Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Unelected community leaders bad, unelected special advisers good

Shorter Paul Richards:

The government should not listen to unelected community leaders such as Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain, because they have never been elected to public office.

Instead, the government should listen to people like me, as I not only wrote a book called 'How to win an election', but also used to be chair of the National Organisation of Labour Students. I know all about how to help progressive forces within the Muslim community thrive, e.g. by calling them useful idiots who wanted to keep Saddam Hussein in power.


At 7:20 am , Blogger Chris Brooke said...

It's lovely having Paul "The Thinker" Richards blogging again, after his five-year absence. I think his was the first genuinely stupid political blog in this country.

At 8:28 am , Blogger Paulie said...

It's hard to think of anything kind to say about Paul Richards, but I'm not sure you've picked the right thing to attack him on here.

I'd suggest that the notion of 'community leadership' needs to be questioned a good deal more than it is. And are you saying that there's something wrong with the notion of the special adviser?

I'd sooner that we had a great many more special advisers than we do at the moment. They have a bit more legitimacy than the permanent civil service, don't they?

They should be appointed by and responsible to ministers more than they are at the moment, but still....

At 10:16 am , Blogger donpaskini said...

Hi Paulie,

I think there are many criticisms to be made of Iqbal Sacranie, but 'the government shouldn't listen to him because he wasn't elected' is a bit of a curious one from someone who isn't elected and has had a much greater influence on the development of government policy.

As for more special advisers, in principle, yes, though in practice I'm not sure what benefit either the government or the taxpayer got out of Paul Richards' efforts.

Chris - he's really hit the ground running, hasn't he?

At 11:08 am , Blogger Chris Brooke said...

Yes. It's hard to think that Paul "The Thinker" Richards could be even more aggressively stupid than he was back when he was making his heroic contribution to the pioneering days of British political blogging, but he's clearly been drinking deep from Nick Cohen's What's Left?, and that'll help him with the aggression, and almost certainly with the stupidity, too.

(I love the way he talks casually of 'the death of ideology' in this piece, and then sets out a series of straightforwardly ideological considerations about hierarchies of political values, without apparently realising that that's what he's doing.)

At 12:06 pm , Blogger Quietzapple said...

Were I still a Councillor, as I was, elected in a conservative area on a Labour ticket in 1985 against the run of play as it were, I'd listen to all sorts of people, and hope to pay attention to those likely to get things right.

At 12:19 pm , Blogger donpaskini said...

My goodness - I'd forgotten about the previous incarnation of Paul "The Thinker" Richards:

"But real politics means that those who are chosen to lead must trust their instincts and be bold. Churchill knew that in 1940. Blair knows it in 2003. When confronted with war in Iraq, Labour’s leader faced down the demonstrators, drama queens and the Daily Mirror, and did what he believed to be right. As events have turned out, Tony Blair was right, and the placard-wavers, tabloid journalists and backbench doom-merchants were wrong.

The people of Iraq will lead immeasurably better lives and a miserable dictatorship has been dismantled, quickly and efficiently."

At 12:33 pm , Blogger Chris Brooke said...

"At a time when traditional politics is dying on its feet, when mainstream journalism is reduced to gossip, smears and plain old getting it wrong, and the public meeting is as rare as a dodo egg, here in the blogosphere ideas still matter, and good writing prevails. Politics is dead. Long live politics."

At 2:12 pm , Anonymous Tasteful eh? said...

Still, he made a lovely start to his blog at LabourList today...

"I was saddened to hear of the death this week of Senator Teddy Kennedy, who has died aged 77. He lived rather longer than Mary Jo Kopechne, who was only 28 when she drowned in the car Teddy Kennedy drove off the road and into the Poucha Pond on Chappaquiddick in 1969, after a party. But hey."

What a nice guy.

At 2:48 pm , Blogger Chris Brooke said...

Paul "The Thinker" Richards is a nasty piece of work. He once used his previous blog, "The Thinker", for helping to circulate the repulsive and bogus charge that a well-known rabbi had once accused Michael Howard of "spiritual Nazism".

At 4:47 pm , Anonymous Simon said...

It's a most interesting article from Paul "The Thinker" Richards. It is almost as if nothing has happened in British politics in the years he has been away from blogging, save for the publication of "What's Left" and Jim Fitzpatrick walking out of a Muslim wedding. This might perhaps be the last recorded instance of anyone claiming that anti-war marchers were "marching to save Saddam Hussein", a charge which was made repeatedly by the Decent Left prior to the Iraq war becoming an unarguable fuck-up.

At 4:47 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled by this stuff about "people chosen to lead trusting their instincts and being bold". In a democracy, leaders have to account for themselves. Blair said that he knew that Iraq had WMD and he was shown to be wrong; afterwards the best that he could say was that he believed that he was doing the right thing, which is hardly an explanation for an invasion. Or is Richards saying that it was right for Blair to lie about the strength of the information about WMD?


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