Sunday, 31 December 2017
Well, here we are again at that time of the year when we are all invited to predict the future, get it spectacularly wrong and then discover that nobody really cares after all. Like the time when I predicted a 60/40 Remain/Leave vote when the referendum was announced. It seems futurology is a game for the experts which mere mangénues should ne’er feign to follow. Seriously, nobody knows the future, so it would be most unwise to forecast events which have yet to transpire. So, here goes.
I have been bequeathed just one vision for 2018. In my deep and tranquil sleep – the happy slumber of the righteous Brexiteer, so ignorant am I of the mental harm I have done to half my fellow countrymen – the only recurrent dream is the open-mouthed face of the proto-Remainer. Like Munch’s famous painting this face looks out imploringly at me and mouths its silent scream. Silent because, having started out shrill, it has risen in pitch to become almost inaudible to the human ear. Almost.
If Twitter had sound it would be a never-ending screech of angst, of impotent rage, of despair, of loss... and it would mostly be coming from one direction. It can’t be coincidence that the apparently disparate clumps of those who espouse the most minor of rights – all flavours of them - believe that they will only be free to pursue those entitlements within the bounds of a supranational administration. Such an administration that will ignore the settled wishes of the majority and happily impose on them the duty to tolerate and bend to those they find intolerable, by force of law
So, throughout 2018 and beyond, the imaginary fight of those who sport the #FBPE hashtag will play out. Every business closure, every dip in the value of the pound, every price rise will be blamed on Brexit and the uneducated racists who voted for it. And every high profile figure who vows – without any obvious power to do so – to reverse the decision will be cheered as a conquering hero. The battlefield will echo to their cheers and groans, their apparent triumphs and their disappointments. But the noise will be coming, mostly, from one side.
What the Remain camp appears not to have realised is that nobody is fighting back. Leave won and they have left the field. Like Japanese soldiers on Pacific islands, Remainers are continuing to fight the war long after it is ended. And while they keep up the struggle inside their own heads, Brexiteers are busily getting on, negotiating the peace. The day after Brexit, when we all wake up and discover that nothing has changed, that no damage has been done, Remainers will have only two options.
It's bright, it's Brexit
Those who are mentally strong enough will be able to shrug, sniff the air, realise their fears were unfounded and begin to rebuild the bridges they burned during the Article 50 period. They will be welcomed back into the fold. But the rest will behave like doomsday cultists, seeing the absence of Armageddon as evidence that their prayers have been answered; and they will strengthen their faith as a result. We will need to be charitable to them and treat their EU delusion as the mental illness it is. We will need to be better than them.
Wednesday, 27 December 2017
We should take with a pinch of salt the reversal of the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) claim that the Brexit vote would slow down Britain’s economy. The fact that they now say “in practice this has not happened” proves only one thing; that economic forecasts are as accurate as ten-year weather forecasts. Or as accurate as, say, Remain victory forecasts in the run-up to the referendum. Economic forecasts act more like push-polls, designed to affect behaviour, rather than to predict it; because nobody actually knows the future and people are fickle.
But, if Leavers gloat over this pronouncement they reveal themselves to be no better than the more fervid Remainers who repeatedly and almost gleefully use any gloomy news as evidence of the folly of Brexit. And both sides have used the “we haven’t even left yet!” argument to refute the others’ claims. It’s as if nobody has even heard of confirmation bias; a very real and demonstrable phenomenon which affects/afflicts us all. If you can acknowledge this very human bias and admit to being prey to it, you have a chance of, if not avoiding it, at least recognising when you’ve been guilty of rejoicing in supposed evidence that affirms your conviction.
For example I give you Michael Heseltine. So convinced is he that the EU is a sacred cow, without which we – especially fabulously wealthy landowners – will suffer, that he is prepared to sell his entire Conservative past up the Swanee and suggest we now need Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. Because Hezzer’s cognitive dissonance is so unbearable he has attempted to achieve consonance by a mental contortion which involves the belief that Corbyn is a remainer – despite decades of opposition to the EU - and that a humiliating UK climb down and the acceptance of a ‘soft Brexit’ is somehow a prize to be sought.
When we believe something despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary we construct barriers, we deflect, we do anything to reinforce that belief. Or, far less often, we admit we were wrong. It is believed to be a survival trait, this willingness to believe the unbelievable; it’s the herd mentality, which drives mobs to act against their individual better judgement. But we expect more from those who would lead us, don’t we? Shouldn’t we?
Unfortunately, it is the case that we like our leaders to be afflicted by the same visions and values that we possess. I used to think that the absence of a god – any god – is so obvious that those who lead major religions must be privy to the secret that there is no such deity, because the church is an organ for control just as much as any government is and its leaders must be wiser than those they lead. But that’s a tough act to maintain and the simpler explanation is that archbishops actually do – despite the daily and overwhelming absence of any evidence whatsoever – believe in ‘His’ existence. But no, instead theologians construct narratives to explain this absence from our lives and strengthen their faith in the process.
This is you... not me. 😏
Tuesday, 26 December 2017
The old news that universities have been ‘ordered’ to promote and defend free speech, under threat of sanction from a new higher education regulator, the ‘Office for Students’ (OfStud?), has popped up in the post-Christmas newsbag. This office could, apparently, be gifted powers to fine, suspend or deregister universities if they do not meet this new statutory duty. This is the proposal, anyhow. Back in October universities minister, Jo Johnson, said young people and students need to "accept the legitimacy of healthy vigorous debate".
This sounds, at least on the surface, like ‘a good thing’ but I’m not convinced. Up for discussion also is the notion that universities must not become breeding grounds for racism, islamophobia and any other ism-style ‘hate crime’ you can dream up; and therein lies the problem. One person’s free speech is another man’s hate speech; so who decides what is acceptable? But more disturbing than any of this is the paradigm that the solution to regulation is more regulation; and that this is being lapped up by the right as an antidote to the left. The irony is thick enough to slice.
In a society with true free speech your delicate teen would have been toughened up by exposure to different thinking, different opinions, from an early age. He or she would have seen comedians telling jokes about both left and right and all in between. They may have even witnessed debate and discussions where both sides and the audience were willing to listen to a good idea, even from one who held opposing affiliations. But that was never the case anyway; the family and community comprise the bubble we grow up in, so we are already partly cast in that mould, if not yet fully set.
University isn’t the big wide world either, far from it, but it should be an arena for experimentation, for dabbling in ideas and for building a bullshit-shield against the worst excesses of extremism from either side. University should develop critical thinking skills and allow you to discern, as the Americans have it, shit from Shinola. It is as much bullying for the safe-spaces advocates to deny a platform to those they accuse of bullying. And to do it via officialdom is tantamount to official censorship. To then censor the censors is, well, I’m a little confused as to what it is.
What it isn’t, is free speech and expression. When the control of speech is itself controlled, no matter what it calls itself it isn’t freedom. The arbiters of what is allowed will be every bit as power-hungry, as self-righteous and as arrogant as those who illiberally try to push their faux liberal agenda today. We need a revolution against regulation and the Brexit/Trump axis is a part of that, which is why even while apparently legislating for free speech, those who practice it are still proscribed. One thing is for sure; as far as is possible, this revolution will NOT be televised.
Sunday, 24 December 2017
Once upon a time the principal figure of the mid-winter festival of ‘Oh-my-God-it’s-so-bloody-dark!’ was the pagan Green Man. A man of the woods, a man close to nature, a man in touch with the needs of his worshippers, which was mostly surviving the winter and not perishing through cold or hunger. Tinsel? That’s for the Druids! We want soggy wet leaf mould and mud; plenty of mud.
But we’ve come a long way since then so you would think we might have outgrown the need for mythical figures, making our dreams come true. But no, Christmas seems to get bigger every year. What to do next to make it all the more exciting? This year’s town centre, big, gigantic gimmick is anti-jihadi bollards dressed up as wrapped concrete presents or painted in bright, primary colours – another gift from the religion of peace - magical!
In the past we’ve adopted ever more outlandish versions of Christmas, adapting freely from other cultures; Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Krampus. And then there’s the nativity and the story of Edam and Eve and the birth of the baby cheeses... And never forget the animals – the little donkey, the sheep and their shepherds, the cattle and their lowing. And of course, reindeer; Christmas isn’t Christmas without the jingle bells of Rudolph and his Slade.
But Christmas is also the time for political capital with opposition MPs tweeting out festive wishes, while reminding us that the current government has personally murdered millions of starving children, burned thousands out of their homes and totally dismantled the NHS out of sheer spite. Eating their inclusive, non-gendered, vegan turkey substitute and toasting the achievements of BAME and LGBT activists whilst damning the Queen and all her family, the festive cheer must be unbridled.
The Momentum team have been working flat out to weaponise Christmas with the objective of getting their man into power. (Anybody remember when they were saying Jeremy Corbyn would be in Number Ten by now?) No bandwagon has been left unboarded, no bad news unexploited. But still they are not in power. It must be an evil Tory plot. The think tanks have been thinking overtime, working out how Jeremy could be given an even greater profile than he already has. It seems Glastonbury wasn’t enough.
How, they are wondering, can the true message be spread? Using the capitalist machines against them they are availing themselves of the power of social media to rebrand their man. Populism is no longer the wrecking ball which Farage used to bring about Brexit; no, populism is where it’s at and whatever people wish at his time of year Jeremy must be shown to be the man who can deliver it.
That'll have to do...
Out with the grey – let’s put him in a nice bright red coat. Perhaps a pair of big shiny boots so he can trudge about and bring cheer outside. And we know he doesn’t drink but can’t we get a picture of him with a wee sherry and a plate of mince pies? And maybe get him to smile more. But who in their right mind is going to believe in a jolly old man in red with a snowy beard who gives away free stuff?
Thursday, 21 December 2017
Singing: “Tis the season to get re-al – Tra-la-la-la-lah!” Except we never quite do. Every year the church seems to be fighting a losing battle against the increasing secularisation of our annual celebration of unfettered consumerism. Neighbours vie to outdo each other with grotesque displays of wasted energy; worshipping a multitude of holy icons in the form of garishly-lit reindeer, sleighs and fat Santas hauling around their bulging sacks. Familial differences are augmented as perceived uneven present distribution pits child against child and couples who barely speak from one day to the next engage in passive-aggressive bouts of competitive gift-buying.
But, for many millions around the world, Christmas is still about celebrating the Christian myth and reinforcing their chosen belief system. Extraordinarily, religion is an exemplar of that very human need for validation. Why are we here? Fuck knows, ergo God. And the very nature of faith is that when challenged by the utter lack of any evidence whatsoever throughout the millennia of recorded human existence, that faith is strengthened in direct defiance of the scientific method. But, they say, you can’t prove he doesn’t exist. But, we say, we don’t care.
And yet we do. It seems that humans are still too frail to survive without superstition and according to Radio 4’s ‘Beyond Belief’ religion is on the rise. No wonder we are doomed as a race if we have to turn away from reason and rely instead on clinging to the dogma of an omnipotent being. It might be acceptable if we could at least agree that there was just the one, all-powerful deity but no, being human we have to make god as complicated as possible because as well as a unifying force we also need him as justification for going to war. Plus ça change...
And talking of change, the BBC came under fire yesterday for a recruitment advertisement: Seeking a ‘Head of Change’, somebody who can “influence the success of the Terms and Conditions programme with far-reaching impacts” and “leverage opportunities for benefits” while they “engage senior stakeholders to understand change impacts” etc, etc and bollocks and anon... The national press mocked them for the nebulous job description and claimed that nobody understood what the job entailed or what its purpose was.
What we used to call coping is now called change management. But the nature of change is that we can never be sure what might have happened had we not managed it. Sure, we can model alternative futures and we can retrospectively imagine alternative routes to the present, but there is no proof. It’s the perfect job – no matter the outcome you can easily present a version of history which shows how we did so much better with you in post than without. And even better, you can justify why your original one-year contract should be extended. After all, we survived until now, but who says that will continue without you? Best be on the safe side and make it a permanent position.
Dear Dad, for Christmas I would like a new job...
Religion could learn much from this approach and should proactively recruit evangelists to spread the word. Forget all that preaching and churchy nonsense – all the churches are being turned into carpet warehouses anyway; the church is changing and this needs to be managed. Wanted Archbishop of Canterbury: The successful candidate will engage blue-sky facilitations to roll out the furtherment of the father in the firmament and leverage credibility opportunities going forward. Utilising the latest faith technology to eulogise the benefits of buying-in, our new change champion will ceaselessly promote the glory of the hereafter. This position is forever and ever. Amen.
Wednesday, 20 December 2017
David Lammy is in the ‘news’ again, although show me a day when this gratuitous attention seeker isn’t. He was banging his ‘Review of Racial Bias and BAME representation in the Criminal Justice System’ drum again, but when is he not? Talk about the effect of confirmation bias. Had the report not included the prejudiced term ‘bias’ it might carry some credibility, but this is a classic example of the cart leading the horse. Like so many such important sounding studies it begins with a premise then sets out to prove it; black kids are more likely to end up in prison, but there aren’t enough black judges.
Naturally society is to blame, or rather, the built-in, instinctive, unthinking, institutional racism of our hideously white society. And because he swallows the revisionist theory of racism - only those with power can be racist - black people have no power, ergo only white people can be racist. Notwithstanding the power he and numerous other ‘persons of colour’ have, by dint of office, he wishes to tip the balance to empower more BAME people and thus, what, let them be racist in their turn? This hardly seems the philosophy of a great mind. This has all the intellectual rigour of Tony Blair’s fallacial ‘let’s send every kid to university’ argument.
If the law is to apply equally, then diversity is the very last thing you want to impose; conformity is the key. Imposing quotas in all areas of the criminal justice system is, like all such measures, doomed only to failure, charges of positive discrimination, both in employment and in sentencing and furthering the divides which exist in our admittedly unequal society. But inequality is an abiding trait of most animal societies and certainly of humanity; perhaps Mr Lammy could point to some successful experiments where the imposition of equality has been successful? Mao’s Cultural Revolution perhaps, or something beginning with Lenin and ending with Stalin?
Or, he may wish to avail himself of the ‘criminal justice’ experience of a number of African countries which have reverted to post-colonial home rule. There is no reason whatsoever why a BAME aspirant should not be capable of rising through the justice system, but by merit. Indeed their applications – all applications, by the best in their field - should be welcomed and encouraged. And I truly hope that their skin colour would play no part in their success. But already the bias is in their favour. The Bar Council would bend over backwards to promote more women and ethnic minorities to silk but they can only work with what they get.
Constance Briscoe. A fine example
Perhaps, instead of trying to convert British society to better accommodate people of other origins and cultural norms, effort may better be expended on integrating other ethnicities into the British way of doing things. You know; fair play, tolerance and impartiality, not preferential treatment, playing the victim and whipping out the race card at every turn. Exploiting difference is what we evil white people do, isn’t it, David old boy? You haven’t really thought it through, have you?
Tuesday, 19 December 2017
One of the well-trodden paths of commercialism is to create demand, then fulfil it. Some things – fashion, new inventions, the latest model BMW, post-Christmas diets – have a market ready and willing to abandon the old and espouse the new. A good chunk of world trade relies entirely on the capricious and frivolous nature of the consumer. But ideas; ideas are often a bit harder to sell, so the vendor of ideology sometimes has to deploy more devious methods than just dangling the shiny trinkets in front of the slack-jawed customer.
To make your ideology more attractive you need to lay the groundwork and sow dissent where there are no genuine grievances, use statistics and surveys and polls to tell a story of the other you wish to counter; to create the impression of damage and then claim to be the cure. Remember when we were told we needed to open the floodgates to immigration because new, fresh blood was needed to do the work, pay the taxes and fund the retired? Now it turns out that older workers are having to retire later so they can continue to pay to support the burgeoning population of young, unemployed but breeding migrants.
Wait, you’ve learned that migration is not a solution but a problem? Shit, we need to counter that poisonous belief. Let me see; bigot, racist? No, that’s been done; people just laugh at you when you call them racist. It has to be bigger. I know, let’s resurrect the notion of ‘institutional racism’. Yeah, that’s it; it’s not you or me who are the problem it is all of us. A blast from the past; the McPherson report had to be returned twice before they managed to do what was intended and come up with the phrase and since then the police have morphed from a bold force into a timid service.
That’s the ticket then; just like fashion, notions come and go so this season we can say that institutional racism is the new black... as it were. Be ashamed, white people, but here’s how you atone: Look into my eyes... now open those immigration doors wide, like a good boy. Are you seeing a pattern yet? Twitter’s latest predictable clampdown on free expression used the fabricated notion of ‘far right’ extremism to exclude those warning of muslim extremism. And the EU is regularly sold as the solution to the strife cause by the EU itself.
Before you can sell an ideology you have to buy into it; only once you have made your own plunge into darkness will you try and sell that darkness as light to everybody else. Thus the hefty spectre of Emily Thornberry – in her mind the reasonable voice of unity - trying to convince everybody else that Momentum, the thuggish arm of leftism with their purges, their oaths of allegiance, their takeover of the Labour Party, is the beating and honourable heart of the movement. The deniers of democracy are touted as the embodiment of democracy.
And of course, the whole Brexit debacle. David Cameron misjudged the mood when he offered us a referendum he never considered he could lose. He employed all his PR guile into preparing the ground; he spent £millions on pre-campaign propaganda designed to convince us that darkness was light. Now, they are trying to sell the unwanted outcome as divisive and dangerous, cancerous and evil. Have they learned nothing? We bought the other product and now we – like all humans do – will continue to justify that decision until something demonstrably better is offered. It is far too late for fake polls, dodgy surveys and false claims. Telling us we got it wrong is just rubbing us up the wrong way and EU threats will only harden that resolve. To sell us this snake oil, you’re going to have to come up with a whole new problem to pretend it can solve.
Monday, 18 December 2017
In the oft-quoted sentiment of Voltaire, "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise." Well, on that basis it has to be islam. But that aside, I’m concerned about the way in which we are handling Brexit. After months of tense wrangling, deprecating descriptions of those who voted to leave, expressions of hostile intent towards a post-Brexit Britain and vainglorious pomposity from the burghers in Brussels, all of a sudden Theresa May is declared a saviour.
Heaping praise on her for her resolve – a characteristic for which she is certainly not known in the UK – the Eurocrats declare themselves ready to treat. I can’t be alone in smelling a rat. The process of the public political debate is, as has been observed by many, like a football game between evenly matched sides; the ball goes back and forth interminably and only after extra time and an unsatisfying penalty shoot-out is a result declared.
But like a rigged game we onlookers watch as open goal after open goal is left unscored. We watch as the arguments of one side are adopted by the other and new meanings are imparted to otherwise clear objectives. We want to leave, we said. This became “You voted for Parliamentary sovereignty”. No, we didn’t, we voted to end our thrall to representatives which no longer represented us. There has been no greater treachery than that of the Labour Party; once the great champions of the working class, now mere champagne swilling theoretical socialists, proposing policy for which few have asked.
For the many, not the few says Jeremy Corbyn, then swiftly ignores what the many are clamouring for. Meanwhile on the government side we get a great war of words and the repeated assertion that ‘we did not know what we were voting for’. The fictions of hard and soft Brexit have played out in mid-field, the players oblivious to our insistence that the flouted ‘will of the people’ was simply to rid ourselves of EU control. When one gambit fails the team captains appear to collaborate to confect another; thus Ireland now steps in to take a free kick.
And in all this the biggest casualties are truth, honesty, honour, principal, as one after the other is abandoned in favour of weasel words which obscure and obfuscate, delay and detract from the matter at hand. The language of diplomacy, or as we commoners prefer to call it, lying. We are taken for fools and called it openly. Those few in prominent positions who support our cause – the cause, remember, of the majority of working class people of Britain – are attacked and defamed as somehow working against our better interest; their better interest.
I hold in my hand a piece of paper...
The political class is in cahoots, if not by arrangement – for the sake of appearance – then certainly by instinct. They are united in believing that they know better than we who have to live with their decisions. And they are afraid because Brexit was about more than just leaving a sclerotic and corrupt supranational administration; it was about our rejection of the political status quo. They see their power base quiver and crumble and fight like tigers to keep it. Were Voltaire alive today he would be able to coin another bon mot: To know who they fear, simply find out who they are allowed to denigrate.
Sunday, 17 December 2017
It is Christmas time and in the true spirit of the season, the gift that keeps on giving has been more than bounteous in her ministrations. What a dreary world it would be without the eternally blundering, perpetually challenged, numerically blighted blimp of Hackney. Diane Abbott, MP. Even seeing those post-nominals gives me a smile. Yes folks, Ms Abbott is an actual, voted-for, honourable Member of Parliament; how starved must her constituents be for choice, or how very, very forgiving of stupidity.
Oh yes, stupidity. And that is me being generous because if the woman is not a lumbering, lithping simpleton, what other explanation can there be? If not for low intellect how is it that she can be so wrong on so many issues on every occasion she is trotted out? Why, even today she demonstrated the astonishing level of cognitive dissonance that must needs be attached to supporters of socialism by her performance on the Marr show. Clearly supporting the idea of offering to the British people a second referendum just two weeks ago, she managed to turn ‘the electorate’ into ‘Parliament’ with no apparent discomfort at all.
The woman can’t open her mouth without making a gaffe, from private schools to police funding, from racist remarks about white people to regularly going on broadcast media to defend policy of which she is wholly ignorant. The Labour Party displays a wilful blindness to the effect this woman has on their image when they refuse to gag her. Maybe they are going for the sympathy vote; after all the woman is a mental health charity case if ever I saw one, but fair game for ridicule because of the prominence of her position.
Never far from the news, even when she’s not making it, the latest Diane-inspired madness is the choice people made to be offended by a bloke in fancy dress at a darts tournament. Recognisably Abbott (in spite of the beard) and holding up a sign saying ‘190’ this visual gag was, genuinely, funny. As I type, Maajid Nawaz is holding forth on the radio about how disgustingly racist this was. *sigh* If you have to explain it, etc, but let’s give it a go: Without the blackface, he would just have been a bloke in a dress holding up a puzzling sign.
Perhaps he should have just told people he was being Diane Abbott. Or worn a badge. But that wouldn’t have been comedy, that would just have been lame. I’m sorry Maaj, but it was funny. And all the funnier for having aroused such righteous ire. The guy wasn’t insulting black people, he was having a jab at Abbot the Hut and her utter inability to deal with numbers. Maybe it should have been a fat black fella in a Lego-hair wig? Can you imagine the mental gymnastics the offence-seekers would have had to go through? He’d have been denounced as an Uncle Tom in an instant.
Maajid thinks the level of vitriol directed at ‘people of colour’ (and what a ridiculous phrase that is; naturally I have no colour whatsoever and am thus invisible to the political class) has never been so high. And here we go again, whipping up division, brewing a storm in a teacup, making a tragedy out of a comedy. You know, you can choose to not be offended; but there is so much more of a living to be made out of harbouring grievance.
I’ve been critical of people on Twitter. For that I apologise; I only ever wanted to be loved. So might go the defence pleas in mitigation for those who stand accused of ‘hate crimes’, for which read ‘mild antipathy’. I mean, lobbing a petrol-filled bottle at a mosque is a hate crime, as is beheading a captive journalist simply for not being muslim. Actual crime, fuelled by hatred, is hate crime. But now words are the instruments of war; hate and fear, the media claims, fear and hate – two-four-six-eight who do we excoriate?
The UK hate crime laws are based on perception and hearsay and much of the origin of so-called hate crime is tribal in origin; muslims against the west, the west against uncontrolled immigration, Tories against Labour, the UK versus the EU, etc. So let’s all just calm down and agree that the hysteria and hype is unworthy. Corbyn isn’t a demented communist would-be dictator; he’s just a daft old bugger. And Boris isn’t a speed-fuelled, back-combed glove puppet; he’s just a floppy-haired eejit. Neither is Tommy Robinson a hate-mongering neo-Nazi. And for all his shortcomings Owen Jones is basically a nice bloke who fell for the party line. Etc...
So let’s have a look at a world without hyperbole:
Conservatives – clue in the name – believe in a touch of parsimony, living within your means and generally not rocking the boat. Conservatives are charitable but thrifty and think that you value more that which you have to strive for. Human frailties are weaknesses to be overcome, not ‘conditions’ to be slave to, so large ‘C’ Conservatives have little time for indulgence in what they see as the largely self-inflicted epidemic of extreme minority issues. And they definitely don't eat babies.
Labour – the name is now largely historical – believe in equality and that the state is the method by which this can be achieved. They see as manifestly unfair that some people amass wealth and pass it on to their offspring and would see the wealth distributed as equitably as possible, if only there was a system which could actually achieve this. With a strong belief in social justice they see themselves as defenders of the weak and consequently don’t generally believe in challenging a person’s self-assertion that they are in need.
Me – I believe in self-reliance, endeavour and having a go. But that’s so boring isn’t it, being reasonable? You have to pick a side these days. You can’t have the opposition leader at PM’s Questions saying “You know what? I think you are dead right to pursue that approach and I for one would like to offer you the support of my party in getting the legislation past those bastards in the Lords!” That would be like watching a whodunit where the first thing you see was, well, who done it.
On the political compass test I come out slap bang in the middle; right in the cross hairs. But this can’t be right because, according to Twitter I am 'literally Hitler, spreading my poison and racism and all that shizzle. In reality I think I am in the so-called silent majority (except for the silent bit!). I work, pay my taxes, do stuff for myself from time to time and generally just get on with living. Just like most other people, I'm a nice guy at heart.
But there seems to be a real appetite for extremes; more so now than for a long time Express a preference for a smaller, less intrusive state and you are condemned as a Nazi, which is odd, as the Nazis worshipped their overbearing state. Express a desire for peace and harmony and you are a card-carrying communist, which is odd, as the communists deliberately starved the population of Ukraine and killed many millions throughout the soviet states.
Look into my eyes...
It doesn’t seem to matter what you believe, there is always somebody on the next-but-one tweet that not only disagrees with you but is able to probe into your deep, dark soul and divine your innermost thoughts. I imagine even somebody who does little more than post cute images of kittens runs the risk of being branded a dog-hater. Recognising this inability to empathise with each other I can only conclude that peace and love and harmony is beyond the reach of humanity... but imagine what a boring place it would be if we ever got there?
Friday, 8 December 2017
When did we get so soft? The new Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson came out and told an undeniable truth that a dead terrorist is an ex-terrorist; a cast-iron, 100% non re-offender. The liberal media went mental – you can’t say that, they said. The legal profession also took him to task and counselled caution; you don’t want to sound like President Trump, they advised. No? At least Trump has either the balls or the political naivety to say out loud what everybody outside politics is saying. And at least Williamson is, for now, sticking to his guns.
Elsewhere, however, capitulation to victimhood gathers pace as students swallow lie after lie fed to them by the kinder, gentler politics of perpetual grievance. Not content with no-platforming speakers who say ‘bad things’ and cocooning themselves away in safe spaces with soothing cuddle-puppies, they can even feel themselves bullied when others use the most descriptive term yet devised to describe their delicacy. Boo-hoo, they say, calling us snowflakes damages our mental health.
Like all these whiny insistences on special treatment this sort of bullshit devalues genuine need. In all the areas that the state tries to help out those who cannot help themselves - mental health, disability, poverty, homelessness, etc. – freeloaders (for money, sympathy, attention, recognition) pile in with their bogus claims and spoil it for everybody. You can’t say this, you can’t say that. Oh, you’ll upset the gays, you’ll offend the muslims...
Trump, on the other hand? Jerusalem. Bosh! Job done. It might be childish, but I get an enormous amount of pleasure from watching the whiners on the left ball up in fury and bawl bitter tears of pure hatred just because somebody they despise has said or done something that most people are nonplussed about or even applaud.
And so it comes – as, inevitably it must – to the pantomime of Brexit and the last scene of Act One. After many months of rehearsal, Mrs May delivered the lines she has been rehearsing ever since she realised she had only two options – treat or leave; and this lady is not for turning. The media also played their part, pretending to gasp in wonder as the announcement was made that a deal had been agreed. This is no deal; it is a simple capitulation to the demands of outsiders that the farce be allowed to continue.
Every PM wants to leave a legacy
We are at the point in Springtime for Hitler when the audience ought to be walking out in disgust; abandoning the cast to play out their hollow fictions to an empty auditorium. But instead, they have decided to play along, delighted that somehow they can see the Emperor’s fine new clothes when all that has been dangled in front of them is a pair of scrawny, hairy bollocks. So, that’s it, we’re not leaving the EU after all. The End.
Sunday, 3 December 2017
In the 1970s the UK was in the grip of strike fever. Union officials gleefully called wildcat walk-outs, sympathy strikes, occupations, mob picketing and any form of action that could bring an organisation to its knees. Even some private companies found themselves caught up in the madness, choosing to close their doors rather than give in, resulting in their work-forces picketing the dole office instead. In nationalised industries, days-long ‘beer and sandwiches’ meetings were held, during which union moochers flexed their muscles and managements were held to ransom.
Inevitably these strikes achieved little to nothing. Necessary redundancies went ahead anyway, in some cases hastened by the very industrial action intended to prevent it. And in the case of the most militant of unions, longer term plans were put in place to render them impotent within a decade. As a result, the Labour Party, the former party of the workers, was banished for a political generation. Talk about shitting on your own doorstep.
It is the job of opposition to oppose. But it is not the job of any responsible party to simply obstruct. Decisions have been made with which you may not agree, but continuing to fight a battle long after the victor has left the field is denial and folly. Whilst politics itself may be a game, governing the country should not be; at a time when differences should be put aside for the national interest, undermining our position is tantamount to treason.
But it isn’t just here and it isn’t just Brexit. Across the developed world populations are awaking, trudging to the ballot boxes and saying no to the entrenched positions of increasingly socialist regimes. Fed up of being ignored, alarmed at mass migrations, the apparent elevation of minority rights above the rest, the fiscal failures of welfare states, ordinary men and women have found their voice. And the left doesn’t like it one bit.
Donald Trump was elected President of the USA. He didn’t just break in and assume control; he was voted in, democratically. And Hillary Clinton lost, democratically. The Conservative Party are the elected government of the UK, albeit by a thread. Angela Merkel cannot form a government, because the German people no longer want what she wants. Those who were promised a socialist utopia are disillusioned and no longer afraid to speak out.
Like the union wreckers of old, the left are not interested in giving the majority of people what they have said they want; they exist to oppose, to frustrate and to generally get in the way of progress. This is somewhat ironic for a movement that calls its politics ‘progressive’, but then, just like the so-called ‘anti-fascists’ their headspace is an irony-free zone. Meanwhile, Momentum pushes ahead with its takeover of local councils, despite what voters actually want – which is credible governance, not ideology.
The left love to talk about everybody else as dinosaurs; dull, lumbering beasts who should be extinct. But if anything it is the resurgent hard left who are the dinosaurs, harking back to the smoke-filled rooms of the seventies and the destructive deployment of union muscle. Then as now, it is the young who are taken in by promises of what will never be; aimless cannon fodder, all too ready to swear allegiance to a false prophet in the guise of Labour’s latest ‘Uncle Joe’, Jeremy Corbyn.
Did you ever wonder what being
on the winning team was like?
Like generations before them they will surely come to learn how they were used, then look on in exasperation as the next wave of recruits marches and chants and does all it can to be part of the problem. But instead of always being against, how about a little experiment? How about a year – one, single year – in which those clamouring for a change they are not going to get stand silent instead? Or, even better, get on board. Try being on the winning team for once; you never know, you might even get to like it.
Saturday, 2 December 2017
I worry about the fragile state of the world around me, I really do. In the winter of ’63, trudging through the snow to our new home, the prospect of a bedroom of my own – albeit for just a year until my baby sister claimed it for herself – was a major leap in our family fortunes. Central heating, windows that fully closed and didn’t let the snow in, fitted carpets, a refrigerator, telephone and other such luxuries were many years in the future but at least we had, for the first time, an inside toilet.
This isn’t some pity-me, poverty story; I’m not even sure we were really so aware that we were poor. It was simple reality for millions of ordinary families across the land. A council house, a coal fire and a rented television... when we had electricity. Education and hard work were the ways up and out and the grammar school system was like winning the lottery for council house kids like me – and it was for access to this grammar school that we ended up here in an older house and not in the brand new house reserved for us on the other side of town.
The stirrings of social protest were abroad, but demonstrations were something only the hippies and the deranged had time for. The working class was generally pretty grounded and sacrifices made now, everybody seemed to agree, would yield dividends in the future. And things got better, for everybody; yet not everybody was satisfied. While the silent majority got on with the job of making ends meet, the malcontents were laying the ground for recruitment to the causes of cultural mayhem.
If you believe the hysteria, we are at tipping point on so many metrics – financial meltdown, climatic Armageddon, the mother of all Brexits, Trump - the literal anti-Christ - homelessness, child poverty, foodbanks, gender identity, women’s rights, the pay gap, the equality gap... gaps gaping as wide as the eye can see. Gaps created first by not taking the concerns of our minorities seriously and then by taking them far too seriously.
Triggered; the default state of the
And yet, the sun rises, people go to work and the word keeps on turning. The huddled masses carry on almost as if they weren’t watching and don’t care... because they’re not. And they don’t. Furthermore they don’t need to. Selection may no longer be purely ‘natural’ but selection is an intrinsic part of our human story; we can make choices. Admittedly, not everybody has a cornucopia of options to take, but we all still have choices.
We can choose to be a victim, or we can choose not to let life grind us down. We can choose to be selfish, altruistic, or – if we have the means and the disposition – both. We can choose to take offence, even on behalf of others, or we can choose to cheerily suck it up. The poor will always be with us, especially when we make the definition of poverty subjective. But poverty is the absolutely best incentive to seek something better and most of the poor are doing just that.
The massed ranks of the protesting classes aren’t made up of poor people. They aren’t even really speaking for those people; those people are busy digging themselves out and many will succeed, unaware of the clamour raised in their name. The angry screeching you hear all around is the noise of the bubble. The echo chamber of the righteous who imagine that it matters; who think they know. In their minds they speak out for society, when in fact they are apart from society, existing in their own little fantasy world of impotent rage.
But where do they go from here? When our current crop of bien pensants wake up and realise all their protest has achieved nothing will they become the new charity cases? Clapped out, unemployable, mentally unhinged adult babies, forever trying to recreate their glory days; like Baby Jane – whatever happened to her? I almost feel sorry for them; poor things.