David McCue…Trumping Donald on Canvas

Donald Trump Red Money

Warning: Not for those of a sensitive disposition. This post contains many images of Donald Trump.

Each year Single Malt Whiskey distillers Glenfiddich host a Spirit of Scotland Awards. It has a number of categories including for music, screen, art and writing.

Glenfiddich 2012 Spirit of Scotland

For the 2012 awards there were some controversy. Not for the music award which went to Gaelic folk-singer Julie Fowlis, or for screen which award went to actor Kelly MacDonald, not for art, awarded to the owner of Edinburgh Arts hub Summerhall, Robert McDowell, or for writing where the author Ewan Morrison took the award.

It was for the prime award itself, the Top Scot, which was won by Michael Forbes. You may not have heard of him but ask Donald Trump about him, mmm on second thoughts do not do that. Beyond the expletives and the bluster you will not be enlightened much.

Michael Forbes viewing Michael Forbes

Michael Forbes viewing Michael Forbes

If you don’t know who Michael Forbes is then the Glenfiddich web page detailing these awards describes him thus:

a farmer from near Balmedie in Aberdeenshire,

who became known after his refusal to sell his home

to billionaire Donald Trump for a luxury golf course development.

So you can at least understand Donald Trump taking a personal, very personal affront at this award.

He had previously described Michael Forbes as ‘living like a pig’ and his land as ‘a slum’.

Michael Forbes on land, photo courtesy of the BBC

Michael Forbes on his land, photo courtesy of the BBC

There had been considered Compulsory Purchase Orders (a UK legal statute that allows public authorities to buy land that they believe is in the public interest such as for roads and housing developments without consent of the owners) to remove his and others homes so as not to spoil the view for those visiting this golf course development (titled almost inevitably Trump International Golf Links), a sort of class-cleansing. Apparently Trump thinks golfing holidays for the wealthy are in the public interest!

His response then to the award and Glenfiddich came in the form of a tweet on December 5 ‘We are getting rid of Glenfiddich garbage alcohol from Trump properties’!

Only problem with this is that the Top Scot Award is not chosen by a behind-closed-doors select committee of Glenfiddich staff but by public vote! The Scottish public sided with feisty Farmer Michael Forbes over belligerent bully business-man Donald Trump. As we also saw with the 2012 US Presidential Election in a democracy the people will not always vote the way of wise Donald!

By coincidence at the time of Trump’s Twitter Diatribe against Glenfiddich I was watching You’ve Been Trumped the 2011 British documentary directed by Anthony Baxter and described by IMDB thus

In this David and Goliath story for the 21st century,

a group of proud Scottish homeowners take on

celebrity tycoon Donald Trump as he buys up

one of Scotland’s last wilderness areas to build a golf resort.

It was released August of this year and broadcast by the BBC in November causing Trump to Tweet ‘No surprise that BBC is in a major scandal for shoddy journalism. Any network that air’s Anthony Baxter’s garbage has zero credibility’ – conflating a whole range of issues in typical Donald style!

You've Been Trumped Poster

But this post is not a review of the documentary (but you should see it!) but of an artist, David McCue, whose work was featured in the film and the film’s poster. He is a Scottish painter and was commissioned to host an art event detailing Trump’s golfing resort development and various residents resistance towards it. It was titled pithily Triumphant? The Art of the Deal and took place on the farmland of Top Scot Michael Forbes, in July 2010.

David McCue Triumphant ExhibitionIn addition to McCue’s oil paintings the event included a crazy-golf sculpture, selected written correspondence and other related artefacts.

Donald Trump Crazy Putting Golf Sculpture

Donald Trump Crazy Putting Golf Sculpture

The oil-paintings were of both Donald Trump and Michael Forbes and even had I no knowledge of the events inspiring them I think the context would be very apparent! I  find them very striking.

Michael Fobes by David McCueThis first oil painting ‘Local Hero’ makes reference to the 1983 film by Scottish director Bill Forsyth of the same name in which an American oil company seeks to buy up an entire Scottish village so as they can build a refinery without local opposition – very obvious parallels to real life! Burt Lancaster plays the Trump role (Hero or Villain – a rhetorical question!) of oil billionaire Felix Happer.

And I should add many of the locals are in favour of the project as with Aberdeenshire residents today, as it promises jobs and money after all. The resistance comes from a hermit, known only as Ben, living on a beach who also owns that beach, the Michael Forbes figure as it were, played by late Scots Actor Fulton Mackay.

And as with Donald Trump the Felix Happer character believes his great money can persuade everything only to be disillusioned of this notion.

Donald Trump New York Clown

On David McCue’s site though I could find no other work of his beyond this Triumphant Art of the Deal commission. Perhaps it was his first work but I would think it is doubtful that an unknown artist would get such a commission, but possible. I would have to explore further.

Googling did not reveal much about him at all contending as he does with a much more documented American businessman of the same name – perhaps an unintended irony!

There is a very brief article in the Aberdeen Voice which describes him as a ‘Glasgow artist’ and in an interview on his own website he describes Andy Warhol as an adult hero. But much of the rest of that interview is about the Trump project including possible future developments

It is possible that the art works may be recontextualised in the future

His words, not mine! He is meaning that this Donald Trump Golf Development story is not over yet.

But nothing much forthcoming about him or the rest of his works.

Intriguing!

Michael Forbes Local HeroDonald Trump - Trump StakesMichael Forbes No More Trump LiesDonald Trump Think Big and Kick Ass

Pablo Lobato – picturing celebrity

Bevan tried to change the nation
Sonny wants to turn the world, well he can tell you that
he tried
I could make a transformation as a rock & roll star

written by David Bowie

Having featured three illustrators recently from Europe (Italy, France and Spain) today I feature one from another continent, America, more specifically Argentina.

Michael Jackson by Pablo Lobato

Michael Jackson

Pablo Lobato is his name and he first came to my attention, as with last week’s featured Cristina Grossi, on the Chicquero blog in a post from June of this year titled Celebrities Illustrated. And it is his illustrations of celebrities that this post will be focusing on.

And he is one of us. A WordPress blogger that is!

His most recent post a striking illustration of Bob Marley. Bob Marley the Rihanna of his time – I shall just leave that there without further explanation!

Bob Marley

Bob Marley

But what you may also note about this post is its date – 6 November 2009. Regular readers (are there any of you?!) will know that November 6 is a special day but that is not what I am alluding too, rather that the last post was over three years ago. Is he no longer illustrating or more likely has he given up the ghost on WordPress blogging for lack of page views and user feedback?! (I am in no way projecting my experience upon him here!).

We may be able to discover as there are links on his blog to his Facebook, Flickr and Twitter accounts. And also ‘My Reps’ – a link to his management company website.

His Facebook page though does not link back to a professional portfolio business type page thingey rather a personal page where we/I learn that his TV likes include Modern Family and Music likes Lou Reed. Listed among the Other, being his other interests, are American Caricaturist Al Hirschfield and another American illustrator, cartoonist and author Bob Staake.

But this is getting me and more importantly you nowhere. I say you because for myself there is great pleasure to be found in getting lost, going astray, the best car journeys etc etc…but you are just a flitting reader of this blog-post and I have already likely trespassed too much upon your time…

So perhaps his Flickr page will be more illuminating. And yes his work is featured and recent – he is alive and illustrating! His work his grouped into Sets and we can see that his work has featured in The New Yorker and the 2009 Monterey Jazz Festival among others.

Flickr page

Flickr page

He has also done twelve pieces based on the Western Zodiac. I do not believe in Astrology but here is his Scorpio, my star-sign! Star as in astronomy not celebrity!

Scorpio

Scorpio

If you do believe in Astrology and want to see yours and the rest or if you just believe in his illustrations then please follow this link.

Finally I would expect no dead-ends from his management company, Anna Goodson Management, and I was not disappointed – is that two double negatives making a positive?!

Anna Goodson Management Website Home Page

Anna Goodson Management Website Home Page

On clicking the ‘Artists’ hyperlink we come to this striking representation of the Anna Goodson Management client-base, with intriguing glimpses of yet more illustrators that I hope to explore further at a later date.

Clients of Anna Goodson Management

Clients of Anna Goodson Management

And Pablo Lobato being referred to just by his first name here, Pablo. If you name your child Pablo do you predispose them – boy or girl! – to become an artist genius?! At least to place the name and idea and grand possibility of Piccasso into your heart and mind…

His client page includes a link to his own website but we are greeted with this message – moving on!

His website down

This client page provides a brief bio about him

Soon after finishing his studies, Pablo started working as a graphic designer for different magazines. This, however, only lasted five years, since total boredom drove him back to his first passion – illustrations. Today, Pablo has made quite a name for himself in Argentina where he lives and works.

And it provides a good number of his works. I won’t have to go Googling today.

As Lobato has a fascination with celebrity I could just have featured a dozen or so of his illustrations without comment but as if I can keep my words to myself! I could also have featured them without name too and set up this post as a competition to see how many of them you recognise and to which then you could submit your answers to me by Email with the first to submit all correct answers to receive a lovely celebrity themed prize from me. But I’m a bah humbug and I ain’t giving any prizes away!

Jay-Z

Jay-Z

Pablo Lovato Beyonce

Beyonce

One famous person illustrated was also illustrated and featured in my post about Jorge Arevalo – namely Amy Winehouse – the link is to his illustration by way of comparison.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse

He also features Heads of State such as Obama, Chavez and Merkel. Are Heads of State celebrities? Is Obama? Perhaps some of them aspire to and would be better leaders if they did not.

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

Not all of his work is celebrity-fixated. He does very good illustrations too of jazz-ensembles – not that Jazz and Celebrity cannot be synonymous but come on let’s be realistic here! – and you should check them out.

I have focused in the main on celebrities from music and the movies but he also illustrates sporting and fashion stars too.

Finally more of the population of Celebrity-Ville where only the famous and infamous are allowed.

Elton John

Elton John

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen

Madonna

Madonna

Fame, (fame) what you like is in the limo
Fame, (fame) what you get is no tomorrow
Fame, (fame) what you need you have to borrow
Fame (fame)

written by David Bowie, John Lennon and Carlos Alomar

Jorge Arevalo in The New Yorker, and beyond

Jorge Arevalo Illustration of Audrey Tauto France

Audrey Tautou

I came upon Jorge Arevalo, well I nearly passed him by. If you read or have ever read The New Yorker then you will know that in amongst the endless words which you pretend you are swimming with but have long-since drowned, in amongst all these words are occasional pictures and photographs of which to serve as some relief from those words but are as often and quite rightly demanding our attention too. I must admit I usually but glance at them eager enough to keep up with those words but on this occasion I was distracted enough by an illustration to decide to explore its creator’s work further.

This particular issue was the October 22, 2012 one and the illustration in question was not even attached to a written piece but in the Goings On About Town which I usually rush through as not actually best placed to gad about New York what with being on the other side of the Atlantic and all. More particularly it was in the Movies Opening section illustrating ‘Nobody Walks‘.

Nobody Walks Jorge Arevaldo IllustrationWith the web an easy enough task to delve deeper and or wade wider and his own website  was quickly stumbled upon. It greets us with a photograph of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin). Clicking on we see his illustrations. There is not much detail on his website and perhaps there does not need to be.

His site does detail his clients, the list is not that long but again perhaps it does not need to be including as it does in addition to the aforementioned New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.

He has a number of books published of his portraits and illustrations too – I am not going to detail them as I have enough to gabble on about here. But if you like what you see here and want more of his work then there are links to his publications on his site too.

Juliette Binoche by Jorge Arevalo

Juliette Binoche

I’ve not included all the photos as what would be point of that when you can visit his site on his own terms and what-have-you, but instead a list of those not featured here who you may want to see illustrated in this fashion – Kate Moss with and without Pete Docherty, Chet Baker, Kate Hudson, Sasha Grey, Martin Scorsese, Lady Antebellum, James Franco, Kanye West, Jonas Brothers, Garrincha, Jane Reno, Jackie Kennedy, James Brolin, Elijah Wood, Chloe Sevigny, Pharrell Williams, Grace Coddington, Stacy Peralta and Alexander McQueen. A lot. Or enough.

Meryl Streep by Jorge Arevalo

Meryl Streep

Miles Davis by Jorge Arevalo

Miles Davis

The ones I have included I have kept my responses, bubbles of thought to a minimum  –  as I’m not you and you’re not obviously me therefore and it follows you will respond in your own unique way so I don’t think you are much interested in my view overmuch. We are all narcissists together on the world wide web after all. But anyway bravely, foolishly I include a few of my thoughts in words however invisible they may be to you between Arevalo’s portraiture.

Amy Winehouse by Jorge Arevalo

Amy Winehouse

Disgracefully I have never written about Amy Winehouse – her music, her voice, her life – what’s that about (?) but then I read your blogs dear subbers and you’ve not written about her either – what really is up with that?

I like the unfussy statement of Arevalo’s portraits. A kind of a doodle but super-charged in full colours.

Mad Men by Jorge Arevalo

Mad Men – y’know those Ad Men

Mad Men by Jorge Arevalo
More mad men…

Mad Men by Jorge Arevaldo
Mad Women…

His time frame stretches from Dean Martin to Miley Cyrus, the young at heart Dean to the old head on young shoulders Miley …

This picture of the Olsen Twins captures their innate spookiness well I feel.

The Olsen Twins by Jorge Arevalo

The Olsen Twins

The next of the singular time-defying Grace Jones and it looks like she is singing I’ve Seen that Face before!?!

Grace Jones by Jorge Arevalo

Grace Jones

Some of his illustrations are a bit more busy but no less bold.

The Black-Eyed Peas by Jorge Arevalo

The Black Eyed Peas

Charlotte Casiraghi by Jorge Arevalo
Charlotte Casiraghi, some minor European Royal

So if this has wetted your appetite, piqued your curiosity, stirred wonder in your hearts…you know what to do.

Privatize the pavements!

David Cameron's picture on the 10 Downing Stre...

David Cameron’s picture on the 10 Downing Street website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Privatize the roads! promises our Coalition Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader David Cameron.

In a speech to the nation, well to the Westminster Village hacks, crony-journalist’s finest, he went on.

Yes! Yes! Yes! But this is only the start ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet, no really, you really haven’t seen nothing yet.

This is our pledge to you – if we can find a way to privatize something, anything, we will. God Save The Queen, God Save Margaret Thatcher.

The natural progression I am sure you will agree to privatizing the roads is to privatize those – those bits on the sides, that losers sorry non-motorists – pedestrians? – use.

Privatize the pavements. End this era of free-loading strollers.

There will be many benefits of pavement privatization, most importantly, of course, that it will make huge amounts of money for the City hopefully including some of our corporate partners or donors – tomato, tomatho. Perhaps this will not improve our walkways but at least profits will be generated and a lot of them,  and don’t worry it wil be made by a few not the many which is always a good thing, none of that ‘we’re all in it together’ talk. Pure nonsense. Pure socialism!

And this brings us to one of those important and beautiful C words – no not Capitalism not even Conservatism (audience laughs) but of course I talk of Choice.

pedestrian sunday

pedestrian sunday (Photo credit: Commodore Gandalf Cunningham)

Some consider the quality of our sidewalks or their mere basic functional directional need to get us from A to B as being most paramount but they would be wrong. What exercises the good people of this country, those who will vote for us anyway, is choice or rather the lack of it. We leave our homes to be confronted with one pavement only. I am sure you share my frustration at this. Well, no longer. With this privatisation a utopia of multiple pavement options awaits us.

Privatization will mean you will have a multitude of pavements passing by your home competing for your business (coughs) use – potato, potahto – it is what you have been dreaming of. I am sure. A future too where the escalator walkway will no longer be the preserve of airport arrivals and departures but will at last come outside and become a feature of our suburban streets and shopping centre cruise-bys. For an extra-levy, naturally.

This government is keen to encourage healthy life-styles and any mileage beyond the first fifty per day will be free.

Some of our critics have suggested that privatization of the pavements is backdoor privatization of walking itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can trust us.

Further the first fifty yards of walking sorry pavement use will be levy-free. This is nothing to do with us favouring the motorist by allowing those without a garage or driveway to get to their car – rather a concession to our coalition partners who love their thresholds and are determined that no-one using Britain’s pavements should have to pay for the first fifty yards per day. More details will follow in a speech I am to give three days from now. [Privately a leading conservative expressed regret at this concession as ‘more crazy socialism from our Lib Dem partners’ and ‘as soon as we are free to govern alone we will make sure every UK citizen gets charged for every step they make, this is what business and their shareholders want, and as we all know, this is what really matters’]

London pavement

A pavement! In London!

The Department for Transport when asked about costing advised it was still in talks with the Treasury but that it was up to the market and they predicted it would likely be something innocuous ‘like a penny per step’.

Later in the week the Department for Transport also warned that it has seen websites appearing advocating other forms of bipedal movement to defray the pedestrian-duty (as it was now being called)  such as hopping, skipping and jumping but that this was not the British way and hopping in particular could be very dangerous. What if, for example, some one accidentally hopped off the pavement into oncoming traffic. Think of the poor motorist, not to say their insurer. Oh and the injured hopper. The Department also advised they would take a dim view regarding an explosion of space-hoppers on our pavements adding ‘no one wants to see that sort of thing on Britain’s streets’. And that the government were always minded that any use of the public pavement has to be considered in terms of revenue generation sorry public safety.

In his follow-up speech the PM stood behind his podium and self-importantly shuffled the papers he was reading from and then looked earnestly toward the TV camera’s in his this-is-my-serious-face (just don’t look into my laughing eyes) address-the-nation mode.

Currently there is a casual anarchy on our pavements with pedestrians dangerously navigating on both the left and ride side, and a constant stream of inconsiderate slow moving elderly and dawdling toddlers and other non-motorist los…loiterers without commercial intent I guess you might call them. And they unlike motorists can take to the sidewalks without any training or walking license. The privatization of our pavements will ensure that pedestrians are moving in an orderly fashion and that zig-zagging on a public walk-way will be a thing of the past.

He added they would be looking at introducing a speed limit on the public-walk-ways with penalties for anyone walking too slowly.

The Opposition parities were vehemently against these proposals with Labour describing it as ‘venal and crazy’ and, as they have said about all previous privatizations, a ‘privatization too far’ although they have not said they will reverse it should they get back into power. A spokesman added that they could not possibly make such promises at this time as by the time of the next election it could have established itself as a popular policy with the country. Or at least with the swing-voters in their marginal seats.

A Big Issue seller in High Street, Oxford, Eng...

A Big Issue seller in High Street, Oxford, England in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, when pressed if he had ever used a pavement replied ‘that he was sure that he had done’. The Prime Minister was keen to add that he had most certainly done so remembering he had walked on one in London in he thinks 2004 though it might have been 2003 but you could not expect to remember details like that. But, he huffily assured us that he had, explaining that he remembers as he had been accosted, coughs, approached, by a young man selling a copy of the Big Issue, which in passing he added was a wonderful example of entrepreneurship and which had also given him the seeds for his idea of the Great Society now referred to as the Big Society and perhaps yet Big-Ish Society. He also recalled that he did not have any cash on him at the time so sadly he emphasized he could not buy the magazine but did pat the seller on his shoulder and exhorted him ‘to keep it up’ before quickly moving on.

Labour Leader Ed Milliband was quick to take to the pavements and more importantly to ensure a camera-crew was in pursuit and dismissing the whole policy in he hoped a sound-bite that would taste good ‘This is the Government’s doomed Chasing Pavements strategy’. Sky News TV naturally did not hesitate to film Ed on his media-circus walkabout to the strains of Adele. Whilst the Guardian newspaper made a similar jibe about David Cameron’s pavement privatization policy in a barely read column in their Transport section

Pavement

Another pavement! Not in London!

The Prime Minister went on to say that he was very excited about the commercial opportunities for privatizing the walkways (adding perambulation is a privilege not a right) and though they had not got into the detail (at all in fact) options would include pavement tolls, GPS tracking, Pram Cams – whichever was the most efficient to implement, or rather cost-efficient to implement, oh damn it you know what I mean ‘the one that generates the most profit for the private companies running them that I have some hopefully concealed commercial relationship with’.

Related to this a senior member of The Minister of Transport said that his Executive Position and newly acquired shareholding in a number of companies touted as most likely to be awarded the contracts for the running of these projects was of course quite coincidental and had no influence on the government’s commissioning process or desire  to move forward quickly with it.

The PM alluded to the 1966 song ‘Taxman’ saying he sympathized with the Beatles in respect of ‘if you take a walk we will tax your feet’ saying no one wants to have their feet taxed. Having their feet charged an extortionate fee by a private company on the other hand would not have vexed George Harrison at all. Private is good, public is bad and thus a private fleecing is always to be preferred.

The PM beginning to wrap up his speech crowbarred in the new  (he hoped) meme for the pavement privatization – ‘Walk fare is walk fair’.

The slogan for the campaign would be ‘Walking proudly into the future with the Conservatives – change jingling in your pockets…’

They were determined he added to get this signed off in parliament in the first half of the session to allow for the privatization of the air-supply in the second half. He then denounced the human-rights-lobby adding that breathing is not a right but a privilege and always more appreciated if hard-earned.

Ends to the Police ‘Every breath you take, every step you make, we’ll be charging you’…

Today’s PMQ’s on Twitter – damp squibs and other striking rhetoric

PMQ’s – sound-bites and fury signifying nothing?

I previously posted about the Leveson Inquiry and how it was being reported on by one of the subjects of its inquiry – namely the media. And not by the old media and usual commentariat suspects but by new media and specifically on Twitter – I am not aware the demographics of Twitter but it does seem they are a more representative voice of democracy then those in the employ of our Newspaper and TV media. It is also not just the voice of the people of any one country but of many countries – though not exactly ‘We Are The World’ either rather those of us fortunate enough to have the economic wherewithal to be able to access the world wide web. And in my case it is the English speaking world too as I speak no other language – well leaving aside my less than fluent attempts at French and Spanish!

Cameron at Dispatch BoxThis time I thought I would see how Twitter reports on an an entirely British Event – Prime Minister Question’s or PMQ’s – when the Prime Minister of the day faces questions from members of his own party and the opposition parties – well these days it is Opposition Party and that party being Labour as the other hitherto eternal party of opposition, the Liberal Democrats, is now a member of government, if a coalition one. The Leveson Inquiry is I accept a British Event too but one which has a wider global interest as it also has ramifications beyond our shores such is the global nature of media, whether of the old or new kind.

I would compare its response to how the old media reported it. Usually they condense its thirty minutes of political theatre down to a minute or two, such is the level of interest in it.

I would also have an official record of PMQ’s provided by Parliament itself in the form of Hansard.

This weeks record can be read here and I am not going to repeat it save the opening tribute to a soldier who gave his life in Afghanistan from the Coalition Prime Minister, David Cameron.

“I am sure the whole House will wish to join me in paying tribute to Rifleman Sheldon Steel from 5th Battalion The Rifles. He was a highly respected soldier who had achieved a great deal and shown much potential during his time with the Army. At this very sad time, our thoughts should be with his family, his friends and his colleagues. His courage and his dedication will never be forgotten by our nation.”

Unison Strike ImageMost questions were around the day’s public sector strike over pensions (also with its own hash-tag #N30), and the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Autumn Statement from yesterday (along with the current state of the public finances and economy in general) as well as a few questions relating to other matters.

Regarding the public sector strike, Labour Leader, Ed Milliband, practised the high-wire act of criticising the PM for the government’s funding and handling of public sector pension reform whilst not himself supporting the strike (which was noted by Conservative MP Mark Spencer).

He began by referring to the Head Teacher who was on public record of opposing the strike back in June and of which the PM praised for so doing but which today had closed her school. He asked a number of questions about pension reforms and relating to the Chancellor’s Autumn statement of yesterday.

The issue of union funding was raised by Conservative MP Laurence Robertson in respect of the taxpayer contribution. Another Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg asked if the striking air-traffic controllers could be sacked!

On the economy Labour MP Lillian Greenwood asked about the cost of unemployment not just in benefits but in lost tax revenue. Labour MP Kate Green asked why government is freezing working tax credit. Labour and Co-Op MP Mark Hendrick asked the PM if he came into politics to sack three quarter million public service workers. Conservative MP Fiona Bruce asked about pension provision and protection for those in her constituency working in the private sector.  Labour MP Owen Smith raised a question regarding the tax contribution of banks as oppose to public sector asking if the distribution was fair. There were a number of other questions relating to the economy.

Movember Photo Gallery

Movember

There were too a few foreign affairs questions including Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson asking about the progress of women’s rights in Afghanistan and Conservative MP Chris Kelly asking the PM to condemn the attack on the British Embassy in Iran.

Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell asked perhaps the most off-the-wall question of the day namely whether the sixteen remaining countries that fly the British flag ‘proudly’ will be defended by the UK!

At the outset the PM had commented on a number of MP’s who had grown moustaches in November as part of the Movember campaign (an annual November fundraiser towards funding and promoting  awareness of Men’s prostate cancer), Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams was clearly one of those MP’s identified as the PM praised him ‘for the magnificent specimen lurking underneath his nose’!

So then these were the questions. And what did the old media run with? Only that the Prime Minister had described the day’s strike ‘has a damp squib’. Why make substantive points when a throw-away phrase like this will get the old media’s short-span attention?

How though had Twitter reported it? It should be noted that despite my comment about the more diverse participation of the public on Twitter as against that on our old-time media many of that old-time media inhabit the new-time Twitterverse too – whether has news organisations or hacks in their own right.

Tim Montgomerie Twitter AccountThe question of a tax on banks drew opposing tweets. Tim Montgomerie, Editor of Conservative Home, tweeted ‘Cameron ridicules Miliband for proposing a bank tax and then spending it in EIGHT different ways: The Bank Tax That Likes To Say Yes’ whereas Alex Belardinelli with a Red Rose Labour Badge on his Gravatar commented ‘Nonsense Prime Minister – this is what the bank bonus tax would pay’ for with a link to the Labour Party website and a piece by its leader on how this money would be spent on 110,000 new jobs.

This tweet from Michael Moran echoing what many think about the adversarial theatrical nature of PMQ’s ” The ridiculous pantomime of #PMQs is a sharp reminder that if you want to lay off un-needed public sector workers there’s 650 @ Westminster” – and the ‘plague on all their houses’ attitude towards all mainstream political parties that pervades currently.

Channel 4 News Channel 4 News tweeted what was perhaps one of the best lines of the day by Ed Milliband – “Some strikers earn less than what the chancellor spends on his annual skiing holiday” – reminding us all of the huge income disparities between those on the Conservative Front Bench and the millions of teachers, nurses and other hard-working pubic sector workers striking that day. Though one tweeting questioning the arithmetic ‘Does George Osborne buy his skiing gear from Poundland, or did Ed Miliband make a bit of a gaffe earlier?’!

Left Foot Forward on the other hand questioned the arithmetic from the other side of the equation – Osborne actually 52 times more privileged than Miliband claimed: http://bit.ly/u7X2TU writes @alexhern #PMQs #n30.

Mehdi Hassan TwitterIn respect of the thread of party funding and the relationships between the unions and Labour, Mehdi Hasan, the Senior Editor of the New Statesmen, tweeted “”His entire party is paid for by the unions,” says a party leader whose party is 50% funded by the City of London”. Resonating with a recent Sunday Observer column by comedian David Mitchell ‘Better we fund our political parties then let lobbyists run the roost‘.

Michael White of the Guardian tweeted’ Strikes are wrong, Labour is in unions’ pocket is Cam’s message, pure 1980s Daily Mail stuff in very different times’

This tweet from Red Fabian acknowledged that the PM did at least have one of the best lines of the day – if scripted – but then they all are aren’t they?- “They’re all shouting in Unison. Or should that be on behalf of Unison?” Unison being the trade union for public sector workers.

The right-wing PM accused the left-wing Labour leader of being, well, left-wing! This leading to a number of Tweets asking if being called ‘left-wing’ is an insult! I guess that depends on whether you consider yourself as left-wing or right-wing! And is this sort of remark more suited to the playground than the chambers of parliament?

Helen Lewis-Hasteley TwitterHelen Lewis-Hasteley of the New Statement tweeted “that’s good of him RT @JamieWood_Sky: Michael Gove tells Sky News it’s not wrong to be left wing or right wing – notable as Michael Gove is the Conservative Secretary of State for Education!

Following PMQ’s there is, amongst political pundits at least, a kind of informal polling of which of the party leaders got the better of the exchanges – of late it has see-sawed back and forth between Cameron and Milliband.

This week the Guardian thought that Ed had the better of it – “Miliband bombarded Cameron pretty effectively with embarrassing statistics. @AndrewSparrow‘s snap #PMQs verdict” while an opposing thought from Peter Mannion MP – “Might it have been better if Ed Miliband hadn’t turned up for work today? #PMQs #PMQ #N30 – clearly not a Labour MP!

It was clear though that despite a variety of other PMQ’s the questions that exercised the Twittersphere most were the ones that exercised the old media hacks the most too – namely the public sector strike action and related government economic policy. But it also has to be acknowledged that much the best tweets were from the old media hacks themselves – if perhaps benefiting from being unshackled from their respective Editors and Proprietors.

There was also a notable number of tweets to the announcement that public funding of union salaries in workplace would be ended – “Petty vindictiveness from Cameron to end public funding for union salaries in workplace http://bit.ly/vKYL56 #PMQs #N30 via @GdnPolitics was but one tweet and a view much echoed by most Tweeters.

Is Twitter – gasp! – left-wing leaning then?! And should it be insulted by this, or just proud?!

Benetton’s Unhate Campaign – leaders of the world, kiss and make-up

Benetton Unhate Campaign China USA

Jintao and Obama

If you cannot love your neighbours then at least unhate them!

It’s been a while but United Colours of Benetton are back with another campaign – should we call it an advertising campaign or are they political campaigns – or is there no distinction? Both as they are being acts of persuasion in the art of selling, whether goods and services or ideas?

Benetton’s campaigns usually make it off the advertising pages and on to the news pages. Their latest the Unhate Campaign is no exception. And as advertising goes 24 hour news coverage is hard to beat – it costing them not a penny in airtime – and in advertising being noticed is everything, better still to be loved as well but if you cannot be adored then better to be hated then ignored.

The campaign came to my attention via this blog post on the My Modern Net site and the posted manipulated images of various world leaders in intimate kissing.

Benetton Unhate Campaign Pope and Imam

The Pope and the Imam

However as noted this Benetton campaign has quickly migrated to the news pages. I had first heard about it just hours earlier on the radio in respect of the withdrawal of the image of the current Pope Benedict XVI kissing a senior Egyptian Iman Ahmed el Tayyeb.

The only question for me on hearing this was which of them would be the first to express outrage. On this occasion it was the Vatican unhappy it seems with the commercial intentions of the image as whether it was blasphemous or not.

An ironic outcome for Benetton bringing Catholics and Muslims together in mutual antipathy!

Benetton say their Unhate Campaign was established to ‘invite the leaders and the citizens of the world to combat the ‘culture of hatred’.

I wonder why the word Unhate was chosen rather than the word Love? Perhaps they are suggesting that the hate-filled parties must first learn not to hate before they can love?

Executive Deputy Chairman Alessandro Benetton goes on to say “At this moment in history, so full of major upheavals and equally large hopes, we have decided, through this campaign, to give widespread visibility to an ideal notion of tolerance and invite the citizens of every country to reflect on how hatred arises particularly from fear of ‘the other’ and of what is unfamiliar to us,”.

Benetton Unhate Campaign Obama and Chavez

Obama and Chavez

Perhaps unsurprisingly Barack Obama as leader of the world’s most powerful country is featured twice, the first kiss with Chinese Premier Hu Jintao and the second kiss with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. These are kisses then not so much of love but ‘of kiss and make up’?

The one image I find the most puzzling though is the one between French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel – I had thought from my British perspective their diplomatic relationship already quite friendly, even cosy – indeed in the press their names are often unflatteringly conflated together as ‘Merkozy’ suggesting that they are of one mind, one heart – or something like that!

I would have thought a more appropriate kissing partner for the German Chancellor would have been our very own British Prime Minister, David Cameron, seeing as their current political friendship seems far more frosty.

Likewise for Sarkozy the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have been a better world leader to exchange spittle with after his recent off-mic remark to Obama that ‘he cannot stand him. He’s a Liar’ (!) – though likely that remark occurred after Benetton had made their leader selections.

Benetton Unhate Campaign Merkel & Sarkozy

Merkel and Sarkozy

Netanyahu in any case is pictured kissing Mahmoud Abbas President of Palestine.

The final image is of Kim Jong-il the Supreme Leader of North Korea  bridging the divide as it were with a peck on the lips with Lee Myung-Bak the President of South Korea.

And indeed why should such images be controversial? World leaders should make more of an effort to get along – to engage each other diplomatically rather than militarily. And perhaps UNHATE is a better term than love which itself is not necessarily a desirable thing in world politics. It is like the so called implied Love In of Governments of National Unity. Sounds nice and reasonable but it lacks plurality – as a democrat I want the market-place of ideas not a cosy cartel of them where all the political parties have merged into one effectively leaving us the electorate disenfranchised.

In the UK we already have a coalition government of Conservative and Liberal Democrat, and the leaders of each, Cameron and Nick Clegg, already holding hands with each other, I don’t want to see the leader of the opposition Labour party Ed Miliband with his tongue in either of their mouths as part of a Unhate Triangle!

Benetton Unhate Campaign North & South Korea

Jong-Il & Myung-Bak

Is this campaign displaying a confusion between Love and Unhate? Is it being implied as the same thing if we see world leaders represented kissing each other? Not hating someone and wanting to kiss them on their lips is quite an emotional jump?

The Unhate campaign is challenging world leaders to put aside their ideological differences of politics and religion but in picturing leaders of the same gender kissing they are challenging yet another emotive issue?

The campaign has homophobia in its sights too?

There is only one image of a female world leader kissing a male world leader but then that is as much due to yet another issue of gender discrimination and the dominance of men in politics and the global power-play.

Though the campaign included just six images – and now five! – with a world in which alas there are so many global, regional and local conflicts clearly there are many more images of leaders kissing their ostensible enemies that could yet be mocked up.

I am expecting a fair share of spoofs on this campaign too. And as is well-established all publicity is good publicity, then well done Benetton for that.

I am still left wondering if this campaign is a cynical commercially self-interested one though. By withdrawing one image so soon there is already a question about the strength of their convictions as surely they must have anticipated the nature of some of the responses they would get. And the fact that there is an outcry about it and I am blogging about it…job well done. I’ve been played?!

I do hope there is more to the Unhate campaign than that.

Benetton Unhate Campaign Palestine Israel

Abbas & Netanyahu