Daily Archives: 22 November 2005

Little Britain backlash

Nick Barlow and Johann Hari have been mouthing off about Little Britain. Fair enough, personally I gave up on the thing after the first series, although I did catch a few episodes of series two.

I think it has fallen into the same trap that Ali G fell into, in that its initial edge has been blunted by its popularity with a huge number of people who spectacularly missed the point, ably assisted by the artists themselves who could see a quick buck coming a mile off. Ali G was originally a dig at people who would tolerate the most outrageous things out of a fear of seeming uncool. The point of Little Britain initially, I always assumed, was that it was taking the piss out of people from all walks of life. As Nick says:

While Little Britain was never the subtlest of comedies, there was a sense that their characters were – like those that inspired them in The Fast Show – not too far from ordinary life and just exaggerated for comic effect, but now they’ve become little more than grotesque caricatures, devoid of any sense of reality or pathos.

What has happened now is that the most popular characters have taken over, and this has lead to it taking on a degree of nastiness that it didn’t have before.

Johann is right that it is mysogynistic and anti-poor, but in his cute little Johann way he spectacularly misses the point that it isn’t actually funny and has simply become confirmation for certain unsavoury people’s prejudices. Comedians shouldn’t be overburdened with a social conscience, but cannot be overburdened with wit.

If ever there was a comedy that shouldn’t have gone on longer than its first series, this is it.

Party branding

The Independent has seen fit to publish this bit of free advertising and I am happy to be in on the conspiracy, if only to indulge in a round of Spot the Twat:

“The catholic tastes of Labour voters, ranging from traditional favourites like the News of the World to relatively new categories like Nivea for Men indicate that the party still has the broadest appeal across the population despite its reduced majority at the last election.”

You have to read carefully to realise that the only brands mentioned appear to have a contract with Young & Rubicam.

As for the lists themselves, I’m intrigued that the Lib Dems’ Top Five includes two yoghurt brands, one of which, the Munch Bunch, could pretty much sum up the average Focus Team. The Energizer batteries are appropriate, although I’d worry about the environmental impact.

The Tories meanwhile seem to have both Switch and Maestro down. Hello? Haven’t you seen the penguin adverts?


Blair’s secret plot to abolish the monarchy

You’ve got to laugh:

The plot to destroy the Monarchy began with the disenfranchisement of the Peerage and the emasculation of the House of Lords. In 1997, when Labour ended twenty years of Conservative Party rule in Britain, the Peers served as a partial check on the powers of the Lower House of Parliament. Between 1997 and 1998, the Lords rejected Labour’s bills thirty-nine times. As we know such a rebuff was, in reality, only a one-year impediment as a result of the Parliament Act of 1949. Still, however negligible, this political check was on the Commons and it allowed the mostly Conservative Peers to slow down the wheels of Tony Blair’s vision of a socialist Britain.

Blair’s response to the Lord’s opposition was particularly dictatorial. He pushed through the House of Lords Act of 1999, which effectively destroyed the minor political check the Peers held over potential abuses by the Commons. Today, only 92 elected Peers remain in the House of Lords; the remaining seats have been principally packed with Labour cronies who have been more then willing to rubber stamp the actions of an all- powerful, Labour controlled Commons. The House of Lords Act has, in effect, left Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as the only remaining check on the Presidential ambitions of Tony Blair and his Labour zealots.

I’ve put a response on the webpage, but I didn’t bother to deal with this paragraph, which I thought was just wonderful:

As an American, allow me to be politically incorrect and point out that Prince Charles is not a villain but a victim. He is not the one who violated the Statute of Treasons which outlaws having sexual intercourse with the wife of the Monarch’s heir. Under this law, if the illicit relations are consensual then both participants are equally guilty of the crime of High Treason. True, the Prince used unusually poor judgment by having his own affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, however, in doing so, he violated no laws and certainly did not subject the Royal Blood line to the peril of illegitimacy. The reality is that history is want to name one English King who did not have a mistress. This is not an issue that disqualifies Prince Charles from becoming King.

With all this talk about reintroducing the death penalty at the moment, perhaps we ought to consider a retrospective execution of Princess Di?

Pity the rich

The usual suspects have taken over tehgrauniad letters column.

Andy Mayer has an interesting argument:

It is regrettable that Charles Kennedy has not yet seen the light on the 50p tax rate (Kennedy plans policy shift on taxation to woo floating voters, November 19). Aside from the usual arguments about taxing aspiration there is the point that those earning £100, 000 or more are those most able to influence their own remuneration. On the day after this policy is implemented they will have been hit by a tax rise of up to £1,000 for every £10,000 over £100,000 they own. They will demand or execute wage rises that compensate them for the tax rise. Those rises will be extremely disproportionate because for every additional £1 rise, there will be 50p going to the government. So far from contributing to social justice, the 50p rate makes inequality even worse.

Mayer here is taking the opposite view of Tony Blair, in that he claims that the 50p rate will increase tax revenues, not lower them. Personally, I’m a little sceptical however, for the simple fact that someone who has that degree of control over their own earnings will surely have already paid themselves as much as they believe they can possibly get away with. But he is right in so far as it is true that income tax is inflationary.

But please. Spare me this guff about about taxing aspiration. Few people aspire to incomes above £100,000, and we aren’t talking about 1960s style super-tax here. If you’re worried about taxing aspiration look at the other end of the scale. If the Tax Commission does its job properly, then the revenue raised by the 50p rate will be committed to flattening exactly that.