Archive for November, 2008

Picasso’s Guernica

Years ago my dad told me how this painting has become a sort of symbol to left wing people in Spain. My parents have a copy of Picasso’s masterpiece at home and on that spirit I bought a copy of the painting mysel to hang on my flat in London.

Now Lena Gieseke, a 3D artist, has made a 3D exploration of the painting in which one can really appreciate the symbolism behind Picasso’s drawing. One can almost touch the angst, the panic and suffering the people of Guernica felt during the air raid.

The Guernica bombing became not just a symbol of the sheer suffering that any war inflicts on civilian population, but the raw evil that was the foundation of fascism as a political ideology. At a time when neo-fascist movements are emerging again in Europe, let’s not forget the lessons of history.


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I just watched Paxman interviewing Tony McNulty and Alan Duncan on the economic crisis and it’s curious how the tables have turned in British politics since 1997. In 1987 and 1992 Labour lost two general election mainly on the electorate not trusting them with the economy. Tax and spending was the Tories’ electoral forte for years while Labour struck the right note on social issues…depending on what issue the electorate care most about one or the other would shore up in the polls…not anymore. Listening to McNulty and Duncan one could see the Tories complaining about the economy without providing any soutions, very a la old Labour, while McNulty playing the safe pair of hands Minister. On social issues the Tories are now almost the perceived ‘caring party’, when social issues like crime or 42 days detention were the centre of media attention Cameron shore up in the polls, once the economy went down he started sounding too naïve to handle the storm while Brown look decisive with a very Thatcherite ‘take no prisoners’ attitude.

The Tories can certainly lose the next election if they keep looking so weak on the economy. I have a feeling Osborne is under serious threat now if the Tories don’t find a narrative on the economy soon and the PBR goes down well in the polls for Labour a new year reshuffle could see him off and Ken Clarke in.

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Osborne is feeling the heat

George Osborne must be cursing the day he chose Corfu as his holiday destination last summer. Everything was great for the shadow chancellor before that, but then he got himself entangled in a very silly but also very damaging political situation.

The Osborne-Deripaska affair became the first nail in the coffin. Boy George thought he could play hardball with heavyweight Peter Mandelson and came off hurting the new Tory brand. I wrote about this a month or so ago here.

That amateurish mistake is now spreading to his actual shadow cabinet portfolio, the economy. Firstly, his idea of tax credits to employers, announced by Cameron this week, has proven a total failure, both in terms of its economic rationale- it doesn’t achieve its aim and costs a lot more than the Tories say it does, read about it here– and the little impact it has had on back-footing Brown on the economy.

A Tory peer, Lord Kams, and an unnamed Tory MP have already called for Osborne’s replacement. The tax-cutting wing of the party is already uneasy about his lack of vision and pundits are starting to read the runes about possible hints in Cameron’s behaviour that might signal an early exit for his economic wonderboy. In the meantime Osborne is doing no good to the UK economy with his alarmism while Brown and Darling are meeting world leaders in Washington trying to sort out the world economy.

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With ideas like this one understands why they are reluctant to put more policy substance out there…it would just be embarrassing.

The argument against brilliantly put by Hopi and Chris here and here.


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Quote of the day

‘It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he’s the one who proposed this national security force. I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism. That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist’

Republican congressman Paul Broun from Georgia on Obama’s understanding of Obama’s plan to strengthen the National Guard after Bush decided to send most of it to Iraq and failing to maintain a viable military force back at home.

Yes mate, it is just slightly crazy…

Hat tip: The Politico

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Boris’ transport nonsense

The most worrying thing about having Boris as mayor isn’t that he´s pretty much inactive, going around the city giving vacuous speeches, being embarrasing in Beijing and managing to lose two deputy mayors in as many months. Crime is on the up and so far Boris’ only decision on that area is to sack Sir Ian Blair and leave the police hierarchy left headless.

But what really worries me the most is that when he finally decides to do something else than just talk Boris simply gets it very wrong. Like this week he has done with his transport budget cuts. Boris is scrapping the Thames Gateway, the cross-river and Oxford St. tram lines and the Croydon Tramlink and DLR Dagenham extensions. Leaving the Gateway aside (local residents and environmentalists are against it), the other projects are good environmentally-friendly projects which will help poorer areas to develop economically. Instead the mayor has decided to push on with his Routemaster plan which seems pretty silly to me. Why would you prioritise this project over others? the Routmaster is replacing an already existing bus network, it isn’t creating new services. Delaying the Routemaster project would not harm London’s bus network, while the money invested in that project could easily go to the DLR or tramlink extensions which would be providing an extra transport service to Londoners. The mayor is pushing for his ‘baby’ which isn’t a priority for London’s transport network right now.

Moreover, Boris has decided to put up transport fares not just by the annual 6% increase but adding a 1% over inflation extra for the next three years, that should really help us all in London with the crunch! Somehow now cancelling the Venezuelan oil deal providing cheaper transport in London doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. May I say I told you so Boris?

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The end

George W Bush (2000-2008)


Steve Bell

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