Take Me To Your Leader Writer

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...has written more leaders (newspaper editorials) than anyone alive or dead, an honour still to be recognised by the Guiness Book of Records or the Nobel judges. I have produced them for the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Sunday Mirror, Today, the Sunday People, the Evening Post (Hemel Hempstead), the Caithness Courier and the Student (Edinburgh). My creed is: Have opinions, Will travel.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

BBC sadly misleads on Iraqi prisoner abuse

It's disgraceful how the BBC is reporting the results of the inquiry into abuse of prisoners in Iraq.
Their top line is that the British Army has been cleared of systematic abuse. Of course it has been. Not only would no inquiry (particularly one by a judge) find otherwise, there was never an accusation that the entire British Army was abusing Iraqis.
The charge, made by the Daily Mirror and leading to the sacking of its editor, was that there was systematic abuse by members of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment which led to the death of the innocent hotel receptionist Basa Moosah, who suffered 93 wounds as he was beaten to death.
The report appears to condemn various individual soldiers, attacks the QLR's chain of command and criticises the whitewash of the earlier inquiry.
The point made by the Mirror at the time (and I should know, as I wrote the leaders) was that the brutal actions of a few members of the British forces not only tarnished the reputation of the entire army but put the rest of them in additional danger from those who wanted to strike back for the abuse that was going on and which was widely known in Iraq.
The BBC rarely manages to perform well at weekends - all the main executives and journalists are off - but even by their usual imploding standards, this is poor and misleading.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Human rights for everyone but us

Among the utter stupidities spouted by the Tories before the election and subsequently whenever things looked black for them was a pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act.
So who is against human rights? Dictators around the world and the British Right, apparently - the Tories and the Mail, Express and Sun.
Nick Clegg in The Guardian today promises to resist Conservative plans to relegate the UK to a shameful pariah state at the same time when there is such a remarkable movement around the globe to introduce human rights for people who have been denied them for generations.
David Cameron's idea of replacing the Act with a British Bill of Rights is a pathetic ruse. His MPs don't like the European Court of Human Rights (but then, they don't like anything European) because they don't approve of some of it's judgments. But they won't like some of the judgments of our Supreme Court and a many of us don't approve of some things Parliament does.
Once again we witness thestupidity, prejudice and reactionary heart of Cameron's Conservatives. As we did yesterday with their nonsense over immigration.
With the double dip rapidly approaching, it is terrifying to contemplate what they will come up with in an attempt to distract the electorate from their failings and incompetence.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Lies, damned lies and phone-in callers

On Five Live last night, an absolute idiot called in to complain that rioters were being jailed for up to four years whereas "the student rioters" weren't dealt with similarly.
Let us not go into whether it is right for those who were involved in the worst civil disturbances in this country of modern times to face such harsh penalties. But there isn't any doubt, surely, that what happened was widespread looting, violence, robbery and arson in more than two dozen areas over several days and nights.
By contrast, the "student riots" were a peaceful demonstration by tens of thousands of young people protesting at the trebling of university fees and the abolition of the educational maintenance allowance. This was, as ever, infiltrated by a small number (even the police said little more than a hundred of them) anarchists who kicked in a few shop windows. Some held a sit-in in Fortnum and Mason.
So absolutely no comparison to be made. Yet the BBC not only allowed someone on to say there was no difference (over and over again) but he wasn't contradicted by the presenter, who was a stand-in and hopeless.
Surely the BBC has a responsibility to make some sense of its phone-in programmes. Who does it think it is - Fox News?
Bring back Brian Hayes, I say. He was the master of challenging callers who spouted rubbish. None of them today, even if they are capable of it, seem to dare challenge big-mouthed lunatics.
The BBC might think it's entertainment. It certainly isn't contributing to an intelligent debate.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The cry must go up: Call for Charles!

This country is close to disaster. Financial collapse looms, social unrest threatens to overwhelm towns and cities. And the people who are supposed to be steering us out of this mess and running the nation are patently unfit for the job.
If it were only that the current crop of politicians was inadequate, that would be bad enough. But it's worse than that. You can't see another generation waiting in line to take over. There is going to be more of the same for as far ahead as you can see, until the nation is overwhelmed with cataclysm.
What is the solution? Here is a suggestion. Let's get rid of the politicians and put Prince Charles in charge.
Iknow, I know. Totally undemocratic, dictatorship by hereditary monarchy, ridiculous antiquated system. But drastic times call for drastiuc measures and it may just be that Charles has the qualities which are needed and which our elected politicians, propelled through a corrupt political system, clearly don't.
One of the troubles with Cameron, Clegg and even Miliband as well as most of the rest of them is that they came through elite educational, social and political structures. They can't understand or empathise not just with ordinary people but with the reality of their existence.
Charles, of course, has come through an even more elitist system. The most elite of all. He is a man who has never had to put his own toothpaste on a brush, it will be said.
Bizarrely, though, he appears to understand more about tackling the problems - and what the real problems are - than the politicians with all their door-knocking, weekly-surgery experience.
His performance when he visited victims of the riots was wonderful. He looked as if he meant it, whereas the politicians didn't, and he talked sense.
His strength is that he has never had to compromise by appealing to a fickle electorate or a rabid press. He has met and talked to thousands of people, especially young people, who tell him what they really think, not what they think he wants to hear to get re-elected.
Certainly he has some eccentric views but no more off-the-wall than much of the stuff spouted by the politicians.
Let the cry go out: Send for Charles! His country needs him.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Two wrongs and one is from the Right

There used to be a time when you could expect the Left to come up with Pavlovian responses to any crisis, particularly riots or other forms of civil breakdown. Today it is the Right that holds that ignominious position.
Their reprsentatives have been trotted out on television, radio and in the papers to spout the most extraordinary nonsense.
For a start, there is almost nobody apart from some of the rioters themselves who justifies what has happened. Yet the Right never stop screeching that the Left, liberals and their fellow-travellers are making excuses for the looters and attempting to justify what they did. Simply not true.
They then go on to name the people they blame. The last Labour government, obviously. Schools, brought down by comprehensive education, something the Eton-educated Cabinet knows a lot about. The BBC - yes, the BBC! The Guardian (naturally). But most of all woolly liberal thinking and being soft on young people who grow up with no direction from their parents and no prospect of ever achieving anything in life unless it is through selling drugs.
This country is in a terrible state and the riots, looting, arson attacks, vandalism, destruction and violence are symbols of that. If you have a job and a home, you are OK - though for most people their standard of living has fallen and will go on falling. If you are a banker or run a major company, you are untouchable, as are your huge salary, massive bonus and grotesque pension pot.
However, if you are on the outside of this section of society, you are going to have a sad, desperate life. Which isn't an excuse for what went on but needs to be understood by policy makers.
It is clear from his performance in the past year that Cameron doesn't have it and nor do any of his close associates, Conservative and Liberal Democrat. And Labour isn't showing much sign of being any better.
If you think it's bad now, just wait for the double dip, which is coming up fast. The end may not be nigh, but it's out there somewhere.