Posts Tagged ‘Pedantry’

Complaint to the Guardian.

December 12, 2009

This is my last pedantic whine, I promise.

Today I was annoyed by the political correctness of the Guardian newspaper.

Too little political correctness, that is, rather than too much.

On the front page there was a story about the “return of ‘Yes, Minister’ etiquette” to Whitehall as civil servants are being advised to stop referring to government ministers by their “Christian names”.

Christian names? How old-fashioned. They are first names.

Dear editors at the Guardian: please increase the amount of political correctness in your newspaper.

Thank you.

Complaint to Searchlight.

December 11, 2009

This month’s Searchlight is up to the usual high standards.

There’s a fascinating, though deeply worrying, summary of politics in Hungary where extreme nationalist and anti-semitic discourse is becoming mainstream. The article on the latest antics of the National Front also provides some good comedy value. The most useful piece in the magazine is the report on the situation in Barking and Dagenham – the London borough where the BNP are optimistic about increasing their electoral success.

However, I’m slightly annoyed by this month’s front cover. It depicts Barking and Dagenham as a monopoly board with all the properties being wards in the borough. The wards with BNP councillors have Union Jack houses on them.

Surrendering the symbolism of the British flag to the far-Right is self-defeating for anti-fascists. We should be reclaiming the flag from these morons.

A minor quibble, but I’m evidently still in a pedantic mood.

Complaint to Dave of ‘Though Cowards Flinch’.

December 9, 2009

Comrade Dave of the blog ‘Though Cowards Flinch’ has written an assessment of today’s pre-budget report. He makes decent points on the good and bad aspects of Darling’s announcements.

However, I must protest at this: “About the best thing one can say regarding today’s pre-budget report is that it’s not quite so bad as Ramsay MacDonald slashing unemployment benefits in order to return public finances to some ‘order’”.

Whilst not wishing to detract from the central thrust of Dave’s post, my determination to try to rehabilitate Ramsay MacDonald’s reputation (at least partially) means that I can’t leave this be.

The public spending cuts eventually imposed by the National Government were more the responsibility of Chancellor Philip Snowden than Ramsay MacDonald. Snowden was the true disciple of orthodox economics; MacDonald was wishy washy on the subject and would have been pushed in any direction wanted by a forceful Chancellor. The Labour Cabinet also voted by a majority to accept the cuts, but Arthur Henderson made it clear he would resign from the government rather than let this pass.  

It’s wrong to demonise Ramsay MacDonald. It absolves people like Snowden who were more blameworthy. Anyway, instead of focusing on individual failures, it’s more interesting to ask why the Labour Party was so institutionally clueless when it came to the question of how to govern the country in a socialist manner.

Pedantic complaint over.

Leftie lyrics that leave me Hmm-ing.

November 10, 2009

I am a great fan of musicians with a political agenda similar to my own. There’s nowt better than a good leftie song. However, sometimes even my favourite socialist-inclined songsters let me down with ludicrous lyrics…  

Anti-Flag – ‘This Machine Kills Fascists’

You don’t have to be a racist
To be a Nazi fuck
Your mindless nationalism
Gives you credentials enough

Hmm. Methinks the political punks of Anti-Flag are getting carried away with labelling anyone they don’t like a ‘Nazi’. Racism was an integral part of the Nazi ideology. It is ridiculous to try suggesting that people who are right-wing and nationalistic but nevertheless not racist should be associated so crassly with Hitlerism. It diminishes the meaning of the term when it is applied so flippantly! Silly Anti-Flag.

  

Billy Bragg – ‘Never Cross A Picket Line’

Technically this is an illegal strike
Never cross a picket line
But technically workers have no rights
Never cross a picket line
You must never cross a picket line

Hmm. Billy usually does so well at being politically sensible, but I can’t help but feel that saying “technically workers have no rights” is inaccurate. Technically speaking, Billy’s argument is balderdash! Even bearing in mind the context in which this song was written – with the Thatcher government’s eagerness to destroy trade union power and undermine the organised working-class – it still smacks of hyperbole to claim that workers had absolutely zilch legal protection. I love Billy which means I hold him up to a high standard and when he disappoints it’s only right that he be called out on it.

The Levellers – ‘Another Man’s Cause’

Now she wonders at it all
Just in whose name do these brave young heroes fall
And how many more are going to answer that call
They’re going to fight and die in another country’s war
They’re going die for a religion they don’t believe in at all
They’re die in a place they should never’ve been at all

‘Cause, your daddy well he died in the Falklands
Fighting for another man’s cause
And your brother he was killed in the Last War
And your mother well she’s lying home alone

Hmm. Rather than simply being anti-war, the main message behind this song seems to be that daddy should not have been fighting for “another man’s cause”. Perhaps the Levellers are attacking the political elite for sending troops off to fight a war from which little will be gained. Yet the critical references to dying in “another country’s war”, dying for a religion they don’t believe in, etc, prompts speculation that the Levellers think only self-interested wars should be fought. This makes me uncomfortable – what about the spirit of internationalism? Would the Levs have been opposed to daddy participating in another man’s cause such as the Spanish Civil War? And would the Levellers have been completely happy to surrender the Falkland Islands to the aggressive military dictatorship that constituted the Argentine government? For shame!

More songs of this nature to be moaned about soon – watch this space. Don’t be shy about suggesting any other leftie lyrics that leave you Hmm-ing!

Lily Allen’s expensive education has possibly still left her historically confused

February 7, 2009

This is what Lily Allen looks like

This is what Lily Allen looks like

The Q&A feature in today’s Guardian interviews Lily Allen.

In it she claims that her earliest memory is of “watching the Gulf war on the TV news at two or three. I was terrified”.

Lily was born in 1985. If she is talking about the 1991 removal of Saddam’s forces from Kuwait she is way off and I must condemn her historical illiteracy.

If, however, she is refering to the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 which is apparently sometimes described as the ‘First Persian Gulf War’ then she has an impressively sophisticated appreciation of history and I will eat my hat in penance.

Lily sings with a bit of a faux-proletarian accent, but she is honest enough in the interview to frankly admit that her parents spent £100,000 on her education.

It is revealing of the privately educated circles in which Captain Jako is sometimes known to mix that I know at least two people for whom Lily Allen was their first snog.

Captain Jako