Saturday, December 25, 2010


Moffat's Latest Knock-off Exposed – The Secret of Doctor Who

A Merry Doctor Who Special Day to you all, and there's just time, with Ronnie Corbett in full flow on TV and Richard coughing over his turkey at putting on some lederhosen, for me to spoiler an ultra-special Christmas secret. I've got to tell you: Doctor Who Supremo Steven Moffat very nearly pulled off a cracker of a con-job. You think, don't you, that tonight's story is going to be A Christmas Carol again? Honestly. As if the ever-inventive* Mr Moffat would give us such a Dickensian old chestnut that the series first did it more than twenty years ago! Why, just this afternoon we put on the Christmas turkey with killer sprouts**, and even I wrote an A Christmas Carol-referencing Doctor Who story for a friend over a decade ago (it's that obvious an idea. Come to think of it, even Blackadder did it, with the same Doctor Who companion that the Doctor did. And that's on again tonight, too). So it's a brilliant Yuletide prank, isn't it, that Mr Moffat's managed to convince everyone that he's just doing the same again.

So of course it's something much more original. Ignore the Continuity Errors. Yes, from the man who in 2007 brought a Doctor Who story to the screen that he'd first published in the Annual a couple of years earlier, and who this year commissioned Gareth Roberts to adapt a Doctor Who Magazine comic strip for TV, tonight I'm hugely excited to reveal he's got a special adaptation of one of the greatest of all Doctor Who stories, The Iron Legion. Oh, you were going to be so surprised! Which is why, amid all the fake "Dickens" clips (and to think everybody's fallen for it – biggest whopper printed in the Radio Times since Neil Toynay last guest-starred), when they accidentally let through a shot from the real Christmas special, Mr Moffat went hopping mad. Such incompetence! It's amazing so few people spotted it, but just before General Ironicus thrills and delights you by striding onto your screen at 6pm, here's the clip that let it slip, where the real Malevilus Temple was inadvertently revealed.

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Temple of the Gods

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Christmas Carol

Sorry to spoil the surprise early.

Will there be any more blogs from me to mark the end of my least productive year yet? With a bit of luck, I might soon be publishing an arguably better-informed review of a spectacularly unChristmassy Doctor Who story. But, as is so often the way, I've got to the end with no problem, but am having difficulty with the start (and it's not even one of Mr Moffat's timey-wimeys).

Apologies, one and all, for my not having sent a single Christmas card. Well, that's not quite true (how unlike most of this post). I handed one to my beloved this morning in person, and I did post one to my Grandma in New Hampshire, as the alternative is execution (only joking). But having been distinctly ill and only out of the flat three times in three weeks, I'm afraid I've not done very much that's Christmassy for the people I love. Except the lovely one who made dinner for me this very afternoon and generally makes life worth living.

And finally, as my previous post was filled with rather unseasonable language, perhaps I could make up for it with a piece of festive opinion polling

…Don't tell the children.

*As proven mathematically down Mr Miles' sidebar

**Unlike most of this post, it is in fact true that while eating Christmas dinner we watched Doctor Who's The Trial of a Time Lord Part Eleven

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Thursday, December 09, 2010


Labour and So-Called Green Party Leaders Both Disgusting Hypocrites – Anyone Surprised?

Tonight on tuition fees, the Liberal Democrats reach the climax of their worst political fuck-up for twenty years. This is a cause of ructions for Lib Dems, hilarity for the media, hypocrisy from Labour who created the policy (except the fairer bits), and disgusting hypocrisy from the Labour-run "National Union of Students," whose policy is functionally identical to the Coalition Government's but who pretend outrage.

What you won't see in the terrible press the Lib Dems are getting is that the Leaders of the Labour and, shockingly, the So-Called "Green Party" prioritise embarrassing the Government instead of tackling climate change.

I've meant to write about tuition fees for months, but as you'll have spotted, I've not been writing anything much. As I've been coughing all manner of unpleasantness up all day and I can't access any of the notes I've been making half-heartedly along the way, this won't be a long, methodical, carefully argued and linkful piece. More a shout of outrage at seeing the news. Yes, my temperature has been racing all day, but this evening part of it's self-induced (or at least politics-induced).

Who's Right To Be Outraged? And Who's Faking It?

The many students who voted for Lib Dems who signed a pledge not to vote for increased fees have the right to be outraged. Cutting or abolishing fees for the least well-off (based both on their families before graduation and their jobs after graduation) is a good achievement by Lib Dem ministers that a majority Tory Government would not have delivered, and that Labour proved they would never deliver in their long years of absolute power, when instead they created and then increased tuition fees. Extending the same system to all the part-time students (who tend to be poorer, and who Labour condemned to pay every penny up front) is a big step forward. The amended system is not absolute evil. It does help the poorest. It is more progressive than the system Labour left in place, or Labour's Browne Report on which it's based but which they now pretend to oppose. But it's not good enough. Promising to vote against raising the tuition fees people pay slowly after graduating, then voting to let some universities triple them, is a broken promise, and – more importantly – a broken principle.

Students who complain now but who voted in May for candidates who did not sign the pledge, particularly those who supported the defeated Labour Government which broke all their tuition fees promises, are hypocrites. And students who didn't bother to vote but protest now, leading to the under-25s having by far the lowest voter turn-out at the General Election, should be ashamed of themselves for their laziness (if 'they're all the same', how come you're burning Nick Clegg in effigy rather than any random politician?) – more votes would have meant more Lib Dem MPs and a stronger bargaining position.

As it is, 65% of the Lib Dem Manifesto is being delivered in government, and that's not according to Lib Dem spin doctors – it's from The Guardian, who pour shit over the Lib Dems on a daily basis. As (like everyone else) we didn't win the election, that's not just impressive but near-miraculous.

Do you know what the Lib Dems' top election priority on education was? You can see for yourself: it was on the front cover of that manifesto (tuition fees were not), and it's been delivered by the Coalition Government. It's a pupil premium to load extra money to the poorest schoolkids in the country. I'm proud that Liberal Democrats in government have made sure money's going to help the children who most need it. I'm not happy, though, about the coalition negotiators' work on tuition fees. They had to do a near-impossible job at frantic speed, and mostly they did great work (that 65%), but they should have seen the problems coming. It was the biggest single worry at the Special Conference that agreed the Coalition deal a week later, so it's not as if other people couldn't work it out. Abolishing tuition fees was a major campaigning issue as well as an issue of principle. It was also very expensive. But even if the Tories wouldn't agree to the money for abolition, the double-bind of the pledge not to raise them should have been the fall-back position, not the policy that fell into the abyss. I'm very glad I didn't have to sit in that room and work out what to cut instead. But the fact is, the Lib Dem negotiators made the one huge mistake of agreeing David Cameron's cast-iron promises but bargaining away Nick's. I know which of the Leaders is more instinctively honest, so it's a shame that the other one had the more finely attuned sense for covering his arse.

Oh, and one from the archives: my position on tuition fees from 17 months ago. It's not changed, even if we can't deliver it today. The Coalition is something else I have two big problems with, and once again one of them's tuition fees (though it's at least made a big mark rolling back Labour's hideous attacks on civil liberties).

Pairing – No, It's Not Just Arcane Parliamentary Rules

Almost no-one will know about this, let alone care, because it sounds like an arcane bit of Parliamentary nonsense, and goodness knows there are a lot of those still cluttering up the place. But in fact 'pairing' is not some old-fashioned bit of flummery that politicians use to cover up being lazy, or arrogant, or out of touch. It's one of the few bits of Parliament that helps it work like a proper workplace. Which is why, of course, Labour doesn't actually believe in it – like Harriet Harman pretending commitment to equality but slagging off ginger people against the law she herself brought in, Ed Miliband has refused the sort of cover of which he himself has just taken advantage. Charlotte Henry explains:
"It has emerged that the Labour Leader is refusing to pair Energy & Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne for tomorrow's vote on tuition fees, forcing him to return from the key climate change summit in Cancun. Pairing is the process whereby the absence of an MP who is whipped one way but can't attend a vote is negated by an opposing MP not voting too, and is agreed by the parties' teams of whips."
Basically, you need something to cover MPs who are seriously busy somewhere else or Parliament can't function – both Government and Opposition use and need it. Millennium Dome, Elephant points out that the Opposition parties (now the Coalition Government) co-operated with Labour 'pairs' even when Labour broke their own promises over tuition fees, if you read his Now Labour's Opportunism Threatens Climate Change Talks:
"It's done by a formal agreement between the Whips' Offices (which is just one of the reasons you can't "pair" with a rebel on your own side – never mind that if they're wound up enough TO rebel, they're hardly likely to agree to taking a stand by not being there!)

"It's been used for TIGHT votes before to allow Hard Labour ministers to attend important events such as – not un-coincidentally – the 2004 Higher Education Act (which you MAY recall was a bit of a tight pinch itself with seventy-one Labour rebels opposing, er, the Hard Labour Government manifesto-pledge tripling of tuition fees)."
But this is Ed Miliband refusing to 'pair' a single Labour MP for the Government Ministers away trying to sort out the survival of the planet. I can't think of a more serious issue for him to piss about with for a stunt. And he used to accept pairing personally from the parties that are now in government when he said it was vitally important for him to be away negotiating, back when he was… Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

Labour used to say the Tories were evil in the 1970s when they refused 'pairs' for close votes and forced sick Labour MPs to come from their hospital beds to vote. Today, Labour are happy to dick about with the planet's future to get a headline. Which party's meant to be evil, again?

Never mind the Labour Leader having exploited literally the same cover he's refusing now, the shitty hypocrite, but there are others that do much the same thing that he pretends to support. Think about it. It's not only Parliament that requires cover to function. It's a bit like there being a legal framework to guarantee maternity or paternity leave, so new parents don't have to work the day their baby's born. This comparison's particularly appropriate, because although the Labour Leader doesn't think anyone else should have cover for their jobs, Ed Miliband thought it was important that he take time off for his own baby in the last few weeks. Good for him, as far as that went.

But all those non-Miliband babies who might die because of climate change? But they're mainly in the Third World, aren't they, so they won't be in the news. And even more importantly, they're not little Miliband princes, so why should he give a toss? Oh – he doesn't.

So, Labour are despicable hypocrites who break the spirit and the letter of their own laws just for a stunt, and endanger vital international negotiations as a by-product. No-one can say they're surprised, after thirteen years of appalling Labour Government. But they're not the only opposition party, are they?

If only there were a single MP on the opposition benches whose entire stated raison d'être was to protect the environment, rather than being play politics with the Earth's future like the hypocritical scum in the Labour Party…

Caroline Lucas Says Climate Change Is Only Someone Else's Problem – As She Boasts On Twitter

I care about the tuition fees vote. But next to the threat of climate change, it doesn't matter a rat's fart.

I realise that's not going to win any votes. There's no one single hot-button climate change policy that will raise howls of outrage like tuition fees, and nothing's going to convince anyone reading that the Leader of the So-Called Green Party is a disgusting traitor just because she sits smugly back and, like the Labour Party, pretends that climate change is someone else's problem. But it should.

So-Called Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas could have proven that she, unlike the Labour Party, thought climate change was a serious issue. In fact, several people asked her directly if she would pair Chris Huhne.

She said there was no need, and he could just stay at the COP16 climate change negotiations in Cancún, pretending that wasn't a problem, pretending that would in no way distract one of the key negotiators, pretending that she doesn't know why pairing is important. Exactly along with all those other people who also say, 'Oh, climate change, who cares, someone else can deal with it. I'll just carry on as I was'.

Caroline Lucas, you call Nick Clegg a betrayer for breaking one policy that was a long way down the Lib Dems' manifesto when he had to make compromises with another party to fulfil any policies. What are you, then, for sitting back and putting your own smug ego ahead of the world's biggest climate change negotiations?

What are you for, then?

You are the first Self-Styled Green MP ever elected to the UK Parliament. What do you think people expect is your number one priority? What is the biggest possible betrayal you could commit?

You have no coalition agreement with any other party. Absolutely nothing dilutes your electoral mandate. You can vote however you like. That gives you freedom. It also means that you have no-one but yourself to take responsibility – or blame.

You choose to use your vote to help embarrass the Coalition Government, and you choose to refuse to help the delicate climate change negotiations in which the United Nations say the UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary is leading the charge to make them work. You choose to use your vote to embarrass the Government and put the climate change negotiations at risk.

You don't give a toss about the environment when you can posture to your voters in the two universities in Brighton, do you?

You are a lying piece of shit and the most despicable hypocrite.

I remain a supporter of the Coalition Government. I remain unenthusiastic about many of the compromises involved, and I remain in deep dislike for the Tories. One consolation, as it has been for most of the last six months, is that the Labour Party remain far worse. And for the Labour spin doctor who said on Newsnight last night that tuition fees might be the Lib Dems' "Iraq moment": no, you tasteless gobshite, it isn't. How can I tell? Because it's not killing hundreds of thousands of people illegally.

"Cancún"… Hmm, almost an anagram of a word made popular by Radio Four this week that's appropriate to the Labour and So-Called Green Parties for their fiddling while the Earth burns?

Good News

As I've been writing, news has broken that Chris Huhne is doing the right thing, because he cares about climate change while Ms Lucas only pretends to. Even if the government is defeated, he's staying put to do the more important job. If the tuition fees vote is lost by one vote, Caroline Lucas will crow that it was her that did it. It wasn't. It will have been the Energy and Climate Change Secretary taking responsibility and putting his money where his mouth is about climate change while the self-styled Leader of the fake "Green Party" postures and throws away all her most important principles when it comes to a choice rather than a soundbite.

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Monday, December 06, 2010


My Computer and I Are Unwell

This hasn't been my best year for blogging, has it? Mostly down to my own ill-health, though my computer's recently come out in sympathy. As most of my interaction with the outside world or even thinking time goes through it, this is a bit of a blow. In short, I was rebooting and it suddenly got no further than the company logo (a Dell PC running Windows XP) before the screen went blank. My very limited skills have got as far as unproductively re-plugging things and then failing to start safe mode, which simply sticks on one screen half-way through.

This far and no further for 'safe mode'

So if I've been grouchy, unsociable, introspective and silent, which I certainly have been, that's made it significantly worse. If you have any brilliant tips, please let me know – in addition to not being able to use the thing, I'm ashamed to admit that my last proper back-up was three and a half months ago, so while not everything is irreplaceable I feel like a chunk of my brain's gone missing, including all my most recent trains of thought.

Tiresomely, having become very much more ill than usual in the Spring, I still am. I seemed to be improving in parts of August and September, which was a relief – balanced by the crushing let-down of getting much worse again (and while he's usually spared my collapsing during the day, all that noisy late-night throwing up is difficult to hide from poor stressed Richard, who could do with a break). So I'm not getting out much, and that's been nothing to do with the weather. Today is my Mum's birthday, and while I'd hoped to be able to go up north to see the family, no chance. Hopefully I'll at least be able to totter out on the particular day in mid-January when my hospital appointment's due… The one my doctor said would come up within 30 days when he applied for it back in August. Ho hum. Maybe I'm just still ill so as not to waste it? Nah, probably not.

I'd like to write something today about the government's rubbish new drugs policy and about Doctor Who and Christmas, but as I'm feeling pretty ghastly and as Richard's laptop (which he very kindly lets me nab from time to time) knackers my hands much more than my usual keyboard does, it's unlikely. So try to imagine that you've read them, and then marvel at how different your memories of my different articles are when you talk amongst yourselves!
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