04 January 2008

This Blog Has Moved

To www.gavinwhenman.com. See you there!

03 January 2008

This Blog is Moving

The paucity of posts today has a very simple explanation: I've been working on my new website over at www.gavinwhenman.com. Yes, that's right, I'm so vain I've even set up a site using my name as the domain.

I'll put up a placeholder tomorrow directing people to the new site, but after three and a half years, this post will be the last proper one written for the Whiskey Priest (I'm also dropping the moniker, as I've never really been a massive fan of it) as this blog will from now be hosted at www.gavinwhenman.com, so please adjust your bookmarks / feed subscriptions. The full archive of posts from the Whiskey Priest will be available on the new site (following a successful, but nail-biting, migration earlier today) and not much will change content-wise, I just felt it was time to move over to the big-boys world and host my own blog - Wordpress allows me much more control over how the site looks and what I can put on there.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

PS. Cheers to Iain Dale for linking to this post on Nick Clegg's new nickname - very much appreciated.

02 January 2008

Nick Clegg's Nickname

Wit and Wisdom is inviting suggestions for what Nick Clegg's nickname should be. Ming was Merciless, Cameron calls himself Dave, and Gordon is not Flash, so what should Nick be?

I'd like to be the first to suggest "Tosspot". Nick "Tosspot" Clegg does have a certain ring to it and would bring back into fashion what has become a much-maligned swearword. Re-engineering this phrase for the 21st Century would mirror what the party is trying to achieve with the Liberal Democrat brand, and thus make a fitting way of communicating our new, modern liberalism.

Not only that of course, but then the party could choose to be "a bunch of tossers".

The Two Kellys

Just spotted this on the BBC News website, from their coverage of the New Years Honours:

Perhaps [Tom] Kelly's most difficult moment came during the "cash-for-honours" affair, when he failed to tell the press that Mr Blair was being interviewed by the police, having not been told himself.

This little mishap (which was hardly his fault, after all), pales somewhat in comparison to the time he referred to Dr David Kelly as a "Walter Mitty" character, but regrettably, the BBC cannot find the space to mention it after a Hutton Inquiry emasculation.

PS. Tom Kelly, the ex-PM's former spokesperson, has been awarded the Order of the Bath, for services to whitewashing.

Liberal Democrats and Conservatives: A Love Story

Anybody else noticed how obsessed the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are with each other, at the expense of attacking Labour? From the Clegg / Cameron debate through to donation rows and instant-a-fisking of policy proposals (and not-so-instant-a-fisking), the two parties (or rather, their activists, it has to be said) can't take their eyes off each other. If the political system was a playground, they'd be pulling each others hair and pushing them down by now, in a remarkable, but transparent, display of latent sexual tension. Labour would probably be the swotty kid who stayed in the classroom and got on with his work (receiving poor marks for it in the end of course).

And it isn't just on the internet that the parties have an abiding obsession with each other - I've heard LibDems in some local constituencies tell me about their "informal alliance" with Labour designed to keep the Tories out of power, whereby they agree not to stand in wards where the other party has a realistic chance of winning. Depriving people of a real choice (if their instinct is progressive / liberal), this is good politics maybe but bad democracy certainly.

The dangers of this obsession, for both parties, are obvious - Labour is, for the time being, the Government Party, and it is governments that lose elections, not oppositions that win them. Just because it's a cliche, it doesn't make it any less true. We need only look at 1997 and 1979 to confirm the validity of this adage. Labour obviously hasn't avoided criticism during its time in office, but think how much more effectively we could undermine them if, rather than allowing the opposition (and I mean both parties here) to be divided and ruled, we went on a joint attack against the government. It might be anathema to some grassroots, but there are real areas of policy where we can work together, most notably (as Guido has pointed out) civil liberties and we should seek to remind voters of how weak Labour are and how alternatives do exist. Both parties will then reap the rewards, perhaps not in equal measure, but that depends on how well they can lay down their vision for the country.

01 January 2008

Britblog Roundup and more patronising of the female folk

The 150th* Britblog Roundup is now up on Redemption Blues and my post on the Gender Balance Awards gets, well, it gets a roasting (and not in the good way) from The Chameleon (as well as on this week's BBC Pods and Blogs).

Since I saw the post yesterday, I can't help thinking of two words that perfectly summarise the opposing argument laid down by The Chameleon. I've been debating whether to post it, as I'm sure there will be people that won't like the insinuation, but here goes - "victim mentality".

But to prove that this isn't just an unfair smear on a reasonable viewpoint, let's take a look at what The Chameleon says:

Women have only too readily been pronounced incompetent in matters of technology on the basis of the ancient slander associating women with emotion/intuition and men with reason/logic. The computer industry remains male-dominated, the geek by definition male. A woman might not have much time left over for blogging, too busy ironing his shirts and socks after a hard day at the office whilst he vents his spleen over a hot keyboard in the knowledge that when his stomach starts rumbling his dinner will be on the table. Whereas a handful of women bloggers might have secured book deals these are almost completely confined to the “personal”, “autobiographical” or “confessional” categories. If you don’t write about your sexual exploits, your boyfriend’s foibles (however charmingly), child-rearing or dieting you don’t stand much of a chance of receiving any recognition (whenever the mainstream media devote a column or two to the personal publishing revolution or whatever new coinage has become fashionable you will only ever see a token woman).

In the realm of “political” blogging women are particularly thin on the ground. This is not because we prefer to discuss Gordon Brown’s dress sense rather than his policies, but because the “political” is routinely defined too narrowly along Party lines with feminism automatically discounted (just peruse the sidebars of a few of the better known political bloggers for corroboration of this). Natalie Bennett, for example, founder of the Carnival of the Feminists and regular host of the Roundup only began to attract attention when she joined the Greens. Quite iniquitous. “Intellectual” women, women able to argue a point are assiduously ignored (glance down the index of one of the compilations of political blogging articles), perhaps perceived as too unfemininely assertive, too threatening. In other words, the failing is not on the part of women, but on the part of those who airbrush them out.
(Emphasis added)

As you can see, they are trying to paint themselves as victims (and by doing so propagating the myth that an inherent bias exists in the blogosphere), which they believes justifies behaviour which in other settings we would consider unmerited. According to the Office of National Statistics, 71% of men are online, against 62% of women. Whilst men are slightly more prevalent, they hardly dominate the internet and clearly do not get the sole decision on what's hot and what's not. Although I have to concede that men certainly do dominate (statistically speaking) the political scene for the moment, as regrettably they do in the offline world, the problem can be far more easily remedied than in the "real world" - women have only to pick up the keyboard, plug in the internet and publish away. Rather than whinge on about how all the blogging men are bullying and ignoring them, they should ignore the haters, get down to writing interesting, thoughtful posts and trying their damndest to advertise them.

* Which sounds like a significant number and means the roundup has been running for about 3 years.

31 December 2007

FFS It's Monday: New Years

Barely 12 hours to go before another new year rolls around, predictably enough coming almost 366 days after the last one. Another year of floods in the summer, partisan punch-ups in Parliament and Ant and fucking Dec to look forward to.

Doubtless there will be something new to make the year seem less monotonous than it actually is, I've got my money on Simon Cowell finally disappearing up his own arsehole and the discovery that in an ironic twist of fate Richard Dawkins is actually God and Christopher Hitchins his son, Our Lord and Saviour. In my later years (I'll be 23 this June), every annum blurs in to another and the same resolutions are rehashed and promptly forgotten by 2nd January: keep (or more recently, start getting) fit, eat less white chocolate and study harder. My nan has given me a bit of help with that second one by buying me a giant bar of White Toblerone for Christmas. By the time I'd cleared the tenth summit (and what an unnatural bloody shape for a chocolate bar. At what point did its creators decide a giant triangle could fit inside an oval shaped mouth?), my shaking hands and heart palpitations were telling me something in my life had to change. It was either going to be false teeth and a personal crash cart on standby round the clock, or a cocoa-free diet. I'm sure I'll be writing about how I made the wrong decision and we have to make sacrifices for chocolate in February (probably from a hospital bed), but for now, I'm giving it a go.

The actual event of new years, watching the clock strike twelve, have always been a bit of a damp squib for me (although not as much as it has been for poor Mike Rouse). The only time I've ever honestly enjoyed it was (and this, rarely for the FFS It's Monday column, is true) Millennium Eve, when I stood in Trafalgar Square, aged just 14, surrounded by drunks and City chinless wonders off their face on cocaine, screaming "Happy New Year", before turning to watch the Thames River fireworks. I haven't lost hope since then that I could have another new years as magical as that one and so there I'll be at 11.59 tonight, stuck in a room with fifty people I either despise or care so little about I wouldn't weep for if they crashed in a Paris underpass, crossing my arms and hoping my hands are infected with a highly contagious form of foot and mouth, singing Auld Lang Syne and wondering why I'm missing Jools Holland's Hootenanny for this.

Hope you have a great new year.

2007: A Year in Posts

Continuing a long tradition (is it a tradition if I've only done it once?), here are my favourite posts of 2007

I've taken to posting videos more frequently this year, here are some of the best:

2007 was a bumper year for this blog, as I posted a full 108 times (including the new FFS It's Monday later today) more than any other year since it started. Whether this shows greater boredom or engagement I'll leave you to decide.

30 December 2007

Dumbest Legal Arguments of the Year

Slate, one of those online magazines that we can't seem to do over here (possible exception: The First Post), has compiled a top ten list of legal howlers from the Bush White House for 2007. Here are the headings:

10. The NSA's eavesdropping was limited in scope.
9. Scooter Libby's sentence was commuted because it was excessive.
8. The vice president's office is not a part of the executive branch.
7. Guantanamo Bay detainees enjoy more legal rights than any POW's in history.
6. Water-boarding may not be torture.
5. Everyone who has ever spoken to the president about anything is barred from congressional testimony by executive privilege.
4. Nine U.S. attorneys were fired by nobody, but for good reason.
3. Alberto Gonzales.
2. State secrets.
1. The United States does not torture.

(Opino Juris originally presented the list in this way)