There will now be a short intermission…

…whilst we complete the move to France.

The boxes are all packed and now the house resembles a maze whilst Mrs Shark and I scurry about like two demented rats.

The removal firm rang today and they will be here at 8am this coming Friday and Mrs Shark and myself will be away to Portsmouth to catch the ferry two hours later, leaving my brother and sister-in-law and son to keep the removal men topped up with tea and biccies and then tidy up  before our buyers move in. The cats will be picked up by the lovely Melanie tomorrow evening and brought to us on Saturday and our worldly goods will follow a week on Friday.

As soon as I get a French 3G dongle for the new laptop I’ll be back blogging and the top 20 of my favourite albums will be revealed.

And so, dear reader, a bientot!

You’ve Been Blogged!

Yesterday’s news that Nadine Dorries is going to take legal action against Derek Draper and Damian McBride came as no great surprise to anyone, seeing as it was all announced in April.

(The whole Smeargate scandal, as the affair has come to be called, is concisely summed up here for those who wish to refresh their addled memories.)

On the surface, it’s all a bit ‘ho-hum’ as far as I’m concerned.

All it seems to me to be is a couple of blokes with too much autonomy and a certain incompetent knack for rumour-mongering, who got caught out due to their own stupidity, although time will tell if anyone else higher up the food chain at Number 10 was involved – the organ grinders, as it were, rather than their dancing monkeys.

However, dig just a little deeper into the recent developments and it all becomes a little more interesting…

Yesterday, when the news first broke, you couldn’t read about it without hearing that two bloggers had served summonses on Draper and McBride.

Try and find exact quotes about events as reported yesterday and it’s not easy.

Mainly because yesterday’s reporting was so innaccurate and I’m guessing that the various editors pulled or fettled the original stories.

Even I, with my very limited legal knowledge, thought that it was strange that Guido and Tory Bear had suddenly branched out into some sort of quasi-legal sideline.

Times can’t be getting that hard, surely?

The truth of the matter, however, is that the two cheeky chappies had simply delivered letters before action or letters of claim – first steps before an actual summons.

In the case of Tory Bear, he could have delivered whatever the fuck he wanted – a Steinway Grand with the summons chiselled on the lid, or an elephant that shat out the summons in morse-coded dollops of crap – but it would have had no legal basis as it was Kate Garraway – Mrs Derek Draper – who accepted the letter and not Draper himself.

In the case of Tory Bear, you can see that this self-proclaimed ‘right wing blogger’ might indeed help Mrs Dorries who – in spite of everything that has been said about her, not to mention the expenses scandal – is still a Tory MP.

Fair enough, maybe help out a fellow Tory, but to film the letter being delivered and then to put that footage on his blog?

What a stunt…

In the case of Guido, it’s a little less clear.

Guido waits outside the school McBride is working at and then gives him his letter.

No video this time, but instead, on Guido’s blog, a rather strange picture of McBride in a rather bizarre outfit of white jacket and baseball cap (a bad sartorial combination, it has to be said).

Labels are pernicious, but they’re sometimes the only thing we’ve got, so when it’s widely understood that Guido is a right wing Libertarian then his actions yesterday are a little less comprehensible than Tory Bear’s.

OK, Guido was the blogger who broke the Smeargate story.

Well done.

He really stuck it to Draper and McBride.

I approve.

He showed us that life inside Number 10 was really rather squalid – nay, corrupt.

Great.

I’m not even going to try and take anything away from Guido – I admire the guy and wish him all the best in what has become big business and career success.

What I do object to is what he and Tory Bear may be doing to blogging through stunts such as yesterday’s.

Many people, myself included, think that the MSM is dead on its arse, biased, directly and knowingly instrumental in carrying out government policies, devious and corrupt.

Blogging seems to offer an alternative with its ability, in the hands of certain bloggers, to be used in a manner which is without the usual amount of self and vested interest found in the MSM.

Yes, of course many blogs are also full of opinion, but the better ones will also tolerate criticism and debate to temper and balance it.

No, blogging isn’t a direct replacement for a newspaper or a news bulletin but it certainly allows much freer discussion of what makes the headlines – and sometimes matters ‘they’ don’t even want to make the headlines.

Fair enough…

Knife someone in the back if they deserve it.

Give the blade a twist.

Tell people about it.

Boast about it.

Gloat over it.

I fucking would…

But tying a metaphorical blue ribbon to the metaphorical knife hilt and then attaching a little metaphorical calling card to it – after metaphorically absailing in from a metaphorical helicopter wearing a metaphorical black outfit like the fucking Milk Tray guy – is maybe going a little too far and pushes blogging into some of the areas we’ve come to despise in the MSM.

Of course, anyone can blog about anything they like in whatever manner they like, but then if their readers start to take their blogging less seriously than they used to and start to see more self-interest than content, they have only themselves to blame.

Nah…the whole Smeargate thing is starting to get a little bit too ‘You’ve Been Framed’ for me…

Some blogging bollocks

Although Al Jahom’s excellent and very eclectic blog has been in my blogroll for a while, I’ve never actually given it the official bigging up that it deserves.

So, here goes – and cash is never refused, AJ…

Al Jahom’s blog has a great deal to recommend it: topical comment, great music, humour, pointy squirty cars, foul language and it always adopts a viewpoint that’s guaranteed to get you thinking.

Bookmark the bastard – now – or even do something geeky with that fucking RSS whosit that I always ignore.

Those gods of the blogosphere, the ever excellent Boatang and Demetriou, have been blogging like muthafuckas lately.

Messrs B&D never disappoint and this latest article on the LPUK is essential reading for anyone interested in UK Libertarianism and its future after the recent by-election in Norwich North.

I hate to compliment the twin godhead of B&D any further, but they’ve recently highlighted an interesting point that will have significant implications for the future of blogging and political internet comment in general, and they seem to have beaten several people to the idea since I’ve seen several bloggers cover this after B&D.

A recent article of theirs queries the position of bloggers like Guido and Iain Dale after the next election when David ‘Bullingdon’ Cameron and his band of bastards Merry Men will sweep to victory – and sweep to victory they will; I’m 100% positive.

At the moment, Guido appears to hold a sort of centrist anti-establishment position although – inevitably with Labour in power as it makes better reading – he seems more critical of the Left. He claims to be impartial, but some Libertarian bloggers have their doubts and suggest he might lean further to the right with a Tory victory. Dale is obviously going to keep his Tory stance and it will be interesting to see if he finds Tory activity as equally blog-worthy as he does at present regarding Labour’s fumblings.

You see, it’s all a matter of your political stance – if you blog from a position of diametrically contrary opposition then when your party gets in what are you going to do then?

Bash the opposition? That’s a bit easy and rather lame.

Shower praise on your party? Boring and boorish – and one thing Guido and Dale don’t want to do is lose any of their page views which is what will happen if they both go for a Tory cluster wank…

If Guido and Dale do lose their oppositional motivation then they’re going to be Tory mouthpieces and hence part of the MSM, which blogging was never intended to be.

It may be that it’s a natural evoloutionary step for blogging to go mainstream, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Rest assured that the better bloggers – two of whom are mentioned at the top of this piece – aren’t going to sell their souls to the MSM and water down their opinions, and neither am I.

As I blogged previously, a cunt is a cunt no matter who they are or what they believe.

Stick around to see them outed.

It’s our mission from Jeebus…

The delights of decorating…

…mean that I’ll be offline for a little longer but come Thursday this week – 2nd July – I should be back blogging as normal.

It’s been an interesting week and things have become clearer in many ways.

More to come…stay tuned…

A non-partisan blogger’s plea

I fervently hope that if Labour are ousted in the next General Election and the Tories get in – or some sort of hung parliament with a Tory/Lib Dem alliance – then the new government (indeed all politicians) will continue to be scrutinised and criticised by certain sections of the blogosphere.

Guido and others have done a great job in exposing the lies, corruption and incompetence of Nu Labour but it would be a tragedy if the emergence of blogging as a legitimate channel of communication, comment and criticism and an alternative to the increasingly servile MSM simply served to help remove one authoritarian government to make way for yet another.

As I have gone to great pains on this blog to point out, I am neither a Tory or a Labour supporter and I am as yet undecided as to how I would vote in a General Election.  However, what I am sure of is that I don’t want any government that is as repressive, incompetent or devious as Labour have shown themselves to be.

Consequently, as I state clearly on this blog, anyone is fair game for whatever I can say about them.

To paraphrase Gertrude Stein:

A cunt is a cunt is a cunt

A cunt can wear a red rosette but, equally likely, a blue one or a yellow one when they get in front of that microphone on election night.

You only have to read blogs like ‘Letters from A Tory’ to be reminded that the ‘old school’ Tories aren’t anywhere near extinct.

Beware of people who tell you that Ian Tomlinson was ‘asking for it’…

(I’m not going to provide a link to LFAT. If you don’t mind being repulsed by some of the stuff you’ll read on there, then you can bloody well find it yourself.)

It would be naive to the point of idiocy to think that if Labour get thrown out of government then whoever replaces them will be this country’s salvation and  that the failings that have been this present government’s hallmark would no longer be of concern.

We need to be able to trust our politicians again, and if they think that persuing policies that the public at large disagrees with will be immediately seized on by people such as Guido then this will hopefully make them take stock and think again.

Red, blue, yellow, green – fucking heliotrope – let’s carry on naming and shaming until the bastards start to justify the trust we’ve placed in them with our votes.

Don’t let any of them off the hook.

If we do, then all we’ve done is allow the next government to finish what the last one started…

An open letter to bloggers

To whom it may concern –

I’ve read a lot of blogs critical of this present government which seem to be obsessed with the personal appearance of Labour politicians and revel in the comments made about it.
Quite why it’s a phenomenon that’s peculiar to a certain blog demographic, I don’t know, but it’s extremely annoying, mindnumbingly petty and adds nothing to anything that seeks to call itself mature debate.

Politics isn’t about personal appearance.

If it was, then people like Edward Heath, Alec Douglas Home, Harold McMillan and Winston Churchill would never have got as far in politics as they did.
What would you rather have? MPs and government ministers handsome and beautiful enough to be pin ups who haven’t got a clue how to do their job? Or a line up that looks like the offspring of some unholy three-way between the Elephant Man, Quasimodo and Medusa but secures prosperity, peace and liberty for its people?

Of course, in the real world you’re going to get something in between, but what’s the main thing any of us want from our politicians?
Good looks and a perfect physique or sound judgement and effective policies?

I know this entry goes over some of the same ground as an earlier one I wrote, but it’s beginning to really concern me that having exposed people as clearly dishonest and/or disastrously ineffective it’s then necessary to have a bitch fest about how ugly they are.

Of course, the victims of this are clearly at a disadvantage being in the public eye and pretty heavily photographed. The bloggers and people who comment on blogs are rather more anonymous and whilst we might have a very good idea of what someone like Damian McBride looks like, most bloggers’ physical appearance is a total mystery. Consequently, the people who comment on McBride’s lack of good looks may look far more hideous than they judge him to be.

Let’s take the most famous UK blogger of all – Guido.

We know what Guido looks like because he’s famous and has a high profile.
Now, I’m not dissing the guy at all; he’s done a great job and many people, myself included, are very grateful for the way he’s exposed Labour for the sham that they are, and whilst, he’s not going to win any ‘Most Handsome Guy of the Year’ award, he’s not ugly.

But, what if he looked like the result of some nightmare cocaine-fuelled one night stand between Anne Widdecombe and Neil Kinnock? Would that make what he’s done any less effective?
Would his blog attract fewer views?
Of course not, because it’s what he does and writes that’s important.
Not what he looks like.

Guido never gets personal – he says something and backs it up with solid evidence. He showed Damian McBride up for what he is – a devious, machinating bully – but he didn’t then add ‘Oh, and he’s fat and ugly, too.’ He might think that, but he doesn’t write it because he knows it’s not relevant and, indeed, it might weaken the thrust of any point he’s trying to make.
So, maybe we should take a leaf out of Guido’s book and criticise people based on what they do, rather than what they look like.

It seems to work OK for him.

When blogs go too far…

I enjoy writing this blog.

I’ve done some freelance stuff for magazines and although it was great to get paid, I also enjoyed the whole process from research through to publication. Blogging to me is really no different – it just doesn’t pay.

I find the process of blogging helps me to focus on my own views on a variety of subjects – politics in particular. I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I’ll be a floating voter come the next General Election and I’d like to be able to make my mind up who gets my vote before I stand in a booth with a little black crayon in my hand.

The interactive nature of blogging is a big attraction too – I like the fact that people can comment on what I write and I can comment back and it’s all pretty rapid in nature.

I’m also appreciative of the fact that I can say more or less what I want and not have to pull any punches. I know that might mean that I sometimes express myself in ways some people might find offensive but that’s the way I’ve chosen to express myself.

I’d guess that very, very few bloggers don’t read other blogs. The blogosphere would probably resemble a DNA molecule if you could devise some sort of diagram of it. The proverb ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is just as true in blogging as it is in ‘real life’, although it’s sometimes not always the case.

As a blog reader I tend to find very little that upsets me – if I don’t like what I read I just go elsewhere.

However, what I do find hard to stomach is some of the very personal and spiteful remarks I read on what purport to be serious blogs.

Abuse is one thing – I’ve called people ‘greedy cunts’ on here, meant what I said and stand by such comments.

So, let’s look at abuse – how far it goes and how far it should go before it becomes counter-productive.

Geoff Hoon – claiming for three homes, transferred some property to his wife so she could be paid rent by him and denied originally owning that property.

My opinion of Hoon – a greedy, lying cunt.

Greedy – because he’s milking the system of MPs’ allowances for every last taxpayer penny.

Lying  – because he denied owning some property when he did own it.

Cunt – because what he’s done is what makes a cunt a cunt. I’m using the Australian definition here – ‘a despicable man’.

I think that’s fair comment – not to everyone’s tastes, maybe, but justifiable on many people’s terms.

If I then went on to say, ‘Hoon is a lanky bastard with a stupid-looking expression on his ugly face all the time’, that’s starting to venture into the personal. I can think of plenty of people like that who aren’t cunts in any way and, in my view, such remarks add nothing to a discussion or opinion apart from maybe relieving the tension of the person who made them.

To take it a stage further – and this is where I tend to recoil slightly when I read certain blogs and the comments on them – I could say, ‘Hoon is a greedy, lying, lanky, bastard cunt with a stupid-looking expression on his ugly face all the time and I’d like to get some piano wire, string him up from the nearest lamp post and stick redhot needles in his scrotum’ then I think that’s going a bit too far.

It introduces a vindictiveness that reduces a reasoned, admittedly abusive, comment to a level that demeans the commentator and debases the main points of his opinion.

I’m assuming, of course, that such malicious intentions aren’t meant to be taken seriously and that the writer is just venting but I’ve seen an awful lot of it recently concerning the recent McBride/Draper Smeargate business.

Yes, these people and those they acted for and even those who denied all knowledge of it behaved like cunts – I hope the cunts get everything that’s coming to them – they’re despicable people who have probably fucked up any chances of Labour getting in at the next General Election – Labour have fucked up the present and future prosperity of this country – our civil liberties have been crippled by their policies – there has to be a better way – they’re all greedy fucking pigs with their snouts in a seemingly bottomless trough of taxpayers’ money – etc – etc – etc.

I’m not arguing here about any of this.

But what I really don’t like is the sheer bile that’s spewing out all over the Blogosphere. It’s not going to achieve anything and it just makes the person who spews it look hysterical.

Yes, I can do what I suggest to people who don’t like something and I can just ignore it and go elsewhere, but then I ignore the venting blogger’s opinions which is not, I suspect, what the  blogger ultimately intends.

In short – Brown, Smith, Hoon, Darling, etc, et-fucking-cetera are all a shower of cunts who should be out on their ears before next year is through. They’re devious, conniving, greedy, power-mad fuckers who aren’t fit to shovel shit, but if they’re gone, that’ll do me.

That’s what matters – not some masochistic wet-dream rant involving a level of physical torture that makes the Spanish Inquisition look like a Buck House garden party…

Some thoughts on blogging

With the No 10 smear machine exposed by Guido, it was inevitable that this would thrust blogging itself under the media spotlight.

To many people, blogging is a bit like Twitter – or any new social networking and communication tool that can sweep the internet for a few months and then die a natural death. But whereas Twitter has been running a mere 3 years, blogging has a much longer history of 12 years making it better established and far more developed.

Creating a blog has never been simpler – no need for messy HTML (although it helps if you know a few tags so you can use the tools better) because templates and visual editors are provided if you go with Blogger, WordPress and the like, then almost any spec computer, internet access and your own writing ability are all you need – indeed, anyone can get a blog up and running in a matter of minutes and without any financial outlay if they have the equipment and access already.

Inevitably, given the human desire to leave one’s mark and their ease of creation, there are now millions of blogs covering every conceivable subject from every conceivable viewpoint.

Some blogs have become so widely-read that they’ve become accepted as part of the general media – along with TV, radio and newspapers or the MSM (MainStream Media) as these are known.

However, blogs have a great advantage over the MSM:

  • They’re immediate – no need to prepare a studio or get the presses rolling – you write, you upload and there’s your blog entry published for anyone to read (unless it’s moderated and not published)
  • They allow comment to be made easily – no readers letters or interviews with Joe Public to collate – you read, you comment, you upload and there’s your response
  • The content doesn’t rely on fitting into a certain agenda – the blogger is his or her own owner, publisher, editor and salesman – you can publish want you want

Of course, it’s inevitable with such ease of use and sheer number of blogs that there’s going to be a huge variation in blog quality but in my experience you start to patronise a certain type of blog that satisfies your individual requirements as a reader after you’ve sifted through them for a few weeks.

Equally inevitable is the threat that blogging poses to the MSM’s monopoly and the MSM’s response to this. So, we now have the MSM publishing its own blogs and inviting comment, although this is sometimes heavily moderated – unlike many independent blogs.

Like everything though, there’s a price to pay with virtually unfettered free speech and that is that sometimes someone writes something you don’t like in a manner which might offend you and expressing views with which you vehemently disagree.

Tough shit.

For the first time in human history anyone can say anything they like to a global audience and everyone has the right to reply. People in the MSM, and the political world it feeds off,  gnashing their teeth and wailing about declining standards in the expression of opinion  have realised this and after having it their own way for literally hundreds of years are now finding not only thousands of new competitors but also effective competitors.

To use a military analogy, a battle force with infantry, supporting vehicles and air cover can be very effective, but sometimes the lone sniper or a few resistance fighters can create a great deal of mayhem and sometimes influence the outcome of a conflict out of all proportion to their number. It might not conform to some lofty military principle but if it gets the job done – the supply train blown up or the enemy general picked off through your crosshairs – then why not hide in the bushes and wait for your opportunity?

This blog entry was inspired by the recent exposure of the smear campaign at No 10 mentioned at the beginning and also this in which the author makes such fatuous comments and draws such facile conclusions that it’s hard to know where to start.

I’m going to cut to the chase and just say that the sleaze he sees as a threat to the Labour party has only been outed through the efforts of those with whom he disagrees. He argues that blogging feeds off sleaze and that in order to perpetuate itself blogging will keep digging for sleaze.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like sleaze and if it’s there I want it to come out into the open so those who conduct themselves sleazily will be named, shamed and brought to task in some way – after all, I’m probably paying their fucking wages to some degree or another.

And what does Sunny Hundal want?

Only Labour bloggers to expose Labour sleaze?

Oh, like that’s going to work.

And whose fault is it if Labour bloggers aren’t as good at digging out the sleaze as more right-wing ones?

Well, Labour if you look at people like Derek Draper and forums like LabourList.

In fact, they’re so bloody bad at it that they had to invent some sleaze of their own…

Well, people can piss and moan as much as they like – blogging is here to stay. Fact.

My only wish is that if the Tories get into power in the next General Election then bloggers will remain as sceptical and determined to root out corruption as they currently are.

That’s when we’ll know for sure whether the future of blogging can include integrity and principle alongside opinion and intellect.

The art of using foul language – yes, it exists

Found here in the comments:

I rarely log on to Staines; his blog seems full of gossip and tittle -tattle accompanied by the most foul language in comments.

If his blog is thought to be the leader in political blogging, then I am a Labour supporter.

To use the form of quote found in his comments: his blog is a s–t. (smut – for the suspicious – I would never use foul language)

Posted by: D************** | April 13, 2009 at 10:01

Its puritanical and sanctimonious tone aside, this makes no sense –

his blog is a s–t. (smut – for the suspicious – I would never use foul language)

His blog is ‘a smut’…’a shit’…WTF?

But I see what he means – he would never use foul language and he shouldn’t – because he can’t.

Swearing is an artform.

For some reason, I’m reminded of the words of the late Frank Zappa here:

I have a message to deliver to the cute people of the world…if you’re cute, or maybe you’re beautiful…there’s MORE OF US UGLY MOTHERFUCKERS OUT THERE THAN YOU ARE!! So watch out.