Update for Brits who’re just waking up

Overall, we know about as much about what’s going on as when as we did when I woke up eight hours ago.

Things we do know: the Lib Dems got screwed, probably by the sustained 2-week barrage of media lies about them.

Troll-like ex-home secretary Charles Clarke lost his seat, which is delightful.

Pro-science campaigner and all-round good egg Evan Harris lost his seat, which is a terrible shame (bad work, Oxford people).

And although the Tories have cleaned up in the Home Counties and the Midlands, Labour have mostly held London.

The Tories are trying to subvert the constitutional convention that the sitting PM has the first right to try and form a parliament. This makes them scumbags, and the complete and utter opposite of anything that might be described as ‘conservative’.

Finally, the appalling Hazel Blears kept her seat in Salford (where they weigh the Labour vote) albeit with a 10% swing to the Lib Dems, so I don’t have to drink a bottle of Scotch and streak through Sydney. Which is probably just as well.

(more, less coherent analysis at Johnb78).

Update: excellently, we have our first Green MP, Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion. Revoltingly, Zac Goldsmith has won Richmond Park. If your feelings towards Zac Goldsmith include anything other than disgust and hatred, there is something wrong with you.

Quick thought on speeches

Not sure if these are downloadable, but listening on the radio I was really struck by the difference between Gordon Brown and David Cameron’s speeches on winning their constituencies.

Mr Brown is in the wrong job, and needs to resign tomorrow no mater what the final results, but the speech was heartfelt, interesting, passionate and genuinely moving.

Mr Cameron sounded like the kind of personality-free senior manager who gives corporate Powerpoint presentations that mean nothing, are full of waffly buzzwords, are delivered with intensely loatheable smugness, and generally make you want to die.

I don’t think I could stand living in a country where someone that personally dislikeable (which Gordon Brown, for all his faults, isn’t – you might hate his politics and/or his competence, but I genuinely can’t imagine anyone disliking the man, personally, on meeting him) was main national figurehead and spokesman. So I suspect I’ll be out here for a fair while then…

(FX: checks “permanent residency” requirements again…)

Semi-informed Northern Ireland poli-blogging

It’s lovely to see Peter Robinson, the head of Northern Ireland’s DUP (the Paisley-ite, hardline Unionist party), losing his Belfast East seat to non-sectarian Alliance candidate Naomi Long. Anything which makes NI less sectarian-driven has to be a good thing…

The thing which makes it even funnier, by which I mean “if I was properly awake I’d literally be rolling on the floor with laughter”, is that insane ultra-Unionist blogger David Vance (of A Tangled Web and Biased BBC ‘fame’) won 1856 votes, presumably from people who felt that Mr Robinson didn’t hate the Micks enough. Ms Long’s majority over Mr Robinson was only 1533.

In other words, by attracting crazy sectarian bigots with his crazy sectarian bigotry, David Vance has actually made Northern Ireland a less crazy, sectarian and bigoted place. Hahahahaha!

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-05-02

  • my copy of Faith No More's best known single won't play any more #epicfail #
  • i can't get funding for my remake of Spartacus #epicfail #
  • i've been multiplying two mathematical constants both together and by the speed of light, to no avail #epicfail #
  • I always think of the Auteurs' Tombstone when passing the Columbian Hotel. "We'll take the fucking building out, Baader Meinhof style", etc. #
  • …and yes, I know Luke was actually referring to the Columbia Hotel in London… #
  • I LOL'ed. I think this makes me a Bad Man RT @torontoveg: International Respect for Chickens Day: May 4 http://ow.ly/1Dfuj (via @sirrontail) #
  • Back to work. Back to #ebz. Similar. http://fallenlondon.com/c/61087 #
  • Yes, it's excellent -> RT @jamesgraham: This is very clever: http://bit.ly/dvP7QP #iagreewithnick #disobeymurdoch (via @bloggerheads) #
  • Good election parody marketing from Ikea: http://bit.ly/bDuBFT – but have they really given Nick Clegg a photo of Hitler? #
  • .@jamesup sorry, but someone's sent me: http://bit.ly/b3Ow24 #
  • Ooops! Ladies, time to don your burkhas: http://j.mp/cfnDv0 #boobquake #angryGod #
  • Irish politics WIN: RT @twentymajor RT @theddp: Bertie gives up his pension ! >> Now he just needs to give up breathing, the little cunt #
  • Freemania just won at everything: http://bit.ly/9uwMjW #
  • Getting annoyed by belief that Greece default has an impact on the UK. Greece's debt is (effectively) foreign-denominated. UK debt isn't. #
  • Grizzled union types: it may be true that you can't trust the Lib Dems, but it's *definitely* true that you can't trust Labour… #
  • Tory grassroots still hate gays (read the comments): http://bit.ly/akk0n3 – via @bloggerheads #
  • I guess this might, erm, help conceal one's recent hand-based activities…? Weird: http://bit.ly/dj1Cd7 (via @Awl) #
  • is about to head off to a Mass Debate. Fnarr. #
  • Well, actually it's an absurdly elitist, embarrassingly pretentious debate, but that doesn't sound like a word for wanking so isn't funny #
  • This might be my last message for a while – up early 2moz to be temporarily blinded. But at the end I'll have LASER EYES, so that'll rule… #
  • RT @martinb9999: Dear Gordon, If You Meet a Bigot in the Street, *This* Is How You Respond http://post.ly/dmAW (via @chickyog) #
  • RT @johannhari101: You know what's so sad about this? That woman said pensions & schools are better now in Rochdale #
  • Last #ebz for a bit, I reckon… http://fallenlondon.com/c/62032 #
  • I miss teh @ChrissieM too. Bad eyes. Bad urban geography :- #
  • I can now peruse Twitter in very large print. But probably shouldn't. Eyes recovering well. If I'm lucky I'll even have some valium left. #
  • …which'll be handy for my UK trip in August… #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2010-04-25

  • I'm quite enjoying the ban – off to meet up with a friend who's supposed to be back in the UK, but instead is loafing in Sydney #
  • has been the general manager of a large establishment, but still never would've thought they'd have put him in the Good Squad. #
  • derives pathetic childish joy from listening to Armed Forces by the best Elvis. #
  • until last week, i was delighted to be out of the uk for the election. but seriously, the least unpleasant party are winning in the polls. #
  • Damon Albarn QOTD: did he call his third band The Good, The Bad & The Queen so they'd be next to Gorillaz whenever browsing the alphabet? #
  • Only since I've been in Oz have I understood why the collective noun for crows is "a murder". Horrible, unearthly beasts… #
  • I don't know why #davidcameronsexface is a thing, but since I've encountered the concept, y'all can too. #
  • ONLINE. Properly. On a real computer and everything. Hell yeah. #
  • Finding it deeply tedious watching people equate #globalfinancialsystemfail with #labourfail. #
  • Seriously, how much of a partisan idiot do you have to be to believe that NuLab did anything other than follow general economic orthodoxy? #
  • (clue: the correct answer is "lots", and I say that as someone who's never voted Labour in my life…) #
  • I'm pretty sure the fact that crime in the UK has just massively fallen and everyone's ignored it is #nickcleggsfault http://bit.ly/bq9WUZ #
  • This is properly scary: http://bit.ly/bofPNa – bets on either the Indy changes its angle or News Corp puts out nasty stuff on Lebedev? #
  • Weird: http://bit.ly/cnevXb – sheer churnalism, but all the local press juniors I've met in years were vaguely liberal (via @darryl1974) #
  • Apparently #toryfail types are upset about Sky comparing Nick Clegg to 'Ghandi'. Damn right, I'd say he was far closer to Martin Luther Kong #
  • I know it's like saying "Mussolini was my favourite Axis leader", but Yelland was always my least despised Sun editor: http://bit.ly/cHiOdX #
  • Haha, #torypressdesperation RT @unslugged DM poll: "Who would make the best Chancellor?" Options are Darling, Cable, and… Clarke. #
  • You meant "relieved", right? -> RT @Anthropith Be afraid. This could happen on May 7th. http://bit.ly/cugX2H #
  • Up far too late, now that the UK election run-up has actually become interesting again #nickcleggsfault #
  • The markets, unlike halfwit Tories, don't think that a hung parliament would harm the #ukeconomy: http://dlvr.it/b7P3 #hangem #ge2010 #
  • Surely the #Tory candidate Martin Coxall who's just been arrested for alleged assault isn't the same MC who trolls @libcon? #
  • Fair clarification, and yes he is -> RT @Anthropith Important to note he's not a PPC. Martin Coxall is a council candidate and a twat. #
  • If You Vote Lib Dem, You Will Kill Rebekah Brooks And James Murdoch's Careers http://bit.ly/9MEucv #nickcleggsfault #
  • I'm assuming that @polfret's assault on John Prescott was probably #nickcleggsfault #
  • Of course that's true @Anthropith – but reason it's getting Twitter interest is because he's a prominent online Tory defender #
  • YES! Cassetteboy does the One Show: http://bit.ly/d69yLw (via @catdonn) #
  • Nike drops stars who're guilty of crimes; doesn't drop stars who aren't. Hence, they're misogynists http://nyti.ms/9hDmdw #woollyliberalfail #
  • The whole thing is leftie puritanism at its worst. *Raping* women is a terrible thing. *Drunkenly hitting on women in clubs* is not. #
  • I do like bit.ly's customised ntyi.ms links, though. Presumably that's some kind of JV I've missed? #
  • Google seems to have taken a dislike to me. From #1 for 'john band' and 'banditry' to page 2 and #3 respectively. Weird… #
  • Given the subject & the ease of missing out reading little words like "on", I should've phrased this differently: http://bit.ly/92fVMc #
  • Back online, so back on #ebz – that's the way it goes. http://fallenlondon.com/c/57780 #
  • Haha, @qwghlm has updated the Daily Mail-o-matic for #ge2010 http://www.qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail/ #
  • 4AM. Ooops. Skype's a dangerous tool, a bit like George Osborne. #
  • Party like it's 1999: http://youroldcrapwebsite.wordpress.com/ #
  • Entertained that second-biggest podcast on iTunes UK is some teenage idiot's bedroom japery entitled Mock The Weak. Good work, illiterates. #
  • Unpleasant man, unpleasant website: http://www.philwoolas.org.uk/ #
  • Of course you've seen this already, but it's 100x better than Dawkins at making the same point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0W7Jbc_Vhw #
  • Hungover, watching TV and playing #ebz- this is officially the life http://fallenlondon.com/c/58708 #
  • Can you guess she's gone home to Ireland? RT @catdonn Waiting for bacon sarnies. Sitting with Dad who's flicking between football & snooker. #
  • Me: "did you see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"? My dad: "yes, but I switched off because I was hoping it'd be a kung fu movie" #parentWIN #
  • Anyone watch the #rebus TV shows? I love the books, but am worried the adaptation will lose their excellent, cynical-smart vibe #
  • WhateverYouWantGuv fail: http://bit.ly/9F07HN #
  • This evening, my tweets have been mostly homosexual. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRUPgyk5njQ #
  • Nobody's ever going to answer my #rebus question, are they? The only thing people care about on Twitter is gay sex, weird deaths & Lib Dems #
  • …which reminds me, I tried to explain Jeremy Thorpe to an Aussie the other day, and he didn't believe me: http://bit.ly/9zx5Sk #
  • My first thought, 5-4-3-2-1-RAGE! RT @mrpower Up with the lark. Breadmaker on. Hens let out. Mug of tea. Now to peek at the news… #
  • This song will be the second-most karaoke'd song today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmyEv4n8ERI #
  • This song will be the first-most karaoke'd song today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNT7uZf7lew #
  • This country will be my first-most favourite country forever. Well, unless they kick me out for being foreign. #
  • Then again, only a country as cold and miserable as the UK could have done this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZwMs2fLoVE #
  • Or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Krvl7AEAs #
  • Anyone know whether @mtuckerno10 is actually Jesse Armstrong, or an amusing faker/fakir? #
  • Nobody, in history of Internet (or Google, which is close) has ever made the gag "You've had a lot of Dick Cheney, but you ain't had mine" #
  • Let-downs: @MrEdByrne just endorsed Avatar; @herring1967 just endorsed Andy Parsons. You're brilliant people; why d'you respect this shite? #
  • Twittered out. Night all. #
  • This is excellent on immigration: http://bit.ly/b1gtU1 (via @bellagerens) #
  • Cab Calloway, and #ebz, are enjoyable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33nTnawq6jk http://fallenlondon.com/c/59677 #
  • In Soviet Russia, computer puns you -> RT @RedScareBot That's Czary! RT @johnb78 socialism & capitalism equal in terms of 'word-dirtyness' #

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Apart from more pies and shorter hours

I’ve been challenged to state what policy goals I’d actually favour:

* Unlimited migration of people with A-level equivalent qualifications, or any non-academic skills in demand (defined as “more than no job adverts specify this, and it can be quantified”) in the country of relevance.
* Equal tax on all “getting more assets”, whether house, work, parental snuffing it, or whatever, with an exemption for “appreciation in price of a house you haven’t yet sold”. With a gbp10,000 per year minimum limit before you pay any at all.
* Annual 10% cut in NHS budget, applying NICE’s calculations to treatment rather than just drugs. “You’re going to die in six months no matter what we do? Well, here’s a kilo of prescription heroin, enjoy it whenever you prefer, but don’t bother us at the hospital again.”
* Legalisation and taxation of all drugs.
* Massive relaxation of “IP” law, based on the fact that the entire concept of intellectual property is insane made-up nonsense. All copyrights and patents will last for 20 years maximum, to be granted only if the applicant can demonstrate to the government’s satisfaction that this special favour will do good for society at large.

Any more for any more?

Three Paul McCartney songs that are better than anything John Lennon ever did

Whilst I’m not quite willing to go to dsquared’s levels of defence of unpopular bands, I can’t quite believe that in my last, trolly, incoherent post the only thing I’ve so far been picked up on is suggesting that Paul McCartney’s solo output is better than John Lennon’s. That wasn’t part of the trolly incoherence – it’s just an obvious truth. Even if you’re a Lennon-ist, you have to base that on the conjecture that he contributed more than Paul to the Beatles, because nobody could possibly class any solo track by John Lennon as anything other than “disappointment”.

Paul McCartney recorded this:

…and this:

…and this, which is also an alternative theme song for this blog:

Lennon recorded “Oh Yoko”. Fuck him.

A working class hero is nothing to pretend to be

Paul McCartney was always my favourite Beatle. Not only because of his superior songs, although Jet is better than any of John Lennon’s solo output. But also because he never followed the absurd craze amongst arty types of “pretending not to be middle-class” (this is a middle-class home, whatever Mr Lennon’s pretensions).

Today, I’ve been mostly riled by Internet-ists playing the “prolier than thou” game. A Twitterist entitled @MediaActivist believes that capitalism is evil and should be abolished, not regulated. He also believes that he doesn’t have enough to eat. The latter isn’t just lies, it’s offensive, mad, patronising lies. Thanks to the combination of capitalism and socialism that has prevailed in the UK over the last 100 years, everyone has enough to eat. Anyone who says otherwise on the Internet is talking shit [*].

I very much like Laurie Penny‘s writing, but it often falls into the same trap. Ms Penny is poor because she’s chosen to be: she has a degree from a respectable university, and hence could easily, were she into such things, get a horrible job as an accountant, IT project manager, recruitment consultant, or similar. The reason she’s got no cash is because she’s – completely reasonably, because working as a junior accountant, project manager or recruiter is horrible – decided to live in a rats-and-roaches share-house whilst making it in the media. I did the same thing 10 years ago; sadly, the lure of “no rats and no overdrafts” seduced me to the dark side.

People sometimes slate writers like Ms Penny for their privileged background. They should be boiled in oil. The point isn’t the background, and if you judge anyone by their background then you’re a worthless prick. The point is that, if you’ve got half a brain and the right to reside in a developed country, you are unspeakably and amazingly economically privileged, whether your dad was the Duke of Canterbury or a tramp.

If you’re capable of participating coherently in a debate about poverty, whilst having the unqualified right to reside in a developed country, then you’re not poor, even if your income’s a fiver a year. The only people who are really poor in the UK are the people who aren’t capable of participating in such a debate. We need to do more for those people at the margins of society, but that has absolutely cock-all to do with how the majority of people who’re basically middle-class [**] live.

Relatedly, this is you, me, and everyone else reading this post:

Unrelatedly, give money to these people. Also, whenever the UK next has a government, write to your MP and point out that it’s a revolting, unspeakable state of affairs that over a million British citizens don’t have abortion rights, purely because we’ve left the lunatic theocrats on both sides of lunatic theocracy to it rather than saying “no, fuck off, this isn’t a game, be sensible”.

[*] the only UK citizens who don’t have adequate food, heating, healthcare, etc are people who are too challenged by whatever disabilities they suffer from to claim the benefits that otherwise mean that all UK citizens have adequate food, heating, healthcare, etc. And someone who’s a coherent Twitter activist does not fit into that bracket. Many non-citizens are screwed, and I don’t believe they should be, but that’s a separate point and it’s to do with racism rather than capitalism versus socialism.

[**] spurious ‘75%’ stat removed. I’m willing to defend the proposition that on any sensible indicator, 50%+ of British people can be described as ‘middle-class’.

Missing the point on booze marketing, again

So there’s yet another alcohol-bashing study out. This one says [*] that sports stars’ drunk behaviour has no impact on young adults’ drinking behaviour (that’s ‘over 18s’, or ‘legally responsible adults’), but that alcohol marketing does.

This isn’t surprising. Of course alcohol marketing makes people drink more of the brand being marketed, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. But we need people to research things that seem obvious from time to time, because sometimes we find out that what we think we know is wrong. So, decent study, worth funding, all good.

But:

“There’s always been a link made between alcohol and sport… the detrimental effects of that, in the same way as there was previously between cigarettes and sport,” Professor Kolt said.

Err, no. The difference is that smoking, full stop, is harmful. Alcohol consumption below 30 units (300ml of alcohol; 15 pints of bitter) a week has not been demonstrated to do harm, even compared to not drinking at all, and you need to get up to 50+ units before the risks of morbidity or mortality are substantially higher than for non-drinkers.

Unless the study shows that the impact of alcohol marketing is to encourage people aged 18-22 to drink more than 30 units a week, then it’s only of interest to alcohol marketers, and not to policymakers. And if they had found that, they’d most certainly have put it in the press release…

The problem with this kind of alcohol research (i.e. social science on consumption behaviour, rather than epidemiological science on health outcomes) is that nearly all the work commissioned and published by public bodies is carried out by miserable puritans who hate the concept of anyone ever having any kind of fun. This is because researchers who don’t hate the concept of anyone ever having any kind of fun work for drinks companies instead: they pay better, you get a free bar after work, and you don’t have to hang out with people from the first group.

But drinks companies tend to keep their studies private, because they don’t want their rivals to see them…

Therefore, the general pattern in the public arena is that some people will create a report which actually shows mildly interesting things about how people like to consume alcohol – but because of the prejudices of the people who’re writing it, the abstract and the PR make groundless accusations about negative impacts on disorder and health. And then the media reports the groundless accusations as “a study has concluded that”, and the public debate is ratcheted slightly further towards miserable puritanism.

[*] I have no idea what the study says. The above is what the press release says; the press release features quotes from and has been approved by the study’s main authors, and is what will shape the public debate.

The idle musings of John B