If you have an hour (and a bit) to spare today, I invite you to spend it on one final blow-out.
(And one for Justin.)
If you have an hour (and a bit) to spare today, I invite you to spend it on one final blow-out.
(And one for Justin.)
1. Like most people, I’m watching this nest of ants that David Davis has kicked over (latest). Murdoch’s scramble to and from the fight shows that he can’t afford to be seen diddling our democracy, and – candidate or no – The Downing St Echo is still going to do a job on Davis. I think that, at least, is worth documenting…. and I’ve just wasted two days trying to talk myself out of a ‘Sun Watch’ project (backround)… quite unsuccessfully. Your turn. I’m predictably excited by the milky whiteness of a soft underbelly. Maybe you can talk me down.
2. George W. Bush got one ‘man of the people’ photo-op while in the UK. One. Aaaaall the way over in Belfast. And he slam-flunked it.
3. Sorry, but as much as they might deserve it, I’ll not be spoiling someone’s holiday when they’re so clearly in need of one. You’ll have to wait until later to hear about the person who is getting plenty of action and going to interesting lengths to tell me all about it.
Guardian – Kelvin MacKenzie unlikely to stand in byelection : The Sun has not referred to the mooted campaign by its columnist once in print since MacKenzie and Murdoch, the paper’s proprietor, discussed it at a party on Thursday evening for the paper’s editor, Rebekah Wade… Murdoch was thought not to have been consulted before MacKenzie floated the idea of standing with the Sun’s backing. “Kelvin winds Murdoch up and Murdoch winds Kelvin up,” said the former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil.
Hahahaha! “Murdoch not giant octopus,” says withered tentacle.
A bit late to start backing off now, lads… we all saw you goosestepping over the line like it wasn’t even there.
Septicisle – Cowardy custard: Secondly, how MacKenzie was going to be funded was always going to be difficult: Murdoch himself can’t because he’s a foreigner, the Sun can’t be seen to be funding any candidate, and it was always going to be something questioned as to where his money was coming from.
UPDATE (19 Jun) – Guardian – MacKenzie explains decision not to stand in David Davis byelection: MacKenzie had said he was “90% certain” to challenge the former shadow home secretary – who stepped down to draw attention to the government’s plans to increase the detention limit to 42 days – but in his column in the Sun today he explains why he will not be taking part in the contest. “The clincher for me was the money. Clearly the Sun couldn’t put up the cash….”
Well, clearly. But you and Team Murdoch didn’t seem quite so clear about it a week ago. It looks to me like someone had to tell you:
“Rupert suggested to me that if Labour didn’t put anyone up, that I would run against David Davis, if that’s the case – and Rupert says he’s good for the money… I might well do it.” – Kelvin Mackenzie
BBC – Protesters greet Bush’s UK visit
AP – British police say up to 2,500 people show up to protest Bush and 25 arrested
BBC – Three charged over Bush protests
BBC – Brown and Bush in talks at No 10
BBC – US president arrives in Belfast
OK, is he gone?
(looks around again)
OK, here we go:
1. Operation Manticore was not scheduled for Sunday afternoon/evening at Downing Street, nor were we planning any kind of mass moonage or a citizen’s arrest; that’s just what most people assumed.
2. Operation Manticore was in fact designed to cover every public space during the entire visit.
3. Because the one thing you really need to be aware of when you’re confronted by a Manticore isn’t the head of a man or the body of a lion or even the sting in the tail… no, the thing you really need to be aware of when it comes to your common garden-variety Manticore is that IT DOESN’T EXIST!!
Yes, Operation Manticore was about as real as George W. Bush’s 2000 election victory and Saddam Hussein’s 45-minute WMD capability. It existed only in the heads of maybe half-a-dozen bloggers, some of whom have been in on the joke for years.
Y’see, with the original version of Chasing Bush, the more we appeared determined to be a pain in the arse about Bush’s visit in 2003, the more plans changed as Bush’s security/PR bubble got smaller and smaller and smaller. So Operation Manticore was created to cover any repeat visit to London and terrible, awful, blatant lies* were published about it years ago (best example here, where I also blogged that I would be backing Blair, and I’m sure most of you are aware of how that turned out). The idea was to create an unknown quantity; an added headache for the authorities not unlike a forecast of rain on the day of a picnic. Just so they’d be that teeny bit more likely to plan their event ‘indoors’, as it were. Because you never know when some idiot is going to step out from somewhere unexpected and try to arrest George, or bare his arse at Laura, or…
[*Yes, this is the only blatant lie on Bloggerheads. FFS, most people who know me know me even just a wee bit know that I wouldn’t accept secret money from shadowy figures under any circumstances. There’s more about ‘black hats’, an attempt at blackmail, and a man who wanted me to know that he had lots and lots and lots of sex yesterday (with a real girl and everything), but it’s too pleasant a day to bother with all of that just now. Maybe tomorrow, after he decides what he’s going to do now that he knows that I planned on coming clean all along.]
That Bush’s eventual return coincided with his status as the lamest of ducks made Operation Manticore even more delicious.
Life and liberty were not put at risk. In fact, barely a sweat was raised. Because, let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s over for Bush, whether he likes it or not, and he’s simply not worth any effort beyond that required to point, laugh and/or take the piss.
But I would like to take the trouble to show you some effort that did go into a brief appearance by agents of Operation Manticore at yesterday’s demonstration in Westminster:
The kids and I had fun over the weekend building noisemakers that can equal the output of your typical hand-held air horn (video here). There were 55 of them (not counting prototypes) and 150 ‘raspberry’ party whistles. Even the littlest helped out as we wrapped each noisemaker in a coded message, ready for distribution.
We even went into town together at one stage to seek out supplies (film canisters, balloons and straws, mostly) and splurged on a couple of family games (1 board, 1 Wii) using some gift vouchers we had stockpiled (including the one we earned/won for the Rebekah Wade guy).
In short, we had a jolly old time; a family weekend with our “secret mission” that culminated in me taking Sunday afternoon off to play silly-buggers with Bush.
I hooked up with Sim-O and D-Notice and we walked through the crowd and distributed as many free noisemakers (and top-secret messages) as we could before breaking off from the demo, then circling and probing the cordon, and generally just being conspicuous as we passed by (or lurked near to) alternative entrances.
Sadly, only Sim-O was searched very early on (my bag was full of incriminating yet harmless items; compass, maps, lightsticks that could only been seen with infra-red goggles, etc.) but our tour of the cordon (and a search for a toilet) did allow us to catch a spectacular security sweep of St James’s Park by armed officers, which in itself looked like a tidy little bluff; minutes after the sweep at the back, Bush’s convoy drove in at speed through the ‘side’ (i.e. through the gate at the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall that looked like a checkpoint in a bloody war zone).
I suppose if the priority is to get your man inside without anyone saying ‘boo’ to a
goose duck, then having him see a front yard that looks like a building site isn’t that big a deal. And neither is letting hundreds of angry protestors see the motorcade so it all kicks off and the batons start flying.
[Hello, police peeps. Sorry we didn’t line up for our beating at the Parliament end of Whitehall like we were supposed to. I’m sure you’ll get us next time.]
Davide busied himself taking pictures in the guts of the demo, and we hooked up for beer and a few laughs afterwards (a highlight being the McFlurry moment, when it became clear that most coppers needed coffee, but one very special officer had requested ice cream).
Sadly, Plan B (a series of plans that didn’t exist, designed to keep attention away from Plan A… that didn’t exist) was rumbled a day or two earlier than planned. This meant less publicity for me (I’ll live) and less fun for those who didn’t know about Plan A (sorry about that) but Plan A remained secure throughout, so a hearty ‘huzzah’ goes out to everybody who managed to keep The Big Secret.
Now it’s back to blogging and business as usual… but do watch out for the Crazy Ivan in 5, 4, 3, 2…
[Psst! Have you worked out what the secret message says yet?]
Yesterday was the last day of my self-imposed curfew, and what did I do? I broke curfew!
I surrendered to the demon drink after a couple of weeks, too. Like a total pansy.
I throw myself on the mercy of the court.
(Yes, I know Bush just left. With you shortly.)
So I’m hanging around just outside a quieter edge of the security cordon and I watch two cops walk past, fresh from McDonalds with 8 cups of coffee… and a single McFlurry for one very special member of the team.
I’m betting that it was this guy (source):
It’s refreshing to watch an officer of the law totally get his man, isn’t it?
More when it’s over.
Independent – Campaigners accuse ministers over Bush visit: Anti-war campaigners have accused ministers of caving into American pressure by keeping protesters well away from a reception for George Bush in Downing Street tomorrow…. Scotland Yard said it had not banned the march as plans to close Whitehall for “good public safety reasons” had already been drawn up before it received the application.
Hm. Feel like changing stories much?
There’s also been lots of press from Friday afternoon onwards about London being in ‘lockdown’ for the two days that Bush is here, and about the chaos it will bring to weary travellers on Sunday and general commuters on Monday.
On that note, I’d like to apologise to the police and security personnel in advance:
Dear policing peeps,
I’m really, really, sorry that it’s come to this, but if you do your best to play by the rules and genuinely look out for the rights and safety of others (as a priority over, say, the ego of a gutless warmonger who has to sneak around just so he can appear to be welcome), then we’ll be equally considerate. Promise.
PS – I bet you a pint that you won’t see us coming.
To innocent bystanders, I say this:
Hello, innocent bystander.
The only one who gains from this visit is George ‘Dubya’ Bush. He’s invited himself when he knows he’s not welcome. He plays the dove-like statesman in the face of clear evidence that he’s a war criminal. He’s a lame duck who deserves what’s coming to him.
That’s so you know why I may act in any way that causes you inconvenience.
Sorry for that if it comes up, and for any worries I might cause you.
To everyone else, if you have not yet been invited to take part in Operation Manticore, then my advice to you is (a) don’t take it personally, (b) remember that it’s not over until Bush’s plane leaves, and (c) make sure that you turn up to the demonstration on Sunday, as agents will be at this event. Briefly.
Oh, and if you see George W. Bush at any time on Sunday or Monday, don’t be afraid to kick it old skool and moon the creep.
It is very likely that this is all that will be blogged here until Bush pushes off.
Until then, I leave you with this song.
[Comments are closed at this time.]
The Times – Britain shamed as Iraqi interpreters are resettled in squalid tower blocks: The first Iraqi interpreters to be offered refuge in Britain are living in fear in squalid tower blocks in Glasgow, The Times has learnt. They complained of living among drunks and drug addicts, being abused and spat at, and of feeling isolated and unable to work. One girl of 9 had had her hijab torn off by one of her new neighbours. Abdul, 71, one of three Iraqis who risked their lives working for British troops in Basra and were resettled in April with 15 dependents, advised others in a similar position to stay in Iraq. The Government decided to offer sanctuary to some of the hundreds of Iraqis who have helped British Forces after their plight was highlighted by The Times. In Iraq they are regarded by extremists as traitors and many have been targeted by death squads. (via)
But if they move back to Iraq (or stay in Iraq on the advice of others) then it will be their choice, won’t it?
There’s something going on here that’s much cleverer than simple economic prudence, you mark my words. To call Gordon Brown a tightfisted git over this is to give him the benefit of the doubt.
And this article doesn’t give any details, but my gut’s telling me that these people are looked down upon and/or seen as terrorists by the type of people that tabloids knowingly exploit with their shameless fear mongering. I’m happy to be proved wrong, but until then I’ll be assuming that the average interpreter’s first taste of British cuisine is bitter irony.
So that was the weird shudder I felt on the Underground as I left Westminster early this afternoon; it was a thousand or so people directly above me turning around and saying “WTF?!” in near-unison.
It’ll be interesting to see how Murdoch + chums at the Scum play this. If Labour refuses to field a candidate, we may even see a Page 3 girl running as an independent in Haltemprice and Howden on a ‘cage terrorist scum’ platform.
You think I’m kidding, don’t you?
UPDATE (13 Jun) – Well, I almost picked it. The Scum are running with one tit, not two. See comments* for more.
[ *Thanks, Justin, for jumping the gun and treading on my punchline. :oP ]
UPDATE (13 Jun) – Some news items for you, including that exchange on Radio 4 that I mention under comments:
BBC – Ex-Sun editor ‘to take on’ Davis: Ex-Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie says he is likely to take on David Davis in a by-election in Haltemprice and Howden if Labour does not stand. He says he is 90% certain to stand on a national security platform, arguing in favour of 42-day terror detention.
The Age – Sun’s former editor may challenge Davis: Asked whether it was Murdoch who wanted him to stand, Mackenzie said “Yes it is. Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Wade, who is editor of The Sun, both felt that democracy would not be best served by a walkover and suggested to me last night that I might be the person to fill the hole.” When BBC Today presenter John Humphrys asked him “You don’t always do what people tell you to, do you?” Mackenzie retorted “I do if it is Rupert Murdoch, strangely.”
BBC (Newsnight Blog) – How will Murdoch fund Mackenzie campaign?: Former editor of the Sun newspaper Kelvin Mackenzie has indicated that he’s 90% certain to stand as a pro 42 days candidate in the Haltemprice and Howden by-election; caused by the resignation of David Davis.And on the BBC’s This Week programme he revealed that his old boss Rupert Murdoch had offered to back his campaign financially: “Rupert suggested to me that if Labour didn’t put anyone up, that I would run against David Davis, if that’s the case – and Rupert says he’s good for the money… I might well do it,” Mr Mackenzie said. But there is one problem with that. Mr Murdoch is an American citizen and so under British law is not allowed to contribute funds to any UK election campaign.