Tuesday 27 February 2018

The wheels on the bus...

The Brexit road has been a potholed, rutted track of ridiculous confected complexity. At every turn, our offers have been rejected, our proposals trashed, our stance ridiculed and short of actually baring his arse at us, Michel Barnier and his geriatric band of EU antagonists has made it abundantly clear that any deal will favour the EU. Of course, it's his job to take the piss; it’s a shame our supposed government ‘team’ hasn’t managed, with a flourish of typical British humour, to take the piss right back.

So what does Jeremy Corbyn think he is doing? Forget the Islington set and their love-in with the wonderful EU, before which Britons were confined to sitting in ditches, eating raw carrots and clothing themselves in mud. Labour’s traditional core vote, the white working classes, who The Party trots out daily as victims of Tory austerity, were utterly betrayed by this braying donkey and his fatuous ‘a’ customs union nonsense. Yesterday’s speech was not so much an announcement of Labour policy – it will be different in a week or so – as yet another election speech.

He can’t pretend it is anything else. He is in opposition, the next election should not be until 2022, when he will be 73 – and he is no The Donald. Corbyn is doing nothing more than pandering to the soft underbelly of the Tory Wets and making a bid to bring down the elected government. He has no mandate, beyond his own political bubble, to force a government defeat and in so doing to directly go against the largest plebiscite in British history

The Labour Party must suffer for this affront to the democratic process and Mrs May must dare to take up the challenge. Nothing less than destroying them, politically, will do. The time for consensus is over and Corbyn and rebels must be utterly discredited and confined to the silent back benches until the job is done. Leave the EU – no deal is infinitely preferable to the EU’s deal – get working on the future relationship and leave the election until the term is done.

Yes, Jezza, too much politics...

I don’t hate Jeremy Corbyn. I don’t even dislike him and I certainly wouldn’t lower myself to harbouring the kind of visceral spite that Momentum and its lynch mob mentalists have whipped up. I am happy to just about maintain a belief that Corbyn actually believes it when he says he wants a kinder, gentler politics. But what he is engaged in isn’t that. Just because you fervently believe in a dogma it doesn’t mean that dogma has any worth. If that was true, the baby Jesus would have brought peace on Earth by now.

The road ahead is clear and straight as an arrow. Don’t listen to the back seat drivers, Tess; put your foot down and pick up speed. Ignore the roadside attractions – they are fleeting fripperies and ultimately disappointing. The road leads us out of the morass of supranational interference in what should be our affairs alone. There is only one final destination for the Brexit bus. No stopping in the suburbs of Soft Brexit, no cruising through Under-Brexit, no stopping off for a cup of tea in Little-Brexit-in-the-Marsh; we need to get to Brexit and we need to get there soon.

Monday 26 February 2018

Trading Places

I make my living teaching the dark arts of electrickery; how to tame the demon amp, how to bend the devil’s conduit. It’s a good job, I am paid reasonably well and I also get to imagine I am helping to fill the skills shortage we have had – exacerbated by all flavours of government – for far too many years. Skilled electricians will always be in demand, indeed the fatherly advice of my generation and before was: ‘Learn a trade, son, learn a trade’. (I never did, by the way; I picked it up as I went along, but it’s not exactly rocket science.)

Theresa May faces a tough week ahead as Labour perform their seventeenth – or thereabouts (who’s counting?) U-turn on their Brexit policy. Now it’s customs union and single market all the way, in a direct flouting of the views of their old heartlands – proof, if proof were needed that Labour is embarrassed by those who once claimed they worked for. If better paid jobs for the many British workers is what they are after, remaining in the EU in all but name is clearly contrary to their headline message.

But whatever the outcome of future Parliamentary votes on the matter, sooner or later we will face a final decision and whether the referendum outcome is actually overturned – as a majority of MPs so dearly wish – or not, the future is always uncertain. Whichever way the eventual (and by definition undemocratic) Westminster vote goes, the nation will remain divided. So, in that respect at least, nothing will change; there were always divides on all sorts of grounds. If anything, Brexit just simplifies things by putting all the other grievances in the shade.

Over the course of the last 70 years, too many people have come to depend on the government to deliver their daily bread. Now, too many people have been persuaded that their daily bread comes hand-delivered from foreign climes. Given that it has long been a complaint that government does not listen to the people who elect it, how likely is it that a government elevated above our own is going to listen, especially when they airily dismiss our concerns in a foreign language?

The EU isn’t really accountable to anybody except the idealistic dreamers who appoint each other to lofty posts with grand titles, who do little but push through legislation which is incomprehensible to the masses. Trade is engaged in by real people, production is dictated by demand and pay is controlled by the economics of labour, materials and money supply. Despite all the bullshit spouted about customs unions and free trade deals business will find a way to operate whatever the conditions.

For sure, some businesses will fail – they do that, you know. Some will up-sticks and settle elsewhere. Some products may become unavailable, some too expensive, but none of this is important on either an individual or a national basis, unless you have put all your eggs in one rickety basket and ignored the golden rule; look out for number one. So, you can’t buy your favourite continental frippery? Find a substitute; the little luxuries of life do not define you or your place in society; don’t make them your master. 

So, you lost your job? That’s the market making a decision about your employability. You need to make sure that if the market for your unique skill-set dies you can adapt what you have to what the market needs, regardless of Brexit, climate change, war, famine, fire, flood or earthquake. You want your kids to thrive, post-Brexit? (This ‘but what about ze cheeldren?’ belly-aching is getting tiresome.) Then teach them well. Teach them that mindfulness is a new-age bollockry but maths is there for ever. Teach them that nobody owes them a living but fortunes are there to be made. And tell them: “Learn a trade son, learn a trade.”

Monday 19 February 2018

What are you worth?

Imagine a world where there was no work ethic. Imagine a world where, to survive, all you had to do was pick up your basic income and settle back into your armchair; where being in work was no longer a necessity. I have been invited to imagine such a world and I have found the prospect horrifying. Working has been the backbone of my life, from the very early days (sub-ten years old) of pocket money for odd jobs to my current 60-hour week I can’t imagine life without it. As I’ve got older I have toiled longer and become more dedicated to my work.

The work-life-balance trope is an illusory and often meaningless thing, espoused by those who think they have achieved it, much like Slimmer of The Year supposedly sets a shining example of what can be done with a bit of willpower, a gastric band and some judicious photo-shopping. For most people it is a distant dream. But could Universal Basic Income free us from that dream and make leisure and the pursuit of happiness a reality? Well, no; the idea is frankly preposterous.

An interlocutor on Twitter seemed to be all for it. He said "I'm not 100% sure of the benefits of a basic income, but I do believe it would work." Which, in a nutshell, encapsulated for me the deep waters of critical analysis which have been trawled in developing the idea. Like all social policies driven by dreams it envisages a humanity set free to explore everybody’s potential, where nobody is in fear of falling through the cracks and we all live happily ever after. The machines will do the work while we just sit back and enjoy our leisured liberty.

If only I had the time I could write that novel, invent that gadget, build that dream house, explore that vast untamed wilderness; the belief that this could happen is seductive. Yet where’s the evidence that this is likely? History’s great thinkers, its artists, its writers, its explorers, its pioneers in every field have done so not because they were freed from the drudge but in spite of it. For every success story there are a hundred others who tried and failed... and for every heroic failure there are thousands who just never got around to it.

Our forever burgeoning welfare state is a harbinger of what might happen under UBI. The odd J K Rowling may emerge from the experiment, but in reality most will simply languish on a subsistence level of unearned income and – rather than be the masters of the machine age – become slaves to state handouts. Those who do strike out to better themselves will come to resent the unnecessarily indolent even more than they currently do and tax avoidance will inevitably rise.

I heard a caller on LBC yesterday, earnestly explaining how she joined the Labour Party after the Jeremy Corbyn ascendency because she wanted to bring about a fair society. At the heart of her passionate thesis was a plea for egalitarianism; equality being the holy grail of those who believe in ‘social justice’. Universal Basic Income is not Labour policy (yet) but it might as well be. It is just the sort of crackpot theory that would appeal to those who feel they are owed a living.

Promoting the Utopia of a society with want vanquished could be seen as the worst kind of political mountebankery. If you want to keep left wing governments in power you need a solid voter base of poor, ill-educated people, who will vote uncritically for the slops served up in the state trough. Universal Basic Income would become – like the minimum wage – not the bare minimum, but the maximum wage for the untermenschen. Turnips for everybody, tovarishch! 

Thursday 15 February 2018

Brexit means Boris

Boris Johnson has given another Brexit speech. I have to confess, I never quite grasp the purpose of Boris’s orations, at least not beyond the furtherance of his own career. The amiable buffoon character fooled nobody; I’m not expecting the world statesman shtick to bolster his image. And as far as reaching out to Remainers is concerned, surely Boris had to be one of the worst possible choices; for many he is the face of Tory treachery and opportunistic jingoism.

As for his speech: Brexit means a more open Britain, a more outward facing Britain – what does any of that actually mean? Who really cares? Leavers didn’t vote for it; the world market argument is fallacious. And Remainers don’t get it: Matthew Parris, on PM yesterday, tried to claim that Boris’s inner liberal was making the case for ‘nice Brexit’ in the face of nasty Little-Englander Brexit. To his credit he did admit that he was an angry, unforgiving, bitter Remainer who would probably hate leave voters for the rest of his days, but this just shows how far we’ve come along the federalist path in the last four decades.

Throughout the dying 20 years of the last century, the EEC was a pain in the arse, a bunch of Johnny Foreigners poking their noses into our business and blocking our every attempt at reform. A few decades of heavy PR though, and it’s not just millennials who now declare themselves ‘European’. Can they not see that the British will never be truly accepted as part of the continent, except for a few highly lauded cosmopolitans who own parts of it and who don’t possess a smidgeon of Britishness beyond saying ‘sorry’ far too often... usually on behalf of the rest of their ignorant islanders.

Sadly, I agree with Parris in that Boris’s speech will do nothing to mollify Remainers and little to inspire Leavers to turn yet another cheek in the direction of the commission. The battle lines are drawn and I have to say I blame the Remainers. Had the referendum gone the other way, Leavers would have been disappointed, for sure; some may have even carried on campaigning for a while, but I’m pretty certain that the majority would have shrugged, accepted it and got on with business as usual.  

The hard core Leave movement would have kept on rattling the collecting tins, of course, but Ukip would have gone into a lengthy hibernation and the broadcasters would have given zero-to-negligible air time to their concerns. By now it would have been a largely forgotten event and Boris Jonson would have become an irrelevance; his epitaph reduced to ‘former Mayor of London’.

Vote for me... I mean Brexit!

But Boris is clearly still eager for power and hungry to leave a lasting legacy and the nasty little barb in his speech, coining the adjective ‘Faragiste’ as a descriptor for those who most loyally made the case to leave, was a clear and unattractive ploy to appeal to his detractors. Nobody was fooled, however and his relevance remains sidelined. The principal effect of his speech will be... nothing. No opinions were influenced, no minds were changed and today it’s business as usual – the Remainers will carry on remoaning, the placards will remain at the ready and the establishment will continue its struggle with the meaning of democracy.

Wednesday 14 February 2018

The humanity!

I think it’s time I gave up discussing anything with humans. I mean the supposedly advanced primates which make up the human race are so stupid they-be-like, “Theresa May wants to starve poor school children” and “Jeremy Corbyn will make the economy work for the many, not the few” and “After Brexit where will we get our oxygen from and how much will we have to pay for it?”. Seriously, the level of delusion about how the world functions would be staggering, were it not so depressingly predictable.

Andrea Leadsom publishes the death threat she received and the immediate response – from exactly the sort of maladjusted Momentum mobsters who would wish her dead in the first place – is to cry ‘false flag’. A decade after the worldwide financial crisis, with stock markets relying more than ever on artificial intelligence to drive decision-making and a 24-hour blip in the fortunes of the various indices has preppers stockpiling ammunition and awaiting the rapture... or aliens. And despite the plethora of ‘fake news’ people still respond like eager puppies to the dog-whistle of their confirmation bias.

Men with power have used said power to get laid; get a leg over it. Rich people threatened with rapacious taxation use their riches to protect their wealth; like you wouldn’t in their place. The NHS needs more money; when hasn’t it? And why would the ‘nasty’ Tories want to keep people poor? Their entire raison d'ĂȘtre is based on giving everybody the opportunity to better themselves. As for ‘fat cat’ employers, if they could double the wages of their staff, don’t you think they would? Imagine the loyalty of well-paid, happy workers, all pulling together in some glorious cooperative endeavour. Oh, wait, that’s socialism; see Venezuela for details.

I confess to harbouring the embers of some youthful fluffy dreams about the brotherhood of man, but they are fleeting, soon extinguished by the realities of venal humanity and its grasping opportunism. Why can’t people see the simple chain of causality? Increase wages, decrease job security – a firm paying the best needs to employ the best and produce a product only a few are willing to pay for. However you go about it the only way you can have any prolonged form of egalitarianism is by diktat... and that necessitates an authoritarian ruling class usually categorised by an extreme mistrust of the masses and systemised nepotistic hiring practices; you swap an openly despised elite for one which you dare not criticise.

Nope, humans are too stupid to solve the problems of humans. Take the aid industry; for all the bleating over Oxfam and the consequences for aid funding, is there honestly less suffering about as a result of  decades of the first world throwing money at the despots of the third? As far as I can see we are creating a worldwide narrative of need which extends even to our own, relatively privileged proletariat. And don’t get me started on the grievance industry, creating ever more nuanced things to be upset about; imagine the work the devil would find those angry idle hands to do? Humans? Fuck ‘em.

Monday 12 February 2018

Old McDonnell had a farm...

And on that farm he grew... mostly fantasy. They say that to be a good liar you first have to convince yourself and Labour’s John McDonnell appears to have done an exemplary job on himself. I wonder, does he gaze into a mirror and say “Look into my eyes...”? He certainly has the demeanour of a man not fully in charge of all his critical faculties and when he says he wants all Tories to face direct action – insurrection – every time they leave the house, he must surely send a chill down the spine of any sane person. I expect psychologists would pay a pretty penny to be able to study him once he has been de-activated and made safe.

And talking of money, he has been all over the airwaves expounding on his plans to renationalise everything that hasn’t been relocated offshore when he comes to move his favourite armchair into Number Eleven. Make no mistake, he seems to sincerely believe he will one day – and one day soon – have the keys to the Treasury. Last week he tried several times to explain how Labour would massively increase public spending and yet cost the country nothing. He seemed to think that by calling borrowing ‘investment’, sufficient numbers of eager acolytes would be convinced by his alchemy to vote for another socialist economic experiment.

One of his gambits was to imagine buying a house – and for many Labour voters, imagining is as far as they will ever get. He suggested that should you buy a house in London and borrow half a million quid to do so, you could rent this house out and make a small profit thus paying for the valuable asset you now owned. Of course this misses a few small, but not insignificant points. Firstly, where do you live? Secondly – and the whole buy-to-let mortgage lending criteria is predicated on this point – will the rent actually cover the mortgage? Without a substantial deposit this is unlikely; and where do you get the deposit? Thirdly, what about the overheads such as repairs?

The left seems to be convinced  that all landlords are neo-Rachmans, raking in huge and ugly profits. This ignores the simple truth that there are millions of accidental landlords – I am one – who effectively subsidise their tenants. For instance, while the rent (almost) covers my mortgage it goes nowhere to meet the costs of repairs and replacements and general upkeep of what is still my house in a habitable state. Many more people who bought into the industry, on the back of successive governments failing to maintain the level of public housing stock, struggle to make any operating profit, relying entirely on hoped for increase in capital values. Should any government actually deliver on the promises to build more council houses, the arse will fall out of that market.

As an example of how a Labour government would ‘make money’ from borrowing money this is far more illustrative than Big Mac might realise: Tenants unable to afford the true costs of housing themselves will have their rent paid by the benefits system. Landlords will desert the private rental sector as the capped rents won’t cover their costs. A glut of properties thus for sale will depress values, thus deterring private involvement in low-value housing. Unless the government takes them into public ownership those which can’t be sold will stand empty, unmaintained and become a hazard. The whole sector would become a vast money pit.

The true economic basis behind McDonnell's Farm

Add to this the massive sums they intend to pour into the NHS, social care, police and infrastructure and you compound this fiction of ‘investment’. The fag-packet suggestion that becomes a pamphlet espousing some nebulous concept of public ownership evolves into a gargantuan novel with no end in sight. When you don’t pay your debts, sooner or later the big boys with the clubs come calling and it never ends well. Has anybody in the Labour Party actually read Animal Farm? Old McDonnell had a farm all right – a funny farm.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Still waiting...

The problem with growing up is it never happens quickly enough to help. You only get to understand what it really means when you get there and then, when you attain great age and the gift of wisdom settles softly on your shoulders, you find can’t even give it away – nobody wants to know, grandad. By this time you have also consigned much of your own callowness to the soft focus mists of unreliable memory. Yes, you cringe at occasional sharp recollections of your own naive follies, but you also imagine that the gilded youth of your day was somehow better, nobler in intent than now.

The youth of today, eh? It simply cannot be the case that young people are more stupid, less well educated, less disciplined, less well prepared to tackle the world than they were in generations that came before. It can’t be, because this is the complaint of every generation towards those who come after. Followed to its logical conclusion – and this feeling pervades writing from the earliest times – the human race ought to have regressed to grubbing around for roots and berries to survive. It’s something of a surprise we haven’t re-grown tails.

 When I was a child the Internet just didn’t exist, so there is an obvious skill today’s kids possess which was beyond my ken. Ah but, we old codgers insist, they can’t spell though can they? Maybe not, but they can converse in an instant with others all around the world in a language we only think we understand. And just as language evolves – and English appears to be pleasingly malleable – so do sensibilities. So what that many young people appear to reject the nuclear family model we earnestly believe is the ‘proper’ way to build a society? Maybe their globalised, multicultural ideal could work... if it weren’t for us dinosaurs.

So what, am I arguing we should bow down and make way for the new revolution to sweep our world away? Not one bit of it; we should fight it tooth and nail, just as they are fighting for change. Because the counter-intuitive conclusion is that the real equilibrium is the quest for change; constant change. And it is a special kind of change in which everything ultimately stays the same. Is it any wonder that so many movements carry the prefix ‘neo’? The French, I seem to recall, have a phrase for it, if only I could remember it. Ah, memory.

Memory is an interesting human trait, or at least the way we use and abuse it is. Our memories are horribly fallible and also horrifyingly manipulable. We can ‘remember’ events in which we never participated. We can even remember things which never happened. And parts of our memories of things that never happened are also some of the building blocks of our individual character. In other words, even who we imagine we are is partly a work of fiction – and a fiction often written in the words of others.

Know thyself, the Greeks said – and this was quite a while back – ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. And yet, here we are, still struggling with the concept. Left-right politics, young-old conflicts, black-white contradictions... are there really clear cut boundaries between right and wrong? If there were, the slippery, unsavoury profession of law would not be necessary. And movements would not spring up to create and exploit division. Instead they would seek to work together.

It simply cannot be that everything about capitalism disadvantages the poor. Similarly everything about communism can’t always end in genocide. Hell, even the LibDems might have the odd nugget of a good idea, here and there. But we are all blinded to some degree or another by the simplicities of our own solutions. And we are all similarly resistant to compromise, no matter how much we believe otherwise. Given that the unknowable future will be what we all make it, shouldn’t we make it together?

The wisdom of youth and the energy of age

That aspiration is eminently sensible; of course we should work as a team. It requires the simplest of logic that if we have a common goal we can best achieve it by all pulling in the same direction. In fact, so logical a solution is it that exactly this answer has been suggested many times throughout the ages, by many people... often young people. But what do they know?

Tuesday 6 February 2018

The Nazis are coming!

It’s begun. But don’t panic – you haven’t missed anything. Watch as, day by day, every incident which can’t be pinned on migrants or muslims will be dubbed the work of neo-Nazi groups. Far right extremism is now in open season and any weapon to hand may be used to attack it, real or imagined. Not that I condone extremism of any kind, of course – far from it - but just watch the media feeding frenzy, now that their new target has been officially designated. Went to a fancy dress party as Hitler in the 1970s? Nazi. Quoted Goebbels? Nazi. Read the Daily Mail? Literally Hitler.

Notice that I am not defending Nazism in any way here, but the mere fact that I am not excoriating it, merely observing how others react, is tantamount in the fevered machinations of the politically attuned brain, to tacit approval. You are either a hooded, masked, Molotov cocktail lobbing, free speech trampling, book burning ANTI-Nazi, or you are the actual thing. The other day somebody told me that because I was antipathetic towards the brown-shirt antics of the antifa rent-a-mob, I must therefore be a fascist myself. Why, even  Jacob Rees-Mogg is being dubbed a Nazi sympathiser now.

Why? An old adage says that if you are taking flak it is because you are over the target. Brexit day draws nigh, the desperation is palpable and operation discredit is in full swing. The many contradictory thought strands of distressed Remainers have coalesced and distilled down to this one thing: forget the vague and dithery ‘old people didn’t know what they were voting for’ trope and the ‘believing lies on a bus’ malarkey. If you voted for Leave you must be the worst kind of Nazi because look at the hell you have unleashed.

The sainted souls of Far Right Watch, unblemished in thought and deed and doctrine, are actively searching all stories of violence and finding ways to brand them as actions of the right. Aiding and abetting them are the carefully implanted notions that only white people can be racists and that all Nazis are white. Self-defence by a white man can easily be spun as neo-Nazi violence if the other party can be shown to have the merest tint of BAME ancestry. And only the very bravest, noblest of white people dare speak up against their own.

The irony is not lost on me, however, that by decrying all of islam for their failure to reform the worst violent excesses of their religion the door has been opened to blame all white people for Nazism. The difference, however, is that it is largely white activists, employing the propaganda tactics of the Nazis to label other people as dangerous fanatics. Indeed, Anna Soubry is currently riding that deranged wave in Westminster. 

Brexiteers are, literally Hitler...

Where does it end? I don’t know, but we can all see early how it begins. Be temperate in your language, measured in your reactions, but don’t back down. They are looking to goad you into giving them ‘evidence’ that you are part of the problem they are creating. Don’t let them. And particularly don’t allow yourself to be silenced for fear of being labelled. And just in case their fictions gain real traction and begin to win moral ground, you may wish to consider keeping those jackboots polished and ready for when you have to escape South America.

Monday 5 February 2018

Poverty Trap

According to one of my recent Twitter inquisitors – you know, those who imagine you want to debate them and demand you justify your every pronouncement with statistics and facts and who then shotgun your timeline with their own ‘facts’ which turn out to be made-up quotes and memes and the opinions of polemicists for their team; them fellas – there are up to eight million working poor in Britain today. Well, so what? In late Victorian Britain the census returned a population of around 30 million, around a quarter of which were in actual, subsistence-level poverty.

By subsistence-level we are talking about being scarcely able to eat enough to survive. The life expectancy for the poor in cities was around 35 and slightly better at around 40 for rural areas. Given that the population is well over twice what it was then and people expect to live twice as long I’d say only having the same absolute number of poor is pretty good in itself. But the numbers tell a misleading story. Our current ‘working poor’ are generally not living six to a room. Most will have heating and they will almost certainly possess refrigerators, televisions and mobile phones; a poverty the Victorians could not, in their wildest imaginings, ever imagine aspiring to.

The first poverty trap is imagining you are poor. Pick up thy smart-phone and Google up some images of genuine poverty, third-world poverty, not might-have-to-give-Starbucks-a-miss poverty. Not, not-going-on-a-foreign-holiday-this-year poverty. And certainly not can’t-afford-the-latest-iPhone poverty. The second poverty trap is imagining that other people owe you a living; this is the ridiculous infantilism that western social policies have created. And whatever other delusions you may harbour about what you are worth and what you deserve, please rid yourself of the notion that a socialist system will change your circumstances.

Probably the biggest poverty trap is being gullibly ensnared by the promises of Labour-like parties when they are out of power. Throughout my life I have heard Labour banging on about ending poverty, spreading the idea that there is some sort of collusion among ‘billionaire’ employers to keep them downtrodden. Did it ever occur to you that many employers – probably most employers – would love to double your wages; what could be better than a loyal, happy, unstressed workforce? But when Labour-like governments open the borders to cheap labour, what do you imagine this excess supply does to pay rates?

You want ‘freedom’? Well, free yourselves. Seriously, look at the example of some of these incomers taking your jobs – work harder, longer, faster, smarter. Work two jobs, three. Start a side-line business; unless you try it you will never know what you are capable of. There are people out there who genuinely need support, who would love to be able to go to work; work gives your life purpose. Living off the labours of others is not worthy of anybody who can push a broom, lift a shovel, pack shelves, harvest crops.

The disabled do deserve our support, but being a bit slow at school is not a disability, having poor eyesight is not disabled, having a shitty attitude is no excuse for indolence. Oh it’s Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, is it? It’s ME, is it? Come back to me for assistance for your disability when you’ve written a novel only by moving your eyes. Like many truly disabled people Christopher Nolan made more of his life than the many millions who sit on their arses and wait for it to come to them. 

Downtrodden masses? Your choice...

Move your focus away from the rich; you don’t have nothing because they have everything; that’s what socialists like to tell you. It is a comforting lie. The real poverty trap is being poor and convincing yourself that you can do nothing to escape from that state. Like an institutionalised prisoner remaining in his cell while the door is wide open maybe you fear independence, but, despite a certain distasteful historical context, work will set you free. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for others; *the only sure fire way to help the poor is not to be poor.

(*Attributed to Ayn Rand, although I haven’t found a definitive source.)

Saturday 3 February 2018

A matter of quiet urgency

As a youngster I used to hear, quite regularly, “It’s free country”. Usually, this was in response to somebody taking offence at somebody having a bit of fun. Quite often it was employed to excuse behaviour which may have been questionable. But, within easy memory of the world war against Germany’s oppression and waiting uneasily for nuclear death in the cold war, the idea of Britain – Great Britain – not being a free country would have been unthinkable. “I may not agree with what you say, etc...”

But today, that important principle is regarded as lightly as a motorway speed limit; it’s not a rule, it’s a suggestion. There are curious forces at large in the land; and while the new puritans are shutting down Formula One grid girls and darts walk-on girls, others have their prohibition sights set on bigger trophies. As well as the free speech stance, Voltaire gave us many other insights and maxims, one of which concerns being aware of whom you are not allowed to criticise.

Thus Morrisons and other supermarkets commit halalicide by quietly introducing more products which conform to islamic ideals; meeting the demands of a small part of their customer base without consulting the majority. Thus Manchester Art Gallery removes Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs in order to provoke a discussion about what can and can’t be seen. And QC Max Hill, insisting that the term ‘islamist terrorism’ must not be used in case we mistakenly describe acts of terror carried out by muslims, in the name of allah, while shouting allah hu-akbar and administering uniquely islamic-styled terrors as somehow connected to islam.

All this might even earn a shred of respect were the principles of shutting down debate applied across the spectrum. But no; while ‘the patriarchy’ (that’s you and me, fellas) is denied a voice, Harriet Harman’s ‘sisters’ are given a megaphone. While ‘old people’, who have actually built the world, are ridiculed and told their values are evil, student activists, who have yet to contribute a philosophical bean, are trying to ban speakers, ban words, tear down statues and hide in special safe spaces where they must hear no alternative opinion.

And then, of course, there is the sentencing of DarrenOsborne and the undignified glee with which the media have seized upon this ‘proof’ that a sinister rise of the far right is happening under our noses. Put aside the fact that between Thomas Mair (Jo Cox’s killer) and Darren Osborne, 35 people were killed and a further 349 injured in planned terror attacks in the name of islam. No, the real threat – phew – is nothing to do with islam and guess who is responsible? Yep, bloody white supremacists and their fascist chums. Who would have thought, eh?

Well actually, nobody would have thought that , except for those who have a vested interest in promoting the idea of a ’far-right’ threat to peace. The intensity with which these factions deflect attention from those whose crimes they implicitly defend would be sinister if it weren’t simply stupid. Darren Osborne deserves his minimum 43 years, who could argue otherwise? But who thinks for one second that had the ‘islamist terrorists’ – for, make no mistake, that is their own driving ideology – been captured, rather than killed they would have been given comparable sentences?

There are non so blind...

As long as the majority opinions of white European peoples is sidelined in favour of accommodating the depravities and excesses of islamic terrorism; as long as they shut down the criticism of uncontrolled mass immigration and refusal to integrate; as long as governments refuse to address these concerns they are stoking up anger and disenfranchisement. Far from tackling the imagined ‘rise of the right’ they are causing it.

Thursday 1 February 2018


Here we are at the junction. The way ahead is blocked; it has been blocked for some time. Actually it’s not really blocked so much as rejected. We had a vote and decided we didn’t want to go to bloody Wolverhampton anyway; whose original idea was that? Seriously, when we started to plan our little away-day nobody thought that the road would lead us to one of the most deprived backwaters of the country. Plus, we spent a fortune thinking we were hiring a luxury air conditioned super-coach but here we are in this rattly, draughty minibus, the cab filling up with fumes as we idle at the crossroads.

Staying put isn’t an option – the lights will soon change, there are cars queueing behind and if we don’t make a decision the situation could get ugly. Not to mention we could all die of carbon monoxide poisoning. So come on, which way? Half the bus wants to go left, down an apparently pleasant road but one which peters out, becomes a gravel track and ends up with us bogged down in a muddy field, eating each other to survive. The other half of them are hankering for the wide open dual carriageway which leads almost anywhere.

The options are many, but it means more decisions and some people are so fed up with the whole thing that they’d almost rather carry straight on to bloody Wolverhampton and death by more-of-the-same. “At least we know what Wolverhampton has to offer.” they plead, but you can see they’re not entirely convinced. They know that the open road is an unexplored vastness with all sorts of possibilities but reject it in favour of dull, dull conformity. “We don’t know what we’d be voting for.” they argue; an argument that falls on deaf ears because seven to six we want to go left or right. Maybe we should toss a coin?

No, wait, we already did that... ages ago; so long ago it’s as if everybody forgot.  The coin said turn right, so why are we now arguing that toss? Surely, rather than repeating the whole tossing business we should just get on with implementing the decision? Now what’s happening? Oh, right the cross lights are changing, passing traffic is stopping and all the cars stacked up behind us are waiting to see what we do. Into gear, clutch out, slowly creep forwa... bugger, stalled. As the horns begin to blare we struggle to re-start and, too late, the lights are back on red.

Get on with it

Trump is president, whatever you feel about him. He is determined to push ahead. Theresa May is the only Prime Minister we have; whether that will last for much longer is up in the air. The elections are over, the referendum coin was tossed long ago. The presidential seat is occupied. But we can all be winners if, instead of arguing destructively over why we shouldn’t have chosen what we chose, we accept the way the coin fell and just get on with it. Sometimes, proceeding with a hasty plan is better than no plan at all; and it is always better to work together instead of stabbing each other in the back.