Archive for December, 2005
Mr Cameron says that he wants the Tories to "becom[e] a Party which is more like modern Britain, and which likes modern Britain more...", and I wonder how he's doing on this score. A survey of 500 delegates to the Conservative Party conference in 1983 found that a quarter thought that the "best" British society would be exclusively white, and that 14% favoured compulsory repatriation schemes. In 1991 a poll of 2,466 randomly selected Party members found that 70% "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with the statement that "A future Conservative government should encourage repatriation of immigrants". That generation of Tory members is dying off: the 1991 poll found that the median age of Party members was 63, the average age of a new member was 54, and that fewer that 5% of the members were under 35 -- and the authors of that poll estimated that 40% of the membership then would be dead by 2001. But what's the state of play like these days, on the cusp of the Cameron Transformation? Has any good data been collected on political attitudes inside the Conservative Party since 1991? To what extent is Cameron pushing at an open door -- because these old bigots are now dead or retired from active involvement in Tory affairs -- and to what extent has this kind of bigotry managed to reproduce itself within the Tory party down to the present? I wish I knew the answers to questions like these, but I don't have a clue. Anyone?
PooterGeek's pointed out that Mr Blair's new year message to the world / Labour Party [delete as applicable] is returning to his roots in Politics Without Verbs. I'll only add that Mr Cameron is appropriating that annoying line of Gandhi's about how "we must be the change we want to see in the world", a line that the social democrats over at Compass have been using repeatedly over the last couple of years (and is the thing about them I like least). Still, after Blair borrowed Michael Howard's leadership slogan ("Forward not Back") for his general election campaign, I suppose the Tories were allowed to borrow one back.
Karl Renner, Austrian socialist politician; born 14 December 1870, died 31 December 1950.
Don't approve of honours, etc., but I was pleased to see this one: MBE: David Anthony James ENDACOTT: Chair, Oxfordshire Bat Group. For services to the Conservation of Bats.
Anyone see the Charles-Camilla biopic last night? Was it any good? I'm assuming the answer is, "No, it wasn't", but since these things occasionally reach great heights of excellence, I thought it worth checking. (Though I forget whether it's the film of Diana: Her True Story or of Princess in Love which is the real classic - the one where Prince Harry's clearly American, etc. Probably the former. Yes, I think it must be.)
For reasons I don't fully understand, it's become a bit of a Britain-in-the-late-eighteenth-century Christmas: I've been motoring through William Hague's life of William Pitt the Younger, L. G. Mitchell's of Charles James Fox and the first few chapters of Gareth Stedman Jones's An End to Poverty? (which is very, very good) -- and quite by chance the other evening I flipped on the telly, caught the start of The Madness of King George, and watched through to the end. As I say, I'm not quite sure what's brought on this little British 1780s/90s moment, but if anyone wants to make additional recommendations in the comments, they might even be taken up while I've still got a bit of momentum going.
Here's Enkidu, yesterday, exploring a bag containing a Christmas present: Now for more recent feline activity. A stripy green mouse has been tied to one of the stairs. Kittens investigate: Notice in the picture below how well Andromache's fur is growing back after last week's operation (her stitches will come out next week): Not sure what Enkidu's doing here: it may be an attempt at some kind of outflanking manoeuvre. UPDATE [9pm, 29.12.2005]: Andromache has worked out that if she stands on the stair, she can haul up the mouse along its cord, in order to gain possession. She is not being helped, however, by Enkidu, who is sitting a couple of steps further down, and who repeatedly knocks it back down again as soon as it comes within reach of his outstretched paw.
Over the same curry, I enjoyed reading a new version of a well-known Christmas Carol in the most recent copy of the Classical Association News (which the Virtual Stoa reads so you don't have to, etc.):
Misit huc Magos Oriens stella tres nos ducit agens rura rivos campum clivos donaque transferens (O) SIDUS ADMIRABILE CLARA PULCHRITUDINE NOS PRAECEDENS, NUSQUAM SEDENS NOS AD LUMEN DIRIGE! Natus est ad Bethlehem Rex: aureus confirmet apex; totus sine cuncto fine pareat illi grex: Numinosum offero tus: noscitatur ture Deus; ornent iuncti Summum cuncti cum prece laudibus: Ecce! myrrha acerbum olens, umbras imminere docens! Cruciatum immolatum en lapis opprimens! Iamque vindicatus ovat, se victorem nuntiat angelorum terra chorum laude reduplicat.Mark Mortimer's apparently translated 300 hymns and carols into Latin: Latinised Hymns available from Newton Publications, Old Rectory, Newton Reigny, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 0AY, Â£11 a pop. Right, that really is it for a bit. I'm off to watch the Dalek episode of Dr. Who, and then I'm popping round the corner to St Barnabas for the Midnight Mass. And then off to London in the morning, if I can find a bus to take me.
I thought the post below was my signing off for the festive season, but I've just returned from the Indian restaurant round the corner, having gone in there a couple of hours ago armed with a bottle of decent Rioja and a copy of the judgment in Kitzmiller v Dover Area School District, and I want strongly to endorse Mrs Tilton's opinion, in comments below, that this is very good stuff indeed. Lengthy legal judgments aren't often minor masterpieces of comic prose, but this one is -- laugh-out-loud funny in a few places -- in addition to being thoroughly well-reasoned and very interesting throughout; and there's something tremendously satisfying about the extent to which the partisans of "Intelligent Design" are shown to be as mendacious as they are moronic. Treat yourself this Christmas; it may be 139 pages long, but there aren't many words on each page, and Judge Jones writes well. More on the case here. Now I just want to get hold of a copy of the ID textbook, Of Pandas and People, as I strongly suspect that every home should have one.