Insufficiently Plucky Belgians

I’ve just learned that earlier this morning the British Wheelchair Rugby team beat the Belgians in their opening match in this Paralympic Games in Athens.

“It all happened in the third quarter after a very slow start.�We put on two blocking chairs to contain the Belgians.”

I’m sorry not to be there myself, as an old friend, Justin Frishberg, is in the team, but my earlier plan to descend on Athens this week for the Games has been sidelined by other stuff keeping me here in Oxford, which is a shame.Go Justin…

UPDATE [6pm]: I’ve just seen a couple of minutes of highlights of this game on BBC2 — and just wanted to plug a documentary about the GB team (Sweet Chariots) that’s going to be screened on TV on Tuesday at 7.30pm…

Charles to Emigrate?

To bring an end to this surprising burst of Saturday-morning bloggerage, I’ll just remind everyone here of what I posted over at Matt T’s yesterday:

Prince Charles is reported to have said a couple of years ago that “”If the Labour government ever gets round to banning fox hunting, I might as well leave this country and spend the rest of my life skiing.”



It seems to be mea culpa mea culpa mea maxima culpa week across a chunk of the World of Blogs, as a couple of excellent liberal bloggers out there have decided to make this the time to discuss their transition from pro- to anti- on the matter of the war in Iraq in more detail than they have hitherto.

It started when Belle Waring posted this piece at Crooked Timber, which then led to this one back at John and Belle’s, which in turn managed to bring Nasi Lemak back from the ranks of the blogdead for further comment.

(Repentant hawks also include Gwyddion the Magician, or whatever he’s called, who has also clambered out of the blogcoffin just recently, and Matthew Yglesias, who offered a brief endorsement of Belle’s piece.)

Most interesting snippets, at least to me:

(1) Belle: “I should have let partisan opposition to Republicans guide my thinking more than I did. My mom, for example, said that even if I was right and the invasion was a good idea, that these bastards would screw it up. I guess I was lost in some post 9/11, spanning the political divide bullshit haze”. A commentator then glosses this nicely in the discussion that follows: “My desire not to let my dislike of Bush cloud my judgment on this war ended up, ironically, clouding my judgment in favor of the war.”

(2) Nasi Lemak: “I think this mistake was actually driven by my being a political scientist. I didn’t have to be an especially strong rational choice proponent to believe that elected politicians tend to try to avoid disaster, and that electorates tend to try to punish politicians who end up leading them into trouble. I thought these two things to be probably truths both as regards the US and UK governments”, which is followed by an excellent discussion of how both of these assumptions seem to have collapsed over the last 18 months.

No discussion of this kind of thing is complete without reference to at least three D-Squared posts, so I’ll put them here, here, here and here, all of which are ageing well.

Tribune of the Plebs

When he isn’t sharing his excellent taste in blogs over at the Normblog profile, Paul Anderson is filling us in on what’s been going on at Tribune magazine:

Various correspondents have asked in the past few weeks whether I know anything about what’s happening with the editorship of Tribune, and the answer is that I do.Steve Platt and I put in an application for the job, vacated in summer by Mark Seddon (who took over from me in 1993), because we were worried that the august organ was about to go down the tubes. Despite an influx of about �350,000 investment from the trade unions (who now own it), it’s selling only 3,000 copies a week. But the paper’s board decided that we were damaged goods, and that was it. I don’t think either of us is that upset.

Now the job has been taken by Chris McLaughlin, until earlier this year political editor of the Sunday Mirror and currently a columnist on the Big Issue, who used to work way back when for Labour Weekly, the official party paper that closed in 1987. I know nothing else about him � to my shame I haven’t read the Sunday Mirror or the Big Issue for years � but his praises are sung in the Independent today by Bill Hagerty, who was an editorial adviser to Seddon. Whatever, good luck to him.

I can confirm that I buy one of those copies, and that another is delivered to the Magdalen College Senior Common Room. So that’s 0.0667% of the circulation accounted for.(I’m not quite sure why the SCR here gets Tribune — but then again I’m not quite sure why, given that fact, I get a copy myself — except for sentimental reasons about trying to keep struggling left publications for which I’ve a bit of a soft spot afloat.)

In other Anderson news, there’s a piece over at SIAW about the remarkable extent to which the analysis of his and Nyta Mann’s book, Safety First, has held up over time.

(This could become a survey of the first generation of New Labour lit — I wonder what the SIAW comrades made of Derek Draper’s Blair’s Hundred Days?)

Parliamentary Privilege?

A chat with a colleague yesterday about the useless idiots who stormed the Commons chamber the other day raised a few interesting questions to which I don’t know the answers. So here goes, just in case anyone can supply anything either more accurate or more entertaining, as I haven’t seen this discussed in the newspapers (not that I’ve really been reading the newspapers, except to giggle at the Dailies Mail and Telegraph on the day after the fox-hunting debate).

Under standard accounts of parliamentary privilege / the Bill of Rights, etc., can anyone have jurisdiction as to what goes on on the floor of the House of Commons apart from the members of the Commons themselves? Can Peter Hain and/or the Speaker hand this matter over to the Metropolitan Police, on the grounds that these guys weren’t really MPs, or will the Commons have to try this case themselves? And if they did, would they get to vote on the important matters of (i) whether to lock them up and then also (ii) whether to throw away the key?

(With the return of impeachment to the Commons, or not, as the case may be, it’s fun to see the long neglected quasi-judicial function of the legislature returning to public consciousness…)

And does any of this have anything to do with the custom whereby MPs can’t actually die in the Commons chamber, but have to do their dying elsewhere? I forget the reason for that one, but vaguely remember that it was entertaining, and/or rooted in constitutional tradition.

Miliband on Chile

The previous post reminded me of one of my favourite bits of Ralph Miliband (DSW, #95), from his essay on “The Coup in Chile” published in the surprisingly large 1973 volume of the Socialist Register:

In so far as Chile was a bourgeois democracy, what happened there is about bourgeois democracy, and about what may also happen in other bourgeois democracies. After all, The Times, on the morrow of the coup, was writing (and the words ought to be carefully memorized by people on the Left): “… whether or not the armed forces were right to do what they have done, the circumstances were such that a reasonable military man could in good faith have thought it his constitutional duty to intervene.” Should a similar episode occur in Britain, it is a fair bet that, whoever else is inside Wembley Stadium, it won’t be the Editor of The Times: he will be busy writing editorials regretting this and that, but agreeing, however reluctantly, that, taking all circumstances into account, and notwithstanding the agonizing character of the choice, there was no alternative but for reasonable military men… and so on and so forth.

The quote from the Times is from the leader of 13 September 1973, with Miliband’s emphasis added. The quote from the Register in on p.452.