“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for September 15th, 2009

Congrats Bob.

with 13 comments

What do Prescott, Campbell and Harris have in common?

No, it is not a trick question about New Labour bigwigs and lickspittles.

They are, according to Iain Dale’s top blog listing, major bloggers and number 28th, 4th and 1st respectively.

I don’t want to start a blog war, but I confess that reading their work for the first time I can’t see why that the mutterings of an ex-deputy PM, a born Machiavellian and the Honourable member for Glasgow South are particularly notable.

I am sure there are plenty of other interesting political blogs not run by ex-politicians, professional seat warmers at Westminster or paid party officials, but Dale’s listing doesn’t convey that.

Still, I am glad to see that a few of my favourites made it into blog stardom, Bob from Brockley in at 47, The Daily (Maybe) in at 10 and A Very Public Sociologist beating most Blairite/Brown nosers in to 12th place.

And finally at 13, lucky for Dave Osler.

Oh, around the corner is Martin Bright coming in at 95, worth a read, he’s smart and thoughtful.

Update 1: I thought Andy Newman’s comment rather funny, and even insightful:

However, what is signally missing from this list is much sign of the blogs being used as a forum for strategic thinking by Labour Party members. Think back into the party’s past of how various publications provided the sounding board for new ideas when there was a crisis, for example how the magazine Voice of the Unions provided a catalyst for the left of the party to outgrow the social conservatism and legacy of Bevanite corporatism during the 1960s, or how the journal Socialist Commentary in the late 1940s allowed revisionist ideas to coalesce before their more high-profile publication in the New Fabian Essays in 1952.

The Blairite paradigm has been damaged but not yet decisively defeated, and yet there is very little evaluation and discussion about how a progressive centre left government could do things differently. For sure, the Compass website publishes articles with such an agenda, but the debate is very sterile, and the admirable Soundings magazine has not developed an engaging on-line presence. The fundamentalist left, around Labour Briefing and the LRC come over to me as a reenactment society, entrenched around maverick MPs like John McDonnell, and yet have no strategy for widening their influence in the party, nor any credible argument for how a move to the left would benefit the whole party in electoral terms – surely there comes a point when their desperate rear-guard defence of Bennism has to face facts that society has moved on, and left them behind.

Update 2:
I am not too sure that Tory Team Dale actually check out the blogs they list, because being a bit lazy before I just cut’n’pasted Dave Olser’s link to the post, but its the wrong one. is his new address, since November 26, 2006, which suggests either the Tories compiling this list are slightly lazier than I (highly probable), or they couldn’t be arsed to check their own work. Still with Tories anything is possible.

Written by modernityblog

15/09/2009 at 22:00

Blood Libel And Speedy Lies.

with 4 comments

I was about to blog on the phenomena of blood libels, and in particular the Offal libel’s reappearance in Algeria, but David Schraub explains it better:

“That Swedish blood libel article really set off the avalanche, didn’t it? Counterpunch magazine, as per Alison Weir of “If American’s Knew”, is now asserting that not only is the Swedish article accurate, but also the original medieval blood libel is actually true as well.

Of all the anti-Semitic myths I really assumed had died a permanent death, the blood libel was pretty high on the list. Alas, I’m always far too optimistic about these things, it seems.”

Written by modernityblog

15/09/2009 at 15:22

HRW Does The Obvious.

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Elsewhere I made the point that basically HRW should have suspend Garlasco, and investigated his conduct.

According to a piece in the NYT, forwarded to me by an astute reader that’s what they’ve just done.

Written by modernityblog

15/09/2009 at 13:40

Posted in Uncategorized

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CIF, Saudis and HRW.

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Many, many people are following the Garlasco debacle, but to be honest I can’t keep up with it, still CiFWatch has a rather well written piece with a discussion of these events, as they are unfolding on CiF.

People are duking it out in the Seth Freedman thread, but what I found interesting was the type of guests who were invited to the HRW meeting/presentation in Saudi Arabia.

I remember it going on, and the fuss about it, but I hadn’t fully appreciated how many Saudi bigwigs were there, as HRW says it self:

“The roughly 50 guests at the reception in Riyadh included three with governmental affiliations: the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior; the deputy head of the Human Rights Commission, a governmental organization; and a member of the Shura Council, a government-appointed consultative body.”

They make a point of saying:

“None was solicited for funds, nor would Human Rights Watch ever accept funds from such officials, in any country.”

And I’m sure that HRW wouldn’t have solicited funds, they wouldn’t need to, that’s not how it works.

Money in this case is such a vulgar topic, rather they would make a generalized presentation and there would be an implicit, an inferred, unwritten, understanding between the guests and the hosts that should they agree then at some point, in the future, some money may come from a Saudi source. It would be all very nebulous, if it came to that, nothing crude, nothing vulgar, unspoken. I daresay Sir Humphrey Appleby would admire their manoeuvering, but it does leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouth for the rest of us.

I have admired HRW’s work in the past, pity that they’ve had to compromise themselves in this way.

Written by modernityblog

15/09/2009 at 02:00