Monday, March 12, 2018

The Fall

"What the hell is happening to us?" asks Dan Hodges, "How have we managed to fall this far?"

Surprisingly, this isn't Dan wondering in the third person how he wound up working for the Mail, but is instead about the latest ineffectual shock-horror Labour Party story, which this time involves Jeremy Corbyn and a Facebook group partially populated by racists.

Dan is mystified - as far as he's concerned, he and his mates have put together an open-and-shut case.  So why does nobody seem to care?

Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I can tell you why am not moved by it.  I can tell you how I react whenever a story like this crops up, and why.

I don't expect anyone will agree with it all, and I'm not really trying to convince you that I'm right about anything, but maybe a look at my response will help to enlighten other people about the psychology at work.

So, why am I unmoved by the Facebook group and the racists?  A few reasons, starting with

I have used the internet before. 

I've been bickering with people on the internet about politics and current affairs for years.  This means I've encountered Britain's small but very nasty and noisy hardcore of left-wing racists on numerous occasions, and I'm aware that they tend to show up in numbers on any sites that focus on war and politics generally, and the Israel/Palestine conflict in particular.

Numbers-wise, I'd estimate that there are a few hundred and many as maybe as a thousand of these bellends rattling around social media, stinking the place up with their wacky opinions and dark hints about Who Really Runs The Press and so on.

What they lack in numbers, they make up for in nastiness and I've had to block, delete and ban more than a few of them in my time.  I've been vocal about the need to keep these people out of forums where I contribute regularly, although I have to confess that I've seen them at work and done nothing about it on other forums where I was just passing through.

So it isn't a shocking revelation to me that internet forums dealing with politics tend to attract godawful shitheads with rank agendas.  Nor do I feel responsible for the behaviour of a few hundred idiots that I've never met, whose views I strongly disagree with.

I've had this debate before. 

Amazingly, this isn't the first time I've been told that because such people exist, then lots of other people who used the same forums are irreparably tainted by association.  It's not even the ten thousandth time!

I remember it from various internet booby-hatches back in the early Iraq War days, when everyone who thought the war was an insane idea was held to be irretrievably tarnished by these exact same zoomers, although I note that war proved to be a ridiculous, blood-soaked catastrophe regardless of who stood next to whom at which protest.

I remember it from the Libya War too, when commentators very much like Dan Hodges were extremely insistent that because the same small clique of weird left-wing racists exists, then only weird racists were against the war.  I remember having more than one heated argument on this topic and as it happened, that war also turned out to be a howling clusterfuck, regardless of who posted what on which Facebook feed.

It turns out that you can only answer the question "Do you think there are a few hundred weird left wing racists on the internet?" with the word "Yes" so many times, before you start to wonder why the matter is apparently relevant to everything. 

This means that I now don't hold other people responsible for the behaviour of weird racists they say they don't agree with, unless I have a strong reason to believe that they're lying.

So now, whenever I hear a claim that people with similar views to mine are tainted by association with exactly the same few hundred dickheads, I tend to assume the claim is probably bullshit.

Maybe that isn't fair!  Maybe I'm making a terrible mistake.  Perhaps in this instance, the claim is perfectly valid and the criticism deserved.  Nonetheless, because of my previous experience with the same arguments from many of the same people, I am not inclined to take it very seriously.

But what if we're talking about more than one Facebook group, or multiple forums?  In that case...

Repeating Yourself Isn't The Same As Winning 

Dan and many other pundits appear to believe that every time they find some major or minor Labour Party figure posting on a dodgy website or in close proximity to some nutter, then they are stacking up great mountains of evidence.  They think they're landing blow after blow on their beleaguered opponents and believe, apparently sincerely, that each instance will be the straw that will finally break the camel's back.

I, on the other hand, basically discounted the first story for the reasons laid out above.  That means that for me, every new story isn't new - it's the same story, repeated again and again and again.

I do try to treat each new event as a discrete matter in itself with individual merits, but this gets much harder with every repetition.  If that story didn't move me the first time, then the four hundredth iteration of it isn't likely to move me either. 

That means that when I read opinion columns like this one from Dan Hodges, my conclusion is less

"I can't believe a modern socialist party would tolerate this Facebook enormity"

than it is

"Congratulations Tiger, you have successfully detected some nutters on the internet". 

So that's the core of it.  Less importantly, but also relevant:

If you always shout, people will avoid you. 

Like the amplifiers in This Is Spinal Tap, if you've got your volume turned up to ten, then where are you going to go after that?  Nowhere.

If your silly-season stories about off-the-cuff remarks that you pretended not to understand were delivered at the same screeching, deafening red alert levels as the ones about issues that you think are particularly important, then all of it will get lost in feedback.

I was not born yesterday. 

I am aware that there have been platoons of paid researchers and volunteer weirdos combing through every social media platform for years, looking for any shred of evidence of Labour Party villainy.

If the sum total of that huge investment in time, money and manpower is a few random cranks and some dark hints about proximity to loonies, then that's unlikely to fundamentally alter my worldview.  Because it's the same story again that I thought was bullshit in the first place, see? 

Seriously, I Was Not Born Yesterday 

With the best will in the world, nobody is going to take you seriously if you express your deep concerns about indifference to racism in the Daily Mail.

And if you have no problem extrapolating blood-curdling racism from proximity in old Facebook forums, but are unable to detect it on the front page of the broadsheets, I am probably going to value your opinion a good bit less. 

That lower estimation also extends beyond this particular writer to innumerable politics pundits who are apparently completely oblivious to the behaviour of their colleagues and social media followers.

So anyway... 

I could go on, but I'll finish with a quick overview.  The short version is that there was a time when smart people at certain newspapers could ensure that some views were politically untouchable - in particular, the idea that war is usually very bad indeed, and that particular wars are particularly bad; that very wealthy people should pay more in tax; that employers have too much power and employees have nowhere near enough, and so on.

They did this by declaring in unison that particular people who held these views were crazy and threatening, or actually in league with dark forces out to destroy everything that their readers held dear.  They reinforced these messages in much the same way too - paying people to trawl through actual bins as well as digital ones, sniffing out dirt and blackening names wherever possible. 

And for a long time, this worked, and so the wars rumbled on and the cash kept flowing into all the right bank accounts and everyone was happy, or at least everyone who mattered was.

But that was before all the wars went horribly wrong and the markets crashed, and the very smart people turned out not to be so very smart after all.

Now, people have more important things to worry about than who said what to whom on Twitter in 2007, or who was photographed shaking which hands.  And so now, the papers find that they can't mould and direct the public's opinions in the way that they used to.

Dan and many other political commentators believe that this is because Britain has become a debased and immoral nation; that the world has turned upside down and most of us are now dangerously mental.

I'd suggest that there might be more simple reasons.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

There Is No Alternative

Now, the short answer to Michael Crick's question here is "No it isn't" with the follow-up of "How in the name of God did you get a job explaining politics to the public?" 

The longer answer is that getting the Conservative Party out of government is priority number one for addressing most of the country's serious problems.  The Tories can't solve our multiple current crises because the Tories are the crisis. 

Consider just Brexit alone.  The striking thing about our national response to Brexit has been the bizarre lengths we've gone to for a reason why Brexit isn't the Tories' fault, variously blaming Labour's immigration policies, the snootiness of urban librulz and a conspiracy of Russian tweets, to name just a few.

None of these excuses ring true, because they aren't true.  Brexit didn't just fall on Britain out of a clear blue sky.  It was willed into existence by generations of Conservative politicians, driven by their donors and applauded to the rafters by their creatures in the press.

Public resentment of the EU was the creation of decades of hard work by Conservative politicians, including the current Foreign Secretary.  The wave of idiotic spite that created a 52% vote in favour of leaving the EU is the product of years and years of made up and half-true tabloid dreck - mostly for profit, but in no small measure because newspaper owners instructed their employees to boost the Conservatives' electoral prospects.

The decision to hold a referendum in the first place wasn't forced on the Tories, but was consciously chosen by David Cameron in a successful strategy to win back the party's plummeting popularity with racist pensioners.

Despite what you might have heard, it was the Tories that led the Remain campaign with such stellar levels of competence and credibility.  The Brexit negotiations with the EU haven't been catastrophic because of some innate diplomatic difficulty, but because Theresa May's Tories decided to turn Brexit negotiations into a vote-winning campaign pitting older rural voters against younger, urban ones - "Somewheres" against "Anywheres".

Ultimately, the reason there's such an air of unreality around Brexit as an issue is because so many people can't admit to this one simple truth - that the Tories can't ever solve this problem because the Tories themselves are the problem. 

And that's just one issue, rather than the full range of immediate problems that need to be addressed.  From our ludicrous housing market to tottering public services and the sharp differences in the interests of the young and the old - these are in large part the handiwork of the Conservative Party and more importantly, they're absolutely essential to the Tories' future electoral prospects.

The Tories can't and won't do anything to tackle any of these problems because they're not problems, as far as the Tories are concerned - they're a pre-requisite for their continued success.

Which is a long way of saying that it doesn't matter how loudly Anna Soubry condemns Brexit while she votes with the government, nor does it matter that certain journalists are too dim to realise that she's part of the problem, not the solution.

If we want to even begin to tackle the nation's problems, the Tories have to go - all of them out of Parliament, even the less openly carnivorous ones, preferably forever.  There is no alternative.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Genuinely Astonishing

I see why Hadley is shocked that Nigel Farage's comments have largely been met with indifference.  After all, the hacks have reported almost every belch, fart and whistle that the malignant Ukip nutsack has emitted over the last few years, so why the weary response now?

Farage may no longer be the leader of his party but he still has a radio show; he still tours the world meeting with senior political figures in Europe and the US; he still speaks at rallies for Nazi sympathisers and most importantly, he's the living avatar of Brexit, the worst political crisis in recent British political history. It should be astonishing that there hasn't been a public outcry.

Being an enormous smartarse however, I wasn't surprised at all that nobody much cares about Farage's wacky racist view on "Jewish influence", and I certainly wasn't "genuinely astonished".  If you'd asked me at the time what would happen, I'd have said "It'll be reported; there will be some snotty tweets, and then nothing will happen", and not only because that's precisely what's happened in the past.

That Hadley is astonished and I'm not, suggests to me that she's holding on to some incorrect presumptions.  That doesn't necessarily mean that my views are correct, but in the interest of us all growing as people and learning about the world around us, I thought I'd talk a bit about how I was able to call this one right.

There are a variety of reasons and I might look at others later but for now, let's consider the people whose job it is to report on matter of public interest - the press.  It'd be discourteous and dickish to put words into Hadley's mouth, so I'll consider here what I take to be the views of the Average British Opinion Writer.

I think the Average British Opinion Writer believes that the men and women of the British press are mostly decent, rational humans who would object to overtly foul behaviour, including the dissemination of openly racist conspiracy theories.

Conversely, I think the British press is mainly peopled by half-bright hacks who can usually be relied upon to noisily dislike such behaviour only when it's politically and personally expedient to do so.  I think many of them blithely accept certain unpleasant realities, including public racism and the ongoing career of Nigel Farage, as Just The Way Things Are, immovable and unconquerable.

If that's true, it'd go a long way to explaining why Farage can express views that would see almost any other politician either immediately drummed out of public life, or at very least besieged by a squad of reporters everywhere he or she went.

Further, I think the Average British Opinion Writer would say that most of their colleagues are dedicated and reasonably honest people, giving their flawed but often brave views on complex issues and mainly just calling it as they see it.

But what if instead - with only a few exceptions - most of the nation's political commentators are incurious, easily-led shitehawks?  What if the majority of opinion writers mistake received wisdom for deep thought and deeply-held conviction? What if they need to see others lead by example before they'll reevaluate their views, and if they regularly exhibit the herd instinct of pissed lemmings?

What if these personality traits are the main reason why they're employed as opinion writers in the first place?

That would certainly explain a lot, and not just about Farage, but about how the ongoing disaster that he and people like him created came to pass.

So that's one facet - we take different views of the press's role in public life.  Again, it's possible and perhaps even likely that I'm wrong, but you'll note that I'm not the one having brain explosions over events that aren't even unprecedented in the last few weeks, let alone years.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

How Dare You

Given the sheer quantity of "How dare you call me racist, sir" that there is flying about just now - clogging the airwaves, filling the papers, determining the outcome of elections and the very future of entire countries - I think it might help to ask the Not-A-Racist-Bone-In-My-Whole-Body types the following question:

If you decided tomorrow to be an out-and-out, self-declared white supremacist, then what would you do differently?

If you already spend your time e.g. writing articles about how touchy-feely liberalism puts everyone at risk of being beheaded by crazed Jihadists, or discovering who The Real Racists are by sharing dodgy comments made by black teenagers, or continually retweeting news stories about Muslims being convicted of crimes, or angrily focusing on Mo Farah's alleged steroid use while wholly ignoring similar stories about non-religious athletes, or calculating the percentage chance of a random male being a sex offender by controlling for country of origin....

Well, my point should be fairly clear.  From this baseline, it's difficult to see how you can take it up a notch to actual declared white supremacism. 

 If you're already carrying on like this, and quite gleefully too, then the difference between your behaviour and what you'd consider to be provably bigoted activities is pretty academic.  You could maybe be a bit more conspiratorial or wave suspect flags or use racial epithets but ultimately, these are differences of tone rather than content.

So I suppose the question is: If the only way that you could be more openly prejudiced would be to do exactly what you're doing but slightly more so, then why the hell would you bother getting pissy when people tell you that you're racist?  The line you're attempting to draw is so impossibly fine that it may as well not exist.

And this is before we get onto one of the iron rules of public conduct, which is: You don't have to be racist to be an arsehole, nor do you need to be a strident bigot to be a really unpleasant person to spend time with.

Friday, September 23, 2016

In My World Of Liberal Journalism

One of the most tiresome trends in opinion journalism goes like this:

I have found some people with wacky opinions, therefore

Everyone must support my utterly deranged policy proposal.

As regular readers will know, one of the serial offenders for this rhetorical style is the Spectator's Nick Cohen, who is very fond of announcing that because Person (x) is bad and wrong, we must immediately do something tremendously stupid and counter-productive.  Previous examples include: 

George Galloway is a bad man who proposes bad ideas, so 
Let's invade and occupy other countries.

Islamism is a horrible, vicious political movement with totalitarian aims, and thus
We must drop lots of high explosives on heavily-populated urban areas.

Lots of people now hold views that many people think are racist, but
I have decided those views aren't racist, so let's espouse these totally-not-racist views and win votes.

Given our mutual interests, I'm fond of using Nick as a weathervane for the trends of UK politics, so the following line from his latest column on the Labour Party poked out rudely, like a turd in a teacup: 

"...The sleaziness of (Jeremy Corbyn's) behaviour has allowed his opponents to avoid a question that the rise of the SNP should have made unavoidable: Can they create a progressive English patriotism?"

Now, the main thrust of Nick's piece is that the Labour leader and his supporters are bad and evil and wrong but again, it's worth noting that Nick is saying:

Corbyn and his fans are bad and evil and wrong, and so 
We must create a progressive English patriotism.

This idea - imitating the SNP's progressive nationalism - is exactly the kind of thing that strongly appeals to English people who are utterly clueless about Scotland, England and nationalism, and quite possibly about politics as well.  

Here's why: 

1)  Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose 

Which is French for, "Every few years some fucking berk wanders in and announces that we need to create, like, 'a progressive English patriotism', as if he's the first person ever to think of it".

Perhaps there is a way to harness this theoretical progressive patriotism - it has certainly been tried, by smarter people than Nick.  On the other hand, it's worth noting that whenever you haul English patriotism to the polling station, it tends to vote for the meanest, ugliest, nastiest right-wing lunatic on the ballot.

Does this mean that English patriotism will forever be a weapon wielded only by angry Tories and country-dwelling, wannabe Mussolinis?  Well, maybe not!  It is, however, a strong indicator of the general flow of patriotic politics in that country.

This is before we address the likely ability of the available candidates to achieve success.  Do Yvette or Hilary have the mettle to forge this new progressive alliance?  Is Chukka going to win over the north with his fiery rhetoric?  

Christ, no. 

2)  The SNP will absolutely love it.

The SNP in its modern form is basically the Labour Party's rhetoric and policies, delivered with barely-restrained anti-Westminster hysteria, to the extent that the only major difference between the two parties' manifestos in 2015 was over Trident, IIRC.

The SNP exists and thrives not because it has a big smiley, happy-happy attitude to patriotism, but because it has something clearly defined to push back against.  All it says, week in and week out, is that we could have awesome hospitals and more jobs and better education, if it weren't for the BASTARD SWINE at Westminster.

It's only a small exaggeration to reduce the entire movement to "English people are all like, Rah-Rah, Faw-Faw-Faw, Let's smash the oiks, but Scottish people are just like, Aye, whatever pal, nae bother".

Consider - is it likely that the solution for this is to create an equal and opposite form of the same thing?  Can anyone see why this might create more problems than it solves?

This makes as much sense as trying to eradicate lions by feeding them steaks and steroids.

3)   Nationalism = Nationalism.

One of the SNP's celebrity supporters asked recently why the First Minister was on TV talking about holding another independence referendum, when a survey had just illustrated the terrible extent of poverty in Scotland.  

This is a bit like asking why The Cookie Monster is on TV talking about how he wants to eat lots of cookies, while ignoring Scottish poverty.  

Scottish nationalism is all about securing independence, by fair means or foul.  Whatever your damnable progressive agenda is, there's little point in trying to bolt it onto the SNP.  Anything that you try to stick to the side of the nationalist program will be immediately consumed by the single priority of independence, either now or further down the line. 

And that's our happy-clappy, God-we-hate-the-English-but-welcome, foreign-friends! version of the phenomenon.  You can probably imagine the types of thing that this theoretical English progressive patriotism would consume.  

4)  It's so nakedly disingenuous. 

Nick has spent much of the last few years chiding us all for failing to heed the Very Real Concerns of the electorate about immigration.  The EU Referendum has just taught us a very real lesson about the very high levels of racism in the Very Real Concerns of the electorate.  The Labour right are still, this week, demanding that we all heed the Very Real Concerns of the electorate and act upon their wishes, despite knowing full-well what that entails, and which instincts they are fluffing.

Exactly how do you intend to square your "progressive English patriotism" with your simultaneous desire to win the votes of people who are willing to immiserate the country, economically and personally, because they don't like all the foreigners? 

The answer, of course, is that this "progressive English patriotism" will not be very "progressive" at all, particularly not in relation to immigrants and immigration.  Unless there's something I'm missing, an anti-immigration left-wing party would be little more than a touchier-and-feelier Ukip.  

And finally, it should go without saying that the idea of a touchy-feely, left-wing Ukip is 

5)  Utter electoral insanity.

It's basically saying: "We have lost much of rural Britain, so what we need to do now is to tell all of our city-dwelling supporters to fuck off as well, and then we will win".

Why, in the name of sanity, would anyone who wants to see a political party succeed demand that it force such an obviously destructive policy down the necks of its few remaining supporters? 

Well, perhaps this is the final answer to that question. 

Bonus silliness:  I like how Nick berates "commentators" who "throw around the 'far left' label without stopping to ask what it means", before Nick throws around the far-left label without informing us of what it means.  

I also like "Utopias are always banal", which is a cracking point to hear from one of the country's most enthusiastic supporters of extreme transformative violence as a means to creating democracy and stability.

And I imagine everyone chuckled at Nick's pronouncements upon what is and isn't good writing.  

And that line, "In my world of liberal journalism".  Polemicist, damn thyself. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

The View From The Outside

If nothing else, we can agree that there aren't many middle class British writers who will ever get bored with cranking out columns attacking other middle class people for being middle class.

Even so, I note that despite the endless wails and complaints about Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, he is still at least as secure in his current position as leader of the Labour Party as he was last September.  Possibly more so.

Now as I always say, I'm not a member and people who are can accept my advice or tell me where to stick it, as they see fit.

From where I'm sitting however, it looks very much like the Labour right are going to have to come to some kind of accommodation with Corbyn, no matter how much it sticks in their craw to do so.  Or, they can put up a challenger and duke it out.

Simply put, there is no other way

Why do I think so?  Well, a quick recap:

In the leadership campaign last year, the members indicated that they were going to reject the candidates offered by Labour's centre-right.  Maybe this was a wise choice and maybe it wasn't but ultimately it doesn't matter, because that's what happened.

The centre-right of the party were outraged about this, and so they ran to the press wailing and screeching and beating their breasts...

...And they got absolutely walloped in the leadership election, because the members wanted politics that were more like the ones that Corbyn was offering, and less like the austerity-lite ones of the centre-right.  Nor did they much appreciate the wailing and the screeching, and so on. 

Corbyn's leadership victory outraged the party's MPs all over again.  Almost as one, they ran to the press, wailing and screeching and beating their breasts.  They denounced Corbyn and decried the members as a bunch of entryists and loonies.

Now, maybe the wailing and screeching was a good idea, and maybe it wasn't.  It probably wasn't a good idea for politicians to attack people whose votes they might later need to win.  Either way, it doesn't matter whether it was a good idea, because it didn't work.

And unsurprisingly, the wailing and screeching only annoyed the members who had voted for Corbyn, and their support further solidified Corbyn's grip on the leadership.

Finally, after the Referendum disaster, the MPs decided that they'd had enough.  And so they ran to the press, wailing and screeching and beating their breasts.

Again, maybe this was the appropriate response, or maybe not.  I think it was a daft idea but to be absolutely clear, it doesn't matter, because it didn't work.

Worse, the renewed wails and screeches caused another huge influx of new party members, most of whom will now probably support Corbyn, rather than the party's centre-right.

Which leaves us where we are today, with the MPs and the hacks still wailing and screeching and beating their breasts and insulting the party members.

And yet, it looks like Corbyn's position is more secure than ever.

At this point, I have to ask the right of the party - How's that Corbyn Out strategy working out for you, folks?

What's your plan now, and how much wailing and screeching does it involve?

Because the wisest thing the Labour right could do now is this - forget all the complaints about Corbyn's unelectability and his faffing, bumbling public persona.  They're irrelevant.

Put all the outraged cries about his supposedly unacceptable comments to one side, and dismiss the endless garment-rending and teeth-gnashing over his terrible, outrageous personal politics.

All of these are mere details I realise that they're vitally important to some but in the long run, they just don't matter.

There's one cast-iron truth that everyone has to face up to here, and it's this - if the Labour Party is to have any chance of winning a national election in the next few years, then there will have to be a decisive fight.  If not, then everyone will have to plaster on a fake grin and swallow half a ton of humble pie.

Corbyn is not going to go away and barring an unforseeable miracle for the MPs, it looks like no amount of wailing, screeching or breast-beating is going to get rid of him.

The only viable choices are:

a)  Come to some kind of horribly awkward, grudging, mutually demeaning accommodation with Corbyn and hope that you can, for example, agree on a suitable successor for the next election;

b)  Put up a challenger who will espouse vaguely Corbyn-esque politics, and beat him at his own game, or

c)  Keep wailing and screeching and beating your breasts until either Corbyn retires, or you lose the will to go on.

And that's it.

Now, choose carefully.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Chilcot Report Open Thread

An open thread, for anyone that wants to discuss today's Chilcot Report.

Indulge me for a minute of rambling first, though.  I imagine I'll return to this but for now, having wasted a decade bickering and complaining about exactly the type of stuff that Chilcot covers, I'll confess that the headline news is immensely gratifying.

Is it childish to take such a horrifying global issue quite personally?  Very well then, I am childish. 

So aside from the usual backstage politics stuff, the most important of Chilcot's conclusions are surely the sections on planning and provision for wars.  The bottom line - don't invade countries simply because the Prime Minister thinks it's a good idea, because there is a severe risk of getting very large numbers of people killed, including your own soldiers.

I'm also very pleased by the declaration that the Iraq disaster was anything but unforeseeable, and that those who prosecuted it intentionally ignored the - very prescient - warnings of exactly the consequences that might ensue.

Already, I've seen yelps and screeches and loud complaints that this will now make it more difficult for the UK to wage wars, and indeed it probably will.  I say, good: our track record in recent wars is appalling, and substantial reflection is now sorely needed.

I'm also pleased that it's dealt bluntly with the "Did the Government lie?" question, by announcing that the Government "exaggerated" its case for war.  This saves us the long, boring argument about the difference between "Public Relations" and "Lies", and allows us to simply note that misleading PR about wars is a considerably more serious matter than misleading PR about a £3 bottle of shampoo.

For me, its very welcome that Chilcot's conclusions come with the official imprimatur of the British state.  For far too long, any public figure arguing that e.g. the government exaggerated its case for war, or that its case for war was mere PR for a decision already taken, was likely to be mocked as a conspiracy theorist and a nutter.  The suggestion that Britain's involvement in the war increased the threat of terrorism was treated as tantamount to siding with Al Qaeda, if not outright incitement to violence.

That these straightforward points were demonstrably and obviously true, did not help at all with Britain's highly belligerent and obnoxious pro-war party.  Those people will still be belligerent and obnoxious tomorrow, but the difference is that the facts are now decisively on our side, because they're part of the official record.

And on Tony himself, well, what's left to be said?  He was a lunatic and a true-believer when he was Prime Minister and as he demonstrated today, he's still as mad as a box of frogs.

The main accusation against him is, I think, that he preferred to risk the lives of millions of people on his own windy, arse-extracted interpretation of events, rather than listening to the advice of people who actually knew what they were talking about.

So what does Tony do?  He gives a rambling, 45-minute press conference in which he confirms beyond all doubt that the accusation is absolutely correct.  

I used to think that there was method in his madness but now, I'm not so sure.  Looking at him today, he reminds me of people who have been accused of the most serious crimes.  Those people very rarely plead guilty and usually maintain their innocence, even in the face of the most overwhelming evidence.

Why do they do this, when a guilty plea might slash their sentence?  They do this because some crimes are so serious that the reputational damage is too horrible to accept, and because prisons are full of stab-happy killers with lots of time to whittle shivs.

They do it because it's better to go to jail wailing about a non-existent miscarriage of justice, than it is to admit to what you did and face the consequences.

Anyway, on that note, have at it - I'm sure that there are plenty of hilarious attempts to muddy the waters out there today, and there'll be thousands by tomorrow.

But the good news is that at long last, it's them who will have to prove their points beyond doubt.  It's scant comfort, but even that has been a long time coming.