Rod Liddle

I've invented a new game. It's called 'Six Degrees of Shami Chakrabarti'

It links together Sally Morgan and Philip Seymour Hoffman

8 February 2014

9:00 AM

8 February 2014

9:00 AM

Can someone please explain to me why the BBC newsreaders were not wearing black armbands last weekend when reporting the tragic story of Sally Morgan being given the boot from Ofsted? In all other manners the coverage was adequately respectful and the reporters, rightly, allowed their anguish to bleed through the fraying bandage of impartiality. Not enough, mind – I could have done with some real weeping and tearing at the hair: how could this brilliant and exciting woman be so traduced? The Tories are trying to take over everything! You’d have thought they’d won an election, or something. How dare they.

I wonder which public institution will be the next grateful harbour for Baroness Morgan? You can bet your life she will wash up somewhere, almost certainly without the sort of process you or I would have to go through to get a job. You might have thought there would be an opening at the Environment Agency, what with its chaotic response to the recent inclement weather — but no, Baron Smith, another Labour peer, is clinging on to his job, despite admitting that the East Anglian coastline will soon begin somewhere near Sudbury. But there are an almost infinite number of other quangos and public bodies and charidees for which the only qualifications needed are to have amenable, centre-left opinions and to have friends in think tanks and the like.

The BBC itself, for example, might be a good place for Sally — now that Caroline Thomson, the former somewhat tarnished ‘Chief Operating Officer’, has left to run the English National Ballet. Didn’t know Caroline could dance, did you? On the head of a pin, reader, on the head of a pin. Ms Thomson is also known as Lady Liddle, through her marriage to that New Labour scullion or eminence Roger (now Lord) Liddle. No relation, I hasten to add. I mean no relation to me — obviously Lord and Lady Liddle are related, they’re married. Almost every public job in the country is occupied by this sort of person, each of them occupying several berths in multifarious institutions which largely depend upon your wallet to exist. I invented a game you can play based upon these monkeys, the people who run everything. It’s called ‘Six Degrees of Shami Chakrabarti’, and what you do is pick a quango or public institution at random, and then pick a name from the board of that institution at random and see how many moves it takes to get you to Shami Chakrabarti. It’s usually a lowish number, like one or two. Sally Morgan to Shami you can do in two moves: Sally’s married to the barrister John Lyons, former chair of Liberty, of which organisation Shami is the current director. Bingo. There are probably about 50 other routes.  These are the people who run us: agreeable people with civilised views, as they would see them, usually — although not always — public-school-educated, faux leftish and unelected.

Watching the news these last few days, one other thought occurred. Aside from the shocking news of Sally Morgan’s defenestration, the other story to dominate the headlines was the death of an actor familiar, I would have thought, to a very small minority of viewers and listeners. Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his apartment with a syringe of skag hanging out of his arm. This is undoubtedly very sad, but the coverage afforded his rather sordid demise was out of all proportion to his popularity. I suppose the average cinema-goer may vaguely recall the chap from the most recent instalment of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, in which his billing in the cast was somewhere around about number 13. Or perhaps from his performance in one edition of the Mission Impossible franchise, where he ranked second to Tom Cruise.

But I do not think that either of these films are why Hoffman was afforded such a send-off from the British media, and in particular from the BBC. We were told, at every available moment, that he was the ‘finest character actor’ of his generation — and what this means, I suspect, is that he was in the sort of films that people who work for the BBC like to watch. Dialogue-heavy, slightly off-kilter films, such as those directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and Paul Thomas Anderson. Films which do not do terribly good business at the box office but which with-it middle-class people who wear black and work in the media rather enjoy.

People like me, as it happens — I enjoy all those films too and, with the exception of Mission Impossible and The Hunger Games, have seen almost every film Hoffman has been in. But I was reminded a little of the death of Lou Reed — a musician who, again, I’ve always liked, because I am one of these people I’m talking about — whose resonance with the British consciousness lasted for about six weeks in 1972 after the release of the single ‘Walk on the Wild Side’. Lou was somebody revered by the artsy types who work in the media, and especially the BBC, but had no real impact beyond this rather arrogant clique which thinks that the stuff it likes is hugely important. (And I bet Sally Morgan’s got Lou’s album Transformer.) Can you imagine the BBC going overboard if Jean-Claude van Damme suddenly died, or even Will Ferrell? I’m telling you, if the Coen brothers suddenly peg out it’ll be like Mandela all over again.

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  • Osmania

    Rod, you didn’t finish your homework and do the link between Shammi and PSH. Sloppy.(Start with Phillip Seymour Hoffman narrating a film on Ralph Nader’s 2000 Presidential run – which was supported by Michael Moore – whose 1990s tv series with Louis Theroux were done for the BBC, on whose Question Time Shammi is a regular or summat.)

  • Nick


    • ArchiePonsonby

      Unelected, yet!

    • greggf

      Nepotism, Nick!

    • Neil Saunders

      It’s da Common Purpose, innit?

  • La Fold

    Chakrabarti always reminds me of a girl in my school in sixth year who always wanted to be the one who wanted to take the register, appeared in every dreary musical and try and get you to join her on a sponsored 24 hour fast, or silence or whatever it was that week.

    • Nick

      Yes that’s right,I remember her.

    • Ron Todd

      I don’t agree with all of what she stands for but I think unlike a lot of the ruling class types she would in some circumstances stand up for that most despised group the white native working class British.

      • edlancey

        In that case, she’s been alarmingly quiet about “grooming” in the duskier reaches of the country.

        Perhaps I just missed all those impassioned pleas she made on Today with John Humphries…

        • Ron Todd

          I did say in some circumstances if one of the client groups of the ruling class is also involved they will always get priority.

        • Sameer P. Sarkar

          That’s because pedophiles have “rights” too!

          • RichardOakes

            Yep. That’s how the law works in a civilised country, it’s said as much since long before she was even born. Everyone has rights.

            If you don’t like it, there are plenty of countries where they don’t.

          • loftytom

            Which the predecessor of liberty fought for in the 1970s and 80’s.
            Hiya Harriet Harperson, Hiya Jack Dromey, Hiya Patricia Hewitt.
            Filth defending filth.

    • K BB

      Oh dear, I married that one.

  • Fencesitter

    I think my favourite moment of the 2012 Olympic Games was when Shami popped up during the opening ceremony as one of eight worthies carrying the Olympic flag…

    • Nick

      I was nearly sick when I saw her holding the flag.

      • Fencesitter

        Talk about a bleeding liberty…

        *snare drum*

  • Radford_NG

    It was reported a few days ago that the Director of the Victim Support Assoc.(who is nominated to take over at Barnadoes) returned home to Pakistan with a gang of thugs to help his family beat-up on a rival family.Shots were fired.(Source;Mail on Line)

    I’ve been complaining for decades about the nexus between such groups.

    The then Director of MIND attended the Notorious meeting of P.I.E. at Conway Hall and spoke in their favour.He was previously Director of NCCL(aka.Liberty).He was Succeeded at NCCL by Patricia Hewett(?),later Blairite MInister for families.The chief legal officer (and chief advocate–literally–for P.I.E.) was Harriet Harman [as you know].All were associated with Peace News magazine whose political home was Housemans Bookshop,Caledonian Road;and with most organs of the `peace movement`those basic idea was that of E.P.Thomson(?)that peace would come about when the only nuclear power in europe was the Soviet Union.Peace News was also connected to the School of Peace Studies at Bradford `University`with which they exchanged staff on a six monthly basis;meaning the tax payer was subsidising Peace News whose staff where also closely involved with people running local children’s playgrounds and a community centre at which a pro-gay meeting was held which was to be attended by the leading european pedophile,a Danish MEP who was intercepted at Dover as a banned person.

    And so it goes on.Having been criminally abused for having innocently crossed members of this group I found myself a banned person with enormous anger projected against me by the authorities for reporting it.In this situation there is no `outside`because those you need to turn to are comrades in struggle of those you have crossed;including LIberty and the Victim Support Assoc.

    Even without the internet in those days I found out the above.Everything revealed since the Jimmy Saville scandal broke goes to show all I was reporting on was right.

    (In more recent years when I heard ` a female of Asian heritage`was at the top of NCCL I naively wondered if the nexus had been broken but writing to her I found it had not (then found she is an establishment QC).

    When I drew up a list of connections of groups and people and linked them with arrows it disappeared under black lines:and these are only those I know of.

    The `red tie brigade` is far more pernicious then the supposed influence of the Freemasons.

    • Radford_NG

      Even in the above I missed out CND.

      • Pootles

        And under CND you can add in Baroness Ashton, who was on financial watch at CND when it was, in all probability, receiving subsidies from Moscow. When this was brought up at the time of her unelected move to EU foreign policy gauleiter, she said that, you’ve guessed it, that is was al a long time ago and she couldn’t remember.

        • ArchiePonsonby

          A true worthy de nos jours, a veritable paradigm of public service, blah, blah!

        • scampy1

          Sally Morgan is giving Cathy Ashton a run for her money at the ugly bug ball?

    • Baron

      But, Radford, sir, these people cross inseminate when moving around, bring huge amount of experience, invaluable know-how from one top job to another top job. This, my blogging friend, is why the country is in such good nick, debt free, industry booming, everything works, the plebeians pay gladly their taxes, dance happily even when it floods …..

    • Jeffrey Vernon

      Talk about vagueness, half-truths and guilt by association. Head of NCCL ‘associated with’ Peace News staff who were ‘closely involved’ with a community centre where someone or other organised a gay meeting…And E.P. Thompson campaigned for unilateral nuclear disarmament. You might think it’s a barmy idea, but he wasn’t in favour of a soviet bomb. As for the ‘leading european paedophile’, who appointed him? Do paedos have a cup final or something?

  • ReefKnot

    Let’s hope the Coen brothers live a long life. I couldn’t handle another Mandelathon.

  • CortUK

    Seymour-Hoffman *was* the finest character of his generation, and will be – right up to the point the next selfish, self-obsessed prick kills him or herself.

    • John Lea

      The one I’m dreading popping her clogs is Vanessa Redgrave. You know, the elderly actress and staunch communist who owns several mansions in Devon. Just wait till she bites it, the hyperbole will be through the roof! ‘One of the most important actresses of her generation’, ‘passionate campaigner’, ‘theatre legend’, etc.

      • Peter Stroud

        I agree, but At least I know her as a good actress. I’m afraid I had never heard of Seymour-Hoffman.

      • Jeffrey Vernon

        Redgrave belonged to a personality cult called the Workers Revolutionary Party which broke up in 1987. It detested the soviet union, and ran a press that printed books for Libya. Not exactly communist (I can’t comment on the staunch…)

        • Weaver

          Ah, you’re confusing the typical Trotskyite-Bolshevik-New Left divisions for a real difference in policy. Its like the people’s popular front of Judea; vast ideological bunfights which are unintelligeble to everyone else. Each faction believes itself to be the One True Communists….

          • Jeffrey Vernon

            I’m sure that each believed itself to be the real deal. But there were authentic differences of attitude to Russia, the labour party, and so on. Redgrave’s party was especially fringe,with its purist avoidance of anything smacking of ‘official’ communism (including the anti-nuclear movement) and its whitewashing of arab dictators (and NO, this really was not mainstream back then).

          • Weaver

            Yes, quite right. But I only know that because I’m a politics graduate. 95% of the population honestly couldn’t tell the difference between them….

          • Jeffrey Vernon

            They probably needn’t lose sleep about it in this case. But what 95% of the population don’t know would fill quite a large book.

    • RichardOakes

      Hear hear, if only the world was full of people as pious and faultless as yourself.

      I think the gushing from people who would have had to google him pretty nauseating myself, but less so than the people lining up to call a recently-dead father a ‘prick’ on the internet. Well done there.

      • Crikey: you’ve got so much surplus sanctimony, you could sell it!

        • pedestrianblogger

          Nah. He’d give it away “to each according to his need”.

          • You’re on a roll tonight!

          • RichardOakes

            Yep, when it comes to hackneyed cliches (I’m obviously a communist because I don’t hate Shami Chakrabati, I’m just waiting to be called a gay Europhile Grauniad reader or something) he’s certainly got it nailed. As for, I don’t know, ‘counter-arguments’, well, neither of you seem to be ‘on a roll’.

          • I think you’re proving my point.

          • RichardOakes

            …had you made any kind of point, I’d be able to agree or not. As it currently stands…

          • Nice deep breath in…. and then let it out.

          • RichardOakes

            …we both know I’m not even remotely agitated or anything, if you want to be evasive just…don’t answer. It’s the internet.

            Anyway, what was this point of yours that I’m apparently proving?

          • Sanctimony.

          • pedestrianblogger

            Who has accused you of being a communist? Why are you waiting to be called a “gay europhile Grauniad reader”? Who has accused you of being “a political extreme (sic), despite a complete lack of legitimate evidence”? Why do you mention Godwin’s Law? Do you know what a straw-man is?

          • RichardOakes

            You, when you said:

            “Nah. He’d give it away “to each according to his need”

            Don’t play stupid. I am not ‘waiting’ for that, I said it to join in the ‘lazy stereotypes’ game – as, again, you well know. I mention Godwin’s law for the same reason, we’re going down a familiar internet road.

            Yes, a straw man argument is where you construct a position you want your opponent to hold, making them easier to ‘counter’ – as above, this is what’s happening here. You know perfectly well what I mean.

          • pedestrianblogger

            Okay, matey. You win. You call Liddle a “frothing, scared parochial bigot” and describe the current government as “evil” and “dangerous” but for anyone to infer anything about your political stand-point from this sort of garbage is an outrage. You make sarcastic comments like “hear hear, if only the world was full of people as pious and faultless as yourself”, describe your own attitude as “basic decency” and object to being accused of sanctimony. But, as I say, you win. And (just to tick the Godwin’s Law box for you), anyone who disagrees with you is almost certainly a Nazi.

          • RichardOakes

            Nope, and even if they were, it’s up to them.

            Glad you have wound you up though, I’ve seen you on here before, you’re a monumental prat.

          • pedestrianblogger

            “Glad you have wound you up though” – I infer this to mean, if it means anything, that you are glad that you have wound me up. You haven’t, I am afraid, and it seems a curious ambition for a person such as yourself who claims “decency” to want to do such a thing.

            “I’ve seen you on here before” – you may very well have done and I may very well have seen you but, if I have, it certainly didn’t register. As I said before, I don’t know you but I know your type.

            “You’re a monumental prat” – that is your opinion and you are entitled to it. I think that I have made clear my opinion of you and the fact that you can’t punctuate properly only serves to confirm me in it.

          • RichardOakes

            Ah, you know “my type” – a typo-making commie?

            Quite possibly I did make an error in punctuation, I leave it to the internet-cliche-tickers to point things like that out because, as we all know, pointing out grammar/spelling on the internet is the mark of a prat. I’d ask where this error is because I do try to maintain a good standard of English, but I wouldn’t want you to think that aside had any validity in terms of your ‘argument’, so never mind.

            I wouldn’t say the natural urge to wind up a self-important bigot suggests a lack of decency, quite the opposite in fact.

          • pedestrianblogger

            You silly little man.

          • RichardOakes

            I’m quite tall actually.

          • So let me get this straight: because your genes, over which you have no control, made you *this* high over your shoes instead of *that* high, that bolsters your character?

          • RichardOakes

            Errr…who said that? I certainly didn’t. He called me little, I pointed out a factual error in that statement. You’re the one who speaks of bolstering character, why bother talking to people if you’re simply going to invent what you wanted them to say?

            You come out with as much crap as you want, but don’t put it in my mouth.

        • RichardOakes

          Ah, the internet – the place where suggesting that calling a man you’ve never met, who has left a widow and two children, a ‘prick’ is a little bit off (in truth it’s pathetic) makes one ‘sanctimonious’.

          How about you tell me why I’m wrong?

          • Have a nice glass of wine and a foot rub.

          • RichardOakes

            “I can’t” would have been quicker to type.

          • You’re full of tension, Richard. How about Relaxation Pose from yoga? Will do you wonders.

          • RichardOakes

            I’m not though, as you well know.

            If you can’t actually answer, just don’t. Pretending that I’m in a tizz when it’s patently obvious that I’m not just makes you look stupid.

          • Can’t, because I’m not.

          • Steve

            If choosing a lifestyle which involves shooting up with heroin on a daily basis when you have the responsibility of caring for 3 beautiful children is not the actions of a prick then what is ?

          • RichardOakes

            Plenty of things, I wouldn’t call a drug addict a prick. Like most people who’ve never really encountered addiction, you believe that it’s a simple choice to stop.

            Addiction is a mental illness, it changes your brain chemistry. We don’t call schizophrenics or manic-depressives ‘pricks’ because they are unable to care for people in their life, I don’t think making a distinction because this illness came about through an initial mistake on the part of the sufferer is helpful or useful.

          • Neil Saunders

            No. Naive beliefs like yours are a mental illness.

          • RichardOakes

            How terribly Stalinesque of you.

            Pray elaborate, that certainly warrants a little explanation. I don’t see how ‘lots of first-hand experience’ can equal ‘naivety’, perhaps you think contempt an adequate substitute for experience?

          • Neil Saunders

            Fair point about Stalin, Richard (although I wrote in jest), but naive beliefs are still a mental aberration (from simple common sense). If your first-hand experience is of abusing drugs, rather than monitoring their effects on others, it might not count for too much in this debate, though. Which is it?

          • RichardOakes

            It might be handy to have an absolute standard of ‘common sense’ before we start claiming that deviations from it indicate ‘mental aberration’ – in answer to your question, I used to smoke marijuana daily, and do considerably stronger drugs at weekends. I grew up and gave it up, by all measures I’m a normal and successful person now, but I don’t see how you can say this experience is less valid, I’d say it was more so – I know how it feels to life to yourself daily.

          • Neil Saunders

            You don’t strike me as the sort of person who would be sympathetic to “absolute standards”, Richard – you’ve got “relativist” stamped all over you. Let’s just content ourselves with the relevant definitions of “aberration” from the COD (Ninth Edition):

            Aberration n. 1. A departure from what is normal or accepted or regarded as right. 2. A moral or mental lapse.

          • RichardOakes

            I’ll be content with that once you have a similarly concise definition for ‘common-sense’ for me – I don’t see how one can get more relativist than to judge things by their own yardstick of ‘common sense’, but I look forward to you demonstrating how you are not a relativist.

          • Neil Saunders

            Now you’re perpetrating a category error: requesting an empirical demonstration of something that involves a value judgement (the old fact/value distinction, don’t you know). Incidentally, you don’t seem to understand the concept of relativism.

          • RichardOakes

            No, you are asking for things to be judged according to common sense, I am saying that if we are to do that, we need a rigid definition for it. This is not a category error on my part, it’s an inability to give a straight answer to a simple question on yours.

          • Neil Saunders

            If you think that there’s a “rigid definition” of common sense then it’s fairly obvious that you lack it altogether. (That’s actually your whole problem, Richard, your over-rigidity of thought. Common sense requires a degree of flexibility.)

            On your line of reasoning we would have to abandon all value judgements (a position not unlike that of the early Logical Positivists), which would somewhat restrict the scope of debate. The question that you posed was less “straight” than you seem to believe, and I have already answered it perfectly well.

          • RichardOakes

            Christ. No, I don’t think there’s a rigid definition of common sense, it’s impossible – and that’s why using it as any kind of measure outside of your own judgements is impossible. It can’t be used as any kind of metre for law etc, I was hoping that the absurdity of this premise would indicate the absurdity of your own.

            I think you know full well this is what I meant, don’t feign ignorance or tell me I have an ‘over-rigidity of thought’ when you know nothing of me. If you are not prepared to do this honestly I am not prepared to do it at all.

          • Neil Saunders

            Common sense can’t be rigidly defined partly because it’s a contested concept and partly because it has to be context-sensitive (i.e. what constitutes common sense in one set of circumstances would not in another, and might even constitute the very opposite!). This needn’t lead us into a sterile subjectivism, though. We can acknowledge that there will be differences of opinion (and that these will arise for any and sometimes all of a variety of reasons, including – regrettably – ignorance, bias and self-interest.

            I’m not feigning ignorance, Richard; my ignorance on a huge range of issues is quite authentic, I can assure you. Also, please don’t take remarks made fairly light-heartedly too personally. Of course I don’t know you, in the sense I’d recognise you in the street, or know what sort of food or music you like or what you like to do on your free evenings (other than post comments on sites such as this). On the other hand, it’s a bit of an overstatement to say that I know “nothing” of you. That said, I can only make inferences based upon my interpretation of what you write, and I’ll concede that this is a necessarily limited form of acquaintance. As an example of over-rigidity (in a limited context) your final sentence is a pretty good example!

          • RichardOakes

            That’s an absurd example though, of course in itself it’s a ‘rigid’ sentence, the alternative in this context – being prepared to debate dishonestly – is hardly preferable.

            We agree on common sense being a rather loose card to play, and I am always wary of appeals to it. Obviously in some contexts – crossing the road, for instance – there is an accepted ‘common sense’ to which we can refer, I would refer you to what I believe is the underpinning concept of a crime in common law – anything which hurts, harms or hinders another. I guess common sense is this principle, applied to oneself as well.

            Anyway, after all this…I think we were talking about my qualifications to talk about drug abuse. Would you not say a decade of near-daily marijuana use, during which I did an awful lot of other, stronger drugs, having several friends who are still suffering the consequences (one of whom was sectioned and incarcerated not too long ago for drug-induced psychosis), still feeling the temptation to go out and grab a bag and having to – sometimes literally – talk myself out of it, is experience enough to allow me to comment on what it is to be addicted to drugs?

          • Neil Saunders

            I give up, Richard! Are you a committee that sits around the clock, or some devilish computer program that randomly generates dissent from any dissenting opinion that is offered? Debating with you is like playing three-dimensional chess in Hell for all eternity, with no possibility of checkmate or concession. Life is too short, and I’m already nearly 54!

          • RichardOakes

            You offered an opinion, and I offered mine. Doesn’t take much to make you give up, does it?

          • La Fold

            Anyone who would rather shoot up like the skeeve skag head he is rather than look after his family is a prick.

          • RichardOakes

            Who said he didn’t look after his family? He had a drug problem, if you’re incapable of seeing this as anything other than a simple choice then I understand your point of view, but I don’t agree with it, drug addiction is not that simple or easy.

          • La Fold

            Because his addiction led to hi death. Pretty hard to look after your family and provide the emotional support that a father should provide when they have shuffled off the mortal coil.
            Every single person I know who is on the skag, the pipe, likes a line too many or is an alcoholic, and i know a fair few to be honest, all have one single thing in common. A mean, nasty, petty selfish streak.

          • RichardOakes

            That may well be true, but not enough to draw a causal relationship – and equally true of most people, to some extent. I know a few people with drug problems, when I was younger I had trouble staying off a few things as well, I know the lies it makes you tell everyone – most importantly, makes you tell yourself.

            Personally, I think that when it comes to addiction, blame and fault are not important once it’s happened. You have an addict, how much they are to blame for being one doesn’t make them any less of one, the same problems will result from it, however much we can say ‘it’s your own fault’. It is a mental illness, and I think it should be treated as such, not held up as some lifestyle choice.

            As such, I don’t think he was a ‘prick’ because he wasn’t capable of making a choice in the same way a normal person can choose to have an extra biscuit, if you’ve ever seen someone withdrawing from heroin you’ll know it’s not a breeze.

        • RichardOakes

          I’d call it basic decency. If it was possible to share it I would, you are in dire need of some.

          • pedestrianblogger

            Hear hear, if only the world was full of people as pious and faultless as yourself.

          • RichardOakes

            I never claimed to be either, I don’t think my objection is either, either.

          • wibbling

            Oh do stop this faux victimhood. You’re making a prat of yourself with your santicmonious nonsense. Be quiet or engage in the debate.

          • RichardOakes

            Victim of what exactly? You guys are very good at putting people in the positions you want aren’t you?

          • Oh get off your jolly bar!

          • RichardOakes

            What does that even mean?

          • It means: I’m not taking this thread, subject, exchange nearly as seriously as you are.

          • RichardOakes

            Hmmm…I’m wondering if you’re literally trying to tick off the ‘lost internet argument’ cliches. So far we have:

            “Pretend the other person is agitated and implore them to calm down when they ask a reasonable question in a reasonable fashion.”

            “Feign disinterest in a discussion when called upon to make an honest contribution to it.”

            “Accuse opponent of being a political extreme, despite a complete lack of legitimate evidence.”

            I guess it’s only your assumption of our relative political standpoints that’s prevented Godwin’s Law from rearing its tiresome head.

          • You’re really quite amusing, Richard. And I don’t go along with such ‘laws’. One needs a certain detachment. Gravity is the law, but it isn’t everything.

          • RichardOakes

            Oh yeah, forgot about that one:

            “Pretending to be amused by the whole thing.”

            “Gravity is the law, but it isn’t everything” – is this, like, a point or something? It doesn’t even mean anything.

            Sorry to have to be so blunt, but you talk out of your arse. Good day.

          • And my god, what an arse I’ve got!

          • gerontius

            You’ll give poor Richard an attack of the vapours if you carry on in that vein.

          • Heh heh. I see that my fan club is out in force again today :^o

          • gerontius

            I wonder why they don’t declare themselves. I mean, faint heart never won fair lady and all that.

          • Mwahahah! *You* have a wicked streak, too. : )

          • RichardOakes

            It’s certainly getting a thorough workout on here, I’ll give you that.

          • Eh, Mr Decent — don’t be so nasty!

          • RichardOakes

            I never made any claims for my own decency, all I did was object to someone calling a dead father a ‘prick’.

            Only somewhere like here could that turn into this.

          • Speccie is the best place on the web. Mighty fine discussions and commenters. I count myself among ’em.

            I don’t really care about the topic at hand. But shooting up drugs is hardly the behaviour of a responsible parent (or adult, come to that). If it were something you didn’t approve of and also considered ‘right-wing’ (I dunno, hunting maybe) that resulted in death, what would your response be then? And if you thought the man crying ‘pr—‘ was of your political persuasion, would you be so keen to condemn him? I suspect not. You will jump all over my suspicion but I still have it.

          • RichardOakes

            You have that luxury, if you’re going to start with ‘you can refute this but I’ll still believe it’ then we won’t get that far on that topic – you’re begging the question there, which is not really the way to discuss anything, this has nothing to do with right/left wing (again, you’ve assumed which side I’m on, probably correctly but it would be nice if you were a tad less keen to jump to conclusions).

            I’d like to think I wouldn’t do what you say, but maybe I would, the more pertinent problem: it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at-hand. It might not be a deliberate evasion but it looks like one!

            I never argue with people of ‘my own persuasion’, as there aren’t any. My views are my own, other people’s differ. The political categories, which I find myself using as much as anyone – left, right, pro/anti – are so broad as to be meaningless. I’m sure that sounds pedantic but I find these things obstacles, both to sensible discussion and between people who might otherwise find common ground, so let’s leave them out of this.

            Drug addiction, in my opinion, is a mental illness. This is something that there’s a growing consensus on, mainly among the informed (I don’t mean ‘unlike you’, I mean the medical profession, who in general tend to be much more level-headed than pundits)

            If this is the case, then these people are not capable of making a ‘responsible’, or ‘adult’ decision. In the first instance, yes, maybe it’s their fault for giving in to temptation and trying it (because, as we all know, it’s a rare person who makes a mistake at some point in their life), but after this it’s not really relevant. They are ill and they need to get better, blame is at best irrelevant. He has also left a couple of children in the world. Given the above, I think I was justified in pointing out that it wasn’t a very nice thing to say.

          • gerontius

            You’re enjoying yourself today Swanky, and why shouldn’t you.

          • ;^) But this isn’t quite what I mean by ‘saving the world on other blogs’.

  • Iodine

    Very good Rod.

    However be fair on Lou he was notoriously irascible and rude to interviewers including sycophants from the Beeb.

    He majored in English at Syracuse University and studied under Delmore Schwartz so was not your average rock star.

    Who else would have released a double album based on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. He ploughed his own furrow and I am confident he would have hated the Beeb.

    In fact I think he wrote this verse about Sally, or was it Chris Smith? (or the Beeb?)

    We sat around the other night, me and the guys
    trying to find the right word
    That would best fit and describe
    you people like that
    That no principle has touched, no principle’s baptized
    how about that
    They’d eat s**t and say it tasted good
    if there was some money in it for them

    • She said ‘money is like us in time:
      It lies but can’t stand up;
      Down for you is up’

  • wudyermucuss

    I agree with the general,er,thrust of your,er,discourse,except Lou Reed.The Velvets were ground breaking and unprecedented and brilliant.Lou was a bit of a twat of course.

    • I liked them especially when I was living in New York. And Houston. In short, when toughing it out in a big city. When I’m feeling content, they don’t get much of a listen.

  • DougS

    “….In all other manners the coverage was adequately respectful and the
    reporters, rightly, allowed their anguish to bleed through the fraying
    bandage of impartiality….”

    There could well be a reckoning for those ‘impartial’ reporters who didn’t show enough anguish and sorrow – it’s a high bar. The BBC, in similar vein to the dear leader of North Korea, does not take well to those that are less than full-hearted in their praise for Labour and hugely animated with grief and despair when a Labour luvvie gets knifed.

    Watch out for a potential culling – after a respectful interval, of course.

  • Anton

    Very perceptive, Mr Liddle. Every day in every way you are getting better and better. I, took, liked the actor very much. I, too, adored Transformer back then but not much else by Lou Reed, who by all accounts was not very affable.

    One recent demise did make me feel genuinely quite sad: Phil Everly. I was probably about six or seven when they were in their hey day but his disappearance abruptly reminded me of how their short period of huge success permeated the musical landscape to such a large extent. Sorry to digress. Great post, Mr Liddle.

    • No, he’s as good as he’s always been.

  • BoiledCabbage

    BARON Smith. Is it some sort of parody? Or a Greek tragedy?

    • Ron Todd

      I might get censored for this. For some reason I keep thinking Baroness Smith.

  • artemis in france

    As yet another mention of Hoffman appeared today on the news, I turned to my husband and said “I ber half the people in Britain didn’t have a cule who hé was until hé died”. The whole business is ridiculous. We didn’t know him. Get over it.

    • Emilia

      I had heard of him and even seen some films he was in. But I’d never heard of Lou Reed.

  • Ron Todd

    You would have to disallow Tony Blair or any public sector boss could be done in two moves boss to Tony to Shami.

  • John Assarapin

    Same shit here in Oz with our Abc, which of course isnt ours anymore, but nowt the mouthpiece of the leftists that control it

  • Peter Stroud

    Why can’t Cameron just give Lord Smith the boot-with a moments notice? The man is a disgrace.

  • McQueue

    Yep – we need our institutions purged of these placemen.

  • edlancey

    Isn’t one of the Coen brothers now “identifying” as a woman now ?

    When he/she goes it’s be mayhem.

    • ant

      I think you’re thinking of one of the Wachowski brothers, directors of “The Matrix” trilogy and “Cloud Atlas”, Larry Wachowski is now a woman called Lana.

      • edlancey

        Thanks. It didn’t ring true, but naturally I was too lazy to google it.

      • La Fold

        actually looks better as a woman now truth be told.

  • Margot

    Take a look at the latest NHS fiasco at Torbay Hospital and google its CE – and the board. Case in point.

  • Sameer P. Sarkar

    She runs nothing. You guys give those nutjobs at Liberty too much credit.

  • RichardOakes

    She seems ok to me. Certainly I’d rather be stuck in a lift with her than the type of frothing, scared parochial bigot (Liddle, Littlejohn, Gaunt) who seem to attack her all the time.

    • pedestrianblogger

      I for one would be delighted if you and she were stuck in a lift together. Indefinitely.

      • Ooer.

      • RichardOakes

        You don’t know me, so I find that a little creepy.

        • pedestrianblogger

          I don’t know you but I know your type.

          • RichardOakes

            No, you have made some rather boring assumptions about me because I don’t hate Chakrabarti. I know it’s much easier to debate people of the straw variety, but I prefer to engage with individuals. What’s actually wrong with her?

          • You’re wound so tightly ever to the Left that you appear to be a human helix. Straighten up and you’ll be able to look right in front of you.

          • RichardOakes

            …and your evidence for my political stance is (I ask because 1- you’re wrong, 2- I don’t think I’ve said anything to make you think otherwise, I’d hate to think you’re just making assumptions because I disagree with you about one thing)…

          • Colonel Mustard

            “I don’t think I’ve said anything to make you think I’m an ultra-leftie.”


            “I’d rather be stuck in a lift with her than the type of frothing, scared parochial bigot (Liddle, Littlejohn, Gaunt) . . . ”

            With the presumption that you probably don’t know her but have an instinctive sense of defending her as an icon of sanctimony. But “frothing, scared, parochial bigot” is the give away.

          • RichardOakes

            No it isn’t, it’s a very accurate description of what they are, you don’t have to be Bob Crow to think that. Please don’t make lazy assumptions about people’s politics based on them finding objectionable people objectionable.

          • pdhan

            Richard, without the lazy assumptions this forum would be very quiet.

          • RichardOakes


          • FuglydeQuietzapple

            She’s rather truly libertarian.

          • RichardOakes

            I think she’s a little misguided, but I don’t think she’s evil or dangerous, certainly not compared to the current government or the people cheering them on.

          • FuglydeQuietzapple


          • Epimenides

            You’re obviously shagging her. Does she do it up the dirtbox? Got a vid you can post on YouTube?

          • RichardOakes

            She is consistent in arguing that everyone, regardless of transgressions, has basic human rights. However loathsome the examples held up to tarnish her with, I agree with her about that.

          • RichardOakes

            I think she is misguided but she believes that everyone, regardless of political standpoint, past transgressions, or even a desire to destroy the west, has rights. She has come out in defence of some of her harshest critics when they have not been afforded those rights. I don’t always agree with her, but I don’t think she is ill-intentioned, and if she is a bit of a hand-wringer, certainly better than the people who can actually speak of a desire to ‘scrap human rights’ without a shred of shame.

    • JimHHalpert

      Hey, Richard, how’s it working out in Suede?

      • RichardOakes

        Ha, never heard that one before!

        Not so well I’m afraid, forever in Bernard’s shadow…

        • JimHHalpert


  • ceedoubleu

    Phew, I was starting to feel guilty about not having a scooby who Philip Seymour Hoffman was

  • Cornelius Bonkers

    Edmund Burke famously argued that to govern requires the qualities of wisdom and virtue rather than just specific expertise. Well, as far as I can judge, Chris Smith (Ph. D in English rather than hydraulics which might have been a bit handier under the circumstances) has shown neither wisdom nor virtue. Popping down to Somerset to have a cup of tea and a bun with the staff at the bird sanctuary was not only stupid but also illuminating in terms of what this great socialist thinks of THE PEOPLE he used to apparently love so much. I suppose the next appointment to astound us will be Chakka taking the chair of the Football Association…What a foolish world we have made for ourselves…Bang

  • Nick

    How much does Chakrabarti earn per month? Who pays her wage? Is it us?

    • RichardOakes

      Look it up.

  • HY

    Pshaw! Robert Mugabe has seven degrees.

  • ADW

    Well, consider the career of one Lin Homer: Rubbished by a judge in 2005 for her failures as the returning officer in an election corrupted by fraud on the part of the locals (religion and ethnic identity not to be mentioned at any cost); she then became head of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, which was described as “not fit for purpose” by the Home Secretary. When it became the UK Border Agency it was attacked by teh Commons Home Affairs Committee for “catastrophic leadership failure” under her leadership, of course. She was clearly therefore the only person for the job of heading HMRC in 2011 (though she had no tax or accounting experience). The Public Accounts Select Committee rubbished HMRC for a “woeful” performance. (For all the above see Her biggest failing, however, has been her inexplicable omission to get some sock puppets to remove references to all of the above from her Wikipedia page (as of this minute, most of her failures are set out in some detail with independent references, quite unlike Wikipedia). It can only be a matter of time, surely.

  • Terry Field

    Ah the good old Guardian-pumping Beeb – never knowingly impartial.
    It seems amusingly antique from foreign parts. Really quite funny.

  • Radford_NG

    Re mine,below[Thur 6 Feb]:I also forgot to mention those I refer to were one(at most two)handshakes away from the men who sprang Soviet spy George Blake from Gaol and got him out of the country.(Their names are known to the authorities,but they decline to prosecute.)

  • ant

    The Coens. When will they learn how to tell a story? Countless films, and they still don’t know.

  • observer

    Shami Chakrabarti was NOT public school educated. Get the facts right.

  • Sally Morgan is not quite a quangocrat, but on enough boards: .

    It slightly baffles me why she should be a member of the HoL Digital Skills committee when there is no evidence that she could program her way out of a paper bag, but I guess that’s pretty par for the course for the ruling class de nos jours.

  • cityca

    “These are the people who run us: agreeable people with civilised views, as they would see them, usually — although not always — public-school-educated, faux leftish and unelected.”

    Pretty much sums up EU commissioners, too. If only I was more agreeable, I could be on some gravy train.