Daily archives: July 21, 2011

Geoff Boycott Is Right

Geoffrey Boycott just reacted on Test Match Special (Radio 5 Sports Extra) to the announcement that Mervyn King will be the teatime guest:

The words of Saint Geoffrey: “Ask him why the bankers aren’t all in jail. Ask him this: if it’s private enterprise, how come when they make a profit, they get the money in their pocket, but when they make a loss, we all have to pay for it. The bankers should all be in jail.”

Boycott immediately replaced by Tuffers. I think Boycott should replace Vince Cable.

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Real Drama on the Fringe

I really do hope some of you will come to see Nadira play Medea in Edinburgh this Festival August. The producers are making a determined attempt to run full production value, professional, straight classical drama on the fringe – something which has become harder to find in recent years. There really are some brilliant actors in the cast, and the technical and creative directors are absolutely first rate.

Stella Duffy has reworked her translation especially for the show, and has been personally attending rehearsals. I have hardly seen Nadira this last couple of months of rehearsal, and I think this could all be a bit special.

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Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

I watched a 30 year anniversary documentary last night about Botham and the 1981 Ashes series, which for people of my generation will always be the Ashes series. I was somehow relieved to see John Major, Elton John, Mick Jagger and Stephen Fry, among others, talking obsessively about it, just as I do. It is probably hard now to explain that a sporting event could have such a profund grip on national consciousness.

I thought the documentary ought to have mentioned Graham Dilley in the Headingley test, without whom Botham’s great innings could never have happened. Indeed my recollection is that it was a couple of sparkling cover drives from Dilley that sparked Botham into what I am sure, at the start, was just the idea of having some fun, rather than slowly grinding to grim defeat. Dilley eventually got out when caught at cover off a drive as truly hit as any ever was, just short of his fifty. With the Aussie attack visibly on the ropes I was hopeful that Chris Old, the hook nosed Yorkshireman with a reputation for really belting it, would also go to town, but he never really got going – after thirty years I remember him as having made 26, not sure how accurate that is, but I don’t want to change any particle of my memory of this particular occasion. But the genius, the aura of Botham!

Then the great Bob Willis and those knackered knees, which didn’t get mentioned last night either – sorry for the cavilling, it was a brilliant documentary.

I watched it all with my friend Martin on a tiny black and white TV, on a narrow boat on the Oxford canal, with Blenheim Palace shimmering in the heat haze. Our two lovely girlfriends were doing all the boating and loch opening work, and cooking the meals, while wearing very little and looking wonderful, while we drank wine and watched cricket. Aah, the days when such unabashed sexism was considered strange by nobody, how I miss them!!

It its thirty years since that Botham summer. Happy memories. A couple of weeks after the Headingley test, of course, we had the Charles/Diana wedding. The truckload of royal bilge that must be in preparation by the media will soon clear my nostalgia.

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Agents Provocateurs

The insurmountable problem for those who categorise any accusation of the state acting deliberately wrongly as a “conspiracy theory”, is truth. There is, beyond any doubt, a police operation to infiltrate left wing groups in the UK with spies.

The case of the extraordinary Ratcliffe Power Stations convictions shows how very wrong this can go. The courts have ruled not only that the police acted as agent provocateur, but that police colluded with our supposedly independent prosecutorial service to withhold vital information from the court.

The lord chief justice was among the appeal court judges who published this yesterday:

“It is a case which has given rise to a great deal of justifiable public disquiet, which we share. Something went seriously wrong with the trial. The prosecution’s duties in relation to disclosure were not fulfilled. The result was that the appellants were convicted following a trial in which elementary principles which underpin the fairness of our trial procedures were ignored. The jury were ignorant of evidence, helpful to the defence, which was in the possession of the prosecution but which was never revealed. As a result justice miscarried.”

The court here is making a stand against the contempt for political liberty that emanated from the very top of the Blair government and spread to affect the policy and operations of all governmental institutions in the UK. The mindset that made it OK for the government to set up young environmental activists, was no different from the mindset in which MI5 agents thought it was OK to collude in the torture of Binyam Mohammed.

But here lies the rub. The appeal court is trying to right the wrongs done to middle class white people. The amount of infiltration and agent provocatuer activity against “Muslim extremists” has been of a much higher order. The “fertiliser bomb plot” is one example of an attempted crime by deluded people who had been penetrated and very probably egged on from the start. The “airline bomb plots” and “Manchester Easter bomb plots” both involved the shadowy double agent Rashid Rauf.

Furthermore, precisely that openness by the prosecution the appeal court demands is deliberately denied to Muslim defendants on terrorist charges, who are frequently not allowed to see and thus to challenge the provenance of “Evidence” against them by the security services.

There has, thankfully, been a steady stream of overturning of crazy “terrorist” judgements on appeal, including the truly appalling conviction of the woman for writing “terrorist poems”. But it nonetheless remains true that we are yet to recover sufficiently from the Blair poison to give the full benefit of law to Muslims in the way we have just done to middle class white people.

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