Sunday, November 5, 2017

Penny for the Guy

A few years ago I stumbled across a BBC drama series from the 1970s, confusingly called 1990 because it was set in a dystopian Britain of the near-future.  It starred Edward Woodward at the peak of his powers, but it doesn't seem to be as well-remembered as his other series like Callan and The Equalizer.  I think probably the reason is that it's a bit of a mixed bag - some aspects of it work very well, while other things occasionally snap you out of the fake reality you're presented with.  For example, in Britain of 1990 the crown jewels have been literally sold off, the House of Lords has been turned into a politicians' drinking club (how would you tell the difference?), and the pound sterling has been replaced by the "Anglo-Dollar", which just doesn't ring true as a name.  (Unless it was imposed by the Americans themselves, of course, but that's not the storyline.)  There's an unintentionally hilarious bit in the final episode of Series 1, where an old man recounts the sorry tale of Britain's descent into totalitarianism, and he says something like "it all began when they brought in that Value Added Tax in the early 70s..."  That must have sounded a bit daft even at the time of broadcast.  

And then there's the whole issue of Europe.  Weirdly, Britain is supposed to have remained in the European Community and the Council of Europe, and therefore is still fully subject to the European Convention on Human Rights - which it circumvents by means of various technicalties, even though citizens are routinely denied all sorts of basic rights such as the right to travel, the right to free expression, and the right to a private life.  When I first saw the series, I thought it was wildly implausible that European leaders would ever allow any country to get away with such a thing, or at least not without facing expulsion...which means I now need to urgently introduce my naive former self to a certain Mr Guy Verhofstadt, who seems hellbent on ensuring that 1990 proves to be an uncannily accurate prophecy - albeit in real life the rogue state is Spain rather than the UK.

Verhofstadt's latest Facebook post about the Catalan crisis is typically grotesque.  It's thinly disguised as a rare criticism of Spanish actions, but in truth his only quibble seems to be that the taking of political prisoners is a tactical blunder that might allow the filthy law-breaking "separatists" to paint themselves as martyrs, thus helping them to do well in the December election.  He suggests that there should be "other ways" to ensure that the jailed politicians "receive a fair trial", by which he seems to mean a delay of legal proceedings until the election is over.  At no point does it even occur to him to question why elected politicians in an EU member state should be facing trial at all for the supposed "crime" of implementing the manifesto on which they were elected.  He fatuously signs off with an image of demonstrators holding up a banner reading "all we need is talk" - well, exactly what interest has Verhofstadt ever shown in genuine dialogue that puts the two sides of this dispute on an equal footing, rather than putting one side in the dock of a Spanish court?  I think we know the type of dialogue he has in mind - it'll be a cosy chat between the Spanish government and a puppet Catalan regime, in which they furiously agree with each other about how the Spanish constitution must be respected and how independence is a complete non-starter.

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If you were particularly 'lucky', you might have heard me on the radio this morning.  The Bauer network (ie. Clyde 2, Forth 2, etc.) invited me on because of something I tweeted the other day about what appeared to be an enormous Comic Relief-style red nose on the front of a car - but actually proved on closer inspection to be a 'poppy'.  I suppose, in fairness, the whole problem with "poppy fascism" is the denial of freedom of choice, so it would be hypocritical of me to suggest that people shouldn't be free to be as ostentatious as they like with their own poppy-wearing.  But I do feel that there's an inverse correlation between how large or tacky a poppy is, and how close the sentiment behind it is to the original intention of the poppy symbol.

You can hear the radio show on catch-up HERE.

22 comments:

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    1. To clarify, the link leads to buttons, but the buttons don't work.

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    2. The only way I got it to work was by right-clicking and selecting "open in new tab" - but even that downloads it, rather than streaming it. I'm not sure what the problem is.

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  2. Here is Guy quoted in an opinion article on 02Nov by Barbara Wesel (@wesel_barbara), Senior European correspondent at @dwnews Brussels (http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-puigdemont-and-his-catalan-disappearing-act/a-41217025).

    Over a cartoon of Mr Puigdemont in the character of Tintin chaing after his dog, Mr Verhofstadt comments "This cartoon is circulating. Not sure of comparing Puigdemont to Tintin is adequate. Tintin always finds solutions to the situations he encounters, while Puigdemont left Catalonia in chaos and devastation." I don't think that poking fun at the Catalan president is a good way for him to be burnishing his credentials for any statesmanlike involvement.

    Incidentally, the article itself is a real hatchet job, full of jibes, and short of any thoughtful analysis of options. OK, it's acknowledged as an opinion piece, but it is by a senior staff reporter at Deutsche Welle.

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  3. The worse that can happen to Herr Puigdemont is the old lady being hit with cushions from the Spanish Inquisition scene in Monty Python...

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  4. The European Convention on Human Rights doesn't have anything to do with the EU. Several signatories aren't in the EU, or even have much in the way of human rights, e.g. Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.

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    1. But isn't signing up to & abiding by the ECHR a prerequisite for EU membership? That being the case, is it unreasonable to expect the EU to require a member state to act accordingly? After all, the EU won't accept Turkey joining the club partly because it fails to uphold human rights there so why should a country, such as Spain, be given free reign to do as it pleases without consequences?

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    2. I suggest you raise the case with the ECHR, and in the event of a finding in your favour re. the matter of a country, such as Spain, being given free reign to do as it pleases without consequences, they might get a country, such as Spain, to pay your legal expenses?

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    3. "The European Convention on Human Rights doesn't have anything to do with the EU"

      That'll probably be why I said 'and the Council of Europe'. As noted above, though, adherence to the Convention is a prerequisite for EU membership.

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  5. Perhaps James you have formed your opinion on the poppy because of an indifference and dislike of the British. The fight against fascism and the Nat sis probaby evades you.

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    1. JTRIG JTRIG agent provocateur

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    2. These articles are probably not for you,here is a reply I gave to something similar;Only for the fair and open minded,willing to listen/read and learn that others have a valid point of view.Its when your on top you don't like to be brought down to be equal well do you?

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    3. Who gets to decide on what is fair and open minded. An opinion is just that. No one is on top.

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  6. It would be ridiculous to blame a descent into totalitarianism on the introduction of VAT, but its not so ridiculous to have an old man recounting a story that VAT was the beginning of the end. Pretty sure there were plenty that voted Leave on the belief that the EU was evil because it introduced the metric system or decimal currency or straight bananas.

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    1. I voted leave because I do not believe in unnecessary glutts of politicians. No case for the EU Parliament was made by the remainers. They were scared to discuss the matter.
      Once we leave we should set sights on Westminster the Lords and the devolved
      institutions. Over representation of the people shoild be an issue.

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    2. Straight bananas?? What are straight bananas?

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    3. Answering my own question: at the end of the leave campaign Boris Johnson said the EU was regulating banana shapes. What they really did was unify the ALREADY EXISTING confusing codes ...17 different in Europe after businesses requested clarification as bad shipments were costing it money.

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    4. The Thatcher government trying to reduce unemployment created the youth opportunities scheme to give the youth some job experience. The kids were called Yoppers and did experienced work including straightening bananas and sharpening pencils

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    5. JTRIG JTRIG agent provocateur

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    6. You need to stop eating German bratwurst we can see the worms on your pink toilet paper.

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    7. Sockpuppet JTRIG

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  7. Gordon "Smiler" BrownNovember 7, 2017 at 12:39 PM

    Last night on TV, I an old documentary about General de Gaulle. He wasn't wearing a poppy. Thanks God we're leaving Europe.

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