For the purpose of this blogpost, I’m going to suppose that I might be a Conservative Prime Minister.
By heritage and upbringing, I am a natural Labour voter: I’m a trade union member, my dad was a trade union member, his dad was a trade union member, and so on back to my great-grandfather: further than that family legend can’t tell me.
Further, since the Tories imposed the poll tax on Scotland, if not before, I’ve always been clear that I would not only never vote Tory, in FPTP elections I’d always vote for the even-slightly-leftier candidate with the best chance of beating the Tory.
So hold my hand: this is a big jump.
You know the cartoon I mean.
Complaining that Steve Bell is offensive is pointless.
Steve Bell has been offending people for decades.
The problem with Steve Bell’s foggily unfunny attempts to satirise the SNP / Sturgeon / Salmond, is that cutting-edge political satire depends on an intimate knowledge of the political scene: and too-evidently, Steve Bell is too ignorant of Scottish politics to be able to provide any of his usually fine satire.
The Guardian readers’ editor thinks that Bell is satirising “the roots of nationalism, not people, and he uses 18th century weapons of caricature”, and the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent tweets “we also defended the right of Charlie Hebdo to offend and @GdnScotland should not censor @BellBelltoons either”.
When discussing a political cartoonist who used to do cutting-edge satire that was funny because it was true, the key issue is not “is he offensive?” but “is his satire any good?”
Steve Bell isn’t coping with the change that requires him to learn about Scottish politics in order to satirise them. It would be kinder to let him go on sabbatical, rather than let him display his copelessness in public, but as Bell himself was never kind, why demand kindness for him?
This isn’t about censorship. This is about quality.
Afterthought: the alarming thing for those of us who are (or were) Steve Bell fans is that if the polls are borne out and 40+ SNP MPs go to Westminster and Labour is perforce obliged to enter a Lab/SNP coalition, there will be unprecedented opportunities for satire – all of which it seems Steve Bell plans to throw away because he seems to think “ha ha Scottish people” is sufficient for a joke.
Today, I watched Doctor Who and I was amused, moved, and enthralled. I was watching An Adventure In Space And Time. (Available on BBC iPlayer til New Year’s Day.)
And then I watched the Doctor Who Christmas Day episode.
The basic story was simple:
If you have a massive and very public Internet meltdown on your business Twitter account, right in the middle of all your potential customers, this is not how to apologise for it:
The mobile device which controls all SECRET PLUMBER accounts had been lost on Friday evening. The twitter account was hacked on Saturday. I apologise for all offensive tweets, it was not “the secret plumber”
I was inspired to write this, if that’s the word, on reading Fleet Street Fox on the Leveson Report: The devil is in the detail, published yesterday in the Press Gazette.
It’s a fine example of a rant as you will ever find from an MP explaining with tendentious authority why the general public have absolutely no right to know about their Parliamentary expenses and how it will ruin a free democracy if this is allowed: you would think this was an investigative journalist who sees censorship on the cards, not a fox demanding the right to be unmuzzled in the henhouse.
But the devil is in the detail, and the detail of Leveson is the bit which will muzzle the Press as effectively as Hannibal Lecter strapped to a luggage trolley.
Leveson wants this backed up by law which is plain wrong, because there’s no bill ever passed by Parliament that wasn’t tinkered with later. Hacked Off and other campaigners may feel the suggested law is fine, but it’s the law it may mutate into which is why it should never happen.
So, we can’t have laws in the UK, because however nice a law looks when it’s proposed, Parliament may change it into something unspeakable, so all laws are wrong. We should instead trust to the kindness and gentility of the likes of David Grigson.
Okay. That’s nice, Fox. We should live in a lawless society because we can’t trust Parliament.
Let me answer a simpler question.
When is muzzling the Press appropriate and can you recommend a certain kind?
By and large, muzzles are used to keep the Press from biting or causing injury. There are two types of muzzles: prohibitive (also referred to as the “tyrant’s muzzle”) and regulatory.
Will the world come to an end on 21st December 2012?
It better not. I’m having my carpets cleaned that afternoon.
We could all die of plague! There’s one sweeping the land at this moment. (True, but not lethal, unless you are very old, very young, or otherwise very frail – and also very far from any hospital.)
God will smite us – Ireland is going to pass legislation that will give girls and women whose lives are threatened by pregnancy a clear if limited right to access abortion.
By Friday 23rd November, MPs will have to decide whether the UK should be in defiance of an ECHR ruling or David Cameron.
David Cameron says:
“no-one should be in any doubt: prisoners are not getting the vote under this Government.”
Lord Lester of Herne Hill, a QC who sits on the Commission on a Bill of Rights, said
offering a ban was merely political posturing, and it was inevitable prisoners would get the right to vote.
Asked if the Government would have to the vote to prisoners in some form, he told The Daily Telegraph: “Of course – either that or we are in the same position as in Greece under junta. Greece had to leave the Council of Europe.
Please note that it’s not even a question that “all prisoners must have the vote” – it’s perfectly legitimate to ban some prisoners from voting. Continue reading
For those that need the warning, further down this blog I discuss child abuse.
I’ve been thinking about names and Internet privacy since Jeremy Duns asked the internet:
The answer to me is obvious: yes, they are. My personal unfavourite is the Herald, which bans all pseudonymous commenters: the New Statesman, which is just a complete muddle, is probably the next worse. Facebook is problematic, and Google Plus is a cosmic screwup all of its own. Part of that reason is that most computer systems do not handle names very well: see Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names.
Jeremy Duns has, fairly enough, got valid reasons to detest people who use multiple pseudonyms on the Internet, aka sockpuppets, which the Urban Dictionary defines as:
An account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously.