Sunday, April 13, 2014

Commenting on news items

This blog seems to have very tolerant readers. I can understand them not complaining about the paucity of posts - a blessing in disguise to many - but not even mentioning the Brexit Prize and why have I not said anything about it is tolerance beyond what I can really expect. The reason is quite simple: I have not had time to read the winning three entries and do not feel qualified to comment on them until I do so, which will happen very soon.

In the meantime, I noticed a couple of items in the media, which made me snort with disgust and then laugh. The first was, naturally enough, Ed Miliband's sudden conversion to Judaism from the previous secular atheism and his announcement that he was hoping to become Britain's first Jewish Prime Minister. That would be the Ed Miliband who made some claims recently about the Labour Party being the party of One Nation, referring back specifically to Benjamin Disraeli who, as it happens, never used that phrase and was not interested in the concept.

What does he think Disraeli was? Clearly Mr Miliband has not ambitions to become a historically knowledgeable Prime Minister. (As it happens, I do not think he will become a Prime Minister of any kind but that is a separate issue.)

There is a good deal of discussion about whether Disraeli really was Jewish, having been baptized at the age of 12 and having been a practising Anglican in his adulthood. Well, yes, he was as Jewish as the completely secular atheist Ed Miliband, that is through his race and family. Furthermore, Judaism continued to be important to Disraeli, while Miliband has never referred to it until now. Does he really think this nonsense will win him the election?

The other item was Michael Rosen's Open Letter to the new Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, who, incidentally, will be the first Cabinet Member of Asian background. In it Mr Rosen casts doubt on Mr Javid's qualifications because, forsooth, he has not worked in culture but in banking for most of his life. So what does he know of culture? Well, the same might have been asked of T. S. Eliot who worked for some years in Lloyds Bank and, indeed, of a number of other writers and artists.

Guido Fawkes also points out that Rosen himself, apparently, thinks that he, a poet of moderate calibre (that is my view not Guido's) is entitled to have opinions about banking and pronounce them pompously in public.

My own view is that we do not need a Culture Secretary or a Department of State devoted to culture (or sport or media) and, therefore, that job is completely redundant. But if we are going to have somebody there it is much better to have someone who does not "work in culture" as Michael Rosen describes himself. The sign of a democracy, after all, is that civilians control all our the armed forces.


  1. I always thought the title Minister of Culture was rather pompous and continental - like a Minister of a Justice, come to that.
    As the Min of C's job is to transfer money from poor taxpayers to rich luvvies for work which would not otherwise have a market, I would have thought a banker was quite a good choice for the rip-off, as he will have the ability to keep a straight face as he goes on his merry way.

  2. Actually, Helen, I think there were six prizes in the Brexit competition, so we might not be seeing your piece for awhile. The Boss has been flouncing around his blog and forums since the announcement, railing against the injustice of it all. Actually I think he has a very good point, but it's not a spectacle for the faint hearted.

    I hope you're correct about Milliband never being Prime Minister. Awful though Cameron is, Milliband would be far worse. I know there are those who think we must descend to the bottom so the electorate can see the consequences of unmitigated stupidity, and never vote for it again. I'm not one of those, it's better to never get to the bottom, because rising again is not guaranteed.

    1. I agree about descending to the bottom not being such a good idea. Historic precedent shows that getting up again is well nigh impossible. See Russia and other post-Soviet republics.

      The six were short-listed but, I believe, there were only three prizes. I am not getting involved in any of those rows though, obviously, I reserve the right to comment about the winners.