Brian Haw: Latest ineffective British eccentric?

I was, and remain, vehemently opposed to putting British troops in harm’s way in politically-motivated and unsupported wars. But I have to ask this: Apart from making a mess of a London pavement and smoking himself to death on unfiltered roll-ups, did Brian Haw actually achieve anything beyond self-publicity?

For a decade he sat opposite parliament and shouted at a mostly empty and completely indifferent building. Surely anyone with a modicum of intelligence would have realised by (let’s say) the end of the first year or so that the building wasn’t listening and that to actually achieve anything he would be better advised to try something different?

Or by then had he got comfortable not having to work for a living, surrounded by a small collection of admiring sycophants and the occasional TV crew so that he didn’t feel like a change? That actually achieving his stated objectives would have removed his sole reason for existing? His white heat of righteous indignation may well have disguised a desire for it not to come to an end, like a lot of vocal campaigners who cease to exist without their soapboxes and megaphones.

In the end, like his protest itself, worrying about Haw’s motivation is pointless and achieves nothing. He’ll go down as a minor addition to the long list of ineffective British eccentrics who briefly achieved a small degree of notoriety then passed un-missed into the night.

Rest in peace, Mr Haw. Whoever you were.

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Unfunny Newsreaders

Rant at the BBC sent during another piss-poor morning show:

Sirs,

PLEASE can someone tell Simon McCoy to just stick to reading the news? His attempts at being amusing during the morning News Channel broadcasts are juvenile and embarrassing. He unfailingly manages to bring to a grinding halt a programme already suffering from a lack of pace and relevance. He is not as funny as he thinks he is and the overall impression given is that of enthusiastic amateurism – well below the standards expected of BBC News.

Paul Harper

Innocent until the media says so?

Andrew Bridgen MP was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and released on bail, but without charge. The same day, the media were happily crucifying him:

Sirs,

Andrew Bridgen may well be a Tory who supports policies that border on the offensive at times, but even far right-wing nut jobs like him deserve to have the benefit of the presumption of innocence unless proven otherwise.

How on earth is this presumption going to work if his name, occupation and photograph are plastered everywhere not just before a trial, but before he has even been charged with any offence?

It is totally unacceptable behaviour on the part of the media and is indicative of the free-falling standards that the press have these days.

I certainly expected better of the Independent, a paper frequently on the correct side of arguments for justice.

Paul Harper

Birchill Foliage

Julie Birchill’s fat, bloated mugshot in the Independent is starting to irritate me:

Sirs,

Julie Birchill might want to consider not shaving for a few days. After all, a beard hides a multitude of chins.

Paul Harper

Your doctor should know better

Rant at the Guardian after they ran a piece on blood donors, listing those people who could not donate – but missing one large, important group out:

Sirs,

I would like to register a strong objection to your piece “Dr Luisa Dillner’s guide to… donating blood” where the people who can donate blood are listed. As usual, the biggest group of exclusions – of which I am one – is ignored.

If you are gay, you are not allowed to donate blood.

This despite all the necessary tests being performed on the donated blood anyway. There is absolutely no valid reason for this restriction, and it forms a large part of the bias society has against gay people like me. It is time the restriction was removed, but that is never going to happen until the media like yourselves at least acknowledge that the restriction exists.

Paul Harper

Is the country running short of people?

Letter to the Independent after they spent whole three pages bemoaning the “postcode lottery” that exists for free IVF treatment on the NHS:

Sirs,

In an age when we are finding it increasingly difficult to house, feed, employ, educate and find power for the population we already have, I find it hard to justify any free IVF treatment on the NHS at all. Did we suddenly decide we’re running short of people or something?

Just because we can do something it does not automatically apply that we should, or that it is a good thing. I am sure that the guidelines are well-meaning, and I sympathise with those couples who feel the need to have a family but can’t. But there is a bigger picture that is being missed, and the stretched resources of the NHS would be better spent in less self-indulgent ways.

Paul Harper

Serious newspapers are no place for personal vendettas

Missive sent to the Independent after Julie Birchill spent 80% of her column whining about Lily Allen:

Sirs,

It was unclear today whether the Independent wanted to be taken seriously as a news source.

Julie Birchill’s piece was little more than a childish rant and a continuation of a personal vendetta that has no valid place in the paper. Unamusing and bordering on illiterate, it was so close to the style of Glenda Slagg that I feel royalties may be due to Private Eye.

Birchill may in the eyes of some be a national treasure, but like most national treasures, she would be best left buried if a large enough hole could be found.

Paul Harper