The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'tony blair'
A gothic horror portrait of Tony Blair as a vaguely Nyarlathotepian manifestation of the eldritch and fathomlessly malevolent:
Tony Blair is old, older than time itself. Beyond left and right, beyond right and wrong, beyond age and death. When the first cave-dwellers made the first image of their god, Tony Blair was there with his shiny spiv’s suit to suggest that it might require a blood sacrifice. When the first half-fish heaved itself out from the boiling sea to flap around in the sodden tidal slime, Tony Blair was there with his cold intense stare to offer it words of vague encouragement and then crush its head under his heel. When the first drifting clouds of interstellar dust began to coalesce into what would one day become our little speckled world, the bodiless malice of Tony Blair was there to help them set the stage for our future suffering.
Older and wiser societies than ours knew about Tony Blair, and they knew to be afraid. Throughout history he’s arrived among the homes of men and promised a very slightly better life, before suddenly carrying out inexplicable destruction.The Sumerians knew him as Tešgali, a snake-demon twenty miles long, who would enter a walled city in the guise of a man, and then uncoil his vast scaly bulk and devour everything inside. This knowledge was passed on to the early Christian Gnostics, who called him Tialdabaoth, the blind creator-god with the head of a lion and a serpent’s tail, architect of all madness, who created this world out of spite and envy and who tried to prevent the first humans from eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Country folk of the Middle Ages were terrified of the bálfar, creatures of beguiling appearance but malicious intent, who lived in the marshes and the wildernesses but would sneak into human villages by night.
But soon after that something changed. With the dawn of the Enlightenment people stopped believing in the old horrors that lurk in the dark corners of reality. The universe was no longer a grand stage for the cosmic clash of good and evil, and God became a kind of divine tinkerer, neatly slotting all the cogs of his Newtonian machine together and leaving it to run with a steady tick. We thought we could understand the world, and so when Tony Blair returned we didn’t even see him for what he really is. We should have known better, but we thought he was just a politician.
In the 1990s, Tony Blair took the helm of the Labour Party and modernised it, ditching its unfashionable brown-suited socialist tendencies and transforming it into a neo-Thatcherite centre-right party with really good PR (or "spin", as they called it). In fact, the spin was so good that it allowed it not only to "outflank" the Tories, pushing them into corners, but to manoeuvre into bizarre and impossible positions, such as supporting George W. Bush's faith-based invasion of Iraq.
Blair's luck ran out, and he left the floundering ship of New Labour. Now, however, he has turned his attention to modernising another organisation he has joined; namely the Catholic Church:
The former prime minister, who converted to Catholicism shortly after leaving office two years ago, said he disagreed with the Pope's stance on gay rights and controversially suggested that the Church should reform itself along similar lines to how he re-organised the Labour Party.
"Organised religions face the same dilemma as political parties when faced with changed circumstances," he said. u can either A: Hold on to your core vote, basically, you know, say 'Look let's not break out because if we break out we might lose what we've got, and at least we've got what we've got so let's keep it'. Or B: You say 'let's accept that the world is changing, and let us work out how we can lead that change and actually reach out'."Of course, there is a lot of merit in the content of what Blair is saying in this specific instance; on gay rights, in my (liberal, atheist, cosmopolitanist) opinion, the Catholic church is out of touch, and Blair is right. A lot of people, of course, would disagree; whether they are a minority as Blair says is another matter.
However, the other part of Blair's statement, about the Catholic church needing to reorganise along New Labour lines, is more thought-provoking. What would a Blairite New Catholic Church look like? Well, firstly they would ditch the unfashionable old-guard dogmas (such as condemnation of homosexuality and contraception, to name two); those who believed in these strictures would be allowed to remain in the margins of the church, much as the left of the Labour Party was, growing steadily into fusty irrelevance, though still occasionally putting on a good, if cranky, show to keep the old believers from completely jumping ship. Freed from these dogmas, the church would be free to move towards the centre and, in classic Blairite fashion, "outflank" rival religions, appropriating their ideas and pushing them further towards the fringes. We could expect Blairite New Catholicism to appropriate everything from new-age crystal healing to promises of an afterlife filled with willing virgins and repackage what works, only with much better presentation.
As with New Labour, presentation would be the linchpin of New Catholicism. The church would be rebranded extensively, with the centuries-old trappings given new designs, crisply contemporary yet with a comforting gravitas. The vestments worn by priests and altar boys would be restyled by Paul Smith or someone, and cathedrals given an overhaul by Damien Hirst, with stained glass by Banksy. And Jamie Oliver would do the communion wafers. The sacred music would have to change, with big-name stars being brought in to give it a facelift. Finally, the Catholic Church would have caught up to that other great innovation of contemporary religious practice, the celebrity centre.
The selling of indulgences would also see a return, with donors not only being able to procure absolution of sins, but in some cases, sainthoods as well. And given the tendency of some clergy to get into scandals, the Blairite faculty of spin could prove very useful.
Tony Blair is launching a foundation to promote religious faith in public life. Blair's Faith Foundation is not specific on which religious doctrine the faith should be in, as long, as long as actual religious faith is involved. Because it would be a shame if the big decisions that affect millions of lives were made on some lesser basis, such as, for example, reason or empirical observation.
The Graun's Geoffrey Wheatcroft on Tony Blair's new sinecure as an advisor to JP Morgan:
And although Blair has been praised by the self-styled "very rightwing" historian Andrew Roberts for destroying socialism, that also misses the point. Blair never really understood the undoubted failures of state socialism, he just hated the Labour party. He has never intellectually grasped the case for the competitive market economy, he just loves the rich.
It looks like the UK Labour Party has had it with Tony "the Smiler" Blair. The brand of slick spin that was synonymous with Blairism and New Labour is no longer papering over deeply unpopular policies, from unconditional and enthusiastic support for whatever comes out of the Whitehouse to neo-Thatcherite economic policies and a right-wing populist tint that's more Daily Mail than the Guardian, and, one by one, the former faithful are telling Blair to go before the Labour Party's standing declines any further. Now a junior minister has resigned in protest at Blair's refusal to step down. Interestingly enough, the rebel in quetion is Tom Watson of West Bromwich East, best known for (a) his rather clunky attempts to appear hip to the kids on his personal website, and (b) never rebelling against the party line (which would make him the quintessential Blairite, then). Now that's got to hurt.
Whilst visiting California, Tony Blair has have signed signed a pact to tackle climate change with the state's governor, Hummer-driving environmentalist Arnold Schwarzenegger. The pact, whilst careful to avoid anything binding or concrete, calls on both states to think positive thoughts about the environment, "find new solutions", "work together" and, in a very Californian fashion, "share experiences". The UK, spinning its hardest, has specifically denied that this pact sidesteps the Whitehouse.
More details of Tony Blair's special relationship with another superpower -- namely, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation -- have emerged. On Thursday, Blair was heard telling Murdoch that their mutual foe the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina was "full of hatred of America and gloating.
"Tony Blair... told me yesterday that he was in Delhi last week and he turned on the BBC World Service to see what was happening in New Orleans, and he said it was just full of hate at America and gloating about our troubles," the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation said.
It must be a different BBC than the one I've seen. Perhaps Blair tuned into the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation, the al-Zarqawi-boosting, freedom-hating fountain of anti-Western propaganda that only Little Green Footballs readers seem to be able to see?
It's a good thing that the Beeb has won its 10-year charter; otherwise, it would look like Blair and Murdoch were sharpening their knives.
Also in the same report: an extract from the diary of one of his former spin doctors claims that Blair gave News Corp. the power of veto over Britain's European policy. Or, "the things we do to keep The Sun onside".
An entry in a diary kept by Lance Price, who worked for the PM between 1998 and 2000, said: "We have promised News International we won't make any changes to our Europe policy without talking to them."And here is a summary of things Downing Street allegedly had removed from Lance Price's diaries, including the claim that, while he publicly claimed to be sending troops to Iraq "with a heavy heart", the Smiler relished doing so, looking forward to his "first blooding". Whether or not he also strangles puppies in his spare time to relax is as yet unknown.
The Independent has a piece on calls for the reform of Britain's electoral system, after the new Labour government was elected with the smallest share of the vote in over a century, with the graphic below on its front page:
a few quotes:
Constitutional specialists said Tony Blair was in charge of an "elected dictatorship" after Labour was able to win a majority with only 36 per cent of the vote. They say the Prime Minister is able to hold power with the support of just a fifth of the British adult population, the lowest figure since the Great Reform Act of 1832.
A national campaign for voting reform is to kick off this week with public meetings, a vigil outside Downing Street and a petition calling for the Government to look at introducing proportional representation systems similar to those in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Continent.
Although the Government privately admits the election result gave PR fresh momentum, the issue is likely to split the Cabinet, with electoral reformers such as Peter Hain and Ruth Kelly favouring a rethink and John Prescott and Ian McCartney sharply against. Many union leaders also fear it will lead to coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, and prevent Labour from governing again with an absolute majority.
Of course, the established parties who are benefitted most by the first-past-the-post system will be dead against any change that threatens to put an end to the good thing they have going; though if there is enough of an outcry, their hand may well be forced. Especially since Teflon Tony can no longer sail through on his smile and Alastair Campbell's spin wizardry and do things his way, like, say, trying to turn the House of Lords into a house of appointed cronies and calling it "reform".
Anyway, assuming that Britain does implement proportional representation, the question is: what form? The phrase "proportional representation" is most often used to refer to Single Transferrable Vote systems, such as the one used in the Australian Senate, where voters vote for candidates; however, it can also refer to other systems, including party-list proportional representation, in which voters vote for a party (not a candidate) and the parties decide who fills the seats they have won. How much do you want to bet that, if public pressure pushes the Blair government into adopting a proportional electoral system, they'll go for something like that that maximises the party machine's power whilst giving the illusion of reform?
Well, it turned out much as expected; Labour got back in, although with a severely reduced majority down by about 100 from 165, giving rise to speculation about Blair's leadership. The Lib Dems gained about 8 seats, going up to 59, though hopes that the Tories may wither away to third place were dashed, as the bastards got the lion's share of Labour's losses. One of the biggest swings against Labour was in the Welsh seat of Blaenau Gwent, where the Labour party machine tried to impose a centrally-selected candidate on the electorate, only to get trounced with a 49% swing by the now-independent MP. On a more ominous note, the we-are-not-neo-Nazis British National Party doubled its vote, and odious Stalinist-turned-Islamofascist George "I never met an anti-Western despotism I didn't like" Galloway took Bethnal Green.
Tony "the Smiler" Blair's reelection campaign has suffered a blow with a veteran Labour MP defecting to the Lib Dems. Labour left-winger Brian Sedgemore, MP for Hackney and Shoreditch, has accused Labour of "stomach-turning lies":
"I urge everyone from the centre and left of British politics to give Blair a bloody nose at the election and to vote for the Lib Dems in recognition of the fact that the tawdry New Labour project is dead," he said.
Sedgemore claims that there are more Labour MPs, disgusted with Blair's toadying to Washington/forcing the country into a war on false pretenses/introducing university top-up fees/abandoning socialist ideals, preparing to defect, though not all to the Lib Dems.
Personally, I'm hoping that the Lib Dems overtake the Tories at the next election, becoming the new opposition. There's virtually no chance of the Lib Dems winning power at this election (or, indeed, of Labour losing), though if the main opposition party isn't a bunch of bogeymen in Margaret Thatcher fright masks like the Tories, Labour can't rely on the public resignedly accepting them as the best plausible alternative and putting up with them.
- Counterspin is a blog giving good coverage of the Australian federal election.
- MediaLens is a site said to expose the biases of the mainstream media, consisting mostly of variously paranoid pieces by the various Chomskys and Pilgers of this world; still, it has some interesting pieces there, such as its excoriation of the Guardian's rehabilitation of Blair, and an interesting piece alleging that a renowned biotechnologist was sacked and harrassed on orders from Blair, ultimately originating at Monsanto.
- Limited News has PDF files giving Murdoch's electorate-by-electorate news-management strategy for handing the election over to Howard. Or something like that.
Some of Tony Blair's oldest and closest allies have turned against him, claiming that he is running down the Labour Party. Their main charge (other than the Bush's poodle/Iraq thing, which goes without saying) is that Labour under Blair is primarily concerned with pushing the Conservative Party to the margins of politics by appropriating their ideologies and positions; not only has Labour abandoned socialism (which, to an extent, made sense; calling for things like the nationalisation of all industry does seem somewhat anachronistic), but social democracy has gone out the window as neo-liberalism is the only game in town.
Some interesting questions come to mind. If Labour are the new Tories, could we see Labour and the Tories form an Australian-style right-wing coalition a few years down the track to do battle against the Lib Dems/Greens/whoever? (The parallels are tempting; the marginalised Tories can be the Nationals, appealing to fox-hunters and god-botherers, whereas Labour can be the tragicomically-misnamed majority party of the coalition.) Secondly, is it the case that Blair hijacked Labour and turned it into Tories with good spin, or rather that the allies who are making the claim are overestimating the amount of ideological freedom a party has in this neo-liberal, globalised age, and that anybody to the right of George Galloway would have done the same sorts of things by necessity?
Tony Blair to distance himself from Bush ... if that's alright with you, Mr. President. Blair has also described the Abu Ghraib abuses as "revolting", only a week after voting to extend the US's immunity from war crimes prosecution. Someone in the Whitehouse must have given him permission to dissent and play the Good Cop a bit more.
(I'm not quite so sure that being seen as a PNAC asset was as damaging for Blair as some say it is; after all, the alternative is the Tories, who are the Bad Cop to Blair's Good Cop. Oh, and there are the Lib Dems, who are like the worst of both worlds; too small to get elected, and too big to not be in the pockets of corporate lobbyists, at least if Greg Palast is to be believed. Btw, are the UK Greens running for anything other than the European Parliament yet?)
At least Bush still has 100% support from his loyal deputy in Canberra; unlike that hypocritical weasel Blair, Howard is a true believer; for one, he didn't sign the Kyoto treaty, and has recently reaffirmed Australia's opposition to renewable energy. He can probably look forward to a nice "consultant" position with ExxonMobil or Halliburton when he retires.
It has emerged that Tony Blair committed Britain to war in Iraq 9 days after 9/11, in a secret pact with George Bush. Blair is said to have required no convincing to do the deal. Which is consistent with my impressions of Blair as one who positively bends over backwards to be of service to superior powers, be they the US Government (of either stripe; witness the deep personal philosophical kinship Blair had with both Clinton and Bush) or multinational corporations (for which, according to Greg Palast, Blair has personally intervened to bend foreign-ownership rules).
The Blair government in the UK is apparently making the most of the blank death warrant for the BBC handed to it by the Hutton enquiry, and has drawn up plans to break up the BBC, revoke its editorial independence, and close BBC outlets not considered "public service". (Which could result in former BBC assets being picked up by "free-market" providers at fire-sale prices; MTV could get BBC1 and Top Of The Pops (or whatever it's called now), FOXNews and/or CNN could get news-gathering facilities, and so on. And aren't ClearChannel planning to expand into the British market? I'm sure Blair (who personally intervened to allow Walmart to buy Asda) will be more than happy to help them.)
It looks like Phony Blair has drunk too much of the Camp David Kool-Aid; he's now establishing a top-level working group to bring religion into policy-making in Britain. Atheist scum are complaining as expected.
An Independent piece claiming similarities between Tony Blair and Mussolini:
For a start, Blair extols the virtues of the Third Way, which was the phrase coined by the Fascists, no less, to describe their alternative to capitalism and communism. Blair began as a left-wing pacifist and became a right-wing warmonger. He is dictatorial and ignores Parliament if he can and he is a master of propaganda (spin). He is also a bit of a musician - always a dangerous sign in a politician - and plays the electric guitar. So was Mussolini. He played the violin.
People, especially people on the left, tend to forget - presumably because it is inconvenient to remember - that Mussolini was a revolutionary socialist before he was anything else. They forget, too, that he founded Fascism not as a right-wing dictatorship but as a left-wing revolutionary movement that provided an alternative first to socialism then to communism.
It then goes on to compare Mussolini's Corporate State with the New Labour Third Way of corporatisation and neo-liberal economics. And then there's both statesmen's gift for spin:
A phrase Mussolini often used to describe the Italian parliament was that it was "invincibly nauseous". Fascism transformed political participation from an isolated act involving the ballot box into a daily act of religious faith. Blair has not - heavens, no - abolished democracy as Mussolini did, but democracy has diminished under Blair. The Opposition languishes in torpid impotence. The Prime Minister appears increasingly to resemble some whacky kind of cult leader. He avoids debate in Parliament if he can. He talks to the people direct, via television, as Mussolini did via the piazza. Mussolini was famous for his balcony speeches - his "dialogues with the crowd". A modern Mussolini would not need to do anything so obvious as to tackle democracy head on. He could just side-step it with spin.
After the BBC's 100 Greatest Britons series (in which Winston Churchill barely pipped Princess Diana for #1, and genuinely deserving candidates like Charles Darwin were left in the dust), bolshy TV broadcaster Channel 4 have compiled a list of the 100 Worst Britons. Tony Blair is #1 (though if these were voted on by the Guardian-reader types who watch C4, it's hartly surprising), followed by Jordan (she's some kind of model or something, right?) and Margaret Thatcher. Other notable figures: The Queen is #10 (one behind Geri Halliwell), Liam Gallagher is at #11 (though you'd think his ex-wife Patsy Kensit would get a mention on the strength of her complete inability to act), Prince Charles at #24 (Diana is apparently still too much of a national saint to merit the list), Harry Potter is at #35, Tracy Eminem at #41, Pete Waterman at #45, and Loony Left Red Ken at #50. (via VM)
Irony is dead, again: A Norwegian parliamentarian has nominated Bush and Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize, for invading and winning the war in Iraq.
What kind of dirt could the CIA possibly have on Tony Blair that would compel him, a nominal socialist who lived through the Thatcher Era, to jump through hoops unequivocally supporting anything that comes out of the Whitehouse? Well, these people reckon that he's protecting a high-ranking paedophile ring involving many senior government officials, and suggests that his born-again Neo-Conservative beliefs may be the result of his being blackmailed by US intelligence agencies over this. Supposedly the Dunblane school massacre was connected to this, and the truth about the massacre has been sealed under the 100-year rule.
There are only three levels of secrecy in the UK for state secrets, the 30 year rule, the 80 year rule and the 100 year rule. Normal secrets, like Cabinet discussions, government papers, espionage, all that, are under the 30 year rule. Only a very small number of things ever reached the 80 year rule, particularly events in the Sudan with Kitchener in 1902, where it seems that an act of genocide was committed... Of them, the darkest of state secrets, when the events of '02 were getting a bit close to their limit for comfort, a further class of secrets was created to last a hundred years, and tiny number of things were put in it - e.g. Kitchener in '02, some World War I things." But none of these things can be said to apply to Dunblane. That was a case of a common criminal [and] sexual pervert committing some fairly ordinary murders, of a kind that happen from time to time. There must be issues of profound national importance working here, and I put it to you that anything that involves certain events in Scotland is more likely to be someone of cabinet level than anything else.Of course, given the nature of the site this was posted on, its credibility may be somewhat questionable. Can anybody shed any light on it? (via Leviathan)
British satirical outfit Bremner Bird and Fortune (who appear on Channel 4; for the Australians in the audience, that seems to be sort of like SBS only with more of an edge) have some good video clips about current events. I particularly recommend "Blair & Campbell Autocue", which has Tony Blair fumbling through a speech freshly delivered from Washington. (via MeFi)
More on Tony "the Smiler" Blair's plagiarised "smoking gun" report on Iraq. Apparently Nu Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, the man who gave us "Cool Brittannia", was behind it. Blair's image has suffered since, as it has become blindingly obvious that the man has the integrity of a used-car salesman.
London - Urging his nation to "see the big picture" and not focus on one issue, British Prime Minister Tony Blair today explained that unflinching support for President George W. Bush is particularly necessary now if Great Britain is ever to become the 51st U.S. state.
Blair, however, insisted the advantages of becoming another star on the U.S. flag are too great to ignore. "As Americans, we will finally be able to lift the yoke of cross-Atlantic condescension," he said. "We will finally be able to say we won the Colonial Rebellion. We will be able to once again look in the mirror and say, 'We are a superpower.' And we will be able to declare that we 'saved our own butts' during World War II."