Members Only: A Look at London’s Private Clubs, from 1965

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This short film on Member’s Only Gentlemen’s Clubs and London Club Life from 1965, may look dated and even slightly quaint, capturing a world of seedy Anthony Powell characters in run-down, thread-bare, drafty rooms, but in very real terms, little has changed.

The Old Boy’s Network of privilege and power is still very much alive, and the British Establishment is probably now stronger than it has been in decades. Look at the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee, or the sofa jingoism of the Olympics, or this week with the failure of the Church of England to vote in favor of Women Bishops, and now today, the appointment of Lord Tony Hall as the new Director General of the BBC.

Hall was chosen by Lord Christopher Patten, whose previous choice for DG had been the hapless “incurious” George Entwistle, the man who was forced to resign after 54 days in office. Now Patten has appointed Hall - without an interview - as the new DG.

Hall is a successful ex-BBC man, who currently runs the Royal Opera House. He may be a decent and honorable man, he may kiss dogs and pat babies, and help old age pensioners across the street, but he is a BBC man, steeped in the arcane and out-dated traditions of a Corporation that is out-of-touch with the reality of life in Britain. His appointment is rather like voting for a Mitt Romney rather than a Barack Obama, it’s a wishful return to an illusory past, rather than moving forward into the present century. Even some of the effusive praise on twitter harks back to an older time - this from broadcaster David Dimbleby:

‘A brilliant choice. It feels like being in the Royal Navy when they were told, “Winston is back!”’

It’s strange that a previous era of strife, hardship, bigotry and division should be seen as commendable. Earlier this year, the up-market Daily Telegraph (of all broadsheets) reported on the analysis of “the make-up of the Lords found that 45 per cent of peers also had a London club such as the Garrick Club, Carlton Club or White’s.”

The [analysis], published in the journal Sociology, also showed the enduring power of Eton and Oxbridge, with around one in 10 of all members of the Lords educated at the Berkshire school whose past pupils also include David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

Dr Matthew Bond, a sociologist at London South Bank University, who conducted the study, said that it showed that, despite reforms, the Lords continued to be dominated by those with “vested interests in traditional status structures”.

He said it showed that: “The persistent hold of the British establishment on the political imagination is not without reason.”
...

Those who went to school at Eton showed a particular propensity to join such clubs, the study found, while they were also popular among this with a background in the military, civil service and the church.

“These groups – hereditaries, males, Old Etonians, Tories and, to a lesser extent, business people – have vested interests in traditional status structures,” said Dr Bond.

“In their social characteristics they also closely mirror popular conceptions of an establishment which have featured in popular discussions of the British power structure since the 50s.

“If they do not have a monopoly over elite positions, they at least have a formidable presence.”

This “formidable presence” is what links Tony Blair’s working-class father’s move from Glaswegian Communism to middle-England Toryism, with Eton-educated David Cameron belief that elitism in education will mend Britain’s so-called “broken society.” This “formidable presence” isn’t tradition - it is the maintenance of an out-dated, misogynistic, divisive and malfunctioning Establishment.

Members Only is a fine snap shot of club life in the 1960s, which moves from gentlemen’s clubs to casinos and then onto the bohemian hang outs, such as the Colony Room (look out for the legendary Muriel Belcher) and jazz clubs, where a young Annie Ross performs.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Jimmy Savile Gives Tony Blair the Horn

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Following on from m’colleague Thomas McGrath’s blog on the high weirdness of a photograph of Jimmy Savile with Pete Sutcliffe (aka The Yorkshire Ripper) and world boxing champ, Frank Bruno, here’s an amusing picture of kiddy fiddler Sir Jimmy Savile giving former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair the horn.
 
With thanks to Gia Marie Barbera
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Cassetteboy vs. The Diamond Queen

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Celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of HMQ start this weekend in Britain, and the duo behind Cassetteboy have delivered a fine piece of juvenile piss-takery at the expense of Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal Family, the British Prime Minister(s), the BBC and its presenter Andrew Marr.

Puerile, silly, and full of cheap innuendo, Cassetteboy have excelled themselves.  However, not everyone is happy, as allegedly the BBC has had this little gem removed form You Tube. As Cassetteboy explains:

‘If you’re interested, here’s what happened: Our video was removed by youtube after a copyright claim by the BBC. We then deleted the vid…’

Now you know, so, catch it while you can.

We say more power to Cassetteboy. And less to the killjoys.

Follow Cassetteboy on twitter.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Who benefits by Rupert Murdoch sacrificing the ‘News of the World’?

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The demise of the News of the World, the paper at the center of the UK’s ‘phone hacking scandal, has less to do with guilt, remorse or even people power, and everything to do Rupert Murdoch’s desire for power - no matter the cost.

Tonight Murdoch’s son, James announced the end of the 168-year-old tabloid, claiming it had been “sullied by behaviour that was wrong” and that “wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad”.

He went on to say:

“Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company.

“The News Of The World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.”

James Murdoch also echoed his father in giving his full support to the former NOTW editor, Rebekah Brooks, saying:

“She has a good standard of ethics and her leadership is the right thing for the company.”

Brooks was editor at the time when it is alleged a private detective, employed by the paper, hacked into the voice mail messages of the murdered teenager, Milly Dowler.

Brooks stated earlier this week that it was

“inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”

In light of this week’s revelations, what is truly inconceivable is the fact Brooks has not either

a) resigned

or

b) been sacked.

If she did not know that a private detective had been employed to hack ‘phones, then she failed in her role as editor, and should be sacked.

If she did know about it, then she should resign.

Whichever way you look at it, Brooks has to go.

Instead the Murdochs have pulled together and sacrificed a best-selling tabloid to defend Ms. Brooks.

The question is: Why?

Tonight, it was also announced that another former editor, Andy Coulson, who resigned in 2007 over the NOTW ‘phone-hacking, will be arrested by the police tomorrow.

Why protect Brooks and not Coulson?

What is disturbing about the whole NOTW ‘phone hacking scandal is the glimpse it gives of Rupert Murdoch’s power.

Since the days of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, politicians have courted Murdoch as an ally to win power.

Tony Blair met with him regularly and was a guest at a major News International party in Australia prior to Labour’s victorious election in 1997. Gordon Brown went on pilgrimage once a year to Sun Valley, to court Murdoch. Now David Cameron continues this tradition of fore-lock tugging.

This may seem like something political leaders have to do, but it takes on greater significance in light of the admission of criminal activity by Brooks during a government enquiry, eight years ago. 

It is a criminal offense to pay the British Police for information.

When questioned at a Select Committee hearing in March 2003, Brooks admitted to paying police for information.

“We have paid the police for information in the past.”

When asked if she would do so in the future, she replied:

“Depends.”

 

Rebekah Brooks admits paying the police for information - a criminal offense - in March 2003
 
If it was known back in 2003 that Brooks and the News of the World had committed a criminal offense then why wasn’t she prosecuted?

Are Britain’s politicians too frightened, too cowed, by Murdoch and his tabloid press? And if they are, why? What imaginary power does he hold over them?

And what power does Rebekah Brooks hold over Rupert Murdoch?

The question is: Who benefits by Murdoch sacrificing the News of the World? Does it make easier for Murdoch to now own BSkyB? Does it mean News International won’t have to pay out large sums to victims of ‘phone-hacking if there is no longer a News of the World?

Who benefits?

What David Cameron must do now is initiate a judge led enquiry in to the News of the World, Brooks, Coulson and Murdoch, as the police, in light of their involvement, cannot be trusted to investigate this thoroughly.

Cameron also has to stop Murdoch’s plans to take over BSkyB.

Both are a small step towards severing Murdoch’s influence over parliament. 

To stop Murdoch’s plans to take over BSkyB sign the petition here.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

The phone-hacking scandal that may finish Rupert Murdoch’s ambitions


 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Head of European Council Elected by Secret Society

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Now that weird-alien-bobble-head-guy Herman van Rompuy has been elected King of Infinite Space cough cough I mean president of the European Council, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief that… well, at least it wasn’t Tony Blair. However, check out this utterly bizarre story on the election process below?

Written by Jason Louv | Discussion
The Forgotten Peg: Chinese Yuan and U.S. Dollar
10.12.2009
10:18 pm

Topics:
Economy

Tags:
Charles Hugh Smith
China
Tony Blair
gold
dollar

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I am somebody who watches the price of gold rather closely—it’s actually the second thing I look at in the morning. We have no clocks in this house, so the first thing I do when I get out of bed is glance at the time in the corner of my computer, then click on the gold price widget on my desktop. When the price of gold wildly shoots upwards, it tends to mean that bad things are coming. But many times, such rocket-like fluctuation can be ascribed to group-think investor paranoia—or some barely justified Wall Street exuberance when gold drops in price—rather than any game-changing economic event. To be clear, I am very pro-gold, and think it’s a good solid investment, but I have watched it closely enough over the past few years to see the price drop even as the fundamentals of the economy got worse and worse. The opposite is supposed to happen. The price of gold does not change as “whimsically” as stock prices do, although gold is still most certainly subject to investor “moods”—moreso than any other commodity. That’s sort of the point, I suppose.

Lately gold has been on a bit of a tear with all of the doomsday “High Noon for the Dollar” type headlines and the rumors of China, Russia and the Arab states ending the US dollar’s almighty place in the scheme of “things” as the world’s reserve currency. (I’d wager Matt Drudge and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard must both have sizable gold holdings!).

Dangerous Minds pal Charles Hugh Smith presents a more nuanced view of the dollar’s fate at his Of Two Minds blog:

As the “news” continues to trumpet the decline/collapse of the U.S. dollar, many observers seem to have forgotten that the U.S. dollar is the defacto “shared currency” of the world’s largest economy and its biggest rising-star economy. Yes, the U.S. and the PRC—China. China’s currency (officially the renminbi, a.k.a. yuan) is transparently pegged to the U.S. dollar at about 6.8 yuan to the dollar, down from 8+ a few years ago.

Given that Japan is the world’s second-largest economy by most measures, and that the yen is informally pegged to the U.S. dollar (trading in a band of 90-110 yen for years on end), then it could be argued that the world’s three largest economies all “share” the U.S. dollar.

—snip—

Let’s establish the primary context of China’s leadership: 1 billion poor citizens seeking a better job/wage/life. Here is a puff piece by former U.K. prime Minister Tony Blair which makes one key point: most of China’s citizens are still very poor, and thus the leadership is obsessed with “growth” and jobs above all else: China’s New Cultural Revolution: The world’s largest country has a long way to go, but there’s no question it’s changing for the better. (WSJ.com)

Superficial stories about China are accompanied by glitzy photos of Shanghai skyscrapers and other scenes from the wealthy urban coastal cities, but the fact is that the consumer buying power of China is roughly equivalent to that of England (51 million residents).

Thus those who believe the vast Chinese manufacturing-export sector can suddenly direct its staggering output to domestic consumers in China are simply mistaken: Chinese consumption is perhaps a mere 1/10th of that needed to absorb the mighty flood of goods being produced by China.

Put yourself in the shoes of China’s leadership: what do you care about more: $2 trillion in U.S. bonds or creating jobs for 100 million people? It’s the jobs that matter, and despite its very public complaints about the slipping dollar, perhaps China doth protest too much—or more accurately, for domestic public consumption.

The consequences of a weakening dollar are neutral for Chinese exports to the U.S. but positive for exports to Japan and the European Union. Chinese exports to the EU and Japan have risen sharply in the past nine years, and a weak dollar keeps Chinese goods cheaper than rival exports in these key global markets.

Read More: The Forgotten Peg: Chinese Yuan and U.S. Dollar by Charles Hugh Smith

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion