Wednesday, February 23, 2011

today : phew!/help!

It's okay. I may wake up any minute to find that it's all just a recurring nightmare. Phew! Alternatively, it is all too real and will only get worse. Like Thatcherism, but turned up to el-ev-en, with a snort of Angel Dust. Help!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

today : The curse of the black dye

Ok, t'would be hard for Mugabe to look the same as the others, but look at the dictators (another caveat - Berlusconi isn't really a dictator but you know what I mean). They have the same stylist (apart from Gadaffi, whose stylist clearly also does ex-members of Motley Crue and current members of Aerosmith). Chavez's hair, I swear, is crocheted, the rest co-opted from the residents of Legoland.

If you live in a country run by someone who is well over 70 but with a jet black syrup and an Amanda Holden-level of botox, then here's your chance. Get out on the streets now.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

today : women of the revolution

Interestingly, even in the midst of chaos and revolution, news producers still behave much the same. Noticeably, three women have cropped up again and again on our screens.

Why have some fusty academics, greying news anchors or earnest bearded male activists on screen when you can have three rather photogenic young women instead?

Hence, doe-eyed perfect teethed activist ( I've invented a new word to describe her - she's not just an activist, but an 'Attractivist') Gigi Ibrahim must have appeared on the news about 100 times in the past week. The BBC, especially, loves her.

Would Shahira Amin have been such a big story had she been a grey, sober middle-aged man? I suspect not. I am not thinking that she will find it hard to get another job.

And CNN have spotted that Hala Gorani gives quality screen. She speaks Arabic and got pushed around by some pro-Mubarak protesters and this got her shifted from the relative backwaters of her slot on CNN World into co-anchoring alongside heavyweights Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper. Good for her, she's no bimbo, but easily the equal of them as a journalist, as well as being far easier on the eye.

I'm not suggesting that any of these women are not worthy - quite the opposite. Ibrahim speaks with intelligence and sense - even after several days clearly without any sleep. Shahira Amin genuinely put her reputation and safety on the line to do what she thought was right.

If they can make progress by looking good on the TV then good for them.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

today : A wizard deal for Osborne's chums

So, using my magical mystical (even wizard-like) powers, I managed to predict what would happen with 'Project Merlin'

If the Daily Mail says stuff like this about a Tory government, then maybe there's a problem Independent You kind of expect the Indie to be unbiased towards the Tories

But the FT tends to just tell it like it is. "The accord effectively saw Mr Osborne give a green light to banks to pay multibillion-pound bonuses in exchange for a promise to increase lending to small companies by 15 per cent from £66bn to £76bn.

Reuters summed it up for the rest of the world to report

The Guardian well, they would say that wouldn't they?

Wall Street Journal "But the truce—the product of more than two months of negotiations between government and industry leaders amid heated debate over the role of banks in society—doesn't require the banks to do much beyond what they're already doing."

FT again on Cameron's multiculturalism stance.

Is David Cameron not a PR specialist?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

today : David Cameron ruins my weekend

Please. Just once. Just one weekend, or even one day, when I turn on the TV and don't find some politician, obsessed with controlling the news cycle. There they are day in and day out. Announcing new initiatives, promoting policy directions, trumpeting their every action (or inaction for that matter) as an achievement. Forever feeding the feral beast its ration of topics to discuss and proposals to dissect.

Much of the time I can kind of ignore it. Most of what they feed the beast is just white sugar: empty calories. The here today, gone tomorrow news-cycle stop-gaps. The increasingly fake-looking and annoying Clegg restates some minor aspect of policy, some junior housing minister says something about houses, things that might go in a green paper maybe possibly or not.

But I can't ignore things that I think are just wrong. Things that are not just ruining my day or my weekend, but ruining peoples' lives. And my fate in the past months has been to be bombarded with stuff which is, however empty sometimes, just plain wrong. And it keeps on coming.

This weekend I was forced into a response. Like an unannounced visitor or a stalker, I couldn't ignore it and switch over to the footie. Cameron went on TV to peddle his utter nonsense about Islam and British identity.

I can't even make the time to explain how mind-bendingly wrong the content of his speech was. It was staggeringly wrong on every single level.

But the question remains why? Why now?

Is it something to do with Bob Diamond's 9 million quid bonus, or the fact that the IFS criticised Osborne's policies? Is it the fact that the inflation and employment figures are pretty poor? Is it the fact that MPs were complaining about their expenses during the week? What is in the air that is even worse bad news? Is there something buried on page 12 that shows the government in a bad light. Is one of the Sunday papers sitting on some phone-hacking gold. What flatlining figures are announced on Monday?

Or is the fact that, when the Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph are starting to fill their pages with critical, questioning headlines and stories only 9 months into a government term, there is a real danger that the strategy is crumbling at the edges.

And one sure fire way to get the Mail, Express and Telegraph back on side is to pander to their basest of impulses. Get them on about immigration, Muslims, terrorism. Feed their racism and xenophobia. Big up their rose-tinted misty eyed, almost entirely false vision of some mythical lost white Britain/England. A couple of months out from the local elections and Clegg's big electoral reform vote, start to wind up the old retrenched Tory rhetoric.

And ruin my weekend.

today : keep an eye on this name

Chuka Umunna. You'll be seeing it & hearing it a lot more in the future.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

today: bread, freedom and social justice

When I called, in my recent Christmas message to the world, for people to take action, little did I know that the citizens of North Africa would take me so directly at my word. Actually, I do realise that some anonymous person on a little read blog did not cause the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. At any given moment there are always revolutions in train, or ready to take place. Many of them are little reported. People die for principle every day and are never commemorated. You also don't need to be Mystic Meg to see that things are reaching a tipping point in many areas of the world.

Bread, freedom and social justice. It's always about these things. The best thing any dictator can do to maintain power and is to give their people these three simple things. If they did, they might not be overthrown, put on trial or shot against a wall. I guess most dictators are so blinkered and stupid that they don't see it.