Friday, 3 July 2020

No Soft Cell

Ghislaine Maxwell's suicide will come as a surprise. Primarily to her.

But Prince Andrew is the least of her worries. In any case, he should go nowhere until Anne Sacoolas had been extradited to Britain.

And Julian Assange, 49 today, should be released in a week's time if she had not been.

Use Your Power, As We Are Doing

If at least 300,000, and possibly three million, people from Hong Kong can be rushed into this country and fast-tracked to British citizenship, then what about the victims of the Windrush scandal? And when is there going to be justice for the Chagossians? 

This is pure posturing in the New Cold War that shifts its enemy between China and Russia as it suits the Biden-Starmer interest at any given time. Why is Boris Johnson having any part in this?

Although notice that it cannot apply to people born after the handover but who are no longer dependants, the 18 to 23-year-olds who have been doing the demonstrating. Or are we going to do this whenever that age group demonstrated anywhere in the former British Empire? Do those who are making an admittedly impotent fuss about Hong King tend to approve of such protests when they happen in Britain?

There is also going to be very generous provision, as there ought to be, for EEA citizens who wished to remain in Britain. So the Windrush question is going to come up again. But the victims need no more look to the Labour Party than should the people who were now going to be subject to benefit sanctions even if they had Covid-19, which BAME people are more likely to contract.

Never mind Starkey. Starmer is as desperate as this. This is the racism story in British politics today. The racism of Keir Starmer and the Labour Party, and the refusal of black people to put up with it any longer. Mass BAME abstention, or votes for locally organised BAME Independents, could deprive scores of liberal elite stalwarts of the metropolitan seats that, even after the fall of the Red Wall, everyone had assumed would be Labour forever.

And yes, that is intimately bound up with those metropolitan liberal elite MPs' support for Israel, since one's approach to the Palestinian struggle is the litmus test of one's attitude to white violence against people of colour throughout the world, including in Britain.

"I used to be the Director of Public Prosecutions" plays better with some people than it does with others, and not only on this forty-ninth birthday of Julian Assange, although there is certainly that. When Black Lives Matter called Starmer "a cop in an expensive suit", then the word in the first draft will not have been "cop". He cannot help it, but Starmer does have a head that looks as if it could be studded with cloves and marinated in cider before being basted with honey and roasted. Gammon, indeed. He used to be the Director of Public Prosecutions, you know.

The need to hold the Red Wall, and the desire to expand the gains here, have already caused Johnson to repudiate his seven most recent predecessors, four of whom were from his own party and one of whom was Margaret Thatcher, in order to promise as much as possible of the economic programme for which these areas voted in 2017, when Jeremy Corbyn were still holding the Bennite line on Brexit.

Johnson has as good as said the words that we were run down as a matter of government policy for 40 years and under all three parties, causing us to cast the decisive votes for Brexit in 2016, to vote for Corbyn and John McDonnell in such numbers as to deliver a hung Parliament in 2017, and then to give him his overall majority in 2019 because Corbyn had given in to Starmer over Brexit.

Oodles of central government intervention in our economy are coming, pretty much as we direct, without reference to the corrupt and incompetent right-wing Labour machine that we are going to wipe off the municipal map next year, and paid for by an acceptance of the principle of Modern Monetary Theory. Corbyn and McDonnell could never get that one through the many committees of the Labour Party, but the Conservative Party has none of that. The Leader's word is law.

What a thing it is to have power. We should have seized it a very long time ago. And as the Red Wall has made itself a belt of key swing voters in key swing seats, so the Black Wall can do the same. Starmer had lost Labour a million Kashmiri votes, and now there is everything else about him s well, all of which was always going to happen.

Far from Labour's regaining seats up here that it had lost in 2019, there will be as many Red Wall losses again to the Conservatives in 2024. In addition to that, imagine the results of mass BAME abstention, or of votes for local Independents organised by mosques, black churches, black community organisations, and so on. There could be the biggest Conservative majority since before the War.

But Johnson and his party know that they have to talk the talk and walk the walk in order to retain the Red Wall. They need to be made to know the same thing about the Black Wall. Not only in passing is it worth mentioning that Grenfell Tower is in a seat that the Conservatives hold by a mere 50 votes. Use your power, as we are doing. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on. Use your power, as we are doing.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Quite The Enigma

So they could hack EncroChat, and good for them.

They could not find an email, or any other communication, between me and their intercontinental star witness against me.

But they could hack EncroChat. Make of that what you will.

Don't Let Your Gold Go Caracas

If, gentle reader, you are the Head of State or the Head of Government of any of the numerous countries that kept their gold reserves at the Bank of England, then you need to get that gold out of there.

Today, the High Court has ruled that the British Government could recognise anyone it pleased in your office, thereby giving that person ownership of your country's gold, even while the United Kingdom continued to conduct normal diplomatic relations with you.

Know Your Strength, And Use It

The New Deal never went far enough. On its own, it did not end the Great Depression in the United States. That came when the War and post-War reconstruction enabled the federal government to force corporate America to adopt the latest technology, thereby creating America's famous technological advantage. But the New Deal did what it did, and Boris Johnson needs to be held to his identification with it, as well as confronted with the things that needed to done over and above it in order to have the full desired effects.

Johnson entirely accepts that the areas that have given him his overall majority had been left to rot, under all three parties, since the Budget of December 1976. He sells himself, highly successfully so far, as the man who will halt and reverse that decline, which had been imposed by central government while being aided and abetted by useless and corrupt right-wing Labour local government.

That differentiates him starkly from his seven most recent predecessors, and from the neo-Blairism of Keir Starmer, but it does not distinguish him at all from Jeremy Corbyn, who said exactly the same thing, only with less emphasis on the Leader's Messianic personality. Johnson's premise is that the Red Wall reacted to 40 unbroken years of active abandonment by casting the decisive votes in favour of Brexit, by voting for Corbyn's economic programme in 2017 when the Labour manifesto was still committed in black and white to Hard Brexit, and then by voting for him, Johnson, in 2019 because Starmer and his ilk had changed the Labour Party's Brexit policy.

In order to hold onto those seats, Johnson contends that not only must there be a full strength Brexit at the end of this year, but also, and made possible by that, there must be enormous public spending along, and to the benefit of, the Red Wall. That spending is made possible by the recognition of the principle that Corbyn and John McDonnell could never quite get past the Labour Party's labyrinthine committee system. A sovereign state with its own free floating, fiat currency has as much of that currency as it chooses to issue to itself, with readily available fiscal and monetary means of controlling inflation, means that must therefore be under democratic political control.

Starmer is the cry of rage against all of this. He is the howl of the people who had assumed that once they had installed their preferred Leader of the Labour Party, then the economic and foreign policy debates would once again have been closed, with the combination of neoliberalism and neoconservatism as the only permissible position. Accordingly, Britain would have stayed in the Single Market and the Customs Union. Everything would thus have been set up for a barely perceptible reaccession to the EU within 10 years.

We have yet to see what a Johnsonian foreign policy would look like. He wants to be Donald Trump, so expect it to be as far as from Starmerism as his economic policy was. Pretty much, we would go to war if our territory were invaded, or at a push if it were in imminent danger of being so, but absolutely not under any other circumstance. Any invasion of our territory is wildly improbable. So, again, it is for all practical purposes as if Corbyn had won.

Except that we would still be arming the likes of Saudi Arabia. But that is detrimental to the safety of our own streets, so Johnson might be amenable to change. He is not shy of the measures that would be necessary to diversify employment while retaining skills, in order to defend ourselves by getting out of the international arms trade. We never know where these things might end up. Or we do, and they are pointing at us.

To the Starmerites, however, Saudi Arabia is sacrosanct because it is the enemy of Iran, which is the enemy of Israel. Russia and China are qualified allies of Iran, so they are respectively the Red Menace and the Yellow Peril. And so on. The world is divided up into goodies and baddies, defined by Tel Aviv. Subtleties such as India's alliance with Russia are entirely lost. Narendra Modi is a firm friend of Benjamin Netanyahu, so he in on the side of the angels. And as an enemy of China, both directly and by its enmity with Pakistan, India is one of us, not one of them. It is all very simple. Everything is simple if you yourself are simple.

That brings us to Starmer's cack-handed intervention on Kashmir, which has lost Labour a million votes. Not only has the Red Wall only half-fallen, with the other half set to fall next time, but only the absence of an election has failed to bring home the collapse of Labour's Black Wall under Starmer. Nor do the two Walls merely run in parallel.

Until a few months ago, the Labour Party was led by the only Leader of any party whom the anti-racist movement had ever truly rated. He was one its staunchest supporters and participants in the House of Commons, and one of the longest-standing. He had been an active anti-racist since long, long, long before it had become fashionable, and his was not a vague, generic niceness about these matters, but a very high level of commitment to a very long list of highly specific causes.

By the starkest of contrasts, the Labour Party is now led by a former Director of Public Prosecutions. He has chosen to identify with those who took selfies with the corpses of black murder victims. He has tried to steal Marcus Rashford's dinner money. He has dismissed Black Lives Matter, for all its many faults, as a "moment". The statues of slave-traders are coming down now, but they remained standing under all past Labour Governments.

Starmer has pretended not to understand the term "defunding the Police", and he has ruled out its true meaning of "investing in programmes that actually keep us safe like youth services, mental health and social care, education, jobs and housing. Key services to support the most vulnerable before they come into contact with the criminal justice system." Yet that would in fact be perfectly compatible with Labour's 2017 and 2019 manifesto commitments to restore and increase funding of the Police, in need of reform though they obviously are. See above on how the money supply works.

Labour subscribes to the IHRA Definition, which is a denial of BAME, migrant and refugee experience redolent of the Windrush scandal and of the fire at Grenfell Tower. On the basis of that Definition, Labour has expelled Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Tony Greenstein, who were members in good standing even under Tony Blair.

Rebecca Long-Bailey has been sacked for having retweeted a link to an article that contained the previously uncontested statement, "The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd's neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services." If it has any consistency, then Labour will sack or expel anyone who objected to the Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley. Yet one's approach to the Palestinian struggle is the litmus test of one's attitude to white violence against people of colour throughout the world, including in Britain.

Labour no longer supports the Chagossian cause either in itself or in the person of Julian Assange. As has been mentioned, Labour no longer supports self-determination for Kashmir. It has replaced Diane Abbott with an all-white Home Office team that has been outflanked on the left by Priti Patel. It has promoted Jess Phillips. Its refusal to participate in Munira Mirza's new commission on inequality puts its supporters on the menu by denying them a place at the table.

Labour has a particular problem with black men. Only six black men have ever been Labour MPs. There are only three at the moment, with only two black men currently sitting as Labour Peers. There are fewer than 100 black men as Labour Councillors, and no black man in this century has sat either as a Labour Member of the London Assembly or as a member of the party's National Executive Committee.

Working-class pupils are twice as likely to be predicted an E grade, and black pupils' grades are staggeringly under-predicted, with only 39 per cent of predictions turning out to have been correct. Boys are also ill-served. 13 years of Labour Government did nothing to improve any of this. Quite the reverse, in fact. The people who make these mistakes are the backbone of the Labour Party's membership, and their children are the direct beneficiaries of the present system. Starmer is those members' choice as a potential Prime Minister.

The Labour Party's staff has been shown to be rampantly racist; one of those who have been so exposed has been calling me a "mulatto" since 2003, when he was on the staff of the then Government Chief Whip. And Labour has failed to oppose an early relaxation of the lockdown despite the far greater risk of Covid-19 to BAME people.

Covid-19 has put a lot of things into abeyance, but here along the Red Wall we are more than conscious of our newfound power, and we fully intend to use it. A rail link between Consett and Tyneside, you say, Richard Holden? And hospital provision in succession to Shotley Bridge? We are already impressed that you have secured the reversal of the increase in Vehicle Excise Duty on new motorhomes. Deliver these and other goods as well, and your majority of 1,144 could go up dramatically in 2024. But fail to do so, and it could disappear.

Along the Black Wall, you could have the same power. Some of you already do. Grenfell Tower is in a constituency that the Conservatives hold by 150 votes. Kensington is a Red Wall seat, just as there are major centres of BAME population in the North and in the Midlands. Know your strength. And use it.

Roll on Super Thursday, 6th May 2021. We are already planning to devastate the municipal Labour Right in the Red Wall areas. Do so in the Black Wall areas as well. Vote for whoever was best placed to defeat Labour in each ward. If necessary, organise those candidates. If necessary, be those candidates. Know your strength. And use it.

Use it ward by ward to vote for whoever was best placed to defeat Labour at next year's elections to Durham County Council. Deprive Labour of every seat, and then work with what came next. The most prized trophy of all is, of course, the Leader's seat. And the need to unseat this particular Leader demonstrates the fundamental unity between the Red Wall and the Black Wall.

That defeat would be heard from the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Kashmir, to Crimea, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia. We would make sure of that. Armed with an impeccably local running mate in order to stop the target from slipping through, some of us know just the man to do this. They would dance in the streets of the annexed Jordan Valley at his election, and not least at his election against this opponent. And we would show them doing it.

If you doubt that you could make Boris Johnson say that Britain was as racist as America, and then act accordingly as you directed, consider that we have got him to say that we had been left to rot for 40 years, necessitating enormous public spending on us, with that spending made possible by the acceptance of the principle of Modern Monetary Theory. If we can do this, then you could do that. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on. Know your strength. And use it.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Restore Dignity?

Take Up The White Man's Burden

The Conservative Party won 317 seats in 2017, the hardcore Tory heartlands. Send 10,000 Hongkongers to each of them. Let there be a new town in each of those leafy shire seats that were blue on the map every time. Anyone could live there, but the original 10,000 inhabitants would be Cantonese. Who could object to that?

There are also longstanding ties between Hong Kong and Northern Ireland, where it was said for many years, before the recent mass revival of Irish there, that Cantonese was the second most widely spoken first language. The 10 constituencies that elected DUP MPs in 2017 might therefore share the load. Seven of those would easily be rural enough to accommodate a new town apiece.

So that is 327 constituencies altogether. Take out the 24 most urban Conservative ones and the three DUP ones with the word Belfast in their names, and then build a new town, initially for 10,000 Hongkongers, in each of the remaining 300. "Ye dare not stoop to less."

Chinese Whispers

You whined for years about a few hundred thousand Poles (who are still here, by the way), but now you want to let in three million Cantonese, whom you went to enormous lengths to keep out when it mattered. And they are still not going to come.

China has not "crushed freedom" in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has never been free. The demonstrators there were often born after the handover, and they are almost never old enough to have lived under British rule as adults or as politically conscious teenagers.

Moreover, they are divided among themselves in a very important way. Some of them want an independent and democratic Hong Kong, while others want a democratic China. But none of them has any interest in the British tyranny, which was at its worst under the Labour Government of the late 1960s.

And they might want to go to the United States, especially the culturally East Asian cities of the Pacific Coast, or to the culturally East Asian and Pacific Islander cities of Australia, New Zealand, and the West Coast of Canada. But they have no interest in coming to Britain. Why would they want to do that?

There is nothing that Britain can do, anyway. Whereas when it comes to the forced sterilisations in Xinjiang, Britain has been funding the Chinese population control programme for as long as that has existed. 

In the way that people suddenly seem to have noticed the war in Afghanistan now that they can contrive an anti-Trump angle, so they suddenly seem to have noticed this, and only a small part of it at that, because it suits this week's news agenda.

But is Britain going to stop funding the Chinese population control programme? What do you think? We throw a tantrum where and because we are utterly impotent. Yet where we could at least do something, we do nothing. Of course.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Deal Us In

If you still believed in austerity, then you could always vote Labour. Let's see how many people will.

Or there are the Liberal Democrats, who spent five years in the Coalition that implemented austerity because they were in it. Such implementation has ceased since the Lib Dems stopped being in government. It is incontrovertible that it was the Conservative Party that was the moderating influence in the Coalition.

No, of course Boris Johnson's New Deal does not go anywhere near far enough. And yes, there will be trouble from sections of his own party. But it is a start, and it is a start that could not have been made by any of his predecessors since the Budget of December 1976. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with that Budget. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on.

National, Security

I loved The West Wing, but I knew it wasn't real.

We never used to have a National Security Adviser. Still less was the position merged with that of the Cabinet Secretary, reserving the Headship of the Civil Service to a securocrat. Nor are Civil Service appointments non-political. Nothing ever truly is, and the Establishment-Tory-cum-liberal-elite view of the world is as far from political neutrality as anything could possibly be.

We never used to have a National Security Council, either. That Cabinet within the Cabinet includes people with no direct connection to the parliamentary process, and who hold their current positions as stepping stones to highly lucrative employment in the arms industry.

And for what? We can do nothing about, say, Hong Kong, comical though it is to see the people who insisted on keeping its people out of Britain now wishing to create the possibility of importing three million Cantonese who in any case had no reason to feel any affection whatever towards this country. Do look up how we used to run the place.

And three million? That barely is "a city in China". That is a provincial town in China. There are a lot of Cantonese-speaking provincial towns, and quite a few of them are economically well-developed these days. "Why should this one be any different?" Why, indeed?

The main point, however, is that there is nothing that we can do about it. Absolutely nothing at all. Just as there would be nothing that we could do, even if we wanted to, in the dispute between the equally loathsome Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi high in the hills of Ladakh, which was also once part of the British Empire.

On either of those points, there would be little or nothing that the real National Security Adviser or the real National Security Council could do from Washington. Never mind the wannabes in London, which never used to have them.

Imagine

You ask why I did not think to ask the Great Man to contest Chester-le-Street West Central in 2017, at the height of the Teaching Assistants' campaign, and when I was in some of kind of contact with him at least once every day. Ah, the band before Yoko Pidcock.

I kick myself that I never did. But he was tied up with the Manchester Gorton by-election that never was, rolled up as it ended up being in the General Election of that year. And if anything he would pack an even harder punch by exorcising the Great Satan next year than he would have done four years earlier.

A Cop In An Expensive Suit?

I wouldn't pay much for it. But as he chooses to ally with those who take selfies of themselves with the corpses of murder victims, Keir Starmer knows perfectly well what "defunding the Police" means. What he pretended to believe that it meant has been going on for 10 years, and he wants to double down on it by returning to the austerity programme as a matter of principle.

But the real problem with either meaning is the same. It fails to take account of the fact that as a sovereign state with its own free floating, fiat currency, the United Kingdom has as much of that currency as it chooses to issue to itself, with readily available fiscal and monetary means of controlling inflation. Those means must therefore be under democratic political control.

Therefore, there is no reason not to honour Labour's 2017 and 2019 manifesto commitments to restore and increase funding of the Police, in need of reform though they obviously are, while also "investing in programmes that actually keep us safe like youth services, mental health and social care, education, jobs and housing. Key services to support the most vulnerable before they come into contact with the criminal justice system."

There is every reason to do both. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on.

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself

Boris Johnson is rumoured to be about to go all FDR on us later today. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, including the Single Market and the Customs Union, would provide a double opportunity, both to reorganise the British economy under State direction, and to begin to develop a fully independent British foreign policy, including in relation to the United States.

The Conservative Party has already been moving in those directions. We are entering a new pro-business age. The pro-business tradition came down to the Attlee Government from the ultraconservative figures of Colbert and Bismarck, via the Liberals Keynes and Beveridge, and it held sway in Britain until the Callaghan Government's turn to monetarism in 1976.

That tradition corresponds closely but critically to the Hamiltonian American School as expanded by the American System of Henry Clay, a pro-business tradition that between the 1860s and the 1970s worked to make the United States the world's largest economy, with the world's highest standard of living, culminating in the glorious achievements of the New Deal, which in turn made possible the rise and triumph of the Civil Rights movement.

With a strict division between investment banking and retail banking, large amounts of central government credit, at low interest rates and over a long term, would build great national projects, notably enormous expansions in infrastructure. Those would then pay for themselves many times over, ably assisted by pro-business tariffs and subsidies, and by a pro-business National Bank to promote the growth of productive enterprises rather than speculation.

A sovereign state with its own free floating, fiat currency has as much of that currency as it chooses to issue to itself, with readily available fiscal and monetary means of controlling inflation. Those means must therefore be under democratic political control.

And here we are. Good will come out of this. It is already beginning to do so. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Put Him Up Against The Wall

As England turns out to be the worst place in Europe for Covid-19, Keir Starmer says that the schools should have gone back earlier. 

This disgusting, evil man actively wants to kill off the Red Wall, which has already half-collapsed, with its other half universally expected to collapse next time. And this disgusting, evil man actively wants to kill off the Black Wall, which is collapsing before our very eyes specifically because of him. In both cases, he wants to do so by using children as biological weapons.

By 2024, the Red Wall will have been tilting towards collapse for 25 years. But the absence of an election is the only reason why the Black Wall has not already turned to dust, in the mere two and half months since Starmer became Labour Leader, and only because of him.

Both electorally and morally, Starmer is the worst Leader in the history of the Labour Party. Either of those would have been quite a feat, never mind both. But who cares? The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on.

Times Like These

How does Times Radio contribute to the plurality of voices? The position that unites almost all contributors to the Times, Telegraph and Guardian papers (read them blind and tell me that you can spot the difference) is already all over the airwaves as well.

These people are still furious that Leave won, that the coup against Jeremy Corbyn failed, that only the machinations of his party's own staff stopped him from becoming Prime Minister in 2017, that Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019, that Change UK never changed anything, that the Brexit Party topped the poll, that no Government of National Unity ever materialised, that the people and places that had delivered a Leave victory and a hung Parliament then delivered a huge majority for Johnson, and that Keir Starmer's Labour has still not attained the poll rating that Corbyn's Labour had when the party went down to its worst defeat in 84 years.

Oh, well, let them bellyache about it on the radio. They are the few. We are the many. They are the past. We are the future. They are the losers. We are the winners. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on.

The Blair Show


At the last Queen’s Speech before the 2001 general election, then Prime Minister Tony Blair scolded William Hague by telling him “you are the weakest link, goodbye” – a reference, according to Frank Millar, to Hague’s tendency to summarise his policies in six words.

This scripted dig at the ill-fated opposition leader also provided a parliamentary stamp of approval for Anne Robinson’s The Weakest Link, which had popularised the phrase as a final put-down to contestants who were eliminated from the show. The Weakest Link had premiered on 14 August 2000 on BBC Two, with host Anne Robinson, already a household BBC name, gaining a reputation for her sardonic taunting of contestants, scratching the hopeful gazes out of their eyes by exhibiting troubled personal lives and flaws of character.

The Weakest Link holds a warm place within public nostalgia for 2000s television, but last year old footage of the show resurfaced on social media which threw that into question. In one of her ‘spiky’ exchanges, Robinson notes that her contestant is a single mother to three boys, before subsequently asking “how many ASBOs?”, “how many of your three boys have got tags on their ankles?”, “are you on benefits?”, and “you didn’t go gay did you?” after forcing the contestant to reveal details of her broken down marriages. It beggars belief how conduct like this was treated as a palatable feature of daytime television less than two decades ago. 

This intrusive reproach and degradation of a woman demonstratively of a lower social class was not apropos of nothing, neither was Anne Robinson’s archetypal scolding a particularly exceptional feature of 2000s television. Rather, late ‘90s and 2000s television marks a period where television and popular culture was most intimately shaped and influenced by the political landscape – in this case, the benefits bashing of the New Labour years under Tony Blair. 

Gameshows, reality television, and comedies were the central genres of mainstream public broadcast which offered up those seeking fame, financial prosperity, or interventions in their personal lives for ritual humiliation to gratify middle-class attitudes towards lower social classes.

Blairism’s regular attacks on ‘scroungers’, ‘chavs’, single mothers, asylum seekers, and hooded youths provided a sheen of respectability to TV executives who made a career out of mocking Britain’s most marginalised, allowing it to become a pursuit of popular culture. It is not that the preceding Thatcher and Major administrations hated these groups any less, but the Conservatives did not possess the cultural cache to make hating them quite so widely accepted – this was the prerogative of the liberals.

It is not spurious or grasping to assert that the culture of exploitative 2000s television was distinctly Blairite. It is no coincidence that British shows like X Factor, Big Brother, Supernanny, Wife Swap, The Jeremy Kyle Show, Fat Families, and There’s Something About Miriam – all subject to controversy and retrospective denouncement for degrading ethnic minorities, working class people, fat people, queer and trans people, migrants, and other groups – emerged from that political era.

In fact, in 2008 the United Nations ordered New Labour to implement regulations to end the exploitation of children in reality television shows – a projected measure which, though not explicitly named, would cover the Channel 4 shows Supernanny and Wifeswap. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child made clear that these broadcasts were inextricably linked to New Labour’s Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) on children and teenagers, which enabled a “general climate of intolerance” towards British youth. 

The introduction of ASBOs by Tony Blair in 1998 followed his crass exploitation of the killing of James Bulger in 1993 after which, Peter Squires argues in ASBO Nation, he “challenged the ‘moral vacuum’ in society” with a “new call for respect”, at a time where “traditional moral and political ideas had lost their meaning.” The introduction of policies such as ASBOs enshrined an institutional response to what Blair considered the decline of ‘small c’ conservative traditional moral values.

Public moral panic over ‘ASBO’ children was indulged by Home Secretary Charles Clarke who, in 2005, announced that guidelines to police and local authorities would be issued to “name and shame” adults and children as young as 10 by publicising their names and photographs in leaflets, newspapers, television, and radio. Supernanny further enabled the public spectacle of ASBOs, which criminalised nuisance and implied that delinquent children presented an existential threat to national moral virtue. 

Premiering in 2004, a year which saw the Home Office provide 1,826 ASBOs in the first 9 months alone, Supernanny imported professional nanny Jo Frost as an archetypal scolding British figure, much like Anne Robinson, whose purpose was to discipline unruly children.

The reality show helped to calcify public attitudes towards ‘unruly children’ and their ‘irresponsible parents’ with local papers reporting the introduction of ‘Supernanny plans’ to expand the ASBO regime to compulsory parenting orders. This era wasn’t just a cultural residue of Blairism, there was an active relationship between reality entertainment and popular political consciousness – with television shaping policy and policy shaping television.

Television promoting individualised interventions to fix the social deprivation which correlated with ‘bad behaviour’ could also be found in a number of shows arising under New Labour which focused on fat people and their diets. Dieting programme You Are What You Eat debuted on Channel 4 in 2004, Supersize vs Superskinny in 2008, and Fat Families aired on Sky 1 in 2010. In 2009, the Channel 4 show Girls And Boys Alone received upward of 180 complaints to OFCOM for “child abuse and cruelty,” being labelled a “ridiculous freak show” as it followed the lives of children with weight issues.

In 2006, Blair opined that public health issues, such as obesity, routinely described as a “pandemic” amongst children, could be resolved by individual lifestyle changes, claiming that it was the job of ministers to “empower the individual, rather than command.” This neoliberal governance and responsibilisation of ill-health was true to New Labour’s maintenance of the Thatcherite consensus of good health being a matter of individual will.

The philosopher Lauren Berlant in Slow Death describes this phenomenon as the “moral science of biopolitics, which links the political administration of life to a melodrama of the care of the monadic self.” The melodrama of self-governed care found validation in such television programmes which dramatised individual diets as extreme and shocking. Supersize vs Superskinny saw weekly meals and snacks piled on to a scale to emphasise the calories, sugar and saturated fat content of fat people’s ‘extreme diets’ –  confirming public health as a matter of individual management, rather than state strategy, to the average British audience.

Blairism’s cultural impact was significant, coming in many ways to represent the political wing of ‘Britpop’ and ‘Cool Brittania.’ But as Blair’s guitar-playing youthful appeal declined so did Britpop, as the optimism of the 1990s gave way to the War on Terror 2000s. Sure enough, shortly after the Iraq War came the X Factor

Once again, the show was built around the derogatory behaviour of Simon Cowell – who would mock the personal failings of contestants who dared to dream they, too, might have a shot at the celebrity millions Blairism persuaded so many were within their reach. This was well integrated in the grey, market-oriented landscape of 00s Britain – where talent shows like the X Factor enforced the most cramped, conformist, individualised, and competitive neoliberal views of what constituted music-making and musical talent. 

But perhaps no show inculcated the social attitudes which defined Blairism more than Channel 4’s Big Brother, which brought reality television to a new level of popularity in 2003. Descended from a Dutch original, the British version of Big Brother was produced by Endemol UK Ltd, then headed by Sir Peter Bazalgette. Even the Daily Mail, when criticising Bazalgette’s inclusion in a New Year honour list, described Bazalgette and Big Brother as having “institutionalised the disgusting culture of voyeurism, humiliation and cruelty which has so degraded television and the society it serves.”  

It is beyond dispute by this stage that Big Brother encouraged vicious vilification of the working-class. A key example was breakout star and working-class Bermondsey resident Jade Goody from the third series of the show who, aged just 20 when cast in 2002, was treated with cruel contempt by the tabloid press. 

This took place during a particularly shameful chapter under New Labour, where the fear of “chavs” was epidemic and their access to wealth was treated as offensive. Social mobility was a core feature of the Blairite philosophy, but only if achieved through the legitimate means of “education, education, education” – with the unsurprising consequence, as a Resolution Foundation study found, that that “those at the bottom were less far likely to move up a substantial distance than those in the middle.” 

Channel 4 had radical roots – and its path from there to hosting such reactionary drivel were a long-term consequence of Thatcher’s deregulation of broadcasting. As The Guardian, “probably not anticipating that [Channel 4] would popularise fiercely anti-establishment output” after helping to create it in 1982, Thatcher introduced the Broadcasting Act 1990 to liberalise and deregulate the broadcasting industry, and abolish the Independent Broadcasting Authority which had regulated ITV and Channel 4.  

Though it narrowly escaped privatisation, this competition-driven deregulation of Channel 4 was consolidated by New Labour and, as a result, shows like Big Brother benefited from more “light touch” regulation. Channel 4, once home to the cultural outputs of marginalised and radical voices, over time became a network responsible for savaging the lower classes – contempt for which was bred by New Labour’s particularly punitive and humiliating social policies on welfare, housing, and bizarre justice policy which at one point sought to assess every child in the country to determine their risk of offending. 

The cultural imprint of Blairism means that the broadcasting output of the 2000s, perhaps unlike any other era in modern British history, can be defined by an open, pro-establishment hostility to marginalised people, in which entertainment and politics were engaged in reciprocal dialogue. The 2000s is often regarded as a relatively culture-less decade, driving interest in the internet and on-demand television thereafter, but the essence of its cultural identity is surely the shameful toxicity of reality television – and how this was enabled by the state and political class.

Charge

It would be very Dominic Cummings to abolish the Crown Prosecution Service.

There would be a return to the system whereby any firm of high street solicitors had at least one partner whose specialisms included prosecution, so that prosecution work, instructed by the Police, was incorporated into the firm's ordinary caseload.

"I was the Director of Public Prosecutions, you know." You were the what, luv?

How Labour Lost The Working Class


A recent report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that in the 2019 election more low-income voters backed the Conservatives than Labour for the first time ever. 

The Conservatives were, in fact, more popular with low-income voters than they were with wealthier ones. There is one glaringly obvious reason for this: Brexit. 

Pro-Remain groups spending a lot of time – and money – attempting to convince others on the Left that the only people who voted Leave were posh old homeowners nostalgic for the days of empire. 

While such voters were undoubtedly a powerful element in the Leave coalition, they could never have won the referendum on their own.

The Leave campaign succeeded because it tapped into the same anti-establishment energy that propelled Jeremy Corbyn to leader of the Labour Party in 2015 – and nearly into Downing Street in 2017.

During the election, I spoke to voters up and down the country who expressed the same sentiment: with the entire British establishment united behind Remain, they finally had a chance to kick back at a political class they felt had cheated their communities over many years. 

Remainers were fond of telling these voters how nonsensical this perspective was but, shockingly, that didn’t seem to change many minds.

By 2019, even voters who hadn’t strongly favoured Leave in 2016 were appalled at the idea of holding another divisive referendum – and the condescending attitude of Remainers telling voters that they ‘didn’t know what they were voting for’ didn’t help. 

The vote to leave the European Union and the election of Jeremy Corbyn are often placed in the same category of ‘populist backlash’ by members of the liberal commentariat trying to understand why voters turned against the sensible, middle-of-the-road politics of the pre-financial crisis era.

The disdain these people show for ‘populism’ notwithstanding, there is an element of truth to the comparison.

The economic malaise into which the British economy – and many other advanced economies – sank in the wake of the financial crisis pulled the rug out from underneath those who had banked on the idea that the promises of the bubble economy would come true.

House prices would rise forever, employment would continue growing and living standards would continue rising. We had, after all, overcome boom and bust.

In the years that followed, the realisation slowly dawned on many people that this promise had been a fantasy.

Aware that if politics remained the same things would be unlikely to get better – and would in fact be likely to get worse – these voters sought out ways to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. 

Voting Labour was not one of the options they considered to do so.

In part, this was the result of the insipid politics adopted by successive Labour leaders in the post-crisis era, but it was also a reflection of a much longer-standing trend.

Ever since 1997, low-income voters have been deserting the Labour Party at each election – but rather than voting Tory, they have simply dropped out of the electorate altogether. 

As Geoff Evans and James Tilley show in their book The New Politics of Class, prior to 1997 there were fewer non-voters, and whether one voted was not correlated with social class.

In every election since, the relationship between voting status and class has strengthened as working-class voters have dropped out of the electorate – the natural result of a New Labour electoral strategy based on the idea that working-class voters had nowhere else to go. 

Brexit was the issue that finally encouraged many of these voters to re-engage with electoral politics. Many previous non-voters turned out to vote Leave and some of those same voters turned out again to support Jeremy Corbyn in 2017.

But in 2019, they were disproportionately likely to vote for the Conservatives. 

The last few years suggest that whichever party can most effectively channel the anti-establishment energy simmering below the surface of our society is the party which will win elections.

Most people in this country detest the British establishment. Trust in our politicians, in our media and in business is desperately low.

In other words, most people don’t trust the elites who have gained a stranglehold on political and economic power in this country and used it to marginalise the most vulnerable. 

Whether the message is ‘take back control’ of our politics from the European Union, or take back control of our economy from the bosses and bankers, the only way to win a majority today is by promising to give people a sense of power over their lives.

The Conservatives have won over working-class voters by making such a promise, but it won’t be long before events reveal quite how hollow Boris Johnson’s words really were.

Rather than benefitting Labour under Starmer, however, it seems likely that such a realisation will discourage many working-class people from bothering to vote again.

That conclusion has the danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on.

To Declare A Conclusive Victory Is Premature

Iain Dalton writes:

Leaked reports emerged in mid-June that the government was looking at relaxing Sunday trading legislation for a year. This was rumoured to be proposed very quickly in the government’s Coronavirus Recovery Bill.

The current legislation means large retail stores can only open for six hours on a Sunday between the hours of 10am and 6pm, giving many retail workers one evening they know they can spend with their family.

Until this announcement Usdaw officially had a position of passivity in the face of the growing undermining of Sunday opening restrictions, such as several local authorities relaxing enforcement and Morrisons blatantly opening for longer hours, summed up in many Usdaw members receiving the latest issue of Usdaw’s Arena magazine with Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis saying the union “are not going to pursue this”.

Fortunately, since that announcement campaigning has been ramped up with a tool for members to write to MPs, and a survey of members. The survey revealed that an overwhelming 92% of members are opposed to longer opening hours for large stores, whilst 51% wanted to work fewer hours on Sunday (only 3% wanted to work longer hours).

It is this anger amongst retail workers which has led to the rebellion amongst backbench Tory MPs which means these proposals are not going to be in the Coronavirus Recovery Bill now. However, given Boris Johnson has been stating to the press that “...we will keep measures such as extending Sunday trading hours under review...” then to declare a conclusive victory is premature.

Elect Ability

You do realise, don't you, that I have been there and done that? I have stood for Lanchester Parish Council four times, three of them successfully. I have stood for Derwentside District Council. I have stood for Durham County Council. 

I have stood for Council of Governors of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust; the first time I was elected unopposed, and the second time I lost by four votes on a recount. I have stood for Parliament, which you all said that I would never do. I also served eight years as a governor of a primary school, and eight years as a governor of a comprehensive school.

So I have nothing to prove. And so much for being "an eccentric loner". Check out the endorsements of my books on that one, too. Check out my character witnesses. Check out my Campaign Patrons, and who proposed me for Parliament. But I am too ill for elections now. In any case, it is time for people whom the voters might like better. It cannot be said that I never tried.

Any later than 2007, when I was elected to the Parish Council for the third time, nowhere could have expressed a clearer view of my electability or otherwise than Lanchester has. When the time came, then it would richly deserves the beautifully alliterative name of my peerage. The people who decide these things are not everyone who might turn up at random on a jury.

More immediately, Ward by Ward, vote for whoever was best placed to defeat Labour at next year's elections to Durham County Council. Deprive Labour of every seat, and then work with what came next. The most prized trophy of all is, of course, the Leader's seat. And the unseating of this particular Leader is a matter of national and international importance.

It would be heard from the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Kashmir, to Crimea, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia. We would make sure of that. Armed with an impeccably local running mate in order to stop the target from slipping through, some of us know just the man to do this. They would dance in the streets of the annexed Jordan Valley at his election, and not least at his election against this opponent. And we would show them doing it. The Internet was invented for this.

Greener On The Other Side

In Ireland, the Greens are in government both with Fianna Fáil (not for the first time) and with Fine Gael. In Austria, the Greens are in government with the ÖVP.

To define the ÖVP as Christian Democratic would be like defining the Conservative Party as Shire Tory. That is still there, especially at local level. But it is not what it was.

And what there is instead of it in Britain, there also is in Austria. And in Ireland. In coalition with the Greens. Given the opportunity, then the Greens would do the same here.

Ward Word

I'm flattered. Of course I am. But I now have a third chronic health condition, and although it is awaiting a specific diagnosis, this one is in my chest.

So there will be no more elections for me. Not even, as some of you have so temptingly suggested, for Durham County Council in its Stanley Ward. That would have been fun, but it is not to be.

One of the Councillors there would be a loss to the Left, but I have known her for as long as I have been politically active. So, like several others, she knows that what I am about to say is nothing personal.

Ward by Ward, vote for whoever was best placed to defeat Labour at next year's elections to Durham County Council. Deprive Labour of every seat, and then work with what came next.

But yes, Stanley is a trophy this time. With two seats to fill, there need to be two non-Labour candidates, both on the same ticket.

The most prized trophy of all is, of course, the Leader's seat. And the unseating of this particular Leader is a matter of national and international importance.

It would be heard from the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Kashmir, to Crimea, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia. We would make sure of that.

Armed with an impeccably local running mate in order to stop the target from slipping through, some of us know just the man to do this.

They would dance in the streets of the annexed Jordan Valley at his election, and not least at his election against this opponent. And we would show them doing it. The Internet was invented for this.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

On This Rock

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam Meam.

Considering the claims that the See of Rome makes, then, while individual Popes might be or have been charlatans or lunatics, the institution itself is either telling the truth in making those claims, or else it is indeed the Antichrist, and any professing Christian who does not submit to Rome on Rome’s own terms must believe it to be so.

Who will call good evil by pointing to the Papacy’s defence and promotion of metaphysical realism, of Biblical historicity, of credal and Chalcedonian orthodoxy, of the sanctity of human life, of Biblical standards of sexual morality, of social justice, and of peace, and by then saying, “Behold, the Antichrist”? That is the question.

Ah, Faith of Our Fathers. Father Faber, like a striking number of Tractarian or Tractarian-influenced converts, had an ancestry that was largely Huguenot (as is part of mine, although another side is Highland Catholic). So his “fathers chained in prisons dark” were not quite as his thoroughly rousing hymn would suggest.

Buy the book here.

Priti Clear

Even Priti Patel says that the second spike is coming. That was the interesting and important thing that she said today. Not that brown women could be right-wing; anyone with a Saint Helenian background already knew that in detail. But that the second spike was coming. Almost in passing, even Priti Patel has said it.

What Matters

The “no recourse to public funds” rule has been, and remains, central to the Windrush scandal. But it does not apply if you come from the European Economic Area. Every country in the EEA is overwhelmingly white, and many of them are more or less entirely so.

Like the EU’s leaving of black people to drown in the Mediterranean as they attempt to flee from the slave markets that have been restored by our intervention in Libya, this matters. The name of John Wayne Airport does not matter.

And the American paleoconservatives abominate the name of Woodrow Wilson, a man about whom there is undoubtedly plenty to dislike. This could be a paleocon-neocon moment of the kind that has been due for quite some time. Especially since the paleocons do not like Abraham Lincoln much, either.

Beyond The North-West Frontier

The Taliban are not killing American troops at the moment. The Americans are still bombing them, but on the ground they currently have a ceasefire against the Americans. Of course, they are still attacking the forces of the puppet regime in Kabul.

And back when the Taliban were indeed killing American troops, then no one needed to pay them to do it. Least of all would they have taken such payment from the successors of the Soviet invaders against whom they were created. Created, that is, by the United States.

This is a staggering front for Joe Biden to open up. It draws attention to the fact that a war that he has always enthusiastically supported, and enthusiastically prosecuted as Vice President, is still going on after 18 years. "Osama bin Laden is dead"? So what?

The Tactics Used

When a newspaper publishes an interview with a celebrity, then the article is written by the interviewer, not by the interviewee.

Neither the interviewer nor the editor necessarily keeps in any and every political opinion that the interviewee might have expressed. They do not even do that when interviewing a politician.

So when The Independent published the words of Maxine Peake, “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services,” then it knew that, as a factual statement, those words were perfectly accurate.

Only once they had become the excuse for what had always been the planned defenestration of Rebecca Long-Bailey did The Independent recant to order, as the entire Liberal Establishment fell over itself to pretend, almost literally, that black was white.

But only in Britain is this happening. Peake’s original statement remains confirmed by the Minneapolis Police Department itself, by extensive coverage on the Jewish Virtual Library, and by numerous articles in Haaretz.

Until Thursday afternoon, it was uncontentious. Some people deplored it. Other people defended it. But nobody denied it. Outside Britain, they still don’t.

No Longer Unduly Detained

Are David Davis and Steve Baker rampaging Black Lives Matter types? They are trying to limit the detention of asylum seekers to 28 days, and to subject the detention centres to judicial oversight. 

Notice that it has taken them to do this. This amendment has not been tabled by a former Director of Public Prosecutions, much less by his all-white, Far Right Shadow Home Office team. Are they even going to vote for it?

The Red Wall has half-fallen, the other half will fall next time (taking down the Shadow Home Secretary, among a great many other people), and the Black Wall will fall with it. We need no longer be unduly detained by the Labour Party.

The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on.

There Is No Culture War

There was no clash of civilisations, and there is no culture war.

There is a Conservative overall majority of 80 in the House of Commons. That House has just passed no-fault divorce without a vote. It had previously imposed abortion on Northern Ireland.

The appointment of Kate Green shows that the unions have never been weaker in the Labour Party, so do not look to that for any opposition to the deregulation of Sunday trading even if there were indeed to be 50 Conservative rebels, as there almost certainly will not be.

And the Government will not even mention the role of cannabis in numerous acts of extreme violence. Without anything so vulgar as an Act of Parliament, cannabis is now legal for all practical purposes.

What else could anyone possibly expect from Boris Johnson, or from Donald Trump? There is no culture war. There cannot be a war if only one side is fighting it.

Far Greater Danger


If I ever feel the need to have several nice cold buckets of slime tipped over my head, I point out that most of the supposed terrorist attacks in this country are, in fact, the work of solitary drug-crazed losers.

The drug involved is most often marijuana, though steroids are also increasingly implicated, as are some prescription medications. 

But it is mainly marijuana, which is just now the subject of a huge billionaire-backed campaign to allow it to be advertised on TV and sold in supermarkets. Yes, that is what legalisation means.

Within seconds one choir of morons will be yelling that I am ‘an apologist for Islamic terror’. No, I am not. I hate terrorism of all kinds and wish we did not give into it so often. 

As I turn to deal with them, a second choir of morons will begin to howl that marijuana has no links with mental illness or crime, is a valuable medicine, and how dare I damage its chances of being legalised? 

They have half a point. It should not be legalised, and I will do all in my power to prevent that happening. 

But that is because there are mountains of evidence of its connections with mental illness and with violence. This danger is getting harder to contest every day.

So here comes the slime, the dimwit screeches and the self-interested squawks. Because the official claim that the dreadful slayings in a Reading park last weekend were ‘terrorism’ is so absurd that it simply has to be countered.

This belief actually leaves us in more danger, not less, because it means we look in the wrong direction and take precautions against the wrong menace.

First is the obvious question. What conceivable cause could have been helped by this frightful crime? None. Anyone identified with it would have earned nothing but hate and fury.

Terrorists have purposes, and all too often attain them. This had no purpose. It is not even very clear what religion the alleged culprit followed. 

Next we must come to this suspect. Of course he may be innocent of the accusation and we must wait for a trial to establish that.

But I am interested in the way that a large part of the Establishment have dealt with the fact that this alleged culprit has been described by friends as a marijuana user. There’s no serious doubt about it. 

Photographs have been published showing him holding what looks very much like a marijuana cigarette, which we all nowadays knowingly call a joint or a spliff, as we have become used to the utter failure of the police to control or suppress this crime. 

Did the Home Secretary mention this in her statement on the Reading killings? I couldn’t find it if so. But she prosed on about ‘poisonous extremist ideology’. Downing Street was the same.

Did police chiefs mention it? Again, I can’t find any trace of them doing so. Several newspapers and broadcasters also failed to mention this key fact about the suspect. 

The Left-wing Guardian [hardly; Hitchens is only doing the liberal elite’s dirty work by so describing it] even managed to publish the picture of him with the joint in his hand, but cut out that part of the photograph. Someone must have decided to do that. 

The ridiculously biased Wikipedia, which really should be renamed ‘Wokipedia’, managed to create an entire entry about the crime without mentioning the suspect’s drugs use.

But all gave plenty of space to the tenuous theories about his supposed connections to terrorism. I promise you that all of us are now in far greater danger from a random attack by a person made mentally ill by marijuana than we are from terror.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

To Make A Point

Keir Starmer only ever appointed Rebecca Long-Bailey in order to make a point of sacking her, and it is inconceivable that she did not realise that from the start.

Now a strongly anti-austerity and pro-Brexit voice from the North has been purged, and a confrontation with the unions has been contrived over when the schools should go back.

Any excuse would have done, even if it had had to be made up. As, in fact, it was.

Newspapers do not just include every political opinion that a celebrity interviewee might have proffered. They check. They check very, very carefully.

At the time that The Independent published its interview with Maxine Peake, which was not an article written by her, then these words of hers were universally acknowledged as an uncontentious statement of fact. For so they are:

“The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

As Soon As Possible?

This Kate Green person was never previously notable for anything other than having chaired Owen Smith's Leadership campaign, and that is hardly a distinction worth putting on your CV.

She now says that her priority is, "to work with parents, teachers and unions to get schools back as soon as possible." That's it. Just "as soon as possible".

No mention of safety. No mention of the quality of the education. No mention of the second spike that is well on the way for later this summer and into the autumn. Just "as soon as possible".

By the way, huge numbers of the people who voted for Keir Starmer for Leader of the Labour Party were teachers. More fools them.

Shades of Green

This is what true decadence looks like. This is a political order on the very cusp of collapse, a cusp to which the ornaments of that order are entirely oblivious.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are now so sunk in their own entitlement that they have agreed to alternate the office of Taoiseach between them. And they have agreed to do so pursuant to the result of a General Election that they both lost.

Their problem with Sinn Féin is not its left-wing economic radicalism. Sinn Féin has been in government in the other part of Ireland for a very long time, and there is absolutely no sign of any left-wing economic radicalism there.

Nor do they want to keep out Sinn Féin because it has a history of political violence. Neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael can say anything about that, any more than can the DUP, whose Ulster Resistance has never so much as declared a ceasefire.

No, Fianna Fáil's and Fine Gael's problem with Sinn Féin is that it is not them. It is not in their club. The club that the Green Party has decided to join. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are so far gone that they cannot see what it means that between them they cannot now muster an overall majority in the Dáil without a third partner.

Just as Greens in Britain always have to be asked the Yes-No question, "Do you regret the defeat of the miners in 1985?", so the Irish Greens will forever hereafter have to be asked the Yes-No question of whether they stood by their decision to keep the Gombeen State going for a couple more years, if that.

Straddling the Border, seven elderly men are also on a cusp. They are on the cusp of making it as big as London's much-derided Governments in Exile of this or that Eastern European country made it 30 years ago. That may be a good thing. It may be a bad thing. But it is the only thing that matters.

Which Side Are You On?

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not a supporter of Black Lives Matter, as such, any more than I am a supporter of the present Palestinian leadership, as such.

The self-appointed Black Lives Matter in Britain has no affiliation to the self-appointed Black Lives Matter  in the United States, but it has cornered the market in the name, and it endorses the very deep and wide political agenda, many of which are problematic in the extreme. Still, like the Palestinian leadership, it is what there is. For now.

As has been mentioned to me after my post about not removing statues or pictures of Jesus, Black Lives Matter has not called for that, white liberals just seem to be offering it anyway, and those who are to varying degrees Black Lives Matter supporters have a far higher than average chance of being regular churchgoers. Like Palestinians, in fact.

Whereas Israel will refuse your application under the Law of Return if you have been baptised in infancy, and as it prepares to annex the Jordan Valley, then consider that its governing coalition includes people who believe that there is a religious obligation to burn down churches. That certainly puts the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in some perspective. This is what a real culture war looks like. Which side are you on?

Come to that, in the phoney culture war in Britain, which side is the Government on? With a Conservative majority of 80, the House of Commons has just given no-fault divorce a Third Reading without a vote. Throughout its parliamentary progress, that Bill received almost no media scrutiny. 

Next up, the age-old Thatcherite dream of deregulating Sunday trading. Such is the decracinated character of the Labour Leadership and parliamentary contingent these days that the unions will have a job holding the line against that one this time. But they could probably still pull it off. As for 50 Conservative rebels, however, believe in them when you see them.

There is no culture war in Britain. For there to be a war, then here have to be at least two sides fighting.

"Can The Cushite Change His Skin?"

Stoned, just you wait and see, this Sudanese ran amok in Glasgow, ostensibly because he could not get access to halal food, which is in fact readily available in that city.

What, black and Muslim? Then we don't know whether to call this "gang-related" or "a terrorist incident". So we are just going to have to call it neither. As if the stoned perpetrator were white.

"Who Do You Say That I Am?"

Taking down statues and pictures of Jesus would provoke a terrible backlash, and would in any case be wrong in its own terms.

Portrayals of Jesus in the West do tend to be white, so the trick is to bring in representations of Him from elsewhere, not in place of those, but alongside them.

Depicting Him as the ancient indigenous Christians of the Middle East have always done, as looking like themselves, would raise a lot of very pertinent questions in a lot of people's minds.

That Black Is White

“The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

If John Rentoul believes that The Independent might have published those words without first having triple-checked, not only that Maxine Peake had uttered them, but that they were factually accurate in themselves, then he ought to resign from its employ.

Until Thursday afternoon, some people decried this Israeli instruction industry, and other people defended it, but nobody denied or disputed that it existed. Then, however, it became the means to what had always been the intended purge of Rebecca Long-Bailey. So now the entire Liberal Establishment is almost literally saying that black is white.

Not that the Government has said anything about this, and that cannot only be because it welcomes the distraction from Robert Jenrick, whom the useless Keir Starmer had already let off the hook. In any case, the Labour Right is up to its eyes in dodgy deals with property developers, and 20 years ago Richard Desmond gave it £100,000 to allow him to buy Express Newspapers. £12,000 is chickenfeed.

Moreover, it makes the case for alternative centres of comment, research and activism that people the corners of whose triangle are the official London media, liberal academia, and right-wing Labour politics, assume a strong Zionism or a sort of explicit philo-Semitism in the electorate at large.

That is simply not there. The idea that Jeremy Corbyn was brought down by allegations of anti-Semitism is absurd whether it is voiced by his defenders or by his detractors. Corbyn very nearly became Prime Minister in 2017, and he went down to a catastrophic defeat in 2019 only because he had given in to Starmer over Brexit. His original pro-Brexit and anti-austerity stance was so popular that the Government has broadly adopted it, both in order to hold onto the Red Wall, and because nothing else works. 

In the official London media, in liberal academia, and in right-wing Labour politics, then one in three people whom you know may be Jewish, and Jewish in a very particular way. But there are not well over 20 million Jews in Britain. On the principle of matrilineal descent, there are not 20 million Jews in the world.

And the rapidly growing section of the British Jewish population is the Haredim. Those have little or no connection to things like the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, and the Community Security Trust. But they do maintain close ties to their MPs such as Long-Bailey, Diane Abbott and Ian Mearns, as well as to Corbyn.

Alternative centres of comment, research and activism. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on. And nothing could better embody the blow to the hegemony, if not necessarily of the official London media, then certainly of liberal academia and of right-wing Labour politics, than the loss of his seat next year by the Leader of Durham County Council. Some of us know just the man to do it.

Remain?

Some of us will never believe that Jeremy Corbyn voted Remain. Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray, Andrew Fisher, Tariq Ali, Dennis Skinner and Ronnie Campbell are among those who might enlighteningly be asked the Yes-No question, "Do you believe that Jeremy Corbyn voted Remain?"

But three members of his Shadow Cabinet undoubtedly voted Leave: Richard Burgon, who once told me that, "My politics are simply the Morning Star"; Ian Lavery, Arthur Scargill's handpicked successor as President of the NUM; and Jon Trickett, the last of Tony Benn's Vicars on Earth. Well, apart from Corbyn, that is.

All three of Burgon, Lavery and Trickett have strongly supported Rebecca Long-Bailey. Trickett is Jewish, as is Jon Lansman, who was also very close to Benn, and who has also come out fighting for Long-Bailey. Lansman has been very fiercely criticised indeed for his zeal in pursuing allegations of anti-Semitism on the Left. Frankly, much of that criticism has been well-founded. If he says that something is not anti-Semitic, then that really ought to be good enough for anyone.

Lavery and Trickett have also done sterling work on why Labour lost the Red Wall. It moved from the pro-Brexit and anti-austerity party that only its own staff could stop from winning in 2017, to being the anti-Brexit party that went down to a catastrophic defeat in 2019, and which is now reverting to its pre-Corbyn support for austerity as well.

Lo and behold, it has never under Keir Starmer got back up to the poll rating that delivered its worst defeat in 80 years. But no one in Labour is listening. Whereas the other side seems to know exactly who brought it to the dance, merrily implementing the economic programme that Corbyn and John McDonnell could never quite get through Labour's labyrinthine committee system. 

Since no one in the Government has expressed the ludicrous view that The Independent might have published Maxine Peake's original words without checking them, then perhaps Long-Bailey should seek some sort of consultancy role with the Government?

The Government's economic programme is much more in line with Long-Bailey's views than Labour's is, and the Government is on course to condemn the impending Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley, rather than to expel from party membership anyone who did. The Budget of March 2020 has ended the era that began with the Budget of 1976. The Centre is the think tank for this new era. It already has plenty going on.