Welcome to Spiel, the JC’s blog.

  • Swedes a go-go

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 27, 2009

    Here's a nice little story from the Swedish cabinet (how many times do you get to write that in a lifetime?), from Prospect:

    [O]ne minister recently updated his Facebook profile during a dull cabinet
    meeting, only to receive a reply within minutes. “Shouldn’t you be paying more
    attention to the discussion,” said the message, which turned out to have been
    sent from the other side of the table, by Sweden’s foreign minister, Carl


  • Grrr

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 27, 2009

    Listening to this morning's Today programme I just avoided throwing something at the radio, which was a good thing, since I was driving at the time.
    Sarah Montague was interviewing the International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, who appears to have forgotten how to speak English.
    Was it time, Montague asked, to negotiate with the Taliban? Only, Alexander confidently replied, "if they renunciate violence." "Renunciate"? What's the matter with the word "renounce"? A little later he was warbling about "stabilisation" rather than the word normal people use, "stability."
    Even if Douglas Alexander was actually saying something important, which I beg leave to doubt, any message he had was lost in a forest of word-mangling. It is a disease of politicians, and it is spreading faster than swine flu.

  • Friends in High Places

    Simon Rocker
    Jul 24, 2009

    One of the main arguments of the Chief Rabbi’s new book , Future Tense, is that we need not be a “people that dwells alone” and that Jews have friends in the fight against antisemitism and other issues.

    Here’s an example – from Lord Alton, writing this week in the Catholic newspaper, The Universe.

    “For those of us who call ourselves European, the Holocaust means that antisemitism holds a unique and special horror, a horror that had its origins in 2,000 years of hatred directed at Jewish people. Blood libel and caricature has mutated into new forms of hatred, sometimes masquerading on the internet under the guise of free speech, sometimes originating as part of new virulent ideologies from heads of state.”

  • Relapsed members

    Stephen Pollard
    Jul 24, 2009

    Tim Worstall has had a look through Demos' Open Left site, and this is what he found:

    For example, from a College Lecturer, we get a glimpse of why the education system is so crap:

    I could never be anything but left wing – my mother is
    the daughter of a South Yorkshire miner, a trade unionist and long time
    (but now relapsed) Labour Party activist.

  • So near but yet so far

    Danny Caro
    Jul 24, 2009

    The dramatic scenes at the end of the Open football and rugby finals are what makes the world of sport so special.

    Who would have thought that Team GB would lose both matches? After the defeat against France, Jonathan Kestenbaum’s men kept stepping up a gear and the difference between gold and silver came down to the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a penalty shootout.

    The boys went into the competition on the back of three friendlies against strong opposition. Each match was followed by a penalty shootout. But with little at stake, other than perhaps fine-tuning techniques, this was a case of practice not making perfect.

  • India's Security Barrier

    Marcus Dysch
    Jul 24, 2009

    Last night's Channel Four News featured a lengthy report on a security barrier.

    But, shock horror, it was not Israel's fence/wall in the West Bank, but rather the one at the centre of India's efforts to protect her border with Bangladesh and slow the threat from Islamist militants.

    When complete, the barrier will consist of no less than 2,000 miles of barbed wire, manned by thousands of armed troops. The intention is that by next year the whole border will be sealed off.

  • Fashion victim

    Jenni Frazer
    Jul 24, 2009

    Much giggling among the fashion cognoscenti at Amy Winehouse's appearance in court this week, dressed in a mimsy little pinstripe suit and completing the look with a pearl necklace and discreet pearl stud earrings. Ms W is clearly into the Miucca Prada frump look, and has plainly been advised by those in the know that she will get a more sympathetic hearing from the judge if she covers up her tattoos. The astonishing thing, given La Winehouse's previous form, is that she took any notice of someone telling her how to dress. Perhaps her trigger response is no longer "No, no, no..."