The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Knowledge is liberation


We're all just ending up at Monument whilst trying to find the exit at Bank right? #

3 September 2018
Cliff Notes

Cliff Evans is to leave Radio 2 breakfast. The professional northerner has been waffling on since 2010.

His replacement is a fraught question: Radio 2 breakfast is Europe's most-heard radio show. Radio 2 has been criticised for not having any women regularly presenting shows on daytime. Politically, it's helpful to give the show to a woman, but who is the best presenter available?

Petroc Trelawney and Clemency Burton-Hill, the best music presenters on radio, are not familiar to the Radio 2 audience. Nor is Lauren Laverne, and she's recently accepted the breakfast show on 6 Records. Scott Mills has "future R2 breakfast show host" written over him, but he's not yet familiar to the Radio 2 audience. Come back in 2026.

Steve Wright In The Afternoon has done breakfast before, and it was a failure. Mark Radcliffe has done breakfast before, and it didn't work for him. Ken Bruce has done breakfast before, and lasted just a year (though that year was 1985...) Danny Baker's Morning Edition worked on Radio 5, but as a shadowy alternative to the mainstream; he would be out of place in the bright lights of Radio 2.

Simon Mayo has done enough of 4am starts. Nicky Campbell could transfer from Radio 5, but he hasn't presented music radio in two decade. Radio 1 alumnae Zoe Ball and Sara Cox might be amenable. Jo Wiley is already on daytime, though her show hasn't merged well with Mayo's.

Edith Bowman was the star of Virgin Radio 2.0, and is now available; might Edith be the woman they want, with or without Colin Murray? Would Liza Tarbuck want the job? Is Fearne Cotton yet familiar to the Radio 2 audience?

And that's just people within BBC national radio. We're not considering star presenters from local radio, or transfers from the commercial sector. It would be a surprise if the name wasn't familiar to national radio listeners, but we're not convinced the BBC will promote someone from within Radio 2.

May we live in interesting times, and make sure we take Fridays off.

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25 August 2018
I beg your pardon

A correspondent asks about the precedent of Richard Nixon's pardon, granted by Gerald Ford.

Lest we forget, Ford didn't give his pardon right away. He considered it for a month. During that time, further evidence emerged about Nixon's crimes, and about how much damage had been done. Contrary to speculation, there's no evidence of any deal between Nixon and Ford - indeed, a pardon looked unlikely for the first few weeks.

We can go down a counterfacual route. Had there been no pardon, Richard Nixon would have been charged for his criminal activity. He would either have plead guilty, or gone on trial. He'd be all over the television for week after week after week. A trial would drag out for a year or more. And it would serve little purpose: he's as guilty as hell. Lock him up. Here ends the counterfactual.

Back in the real world, events had moved on, and the government had better things to do. A year had already been lost, tangled up in the avoidable mess of Watergate. An economic crisis was brewing, the middle east was even more unstable than ever, Vietnam was still rattling on, oil prices had shot up. Something useful had to be done, and Watergate wasn't something useful.

A feeling was around: democracy was in peril. Nixon had been elected by a landslide, but had unexpectedly turned out to be a crook and a cheat. The government was vastly unpopular, and didn't represent anyone. If swift action wasn't taken, the consequences were unpredictable.

Another thing we forget these days: the Yankees had an existential fear of the USSR. Thinking in the 1970s revolved around "spheres of influence" - the Yankees had western Europe, the Soviets got eastern Europe, the rest of the world was a proxy war. Vietnam was a consequence of this theory, a battle of choice to restrain the Soviet sphere of influence.

If regimes think the Yankees couldn't lead the world, because they're obsessed with this internal difficulty, then they might be more receptive to the Soviets' voices. If the Yankees preach "rule of law" abroad and ignore it at home, then they might think the Yankees' other promises cannot be trusted.

Ford knew that he had stuff to do, and the spectre of Nixon's trial would distract everyone from more important matters. The rule of law. Sensible and prudent and *honest* government.

The pardon ended Ford's honeymoon. It cost Ford his bi-partisan support, cost him the '76 presidential election, opened the door for Ronald Reagan and the Racist Baptists. In the short-to-medium term, it was the right thing to do; in the long term, it's not obviously wrong for the civic society.

There are two further points when applying this to modern times. 1) To accept a pardon is to accept guilt. 2) Ford's pardon was to circumvent a lengthy criminal investigation and trial, all leading to an inevitable outcome.

How is 2018 different from 1974? Unlike Nixon, the unelected white trash squatting in office probably won't accept its guilt. Nixon came to office on a landslide, he had fooled everyone. The sex abuser of our times was known to be a sex abuser, and elected because of it. And the mood is darker, less amenable to "shut up and govern". Government as an institution is not trusted, perhaps because it does not represent the people. Blood might require blood.

Main source: The Pardon, Smithsonian magazine, 2007.

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11 August 2018
Left, right, and sensible

Why I left the Conservative Party and joined the Liberal Democrats, by Sophie Tyrrill. "It is a toxic environment. The local party that I joined was fun, friendly and welcoming. Things are different now."

Two from The Gerasites, a sensible Labour site.

The hardcore Corbynites are best described as the alt-left. "Polytechnic revolutionaries with an NVQ in Political Theory and avatars of their favourite mass murderers, they know Corbyn and McDonnell support terrorism and they're delighted by that. They know there's an ongoing war against the wrong kind of Jews and uppity women, because it's them waging it."

You're Not Funny Any More, Owen Jones. "Then the antisemitic mural resurfaced and kicked up a major storm. Once again Jones said nothing. Nothing, that is, until Corbyn finally released a statement. It turned out to be a fuss about nothing, of course, because Corbyn simply hadn't looked at the content of the controversial mural he was supporting during a controversy about the content of the mural. Within moments of the statement, Jones piped up with a thread to express his 'relief' that there was nothing to worry about because Corbyn had a completely plausible explanation."

We've gone away and thought about More United over the past months. We start with the remote, out-of-touch, and insular Thorney Island political class. And there's the rest of us, in the regions and the cities and the neighbourhoods. There's a complete disconnect, and there's a complete level of government missing - we don't have an effective structure at the regional level. There's Westminster, and there's the county or borough council, and there's nothing in between.

In this blog's view, new structures are needed to address the democratic deficit. Proper and honest devolution, Westminster gives up some of the powers it's claimed over the past thirty years, and they come to reside in the Council of the West Midlands, the Yorkshire Congress. And honest elections, where almost every voter can point to some representative and say "I elected that councillor / MYC / MWP".

So it was profoundly depressing to get More United's latest campaign email. "We want to give even more attention to Westminster." No! Absolutely not! Go forth and divide! This attitude only perpetuates the problems we've already got. Power rests in us, the people, and we only ever loan it to representative bodies. We would be best served by having less Westminster, and more councils.

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5 July 2018
Scargill, Thatcher, May, and Europe

The question was asked,

I lived through it but wasn't really aware of politics at the time, but... How does May's stubbornness and seemingly blinkered approach compare to Thatcher's drive against the unions and miners in the 80s? Are the situations comparable?

The short answer: the government approaches are not really comparable. Thatcher was bringing in a policy that commanded broad support, that made economic sense, and made an effort to ameliorate the impact. May has deliberately chosen her policy, has never made a compelling argument to prefer it to the alternatives, and she appears to have no care for popular opinion.

(More: A long analysis of the mid-80s strikes, and present Euro-crisis)

There was stubbornness on both sides. Scargill saw it as his mission to bring down Conservative rule. Thatcher believed that coal mining was a net drain on society, and needed to be exposed to a free market. We can believe that, had the NUM been led by someone more pragmatic, the industry would have been wound down more gradually, without such damaging conflict, and with a much more helpful settlement. We can believe that, had the Conservatives been led by someone less headstrong, that the miners would have won most of their claim, and kicked the problem down the road for a later government to pick up.

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16 June 2018
Philip Lee and human rights

Notes on a speech by Dr Philip Lee, the Human Rights minister in the Lord Chancellor's office. Given to Bright Blue, 9.15 on 12 June 2018.

"Recognition of human rights is what true conservatism is all about." Dr. Lee began his speech with a tour of the history of social reformers within the Coservative party. Peel, Disraeli, Shaftsbury, Emmeline Pankhurst, Churchill. The Conservatives have a long history of social progress, and are perhaps a little shy of trumpeting their past achievements.

His speech then harked back to the speech Foxface gave when assuming office in July 2016. The one about not being held back, about building a great meritocratic society. The question he left hanging: What's she done about these problems in the years since? How is Foxface following in the tradition of Peel, Disraeli, etc?

There has been an absence of hope, a failure of integration. Society is not taking responsibility for itself. Seeing what's happened in Syria, Dr. Lee was worried that extremist elements might worm their way into the social fabric. Some of us might argue that they already have a platform on LBC.

Dr. Lee did not mince his words about the far-right headbangers who would roll back the ECHR. "Those colleagues are wrong. It is them who would turn back the tide of history."

Challenges were set. "We must pass something better to our children. We must care for the vulnerable. Humanity is the bond to keep us all safe... Wht do we, as a society, value? How do we engage with the world?"

Dr. Lee saw a need to recalibrate society. He saw it was necessary to regulate markets - the question was not if markets were regulated, but how this should best be done.

"Markets have their place, but they must work for humanity and dignity. Too often, people are sacrificed for the market." He compared this task with ending child labour in the 19th century - it was not done because it was profitable, but because it was right.

Th modern equivalent could be a strategy for women offenders. Dr. Lee is aghast that so many women are imprisoned because they didn't have a television license. Many of these women are vulnerable, out of abusive relationships. Is this the society we want to build?

Dr. Lee was scathing about the idea of bombing people into democracy. "You cannot bring freedom to people by high-tech weaponary." The military must be an adjunct, to create and defend human security.

And he did not like elections that offered no choice. "Votes need to be meaningful."

Dr. Lee concluded with a recap of his guiding principles: liberty, dignity, and justice.

And then there was a piece that hadn't been provided to the organisers...

The government, we hear, has a duty to protect its inhabitants. All of them, even when the majority opinion favours damaging society. He reminded us of hanging, the great debates over whether society could kill someone; it might be popular, but it is wrong.

When policy is detrimental to people, it is an MP's job to protect the people's interests. He will vote in favour of the Commons being able to instruct the Executive on negotiations with the EU. "In these circumstances, it will be hard for me to remain a minister," and Dr. Lee announced he was resigning from the government.

Dr. Lee then excused himself, as he had media to talk to. Questions to the minister were not taken, on account of there being no minister in the room.

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6 June 2018
Key stage 3

Piccadilly Radio 3.0 launched nationally. Here's a sample hour from 4.30 on Monday:

One Kiss - Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa [current]
Sober - Pink [2009]
No Tears Left To Cry - Ariana Grande [current, followed by ads]
Wolves - Selena Gomez ft. Marshmello [recurrent]
Paradise - Coldplay [2012]
Familiar - Liam Payne And J Balvin [current, followed by ads and news]
Breathe - Jax Jones ft. Ina Wroldsen [recurrent]
Fill Me In - Craig David [2000]
Shotgun - George Ezra [current, followed by ads]
Human - Rag 'N' Bone Man [2016]
Wake Me Up - Avicii [2013]

A-list tracks ("One kiss", "Familiar") seem to be on three-hour rotation. EMAP's house style seems to be go from a hit to the adverts, then come back with something familiar.

The playlist is mostly from the last ten years, a few spice tracks from the turn of the century. Not too different from Piccadilly 2.0, which stands to reason; but not really what we'd expect from a service calling itself "Hits".

The immediate question: how is this service different from the existing Heat Radio? It's a similar mix, mostly uptempo pop, perhaps a bit more modern. The longer-term question: will Hits give Heat a bit more space to carve a different path? Already, we see Heat giving space to "This is me" and Lady Gaga, both absent from Hits.

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31 May 2018
Football writings

Two football questions from Jack of the Online Writings:

If Rotherham win the play-off final, would that be the first time all three teams relegated from [Division II] have gone straight back up?

Rotherham did win the play-off final. To research this question, we've used this compact listing up to 2014, and RSSSF tables since.

"Yes" is the simple answer. Even when it was two-up, two-down, even when it was two-down, one-up-from-three-north, one-up-from-three-south, there's never been a time when all of the clubs relegated from Division II bounced back from Division III.

The trick was almost pulled in Division IV a decade ago. The sides relegated from Division III in 2006 (Hartlepool, Franchise, Swindon, Walsall) filled the top four in 2007's Division IV, but Franchise lost in the play-offs.

Am I right in thinking there will be no London teams in [Division IV] next season?

For the 2018-19 season, Barnet drop out from Division IV, and no London club replaces them. Sutton United failed in the play-offs, Bromley missed the play-offs.

In the last quarter-century, Barnet (most seasons from 1991), Dagenham and Redbridge (from 2007), and Leyton Orient (pretty much every season) have ensured London representation in Division IV.

Last time London didn't have a rep in Division IV was the 1993-4 season. Barnet spent their one year up in Division III, where they finished bottom. Fulham came down with them. Leyton Orient were a comfortable 18th in Division III, Dagenham & Redbridge finished 6th in the Football Conference (Non-League Division V).

(More: Full details of seasons when London had no Division IV teams)

This will be the eleventh season in 53 years without a London side in Division IV. Arsenal have been a permanent presence in (Non-)League Division I, and there's always been some London in Division II. Division III ran without a London side in 1972-3, and again in 1978-9; assuming we discount Watford, there was no London rep in 1979-80. There was no London side in Division V as recently as 2012-13, nor in 2008-9.

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2 May 2018
Not getting excited for tomorrow's ballot

Local elections tomorrow. We've had letters from some of the council candidates.

To be precise, we've had eight letters since the start of the year from Adrian Delaney (Conservative). He's gone long about how he cleans up rubbish. He stands by shops in the Approved Conservative Pose™, he picks up litter, and wants to bring back free garden collections.

The problem we have with Adrian Delaney (Conservative) is the (Conservative) bit. He stands with the most obnoxious racists we've covered since the BNP in 2009. He will not get our vote, because he stands with racists.

Carole Griffiths is the Labour candidate. We only know this because of her piece on a local website. We've had no leaflet from her. No-one from Labour has dared knock our doorstep.

We will not be voting for Labour. The party is in coalition at Westminster with the Conservatives, and chooses to betray all of its principles. Workers are suffering, and all to satisfy the hugemungously massive ego of its current "leader".

The manifestoes from the Greens and Lib Dems are sensible and relevant to the council's powers. A vote for either of these parties would also send a message to the real audience, the BBC and the newspapers. The message: we still don't want your stupid "breggsit" idea. We said no last year, and there is no mandate from earlier years.

(More: The yellow and green candidates)

In short:

Positions of the nationwide parties on Brexit-related issues. The question mark reflects Labour's insistence on "a" customs union but not "the" Customs Union.

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