Monday, February 25, 2013
Obsessive hate from the British Left
John O’Farrell’s best-selling book, Things Can Only Get Better, an account of his life as a Labour activist during 18 years of Conservative rule, is required bedtime reading for the Left.
O’Farrell, a ‘comedian’ who apparently wrote jokes for Gordon Brown (no, I can’t remember any either), explains in the memoir why he wasn’t cut out to be an MP. ‘I would always be in trouble for saying the wrong thing,’ he writes.
We now know how true this candid prediction was. In the book, named after the cloying pop song that served as the Labour Party theme tune during the 1997 election campaign, O’Farrell proudly writes that he wanted Argentina to win the Falklands War, in which 255 British serviceman died, because he believed that would ensure Lady Thatcher was voted out of Downing Street.
He has been publicly endorsed by party leader Ed Miliband, who joined him on the campaign trail a week ago. Miliband, grinning inanely like a poor man’s Mr Bean, described O’Farrell as ‘a breath of fresh air for this by-election and a breath of fresh air for politics’.
O’Farrell’s campaign was already faltering after it emerged last week that in the same book he had written about the IRA bomb at the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Tory conference in 1984.
‘I felt a surge of excitement at the nearness of Margaret Thatcher’s demise, and disappointment such a chance had been missed,’ he wrote.
Just in case you didn’t fully grasp the full meaning of that sickening comment, what O’Farrell said was he regretted that the country’s greatest prime minister of the last 40 years was not blown to pieces by terrorists.
O’Farrell sheepishly offered a half-apology for that remark this week — but, astonishingly, the Labour party made no attempt to distance itself from him. Voters in Eastleigh have also had Polly Toynbee, The Guardian newspaper’s high priestess of feminism, knocking on their doors to canvass for O’Farrell: seemingly oblivious to the fact he said he wished that Britain’s first woman Prime Minister had been murdered.
So much for the sisterhood!
When challenged about his views on the Brighton bomb, O’Farrell said: ‘A terrible thought came into my head and I immediately castigated myself for it.
‘I was honest because I said how I felt for a split second at the time.’ Hardly the most gracious of apologies. Indeed, not actually an apology at all.
Also, his semi-remorse was utterly disingenuous in its implication that his feeling was simply a momentary lapse that happened more than a decade ago. Because the truth is that O’Farrell went on to poke fun at Lady Thatcher’s brush with death in another book he wrote only three years ago.
In An Utterly Exasperated History Of Modern Britain, a supposedly comedic take on recent British history, O’Farrell returned to the ruins of the Grand Hotel in a section headlined: ‘Apart from that, Mrs Thatcher, how was your stay?’
He wrote: ‘It was the closest anyone had come to assassinating a Prime Minister in modern times and a major embarrassment for the security services.
‘Who knows what will be revealed when the official papers are released 30 years after the Brighton bomb. One bit of correspondence from the Grand Hotel has already been removed.
‘“Dear Mrs Thatcher, thank you for your letter and under the circumstances we accept that your request for a refund is a reasonable one. However, after the search of your bomb-damaged room we were still unable to locate two towels and a hotel ashtray and wonder if by chance you might have accidentally packed . . .”.’
The sick joke underlines 50-year-old O’Farrell’s reflexive loathing for the Tories and his insatiable desire to shock.
He writes: ‘On May 8, 1945, a misleadingly positive piece of government spin was sold to the British people. They were told that they had won the Second World War.
‘The government dared to tell them after six years of crippling conflict, the destruction of homes, factories, the loss of the merchant shipping fleet, and the gold reserves, that Great Britain was somehow one of the winners.’
In An Utterly Exasperated History Of Modern Britain, O’Farrell — who is credited with the idea of making the Spitting Image puppet of the Tory Prime Minister John Major grey (to match the Left’s view of his dour character) — he shamelessly exploits the bizarre death in 1994 of the Tory MP Stephen Milligan so as to try to embarrass Mr Major.
Milligan’s body was found naked except for a pair of stockings and suspenders. He had a bin-liner over his head and electrical flex wrapped around his neck.
O’Farrell, without a hint of compassion for the 46-year-old’s family and friends, writes: ‘One Tory MP was found dead in his London flat, hanging from a noose of electrical flex, dressed in nothing but stockings and suspenders with an orange in his mouth and a plastic bin-liner over his head.
‘It was hard for John Major to say, “Well, we’ve all done it, haven’t we?. I mean, who can honestly say that at some time or another they haven’t masturbated while hanging by a home-made noose, sucking on amyl nitrate while wearing ladies’ lingerie. I know I have!”’
O’Farrell may now have cause to regret ridiculing Milligan, who happens to have been the popular MP for Eastleigh, the very seat O’Farrell is now contesting.
Incidentally, it won’t help his cause at all that he has arrogantly told voters that even if elected, he won’t bother to get a home in the constituency — but will commute from London.
O’Farrell’s writings also direct poisonous bile at the Royal Family, mocking the bulimia of Princess Diana and comparing the ‘contrived’ public reaction to her death in 1997 to the fervour on display at a Nazi rally.
In his Exasperated History, he writes: ‘Perhaps somewhere in a parallel universe there is another 1990s Britain where the death of the Princess of Wales was mentioned in passing as an insignificant news event, like the death of a former sitcom star or the closing of a famous London boutique.
‘The news was unimportant in the general scheme of things . . . but was probably worth just mentioning as it might be of trivial nostalgic interest for its own sake.’
Instead, however, ‘the sudden death of Diana was a massive news event, but only because of the way she had been built up over the previous years as one of the lead characters in the national soap opera’.
He writes that ‘the nation embarked on upon an utterly surreal week of very public mourning ..... It was a nationwide Nuremberg rally of contrived sentiment and displacement grief’.
He adds, sarcastically: ‘But what was a great comfort to all of us in this dark hour was the high quality of the souvenirs produced as a tribute to the life of the so-called “Queen of Hearts”.
‘Diana porcelain dolls that featured some of her most memorable dresses, hand-painted and individually numbered by the traditional royal potters of Taiwan.
‘Commemorative mugs, featuring that unmistakable coy smile. A children’s Diana doll which allowed you, by pulling a string on her back, to relive those favourite catchphrases: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” and, “I’d like to be a Queen in people’s hearts”.
‘The Princess of Wales Memorial plate for that tiny half piece of lettuce that could be puked up later.’
Yet still O’Farrell — who stood as the Labour candidate for Maidenhead in the 2001 General Election and was trounced by Theresa May — is feted by the Labour leadership, with Harriet Harman, the deputy leader, also joining his campaign.
Lord Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was among those injured in the attack on the Grand Hotel which left her paralysed from the neck down, characteristically cuts to the heart of the issue.
‘The question is not just whether any rational or decent Labour voter in Eastleigh will vote for this creature,’ he says. ‘It’s a test for the Labour leader. Does he endorse O’Farrell and his disappointment that the attempt against Margaret Thatcher failed?
‘Or will he have the decency and courage to repudiate him?’
We now know the answer to that and it tells us all we need to know about Ed Miliband as well as his candidate in next week’s by-election.
Conservatives go to war on 'bias’ at the BBC
A bitter battle is breaking out between senior Cabinet ministers and the BBC, with claims that the corporation is “biased” and “too close to Labour”.
Senior Conservatives frustrated with the broadcaster include Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary.
Grant Shapps, the party chairman, has also complained about coverage of the Coalition’s housing policy.
Ministers are angry that the BBC habitually describes reduced spending as “cuts” rather than “savings” for the taxpayer.
As a result, the Department for Work and Pensions has made more than 20 formal complaints to the BBC over the past year, with accusations of “bias” and “inaccuracies”.
Aides say coverage of welfare reforms often feature only the plight of people who will suffer most from the changes, while measures to soften the blow often go unreported.
Over the past few months, Mr Duncan Smith has been particularly angered by the reporting of the housing benefit reforms referred to as “the bedroom tax” by Labour and the BBC.
The changes will mean reduced payments for anyone living in council or housing association properties that have more bedrooms than they are judged to need.
“You could look at the BBC’s TV news coverage [of this policy] and think this was a change that would apply only to disabled people,” one government source said.
“We have allocated £155 million for local authorities to help soften the blow of the measure, but this never features in the BBC’s news coverage. How is it possible not to think that is biased?”
Details of the increasingly fractious relationship come just days after David Cameron criticised the BBC for behaving “badly” and “stupidly” in its coverage of next week’s Eastleigh by-election.
The Prime Minister berated the broadcaster for thinking its coverage was the “most important thing in this by-election” when the Tory candidate declined to attend one of its hustings events.
However, the touch paper was lit by the appointment of James Purnell, the former Labour culture secretary, to the BBC’s board. He is to be paid £295,000 a year as director of strategy.
“This gives the impression that there is a swing door policy between Labour and the BBC,” said one ministerial aide, adding that the appointment had “lit the touch paper” on a range of grievances.
The director of strategy post has been created by Lord Hall, the director-general in waiting who joins the BBC in April and who hand-picked Mr Purnell for the job, which was never advertised.
The BBC said the new director-general “did not want to waste time with a long and costly recruitment process” for the role. A similar post at a commercial broadcaster would pay more, it added.
However, a senior ministerial adviser pointed out that Lord Hall was appointed by Labour to lead the Royal Opera House in 2001.
At that time, Mr Purnell was working in Downing Street under Tony Blair, but there is no suggestion that he had a hand in Lord Hall’s appointment.
“It is beyond a joke,” the source said of the decision. “It all looks far too cosy.”
John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Culture Committee, said he would ask Lord Hall about the appointment when he is next before the committee.
Mr Whittingdale will meet fellow committee members tomorrow to see if there is an appetite to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr Purnell’s job.
Philip Davies, a Conservative MP on the committee, described the former Labour MP’s selection as “totally unacceptable” and “very provocative”, adding: “It is not as if the BBC is not already over-balanced with Left-leaning people.
“If Lord Hall thinks the answer to the BBC’s problems is picking this former Labour minister for such a senior role it shows he does not have a good grasp of what is really going wrong at the corporation.”
A further complaint has come from Mr Shapps about a report on BBC1’s News at 10 investigating the Coalition’s “new homes bonus”, a grant paid to councils that build more homes.
Downing Street also complained late last year about the conduct of Evan Davis, the presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme, when interviewing George Osborne. He repeatedly talked over the Chancellor and was accused of “shouting down” Mr Osborne by Tory MPs.
A BBC spokesman said: “Our coverage of government policy is approached in the same independent and impartial way as our coverage of any story.”
The BBC also said an individual’s personal views did not impact on their ability to carry out their work in an impartial manner and there were strict guidelines which must be observed at all times.
RSPCA wasted 'tens of thousands' of taxpayers' money in latest case against a hunt
The RSPCA has been accused of wasting tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money after its latest case involving a hunt collapsed.
The charity had accused Keith Watson, his partner Tanya Norlander and his daughter Hannah Watson, 18, of interfering with a badger sett while assisting the Cheshire Hunt in February last year.
Within days, the family were subject to a police raid and taken individually to a police station for hour-long interviews. For a year they lived under “extreme stress” while the case came to court. Miss Watson, now 19, was “unable to sleep” or study for her A-levels.
Almost a year later the case collapsed when the RSPCA admitted at Crewe Magistrates’ Court there was not enough evidence and the prosecution withdrew the case. The cost of defence, paid for by the hunt and estimated to be around £10,000, will be paid by the taxpayer.
Stephen Welford, solicitor for the Watsons, said it will have cost “tens of thousands more” to the taxpayer to pay for the court and judge. He said the RSPCA, that is funded by donations, will have spent around £30,000 on the case.
Any private individual can bring a private prosecution, and the state will pay if it collapses, but Mr Welford said charities should be more responsible about bringing cases that may fail at the taxpayer’s expense. “It was an ill-informed decision to bring the prosecution,” he said.
The Charities Commission is already questioning the RSPCA’s use of its own funds to bring prosecutions after a judge criticised the charity for spending £326,000 prosecuting David Cameron’s local hunt the Heythrop.
Tim Bonner, Director of Campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said the RSPCA is ruining lives and wasting money in their "vindictive" campaign against hunts.
He said the RSPCA have two more ongoing cases connected to hunts in the North West and Wiltshire, one also involves interfering with a badger sett.
“It is simply disgraceful that the RSPCA is using the criminal justice system to pursue a vindictive campaign against the hunting community. The Watson family have suffered more than a year of stress over a prosecution so unjustified that it fell apart within minutes of the trial starting.
“There is no way on earth that the police and Crown Prosecution Service would have prosecuted on such flawed and weak evidence, but the RSPCA pursued Mr Watson and his family simply because they were part of the Cheshire Hunt.
“This case only reinforces the need for proper scrutiny of a charity which is using money donated to protect animal welfare to pursue a political, animal rights campaign.”
Mr Watson said he regularly assisted the hunt by legally killing foxes at the landowner’s request. Usually this is done by chasing the fox out of the earth into a net with a single dog. The animal is then shot with a “humane” pistol.
On February 16th last year, he said he used a terrier to try to flush a fox out of an earth. No animal was harmed but a few days later his farm was raided, buildings searched and firearms seized.
His family was taken to a police station individually to be interviewed.
Mr Watson said activists had “hidden behind bushes” to film activity at the fox’s earth.
It was claimed it was a badger’s sett but he insisted it was not being used by badgers.
The farmer said he and his family were targeted for doing nothing wrong in an effort to bring down the hunt.
“The RSPCA are not interested in animal welfare, they are just going after the hunting community. They do not have to pay the bills, it is the taxpayer.”
Mr Watson lost his firearms licence for the year and was unable to control pests on the farm.
He said his family was targeted in order to get to the hunting community.
“It is a nightmare when you know you are not guilty and you have done nothing wrong but you are being picked on to make an example of.”
Hannah Watson, who is now 19, said she suffered sleepless nights and was unable to study for her A-levels. “I feel my family was targeted,” she said. “It was intimidating and very scary.”
The RSPCA insisted there was sufficient evidence for "instituting proceedings for an alleged offence of interfering with a badger sett", supported by independent expert evidence, as well as video footage.
However on the morning of the trial it became clear for the first time that the prosecution’s expert now had reservations as to whether the sett had been “interfered with” as is legally understood.
"As soon as the RSPCA became aware of this, it decided to offer no evidence and the case was dismissed. This was a responsible decision taken on the day in light of new circumstances that could not have been anticipated," said a spokesman.
The charity pointed out that the case was reviewed against the Code for Crown Prosecutors and at all stages leading up to the trial, it had been considered appropriate to prosecute.
"The RSPCA believes that if it is presented with evidence of alleged offences concerning animal cruelty they should be properly investigated and prosecuted where appropriate.
"It is extremely rare that RSPCA cases conclude like this. We prosecute roughly 1 per cent of the incidents we are asked to investigate and have a success rate of around 98 per cent," the spokesman added.
The Church Doesn't Need a Revolution
The pope has renounced the papal throne. Long live the progressive pope! Such are the rallying cries from establishment voices wanting to see the Catholic Church loosen up now that Pope Benedict XVI has decided to step down. But maybe people should listen to the Church's actual views.
Mary Hasson from the Ethics and Public Policy Center has been doing some unique work looking into what Catholic women know and want from their Church. It's scandalous and yet not entirely surprising that she found only 13 percent of Catholic women who occasionally attend Mass accept Church teaching on contraception.
It's not a shock given that the average Catholic Mass goer is not exactly being taught the theology and even practicality of the Catholic teaching on sexual morality. Catholics all too often see Church teaching as a litany of "No"s when, in fact, it is all about "Yes." Yes to human dignity and happiness. Yes to the respect for one another that comes from truly believing you are made in the image and likeness of God.
"On the one hand, the number is small, no question," Hasson acknowledges. "That 13 percent includes not only weekly churchgoers but also women who attend less regularly, perhaps a few times a year. However, if we look only at women who attend Mass weekly, the percentage accepting the Church's teaching on contraception goes up, doubling (to 27 percent) among young women ages 18-34. That's a sign of hope -- in spite of decades of dissenting theologians, silence from the parish pulpit and distorted cultural messages about sex, these women have heard the Church's teaching and embraced it. These women form a solid core of faithful Catholics who can attest to the personal benefits of following the Church's teaching on sexuality and family planning."
And despite the current conversation about women, contraception and religious liberty that's overtaken the government's federal health-care push, the media coverage has been such that most Americans still don't quite know what all the fuss is about. Some Catholic women have a similar relationship to Church teachings on contraception: 37 percent, in Hasson's findings, were unsure about the specifics.
"The 37 percent seems to confirm the stories that abound of Catholic women who went to Mass every week for years and to confession regularly, but never heard that contraception is wrong. Similarly, how many Catholics have gone through (extensive marriage prep in the Church) by never heard word one about the Church's teaching on sexuality or family planning," she said. "Or perhaps (they) heard some general teachings, and then, with a wink, were told to follow their consciences, with no further guidance about forming their consciences."
A cover story in glossy New York magazine recently dared to question the good of the birth-control pill based on the damage it had wrought on women's lives and bodies. The one institution that proposes a radically different way might just have something to offer the world -- if it only taught it and lived it.
Pope Benedict has been a teacher, first and foremost, reintroducing a proposal that Christ himself offered. Men and women living in service for love of God are good to have around. Enough with the campaign for less Catholicism in the Catholic Church. How about a welcome mat for a good and faithful shepherd who, with confidence and humility, speaks with clarity about the teachings of the Catholic Church, "proposing the good news of Jesus Christ to a disenchanted world," as George Weigel puts it in his book "Evangelical Catholicism."
The disenchanted are everywhere, even in the pews. And they want to be fed, they want to be engaged, they want to be transformed. They don't want more of the same misery omnipresent in the secular world. The world doesn't need a Gospel of misery but of hope. The Church has it, and we should expect the next pope to teach on, infused with a generous and contagious spirit of engagement.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.