Thursday, 29 October 2009

Brown backs Blair for EU top Job.

He may have done it through teeth so tightly gritted they showered the front row with splinters but Gordon Brown has finally made his support for Tony Blair’s candidacy, should the Lisbon Treaty go through and the job come into existence, to be the first President on the European Union.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels ahead of a summit meeting of EU leaders he said his predecessor would make an ‘excellent president’ and that concerns amongst European leaders about his involvement in the Iraq war belonged to the past.

The peoples of Europe, he said, ‘want to look forward’ to being in a position where they can ‘shape their own policies.’ As the man who sold capitalism to the Labour Party and a war for oil to the British electorate super salesman Blair is, it would seem, just the man to lead them to that point.

The question hanging in the air, whether or not the Czechs do the decent thing, from the standpoint of Brussels, and sign the Lisbon Treaty is does Europe really want or need a president? Everything about the office seems suggestive of all that is expensive, pompous and remote about the European Union.

From a British perspective another question begs to be answered, do we want to be part of Europe at all? There is a good case to be made for our continued membership and a long list of reasonable doubts regarding its value in a world that has changed immeasurably since the EU was founded, the only thing missing is a rational debate.

The problem is no government since that of Harold Wilson in the mid seventies has had the nerve to ask, David Cameron has made encouraging noises about holding a referendum, but he has to date, been rather vague as to when. The twelfth of never sounds like a likely date.


The strange case of the bureaucrats who listened.

It’s almost like something out of a Bateman cartoon, maybe one showing a throng of people belonging to the chattering classes gawping in horror at, as the caption below tells us ‘The bureaucrat who changed his mind.’

I mean of course the decision by Secretary for Education, Schools and Families Ed Balls, not always a sensitive or particularly sensible man, to review plans to make parents taking part in voluntary activities with children not their own to sign a special register.

The move hasn’t been popular, Sir Roger Singleton, Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority told the Guardian ‘I hear phrases like common sense and proportion,’ in relation to the public backlash against the plan, he continues to say ‘I don’t know how you can make sure a person considered is who they say they are’ without some king of screening process.

Quite so Sir Roger, but the process itself is doomed to fail if it is devoid of the common sense and proportion about which you spoke so scathingly. Yes people who have regular contact with children need to the checked but paranoia never protected anybody.

He may be a charmless and overambitious oaf in many respects but by calling for this silly and panic driven plan to be re-examined and hopefully replaced with something more workable Ed Balls is very much on the side of the angels.


Bong! ITN to axe Big Ben.

ITN is to remove Big Ben from the titles of its flagship News at Ten bulletin in an attempt to make the news less London centric. The legendary bongs will be incorporated into a new soundtrack.

Don’t worry though as part of the re-branding process and to ‘retain the heritage that people recognise,’ a spokesman for ITN said, a clock face will be incorporated into the new studio design. Well that’s ok then isn’t it?

Re-branding, if there’s a worse word in the English language I don’t know of it. It’s always used by media types as a short hand for treating the audience like idiots whilst spending shed loads of money.

Here’s a late news item, viewers don’t like familiar formats being messed with and they positively detest being treated like idiots. That’ll be why most of ITV’s bonged off to the BBC years ago.


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