It is still utterly disgraceful.
One of the reasons we elected Blair, and gave him a colossal mandate, was years of Tory sleaze and cronyism.
'The cursed power that rules by privilege
And goes with women and champagne and bridge
Broke, and democracy renewed its reign
(Which goes with bridge and women and champagne).'
I was not surprised, in a sense, because of much experience of cronyism and control freakery, and a strong suspicion that I had been brushed by worse than I knew of. ( When serious players tell you that someone was massively rewarded specifically for stitching me up, I am sceptical, but regard the belief as evidence of what is going on.)
But even then, we were voting for Blair because he was 'a pretty straight kind of guy' when it came to money matters. And he wasn't. He is far too forgiving of the peccadilloes of his friends, for one thing - Mandelson and Blunkett - and for another there is all this nonsense.
He raised fourteen million pounds for the election by borrowing it from rich men who got considered for peerages, poor saps. Loans don't have to be declared or monitored, or indeed paid back. They are hidden donations, more or less.
I don't regard it as an excuse that the Tories do the same thing.
The interesting question is, how was this money spent, given that the Party Treasurer and the Deputy Prime Minister did not know anything about it? Who gets to sign off on political expenditure if those two are not in the loop? And who failed to notice £14 m being spent?
I really want to know, and not just because of my fervent hope that this will be the thing which finishes Blair for good.
In the case about the young Muslim woman who wants to wear a more extreme version of 'modest dress' than her coevals, one of the lawyers in the case -
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1734330,00.html - remarks
'We live in a multicultural, multiracial society, and the problem is how do you square that with headteachers maintaining discipline through things like uniform policies. Other examples could be a Rastafarian child arguing the right to wear dreadlocks, or a child cross-dressing.'
And I find myself saying that, if people's religion is that important, then so is people's gender identity. I know plenty of trans people who were excluded from school and educational oppurtunity because they insisted on wearing the right clothes for them - two of my ex-flatmates, one of whom is utterly brilliant, but never got over it.
I also feel that this is an important issue to raise, simply because it will raise the issue of whether people arguing for religious dress want universal freedom or just freedom for them.
I also note that in the discussion of polygamy by rightwingers using it to attack gay marriage - slippery slope argument yet again - see
the correspondents almost all of them identify polygamy as polygyny, the possession of access to a number of women by a patriarch. Whereas there is also the question of the rights of people in committed polyamorist bisexual relationships to formalize their relationships. Which may be a minority issue, but is not a trivial one, when it comes to eg access to hospital visits, adoption rights and so on.
Patriarchal polygyny is highly questionable, and I don't know where I stand about formalizing it, except for ensuring that all the women in such relationships get some sort of rights. Egalitarian polygamy, on the other hand...
Given how the performance of James Callis as Gaius Baltar draws on Tony Blair's mannerisms, are we to assume that, just as Baltar is haunted by a cool dominatrix preacher fanatic version of Six, his Cylon lover, so Blair is, inside his head, constantly visited by a young, hot, non-senile, non-drunk, non-clawhanded version of Margaret Thatcher? That really is a horrible thought.