Sunday, 12 April 2009

A little ramble

Inspired by the immortal words of Ken Dodd (or was it Eddie Braben?) "I love a ramble - as you've no doubt gathered" I have sent on holiday my blog censor. He is trained in the hard school of George Orwell and Christopher Isherwood (by the way, how can they possibly film "A Single Man"? I hope the product is released direct to land-fill), and does his best to trim off discursions, intricate subordinate clauses and even semi-colons from my postings. Like the thought that has just been triggered by my own headline, that one of my favourite presenters from the day before yesterday (well, she still looks that young), Floella Benjamin is not only president of the Ramblers Association but has also publicly committed herself to the Liberal Democrats.

What really inspired my desire to blog today was hearing the views of ex-special adviser Liam Byrne on Broadcasting House this morning after reading Alix Mortimer the night before. Byrne, Derek Draper and Damian McBride are keen to spread the fiction that the blogosphere is dominated by right-wingers. What they mean is, that most of the readable blogs are those critical of the government. Most are liberal or libertarian, not rightist as I understand the way that term is usually deployed - authoritarian, even monarchical, and socially oppressive. It is possible to write from within the Labour camp in an interesting way - witness Paul Flynn. (I suppose I should also add the blog of the Cooperative Party, since this body has not yet seen the light and divorced itself from New Labour, which stands for most of the things that Cooperation does not.) The fact that so few Labour blogs reach this level is a reflection on the state of the Labour Party, rather than of the blogosphere.

I must say I hadn't noticed any shortage of coverage of Ian Tomlinson. Peter Black has certainly posted one of the two videos which show a policeman attacking an unaggressive civilian from behind, and commented on it. If metropolitan liberal bloggers have not featured the incident, it can only be because it has received so much coverage in the mainstream media.

As for myself, I try not to duplicate stuff which is going to be covered elsewhere on Liberal Democrat blogs (for a list, have a look at the aforementioned Peter Black blog) . Much of my attitude to current events can be taken as read in the fact of my party membership. There is an apocryphal story told about Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the US. When asked by Mrs Coolidge what a sermon had been about, he replied: "Sins", "Well, what did he say about sin?" "He was against it."

Are metropolitan commentators really so shocked by the McBride revelations? The only surprise to me is that a Labour dirty tricks campaign has been committed to writing (albeit to the transient medium of email) so high up the hierarchy. From the occasional comment I glean from fellow LibDems in parts of England, Conservatives are also capable of such nastiness.

The most offensive element of the affair is that these "special advisors" like McBride have remained so long. They are no more than party hacks, yet they are paid for out of our taxes. No doubt they receive civil service pensions, as well. Brown was supposed to have swept away so much of the flim-flam which surrounded the Blair court, yet very little seems to have changed.

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