Gas. We are a damn sight too constructive, optimistic, reflective and cautious, among the many other inconvenient qualities associated with liberalism.

We are ready to make amends.

So what’s the single most depressing, cynicism-inducing, hair-tearingly awful, weepingly ruinous assault on the nation’s political psyche we can recall?

Is it the lie that resulted in an illegal war and the suicide of a government scientist? Is it the fact that hundreds of thousands of opinions counted for nothing in the face of one megalomaniac’s semi-religious conviction? Was it the moment when Walter Wolfgang was removed from a Labour party conference by security forces? Was it the cash for peerages scandal? Was it the culture of organised fear that led to the shooting of an innocent man on the London underground?

Was it the more personal moment, when I was involved on a professional basis in carrying out a consultation which the local government organisation that ordered it  then totally ignored? Was it the moment when Jacqui Smith, when asked how she would overcome eight hundred years of basic English liberties to seize property from criminal suspects before they were charged, said, “Oh, we’d just change the law”?

Was it the 10p tax band? Oh, it might be! It might just be. For a year – a YEAR – Labour lied and lied and lied and said that the changes in the 2007 Budget would not make anyone poorer. There were tax credits and winter fuel payments, they mumbled (they’re still mumbling about winter fuel payments. To hear Gordon Brown at PMQs you’d think winter fuel payments were a tonic for the ills of the whole world). Anyway, they went on, brightening up, you’ll be getting more money out of it, like lots of other people, so you don’t mind, do you!

Please, I beg all Citizens, of all affiliations, be in no error about the fact that this was a LIE. They knew people would lose out but they reckoned that as it would only be poor people no-one would care. This was a calculation that could have been done with an Excel spreadsheet on the day of the budget. I know. I did it.

But no, awful though that is, it’s actually not the worst thing. The worst thing really is Blears’ speech itself.

It has, for some reason, made something click for me. It contains – as Mat GB at Liberal Conspiracy and Costigan Quist point out with exactly the kind of superhuman reasonableness that Blears believes is lacking in blogging – some very reasonable ambitions about reducing careerism at Westminster.

But oh my god. Have you read it? The section about blogging and the media is the section Blears’ minions have snipped out for CIF, so I think we can afford to ditch our reasonableness and our broad view; whatever the merits of other parts of the speech, this is the bit she wants put across. This is the bit she thinks is important. And every assumption underpinning it terrifies the living shit out of me:

…and in recent years commentary has taken over from investigation or news reporting, to the point where commentators are viewed by some as every bit as important as elected politicians, with views as valid as cabinet ministers.

Views as valid as cabinet ministers. Views as valid as cabinet ministers? You see? I’m gibbering with fear already. This woman thinks that no-one else’s views are entitled to be seen as being as valid as those of cabinet ministers. She is suggesting that it is wrong for people to have views which are taken as seriously by the electorate as those of cabinet ministers. She thinks that cabinet ministers have a special claim to have their views prevail. She has genuinely, totally forgotten that cabinet ministers are supposed to serve the people, represent their views. She has genuinely, totally forgotten that this is a democracy.

And if you can wield influence and even power, without ever standing for office or being held to account by an electorate, it further undermines our democracy.

I’m speechless. No, I’m not. No, wait! This, this, this describes a democracy.

The commentariat operates without scrutiny or redress. They cannot be held to account for their views, even when they perform the most athletic and acrobatic of flip-flops in the space of a few weeks. I can understand when commentators disagree with each other; it’s when they disagree with themselves we should worry.

But they’re not running the fucking country, Hazel, are they. You are. Accountability is the thing that happens to YOU. And half the reason bloggers exist in the first place is to give the media the kicking in the nuts it so frequently deserves. Here I am defending them. I’m even defending, by implication, Guido. What have you done to me?

There will always be a role for political commentary, providing perspective, illumination and explanation. But editors need to do more to disentangle it from news reporting, and to allow elected politicians the same kind of prominent space for comment as people who have never stood for office.

This isn’t so much terrifying as puzzling. I literally do not understand what she’s talking about here. Politicians write in newspapers all the time. Nick Clegg used to have a regular Guardian column. You can’t get away from politicians writing chummy columns in newspapers.

This brings me to the role of political bloggers. Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a Samizdat style.

What, you mean with the chief characteristic of being self-published tracts stating opposition to a murderous, dictatorial, left-wing government? Bad analogy, Hazel, bad analogy.

The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes. Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the leading blogs would be left-of-centre?

Mat at LibCon has already put paid to this one. We’re talking about a “range” of literally, going by Wikio, two. Incidentally, it’s fashionable to bang on about the superior power of American blogging at this point, and how much closer the right are to achieving it, but actually I don’t think any success right wing blogs do enjoy has much to do with the kind of organisation that makes American blogs an effective political tool. The three real success stories of right wing blogging are ConHome – which has a paid staff, Iain Dale – who is a PR genius and Guido – who is a twisted PR genius. None of that reflects any actual mass organisation or campaigning.

So they get stuff in the papers, so what? No-one reads the bloody things except to reinforce their existing beliefs. I really do despair of how stupid we all are sometimes (and I include myself in this), worrying about how this or that will be perceived in the media, as if that really does constitute some sort of “wider world”. It’s all a totally circular feeding frenzy involving a few thousand people at most. I should bloody know. So should Blears, but she’s far too deep into the matrix now to remember that it isn’t real. And I probably wouldn’t be so terrified if she wasn’t also controlling the feeding tubes.

There are some informative and entertaining political blogs, including those written by elected councillors. But mostly, political blogs are written by people with a disdain for the political system and politicians…

Most? Disdain? Not only is it perfectly clear to anyone with the slightest acquaintance with political blogs that ninety per cent are thoughtful and constructive, but more than that, how can anyone be so utterly cretinous as to believe that bloggers make all this effort and put in all this time to political discussion out of disdain? Take Lib Dem Voice. Its viewing figures are rocketing, its conference events are packed out without advertising, politicians and independent commentators write for it and the quality of the debate on there is quite often stunning. Take what the chief editor, Stephen Tall, does to contribute to all that. He puts in more time and effort than any of us, and he puts in hours. A couple of hours almost every day. Of his own free, unpaid time. So that Lib Dems have somewhere entertaining to meet and talk online. And she thinks we do this out of disdain for politics?

…who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.

I BEG your fucking pardon? It is a BAD thing to unearth scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy is it?

This line alone, you see, makes me earnestly wish I’d spent less of the last year being elegant and witty about history and linguistics and more of it putting the fucking boot in to this awful, appalling government and the repellant automatonic freaks it harbours with no care for elegance whatsoever. Seriously, I used to think, rather as Hazel seems to, that trenchant blogging was just a bit silly, a bit too mutually-assured-destruction. Sometimes it takes hearing someone else’s back story to your shared opinion to make you realise you are holding very much the wrong opinion.

Unless and until political blogging adds value to our political culture, by allowing new and disparate voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair.

Add value? Just. Fuck. Off. That is all.

And this, Citizens, is where the revolution comes. I’ve spent the last twelve months “adding value”, being optimistic, careful and constructive, if that’s what adding value means. I don’t necessarily mean I’ve added a bean of value to the Liberal Democrat effort per se just through blogging. Who can measure such intangibles, but I’m sure blogging has very little impact on the wider world. However, after my fashion, I have offered what value I have to offer to online political culture. I haven’t dug at opposition parties much except on matters of policy detail, because I’m more interested – to be honest – in discussing liberalism and hopefully promoting it to the odd unaffiliated reader. Nah, all that angry stuff just isn’t me, I thought.

But this speech. Well, it got me clicking. Basically, I’ve just spent hours in an empty house surfing the internet for evidence that the government really does mean to screw us, and nobody should ever do that. This is what I’ve found.

In late September, PRWeek reported that Labour were putting together a “rapid rebuttal unit” blogger team to kill damaging stories on the internet. According to El Dale, the meeting at which this was discussed has just taken place. Nothing terribly wrong with that, I hear you cry. We’d probably have one ourselves if we weren’t such unique liberal snowflakes. Seriously, can you imagine a similar meeting among the Lib Dem bloggers? We’d have to reduce it to a fevered argument about the origins and purpose of the internet, at  the very least. Probably of the Enlightenment.

But combine it now with this from late October, the news that Mandelson is spearheading a move to reconsider the relationship between the government and Nominet, the independent membership organisation which controls the .co.uk domain registry. And when I say “reconsider the relationship” I mean consider introducing one. A letter to Nominet from the department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform contains this passage:

The domain system is, of course, a crucial element in the internet economy. In this context I noted that many countries regarded their country code as a national asset, the management of which required the direct involvement of government.

And then combine this with Andy Burnham’s ambitions for a regulated internet – oh, strictly in the interests of reducing violent pornographic and paedophiliac content, of course. Of course.

And then combine that with the great big fuck-off database we learnt about back in May. Oh no, wait. It just got worse:

Internet “black boxes” will be used to collect every email and web visit in the UK under the Government’s plans for a giant “big brother” database, The Independent has learnt.

Home Office officials have told senior figures from the internet and telecommunications industries that the “black box” technology could automatically retain and store raw data from the web before transferring it to a giant central database controlled by the Government.

I mean… I don’t know much about this sort of thing. Information technology in the full sense. I’m an educated layperson guessing here. Help me out. We’ve got a rapid rebuttal unit of Labour apparatchiks, the communications database, internet regulation and government control of the .co.uk registry. And bear in mind we’ve already got ID cards, anti-terrorism legislation, incitement of hatred legislation and 28 days without trial.

At what point is it ok to get paranoid, do you suppose? Not abstractly paranoid. Not paranoid-with-sad-shake-of-head. Properly terrified-paranoid. Paranoid in the style of what has up to now been the nuttier end of the blogosphere.

If it helps you make up your mind, this came from the press association a couple of hours ago – a familiar theme perhaps, in an enhanced light:

Some ID cards will be handed out to the public by the end of next year, the Home Secretary has said.

Jacqui Smith said “small volumes” of cards will be available months ahead of schedule.

Ministers are considering launching a website in the New Year enabling anyone who wants a card to register their interest.

The cards, which will store copies of two fingerprints and a facial scan – will enable holders to travel around Europe without a passport.

They will cost £30 each and will be available for everyone else from 2011. The overall cost of the ID card and biometric passport scheme is nearly £5 billion.

Launching the government’s response to a consultation on ID card delivery, Ms Smith said the cards would replace bank statements, driving licences and birth certificates for anyone looking to confirm their identity.

The biometric data stored on the cards and the ID card database could be collected on the high street at post office counters or in shops, she said.

She also announced stronger powers for the ID cards watchdog to enforce co-operation by government departments and companies involved in collecting the data.

Addressing the Social Market Foundation think tank in central London, she said there was already a need for a “universal means of proving identity”.

She said: “The time is fast approaching when the use of bills and bank statements to prove our identity will no longer cut it, and when our personal dictionary of different passwords for different purposes will become too unwieldy to work effectively.”

I can hardly put it better than a commenter named Triffid100 on CiF did earlier today, and the chances are astronomically against my being right, but this comment almost has a touch of the Charlottes about it to me:

Hazel,

I am afraid of my Government. I have done nothing wrong and obeyed all your laws. However, I’m afraid.

I will never forgive you.

Never.

65 Comments

  1. The best article I’ve read in a long time. Add electronic voting into the mix and the infrastructure for soft fascism is being put in place in this country – and I don’t believe that I am paranoid. Just as an aside, about 10 years ago I went to an open seminar at IBM on the iris recognition software that they were developing at the time, and at question time was appalled to find that I was the only person there who opposed what they were doing.

  2. You’ll be a swearblogger in no time. All that post needs is a bit of cunt & twat & you’ll be in line for a Bloody Devil Award🙂

    I despise Fawkes & Dale & everything they stand for, so it threw me off that she singled them out for abuse.

    But then I started thinking that this does reflect New Labour’s attitude that they can ratchet up unlimited state power, & there’s no need for any restriction whatsoever because they are righteous & cannot abuse their power.

    Not to sound like a libertarian, but these are their instincts. They are impatient with restraint because they want to cut corners in order to have it all now, much like their constituency of “burdened optimists” in MOSAIC terms, or “golden dreamers” in Maslovian terms.

    I figured out that they, more than anyone elseare the most despicable cunts going & define New Labour. If Camoron is one of the “now people”, at least it’s 2 steps up😉

    Have you ever read The Abolition of Liberty by Peter Hitchens? It’s a really good book. I find most of his work too negative & alienating, but this is remarkably good. It is significant that it came out in 2004, well into the left-liberal disenchantment with New Labour, & he seems to be trying to reach out to us.

    Look, we’ve seen in America that Mail-reading fuckwits don’t make up the “silent majority”. Broon thinks these mongs are the people he needs to appeal to. But in fact, ordinary people are concerned with state intrusions that they percieve in their lives. A lot of them support social democracy, whereas others are liberal, & there are still a few libertarians knocking around. But whatever, civil liberties go well beyond the Islington media elite (if there is such a thing anyway).

    This is what I am trying to say. Are we latte-sipping Guardianistas who don’t live in real, pro-British parts of the country if we are against this shyte? No, we are explaining to the man in the pub that the litany of failures proves that Brown shouldn’t have the power to, for example, make him carry an ID card.

    Yes, the cynics who saw the original polls supporting 42 days will be embarassed. What was this fucking shite about dropping them because of the cost??? If these terrrrsts & A-rabs are threatening us, surely they’re threatening us credit crunch or no credit crunch. Don’t tell me it’s because the Labour cunts never wanted to fight crime or terrorism, but only to inflict more jobsworths on us!

    I won’t get the sanity I want in the drugs laws any time soon, & the libertarians won’t get… anything. But we will live to see the end of this fucking authoritarian shite in our times. Camoron has got to put his foot down & stamp on fuckwits like Gove & Gideon who want to lick on Labour’s ring over this issue, & start listening to people like Davis, & for that matter Hitchens, or the Liberal Democrats for that matter😉

    PS-
    Another encouraging sign is that BoJo is backing away from Clarksonism, under the realisation that it’s unrealistic bollocks that will never work in a city as large & complex as London. He’s dismaying the wankstains who cheered him on, but that’s only because the real world doesn’t fit in with their frantic wanking over Atlas Shrugged & Top Gear.

  3. My comment is awaiting moderation? Hoots, am I going to have to suppress my true self here as well as on LDV?

    Well, at least you know what I think even if the world doesn’t🙂

  4. Brilliant, but…

    >And bear in mind we’ve already got ID cards, anti-terrorism legislation, incitement of hatred legislation and 28 days without trial.

    … er … biggest DNA database in the world, suggested DNA records of 6 year olds, big fuck-off gossip database where your records stay until retirement of 12 million who will commit a criminal offence if they apply for a “registered” job neat the vulnerable while on a “not authorised” register …

    Would you like a position as Guest Friday Swearblogger?

    *Rubs hands in anticipation*

    Matt

  5. It is hard to know whether people like Hazel Blears are as stupid as they appear to be, or if they are actually just testing the water to see how much they can get away with without actually provoking people to serious protest.

    Because the tendency is that we all just murmur and whimper and growl gently, the assumption that she and the other brain-free clowns of New Labour may reasonably make is that, next time they display utter contempt for the liberties of the electorate and ratchet up slightly the tightening chains, they will get away with that as well, until we are not just gagged and bound, but strangled and crushed.

    Remember, this is not just a little local difficulty for New Britain: this is happening worldwide.

    The mumble and grumble needs to become a deafening global roar.

  6. I came here via Iain Dale – I’ve never read your blog but will probably now add you to my daily read – I’m not a Lib Dem by any stretch of the imagination but this post at a stroke demolishes Blears argument that blogs do not add anything. I am a soldier – I’ve spent most of my career ‘building democratic societies’ apparently – it is so sad to see that disappearing in my own country.

  7. Excellent article.
    I notice on the Guardian thread yesterday that MPB said, something like, he is moving his site offshore. He was promptly deleted.

    Can anyone give any technical links to advice as to how to protect your blog?

    After that MPB post – which was deleted – I too was deleted for linking to his site and, horror of horrors, linking to a photo of La Blears http://tinyurl.com/645npr

    As I had pointed out, the Big Names like Dale/Guido are semi-official and controlled.
    What they are scared of is the mass of lone bloggers who do their own research and turn up things that ‘they’ are scared of.

    It’s not finished yet.

  8. I know where your anger is coming from, but I feel you are missing the point.

    Blears’ speech to the Hansard society was to raise debate on the white paper ‘Communities in Control’, which has been published this week.

    Instead we are all discussing what she said and not what she has done.

    I hope (and your archive suggests you like this sort of thing) now that you will read the white paper (it amounts to a weighty 157 pages!) and be able to criticise the contents of it.

    There are many good things which should be disseminated widely in order to raise awareness of the proposals.

    If LibDems wish to support local action this white paper will aid you immensely.

    It can be found at:
    http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/communitiesincontrol

  9. Reasonable views about reducing careerism? Blears presents a false dichotomy – Career Politicians or The Beast and other such “working class heroes” What utter twaddle. Tokenistic? Quota-filling?

    Next, and I would not put it past her, she will be proposing that all the MPs from all parties must conform to some quota system of ethnoclass pigeonholing and if you do not fit the bill, you will not be “eligible” to stand, regardless of party.

  10. I am not a blogger but read yours from CIF – I would vote LibDem but for their stance on EU – however back to thread. Labour is a truly terrifying entity to me now. What on earth can we do to stop them? I cannot believe our country has been reduced to this. I also cannot believe that Hazel Blears speech has not been reported more. the BBC is hopeless and says Brown is a great economist! God help us. I mourn for my country.

  11. Gosh – first time I’ve been quoted (wish it was something more positive though.) So, I hope you will allow me to post a few comments following on from your article.

    By the way: No, I’m definitely not Charlotte Gore (for one thing, my standard of writing isn’t that high.)

    In all honesty, I am becoming seriously worried by what we are doing in this country. I’m certainly no activist nor particularly, au fait with the subject of civil rights (much to my shame.)

    I missed the introduction of RIPA completely and certainly didn’t understand it’s effects. My attention was drawn by the SoCPA legalisation and like many, I laughed along with Mark Thomas. Laughter gave way to concern and concern led to anger. Finally, anger gave way to fear.
    I am a British citizen and fiercely proud of being English. However, I’m not allowed to protest peacefully against my Government when I believe they are doing wrong. I [i]will[/i] get arrested for standing outside parliament with a banner saying “Equal Rights for Asparagus” or “Terrorism is Naughty.” At first this sounds like a joke, we laugh. Then I thought about it.

    No legislator is so incompetent to do this by mistake. Really, it can’t be – if it was a terrible mistake it would have been repealed with urgency (and a fair amount of embarrassment.) Even after a “public consultation” and Jack Straw was forced to admit it had no public support so he reluctantly would revise it. BUT no action yet. Obviously, Mr. Straw doesn’t believe Civil Rights are a priority.

    Incidentally, should say I did the normal thing that most of us do when they perceive something wrong. I wrote to my MP.
    My MP is a Lib Dem (sounds promising for a bit of action, doesn’t it.)
    In my best English I wrote and rewrote my letter (this was my first letter to my MP so didn’t want it littered with the normal huge amount of typos.) Then I waited for a response. And waited. After a fair few weeks, I naively thought that the letter was lost in the post (I live in London so wasn’t a totally unreasonable or stupid thought.) So I resent a copy as well as send it via email.

    I never did receive a reply. I didn’t even get a form letter saying “Thank you for you letter which we shall consider.”

    I got nothing until a few months later.

    I came home to find my MP had written to me (nice House of Commons envelope.) I opened it … and read … how my MP had campaigned for more buses on the local bus route ! That was his response.

    I was so depressed, so let down. If my MP wouldn’t even debate these issues what can we do ? I ended up writing to my MP telling him I will only vote for a candidate who talks about getting my rights back again and stops this totalitarian vision – whichever party it maybe. This will be my only factor when I vote (though, I’m going to be truly piddled off if that statement/promise forces me to vote BNP.)

    Incidentally, if you see Simon Hughes (for it is he) please let him know a) he is allowed to read letters from his constituency and b) allowed to respond.

    Once you get this terrible feeling of fear you look at a lot of recent legislation aghast. You mentioned the internet regulation – however, didn’t mention that it’s not just an ambition. The law is passed and will be enacted on 1st January 2009. The Government has labelled this with “reducing violent pornographic and paedophiliac content”. Who could object to that ?
    Except it just doesn’t do that. It outlaws owning pictures of two consenting adults doing an act which is legal. NOTE: The *act* isn’t illegal (nor the taking of the photo. It’s the ownership of the photograph.
    And the test “What is pornography?” is “What were the [b]thoughts[/b] of the photographer?”
    [i]The thoughts.[/i] We have a thought crime on the British Statute books.

    Absolutely terrifying.

  12. I am a black-hearted cynic. I despise politicians, most other people and myself but you’ve persuaded me that it might be worth voting for your lot.

    Thanks.

  13. I, too, found your blog on CiF and I have bookmarked it. This is an excellent piece.

    One of the things that upsets me the most is the fear that LibDems will never be in a position to govern, or to attract enough votes to govern. I have to say that I am heartened by Obama’s rise and the appeal he has had to the young voter. How I wish we could find a LibDem figurehead who would be as attractive in 2010.

    Keep up the good work!

  14. >The section about blogging and the media is the section Blears’ minions have snipped out for CIF, so I think we can afford to ditch our reasonableness and our broad view.

    Purely for info, it may be the journos not the minions: national papers had access to the full text (or that’s where I got it from).

    Not sure whether they had the full text in advance – that could have been manipulated.

    Matt

  15. good rant. /Cracking/ rant. All points agreed except one:

    “No-one reads the bloody things except to reinforce their existing beliefs. ”

    hmmm…I read Guido and Dale, and am of the right, albeit the fairly libertarian bit. I also lurk here occasionally. Only reading people with whom one agrees is a very quick way to stultify one’s own thought processes. I would read blogs of the labour left only life is short and they tend to be written with a tin ear for prose and a tin brain for conceptual thought.

    “At what point is it ok to get paranoid, do you suppose? Not abstractly paranoid. Not paranoid-with-sad-shake-of-head. Properly terrified-paranoid. Paranoid in the style of what has up to now been the nuttier end of the blogosphere.”

    In the same way that there is no such thing as bad philosophy (viz. below a certain level, it ceases to be philosophy) it ain’t paranoia when it’s really happening. Smith claiming that people are looking forward to getting their ID cards takes it beyond belief: a sudden glimpse through the trees of the true meretricious nadirs to which they will sink when all other avenues of getting their own way are blocked.

    Look at the Legislative Reform Bill. Then ask yourself if you’re paranoid. In fact, ask yourself if you’re paranoid *enough.*

  16. Good post. This government is the most terrifying thing I have seen for a long time, and I was in North China earlier this week. How can they say such mindless, dangerous stuff. The best solution seems to me to be a punch in the face. Brown first?

  17. I turned to reading political blogs for comparison as to how I feel about this government and big business now that are able to control everyday people. I’m 58 but I have never seen such lousy governing since Menzies refused to go in Oz, “because the voters didn’t no what they were doing!” I guess the old adage of absolute power corrupting absoltely still holds. All we need from this bunch of low life shite hawks is to end their speeches with a resounding AND FUCK YOU ALL and then we would no where we really stand.
    A friend of a friend wrote to Dawn Prim and Proper asking her for help in obtaining a leg up the waiting list for a council house. The women concerned was truly desperate. Dawn or more probably one of her minions wrote back. Having pried the envelope open the recipient read that, Dawn didn’t like her attitude and would therefore not give her any help until she changed it. The envelope had obviously been sealed with copious amounts of Dawns personal snot or at least that’s what I have been led to believe. Well thanks again for a good chuckle, I need it now that I’m redundant again. A word of advice though, Don’t fuck about. Tell em like it is you are one of the few elequent enough to use fuck and make it sound like you meant it.

  18. great stuff

    As a member of the population of salford I apologise that one of our own have been brainwashed this way and hope to make amends come lection time

  19. Absolutely cracking stuff.

    It is imperative that we of the blogosphere keep sticking it to this ZaNuLabour Government (or any other government for that matter who carry out the same repressive and socially divisive policies) whenever we can.

    I would say…..Stuff Hazel Blears……but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with one of the mental images that phrase conjures up for me.

    Great to see all the ‘good guys’ from cif finding ‘other ways’ to subvert ‘the system’.

    Keep it up guys. :O)

  20. Found this via Iain Dale via Google after searching for this speech as I’ve been wanting to read it before commenting. Thankfully, you’ve saved me a job. Agree with wha you’ve said about the speech – especially the “valid as cabinet ministers” bit.

    Alex
    x x

  21. I missed Blear’s speech – there has been a lot this week to steal my attention – but I read about it (and your piece) on the yorksher gob.

    This is an excellent post. Thank you for writing it.

    And I’ve subscribed to your RRS feed.

    I look forward to reading your blog in the future!

  22. I’d echo the sentiments about not being paranoid enough.

    A well put together narrative of the process – which seems at times almost mundane in the drip drip drip of the way the fence posts are put in place and the barbed wire supplied and put in place not by politicians but ordinary people – can be found here:

    http://www.thirdreich.net/Thought_They_Were_Free_nn4.html

    Don’t be put off by the site address – its not some neo-nazi site but a explanation of how such things occur and are allowed to occur by someone who lived in that society at that time.

    Because the real problem is that there are a lot of so called “fellow citizens” who would either sleepwalk or actively buy into this sort of scenario.

    I say “fellow citizens” because I’m rapidly coming around to the conclusion that a schism exists where one broad group of “citizens on this island – and elsewhere has nothing in common with another broad group.

    What I’m talking about here is something reported during the recent US election campaign where a Republican spokesperson was rightly hammered for openly stating that Democrats and liberals were not “proper” Americans.

    Now I don’t agree with that but there is an underlying point which I think is valid. In her world view and that of millions of others who think like that what is being said is that anyone who does not buy into that narrow minded, deterministic, reductionist mindset is not a valid citizen because there is no room for any alternative and there is therefore, by definition, no common ground with those who wish for, aspire to, or want a different way of ordering the society they live in and how they interact with other societies.

    Such a world view has no time for compromise – which is why you have a political system where two party machines both controlled by corporate interests represents the accepted system of “democracy”.

    Anyone thinking that the Democrat “victory” will result in any meaningful “change” might wish to ponder the factual and valid points made here(with links):

    http://backtowardsthelocus.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/are-americans-just-toohappy/

    about Barak Obama’s position and chosen advisors.

    He’s there to fix the incompetancies of Team Bush not to engender any meaningful change.

    The point being that this mindset has no time for accepting that others, lets call them the reality based community, should have any space whatsoever to live according to any set of rules other than that dictated by those who follow this doctrine.

    In short they have nothing in common with those who don’t agree with them and by extension seek to deny those with whom they do not have any common ground any opportunity to live in a society where there worldview is not dominant or the sole arbiter of how to live. so you get the likes of Hazel Blears openly denying anyone who disagrees with the clique she belongs to has any right to a valid viewpoint. And the sad thing is that whilst there are many who disagree with her there are also many who agree with her. Both of whom live on this island.

    There is no compromise with such people. you are either with them or against them.
    However, this works both ways in terms of there being no common ground.

    Those in the reality based community have nothing in common with these people or the “fellow citizens” who share their view. The one difference between us is that those who take a different wider view would not seek to impose that view and single way of life on those who don’t share it.

    There is no possibility of sharing the same geographical, political, economic, social or philosophical space with such people. The reality based community has nothing in common with them. It’s time we parted company with them and go our separate ways.

    The key issue is how this is to be achieved.

  23. I never normally read posts this size all the way through; great post.

    Thomas (20): if Blears was trying to draw attention to a White Paper, why was it only the stuff about bloggers that was trailed in the press first, and why did she wait until 3 months after it was published?

  24. Wonderful. This piece was a joy to read.

    You know the best thing about this? I have never bothered reading political blogs because I have rebelled against the idea of having to filter a bunch of other peoples’ political views. The Blears’ speech led me to Iain Dale, he led me here and I am now about to spend a few more hours reading your work. Conclusion – Hazel Blears promotes the reading of political blogs.

    Yes, wonderful. Thank you.

    Paul

  25. David,
    The Sustainable Communities Act (from which the white paper is derived) came into force on the 3/11/08. As for editorialising in the press, my guess is commercial pressures and being anti-‘bad competitor’.

  26. She’s just a moron. Thanks for this piece -it’s brilliant. I’d like to add a quote that’s 221 years old, from Thomas Jefferson:

    “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere.” –Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, 1787.

  27. One of the greatest blog postings I’ve ever read. Can I frame it? Or does that make me equally guilty of ‘spreading corrosive cynicism’?

  28. Brilliant post. It is almost enough to make me a Lib Dem, if they weren’t economically challenged. But then who isn’t these days.

  29. Have run away and hidden for a week (I do that when praised) but seriously, many thanks, all. A quite stunning degree of agreement across the political spectrum in evidence here – gives me hope.

    I’m genuinely a bit in awe of how some people’s comments – Late Blogg Reader @34, Paul @49 and (most terrifyingly of all) Hugh @26 – demonstrate that blogs do serve some real purpose. I thought I was just having fun and swearing a bit. Christ, I should be more careful what I say. Hugh, in particular, I’m really not sure I can deal with the responsibility of having softened your political cynicism! Honestly, vote for the person you think would make the best MP (I say this with an eye to Triffid’s sad story – not surprising to hear that of Simon Hughes, unfortunately; I’d like to think you’d have had a vastly different experience with e.g. Lynne Featherstone or Vince Cable).

    Sorry I missed the Swearblogger invitation, Matt – I was off t’internet for a couple of days. Hopefully, my inner profaner will be back at some propitious time. That is a great analogy about the fence posts. Ooh, and thanks for my Bloody Devil, DK! A tremendous honour.

    And now, back to lengthy and complex tax posts. Ah, it was fun while it lasted…

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