Archive | September, 2010

Ed Miliband’s Iraq stand, popularity vote?

29 Sep

“I criticise nobody faced with making the toughest of decisions and I honour our troops who fought and died there. But I do believe that we were wrong.”


Ed Miliband took the first step in supporting his campaign statement that the war in Iraq was wrong by confirming his opinion in his first speech as Labour leader.

He defended his decision to condemn the Iraq war, however I believe it to be “too late”:

“It’s an insult to families right now”, says Rose Gentle, mother of 19 year old Gordon who was killed in the war. (cited BBC website)

In an interview with the Guardian 21 May, he said UN weapons inspectors should have been given more time before the invasion, adding:

“The combination of not giving the weapons inspectors more time, and then the weapons not being found, I think for a lot of people it led to a catastrophic loss of trust for us, and we do need to draw a line under it.” (cited from Channel 4 news online)

However, Miliband did not at this point say that the war was wrong.

“What I am not saying is that the war was undertaken for the wrong motives, but what I am very clear about is what my position was at the time and the way I look at it in retrospect.”

Miliband now defends his actions by claiming that he was “part of a collective responsibility”, unable to speak out more strongly against the war in Iraq.

So, was Miliband’s campaign statement designed to get a clap in the conference hall?

WHY ARE YOU CLAPPING?

Brother and fellow campaigner David Miliband, who voted for the Iraq war, had tongues wagging as he was seen criticizing Harriet Harman.

BBC blogger Nick Robinson claims Alistair Darling, Jack Straw and Andy Burnham, who had all supported the Iraq war, sat stony faced whilst a hypocritical Harman sat clapping.

Seeing her clap, David turned to her and angrily demands to know “you voted for it, why are you clapping?”

Whilst David has spent the week declaring his support for Ed through a constant fixed smile, his face was a picture during the speech as he failed to hide his discomfort.  Perhaps David’s face will answer the crucial question as to whether he will stay in front line politics.

David defends his reasons for supporting the Iraq war,

“I voted for the war in Iraq to uphold UN resolutions about weapons of mass destruction. As I said to [the Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq war] in answer to the question about whether I would have voted for the war if we had known there were no weapons of mass destruction – no.” (cited from BBC online)

WHAT’S NEXT?

Blogger Robert Halfon argues that whilst Ed’s remarks gained an array of support, it will cause problems for him amongst Blairites who supported the war from years to come.

MP John McDonell believes that many lives might have been saved had politicians such as Ed Miliband spoke up sooner against the war in Iraq.

Maybe the use of the word “we” in Ed’s initial statement has a lot more weight than initially percieved.

Advertisements

Covent Garden International Food Festival

28 Sep

This is one for the foodies.  With over 32 stalls offering a huge selection of speciality foods, there is something for everyone at the Covent Garden Food Festival.

Firstly, I was delighted by the McManus Oyster and Champagne stall. Who wouldn’t want to treat themselves to such delicacies on a Thursday afternoon, and at £4.50 for a glass of champers, it would be rude not to.

Why not visit the lavender stall for the insomniac in your life. Somewhat witchy, the fragrance of the lavender captures you as you walk past like a spell.

For lunch, the fresh pasta stall is divine. I was torn between that, and a salad stall with huge ceramic bowls filled with Greek salad, rainbow salad, fruit salad…

I sampled the pumpkin tortellini, and ended up choosing the spinach and ricotta (after much consideration), with tomato and fresh parmesan. Didn’t even care that I had to sit and eat it on the floor, and that it may have looked as though I was munching from a box of Best Kebab’s cheesy chips.

Couldn’t resist a trip to the cake stall. Giant fairy pillows made out of raspberry and vanilla meringue so pretty you’d rather fill a glass bowl with them in your kitchen than eat them… or maybe not.

The market also offers speciality foods, such as gluten-free cakes along with speciality cheeses.  The stall names are a winner, with ‘Crumbs and Doilies’, ‘Pie Minister’ and ‘The Garlic Farm’.

Last year the festival hosted an array of events, including the presentation of the worlds largest cupcake (where was I!?)

Foodies can look forward to a host of demonstrations and exciting events which will be carried out at the market for the remainder of 2010.

 Quaint, caring and wholesome, the market will be open every Thursday from 11am till 7pm until December 2010.

David’s acceptance speech gone to waste

28 Sep

A journalist’s dream, two brothers fighting for the place of Labour party leader finally comes to an end, as David Miliband accepts his defeat at the hands of his brother Ed.

David Miliband took to the stage this week to show pride in his brothers’ success in beating him to party leader.

David made no secret of the fact that he had been completely been caught off guard as he cockily declared that he had already written his acceptance speech as well as several first leader draft speeches.

“THAT’S LIFE”

David spoke of the support from fellow Labour party members,

“That’s life. So to those of you who have been coming up to me in the last few days – don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” (According to the Guardian’s Hélène Mulholland)

However he told delegates that he was “honored and humbled” by the support he’d received.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR DAVID?

David told supporters, “I am so proud of my party. But above all I am incredibly proud of my brother”. (According to the Guardian’s Hélène Mulholland)

It has not yet been revealed whether David will stand for election to serve in Ed’s shadow cabinet. Former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told ITV’s Daybreak that he hoped David would stay on in frontline politics.

Diane Abbott also said that she believes David will remain successfully in the Labour cabinet alongside his brother, as told to BBC Radio 4’s World at One.

David needs to decide by Wednesday afternoon whether he chooses to stay in frontline politics.

END OF “SOAP OPERA”

Both brothers call to an end of the drama seen over the previous weeks, which David likened to a “soap opera.”

Ed claims that there is no ‘psycho drama’ with his brother, and confirms that the two brothers have remained close throughout the conquest.

Bloody Sunday

27 Sep

I am fortunate enough to be on a course where we will have the opportunity to listen to guest speaks, often on a Tuesday evening. I am particularly looking forward to hearing from Gary Duffy, former Northern Ireland correspondent, who will be visiting on the 12th October.
My interest in the news and politics of Northern Ireland stems from my adoration of Irish mythology and literature. I am fascinated by the concept of Kathleen Ni Houlihan, or ‘Mother Ireland’, Ireland personified as a fragile woman who needs to be protected by Ireland’s men. W. B. Yeats defines the importance of the mythical Goddess,

‘She was Ireland herself, that Kathleen Ni Houlihan for whom so many songs have been sung and about whom so many stories have been told and for whose sake so many have gone to their death’.
The idea of myth has, for many years, been linked with the Bloody Sunday shootings of 1972. Both parties had their side of the story and the many years from which the event happened allowed for myth to creep in and distort the fact.

The ongoing inquiry from the event is problematic; witnesses from the march have had their memories of the occurrences tampered with over the last forty years with flawed media reports and built up anger. It is difficult to give a detailed account of an event which happened a month ago, let alone forty years. It is baffling to comprehend that new information is still being released from the event to this very day.

When the final verdict was released on the news in June this year, a huge sigh of relief was felt amongst thousands, in particular the campaigners of the 38-year struggle who were able to finally celebrate.

The reason NICRA organised a march on that fateful Sunday in Derry was to protest against internment, ‘an initiative adopted in August 1971 on the part of the Northern Ireland government, with the full support of the British government, to imprison without trial individuals suspected of paramilitary-related activities’ (Blaney, 2007).

The word ‘suspected’ is problematic; these individuals were being imprisoned on the basis of ‘half truths’, reasons for their suspect in some cases completely invented. Therefore, it could be argued that the march was a protest against inequitable ‘myth’. However, recollections from the event appear extremely regimented, the ‘facts’ are displayed in a coherent form.
It would seem that the British media may have invented some kind of justification for the horrific shootings, as depicted thorugh Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday, an English officer says, ‘you’ve got to find some justification’.
The film demonstrates reasons behind the media’s invention of myth in order to savour the reputation of the British soldiers in question as one NICRA representative states, ‘a moment of truth and a moment of shame’.
I would argue that the British media withholds a tremendous influence on the Troubles, adapting on established myths and in some cases inventing myth. In Bloody Sunday the members of NICRA (Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association) are aware of this, as the film ends with the statement,

‘British journalists go home to your people and tell them what was done to the people in Derry’, as though there is an assumption they will write the complete opposite.

Let’s talk about SNOGGING!

26 Sep

Kiss the joy as it flies. Or SNOG, as this Covent Garden frozen yoghurt shop so brazenly demands. I love how straight to the point it is, how it tells its online readers that ‘Snogging in Dubai has started’, claiming that the Middle East is the hottest place to be snogging right now. Controversial after reading the horror story of the British couple being arrested for kissing in Dubai in April 2010, who lost their appeal after displaying offensive behaviour by kissing in a restaurant. An instance mirrored in the 2010 release of Sex and the City 2, where Samantha was being her provocative self in a restaurant in Abu Dhabi.

However, SNOG doesn’t mean to offend; it’s naively tongue in cheek. It’s low in GI, organic and fair-trade, buzz words designers like Stella McCartney have made it cool for young Covent Gardeners to look out for. It’s the scantily clad friend who charms your mum. It’s emphasis is on ‘healthy treat’, something which dieters in the 1980’s on their slim fasts would have simply scoffed at. However, for around 89 cals a bowl and a huge selection of mouth watering toppings ‘I can’t wait for my first snog!’