Thursday, 26 December 2019
Christmas has traditionally been a time to put aside differences and get on with each other, if only for the sake of the kids. But on Christmas Day social media was alive with two quite different versions of the season’s felicitations. In the main, people laid down their weapons and wished each other a happy day, whoever they were, wherever they were. Peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind and all that. But a smaller group were noticeable by their very different and quite sinister instinct; to wish harm on those with whom they disagreed.
Boris Johnson’s Christmas message was inclusive, affable and filled with warmth and good humour. Doing what a Prime Minster should do he sought to embrace the whole nation, wish everybody well and hint at better days to come. In stark contrast Jeremy Corbyn – a Scrooge for our times if ever there was one - was dour, somewhat bitter and condemnatory in tone, refusing to concede for one second that his personal brand of politics was why he had lost the election. It also sought, right from the off, to paint a portrait of a miserable, divided society.
Taking their cue from the top a number of high profile lefties took it in turn to wish ill on the Prime Minister – how dare he be popular, how dare he seek to unite the nation – some even wishing him death or personal disaster during his brief holiday break. Various tweets from many politicos on the left also contained veiled sneers, portents of doom and some even slightly threatening messages, signalling an inability to withdraw from the fray for even just one day of the year.
And what bitter self-loathing can account for the many who wished death on a man who at 98 only retired from a lifetime’s service to the country two years ago? Seriously, what existential threat does Prince Philip represent? Armando Ianucci mocked Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sincere “Today a Saviour has been born to us. He is Christ the Lord.” Quote-tweeting it as ‘Fake news’. One wonders how he might respond to a prominent muslim tweeting out ‘eid mubarak’ – a cynic may suggest that no derision would be dealt in that direction.
And in one after another sneering, divisive, spitting hate-filled, messages of malice the noisy part of the left did what they do on a daily basis. Kevin Maguire, A C Grayling, Jolyon Maugham, Carole Cadwalladr and all the usual joyless circus of sad clowns. As predictable as the sunrise, as welcome as super gonorrhoea. Had the first world war Christmas Day football match been between the modern right and left, the left would have no doubt taken the opportunity to mow down the opposition with machine gun fire.
So certain are they of their just cause that they seem to have gifted themselves the cloak of purity and goodliness that protects them from all criticism, at least in their own minds. Yes, in recent weeks, Owen Jones, Stormzy, Ash Sarkar, John Hannah and others have come under heavy fire, but the ammunition used was what they themselves supplied. Instead of wishing them death, their interlocutors have usually just repeated their own words back at them and expressed a wish that they could see what others see. Know thyself is still sage advice.
Left and right, in a nutshell.
So in the new year we have a much more clearly defined separation between left and right. The right - who in reality are mostly centrists and now include many former Labour voters - wish health and prosperity to all while those who identify with the hard left will do their utmost to wreck such ambitions. All we have to do to win this war for the character of our nation is to carry on being reasonable and turn our backs on those who hate. Come and join us, one and all and whoever your god, bless us all, every one.
Sunday, 22 December 2019
For a while now I have been struggling with unlocking the secret to a fair society. Nobody seems especially happy with democracy because it doesn’t always produce the outcome you want. This most recently happened in the good old disunited kingdom resulting in the installation of an opposition-busting 80-seat Tory majority. Since then you can hardly pick up a newspaper, turn on the radio or television, or dive into social media without being harangued by hair-shirt wearing extremists who are bleating about extremism.
The reality is that Boris Johnson is a pretty centrist figure politically and for all the outrage at him once using words like picaninnies and commenting on water-melon smiles; for all the accusations of racism over comparing burkas to letterboxes; for every imagined slur the left wing can conjure, nothing he has said or done comes even close to what his newly recruited voters believe, say and do every day of the week. Boris is popular; his detractors can neither understand why, nor tolerate that simple fact. And this is because the left as a whole just don’t grasp human nature.
On Friday there was outrage that Dominic Cummins is reportedly paid a salary approaching £100k by the Conservative Party. So what? Seamus Milne is paid more by Labour, but to make it appear far more heinous and ‘capitalisty’ the headline used the descriptor ‘three times the average wage’! The politics of envy in microcosm. To be honest I was surprised that a man who has just helped save us from Corbynism was being paid so little; I mean, Michael Heseltine gets about that much every year for doing nothing except big-up the EU1. But the fact remains that headlines like this will gain traction with a certain sector of society.
Working people will shrug, possibly say something like “Nice work if you can get it” then get on with whatever fills their day. But those who fill their days with finding things to be offended by will… why they will turn to the great sage of their age, the seer known as ‘Stormzy’, who will articulate for them as few orators have done before. Move over, Churchill, step aside Socrates, a new sage is in town, motherfuckers. I don’t know what it says about society when hard on the coat tails of the messiah Corbyn, his emissary on earth is a hate-filled homophobic misogynist; at least judging by his own words.
Remember Stormzy? Who?
And words is all they are, for now. Such words may encourage others to take up sticks and stones but then that does Boris’s job for him. That the left is no more than a juvenile rabble which believes in impossible dreams just becomes more starkly revealed. They preach peace and love, but justify violence and hate to get it. Socialism constructs its own fantasy reality but when it gets into power it fails to live up to even its own limited mythology.
For the many, not the few is fine as a soundbite, but it also encapsulates the politics of envy. Kinder, gentler politics sounds all so noble, until the Momentum hate mob piles in. And in Corbyn and McDonnell – whom many revere as demigods, rather than the demagogues they really are – the simpletons of socialism have found guides, not to the promised land, but back into the wilderness of political exile. You’ll excuse me if I don’t buy into the fantasy.
1. I honestly don’t know what Hezza gets paid by the EU, but why let the facts get in the way of a popular trope
Thursday, 19 December 2019
If Jeremy Corbyn was right about one thing it was in following the footsteps of one of his heroes, Lenin. Whether or not Lenin actually originated the saying “A lie told often enough becomes the truth” is immaterial; that it was his modus operandi is pretty much indisputable. And so it has been for countless other manipulators of public perception, for we humans are depressingly fallible when it comes to which lies we accept and which we reject.
In most cases we willingly embrace the untruths that confirm our beliefs while rejecting those which do not. And if you can persuade a crowd, a movement, even, to accept your dogma, why then, cult status is not so very far away. That Corbynism is/was a cult is a hard thesis to dispute. His adherents, well, adhere to the astonishment of his detractors in much the same way as the followers of Sun Myung Moon did. From the outside, hard Corbynites look as assuredly brainwashed as do the acolytes of any whacky pseudo-religious sect.
But from the warm, comforting bosom of the beast their mutually reinforcing aphorisms are balm to the soul. Jeremy the new Messiah would have healed the world had the Tory centurions not crucified him. Without his wagging finger there is nothing in the way of the Tories’ plan to sell off every hospital and dispossess every NHS worker of their livelihood. The dying planet will accelerate toward its inevitable, fiery end without the miracle of Jezza’s fierce intellect. The homeless will remain unhoused in Boris Hitler’s Britain.
And so drones on the outpouring of misery and dejection under the hashtag #CorbynWasRight. But, of course, we will never know. I say ‘we’ will never know because the prescient philosophers of Corbynism are true believers. They just know that Magic Grandpa never told a lie, always wielded a straight bat and was going to build a new world order absolutely for the many not the
Jew few. They know it in their hearts and with all the wisdom this
largely millennial generation can muster they see that Jeremy is good and kind
and gentle and true.
Well, perhaps except for the bits about always backing the enemies of peace and harmony, but nobody’s a saint, right? Telling the parodies from the real tearful tirades is getting harder as the most outrageous of accusations are levelled at Boris. All you have to do is make up an outrageous lie about something they care about – Johnson plans to legislate to make diesel compulsory on all public transport near schools, for instance – and out will come the slogan writers and the meme generators.
Mostly, though, their angst appears to be centred on the NHS, their great shibboleth being that the Prime Minister is intent on selling it off wholesale, or if no principal buyer is found, piecemeal. “What am I bid for Nurse #32108?” and “Who will give me 50p for this kidney bowl?” perhaps. When the new year rolls out and Dominic Cummins’ instruction to his team of special advisers to make the NHS a success at all costs begins to return dividends, do you think the weeping dervishes will applaud? Or do you think it is more likely that it will somehow be the wrong sort of success?
How does one choose?
As I tweeted out, Boris could issue each and every one of them a unicorn which shits glitter and all they would do would be to complain about the mucking out. He could build a million council houses and they would demand a million more. He could enact every one of Corbyn’s social justice pledges and they would insist that he had done the exact opposite. They say misery loves company and I can think of no more miserable company than that of earnest leftists who have swallowed every lie. So, while it still lasts, do yourself a solid and have a look at what those crazy kids are saying now. #CorbynWasRight
Wednesday, 18 December 2019
The UN Climate Summit recently concluded, having been moved from Chile to Madrid and then being extended. Thousands of air miles consumed and lots of CO2-laden hot air spouted and not one single conclusive outcome. No actions, no decisions and almost nothing agreed, thus, no point. In fact it is doubtful whether the carbon cost of the futile exercise itself will ever be offset. I mean, just how many trees do you need to plant to cancel out the inanity of coming up with a ‘gender action plan’ which ‘recognises the impact of climate change on human rights, historic and current gender inequalities and the importance of intersectionality’?
These leaders, these experts, these braying donkeys tell themselves they are engaged in saving the planet for all humanity. Instead they are gathering some of its wealth for themselves and some favoured others. This is what climate action does. It creates a problem, funds research to describe the problem, lays the blame at the feet of the people who can do least about the problem, then attracts more funding to arrange junkets where rent-seeking buffoons can pat each other on the back and say they are fixing the problem. Well, they’re not.
This isn’t about whether or not - or how far - you trust the current thinking on climate change. Or whether anybody – and I mean, literally, anybody – has the full information at their command, let alone at their fingertips. For every doomsday prophecy about how a single centimetre sea-level rise will kill a billion people, there are a dozen contrary conclusions available. Hell you can’t even find out how much an offshore wind turbine costs throughout its life, or how much your bills and taxes have increased to pay for it, or whether, as has been reported, the short-term effect on climate change is actually negative.
And by short term I’m talking about the first one hundredyears. Yes, you heard me. Much of the technology isn’t sufficiently mature and the infrastructure needed to support such an energy paradigm shift is decades away. As a result, although a probable majority would agree to pay to ameliorate the worst effects of humanity on the planet, it is difficult if not impossible for anybody to be totally honest about it. Portents of mass extinction are overblown and hysterical, but hardly less problematic are the knee-jerk reactions of governments impotent to act rationally yet all too ready to act irrationally, as long as they are seen to be acting. But, for pity’s sake, governments, give people an incentive, don’t take the stick to them.
Electric cars for instance. I’m going on a charging point installers’ course tomorrow, as it happens, but I don’t expect to be either enlightened or enthused. Far from offering a revenue stream for jobbing electricians, this is just another way of selling blankets and shovels to the prospectors. The installation opportunities have already been monopolised by big money concerns and the little man won’t get a look in. Why am I going? Well, I am also a seller of shovels and blankets and my company will be offering courses in the new year; this is just a bit of small-scale industrial espionage.
Yes, I am part of the problem too, but, you see, humans are opportunists and if we don’t provide the training, somebody else will, as unnecessary as it will all turn out to be. Electric cars are not only not the solution, they don’t even come close to providing a solution. I expect them to prove to be a huge white elephant. Only this morning I heard somebody pronounce that all oil-fuelled vehicles must be off the road by 2030. To do this will involve a massive re-organisation of our entire society, the costs of which will fall – as always and in every way – on those least able to absorb them.
The solution – the solutions – lie not in governments doing a lot, but everybody doing a little. Instead of waiting for subsidies to persuade you to change, how about a bit of self-reliance for once? You want an electric car? Buy an electric car, for the full price. You want to reduce CO2 from flying? Forget about the ridiculous notions of ‘carbon trading’ just, you know, don’t fly. As for the rest of us, a little bit of tighter budgeting, a reduction in waste and a less thoughtless lifestyle might be all it needs to make a real difference. If only we could get the Chinese to do the same...
Monday, 16 December 2019
Remember when we were colourblind? Britain has long been a pretty tolerant country; we put up with a lot before we kick off. But our attitudes towards black and brown and yellow people have been questionable in the past. The days of Bernard Manning were effectively over while he was still performing his racist schtick to, it has to be said, almost exclusively Labour-voting audiences. That kind of blind prejudice had never been acceptable, however, and by the end of the eighties it was pretty much dead. In the meritocracy we were building it mattered not from whence you hailed, rather it was what you brought to the table.
How things have changed. I have almost finished Douglas Murray’s excellent exposition of the über-woke and their obsessions and infighting – The Madness of Crowds – and the big takeaway for me is the impossibility of what they insist they want. Demanding to be understood, the various sub-groups of the LGBTPQI++ ‘alliance’ simultaneously insist that unless you are them you can never understand them. It is a Catch 22 of their own making, wilfully aided and abetted by academics, policy twonks and a plethora of rent-seeking ‘experts’ who seek to realign society.
The trouble is, their vision of society is as seen through a kaleidoscope – disjointed, jarringly symmetrical and ever-shifting. (I do recognise, by the way, the irony of invoking a 19th Century child’s toy to describe the world view of a cohort who have likely never peered into one.) The problem remains; you can’t demand special treatment whilst also demanding that you are accepted as an equal; you can’t force both diversity and equality to rub shoulders without friction. So Labour adopting the multitude of positions they have in order to achieve this improbable thing have set themselves a challenge which may be insurmountable.
The Labour Party is in deep trouble. Again. They have been here before and the outcome was exactly the same; eventually the grown-ups had to step in and wrest back control from the Marxists. But that certainty shows no sign of coming about just yet because the left-wing grievance machine is still firmly in control. Having eschewed their founding voter base for the inanities of identity politics they remain convinced that what is blindingly obvious to everybody else is yet another manifestation of the bigotry they are determined to find all around.
Labour lost because the people they claim to represent didn’t want their representation. They lost because their drift to the left has left their voters behind. They lost because the vote they so much need to court belongs to people they have come to abhor and denigrate. So they have to decide what they want to be; they have to resolve their own identity crisis. The workers? Or the Islington Set? The coming Labour leadership contest will truly be a battle for the soul of the party. Ah, soul…
Sunday, 15 December 2019
I am northern and working class but, thankfully, not from one of those tribal Labour cities. I grew up in rural North Yorkshire where the farming community ensured the Conservatives were the natural party of choice. Although politics was never really discussed at home, my dad being Labour by sheer obstinacy, my mother flirting with whichever party might best benefit the family, I became aware of dad’s refusal to countenance any other option whenever the subject did arise.
He was a labourer, he asserted and therefore he must vote Labour, as his dad had done before him. As a teenager I began to see how ridiculous that made him. When my mother voted to install Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street I was away at university but I can well imagine my father’s disgust. He hated the woman for no other reason than he knew he must. Even today, having benefitted from her right to buy policy, he refuses to engage in any conversation about Mrs T, while mum, emboldened in her advancing years takes delight in occasionally poking the bear.
So, I think I understand how hard it must have been for died-in-the-wool Labour supporters in towns which until this election would have been proud to declare themselves red forever. An unthinking blind adherence to doctrine with no understanding of the harm that doctrine does has propped up Labour over and over again. But in 1979 it was workers, fed up to the back teeth with the unremitting mediocrity of their party who revolted and turned to Thatcher. I like to imagine it was the working wives, like my mother, who were largely responsible for that victory.
Now, forty years later, something very similar has happened. But has the Labour Party acknowledged it? Not one bit, for to listen to some of their commentary it appears that they are blaming the voters themselves. Too selfish, too racist, too stupid, too gullible; how dare they decide for themselves which way to vote? Emily Thornberry has been reported as saying to a colleague that she was glad her voters weren’t ‘as stupid as yours’. Yours? This proprietorial attitude towards ‘their’ voters says so much about how far Labour has strayed from the path it originally set out on.
No doubt Thornberry and Co welcome the protests that have broken out in London and Glasgow as the brownshirts of Antifa likewise refuse to accept the result. But the verdict is very much in and lost they most certainly have. They have lost authority, credibility and dignity and the longer they hold onto their belief that those votes belong to them the longer it will take them to realise that they are the architects of their own, crushing defeat.
This is no horror story...
Meanwhile the mood in the rest of the country is one of relief. And of hope. And if Boris Johnson goes forward with half the resolve that won him this election the celebrations will take a long time to fade. A happy new year is in prospect for all and no matter how much they hate him, that includes the petulant children of the hard left. I still don’t fully trust him on Brexit, but I hope to be proved wrong. But anyway, the deed is done the battle won and the war is ours for the winning. So let’s crack on.
Thursday, 12 December 2019
The experiment has been running for well over half a century now and I think we can all agree it has been an unmitigated failure. Give the next generation a go, they said, the children are the future; they should have a stake in building the world in which we all live. Of course, allowing the young to set the agenda is problematic when they have no understanding of what it is like to be old, to be business owners, to be professionals, to be parents, whereas older people…
Well older people come with baggage, of course; they are ‘Little Englanders, stuck in the past; times have changed; the world has moved on, etc… Maybe so, but there is a reason we don’t let trainee civil engineers design major infrastructure projects; why famous architects are invariably middle-aged; why heart surgeons are likewise advanced in years. Ah yes, but ‘old people’ can’t adapt to new technologies, new societal structures, new ways of being human!
You think? Seriously, you’d condemn the repositories of all that accumulated wisdom, won through experience, often via the hardest of routes, as mere fuddy-duddies? Viewing older people as toothless crusties, addled with Alzheimer’s and re-living a black and white movie loop of a world view is only rational if you are looking down the wrong end of a telescope and processing what you see with an intellect which still believes in certainties. Father Christmas, God… the eternal benevolence of socialism. Give me a break.
The continual pandering of our political ‘elite’ to the narrow concerns of every possible sub-division of society is in no way a solution to the very real problems which face all of us. And so consumed are some of these groups by the very particular individual needs of their caucus that they cannot, or will not see the needs of the rest. Differently abled does not make you uniquely equipped to understand universal issues, often quite the reverse, given their inevitably inward obsessions.
Neither are the so-called ‘lower classes’ the model for democracy fairness and egalitarian reform. And while the image of Britishness may still be represented worldwide by cut glass accents and impeccable manners in the movies, the Eton Set are hardly exemplars of British society. But then, neither are the Angela Rayners of the world, although they really seem to think they have the answers.
Jeremy Corbyn, for instance, wants British children to learn about the “grave injustices” of the British Empire. He believes more ‘honest’ narratives would enable them to develop critical thinking about those centuries of Rule Britannia, global domination and jingoism. A Labour government, he promises, would reform the curriculum. But, see, this revisionist thinking is all just part of the same old problem.
Do you really – really – want governance that examines every tiny facet of your life? Do you want Chinese style social credit scores? Or do you want a system that keeps the arteries open, punishes the bad guys, heals the sick and aims for an ever-better society? If you think either is achievable in short order then you are a dreamer. If you think either is achievable without pain then you are probably still a child.
Whatever system is in place, some will thrive regardless of all the others; some will thrive at the expense of others and some will barely survive through the charity (forced or voluntary) of the rest. And this is also true, that some will fall by the wayside and yet the majority will still grumble about their lot. For my part I don’t have faith in any of our politicians in the west to fix anything at all. I think politicians have become debased by their own illusion of power in conflict with the reality of their true impotence.
So, maybe we should give up on the experiment and accept that it is time for the real grown-ups to take back the reins now that junior has crashed the sleigh into the snowbank. Santa may be old and tired but he knows the drill; the elves have never been out of the toy factory. And, he knows who is naughty and who is nice… and how to deal with that. Could we be nearing the end of the west’s infatuation with the democratic experiment and ready for the return of some good old-fashioned paternal authoritarianism?
Thursday, 28 November 2019
I don’t know about you, but there are few things I enjoy more than being roundly castigated for my racist recent past. I ought to be thoroughly ashamed for the part I played in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and trust me I have worked on this, but try as I might I just can’t remember what I was doing on the night I question. I know with a little help I could be assisted to recall my evil wrongdoing and obviously I am grateful for the daily input of David Lammy who, as the young child of a captive slave from the Ivory Coast had to grow up on poverty on a Jamaican sugar plantation, beaten daily for the simple crime of having the wrong skin colour.
Apparently, every single one of my ancestors owned slaves and every single ancestor of people like David [property-of] Lammy were themselves slaves. I know this because I have been educated, as must we all, to be thoroughly ashamed of our direct involvement in this crime against humanity. Some of you disgusting white people may try to claim that slavery was rife amongst the darker-hued races long before your forebears muscled in on the act, but we now know this to be fake history. All crimes against liberty have only ever been committed by pale-faced invaders. If only my memory hadn’t been ‘whitewashed’ by evil, specifically English, indoctrinators.
So it is just as well – and not before time – that the saintly Jeremy Corbyn intends (when he is Prime Minister by Christmas, which will also be banned) to introduce a comprehensive programme of education for the very young. He wants to catch them while their minds are at the pinnacle of incisive reasoning, so that he can imbue then with the truth. And the truth is that white skin is shameful… and that it is wrong to judge people by the colour of their skin. Oh and that massive reparations must be made to all the billions of current and past slaves, who, in the spirit of the age will simply have to self-declare their ownership to be eligible.
For the record and to claim my place as first in the queue for the coming show trials, I wish to unburden myself. If you want evidence of my crimes I confess I possess the full set – old, male, pale and getting staler by the day – so I have no excuse; bang to rights, guv. Every sin that ever there was may be laid at my door and I have no remedy in law for I have white privilege, a privilege which, even if I fail to recognise it, future generations will line up to condemn.
This is, of course, utter tosh. In the woke world there is no sin other than white sin and no virtue other than what the noble non-whites bring. In the bubbles of academe, the media and government, diversity is only ever a force for good. But ask those on whom it is imposed, because in the formerly white inner city estates diversity only ever means the replacement of the indigenous by a dominant new monoculture, which tolerates no others.
Naturally, should anybody ever point this out, the instant accusation is that they must be racists. Your kids are being beaten by black gangs? You racist pig. You’re not allowed to walk your dog past the mosque? Then even your dog is racist. The ‘R’ word has been weaponised but it has also been overused to the point of ridicule. So, racists of the world unite; you have nothing to fear but the misinterpretation of your fear. And in the end it may well be that racism is the one instinct that saves the world's white minority. No wonder they are so keen to drum it out of us.
Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Who remembers the Ronco advertisements from the nineteen seventies and beyond? Miracle gadgets at giveway prices that invariably didn’t work anything like as claimed and were quickly relegated to the shed or the loft, icons of an age of innocence and naivety. You can almost imagine future archaeologists trying to decode these symbols from a time of false hope, just as they have done with the totems of ancient religious beliefs.
If Ronco were to return today the denizens of the internet would be taken for rides every bit as precarious as those of yesteryear. Social media would be awash with tales of disaster visited on the gullible, swiftly followed by merciless mockery. “Who would fall for that?” would go the cry, only to fall silent when the mocker was, in turn, taken in by another, different-yet-still-the-same scam. YouTube would have a ball.
Even when you knew that the chances were your Ronco all-in-one jar-opener, dishwasher and personal groomer was bound to fail you still parted with your hard-earned in an act of faith that this time it would be different. And much like the holy church of Ronco, religions require the wilful abandonment of rational thought; logic and learned experience go out of the window as, with beatific smiles, we open the packaging to reveal the next disappointment, yet keep the fixed smile beaming as we vigorously defend our choice against all the evidence.
Perhaps a moment of quiet reflection before hitting the ‘buy’ button would be prudent, a short examination of reality. Why do I want this, and will it really do what it says it will do? Much better in the long run to stick with what you know, but the promise of something better, more miraculous, more satisfying urges you to suspend your critical thinking skills and buy yet another potato peeler that just doesn’t peel potatoes.
So, what makes more sense; a belief that government should have as little impact on your everyday life as possible, should leave you to make your own decisions while protecting you from the worst excesses of egregious humanity, or a government which will intervene in every nook and cranny of your existence in return for fanciful promises of riches in the afterlife? Because to believe in capitalism requires only to accept that the world does not owe you a living, while to believe in socialism requires an enormous act of blind faith.
Just as with all religions, with all cults, with all outlandish fictions, in order to accept socialism as a viable system you have to suspend disbelief and reject the evidence to embrace a narrative so convoluted, so contradictory, so hypocritical that it would require the abandonment of all reason to adopt. Were the current Labour Party a Netflix box set most viewers would have ditched it after season one. Those who continued to watch, who bought the tee shirts, who dressed up to attend conventions would be labelled as dangerous extremists and placed on various lists.
What seems most likely?
Once again, William of Ockham comes to the rescue. Ask yourself what seems most likely; that government is powerless to oversee every aspect of your life and it is up to you to make the best of it. Or that there is an all-seeing, omnipotent, Magic Granddad in the sky who can make the heavens rain money and bring freedom and happiness and prosperity to all… if only you will bend your knee at his altar. Marx said that religion was the opiate of the people. Between you and me, I reckon he was on drugs.
Thursday, 21 November 2019
The spin doctors are weaving their webs everywhere. As fast as one side of the political contest magics up some miracle offering the other (for there are, really, only two) hauls out the green kryptonite to render it powerless. More money for the NHS? Pah, this barely goes to redress the balance following years of Tory cuts! Making society work for everybody? Yes, but it works best for Labour officials. Raising the National Insurance threshold to help the poorest? How will that help those who are too poor to even pay it?
Like every election before it we are – now the manifesti are finally published – engaged in a battle for supremacy between a motley collection of sub-heroes whose powers are nullified when the searing searchlight of truth is shone on them. Every utterance, every pledge, every ‘ambition’ withers under the light of inquiry, to be revealed as yet another false promise. Why do they do it? They can no more resist it than Superman can decline to save the planet. And everywhere the opposition’s Lex Luthers lie in wait ready to humiliate them.
Ian Lavery was banging on this morning, in ‘that’ accent, about re-ordering society to benefit the workers, but every such endeavour has previously failed because Labour believe in a zero sum game where in order to enrich poor people we have to ‘enpoor’ rich people. The trouble is the rich have their own personal supplies of kryptonite and deploy it at will to render impotent the powers of Taxman. Meanwhile the workers, who formerly gravitated towards Labour instinctively realise that their natural ally is any administration which will just let them work.
Let’s get the nation back to prosperity without the negative influence of the morass of confected workers’ rights which, once you have dealt with sick pay, holidays, a bit of maternity allowance and the right not to be exploited are as comprehensive as they need to be. Let’s ditch the ever-expanding suite of legislation that seeks to govern how we think and let’s stop giving every tiny voice a megaphone. Let’s recognise difference, accept it, accommodate it, work with it, but reserve the right to mock it, not endow it with super powers that prevent all criticism.
Let’s stop spinning every drawback as an opportunity and every entrepreneur as an evil exploiter of human capital. Let’s, usher in an age of honesty where the ordinary voter has a real choice between candidates who have been genuinely clear (not a politician’s ‘I have been clear’) about what they stand for and would be mortified if found out in a lie. Let’s, um, call a spade a spade and elect representatives who will do likewise. And let them stand on their honour or fall on their swords.
There are no super heroes here...
As it is, the disgraceful, dishonourable architects of Britain’s crooked, broken society are busily concocting illusions of smoke and mirrors to entice, but also to obfuscate and deceive. The artifice of representative democracy has been shown to be a villain’s charter, allowing MPs to be elected on one agenda, but serve another, to be of the people but for another people entirely. This festival of duplicity, this fête of fraud is not the open democracy which was so hard fought for. Under Westminster a humming noise is heard. it is Cromwell spinning in his unmarked grave.
Wednesday, 20 November 2019
I didn’t watch the leaders’ ‘debate’ last night because I’ve already seen far more than I want to see of spin-doctored, spruced-up talking heads spouting garbage written by party apparatchiks and tutored by image consultants in how to avoid the pitfalls of the hit-and-miss pseudoscience of body language. A dismal platoon of ‘experts’ will be on parade during the day to earn their fees by regurgitating sixth form psychology about gestures, smiles, turns to camera and handshakes. None of it is at all relevant to the everyday politics that actually affects us.
I want to hear far more from candidates such as Lee Anderson, a former Labour councillor now standing for the Conservatives in Ashfield. I want to hear how Momentum so repulsed this former miner that he switched from tribal Labour to the hated Tories. I also want to hear more about his outspoken views on dealing with nuisance tenants. And I want to know how his views go down, not among the cognoscenti in Parliament, but among the beleaguered people who have to live alongside those tenants.
Because these issues, real issues that intrude on people’s actual lives, are repeatedly ducked by governments. Or, if solutions are proposed, they are attacked by the soft-bellied opposition parties banging on about human-bloody-rights. Already, Mr Anderson’s remarks have been condemned as ‘targeting the vulnerable’, entrenching division and showing a lack of empathy towards those he seeks to represent. Really? Has anybody asked them? I would suggest that were the voices of those he wants to represent ever heard they would be raised in a cheer for common sense.
There are some very real, very pressing issues driving a wedge through what I hesitate to call our society. We have violent crime, rampant disorder, a disrespect for the law and an arrogance in some that borders on insurrection. We have become uncivil, suspicious, cynical and angry at the toothless measures deployed. Ordinary working people, the vast majority of the population, don’t want to ‘reach out’ or understand, or show empathy for those who refuse to fit in. We want correction and punishment, swift and effective justice.
Instead we are lectured by amateur sociologists and social philosophers about what a wonderful, vibrant country we live in and if only we could all just embrace diversity and rejoice in difference, we would somehow evolve into the egalitarian society the chattering classes imagine we all want. Well, we all don’t. Unlike the indoctrinated drones of the parliamentary echo chamber we don’t hear reassuring voices about how throwing money at ‘studies’ will somehow reveal solutions. We simply experience the misery those 'solutions' inevitably create,
He lies? Don't they all?
The people already know the remedies, but the politician don’t have the guts for them. The people know that equality is a crock, but it is a holy grail to western leaders, hungry for the adoration of their own kind. The people want leadership, not a cosy consensus for yet more pandering to difference. The people know that diversity is often a weakness, not a strength as touted by those with the most to gain from the non-jobs it produces. The people want some honest, down-and-dirty, get-it-done politics. Not pretend fucking debates which just make us hate politicians even more.
Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Even as the poll ratings tumble, supporters of the Brexit Party are bravely clinging to the flotsam of their mantra: ‘change politics for good’. It’s a great idea, it is sorely needed. And it is never going to happen. The contest, such as it is, is between the two parties which have alternately held power throughout my lifetime. Two parties which currently seem to be trying their best to not get elected. Every manifesto announcement is palpably false; every pledge, every commitment undeliverable.
This is because politics as it has become is a centrist mêlée in which neither side can gain the upper hand and the country always loses. The pundits are saying different, that we have a choice between quite-right and extreme-left, but the reality is that all parties are courting a populist mandate and fighting for the votes of a people long cowed by the spectre of political correctness and afraid of offending. The few dissenting votes cast will go the likes of the Brexit Party and under the first-past-the-post system are likely to fall on fallow ground.
In years gone by we genuinely did have a choice between a socialist, Labour administration whose authoritarian ideals meant they would provide so long as we behaved ourselves and paid our taxes and a more laisse faire Conservatism where we would provide and the government would behave itself.. as long as we paid our taxes. The Liberals, later to morph into the Liberal Democrats would, as is their lot, be the natural repository for the lost votes of those without such strong tribal convictions.
Those who saw themselves bold and different would pledge for the BNP, Cornish separatists or the Monster Raving Loony Party and other fringe rebellions in the certain knowledge that they would never form a government and never influence government policy. But then came UKIP. Nigel Farage, a political force of nature, took a protest movement and brought it national credibility against a barrage of pretty foul play from the establishment to a position where it promised to challenge ‘politics as usual’. And had one elected MP.
This is now, I believe, the fate of The Brexit Party. As much as I and millions of others want to change our politics, we have no model of what that change looks like. For every couch rebel there is also a tribal Labour voter who will return to the socialist fold under Jeremy Corbyn. For every disenfranchised ex-Tory, like me, there will be two who will breathe a sigh of relief that Boris gives them hope of getting their party back.
So, my prediction, for all that it is worth, is a workable Conservative majority under a single elected term Prime Minister, which will muddle through with a form of Brexit that satisfies nobody and then oversee a slow economic recovery just enough to steady the ship. Shortly thereafter, business as usual will see the long knives out again, the EU will come back to savage the Tories and a watered down, post-Corbyn opposition will be all set to let go of the purse strings once more. And so the circle of British political life turns.
Viva la Revolución!
Nigel Farage deserves a peerage, a knighthood at least; what he has done is the closest anybody has ever done in my lifetime to change things. But the disunited might of the entrenched order has done what it always does. The establishment does not tolerate outsiders and one of the ways it quietens their voice is to bring them inside. A Lord Farage would be rendered toothless and regarded as a sell-out, so such an honour would be a poisoned chalice. So what would YOU do? And as for that single Brexit Party MP, it’s going to a cold, lonely few years.
Sunday, 17 November 2019
The party manifestos which have been falling over each other to get airtime are, in the main, packs of unsubstantiated lies. Actually, scrub that; they are composed entirely of unsubstantiated lies. The best that can be said of most manifesto pledges is that they are fanciful and naïve wishful thinking and should be regarded in the light of the referendum, which asked if we wanted to remain in the EU or leave the EU without making it clear that only one choice would ever be acceptable to Parliament.
Political parties, for all their bluster, hate elections because they must knowingly trot out bigger and steamier piles of bullshit than their opponents as the truth is just not sexy enough. It is not sufficient to base claims on your track record in government because if you were a government of fiscal probity everybody hates you for not dishing out enough free stuff; and if you were a government of giveaways everybody hates you because you gave it all to the wrong people.
But who doesn’t like the promise of a better, cheaper tomorrow, even if you have a deep suspicion that tomorrow will never arrive? Labour’s free fibre broadband and internet offer may well be an elephant trap for the Tories – top that, Boris! – but it portends both horror and delight, depending on whether you have been watching the world for the last few decades or not. State-run access to everybody’s online interactions, round the clock, is a totalitarian administration’s wet dream, but, you know, free, right?
If that doesn’t conjure up dystopian visions of 1984 and every post-apocalyptic movie spawned since the dawn of cinema then look around at the world today. China and North Korea are great examples to study. But I’m sure Jeremy Corbyn’s magic free internet will be run on entirely kinder, gentler lines. For sure. Of course. No doubt. But wait, there’s more: Aaron Bastani yesterday opined that should Labour get into government and see a second term they also have ambitions for a publicly owned digital payments system. What could possibly go wrong there?
Then today we get free dentistry. I mean, what’s not to like? For what it’s worth I do believe the state has a role to play in protecting the public from the worst excesses of unrestrained capitalism, but we can’t just lurch from one extreme to the other. Everything has a price; everything has to be paid for somehow and we all know that the burden of payment falls hardest on those with the least. For those at the top it’s only money, but when you have no money the price is freedom. Every time.
People who are considering voting for ‘free stuff’ need to consider the value of choice. The Corbyn/McDonnell/Marx axis is offering a world where you can have any colour you like, as long as it is black. Where the state provides, shortages follow. So, for all their idle chatter about shoring up the rotting hulk of the NHS, waiting times would get longer, medicines would become scarcer and the bed count would shrink, as sure as night follows day. If the government was the only baker, every day we would run out of bread; not from any malign intent but through an ideological inability to allow independent enterprise to pick up the slack.
It's all free, I tell you!
Likewise, the apparent gift of free access to the all the world’s information will inevitably become free access to some information; information which is deemed suitable and information which does not threaten the government. ‘Approved information’. Because free is not the same as freedom. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: You can have it all or you can have it for free, but you can’t have it all for free.
Friday, 8 November 2019
You may have noticed that the political parties (although they are all behaving more like children’s parties; expect jelly and balloons) have launched their manifestos and lo and behold, bribes. Back us and we will spend your children’s future taxes. No, back us and we will mortgage your grandchildren. Ah, but WE will spend so much it will make historians wince. It’s not ‘spending’, as such, it’s ‘investing’. What’s the use of money when there is no planet left to buy? And so on and so forth; it’s going to go for a few weeks.
Education, education and policing and justice and social justice and rights and righting wrongs; it’s the economy, stupid. Oh and Brexit; we will deal with it once and for all. Promise. Trust us; we will deliver. It always amuses me how every party promises to deliver on promises they made before and failed to make good on, often multiple times. The Tories have failed to control immigration, establish order and build a mighty economy. Labour has similarly failed – every time it has tried – to conjure up a land of milk and honey.
I forget quite what the LimpDems stand for, other than not what the country voted for. The Greens just seem to hate humanity in its entirety and if they are brutally honest they would probably start with a cull. (And if I’m honest I think they are onto something there) But in reality, if they can’t slaughter half the population they can at least promise to make all of us thoroughly miserable. Despite all of them we still have just six days to save the NHS, a situation which seems to have endured throughout my sentient life.
Northern Powerhouse, HS2, Bobbies on the beat, a free owl for every child… the cacophony of false hope echoes around the land and probably less than 5% of the electorate even hear it, let alone give a toss. The net result of the steady post-war decline in standards, expectations and trust in power is that nobody with the gift of independent thought believes a single word of what any politician says. They may as well set up stalls and tout for business selling miracle cures. Snake oil salesmen, the lot of them and some of them don’t even realise it, so much like brainwashed automatons have party apparatchiks become.
We need to face up to a simple, inescapable truth, which is that politics as we knew it is a busted flush. The people we vote for are powerless to effect change against the whims of the party machine and if the party abandons the very policies on which they were elected it renders the notion of a free vote equally invalid. If I vote for one party because of their stance on a particular pressing issue, but then that party chooses not to pursue the agenda which got them into power what is the point of democracy? A recurring Soviet joke about the stagnant state was that “they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work”.
Place your 'X' against the candidate of your choice...
When it comes to it, we are just voting machines for equally robotic vote machines which obey the directions of higher authorities. The decisions are not made from the ground up. We pretend to vote and they pretend to represent us. As a result more and more members of the population are detached from the levers of power and rely instead on their real friends and allies – the little people who live in their phones. So why don’t we cut out the middle men, the pointless mounds of quivering flesh who pose as politicians. They say we are entering the age of machines; I say bring on the robots!
Monday, 4 November 2019
It’s an election, so it is Farage-bashing season once again. Like others I have had my doubts about the former leader of Ukip, now boss of The Brexit Party but despite part-time pretenders to the title, he is undoubtedly, indisputably Mister Brexit. Without his tenacity and courage we would never have had the binary in/out referendum in 2016. And yes, courage; ask yourself if you could even come close to putting up with the inestimable amounts of sheer bile directed at him.
He has been the butt of the entire leftist canon of comedy for well over a decade. He has been portrayed as a Nazi, a bigot, an islamophobe, a con-man, a fraud and a philanderer among many more equally slanderous and unfounded charges. He has been spat at, egged, milkshaked and threatened with far, far worse. His rallies have been disrupted by violent troublemakers – the knuckle-dragging thugs of Momentum and Antifa and others all too ready to jump to their leftist masters’ commands. His personal integrity has been impugned at every turn and still the man is there, backing what he believes.
The political and media world has been far too ready to take at face value the charges against his motives. He has rich backers; he is a tool of the global elite; he is a vainglorious attention-seeker. The latter may be true, after all a recent study shows narcissism on the increase, but in the absence of any leader with half his following he has some vindication for a certain level of self-validation. But that only makes him exactly the same as the majority of those who have sought office and probably puts him a long way behind Boris Johnson if narcissism were a contest.
Now Nigel has done the apparently unthinkable and has announced that he will not contest a seat in this election. Very wise, I’d say, given the opprobrium that would be heaped upon him, but this isn’t enough to deflect the critical flak. Some are even calling him a coward, saying he wants to wreck Brexit, saying that a vote for his party is a vote for Corbyn. This is the dark work election strategists do – frame your opponent as anything but what he really is. If he says it’s red, concoct a reason why that is in some way a condemnation of his very soul, even if, when you actually look, it really is red.
Use whatever fits your own narrative; attack the man, not the ball. It seems that nobody who is against him has the intellectual capacity to entertain for even a second that he is sincere, dedicated and true to his mission. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If he stands he will be charged as pursuing personal ambition, not standing he is portrayed as running away. The big noise right now is that he is in some way acting against Brexit and some fantasists have suggested that this was the plan all along; that he has been bought off by shadowy forces.
Theories abound and dark conspiracies are being dreamed up and promulgated. The Russians, naturally have a hand in it, as do all the people accused of backing Farage over the years. Clandestine alliances have been formed, broken and reformed in a matter of hours. Every political pundit has an opinion and none of them are favourable. This election is about more than just Brexit, say the parties, but it isn’t. It isn’t at all.
Give the man some credit
It isn’t about the economy, nor the environment as Andrew Marr insisted yesterday. It isn’t about immigration, education or any of the things governments usually interfere in. This election is about one thing and one thing only and on this one issue, no matter what you think of the man himself, you have to, surely, give Farage credit for understanding the EU. If he wants to torpedo the PM’s withdrawal agreement, imagine for a second that he has good reason. And if you can’t bring yourself to see one honest thing in his actions; if you are so bound to your ideological programming, just ask yourself, would you trust Boris Johnson?
Sunday, 3 November 2019
I have been struck over the last week with how an inability to express oneself can hamper you, not only in the pursuit of higher ambition, but in ordinary, everyday life. Some - many, perhaps - are content to exist in a state of ignorant bliss, but plenty are frustrated when they know what they want to say but are not equipped with a suitable armoury of literary sidearms with which to engage the enemy. Literacy is truly the cornerstone of personal development.
My trainee electrician candidates have just taken a relatively simple examination. Some questions are numbers related, which is disadvantageous enough for anybody blighted by a standard British state education, but the majority require candidates to explain principles which, for some, presents a near-insurmountable obstacle. I find that students for whom English is a second language manage where the British born struggle. How did we get to such a parlous, precarious state?
The where-we’re-were and their-there-they’re conundrum is just the tip of an iceberg of incompetence where[were?] the correct form is the exception rather than the rule. Punctuation is either non-existent or entirely random, following generations of teaching that spelling, punctuation and grammar can be brushed aside because the context will yield comprehension. But what can you make of the following, where the question asks “Explain how the split-phase effect is achieved in an induction start single-phase motor”?
“The induction start single phase motor uses an induction affect[sic] to course[sic] a split phase effect when starting in a single phase motor starting to make the make[sic] the split phase motor run as an induction motor when it starts in star but uses the split to make induction turn the motor when it starts”
It goes on, but at no point does it begin to answer the question and it is not entirely clear that the writer realises this. Maybe it’s a bluff in the hope that a marker will see some key words and award some credit, but it is sadly not atypical. But why is it happening at all? It cannot be that, as a former leading world nation, we are unable to educate our young sufficiently to be capable of understanding the issues and making valuable contributions to our society beyond being grunt economic units.
It give credence to theories that it is deliberate – keep them dumb, stunt their ability to question and reason so they accept whatever bullshit they are fed. And if they ever try to be heard, render their arguments unintelligible. Then flood the country with under-paid foreign labour and call the locals racist if they object. Hammer home the message that it is we, the inbred itinerants who are the problem, even when it is clear we are not. When some try to rebel, say that ‘populism’ (democracy) is the same as Nazism, that the UK looks like 1930s Germany, that we are fomenting civil war…
But what of those who are educated and who have made successful careers for themselves; those who are beyond the influence of shameful labels? How do you render their voices impotent? Easy; frame success as unfairness. Label as millionaires those who have worked all their lives and spent their money wisely. Claim they conspire to back the forces of capitalism, which seeks to grind the poor into ever finer dust. Did anybody mention Corbyn?
In the war of words, you first have to disarm your enemy. Hell, it’s even more effective if you also disarm your own side. Then you can mobilise mobs of chanting goons who will endlessly repeat meaningless slogans, no matter how ridiculous they sound. And those who oppose you will be reduced to slinging back equally ill-founded arguments whose barbs will not stick to the tough hides of your illiterate army. And this is what passes for political debate these days? There are no words.
Friday, 1 November 2019
If you have been wondering – I know you have – whatever happened to Dan Brown since the madcap Da Vinci Code days, fear not. He has apparently found work drafting Jeremy Corbyn’s election launch speech. Filled with foreboding and riddled with demons, witches, ghoulies and bogeymen, Hallowe’en was the most appropriate day of the year to attempt to fill biddable young minds with the spectre of world domination by shadowy cabals. If his plan is to scare kids into voting for lifelong servitude to the state he has wasted no time in entertaining even the tiniest glimmer of reality.
But it’s okay, everybody, since that desperate, elite-bashing frenzy the attention of the high priests of outrage has turned to their favourite Guy Fawkes figure of all. Donald Trump. People are entirely at liberty and quite within their rights to despise the orangutan-haired 45th president; the most comical White House occcupant in history. But in their haste to condemn, how completely do they reveal their nastier side. Again, very Hallowe’en.
But, but, they insist, Brexiteers sneered at Barack Obama’s calculated, invited, deliberate intervention in the referendum campaign, so how can they defend Trump? I didn’t hear anybody defending Trump. The people we voted against at the referendum, the self-satisfied, smug, superior guardians of the apparent new world order are very quick to see a threat where none exists. Everybody sees Trump as a joke, but some of us understand why he was elected. His comments to Nigel Farage last night were nothing new and were probably far from calculated; just Trumping from the hip as usual.
Besides, Jeremy Corbyn’s vision is a true recipe for disaster and I happen to think that – possibly accidentally – The Donald is spot on. A new communist Britain, for that is exactly what JC is proposing, would be a horrible place to live. His fanciful tale of elites and secretive organisations colluding to keep people poor demonstrates a woeful ignorance of how capitalism works. Poor people can’t consume and without consumption the advanced world would be like… well it would be like Russia, pre-enlightenment. (Or some might just say ‘like Russia’.)
Rob the rich, Jezzer? You have to catch them first. As is pretty clear and as has been demonstrated, if you go after the people who - despite all his protestations – actually pay ALL the net tax, they will use their resources to put themselves out of your reach. If you penalise success which, however much he says otherwise, is exactly what a Labour government would do, you end up with mediocrity and rent-seeking. If you drive out those who can, you end up with those who can’t… and won’t.
But how nice this kind, caring, gentler politics sounds if all your life you have been told fairy tales about wicked old witches, goblins and rapacious, baby-eating giants, plucking the food from the mouths of downtrodden workers and building poisonous, polluting factories to enslave the masses and keep them down. How right it seems, if you are told that ‘the rich’ fear nothing more than they fear paying their taxes, that we should squeeze them until the pips squeak. How fair does it sound that children should be allowed to have a say on who governs their future?
Momentum – Labour’s brownshirts – have wasted no time in embarking on a mass assault on the consciousness of the young and the frail, the left-behind, the malcontents. If they get their way instead of the country being run by those best able to do it, it will be run by those with a track record of appealing to the least educated, able and industrious. If you want a story about things that go bump in the night, under Labour the economy would do just that.
Thursday, 24 October 2019
In 1940, Lt. Com. Gerard Broadmead Roppe, sacrificed his ship and his own life in the commission of his sworn duty to fight the German menace. Such was his bravery that this action led to him being awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, the commendation being recommended by the German Captain against who he fought. Outgunned, out manned and outmanoeuvred, Roppe nevertheless fought on when he could have cut and run and saved himself.
In times of crisis, history pivots about the actions of a very few, determined, principled and sometimes reckless individuals who put duty before self, duty before reputation and duty before their own inclinations, in order to do the right thing. Would that we had more such people but, as Winston Churchill observed, a few can make all the difference. So where are they today? Because, make no mistake, we are in a time of crisis. No, not Brexit, but bigger even than that; our entire system of governance is in a mess it cannot solve.
It has always been the case – and frequently observed – that lickspittles, sycophants and all forms of grovelling yes-men have been elevated beyond their worth simply for giving up all principles to suck up to their masters. Such men – for it is mostly men, after all – have been rightly despised, but wear their shame lightly. Some even flaunt their undeserved privilege when they would be better advised to retire altogether from public life. Peter Mandelson springs readily to mind.
And then there is Adonis. LORD Andrew Adonis; a once-elected local councillor who has made no known useful contribution to any part of the national endeavour still pokes his beak in where it is neither wanted nor heeded. The inventory of names that should go down in ignominy is long and growing. In a just world people such as Heseltine, McDonnell, Clarke, Soubry, Grieve, Hammond, Swinson, Bercow and on and on would disappear into eternal oblivion the second they leave office, but you just know they are going to keep on making appearances long after their duplicitous public days have ended. (In Adonis's case he now wants the world to celebrate his finally recognising what we have all known for ages. Yeah, yeah... whatever.)
For the calibre of such people is quite, quite low. When you sell yourself once you signal to the world that you are for sale; and when you sell yourself low almost any cause can afford you. These are the worms. Snakes, vermin, the rats who leave the sinking ship. Without honour, without sincerity and without trust, such crawling, disgusting creatures are despised even by those they temporarily serve. History is littered with the treachery of the mediocre.
To become a ‘servant of the people’, to become a member of the Mother of Parliaments should require courage, self-sacrifice and an honesty so steadfast that it would shame even the boy who called out the naked emperor. Our leaders should be unimpeachable good guys, yet utterly ruthless when it comes down to taking decisive action. Sadly, we humans are practically defined by our fallibility and those who heroically try to scale the greasy pole are often shot down. It’s those who slime their way up that succeed; what should be a meritocracy is often just a pool of also-rans.
Promoted out of trouble, ennobled to still their mouths, rewarded for lending their vote for favour, these uncharismatic grey men dominate politics. For every towering figurehead there is an army of unremarkable nobodies made somebody. And the EU exemplifies this system, run as it is by unknowns. The only reason we have even heard of people like Junker, Tusk, Ursula von der Leyon et al is because the Brexit process has exposed these night crawlers to the light. Their time will soon pass.
You see only what they want you to see...
But behind even them there is the might of the civil service; the truly anonymous and unaccountable, who really pull the strings. Even the best of ministers has only a temporary and fragile grasp of the brief as he or she tries not to screw up, their main mission being just to survive and make it to the next level of the game. In the world of conspiracy theories we are often invited to ‘follow the money’, but if we really want to know who is ruling our lives we may be better advised to follow the failure.
Saturday, 19 October 2019
I have spent two days this week watching a demonstration of my general population thesis that most people do exactly as little as they need to do in order not to get sacked. Or in this particular case in order not to fail the practical assessment of what can amusingly be called their competence in testing electrical installations. It can’t only be electricians who are barely capable in what they do; I have seen the same principle demonstrated in many other disciplines and it is now the prism through which I examine most of my encounters with the human species.
Just enough, just in time is a principle – and one which they say is threatened by Brexit – which became dominant in supply chains in the eighties. It has some merit; why keep stock, sometimes for years, which may become obsolete before it is used, or ties up capital which can best be invested elsewhere? But the capacity of the human brain to store information and master skills appears to be beyond our ability to even measure, let alone limit, so why would we voluntarily give up the opportunity to be better? There is no valour in ‘just enough knowledge’ and the wilful lack of curiosity, of acquiring and storing knowledge in abundance is a crime against human capability.
We have all encountered useless solicitors, dodgy tradesmen, indifferent carers, uneducated educators and impotent officials and we have all railed against them – it’s sometimes as if that is the sole purpose of social media - but how often have you turned the spotlight on yourself? The “I’m not the problem here” syndrome is an insidious one and one with which most sufferers don’t even realise they are afflicted. It almost seems that the only areas in which people excel are the ones which make the least positive contribution to their lives.
For instance: worrying about the use of pronouns, avoiding upsetting idiots who self-identify as something other than 99% of the population; dreaming up ways of being offended; detecting casual racism and identifying almost entirely fictitious ‘hate crime’. We ban words, no-platform decent people with important things to say, dismiss the contribution of the people who invented civilisation while simultaneously insisting we respect the views of those who wish to bring it down. And worst of all is the blind acceptance of the assertions of others with neither the evidence to examine nor the intellect to understand it.
It’s the economy, stupid. It’s climate change, you idiot. Don’t be racist, don’t be homophobic, think of the cheeldren and how dare you assume my gender! We come under a daily barrage of admonishments and even the most woke are not immune. Nothing we can do or say is ever really deemed good enough and all the while our cognitive abilities, our critical thinking skills atrophy from lack of use. We marvel when one public figure is completely exonerated after using terms which would bring excoriation down on another; there are moral value judgements being made outside of our ability to understand and learn from.
If only there was a way of teaching everybody the rules and then having everybody obey those rules? If only there was some form of perfect, infallible being – not a god, but a corporeal entity – that would not make the mistakes that mere humans do. If only we were ruled, ordered and policed in an even-handed, non-biased manner which would reach the ame conclusions every time, based on the same evidence. If only we could bypass the waste and clutter and human disorderliness and prejudice.
Parliament isn't tough enough
Much intellectual capital has been spent over the last half a century regarding the por decision-making skills of humans and the development of artificial intelligences which perform far better. Today our Parliament, comprised of feeble, fallible humans will attempt to break the Brexit logjam. But will they apply cold, hard logic to the problem in order to come up with the best solution? Nope. Every last one of them, convinced they are on the side of right, will base their words and actions on too little information, too little brain power and blind, irrational partisan faith. This task is too difficult for humans. Time to bring on the robots!
Thursday, 17 October 2019
Contrasting accounts have been doing the rounds today regarding the removal of Extinction Rebellion protesters from the top of a commuter train in Canning Town. Cue the outrage from the perpetually offended who saw unacceptable levels of mob violence and feel vindicated in any attempts to frustrate their gruntish, little lives and educate their narrow little minds. Cheers from, well, the vast majority of ordinary people who are simply not part of the problem.
Of course you would expect me, of all people, to come down on the side of ‘anybody but the protesters’; that is generally a good bet to place. But what happenied here is indicative, I think, that maybe the will of the people has not yet been broken down and we are not the simpering weaklings, desperate to kow-tow to a culture of inclusion at all costs. Sod the personal safety of the protesters; they were standing on top of a train, for goodness’ sake.
But this was no ugly, frothing crowd; this was no middle-eastern style lynch mob. In fact the first instinct of many bystanders was to protect the fallen protesters from any physical harm. Given the disruption – not just to the passengers on that platform, but to those backed up in tunnels around the network as a result – swift and proportionate direct action was exactly the right response. And it felt good to see them do something, rather than wait ages for others to step in.
Had the police been involved it is likely that in an effort to behave in a politically sensitive way the whole network would have been evacuated, the train climbers engaged in dialogue and talked down several hours later – no doubt after having had special vegan snacks brought in - to be delicately handcuffed, had their rights read and thenceforth to be released to repeat their offences elsewhere. The police are not sufficiently numerous, nor do they have sufficient freedom of action for this kind of work. The protesters know that police resources mean a small number of people can spoil things for many.,
What we maybe need to see much more of is the man in the street taking direct action against those attempting to disrupt their lives. And this little demonstration showed that, unlike many other parts of the world, some of our near neighbours included, such action need not be either violent or uncontrolled. In fact, all we need is to be allowed to be British about it; that doesn’t merely mean tutting, sighing and saying ‘mustn’t grumble’ but getting up and actually doing something about it.
We're not going to take it any more...
We are not a people for whom protest comes naturally and organised demonstrations smack far too much of mass, leftist manipulation of ignorance. What is far more authentically British, I think, is the understanding that should your communistic agitations get tiresome, should you set out to cause trouble, somebody might just roll up their sleeves and sort you out. Climate Justice, you demand? I say common sense and justice for the common man.
Wednesday, 16 October 2019
Anna cautiously drew back the curtains and tried to peer outside, but the anti-bomb film on the inside of the glass was opaque and when she peeled a corner away the adhesive left a sticky smear which, if anything, was even more impenetrable. She shivered, stuck the film back down, reclosed the curtains and turned away. The room was in darkness but she knew there was no point in trying to turn the light on; the electricity would have been out for days now and anyway, a spark might be enough to set off a gas explosion, although she couldn’t - at least she thought she couldn't - smell any leaking gas.
They had been warned of all this, of course, at the same time as they had explained about the other post-event disasters. Food would run out in hours, fuel stations, pumped dry in advance of the expected civil disorder and looting, would stand forlorn and the high street shops were obviously all boarded up. The collapse of the banking system would have precipitated mass rioting and unless you had taken out expensive security contracts nowhere was safe. Behind walls and barriers, in compounds protected by armed guards, the elites would survive, for as long as they could pay off the guards. But how would they fare when money itself became meaningless?
No transport, no travel, no school, no medicine. The hospitals would have been overwhelmed in the first forty-eight hours after the extinction event and when the sickness came it would swiftly take those gathered, immobile, in such high concentrations. And of course the camps themselves. ‘Concentration’ was perhaps hyperbolic, but what would be the fate of those rounded up and interned in the repatriation camps? Would they have been processed and removed to a place of safety, or would they have been left to rot? It was all too horrible to contemplate.
And as Anna contemplated their demise, what of hers? She had tinned food for a few days and regretted not having stockpiled more, but what was done was done. Soon she would have to venture outside and forage for her survival, as the pre-event training videos had warned. Without her smartphone – the network would be down and in any case her battery had died some time ago – how would she manage to contact other survivors? She was going to have to find out sooner or later.
Suddenly a harsh noise interrupted her reverie and she was startled... confused. The phone. The landline phone, which she rarely used these days was demanding that she answer. Could it be that some resourceful and determined freedom fighters had managed to get the network up and working? Or was it a trap? The phone rang again… and again. Wound up like a spring, Anna slowly advanced towards the ringing, whose sound now had a touch of urgency about it. Again and again it rang and she hesitated, her hand trembling as she reached for the receiver and paused.
Gathering her strength she grabbed the receiver and held it to her ear. “Hello?” she ventured. “Who is this?” Then she listened as the voice at the other end solicitously inquired about her health. “I’m fine. I feel fine… for now,” replied Anna. She listened for a while, occasionally affirming that she had understood. “Yes,” she said, and “aha, I see…” and “Are you sure? I didn’t realise… I thought…” and eventually, “Okay, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” She put the phone down. Work. How odd.
What, no monsters?
Anna flicked the switch and the light came on. No gas explosion. The same experiment was repeated in the bathroom, where she took a hot shower. After three days of darkness and cold it was good to wash the itch out of her skin. A few minutes later she was dressed and stood by the front door, listening for the sounds of violence outside. There were none. As the bright sunlight flooded in from outside Anna blinked. The distant hum of traffic from the main road at the end of her quiet, neat cul-de-sac serenaded her ears; the melody said nothing was wrong. As she backed her car into the road and began her journey the soothing tones of the Today programme on Radio 4 told her that all was as it should be. So much for the horrors of a no-deal Brexit.