Saturday, September 30, 2006

Walter Wolfgang: The Man, The Message, The Legend

The Labour Party Conference of 2006 was also noteworthy for the rise and rise of Walter Wolfgang. In the run up to Conference, a feel-good magazine dubbed him 'The man to be seen with at parties'. And when the conference organisers banished him to the sidelines, his iconic status was assured.
In perhaps the ultimate underground acolade, the veteran peace campaigner's face is now to be seen on the hippest youthful chests in the country:
Rumours of a Wolfgang appearance on Celebrity Love Island, remain, as yet, unconfirmed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Labour Party Conference 2006

Its nearly over for another year so The Dolphinarium casts a wry look back at some of the highlights of the Manchester gore-fest. Brown bombed, Cherie showed her fangs and for his spectacular finale, Tony struck a decidedly messianic note:
"You take my advice. You don't take it. Your choice."
(If you love me, you will keep my commandments)
"Whatever you do, I'm always with you. Head and heart.
(I am always with you, yes, even until the end of time).
Point repeated for emphasis:
"Next year I won't be making this speech.
"But in the years to come, wherever I am, whatever I do, I'm with you. Wishing you well. Wanting you to win."
(Go ye and make disciples of all nations).
The speech ending did go a little bit awry. The stage directions read as follows:
TB bathed in unearthly glow and accompanied by angelic hosannahs, ascends into heaven, crowd say 'Oooh' and fall to their feet in homage.
But something or someone, let's call her Cherie, who had decided that his earthly ministry was not yet over put a spanner in the works and he had to make a low-key lap of the conference hall instead.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Endgame Blair: The Curry Conspiracy

Its not been the best week for Tony Blair, to begin with an understatement. First came the embarassing memo leaked to The Daily Mirror detailing plans for Blair's farewell tour which included appearances on Blue Peter, Songs of Praise and Chris Evans' Radio Show. Some blogocrats, notably Iain Dale and Guido speculated that the memo was leaked from the Blair camp. This aquatic creature thinks they're wrong. For a start its revelation was quite humiliating for the Prime Minister. Second, it was a Kevin Maguire scoop. (Tuesday evening saw the peerless Maguire being hailed as the greatest journalist in the world by a bunch of impressed hacks, including emeritus Graunist Michael White, in The Marquess of Granby.)
Then came news that a letter had been to sent to Blair urging him to quit by 15 MPs elected in 2001. Among the signatories was the Brownite junior defence minister, Tom "two dinners" Watson MP.
A co-ordinated wave of resignations led by Tom Watson followed with PPSs Khalid Mahmood, Wayne David, Ian Lucas, Mark Tami, Chris Mole, David Wright and Iain Wright throwing in the towel soon after.
Tom's own brother is said to have quipped "A coordinated attack of government resignations, it must be Al Qaeda".
Westminster watchers were quick to notice the close working links between the resigning MPs, with Dizzy noting that Tom Watson and Mark Tami share an office. This aquatic creature adds another piquant detail into the mix: Iain Wright and Tom Watson share a flat in London and Tom played a key role in securing Iain Wright's nomination for Hartlepool.
Channel 4 News noted that three of the 15 rebel MPs hailed from neighbouring seats in the West Midlands: West Bromwich East (Tom Watson) Birmingham Erdington (Sion Simon) and Birmingham Perry Bar (Khalid Mahmood). It understood that the plot had been hatched in a West Bromwich Curry joint.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Free Chen Guangcheng

Chinese human rights activist, Chen Guangcheng is one of the most remarkable people of our age. Blind since childhood he was denied an education until he was 17 years old. He made up for the deficit with extraordinary speed and dedication, getting himself into university and teaching himself law. Thereafter he dedicated himself to fighting the little person's corner, campaigning for anyone whose rights were violated by the totalitarian Chinese state. Earlier this year, Time Magazine described him as one of the most influential people alive.
His most recent campaign focused on the human-rights abuses of the notorious Chinese one-child-per-family policy. Chen had collected evidence of women in Linyi City being forced to abort foetuses of at least 8 months gestation and forcibly sterilised, with a view to bringing a class-action law suit against the Chinese government. But it didn't happen. Last September, Chen was seized and placed under house arrest. In June he was formally arrested and charged with traffic disruption and destruction of property.
Last week, following what was described by legal expert Jerome Cohen as 'a farce of a trial', held behind closed doors, during which he was deprived of access to his legal team, three of whom were themselves arrested including distinguished law professor Xu Zhiyong who was beaten up, Chen was convicted and sentenced to four years and three months imprisonment.
Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing learned of the verdict from the media. She said: "I didn't expect they would punish him this severely. The whole operation stinks and is illegal and under the table. I don't know what to do now. I want to visit him, but I don't think they will allow me."
This modest blog is without any discernable political influence, its entries mere whispers in the grand blogosphere shriek of things. But Chen's heroic example demands solidarity from comfortable Westerners no matter how minor.
So here it is.

Free Chen Guangcheng.