- Nausea #1
- Big Con
- Nausea #2
- Ask a stupid question
- Checkout all-out!
Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian fell for the listening Tony Blair pen-and-notebook-in-hand act. Writing about the first Big Conversation in Newport on Friday 28 November he said: "It is a scene from a daydream. You're having a cup of tea, sounding off about the way the country should be run, when there, suddenly sitting right next to you, is none other than the prime minister."
And: "The prime minister did not breeze in and out yesterday, as if for a photo-op. He lingered, way beyond schedule, pen in hand, taking careful notes of the sum-up presentations - "Please note, this meeting on health and education lasted... two hours".
Freedland wonders: "What if the government really does take this thing seriously? Will we have the attention span to plough our way through 150 tough questions? Or will we get bored with thinking like governments - and simply demand they do the job for us, just like they always used to?" In your dreams, boyo, not ours.
Michael Howard in his acceptance speech as the new leader of the Conservative Party said: "We are here to serve - the syllable at the heart of our name, and at the heart of our purpose." It was a boast he repeated on the David Frost programme on Sunday 30 November. What other words can you make out of "Conservative"?
"At Cambridge, Howard was known as a very fine lover", wrote Anne Robinson about the new Tory leader recently in the Daily Telegraph. Well-hung or a good kisser?
He can, however, "be infuriatingly obstinate. Refusing (up until now at least) to gift-wrap his beliefs for the sake of public opinion. For example, he supports foxhunting. But not on cosy libertarian grounds, but because he believes there's insufficient evidence to show it is cruel. If there were, says the lawyer in him, he'd be against it."
Lawyerly, but can't see what's in front of his nose, then.
Ask a stupid question
An opinion poll taken recently in Iraq shows:
- nearly four out of five Iraqis have little or no confidence in occupying US and British forces; almost three-quarters lack confidence in the Coalition Provisional Authority.
- only a fifth trust political parties; 70 per cent have confidence in Iraq's religious leaders, and 54 per cent in their or local leaders.
- asked to name the best thing that had happened to them in the last 12 months, the most common response with 42.3 percent of answers was the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. The second most common answer, with 15.7 percent, was improvements in education.
- asked to name the worst thing that had happened to them in the last 12 months, 35.1 percent cited the war, bombings and defeat. The second most frequent answer, with 13.6 percent of responses, was the death of a loved one.
Oxford Research International surveyed 3,244 people aged 15 and over.
More than 70,000 shopworkers across California who work at Vons/Safeway supermarkets (no relation to the British company, alas!) are on strike to protest against planned cuts to their healthcare and pensions.
Their employer is joining the race to the bottom against competitors like Wal-Mart, who have no union agreements, rely on easily cowed immigrant labour, and pay the lowest wages - $9.64 an hour compared to an average $15.98.
Vons/Safeway have tried to pit the shops' customers against the workers portraying them as more privileged precisely because they enjoy benefits and many of the customers don't. But it is cutting no ice. The workers have received great support from customers who are refusing to cross picket lines!
More details on the website of the workers' union, United Food and Commercial Workers: www.ufcw.org