Sunday, October 31, 2004

with satan on our side

This week British troops preparing to move from Basra to the more intense killing zones of northern Iraq held a special church service.

Proof of Christianity's absurdity is always in sharpest relief here, in their ability to not only justify war but to actively claim it as their own.

Admittedly, the Old Testament sends mixed messages, issuing the blunt and unequivocal thou shalt not kill alongside clear instructions for siege based war and murderous pillage where God says to kill all your enemies.

But Christians also have that other book, and in it Christ is pretty damn clear and far less confused than his dad. Love your neighbour as yourself - with an explanation that everyone is your neighbour - and the instruction not to resist those who piss you off or ever offer violence, on penalty of being decreed the worst person in heaven.

Balancing this with racist killing for mineral resources certainly presents a challenge for the Christian.

As magnificent contemporary protest singer David Rovics says, 'who would Jesus bomb?'

Maybe Jesus would bomb the Syrians
'Cause they're not Jews like him
Maybe Jesus would bomb the Afghans
On some kind of vengeful whim
Maybe Jesus would drive an M1 tank
And he would shoot Saddam
Tell me, who would Jesus bomb?

British and Commonwealth war graves cemeteries all have a 'cross of sacrifice' at the entrance, a crucifix with a sword superimposed. The symbolism is staggering.

Whilst individual soldiers are buried under headstones carved according to the wishes of their relatives - so there may be a crucifix, a star of David, or no symbol at all - the troops en masse are claimed for Christianity. Unknown soldiers have graves marked 'known unto God', with a clear implication that warfare was a holy undertaking.

But if he hadn't been clear enough already, God himself explained shortly after 9/11 'the whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior'.

This is all old news though, surely?

No, because this week the military finally moved toward a more consistent position, as the Royal Navy accepted its first out-and-proud practicing Satanist.

(Who Would Jesus Bomb is available, along with all of David Rovics' recordings, for free download at his website)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

oscar wilde: the musical

I hate musicals.

The way that actors almost get to a point of plausibility then scupper it by bursting into song. The way it isn't written to properly express any feeling, just to move the plot along in Hallmark-card rhyme. That infuriating pasted on smile that the actors do so fixedly. The way the singers are all drama school lightweights with no soul whatsoever. The way they have no passion for music, merely for reciting other people's words.

There are one or two exceptions. Cabaret (set in a cabaret, so they're meant to sing), Rocky Horror of course, and that episode of Buffy (taking the piss out of the whole format). Incidentally, two people I know said they considered getting rid of their TV after seeing the Buffy musical cos it was clearly the best thing that could ever be shown, and all subsequent viewing was bound to be downhill. It's a point of view that I respect.

Much about London still enchants and enthralls me, but the overload of adverts for musicals on the tube escalators gives me a barely containable urge to run amok in the West End with automatic firearms.

The Sound of Music is the only film that's ever made me sympathise with Nazis. Grease is the most despicable film of all time, reducing the social revolution of rock n roll to a gaggle of sappy sentimental white kids.

And Andrew Lloyd-Fuckin-Webber, composer of special election campaign music for the Tories, wasn't he one of those tossers who said they'd leave the country if Labour got in in 1997? Well go on then you twat - fuck off.

But it's not all bad news from the world of musicals. It's with a glad heart and a smug chortle I report that on Tuesday last week the Shaw Theatre in London opened its new production, Oscar Wilde: The Musical. Really, I'm not making this up.

Why am I pleased? Well, it closed after one performance because it was such a massive pile of pants.

It came from the same pen as the Cliff Richard musical, inventively titled Cliff.

The pen in question belongs to Mike Read. That's the former Radio 1 DJ and Saturday Superstore presenter, not to be confused with Mike Reid, the former Runaround presenter and the bloke who plays miserable old toad Frank Butcher on EastEnders.

Mike Read has a special place in my heart. A place reserved for gleeful revelling in the implosion of the careers of talentless twattish egomaniacs.

In doing the interviews for my Strawberry Switchblade uber-site, guitarist Jill Bryson recounted creepy tales of being on the business end of Read's unsavoury lechery.

Who'd have suspected such amorous advances from a man who refused to play Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax, basically because it uses the word 'come'?

Then a charity shop trawler friend found The Aldermoor Poems, a book of faux-sensitive, entirely useless poetry published by Read from the same time as he was harassing Jill Bryson. Should you really not value your time on this earth, you can check out Mike's weekly poem webpage.

Mercifully, he was swept away in the de-Smashey-&-Niceyfication of BBC music broadcasting and made to serve out his time as a Classic Gold DJ, but he won't roll over and exit with dignity.

As if his Cliff Richard biography and musical weren't enough, he then did Oh Puck!, a rewrite of A Midsummer Night's Dream as a musical set to hits of the 1980s.

Really, I'm not making that up either.

And then last week he inflicted Oscar Wilde: The Musical. The Daily Telegraph's review - under the headline Wilde suffers again thanks to Mike Read - said it was 'hard to feel anything other than incredulous contempt'.

The Guardian's no-star review suggested that the sketchy sound in the theatre may be because 'the sound system is being affected by the hefty rumbling of Oscar Wilde turning in his grave'.

Does he get the message? Is his kevlar-armoured ego even dented?

'Every time Charles Dickens published something, The Times shredded him,' he said.

He's just not going to stop is he?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

john peel

It's with enormous sadness this post reflects on the death of John Peel. The overwhelming majority of good bands from the last 35 years have been helped by him, usually in an essential way at a crucial early point in their career when few others believed in them. Think about that. You simply cannot say anything like that about anyone else.

Without Peel, we may never have even heard of pioneers like Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, The Clash, The Smiths, Nirvana, so neither would we have had the music those artists inspired.

Not only did he break the innovators and great artists, but he gave space to all manner of odd little bands too. Practically everyone has a favourite underrated band who your mates haven't really heard of from years past, and the odds are that Peel championed them at the time.

When all the muso snobs were decrying it, he knew punk was the real deal. A decade later when I was one of those muso snobs decrying it, he immediately knew dance music was vibrant and challenging and real. In between he was the first prominent broadcaster to play hip-hop, and lots of it.

From heavy roots dub reggae to Strawberry Switchblade, from punk to Hank Wangford, from African hi-life to The Cure, Peel brought music to me and the nation that we'd simply never have found any other way.

He was the foremost purveyor of the idea that there really was life outside of the narrow minded confines of the place I was growing up in.

He gave us music that embodied the spirit to hold true to yourself, to fuck the smalltown bullshit and seek out a less homogenous, more exciting, more humane wider world, to maintain your enthusiasm for the new whilst not rejecting the old, to seek and find and celebrate creativity, always face forwards, never cave in to the narrow minds jealous of your vigour, vision and drive.

It's a spirit he always lived true to, which is why we're not mourning the loss of a great man from the 70s, but a great man from the 70s onwards to the day he died, who didn't compromise or wuss out, or get cynical, safe or dull.

He lived as proof that you really can maintain passion your whole life through without mellowing or going mad.

He gave hundreds of truly great people the opportunity to shine and enrich the lives of millions to an incalculably large degree.

If music of the last 35 years means anything to you then you too should mourn his passing.

Monday, October 25, 2004

at least you haven't done this

Oh joy oh joy. Got an email from a friend. I feel truly heartened to know a man who'd do such a thing as he describes, and doubly heartened that I'm thought of as one who'd appreciate him telling me of his ill deed.

I think you'll appreciate this one. Friday night I was so drunk I used my mate's credit card to order 170 quids worth of fetish gear off the internet - including a gas mask with 24 inch dildo attachment coming out of the mouth, a pvc outfit - shorts and a top with attached pvc mittens, and a rubber mask with a 12 inch dildo for the nose.


Still, it doesn't display a lack of wisdom to make a mistake, only to make the same mistake repeatedly. And his particular mistake has a built-in once-only failsafe, in that you can't really use the internet if you're wearing PVC mittens and have to keep your face 24 inches from the keyboard.

Go and feel better about your life. Whatever befell you at the weekend, at least you never did that.

170 quid!

24 inches!


Friday, October 22, 2004

brazil: what movies are for

Despite being several weeks into the three month long firework season, there are still many reasons why I love living in the inner city.

And right up there at the top - along with the 21 hour a day availability of samosas within five minutes walk – is that whatever you’re into, or get into, or could get into, there’s a whole bunch of people up for it too.

Squatting our post office closed in the recent cull and turning it into an anarchist infoshop-cafe, Maelstrom is a great example of exactly what I love about urban life.

Last night there was a showing of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. I first saw it when I was about 17 and it spooked me mightily. Instantly it became more or less my favourite film, and having not seen it in years I’m glad to see that it is the masterpiece I remember.

Discussing it immediately after, one person was so goosed they were in tears, yet unable to pinpoint why. They’d 'had problems following it'.

Certainly, that wasn’t made any easier by viewing in a crowded room with bad sound, occasional mewling children, people coming and going, and at one point – hilarious, considering it’s a film where riot cops repeatedly burst into scenes through the walls – a break for an unwanted visit from the coppers cos Maelstrom’s a squat.

My friend also had other problems with it: Which bits were dream and which were real? How could Sam have known Jill’s face before he’d met her?

All of these were factors, but the real upset was from something deeper than that. Something disturbing.

Most films have a formula that runs like this:
  • Here is a character.
  • Here is why you should like them.
  • Here they are getting into a scrape.
  • Here they are getting out of that scrape.
  • Feel better now?
  • The End.

It’s tried and trusted, and indeed it’s a great way to tell a story and impart a message. It’s also immensely predictable and a sure-fire moneyspinner so that, with most movies, the only thing that’s different in the viewer at the end is that they’re a bit older and a bit poorer.

Why not mess with those ideas? Why must I identify with the lead character? Why must there be peril? Why must it all be resolved, and positively at that?

As Matt Johnson said about BBC radio’s refusal to play his magnificent single Heartland, it’s not the subject matter people have a problem with, it’s the medium. We can handle stories of raped pensioners in the news, but not in the song after the news. That’s got to be George Michael singing about shagging.

Likewise, we can handle a downbeat end to a novel, but not to a film. We can watch a film with far more graphically depicted, far worse things happening than in Brazil, as long as the lead character gets out OK.

But for me, it’s precisely what I loved most about Brazil - that, as with 1984 which it’s almost a rewrite of, the authoritarians win. I don't like it cos I like the authoritarians, I like it cos it's unexpected, it plays with my preconceptions whilst still ringing true. If they were able to be beaten by a Winston Smith or a Sam Lowry they wouldn’t have been there in the first place.

The offensive patronising idea that audiences won’t like such things led to that bizarre happy ending being clumsily nailed on to the theatrical cut of Blade Runner. Gilliam refused to release Brazil in the USA rather than let it go out with the ‘uplifting’ changes the studio wanted. Only after it swept the US critics end of year choices and Gilliam took out full-page adverts in Variety saying ‘when are you going to release my movie?’ was it released.

This twist on your expectations, this extra ring of truth to the situation is what makes it such a great story. And thinking about it, there’s a measure of this in all the films that I never cease to adore.

In Withnail & I the lead character may have a bright future promised, but nobody else has, and the film is entirely about decay and endings. It’s autumn, it’s the last weeks of the decade, it’s the last days of the friendship, and for the peripheral characters the last chances of their dreams have all gone.

In Cinema Paradiso (Director’s Cut), a film so potent I can rarely stand the idea of watching it again and just skimming the screenplay the other week had me in tears, the chance of it all being OK in the end was lost in error, but now it’s too late to fix it and, agonisingly, life has to go on.

In Apocalypse Now, by the end you’re not sure who’s right anymore, indeed you’re pretty damn sure nobody is, that there’s no way out of the scrape.

These are a lot more believable than good guys getting a happy ever after. By challenging the formula these remarkable films don’t just expose the staleness of contrived production-line movies, they shift our understanding of what film can do, they get us to think about what movies are there for.

They are our society’s folk tales, there to impart wisdom and warnings and to get us to imagine circumstances we’ve yet to encounter in order that we can make better judgements when the time comes. Such fables demonstrate why some seemingly good ideas don’t really work (and why some seemingly bad ones do), they get us to see perspectives we'd never otherwise know, they foster common bonds of reference and ethics.

They visually depict to us as a mass what we’d otherwise only feel, separately.

The physical landscape of Brazil may not be familiar, but the emotional one is. I couldn’t offer a real-world literalist explanation for how Sam knew Jill’s face before he met her cos I don’t think there is one.

But as a metaphor, it’s something I recognise from my life and from most of those around me. There’s a sliver of an idea backed by an overwhelming irresistible yearning to follow it. You can’t explain, you yourself don’t really understand, you just know you’ve got to find where it takes you and any delay or denial is wrong and clouds your every moment until you go.

As you head towards this thing, the direction of your life has now changed irrevocably, and your faith in this idea being right is a large part of what makes it turn out to be right. But, equally, you were wrong too, in many ways it’s not what you’d dreamed. But you’re there now and have to carry on.

This is such a common thing that we have a specific phrase for it in modern parlance: to be on one.

Whilst what’s on screen in Brazil is more visually alien than in, say, Two Weeks Notice, the feel of the place is far more realistic.

In Hollywood movies all clothes are new and even the rubbish seems polished, whereas in Brazil there’s so much technology around that much of it is always on the blink, a place where things – not just the machines – don’t work as well as they should and we don’t know how to fix it. A place where the diabolic is accentuated by its veneer of the happy - advertising hoardings of fresh mountains cover polluted hellholes, a squalid tower block called Shangri-La Towers, near the Orange Blossom Flyover.

So with the confused complaint that Gilliam’s fantasy style made it difficult to pick what was ‘real’ and what was ‘dream’, the answer wasn’t to go through and definitively label each scene as one or the other. It was to point out that that’s what life’s like, and that was the point.

The way we feel in ourselves dictates the way we interpret the world around us, and what we pick to do next in it. Our view of the internal landscape colours – even creates – our view of the external one.

Conversely, what’s happening around us alters our mindset, the external also colours our interpretation of the internal.

This mish-mash of objective and subjective is how we live. The way Brazil moves between the two and blends them is an impressionistic vision of that fact, of those feelings.

Brazil is one of those movies like The City of Lost Children or Eraserhead or The Hudsucker Proxy, so weird-looking and dreamlike that it cannot be real and literal, so it’s blatantly saying that everything you’re seeing is something else, it’s symbol, allegory, metaphor.

From there it encourages the viewer to see all films, all art this way, to search for bigger-picture ideas and deeper more enduring truths, something far more personal yet far more universal than the superficial disposable fare on offer. It’s this encouragement that stretches way beyond its own content that makes Brazil a great rather than merely good movie.

Art that simply gives us the cosy feeling of recognition isn’t enriching us, it’s a toady yes-man to our spirit, giving us a narrow feeling of solid rightness now but with a long term undermining of what keeps us vigorous, evolving and wise.


UPDATE 15 July 2009. Were I to write it these days, this post would be littered with references to the work of Charlie Kaufman. The things that make Brazil great are mere sparks to Kaufman's fire.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

chirac the little shit

Seeing as he was mentioned in the last post (ie my previous blog entry, not a trumpet riff played over a coffin), here's an excellent little Chirac story.

When he was mayor of Paris, one of the things he did apart from use the city's finances like a personal bank account was to introduce small motorised pooper-scoopers to attend to the flourishing quantity of dog shit gracing Parisian streets.

Now, in the wilfully fruity and ribald area of French rudeness one has a wide range of words for any given activity.

One word for 'to shit' is chier. Hence the phrase tu me fais chier, meaning 'I am rather tired of you', more or less.

A scraper in French is a raclette.

This made the canine crap-grabber a chie-raclette; spelled and pronounced Chiraclette, or 'little Chirac'.

Monday, October 18, 2004

this is what democracy looks like

I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here; 'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.'

'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.'

'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!'

- Bill Hicks

The US Presidential election looms large and still there's not a lot of difference between their ratings. They present themselves as being different to one another, but it's basically just a Pepsi/Coke branding choice. Do you want your cruel unsustainable consumer capitalism served up in Bush's preacher-style or Kerry's lawyer-style?

As George Monbiot pointed out, if Kerry's selling point is that he's a safe pair of corporate hands only he's not President Bush, then in four years time it'll be the same thing, only we should vote for the new guy cos he's not President Kerry, and the cycle will continue for as long as both candidates are undemocratic servants of corporate interests.

As in 2000, it can hardly surprise us that the votes are split pretty much 50-50 if the two candidates are so similar. And, given the Soviet-style electoral choice between two candidates effectively from the same party, it's not surprising that half the electorate stay at home on polling day.

So I still question the assumption that all Nader's votes really belong to the Democrats. Nobody voted Nader thinking he'd win, they voted cos he stood for something different, something humane and refreshing that the two big parties studiously ignore or assault.

So surely, if he'd not been on the paper, many Nader voters wouldn't have voted for anyone in 2000.

Tactical voting, and voting per se, is one of those issues like free speech versus anti-fascist action where I agree pretty strongly with both opposing sides. So don't expect any strong coherent message in this posting, it's gonna ramble around a bit.

But at the end of the day with voting I usually grudgingly end up going for the lesser evil. Fuck, imagine if we'd not kicked the Tories out where they'd have had us by now.

However slight, there is a difference between the two main candidates and one of them will be president. With all those Reagan and Nixon lunatics in the Bush team, I have to say if I were in the USA then, despite fully knowing that Kerry's a big business scumbag, despite hating the idea of voting for anybody ever - do you really trust anyone in politics with your life? That's what electing them is doing - I'd still vote Kerry.

It's no solution, nobody should sit back and think he'll make everything alright, but there are clear quantifiable differences between him and Bush. Anyone who says different needs to go to one of the hundreds of African AIDS clinics that can't give out condoms anymore cos otherwise the Bush Administration will take away funding.

A step in the right direction is worthwhile change. Legalisation of abortion, recreational drugs or homosexuality are not in themselves egalitarian anarchist utopia, but they're clearly beneficial and are worth the struggle. So it is that it's worth getting anyone in who'll remove Bush's administration and its insane friends from power.

If tactically voting for Kerry, Americans would do well to take a tip from the French. Due to the bizarre French presidential electoral system, in 2002 it came to a choice of smug right-wing crook Jacques Chirac, or the fascist Jean-Marie le Pen.

(Supporters of the British first-past-the-post always hold the French system up as proof that proportional representation doesn't work, when the French one is actually first-two-past-the-post then another round to choose between them).

All across France people of all persuasions bar fascism mobilised to ensure le Pen had no chance. Posters went up, marches were held across the country. On election day people in protective overalls were outside polling stations offering disinfectant to those who'd just voted Chirac.

Some in the establishment decried it, whilst others - applause for the mayor of Villemagne, please - personally offered rubber gloves for the hands and pegs for the noses to those who'd vote Chirac.

All of it shows once again that representative democracy doesn't work. People talk of the 'failed experiment' of Communism after 70 years of the Soviets, but what about the failure of all other governments? Nowhere on earth is there a competition between people genuinely loved by their electorate, nowhere can people look at their leader and say 'this is the best our country can produce'. Cos wherever you create power you attract those who love power and discourage the humane ones who hate it.

As Lenny Bruce said, the only people fit to rule would never do it, you'd have to drag them kicking and screaming to the White House and barricade them in.

But more than that, proximity to power makes them even worse. Hence the cliche of election promises betrayed, hence the startling repressive drive of anyone who becomes Home Secretary.

Power itself is the problem, so any entrenched power, be it Labour in the Welsh valleys or the Orangemen in Northern Ireland or any of the more revolutionary leaders elsewhere in the world, once they have power over you they'll betray you. Going to the ballot box and giving them your mandate reinforces the power that keeps them fucking you over.

How do you get the bus to Utopia when your connnecting service is the Fuckup Circular? You've gotta get off the bus and find your own way.

For all the enormously powerful arguments against the political parties and economic systems, they are not the problem, merely superficial symptoms of a deeper truth. Centralised power and mass societies fail us spectacularly. Despite people flocking to the cities for a better life, the worst living conditions are urban. Despite being surrounded by people, it's in cities that we find the most isolation from others and from our own spirit.

But - and here's the twist - as a species we love familiarity and so if all we've ever known is life within these systems of alienation, then it's where we feel most at home. The more you're a part of mass society the more alienated you feel from it.

As I've said before, mass societies are too much for humans. They make us feel too small to make any difference individually and so they make us feel useless and pointless. The idea of millions of others is literally unimaginable, so we readily ignore the plight of those who need help.

This disconnection, this rootlessness leads to the restless emptiness inside, makes us ripe for anything that promises salvation, particularly a salvation that - unlike the religious afterlife tales - comes incrementally, that gives us a little something right now. It makes us ripe for consumerism.

It's further proof that, put simply, there are just too many of us.

Friday, October 15, 2004


I listened to OK Computer again recently, first time in ages.

I know that any 'best of all time' charts always have a bias to whatever's recent. The late 1980s Radio One top hundred singles of all time that included seven Bros efforts springs to mind.

Really, can you even name seven Bros singles? Exactly.

But OK Computer really does deserve all that 'top ten best albums ever' stuff. It stretches our ideas of what pop music can be without ever being gratuitous or artsy-fartsy, constantly compelling, such a continual swirl of varied dynamics and feelings, majestic and melancholy, emotional atmospheres so very potent and yet so opaque.

Even with great music you can usually figure how it's been put together, but occasionally there's something else, a billowing aural cloud rather than constructed components. There are clues, moments of this with Spiritualized and the more recent stuff by The Church.

Then, very rarely, it comes complete. With OK Computer or Smile we get music so textural and mysterious, so blended and complete that it's impossible to imagine it being made by mere humans using instruments available to anyone. It sounds like every feeling you ever have, and leaves you deeply affirmed by the fact that there are such great artists who can create work capable of doing such a thing.

And then Rodeohead happens. As the name suggests, it's an MP3 of a down-home fast-fiddling country music medley of Radiohead songs.

It could either upset you as blasphemous desecration, or else - and as one of a team of sometime sonic terrorist mash-up artists this is the option I went for - it could make you wracked with laughter that renders you creased up like a discarded napkin.

It's so carefully and authentically done, and gets better with every play. Go get it.

Incidentally, how long d'you reckon it'll be before Q Magazine have a Q Magazine's Top Hundred Q Magazine Top Hundred Polls Poll?

Monday, October 11, 2004

a great big fib

Mr Blair said:
'I have no doubt whatever that the evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction will be there. Absolutely.'

'Those people who are sitting there saying: "Oh, it's all going to be proved to be a great big fib got out by the security services, there will be no weapons of mass destruction" - just wait, and have a little patience.'

1,625 UN and US inspectors spent two years searching 1,700 sites at a cost of more than $1bn. Last Wednesday they delivered their verdict: There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Blair is the most able politician of his generation. As long as his refusal to back down keeps us asking 'did he lie?', we never get on to 'why did he lie?'. It remains merely a gossipy debate about an individual's personal integrity.

So even though it's now proven there were no WMD, the obvious follow-on question that's screaming out to be asked is not even being mentioned; What was the war all about?

Friday, October 08, 2004

f.a.b. noel gallagher

Oasis not only take their musical cues from icons of the 1960s, but their visual ones too.

Check out Noel Gallagher's anatomical plagiarism of Parker from Thunderbirds.

Monday, October 04, 2004

a very english killer

I've just published a new article, Simon Mann: A Very English Killer.

Simon Mann is a chum of Mark Thatcher's, and he got collared in Zimbabwe buying weapons for a coup against Equatorial Guinea. The article details some of Mann's earlier exploits and the rise of the corporate mercenary.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

i am tony blair's apologist

Bono takes the platform at the Labour Party conference to ask for justice for Africa. He said that we'll be watching to see if the politicians deliver.

Exactly how many chances do they get? How long's Bono going to give them before he admits that if they haven't delivered it is because they choose not to?

The western governments know about it all already because they designed and built much of the misery in Africa, and - and this is the bit I think Bono just doesn't see - their entire system of power and standard of living depends on maintaining it.

They are poor because we are rich, and we are rich because they are poor.

By taking the platform, Bono is denying that and having faith that the system of vampiric cruelty will right itself. It's as absurd as expecting justice from the Catholic Church's investigations into its paedophile priests, or complaints against the police being investigated by other coppers.

His presence lends credibility to the Labour conference and the government, credibility that they have long proven they are unworthy of. He even singled out Clare Short for praise, when she was the worst of Blair's government for damning the world's poor (so far).

Bono makes a habit of this. At the G8 summit in Genoa he was there hobnobbing with the leaders and slagging off the protesters for their violence.

I don't think violence is ever right, Bono said.

Think of the magnitude of political violence ordered and/or supported by those politicians whose hands he was shaking, those who he praises and compares to Elvis and the Beatles.

If we had war crimes trials for winners as well as losers, and if we applied the standards of Nuremberg then Bono's mates like Clinton and Blair would be dangling from ropes.

He called James Wolfensohn, the head of the fuckin World Bank a 'moral' man, 'the Elvis of economics'. More like the Goebbels.

The suits love the glamour and credibility Bono gives them, and they've realised all they have to do is say the right words, it needn't affect them carrying on with all the things Bono's complaining about.

Blair's the most adept politician of his generation. He knows that conference tends to look divisive and insular, so to counter that they need something media-friendly full of warm fuzzy feelings. He's from the 1980s Labour Party, a time when the Tories had realised the value of American-style rallies whilst Labour still used conference to discuss and debate. It made them look all bickering and ideological. Blair knows there needs to be unifying noble themes.

What better cause, what could be more clear and simple, than Africa - people hopelessly impoverished and diseased and dying miserably for the simple lack of food or the cheapest drugs.

Indeed, this is why Blair's done all this before. His conference speech three years ago was full of how great we were going to be to Africa, how it was 'a scar on the conscience of the world', and in the meantime we've continued to stand by and watch the wars and starvation and epidemics, when we've not been actively fuelling them.

The Bono appearance is just a repeat of that cynical hoary old trick with some extra glamour (beats the Tories past performances with Cilla Black and Kenny Everett). Bono has an inkling of it and said so - I am Tony Blair's apologist, the rock star pulled out of the hat at the Labour Party conference - yet still retains the bizarre belief that a little tweaking will make the globalised economy fair, and those who enact the injustice are the best people to fix it, we just have to ask them nicely.

While - out of context - what Bono said about injustice was unarguable, it actually entrenches the injustice because it places faith and credibility in the Labour party and the Western globalisers as the agents of positive change, instead of recognising them as the architects and engines of the suffering.