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Monthly Archives: September 2015

A Triumph for David

Look, actually I think David Cameron comes out of this whole business pretty well.

If it happened – and I’m sure it didn’t – but if it happened, it’s just the sort of high spirited pranks and fun that goes on in every exclusive university club right up and down the country. Literally everyone in Britain has been to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, thanks to a quiet word from daddy, and has experienced the totally normal “boys will be boys, thumb your willy into a pig skull” culture there. Everyone. Normal. Who among us hasn’t popped the old chap into a butcher’s offcut for japes? We’ve all been there. Larks.

Second, if he did it, so what? Lad. That’s what I say. He’s now king of the lads and the master of banter. Proper bants! It just goes to show our politicians aren’t just dried up, boring, Trotskyite geography teacher menaces from the 1970s. They can be virile, fun, laddish, bantery rogues too. And who could argue that isn’t a good thing! (Not me. But to be fair I couldn’t argue anything with any precision or skill.)

It was a long time ago. Sure, for the past two weeks we’ve been dredging up incidents from the early years of Jeremy Corbyn’s ancient ancestors – some of them went around in coracles for heaven’s sake – but you misunderstand the false equivalence. Lefties are fair game. Nothing is off the table. Sex lives, 36-year-old relationships, whatever. But our lot are to be cushioned from scrutiny. That’s how it works.

This is all the fault of the horrible, tittering, juvenile Left. The very same people who last week I was describing En masse as being a humourless, grey slab of boring tedium are this week a silly, joke-obsessed bunch of gigglers who can’t get past the very mundane reality of a Prime Minister whipping out his whoopsy and letting it rest against a set of boar’s teeth. How is that funny in any way? Ridiculous.

As a tory supporter you’ve heard me down the years describe the enormously rich as decent, honourable servants of the nation, wonderful wealth creators who inspire others to be entrepreneurs and better themselves. I’ve said non doms are just good Citizens doing the right thing by their families, and who wouldn’t? Obviously today that all changes. Ashcroft is scum. How dare this tax diddling billionaire bastard have any say on anything?

People say this is humiliating. That the fact a future Prime Minister would demean himself by popping his dinkle into a carcass just to join a club shows he’s a snivelling toady. A man without integrity. Someone who would do anything to win the favour of the Big Boys. To which I say, why on earth do you think I’ve been on every single news programme for the past 53 hours, practising my Serious and Disappointed face to show I’m very Sad? Please give me a job Dave, I’ve gone out to bat for you today. Let me build another crappy school or something, yeah?

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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

If only

Yesterday’s blog post was quite successful. You might think being quite successful is a good thing, and it is in and of itself but it reminds me of The Bad Old Days when I was getting stupid readerships for what I wrote – often beyond what their quality deserved.

Anyway. Back then I received an email from a Relatively Famous Author, whose name needn’t detain us. I was quite excited at first.

Then I read on.

“You have quite a talent for writing,” they said. “And you could really be something. You could really do something with it ”

You can imagine! This was coming from someone relatively famous. I hadn’t even asked them to write to me. They were making the effort to write to me, to say this.

There’s a but obviously.

“But you’ve got to change the politics,” they went on. “You’re never going to get anywhere if you’re going to cling to those daft opinions ”

I felt a bit deflated. I thought I’d thought my opinions through quite a lot. Apparently not.

“If you can turn it around, you can really do something with that talent,” they went on. And explained that, if I could be prepared to stop thinking stupid things, they could make sure they’d give me a toe in the door somewhere exciting.

You can imagine.

The relatively famous author wanted me – me! – to do something good, because I was so talented.

Anyway, you can guess what happened. I wrote back “Fuck off”.

They’re still famous though. And I often think back and think, maybe I should have had that “journey”. And then I think, no, fuck off was just about right.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

With a heavy heart

It is with a heavy heart and after much soul searching that I’ve decided I must abandon my beloved Labour party.

Sure, I’ve never written anything in favour of them, and you might get the impression from such pieces as “Miliband is a bum and smells of poo” and “Brown is a terrible plop head” that my relationship with any leader other than Tony Blair has been relatively strained. But I assure you I am a Labour supporter at heart.

Labour has lost its way. It began as a social Democratic party of the centre right and has existed like that since its birth, yet now it has been infiltrated by some awful entryists who have stupidly forced it down a path that will lead to Communism, despair, defeat and death for every man, woman and child in Britain. I think that’s not overstating it.

True, during The Golden Era of 1997-2007 there were all sorts of hangers on from appalling trade unions, left-wing groups and the like, dreadful relics from an era that should be confined to “regrettable errors”, but they knew that they were only there as ballast. A quick “Well, do you want the Tories back?” and they’d fall into line. Quite right too. They know their place. Now they say to me, “Well do you want the Tories back?” and I answer well, it’d be better than you lot, you smelly bastards, and feel like I’ve given them a teachable moment.

Let me tell you about my journey. We all have silly ideas about being fair to others or having social justice and daft things like that when we’re young and naive and callow and naive and naive. But then the sensible ones among us, like me for example, realise that there’s no point in thinking that way anymore. Do you see? I have had a journey, whereas you haven’t, so my views are bound to be more well thought out than yours. Yes.

As well as that, you will go on about the bloody wars, won’t you? Can I remind you that we did a minimum wage. Yes! You conveniently forget about that when you wheel out your bleeding heart nonsense about people “dying” in so called “wars”. And besides there are some extremists who go on anti war marches so that’s what all of you are like, every single one of you. I had an epiphany and realised war was actually, when you think about it, something that saves lives. But you wouldn’t get that because you’re stuck in your naive sixth form idiocy.

The fact that I’ve got a handy little cheque from “Terrible Right Wing Scumbags” magazine to write this very personal story of my personal journey has nothing to do with it, you understand. It’s time we went our separate ways. I hope you lose everything and the Tories win and then YOU DIE BECAUSE I HATE YOU.

Invoice attached.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Stop hitting yourself

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I’m writing this as a rejoinder to yesterday’s piece, in which I noted the casual contempt displayed towards people who held the wrong kind of opinions trying to get involved with politics.

By classifying even vague supporters of the newest Labour administration as an amorphous mass of “Corbyn fans” (or the dreadful “Corbynistas”), it drives a bigger wedge between two groups who are going to need to work together at some stage if they ever want to get back into power or defeat the Worst Government Ever, the current despicable hard-right punish-the-poor Conservatives. (Yes, even the “electable” Sensible Decent folk from The Golden Age are going to have to regain the support of The Silly Lefties Who Have Made A Terrible Mistake at some point in the future; ex-Conservative voters won’t be enough.)

This isn’t one-way traffic, though. Far from it. And while I can see the frustration of people of principle being ridiculed, belittled, patronised and insulted by odious twits in the mainstream media, that’s not enough of an excuse.

True, the most extreme examples of Labour supporters, found through a diligent scrape through Twitter or Facebook or whatever, is always going to turn up something problematic: if you plunge your hand into a bag of dicks you’re going to find dicks. You look through any widely diverse group (or not even group) of people supporting anything, or claiming to support anything – be that Labour, feminism, or whatever – and you will find unpleasant people saying unpleasant things, because that’s what you find when you look for it. (If you think the causes you support and the people you align yourself with are free of that, give me five minutes on social media, and I’ll get back to you with a few examples of awful people, and say “Aha!”.) As I’ve said before those outlying examples will be presented as if they represent everyone in that movement. But that’s not good enough, either.

What I’m saying is, yes, there are a lot of things stacked up against people who might find themselves backing the current Labour leadership, for whatever reason. And yes, a lot of people stacking those things up have less-than-decent motivation. And yes, a lot of those accusations will be unfair. And yes, some people who should be allies are standing alongside some truly terrible types.

But. There is a chance that if you sink yourself into the nuclear bunker, and exclude all critical voices, there are going to be some problems.

The good side of social media should be that it makes you question yourself by presenting yourself with opinions and ideas you might not necessarily agree with. Some people, whom I like, who happen not to be red-and-black lefties but who are relatively liberal and floppily sympathetic towards Labour, have found themselves bombarded with unpleasantness by those who claim to be supporting the Labour leadership. I’m not talking about generalities chucked into the ether but personalised, nasty stuff. And that’s wrong. It’s obviously wrong. And beyond being not only wrong, it’s not helpful and entirely counterproductive. I keep thinking that at some point “we” (if there must be a we) need them, and “they” (if there must be a they) need us.

The problem comes in the assumption of motivation. As I said yesterday, the insulting element to a lot of ways in which people on the (and I’ve been holding off in using this term until now) Left are depicted by “helpful” and “unhelpful” people in the centre and right alike is that it’s assumed we are either stupid, deluded, mistaken, haven’t thought things through properly or are just plain wrong. Well, suppose that isn’t true though. Suppose we’ve thought about things as best we can and arrived at different conclusions.

It’s incumbent on us, then, to assume that those in the centre and on the right have done the same, and their motivations are possibly (if not always) benign. Which would mean that we both lean in similar directions, but we’ve just decided there are different ways of going about it. And if that’s the case, talking nicely to each other, without windmilling in with spite and rancour and all sorts of score-settling, is probably going to be a lot more productive.

Yes yes, I know. For some, that’s not enough. Some people want a war. Good, you have your war. (God knows you love them. Oops, sorry, that one slipped out.) That doesn’t mean that everyone has to fight it, though. Some of the people who are criticising you aren’t doing it to be harsh, or mean, or deliberately nasty; some of them care about things as deeply as you do, and want to try and give a helpful nudge.

I think that’s hard to spot at the moment, in all the anger and noise. It needs to calm down, and then maybe we can have some better conversations. Right now, all the infighting from people who will eventually need to become allies again, feels extremely wearying.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Cut and thrust

I really like this piece by Bonnie Greer at the Huffington Post. It expresses something that I’ve been seeing for a while now but haven’t quite been able to articulate.

I was quite bewildered at the time of the Scottish Referendum (“Indy Ref”) at the general coverage that I saw. Me, being London-based and London-centric, it seemed that the mainstream media (MSM) (largely London, too) were actually telling the people of Scotland that: “You People Up There Know Not What You Do” .

If you’ve ever wondered why people don’t engage at politics, look at what happens when they do. The sneering, condescending, overwhelmingly hostile response to popular new political movements – look at Ukip, Scottish Independence and now Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party – always comes in the same way. It’s a particularly childish, insulting, snotty little attitude that goes like this: “Look, you fools, you might want to play, but this is our game and we don’t want you.”

I mean, I don’t even like Ukip. A lot of their members are awful people. But I can see why they’re popular. They’re popular because the mainstream parties don’t attend to the needs of voters. And when ordinary plebs try to blunder in to politics they’re quietly ushered out the fire escape, told to sober up and pull themselves together. Ukip get supporters because of the arch contempt for actual people that is shown by the cosy, insular, cut-and-thrust world of mainstream politics.

Same for Scottish independence. Again, I’m not a massive supporter, but then I don’t live in Scotland so my views are entirely irrelevant; it’s not really up to me. But I can see why their supporters feel isolated, patronised, looked down upon and regarded as lesser people – because that’s exactly the message that’s intended for them. Politics is not for the likes of you, they have been told time and time again.

It’s as if politics is supposed to be a very, very narrow band of argument in the “centre” between two (or possibly three, but four is far too messy) parties. Cut and thrust. Jolly japes at PMQs. Chuckling away at each other in BBC studios about how the other lot were worse when they were in power! The same faces saying the same things in the same way a million times over, and nothing ever changing, and certainly not improving.

And now you look at Corbyn. Christ the man is flawed, obviously. He’s knocking about with all sorts of odd people, fringey people, people who don’t do things the same way as you and I might, people with pretty suspect views at times. So why on earth have a lot of Labour voters latched on to him, rather than doing The Right Thing and putting their support behind one of the other three much safer more electable bets?

You just have to look at the coverage. An endless slew of hatred, suspicion, warnings, innuendo and muttering, and that’s just from the people who claim to belong to the same political party. You know the usual suspects in the press are going to hate you, and that’s fine, but it’s not just them. Time and again, the weary attempts to force people who are doing The Wrong Thing to understand. Look, this isn’t how it’s done, old chap. If you think X, you must be stupid, or if you’re not stupid, you must have not thought about it as much as me, or not read as many books as me, or understand things quite as subtly or as nuanced as me, so maybe I can help you.

Greer points out there’s a particular kind of “helpful” arsehole who steps in with the “You People” thing:

This strain is especially prevalent among many of those who support/are Tories – particularly from its “Good Right” wing – who want us to accept that the Conservatives do not hold a particular monopoly on unkindness and cruelty. The GRs’ modus operandi is to ever so gently urge a re-think, a “come to our senses”.

“You appear to hold a view with which I disagree, let me try and make you come to the right view, because you’re clearly suffering from some kind of mass delusion – you can’t possibly have arrived at that conclusion by thinking about it.” I mean, do people even understand how that comes across? I suspect they do. It’s massively condescending, and it’s not helping at all to try and painstakingly finger-wag at people to make them understand like the idiots they are. Yes, I’m looking at you Tony Blair (twice) and every other New Labour grandee who pitched in with a “Let me help you understand why you are so wrong and there’s only one right answer” piece during the run-up to the Labour leadership vote.

Never, once, is there any kind of examination of why people might feel a particular way. There’s a perplexed shoulder-shrug. Why on earth might these people be deserting the One True Way? Hmm, to answer that might involve uncomfortable questions for us, and might imply we’ve ever done anything wrong – and we know that’s not right! – so we must just try and get them into line and be the good obedient servants they are. Why don’t they just know their place?

Now when Corbyn refuses to answer questions from the Sun, who hate him whatever he says, or Sky News, or Michael Crick haranguing him with his big microphone and “HIT ME HIT ME HIT ME HIT ME IN THE FACE OOH YOU HIT ME I’M TELLING” shtick, people tut and say, well, that’s not going to get him anywhere. Like actually answering the questions would get him anywhere, anyway. Remember Ed Miliband? Answering questions, playing the game, doing The Right Thing, being part of the same cosy establishment led him to be absolutely crucified on a daily basis, have his dad slagged off, have all sorts of shit thrown at him. Why bother? What would be so much better if you did bother?

I don’t think anyone voting for Jeremy Corbyn considers him to be some kind of messiah, any kind of messiah – although by all means do find an outlying view on Twitter to represent as being the opinion of all mainstream supporters, because that will indeed make you look so grown up. I don’t think many people voting for a change on the left of the Labour party believes it’s going to be easy, or that principle is so much better than being in power, or that it’s a magic cure, or that Corbyn is a magician who’ll heal huge rifts in the party. It might well fail. It probably will.

But if you have to ask why people are bothering, if you really don’t understand why people are trying something different, you might be part of the problem.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Not your friend

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It took only a few days. The wave of compassion is going to be exploited. Time to settle some scores and drop some bombs. FOR AYLAN.

No doubt it’s what he would have wanted. If nothing else, the heartbreaking image of that little boy’s tiny body might at least manage to fluff our permanent bombing hard-on and get an about-turn from those pesky squeamish liberal milquetoasts who dared to question a war last time around.

FOR AYLAN. Let’s cheapen his memory to make sure we can drop some ordnance.

These newspapers are not your friend. These people are never your friend. If it looks like they’re doing the right thing for once, they’re not, or they’re only doing it because they’ve got an angle. They couldn’t care less about the plight of refugees. They want a war.

FOR AYLAN. Our faded mediocre glory could be polished up one last time with another military adventure, sorry, humanitarian intervention. Another new plaque on the November 11 memorials. Another minute’s silence. While other countries welcome thousands of refugees warmly, we begrudgingly let in six for each parliamentary constituency, and look to solve things in the only way we know how to solve things: bombs away, chaps.

For Aylan. Up pops the next Prime Minister, George Osborne, getting ready to send off the jets. Time to look statesmanlike and kill a few.

If it does happen, could I ask one thing? Seeing as images of dead children are now on the table, print them on the front pages, the charred broken corpses, the spines sticking out of bloody rubble, the severed little heads, when our bombs dropped by Our Brave Boys go astray. Just so we know. Seeing as we’re happy to see that sort of thing now, let’s not be shy.

For Aylan, apparently.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The rising tide

It’s almost as if we’re approaching some kind of turning point. At last, the tide may be turning. People may be finding compassion, empathy, kindness. Not just that, but aren’t willing to do nothing. People want to do something – anything – to help.

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We are told too often that we are powerless, that we aren’t able to effect change. But this refugee crisis could change that: forget the government, pandering to racist pensioners and evil little Englanders who want to pull up the drawbridge. If they won’t act, if they will turn their backs, everyone else has to do something. Or to try. To attempt to make a difference. Who knows what help an extra mobile phone, or clothes or money or whatever will do? But you have to try.

Power doesn’t just exist with the powerful. We have to try and persuade them they’re wrong to refuse asylum seekers, to regularly deport them, to want to appear “Tough” on immigration. They think it’s popular and that it’s what the people want. What that means is those of us who care about drowning children, dying families and unspeakable horrors must shout louder and louder. Our voices must be louder and stronger than those saying we’re full up and can’t take any more. Otherwise, the government will turn its back and do nothing. It doesn’t want to help: it will only help if it’s forced to.

I’m writing to my MP, which I think everyone should do. My MP is a tory so needs to know more than most, but all pressure creates momentum. Every word in favour of refugees is important right now. The political class needs to know that British people are not a mass of racists or xenophobic idiots or greedy scum who want to cling on to our unfairly large slice; we want to help, we are kind, we are generous. Yes, not everyone shares our views, but we have been too shy. We need to be loud about it: we want more immigrants. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

For too long, we’ve allowed politicians and ordinary people alike to control the language, to use dehumanising terms like “swarm” and “mass” for human beings with dreams and families and souls and lives who happen to have been born in less fortunate circumstances than us. The debate has been comfortable for those opposing immigration. It needs to be uncomfortable for them. It needs to pick up a critical mass to say: no more, not in my name. Actually, refugees are welcome. I want them to come. I want them to be helped because we can spare it. The garbage about not being able to help, which seeps through everything in austerity times, needs to be questioned, challenged and overturned.

The press, for years demonising immigrants, refugees and foreigners as other, scary, nasty people who needed to be kept out because we’re full up, have allowed a stray fragment of pity to invade their toxic little lives. One dead toddler on a beach and they give a shit. But still the distinction persists as they approach some kind of damascene conversion: there are good and bad migrants, deserving and undeserving.

They enabled this situation to happen. They pandered to the lowest of the low. Now they’re almost approaching a stance that isn’t entirely genocidal, they want a biscuit and a hearty handshake. Fuck them. They should have been campaigning for compassion for years. They had the resources and the platform to make a difference. They didn’t. They chose not to. If anything good comes from this crisis, it wasn’t down to them and their “brave” decision to show a photo of a dead boy on a beach: it was because of the efforts of ordinary people who wanted to make a difference, and who did something.

For years it’s been a source of shame that the country I live in his become more and more hostile to immigrants. All political parties have done it because they thought it’s what we wanted. Plenty of people do want that. Plenty of people do want to turn away from thinking about death and misery, to keep their living standards slightly more comfortable.

Even if we were full, we should still help and offer sanctuary. But we’re not full. We have room to spare. The economy is booming, we’re told time and time again (though we must “live within our means”). Prove it. Use the boom for good. Do one good thing that will make the next generation proud of us. Save them. Because they aren’t “them”. There is no them. They are us and we just had an accident of birth that meant we didn’t have to endure what they have. They are our brothers and sisters and they should live. And we should do it because it’s the right thing to do. Nothing more, nothing less.

Let’s start now. Do something, anything. I don’t know how much it will help but I can’t stand back and do nothing.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2015 in Uncategorized