More on Tom Watson versus Richard Dawkins

A comment left on my entry concerning Tom Watson has sparked my interest:

Says Jerry:

I said that if the extract from Tom Waston’s website is supposed to be ‘sarcastic or ironic’ (and that’s not at all apparent from just reading it)who, exactly, is he satirising or being ironic about? People who actually use this kind of language? Or those who attempt to use it in order to improve their street cred? I’m not at all surprised that Dawkins reacted as he did, or that ‘Tom is irate’: egocentricity is an essential feature of the MP’s job description.

I think I should leave it for Tom to defend himself, but I at least found his young person’s passage very entertaining. 🙂

Dodgy frontal lobes, y'dig?

Neo-Darwinist professor Richard Dawkins made some startling remarks in the Guardian during the week, about my mate Tom Watson MP.

A sickening preview of how New Labour might woo the 16-year-old vote is given on the website of a Blairite MP, whom we shall not name for fear of embarrassing his children. In a special section addressed to “Teens”, he remarks that “Politics is cool, m’kay” and adds:

“Hey, chill with the anti-Europe vibes already! You totally won’t be able to wear the word ‘fcuk’ on your shirt anymore if we break our connection with France, y’dig? ROFFLE! So, cut it with the bling bling and do something for the community, man. Join in and take action with any of the groovy sites we’ve listed, or just drop Tom a line for a quiet rap by the electronic email. Tom’s well-up on the Interwebnet, and he won’t harsh your buzz or dis you down the line.”

“Tom” is the MP. It’s tempting to think that this cringeing suck-up to the youthful wing of his constituency must be a joke. But no, other pages on his site, not least the attack on the admirable Robin Cook, reveal Tom to be straight from the same humour-free mould as Private Eye’s wonderfully true-to-life guitar-playing “Rev Tony”. Tom really means it.

Tom is understandably irate at this non-sensical diatribe, I especially dislike “we shall not name for fear of embarrassing his children”, that’s if Tom did have children, and even if he did that would be a pretty underhanded thing to say.

If only Dawkins had read my brief article in the New Statesman this week on the virtues of any MP that dares to blog. Or if only Dawkins, who has always impressed me with reasonable arguments, had bothered to read Tom’s weblog. If only he understood sarcasm or irony.

I’m not happy, I shall have to find Dawkin’s email.


Well that was an interesting weekend. I attended the New Statesman party on Sunday night in Bournemouth, and to those of you interested in politics and the media, quite a few faces would have been familiar.

I had a quick chat with Paul Routledge, Daily Mirror and New Statesman regular, Peter Oborne, Spectator guy, and Tony Benn, former Labour minister. And there was some kind of documentary going on with BBC2 filming assistants to MPs, so I ended up being filmed for a good ten minutes. Argh.

Gordon Browne turned up briefly, I spotted Martha Kearney of Newsnight, Andrew Marr of the BBC and Daily Telegraph, Lauren Booth from the New Statesman, Charlie Whelan, that spin-doctor dude and a host of other people I recognised but didn’t know their names.

All in all a good night, I got quite pissed though.

Blair defends EU blueprint

Tony Blair seems to be living under the impression that the EU Constitution is required for the 10 new members to join next year. He is mistaken. All the measures required for enlargement were brought about by the Nice Treaty.

Or at least thats what the Irish people were told in two referenda. No to Nice = two fingers to former communist countries, we were told.

But I’m not so sure. The first result of Nice should have been accepted by Europe, instead it was ignored, and then reheld a year later.

The language of Blair is strikingly similar to that used by European politicians in the lead up to Nice 2. How odd. When Jack Straw was on the Today programme this morning I was struck that his position is exactly that of the Irish government in 2002 – arguing that Nice is *needed*.

But Nice has already been passed in the UK, it never went to referendum. The streamlining he speaks has already been done through Nice. So what is the real motive?

President Blair

Timothy Ash with a somewhat useful analysis of Blair’s performance at Congress. His sniping for the use of ‘kind of’ seems a bit senseless, I would say that ‘kind of’ is a commonly used term.It therefore falls into the category of ‘acceptable’ and does not have any American connotations to me, even if it did come from America.

That colloquial “kind of” is already halfway to the American conversational use of “like”. Next time a British prime minister speaks to a joint session of Congress, following Churchill, Attlee, Thatcher and now Blair, he or she – brought up on a diet of the TV sitcom Friends – will probably say: “I know this is, like, late, but we’re, like, sahrreee.”


Were Blair to fall over the justification of the Iraq war, his Washington induced toppling would be just the latest in a rich line of Anglo-American ironies. We would then lose the best president America will never have – but Europe still might.

More sense.

Britain's alter ego

Mark Lawson wonders if English people tend to be jealous of other cultures, such as claiming people to be English when in fact they were Irish.

The English have long suffered from propriety towards the Irish. From either colonial nostalgia – or jealousy of the literary instinct and social ease which seems to run in Dublin water – we have always tended towards a bit of patriotic shoplifting when an Emerald celebrity appears in the window.

Most of us will remember English lessons – and numerous mentions in the press – in which Oscar Wilde became an “English wit” and Samuel Beckett “Anglo-French”. Seamus Heaney, born in Northern Ireland but naturalised to the south, has observed that he curiously became a “British poet” at the moment he won the Nobel Prize.

You can go further and observe that the English establishment, though nominally Protestant, has tended to have more cultural affinity with the citizens of Catholic Ireland than with those of Ulster. Those articles which have described Wilde, Beckett, Heaney and Geldof as “British” are not just misprints but Freudian slips.

Blair stands by Iraq intelligence

Tony Blair has responded to the allegations made in the Foreign Affairs Committee report.

The fact is that we put before the House of Commons and indeed the country the case that we made. I should tell you right at the very outset, I stand by that case totally. I am quite sure we did the right thing in removing Saddam Hussein. I’m quite sure we did the right thing because not merely was he a threat to his region to the wider world, but it was an appalling regime that the world is well rid of and I think the British army and the British people can be proud off of the part they played. And so I refute any suggestion that we misled either parliament or the people totally.