Saturday, April 30, 2005

General election blog roundup 19

Up now. This weekend looks like being a lazy one, so any pointers to the usual address - - ta! (I'm doing it Sunday, so help that day would be particularly appreciated.)

I have now also decided that I will almost certainly liveblog the election on this very site on Thursday night - until either Blogger stops working, the missus gets pissed off with me staying up drinking, or I pass out through abject boredom.

Anyone who wants to keep me going through the patented Nosemonkey fuel of bottle conditioned ales, cold lager and coffee, you may have noticed a paypal donate thing up to the left somewhere. I've no idea how it works, but if you can figure it out, any contributions to the election night booze fund would be appreciated...

Friday, April 29, 2005

General election blog roundup 18

It's where you'd by now expect it to be, courtesy of the affable Jarndyce - whose pseudonym, combined with all the recent Iraq war legal advice nonsense, prompted a vague recollection of a pertinent passage from the book from which it comes:

"The scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated, that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least; but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes, without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises."
(Bleak House, chapter 1)
Our man Jarndyce has his own take on it as well. (I, meanwhile, really should get around to reading Bleak House properly at some point - it's one of those ones I started years ago but never finished due to all the usual distractions...)

Meanwhile, over at Perfect there is an extensive, multiple-viewpoint dissection of last night's Quetion Time with the three main party leaders. It was apparently rather dull. I wouldn't know, because I was watching Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (which is great fun, and entirely in the spirit of the radio series/books/TV series) and then getting pissed.

Update: Just to prove my punditry credentials, I took that new Chris Lightfoot estimation quiz linked in the blog roundup. After answering all 35 questions, my results:
Your score is...
That means that you're...
* better informed than 87% of people who've already taken the quiz
* better informed than 92% of Labour supporters who've already taken the quiz
* better informed than 75% of Conservative supporters who've already taken the quiz
* better informed than 86% of Liberal Democrat supporters who've already taken the quiz

You know what that means? It means I'm not an utter spod, but kind of know my stuff. Hurrah!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Blair insists Iraq war was legal

And I insist I'm a pretty pink elephant in a sparkly golden tutu.

Also looks like Labour's now been forced by the leaks to publish Lord Goldsmith's advice in full. More, as they say, soon.

Update: .pdf download of the advice now available on the Downing Street website. The BBC has more - as will pretty much everywhere before long.

A reminder, people - whether or not the war was just or moral or right is an entirely different issue to whether or not it was legal. The intervention in Kosovo was, in my opinion, just and right and moral. But it was also illegal.

I have no problem with Blair claiming that it was right to go to war with Iraq - that's a matter of opinion. I do, however, have every problem with him claiming it was legal.

Update 2: The meat – from page 10 of that .pdf:

“To sum up, the language of resolution 1441 leaves the position unclear and the statements made on adoption of the resolution suggest that there were differences of view within the Council as to the legal effect fo the resolution. Arguments can be made on both sides. A key question is whether there is in truth a need for an assessment of whether Iraq’s conduct constitutes a failure to take the final opportunity or has constituted a failure fully to cooperate within the meaning of OP 4 such that the basis of the cease-fire is destroyed. If an assessment it needed of that sort, it would be for the Council to make it. A narrow textual reading of the resolution suggests that sort of assessment is not needed, because the Council has pre-determined the issue. Public statements, on the other hand, say otherwise.”
In other words, the only organisation which could have declared military action legal was the UN Security Council. It hadn’t done so. Therefore the war was illegal. Therefore for Blair to say it wasn’t makes Blair a liar.
“the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity. In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation.”
Hard evidence like, say, not allowing in UN inspectors (which Iraq was) or actually possessing weapons of mass destruction (which Iraq didn’t).

Nice one, Tony. Why not just admit that it may have been illegal but carry on insisting that it was still the right thing to do? You'd get yourself out of a lot of bother...

Update 3: As if by magic, an hour after the legal advice is released comes another propaganda email from the Labour party's John O'Farrell asking us to "stick to the issues". Will do, John - the legality of a war in which tens of thousands have died count as an issue? The integrity of a Prime Minister who refuses to accept he acted illegally count as an issue?

Update 4: Via our man Justin "Chicken Yoghurt" McKeating, yet more governmental "war on terror" dodginess - this time over that whole ricin nonsense. The article in question is here.

Update 5: Yet more from Perfect.

General election blog roundup 17 - legal advice

Up now, courtesy of our Ken. Also at the General Election Blog is an interesting post on the whole Tory vs. Labour thing from our resident right-winger, Blimpish which is worth a look.

Meanwhile, Keith Barratt of Kos spin-off The New European Times is starting a campaign calling "for Democrats to use the revelations today in the UK about the Attorney General's advice on the legality of the war in Iraq to prompt their own Senators and Representatives to demand from Bush the release of his own advice received on this matter."

Thanks to the Kos connections, the Yanks have finally noticed that something dodgy's been going on on the other side of the Atlantic. (Better late than never, guys - but after those two rucks we had with Germany we're used to it by now...) Could this kick something off? And, as Kos is on his way over here to do some work for the Guardian, could it be another last-minute American cavalry charge to save the day?

Doubtful. Because - let's face it - what is there to save?

Update: More on the war legality leaks at Chicken Yoghurt, Perfect and a link roundup at Perfect again. More - no doubt - to follow.

Lest we forget, it was not the war per se that a lot of us objected to, but the lie that led us there.

The lie is now being unveiled, piece by piece by piece.
(Download .pdf analysis of the legal advice thanks to the Guardian.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Alan Milburn loses Labour my vote

Today Programme. This morning. Half asleep. (Am still.) Milburn. "Back door". Usual.

Then, clincher:

"You're not just voting for your local representative, you're not just voting for the government, you're voting for the Prime Minister."

Bye bye Labour. Blair + my vote = no fucking way.

Coffee now. Wake up. Link later.

General election blog roundup 16

I am bloody knackered. I hope at some point later today to have some kind of brilliant insight into something or other - quite what I don't yet know - but for now this should be more than enough to keep you going.

And if not - or if you're bored with our damp squib of an election campaign - Togo may be the next place to keep an eye on.

You may also have missed Vladimir Putin's State of the Nation speech. Both The Russian Dilettante and Siberian Light have good analysises/analyses/analysisisisisss (or whatever the hell the plural of analysis is).

Talking of Russia, this piece on Russia-EU relations is worth a look and all.

By the way - anyone reckon I should take next Friday off to enable me to get pissed, liveblog the election and not worry about work the next day, or is the whole thing way too predictable to bother? Let me know - I'm in no fit state to make any decisions myself, but I do know I need a day off...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

General election blog roundup 15

Up now, courtesy of Mr Nick Barlow.

And a bit of back-patting for me - still bitter at being overlooked by the Guardian on Saturday - I appear to have been linked by C-Net's The Buzz Report in a piece on blogging and the big media and quoted by a Channel 4 News Special Report on UK blogging during the election campaign. (The fact that both link to a post from two months ago which was widely quoted and linked to by other bloggers at the time, thus indicating how slow on the uptake certain places are, is neither here nor there.)

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr Mark "poo-face" Lawson. Ha! Nosemonkey 1, Mark Lawson 0. (Except for his successful and well-paid career doing stuff I'd like to do, I suppose...)

Now go and read one of the best pieces of political commentary/analysis I've seen this year.

Update: Phil at Actually Existing has a good take onwhy Iraq should be an election issue - Crooked Timber has the expurgated version. Both worth a look.

Update 2: Some relevant Iraq news for today from, just for an extra reminder that this is not an academic discussion about a decision made two years ago, but is a situation that is still current, still claiming lives, still chaotic, and still without an end in sight:

Iraqi forces are reportedly deserting their posts as car bombs kill 25 amid escalating violence in Iraq, where "the highest casualty rate of any company in the war" is found among Marines forced to deploy "dummy marines from cardboard cutouts" due to a shortage of armor, men and planning.

Secretary of State Rice and Vice President Cheney get personal with Iraqi leaders, who fail again to form a government, while 'Rebels thrive as politicians dither.' Plus: 'Prime Minister Chalabi?'

President Bush is said to be 'more certain than ever on Iraq war,' as insurgents shift to large-scale attacks on U.S. military installations.

Don't let them tell you this isn't an election issue.

Monday, April 25, 2005

"Jack Straw thinks you're a jerk"

If you haven't worked it out yet, our man Justin McKeating - aka Chicken Yoghurt - is a bit good at the old enraged demolition of politicians' neverending doublespeak. That's probably why they had a screenshot of his place in teh Grauniad on Saturday and ignored poor old me (although Jarndyce has a theory on that...). Methinks had Mark Lawson actually bothered to read Justin's site for more than two seconds he might have realised that there are some British blogs which could very easily give newspapers a run for their money both in terms of quality of writing and depth of analysis.

Anyway, I digress. I agree with pretty much every single thing in this particularly top-notch post. Except the bits said by Staw and Blair, obviously.

And, as I'm STILL getting people on here doing the usual "if you're against the war you're pro-Saddam" crap, here - for the record:

  • I believe that overthrowing Saddam Hussein was a GOOD THING
  • BUT I do not believe he had connections to Al Quaeda
  • NOR do I believe he had weapons of mass destruction
  • NOR do I think Saddam was a threat to Britain or America
  • NOR do I believe that the war was legal under international law
  • NOR do I think it was a sensible time to launch a war when Afghanistan was still not pacified
  • NOR do I think it was a sensible place to launch a war at a time when the Islamic world was already pissed off at the West
  • NOR do I think it was well planned
  • NOR do I think it was well executed
  • NOR do I think there is or was a realistic exit strategy
  • AND I believe other dictators were (and are) more of a threat than Saddam
  • AND I believe that the civilian casualties - whatever figure you take - are unacceptable
  • AND I believe that the military casualties - whatever figure you take - are unacceptable
  • AND I remember being told that "regime change" was not a war aim
  • AND I believe that the British and American governments either lied or were utterly incompetent, or both
  • AND I have friends - both journalists and soldiers - who have been posted to Iraq and put in direct, deadly danger because of all this
So I reckon it's fair enough for me to be a tad annoyed. Before you accuse me of being a wishy-washy anti-war Saddam-loving hippie, bear it all in mind.

Especially bear in mind that one of my best friends from university and one of my best friends from school (with whom I shared a room for five years), both in the army, have both been posted to Iraq over the last couple of years. Understandably, I'd rather they weren't killed - if that makes me a peacenik, so be it.

But you accuse me of loving Saddam, or of not understanding the situation, or of being naive, or if you patronise me in any way - and this goes for you too Mr Straw, Mr Blair, Mr Hoon and all the rest - I'll tell you to fuck off.

General election blog roundup 14

Up now.

You may also be interested in Mick Fealty on Mark Lawson on Mick Fealty (and other bloggers). I'm still annoyed I didn't get a mention. Mark Lawson, you're a poo-head. Until you give me a nice prominent place in an article saying how great I am and stuff.

Oh, and you really ought to read this take on Lawson's piece by Alex "Yorkshire Ranter" Harrowell. Perhaps it's time for those of us bloggers who are actually professional writers in the real world to start up some kind of club to try and avoid being patronised by "proper" journalists... (Note to the traditional media - blogs are often first drafts, written in a rush and have not had the benefit of a sub-editor, proofreader or editor. They also may not always be representative of the blogger's usual standard of writing.)

You may also wish to check out EU Rota on yet more post-"No" vote speculation, this time from Romano Prodi to counter some frankly ridiculous scare tactics from some proponents of a "Yes". There's more over at EurSoc - including some suggestions of an early EU-based exit strategy for Blair. Personally I always reckoned it would be after the constitution referendum was lost, but if some other country gets there first they'll certainly need some kind of excuse - and Brown's slightly wary rhetoric over the EU could well make him the perfect antidote to Blair's apparently unthinking Europhilia.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

General election blog roundup 13

Read. Enjoy. And stuff.

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