Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lord Levy and the Hyper-Real

'But doesn't this whole story,' writes Iain Dale, 'illustrate just how rotten to the core this sleazy administration is?' Well, er, maybe, but surely a gigantic pachyderm in the portico is being overlooked here. Assuming this Ruth Turner-Levy document is all that there is to the cash-peerages-cover-up yarn - a large assumption, I know, but it seems to be correct at this point - then the story is stone dead. For some time, it has been apparent that paying for peerages, sleazy as it may be, has receded into the background and the cover-up has been the primary issue. But now the evidence of the cover-up appears to be no more than an account of a meeting, unwitnessed by any third party, which, at most, suggests that Levy was little more than boastful and loose-tongued. The whole episode has been distasteful, but, at this point, does not appear to have been much of a story. I can see two interpretations of what has happened here: 1)a press beat-up and the subsequent Downing Street reaction has over-inflated some routine government nastiness or 2)the nastiness has been more than routine and Blair's people have successfully outwitted the police, press and polBloggers. The cost to them has been the corpse of Levy, but that, by now, must be more or less valueless. There is no story and all that remains is hot air. But then modern politics is always about nothing. John Reid, for example, today managed to lead the BBC news with a scheme to text foreigner visitors telling them when their visa is about to expire. In what kind of depraved civic realm does such footling nonsense come to be regarded by our 'flagship' broadcaster as worthy of any attention at all? In which context, the death of Jean Baudrillard feels significant. He was right, we live in a hyper-real landscape of fantasy. But we must resist these airy seductions, otherwise, as my esteemed commenter CaptainB puts it, 'these people would fear nothing.'

22 comments:

  1. Why do you assert that paying for peerages, has receded. Why? It's against the law and I reckon that I could put a case together based on the evidence revealed in the press.

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  2. Oh and, in view of what's happened, what's wrong with hereditary peerages? They work a lot better than the mess we have now.

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  3. Your last comment was in no way facetious, Bryan. Hereditary peerages do work a lot better.

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  4. This whole episode has ended up with me feeling that it would be a big improvement in the state of affairs if peerages were for sale, upfront, each with a cash price, or maybe to be sold at auction. Everybody knows that money buys influence. Why not legitimise it?

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  5. I'm sure you're right, Praguetory, but I just meant it had receded in terms of the coverage and, therefore, in terms of the briefings that must be going on. I have no special information. I'm only commented on what appears to be the case.

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  6. You miss the point slightly re Home Office / our flagship broadcaster.

    What is newsworthy is that the Home Office apparently think this is a sensible thing to do, not the texting per se. 'Home Office to text foreigners' on its own is indeed not newsworthy. 'Home Office is incompetent' however, is - that is why it has been given attention.

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  7. Agreed, ed.

    I think we should celebrate Mr Reid being offered more than enough rope with which to hang himself.

    Imagine the initiatives they're holding back for Gordon's first 100 days...

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  8. So farewell then Jean Baudrillard
    When I read you at uni
    You seemed quite hard
    But only in relation
    To some of the other theorists.

    You were an original
    But my essays on you
    Were counterfeits.
    Perhaps in the end
    My essays
    Will replace
    Your essays.
    Which will be thrown
    Into
    The dustbin of history.

    Or perhaps not.
    I'm wondering now
    If your death actually did
    Take place after all.

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  9. I was a fan of Baudrillard in college too. Some of his views on capitalism/consumerism most appealing to a leftie malcontent like me: "...the have-nots will be condemned to oblivion, to abandonment, to disappearance pure and simple. This is 'must exit' logic: 'poor people must exit'. The ultimatum issued in the name of wealth and efficiency wipes them off the map. And rightly so, since they show such bad taste as to deviate from the general consensus". The poor are spoil-sports. They burst the bubble of smug contentment. The poor are a blotch on the hyper-real landscape of the consumerist utopia.

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  10. Strange how little ie absolutely zilch, media attention was granted the recent embarrassing uncovering of footage of the BBC announcing the unexpected and frankly bizarre collapse of the Salomon Building on Sept 11, 01. The embarrassing bit being that they announced this unexpexted, bizarre etc half an hour before it happened. The implementation of one's brain would suggest a prepared press release got cocked up and put out too early. A BBC editor did make some lame attempt to explain it away, but quelle surprise, it failed to make a ripple in the media proper. Hunting real news no doubt, flies around shite and all that. Pity it wasn't something important like if a Big Brother contestant had said something racist.

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  11. I agree with Ed. The next time the government has a stupid idea, should the BBC just ignore it?

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  12. Pleeze....

    About time all you arse licking know nothing arty prats just stop....

    Beaux-driller and his fellow dreamers, halfwits and pixies have no knowledge or understanding, or else they would study reality not tripe.

    But there you go - the real/factual universe is too difficult - just live in the nursery - easy. In reality you are the problem - that is why ignorant people elect liars and believe the lies.

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  13. Bryan Appleyard:

    If you have read Guido's blog, then you will know that we, at the Home Office, have ten full-time staff to monitor blogs. We know where you live. You have been warned. The Big Bruiser is watching you!

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  14. the online pixieMarch 07, 2007 4:31 pm

    I've changed the last line. I think it's a real improvement. Or maybe a hyper real improvement. Anyway

    So farewell then Jean Baudrillard
    When I read you at uni
    You seemed quite hard
    But only in relation
    To some of the other theorists.

    You were an original
    But my essays on you
    Were counterfeits.
    Perhaps in the end
    My essays
    Will replace
    Your essays.
    Which will be thrown
    Into
    The dustbin of history.

    Or perhaps not.
    I'm wondering now
    If your death actually did
    If your life actually did.

    As you were soldier

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  15. Er, that's kind of what I was saying, Simian.

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  16. sextus empiriusMarch 07, 2007 4:44 pm

    "In reality you are the problem - that is why ignorant people elect liars and believe the lies."

    Steady on Sam!

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  17. Meanwhile... The BBC has substantially rewritten/updated the original story, with the effect that the first mention of texting, or any of the actual proposals that form the basis of the Beeb's story, doesn't appear until paragraph 10.

    Still, the BBC's first-four-paras, cross-media summary formula does now include the Alf Garnett reference for Ceefax viewers.

    Getting rather lively in here today, Bryan. Have you considered your own Jeremy Kyle-esque talk show?

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  18. I know, Johnny, it's a positive uproar. Talk show. No. But maybe if I could wear my I Hate People tee shirt.

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  19. Agree about hereditary peers. How else would elderly ladies living in Earl's Court basements get to speak, with authority, on matters connected to old age, or, for that matter, the late historian peers, Dacre and Russell, on matters of education/history etc? What will we get instead, another raft of greedy middle aged barristers turned politicos? Wow.

    As for the current jiggery-pokery, Lord Levy is a) New labour's chief fundraiser and b) Blair's ex officio envoy to the Middle East. He is not 'patronage secretary' responsible for nominating people to the peerage. Maybe the hidden truth of all this will be that boasting of one's huge importance to a more junior female colleague, is not actually an indictable offence, anymore than the far more tantalising information that he has built up heels that take his height to 5 feet 6.

    On an entirely unrelated subject, 'old' Gordon will probably sack most of the over 50s in his cabinet. Within the night 'young' Cameron will do the same with his shadow team. Why don't they all just bite the bullet and fill the ranks with some of our demi-educated 18 year olds just to demonstrate that complete ignorance/lack of experience in all except Arctic Monkeys and the like is the sine qua non for high office?

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  20. Surely, Bryan, you're missing a trick by not flogging your own self-promotional, branded tees on here.

    "Abducted by Appleyard" for your alien book, perhaps.

    Or "The (Long) Life of Bryan" for the new one.

    (I'll settle for 30 per cent.)

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  21. Well, pearages story is surely passe now - MPS have voted for fully elected House of Lords! Guess we will now go back to Rome and have Senators?

    I only started reading Jean Baudrillard after he wrote about media wars. I loved his take on events especially as it got the powers that be upset! Not bad for a French intellectual.

    He will be missed. At least Slavoj Zozek is now in London.

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  22. Incidentally, interesting post here on the coverage of Baudrillard's death, and the apparent culture of "anti-intellectualism".

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