Sunday, July 27, 2008

This week's news round-up

by Johnny Taronja

Remember Saddam's long beard at the time of his arrest? Bosnian war criminal Radovan Karadzic too looked like a fairly hirsute guru this week when he was copped after thirteen years in hiding. There's a pattern emerging with this Neo-Guru look. So remember to watch out for that bearded bloke sitting next to you on the bus. It could be Hitler re-incarnated. Or Osama Bin Laden.

"Plot to dump Brown", "MPs campaign to make Jack Straw prime minister", "Labour turns on Brown as MPs fear poll wipeout". Today's headlines are a reflection of the dismal state of affairs within the Labour party. After yet another electoral humiliation at the Glasgow East by-election (until Thursday a Labour stronghold for the best part of 60 years), it really looks like poor Gordon Brown can't get one thing right. Not only that. New polls suggest Labour are in danger of a total wipeout at the next general elections. Gordon keeps uttering in his usual atonal fashion is "I have a job to do", but that's exactly what the band onboard the Titanic were saying while the ship was going down.

Really, the situation is desperate. There's little to feel sorry about for the architects of New Labour and the people who destroyed the party and made it unelectable until memory fades. The trouble is, the Unions and the Labour left are now instinctively trying to grab room for manouvre after 13 Blairite years of wilderness. That is the worst mistake the left can make right now. Because whatever Labour do between now and the next general elections, there is absolutely nothing that can save the sinking ship, no new leader, no last-minute policy makeover, no hurried change of tack. The next elections are going to be a Conservative landslide.

It is important that the last two years of Labour agony are not sold to the public as a "lurch to the left" and a comprehensive "caving in to Union policies", otherwise they will become the convenient scapegoats for the Death of Labour while Blair and his aficionados will escape unscathed. Or else, whoever pick up the pieces after electoral disaster in 2010, it'll be mock-Tory policies and Blairism all over again.

On Friday, Carol Vorderman announced she's quitting Channel 4's legendary Countdown. Reports talked of the programme's producers asking her to accept a take-it-or-leave-it 90% pay cut. Since Richard Whiteley's death in 2005 the programme has been limping. Now it looks like the closing credits are rolling.

No week passes without 'new' astonishing revelations concerning the sound of Franz Ferdinand's forthcoming album. The NME is now reporting of "wild recording techniques", following previous proclaims of "raw and dirty" as opposed to last year's rumours that they were going to sound "like Girls Aloud". It's been three years since their last release, their second album You Could Have It So Much Better, an eternity for a relatively young band. Don't forget that in the same interval, The Smiths' output amounted to four studio albums and a slew of "albumless" singles. Hopefully all this procrastination isn't a sign that Kapranos & co. have lost the plot.

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