The Week That Was…

24 10 2009

There were two notable news stories this week. Except that the first wasn’t really that notable unless you’re a history geek like myself. I don’t want to really discuss this story in much detail except to say that it seems that it is much easier now to be a public fool than it ever was in the past. The Internet, which Menzies credits for revolutionising history (which, undoubtedly is true – check out one of the best First World War sites written by one of my own course predecessors for evidence of this), also makes it easier to be made to look very, very stupid, as Menzies himself has done. Of course Menzies has attempted a disclaimer by admitting he knows nothing, but he seems to show a fundamental understanding of what history is. It is not, in any way, about simply about writing down a few soundbite statements and then hoping there will be a few documents somewhere which will support you. It is, instead, about the whole process of investigation, exploration and interpretation. It is about going into an investigation with an open mind, not a pre-conceived idea of what you expect to find. The end product is incidental to the process of exploring history.

Anyway, moving swiftly onto the next big idiot of the week, Nick Griffin. Whilst the newspapers have been splashed cover to cover with his sloped-gaze of general bigotry and ignorance, Griffin has finally proved himself publically to be the racist, stupid prat we had all known he was. He has come out of the Question Time debacle, and all he has got to show for it is a complaint to the BBC that there were people protesting against him.

Well, not quite all, because apparently, according to a YouGov poll, some 22% of the population would now consider voting BNP. However, if pushed, only 3% would do so tomorrow. Just for the sake of the maths, 3% of the 1,314 people who were surveyed is just over 39 people. Which, in all fairness, is somewhere near what they were polling prior to the programme.

Now Peter Hain can get all worked up that the BBC has given exposure to a party which it shouldn’t be doing. However, I’m guessing that if the majority of the eight million people who watched the programme (plus those of us who watched it on IPlayer later) actually listened to Griffin, then we all know that (a) the BNP have very little in the way of policy beyond racial cleansing, and (b) Griffin was made to look like a complete idiot by everyone in that studio. Especially by Bonnie Greer. Plus, can someone please tell me how his history of the English people seems to ignore the fact that as a people we were colonised by Germans?

Griffin was not given the opportunity to vent his soundbites which he had obviously rigorously prepared beforehand, nor was he allowed to look like his words had an ounce of rationality to them. He was hopelessly out of his depth, and was shown to be nothing more than the voice for a racist few. Which, incidently, are still going to be present regardless of whether Griffin was here or not. If nothing else the programme shows that the BNP do not have supporters as much as the other parties have people who will not vote for them. I’ve said it before, but it is the job of these parties to demonstrate just what they can do for these people who feel so disillusioned that they vote BNP in protest rather than anything else. Once these people have been convinced, the BNP will struggle along with the few people who still think it is right that colour, race or ethnicity should have anything to do with anything.

I’ve championed free speech and a platform policy before and I will continue to do so as it provides ample opportunity to show people the ‘truth’ about those up on the stage. The ‘truth’ is that following Thursday’s events, the BNP are nothing more than a confused racist organisation fronted by a strange little man with a warped version of history, and an even more warped understanding of what the Ku Klux Klan actually is. Don’t fear him, he has nothing which we should be afraid of. Continue showing him up, making him look stupid, and continue working out how to win back voters.

Finally on this, Britain is not like Germany in the 1930’s for the simple reason that we have a monarch. Just a thought for the few doom-mongers who seem paralysed by the fear of the BNP.


The Real World…

12 10 2009

I was back in Birmingham for the first time in about three months last weekend, catching up with friends and reminding myself of the student life. After a more than filling curry, conversation moved onto politics, as it invariably does.

It was little more than I was expecting. Whilst my mates are unashamedly left wing in political outlook, it was the comment that Cameron, Boris et al do not live in the “real world” which stuck in my mind the most. It seems a strange comment, given the limited “real world” experience of the commentator. I sat there and kept quiet, avoiding a debate I simply could not be bothered with at that point.

It is true that students do have many problems, issues and complexities with which they have to deal. I’m aware of that, with my own experience as a part-time student continuing, and indeed, set to continue for the forseeable future. However it seems odd to me that a student, who has spent all of his adult life in education of some variety or other, should suggest that the folk of the Tory party do not live in the real world. I don’t profess to know quite what the “real world” is other than some notion used to lazily define the everyday man. I do know that a student with such a limited life experience cannot claim to understand what the real world is, let alone use it as the basis for dismissing the Tory party. I accept that he dislikes the Tories, but that suggestion was both odd and ill-considered.

By all means have a view of the world, but do not claim to have views representative of the “real world” as a) the label is misnomic and b) it is very unlikely that you do.

Road Rage…

11 10 2009

Having not blogged for what feels like an eternity, I felt I ought to do my best in a rare moment of peace to write something.

This rare moment of peace comes after the forty minutes drive home I have from work most days. Tonight’s drive brought a moment of clarity to me. I get road rage. I don’t know why, but, when I’m alone in my car I get incredibly irate with other drivers.

There are numerous reasons why, and I think I should outline a few.

The first problem I have with other road users is their speed. I can appreciate driving slowly in 30 or even 40mph zones. But to continue driving at the same speed on a national limit main road is just frustrating. Then there are the folk who drive at 33mph in a 30 zone. They know the limit is 30 but want to have a certain sense of rebelliousness, so go just over, and then hover at that same speed. Why? Why not simply go the whole hog and speed, or drive accurately at the speed limit? What’s the point of driving at 33mph?

Then there are the good folk who you sit behind at traffic lights. These are the folk who will wait until the very last minute before putting their indicators on and turning. Why? Why not put your indicator on whilst we are sat in the queue and give me some notice that you plan to turn?

This leads me onto those people who simply think the indicator is another knob on the dashboard, not to be messed with. It’s not optional, if you plan to turn, let me know! I’m not a psychic and don’t know if you are planning to turn. It’s not really that hard to flick the switch to let the person behind you know that you’re planning to turn, is it?

There are other problems I have with some drivers, but I cannot be bothered to write about them now. Maybe at some other point. Until then, I think my road rage will continue as there remains some really rubbish road users.