I can't remember the last time I heard some UK news that gave me pleasure, so it was nice to wake up this morning to the news that the Lib Dems were pushed back to sixth place in the Barnsley by-election with 4% of the vote. I think the Lib Dems will be of interest only to historians after the next general election. Not so nice to see UKIP get over 12% of the vote and come second in a parliamentary election. Not so nice either to see the BNP outperform the Lib Dems and get 6% of the vote, although they have passed their high tide mark in Barnsley, with a 3% drop in their share.
Our absurd obsession with Israel
I very much enjoyed Nick Cohen’s article in the Observer on Sunday about the Middle Eastern revolts and what they reveal about the Western left. He makes (much more succinctly and lucidly than me) similar observations to ones I made here, including the noting of the contrast between Held and Halliday at LSE. I have started writing a post about the issue of the Israel obsession of the anti-anti-Zionist left.
Talking of our absurd obsession, any Channel 4 viewers have an opinion on The Promise they'd like to share? Apart from David Miller at Engage, everything I've read so far has been hysterical denunciation by kneejerk Israel defenders or anti-Zionists saying it was actually too pro-Zionist. The Hebron scenes rang true for me, but the Gaza scenes seemed totally preposterous, as did Len's presence at Deir Yassin.
Dallying with dictators
Jonathan Freedland has an excellent article on the West’s bipolar disorder when it comes to Arab tyrants. Inter alia, he mentions the appalling apologetics of the London School of Economics establishment, including Baron Anthony Giddens’ 2007 belief that Libya would become the Norway of the region without regime change (see also Andrew Coates) and Howard Davies’ bizarre equation between Gaddafi and George Soros. It turns out that Saif Gaddafi’s LSE PhD (lauded by Lord Desai and acknowledging David Held) is at least partly based on plagiarism. I think LSE founder Beatrice Webb, who whitewashed Stalin’s dictatorship, would be proud. [UPDATE: I wrote that last night and was glad to see hear this morning that Davies has resigned, my second schadenfreude moment. Also read Stephen Pollard on British universities and blood money. Update 2: Just read Jim's post on same topic, which links to more from Nick Cohen. See also Marko on why hostile democracies are better than friendly dictatorships.]
Here's another bizarre Libya story: the BNP activist who recruited celebs to a Gaddafi support group on Facebook.
Raven on Dr Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian feminist. And TerryGlavin on resistance in Gaza.
To add: a “Greens” section to the blogroll, to include: Jim Jepps’ Daily (Maybe), Sue Luxton and Ute Michel’s Green Ladywell (read more about Sue here), Barkingside 21, Richard Lawson’s Mabinogogiblog, Peter Cranie, Dean Walton's Green Blog, Adrian Windisch’s Green Reading, Weggis, Greens Engage, Isca Stieglitz, Jessica Goldfinch for House of Lords, Matt Sellwood of Hackney’s Anglo-Buddhist Combine, Gordon’s Green Feed, and Greenwich Darryl’s 853. Most of these are already on my blogroll or among my regular reads, but I thought I’d put them in one place.
Closer to home
I spent part of my weekend before last at the Carnival Against Cuts in Lewisham. My son made the front page of the News Shopper, his first brush with fame. Babs from Brockley says it'll be my fault if the boy ends up in court for throwing fire extinguishers. Here’s reportage from Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance, and from Transpontine and Sue Luxton. Dave Hill reports on some of London’s other front lines. Also read his Labour Councils, 'Tory cuts' and the Left, and Darryl on Greenwich’s cuts.
Big society, broken society, muscular liberalism
I very much enjoyed Sam Leith’s “You can’t force Britishness on everyone, Dave”, as channelled by Flesh is Grass, responding to Cameron replaying the death of multiculturalism. I also enjoyed James Bloodworth’s reporting on Cameron’s sometimes friends the Alinsky-ite Citizens UK.
Anti-fascism and the right to revolution
J Christian Adams in PJ Media has a powerful piece marking the anniversary of the executions of Sophie Scholl and the other White Rose resistors to Nazism. It is, in a sense, a conservative, Christian defence of militant anti-fascism and of revolution. More on this in a future post, hopefully.
I think Winston Pickett has got it about right on Charlie Sheen and John Galliano.