Archive for ‘Observer’

March 16, 2015

Why there’s no point in voting Tory to stop Ukip

Newspapers that tell you how to vote are asking for trouble. I still meet readers with harsh words to say about the recommendation of the editorials of the Guardian and Observer that they should vote Liberal Democrat at the last election. (Those who followed it are the most scathing.)

So it is with a stammer in my voice and fear in my eyes that I say that, in theory, some of you should vote Tory in May. Hold on! Put that pitchfork down. I just said “in theory”. My point is that liberal or leftwing readers in Kent and Essex could, in theory, consider tactically voting Conservative to stop Ukip winning.

March 16, 2015

Britain doesn’t have a foreign policy

Barack Obama, David Cameron


The Observer 14 February 2014


From the moment he took office, commentators said that David Cameron “looked like a prime minister”. However deferential their assumption that old Etonians were born to rule, they were right to concentrate on appearances. Cameron speaks his lines and plays his part. He is a lead rather than a leader. Britain’s acting prime minister.

Like a body double, his administration fills the roles history assigned it. We remain one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. We still have the second strongest military force in Nato and the third largest economy in the European Union.

Yet as far as a convulsed Europe is concerned, Britain might as well not exist.

March 16, 2015

Rupert Murdoch and the police close down journalism

Lord Justice Leveson

The Observer 25 January 2015


Journalists must protect their sources. From whistleblowers revealing great secrets to exposés of everyday corruption and incompetence, few will talk if they fear they will lose their jobs or maybe more than their jobs. The police might arrest and jail them. In extreme cases, dictatorships or terrorists might kill them. Livelihood, liberty, life – all can be endangered when sources speak out.

March 16, 2015

Charlie Hebdo: Liberal Popes for violence

Pope Francis Visits Philippines



Observer 17 January 2105



He may once have been a bouncer, but the pope no longer looks like the kind of guy who can handle himself in a fight. Most opponents would fancy their chances of downing him with a knee to the pontifical plexus. Be in no doubt that, whatever his physical condition, the pope is still up for it. He will bellow the Latin equivalent of “come on then, if you think you’re hard enough” – “agite tentateque si fortiores vos putatis”, our classical correspondent tells me – and it will all kick off.

After saying that he believed in freedom of speech, as everyone does, Pope Francis added the inevitable “but,” as so many do. If a friend “says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” he told reporters. Insults to religion invite the same violent response as insults to his manly pride and family honour. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.” Or to put it another way, the Parisian satirists had it coming.

March 16, 2015

Paris attacks: unless we overcome fear, self-censorship will spread

The Charlie Hebdo gunmen in the street.

The Observer 11 January 2015

We have a blasphemy law. No electorate has approved it. No parliament has passed it. No judge supervises its application and no jury determines guilt beyond reasonable doubt. There’s no right of appeal. And the penalty is death. It is enforced not by a police bound by codes of conduct, but by a fear that dare not speak its name; a cowardice so total it lacks the courage to admit it is afraid.

The British are the world’s worst cowards.

March 16, 2015

Prince Charles: an accident we won’t be allowed to stop happening

Prince Charles likes to have his fingers in lots of pies.


Observer 3 January 2015

I sound a feeble republican when I say it, but if you have to have a hereditary head of state, Elizabeth II is as good a monarch as you can get. Journalists have tried for decades to catch her interfering in politics and found nothing. We know she is pro-union, pro-Commonwealth and, one supposes, a Tory traditionalist. But no one has been able to show that she has lobbied or manipulated.

It may be ancient history to her 21st-century subjects, but she remembers that the Baldwin government forced her uncle, Edward VIII, to abdicate in 1936, in part because of his admiration of Hitler and Mussolini, and his interference in politics, which the party leaders of the 1930s regarded as unconstitutional.

The Queen could not be more different: dull, cautious and safe. She has been on the throne for so long you have to be in your 70s to remember another monarch. We are used to her and assume she will go on forever. We forget that sooner or later everyone steps aside or dies in post and with an 88-year-old your money should be on the sooner.

March 16, 2015

The police spying on the peaceful

Bob Lambert fathered a child with an animal rights protester before abandoning herObserver 21 December 2014



hen you are in a radical movement, it’s wise to assume that the person arguing for the most extreme action is an agent provocateur. The question for opponents of fracking is on whose behalf are the agents provocateurs provoking.

March 16, 2015

Nigel Farage is a coward, yet Cameron and Miliband are too gutless to attack

Nigel Farage

From the Observer 22 November 2014


You cannot describe Ukip as a far-right party without running into trouble. Respectable commentators tell you that, while individual members may be neo-fascists and that while Ukip had indeed allied with far-right parties in Europe, it does not come from fascist tradition. And I just about accept that.

Hardly any commentator, respectable or otherwise, notices that Nigel Farage has created his own stab-in-the-back myth. The treacherous “Westminster elite” so despised the decent people of Britain that it flooded the land with foreigners who “took our country from us”. This is the manure in which far-right movements have always grown. But, once again, if anyone objects, I accept that Farage is not a führer or duce.

Rather than arguing about labels, let us agree to allow the facts to speak for themselves. Farage is a rabble-rouser and a coward. He plays with racism, the way Ian Paisley used to play with sectarianism: whips it up, then backs off just before he can be accused of inciting violence.

March 16, 2015

Why wised-up westerners fall for Putin’s propaganda

'Prostitution of journalism': Russia Today reports from London.From the Observer 8 November 2104


Vladimir Putin is the world’s corrupt policeman. He finds the seediness in every country and nurtures it. On some occasions, he exploits cynicism and paranoia at once; on others, he banks it for later use. Often he appears to fan corruption for the hell of it because that is all he knows how to do.

The posters appearing on British advertising hoardings promoting his propaganda channel give a notion of the scale of his effort. His underlings have rebranded his Russia Today station “RT” – in the hope that its dumb viewers will not realise that they are watching a channel whose political line follows the Kremlin line with puppyish eagerness.

March 16, 2015

Revolution by Russell Brand: Awful beyond measure





From the Observer 29 October 2014

The rich can buy anything in Britain, and they have now brought us their own opposition. Russell Brand is the voice of the discontented wealthy. He tells us that money can’t buy you love – which I already knew – and that only the complete overthrow of the existing system and embrace of mysticism can take us from “the shallow pool of the known” to the “great untamable ocean” beyond.

I was prepared to dismiss Revolution as the swollen ramblings of a jaded celeb. Brand leaves you in little doubt that he is trying to escape the ennui that follows trying everything once except incest and folk dancing. “It’s only because I decimated my life by aggressively pursuing eating, wanking, drinking, consuming and getting famous that I was forced to look at spiritual alternatives.” Inspiring a revolution – for such is his ambition – is one of the few thrills to have escaped him. “The revolution cannot be boring,” he says as he encapsulates his thoughtlessness in one phrase. “We’d all be a bit disappointed if utopia and ditching capitalism boiled down to ‘We want to be a bit more like Germany’ – fuck that.”

His writing is atrocious: long-winded, confused and smug; filled with references to books Brand has half read and thinkers he has half understood.


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