The BBC's Labour prism?

Glasgow East, Tory cycling and Moses Obama on tour

The Nats are biting

The Scottish Government faced the British Government and won - when the SNP candidate, John Mason, emerged victorious in the Glasgow East by-election, early in the hours of Friday morning. But while nationalists got some hard-earned sleep, Not a Sheep complained bitterly that the BBC’s coverage of the by-election was seen “through a Labour prism”.

Seeing it through a Labour prism, On Liberty Now asked:

“Is it now time for Gordon Brown to call a general election, lose, have the Tories get tainted with the economic downturn and then David Milliband can walk into Downing Street in 2013?”

As dawn broke over Glasgow, Tartan Hero was off to the victory photo-call…

Serbs him right

The arrest of Bosnian Serb sociopath Radovan Karadzic, who had been posing as a cross between Rowan Williams and Gillian McKeith, has brought a sliver of light into our dark world.

Harry’s Place carried an interesting profile of the man, by former New York Times Balkans reporter, Daniel Simpson. He touched upon some of the circumstances that allowed the former Republika Srpska president to lie low for some 13 years:

“The weather-beaten folk he went to ground amongst had been reared on tales of centuries of relentless oppression. Even if they loathed the man they loved his cause: the avenging of bygone misfortunes, by wanton aggression if needs be.”

While Sarajevo celebrated, Euro-collaborative blog Kosmopolit wondered what the future held for Serbia. Setting out a ‘to do’ list for its pro-western government, the blog pointed to progress in the Stabilisation and Association Process, recognition of Kosovo, acquisition of status as a an EU candidate state - and the arrest of Karadzic’s charming former associate Ratko Mladic, as well as the ex-president of the breakaway Republic of Serbian Krajina, Goran Hadzic.

A blog entitled Finding Karadzic had been tracking news coverage of the hunt for Karadzic online the past four years, and reflected:

“The world is a better place today than it was yesterday. Those of us interested in international criminal justice sometimes grow weary at the unfairness and impunity that are often the end results of the worst misconduct in the world by some of the worst people in the world.”

The blog also helpfully provided a link to PSY Help Energy - Karadzic’s Uri Gelleresque cashcow of a site flogging daft notions to credulous Belgraders.

Fascinatingly, TechCrunchIT touched on the role that the web may have played in Karadzic’s capture, speculating that: “a technology trail was traced either through a cell phone or an IP address,” and wondered whether an online email account had given the big-haired bastard away.

What have we learned this Week?

Cycling is a hot-button issue. Ed Vaizey opined that cycling was a conservative mode of transport (“utter bollocks” according to liberal Wit and Wisdom) while some unhuggable hoodie nicked Dave Cameron’s cycle from outside Tesco.

Strolling through Westminster on Thursday morning, a straw-mopped cyclist flashed recklessly past me. The workmen digging up the road cheerfully cried “hello Boris!” – but the demon blond cyclist might just as easily have been newstatesman.com’s peddle-driven editor.

Across the Pond

Moses Obama took his mighty staff on a tour of the Holy Land before addressing a million backpack-wearing Germans, while back on the home front McCain was whinging about the media. Fred Stopsky advised him to can it and quit while he’s ahead.

Videos of the Week

To celebrate the absolute and final conclusion of the wearisome Thatcher state funeral debate (“only if she’s still alive!” “Only if it’s subject to compulsory competitive tendering!” “Only if I can wear my Red Wedge t-shirt!”) – here’s a round-up of the best pop videos which are lyrically disrespectful to Thatch.

Elvis Costello was keen to Tramp the Dirt Down, while the Beat similarly demanded that she Stand Down. Angelic Upstarts shouted for an answer, The Style Council shouted to the top, and said ”thank you Maggie Thatcher”, (but very sarcastically), while Tears for Fears damned that “politician granny with her high ideals” and the Specials got ”left on the shelf”.

Quote of the Week

“Was there Kool Aid in the water which created this monster? No there was a cultural meme, a blindfold if you will, which occluded not only his sight but that of the greater Butcher of Belgrade, Milosevic.”

Canadian Catholic blogger, Theology in the Vineyard.

Paul Evans is a freelance journalist, and formerly worked for an MP. He lives in London, but maintains his Somerset roots by drinking cider.
Photo: Getty
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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.