Political correctness

Posts such as Political correctness: how the right invented a phantom enemy and The Right Finds the Perfect Weapon Against the Left got me thinking about the doubled edge sword of political correctness.  A well-intentioned campaign by, as it happened, a very precise segment of educated white people sought to use language to change behaviour.  It has been an interesting test case of Orwell’s thesis about language use – in 1984 removing words was meant to stop people thinking certain things – but why has it upset so many people?  My theory is that many, many people want to do the right thing.  They’re basically reasonable.  But political correctness is always evolving, not documented and certainly wasn’t taught in schools.  So it brings real stress – how do you avoid offending people?  That, I think, is the fear that many people feel and that’s why they lash out at the concept of political correctness.

BBC criticised over Arron Banks slot on Andrew Marr show

The Guardian:

The BBC has been criticised for booking Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit billionaire who is the subject of a criminal investigation, to appear on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.

Banks is being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after his case was referred to it by the Electoral Commission, which said there were reasonable grounds to suspect Banks was “not the true source” of £8m given to the Leave.EU campaign.

The BBC’s decision provoked widespread condemnation from politicians, lawyers and activists.

Andrew Adonis, a leading remain campaigner, said in a letter to the BBC that Banks’s expected appearance was the result of “a very serious editorial misjudgment, influenced by a culture of accommodation to extreme Brexiteers now deeply embedded within the BBC”.


“A man under criminal investigation would like to come on and do some spin” “Book him” “Why?” “Literally haven’t got a single fucking justification for this one, just do me a favour and book the possibly criminal prick”

Of course, Marr has form – remember the absurd pairing of Isabel Oakeshott and Carole Cadwalladr?  Cadwalladr has done serious investigative journalism on foreign influence in Brexit …and Oakeshott hasn’t.  And then there’s Oakshott’s puzzling behaviour described in Cadwalladr’s tweet:

Flashback! Watching ? Remember when they invited on to attack my investigation? Turns out she KNEW then about ‘ Russian connections. Had known for MONTHS…



Russian intervention in Brexit

This tweet, noted this exchange (4 mins in) from 21 March 2018 with Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee in which he says:

Not only Russian attempted interventions in our elections but attempted Russian interventions in the French elections, observations they intervened in the Spanish Catalan elections, the British have come and visited us now because they’ve seen Russian intervention in terms of the Brexit vote.  We in western democracies have to be on our guard.

My emphasis.  Again, perhaps something for the BBC to follow up on?


Will Banks’ investigation affect Brexit?

Laura Kuenssberg in a :

Banks probe unlikely to affect Brexit process.

But allegations against Aaron Banks may well increase bitterness in debate that long ago turned sour.

Nick Cohen observes in a  Tweet:

What has been so disgraceful about the BBC’s treatment of the alleged corruption of the Brexit referendum is that it puts journalism last.

Instead of using its resources — which are far larger than any other news organisation — to report and investigate, its reporters and editors pontificate about the consequences of the journalism of others.

Here opines about that the National Crime Agency investigation into is “unlikely now to have a material effect”. It’s not just that she has no possible way of knowing this — BBC journalists can no more see the future than you or I can.

Proper journalists put the story first and worry about the consequences last – if at all. The BBC won’t use its vast resources to cover the Brexit story because all it thinks about is consequences.



Subsidised tenants are excluded from pool and gym in London block

I sometimes despair of the Guardian.  Have you seen this article about social housing tenants not being able to use private facilities?  The view that its apartheid is just ludicrous. With all that’s wrong with the world they latch onto that.

With the greatest respect why the hell should they be able to use the facilities if they don’t pay for them! I think the writer thought that he would get total support but I think its about 80% WTF are you on about on the comments section.  There is a discount of 40% on market levels.  95% of us don’t have access to those type of facilities, whether we are private or public housing users.

In itself its not important but what it does is give credibility to the view that the left just bang on about signifiers rather than actual policy.  Its exactly like the dems going on about bathrooms and transgender.

To then tie it into Grenfell is absurd .the problem with Grenfell wasn’t that they hadn’t spent anything on the block ,its that they spent it on totally the wrong things with terrible results.

If this carries on I will move to the Mail!

Talking Politics 122 | How Bad Could it Get?

The Talking Politics podcast can be very good but I think we will look back on episode #122 as one of the worst.  A token, plucky remainer on to explain that a no deal might be tricky, surrounded by almost disdainful academics.

First, I’d be interested in empirical evidence for Helen Thompson’s assertion that:

…in the terms of Leave voters, as opposed to a number of the conservative politicians in the Leave campaign, there’s zero evidence that imperial nostalgia is part of what’s going on here. I think that’s actually more the other way round, in the sense of the argument that Britain must have outsized influence in the world is actually more common on the Remain side of the arguments, actually than it is on the Leave side, as I said, exempting a few conservative politicians from that.

I got the definite impression that a significant number of Leave voters (the sort from the home counties, not the northern ex-industrial towns) were voting for an (imagined) 1950s where the UK (but probably England) wasn’t held back by the EU.  Where we were free to form alliances with other countries and make CANZUK real.  And implicit in those fantasies was the UK leading the grateful Canada, Australia, New Zealand.  In short, I think Thomson’s exactly wrong about imperial nostalgia not being part of Leave.

Second, I was surprised by Thompson’s view on Northern Ireland:

And the European Union has taken a very strident stand on the question of the Irish border and the response it wants via the backstop to the Irish border. If Theresa May cannot deliver something that can get through the House of Commons, I think it ultimately will be because the EU has taken that stand. And I’m not making a judgment about it one way or another, but that is not something that was in the negotiating. We go back to the way things looked in March 2017, when it was a different government in Dublin. This is not necessarily a path that could have been anticipated. Now some people would say, ‘Well that’s naive because you could see that the European Union would use the Irish question as a way of trying to either to humiliate Britain or to try to keep it in the European Union by default.’

My emphasis.  It was known well before the referendum that Northern Ireland would be an important complication in exactly how Brexit would er actually work.   The EU always was going to take a stand.  I’m not sure I understand how anyone can say “This is not necessarily a path that could have been anticipated”.

Runciman jokes about what many listeners must be thinking – what is the point of political academics given how awful their predictive ability is?  Northern Ireland was always going to be central to the negotiations.  I’ve listened to the podcast since well before the referendum and it hasn’t ever really engaged with this issue.  Not merely is their predictive power poor but on this occasion they missed a key topic.  Saying it is just “because the EU has taken that stand” doesn’t excuse it.

I will be listening next week, obvs.



MI5 to take over in fight against rise of UK rightwing extremism

The Guardian:

MI5 is to take the lead in combating extreme rightwing terrorism amid mounting fears that white supremacists are increasing their efforts to foment violent racial conflict on Britain’s streets, The Guardian has learned.

The switch from the police – which has always previously taken responsibility for monitoring far right extremism – to MI5 means that the ideology will now sit in the same portfolio as Islamist terrorism and Northern Ireland-related terrorism, which are both covered by the domestic security service.

Welcome news.

Newt Gingrich: ‘We’ll see whether or not the Kavanaugh fight was worth it’

Washington Post:

During a live interview on Oct. 25 at The Washington Post, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that if Democrats re-take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections and subpoena the president’s tax returns, it would likely force a fight in the U.S. Supreme Court. “And,” Gingrich said,”we’ll see whether or not the Kavanaugh fight was worth it.”

Call me old fashioned but I think that puts Kavanaugh in a tricky position.