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Posts Tagged ‘The Guardian’

PMQ – premiärministerns frågestund – fyller 50 i år. Första tillfället var under Harold Macmillan när ledaren för oppositionen hette Hugh Gaitskell.

Michael White, The Guardian, skriver:

Everyone hates prime minister’s question time. At least they often say they do. How much they mean it is another matter. In its current form (more or less) PMQs has now survived 50 years, almost exactly as long as Private Eye, another great national institution routinely accused of not being what it used to be.

Backbench MPs arrive at Westminster determined not to join in the gladiatorial shouting match their constituents say they so dislike. Then they see old hands on the other side cheering their own leader for a good retort and loyalty kicks in. Voters? They deplore schoolboy antics, but complain whenever lapses into sobriety, let alone statesmanship, make PMQs look like an elite fix or, worse, boring.

[…]

”This is still the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster. And, if it is on occasions the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes,” Blair told MPs before they rose – Tory MPs included – and clapped him out of the chamber where he had dominated and infuriated for a decade in power.

Övrigt: Se några höjdpunkter från de senaste årens frågestunder samlade av New Statesman. 

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BÅDE Labour och Conservative Party har nu avverkat sina partikonferenser. Stephen Moss har skrivit två roliga betraktelser för The Guardian.

Stephen Moss på Labour konferensen:

The start of the show is, though, frankly disappointing. Someone – John Prescott? – should strike an enormous gong. Instead, Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and four unknowns sidle on to the stage and sit behind a large desk, looking like a quiz team. The hall, soothed by muzak, is two-thirds full; the audience predominantly white and ageing; it feels like a Neil Diamond concert.

This is my first ever party conference. I bump into Matthew Engel, a former star of this paper, now residing at the Financial Times, who has been attending Labour conferences since Keir Hardie was a boy. I ask what advice he would offer. ”Go home,” he says.

Stephen Moss på de Torypartiets partikonferens:

There are a number of different Tory types in Manchester. All the middle-aged men have Heseltine-like swept-back hair and wear pinstripes. The Tory women are glossy, beautifully turned out and tough as teak. ”I’m looking forward to hearing Theresa May speak,” one says to me as we wait for David Cameron to sweep past on his short daily walk from the Midland hotel to the conference centre. ”I’m not a fan of human rights.” But the most numerous group comprises young men with floppy hair and iPhones. Many are running thinktanks. At times it is less like a conference than a creche. ”I believe in individual freedom,” one winsome 25-year-old tells me. ”I don’t want the state to do everything for me.” Freedom is the word I hear everywhere – the Tories should really be called the Freedom party. Very few are interested in conserving anything.

I soon fall among libertarians. ”The general public is to be feared and loathed, not pandered to,” says Spectator blogger Alex Massie at an Adam Smith Institute event entitled ”The individual v the state: the battle for lifestyle freedom.” The panel is obsessed by the smoking ban. I go to the bar with them afterwards to discuss the issue further, but having a conversation with libertarians is difficult because they leave the room for a fag break every five minutes. Their economic policy seems to be creative destruction. Let the banks fail. What will be will be.

Övrigt: Framsidan ovan är tidningens sektion g2 från den 6 oktober 2011.

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UNDER LÖRDAGEN publicerade Rupert Murdochs helsidesannonser i nationella tidningar där han ber om ursäkt för avlyssningsskandalen. Och ber den gamla räven om ursäkt vet vi att det är kris på riktigt!

Lisa O’Carroll på The Guardian har tittat på hur Murdoch så här långt har försökt hantera krisen med News of the World.

Full-page apologies in national newspapers, the departure of two of his most trusted lieutenants and a face-to-face meeting with the family of murdered teenager Milly Dowler herald a fresh tack in Rupert Murdoch’s campaign to get a grip on the phone-hacking crisis.

[…]

Whatever his motivation it marks a considerable volte-face for the 80-year-old who only two days ago went on the offensive pronouncing he had handled the crisis ”extremely well in every way possible”.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday he went on the attack, claiming the damage to the company was ”nothing that will not be recovered” and that only ”minor mistakes” had been made in the last fortnight.

Now it’s a different story – contrition is the order of the day. 

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ED MILIBAND har krävt att David Camerons agerar med anledning av att hans stabschef Ed Llewellyn tydligen blev varnad för att inte anställa Andy Coulson som kommunikationschef p.g.a. hans agerande under tiden som redaktör på Rupert Murdochs News of the World.

Avlyssningsskandalen rullar vidare men en sak är dock ur världen för Cameron. Murdochs mediekoncern News Corporation har nämligen meddelat att man nu drar tillbaka sitt bud på satellitkanalen BSkyB. Affären skulle ha krävt den brittiska regeringens godkännande.

Andrew Sparrow på The Guardian summerar premiärministerns frågestund så här:

Ed Miliband has accused Cameron of making a ”catastrophic error of judgment” when he gave Andy Coulson a post in Downing Street. At PMQs, Miliband accused Cameron of ignoring warnings his staff had received from the Guardian about Coulson. Cameron claimed the Guardian warning ”contained no allegations directly linking Andy Coulson to illegal behaviour, it didn’t shed any further light on the issue of phone hacking so it wasn’t drawn to my attention by my office”. In response, Miliband said Cameron ”just doesn’t get it”. Cameron replied that Miliband did not get it. ”What the public want us to do is address this firestorm,” Cameron said. ”They want us to sort out bad practices at the media, they want us to fix corruption in the police, they want a proper public inquiry. And they are entitled to ask: when these problems went on so long, for so many years, what was it that happened in the last decade?”

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EFTER 168 år kom News of the World  – ”edition number 8674” – ut för sista gången idag. Tidningen publicerades för första gången av John Browne Bell den 1 oktober 1843. Tidningen gick över från ”broadsheet” till tabloidformat 1984.

Man kan bläddra digitalt i sista utgåvan på tidningens hemsida. Här kan man även titta i en specialutgåva med fyrtiosex omslag från åren 1910-2011. Även The Guardian har ett bildspel kring tidningens historia.

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INTERVJU: SVT:s Rapport intervjuade igår Andrew Brown från The Guardian med anledning av bröllopet mellan prins William och Kate Middleton.

Journalisten Marit Hübinette frågade Brown varför britterna i så mycket större utsträckning än svenskarna uppskattar sina kungligheter.

Browns förklaring till varför hela 80 % av britterna stödjer sitt kungahus var att britterna inte uppskattar sin demokrati lika mycket som svenskarna!

Andrew Brown: Man sätter inte samma värde på demokratin i England som man gör i Sverige.

Marit Hübinette: Därför accepterar man kungligheterna mer?

Andrew Brown: Ja, det tycker jag. 

Man tar sig för pannan.

Att sådana grumliga och dåligt underbyggda åsikter får stå oemotsagda i en intervju säger det en hel del om den attityd som stora delar av media – inklusive SVT – gärna intar så fort det handlar om monarkin.

Brown är säkert medveten om att det är just bland de tjugo procenten som inte uppskattar kungahuset som alla politiska extremisterna på vänster och högerkanten samlas.

Skulle dessa marxist-leninister, trotskister, politiska islamister och våldsdyrkande gatuaktivister – för att nu bara nämna några – verkligen sätta större värde på demokratin än de 80 % som stödjer den konstitutionella monarkin?

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LÄCKOR: En oväntad konsekvens av de senaste läckorna från WikiLeaks är att Israel framstår som det sunda förnuftets röst i Mellanöstern.

Israels varningar när det gäller hotet från Iran och terrorismen besannas nu i dokumenten.

De flesta stater i Mellanöstern har sedan länge insett att Iran är ett av vår tids största hot. Det är bara det att man inte säger det öppet därför att man är rädd för konsekvenserna från Iran och deras allierade bland skurkstater och terrororganisationer.

Dessutom har det blivit uppenbart att andra terroristsympatisörer som Syrien inte har något som helst intresse av fred i området.

De enda länder som inte verkar vilja se sanningen är USA och länderna i EU.

Och det är inte bara Saudiarabien som har fått nog av Iran. Från The Guardian:

In talks with US officials, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed favoured action against Iran, sooner rather than later. ”I believe this guy is going to take us to war … It’s a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. He is young and aggressive.”

Från The New York Times:

Cables describe the United States’ failing struggle to prevent Syria from supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has amassed a huge stockpile since its 2006 war with Israel. One week after President Bashar al-Assad promised a top State Department official that he would not send “new” arms to Hezbollah, the United States complained that it had information that Syria was providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the group.

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LEDARSKAP: Kampen om vem som skall bli Labours nästa partiledare är i full gång.

Men Peter Mandelsons politiska memoarer The Third Man fortsätter att ställa till det för Labour.

Patrick Wintour som är ”political editor” i The Guardian skriver i The Spectator:

”Most vendettas, at least in Sicilian legend, are accompanied by omertà, a belief that it is shameful to betray your worst enemies even if it would benefit your cause. New Labour has long felt at ease with the vendetta, but has struggled with the concept of omertà. The Mandelson memoirs, the Blair memoirs, the [Alastair] Campbell diaries, the [Robin] Cook diaries, the [David] Blunkett diaries, the Deborah Mattinson assessment, the [Andrew] Rawnsley confessionals, the New Labour literature and score-settling would make even the most capacious Kindle fuse at their sheer volume. […]

The book is published at a critical time for Labour, when the party is in the middle of a leadership contest that appears to be going nowhere. For years, Labour figures have been calling for a healthy discussion about the party’s values, policy, organisation and direction. […]

Many inside Labour have been dismayed at the quality of the leadership debate. As one party adviser put it to me: ‘We have waited all these years, and it has turned into a contest to see who can get onto Twitter first to denounce the government. They don’t sit there thinking, they sit there texting.’ The rest of the time, the candidates haul themselves around the country in a hustings format designed to minimise clarity and maximise entertainment. Like some repertory theatre company locked in a bad production, they can recite each other’s indifferent lines in their sleep, acutely aware they are not heading for the West End.”

Och Trevor Kavanagh, kolumnist i The Sun fyller på i The Spectator.

So why didn’t the Labour party take the course pursued with devastating efficiency last month by the Australian Labor party and put their leader out of his misery? Why did it not save the country from Brown? Mandelson’s memoirs make clear that the country was the last thing on ministers’ minds. Their mission was all about self-preservation, keeping Labour in power, stopping the Tories at any cost — even the cost of economic stability. Mandelson even quotes Blair to this effect. ‘It’s not about loyalty to one man. It’s about loyalty to the party. It’s about saving the party.’ No mention of the national interest here.

David Miliband, described correctly by Blair as ‘not perfect’, denies it was lack of courage that stopped him challenging Brown two years ago. He tells Mandelson he held back because a change of leadership would have forced Labour into an early election. Consider the rationale. Having chucked out one Prime Minister, the last thing Labour’s high command wanted was for voters to have a say on his unelected successor. […]

Today, with a real leadership campaign to fight, Mr Miliband confesses: ‘We talked about “we” but it meant us, not them.” He was not alone. Time after time, Mandy makes clear he and the rest of the anti-Brown faction were interested solely in their political futures, not the fate of Britain. This government was cursed with the certainty of entitlement.

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LÄCKOR: WikiLeaks och dess grundare Julian Assange har släppt 90 000 hemliga dokument om kriget i Afghanistan.

För många – och kanske de allra flesta – är Assange en klassisk whistleblower som via WikiLeaks skapat möjlighet även för andra att kunna avslöja obekväma sanningar utan att riskera avslöjande.

Men det finns också en rad märkligheter i hur WikiLeaks arbetar som är mindre smickrande.

Innan den senaste raden av dokument släpptes skrev David Kushner på tidskriften Mother Jones om Assange och WikiLeaks historia.

When I contacted the impressive figures who’d been listed on WikiLeaks’ advisory board, some didn’t know exactly why they were named. Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, a former representative of the Dalai Lama, recalls getting a cryptic email from WikiLeaks a few years ago, but says he’s never been asked for advice. Xiao Qiang, a Chinese democracy activist, says he exchanged emails with Assange but little more. (After this article was originally published, WikiLeaks removed its advisory board from an updated version of its website.) 

Digital security expert Ben Laurie laughs when I ask why he’s named on the site. ”WikiLeaks allegedly has an advisory board, and allegedly I’m a member of it,” he says. ”I don’t know who runs it. One of the things I’ve tried to avoid is knowing what’s going on there, because that’s probably safest for all concerned.” Laurie says his only substantive interaction with the group was when Assange approached him to help design a system that would protect leakers’ anonymity. […] 

When asked about his supposed advisors’ denials, Assange downplays the board as ”pretty informal.” But can WikiLeaks be trusted with sensitive documents when it is less than transparent itself? […] 

At first, WikiLeaks was conceived as an open and ”completely neutral” conduit for forbidden information. ”WikiLeaks does not pass judgment on the authenticity of documents. That’s up to the readers, editors and communities to do,” a 2008 version of the site explained. It has since moved away from crowdsourcing the analysis of leaks and has even publicly toyed with the idea of selling its juiciest material to the highest bidder. It also no longer claims to be a neutral messenger: It created a site called CollateralMurder.com to host the Iraq helicopter footage; WikiLeaks and Assange were quick to call out those who offered differing interpretations of the video.

När vem som helst har möjlighet att lägga upp dokument på sajten blir det också ganska uppenbart att det finns goda möjligheter att fabricera läckor. Finns det inte finns tillräckliga resurser eller intresse av att kontrollera dessa dokument uppstår en rad olika spörsmål kring WikiLeaks.

På WikiLeaks finns t.ex. ett dokument som påstås avslöja John McCains strategi för hur man planerade att bemöta Barack Obamas kampanj om presidentposten. Dokumentet är troligen fejkat.

Möjligheterna att använda WikiLeaks för propaganda och desinformation är något många kritiker har påtalat.

Ett annat problem är de etiska och moraliska aspekterna kring hela konceptet WikiLeaks.

”It’s a good thing that there’s a channel for getting information out that’s reliable and can’t be compromised,” says Harvard law professor and online transparency pioneer Lawrence Lessig. But, he adds, ”There’s a difference between what you can legally do, what you can technically do, and what you ought to do.” […]

Steven Aftergood, who writes the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News blog and has published thousands of leaked or classified documents, says he wasn’t impressed with WikiLeaks’ ”conveyor-belt approach” to publishing confidential material. ”To me, transparency is a means to an end, and that end is an invigorated political life, accountable institutions, opportunities for public engagement. For them, transparency and exposure seem to be ends in themselves,” says Aftergood. He declined to get involved.

Läs mer: WikiLeaks senaste publicerade dokument relaterade till kriget i Afghanistan släpptes först till The Guardian, The New York Times och Der Spiegel.

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LONDON: Storbritannien har fått en ny premiärminister. 

Vad har koalitionspartnern Liberal Democrats och Conservative kommit överrens om?

Detta står ännu inte helt klart men The Guardian lyckade fotografera några anteckningar i handen på Nick Clegg – Liberaldemokraternas partiledare – som antyder konturerna för partiernas överrenskommelse.

Av dessa kan man dra vissa slutsatser bland annat följande;

Based on an inexpert translation of the spidery script by the Guardian, it appears to begin by listing the Tories’ ”red lines” on which they are not prepared to give ground: Europe, immigration and the Trident nuclear deterrent.

It then moves on to ”AV”: the alternative vote reform to the electoral system that the Tories are now offering to put to a referendum in a bid to secure the support of the Lib Dems to form a government.

The list also includes:

• The adoption of reforms to party funding proposed by Sir Hayden Phillips but shelved by Labour and the Tories.

• Funding for opposition parties – so-called ”short money”.

• Fixed-term parliaments.

(…)

[I]t is the detail at the end of the note which is most revealing. Under the heading ”Roles” Clegg lists the two main issues as ”ratios” and ”me”.

The last three lines appear to detail the proportion of Lib Dem MPs in a Lib-Con government, as well as the share of the total number of votes for the coalition contributed by Clegg’s party.

The note appears to suggest that the party’s share of ministerial roles should be in proportion to its share of votes – approximately 39% of the total. The sheet of paper includes a series of figures evidently showing the rationale behind this claim.

The most eye-catching phrase, apparently referring to government jobs for Clegg’s MPs, comes in the final line: ”one in each dept”.

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