Here’s an exceptionally interesting and very, very long post from John Holbo on the Bad Academic Writing kerfuffle.
While on the subject of politicians’ verse (see below, and the comments board for my poetic opinions about Mr Marsden), and political verse more generally (over at Harry’s Place), I thought I’d post this fine song, which has not, I think, appeared anywhere in cyberspace. It’s sung to the tune of “Keep the Home Fires Burning“, and the fourth line in particular is quite moving.
Put the thing through quickly,
Wage the class war slickly,
Hang the rich from lampposts
But don’t hang me…
Stick to Marx, my hearty,
Damn the Labour Party!
Keep the hellfires burning
For the bourgeoisie.
Someone once told me that it was first sung many years ago during a rent dispute at Ruskin College, though I don’t know whether that’s really true or not.
But this time they’ve gone further than any civilised government should go. Earlier this week we read in our newspapers that the Government proposes to use the children of asylum seekers as pawns to cover up their failure to get a grip on their asylum chaos. Children of asylum seekers are to be taken into care in order to force their parents to leave the country. The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary should be ashamed of themselves. We shall oppose any legislative provision that seeks to give effect to this despicable provision. And I have no doubt that when we do so we shall be joined in the lobbies by the many Honourable Members on the Government benches who, unlike the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, still retain their self-respect.
— Mr Howard, responding to the Queen’s Speech earlier today.
Here’s a press release from Bill Morris, former General Secretary of the T&G:
Sir Bill Morris said today: “It would appear that yet again we see the Government thrashing around seeking to appease Middle England by attacking some of the weakest people on our shores.
“Asylum seekers with children receive meagre benefits which take away their ability to properly feed their children; they have already lost their right to earn money to feed and clothe their children; now it is apparently being threatened that their children will be taken from them if they don’t conform to the Government’s wishes and go home.
“Using children to blackmail their parents is plumbing the depths of morality. If this does appear in the Queen’s Speech, then asylum seeking children have become the victims of a game that is impractical and goes against the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Act.
“What does the Children’s Minister have to say on such a policy — I seem to remember the appointment was warmly applauded in last year’s Queen’s Speech.
“What has always been needed is calm legislation which addresses the real issues of managed migration, sharing the burden on a European basis. The Home Secretary’s recent announcements on plans for economic migrants to fill much needed jobs is to be welcomed.ï¿½ Please can we have more quiet announcements rather than this hysterical nonsense which encourages asylum seekers to be seen as the cause of all our problems. They are not the cause, they are the victims.
“With these announcements, the BNP stands ready to reap the rich reward of anti-asylum seekers’ votes.
“Many of the asylum seekers whom we now threaten with the removal of their children and the removal of legal assistance to enable them to state their case, have fled tyranny in their own country; they can do without that tyranny here.”
Bill Morris will be speaking on behalf of asylum seekers held in Campsfield Detention Centre on Saturday 29 November 2003. He will be joining a demonstration organised by the Campaign to close Campsfield at the Campsfield main gates 12noon-2.30pm. (Details Bill MacKeith: 01865 558145).
Norm’s Alternative Big Read is out — and here’s a handful of interesting things. It turns out that I’ve only read 25 of the BBC’s top 100 in the Big Read, which is a bit scandalous, since, the faddish overrepresentation of Harry Potter and the mere presence of Jeffrey Archer aside, it seems a pretty good list. But of the 25 that I have read, fifteen of them are here among Norm’s top twenty, and, within that list, all five of the ones I haven’t read fall into his poll’s top ten (it’s shameful confession time: Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, Middlemarch, The Grapes of Wrath and Anna Karenina).
So of this top ten, I’ve read half; of the second half of this top twenty, I’ve read all; and of the bottom eighty, I’ve read only one eighth. That’s a curious distribution, though quite what the chief mechanisms are that generate it aren’t really clear.
Here’s a very useful online archive of Soviet Anti-Alcohol posters.