Charlie's Diary

[ Site Index] [ Feedback ]

Wed, 25 Feb 2004

Spin Control

It's a cold day today -- I've just been outside and the wind chill is somewhere between -5 and -8 degrees. Feels colder than Boston eight or nine days ago. Brr.

It's been a cold day in hell for the British government, too, with the Crown Prosecution Service dropping charges against Katherine Gun. Gun was the GCHQ whistle-blower who leaked the story about the NSA and GCHQ bugging UN embassies of countries that were sitting on the fence over the Iraq invasion; as The Guardian drily put it, "for her defence, she had planned to seek the disclosure of the full advice from the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, on the legality of the war against Iraq, which could have been potentially damaging and embarrassing for the government."

Which is the classic British understatement of the year. If the trial had gone ahead, and she'd been found not guilty after introducing that kind of evidence in her defense, it would have amounted to an implicit accusation -- with attached "guilty" verdict -- that the Blair government had waged an illegal war in Iraq. And it is particularly telling that despite an open-and-shut case that Gun spoke to the press and gave away classified information, the CPS declined to present any evidence against her. Someone obviously realised that if this spun out of control Slick Tony might end up occupying the cell next door to Slobodan the Horrible.

(Parenthetically speaking, one might wonder -- a trifle wistfully -- what the upshot would be for Bush if Blair's government suddenly found itself on the losing side of a jury trial that hinged on the assertion that the Iraq invasion was illegal. But 'twas not to be ...)

Which leads me to ponder a related matter of the cover-up being more poisonous than the crime, etcetera: the alleged goings-on between the sheets involving that fine upstanding supporter of Texas' sodomy laws Governor Rick Perry of Texas (Republican, of course) and Secretary of State Geoffrey Connor.

Let's not get into the dirty details here; I'm sure it'll all come out in the wash (and the tabloids) over the next week or three. The point is, the timing couldn't be worse for George W. Bush, who nailed his colours to the mast by backing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage this week. Y'see, to anyone who's been watching British politics for the past decade, the echoes of John Major's ill-starred Back to Basics campaign are deafening.

To quote the BBC's apt summary:

In 1993, the Major government - perhaps fatally - launched the 'Back to Basics' campaign. It was notorious for its high moral tone and sparked intense media interest in MPs' private lives. Environment Minister Tim Yeo let the side down almost immediately after a tabloid expose in January 1994 revealed he had fathered an illegitimate child by Conservative councillor Julia Stent.

Mr Major then lost two parliamentary private secretaries and a second minister in the same month. PPS Alan Duncan resigned in January 1994 after news that he had made £50,000 from an illicit purchasing deal on a council house.

PPS David Ashby also quit after admitting that he shared a hotel bed with another man.

Minister for Aviation and Shipping, the Earl of Caithness, then resigned after the suicide of his wife, who shot herself in despair at his relationship with another woman ...

No, the list doesn't stop there -- I just got bored with cut'n'paste. Suffice to say, the government's announcement of a morality campaign, followed by a first sex scandal, triggered a media feeding frenzy in which numerous ministers were hounded out of office for failing to adhere to the values being promoted, culminating rather memorably in the death of Stephen Milligan, MP, an event so bizarre it would be dismissed as completely unbelievable by anyone reading it in a work of political satire.

Bush has given his enemies a hostage to the fortune of the entire Republican party. If the US press are even a tenth as salacious and active as the British press were a decade ago, they'll have a field day outing hypocrites who, like Governor Perry, say one thing while doing the opposite.

In the case of the UK, it took nearly a year for the "Back to Basics" shit-storm to die down in the UK, as newspapers competed for the next juicy scandal in a circulation war; by the time it was over, the Tory party's already battered reputation had taken a further nose-dive, leaving them a by-word for sleaze rather than a party of probity. (The only really astonishing thing about the whole business is that John Major and Edwina Currie managed to keep their affair secret for another eight years.)

In the case of the USA, it hasn't started yet. Arguably, the American press are simultaneously more uptight and less inclined to bite the hands of their political masters than the British press. However, the Tories weren't facing an election year deadline and managed to limp on for another few years -- Bush is potentially a lame duck, with a battered economy and a war on two fronts that isn't going so well. By firmly coming out on the side of the bigots Bush has put his entire party in the frame, and if the press corps scent blood in the water and start looking for more evidence the scandal will be reaching its peak intensity round about the time of the next presidential election.

[Link] [Discuss politics]

posted at: 23:46 | path: /politics | permanent link to this entry

It's not Grey Tuesday any more ...

And normal background colouration will be resumed.

posted at: 11:20 | path: /misc | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

Quick links:

RSS Feed (Moved!)

Who am I?

Contact me

Buy my books: (FAQ)

Missile Gap
Via Subterranean Press (US HC -- due Jan, 2007)

The Jennifer Morgue
Via Golden Gryphon (US HC -- due Nov, 2006)

Via (US HC -- due June 30, 2006)

The Clan Corporate
Via (US HC -- out now)

Via (US HC)
Via (US PB -- due June 27, 2006)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)
Free download

The Hidden Family
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)

The Family Trade
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)

Iron Sunrise
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)

The Atrocity Archives
Via (Trade PB)
Via (Trade PB)
Via Golden Gryphon (HC)
Via (HC)
Via (HC)

Singularity Sky
Via (US HC)
Via (US PB)
Via (US ebook)
Via (UK HC)
Via (UK PB)


Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

[ Site Index] [ Feedback ]

Powered by Blosxom!