About Jamie Kenny

Jamie is a journalist from the UK.

annals of deviationism

Obviously, Daily Mail stories online are designed as clickbait. But this one is a dead straight exposition of contemporary government psychosis. Spineless capitalists are giving in to tightly knit groups of sinister leftists. The BBC is actually asking government ministers if they can’t see why people might object to mandatory labour for no money. Mimsy old mumsnet has been driven along in the radical frenzy. The police are being ordered to stop demonstrations before they actually happen.

Yes, indeed. Wreckers and saboteurs are at work. False consciousness stalks the land. The relevant economic organs are resistant to co-ordination. Media is failing to follow the line set by the Centre. The plan is in danger of being underfulfilled. The people’s security forces must act without delay. Maybe this is why the government is so fixated on the SWP. If you’re doing parody Stalinism, everybody looks like a comedy Trotskyist. 

trying to find home

At the end of that war in 2006, I felt the cost of that more than I ever had. My marriage had fallen apart, I was away from my daughter, and I really didn't have a sense of having a home. And that was what was so important about being in Marjayoun and rebuilding the home. At its most elemental, it was about trying to find home, and in the end, I did.

From a very recent interview with the late Anthony Shadid, probably the best pure reporter of the 9/11 wars. Obituary here, along with an archive of his stories.

busty Dawn Raid says ‘i like it first thing’

But Kavanagh's lengthy column managed to avoid naming to the Sun's readers a potential offence among those being investigated – bribery of police officers.

Indeed. And I love the way the Guardian has stepped back from driving the hackgate revelations to keep the whole mery go round whirling with a few swift stiletto jabs. Anyway, as David Leigh makes clear it’s not a case of victims being treated like criminals, but of alleged criminals becoming victims of circumstances they did their best to help create.  Item:

The Sun has always stood for the freedom of the entrepreneur to do as he sees fit with his own companies. What the entrepreneur sees fit to do in this case is to make an example of what he wishes others to believe is a rogue operation within his company.

The Sun has also been a tool for its parent company’s wider business interests, whether expressed through its political ‘reporting’, its relentless cross-promotion of Sky or its attacks on the bosses competitors. It is now in the interests of the wider business to serve the Sun up on a plate.

The Sun has always stood for robust policing. Until, apparently, it was applied to its own hacks. Additionally, the Sun likes spectacular policing, of the kind that provides good copy and that demonstrates Something Is Being Done. Something like a multiple dawn raid pile in, for instance.

The Sun has always believed in the American alliance. Now it’s finding out in microvcosm the truth of Bismarck’s remark that every alliance consists of two partners: a stronger one and a weaker one.

The actual circumstances of the raid on the Sun’s hacks may be up for debate. I think they’re pretty standard for today’s exciting world of high profile send a message coppering, but that may be because I’m a bit too used to living in the kind of authoritarian pro-business society that the Sun has always campaigned for. This is also why I’m a bit baffled by the people who seem to think that we’ll ‘lose something’ when it goes. 'What will remain' is the problem.

More generally, it does look like the Sun is done for. Apart from the fact that if the arrests continue its going to have difficulty getting out a paper there’s also the fact that no public official will want to talk to the paper right now: it makes them look dodgy. And those channels are what it needs to influence policy. Without them, it’s just a shit sheet like the Star.

waiting for the barbarians

Quite astonishing but nonethless entirely unsurprising piece on McKinsey's role in guiding, structuring and writing Lansley's NHS Bill. It's not so much regulatory capture here as regulatory conquest: the whole service is being chopped up and offered round its clients like a tray of hors d'oevres. It should be said that the company got a lot of its forward operators in place under the last government. That was the reconnaissance. Now, the assault.

What I'm not clear about is why Cameron's put his political credibility on the line, not for ideological or populist reasons, but to ensure McKinely's bottom line. I think there's a general subtext here in that when the economy enters a long depression, securing lines of revenue from the taxpayer becomes a more important profit strategy for business. 

like loyal, faithful dogs

I don’t find it particularly surprising that some of the people freed by police after allegedly being kept as slaves at a travellers site say that they wanted to be there. For one, thing, that doesn’t tell you anything about what would have happened if they had tried to leave and been caught.

And there are a whole number of reasons why people picked up from soup kitchens and homeless shelters being kept as slaves might have found their situation preferable to the one they were in before. They had regular accommodation, no matter how squalid. They were wanted, if only for forced labour. As the local MP pointed out, they will have worked out there where everybody could see the condition they were in – and nobody apparently thought that worth remarking on. They had a reliable, if reliably inadequate, food. Perhaps some of them were made into pets, or even given a kind of kapo status. They had regular company. Above all, people can be treated much worse than they were allegedly treated and still behave like loyal, faithful dogs. Rebelling against your condition, as the people who escaped and complained to the police did, is entirely natural. So is accepting it. Neither acts determine what your actual condition was in the first place.

And it should hardly be so surprising that people accept the idea they have to work in order to receive the means of basic sustenance when this notion forms a large part of government policy on unemployment.

surplus to political requirements

p>Our American comrades will be familiar with this kind of thing:

As many as 10 million voters, predominantly poor, young or black, and more liable to vote Labour, could fall off the electoral register under government plans, the Electoral Commission, electoral administrators and psephologists warned .

The changes will pave the way for a further review of constituency boundaries that will reduce the number of safe Labour seats before the 2020 election.

It's a two stage thing. First shift voting registrations from households to individuals and remove the legal obligation to report. Then measure constituencies by individual registrations rather than numbers eligible to vote, thus cutting down the number of urban constituencies, and therefore Labour constituencies. And the man driving this through is Mr Fair Votes himself, Nick Clegg.

It should be said that if core Labour voters are demotivated then that has a lot to do with the Labour Party: the numbers voting between 1997 and 2001 dropped by around 13%, I think. This is where new Labour's they've got nowhere else to go attitude to their voters eventually got them. many went anyway, and now we have a rightwing government trying to systematically discourage them from coming back.

I'm also not at all sure that if this goes through that it won't rebound on the Tories, who have their own secular decline in voters to worry about. Party loyalties are so generally attenuated these days that it makes no sense for any government to discourage voting.

the man on the Clapham omnibus says bring death from the sky

Micah Zenko on the burgeoning US assassination programme. Here's the halfway point:

However, in mid-2008, President Bush authorized a vast expansion in the scope and intensity of the use of drones in Pakistan. Since then, there have been an additional 250 strikes. As David Sanger reported, Bush lowered the threshold for an attack to what one anonymous U.S. official described as the "reasonable man" standard: "If it seemed reasonable, you could hit it."

I'm not returning to the good old days of Bush bashing here. We've now reached the stage where people whose names are not known can be assassinated on the grounds that their "life patterns" as interpreted by targeters provide "operational support" to organisations that the US has decided are terrorist, and on the grounds that their deaths will "minimize threats to allies and partner states." Widely interpreted – and the trend is clearly towards wide interpretation – those parameters could end up including a lot of reasonable men.

life in a low trust society

I missed this when it came out a week ago. Have yourselves a cheerful read:

On the morning of Sept. 4, in the riverside boomtown of Wuhan, Mr. Li, an 88-year-old man, fell in the street and injured his nose. People passed him by, but no one raised a hand to help as he lay on the ground, suffocating on his own blood.

This week, China’s netizens have expressed an outpouring of sympathy – for the bystanders. This is nothing new here. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of elderly men and women who have collapsed or suffered accidents in public spaces who then sue the good Samaritans who have tried to help them. These cases have created a genuine and widespread fear that helping a person in need will lead to personal financial loss.

The proximate cause of this is a court ruling back in 2006 which found the fact that someone helped an old lady in distress was evidence that he caused that distress in the first place. But there's maybe more to it than that. More good commentary here.



mining in North Manchester

Alex’s post on the sub-prime/ legal loansharking industry’s rental of the Conservative Party reminds me again of the odd cluster of payday loan cum pawnbroking storefronts in our local high street; four on a hundred yard frontage.

Now the thing is that Crumpsall ward has low numbers of absolutely workless households, but the highest number in Manchester of households earning below 60% of median income, the official poverty metric. Still, they have stuff in their houses, stuff that can be pawned, until it runs out. And they have an income: a low income, but one bad month for them allows you to crack into it and extract yourself a little value. And once you’ve extracted that value, you’ve created the need which enables you to crack into it again next month and the month after that. Some of this, of course, can be kicked upstairs for legislative protection. And so here is our growth sector with its own emerging lobby. Not Osborne’s magic export pixies but the working poor considered as an extractive industry.