Cicero is sunning himself in Brighton, attending the Lib Dem annual conference. I quite enjoy Brighton- and I have had a breezy day in a compact and historic city that is without the snootiness of Bournemouth or the squalor of Blackpool.
The conference is one of the largest in recent years- I will write a bit more later about the doings of the Party.
One of the features of the party conference season is the large number of free newspapers that are given away. At the Lib Dem conference it has usually been The Independent that gives the biggest sponsorship and hands out the largest number of free papers. However, this year there is more competition, with both The Guardian- whose Deputy editor, Michael White, interviewed Ming Campbell on the podium yesterday- and The Times putting in stronger showings than normal.
Mind your, this year bloggers too are making an impact, and reading today's Indy, one can see why- the Op-Ed piece in Today's edition is one of the most ill informed pieces of Bullspeil I have had to read in a long while.
The gist is that Trans Dniestria has voted to be associated with Russia and not Moldova and that this result should be respected: 98.8% after all voted for it.
I don't know whether to pity the naivete or the bonehead gerbil brain that failed to recognize the utter illegitimacy of this vote.
Since the Russian 14th Army seized control of the region in 1991, the thuggish regime of Igor Smirnov has created the greatest illegal arms bazaar in the world on the streets of the tin-pot capital, Tiraspol. Tanks, missiles, aircraft, the most advanced weaponry- up to and including radioactive material- is auctioned to the highest bidder, no questions asked. Hizbollah, the Taliban, many of the nastiest people in the world have their agents trading in this criminal statelet. Of course the goons and henchmen of this "government"- several of whose members are under criminal indictment in other countries- have been able to dragoon the brutalized citizens of the statelet to "vote" in any way that suits their twisted ends.
However there is no attempt by the Independent to question the motives or legitimacy of the vote, neither is there an understanding of the blackmail that Smirnov has been able to use against the rest of Moldova by turning off the power at will. Smirnov is under pressure, since the Ukraine closed their border last year, and it is only a matter of time before Trans Dniestria will be forced to accept a deal. Giving comfort to this regime at this time is simply dim witted if not actually malign. The ignorance that the Indy's leader writer displays is another example of the cost cutting that is being forced on the dead tree media every day as they struggle to compete.
As yet another free newspaper is pressed upon me, entering the conference hall, I reflect that it becomes easier every day to just say no.