The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions
Possible scenarios of how a Blair-Cameron double act will save what Peter Mandelson called “The Project” are: 1) Cameron crashes and burns. This is the least likely outcome. The media and his backers have invested too much prestige and effort into promoting him to let David Cameron’s lack of precision, flat delivery and tetchy response to occasional awkward questions pull him down. The fact that his “Ronald Weaseley”-style and even more youthful ally, Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, has been praised for his puerile personal abuse of Gordon Brown in most British newspapers and on television rather than slapped down by the commentators shows where the proprietorial muscle lies. A Cameron-Icarus would not help save Tony Blair’s tottering support among rebellious Labour backbenchers. If Cameron fails, Blair will fall with him.
Ignoring the Harry Potter comparison, two ex-Tory MPs, Matthew Parris, now a Times columnist and Michael Brown now of The Independent both preferred a Star Wars reference when interviewed by Alistair Stewart on the ITN news channel. For them the essence of the Cameron phenomenon was that the “Force” is with him. They saw the irresistible rise of Margaret Thatcher and then of Tony Blair as precedents. On this model the “Force” is a tidal wave of media opinion which swamps any other consideration. However, both before 1979 and afterwards, Margaret Thatcher never enjoyed anything like unanimously favourable media coverage. Quite to the contrary. The media establishment, including in large parts of the Tory press, was condescending at best and dismissive at worst of the “Iron Lady.” Even eleven years in power never brought her a consensus of respect let alone admiration.
HITS: 2047 | 17-06-2004, 22:30 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Great Britain , Political science, Analyzing
The vogue for books and films about a vanished age of public school boy heroes, matrons and manners is the backdrop to the re-emergence of the politics of deference in Britain. After decades of dumbing down and a public school prime minister like Tony Blair who mangles his Estuary English in a desperate attempt to please the plebs, suddenly posh is the new divine right of politicians. Although American neo-conservatives like to present themselves as representatives of commonsense man against pointy-headed elitists who oppose wars of aggression and open-cast mining, British neo-conservatives are born-again class warriors. Of course not every journalistic advocate of Cameron is an Old Etonian but that just adds to the delicious atmosphere of deference. Whereas Murdoch’s US vicar, the Hudson Institute’s Irwin Steltzer, can assure readers of the Weekly Standard that the snobs were against George Bush’s America, our own Lord Rees-Mogg – whose first venture into boosting alleged drug abusers was his immortally comic deferential interview with Mick Jagger long before Cameron was born – drew on all his arts of self-parody to explain how 22 or more family entries in Burke’s Peerage and the Dictionary of National Biography made Cameron nature’s own candidate to rule democratic even demotic Britain.
HITS: 2488 | 17-06-2004, 22:23 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Great Britain , Political science, Analyzing
The nearest moment to a wobble in Cameron’s effortless rise to the top came when he failed to answer questions about any drug use in his past. As a member of Oxford’s notorious Bullingdon Club in the1980s – a group which has spawned a generation of cokeheads on the one hand and neo-con politicians in Britain and the New Europe on the other - Cameron clearly expected his decision to keep his pre-political private life “private” would be accepted with deference. In fact it took a host of commentators to knock it into Britons’ heads that past use of Class A drugs are a qualification for representing the “future not the past” in post-modern Britain. Cameron presented questions about any past drug use as unwarranted intrusions into his privacy, but that overlooks two key points. When it had suited Mr Cameron to parade his private life, for instance, the distressing disability of his young son, Ivan, he seems to have had few qualms about making political profit out of it.
HITS: 1991 | 17-06-2004, 22:06 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Great Britain , Political leaders
Is he the Tories’ Harry Potter or Wendell Willkie?
The Manufacturing of the Candidate
As Tony Blair’s power-base in Britain wobbles despite winning a third successive general election (but with only 36% of the popular vote) Britain’s media is hailing a bright new star in its political firmament. On 6th December, the world’s oldest political party, Britain’s Conservatives (also known as Tories) chose 39 year-old David Cameron as their leader. Until the last few weeks, “David who?” would have been the reaction of most of his fellow citizens. What a turnaround! Three months ago David Cameron was barely known to the British public. In September, 2005, only 4% of a BBC poll saw him as the best man to lead the Conservative Party. Even on the eve of the Tory Party Conference in October, only 13% of a nationwide poll backed Cameron. Yet after a single television focus group on BBC 2’s “Newsnight” programme, 39% of Tory activists polled suddenly put the 38-year-old Shadow Education Secretary ahead of all his rivals for the leadership of the Conservative Party.