Monday 30 September 2019
Former US presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson had George W Bush say, in a speech to the Latino Business Association in Los Angeles: “Now some say it is unfair to hold disadvantaged children to rigorous standards. I say it is discrimination to require anything less - the soft bigotry of low expectations.” The phrase has since come into common usage both to plead for a higher standard of equal treatment and to excuse a certain apathy to help such disadvantaged groups. Like all political conveniences it is a double-edged weapon.
For instance, the standard of public behaviour of the rabble-rousing Labour firebrands is peppered with inflammatory phrases. From John McDonnell’s lynching comments right through to their regular unsubstantiated accusations that the Tories alone are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths through ‘austerity’, Labour’s lexicon is that of revolution. And why not, of course it is; Labour was founded in struggle even though now its biggest struggle is convincing itself it still has relevance.
So maybe this is the reason why Jess Phillips’ regular ejaculation of ‘fuck off’ to other MPs, to tweeters and to anybody who irks her passes almost without comment. Actually, that is unfair, because over the weekend, social media has gone to town, yet Jess remains unrebuked and unrepentant. Fair enough then, we say, we didn’t expect otherwise. But should we let them get away with it just because we don’t expect any better? I say no, let us hold parliamentarians of all sides to the same standards, otherwise what’s the point?
Is Boris’s use of the word humbug really on a par with the accusations levelled at him on a daily basis? And if you believe it is, what is wrong with you? Did you struggle with comprehension at school, or are you challenged by context? Because if it is the first then we have a massive problem in basic education. Some say we should teach critical thinking in schools (although these are almost exclusively calls from the left, with partisan intent) but surely we should just rigorously teach the actual language.
How can people tell fact from fiction if they can read and understand neither? How can one discern vernacular from literal intent without an upbringing steeped in both? And without the ability to read and listen and sift the gleaming nuggets of truth from the dry dust of rhetoric how can anybody make a judgment on which basis to cast a vote? Is it any wonder then that so many are now saying they may never vote again; what would be the point?
Perhaps this is the low expectation that MPs depend upon from the electorate? If they can dissuade all but the lumpen masses of the proletariat from seeking change and then sell an utter lack of change as a profound new direction, maybe they can persuade the herd that what they end up with is what they voted for. Does this remind anybody of the Brexit promise? ‘The government will implement what you decide’? Unless, of course you decide wrongly, in which case we will assume you are too stupid to know it when we change what you decided.
Official government policy?
For many decades and certainly during the age of mass communication, the expectations of the competence of successive governments has been slipping lower and lower. But the shift from a basic mistrust of those in high office to where we are now – an automatic assumption that they will act in their own self-interest first – is seismic. Up until now when we held low expectations of our government at least we expected them to live up to them. Now even that low bar seems to be beyond their reach.
Wednesday 25 September 2019
When the Brexit vote came in we had a bit of a gloat. Not a massive, in-your-face, dance-on-your-grave affair just a jubilant punching of the air and a relatively quiet, satisfied sigh of relief. Despite all the might of the establishment – every part of the establishment – we held our nerve and won through. Our celebrations were cautionary because we knew that it wasn’t going to be game over – the biased ref wasn’t going to blow the whistle for full time, he was just going to add injury time to insult and give the opposition time to wear us down.
But now, after three and half years of extra time we are still at one-nil despite penalty after penalty being awarded against us. They have challenged the legality of the Leave campaign and continue to insist it was rigged when all the evidence for rigging points to their side. They have impugned our intelligence, our motives and our very right to even cast a vote, but we are still clinging on to that full-time result, all those months ago. When David Cameron said this would be our decision and that Parliament would enact it he wasn’t lying, he just didn’t expect to have to honour that promise.
And then came yesterday, the day the law took sovereign power for itself. Of all the people who should worry about yesterday’s blatant flouting of any respect for democracy, Jeremy Corbyn stands head and shoulders above the crowd and he ought to be thoroughly ashamed of himself. ‘Parliamentary sovereignty’ was supposed to be the people’s weapon against the might of the throne, the might of the establishment. But parliament only borrows its weight from the people and the question of whose interests are protected should never arise.
The rule of law held that nobody was above or beyond justice and no matter how many times we saw that this wasn’t true, that justice was for sale, we held a last bit of hope that when it came to the crunch, the law would protect us, every one, as equally as if we were a lord or a prince… or a former public servant who lied and took us to war or ruin. Well, let that lie now be exposed to the world. You can argue until you are blue that the supreme court judges were basing their decision purely on the law and nothing else, but it won’t wash, any more than OJ Simpson’s glove or Alastair Campbells weapons of mass destruction.
Labour was founded on the principles of social justice, to fight for the rights of those who could not afford the expensive, legal kind. It is pledged to be on the side of that common law wish for equality and recognition. It is supposed to be the champion of the downtrodden masses but now they call their expressed wish 'populism' – they spit the word as if it offends their very being – the will of the masses. But look where labour is now; it is on the side of a fanatical, jingoistic nationalism whose entire purpose is to ride roughshod over democracy.
The EU isn’t democratic, no matter what its apologists pretend. It would eradicate the franchise in a heartbeat if it could. In place of national pride they instil a sense of belonging to some dream project for peace and prosperity when really it is about power; the kind of power the supreme court has just grabbed for itself and given to speaker Bercow to wield as he sees fit. Those who cheerlead for the EU, for the judges, for the deposing of a genuinely popular Prime Minister are stoking the fervour of be-flagged, starry-eyed devotees of a despotic regime, where Big Brother provides everything, including your vote.
"Old people stole our future"*
Look at the mobs. Look at the noisy, bellicose, arrogant, sneering throngs, chanting and beseeching and wallowing as if in the throes of a divine intervention. These people are beyond reason and beyond truth, just as the supreme court is above and beyond the common law. They call Brexiters self-harming fanatics, but with few exceptions what I see are ordinary people, who normally take little interest in politics, now aghast at the way in which their assumptions of freedom and rights have been violently taken from them. Who are the real extremists here?
(*Credit to @MarcherLord1 on Twitter)
Friday 20 September 2019
So, Justin Trudeau, as a much younger man, blacked up and had a ball. And the media is whipped into a frenzy of condemnation and righteous fury at his ‘racism’. I’m sorry, I thought imitation was the sincerest form of flattery. As for racism, where was the implication that the person or race imitated was being denigrated? He looked like he’d gone to a great deal of effort, almost as if in homage. And even if he had gone all Bongo-Bongo about it, where’s the harm? Seriously, where is it? (And don't give me all that whiny guff about the oppressive history of blackface; try going as Michael Jackson without... oh, wait.)
There are armies of people now whose entire purpose in life is to detract from the simple pursuit of life itself, of just getting on with it. Widget-making factories make much more expensive widgets because they have to cover the salaries of the non-producers. HR, whose role seems pure to frustrate the normal interaction of personnel. PR whose outcomes are often at odds with their stated intent. And where does one begin when it comes to the worship of diversity, inclusion and all the various ‘isms’ to which a modern western company is beholden?
Meanwhile, we import our widgets – superior quality, lower price – from companies who operate in countries where what you think about your neighbour is far less important than whether or not you can make a decent widget for a fair price. Similarly the UK Supreme Court (its own name an unnecessary import from the colonies) is currently engaged in the hugely expensive business of deciding whether a perfectly legal thing is legal, or whether they can set yet another precedent which further removes the judiciary from its more honourable purpose of locking up bad guys.
It is as if the civilised world, having effectively solved most of the problems of humanity, is afraid of running out and is now desperately trying to manufacture new problems to solve. We have enough wealth and a general desire to be more equitable that we should be able to function as a truly aspirant society. In this I have some sympathy for the socialists. We should be able to distribute far more equitably than we do, but we have yet to develop a simple mechanism by which this can be achieved. And having decided long ago to adopt complicated problem-solving mechanisms where the bleeding obvious would suffice, there is skin in the game for the various wastrels who absorb much of our excess cash.
Thus those with what is now called a social conscience, having made it to a place of financial security and the reassuring calm of the chattering classes, seek to ameliorate the agony of their own success by demanding that others – rarely themselves – contribute more, speak more kindly and generally behave as they themselves believe they do. I say ‘believe they do’ because it is remarkable the intemperance of language with which they refer to those they most despise; people just like themselves who are still working their way up.
Just harem a good time...
Competitive white guilt is like one huge practical joke; it is a kick-me notice pinned onto everybody who dares to aspire to anything and used to denigrate any success as entirely due to some bizarre notion of unearned white privilege. And it is nigh-on impossible to avoid, so, we must forgive poor Justin his decades-old faux pas this once. And the other time. Oh and whenever he has innocently and accidentally blacked up for shits and giggles on other occasions. What can I say; we are human, we are fallible. That’s ‘peoplekind’ for you.
Thursday 19 September 2019
Happiness, sang Ken Dodd, happiness, was the greatest gift that he possessed. Gift in this case meaning gifted by god, by nature, by providence or, just possibly gifted by himself. So precious is this gift that the pursuit of it is enshrined in the US Declaration of Independence, alongside life and liberty. But while life and liberty are granted as ‘unalienable rights’ even the Founding Fathers recognised that that happiness means different things to different people and thus it was up to each as individuals to pursue their own with no guarantee of success.
So it is somewhat presumptuous of Jo Swinson, the new and excitable leader of the Illiberal anti-Democratic Party, to propose the appointment of a Minister for Happiness. For a start, what can she mean by happiness and how would we measure when one has achieved it? Will we have to regularly report our state of elation to government auditors for assessment? After all, if you are going to create a ministry how will it know when it has achieved its stated aims and will it have to define an acceptable type of happiness; will happiness be regulated, ordered, monitored and corrected, or will we be granted the liberty to define our own?
But just suppose happiness – and bear with me on this as I riff – is, you know, a by-product of many other things, such as being comfortably well-off, having a sound roof above your head, being fed and watered and decently clothed. Being free of worldly concerns has to contribute to the sum total of contentment but humans have a habit of finding misery even amidst great wealth and comfort. So, I’m guessing the new ministry would have to also consider removing the impediments to joy which thwarted ambition, failed relationships and loss bring.
Perhaps we could also have ministers whose purpose is to ensure good educational outcomes, healthcare, stress-free and efficient transport, agricultural productivity, environmental security and, say, equality and human rights? If only these had been considered by earlier administrations then we wouldn’t need Jo’s blue-sky, outside the box, radical, direct-to-the-heart-of-the-matter prognostications. Better still, to make us feel better than ever, why not a minister for self-esteem? See, these are classics of student-level, socialist groupthink; ‘if only everybody could be more like me… let’s legislate!’.
It turns out, on further investigation that we already have (who’d have thought it?) ministries to deal with all the above and more. And we have more advisors on health, wealth and happiness than we have ever had. The internet is awash with people making themselves very happy indeed – and smug – by telling everybody else how to achieve a nirvana just like theirs. And it is a crock because what makes you wriggle in delirious delight may well make me squirm in revulsion. We no more need a minister for happiness than we need one for breathing.
But, you know what is good for happiness, for self-esteem, for all-round well-being? It is a sense of being in control of your own destiny. Give people the tools and the wherewithal and they will work out the rest for themselves. Educate them, provide meaningful, well-paid work and a sense of community and responsibility and they will become better people. Free them from the shackles of groupthink and suddenly the whole group is healthier.
Real freedom - not those 'freedoms'.
As a nation the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness will not come from being shackled to a moribund rules-obsessed monolith which believes it can legislate people better. It will not come from a one-size-fits-all approach to every part of society. It is in the Declaration of Independence, Jo! Freedom from those Newspeak 'freedoms' of the EU. Happiness comes from pulling up your socks, getting up off the bench and walking out through that open cell door. Brexit has opened the door for us – let’s get the hell out before people like Swinson slam it shut again.
Sunday 8 September 2019
I love it when people who know so much better than me tell me why I voted to leave the EU. I have been, variously, an unthinking dupe of the Russians, indoctrinated and herded by rich ‘elites’ who ‘stand to make a fortune. I am a Little Englander who wants a return to the nineteen-fifties, shortly after we had stood up to Hitler and survived, battered and bruised… but I am also a Nazi myself; somebody who would deny others their freedoms. I am a brutal racist thug, under-educated fool, lower class canon fodder and all round idiot. Also, I am old.
The insults come quite soon after you have challenged a Remainer on the ridiculous things they are saying and often immediately precede a block. It is quite tiresome at times, trying to argue with these bricks in the propaganda wall of hate which has been carefully laid by pro-EU agitators. It is also amusing to see how many Remainers claim to know ‘many’ leavers who have changed their mind when confronted with ‘the facts’ and – of course – while Remainers endure forever, Leavers are dying off in their droves.
At yesterday’s losers march, the bias of the establishment was hard to avoid. While the dwindling numbers of referendum-deniers were pretty much allowed free rein to wander as they wished, those opposing the chosen ones’ show were kettled and frustrated by the police. When the self-declared communist Ash Sarkar took to the stage the first thing she tried to do was to goad these largely honest voters by screeching “Fascist scum – off our streets” and get a crowd chant going. It is all beginning to ring hollow.
The same old insults, the same old tired schtick. Remain voters are good, caring, intelligent, educated people with the best interest of humanity at heart. Leavers are, to a man, thuggish, sluggish gammon; thick, brutal, gullible and gulled. Remainers went to university, you know? Leavers learned their skills on the streets as muggers and conmen. Remainers care deeply about the world. Leavers want to plunder it. Yeah, yeah, yeah… you know the word ‘populist’ is just around the corner and – wait for it – Boris Johnson is, literally Hitler.
And so to the papers and the polls. The serial failure (and cabineteer most likely to elicit the question 'who?') Amber Rudd leaving the Conservatives is widely touted as a mortal blow to the government. But why would the jettisoning of ballast make Boris’s balloon fly lower? In fact, with every sneaky sucker punch the usual suspects try to get in, Johnson’s stock in the country rises. It is almost as if those so supremely in the know don’t really understand Britishness at all. Keep beating the dog and sooner or later we will step in and stand up for it.
Boris brings the house down.
So as we enter the end days of this struggle – if Robert Mugabe’s reign can be described as a heroic struggle, then Brexit surely can – let us hope that Boris keeps his nerve and sticks to his guns. The threat of prison for breaking the newly-minted and highly partisan law, if necessary, to take us out should only embolden him. If the left, the communists, the true forces of remain really want to make him a martyr, we will cheer him all the way to the metaphorical scaffold.
Saturday 7 September 2019
A recent report has revealed that the children of women who suffered stress during pregnancy are more likely to develop mental health problems by the time they are thirty. Labelled ‘child personality disorder’, presumably to generate a new income stream for those who diagnose such things, it manifests itself as an excess of anxiety, emotional instability, anti-social behaviour and even paranoia. In other words, immaturity. Quelle surprise!
As with all such revelations it should be taken with a pinch of salt and a great deal of scepticism. With a bit of redrafting the conclusions could have been a much more credible; ‘stressed-out mums create neurotic kids’. It is well-known that the children of adults in difficult circumstances have far poorer prospects than those brought up in secure, happy, well-balanced households. Why should these redundant ‘new’ findings raise even an eyebrow?
But this is not to dismiss this latest example of stating the bleeding obvious as entirely irrelevant, because it is a well-established fact that certain personality types are difficult to live with and cause trouble in all sorts of unpleasant ways. Pandering to them, as our nice, usually pretty tolerant society tends to do, doesn’t always help; this is how we end up with tyrannical infants pulling temper tantrums and embarrassing their parents, or ego-maniacal talking heads in positions of influence, whipping up a storm, But enough of Owen Jones.
Actually, no. Owen Jones may well be the prime exemplar of the stressed-out mother’s progeny; and if she wasn’t stressed out during pregnancy she really ought to be now because Owen, in common with many high-profile figures, is exhibiting signs of a deep and chronic mental disorder. One of the obvious signs of mental imbalance is an inability to recognise when you are out of whack with those around you. So unaware are they of their own extremism that they think it is perfectly normal to predict the direst of consequences, repeat the craziest of conspiracies and liberally insult and demean those round them.
People, undoubtedly, are a product of their environment – in the case of Greta Thunberg possibly a product of THE environment - but Greta at least has an excuse in the form of a diagnosed autistic spectrum dysfunctionality. But what mitigation can we offer in defence of the derangement of Jones and Soubry, of Campbell and Grieve, of and Hammond and Umunna? (Oh, wait, sorry: Chuka’s issues are entirely due to his own misplaced high self-regard and delusions of relevance.)
The rest of them, though? It has been called Brexit Derangement Syndrome and in homage to their identifying hashtag Full Blown Psychotic Episode. Whatever you want to call it it bears all the hallmarks of a genuine mental illness and it is rife. The only likely cure is a form of immersion therapy, with a deep and rapid exposure to the cause of their anxieties. The only thing that can cure the rabid FBPE crowd now is Brexit. Not your cautious soft Brexit, nor a Norway option but a full-leaded, no safety net, no-going-back, Brexit Maximus.
Help them; before it is too late.
Much ballyhoo is being made in Parliament – a major nexus of the sickness – of the attempts to prevent the Prime Minister from carrying out the job he was elected to do. But he must be allowed to administer the medicine or else the disease will spread until it affects the still-functioning organs. It is far too late to treat it locally and only an amputation of the infected parts can bring about a cure for what remains of us. We absolutely must leave now – before the entire country goes mad.
[Coda: Some mental Tweeters have started to add a black dot to their profiles in order to claim they, or somebody they know WILL DIE as a result of Brexit. This isn't just a bout of midsummer madness, it is an epidemic.]
[Coda: Some mental Tweeters have started to add a black dot to their profiles in order to claim they, or somebody they know WILL DIE as a result of Brexit. This isn't just a bout of midsummer madness, it is an epidemic.]
Sunday 1 September 2019
The scenes this weekend, of zombie EU drones stumbling around the capital, impromptu protests against ‘fascism’, ‘dictatorship’ and a ‘coup’ that the government has somehow mounted against itself, are starting to look desperate. Demands that we ignore the referendum and – ideally, it seems – keep on voting until Remain wins, abound and formerly respected public figures once more make utter fools of themselves. Having finally got a Prime Minister who appears to mean what he says, is the truth beginning to dawn?
The screeching is becoming frantic, the demonstrations more desperate. Paul mason, communist agitator for a bygone age of heavy industry and wildcat strikes, has been all over the news parading his own breakdown for all to see. Remainer politicians, still believing they can play both sides, are laughably claiming they stand for democracy while simultaneously trying to overthrow it. And of course, the clownishly clad, EU-flag toting, ageing hippies are out there, speaking for the young, whose ‘futures have been betrayed’.
What a hoot. They are reliving the Greenham Common peace camps, the Ban-the-Bomb marches of the sixties and their own experimentation with the discredited mind-altering ideologies of Marx and Mao. Democracy is one thing, direct action another and the ignoring of a democratic mandate is an abuse of both. The vote is won, but the war goes on and the lies, the misleading rhetoric and the abuse of gullible people is largely the work of the losing side. We are now in the fourth year of this war and the end feels like it really is coming this time.
But how will they cope after the armistice, if armistice there is? After the war is over, will these people quietly go back to the jobs they held before? And what of the overly vocal public figures who, mask-slipped, have berated the public for their gullibility, their naivety, their doltish stupidity? How will they fare post-Brexit and will they double down on their own public humiliation by continuing to lobby for a lost cause? Well, of course they will; there is nothing else left for them and obscurity would be unbearable.
The only thing worse than being talked about, said Wilde, is not being talked about. For those who have been made to look fools – Grayling, Miller, Campbell, Clarke (the list goes on and on and on) the lesser punishment might just be to look for scraps of funding from EU sources to continue the fight from their little intellectual archipelago of disconnected islands. As far as the rest of us are concerned, a period of silence from these hollow vessels would be welcome.
Remainers make their reasonable demands...
So, let them have their last few weeks of public displays of grief. Let them imagine their dwindling numbers are fighting a cause which has not – as it has, undoubtedly – already been lost. Let them rend their garments, shriek until they are hoarse, dance like loons draped in the flags of our adversary. Let them call us fascists and Nazis, despots and dictators one last time. And then, let us forgive them and forget them, for they know not what they do.