Monday, 21 March 2011

Party Politics

As you know, I love everything in the world, with the exception of three things. One of those things that I love is the New Statesman magazine.

I have a subscription to it, because it's great, particularly Laurie Penny, Mehdi Hasan and of course Mark Watson. But occasionally there are articles in there that piss me off. Or just make me go 'what?'. Here are 4 things that this week's issue have made me think about.

1. This article by Lord Falconer annoyed me. He argues that we should vote No to AV because this defeat will cause the Lib Dems to leave the coalition. Now, I'd be very happy to see an end to the coalition government, but I'd be much happier to see the introduction of a better voting system. In fact, what Falconer is doing here is, at best, misunderstanding the significance of electoral reform. However this seems unlikely, considering he was Lord Chancellor/Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs for 4 years. This leads me to believe that what he's actually doing is putting the interest of his party before the interest of the people. To Charles Falconer, party politics is more important than democracy. We all know that AV is far from perfect, but it's a step in the right direction and it's better than what we're stuck with at the moment. Falconer wants to deny us this democratic enhancement, which we've been waiting for since long before his government reneged on such a promise about 15 years ago, just so he can see the Lib Dems defeated. This is a weird, selfish, short-term attitude. Don't get me wrong, I hate the coalition, I just think that people's votes actually meaning something is more important than Lib Dem baiting, which I'm getting bored of. Remember that it was the current electoral system that gave us this government in the first place. If you want to change it, you need to change the system.

2. Eek, that was a bit too much political-grandstanding for my liking. Let's turn the page in the New Statesman to the interview with comedian Frank Skinner which I can't show you because it isn't online, hence why I buy the magazine. Frank Skinner talks about being catholic, and mentions that when he was on tour with transvestite comedian Eddie Izzard, Izzard said to him, 'let's make a pact - I'll talk about being a transvestite and you talk about catholicism,' to which Skinner replied, 'no, because people in the modern world are much more accepting of transvestism than any kind of religious belief.' It's important to say that Frank Skinner is not saying that this is a bad thing. But the thing is, I don't think it's true. It should be the case though. Because transvestism is a tolerant practice, unlike a lot of religion. Skinner goes on to answer this question: 'How do you feel about the catholic church's hostility to gay and woman priests?' He replies, 'it's like it is with friends - often, there are things about them that you don't like but all the good stuff about them keeps them back...Catholics should be ahead of the game in liberating oppressed groups, not 500 years late.' Personally, I don't think it's 'like it is with friends' at all. Of course our friends do things that might annoy us (mine don't, mine are all perfect), but these are tiny things. So we might say, 'yeah he supports West Ham, but you know what? He's my friend, and we all have our foibles, and I still accept him.' We do not go, 'yeah he oppresses minorities and halts social progress and contributes massively to the spreading of aids and defends the abuse of children, but you know what? He's my friend, and we all have our foibles, and I still accept him. Ruined my wedding though.' At least he acknowledges that catholicism is '500 years late' in liberating oppressed groups, but it seems that being '500 years late' in liberating oppressed groups is an integral part of catholicism, built right into its foundations. I struggle to work out what this 'good stuff' is.

3. Oops, that turned into more ranting. Let's turn the page again... ooh, a bit about the Japanese earthquake. The thing that confused me about this was the phrase, 'the Japanese are an extraordinarily resilient people.' What, like, all of them? Generalisations like this confuse me. Of course, it's a great compliment to the Japanese people, and my thoughts are obviously with them. But I'm sure there's at least one Japanese person who isn't extraordinarily resilient. They might be more, I don't know, whatever the opposite of resilient is. I'll look it up. Apparently it's 'inflexible.' Yes, I can imagine there are at least a handful of inflexible Japanese people. But seriously, it's just that kind of hyperbole that journalists tend to use that makes me go, 'what?'. It's a very broad generalisation, and seems to be acceptable because its a positive thing to say. About an entire nation. If it was negative, it would not be acceptable. A journalist wouldn't write, 'the Japanese are an extraordinarily angry people', or, 'those French, what a bunch of cunts.' Well, unless they wrote for The Daily Mail obviously. (Which reminds me, read this.) It got me thinking about offensiveness, which is something I think about all the time. I'm not easily offended at all; my view is that people should be able to say what they want, as long as they're making a valid point. I'm a massive comedy geek and some of my favourite comedians use material that some may find offensive, but they use it to actually say something, to actually put across a valid idea. Some of my least favourite comedians use material that some may find offensive, but for no purpose, other than to be offensive, and that isn't enough. But anyway, occasionally I'll go on Facebook (that's always my first mistake) and see status updates cheering on the Yids, the affectionate nickname given to Tottenham Hotspur FC. I'm jewish, but only by race, not by belief, I hate religion, blah blah blah. And while this doesn't offend me, it does make me uncomfortable to see what is essentially a derogatory term for a people being thrown about by football fans who (hopefully) don't know what it means. I'm not saying this should stop, it's just interesting that it's acceptable in the mainstream, when equivalent words such as paki and nigger are, quite rightly, not.

4. Sorry, that also turned into more lefty blathering. I genuinely don't mean to do that. This blogs all gone a bit wrong. To reward you for your patience, here is a fantastic photo from the New Statesman:

I love the way it looks like Obama was mid-speech when Clinton burst in doing a Fonzie-style 'aaay!'

Anyway, thanks for reading this blog. It was named after a song by the brilliantly genred swing-core band Catch-it Kebabs. I will leave you with that song, enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah as you say AV is far from perfect, but it is a step perhaps toward larger reforms such as PR.

    Alan Johnson in a speech i went to see said this too with AV:

    AV is by no means perfect, and not to everyones cup of tea, in fact for Labour we'd want FPTP for anywhere north of Barnsley, PR for the Midlands and AV for the South.

    Good point that.