Saturday, 29 June 2019

Placebo

Prince Charles, our Britannic Majesty in waiting, and well-known alternative dabbler has become patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy. This is about par for the course from somebody who has fantasised about being a tampon, openly conversed with his plants, makes expensive biscuits for gullible peasants and frequently opines on subjects about which he almost certainly knows nothing. Ah well, he probably won’t be king for very long and he might even follow the example of his Uncle Edward; we can but hope.

But homeopathy, of all things? People believe in the most unlikely phenomena: astrology, the tarot, the healing power of lumps of rock and even, among the most rabidly gullible, economic forecasting. Homeopathy is almost the perfect iconotype for irrational belief. You take the cause of an ill, a poison even, then dilute it again and again until not a single molecule of the malevolent compound persists, Then you claim that the water which remains, flavoured with a little sugar, has a ‘memory’ which can cure the ailment the original compound caused. If one needed a new definition of quackery, I’d start with this.

But, as outrageously, obviously false this premise is, the placebo effect in humans is strong and if you wish for something hard enough, when it comes true you could be excused for imagining that the wish itself did the magic. Mostly harmless, was Douglas Adam’s description of Earth and much the same could be said of homeopathy, except for those who are so convinced of its efficacy that they go on to refuse genuinely effective treatment and die in agony believing themselves cured. And this is the problem when you rely on faith rather than evidence.

Religion does much the same thing; based on fantasy it promises much, delivers nothing but manages to absolve itself of blame when the victims berate themselves for not being devout enough. But possibly worse than religion itself, which can be (and largely is) overlooked in most advanced societies, there is one creature of mythology which survives all attempts to abandon it and even manages to survive its own self-defeating premises. This is the rainbow dream, the one world, unicorn promise of socialism.

Socialism is the homeopathy of politics, surviving critical analysis because its adherents just ignore the evidence. Socialism is so good, they argue, that the millions impoverished by its crackpot founding theology are dismissed as collateral damage in the greater war against the evil of people having the freedom to think their own thoughts and live as they wish. There is almost no failure in human society that cannot be excused by socialism except progress and individual wealth.

No, no, it's not a barrier to entry; it's to keep them in.

And so we arrive once again at what has become the annual socialists’ mass outside worship ceremony, where herbal remedies of all kinds are freely imbibed, mantras memorised and the sacred words of Stormzy solemnly intoned and retweeted by Saint Jeremy Corbyn. Exclusive, insular and difficult to get in; where you have to speak the same language as all the other devotees in order to avoid ostracisation; where all think with one accord, Glastonbury has become everything it once stood against. It is now the socialist version of Bilderberg.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Prepare!

Let’s see if I have this straight: The governing Tory Party will not allow its elected leader to lead. Enough of them would rather destroy the party than allow, for one second, the prospect of the UK ever leaving the EU. They will argue – and we know who ‘they’ are – that they want to ‘honour the wishes of the people’ and leave; but only with a deal, seemingly oblivious to the fact that any deal with the EU will only benefit the EU and the current May treaty amounts to – by many accounts – remaining on a reduced status.

Parliament continues to peddle the same lie and will do anything to prevent a government of any persuasion from enacting the referendum outcome. So, no to no-deal, no to May’s deal (the only deal on offer), no to a Conservative government, no to a Labour government... and absolutely no way to enact anything the population as a whole want. And for all his bombast, Boris will get no acceptable concessions from Brussels. Parliament is in a cul-de-sac.

Today, the car industry wades back in with its contribution to Project Fear and yesterday Tony Blair was pretending to care by (once again) suggesting a three-way referendum format guaranteed to return a remain majority. Oh and our own Parliament, disregarding the prime message of the entire Brexit operation, nodded through a motion to limit our economic possibilities far more severely than any cessation of cooperation with Europe, by agreeing an impossible zero emissions target for which we have no strategy, no common will and no money.

The prime message? That no matter how you vote you get the same outcomes. In a direct rebuke to working Britons, Labour is now the islam party. The Conservatives who for years have struggled with May’s ‘nasty party’ tag are unable to counter the perception that they are aloof and controlled by big money. The LimpDems are, as ever, a party of last resort for those who are desperate to balance on the pin head of centrism without ever knowing what that actually means. And above all this we have a collective media – news, entertainment, print, social – which cannot countenance Brexit and smugly knows that only they are right.

Where does that leave us? Fucked, is where. The mould must be broken else we will continue to be forced ever deeper into it. And the mould we are being constrained by is the EU model whereby decision making is removed further and further from the influence of the people it effects. In France, the protests are ignored; they are barely even acknowledged by that same smug media over here. In the UK our voice goes unheard, because our so-called leaders respond to a higher power, detached from the reality of everyday life.

Until we eliminate that detachment our government will continue to fail to represent those who vote for it. Until we regain full accountability we are powerless to demand that our public servants serve us, the public. Many Brexit supporters use the phrase “Love Europe, hate the EU”. They say the EU is not Europe and in so doing they leave a chink in their armour. Well. I say fuck Europe; fuck the lot of them. No equivocation. Until its demise, as far as we are concerned, the EU is Europe and I want no part of it. And yes, if that makes me a Little Englander, I am proud to claim the title.

Would this really be so very hard?

As Boris himself might say “Si vis pacem, para bellum”: “If you want peace, prepare for war” and never forget who the enemy is. It isn’t Russia, it isn’t North Korea, it isn’t Iran, it isn’t even the USA. It is the conglomerate formed of our nearest neighbours; neighbours who, throughout history, have coveted this sceptred isle. We've resisted it twice before, we can do it again. So I say, if you want it so badly, come and get it, motherfuckers.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Cometh the hour...

It is mad; it is quite, quite mad. Back in 2016 Ben Judah’s exposé ‘This Is London: Life And Death In The World City’ was not a mere warning, it was a revelation of something which had already happened. You would imagine that politicians, community leaders, the police, the judiciary and even the joint villains of the piece – the human rights movement – would have been motivated to act. Ordinary, decent, honest working people had been telling them for years but their stories were dismissed as hearsay, circumstantial, anecdotal and motivated by a deeply embedded racism.

Here, however, was actual documentary evidence from exactly the kind of person you would imagine would get a hearing. A young, multi-ethnic, Oxford educated, investigative journalist seeking to understand a complex issue. What he found was a world out of control. Tony Blair’s simplistic, naïve dream of a rainbow world of wonderful contributory diversity has been hijacked by opportunistic criminals and no serious attempts have been made to reverse the damage. Not by Blair’s supporters who still support his visions; not by his successors in government who bury their heads in the sand.

We were warned and we did warn; import the third world, get the third world. Ignore crimes on the basis of cultural tolerance and the criminals get bolder, more organised and more visible. Vermin, unafraid of pest control, now operate with impunity on the streets. But when we say it was never like this before we are told that our memory is faulty, that knife and acid attacks are a part and parcel of British city life and always have been; that it is a price we have to pay for all the benefits our multicultural paradise has brought.

Sadiq Khan smirked last week at a press call as he said he stood by his assertion that London was safer since he had assumed the position of Mayor. Diane Abbott has said that the problem is white people. David Lammy daily berates said white people for sowing division and spreading hate. And Owen – squealer – Jones does his bit to stoke the fires of class war with a fervour bordering on extremism. Meanwhile the streets become more lawless, those who once called London home move away and another three dozen slaves are crammed into the space recently deserted by a single family.

Whole towns have been deserted by the pepe who built them; the very workers that the Labour Party once sought to represent have been tarred as bigots and xenophobes and left to their fate because it turns out that votes from people who are not free to cast them are far more reliable than that awkward thing called universal suffrage. But have the socialists learned nothing from their own history? After the Iranian revolution which the left did much to foment, those same useful idiots were among the first to be despatched.

John Cleese was roundly castigated recently when he dared to tell the truth; that London is no longer an English city. He was dead right. But the howls of righteous anger from the same old lazy voices ensured that the only message broadcast was that Cleese was now beyond the pale. The same ostracisation regularly applies to anybody with the wrong opinions on climate change, gender, education, diversity and even democracy itself.

If this is what it takes...

So, bring on Boris Trump. Our next Prime Minister needs to be somebody who stirs up strong emotions on the side which has done all the work to build our country. And if that means the left get a smacked bum and are put back in their place for a while, then all the better. The anti-Brexit mob – and mob they are – say we should be able to go back and ask the question again. Okay, fine, but the rot didn’t begin in 2016. We need to be tearing up the last twenty years (at least) and going a bit USA about it all. It is time for Queen and Country to come to the fore and time for the noisy children to go back to school.

Friday, 14 June 2019

There are no words...

Fuck off and die. In the 1980s, that wee gem of coinage was common currency. And here’s the thing; nobody died. Boil yer head, fuck your mum, I’ll rip your head off and piss in your neck... I’ll fucking kill you! Words, people; mere words. And no they don’t incite violence, they don’t encourage others to act; if anything the extreme hyperbole of these wafer-thin threats merely makes the utterer look like a bigger knob than the insultee at which it was aimed.

So where did it all go wrong? When did sticks and stones fade into impotence against the far more hurtful impact of - gosh - words? The epithet ‘snowflake’ has perhaps been overused of late but how apt a metaphor to describe the way in which our upcoming generations have been rendered weak without a fist being raised? The Orwellian spectre of the language itself being policed has long been warned about, even by those now doing that policing.

‘Free speech does not permit hate speech’ goes the mantra of the millennial, but who gets to decide what that means? Currently ‘hate’ seems to consist of any opinion which isn’t in accord with the approved doctrine, but like the secret password, today’s hurty words compendium is administered by the select few who, alone, determine whose choice metaphor is the more likely to bring about the next holocaust.

Seriously, it is that bad. To those who would curtail your speech privileges there is nothing so urgent today as to cut off the fabled rise of the far right; but even those nasty, hard bastard Nazis are today reduced to whining about mean girls pulling their hair. Jo Brand, whatever personal grudges you may harbour, was no more encouraging people to engage in acid attacks on politicians than Nigel Farage was seriously suggesting he would take up arms to pursue Brexit.

And so the argument moves on, not to what people genuinely find offensive but to which side has shouldered the greater burden of hypocrisy. Come on, guys, you must be able to be better than this. When one side is making a complete horses-arse of themselves it is fair game to show them up for it, but when it descends to this tit-for-tat, my-gang-is-less-of-a-twat-than-your-gang malarkey, the tired old wit of Oscar Wilde begins to look like sparkling zeitgeist repartee.

...wearing an appropriate emblem...

How about: All speech is free speech and we judge you by your words? If you choose to be offended then poor you. If you choose to repeat the unwise words of your youth then so be it. Back in the day, back when the word ‘tolerance’ actually meant something, the idiots soon revealed their idiocy... and we avoided or agreed with them accordingly. But maybe, in these virtue-signalling days we should warn people before we open our mouths? Given that everything I say will be judged to be ‘far right’ before I even say it, I’m thinking of maybe wearing an appropriate emblem...

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Hold my beer...

I read a tweet the other day. In a familiar theme it said: “...I object to contributing to so-called "Talent" fat cat salaries, a trained chimp could read from an auto cue for God’s sake...” These are the kind of things we all say from time to time – “I could do that. And I’d do a better job of it.” But could we? In theory, anybody could conduct an interview, but would it be watchable in the way a Frost or a Parkinson interview always was? And could there ever be an easy replacement for Andrew Neil and his unerring ability to take his prey to task and reveal the weakness of their ill-considered pronouncements?

No doubt some ‘talent’ does get paid way in excess of their worth by any objective analysis, but, in economic terms, how is ‘worth’ measured other than by the remuneration you can attract? Nurses and policemen, soldiers and ambulance drivers receive the apparent pittance they do in return for their vital and often harrowing work because at that salary it is usually possible to attract sufficient bodies to fill the spaces. Would paying more and being more rigorous in selection yield better results? Undoubtedly, but who pays for it?

At the extreme other end of the scale you get the abilities for which people rarely object to paying. World champions in every sporting arena don’t just spring from somebody saying “I could do that!” without then backing it up with gruelling training, perseverance and yes, ultimately, talent. Practice alone, supervised by the very best, is still not enough to quite literally go the extra mile if it just isn’t in you. Yet we all harbour an inner wannabe which manifests itself whenever we see somebody cack-handedly dealing a with a problem for which we think we have the answer. Oh yes, politics.

When it comes to running the country, balancing the national budget, bringing law and order to our streets, stabilising the climate and bringing peace and health and harmony to all we are all suddenly experts. And in fact, when it comes down to expertise we may just be right, because politics requires talents more akin to show business than to actual competence in the government roles our elected representatives find themselves. An interview with former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborn was aired on yesterday’s PM, in which he freely confessed to not being much of an economist and argued that it just wasn't important for the job.

Similarly, Home Secretaries rarely grasp law and order and social justice and immigration and, er, people. Defence ministers have little understanding of the detail involved in going about the world killing our enemies and the diplomatic skills of most Foreign Secretaries would, well... see Boris Johnson. And having, finally, got to the point of this edition of the blog, what of Boris; Prime Minister elect? The pundits think so, the media seem pretty sure and the opposition (which includes most of the Tory Party, by all accounts) are driving themselves into a frenzy of envious fizz at the prospect.

What talents does he possess? Look at his appalling record of back-tracking, lying, committing public gaffes, adultery, rugby-club behaviour... hair! And of course, none of this is in the least bit relevant. It ought to be, but it’s not. Because all that matters here is his single, unique attribute – he is Boris Johnson. Love him or loathe him – and I wouldn’t trust him an inch – he is the one thoroughbred in the race and everybody who thinks otherwise is looking at the wrong form guide.

Har, phwa-fwafaar... wiff-waff!

The other names, the also-rans, are trying to pretend they have the talents to do the impossible job. But everybody knows that whoever gets to occupy the big chair will almost immediately face the challenge of a general election. And when it comes down to it, almost none of the other faces in the starting blocks have any traction with the voters. No matter what qualities you think you want in a Prime Minister, Boris has the only talent that matters right now. He is electable – gawd knows why; he just is. You couldn’t do it, I could never do it, the Rory Stewarts of the world can’t do it as long as their arses point downwards, but Boris can. Brace yourselves for a bumpy ride.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Piss Poor

Yesterday I heard for the first time about relational poverty. Relative poverty I get, I have been watching those shifting goalposts for years; relative poverty is when your mate has the latest iPhone and you do not. But ‘relational’? I Googled and I came up with this: “Relational poverty i) shifts from thinking about ‘the poor and poor others’ to relationships of power and privilege, ii) works across boundaries to foster a transnational, comparative and interdisciplinary approach to poverty research, iii) involves multidirectional theory building that incorporates marginalized voices to build innovative concepts for poverty research.

Does it, by Jove? Blimey, much like racism, just when you thought you had a handle on the word, along comes a definition to place the blame fairly on your own, already overburdened white shoulders. Not content with being personally responsible for slavery, injustice, apartheid, coastal erosion, big pharma, antibiotic resistance, super bugs, cancer and climate change, not to mention actual poverty, it seems I must now carry the can for some people feeling a bit poor in the self-esteem department.

I researched a little bit more and came across The Relational Poverty Network, which august body: “convenes a community of scholars, working within and beyond academia, to develop conceptual frameworks, research methodologies, and pedagogies for the study of relational poverty. Launched at a historical moment of dramatic income inequality and enforced austerity in the global North, the RPN thinks across geographical boundaries to foster a transnational and comparative approach to poverty research.” 

Still none the wiser, I sought some clarity and I may have discovered the source. One Bruce Perry wrote a book called ‘Born for Love’ described in this 2014 blog by Stephanie Heck PhD : Perry says we need to show more ‘emotional generosity’ and there we have it – daddy issues. Sigmund Freud has so much to answer for. Not content with inventing the pseudo-science of psychotherapy, he went on to spawn a whole industry in creating and then treating a panoply of almost entirely confected and self-inflicted neuroses.

Meanwhile the worthy members of the Relational Poverty Network come together, no doubt over fancy biscuits and posh coffee, in order to:
·         expand thinking about the causes of poverty
·         develop collaborative projects that cross disciplinary and geographical boundaries
·         bring scholars, teachers, policy makers and activists into intentional collaboration
·         build the next generation of scholars and scholarship on relational poverty
So, wow, poverty studies is an actual thing; who knew? And much as with all the other branches of identity politics – race, sex, gender, colour religion etc, etc, etc, it pivots about privilege and you can bet your bottom dollar who cops the blame...


Maybe this is actually the rationale behind the increasingly parlous state of state education? Maybe this is why Tony Blair wanted everybody to go to university? Ditch the apprenticeships, forego the drudge jobs traditionally offered school-leavers – others (the genuinely poor, perhaps?) can do all that menial stuff – let’s instead prepare the pampered first-world kids for the far richer pickings available in the funding harvest. The only trouble is– and this operates at more levels than just the financial – what will be the cost and who is going to pay?

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Cold Turkeys

Sell the sizzle, not the sausage, they say. And constantly sizzling on the griddle of grizzles are the assorted aromas of human rights, equality, racism and other associated bigotries. All fine fare with which to tempt those easily aroused to anger by inflammatory words, unsubstantiated ‘facts’ and exhortations to hate. Always with the hating, your malcontent. But right now the barbecue is overshadowed by the delicious hog roast of indignation that the leader of the most powerful country on Earth is being hosted in an entirely appropriate manner by the British state.

The outpouring of grief and rage is almost a joy to behold as the usual peddlers of lies and conspiracy and imagined injustice paint their faces, rend their garments and wail in public about how Donald Trump has, somehow, made their own lives poorer. It is all, of course, an utter crock. Most people on the planet will be affected not one jot by anything The Donald does or says, much as is the case with pretty much anybody with influence save for dictators and tyrants and bullies and – quite often – those who believe they are part of the solution. Donald Trump is none of these, however much anybody wants to believe otherwise.

Voltaire is credited with observing that if god did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. Such is also the case with identity politics, the gateway drug to social justice jihadism of the kind being foisted on impressionable minds everywhere. To sell your brand of angry discontent you must first create a market and the packaging of little parcels of emotive appeals into handy baggies to offer at the school gates has been very successful. Your first taste of protest for free; after that you pay.

And the costs will escalate. Soon, to get a fix, young warriors will need to get their hands on placards, black masks, Palestinian flags, Molotov cocktails, bullhorns, bricks and other assorted weaponry.  And they will need to invest in a keffiyeh or two, to show their solidarity with an ideology wholly at odds with all they profess to believe. As the urge to protest grows, addicts will turn to any cause, however spurious, to quell their cravings. When the sizzle becomes irresistible it matters not that the meat is not as advertised.

Peterbrough looms. And the usual suspects are out there, sowing the seeds of division and fertilising the fuckers until they grow into huge great knotty weeds of bile and face-twisted fury. But the Trump visit has them wrong-footed. How delicious will it be when, distracted by an imaginary foreign Nazi, they forget to focus on their own home-grown fascist fantasy? Donald Trump’s comments on Brexit may just have been a carefully planned diversionary tactic to take the pressure off Farage’s Fusiliers and help usher in the first – of many – Brexit Party MPs.

The cure is within your reach

It isn’t easy, weaning people off an addiction. When addicts mix only with other addicts they can’t see the harm they are doing to themselves and others. And when the supposedly responsible adults to whom they turn in times of trouble are also the dealers of their grievances of choice it can be an almost insurmountable slope back to level ground again. But if we can cut off their supply by unseating the cartel operatives and offer common sense alternatives instead, is it too much to hope we can cure some of their dependencies?