Wednesday, 12 December 2018
I am sorry if you are out of work. I feel for you if you are a struggling single parent and I really wish you all a decent life, whoever you are and whatever you do, or don’t do. Nobody should have to struggle in what is still one of the richest countries in the world. So, I apologise on behalf of the nation should you find yourself in straits which, if not truly dire are, somewhat less than optimal. But there is also something else I am sorry about; I’m sorry you feel the need to live beyond my means.
You see, unless you are in gainful employment, earning enough to cover all your costs and accepting no benefits, you contribute nothing to the public purse and the fruits of your loins are highly likely to follow in your footsteps. We get no labour from you, no worthwhile intellectual contribution and whereas I have no objection to us all chipping in a few bob to help you out, you seem to constantly have your hand deep in my pockets. It takes three of me paying in for every one of you taking out. And that is just for your keep; if you have children you can’t afford we need at least another one of me for each one of them.
On top of that we have defence to pay for. Then there are roads, schools, public health, the costly burden of government and all the many fingers in many pies that come with that bloated sector. Still more, we have to pay for the EU to order us about, we have to fund the ruinous ambitions of the UN, keep up our contributions to NATO and of course there’s that £14billion we throw away every year to help India and Pakistan with their space and nuclear ambitions... not to mention funding gold-plated Kalashnikovs and Lamborghinis for African despots.
It really is quite a burden. Out of what’s left I need to feed myself and mine, cover the costs of keeping a roof over our heads, keep a car on the road so I can get to work and maybe, from time to time, afford a short break to recharge the batteries. Oh and there is also my pension fund to build, because I’m not expecting my taxes to fund both your pension and mine. And on the subject of pensions, I still have to feed, clothe and house the millions of migrants who we are told we need, expressly to cover the cost of those pensions. Until we get a financially competent exchequer, this situation isn’t likely to change any time soon.
Now, I do understand that all this whining is not going to get me very far, but I’m sure you will forgive me if your demands – not pleas, or apologetic entreaties for assistance, but actual demands, the insistence on your ‘human rights – fall on ears that become deafer each year. I’m afraid that there is only so much sympathy I can muster as I have other calls on my time. So, please excuse me; I have to go to work to keep you in the style to which you have become accustomed. Do have a lovely day in front of the telly!
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
US comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy musings “You might be a redneck if...” became for a time a catch phrase, eliciting much mirth and merriment at the expense of people generally considered not just beyond but beneath the pale. For instance, you might be a redneck if: your dad walks you to school because you’re in the same grade, or: if you mow your lawn and find a car, or: if you have more cars than teeth, or: if you’ve ever taken out finance for a tattoo... you get the picture. All harmless fun, after all, a redneck is hardly going to encounter or understand this particularly highbrow vein of comedy gold.
But that was then and this is... well it’s the rise of the redneck, or as we call them these days, Nazis. And according to Germany’s far-left “anti-hate” cabal, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, you may be a Nazi if, for instance, your kids are perfectly normal. Now, you may say, so what, it’s Breitbart? But that doesn’t mean it’s not true... and true or not it is horrifying. Or is it? Is it – and this is far more likely – just a symptom of the times in which we live where, around every corner, over every page and in every frame of video or second of audio we risk finding something to be offended by?
Owen Jones was all over social media on Sunday evening, gleefully recounting how his rowdy rabble of masked and screeching Nazi-seeking minions had seen and routed actual Nazis as they goose-stepped through London. I don’t know if you saw any footage of the Brexit march, but what I saw was a crowd of decent people, people who had worked all their lives in the hope of a better future, turning out to show how let down they felt by a system that rewards fictitious Nazi hunters and punishes those who dare to quietly get on with their lives.
.I saw people troubled by the unprecedented and unwanted change they see all around them, people who feel threatened by the new priorities of the age, people being directly threatened by Owen Jones’ baying rent-a-mob with genuine hate in their eye and murder in their souls. And the reaction of these supposed Nazis to their tormentors? A resigned sigh, a look of almost-pity for their assailants but most of all a determination to maintain a quiet dignity and humour in the face of such embarrassingly juvenile disruptive behaviour. In France the gilets jaune may have resorted to violence, but it’s not the British way. Maybe the Antifa family learned their techniques from some continental regime, possibly from 1930s Germany?
Being labelled as a Nazi is now as passé as being called a racist or being dubbed male, pale and stale. Even Jones’ favourite epithet ‘gammon’ fails to elicit any more than a shrug and the knowledge that you belong to a club on the right side of, well everything, really. So hey, if you have blond hair, or blue eyes, or believe in high standards of public behaviour; if you are troubled by violent yobs, or people with little experience of life suddenly appearing to have so much influence over it, you’re now a Nazi.
You may be redneck if...
If your parents or grandparents fought actual Nazis and you abhor all they stood for it makes no difference; you are a Nazi. If you marched on Sunday, or if you support those who marched, or even if you merely voted the way you felt was right for Britain in 2016, you are a Nazi. If you believe that the pantomime Brexit being performed by our Prime Minister is nothing more than a pre-scripted display of EU intransigence which further reinforces your decision to vote to leave you are definitely a Nazi. What do you mean you’re thinking of growing a little moustache?
Sunday, 9 December 2018
With the odd exception – the likelihood that we will continue to orbit the sun, that gravity won’t suddenly switch off... and that nobody will be able to explain Labour’s actual position on Brexit any time soon – we live in a world of uncertain ‘facts’. To a greater or lesser degree we rely on forecasts; the weather, the exchange rate and the possibility of trains arriving on at least the same day as stated on the timetable. But nobody, literally nobody, knows the future, that mysterious realm that lies beyond tonight’s dreams.
And part of that difficulty has to lie in the actual fact that many of the things we know are not necessarily, actually facts. We have unreliable memories, we view events through lenses tinted with bias and time has a habit of rendering even the once crystal clear vague and blurry. We accept without question things told us by an apparently higher authority. As children it is our parents’ fictions we trust, as adults it appears to be that of self-appointed experts... with whom we happen to already agree.
Listening to Any Questions on Radio 4 yesterday and particularly its follow-up show Any Answers I was struck by how many directly contradictory opinions were posed as absolute facts. Callers to the show were adamant in their forthright views and each believed their own version of that truth. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that observers will give wholly different versions of simple events; wine experts cannot tell white from red in blind tastings; and priming can elicit predictable, but wrong, responses time and time again.
We are not creatures of logic, but of faith; one reason, perhaps, that religion can still sway so many people to act against their own interests. Bizarrely, it is the most highly educated who appear to exhibit the greatest propensity to adopt unverified pseudo-facts as long as it feeds whatever narrative they have signed themselves up to: Climate change, immigration, Brexit. It’s as if their time in education, coupled with the company they keep absolves them from any responsibility to question what they believe. If they were joining a new Moonies we would be launching interventions to free them from the cult.
If you think I am being too glib, ask yourselves what ‘facts’ you truly know. Pick a subject, any subject, preferably one you believe you know a lot about and try to dispassionately pick apart your understanding. Can you explain friction, light, sight, sound, digestion, ambulation, or any of the many things you experience every day without a conscious thought? Take a ‘fact’ and ask yourself; how do I know this to be true? How was this established? What credentials support this nugget of apparently inviolable truth?
Be honest. Did you find the truth or did you just accept a truth? As a generally useful rule, the more leaps of faith it takes to support an assertion the less likely it is to be true; the more layers of secrecy needed to maintain a supposed plot, the more likely it is to be a lie. The truth is usually mundane and simple, but we are wired to reject simple. The fabricated, convoluted, conspiratorial machinations of mystery fiction are just, well, more engaging than the dry pages of a textbook. (And not all textbooks are necessarily free of untruths.)
Well, what do you believe?
Assume that everything you know is questionable, that everything you believe is because somebody influenced you to believe it and that those people were influenced before them. Do not mistake eminence for authority, nor qualifications for competence. Consider how people ascended the greasy pole to power before automatically accepting what they say as gospel; ask yourself what they have to gain by influencing you and most of all, in the words of David Byrne “... ask yourself, well, how did I get here?
Saturday, 8 December 2018
Douglas Murray, a shining beacon of reason in an inky morass of fudge and obfuscation has written that if Brexit is not enacted he may never vote again. He finishes his article with the worrying paragraph: “I’m sure lots of people will say ‘Isn’t that a bit over the top?’ And who knows, perhaps my attitude will change at some crisis point down the road. But the purpose of my saying this is not really to say what I am thinking, but only really to say this: if I am thinking this, what are millions of other people in our country thinking? And what is not imaginable after disenfranchisement on such a scale?“
He is right. Many others have already expressed the same sentiment, but where does that get us? Parades and petitions have had no effect on numerous issues over the years and unless we ape the actions of les gilets jaunes in France experience has shown our so-called leaders to be impervious to the wishes of ordinary people. Besides, riots in the UK are always accompanied by looting and vandalism which has nothing to do with the cause; the usual suspects are always looking for an excuse to get some kicks and free gear.
Our Members of Parliament mock us when they invoke the spirit of democracy and insist that we have the best of all worlds – direct election of representatives who, from their more informed, more morally balanced motives do what is best for us, or rather what they think is best for us. Not for us the tedium of direct democracy; not for us the picking through tortuous legal proceedings to find a form of words that lets everybody come out as winners. No, the business of running a country is far too important to be left to a plebiscite.
But it’s telling isn’t it, that unable to find a solution to the European problem, this enclave of the mightiest and wisest in the land turned to we, the people, to tell them what we wanted. Of course, they had already decided, as we are seeing and they were merely seeking our endorsement so that, in the future, when they sign away our young people’s lives, literally their lives, as conscripts in the EU army for what unknown future wars, they could turn to us and say “But this is what you voted for”.
But it isn’t is it? And things are not always as they seem, for who makes up this cohort of the great and the good? Are they really the best and the brightest we could find? No, our parliament comprises far too many chancers, thieves, sexual deviants, gangsters, fraudsters and cheats of every persuasion and little evidence of practical intelligence beyond that needed to run any half-successful scam. These are not informed visionaries, but more often examples of those who actively seek power over others - failed lawyers, failed businessmen, failed academics and fanatical ideologues. If they are truly representative, it speaks very ill of the rest of us.
Labour’s red princes, institutional nepotism, the spads (special advisors - and on what authority do they advise?), student politician, the PPE graduates and so on. We have a system in which people learn, long before they have learned about life, how to be politicians. Party placemen are manoeuvred into safe seats and loyalties are bought and sold, precious little of that loyalty to those who voted. Whatever happened to the gifted amateur, the successful outsider who genuinely wants to give something back?
Already, under our current electoral regime, MPs who do try and represent their constituents quickly learn that those loyalties will stand them in no stead in the party system. But what of Douglas Murray’s depressing prognosis? If we don’t vote then we allow even more patronage, nepotism and greed to rule over us. We would enter a true serfdom, for if the system we voted for doesn’t serve us, the system we don’t vote for will be under no obligation to pay any heed at all to our concerns.
But they are forgetting one thing – if you wish to lord it over your underlings you only have two options left – you already blew the ‘representative democracy’ charade – and these are force or favour. You either institute martial law, for which you need a loyal army (good luck with that, now we have ex-soldiers sleeping on the streets) or you need to buy off your dullards with drugs, sex and stultifyingly tawdry entertainment. Well done on Jungle, Strictly and Real Housewives, by the way, but it’s not enough.
Say what you will about Donald Trump, but he was elected for the same reasons we voted for Brexit and his rumbustious slogan “Drain the swamp!” could not be more apposite. We are at ground zero and now need to adopt a scorched earth policy toward our broken politics. Our government is not fit to govern. Our representatives are not fit to represent us. Ignoring them, letting them carry on as they are, sends no message at all. If we want to be heard we need to shout louder, if we want to be seen we need to act more decisively. And if we want change we have to be that change. Drain that swamp.
Friday, 7 December 2018
An early memory – and this must have been during the run up to the election of 1966 – is of being corralled in the school yard by a gang of older kids demanding “Labour, Liberal or Conservative?” Not having a clue what these words meant, I spluttered “Conservative” merely because it was the word that sounded most impressive. It turned out this was the right answer, given that the big kids were largely of farming stock and aping their parents’ views of the time. Thus I escaped the Chinese burns and dead-legs administered to those who responded differently; I survived my first encounter with political brutality.
Since then, I have taken an increasingly keen interest in politics. Not as an activist, but as an avid bystander. I have seen how politicians are straw people, bending in the slightest breeze and eminently biddable. I’ve seen how polls are used, not to consult on policy, but to shape opinion and manufacture consent. I’ve marvelled at the ease with which a partisan soundbite can shape the zeitgeist; ‘poll tax’, ‘fat cats’, ‘tax cuts for their friends’, ‘New Labour, new danger’, etc. And I never been disabused of my basic belief that even otherwise very clever people can be demonstrably very stupid and very gullible.
Politics is broken right now, as a result of too little democratic control and too great an assumption of power by the elected, aided and abetted by the kind of idiocy that culminates in this idiot Cambridge ‘academic’ suggesting children should be given a vote. If this turns out to be a spoof then it wasn’t nearly funny enough, erudite enough or clever enough, because when some people genuinely think asking a four-year old to choose a gender is ‘a good thing’ you really have to up your parody game. You can claim it is just an academic exercise but, seriously, young people are ineligible to vote for a whole stack of very good reasons; to suggest otherwise is irresponsible and idiotic.
Then, into this quagmire of competing fixations, obsessions and ideologies strides the one-man communist propaganda corps, James – Stalin - O’Brien, the Poundshop Pol Pot, the Chiswick Castro. This pompous jackanape has a national platform from which he puffs himself up and pontificates and he uses this platform to inject a form of poison into the body politic. In the aim of self-aggrandisement he sets himself up as an authority on all that he despises; which seems to be ordinary people with concerns for the way in which our society is ordered.
There seems little in the so-called progressive milieu to which he hasn’t signed up wholesale. Immigration is an inalienable good, aggressive minorities are fighting the good fight and anybody who disagrees with him is a worm to be stamped upon. He selects callers to either reinforce his points or to be set up for destruction via his well-rehearsed and almost entirely irrelevant counter points. “I can’t get work on building sites any more because Easter European workers will work for a level of pay I can’t pay my rent with” will inevitable be met with the contention “So, you’re a xenophobe?” and then be cut off without right to reply, unless he thinks he can humiliate the caller some more.
He so thoroughly believes his own smug superiority that even when he has been shown to be a showboating no-mark he refuses to back down. The other day I heard a perfectly reasonable caller to his LBC show trying to make a point; we’ll never know what the point was because O’Brien repeatedly interrupted him – verbally bullied him – to the point where all reason was lost. The exchange went something like...
Caller: I voted Ukip at the last elec...
O’B: So, you decided to back the Nazis?
Caller: No, it was about getting a Brexit that...
O’B: You hate immigrants, is that it?
Caller: No, of course I don’t hate immi...
O’B: You gave your vote to a racist party; that makes you a racist, doesn’t it?
Caller: I don’t know why you can’t understa...
O’B: When did you decide to get into bed with the Nazis and racists?
Caller: I wanted a say on who makes our rules.
O’B: You think we are ruled by filthy foreigners, is that it? You would prefer to vote with the fascists and racists and xenophobes, rather than let a single foreigner into the country?
Caller; You are just being ridiculous now.
O’B: Well it’s you who want the Nazis in power... [repeat ad nauseum]
O'Brien's show in a nutshell... so you don't have to listen.
Such dialectic, worthy of Socrates himself! O’Brien is a pompous, preening, overbearing useful idiot to the communist cause. A few years ago he adopted a slightly self-effacing demeanour and appeared almost willing to accept he was not always right, but he has become his own creation, a creature of bitterness and rancour... and tunnel vision. No wonder he didn’t last on Newsnight. No wonder he is reviled on both left and right. If his daughters grow up to become BNP sympathisers he will have only himself to blame.