Status issues slump Tories
Relocate your vocational tanks to the private healthcare lawn - a Tory government is said to be nigh: Dave ’n George will be providing the brains and recalcitrant offshorer Lord Ashcroft
the cash. Like a mid-size accountancy firm’s move to the newest trading estate in Cannock, we’re assured it’s going to be great. But don’t cut the blue ribbon just yet. Apparently Cameron’s face (no airbrushing required) and the likelihood of a tight-fisted approach to funding a recovery (unless it’s incentives for people like themselves) have dented their ratings in the polls, and the keyword now is hung. Brown has barely thrown a fruit in anger to see his dead cats bounce.
And not helping the opposition one little shit is revelations of Lord Ashcroft’s long-deceived, now finally-revealed, status as a ‘long-term resident’ rather than a ‘permanent resident’. Which means that despite becoming a peer with the ‘solemn and binding’ promise to revoke his non-dom tax status he has failed to do so, and the party has failed to tell us. Given that he is a major donor, with all sorts of targeted funding for the key marginals, Ashcroft’s ermine is caked in cak right now.
It all started in early February with a slip of the tongue from Sir Georgey Youngblood on Newsnight
about non-dom status. Brown raised the Ashcroft issue but in an answer, so Cameron didn't have to respond. He also didn’t actually name Lord Ashcroft, in a ridiculous act of parliamentary etiquette. Gordon Prentice, Labour MP for the Pendle marginal, asks a question, the Tories reply by asking whether ‘Brown had been able to refresh his memory’ about a Labour party slush fund in his name. Ashcroft has also tabled questions recently about the tax status of funds held in banks etc registered in St Helena. Perhaps the tax paid on his funds held in Belize is just too much for the poor, sensitive soul. All this in a slow-burning context of Zac ‘the greenman’ Goldsmith’s non-dom tax discomfort, like running for parliament and paying tax here are apparently separate matters.
If the electoral commission actually had some power then this could have been sorted ages ago. Cameron can stand up and go on about transparency in politics and not answer a simple question about his party’s major donor's tax affairs. If Lord Ashcroft loves this country so much then he should pay tax and stop adding to his Victoria Cross collection, in order to correct a pretty straightforward example of how corrupt practices are accommodated within the current system.
Labour’s failure to robustly defend the union funding link (tories have a policy of raising the Labour union link every time Ashcroft is mentioned, even though that link is wholly transparent) only serves the ‘they’re just as bad as each other’ perception. The Tories always claim unions are Labour’s paymasters but this is a transparent arrangement which does not lead to the unions having a disproportionate influence on government/party policy. But the leadership seem rather embarrassed by the union link. Idiots. In the absence of public funding of political parties all donors to political parties (say, Boris and his hedge fund friends
) should be totally open about their finances, and the union link with Labour is a pretty good model.
So after 10 years Ashcroft on Monday came out and revealed what everybody knew and pledged to correct his status
, presumably because his commitment to Hague to end his non-dom status in exchange for a place in the Lords by the end of 2000 was about to be published. His statement referred to the non-doms among Labour’s biggest funders and while they (especially Lord Paul) should revoke that status, it shouldn’t distract from the fact that Ashcroft has blatantly ignored the undertaking he gave Hague and how reluctant Tory Central Office were/are to hold him to that. For a decade he has refused to reveal his tax status while having acknowledged that it is an essential criterion for a place in the Lords. There are several standards here, some of them double. Cameron desperately says ongoing coverage of the issue is ‘flogging a dead horse
’ but we can understand why the Lib Dems, the HRMC and others
might want to get to the bottom of the issue.
All of which hopefully means it might still register in voters’ minds come the election but we still fear a Tory victory (and a surge in populist bigots like this
in the parli-thong). The absence of a progressive or unifying leader of the Labs (and the party’s chronic debt) will probably mean that, with the help of the trusty right wing media swab, David will anaesthetise nicely for two terms. Should see a real boost to fascist loons who talk about ‘freedom at any cost’ with increasing hysteria. Melanie Phillips for Chief Executive of the RSPCA!
by French Creams
Old media in patronising outburst
How not to go about getting your book favourably reviewed
and just because the pr knows how to use Google Alerts (and knows what an embargo is!), let's throw them off the trail by saying the book was for Pride and Prejudice Zombies. Nothing to see here, m'luv, except your dodgy attitude.
An inauspicious time to revive Meeja but as a place of record I thought it was worth mentioning the Age of Stupid spoof of the FT
, which came out before the broader demo/march on Saturday 28 March, ahead of the predictable spectacle (from both protestors and police) on Wednesday: visually accurate, funny and far more readable than the real thing. Start at the dog jumping over the sheep and work down.
As bruce says, echoes of the Yes Men's New York Times
. I should also say for the record that in the last few months I went not so much to the darkside as to the shocking pink, in a bid to work on some interesting world news and events (with an unfortunate surfeit of neoliberal and high-cap solutions for neoliberal and high-cap problems thrown in) and avoid the sectoral niches and love of micromanagement and personal development at the place before.
what do you do with a blog that is technically spent? well, remark at that plan for retail to colonise the traditionally-close-for-the-sabbath City. An invasion of capital by capital no less. The city was an interesting and walkable place on sundays but now they want it to be oxford street east. Should be handy for the returning Olympic watchers. there are enough strips of shops in this capital at large, and the financial services sector does not need to contribute to it.
Validating every moment
"There's nothing to do round here, the kids cry. Except prepare for a life of getting an erection over a detached house"Cull back after unjustifiable hiatus with comments on the pixel nation
Comedy skirting meaning
is back on tour after more conspicuous times in the public eye as Springer opera man and the usual detours into writing, TV comedy and, also, artifact curation
. Naturally, the appearance of someone with a track record ensured a packed crowd in the culture-free environs of SE23, at the newly airbrushed Honor Oak by the south circular (he’d originally been down to play the more insalubrious but now-also-about-to-be-refurbed Amersham in New Cross). Tony Law
did an excellent support.
You already know whether you were likely to go and see Stewart Lee's new Edinburgh show: go if you can and beware of spoilers (misquoted ones at that) in what follows. Lee hinges his new show around having been voted 41st Best Stand Up Comedian of All Time on a Channel 4 Top 100, an excuse to meditate on the comedian's desire for approval from family, from the public. As for the former, his status cuts no ice at home: the recurring riff is his mother repetitiously and unfavourably comparing him to the lightning wit of Tom O'Connor who she saw years ago on a cruise ship:
“He was amazing Stew. He came out, he asked this man in the audience, ‘What do you do for a living?’ and the man says ‘I work in the oil industry’ and quick as a flash, Stew, Tom O'Connor says ‘Are you a sardine?’. It was hilarious. No, wait – the man says ‘I'm in oil,’ that's it, and quick as a flash, Stew, Tom O'Connor says ‘Are you a sardine?’. It was hilarious. He came out...”
With these and other citings, Lee mapped the bars of his own prison: contempt for those he needs the approval of (“you: the Public -- who, when given the chance to vote for your favourite comedy moment of all time, will invariably go for: Del Boy, falling through the bar,”); contempt for but apparent dependence on the commissioning whims of TV; contempt for his racist, ignorant and tasteless family; contempt for the spectre of the washed-up comedian, formerly critically hailed with something to say, reduced first to game shows (cf, Lee's recent appearance on 8 Out Of 10 Cats, for which his shame was palpable) then cruise ships, via sex scandal and a nervous breakdown.
Though the set included well-directed and eloquent rage against the vacuity of TV and the repulsiveness of the Littlejohn anti-PC lobby, as well as gestures towards what is obscured behind the bullshit – “beauty, truth, thought”, “the chance to feel or think something different” (with illuminated hyperlinks to Martin Luther King and Evan Parker) – I was sorry that it had to come wrapped up in self-analysis. Perhaps it was an unfortunate aspect of the need to weave together a coherent thread for an Edinburgh show; perhaps Lee genuinely can't sit down at his word processor without the broken, weeping soul of Tom O'Connor appearing before him. Perhaps Lee's furious critique of Maconie culture is all the more effective and honest if he vivisects his own dependence on and complicity with it at the same time. My fear is that, rather, his critique is needlessly blunted by this approach – by the repeated message that he is just a comedian.
The penultimate segment has Lee acting through a repetitious, Robert the Bruce-themed joke that is ridiculously drawn out, laboured and unfunny-funny; Lee in the story is an arrogant, lazy sell-out who's only interested in creativity if he gets paid for it; the 'real' Lee telling the story is a craftsman, weaving together the show's riffs in a flight of wonderful, genuinely funny, surrealism.
Lee's climactic gag combined hope and redemptive meaninglessness. “After all this seeking of approval... I got one laugh recently that meant more than anything, and that was from my 14-week-old son. And the way I got him to laugh was by balancing this small, stuffed orange giraffe on my head... and standing very still, without varying my expression, for as long as I could.” Which he did. It was a sublime moment of infant Zen, though it caused ripples of warmth among the Honor Oakers rather than out-and-out hilarity.
They're corrupt sportsmen, not jihadis
Cull puts down the surprise at the natural causes verdict for Bob Woolmer's death as a blatant example of Islamophobia
in the play-fair world of international cricket.