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BBC News parody

Hmm… It made me smile… It’s not big, and it’s not clever, but it’s reasonably amusing… May or may not do the same for you… Guess it depends on how long it stays up – not long, I suppose, once the Beeb get wind of it… (via) [Now ending obession with ellipses…]

This 736th post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

‘Junk food’ to be banned in schools

Ruth Kelly, the government minister determined to introduce something eponymous during her tenure, is apparently to ban junk food in schools. My question is: How?

Many schools are locked into implausibly long contracts with suppliers, from both catering and vending machine companies. These contracts include a great financial disincentive to early ending. So where’s the money coming from to end these contracts by September 2006? Or does the government plan to do something quite sneaky, like change the law to make it illegal to supply such items in schools, and hence make any company doing so a law-breaker? It’s an interesting idea, but it’s hardly true to Labour values.

Or is Kelly just going to leave the ending of the contracts as each individual school’s problem, possibly meaning that many will get into financial difficulty, and, by definition, all will have less to spend on, erm, education?

Or, in typical New Labour style, is this a well spun fudge? Kelly actually said…

So today I can announce that we will ban poor quality processed bangers and burgers being served in schools from next September.

It would therefore appear that good quality processed bangers and burgers will be fine. And which company is really ever going to admit to selling ‘poor’ quality ones? And how is this ‘quality’ going to be regulated and judged?

On the subject of vending machines, the words falling out of Kelly’s mouth were actually…

And because children need healthy options throughout the school day I can also announce that from next September no school will be able to have vending machines selling crisps, chocolates, or sugary fizzy drinks.

It’s noticeable, particularly on the fizzy drinks front, that most ranges have now switched over to production with ‘no added sugar’ – so presumably they don’t count as ‘sugary fizzy drinks’. And so on that front, there needs to be no change. As for crisps and chocolates, that seems fair enough, but it clearly doesn’t rule out all sweets, biscuits, and similarly unhealthy snacks. And, of course, school ‘tuck shops’ will still be able to sell all of these things – because they are not vending machines.

Perhaps I’m just being overly cynical, but it appears to me that Kelly has announced a headline-grabbing policy of precious little substance. How very New Labour.

This 735th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

Soulless

Watching the Prime Minister on Sunday AM this morning was depressing. If you think you’re up to it, you can watch the interview here on the BBC site. To think he was just eight years ago the fresh-faced everyman who would change the face of politics – a pretty straight sort of guy – is nothing short of tragic.

This morning, he stumbled over even the most simple questions about his innermost beliefs – clearly not struggling to express himself because of enthusiasm, but struggling to remember the prepared answer the focus groups told him he needed to spout. When faced with the tough questioning over Iraq, he largely ignored the questions posed in order to give his own egotistical speech. He looked disinterested, bored, and above all, exhausted. This is not the ‘Great Leader’ elected in 1997 – this man could hardly be further than that. He’s not even effectively manipulating the media any more – when questioned about stepping down, he replied (I’m paraphrasing) that he knew what he was going to do, but he wasn’t going to tell us lowly mortals. Eight years ago, he wouldn’t have dreamed of making that so obvious – he’d have given a crowd-pleasing non-answer, not taunted the interviewer.

The questions about the BBC’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina were met with the worst of all answers – He could have easily stuck to the ‘private conversation’ line, he could have given a flattering answer about the Beeb not covering things as he saw it, but the Beeb being impartial and him perhaps being more personally involved, or he could have simply chosen not to answer at all, saying that it was not his place to comment on the Beeb’s editorial decisions. Instead, he chose the worst bits of all of those options, saying that it was a private conversation but then divulging details of it anyway, and openly criticising the BBC all at the same time. That’s not the Blairite way.

Of course, there could be greater forces at work here, with the PM intentionally being painted as weak and over the hill in political terms, so that Gordon Brown’s confident conference speech will make him look like the natural successor. That’s one suggestion I can’t even entertain. Mr Blair couldn’t play down the statesman in himself intentionally even if he wanted to. He thinks he’s bigger than his party, and certainly his place in history is more important to him than the future electability of his party.

So what’s going on? Blair’s lost his touch, he’s drained, and ultimately, his eight years at the top have left him completely soulless, more a creation of spin-doctors than a real human being. He climbed the ladder for what he saw as the good of the country, attempting to be the great saviour. But he lost himself along the way, and allowed the advisers with which he surrounded himself destroy his very person. How very Shakespearean; how very tragic.

This 734th post was filed under: Politics.

Six years in the making…

Six years ago today, I registered my first domain name and set up my first proper website. That domain name, which still belongs to me, was simonhoward.co.uk. I just thought that this was a significant enough milestone to mention. You can, of course, see older versions of this site (dating back to 2000) at archive.org, with archived versions of simonhoward.co.uk here, and those of sjhoward.co.uk here. Some of them were truly terrible…

This 733rd post was filed under: Site Updates.


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