Archive for June, 2009

The Internet and Democratic Change

30/06/2009

The broadcast of Nightwaves on Radio3 last night, 29 June, (still available on Listen Again) discussed the use of Internet-based services as tools of popular protest and to foment political change. Twitter, inevitably, was cited, in the context of the current mass-catharsis against the Khomenists in Iran.

The whild and whacky whorld of the Internet has been agog at the use of Twitter to circumvent the cyberweb patrols of Iranian state-security, and plan opposition rallies: so much so that furniture store Habitat attempted to use popular interest in Twitter to piggyback its own advertizements.

Until now, Twitter has mostly been to inform the reader of what colour socks the operator is wearing (I am not wearing any today), or which china teapot Stephen Fry has bought or that Philip Pullman has, by the looks of it, been reading the Wiki entry for HDM for the past three months. What is happened in Iran is brilliant, but I cannot it being due to any inate aspect of Twitter (even if China and Vietnam and Guatemala take dim views on its use as political protest).

The level of technology held by the Iranian security services is unlikely to be highly advanced, even with the latest Siemens or Nokia equipment. The secret police just have not noticed it… or have they?

One point made on Nightwaves was that honey-traps may well have been laid, in anticipation of the ratification of the 12 June election results in Iran by the judiaciary (which has now happened). With the Khomenists now confident in their position, previously unmolested Internet users may soon find themselves nabbed. Not a pleasant thought, not least as I have previously said a companion on a group-blogging effort who has been caught up in this.

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Tweet Could Land Guatemalan Man in Gaol

30/06/2009

Whilst crooning about Dickie Davies Eyes, Half Man Half Biscuit declared that “mention the Lord of the Rings just once more, and I will more than likely kill you”.  I feel similar whenever the virtues of that human interaction replacement system, Twitter are extolled.  That said, the threat of five years in gaol for a Guatemalan Twitterer, Jean Anleu, seems a little draconian.

Guatemala Twitterer, Jean Anleu after arrest

Of course, there’s more to it than that, as :

Writing under his internet alias “jeanfer,” Mr Anleu urged depositors to pull their money from Guatemala’s rural development bank, whose management has been challenged in a political scandal: “First concrete action should be take cash out of Banrural and bankrupt the bank of the corrupt.”

These words illegally undermined public trust in Guatemala’s banking system, according to prosecutor Genaro Pacheco.

Authorities proved Mr Anleu sent the message by searching his Guatemala City home, and then put him in prison with kidnappers, extortionists and other dangerous criminals for a day and a half before letting him out on bail.

If similar laws were in effect in the United Kingdom, I can think of a good many members of the public as well as newspaper columnists or even elected representatives who would faced a spell in chokey as well for these 96 characters.

Anleu, previously had had only 175 Twitter contacts (I refuse to call them “friends”) with whom he shared techno-geekery comments. His followership has grown to some 1,600 since his arrest. He appears thoroughly harmless and also quite generous: offering his computer skills to community projects and impoverished schools. His blog offers a meandering, lyrical journey through a Beatnik’s mind, with the latest missive speaks of Dylan Thomas and coffee and kissing a beautiful girl.

Yet, even if he avoids gaol, his legal costs are estimated already to be in the region of the equivalent of £6,000, as the Times reported at the time of his arrest in May. One does wonder, however, if the Times is now be approving of Anleu’s conviction.

Nor is this the only multi-media scandal to have hit the nascent democracy which is post Cold War Guatemala; always was one of the more violence-riven in Latin America. As the Times had reported, Anleu had “tagged the message with ‘#escandalogt’ – referring to the alleged murder of prominent lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg”.

What had been initially thought of as another pointless murder spilling over in a middle-class area of Guatemala City, this is now alleged to have been orchestrated by the country’s President Alvaro Colom. At Rosenberg’s funeral, family members distributed a DVD in which Rosenberg was seen calmly stating that if this were being viewed, he would then be dead under orders from Colom.

The motive was said to have been alleged involvement of the Colom family in yet another Guatemalan banking crisis, during which another whistleblower (and his daughter) were also alleged to have been murdered.

I have no opinion formed either way on the Rosenberg case (and note that Colom has invited the FBI to investigate), although Anjeu’s looks decidedly squalid. I do see, also, the threat to Guatemalan public confidence in their first Leftist President since the disgraceful CIA-backed deposition of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in 1954. A Facebook group “Guatemalans united ask for the resignation of Alvaro Colom” has 41,000 members whilst a pro-Colom group has just 150. I would take this with a pinch of salt, though, as 41,000 represents one third of that national Facebook user-base and the Internet is still out of reach for a great majority of the 13 millions Guatemalans.

Just as Guatamala may be experiencing a flashback to the bad days of Cold War Latin American machinations, so is adjacent Honduras in which the national military deposed and deported the Leftist president, Manuel Zelaya. That Zelaya had been attempting to initiate a national referendum to permit him to run for re-election after his current non-renewable four year term still does not fill me with confidence at a coup d’etat anywhere in Latin America.

Samuel Pepys: Techno Geek; Blogger

28/06/2009

One the most prominent Restoration bloggers is Samuel Pepys, who can be described as a techno-geek.

samuel_pepys_blogger

In his blog missive for Monday 11 February 1661 he recounts witnessing the “many pretty pleasures in persectives” (cf. microscopes) at the premises of young Mr. Reeve – optical instrument maker to the King. So taken was he, that he immediately bought one for the modest sum of 5 shillings.

Like so many new toys, this appears to have gone into a drawer to gather dust. Soon, however, he was using the fashionable term for persectives – that is microscopes (and telescopes) – making furture trips to the young Mr. Reeves to sate his desire to “discover a louse or sand or mites most perfectly and largely“.

On Monday 25 July 1664, an urge came over him to return to the young Mr. Reeves, as it had come “just now in my head to buy a microscope”. The young Mr. Reeves was not within, so Sammy descended into a gloom “I walked all round that end of the town among the loathsome people and houses, but, God be thanked! had no desire to visit any of them”.

The next day, he returned to the young Mr. Reeves and choose a microscope which he would have. Microscopes remained on his mind, and about a fortnight later, on Lord’s Day – after a laying long during his he caressed and talked to his wife – he was conversing with John Spong, his musical friend and suspected traitor. Mr. Spong builds his own microscopes, and recounted to Sammy that he had discovered “that the wings of a moth is made just as the feathers of the wing of a bird, and that most plainly and certainly”.

This appears to have galvinized Sammy into splashing out, and that he did on Saturday 13 August 1664 when the young Mr. Reeve made a personal delivery of a microscope, for which Sammy paid the princely sum of 5 pounds 6 shillings. This was assured to be the latest model, and shit-hot. Sammy also purchased a scotoscope, the function of which he was greatly unsure.

Sammy then rushed out to buy the first published work in English on microscopy, Henry Power’s Experimental philosophy, in three books : containing new experiments microscopical, mercurial, magnetical : with some deductions, and probable hypotheses, raised from them, in avouchment and illustration of the now famous atomical hypothesis.

With the microscope-craze sweeping the country, new publications inevitably appear: notably Robert Hooke’s Micrographia: or, some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses. On Monday 2 January 1666, after spending a good while sporting with a serving wench at Swan Inn, Sammy visited his bookseller, Joshua Kirkton, and espied a copy in binding; which he impulsively ordered.

Robert Hooke's Microscope

I would be interested to know if Sammy pursues his interest in microscopy. Mr. Hooke’s observations, especially those of a compartments within the tissue of cork (I believe they are termed “cells”), and knowledge of such matters of natural philosophy interest me greatly.

Sammy’s latest blog missive is for Wednesday 27 June 1666. I have had a strange premonition that, on Lord’s Day 2 September 1666, he will write:

Bit of plague down at Cheapside, strange scent of burning from Pudding Lane. Next day, I will present myself at the blasted microscope seller. Now to bed.

Cultural Icon Dies

27/06/2009

cslewis

The world is in shock today on hearing of the death of Christian essayist and novelist, Clive Staples Lewis following a heart attack. He was a friend of children everywhere.

Meanwhile, reports are coming in a shooting in Dallas, Texas where John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America was due to address a public event. I hope this is not overshadowed by the momentous news described above.

Scots Troops Fight Taleban, Scots Courts Deport Taleban

25/06/2009

Coverage continues to come in of the participation by the Black Watch, Third Batallion of Scotland (3 SCOTS) in Operation Panchai Palang (Panther’s Claw) against a Taleban stronghold at Babaji, Lashkar Gar.

black-watch-air-assault-410

In neat synchronicity, the Court of Session yesterday refused leave for appeal against deportation by Dawalat Khan Nasir. The reason being was his active involvement in one faction of a pro-Taleban group, Herzb-e-Islami (HIA) whilst British troops were a’ hunting in Afghanistan.

HIA is alligned to the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamlaat-e-Islami religio-political organizations, and Nasir Khan’s faction, Herzb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) is a proscribed terror group in Afghanistan, the UK and USA. Guantanamo was and remains home to dozens of members who were definitely *not* charity workers.

Khan Nasir arrived in the UK in 2006, straight from employment at HIG and funding his departure with a golden handshake. In fairness to the immigration services, he was identified immediately and removal procedures were initiated. He, however, instigated an appeal process, and has since then been residing at Home Office approved locations since (reports that he is in Sighthill, Glasgow, appear to be out-of-date).

All appears to have failed, as, in summing up, the Lord Hardie said:

We are satisfied that the involvement of the applicant in HIG was such as to amount to serious reasons for considering that he has been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN… as a result of his involvement with HIG he is excluded from the protection of the Geneva Convention. There is accordingly no prospect of the applicant being successful in his appeal… we shall refuse leave to appeal.

I would have thought this was self-explanatory. HIG was founded in 1977 (i.e. two years before even the Soviet invasion) by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who, where lacking in piety, made up for it as a composite thug. During his heady student days at Kabul University it was reported:

People who were at the university at the time say they remember Mr. Hekmatyar’s followers throwing acid at women students who did not wear veils, and even shooting at the legs of women who were wearing skirts rather than traditional garb.

Wherever there has been violence and conflict and bloodshed in Afghanistan over the past 30 years, Hekmatyar has been there in a personal capacity. Often fighting other warlords. Achieving the near impossible, his unrestrained violence – such as the 1994 shelling of Kabul which the Jamestown Review estimates killed as many as 25,000 civilians – even managed to alienate the Pakistani ISI which, in the mid-90s, elected instead to nurture Mullah Omar’s Taleban.

This did not discourage HIG. Following the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, Hekmatyar’s son-in-law, Ghairat Baheer, refound a sense of Pashtun-fraternity by forging links with Mullah Omar’s Taleban. His reward was a comfy cell at Bagram Airbase, as his wife’s pa’ was kicked out of camps in Iran and resumed what he does best in Afghanistan (targetting ISAF troops, and Afghan civilians).

Thus, it was on this backdrop which Khan Nasir made his way to Blighty in 2006. My concern is not so much for the legal costs, as enunciated by the Daily Express. I am personally glad that in this country we can welcome tired and huddled masses. My beef is with accepting the causes of that tiredness and huddleness, such as Nasir Khan who merely wish to escape a gang-fight they have instigated or to use the security of British streets to pursue their reigional conflicts.

HIG and HIA remain active, with Baheer having been released from custody in June 2008 as part of ‘national reconcilliation’. Baheer now claims to be pursuing democratic argument to effect a withdrawal from Afghanistan: I would assume this did not include further assassination attempts on the Afghan President, as HIG is reported to have claimed responsibility for just two months before his release.

Maybe he and Nasir Khan met up in February 2009, when the former spoke at the Islamic Forum of Europe which operates out of the Jamlaat-e-Islami dominated London Muslim Centre. Who knows? What is for certain is, barring a last ditch appeal to the House of Lords, Nasir Khan should soon be on his way back to Afghanistan.

And 3 SCOTS. Let us hope they give him a right royal welcome.

Tehran 24

24/06/2009

stand with iranians

My other blog, Thurso Daily Photo, is part of a group-effort called City Daily Photo. Although there are only one thousand or so contributers, the photographs and conversation are of a high-quality and over a wonderful magic-eye view into the world.

Recently, I have been following a handful of Iranian contributers. Well, you can guess what is coming next. One has gone missing. Known as ‘A’, he blogged under Tehran 24. On Saturday, Life Magazine published a number photographs, including his. Shortly afterwards, other CDPers lost contact with him, and his blog was taken down. Another Iranian contributer is found here.

As I discussed before, the Stop the War Coalition believes its purpose to to hold its government to account (which does not stop it concentrating on Israel over which its Government has held no authority for 60 years). Plumbing even further depths of moral repugnance, John Wight – a leading light in its Scottish scene, who is under the misapprehension that Hamas represents the inheritors of the International Brigades and not the Falange – has experienced his Michel Foucault moment, his Ezra Pound realization, his Jose Saramago inspiration, his Knut Hamsun gathering, his Jean Ziegler awakening.

Marcus at Harry’s Place (I am not giving the oxymornically named Socialist Unity any traffic) points to Wight’s post-modern, sociological gobbledegook:

It is well nigh certain that not all of the protesters who’ve been on the streets confronting the state in recent days have been motivated by economic factors – or at least not solely by economic factors – or indeed support for Mousavi. Within their ranks are undoubtedly many who see this as the opportunity to challenge the very foundations of the Islamic Republic, determined to end the political, social, and cultural restrictions which are part of daily life in Iran, ushering in a new system of government altogether.

His rejection of women’s rights as a shibboleth of a progressive Left:

No democracy is without its imperfections. Under the Islamic Republic Iranians, no matter where they happen to live throughout the world, have the right to vote in elections. Women are debarred from standing for office, which is certainly regressive in itself. However, this differs from democratic elections in the West only in the sense that debarment here is based on economic status rather than gender. In effect this ensures that only the wealthy within western societies have any meaningful chance of holding high office.

His jolly-well near direct-lifting of Sayyd Qutb’s belief in the function of the family:

The family is the fundamental unit of society and the main center for the growth and edification of human being. Compatibility with respect to belief and ideal, which provides the primary basis for man’s development and growth, is the main consideration in the establishment of a family. It is the duty of the Islamic government to provide the necessary facilities for the attainment of this goal. This view of the family unit delivers woman from being regarded as an object or instrument in the service of promoting consumerism and exploitation. Not only does woman recover thereby her momentous and precious function of motherhood, rearing of ideologically committed human beings, she also assumes a pioneering social role and becomes the fellow struggler of man in all vital areas of life. Given the weighty responsibilities that woman thus assumes, she is accorded in Islam great value and nobility.

Oh dear, Onion Johnny, oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

In Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell said:

I have no particular love for the idealised ‘worker’ as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.

I second that. I do not have to ask on whose side I am with current events in Iran. I am with Neda Agha-Soltan (warning, highly distressing), who took a bullet to her chest as she stood beside her father. I am with A. I am with Shooresh 1917.

If the world were filled with piss, and John Wight were in the only tree, I would not, ever, under any circumstances be with that disgusting person.

UPDATE – A is reported to be in Evin gaol, although from what I can glean, he is merely thought to be another photographer on the street. Not the author of *those* photographs. If anyone has contacts that can confirm his detention (or anyone else’s), please contact hadighaemi@iranhumanrights.org (Hadi Ghaemi) at the New York office as soon as possible.

UPDATE II – Meead at Portland Daily Photo is republishing A’s work.

UPDATE III – in retrospect, maybe comparing Onion Johnny Wight to literary greats such as Hamsun, Pound and Saramago was a praise-too-far (although, his views are precisely the same as the still living Saramago). How about Malcolm Caldwell, Pol Pot’s greatest fan? Yes, that sounds right. Go on, Onion Johnny, take a flight to Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Channel Four Sneers at Hostages

23/06/2009

(This missive is partially cannibalized from an earlier one.)

Badly decomposed bodies handed to the British Embassy in Iraq have been identified as one Jason Creswell from Glasgow, and one Jason Swindlehurst from Lancashire. Both were employed by Canadian private security firm GardaWorld, detailed to guard Peter Moore, a British systems programmer.

dead hostages

Details of their original kidnapping in April 2007 remain sketchy, but Moore was working as part of a contract for the Iraqi Ministry of Finance to maintain computer systems. Creswell and Swindlehurst, and two other Britons named only as Alan and Alec, were his guards.

What I found noteworthy about the forensic tests on the hostages’ bodies was the suggestion that serious decomposition had taken place. They clearly have been dead for some time, and it is reasonable to fear the safety of Moore and ‘Alan’ and ‘Alec’.

The following is the text of the ‘Snowmail’, an e-letter sent in advance of Channel4 News evening broadcasts, from Sunday 21 June:

Greetings all – Alex Thomson here. This is our current thinking for tonight’s Channel 4 News at 6.30…

It seems the two bodies handed to British authorities are those of Jason Creswell and Jason Swindlehurst, two British security guards assigned to protect IT consultant Peter Moore when they were abducted in Baghdad more than two years ago.

The Foreign Office said it was still very concerned about the safety of the three other men who are still thought to be held captive.

Tonight we hope to speak to the father of Peter Moore. He is less than happy about the way the government went about giving him news on this.

He says he hopes his son is alive but feels desperate for the other families.

Perhaps too in the ghastliness of this we all need to stand back.

These were men in Iraq making big money on the back of an invasion of another country, which had caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis. They knew the risks.

That’s why the money was big. That’s not to excuse, still less condone what’s happened. But it is to give it some context.

In that light we hope to talk to a security consultant involved in Iraq.

I did not watch the subsequent broadcast, so did not hear what the security consultant said. I wonder what his response and that from Moore’s father would have been had Thompson suggested that maintaining databases and protecting those who do maintain databases is a partisan act.

I am sure that no Channel4 News journalist has felt the need to hire “security consultants” when reporting from Iraq or other hot-zones. Just as I am sure Thompson said similar at Terry Lloyd and Gaby Rado’s funerals.

As linked to, the Daily Record printed a horrified report covering these events. George Galloway also writes a regular column for this newspaper. Yet, despite Moore’s intention of normalizing the post-Saddam economic institutions, his and his guards’ mere association with the Coalition forces and democatically elected Iraqi government may have been enough for Galloway to have decreed them worthy of attack. In his recent semi-autobiography, he described foreign contractors and non-journalists in Iraq as “legitimate targets for acts of resistance”.

(It should also be recalled that, in discussing anti-Saddam protests during the 1980s which Galloway has long since been accused of not offering his full attention, he stated that “when people like me” were there. In other words, Dod, you were not. Just as I have not been able to find examples of your repeatedly calling the Dinner Jacket’s acts of Holocaust Denial a disgrace.)

Galloway and the StWC, these are your people. And so were these previous presenters of Schrödinger’s Cat.

Why We Are Not Concentrating on Iran

22/06/2009

… well, that is not really true. Stop the War – No! Not that One! – Coalition does think the Iran should be discussed: as in chasing the phantasm of the impending attack which has been prediced since 2004. On the other hand, a mass catharsis against the Khomenists who subverted the 1979 Iranian Revolution is being suppressed in the accustomed style:

human face

One does not need to imagine a boot stamping on a human face. It is right here. Yet, not for StWC which has released the following statement explaining why they are not mounting formal protests:

“Stop the War statement on the crisis in Iran

The crisis unfolding in Iran must not become the pretext for renewed intervention by the USA or Britain in the region, nor for a whipping up of further tension around Iran’s nuclear programme.

The responsibility of the anti-war movement is first of all to oppose the role of the British government in the region, and to prevent its posturing being used as a pretence to justify a US or Israeli military attack against Iran, an attack which would have catastrophic results for the whole Middle East, and the Iranian people first of all.

The Stop the War Coalition believes that resolving the crisis is the right and responsibility of the Iranian people alone, and that external interference can play no positive role – particularly interference by those powers which have laid waste to neighbouring Iraq in a lawless war and occupation, and which unfailingly support Israeli aggression in the region.

It would be wrong for us to take any position on the disputed outcome of the Iranian presidential election. We do, however, support the right to demonstrate peacefully, just as we support the Iranian people’s right to political, trade union and other civil freedoms and to struggle to achieve them. We unequivocally condemn the shooting of protesters and other violations of democratic liberties by the Iranian government.

We note the anger displayed by many Iranians against the British government. These sentiments reflect Britain’s shameful history in the country, from overthrowing the democratic regime of Mossadeq in 1952, to its stalwart support for the Shah’s despotism and its support for Saddam Hussein in his aggression against the Islamic Republic in the 1980s.

This anger can only be exacerbated by British interference in the present crisis. The British government remained silent when its ally Hosni Mubarak falsified election results in Egypt, and it has refused to deal with democratically-elected leaders in the Palestine Authority and in Lebanon. The government supports the Saudi kleptocracy, which does not need to manipulate elections because they are never held there.

The British and US governments wish to see regime change in Iran in order to dominate the Middle East and its resources and leave Israel as the region’s unchallenged military superpower. And a government which ignored millions of its own people marching against its planned war against Iraq is in no position to lecture others on democratic attitudes.

In expressing our solidarity with all the Iranian people striving for a democratic outcome to the crisis in their country, the Coalition will support demonstrations and initiatives which reflect these principles.

Note: This is a draft statement by the officers of Stop the War Coalition, which will be put for endorsement to Stop the War’s National Steering Committee on Saturday 27 June 2009.”

Yeah, first set aside the fact that the StWC was not, as many may believe, set up to co-ordinate opposition to the planned invasion of Iraq, but less than a fortnight after three thousand civilians and non-combatants were incinerated or crushed to death in New York and Washington DC. Concentrate on their statement that the StWC’s purpose include one arbitary unrelated situation (i.e. Israel/Palestine) but not another arbitary unrelated situation (i.e. opposition protests in Iran). Recall that the British Government has not had a presence in the former Mandate region for over 60 years, and wonder what role they think it has.

Forgetting also a Jew-fixation which means Israel must be brought into every discussion, and just consider how much they must care for workers’ rights and democracy activitists when there is no angle against Pax Americana. Look also at the rationalization that “a government which ignored millions of its own people marching against its planned war against Iraq is in no position to lecture others on democratic attitudes” and think that, even if this is true and justifies questioning Government motives, it does not explain such a disgraceful act of moral aboragation.

Meanwhile, George Galloway insists that the election, which appears to have reported more than 100% turnouts in some electoral wards, was “fair” and “the counting too was awsome”, and that “we have to accept Ahmadinejad’s re-election, not least because all our best friends in that region don’t have any elections at all” (I have no idea what this means).

Nor does Galloway believe that there is “one iota of evidence that the Iranian election was fiddled”. Chatham House does have plenty lots of evidence. Highlights for me included:

Working from the province by province breakdowns of the 2009 and 2005 results, released by the Iranian Ministry of Interior, and from the 2006 census as published by the official Statistical Centre of Iran, the following observations about the official data and the debates surrounding it can be made

  • In two Conservative provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, a turnout of more than 100% was recorded;
  • At a provincial level, there is no correlation between the increased turnout, and the swing to Ahmadinejad. This challenges the notion that his victory was due to the massive participation of a previously silent Conservative majority;
  • In a third of all provinces, the official results would require that Ahmadinejad took not only all former conservative voters, and all former centrist voters, and all new voters, but also up to 44% of former Reformist voters, despite a decade of conflict between these two groups;
  • In 2005, as in 2001 and 1997, conservative candidates, and Ahmadinejad in particular, were markedly unpopular in rural areas. That the countryside always votes conservative is a myth. The claim that this year Ahmadinejad swept the board in more rural provinces flies in the face of these trends.

I am sure that Galloway’s statements are not based, at all, on reasons of selfishness or desire for personal enrichment of a man who is employed by PressTV, the Iranian state broadcaster operating from London. In fact, as he was insisting the Iranian elections were “fair”, Galloway also stressed that “I’ve said many times that Ahmadinejad’s comments about the Holocaust are a disgrace”. Maybe my Google skills are not up to scratch, but I am struggling to find evidence of that.

Anne Widdecombe for Speaker

22/06/2009

Nominations have closed for Speaker of the House of Commons, after the recent apotheosis of St. Michael of the Gorbals. Here at Efrafan Warren, we have decided on our preferred candidate. Well, I mean the royal we: there is a One Rabbit One Vote system in place here. I am the Rabbit and I have the Vote.

Anyway, we prefer Anne Widdecombe.

widdecombe

Partly as an Operation Chaos, and partly lest any Parliamentarian contemplate suicide. Auntie Anne is an ex Samaritan, so could easily talk them down from the Clock Tower.

In decreasing order of preference, our other choices would be:

oliver_cromwell_closeup

… Ollie “Get Your Gun Out” Cromwell, to instill a fresh sense of discipline and imbue a blind terror in Parliamentarians who have previously been upset at not being able to charge for a home cinema system.

rowstockist

… the Rest of the World.

Beckett

… Margaret Beckett.

John Thurso’s Expenses Online

19/06/2009

I note that the expenses of sometime Lord Lucan lookalike and MP for the Hyperborean North, John Thurso have been published on the Parliament website.

Having a quick scan through them, I cannot see that those sections which were redacted had public interest. For instance, we know that he rents a flat close to the Palace of Westminster for about £1,400 p.c.m.; not buys and flips juicy properties. What interest is there, apart for burglars in August, to know where?

No doubt this will displease John Mackay – Labour PPC for the constituency who perhaps mistook Thurso for the Earl of Caithness when he derided him for being landed gentry living in a Castle – or all-round comic relief Gordon Campbell who believes Thurso to have been at “his innocuous worst“.

I have to say though that I would not have objected to being able to spend £400 pcm on food on top of my wages, as Thurso appears to have done with unerring regularity.  As I have said before, however, the attitudinal problem throughout the House of Commons has led to even honest and frugal MPs been seen as modern-day Stakanovites. The pigs ear they made of instigating Byzantine expenses rather than being thought to be awarding themselves a pay rise, which would have cost similar or less, invited this. From the start, it has been clear to me that Thurso has most certainly not swung the financial lead.