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Look at all my powerful friends
Week of March 2, 2005
10 Downing Street did not know of the impending honorary knighthood of Bill Gates. 10 Downing Street is currently in a lot of trouble.
There's been a lot of outrage at the 'candy title' honorary knighthood of one William 'Mr Illegal Monopoly' H Gates III, currently under investigation (and heavy fine) in the European Union for unethical (and amoral) business practices; but the 'coup' has actually little to do with the luckless programmer pimply faced youth from Seattle. It's all about British domestic politics - a scene which rivals the worst soap opera for cutthroat intrigue and usually comes out on top.
There's a report nearing publication in the UK: a report which will show how Tony Blair and those around him 'fudged' evidence to lead people to believe Iraq had the 'weapons of mass destruction' Han Blix and others on location could not find - the smoke necessary to justify British participation in George W Bush's war.
Local pundits regard the current parliamentary crisis in London as the worst since Blair came to power in 1997. And in the midst of this, what does Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown do?
He arranges for the honorary knighthood of William Gates.
No one at 10 Downing got any word of this: it was done deliberately to undermine Tony Blair's authority. It's not an indication of how appropriate or inappropriate such a 'candy title' is; it's an indication of how things are going on the British political scene.
All of which is covered in detail in the London Daily Telegraph but perhaps best summed up in a post to Slashdot.
For those of you that are not familiar with British politics: There is this guy Tony who is in charge. Then there is this guy Gordon who wants to be in charge. Gordon and Tony agreed that Tony will be in charge for a while and then Gordon will get a turn.
It is increasingly looking as if Tony is screwing Gordon out of his turn.
Time is running out for Gordon because, since their party has screwed the British public and treated them like serfs for two terms, their party probably only has one term left in government - maybe. And since they have screwed up so royally Gordon will probably be dead next time their party gets put in charge again.
So Gordon only has one term to possibly lead the government. So he has started screwing Tony. He has built an empire around his ministry and just about every other part of government now reports in some way to his department. He is the one that holds the country's purse strings. Every chance he gets he usurps the authority of Tony.
Tony on the other hand is increasingly looking like a deer caught in the headlights. This honouring of Gates is just another kick in the groin at a time when Tony is already holding his guts to stop them from spilling. Gordon is playing low and dirty on this one.
British politics beats any soap hands down. I am sure it is the same in many other countries. Pity then that it affects real lives.
Of course there is the small matter that when Bill Gates wants recognition he's more than able and willing to pay for it; in this particular case he egregiously greased wheels (and pockets) by donating £162 million to Cambridge University in the past three years.
But Bill Gates has actually very little to do with this story.
Gordon Brown wants to live at 10 Downing Street; Tony Blair has previously promised him he can; Tony Blair is now in a lot of trouble and may not win re-election; Tony Blair is also making it clear he doesn't have any more time for Gordon Brown.
Gordon Brown starts gathering his powerful friends closer to him and oversteps his authority all over the place in an effort to show not only Tony Blair but everyone else in London who the real boss is.
And in this context Bill Gates is nothing more than a lowly pawn - an ignoble end user best left ignored.
Good Night Sir Knight
'Arise, er, Mister Gates'
Knighthood for Microsoft's Gates
Gates buys himself a new present: UK knighthood
Outrage at Gates' knighthood
Queen to give knighthood to Bill Gates but you can blame it on Gordon Brown
British politics beats any soap hands down