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Wot no Dan?

Mark Mardell | 16:00 UK time, Thursday, 26 March 2009

There have been so many comments attacking my decision not to blog on Dan Hannan's reply to the prime minister's speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday that I have to plead guilty to missing the speech. What a good thing it is on YouTube. But what is my excuse? Sorry, Sir: I was doing my job.

In radio and TV reporting, there is often a tension between watching an event and broadcasting about it: you can't do both at the same time. Dan Hannan spoke as I waited to go on the BBC News Channel. Unfortunately, I was dropped... but that's another story familiar to broadcasters.

But that is not why I didn't blog on the speech. I note that no-one has complained that I didn't report the reply of the other British MEP to speak - Graham Watson, the leader of the liberal group. Or that of the leader of the Greens. They both called on the PM to show European commitment by joining the euro.

Ignoring that, you could argue, is anti-European bias. But nobody has made that complaint. Or you could object that I ignored the leader of the EPP, which is the biggest party. Nobody did. I gave a cursory mention to the speech by the socialist leader, simply because he was the only one who had spoken by the time I finished the post.

The main BBC outlets covered Brown's speech as part of the story about Mervyn King's remarks on fiscal stimulus, so it would have been most odd to have other speeches from the European Parliament in a much broader piece.

So we are talking about this blog. It tries to be many things, from reportage to analysis; on this occasion, it gave an instant newsy report with a bit of interpretation. What the blog will never be is some bulletin of record on everything that is said, however interesting it may be.

Even more curious, one comment calls for me to be "purge[d]" for observing that it was "interesting" that the prime minister's speech moved him closer to the French and German agenda, which opposes pumping more money into the world economy and focuses on new rules.

It is interesting because it is uncertain if this is rhetoric or a real reflection of a change in direction for Mr Brown. We will only know after the London summit. But, as I say, interesting. So would it be backing the Iraq war to say that Blair's closeness to Bush was "interesting"?

While I am in rebuttal mode, "EUROSOMG" responds to an earlier post about a think tank article on what leaving the eurozone would mean for a country in practical terms:

Working on EU affairs you should have added that CER is quite neo-liberal and close to the Conservatives (aka Eurosceptics) - the fact that you are not doing it and you also call their report 'fascinating' (!!!) makes me wonder whether you are ignorant or you just want to add to the English (i.e. not Scottish) emerging propaganda about the collapse of the Eurozone.


I think you must be thinking of another organisation - perhaps Open Europe? CER was close to New Labour after the '97 election, but has since become more independent albeit from a pro-European union, Foreign Office-ish sort of perspective. They say of themselves: "The CER is pro-European but not uncritical. It regards European integration as largely beneficial but recognises that in many respects the Union does not work well. The CER therefore aims to promote new ideas."

Perhaps I should have stated this, but I don't recognise your description of them and felt that the article I was witting about was not particularly pro- or anti-EU, but simply rather - how shall I put it - "interesting".

Comments

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  • 1. At 5:00pm on 26 Mar 2009, Laurence_Penney wrote:

    Mark, I’m glad you mention the “tension between watching an event and broadcasting about it”. You neglect to mention a key part of that “tension” — the pressure on journalists to deliver their “packages” as soon as humanly possible.

    Isn’t it the journalist’s job to observe as much as possible, then report and analyse the noteworthy bits? In other words: yes, you darn well should have stayed for the speeches by the other MEPs you mention, as well as Hannan’s. And reported anything noteworthy instead of supplying “an instant newsy report”.

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  • 2. At 5:01pm on 26 Mar 2009, TheKingBingo wrote:

    A bit of a wiggle Mark.

    Make hay while the sun shines. I really can't see the Tories being anywhere near as generous to the BBC as Labour have.

    But then again the BBC is a left wing organisation, indeed the much well known revolving door between the Labour party and the BBC insure only the right (or should I say left) people work there.

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  • 3. At 5:03pm on 26 Mar 2009, Brian Tomkinson wrote:

    I note that you refer to "so many comments attacking my decision not to blog on Dan Hannan's reply to the prime minister's speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday". The explanation is simple we think that you and the BBC are the propaganda arm of the government and did not want to mention any criticism of Brown. A view you have confirmed by revealing that it was YOUR DECISION not to blog on Hannan's reply. The speech was on Tuesday, today is Thursday and the YouTube video has had more than 1 million hits and so even the BBC has now to take note. Even now you have made no comment regarding the content of Hannan's speech.

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  • 4. At 5:09pm on 26 Mar 2009, wheresMyVote wrote:

    A classic non-answer. Daniel Hannon's reply was a specific rebuttal of Brown's position. Given this was the first opportunity that any politician has had to criticise Brown to his face, I would have thought your journalistic instincts should have understood that he was reflecting the views of a sizeable portion of the UK population.

    You said that you were away when it happened, well did you sit in a bunker for 48 hours (with Mandelson maybe) or did you think that your job was done as soon as you heard Brown speak? Again, as the Europe Editor, I would have reviewed all responses as soon as my (dropped) piece was done with to ensure I could present a balanced viewpoint - including that of the Greens, the liberal group or (deep breath now) UKIP.

    I've also watched the daily politics section where it was given a bit of airtime; along with an outright lie "not just us but by any UK media outlet" when in fact the telegraph covered it from day 1.

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  • 5. At 5:18pm on 26 Mar 2009, TheKingBingo wrote:

    "In radio and TV reporting, there is often a tension between watching an event and broadcasting about it: you can't do both at the same time. Dan Hannan spoke as I waited to go on the BBC News Channel. Unfortunately, I was dropped... but that's another story familiar to broadcasters."

    Mark you say that you did not report it because you were not personally present? Neither was I I still found it two days ago!
    Do you not have a team of reporters, after all the BBC only gets £5Billion of public money.

    I imagine your not personally present all 90% of the stories you comment on.

    Please. We know why the BBC did not report it.

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  • 6. At 5:21pm on 26 Mar 2009, the-real-truth wrote:

    My reason for complaining about the lack of coverage is because he is saying what I and many, many others think - and it is a view that is not recognised by the BBC, so not represented

    From the BBC one would think that Brown is fundamentally a genius, but experiencing a few blips along the way.

    Whereas he is in fact a monster and the intelligent and articulate Daniel Hannan spells it out.

    People with out access to the internet are entitled to see the full range of views - even when they don't agree with the BBCs own agenda.

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  • 7. At 5:47pm on 26 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    wheresMyVote wrote:
    "A classic non-answer. "

    Jesus wept. Well, that is what you get for feeding the trolls, Mark.

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  • 8. At 5:54pm on 26 Mar 2009, littleexlondoner wrote:

    Very disapointed in your reply Mark. Expect better from the Beeb.

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  • 9. At 5:54pm on 26 Mar 2009, veryfedup wrote:

    Full marks for discussing this but poor effort in terms of explanation. Unfortunately it feels that you are employing a Gordon Brown tactic of no responsibility.

    There was an opportunity before this article to comment about the buzz around his response which has been created on Youtube... but you decided not to.

    Perhaps being in Brussels insulates you from this - which would sound a more plausible explanation.

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  • 10. At 5:54pm on 26 Mar 2009, RCalvo wrote:

    Daniel Hannan's speech was not even covered in the Daily Telegraph, which publishes his columns and hosts his blog. For a reason: it just wasn't that important.
    To paraphrase US comedian Stephen Colbert "reality has a well-known liberal bias". All those who complain about the Beeb's bias for not covering a fringe MEP's soapbox stand (one MEP of about 700) should ask themselves: do they really want a "fair and balanced" coverage of the European Parliament's workings, with reports of every MEP's set-piece speech? Be careful what you ask for...

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  • 11. At 5:54pm on 26 Mar 2009, IanFav wrote:

    Mark, Mark - admit it: you missed a trick. The speech was newsworthy: it was pointed, articulate, against the grain and made Mr. Brown visibly uncomfortable, all at a time when he's under considerable pressure for his handling of the economic crisis and the UK events that helped make it. Then too, the viral spread of the video was also newsworthy.

    Your attempt to defend yourself by saying you didn't report a number of institution-friendly people misses the point - their worthy comments didn't rock any boats, didn't make Mr. Brown uncomfortable, and didn't rate highly in the interest rankings. A simple admission of journalistic failure would have been better than this response which, with your embarrasingly cosy blog on the institutional reaction to the Czech PM's speech, just confirms the impression that you've gone native in Brussels.

    Come back to the UK, Mark, and restore your professional edge.

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  • 12. At 5:55pm on 26 Mar 2009, RCalvo wrote:

    And, by the way, all those thinly veiled threats against Mark and the BBC? Nice way of showing your support for freedom of speech and the press!

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  • 13. At 5:56pm on 26 Mar 2009, vagueofgodalming wrote:

    Mark, don't let the cranks and trolls get to you. Most of us can tell the difference between reporting something and approving it.

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  • 14. At 6:08pm on 26 Mar 2009, Cynosarges wrote:

    Mark, you claim "But what is my excuse? Sorry, Sir: I was doing my job."

    However, the vast majority of people who have commented on your blog appear to disagree with you as to what your job is.

    While you claim that you were about "to go on the BBC News Channel" the tone of the comments on your blog suggests that the vast majority of people disagree with your "job description", and believe that a better case could be made that you were about to go on the EU Propaganda Channel.

    If you ever actually reported on those who disagreed with the EU-line, then your claim might be more believable. However, when your reporting appears to consist solely of pro-EU pap, other reasons appear far more likely.

    Why don't you, for once, actually report on some criticism of the EU? If nothing else, you might find a different point of view refreshing.

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  • 15. At 6:32pm on 26 Mar 2009, Menedemus wrote:

    Hannan's speech is interesting enough but I refer to threnodio's comment #23 in the previous thread (Czech Outburst Shakes Brussels.

    There were many, many other speeches responding to Gordon Brown and, although I empathise with Hannan's destruction and slaughter of Brown, I think that it is a bit rich that all the emphasis and criticism of Mark and the BBC is directed at the non-reporting of this one speech.

    The fact that Nick Robinson is on a jolly with Gordon Brown around the world drumming up support for a failed G20 Summit "fiscal stimulus" agreement is a waste of tax payers money. Having Mark sit and report on ripostes to Gordon Brown by Hannan and:

    Jose Manuel Barroso as President of the Commission,
    Joseph Daul, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group,
    Martin Schulz, on behalf of the PSE Group,
    Graham Watson, on behalf of the ALDE Group,
    Brian Crowley, on behalf of the UEN Group,
    Monica Frassoni, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group,
    Francis Wurtz, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group and
    Nigel Farage, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group

    would have been an equally wasteful use of tax-payers money as the range, depth and incisive wit of all of these different players - some supportive of Brown and others (like Hannan)critical - would be droll or combatative and unbiased readers would be left unconvinced as to whether Brown had done a good job or a bad job in his speech to the EU Parliament.

    It stikes me that the clique who seek to emphasise that Hannan's speech was so important do so because it aligns with their personal views of Brown and/or the EU being as useful as chocolate teapot. It is my view that Hannan is merely one of many voices in the EU Parliament and, if he truly believes that Gordon Brown is a waste of space, then why not stand as a political opponent in Gordon Brown's constituency at the next General Election or be an MP in the UK Parliament saying it to Brown's face on a daily basis there now?

    Isolated harangues from Hannan within the EU Parliament are of no more value than comments decrying the EU within this Blog! Neither isolated harangues or anti-EU comments are going to get the UK withdrawn from the EU nor alter the fact that the Labour Party is doomed to lose the next UK General Election because Brown is a failed Prime Minister in charge of a rump Labour governement that is past its sell-by date.

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  • 16. At 6:51pm on 26 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    To Pluto with Dan Hannan! His name sounds like someone trying to start a lawnmower, and I am sick of hearing it.

    This is supposed be a blog about Europe. Can we please talk about Europe?

    The big news just now, by my limited reckoning, is the crisis in Ukraine.

    Ukraine is a classic example of the EU playing politics above economic in eastern europe, and the repercussions are going to be HUGE. Ukraine is also a classic example of what happens to a massively high tax state when global crisis strikes.

    Ergo: The EU fed uKraine with huge loans that were "disappeared" by the anti russian political class, and what little money was not disappeared by corrupt politicians was used to create bogus unproductive jobs in government IN ORDER TO bolster support for the anti russian politicians.

    And so, now the Ukraine owes vast sums of money to the EU. Right? Right. And they export their steel to the EU. Right? Wrong. The EU's collapsing industrial sector can;t use the steel it has stockpiled, so now the ukraine has no economy left. And hence, no tax money left. Why no tax money? Two reasons: Firstly because vast amounts of tax revenue are earmarked for he bogus jobs that were created to buy anti russian political support, and secondly because it is hard to get tax money from steel companies that can't sell any steel.

    This pattern is playing out all across Eastern Europe. Sooner or later, the EU leadership will be held accountable. Why?

    Because, folks, Ukraine has just explained that they don't have any money with which to repay the loans to the EU banks.

    End result? Banking failures in the EU. More, I mean.

    See, this is what I was talking about when I mentioned elsewhere that the teutonic pride in their financial management was misplaced and short sighted. The EU banks haven;t collapsed yet, because they have not come clean about how badly they are exposed to toxic debt. And they are grievously exposed to toxic debt, mark my words.

    The are exposed to toxic debt because they went into eastern europe and ukraine with phoney money and they threw it around without regard to fundamental business practices. They openly consorted with ex-communist politicians who had become capitalists overnight, and they openly recommended that they ex-communists use this finance to buy political support RATHER THAN to build new industries that could generate tax revenue to repay the loans and rebuild their civil society.

    Ukraine is falling, and it is falling fast. Hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs every day, and the political scheme to buy support is bankrupt. The EU banks are terrified, because they face an impossible problem. Ukraine is saying "Give us some cash to employ these folks or we are completely toast."

    And the EU is saying "But we don't HAVE ANY MORE MONEY!!!"

    And Ukraine is saying "Well we can't pay back these loans. And you know what? We have better things to do than talk to you guys just now. Bye. Come see us when you need some gas. And speak russian."

    The myth that the EU is based on economic principles rather than political desire to rewrite history is slowly but surely unravelling. And it isn't happening that slowly.

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  • 17. At 7:02pm on 26 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Mark

    Just for the record Post 23. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

    One problem I do have is inaccurate reporting. I have just been watching business news on BBC World and there was a report from Brussels about the Irish economy (I am afraid I did not catch the reporter's name). He said words to the effect that the Irish government had not fallen 'unlike those of Hungary and Latvia'. The Hungarian government has not fallen. The Prime Minister has offered to step down. That is not the same thing. Either your man meant the Czech Republic or he simply doesn't know his stuff. Not good enough. Not your fault but you are Europe editor. Have a word please.

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  • 18. At 7:34pm on 26 Mar 2009, StrongholdBarricades wrote:

    Mr Mardell,

    If as you state that it was the pressures of the 24 hour news format that allowed you to miss some of the speeches within the EU parliament, can I therefore suggest that you put it to your bosses that their time frames do not allow you to comply with the BBC mandate of impartiality?

    I appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to write a separate blog on the incident, but if the system is broken then it needs to be fixed to ensure that it does not happen again because it affects your reputation too.

    In the world of the blog, however, you do have the power to update as Robert and Nick do quite often should you feel a comment is warranted.

    Whilst Andrew discussed it lightly on the DP today, the fact that you missed it might just have given the speech that little bit more life in the online community and another stick to beat my cherished BBC with.

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  • 19. At 7:53pm on 26 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Mark,

    Two cheers for giving Graham Watson and Monica Frassoni an honourable mention, but the whole issue is not about the wonders of their speeches vs Daniel Hannan's.

    Rather it is about the fact that the BBC's entire coverage of Duff Gordon's sermon to the European Parliament until today - Europe 'must lead downturn fight' - read more like a NuLab press release than balanced journalism and still [timestamp 17:35 GMT, 24 March 2009] makes no mention of how the Supreme Leader's words were received by the poor mutts who turned up to listen to it.

    It hardly needed journalistic genius to look at the European Parliament press release, which at least lists some of the points critics made, and could have been the basis of a balanced report. It may well be that only politics junkies would want to watch the whole bunfight on Europarl TV, but it would have cost nothing to provide a link to the warts and all coverage.

    It's also sad that the sole external link on the original BBC article is to the G20 website which has not a single media release newer than November 2006!

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 20. At 7:55pm on 26 Mar 2009, Economicallyliterate wrote:

    Mark, Daniel Hannan's speech has very probably been the biggest "new media" story to come out of the European Parliament ever.

    I could understand it maybe not appearing on the 10 O Clock news a very traditional media outlet but not on a weblog about Europe or about politics? Surely its massive take up on the internet and video sharing sites as well as the speed it went round the world justifies a piece?

    Its a bit like talking about portable music players and downloads and not mentioning ITunes or Apple.

    The BBC websites apparent ignoring of it only adds fuel to the fire for those who see some of the BBC bloggers as being too close to the current government for independent journalists.

    There is a political day of reckoning coming soon and you must appreciate how the current perception of BBC political perspective might be interepreted by a new government.

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  • 21. At 8:10pm on 26 Mar 2009, karolina001 wrote:

    the issue is that even if Mark or BBC decides not to publish something.. we can read and watch videos from other sites.
    we dont have to wait for EU elites to decide for us, we can decide for ourselves, therefore deciding for them as well.
    they must go.

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  • 22. At 8:17pm on 26 Mar 2009, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    In my opinion before accusing Mark on being partial or having an agenda, we should think twice why are we feeling this way and especially asking ourselves are we partial and do we have an agenda and if yes, then could that partiality and agenda twist our view of Mark's reporting?

    I myself am partial, I'm mostly conservative and liberal in my outlook (not British, Finnish), and I have an agenda on wanting to see more integrated and federal European Union. Thus because of my partiality and for my own agenda, I have very little leeway to criticize Mark's reporting as my own positions twist my outlook on things, in another words I'm not neutral thus not in position to judge Mark's reporting.

    However as Mark has decided to bring the question of reporting Daniel Hannan's speech to everybody and as everybody is giving their opinion about the matter, I will too. In my opinion, Mark's reporting of PM's speech and not reporting of Daniel Hannan's speech was impartial because of...

    *Gordon Brown is the one and only prime minister of the UK, it is the status prime minister that obligates Mark to report on what the prime minister said.
    *Daniel Hannan is one MEP out of many, out of many in the whole Euro parliament, out of many from Britain, out of many from Tories, out of many who commented the prime minister's speech.

    So why should have Mark had to report specifically about Daniel Hannan's speech, wouldn't that constituted on being partial?

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  • 23. At 8:19pm on 26 Mar 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    Mark Mardell: I did not say you should be purged for saying that Gordon Brown’s move towards a Franco-German was 'interesting' because you did not use that word. You said (quote) "it was important that he emphasised the agenda that is being pushed for the G20 by the Germans and the French". The implication of the word 'important' is very different to that of 'interesting'. If you had indeed said 'interesting' it would suggest that you thought Brown's change of position was dubious. However when you say it was 'important' you suggest he did the right thing to fall into line, which is a personal opinion supportive of the federalist EU agenda whereby all countries should or must toe an EU line set by France and Germany. Since that opinion is not universally shared I think it is fair to describe it is a personal opinion incompatible with neutral reporting on the EU and therefore inappropriate for a BBC Europe Editor to be making.

    Equally, if you had reported that it was 'important' that Tony Blair backs the Iraq war I think you would have opened yourself up to accusations of bias, which would be avoided if you described Blair's 2002/3 decision as 'interesting'.

    If you were just another journalist I would say that there are many at the BBC (e.g. Shirrin Wheeler) far more deserving of being purged than you. But the BBC failing here is editorial in nature and you are the BBC Europe editor. My central complaint is that you systematically ignore what is the central EU issue for most license payers; i.e. that the EU does not have popular consent for the powers it exercises over us. I am not asking that you report that the EU is illegitimate, but only that you do not airbrush this central issue out of your coverage. For example, there will likely soon be an EU vote to restrict working hours in the UK even though no British government or majority in the country has ever supported the EU having this power. It will be 'interesting' to see how (or if) the BBC covers it.

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  • 24. At 8:35pm on 26 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Oh no! It is a major, transatlantic conspiracy!

    The Economist has also has a journalist who covers EU matters (Charlemagne), and he also covered Brown's speech to the EP.

    Google is your friend if you care.

    Note that this journalist also had the temerity and the bias to neglect Dan Hannananan. He spent the whole article talking about the leader of the UK, and Europe, and he deliberately and scandalously ignored the crucial point of the whole gathering.

    Clearly Mardell has Charlemagne in his pocket, and clearly both of them are in cahoots with Gordie Brown.

    This is unacceptable!! I demand something be done about this!!

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  • 25. At 8:42pm on 26 Mar 2009, StrongholdBarricades wrote:

    @15

    I think that you do miss the point that because the whole was not not represented any possible report leaves itself open to calls of bias.

    If Mark's role is to report "Europe" then surely he should be concentrating on the reaction of Europe and interpreting for the home audience the context in which Brown delivered his speech and its receipt.

    Maybe we should have you tube links to all the other speeches, but I would rather get an "overall" feel to the whole event and prevent anyone being able to cry foul.

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  • 26. At 8:55pm on 26 Mar 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    Hannan may have had his moment with this speech but reading his Telegraph blog, one may forgive those people who thought he actually knows what he is talking about based on the video.

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  • 27. At 9:20pm on 26 Mar 2009, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Mark,

    Explanation accepted.

    And now that you have seen Hannan's speech - what's your opinion?

    ;-)

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  • 28. At 9:34pm on 26 Mar 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    RCalvo (12): The BBC is not part of the free press. It has an obligation to be impartial in its reporting, which it is failing to deliver in its EU coverage. Shirin Wheeler and Mark Mardell's coverage would be OK in the Financial Times; it is not OK from the BBC.

    BTW – Are you on the EU payroll?

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  • 29. At 9:50pm on 26 Mar 2009, ossettragman wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 30. At 9:55pm on 26 Mar 2009, ossettragman wrote:

    If Hannan's demolition of Gordon Brown on Tuesday had been an attack by a socialist on a tory Prime Minister it would have received endless and wall-to-wall coverage on both radio and television for days! Sadly this bias is what we have come to expect from the BBC.

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  • 31. At 10:30pm on 26 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    economically literate wrote:

    "There is a political day of reckoning coming soon and you must appreciate how the current perception of BBC political perspective might be interepreted by a new government."

    Now this is precisely why we need to equate our two party system with the soviet fraud of the duma. This vile and snide attack on free speech, specifically intended to intimidate a journalist, is delivered with what authority?

    With the authority of a tory: a member of the party who will soon wield power with his party faithful, to save us from the terrors of the previous party.

    nu-labour might be on the nose in a huge way, but these torries who think Hannan will bring them a respectable reputation underestimate the intelligence of the populace in precisely the same underhand, snide and cowardly way that nu-labour has demonstrated.

    This open and shameless intimidation of journalists, for the crime of not towing their party line, is ridiculous. It is a symptom of gross sickness, of ignorance and low class intellectual violence that belongs in a past age.

    These people barking that Mardell is an enemy of the people, a counter revolutionary, do not care what he reports, as long as it tows their party line.

    I would say shame on these people, but they have demonstrated that they are without capacity for shame. They are party members. They are the bona fida corrupt elite. The carry cards to prove their betrayal of duty to society and decency, in return for careers within the party.

    This hostile contempt for common decency and for the freedom of the press is precisely why we despise and loath and cannot stand to be associated with Brown. The torries here display the same characteristics in abundance.

    You people have your parties, and the rest of us are not invited except to ratify your fraudulent grasp on total power in the community. enjoy your party while it lasts, but don't confuse anger with brown at support for your pathetic alternative, nor as an endorsement of your vile and transparent agenda.

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  • 32. At 10:51pm on 26 Mar 2009, meznaric wrote:

    You are doing a good job Mark. Your blog is one of the best around.

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  • 33. At 10:55pm on 26 Mar 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    You are forgiven !! I have learnt more from this blog about Europe and the EU than through years of reading newspapers. And you do have to balance a lot of different parties / blocs / national governments when reporting, as well as get 'out on the road'.

    But the point is this - it is very difficult on TV to find out what is going on Westminster - oh, you get the 'rough and tumble', but to REALLY find out what is 'occurring', you have to tune into 'Today In Parliament'.

    To find out what is going on Europe, we have to read your Euroblog - so I guess when something significant [well, to us...] happens we do tend to rush to Euroblog to get the low-down from 'our man on the inside'..

    There is a wider question to be followed up. Much as I love Daniel Hannan's commitment to democracy, and against EU bureaucracy and lack of consultation with the electorate, I don't share his view that markets can be allowed to function with minimal regulation.

    Who is best placed to provide that regulation, and at what level ? Surely Dan the Man would agree that ultimately it is for us THE VOTERS to decide on that, and to exercise some control ?

    Mark, I don't think you have 'gone native', but I do think some healthy scepticism wouldn't go amiss - I appreciate that you have to report on the situation as it is - and not pretend that you should be reporting on a different set-up entirely. But with the global financial crisis, there is a distinct possibility the structures might have to be re-invented, or the tensions will pull the whole thing apart.

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  • 34. At 11:00pm on 26 Mar 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    Sorry !! One more thing - I do think it is worth having a 'theme' on this blog to draw the distinction between 'left vs right' politics and a wider argument of where power should lie in Europe, and the level of democracy for 'supra-national' institutions.

    Just because Daniel Hannan is supported [and misquoted..] by the likes of Rush Limbaugh should not be a reason to draw conclusions about his views on the wisdom of the Lisbon Treaty and the lack of a referendum.

    It is worth repeating that at the other end of the spectrum Tony Benn is equally interested in the level of democratic control available to lever power back to the people in the control of European matters.

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  • 35. At 11:05pm on 26 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    freebornjohn wrote:

    "The implication of the word 'important' is very different to that of 'interesting'. If you had indeed said 'interesting' it would suggest that you thought Brown's change of position was dubious. However when you say it was 'important' you suggest he did the right thing to fall into line, which is a personal opinion supportive of the federalist EU agenda whereby all countries should or must toe an EU line set by France and Germany. "

    That argument will not fly, John. could reverse the words "interesting" and "important" and make exactly the same argument with precisely the same force of logic. It is semantics at best.

    If that is all you got, you got nothing. Sorry.

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  • 36. At 11:16pm on 26 Mar 2009, cassandrina wrote:

    Well Mark,
    You may have missed Dan Hannon's speech, but you would have known on its impact on Brown, much more than the equally damaging speech Farage gave, when Brown openly smirked at him.
    As a professional journalist you must have made the risk management assessment of whether to mention it or not, and the fact is that you, and the bbc, have made a seriously wrong call.
    The message is now at about 1 million, and as a viral message it has told the world what most of the UK believe is true of our PM and his destructive policies, BUT it also sends the signal that the bbc is biased, and acting as a mouthpiece for our government.
    Radio 4 Today Programme did not mention it, and so I complained, and only on the PM show was it revealed after the message passed 800,000. They interviewed Hannon, who was very modest in his accomplishment, but the damage to the bbc is palpable.

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  • 37. At 11:24pm on 26 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #16 - democracythreat

    Anybody who did not realise that Ukraine is a complete basket case months ago is either blind or irredeemably stupid. Their failure to comply with IMF conditions and thereby prejudice the second part of their loan is just the latest fiasco in the long running Jushenko v. Tymoshenko grudge match. What the hell the EU thought they were doing negotiating a new gas infrastructure arrangement last week without consulting the Russians is completely beyond me. And while we are in the region, who did the EU finally conclude was to blame for the S.Ossetia fiasco? That's right - Saakashvilli. That didn't get much coverage either did it? South Caucuses? Kiss of death. Do not touch with bargepole.

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  • 38. At 01:15am on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 39. At 01:48am on 27 Mar 2009, Menedemus wrote:

    StrongholdBarricades (#25)

    In this modern day of the Internet, Twitter, viral YouTube videos and the internet Blogosphere, the fact is that anyone could be bored to death reading and/or watching all of the MEPs and Barroso responding to Gordon Brown's speech ... if they want to be that bothered. Brown making his first speech to the EU Parliament was the news story and Hannan's response was predictable and not really anything new. Hannan's speech only became newsworthy because, under EU Parliament rules, Brown had to sit, squirm, and grin sickly through Hannan's brickbats. Hannan's speech was not that great but seeing Brown squirm was astonishing ... it could not have happened to a "nicer fella!"

    Mark and his Blog is a window on Mark's personal view of the Prime Minister's speech with (as he admits, only the first response mentioned, as he had to meet his news deadline).

    If you want to criticise the whole of the BBC for not reporting Hannan's speech, Brown's reactions and the viral video of the event until hours (if not days!) after the occasion, I would wholeheartedly agree with you!

    But, Mark's Blog not mentioning it in the previous Blog Entry, his explanation as to why and the reaction to his Blog entry not reporting Hannan's speech (The Blog is NOT a Report but a personal perspective!) is way over the top.

    Yes, Mark could do updates like Preston or Robinson but, to be fair to Mark, he does deliver a non-commital insight into Europe and the EU with his personal perspective through his Blog and for the most part it is informative, interesting and unbiased about whether the UK benefits from being in the EU or not. He leaves it to his reader to 'comment' that judgement and, for the most part, I enjoy reading both pro and anti comments that follow on from his Blog entries. After commenting on Mark's Blog for a number of month's I have no idea whther Mark thinks the UK should be in or out of the EU and I actually prefer it that way as that is a matter for him to know and for us to wonder.

    It is my personal view that the reporting of ALL of the speeches of the EU Parliament should have been reported by the BBC but it is entirely understandable that Mark didn't get to hear Hannan's speech. I think it was to my advantage that he didn't have to include ALL of the speeches in the Blog Entry. That I would have found boring and totally uninteresting as I don't need Hannan to tell me what HE thinks of the Prime Minister - I already think the same - but I also don't want to hear pontifications from other European MEPs either ... just saying how brilliant Brown was or how stupid Brown was either.

    The way Mark blogged his view in the previous entry was fine by me. It gave food for thought and generated the usual dialogue between those who support the EU Project and those who detest the EU Project and with all differing opinions in-between .... as usual!

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  • 40. At 03:04am on 27 Mar 2009, laughingblacksheep wrote:

    Wierd that Mr Mardell had time to quote the Socialists though who were in favour of Brown....

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  • 41. At 03:58am on 27 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    @16 and @37
    directdemocracy and threnodio

    No, Ukraine is not totally busted. There is a hope. Their Parliament has voted to subject Kiev city mayor to compulsory psychiatric check. After he instituted a new charge, for entering cemeteries. To fill the city's budget in crisis. They got worried the new tax will be for exit from the cemeteries. The previous measure advertised in all Ukrainian media (and it works. exactly as promised. for 2 months already) is "Dinners with the city mayor - 1,500 dollars. To discuss your business' problems."

    That's just two from the list. Moderation. I am fascinated with many more.

    But the Kiev mayor didn't surrender! He called a press conference and invited all foreign ambassadors. (Most deviated, as knew what to expect. Our Chernomyrdin was present, you know, you can't leave friends in a hard hour. what to do. But kept quiet! Imagine - Chernomyrdin - kept quiet! simply stood while city mayor was rotating his button on the jacket and listening gravely, to the list of enemies of the mayor and how they plot. Chernomyrdin's face lightened a couple of times, when the mayor spoke of sanitars coming to grab him any other day... but then as he explained he brought them previous health certificates that he is allright, and that "there isn't a law! on compulsory checks, by simple parliament single decision" - poor Chernomyrdin became looking down again.

    So the mayor invited all "progressive humanity" to be evidence he is healthy. In mass media attention ran 12 times around the Kiev stadium.
    Dragged all to the swim-pool - and swam 25 metres 14 times!
    Insisted that Chernomyrdin (looking very grave in his suit)(by the wet mayor side in pants) "try his biceps - see? I am quite fit for my age!"
    "I urge you as a the senior of the Kiev Diplomatic corps - to tell all other embassies not present here - that I am normal!" - I saw and heard this with own ears. Said he has written to "Condoleeza Rice, to Barak Obama, to Putin and to Medvedev" - to stand up to his protection against the vicious Ukrainian parliament. That he is sure "Neither America nor Russia will leave him alone, in his struggle with this band."
    Then he did 18 pull-ups , still in pants, in the frost outside. And the Ukrainian media survived it only because they have already survived his swim in the hole in the ice, in the river, on Jordan baptism church day, previously. Together with all Kiev, only city mayor wore blue transparent pants.

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  • 42. At 04:00am on 27 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    As the saying goes :"I really miss it that I missed USSR! Must have been quite a circus. If such clowns stayed over from it. :o)

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  • 43. At 04:42am on 27 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    threnodio wrote:
    #16 - democracythreat

    "Anybody who did not realise that Ukraine is a complete basket case months ago is either blind or irredeemably stupid."

    Hey! Not fair. Some of us are merely ignorant. I didn't know about the tie chewer copping a rap, either. Interesting. Anyway, I rely on Alice for all my Ruski related news. Blame her.

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  • 44. At 07:45am on 27 Mar 2009, mikewarsaw wrote:

    Several points:
    1. WHO , but WHO is Mr Hannan? I've never heard of him.
    2. This blog seems to be full of highly frustrated, virulent europhobes of the worst kind: ex-neo imperialists who probably see Great Britain as the 51st State of the USA, or as a fully independent, stand-alone country slowly sinking below the waves, like the Titanic, dreaming of a long gone ex-imperial world power glory. A bit like Russia, in fact.
    3. As to the Ukraine, I have many friends from there who currently work here in Warsaw to make ends meet and support their families due to the economic collapse and political chaos across the border. They fully blame the politicial elite, who are all without exception closely and intimately cross-connected with the oligarchs, both Ukrainian and Russian. Its a fight for the spoils and its the ordinany Ukrainians who are suffering. And these ordinary Ukrainians desperately wish for the Ukraine to be a part of the European Union.

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  • 45. At 08:10am on 27 Mar 2009, HappyUK07 wrote:

    Sorry sir, but you weren't doing your job.

    Hannan's magnificent speech, surely the most withering to assault Brown's ears was utterly overlooked by you. It was newsworthy as hell and you overlooked it.

    Your problem, along with so many BBC apparatchiks, is that you don't notice (and hence comment on) the blindingly obvious.

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  • 46. At 08:18am on 27 Mar 2009, Jack Cade of Heathfield wrote:

    So who is Daniel Hannan some bloggers keep asking.
    Well, he is my democratically elected MEP for the European Parliament there to represent the views of those who voted for him.
    It is perfectly clear from the multitude of polls and surveys taken of the UK electorate that his views are much closer to those of the voters who sent him there than many other UK MEP's.
    I have been a keen follower of his Telegraph blog and You tube video's for many months now.
    This clip shows that the "devalued Prime Minister" speech was not a one off but just par for the course for him.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JQqJj69OEs&feature=channel_page

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  • 47. At 08:38am on 27 Mar 2009, clarencedelgado wrote:

    You also failed to report Nigel Farage's speech at Strasbourg on the same day. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1waGanUNt0

    BTW Dan Hannan's YouTube clip has now been viewed over 1 MILLION Times

    Big Mistake!

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  • 48. At 08:47am on 27 Mar 2009, StrongholdBarricades wrote:

    No39, it would appear No40 has already rebutted you

    Either you mention all, or you mention none and that is balance because all are being treated equally...unless of course mention of the EU Socialists is an ironic inclusion when referring to Brown and the Labour party.

    I rely on Mr Mardell to paint the picture, and we still don't know how Brown's first speech to the EU was received, but a certain section has ensured that their message has "got out" which could be seen to slant comment and thereby isolate the BBC view because it is as such extreme odds to that reported

    Once that "trust" is broken, to discover the true picture one must sit through the whole performance and decide for oneself without the background of knowledge of who all the participants and competing agendas are.

    If you want to criticise the whole of the BBC for not reporting Hannan's speech, Brown's reactions and the viral video of the event until hours (if not days!) after the occasion, I would wholeheartedly agree with you!

    Yes, I am criticising editorial control...but I also realise that Mr Mardell because he is inside the organisation can also "lead" and thus must accept some accountability.

    There are similar things happening with Brown's "World Tour" where a leader could be construed to be pressing a racist viewpoint but the BBC hasn't commented and Brown didn't stand up and decry the comment at the time.

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  • 49. At 08:48am on 27 Mar 2009, Mister_E_Man wrote:

    So you're telling us that you're only interested in reporting to the British public what the Prime Minister has to say in Europe, and not what any of our other elected representatives say in reply...??

    Sorry, but I though the BBC was supposed to provide an objective non-biased news service?! Guess I was wrong...

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  • 50. At 08:48am on 27 Mar 2009, AnotherOldBoy wrote:

    "'Two thousand words from Boot', said Mr Salter. 'Any good?' asked the general editor. 'Look at it.' The general editor looked. He saw 'Russian plot... coup d'etat... overthrow constitutional government... real dictatorship... goat butts head of police... imprisoned blond... vital British interest jeapardised.' It was enough. It was news." (Evelyn Waugh; Scoop; 1938)

    Hannan's speech was news too. And you missed it. So did all your colleagues. On his blog Nick Robinson managed to mention the approving comments of the leader of the Socialist group, but not those of Mr Hannan.

    How many BBC journalists were there on the day? How could they all miss what was - to anyone who has seen the speech - NEWS? The answer, I fear, may well be that their heads were so far up the Prime Minister's fundament that they could not hear Mr Hannan.

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  • 51. At 08:52am on 27 Mar 2009, Mister_E_Man wrote:

    The very fact that this speech has been watched by so many people, and has struck such a chord, should tell you something Mark...

    Listen to what Hannan's said, and ask yourself why so many people agree with him - that's a story for you! WHY do so many people believe the PM has failed in everything he's done... report on that, for a change.

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  • 52. At 08:57am on 27 Mar 2009, timOfBrum wrote:

    "2. This blog seems to be full of highly frustrated, virulent europhobes of the worst kind: ex-neo imperialists who probably see Great Britain as the 51st State of the USA, or as a fully independent, stand-alone country slowly sinking below the waves, like the Titanic, dreaming of a long gone ex-imperial world power glory. A bit like Russia, in fact."

    This has to be about the most insightful comment I've ever read on here. Unfortunately sensible debate on this blog is all but impossible due to the the large amounts of political spam. It's the same on the Have Your Say section of BBC News which tends to be a right-wing soap-box aswell.

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  • 53. At 09:02am on 27 Mar 2009, JunkkMale wrote:

    For all the airy dismissals from the MSM's dead tree dinosaurs, 'old boy' broadcasters and their slavish supporters, many surrounding the relative obscurity of the 'incident' (an MEP, in the Brussels Parliament, and a noted commentator on a major UK quality daily), it might have been better that the commentator made his political point by lobbing a shoe to be deemed 'newsworthy', as opposed to polite, calm, but deadly, not to mention well-aimed words.

    It seems quaint for a few to bleat that it's time to move on, and throw toys out the pram that some do not feel ready to, when the point at issue is that something of not insignificant political note, and public interest, remains essentially glossed over, apparently through not conforming to a desired narrative.

    How much better to have given the piece the objective coverage it warranted at the time... and then move on. Now, each time a non-group think politician is fingered for putting their bins out on the wrong day, the credibility of those that suddenly get excited by trivia over substance spirals ever lower.

    Also, I am only now 'finding out' but for some reason from oddly selective sources, that a world leader (The President of Brazil no less), came out with a rather 'interesting' take on the racial breakdown that should be considered in the global banking crisis.

    Is this lack of reporting due to who was standing next to this person, given a pass to be more than a tad racist when others might find the full glare of liberal ire upon them? Maybe it is, as SKY's anchor suggested, 'yet another embarrassment for the PM'.

    If anyone should be embarrassed, it should be those caught editing by omission whilst claiming objective reporting.

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  • 54. At 09:20am on 27 Mar 2009, RCalvo wrote:

    Freeborn-John @ 23:

    No, I'm not "in the EU payroll". I'm an employee in an economic branch that's actually almost completely outside the EU's remit (unfortunately!). I also resent your tactics of implying an interest in anyone who disagrees with your views. It's nasty, dishonest and underhanded. On whose payroll are you? You certainly have plenty of time to post on blogs.

    As for Mr. Hannan, I wonder if he still thinks that Icelancers are "blue-eyed sheikhs".

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  • 55. At 10:06am on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #43 - democracythreat

    Now, now DT - I did not mean you are irredeemably stupid. I was thinking more of the geniuses in Brussels who thought their infrastructure agreement with Kiev was worth the paper it's written on.

    I rely quite heavily on Alice as well but she has been quiet recently (apart from a brief acknowledgment when I tipped her off about what FPL is) but you must admit that, last autumn when everybody was rushing to post what a bunch of savages the Russians were being in SO, it was Alice and I who were advising caution and suggesting possibly, just possibly, the tie-chewer (nice, thanks for that) was not entirely blameless. So forgive a quick and uncharacteristic gloat.

    Joking aside, I have been preaching for months now that both Ukraine and Georgia are totally dysfunctional at that the EU and NATO would be barking mad to bring them into the fold at this stage of the game.

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  • 56. At 10:07am on 27 Mar 2009, JunkkMale wrote:

    Ad hominems are, indeed, the last refuge of those who seem to have run out of rational argument.

    But by the whimpers of many who might be deemed supporters of this government, its policies and those who often report upon them from within the bubble, there seem to be an awful lot of ordinary folk who are part of a 'right wing machine' who might not be, and simply of an independent mindset. It might sink in that accusing such people of such things is not the best way to persuade those who simply like facts, objectivity and balance to be shared evenly, to see the merits of your views. I'm self-employed, so every so often, as some would take their fag break or their sick-leave allowance, as I have to stay by the PC and phone I indulge in a little surfing on the side to 'chill'.

    But it is of note how many from all 'extremes' who do still seem to play the person rather than the ball. I am purely interested in the content of this speech, and how it was received, and reported. Referring to previous aspects of the protagonists' history can indeed be germane, but often equally 'tactical', shall we say?

    I write this as a 'brown-eyed Westerner' (PC-types will now have to figure out of what race to see if they can get offended and have this pulled:). And if the origin of that allusion doesn't compute, you'll probably need to go outside the BBC to find out why as well.

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  • 57. At 10:18am on 27 Mar 2009, Freeman wrote:

    You missed the boat Mark. Better luck next time. These days the people are chosing what is interesting rather than the editors. This is the exciting age of the new media and you need to evolve or die.

    Nice to see the rumbling behemoth of Auntie Beeb has finally woken enough to shift its gargantuan bulk and make note of Hannan's speech.

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  • 58. At 10:23am on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #54 - RCalvo

    The problem is the refusal of some posters to acknowledge the distinction between news and opinion. Whether you consider Brown or Hannan (or Farrage for that matter) to be be right or wrong is irrelevant. When Brown speaks, it is reasonable to infer that he is articulating British policy. The others are merely voicing opinions. The former is news, not the latter.

    This is also true of the jostling for position on the wider European debate. When and if the British people are asked what they want and we have a result, it will then become news. Until then, speculation based on sample polls is an indicator and nothing more. We the posters can say what we like about it. It is not for the BBC to do so and those who protest about an 'inbuilt bias' at the corporation do so because they wish for one - in their favour.

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  • 59. At 10:39am on 27 Mar 2009, notquitegaberiel wrote:

    Mardell, you say you were doing your job, but evidently you can not do it effectively, surely if you only missed the speech it would’ve been easy to comment on it later that evening or the next day. Peoples frustrations come from that the BBC ignored all comments (and still do) on bias in reporting.

    Even now all comments from the BBC address the fact that this is a ‘surprise internet hit’ not the content of the speech. The BBC patronise its viewers and have no respect for their opinions. The very tone of this post shows no apology, nor the fact that you admit a mistake, just distain for the views of posters who disagree with you and think you got it wrong.

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  • 60. At 10:59am on 27 Mar 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 61. At 11:23am on 27 Mar 2009, notquitegaberiel wrote:

    To threnodio: With reagrds to the point about bias,

    Contrary to the way things look at the moment, I do have a job and a life and am not able to spend all day surfing the internet trying to catch up on news stories. With regards to Hannan he is the MEP for my area, so I would expect to see some of him on at least our local news. Instead we have endless filler articles (which I have no problem with if there is nothing else going on), but on the days following the speech made by my MEP we had an article about an OAP driving at Brands Hatch and a campaign to save shepherds huts.

    When I turn on the news in the evening I want a catch up of what has happened, that I feel I can rely on, when my MEP (not only on this but all of his speeches) are being sidelined for ridiculous joke stories (isn’t our constituency charming-look at what they’re up to now) I cant help but think the BBC is wasting my money.

    Part of the problem with our MPs and MEP’s comes down to the fact that our local news channels don’t follow them closely enough. Now with sites like Theyworkforyou we can get sent updates directly, but the point is that these sites are filling in the gaps that the BBC cant manage, because they are pouring resources into foolish projects like radio broadcasts from schools.

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  • 62. At 11:34am on 27 Mar 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #55 threnodio

    "both Ukraine and Georgia are totally dysfunctional at that the EU and NATO would be barking mad to bring them into the fold at this stage of the game."

    Agreed. There is a serious conflict between the two UN stances on territorial integrity, and self-determination. As usual, those rules were made by countries who had (or thought they had) stable borders. Unfortunately, the Great Powers(UK, France, USSR - even the USA) were the ones who had imposed borders on their colonial territories, which were deliberately trans-national, or divisive of nations. That has not only been a basic source of conflict in Africa (as in Rwanda), Asia (as in Afghanistan/Pakistan), Middle East (most of it), but also in the former Soviet Empire.

    We have a long way to go before mechanisms can be created to resolve this conflict between two valuable principles. In the meantime, I share your reservations about Ukraine and Georgia (on the same basis I have reservations about Turkey while the Kurds remain disunited).

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  • 63. At 11:41am on 27 Mar 2009, Freeman wrote:

    threnodio(58):

    The problem is the refusal of some posters to acknowledge the distinction between news and opinion...When Brown speaks, it is reasonable to infer that he is articulating British policy. The others are merely voicing opinions. The former is news, not the latter.

    ....

    I would say policy could be considered more important depending on the policy and on the opinion. However if the foetid spawn that is Reality TV is worthy of column inches in the news, then a very popular opinion piece most certainly is.

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  • 64. At 11:57am on 27 Mar 2009, Wonthillian wrote:

    Everything is relative. Following a brief glance through Daniel Hannan's Telegraph blog, it seems to me that it is inhabited by the sort of people who would describe the abolition of slavery as 'political correctness gone mad', and who, not surprisingly, consider the BBC to be unspeakably left-wing. Even Nick Robinson (ex president of Oxford University Conservative Association) would not be right-wing enough for them. They make even Hannan himself look relatively moderate.

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  • 65. At 12:01pm on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #59 - notquitegaberiel

    Mark posted Euro-Gordon steps into line at
    15:48 GMT on Tuesday, 24 March 2009.

    I doubt if Hannan had even been called at that point, still less become a You Tube phenononen.

    I mean what do want want from the poor guy, 20-20 foresight?

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  • 66. At 12:06pm on 27 Mar 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    the-real-truth @ 6 puts his/her finger on the spot! lack of representative spectrum of views when presenting news is the BBC's failing (mission?).

    in other words, the BBC facilitates the social engineering undertaken by UK PLC rather than serving the license fee paying public.

    I think that the world has become as bad as it is in large part because media corporations like the BBC have decided "which side their toast is buttered on" -- and it ain't our side, unfortunately.

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  • 67. At 12:10pm on 27 Mar 2009, Alexandereski wrote:

    I think the bit that has most blog contributors irritated is the lack of context.
    It would have been smarter, editorially, to publish Hannan's speech, and write a few words about it, effectively crushing the worst of any accusations, or implications, of bias.

    It's the same with the EU commission report into the war in Ossetia last year. It was obvious to all but the deceased that Shakhashvilli started it, with the blessing and support of the then US administration and friends, and aspirants.
    BBC has spectacularly failed to report the findings, as it sits in direct contrast to their relentless anti-russian reports of the time. (Other, more neutral news organisations, have not been so reluctant, hence the report being read widely by the public across Russia and the EU, and absorbed for the significance of the results)

    That's the real problem here. Far from the BBC being able to realistically claim some lingering degree of editorial objectivity, it's being increasing seen as a outpost, and press agent, for the UK Foreign Office, and like minded organisations elsewhere.

    There is a growing issue of credibility for the Beeb, and with the significant increase in alternative reports from other sources, available to the average citizen in a degree unprecedented in media history, we're able to directly challenge reportage that previously could have got away with some significance as the 'gospel truth because it's the BBC.'

    Some of the Beebs coverage of Russia has been breathtaking in it's crude bias, and Russians who can be bothered to continue reading the Beeb, can fairly accurately predict when Milliband, or others in the UK gov, are going on yet another anti-russia tirade, because the pre-reporting starts the ball rolling with yet another "ex-soviet, kgb, blah, blah, blah" story, or ...... feature.

    Mark, nothing personal, and we don't frankly know how much sway you have with editorial decisions, but your response is remarkably similiar to a politician using smoke and mirrors to avoid answering the call, and avoid seeking to be determinedly objective, as much for your own credibility, as the organisation in which you are employed.
    That's a concern, if it is the case, that your hands are tied based on the current government's political agenda, and not a genuine intent on the part of the BBC to seek editorial integrity.
    Seems ironic from this perspective that not long ago the Beeb went on one of their regular rampages into press freedom in Russia, followed closely by a disingenous Milliband pontificating about the seriousness of such a situations, in his usual desperate, and ultimately unsuccessful, attempt at being seen to be...mature.

    I enjoy reading this blog, as much for the variety of erudite, and often amusing responses, but that doesn't mean we neccessarily view your perspective of topic as the 'final word.'

    These days, given the BBC's fairly obvious march into mouthpiece for Gov territory, the contrary is more likely to be the case.

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  • 68. At 12:31pm on 27 Mar 2009, Ally Gory wrote:

    Mark, it is perfectly fair to say the speech may have been unremarkable at the time, as, even if you had been available to hear it, it is consistent with the BBC's political coverage that it was not noteworthy. That is except for one crucial thing, it caught the attention and imagination of so many members of the public because it represents their thinking. That is not that they are Conservatives supporters, but that they are extremely worried by the political leaders' pledge to borrow massively when it was excessive debt that caused the problem in the first place.

    The BBC's position is considerably weakened by the same MEP having been invited by the BBC to appear on The Daily Politics only a few days before he made this speech. Why did they invite him if nobody knows who he is? Are the BBC declaring nobody knows him even after his appearance on their programme? That makes this an excuse, not an explanation, and it has no credibility.

    You, BBC News collectively, should learn a very important lesson from this. There is considerable disenchantment with your output and a growing resentment that we must pay for it to watch any television. You failed to understand the licence fee payer demands quality news from a publicly-funded body, informing them of facts without any political slant, and that you, BBC News, must rise above others, because we have no option but to pay for your continued existence. Keep it up and calls for an end to the licence fee and thus the BBC itself, will gather momentum.

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  • 69. At 12:33pm on 27 Mar 2009, Vanoce wrote:

    Blah Blah Blah, why are 90% of the comments you receive only Blah Blah Blah.

    Mark, I feel like a minority when I say that I look forward to reading your posts. They are witty and I appreciate your perspective on life. At the end of the day this is only a blog and we shouldn't expect you to report on everything all of the time. Your fan base much prefers it when you give your perspective to the events you want to comment on.

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  • 70. At 12:35pm on 27 Mar 2009, secondmugwump wrote:

    Mr Mardell - have you ever been on a Common Purpose course?

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  • 71. At 12:37pm on 27 Mar 2009, karolina001 wrote:

    Is it news? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7967173.stm
    Pope and Sarkozy have same agenda in Africa.. and that is ...??

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  • 72. At 12:47pm on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #63 - Freeman

    "However if the foetid spawn that is Reality TV is worthy of column inches in the news, then a very popular opinion piece most certainly is".

    Fair point but the distinction between entertainment and news and current affairs is more clearly defined in the broadcast media. No one would pretend that Reality TV is news. Curiously, this was put into sharp focus with the illness and death of the unfortunate Jane Goody. All the time she was apparently fit and well, all she was famous for was being famous. It was only terminal illness that morphed her into news.

    Curiously (though fortunately in much happier circumstances), much the same thing is happening to Hannan. I doubt if he is any cleverer or more effective than he was this time last week. The difference is that he is now a celebrity.

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  • 73. At 1:29pm on 27 Mar 2009, WhiteEnglishProud wrote:

    Mark.

    Whilst i think that this whole matter has been blown out of proportion, you have opened yourself up to critisism "Wierd that Mr Mardell had time to quote the Socialists though who were in favour of Brown"
    It does seem that sometime the BBC does advertently or inadvertanly seem to pertray the news in a way that sides with the Governments stance, or maybe the Government has learned that you report exactly what it says and because of you supposed unbiased approached there is not enough analysis of what they say and what they mean.

    I think that you probably should have updated your blog when it became clear that it was of interest to the Public .

    On Brown how that man had the Gaul to sit there smiling and laughing to himself whilst the truth about him was finally told to his face is utterly beyond me. He should spend some more time at home and then maybe he would realise that actually Dan Hannan went a lot eaiser on him than more Members of the Public would have.

    Brown is a clown but I think we've all stopped laughing.

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  • 74. At 1:30pm on 27 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #65 threnodio

    I don't often disagree with you, but I do think you're being overly generous with Mark on this.

    If you follow the European Parliament links in my #19, you'll see that their balanced press release, including Duff Gordon's response to the debate, is timestamped 17:23 CET on the 24th [=16:23 GMT]. Given that the sitting only resumed at 15:05 CET [per the EP minutes] and the whole event lasted only 1h 15m to the point when Duff Gordon left the chamber [per the Europarl TV video], it was over at 15:20 GMT - a good 25 minutes before Mark's posting. Even if he thought the debate unworthy of reporting, you'd have thought Mark would have wanted to be sure he heard Duff Gordon's closing response [starts 1h 9m in] before posting.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 75. At 2:09pm on 27 Mar 2009, RCalvo wrote:

    Before anybody misunderstands my post @54 (and "Freeborn-John" already seems to have answered in an intemperate manner...a pity that I can't read it now): what I meant that I am a private sector employee, working in a sector basically outside the EU's remit, which is a pity, since it sorely needs some EU harmonisation.

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  • 76. At 2:10pm on 27 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    mikewarsaw @44

    "as to Ukrainians.. many friends from there working in Warsaw... fully blame political elites.. it's a fight for the spoils..ordinary people suffering.. they desperately wish to be part of the European Union."

    I think Ukraine is indeed passing through the stage of "wild capitalism" that we had under Yeltsin, they are simply a bit delayed. Mass robbery of national wealth. Only in our case it was local and int'l robbers frolicking on the ground combined. We opened up to indecency levels, and lay like naked - come anybody do whatever.

    While Ukraine is having the re-distribution done btw internal oligarchs, or Russian and own oligarchs. Mind it - "international" robbery in Ukraine's case is limited. Firstly because the West, I won't say, became ashamed of the "re-distribution" of money results, pumping wealth out of Russia landing in foreign bank acounts, LOL, but rather thought enough is enough, what has worked once - can't be always repeated, you don't search for "best" from the "good". Once in a life chance and all.
    As to Russian oligarchs interferance into Ukrainian national wealth grabatisation, is limited naturally by Ukrainian high attention to "All things Russian", but not even that. When money matters are concerned, there are no disagreements btw their political oligarchs and ours.
    The main reason of the limits set to Russian grabs is that in Russia from Putin our own oligarchs got quite an affront and and internal, still very modest and limited IMO, kick.

    Anyway, this is all nevermind, yes, the current Ukraine's state it is for grabs.
    The people on the ground badly wish for one thing - order.
    We also badly wished for that under Yeltsin's wide understanding of unlimited "democracy" (all do what they want and can, un-limited).

    We got out of that stage by a mass roll to Putin's "strong hand". There was a huge drive for "strong hand", that's how Putin got the place - answering the electorate wish.
    That we had our freedoms clipped up in the process - is viewed as a un-nessesary but small evil. Big evil, of course, defines one's future.
    But better than country collapse. Not even collapse, it was already full collapse, worse than Ukraine now.
    Ukraine stands for herself only, what depends on them. On collapsing Russia I am sorry - many nearby are still tied in. It's a disaster pulling all nearby it into the abyss - and Ukraine, and who not on the continent.
    So, we were simply responsible! Keeping in mind our obligations to innocent humanity. :o)

    Ukraine faces 2 choices - either an own "strong hand" streamlines things for them, or they dive under an external umbrella of "order" - the nearest help seen indeed EU. They hope that the EU won't allow their elected to steal. Will control their own chaps and will install the rule of law.

    I must note the West, electing democratic leaders in the Russian neighbours, always puts stakes on flashy characters. Never on someone politically boring. You know, quiet politicians, that won't make a circus out of every thing they do. There are 2 political styles (sorry for simplification) - quiet boring and populist? charsimatic ? able to give electorate "the show". Somehow the Western choice as to who would preferably rule these places always falls onto "show" material. My be in the hope that these will be able to explain the advantages of "democracy" in easier demonstrative ways, to the local electorates?
    Extraordinary shallow people - that's what these countries end up.

    I think if West still has an ambition to control Russia's neighbours - it's time they put stakes on another local material, less flashy, less circus, on that very boring politics' style - when nothing to chew by the press on the daily basis, but when things change for those countries deep, not on the surface only. My best advice.

    And mind it you spoiled those locals. They lie tummy up. Don't plan to do something themselves, to improve matters internally. Hope for outside influence and help - that a "doog uncle Sam comes", a "good EU comes" and fixes it for them.

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  • 77. At 2:26pm on 27 Mar 2009, GrumpyBob wrote:

    Just total shame on the BBC that they simply brushed it under the table.
    First class speech, simply what the ordinary people of Britain also believe but the Government Channel for Information, BBC, cannot bring themselves to discuss it in the news bulletins. AND it was a speech worth of discussion, if only for the fact that billions of OUR money is being spent by Brown (without any proper reference even to his own Parliment)

    Disgracefull

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  • 78. At 2:33pm on 27 Mar 2009, TheKingBingo wrote:

    In response to post 12 & 31.
    Both seem to imply that to criticise the BBC bias is an attack on free speech. I felt I need to reply to this.

    The BBC is funded by a tax on TV’s. No matter what your own political bias you have to pay them. The BBC receive £3.5 Billion from this tax. Over the years an institutional bias has evolved. The BBC is very pro Europe, and liberal left. In order to get on in the corporation you need to display this mindset.

    Now despite making an attempt to be impartial, the BBC can steer the news by selecting which stories it wants us to know about. These are always driven by a liberal left mindset. So if a report condemning the police for racism is produced it gets plenty of coverage. If however a report is produced complaining of excessive paperwork in the police this is not recognised as a legitimate issue and no coverage is given.

    Now certain stories the BBC must respond too. Like the Labour Lords taking Cash for amendments. But it was dropped as a story just a day later. However, a minor Tory activist makes a stupid insensitive prank about Mccann and the story gets similar coverage, but one is a minor nobody, the others sit in the legislative. Or cast your mind back to 1996 and Hamilton’s cash for questions, the BBC ran with that for weeks, if not more.

    Mark Mardell may not have personally seen Dan’s speech, but it would be almost impossible for him to not have been made aware of it a day later. He could have responded to it at that time. But instead ignored it until the uproar was so great all others stories were getting swamped with comments on this issue. Even now he has refrained from commenting. Mentioning it only as a internet sensations.

    Freedom of the press is not the issue. The BBC appeals to many who share their liberal left outlook. But the libertarian right also have to pay the TV tax. But with £3.5Bn of public money the BBC can crowd out competition. Sky news is doing well to hold its own, but only as a monopolistic satellite provider. In any other country of our size we would expect to find 5 or 6 serious news outlets.

    The sooner the BBC is shut down the better. New news groups that cater for every bias can flourish in the space created. Instead of only the one viewpoint flourishing, by putting people in prison if they don’t pay to listen to a viewpoint that is not their own.

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  • 79. At 2:34pm on 27 Mar 2009, ikamaskeip wrote:

    Good, honest straight bat defence Mark.

    David Steele, the England batsman, would have been proud to have shrugged off the bouncers with such consumate calmness and aplomb.


    Any chance you could do an 'interesting' Blog on the topic:
    'WHY DO UK POLITICIANS DENY UK/ENGLAND CITIZENS A REFERENDUM ON EU MEMBERSHIP?' or, 'UK/ENGLAND REFERENDUM MEMBERSHIP: WOULDN'T IT BE BETTER TO SETTLE THE MATTER?'

    Well, it was just an idea seeing as how, "...there is often tension between seeing an event and broadcasting it.."

    I suspect a number of UK Citizens know where you are coming from on that particular score: Like, 'seeing' the entire UK/England Population made to submit to EU Law and Regulation despite profound disagreement with it, whilst 'broadcasting' as if there's no 'tension' between them and the ill-liberal, undemocratic, venal 'event' that you write about week-in-week-out?

    Yes, it must be tough for you.
    Almost as tough as it is for UK/England Citizens denied a proper voice in their own affairs who also find themselves unrepresented by their own public Broadcasting service; BBC, yet another institution for which they pay upfront and have no control over!

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  • 80. At 2:35pm on 27 Mar 2009, Ticape wrote:

    I thought Martin Schulz correcting himself from "grande president Sarkozy" to "petit president Sarkozy" was the funniest thing that happened in the Gordon Brown session.

    Not that any of you lot (the trolls) care about this or the speech made by Joseph Daul (attacking British jobs for British workers slogan) or the speech by Graham Watson, Brian Cowley, Monica Frassoni, Francis Wurtz and Nigel Farage. In fact the only bias I'm seeing is from the same people who only want to see Dan Hannan's speech.
    I also wonder why Mark should be the one handling the speech, although it took place within an European institution the content of the speech had nothing to do with Europe, just with Brown's economic policy and last time I check this is Mark Mardell's Euroblog and not Mark Mardell's Economyblog or Mark Mardell's British politics blog.

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  • 81. At 2:38pm on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    I think that Mark has addressed the criticism. Some may not be particularly happy with the response but that is as may be. Personally, I think it is a reasonable position and I accept what he says but I have not been particularly critical from say one.

    That having been said, I suspect that there is a wider debate to be had about undue government influence not just at the BBC but in areas where guarantees of independence either by charter or by convention is being eroded. Lip service is being paid to independence but, at the same time, government is not averse to reminding them - to quote #66 - "which side their toast is buttered on". I am sure that were the government to tell the BBC how some news item were to be covered, they would get very short shrift indeed. Reminding them that, in these straightened times, there is only so much money to go around at and it might be in their interests to take account of their paymasters' views could be quite an effective strategy.

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  • 82. At 2:47pm on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #74 - Brownedov

    I confess I did not double check the timing at the EP website so I would not question your thoughts. I do accept, however, that Mark had left the chamber by the time Hannan rose to speak. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, one can see why it was a pity he did not stay that little bit longer but was it reasonable to anticipate the furore that would follow? I think not. I stick by my original assertion that those who are shout loudest about this are those whose personal agenda would have been served by wall to wall coverage. They have now successfully engineered that for themselves. Surely now we can draw a line under this.

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  • 83. At 3:14pm on 27 Mar 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    RCalvo: There was nothing intemperate about my reply #60, but it is interesting that somebody wants it removed. I was pointing you towards comment number #38 of an earlier Mark Mardell blog (called 'more euroblogs'). If you Google for that you will understand my earlier question of you.

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  • 84. At 3:29pm on 27 Mar 2009, Ian_the_chopper wrote:

    Post 31. Are you reading the last sentence of post 20 the same way as I am? I'm certainly not reading it as a threat.

    Many people on this blog; Robert Peston's and Nick Robinson's, myself include by the way, feel that there is a bias towards Labour over the Conservatives in their blogs.

    David Cameron has already fired a warning shot over the bows of the BBC with his comments re the licence fee

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7946080.stm

    This isn't an extreme interpretation of it Nick Robinson holds it too.

    Political correspondents rely on the good will of politicians for briefings and tips, whatever you want to call them.

    If we have a change in givernment then the new powers that be will have their friends in the media in the same weay the current government do.

    Perhaps like Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister the BBC has to bend with the wind not necessarily fight it.

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  • 85. At 3:37pm on 27 Mar 2009, RCalvo wrote:

    I see, John @ 83. Well, neither do I work in "Communication", nor for the EU Commission, so it wasn't me. But I don't see what was wrong either in somebody from the Commission putting you right when you were posting something blatantly false about it. And then again, on whose payroll are you?

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  • 86. At 3:43pm on 27 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    threnodio I know you are nice, think that no news from Georgia is good news, like, peace since autumn. That combined EU and UN peace-watching effort on the ground works. It is quiet, and the int'l scheme does work -no doubt about that.

    But spring ahead. You don't take the strictly "seasonal" local system into account. :o)
    In plain English in winter in trees in Georgia and A, SO - no leaves.
    Transparent woods. No bushy bushes. Transparent ground. That you can see through, village to village.

    now, if you still can't see the connection :o) - threnodio. don't even aspire for a career in guerilla troops. you will not make a good partisan on that border.

    when the foliage is back troubles will start anew. and the peace-keeping troops won't recognise the sleepy winter place. that the folks there traditionally hush and wait over.
    besides, the expectations on the ground. all ex USSR blogging prophets from last October on "a strike back to Russia by Saakashvili aided by Ukraine come summer." Innumerous articles and theories how will that be staged.

    Personally, I hope only on the moderating and pacifying effect of the crisis.
    Plus the recent systems' that, LOL, famous up-grade button, with the USA.
    After all we are behaving decently, last week delivered to Iran S-300 anti-air raid systems - without rockets!!!
    They negotiated for our S-300 for 5 years. We sold last autumn. Held the delivery. Delivered. But as the transportation took place after that heart touching US attempt to give as a big new "button", - delivered without the rockets. Iran is in tatters. But we give USA gratuity period, to agree with Iran in the nearest months. What would you not do for such a fancy button idea. :o) We aren't spoiled by kind thoughts and presents. At least, something. LOL.

    Menwhile while all is quiet, the latest Georgian news is they struggle with Japan. Furious exchange of Foreign Ministries' correspondence. Linguistic revolution in strategic re-naming of Georgia WW. Israel already refused flat. Saakashvili tried to convince Israel to come up with a new name for Georgia in ivrit language. China and Korea also warned of grave consequances. ;o) The thing that worries Saakashvili is all call Georgia in local languages in non-English way, but in the vicious "Russian" way.

    Not sure that modearators will survive one word in Russian in Latin letters? Yesterday my post was "referred" for exactly two.
    Anyway, who doesn't take the risk - does not drink champaign!

    It's Turkish, Persian and Arabian (and Russian) way we all call Georgia -"gruzia". And in Japanese and in China and in Korea - the name of the country sounds the same. Only in local hierogliphs. Well, Chinese it's "kruzia". Korean "kirudzia".

    And Saakashvili badly wants "Georgia", and insists it ought to be scribbled in local tongues one to one with the US state name.

    Japan with the characteristic Eastern evasiveness promised Saakashvili "to think sbout it". At that, used the wrong name 4 times on one page of the reply, at which Saakashvili picked out as no good indication of good will.

    The anticipation is that having finished with Near East and Asia the linquistic revolution will flame up Africa, Georgian diplomats placed a request to linguists to find out what is Georgia in suahili language.
    Imagine if also "the Russian way"! Poor Africa.

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  • 87. At 3:59pm on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #86 - WebAliceinwonderland

    "a strike back to Russia by Saakashvili aided by Ukraine come summer." ???

    God Alice, Ukraine hasn't got two roubles to rub together. What's Saakash going to do - pay them?

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  • 88. At 4:07pm on 27 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #54. At 09:20am on 27 Mar 2009, RCalvo wrote:

    No, I'm not "in the EU payroll". ... I also resent your tactics of implying an interest in anyone who disagrees with your views. It's nasty, dishonest and underhanded. On whose payroll are you? You certainly have plenty of time to post on blogs."

    in reply to Freeborn-John @ 23:

    Quite right RC, but then that's Baseborn-John for you. To him we are, after all, only woodlice that should be given no place to hide.
    See his # 427 at Learn EU-speak.(11:58am on 23 Feb 2009)

    This is an intemperate person unsure whether he wants to be an Irishman in England or an Englishman of Irish origin whose claims to fame are a Constitution for Europe (!) that looks like a blatant plagiarism of the Anglosphere Constitution (that's the British Empire without the embarrassing yellow, brown or black bits) and who has singularly failed to rise to my challenge to him that he tell us just what, in his opinion, is undemocratic in Protocol I of the Lisbon Treaty.

    Oh, and I'd love to know just which "Nation state" he approves of? Take Ireland for instance, does he prefer the one of today, the one when it was independent but no more than a clone of England, the one when it was a Free State or the one when it was part of the United Kingdom and British Empire? You can draw similar analogies for just about any "nation state" you care to think of, UK (with or without Scotland), France (with or without the English-occupied north, Germany and Italy (both recent amalgamations of independent states), Denmark (before or after losing what today are Norway and Sweden ?). The list is endless. But it seems that John like his world pickled in aspic - perpetual and unchanging.

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  • 89. At 4:18pm on 27 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #82 threnodio
    "I do accept, however, that Mark had left the chamber by the time Hannan rose to speak."

    Having no evidence to the contrary, I'll go along with you there. But that simply makes it sloppy journalism. Last Friday, he could have read the EP's The Week Ahead 23-29 March 2009, to find that Duff Gordon wasn't just in Strassburg to give a speech but to "join a debate on the forthcoming G20 London summit", and I'm certain the EP press office could have confirmed the scheduled timings by 'phone or email. After all, a "debate" due to finish around 15:30 GMT is hardly "prime time" to a 24-hour news channel, and his slot could have been booked for some time around 16:00 GMT in plenty of time for editing ready for the early evening news slots.

    I don't want to labour the point any more - what saddens me is that by ignoring Hannan, Aunty Beeb has handed a weapon to the Eurosceptic right and suppressed criticism from the Greens, the LibDems and others. To me, it's an own-goal for which at least a "we'll try to do better next time" apology should have been given.

    With that, I'm prepared to draw a line under the issue but to be even more vigilant for the future.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 90. At 4:22pm on 27 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    I am not generally in tune with Dan Hannan but on this occasion his words resonated with just about everyone not actually in the British Cabinet. If he hadn't added to the nautical theme by imitating a seagull trying to take off the entire performance would have been flawless. I have little doubt that in years to come it will be included in University courses on politics.

    As to Mark's failure to blog on it - give the guy a break! He can't cover everything and, if his detractors would just stop and think for a moment, it wouldn't have made much difference if he had. This was destined for worldwide acclaim from the moment Hannan sat down.

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  • 91. At 4:30pm on 27 Mar 2009, prziloczek wrote:

    God help you when the Tories get in.
    They won't be biased either, as they hand you your P45. And no E1,000,000 pension parachute for you.
    Sorry, did those two BBC apparatchiks in the EU gravy train get three quarter of a million viewers to their blogs?
    Oh, I thought not.

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  • 92. At 4:32pm on 27 Mar 2009, RCalvo wrote:

    Alice, Shakasvili sounds rather unreasonable, but no more than Lukashenko/Lukashenka with his (surprisingly successful) insistence that everybody calls good old Bielorussia "Belarus". (Then again, the EU is not in a position to give lessons on boneheaded nomenclature to anyone, that with Greece's decade-long spat with Macedonia...I mean...the Artist Formerly Known As Macedonia, or whatever).

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  • 93. At 4:40pm on 27 Mar 2009, Freeborn John wrote:

    RCalvo: (85) The person from the EU Commission apparently took office at my comment that not once in its 50-year history has the EU Commission ever proposed to return a power previously acquired by them back to the democratic arena of the nation-state. They say this is no longer true since they recently proposed to remove the EU legislation on the maximum curvature of cucumbers. Henceforth I will post that only once in its 50-year history has the EU Commission ever proposed to return a power previously acquired by them and that on a trivial matter.

    Indeed the current situation rather reminds me of the pre-1971 Stormont Parliament in Northern Ireland which only once in its 50-year history approved legislation proposed by the Catholic minority (concerning wildlife). As I recall the accumulated frustrations of those forced to live under that disgrace to democracy meant it ended rather badly too.

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  • 94. At 4:44pm on 27 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    @87 well threenotes, :o) it's not our idea, in the internet. as you understand we fancy no "strikes back". But Ukrainians keep posting "just wait and see". May be, indeed, plan to earn some money? that Georgia will pay for the fighting, to them? LOL.

    it's not all Ukrainians, of course. they are 50/50 depending on where in Ukraine they live. some are allright, even that post in Ukrainian, in Russian blogs, on purpose. To train Russians to percieve them properly. It is, still, readable, and, like, OK.

    I especially like the motto, from the Ukr. anthem, these standardly attach at the end: "Glory to Ukraine! The Ukraine is not yet dead!"
    I think it is very much to the point :o), an excellent slogan. does not fade away, with years.:o)

    (I posted a joke BTW, recently, moderated away. Can't repeat therefore, you will have to make ends meet yourself. Vaguely, re a new translation of the Bible. Now 9 Commandments. :o)


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  • 95. At 4:57pm on 27 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Coming back to the personal Russian concerns - it is very rich! of the EU, to make us negotiate a gas deal - with them - anew!
    Thank you, dear EU. Exactly what we needed in unobservable so far crisis.
    A great help, to ensure Russian income will flow in steady in 2009.

    Why such a careless choice of the personality, for Russia to negotiate with? Why not, I don't know, Mao Tse Dun?

    As a side note, having done what can't be un-done or whatever, in the place of the EU I'd still pay some small attention to the dates. When will the new Joushenko-EU created gas consortium come into being.
    It's in nice of EU to finance the enterprise. Was there any talk when the new baby will become a legal entity? Able to sign the new gas contract with Russia, for gas supply to Ukraine and gas transfer to Europe.

    Why do I keep thinking it will be announced December 31st 6pm?

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  • 96. At 5:07pm on 27 Mar 2009, JulesHallaton wrote:

    Me thinks the apparatchik doth protest too much and besides, Hannan is a 'face' - columnist in The Daily Telegraph (pantomime hisses from White City), so familiar to at least 2 million people in the UK - oh, and a papers pundit on Sky News (cue more hisses from broadcasting's equivalent of Lubyanka). In other words, one that any journalist worth their salt will mark. Unless one is also producing BBC's The Daily Politics in which case, just dismiss him as an 'unknown' and ask incredulously how such a nobody could bag over a million YouTube hits just for blacking Brown's eye.

    Plus ca change.

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  • 97. At 5:37pm on 27 Mar 2009, timOfBrum wrote:

    I don't think this "new media age" is very good for journalism at all, judging by events like this, anyway.

    The MEP might have been very loud and direct, but much of what he said was completely false (apparently we've now nationalised most our industries), and he offered no solutions or original insight of note.

    Just because someone shouts the loudest, it rarely means that they've got the most important things to say. I think few would disagree that good journalism is all about filtering out the rhetoric to find the real facts. Judging by events like this, the opposite is likely to start prevailing ever more.

    Most of the right-wing posters here are saying how great this is purely because it was a very right-wing speech. Had the opposite been the case (i.e. some left-wing MEP started shouting off and left-wing websites started running away with themselves) I very much doubt most here would see this a "great event".

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  • 98. At 6:08pm on 27 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    TheKingBingo wrote:
    In response to post 12 & 31.
    "Both seem to imply that to criticise the BBC bias is an attack on free speech. I felt I need to reply to this."

    My objection was to the snide threats against his job that were based on partisan brinkmanship. that is indeed an attack on free speech, though I will concede on advance that it i just as prevalent among the labour swill as with torries.

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  • 99. At 6:30pm on 27 Mar 2009, Economicallyliterate wrote:

    Post 31 I will respond to you view of my "threat".

    The last sentence was not in anyway intended as a threat merely an observation.

    As many others have said there is a perception that some of the BBC editors are too close to the current administration. After 12 years of Labour government I suppose that must be expected to some extent as the major players in the current administration have been around for a number of years and will be well known to Messrs Mardell, Robinson & Peston.

    The Conservatives, of which I am not a member by the way, are apart from Ken Clarke a relatively new bunch and so won't be as well known to reporters or have built up such a strong relationship with them.

    As Ian the Chopper has pointed out David Cameron has already put a shot across the BBC's bows with his comment re the licence fee. I wouldn't be surprised if more Conservative spokesmen make similar comments in the future.

    My comment re a day of reckoning was simply an attempt to get over the point that if we have a change of government then the new Ministers may have their own favourite tv and print journalists to brief and if they perceive the BBC to be anti Tory don't be surprised if we see interviews or briefings to ITN or Sky rather than the BBC.

    I meant nothing more than that. Perhaps you ar feeling the strain and see enemies everywhere?

    Sometimes politicians need to be told what people are thinking rather than what they want to hear.

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  • 100. At 7:40pm on 27 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    "Sometimes politicians need to be told what people are thinking rather than what they want to hear."

    And have not many more lines been written on this blog cursing brown than praising him?

    What is it you really want, ecolit? If you and the torrie hatchet mob wanted to say your piece in favour of Dananahanan, well, have you not had your say?

    And you may claim that your comment was not meant to threaten a journalists job when that journalist disagreed with your political convictions, but will you claim the same defense for prziloczek, who wrote:

    "God help you when the Tories get in.
    They won't be biased either, as they hand you your P45. And no E1,000,000 pension parachute for you.
    Sorry, did those two BBC apparatchiks in the EU gravy train get three quarter of a million viewers to their blogs?"

    I don't see enemies, ecolit. I know what I read, and it is not the voice of my enemies. Forgive me for despairing at the partisan fever that stimulates so much of this thread. All I see is people having many times the degree of free speech that a journalist who writes for his living is entitled to, and scant sympathy or respect for the content of other people's views.

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  • 101. At 7:55pm on 27 Mar 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #99 Economicallyliterate

    I suspect the real situation is that the Beeb is institutionally neither pro-Labour, pro-Tory or anything else. It is institutionally pro-UK Government (who decide its licence fee).

    In a few years, English Labour will be screaming that the BBC has a built in Tory bias, while English Tories will see it as fair and reasonable.

    As to the Dangling Hanging guy's speech in response to Brown -

    That a Tory MEP says nasty things about a Labour PM is not news.

    That a bunch of Tory eurosceptics think he made the greatest speech since the Gettysburg address (though they would have been supporting the other side there) is not news.

    That this speech gets over a million world-wide hits (presumably including many who nothing and care less about UK politics) IS news.

    It may well be that many wanted just to see a politician (any politician of any party) getting demolished. The politicos have tried to persuade us that it was just a few bad bankers who got us into this mess. The world probably knows full well that it was the lack of regulation by the politicians - all of them, every single one of them (will be the feeling), that brought this about.

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  • 102. At 8:44pm on 27 Mar 2009, phoenix wrote:

    Post 88 Greypolyglot: Just followed your suggestion to follow Freebornjohns clumsy attempt at metaphor (woodlice?! where does that leave europhobes? Protozoa?)Ive spilt my beer and my sides are still aching....Keep it up guys. Good blog.My take on Dan Hannan is that its heavy on impassioned rhetoric but nothing new.Watchable but I hardly think that Brown is losing any sleep. Brazils president impassioned outburst I think annoyed him more (stole his limelight). Again the BBC has to decide what it wants to be: a popularist mouthpiece for whatever the media market wants or thinks the market wants (Skynews anyone?) or a medium that avoids excessive poularism and tries to do balanced debate, but which may miss on occasion public sentiment. Personally I think balanced but boring newscast is hard to find, left or right of the spectrum.

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  • 103. At 9:30pm on 27 Mar 2009, Economicallyliterate wrote:

    Post 101, oldnat, thanks for a reasoned and balanced response.

    I tend to agree with you that they may well be pro government or at least post Hutton feel that they cannot be anti labour. Has anyone heard anything from Andrew Gilligan recently by the way?

    You are probably equally right re when the tories are in power the labour supporters will feel exactly the same as the tories do now. As I was trying to point out in 99 the government is where most of your stories will come from so there will by definition be a perceived leaning towards them or their views.

    I also agree re a tory MEP being harsh re Brown is not a story surely a much bigger story would be if he agreed with Brown. After all our current leader was such a strong supporter of Mrs Thatcher when he was in opposition. To be honest I very much doubt that Gordon expected anything different from Mr Hannan. I can't imagine you get to write a blog for the Telegraph if you are a bleeding heart liberal.

    The point I was trying to make in my first post was the fact that the huge take up of his speech is the true story and my intention was to query why it hadn't been picked up on by the BBC.

    I don't know enough about Mr Hannan to judge his character though there appears to be a split here between some on the right who think he is the greatest thing since sliced bread and those on the left who think he is the worst thing probably since Mrs Thatcher.

    I also agree with your views on the actual content of his speech. The Gettysburg address it certainly isn't. However he has articulated in a language that Basildon man or Mondeo man or whoever the person in the street is that will decide the next election can understand a view and anger that many people feel.

    Jeremy Clarkson sells lots of books because many people identify with his views not because he is the Messiah.

    I also agree with your final point that the disenfranchised average person in the street does feel the need to see Gordon Brown taken down a peg or two perhaps this is why so many identified with it. His speech verbatim made it to a whole page about him and his speech in the Daily Express today. If it is in the Sun tomorrow on anything other than Clarkson's page in the Sun tomorrow then Gordon is in trouble.

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  • 104. At 9:31pm on 27 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #93. Freeborn-John:

    RCalvo: (85) The person from the EU Commission apparently took office at my comment that not once in its 50-year history has the EU Commission ever proposed to return a power previously acquired by them back to the democratic arena of the nation-state."

    Another wild shot in the dark, Feeblebrained-John? Or are you seriously claiming that the BBC told you who complained and why?

    We'll never know the true content of 60 but the reason given for removing comment # 60 was "because the moderators found it broke the House Rules". And are you really sufficiently paranoid as to think that the comment you claim to have posted at 60 yet subsequently reproduced as 93 "broke the rules"?

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  • 105. At 9:47pm on 27 Mar 2009, D_H_Wilko wrote:

    It was very wise of you not to cover this Derek Hanlon video phenomenon AKA Conservative Euro election campaign stunt.

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  • 106. At 10:54pm on 27 Mar 2009, WhiteHorses11 wrote:

    Re: 105. He will. Even the most fanatical leftwing Europhile could see the sense in covering a valid & vivid speech that summed up in 3 minutes what every sensible Briton thinks of our waste of space Prime Minister......

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  • 107. At 11:16pm on 27 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    RCalvo @92. It's all of them! :o) First thing you drift away (how to separate from Russia' manual) - is you get yourself re-named.

    "The naming of cats sorry states is a difficult matter,
    It isn't just one of your holiday games
    You may think at once I'm as mad as a hatter
    When I tell you a cat sorry a state must have three different names.
    First of all, it's the name that the family use daily,
    Such as... " :o)

    We survived by now a whole list.
    Belorussia going Belarus.
    Moldavia going Moldova.
    Alma-Ata going Almaty.
    Kirgizia going Kyrgyzstan (via "Khyrghyzstan" - their first idea of themselves. And you can't prove it's not very LOL, say, "melodical".)

    Ukraine is allright but has a fix over preposition. To incredible degrees; they kept returning Gazprom gas orders this winter when a wrong preposition was applied to them. Traditionally we say to go, kind of, onto Ukraine (viewing it like "Ukrainian steppes, Ukrainian plains, something flat and vast you can land up LOL upon.)
    Ukraine insists they aren't plains or steppes but a country, accordingly Russians should be going into Ukraine. I guess there is a feeling that they might open the door... might not... And Russia knocks and knocks while "Come in!" or "Go away!" - is up to Ukraine.

    But I can't imagine how to say in Russian to go in Ukraine.
    Max - to Ukraine.
    I know it is silly but you can't change the literature Russian to become illiteral and "illiterature" Russian - just to please, you know, those steppes. :o).

    Besides I must confess we offend them not in Russian daily only but in English as well. There is a strong inclination to write "the Ukraine", like a geographic region. Not like other countries that are (firstly, indeed you go in them) without the definite article.
    Unless they are of course combined from things like the UK and the USA.

    Saakashvili though is simply obsessed with Georgia in English.
    Georgians call themselves neither the English name that he wants for the country, nor the int'l approach he dislikes, but "Sakartvelo". Georgians think they live in Sakartvelo country, for centuries. I don't know what it means but sounds not bad, at least not "Khyrghyzstan", more vowels.
    And in old Russian they are "Iveria".

    All this is nevermind. With Khyrghuzstan etc we seem to have found a consensus that suits both. Kirgizstan. If they so much want "-stan". But an easier beginning.

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  • 108. At 11:51pm on 27 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #106 - WhiteHorses11

    You see - here we go again! ". . .what every sensible Briton thinks of our waste of space Prime Minister......". The implication is that everyone who still supports this government (and I never did by the way so this is not personal) is stupid. That is not reasoned argument, it is prejudice pure and simple.

    There are regular contributors with whom I vehemently disagree but when I reach the point when all I can do is insult them, it will be time to bow out.

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  • 109. At 11:51pm on 27 Mar 2009, MrsTrellisTheFirst wrote:

    Poor answer imho, Mark.

    You have two choices: (i) you report every speech which, as you say, is not only impossible but of little value to your audience or (ii) you use your professional judgement as a journalist to decide what is important, what will be important or of interest to your audience, and you report that.

    It is beyond argument now that you failed in the second of those choices. You did not report it, but it has proved to be of enormous interest to your audience (who found it elsewhere, not from the BBC).

    I'd have thought the Beeb as a corporation and you as a journalist should be urgently having an inquest into your relegation to a division 4 news organisation.

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  • 110. At 00:11am on 28 Mar 2009, Economicallyliterate wrote:

    I believe Mr Hannan was on newsnight tonight.

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  • 111. At 08:25am on 28 Mar 2009, JunkkMale wrote:

    110. At 00:11am on 28 Mar 2009, Economicallyliterate wrote:
    I believe Mr Hannan was on newsnight tonight.


    And very lucid he was too. As was the young man beside him, though they were from very different camps.

    The only one that sucked was the one whose main contribution was to try and drum up a fight by demanding that there must be people to blame.

    Ably countered, not with Anger (the 'topic' du jour), but by pointing out the total frustration the electorate feels at a ruling 'elite', that really is now running roughshod over democratic process, using quangos, lobbyists, back-room deals, whipped MPs and leaks to complicit media from the dead tree press and old boys' broadcasting club to spin the whole sorry farce for power, profit and ratings (read: bonusses).

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  • 112. At 09:21am on 28 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #101 oldnat
    "[T]he Beeb is institutionally neither pro-Labour, pro-Tory or anything else. It is institutionally pro-UK Government"

    I agree with you there, and have posted before that it has been pro-establishment from the days of Reith, so for the past decade, modest pro NuLab bias is only to be expected.

    What's really sad here is that plain incompetence seems to have confused participation in a debate in the sole democratically elected chamber that voters in England can vote for with a speech by the sole EU leader with little or no democratic legitimacy.

    I thought that seeing how the Supreme Leader performed outside the Westmidden bubble with no pliant Mr Speaker, no planted questions and criticism from all sides made good television, and can only conclude that the lack of UK media coverage until Hannan's YouTube success made it inevitable was concern that proper coverage might actually interest the hoi polloi in democracy and increase the turnout in the forthcoming Euro elections.

    Even now, it's being presented as Brown vs Hannan. Re Watson, maybe Mark doesn't read the NR threads, but he was certainly being discussed there. See my #105 of 25 Mar 2009 13:26 GMT.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 113. At 09:34am on 28 Mar 2009, Ticape wrote:

    #109.MrsTrellisTheFirst wrote:
    (ii) you use your professional judgement as a journalist to decide what is important, what will be important or of interest to your audience, and you report that.

    It is beyond argument now that you failed in the second of those choices.


    It's the exact opposite, he succeeded in the second point. You're talking from HINDSIGHT, which is always 20/20. A few days ago did you know who Dan Hannan was? The answer is a big fat no, neither did the 1 million people who watched the youtube video.
    If you didn't know, nor the majority of the British population (I'm guessing 99%) then tell me honestly, beforehand why should have Mark waited for Dan Hannan speech? (waiting an extra half hour missing the BBC news deadline) The answer is: there is no justification waiting for Hannan's speech.
    The only way Mark could have known that Hannan's speech was going to be big is if he had psychic powers so that you can see into the future. While I'm sure Mark, along with majority of the journalist, would love to have psychic powers so that he could be at the right time and moment to be the first to catch a big headline or perhaps, even better, reading those interesting private thoughts. Sadly enough for you demanding a journalist to have psychic powers is completely unreasonable.
    And that's what your argument is: unreasonable.

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  • 114. At 10:00am on 28 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Two cheers Aunty Beeb. As I write, BBC Parliament is showing the whole EP debate and the Italian Green is speaking. Sad that it will only reach a few of us politics junkies.

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  • 115. At 10:09am on 28 Mar 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    Mark,

    My own opinion is that this speech by Hannan was interesting and newsworthy not so much because of what he said but because he is somewhat of a maverick and therefore not in the 'club'. It is rare that a speech by politicians is not sanitised by a team of spin doctors and is therefore desperate not to rock the boat too much and just content to simply make veiled references and/or hints as to what they would like to say. From that end what we got with Hannan was a 'true' speech in the sense of democracy and debate, most Socialists love talking about debate but hate listening to opinions if they differ to their view as they always know best (in their mind). So well done Dan Hannan, and for the Socialists on this blog I just wish you'd encourage your own side to follow Hannan's example and speak up so that the cloud that veils their true thoughts is lifted and we can see the truth clearly.

    On another point, Mark, have you thought about the similarity of Sarkozy fruitlessly jetting round the world to try and establish himself as a world leader rather than a political dwarf, and Brown's current attempt to do the same, it seems he is being rebuffed and ridiculed wherever he goes, just like Sarkozy was. In Sarkozy's case it rebounded badly on him as the French considered he should be concentrating on problems at home, in Brown's case will his pathetic efforts just plunge his ratings to an all time record breaking low, or is he just past caring and trying to find a new post for when he is retired.

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  • 116. At 10:34am on 28 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #113 Ticape
    "waiting an extra half hour missing the BBC news deadline"

    You'd have a fair point if the Supreme Leader's opening remarks had been later in the day and conflicted with evening news slots, but even then waiting for his closing response to the debate would have been a smart move in case anything meaningful came out of that.

    As it was, the timings were available in advance, and his 15:20 GMT finish gave all the time needed to prepare for evening news slots. NR may have more of an excuse for leaving early - needing to pack his toothbrush for the world tour, but Mark hardly had the same urgent need to move on.

    Please read my #89 above and consider the information available to Aunty Beeb in advance.

    What this omission has ultimately done is to highlight a squabble over competence between the three largest wings of the British unionists [Tory, NuLab and UKIP] - all of whom are in favour of the quasi-democratic plurality system - at the expense of showing how a proper democratic assembly functions.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 117. At 11:04am on 28 Mar 2009, CarrotsneedaQUANGO2 wrote:

    The underlying point though is that on the whole good old aunty persistently under reports and overly critques Labour government opposition. It also reports the government line without any where near the same depth of analysis.

    Everyone knows that Aunty as is institutionally left of centre and this transpires in its reporting. Which while this is to be expected, nay can not be avoided, needs to be exposed in just same was that Labour supporters rant about the Mail and the Torygraph.

    A key issue is of course that I am pretty much forced to fund this slight but never the less operational government mouth piece.

    Take note that I do not mean to imply that this applies to all reports, all reporters or even all reports from clearly left wing reporters. It is just a case of being ... on the whole more often than not.

    The thing about the Hannon speech was that it was an iconic summary of an ever growing train of thought and public realisation.

    Aunty can be forgiven for missing it the first time around, but as far as Im aware it still hasnt made it to the BBC front page, but you really should have picked up on like lightening. You say that you missed his speech because you were waiting to go on News 24, Am I right in my assumption you listented to Browns address and the simply ran to report it whith listening to any other responses? If so then that merely backs up my point about Aunty being a government mouth piece.

    The Yanks seem to love him though, I suspect most of the YouTube hits have beenfrom the US and no doubt his speech will go some way to fortify the neocon position there.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCcPhdfoNyw




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  • 118. At 11:23am on 28 Mar 2009, CarrotsneedaQUANGO2 wrote:


    101. oldnat

    A thoughtful post as always. However I think it was more simple than that.

    People flocked to look at the video for 2 reasons.

    The US Neocons loved it because its everything they need to hear.

    The Brits always love to see an arrogant control freak, whom is unaccustomed to be told no, get a good kicking. Brown is finished and the Brits love to see a public enemy tortured.

    But I liked it he has summarised and struck a chord with those that feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with the idea of spending your way out of a crisis that was actually triggered by excess debt.

    Brown is essentially telling us that the cause is the cure. And hes simply blaming the greed of the middle man.

    Its not just down to bunch of Tory Eurosceptics, that way of thinking is becoming mainstream.

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  • 119. At 12:33pm on 28 Mar 2009, Ticape wrote:

    #116. BrownedovYou'd have a fair point if the Supreme Leader's opening remarks had been later in the day and conflicted with evening news slots, but even then waiting for his closing response to the debate would have been a smart move in case anything meaningful came out of that.

    Evening news slot? Did you know that the BBC has a 24 hour news service called BBC World? Every hour there is a news service in BBC world. Behold Hannan's speech was at 16:10, I'm guessing Mark was waiting to appear on BBC world news service of 16:00 (15:00 GMT) (and for the evening news they would simply use this broadcast, happens all the time)

    You also pointed out in your previous post #89 that Gordon Brown's visit to the European Parliament would be a debate (well sheesh what else are you going to do in a parliament, having an afternoon tea?) and you also said that the BBC should have waited for the closing remarks. But you can't justify this beforehand, would it really be worth it to wait and hear 40 minutes worth of debate between people the public doesn't care about for a 5 minute closing statement of the "supreme leader"? In hindsight you'll be saying yes (due to Hannan and only Hannan's speech) but beforehand simple mathematics of 40 > 5 says no.

    The only person you should really be blaming for this entire missed opportunity, isn't the BBC and certainly not Mark but is yourself.
    If you, along with your close friends, relatives and the rest of the public had shown, before Gordon Brown visit, interest in hearing European parliament debates then the BBC would be forced to cater to this demand and Mark, on orders from the people above him and they in demand of the public, would have stayed behind and made a nice report of the entire debate. From Gordon Brown's speech to Joseph Daul to Francis Wurtz to Daniel Hannan and closing with Mr.Brown again. And you would have been happy with the report.

    Reality, on the other hand, is quite different. You're currently blaming the BBC, which was catering to your (lack of) interest by NOT reporting an EP debate (indeed they even decided to skip "supreme leader's" speech at the 15:00 GMT news ), and now they missed a well articulated speech by Daniel Hannan (who knows what other things they've missed after all those years).

    It's always easier to blame someone else for your own faults, isn't it?

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

    Fully agree!

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  • 120. At 1:57pm on 28 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Mr. Hannan's remarks were pithy and salient but I suspect Mark has picked up on something which others have missed. Mr. Hannan is somewhat follicularly challenged and such people tend not to win elections, do they Mr.Hague? Poor Dan - hair today, gone tomorrow.

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  • 121. At 2:09pm on 28 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #119 Ticape
    "Did you know that the BBC has a 24 hour news service called BBC World?"
    Yes - as an expat, when I'm in Switzerland I only have access to 2 BBC channels (via cable) - BBC Prime and BBC World News due to IP restrictions in the iPlayer, although BBC Parliament is still available in WM and Real format on the web.

    "BBC world news service of 16:00 [CET] (15:00 GMT)"
    Neither the CET nor GMT timings are exactly peak viewing in Europe. Evening peak in the Middle East, yes, but not really peak time in the rest of the world either. But then as BBC World News is funded differently from the domestic BBC channels, it could be argued that it doesn't have quite the same duty of impartiality.

    "But you can't justify this beforehand, would it really be worth it to wait and hear 40 minutes worth of debate between people the public doesn't care about for a 5 minute closing statement of the "supreme leader"?"
    There would seem to be two possibilities here. Either Duff Gordon's speech was "leaked" to Mark or it wasn't:

    • If it was, Mark could have seen at a glance that there was nothing new in it and realised that the only hope of a "story" was in the debate itself or the closing "response".
    • If it wasn't, Mark would have had the unenviable job of staying awake through it and in boredom would surely at least have glanced at the list of those called to speak and realised the same.

    "If you, along with your close friends, relatives and the rest of the public had shown, before Gordon Brown visit, interest in hearing European parliament debates then the BBC would be forced to cater to this demand and Mark, on orders from the people above him and they in demand of the public, would have stayed behind and made a nice report of the entire debate."
    You're on stronger ground there, although the man's first participation in a debate as PM was arguably a bit special. How do you suggest such interest in democracy could or should be shown? Perhaps you would be so kind as to point me towards the stalwart protesters whose action resulted in the creation of the BBC Parliament channel?

    "It's always easier to blame someone else for your own faults, isn't it?"
    There we agree, but in my defence I would point out that the failure is a collective one.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 122. At 3:03pm on 28 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #121 - Brownedov

    I still get Newsnight on RP in Hungary. Is that not the case in Switzerland?

    May I nick your signature please?

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  • 123. At 4:11pm on 28 Mar 2009, b-b-jack wrote:

    Well done Mr. Mardell, you must read some of the ommentators on your blog, unlike some of your B.B.C. counter-parts.

    For those interested enough to comment, as recently mentioned, Hannan's speech, attracted over 2m hits on U-Tube. I wonder how many hit the speech of Nigel Farage? I believe that references to the Falklands is just a way of removing concentration on Brown's short-comings. Does not appear to have worked on this blog; unlike another well covered B.B.C. blog.

    As a recent convert to your blog., will monitor your coverage of things European.




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  • 124. At 4:26pm on 28 Mar 2009, Barbazenzero wrote:

    #122 threnodio
    "I still get Newsnight on RP in Hungary. Is that not the case in Switzerland?"
    Yes. BBC Parliament is the only BBC channel available 24x7 to non-UK IPs, so far as I know. I wasn't counting the dwindling number of news feeds available live or "on demand" for specific programmes. The Politics Show seems to have stopped working, but I can still get: Sunday AM, The Daily Politics, Newsnight [UK only - not Newsnicht], Question Time and This Week. Mostly I have the URLs for both RP and WMP but a few seem only to work on one or the other.

    I've tried asking for an expat's list of available programmes through the various Contact Us forms scattered around the BBC website, but without success so far.

    "May I nick your signature please?"
    Please do - you're welcome.

    Must go now as it's early closing on Saturday followed by a very firmly closed Sunday when it comes to victuals, but back later tonight I hope.

    Post or reactive moderation for all except CBeebies, please!

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  • 125. At 4:56pm on 28 Mar 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    People who liked Dan Hannan's speech should remember that he is not representative of the CONswervative party. He was thrown out of the EPP group in the "EU"-parliament. I believe that no other CONswervative was. If you vote for the CONs in the "EU" election you will be voting, on the whole for people who show no sign of getting us out of the "EU". If you want to get us out of the "EU" you have to vote for UKIP or (and I don't like to say it) the BNP.

    A message to UKIP: I am repeatedly meeting people who hate the "EU" but have never heard of UKIP. They have heard of the BNP. My suggestion is that you should have placards and T-shirts stating: 'If you hate the "EU" vote UKIP in June.' That does not annul my other suggestion which is that you should show video of continental police brutality.

    I thought Dan's speech was good. I thought Nigel Farage's was better, but then I am biased.

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  • 126. At 6:56pm on 28 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #125. SuffolkBoy2:

    A message to UKIP: I am repeatedly meeting people who hate the "EU" but have never heard of UKIP. They have heard of the BNP. My suggestion is that you should have placards and T-shirts stating: 'If you hate the "EU" vote UKIP in June'.

    .. I am biased."

    Well we know that you're biased. If that is your wish then BE biased but I wish you could try to use less intemperate language. I'm not a lawyer but I would have thought that you're running very, very close to "incitement to hatred". How about T-shirts saying "do you want to get out of the EU ..." or "are you fed up with the EU then ...". Hatred just seems so uncontrolled, over-the-top and un-British. Maybe it's a Suffolk thing?

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  • 127. At 8:19pm on 28 Mar 2009, RationalGeezer wrote:

    Daniel Hannan for President of the USA!

    As long as the US can suffer under an Ineligible-Affirmative-Action-Usurper-in-Charge, why not choose a foreign-born non-citizen with real leadership talents? I nominate Daniel Hannan, a British Member of the European Parliament.

    Like the current Ineligible-Affirmative-Action-Usurper-in-Charge O'Bama, Daniel Hannan has speaking talent.

    Like the current Ineligible-Affirmative-Action-Usurper-in-Charge O'Bama, Hannan is a British citizen and is not a natural born of the United States (of America).

    There the similarities end; unike the current Ineligible-Affirmative-Action-Usurper-in-Charge O'Bama,

    Daniel Hannan has proven conservative viewpoints, rather than communist/socialist fail-every-time-they're-tried mental disfunctions.

    Daniel Hannan does not need a teleprompter to speak his true beliefs instead of merely mouthing what he is told to read.

    Daniel Hannan has the courage to speak his mind, rather than pandering in cowardice to his enemies and opponents.

    Daniel Hannan does not pepper his speeches with uhs, ums, and other impediments, rather than betraying his uncertainties and cowardice.

    Daniel Hannan has the good common sense to speak with conviction obvious truths, such as reducing one's spending when when one is over one's head in debt.

    Daniel Hannan is multi-lingual, rather than hypocritically calling for others to speak a foreign language when one does not oneself.

    Daniel Hannan does not, as far as I know, associate with admitted terrorist traitors, insane racist pseudo-religious fanatic clergy, or union/Chicago thugs.

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  • 128. At 10:06pm on 28 Mar 2009, theoldnat wrote:

    #127RationalGeezer

    And Daniel Hannan wouldn't touch an internet conspiracy theorist like you with a barge pole (whether of metric or imperial length).

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  • 129. At 10:10pm on 28 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    "I'm not a lawyer but I would have thought that you're running very, very close to "incitement to hatred"."

    No, he isn't. That law only covers racial hatred, and protection for two religions: Jews and Sikhs. Which I find really odd.

    Actually, the whole law is really, really odd. For a start, it isn't needed. There is a perfectly good law called "sedition". Originally sedition meant stirring up unrest against the government, but its common law meaning was been expanded to mean "causing or spreading unrest among her majesties subjects."

    Now what i find weird is that this law (sedition) was put forward for repeal in 1978. Folks back then thought it was an embarrassment, something left over from an age when the ruling class could not handle free speech. It never was repealed. Apparently the judiciary thought it might come in handy some day.

    But the folks who drafted the racial hatred laws, they figured sedition wasn't good enough. They wanted new regulations! Even though nobody was prepared to enforce the old regulations. And it worked, too. Weirder and weirder. Nobody could get the police or the DPP to enforce sedition, they wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. But these trendy new laws on incitement of hatred, well the cops and their drinking buddies at the DPP went for those like hungry cats into a pack of lame mice.

    Who would have thought that a rose by any other name would smell even sweeter?

    The other really weird thing about the incitement to hatred laws is that they make hatred towards jews and sihks a crimes, but towards christians and muslims NOT a crime. I find that really odd. I mean, this issue was raised during the drafting of the law, and debated. And the decision was made to leave it the way it was. Apparently people feared they would be called anti-semitic if they changed it to leave jews out, but that it would be too wide ranging if they included other religions. Odder and odder.

    Well, such is the law. It certainly seems to be devolving recently. I don't know why, but English law has entered a bit of a crisis phase. The police unions and government departments now openly pressure the judiciary, and the judiciary are becoming timid. But they are also playing footsies with the political elite, which is not traditional behaviour either. And the police unions and prosecutors are making laws, too. Laws that increase the size of the police force and the billable hours for the prosecution lawyers, not surprisingly.

    And they are selling these laws to the public in a very sophisticated way. For instance, there is currently a proposal in the UK to allow police officers to fine people on the spot for "dangerous driving". Now that is a crime, and a crime invented by the police unions a few years ago. You don't need a guilty mens rea, and you can be convicted on the basis of opinion alone. So there is no objective test for dangerous driving. If enough people say you were dangerous with enough conviction, you're nicked. And now the police are pushing for the right to do away with the trial process altogether. Apparently courts get in the way of police who need to protect the community. So the deliberation of opinion and objective fact will be removed from the judges and handed to the police on the beat.

    It is really quite a massive shift in the way English intellectual society operates. I might sound like a traffic law issue, but it goes a lot deeper. For two hundred years, England would never have tolerated police being able to convict criminals on opinion based evidence in a court of law. Now, within the past fifteen years, the police force has become so politically powerful, it has created opinion based laws and is driving for the right to prosecute and adjudicate them without any influence from other branches of government.

    And the public support it! Sometimes I think to myself, what a crawling, subservient and hateful society England has become.

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  • 130. At 10:13pm on 28 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Rational geezer, i hate to smash up your love in with Danhananan, but you should so some due diligence on the guy first. Not so long ago he was telling everyone what a role model Iceland was, and how Britain could learn everything they needed to know from that glorious economic example.

    And his name sounds like someone trying to sneeze. He should change it.

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  • 131. At 11:09pm on 28 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    129. democracythreat:

    Oh dear. It seems that my years abroad show are showing. I thought that Judge Dredd was just a comic book character.

    BTW both threnodio and I pointed out to you that Christine Lagarde is far from being an "anonymous EU drone" (thread 'France throws spanner'). Look up her cv and then do the decent thing and give the lady a public apology - even if you do disagree with her.

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  • 132. At 00:34am on 29 Mar 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    #125, SuffolkBoy2,

    I just watched Nigel Farage's speech after your comment and I have to say he was not as effective as Hannan or as eloquant but what amused me was the occasional clips of Gordie.

    His almost insane expression and scribbling on his notepad made me wonder just what he was writing, could it be I'm the greatest, I'm right, everybody else is an idiot, I can't be wrong, I'm never wrong, I'm perfect, I'm the greatest financial manager, I cannot be fired. Anyone else have any possibilities for his written notes, like Hannan or Farage for the Tower?

    Suggestions to him and where he needs to go are more easy and would probably upset the CBeeBies, lol.

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  • 133. At 00:45am on 29 Mar 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    #131, greypolyglot,

    I'm just wondering what exactly you find in her cv that is interesting, I have looked at the wikipedia English and French versions and she has little in either. In fact I wonder why she is reported as being the Finance minister since she seems not to have studied Finance, as for Fisheries etc it begs the question as to what she is experienced in. Wow, now I see, see was a lawyer in France and USA, that explains all, lots of words and no responsibility for her mistakes.

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  • 134. At 04:05am on 29 Mar 2009, Gheryando wrote:

    Hey Mark, did you watch/attend/cover the world debate about Europe - US relations in the future? Interesting panel yesterday, although not many new things were said.

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  • 135. At 04:51am on 29 Mar 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    democracythreat #129

    this is an excellent, thought-provoking post, thanks.

    regarding the "why's" -- perhaps too many parlamentarians are lawyers first and representatives (of their constituents) second; wasn't there some debate a number of years ago about the record number of new laws brought in under Blair (a lawyer, married to a barrister)?

    and, adding insult to injury, much of the unneeded legislation is worded poorly, virtually guaranteeing good future earnings for legal professionals.

    note to self: must study law ;-)

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  • 136. At 05:16am on 29 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    greypolyglot,

    I will not apologize to the lady in question.

    I see no reason why she should feel degraded by being compared to a nameless EU drone from sector B7.

    How is it any better for me that a french party politician is interfering with my law, than some unappointed drone?

    I may lack respect for french politicians, but they lack respect for my rights as a common citizen. When I see some evidence that these career politicians respect the will of the common people to make their own law and influence their legal futures in the grand european scheme, then perhaps I will treat her with some reverence.

    Until then, she has chosen to hang out with the nameless drones from the EU. She can be lumped together with them.

    Let her explain to me why she should know what is in the document she is peering at so curiously, and I should not be invited to comment.

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  • 137. At 06:45am on 29 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    By the way, does anybody else think the G20 protests were a bit of a damp squib?

    The crowd photos are not that awe inspiring. I suspect more people were watching Grand Prix qualifying.

    I guess the bankers are safe in their beds.

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  • 138. At 12:53pm on 29 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #136. democracythreat:

    I will not apologize to the lady in question."

    How ungentlemanly of you.

    " ..... some unappointed drone"

    I'm curious. Do you consider all civil servants to be "drones" or just those that work for the EU? And where is this utopia where civil servants are elected rather than recruited on the basis of competitive examination? What would make elected civil servants better than unelected civil servants?

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  • 139. At 1:25pm on 29 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #133. Buzet23:

    greypolyglot,

    I'm just wondering what exactly you find in her(Christine Lagarde's) cv that is interesting, I have looked at the wikipedia English and French versions and she has little"

    She graduated from and lectured at the Law School of University of Paris X: Nanterre. She also has a post-graduate diploma (DESS) in labour law, and a Master’s degree in English.

    In 2006 Forbes Magazine reckoned her to be the 30th most powerful woman in the world.

    On top of that she was a champion synchronized swimmer.(I thought that this was some nonsense inserted just to make her look silly but it is actually true.)

    Now tell me that you can beat that.

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  • 140. At 2:00pm on 29 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #139 - greypolyglot

    "On top of that she was a champion synchronized swimmer."

    This has bothered me for a while and not simply because I don't see the connection with French governance. When some b****dy idiot work me up at an ungodly hour with a phone call not realising that I am in a different time zone and the clocks went forward, I thought about it (how sad is that?) and it came to me.

    You can't be a champion synchronised swimmer. It's not possible. You have to sychronise with someone don't you? So the best she can possibly be is 50% of a champion synchronised swimmer. Or am I completely barking?

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  • 141. At 4:16pm on 29 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    greypolyglot wrote:
    " #136. democracythreat:

    I will not apologize to the lady in question."

    How ungentlemanly of you.

    " ..... some unappointed drone"

    I'm curious. Do you consider all civil servants to be "drones" or just those that work for the EU? And where is this utopia where civil servants are elected rather than recruited on the basis of competitive examination? What would make elected civil servants better than unelected civil servants?"

    I am not a gentlemen, polyglot. I work for a living.

    It is very curious, her cv. She has a law degree fromthe university of paris. I have one from the uni of london. I paid for mine myself, with money i earned at £10 an hour.

    She has a masters in english. I have bachelors in english, with honours, which means i studied for three more years than her. I paid for that degree myself, too. I was in her majesties army at the time, in the infantry. My family are not gentlemen or ladies, you understand.

    Now she is a party member, and a sportsperson of renoun. She had time to do a masters while i was working. But I guess I also had my sport. Carrying a rifle and a pack around the countryside is jolly good fun for a young chap.

    But I never joined a political party, because I wasn't at a civilian university, and i was not interested in that sort of thing. I thought the thing to do was to serve the flag, and work for a living.

    Hence, I am supposed to pay my respects for her, and not refer to her as some nameless drone in the EU. I should know my place.

    Well, I do know my place. I pay my own bills, and I am not a gentleman. And I'm not bitter, because I have a very high standard of living, I have been privileged in my own way. Life has treated me well, much better than most, if not all, the folks i grew up with.

    But I am not so confused about the world that a party member can impress me with her cv. You have to remember, i earned my cross rifles medal when i was 18. I would have shot her in the eye at one hundred yards because a gentleman told me to do it, and then i would have sat down and made myself a cup of tea, and read my dog eared copy of war and peace.

    I know who my people are, and she is not one of them. She is a party member. She is respectable. She lives from my taxes.

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  • 142. At 4:34pm on 29 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    " #140. threnodio:

    #139 - greypolyglot

    "On top of that she was a champion synchronized swimmer."

    This has bothered me for a while and not simply because I don't see the connection with French governance. ... You can't be a champion synchronised swimmer. It's not possible. You have to sychronise with someone don't you? So the best she can possibly be is 50% of a champion synchronised swimmer. Or am I completely barking?"

    Of course you're right but it would have been bloody pedantic of me to put in full that she had been a member of a championship winning synchronised swimming team. There, now look what you've made do!

    Has it any relevance to being a lawyer or minister? Well, obviously it shows that she knows how to be a member of a team and not just a prima donna and it also shows that she knows, or has known, how to excel in something other than work and career and that is, I imagine, physically demanding. (darned sure I couldn't do it) In my book that makes her a much more interesting person than, say, Harriet Harman or Cherie Blair.

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  • 143. At 4:46pm on 29 Mar 2009, -StuartC- wrote:

    Mark,

    The leader of the Greens "called on the PM to show European commitment by joining the euro"?

    Not the British Greens, surely? Caroline Lucas doesn't support euro membership and, commendably, the policy of UK Greens is to seek a radical restructuring of the EU towards localism and co-operation rather than relentless EU style integration/centralisation.

    I'm afraid that "leader of the Greens" bit wasn't clear enough.

    Also, as an EU critic, I'd actually like to complain that you didn't report Graham Watson's pro-euro speech. I wouldn't even have minded if you'd done that and ignored Hannan!

    Given a BBC poll back in January showed that, despite the economic troubles (or more likely because of them), 71% of people still oppose joining the euro - coupled with Watson's pledge earlier this month of financial support for bullying the Irish people into reversing their clearly and democratically expressed 'No' to the Lisbon Treaty - the man seems to be on a quest for maximum unpopularity. Just in time to start his re-election campaign.

    The more his speeches are written about, and the more his views are consequently shown to be neither liberal nor democratic, the better. At least as far as this EU critic is concerned!

    Atb,

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  • 144. At 5:03pm on 29 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    141. democracythreat:

    You say that you are not bitter but your words say the opposite.

    Without going into the details I'll guarantee that my origins are a darned sight more humble than yours - if only because there just wasn't anyone lower down.

    I too have an honours degree (in geology and geophysics) which I paid for myself.

    I too have put my life on the line for my country (unlike you I shall not go into details)

    I too was a top class rifle and pistol shot (again, no details)

    I too have worked all my life but not all of it in the UK and I've picked up qualifications and a good working knowledge of a number of languages along the way.

    But unlike you I have also learned how to accord respect to others for their achievements even when I disagree with or don't like them. It's not a matter of "knowing your place" and I never suggested that it was.

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  • 145. At 6:42pm on 29 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    greypolyglot wrote:
    141. democracythreat:

    "You say that you are not bitter but your words say the opposite."

    I knew you would call me bitter. I don't like party politicians, and you think it is because I am bitter. Look, Polyglot, I don't look up to this woman because I have the same qualifications as she does, and I despise the European fashion of subservience to class divisions that result in party membership and political rights being vested according to bloodline. I despise it, mostly because as a younger man I was duped into being prepared to kill for it, for no good reason it seems to me. I am not bitter. I just do not respect this woman, and I fail to see why she should wield more power than any other european. I don;t know if you have noticed, but I am in favour of direct democracy. And I am man of some convictions, in that respect. I did move to a country that had a neutrality policy and which has direct democracy. I don't sit around in a monarchy complaining about the class system and how servile everyone is to power. Granted, if that was what i was doing, I could understand why you might call me bitter. Probably I would be bitter, and with good reason.

    Now you look up to her, for whatever reason. You think she is something special. I don't know why. Because she has "achieved" something? What? Swimming? Being a party candidate? In FRANCE??? Spare me.

    "Without going into the details I'll guarantee that my origins are a darned sight more humble than yours - if only because there just wasn't anyone lower down."

    Here we go. Now you go into vast detail. Look, I only mentioned my details because, by sheer fluke, they correspond very closely with the list of attributes that you were telling me I had to witness in awe, two posts ago. Remember? You listed her academic degrees and sports hobbies as though it made her something special. I only listed mine to show the curious irony that she is precisely nothing special compared to me. We could be the sam person, except she is in the party, and I live in a direct democracy, and I'm proud of it.

    "I too have an honours degree (in geology and geophysics) which I paid for myself."

    Without going into detail.

    "I too have put my life on the line for my country (unlike you I shall not go into details)"

    I never put my life on the line! No way. I may have been aggressive, but I wasn't stupid. I was prepared to kill when ordered, but I never had any intention of dying. It was a job. I was employed to be an underpaid security guard for the assets of royalty.

    "I too was a top class rifle and pistol shot (again, no details)"

    Not a detail to be seen.

    "I too have worked all my life but not all of it in the UK and I've picked up qualifications and a good working knowledge of a number of languages along the way."

    I am terrible with foreign languages. I don't see the point. Why can't they just speak properly?

    "But unlike you I have also learned how to accord respect to others for their achievements even when I disagree with or don't like them."

    Well i have the same achievements as this crazy french partyocrat! Except she is climbing the greasy pole in france. How come you don;t respect ME, polyglot?

    BECAUSE I AM NOT IN THE PARTY. You are so servile and hypocritical, I could barf into my fondue.

    "It's not a matter of "knowing your place" and I never suggested that it was."

    No, that was me. I know my place, and she knows hers. You are the only person here with delusions about where you stand in the world. You revere a class of superior person because they speak down to you.

    Orwell was right about the class system. It is the people at the bottom who demand that it be kept in place. They are terrified of uncertainty, and they demand to know their place. If their kings and priests threaten to walk out, they cry and plead with them to return, and to make their world safe again.

    Meh.

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  • 146. At 9:02pm on 29 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    #145. democracythreat:

    Wow! Why don't we just meet up behind the bike sheds and duke it out?

    "Servile"? Me? Oh my, if you only knew what a gormless jibe that one is! And I certainly do not "revere a class of superior person". Isn't that a function traditionally reserved to the military?

    "I despise it, mostly because as a younger man I was duped into being prepared to kill for it, for no good reason it seems to me. I am not bitter."

    I take it that last is sarcasm?

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  • 147. At 01:38am on 30 Mar 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    Greypolyglot,

    So the fact that someone has a degree or masters degree means that we have to touch our forelocks, presumably the same applies for the highly qualified Accountants that have got the world into the current mess. Maybe you need to reflect a bit about the similarities between the professions of legal and Accountancy, both charge exorbitant fees and both take no responsibility for the mess they make. To put it correctly their claim is that they offer 'expert' advice and it is for the 'pigeon' that pays to take or ignore it, if the 'pigeon' follows bad advice then the 'expert' simply takes the money and denies any responsibility. What is the moral of my words? Don't expect us to look up to anyone in either the Legal of Accounting profession simply because they retained enough knowledge in their short term memory to pass some exams because that flawed concept evaporated a long time back, now it's actions and ability that count, not words and party membership and being associated with a nain like Sarkozy.

    PS. as for sporting achievements and synchronised swimming, I guess that this taught her how to stay afloat when all around her were sinking, but she must be very special to follow a normal top sports persons programme whilst studying to be a lawyer, or then maybe the diploma's were her reward as there are more than a few US 'universities' that play that game?

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  • 148. At 03:46am on 30 Mar 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    126. At 6:56pm on 28 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:
    '
    " #125. SuffolkBoy2:

    A message to UKIP: I am repeatedly meeting people who hate the "EU" but have never heard of UKIP. They have heard of the BNP. My suggestion is that you should have placards and T-shirts stating: 'If you hate the "EU" vote UKIP in June'.

    .. I am biased."

    Well we know that you're biased. If that is your wish then BE biased but I wish you could try to use less intemperate language. I'm not a lawyer but I would have thought that you're running very, very close to "incitement to hatred". How about T-shirts saying "do you want to get out of the EU ..." or "are you fed up with the EU then ...". Hatred just seems so uncontrolled, over-the-top and un-British. Maybe it's a Suffolk thing?'


    "Hatred just seems so uncontrolled, over-the-top and un-British. Maybe it's a Suffolk thing?" Suffolk is a very gentle place. Ipswich is going through a bad patch.

    "I wish you could try to use less intemperate language." Maybe 'more temperate' would have been better than 'less intemperate.' It was very temperate. I DO hate the "EU" and I see no reason to lie about it.

    The "EU" and its adorers and glove-puppets have taken the gentleness of the British people to be a sign of weakness. Hitler, the Japanese in WWII and the Argies have made the same mistake in the past.

    'I'm not a lawyer but I would have thought that you're running very, very close to "incitement to hatred" ' I'm not a lawyer either. I'm too honest. I suspect very strongly that the majority of Brits have views on the "EU" that are "illegal".

    Through the "EU" our judges have become the apparatchiks/glove-puppets of a lousy dictatorship i.e. the "EU".

    Our judges should have resigned or threatened to resign over the imposition of the Lisbon Treaty and the previous treaties. I presume that they have various reasons for not doing so. Megalomania and their pensions come to mind.

    Just in case some apparatchik/glove-puppet/pension-orientated, "EU"-flag-panties-wearing judge bans me from using the phrase 'I hate the "EU" ' I shall have to invent a code. So in future every time I say "Good Morning" you can take it that I mean 'I hate the "EU" '

    GOOD MORNING Greypoyglot!

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  • 149. At 03:58am on 30 Mar 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Austrian Radio website reports that the French island of Mayotte has become part of the "EU" by becoming fully integrated with France.

    They had a REFERENDUM!

    Well that's what it says. They had a REFERENDUM!!!!!!!

    Sarkozy is quoted as saying "This is a historic moment for Mayotte and its inhabitants."

    So apparently he likes REFERENDUMS sometimes. Well only sometimes. Presumably you are only allowed to have a referendum if it is known in advance that it will go Sarkozy's way.

    That man could be President of the "EU" one day!!

    They cannot improve the defence of Western Europe by creating something that is not worth defending.

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  • 150. At 10:15am on 30 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    3 #147. Buzet23:

    Greypolyglot,

    So the fact that someone has a degree or masters degree means that we have to touch our forelocks"

    Gosh, did I write that? Some of you guys just love your hyperbole, don't you?

    I do hope that you duly tugged your forelock and bent your knee when addressing me. Before some idiot takes me at my word let me hasten to clarify - I'm being sarcastic.

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  • 151. At 11:43am on 30 Mar 2009, phoenix wrote:

    Post 148

    "The "EU" and its adorers and glove-puppets have taken the gentleness of the British people to be a sign of weakness. Hitler, the Japanese in WWII and the Argies have made the same mistake in the past."

    Yes we all know Suffolkboy that you hate the EU.

    The reason?

    Because you believe its full of nasty foreigners all in a vast conspiracy who are hell bent of the destruction of the British way of life.

    But of course you will twist and turn and wriggle rather than admit it on this blog won't you. Come clean at least!

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  • 152. At 12:33pm on 30 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    "...in that kingdom which was close to distraction
    as you enter, just a short walk sideways
    lived a fellow in debauch and inaction
    once the King's best shooter now in disgrace.

    __________
    extract, dear moderators, just extracts, to illustrate the point. origins - 1953, Russian. you won't find neither the author nor the translator name as much as you / if you would look.
    _______________________

    "on the floor lay skins, old buddies and strumpets
    singing songs and drinking mead and what not"

    Now the King of that land suffered from colic,
    All he did was pester folks and talk posh
    ? tra la

    ..tra la "Look, youngster,
    We all know you are a fine shot - the best
    So if you kill in single combat the monster"

    "do you call that a reward? cried the shooter
    I will do it for a bucket of port!
    And the princess you can have or I'll boot her
    I will shoot the beast you keep the reward.

    And while these two went on swearing and screaming
    That wild monster - could be bison or boar
    Put away almost all chickens and women
    And was skulking by the palace's door. :o)

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  • 153. At 12:50pm on 30 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    democracythreat, greypolyglot, Buzet23

    My family circumstances were such that I had to qualify the hard way studying weekends and evenings and working at the sharp end by day. As a result, I became a Chartered member of a Royal Institution rather than taking the degree (they are roughly equivalent in standing).

    In consequence, I spent a large part of my career getting gormless idiots with first class honours degrees out of the proverbial do-do because they had no conception of how the real world works.

    Academic qualifications are all well and good but they do not confer status, wisdom or ability. The fact that corporations hire people with totally irrelevant degrees serves to demonstrate that all they prove is an ability to get your head down for a few years. At the end of my career, nothing annoys me more than having a smart ass waving a piece of of paper under my nose as proof of their prowess and wisdom when, in fact, they know sweet damn all.

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  • 154. At 12:53pm on 30 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And why not as a whole? In Russia authorship rights are 50 years! if all the three of us - the author, the translator and me who quotes it are Russian - what's the problem to quote as a whole? Well, the 4th element, the media, is BBC... for which it is 70 years...
    I can't figure out those laws; would BBC go to Russia and insist - "no, you should have authorship rights for 20 years more", why did it expire? it should last, and last.

    Why not a 100? LOL. as English personal records?
    Rhymes are somewhat less personal than personal records!
    I don't know. But this tongue tied by authority results in nobody quoting modern English poetry in the blogs, waiting untill all die! apparently. "Pop in 70 years later!" such a ? that? hole? moat! and draw bridges! between generations!

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  • 155. At 1:11pm on 30 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    and, greypoliglot and directdemocracy, to make complete peace between you, (as greypoliglot already suggests a walk behind the? shed? ) (will the distance be 5 steps? who the seconds are?) (remember we have no doctors in the thread. nobody yet identified her/him self as a doc. in case of anything) - the synchronised swimming! ha ha.
    All synchronized bathing in the world has been won by Russia, during the past 8 years. FYI last gold just last summer, parallel to war, in the Olympics.
    We are renowned, for our impeccable organisation skills! I would say. Always exactly on time! or a little bit later.
    Which reminds me it's 4 pm time to take Jolly Roger out for his morning walk.

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  • 156. At 2:55pm on 30 Mar 2009, CartmanEazyE wrote:

    I don't understand why the euro-headbangers are baying for your blood on this one, Mark. Well, I do, but they should really wind their necks in. Hannan made a deeply eurosceptic, deeply anti-government, and deeply hypocritical speech (keep drawing your public sector salary from that organisation you want abolished because it's a waste of money, Dan, there's a good non-productive parasite). How is that news? He's been doing it every time he's opened his mouth for most of the last decade.

    Hannan's immense ego was surely already massaged to the point of no return by the astonishing puff piece he got during Newsnight's report of Cameron's plan to withdraw from the EPP the other week.

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  • 157. At 3:30pm on 30 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    "Academic qualifications are all well and good but they do not confer status, wisdom or ability. "

    I agree. The biggest idiots I know have degrees from "good" universities. What makes them profoundly stupid is the utter inability to perceive that most people are of equal intelligence. They have been sold of the myth of "education", and them demean skills and experience.

    This is precisely why I accuse greypolyglot of being servile. He set out this woman's paper qualifications as though we should all (me specifically) pay her respect. He seems to think she is qualified to make laws and be respected simply because she has pieces of paper from grand institutions.

    I think that sort of fawning respect for politicians and directors of large companies has got to go. One of the biggest reasons people give for not talking seriously about direct democracy is that "common people are stupid". A lot of people quote Churchill, and other elite worthies, and think they have hit upon some profound truth of class based reality.

    So that is why I take issue with servility, and respect for politicians simply because they went to a good university. It kills any chance of direct democracy and the benefits of that system, because it reinforces a class based perception of the world. And the reason I am less tolerant of the polyglots of this world than the Lord Mandelsons is because Mandelson can't help what he is. He has been told he is superior since he was born. And he can;t help but enjoy that feeling. Everyone likes to be told the are great. And Mandelson probably believes the world would end without him. He has been told that since birth, too.

    But polyglot enforces the class myth from the bottom up. He fawns on his betters, and even has the temerity to demand others do the same. That is completely degenerate, because even if he has been told to stay in his place since birth, he has not got any sane excuse for doing so. He tries to perpetuate a class system for no good reason, simply because he is comfortable within it. that frustrates progression to direct democracy, and so it seems to me a sort of block to the progress of social evolution.

    Maybe the frustration I feel towards the class system is bitterness. I prefer it to servility. There might be a difference between kneeling down and bending over, but I would rather stand, if that is OK with poyglot.

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  • 158. At 3:32pm on 30 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    greypolyglot wrote:
    #145. democracythreat:

    "Wow! Why don't we just meet up behind the bike sheds and duke it out?"

    Because slapping clowns does not seem like a useful occupation. If it did, I would have joined the DPP.

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  • 159. At 3:35pm on 30 Mar 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    #150, greypolyglot,

    Yes you are being sarcastic, but then maybe not if you haven't yet understood, as threnodio eloquently put it, the difference between those who can and those who suck. His words "Academic qualifications are all well and good but they do not confer status, wisdom or ability." are all too reminiscent of my own experiences with university high flyers in the IT industry, totally useless in most cases, or to put it more succinctly, their diplomas are just another piece of paper to be recycled.

    Alice, I hope jolly roger is well these days and the snow has gone, and yes Russia was good for sport just as the US was, and that was often the only way low grade students could get a masters degree (in the US case).

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  • 160. At 5:28pm on 30 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #159 - Buzet23
    #157 - democracythreat

    As so often before Buzet, you hit the button. It is a bit difficult to have this exchange without getting personal and I don't thing the blog is the place to do that. I think you and I share the view we have expressed because we have both got our hands dirty during our working lives. A lot of so called professionals don't. They shuffle a lot of paper and when some of it ends up in the wrong place, someone else suffers.

    Where I part company with democracythreat is the notion that the lady in question has arrived where she is on the back of her academic record. There are certain abilities and qualities needed to make it in politics. One of my favourite digs is about the distinction between politicians and states(wo)men. There is a yawning chasm between the two but you are not going to make it to the sunlit uplands of statecraft without first dragging yourself through the mire of politics. We do not know her full potential but even the sternest critic must admit that so far 'the girl's done good'.

    I am also not going to go down the road of criticising greypolyglot. I don't detect a servile tone in his posts. I suspect he would share my view that everyone deserves respect at least up to the point where they prove otherewise and respect has nothing to do with the class system. In fact, I think the class system is a myth. There was and maybe still is a privilege system but that is only about money. You cannot buy class. You either have it, or you don't and it doesn't matter two figs which side of the tracks you started from.

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  • 161. At 6:56pm on 30 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    I notice that Mr.Bajnai has been nominated to succeed Ferenc Gyurchany as Hungarian prime minister. Just a small word of caution. His christian name is Gordon. :-(((

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  • 162. At 7:21pm on 30 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    #157. democracythreat:

    "Academic qualifications are all well and good but they do not confer status, wisdom or ability."

    I agree."

    Well, like it or not, they do tend to confer status. Now try to convince us that you got yours just for the hell of it. But I will agree with you about them not conferring wisdom or ability. Wisdom is, for me, just a synonym for experience. I've not yet met a wise youth. And ability is needed to get the qualification in the first place.

    "The biggest idiots I know have degrees from "good" universities."

    Preface that with "some of" and I'll agree with you on that as well.

    "I accuse greypolyglot of being servile. He set out this woman's paper qualifications as though we should all (me specifically) pay her respect."

    No, I sought to invite you not to pay her disrespect. I have to hope that you can see the difference. You were gratuitously offensive about someone you didn't know. I identified her, pointed out her academic qualifications, successful career and sporting achievements and suggested that you owed her an apology. I should perhaps point out that I don't know her and am unlikely ever to meet her. You've already declared yourself not to be a gentleman so I'll rephrase my earlier comment and say that I find gratuitous insults "inappropriate".

    I don't fawn and I am not servile. Indeed, those who know me see me as an arch leveller of those who think too well of themselves.

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  • 163. At 7:25pm on 30 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    160. threnodio:

    ..... greypolyglot.

    I don't detect a servile tone in his posts. I suspect he would share my view that everyone deserves respect at least up to the point where they prove otherwise and respect has nothing to do with the class system."

    Well at least one person understands. Thank you.

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  • 164. At 10:34pm on 30 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    @159 Buzet23
    Thanks; Jolly Ro has been comparatively approximately symbolically more or less. But that was exactly because there was snow, it's a cushion for his spine or bones whatever it is. Now it began to melt away; I don't know where to get snow for him to walk on. Even when healthy he's a winter dog. All summers ill with this and that, all winters allright. Plus 10 is the break-through temperature between ill and healthy.
    We ought to be moving North shortly :o) I wish I knew where to. To skip summer somehow. O Why can't it always be winter?

    As to sport, USSR was a good place as lavishly state financed sports' schools, specialised by sports, where youngsters were drawn in hordes. All FOC and aplenty. In the hope someone of them will graduate better than others - to be able to be fussy at some Olympics and say "them capitalists don't know how to develop sport" :o) Still, crowds were left behind in the result, with having healthy habits and some shape, from the school years. The new Russia dismantled the system and forgot to finance. It is now an expensive exercise only if parents can pay, so the wide base of sporty youngsters had shrank immensly. Some key directions still kept by the state, like ice skating, gymnastics, cross country skiing, but the coaches there are paid funny money so most immigrated and train kids in other countries.
    BTW I heard that is why it is so difficult with ice-skating in Britain now, our coaches say there was a time when Britain grabatised all medals, but by now has basically only one pair, brother and sister, because most effort and coaching and ice-skating rinks time rent takes place on own expense.
    oj which reminds me of Olympics. British 2012 and Russian 2014. Let's all hope it won't be a "feast during the plague". Why did we want that? how silly we were.
    Don't know ab London, in Russia all suddenly want to be mayor of Sochi, what's called here "to saw the money". Poor Sochi inhabitants don't know to laugh or to cry, 2 weeks ago their choice of mayor was: Lugovoy, who didn't desire to go to Britain to be tried for Litvinenko murder. Nemtsov, our politician from Nizhny Novgorod, from the generation of "youngreformers" (a swearing word here). Yeltsin had two favourite "youngreformers", fancied to build up a new generation of politicians, for later years. Meanwhile both trained at the country and up-trained to the fin. pyramid and crisis of 1998. Both popularly called "kindersuprise" here. And the third option Sochi had of candidates, was Bolshoy ballerina fired from Bolshoy theatre for two high height (nobody wanted anymore to carry her around, too heavy), but she said it's plotting and Bolshoy simply wants to fire here, and sewed Bolshoy for years. A kind of a public diva now, on TV, far more than a ballerina. Imagine you'd have to chose from these 3 candidates! We all sympathised with Sochi, but them someone must have seen it's a no-go for Olympics preparations, and opened the list for more candidates registration, and now they have approximately a 100 candidates.
    As all say their poll list strongly becomes a census of Sochi dwellers. :o)

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  • 165. At 10:43pm on 30 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    And the other of the two Yeltsin's "kindersurprise" (those chocolate eggs with toys inside) is now completing the nuclear station in Iran.
    At least forgot about politics and went more or less technical. We hope.
    Well, he isn't technical, he supervises it.
    Good he supervises it from afar.
    That's a tricky thing by the way, because it's not ours from the beg., Germany began to build it then dropped. Pressed by int'l opinion or US opinion, or I don't know what. Abandoned the contract.
    Iran wanted to save money and commissioned "to use the German base, whatever there is". Which isn't compatible with our idea of a nuclear station, we'd prefer to build anew. Rather than combine technically.
    It is ready but will be in trials the whole summer, and so far they test it with dummies, because what will this hybrid be they are hesitant and cautious.

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  • 166. At 11:34pm on 30 Mar 2009, Menedemus wrote:

    StrongholdBarricades @ #48

    I have been away a few days so this is my fists opportunity to reply.

    #40 is apparently ignoring the videoed interview with the Lady Danish Socialist MEP that Mark broadcast on the News Network where news is reported - unlike the Blog where Mark can apply informed opinion to give us all as much insight as he can given news deadlines. The Socialist used words like 'Brilliant' but were almost as dismissive as Hannan in that they highlighted their concerns that brown's speech offered nothing new and certainly did not commit the UK to the EU Greens agenda which the Socialists and their ideology are supportive.

    As regards your own comments, I still maintain that the vast majority of complaints against Mark are disingenuous. The particular desire for Mark to have 'informed' his Blog readership of Hanna's speech is merely the desire for him to report anything that is critical of Gordon Brown and the fact that there is no furore over the similar comments of the UKIP Leader or other MEPs is strident evidence, to me of pot calling the name black where they want Hannan's critical speech highlighted but they wish to overlook other complimentary speeches.

    Impartiality and lack of bias has to work both ways and those calling for Hannan's speech to be given spotlight visibility are merely suborning news (Brown's Speech) with biased opinion (the speeches of Hannan et al in response!)in order to reinforce their own prejudices.

    As I have said before, I distrust Gordon Brown with a passion but I don't need to see Hannan's speech to know that I am not alone nor do I need to see Hannan's speech to be given particular emphasis or visibility to sway me any further from wanting to see Gordon Brown and his government destroyed at the next General Election with he and his cronies sacked by the UK Electorate. Something I think is going to happen despite rather than because of Hannan's speech!

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  • 167. At 11:58pm on 30 Mar 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    #160, threnodio,

    You're right in that we were both hands on people rather than advisor's whose only remit was to enhance themselves, in this Lady's case I also don't know much about her but I'm always sceptical about the legal 'profession'. Their main skills seems to be, firstly charge an exorbitant fee, secondly deny any responsibility if their advice is wrong, thirdly and most importantly be able to talk out opposition and twist words to suit their ends, the last being an excellent ability for any up and coming politician. My thoughts about this Lady are that why did she become a politician rather than continuing to milk the gravy train that the legal profession is, and why do I suspect that the political gravy train in her case is better even than the legal gravy train.

    As for respect, I'm afraid that I've always believed that respect is earned rather than being a birthright or automatic because of higher qualifications, experience (in theory) or sponsorship. It is a shame that for many years now, paper qualifications have become a necessity with HR fluffy bunnies passing over candidates without them, even though they have no idea what the mnemonics on the job specification actually mean. I'm minded to remember an old IT adage that those who can do and those who can't teach, maybe that's why there are so many degrees, honours, masters floating around these days.

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  • 168. At 01:14am on 31 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    Good heavens the gang's all here! Evening All.

    Menedemus - I quite agree but I think it is even simpler than that. The blog is a dialogue, not a news channel. What Mark's coverage was like on UK domestic TV, I have no idea because I don't have access to it. BBC World has a much wider brief so coverage was, shall we say, a bit thin. The BBC News website was hopeless on the subject but that's not Mark's fault.

    Buzet - You'll be proud of me then. I actually sued a solicitor for negligence and won. As to qualifications, there is no question that if you are looking for a fast track into a career, that will do it but if you want a fast track through a career, sheer nous will beat bookish knowledge any day.

    Alice - Glad the dog is OK for now but I hope he will cope with summer. Did you say Lugavoy is mayor of Sochi? My God, what will Special Branch do when he turns up with a diplomatic passport? I can't wait to see that one.

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  • 169. At 04:03am on 31 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    greypolyglot,

    I accept what you have written. You make a good case. One ought not disrespect people without knowing anything about them. You are correct, I am clearly in error.

    My antagonism for the people in the photo stems from my deep displeasure at the institutions of the EU, and the way power over law is horse traded by people we cannot monitor and control, as citizens and voters. I fear this sort of institution, because I fear any institution that removes political power further away from common citizens.

    Another thing that irked me about that photo was the cheerful smiles on the faces of the politicians as they gathered around a document. I found it incredibly insincere. Firstly, I wondered why they were having such a jolly old time, given that they were discussing matters that would probably result in thousands of people losing their jobs. Secondly, I was unsure how they could all have such a keen interest in one document at one time. What could the document possibly be, that they did not have access to a copy through their secretary or advisor on the topic? Or were they simply being professional celebrities, and huddling together for a photo opportunity?

    So I suppose I have lost patience with this sort of stage managed government. I find it disrespectful of the people who pay their wages, and am unable to refrain from disgust that such important matters can be treated as show business.

    My feelings of disrespect therefore stem from the feeling that I have been disrespected myself. Everytime these professional politicians speak, it seems they insult my intelligence, and try to stage manage my understanding of the world.

    I lament the the lost possibility that professional party members might have more loyalty to ordinary people than they do to the machine which ensures their professional success.

    So whilst I can appreciate the moral truth you articulate, and I apologize for interpreting that as servility, perhaps you might appreciate why I have lost respect for this class of individual, and perhaps why I feel party members have become, indeed, a separate class in a new social order. But the class I speak of here is of the soviet variety, not the marxist model of private wealthy individuals. I see these folks in the same way as ordinary people in the soviet union viewed the privileged members of the politburo, and 'the party". All day long they preach that they represent the common folk, and claim to by endorsed by democracy, and yet my experience does not concur with the propaganda.

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  • 170. At 10:13am on 31 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    169. democracythreat:

    Even though it seems that we shall always disagree about the EU I always find it gratifying to be able to find common ground on something. I thank you for that and for accepting that "servile" was an inaccurate description of me.

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  • 171. At 11:34am on 31 Mar 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Does anybody know if France had a lady defence minister about 15 yrs ago?
    I seem to remember the talk about at home and some compliments. Keep in mind it's not easy for lady folk to make it into ruling something. Or well, may be it is, it's not here, it's abroad.

    I am glad directdemocracy and greypoliglot, that it's peace and quiet now :o) temporarily, and all.

    threnodio @168, yes, good morn from Deputy Chief Russian mafia to you as well :o)

    an ad: ...01 April 2009 will be held a press-conference for foreign media conducted by the candidate to the city of Sochi mayor position, State Duma deputy Andrey Lugovoy. The programme of events for the day includes a 5 o'clock tea. Specially for the British media will be held an event "Russian roulette", with polonium in every third cuppa." :o)

    Seriously of course it's a no-go, he's tarred by acquaintance and dealings with Litvinenko.

    Address of the ballerina candidate to the citizens of Sochi:
    Hello! My name is Anastasia and I am barelina. Sorry, barellina. Balle, ah, anyway. After long and torturings thinking don't remember by now about what I decided to ballot for your city mayor position. This you already know from the news but you don't know the main thing. And the main thing - it's my advantages compared to Lugovoy and Nemtsov competition.

    1. Seismo-stable brain. I can take decisions standing upside down, with asuuredness dictate letters in a jump.

    2.Connections in the business world. I was dancing on the tables of such people that you would only wow.

    3. Good command of English, German and Russian alphabets.

    I won't only construct Olympic games or whatever it is in this city, I will create all conditions for up-lifting the frames of its economic crisis how they say it, down. I will build a planetarium for the poor and the first in Russia female dolphinarium. As well as dozens of sky-scrapers with spring-boards. This town will become city-fairy tale, city-song, city-dream, city-Russian limerick. I promise you, dear, Sochni-s, that if you will cast your voice into my urn I won't fail these expectations. See details in the site: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

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  • 172. At 3:44pm on 31 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    I thought 007 had already decided to stand down as a candidate for mayor?

    Anyway, that unspeakable french woman, greypolyglots mate, has been on Hardtalk, and she has been talking hard.

    Now she wants to rule my life in Switzerland from her office in France. She and Sarko-fantastic have gone completely Napoleon, and they want to set up a world wide government.

    They dare to threaten the independence of Switzerland, and to dictate how the Swiss must live their lives. This woman believes she has a mandate to tell people in other nations how they must live.

    What I find most incredible about these french supra nationalists is not that they believe they know best for other, smaller, lessor states. It is that they are CONSERVATIVES!!!! Imagine what the french radicals must be like!

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  • 173. At 4:55pm on 31 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #172 - democracythreat

    Have they teamed up with Finland to form a pincer movement then?

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  • 174. At 5:15pm on 31 Mar 2009, greypolyglot wrote:

    172. At 3:44pm on 31 Mar 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    ..... that unspeakable french woman, greypolyglots mate, has been on Hardtalk, and she has been talking hard."

    1) she's not my mate (as already made clear)

    2) may I borrow your time machine, please?

    Her interview won't be broadcast until tomorrow! According to the BBC's HARDtalk page it'll be broadcast first on BBC News Channel Wed 1 Apr 2009 04:30 and then later at 23:30

    I can't comment on what's got you in a tizz because, apparently, it hasn't been broadcast yet. To the best of my knowledge Swiss time is only 1 hour ahead of the UK not 1 day.

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  • 175. At 7:58pm on 31 Mar 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    I just spent some hours with a friend who lives in France and it appears he thinks the Lady in question is very bright but it's only a matter of time before Sarko sidetracks her as he's done with a number of other more intelligent ministers. Maybe that's why she has supported Sarko in his attempt to become the World president, now I'm rolling around. My guess is that as a Legal professional she knows how to survive and if it means touching the forelocks to a nain like Sarko then so be it, but it does say something about her if democracythreat is correct, because like many others I relish the return of conviction politicians rather than 'feather my nest' politicians.

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  • 176. At 9:36pm on 31 Mar 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #175 - Buzet23

    Any reaction from me on the subject of forelocks is likely to fall foul of the moderators but if it is conviction politicians you are after, have you thought about a sentimental trip back to blighty? I imagine there are a number of politicians who can expect to receive convictions before the end of this parliament.

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  • 177. At 06:57am on 01 Apr 2009, Buzet23 wrote:

    #176 threnodio,

    You could may well be right if this 'for sale' expenses information gets on the web, boy how must the shredders be whirling these days. Maybe even the MEP's expenses will eventually be leaked, now that would also be very interesting.

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  • 178. At 2:21pm on 01 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    directdemocracy, nah, Lugovoy no 007, ugh.

    We are all 007 ! Int'l telephone dial code. Russia.

    Normal people don't keep acquaintance with people who carry polonium matter-of-factly around! And don't sit down to tea with them. Normal people simply don't have a chance to get equipped with such friends, to say nothing rambling a restaurant after a restaurant in London together and keep heaps of appointments together "on business". All same gang.

    Of 007, Richard Sorge was real 007. German Russian; his dad worked for Nobel in oil extraction here, Nobel's family all locals, made money in Russia. So, German dad, Rus. mum.

    Richard Sorge dis-obeyed Stalin, didn't return home from spying in Japan (knew he will be killed on return, his GRU immediate boss was arrested and shot). So, un-paid, fired at home at a distance from job, his blood wanted here, continued to work in Japan on own initiative.

    Stalin denied he is ours, when Japanese grabatised him and offered a swap for their spy. So Japanese tortured him at leisure and finally finished him off, mind it, "full of respect". As they say. Buried with honours having perviously cut him to pieces.

    But while still alive (under cover of being German and bosom friend of Japan) he developed acquaintances in high places, Japanese PM, to be exact. And, it is largely believed, turned the 2nd WW around for all.

    When Japan was hesitant - to go Pacific or to go Russia - he moved the weighs towards - "go Pacific". Averted Japan from Russia - onto USA.

    Hero of the Soviet Union, of course. Post mortem, of course. 30 years exactly post mortem, only Khruschev dared to give him due.

    Sorge is best known for sending Stalin a note - war will start on the 22 June, to whichs Stalin replied kind of "what that unemployed debunker hiding from due punishment can understand ab war matters" and all.
    However this is pea-nuts, compared to turning the war axis for us.

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  • 179. At 2:45pm on 01 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Imagine if Germany and Japan took Russia into pincers!
    Sorge was the most valuable USSR "investment" abroad. Nothing of the same importance to us in pre-war years as Sorge's flow of reports from Japan.

    And if Stalin continued to listen to what Sorge says - he was sending not simply "reports" but "recommendations for action"... as min the war wouldn't start "suddenly" for us.

    Though exactly this Sorge's manner annoyed Stalin immensely. He was saying "we sent him to spy - let him spy, and daring to give us directions what to do - is un-needed extra. I am myself able to decide what to do, what is he thinking of himself, there in Japan."

    Anyway until Sorge's boss in Moscow went out of Stalin's favour, Stalin listened. Molotov-Ribbentrop is also believed to be signed largely due to Sorge's advice. Japan began to test us, non-stop clashes and small wars, in-out of the border with China, in 1939. And then check and mate -Russia and Germany signed a deal. Bosom friends. Cooled out Japan immediately. Japan called troops off the border and signed with us a non-less hearty paper - 5 year non-mutual attack.
    That we violated, in summer 1945, by declaring war to Japan on August 8th. Half a year before the Russian-Japanese deal expiry date.

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  • 180. At 3:44pm on 01 Apr 2009, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:

    Curious, in best "James Bond" style, Sorge had a Japanese sweetheart. She used to come cry on his tomb stone for 35 years. Khruschev's first emissars to Japan, when we acknowledged Sorge (Khrushev was not in a habit to spare bad news for the USA :o), like, "yep. our chap turned Japan on you".), anyway Khruschev sent the first official delegation to Japan post war, "we are friends again". As part of the cultural exchange programme, common past :o) - these visited Sorge's grave. Found there a small woman, and instituted her a Russian pension! An honourable pensioner of the USSR !
    And you say "James Bond".
    __________________
    Anyway I heard some place vaguely today is supposed to be April 1st?

    Yesterday in the banks of Moscow there began exchange of money for the new world currency. Hurry up! P.S. Dollars are exchanged out of turn/beyond the cueue. :o)

    I suggest to put on worldwide internet voting the question: "Should the third planet in the Solar system be re-named, from "Earth" into "Googlya"?
    :o)

    My husband must be muslim. I return home at 6 am, and he to me: "in-fidel, in-fidel"... :o)

    Year 2030. Microsoft has long got bankrupt. Palestine and Israel have long become friends. Chinese landed onto Moon. Has been developed a technology of pumping oil from Saudi Arabia to the USA by internet. Putin is still President. And it is already 10 years as the birth-rate in Russia is record low! 18 armies of Arctic Troops conduct planned drills in the territory of the Northern Pole. :o)

    - Imagine, I have temperature 39, shiver all over, convulsions, some weird rash, feel awful... And tomorrow I have to fly to Paris!
    - Don't go, :o) die in the motherland...


    Why all scream about crisis?! When else to finally get slim, become clever and even get a good night sleep?

    Warning: If you see a vodka bottle where the lable is peeling off, where it's glued on sideways, where the cap is of wrong colour, where there are
    no issue date and factory details, where on the surface there is a rainbow benzine film and in the bottom lies a big nail - such kind of vodka you should drink very carefully.

    In America was conducted a quiz on the best knowledge of where is Russia. First prize - 1 week in Russia. Second prize - three. :o)

    Year 2020. A NATO training. Two American generals look in binoculars at the beach.
    - What's those huge, like, turtles on the shore?
    - Ah them ain't turtles. That's Finnish marines in attack.

    In one of our neighbours' schools physics was cancelled as a subject. In order not to traumatise kids with the notion "speed". :o)

    President Joushenko to Julie Timoshenko:
    - Julie, while you are walking the world over begging for 5 bln dollars -I have already found the money!
    - Oh, where in?
    - Rest assured not in Russia. Signed memorandum with the Europeans, they'll finance widening of the road by which we will drive white polar bears to the European zoos.
    - But, Victor, where would we get polar bears?
    - Only you, Julie, would bother with the issue of some idiotic polar bears when I've just saved Ukraine from default. :o)

    ...running away from prince, Cinderella left a shoe on the staircase...
    Another shoe - on the handle of the door... Blouse - on the arm-chair, stockings - on the lamp-shade, skirt - on the sofa... and other small things here and there around! :o)

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