Friday 30 May 2014

Caught In The Hoops

Yes, Joey Barton won Question Time.
But it remains impossible to imagine that anyone with his record who was not a footballer would even be allowed in the audience, never mind on the panel.
And the main point remains that he has never been elected to anything in his life. If, as is long-overdue, the BBC wants working-class voices, then it ought to start with very many of that huge majority of MPs which is never, ever, ever allowed on television.
Barton will probably now be on Piers Morgan's Life Stories, though. Will David Dimbleby?

A Load of Thurrocks

If UKIP supporters knew anything at all about, well, anything at all, then they would know that Labour-Conservative coalitions are, and have always been, perfectly normal in local government. Why would that not be the case?
As is their right, the voters of Thurrock have delivered a hung council. Any two parties could have banded together. Labour and the Conservatives have managed to do so.
Whining Kippers are just sore losers who, moreover, have absolutely no idea how politics works.
What do they think that local councils do? What would a UKIP council do? Pass a monthly resolution to pull out of the EU, but never empty the bins or cut the grass, that's what.
Most UKIP Councillors will not last two years before they get bored and clear off. Leaving their communities with the cost of by-elections.

Thursday 29 May 2014

God Is Gone Up

Allelúja, allelúja.

Ascéndit Deus in jubilatióne, et Dóminus in voce tubæ.

I did get to the Extraordinary Form today. I like the traddies when they are not being silly in their various ways. Or using the Telegraph as an all-male dating agency and a vehicle for their un-Catholic political opinions.

Bours Together

Louise van de Bours MEP (she uses an Anglicised version in order to get on in UKIP) has come on very quickly indeed.
She is on Question Time within one week of her election.
Alongside Joey Barton, no less.
But I do not understand the widespread objection to Piers Morgan in this capacity.

As Editor of the Daily Mirror, he was one of very few senior journalists to see through the case for the Iraq War from the start, and to say so in no uncertain terms.

On This Oak Apple Day

The Whig Revolution of 1688 led to very deep and very wide disaffection among Catholics, High Churchmen, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.

Within those subcultures, long after the death of the Stuart cause as such with Cardinal York in 1807, there persisted a feeling that Hanoverian Britain, her Empire, and that Empire’s capitalist ideology, imported and at least initially controlled from William of Orange’s Netherlands, were less than fully legitimate.

This was to have startlingly radical consequences.

First in seventeenth-century England and then in the eighteenth-century France that looked to that precedent, gentry-cum-mercantile republican absolutism was an inversion of Jean Bodin’s princely absolutism, itself an Early Modern aberration.

But what of the creation of a gentry-cum-mercantile republic in the former American Colonies? Did it, too, ultimately derive from reaction against the Stuarts, inverting their newfangled ideology against them?

No, it ultimately derived from loyalty to them, a loyalty which regarded the Hanoverian monarchy as illegitimate.

Since 1776 predates 1789, the American Republic is not a product of the Revolution, but nevertheless sits under a radically orthodox theological critique, most obviously by reference to pre-Revolutionary traditions of Catholic and Protestant republican thought.

On the Catholic side, that is perhaps Venetian. On the Protestant side, it is perhaps Dutch. On both sides, it is perhaps to be found at cantonal level in Switzerland, where it is possible that such thought might hold sway even now.

There simply were Protestant Dutch Republics before the Revolution. There simply was a Catholic Venetian Republic before the Revolution. There simply were, and there simply are, Protestant and Catholic cantons in Switzerland, predating the Revolution. The literature must be there, for those who can read the languages sufficiently well.

Furthermore, there is no shortage of Americans whose ancestors came from the Netherlands or from Italy, and there may well be many who assume from their surnames that their bloodline is German or Italian (or possibly French) when in fact it is Swiss.

It is time for a few of them to go looking for these things, with a view to applying them as the radically orthodox theological critique of that pre-Revolutionary creation, the American Republic.

Within that wider context, far more Jacobites went into exile from these Islands than Huguenots sought refuge here.

The Jacobites founded the Russian Navy of Peter the Great. They maintained a network of merchants in the ports circling the Continent. Their banking dynasties had branches in several great European cities. They introduced much new science and technology to their host countries. They dominated the Swedish East India and Madagascar Companies. They fought with the French in India.

And very many of them ended up either in the West Indies or in North America. New York seems the most obvious place to look for them, being named after its initial proprietor as a colony, the future James VII and II.

The Highlanders in North Carolina spoke Gaelic into the 1890s, but in vain had the rebellious legislature there issued a manifesto in that language a century earlier: like many people of directly Scots rather than of Scots-Irish origin or descent, they remained loyal to the Crown during the Revolutionary War.

However, there were many Jacobite Congregationalists, such as Edward Roberts, the exiled James’s emissary to the anti-Williamite Dutch republics, and Edward Nosworthy, a gentleman of his Privy Council both before and after 1688. There was that Catholic enclave, Maryland.

And there was Pennsylvania: almost, if almost, all of the Quakers were at least initially Jacobites, and William Penn himself was arrested for Jacobitism four times between 1689 and 1691.

Many Baptists were also Jacobites, and the name, episcopal succession and several other features of the American Episcopal Church derive, not from the Church of England, but from the staunchly Jacobite Episcopal Church in Scotland, which provided the American Colonies with a bishop, Samuel Seabury, in defiance of the Church of England and of the Hanoverian monarchy to which it was attached.

Early Methodists were regularly accused of Jacobitism. John Wesley himself had been a High Church missionary in America, and Methodism was initially an outgrowth of pre-Tractarian, often at least sentimentally Jacobite, High Churchmanship. Very many people conformed to the Established Church but either refused to take the Oath or declared that they would so refuse if called upon to take it.

With its anti-Calvinist soteriology, it high sacramentalism and Eucharistic theology, and its hymnody based on the liturgical year, early Methodism appealed to them. Wesley also supported, and corresponded with, William Wilberforce, even refusing tea because it was slave-grown; indeed, Wesley’s last letter was to Wilberforce. They wrote as one High Tory to another.

Wilberforce was later a friend of Blessed John Henry Newman, whose Letter to the Duke of Norfolk constitutes the supreme Catholic contribution to the old Tory tradition of the English Confessional State, in the same era as Henry Edward Manning’s Catholic social activism, and the beginning of Catholic Social Teaching’s strong critique of both capitalism and Marxism.

Whiggery, by contrast, had produced a “free trade” even in “goods” that were human beings. The coalition against the slave trade contained no shortage of Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists or Quakers.

Yet the slave trade was integral to the Whig Empire’s capitalist ideology. If slavery were wrong, then something was wrong at a far deeper level. James Edward Oglethorpe, a Jacobite, opposed slavery in Georgia. Anti-slavery Southerners during the American Civil War were called “Tories”.

Radical Liberals were anti-capitalist in their opposition to opium dens, to unregulated drinking and gambling, and to the compelling of people to work seven-day weeks, all of which have returned as features of the British scene.

Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists and Quakers fought as one for the extension of the franchise and for other political reforms.

It was Disraeli, a Tory, who doubled the franchise in response to that agitation. To demand or deliver such change called seriously into question the legitimacy of the preceding Whig oligarchy.

It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of Catholicism, of the Anglo-Catholicism that High Churchmanship mostly became at least to some extent, of the Baptist and Reformed (including Congregational) traditions, and, above all, of Methodism, to the emergence and development of the Labour Movement.

Quakerism and Methodism, especially the Primitive and Independent varieties, were in the forefront of opposition to the First World War, which also produced the Guild of the Pope’s Peace, and which had a following among Anglo-Catholics of either of what were then the more extreme kinds, “English Use” and “Western Use”. Each of those included Jacobites among, admittedly, its many eccentrics.

Above all in Wales, where Catholic sentiment was still widely expressed in the old tongue well into the eighteenth century, Quakers and Methodists had very recently stood shoulder to shoulder with Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists, including Lloyd George, against the Boer War.

Paleoconservatives who would rightly locate the great American experiment within a wider British tradition need to recognise that that tradition encompasses the campaign against the slave trade, the Radical and Tory use of State action against social evils, the extension of the franchise, the creation of the Labour Movement, and the opposition to the Boer and First World Wars.

All of those arose out of disaffection with Whiggery, with the Whigs’ imported capitalist system, with their imported dynasty, and with that system’s and that dynasty’s Empire.

A disaffection on the part of Catholics, High Churchmen (and thus first Methodists and then also Anglo-Catholics, as well as Scottish and therefore also American Episcopalians), Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.

Behind these great movements for social justice and for peace was still a sense that the present British State (not any, but the one then in existence) was itself somehow less than fully legitimate.

In other words, the view that there was ultimately something profoundly wrong about this country and her policies, both domestic and foreign, was a distant echo of an ancestral Jacobitism.

Radical action for social justice and for peace derived from testing the State and its policies against theologically grounded criteria of legitimacy.

It still does.

Maya Angelou’s Place On The Pro-Life Left

Nicholas Frankovich writes:

As my colleague Tim Cavanaugh and others have pointed out, Maya Angelou spoke with ease about her use of guns for self-defense. It was remarkable.

You would not expect it of her given her biography and demographic profile: Literary celebrities aren’t usually associated with sympathy for red-state values.

A cosmopolitan African-American woman who at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration recited a poem she wrote for the occasion, Angelou campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries in 2008 and then for Barack Obama in the general election.

Jay Nordlinger has written about the surprise we feel when we learn that someone who looks liberal turns out to be conservative, or vice versa.

His observation does not apply to Angelou in toto, of course, but it does fit her thoughts on a couple of hot-button issues. You already know about the guns.

Kathryn Jean Lopez reminds us that Angelou had an opinion about abortion, too. Who doesn’t?

In the 1990s the acclaimed poet lent her name to this pro-life statement, which appeared in, among other places, Mother Jones:

We, the undersigned, are committed to the protection of life, which is threatened in today’s world by war, abortion, poverty, racism, the arms race, the death penalty and euthanasia.

We believe these issues are linked under a consistent ethic of life.

We challenge those working on all or some of these issues to maintain a cooperative spirit of peace, reconciliation, and respect in protecting the unprotected.

Angelou was joined by the Dalai Lama, Nat Hentoff, Martin Sheen, Sargent Shriver, the Berrigan brothers, a Greepeace official, and about 80 others, whose affiliations, a disproportionate number of which were religious, involved a generous sprinkling of the word “peace.”

Granted, the cogency of the statement was damaged by the inclusion of everything and the kitchen sink.

The idea, apparently, was to pad the list with Bad Things that the Left assumed it owned the exclusive license to oppose.

The equation of abortion with war wasn’t exact, but it was obviously closer than the equation between abortion and racism (although the role of eugenics in the origins of the abortion-rights movement leads some to feel strongly about the causal link they see between racism and abortion)..

The effect would have been intellectually more compelling had the aim been to focus attention more narrowly, on the degree to which pacifism and anti-abortion sentiment mingle — not that they are linked by an iron logic.

They do, however, share a sensibility.

That is the intersection where we find, for example, devout Mennonites, like the Hahn family, small-business owners who have taken to the Supreme Court their objection to the HHS “contraception mandate,” which forces them to participate in the procurement of birth-control drugs that may act as abortifacients.

In a different context (say, the Vietnam War era), the political identity that the world would assign to such individuals would be flipped: Invoking the same principle, against the taking of human life, they would register their conscientious objection to military service, and the Left would praise their courage.

Angelou wrote movingly of her decision, when she was 16, to bring to term her pregnancy, whom we know now as her son, Guy:

“Back then, if you had money, there were some girls who got abortions, but I couldn’t deal with that idea. Oh, no. No. I knew there was somebody inside me.”
Apologists for abortion used to try to justify it by calling it a “tragic necessity.” They were half right. It’s tragic.

The full phrase would be more appropriate to the gun rights for which Angelou demonstrated her commonsense respect.

“Guns are necessary to self-defense,” Mona Charen noted recently, in a different context, the aftermath of the killings in Santa Barbara.

“The right to own them is enshrined in the Constitution. Enough said. Let’s not worship them.”

Diamonds at The Meeting of My Thighs

Post below the line your emulations of either the prose or the verse style of Maya Angelou.

The most moving will be reprinted above the line.

Brought To Book

If Michael Gove thinks that the home-grown classics of English Literature offer much, if any, support to his own political position, then he cannot have read any of them.

Yet he has a degree in English from Oxford, so, as a purely physical act, he must have read at least some of them.

Alongside the many Flashmen and the smattering of the kind of lower-middle-class people who would burn down a neighbour's house if they suspected it to contain a book, Gove's intellect has been absurdly over-praised.

Being the best-read man in the present Cabinet, even if he is (that is probably Vince Cable), is a very low achievement indeed.

A National Party No More

Where is the Conservatives' Zell Miller to say it?

As an absolutely bare minimum in each of the 11 mainland regions, you need at least one Commons seat, at least one European seat (not at all a difficult thing to obtain), and either or both of the Leadership and the position of the single largest party on at least one principal authority.

If you are without any one or more of those, then, by definition, you are simply not a national political party.

At present, therefore, there is only one national political party.

Astoundingly, that is not either of the parties to the governing Coalition.

Pact Out

Which is more humiliating?

Begging, through one's client newspapers, for an electoral pact with a party that has never won a seat?

Or being rebuffed by that party?

Tuesday 27 May 2014

To Mock A Killingbird

There is something overrated about To Kill a Mockingbird. It is good. It is very good. But it is not great. Something about is just not quite in the league that people who loved it at school think that it is.
Even in terms of the reason why it is so widely taught, it is very much a bourgeois white liberal's book,  challenging something that is now as self-evidently wicked as it is conveniently in the past; the past, moreover, of a foreign country.
In that country today, they realise that, whatever its achievements, bourgeois white liberalism is now at least as much the thing to be challenged as it is the challenge itself. Sometimes, it can withstand, and indeed benefit from, that challenge. But that challenge certainly has to advanced.
No, the really striking thing in this debate kicked off by, of all people, Michael Gove, is that 90 per cent of candidates for GCSE English Literature, which is compulsory and which marks the end of most people's formal education in the discipline, answer on Of Mice and Men.
Nine out of 10.
It has become a kind of national epic, if something of that length can be an epic. A whole generation will be able to quote it in conversation at opportune, and at inopportune, moments.
But it is not about Britain. It is not about any predecessor-state of this one, or any imaginary version of this or of any such predecessor. It is very, very, very much about America. It faithfully depicts a highly specific, hugely formative period in the American story.
Gove's attitude is a little odd, though, given his strong neoconservative opinions, such that he does in fact regard the United Kingdom as an economic, political and military satellite and dependency of the United States. That is only possible by also being a cultural satellite and dependency of the United States.
His neglect of Scotland is also surprising. Mind you, he would not want teenagers reading Sunset Song, would he?

Cry If I Want To

You would cry too, if it happened to you.

Of all Alan Sked's sayings about UKIP in this, the story about "it's" and "its" is the best of the lot.

Unsung, But Essential

Des Keenoy writes:

We’ve heard a lot of questions about the Police Federation lately. Theresa May told its conference in Bournemouth last week that the organisation would have to reform “top to bottom,” or else.

To many the federation can seem an opaque yet powerful body.

I was a federation representative for 24 years and it can be a complex, difficult and onerous as well as powerful and influential position.

It is usually a job, at the lowest level at least, that no-one else wants, as it interrupts your private life and can also interrupt your career progress.

Few understand how the federation arose outside of the mainstream of the trade union movement.

To answer this let’s step back to 1918 and 1919. The Great War was at an end. The Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and German empires had fallen in a confused heap of recrimination amid the spectre of communism and the nascent seeds of fascism were in the air.

The winners, the British empire and its allies, were faced with the return of millions of war-weary and cynical soldiers, themselves the survivors of an unrecognised step change in methods of waging war.

The Establishment was absolutely aghast at the possibility that Bolshevism and its demands would return with the troops.

Back on the home front, after years of low pay and disregard, the police and prison officers were on strike.

Chaotic and inconsistent pay, usually less than that of an agricultural worker, families claiming poor relief, no decent pensions at all and the disrespect of the upper classes as a given had brought them to this action.

Savage discipline and low pay were the root cause, but it is true to say that there was a great deal of union activity in the country as a whole during this period, adding to the febrile response of the government of the day.

A successful strike in 1918, followed by another in 1919, led to better pay and conditions and the establishment of the Desborough inquiry.

This was generally favourable towards the officers’ claims. While the leaders of the National Union of Police and Prison Officers (NUPPO) thought they had de facto been recognised by the settlement, this was not the view of the new Commissioner for the Metropolis, serving soldier General Macready, who was determined to ensure that only a body designed by officialdom would be there to represent the “rank and file.”

Thus the Police Federation was formed as a result of the Police Act of 1919, not by its members but by the government.

NUPPO, now outlawed, called another strike but there was little support this time round and every single officer who went on strike was dismissed from the force and lost their pension.

The crucial difference between the Police Federation and all other representative trade associations is its creation by the government, coupled with the inability to strike and to engage in direct industrial action, making negotiation over pay and conditions a far more delicate and involved business than for other trade unions.

In the late 1970s, following another huge decline in pay and conditions, with officers’ families still having to claim relief and state benefits and recruitment falling, the Edmund Davies report gave pay rises to officers which reversed the decline in numbers and raised morale greatly, demonstrating vividly the way in which police pay and conditions were generally ignored except when they simply could not be.

Spite and class disdain reappeared once more, however, when in 1981 the Home Office decided that we were overmighty subjects needing to be put in our place and raised pension contributions overnight by 3 per cent with no change to benefits at all, thus at a stroke removing most of the pay increases and making the police pension the most expensive pension to purchase in the whole country, at 11 per cent of salary each month.

I was at the Home Office one day when I heard the phrase “overmighty subjects” used in respect to police officers as well as “who do they think they are, professionals?” when commenting on the fact that the Metropolitan Police wore white shirts, not blue. In fact the Met wear white shirts — wait for it — because they are cheaper than blue.

So what of the federation itself, how is it getting on? Sadly at the moment it is not fit for purpose and has lost its way.

Let us be clear. It has had a lot of fantastic success over the last 90 years. Aided by the general incompetence of senior police management, it was simply smarter than its opponents in negotiation.

But it was designed to fail, with an unwieldy formulation of each rank having the same proportion of the vote no matter how many of them there are. Thus the inspectors could combine with the sergeants to keep the pesky constables in line. That was the idea — to keep us divided.

It’s important to bear in mind that there is one crucial difference between the police force and many other jobs. It is not actually a job. Officers are not employees, they hold a crown office. To get up the ranks you have to start at the bottom. All officers are only constables (thus chief constables, but still constables).

Over the years all the ranks have worked together and voted together as one in negotiation.

But lately this has become more and more difficult to achieve as officers of the national committees have become more and more remote from their electorates and precious about their personal advancement.

This has meant that the headquarters and boards are a seething mass of rivalries, jealousies and plain hatred within and across the ranks.

At a high level, no matter what is going on in the lower ranks, to seriously come up with a new arrangement seems to be beyond the ken of a great number of those elected to higher office, as can be shown by the recent events and resignations at the federation.

It is my personal view that the federation has become a mirror of those it has to negotiate with, rather than holding fast to what really does make its members strong — the support of the general public whom they are sworn to serve through the crown in Parliament.

Yet for officers the federation is still a great help, simply in supporting them when they are under attack from any and all sides.

The huge proportion of funds spent in legal fees is the largest expense of all and shows how vital it is in defending members.

To this day the Police Rehabilitation Centres are wholly financed by officers’ contributions each month to the federation, so that injured officers can get back to work before an extended absence means they drop to half pay and then no pay. There is no government support outside of the NHS for injured officers.

It is such unsung but essential support that proves officers need a representative organisation that defends them.

Des Keenoy was a Metropolitan Constable from 1977-2009 and is a former chairman of the Metropolitan Constables Branch Board.

Monday 26 May 2014

The Lanchester Review: Orthodox Jews and the State of Israel

This, by Yirmiyahu Cohen, is probably the most controversial thing that we have published so far. Responses of comparable length may be submitted to As may pitches in general.

Not, please note, to I am the first person who comes up if you type "Lindsay" into the surname box here. But my University email address, in place since 30th September 1997, is wired up to my personal one, yet can take a while to deliver to it. Those of you who know God's Own University of old...

Anything for me personally, and at least for the time being anything for the Review, needs to be sent to the Hotmail address. Anything for the One Nation Society needs to be sent to

No Golden Dawn

Udo Vogt and Golden Dawn join the Jobbik boys in the European Parliament. And that's just the Nazis in it.

It has never been more imperative that our own Statute Law be amended to disapply in the United Kingdom any decision of that body which was not supported by the majority of those MEPs who had been publicly certified as politically acceptable by and to at least one seat-taking member of the House of Commons.

Not that we are short of unsavoury characters. This country provides the majority of those heading to Syria from the entire world to join the ISIS jihad, which is notable for its beheadings.

They are, of course, only going to fight on the side to which David Cameron had wished to commit Her Majesty's Armed Forces. It is high time to disapply in the United Kingdom any decision of David Cameron's.

This Very United Kingdom

None of the 12 put the Conservatives at the top of the poll. They all have that in common, for a start. Everywhere on the mainland elected at least one Labour MEP. They all have that in common, too. They do not, however, all have in common having elected at least one Conservative MEP.

In Scotland, Wales, the North West, the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the West Midlands, Labour either topped the poll or came a close second. In the East Midlands, Labour missed out on second place by the tiniest of margins.

Therefore, if people in Scotland, Wales, the North and the Midlands dislike London and the "metropolitan" Labour Party so much, then they have a funny way of showing it, voting Labour just as London does. Even Scotland does not look very different after last night. Even London does not look very different after last night.

This country is politically more united than at any time since 1979.

One Nation, indeed.

The Front National Could Destroy France

Like the UMP and its numerous Gaullist and Giscardien predecessor formations, the Front National, rather than individuals, factions and tendencies within it, is not immediately easy to locate within René Rémond’s theory of the three French right wings, les trois droites.

Both the UMP and, to a lesser extent, the FN now exhibit, far more than they used to, Orléanism as the bourgeois and economically liberal Franco-Whiggery against which stand both the populist traditionalism of the Legitimists and the populist authoritarianism of the Bonapartists.

There is a certain continuation of Legitimism in the more-or-less Lefebvrist wing of the FN and its electorate, but also in the Social Catholicism of a section of the old UDF and of those who look to the Gaullist conception of the strong French State with a strong Head to deliver the goods.

Not for nothing did Philippe de Villiers withdraw from the UDF over Maastricht as surely as Charles Pasqua withdrew first internally and then externally from the RPR.

Although Gaullism does have obvious Bonapartist roots, just as Boulangism did, yet the popular followings for either and both were and are at least as much Legitimist, especially deep in the countryside.

Especially there, the anti-Gaullist Right is not entirely Orléanist, either; not for nothing did it most recently rally to a man whose name was not merely Giscard, but Giscard d’Estaing.

And from where does anyone think that the popular constituency for an anti-Marxist Socialist Party first came from, or very largely still does come?

Mitterrand could never decide whether he wanted to be Louis XIV or Napoleon. But he certainly wanted to be one or the other.

Deep down, at least, one or the other was what huge numbers of his voters wanted him to be, too. Otherwise, he would never have won.

When he did win, he gave a job to Poujade, in whom the Legitimist and Bonapartist populisms of the Right met, who had endorsed him and who did so again.

To all of which, what says François Hollande, who was endorsed, after all, both by François Bayrou and by Jacques Chirac?

But more, what says the UMP?

The Legitimists celebrated patois (it was more than a century after the Revolution before anything more than half the population of France spoke French), local festivals and folk-customs, the ancient provincial boundaries, and everything else that Jacobins, Whigs, and their imitators or collaborators would wish to iron out, to put it at its very mildest, in the name of progress.

At present, the FN has a thoroughly républicain approach, not only to regional peculiarities, but also and increasingly to secularism.

However, if a new movement is indeed arising out of much or most of it and much or most of the UMP to give voice to those who would thus rise in electoral revolt against an increasingly Islamised, or at least to their mind no longer recognisably French, Île-de-France, then such a movement is likely to be most popular the further from Paris one travelled both geographically and culturally.

It is likely to be a movement very largely conducted in Breton and Corsican, in Provençal and West Flemish, in Occitan and Franconian, in Catalan and Alsatian (already spoken by a goodly number of FN supporters), even in Basque.

And even in places not quite as different as that, the call will be for ever-greater rural, traditional, Catholic, even French-speaking autonomy from a centre actually or apparently less and less characterised by such features, or even tolerant of them.

Thus, a movement sincerely intended to save France might very well end up destroying her.

I Suppose That We Are Going To Have To

Wholly uncritical saturation coverage works. Who knew?

But UKIP is not the real story. Nigel Farage is never going to be Prime Minister. No one will remember him in 15 years' time.

Everyone knew that the Conservatives were going to drop from first to third in Wales, in Yorkshire and the Humber, and in the North West. They did.

But they also dropped from first to third in the West Midlands. And they failed to top the poll in a single region. Not one.

The Conservatives could not even carry the East of England, which has little of the metopolitianisation of the South East, and little memory of a Radical tradition which in any case was never that of the South West.

Here in the North East, their Leader lost his seat. He had kept it throughout the Blair years. His party is now even less popular here than it was in 1999.

Nor was he only just beaten. Labour's lead was huge, but UKIP's over the Conservatives was a remarkable 69,927. Well over one tenth of the total votes cast were the margin by which UKIP beat the Conservatives.

Still, being the second party of the North does mean nothing more than coming second in safe Labour seats.

Whereas the Conservatives will still always have 200 seats at any given time, unlike UKIP's none.

David Cameron's weird "renegotiation" scheme derives entirely from decades-long trends within his party, and has never had anything to do with UKIP.

And if Ed Miliband did move, from his In-Out referendum (the only promise of one; Cameron is only promising a referendum on any outcome of his weird "renegotiation" scheme) in the event of any proposed transfer of powers that Ed Balls has already ruled out, to an In-Out referendum in any case, then that, too, would derive entirely from decades-long trends within his party, and would never have had anything to do with UKIP.

That party won at least one seat in every mainland region, unlike the Conservatives. It beat the Conservatives into their first ever third place in a national election.

Apart from that, if there was a really big story, then it was the replacement of the Lib Dems by and with the Green Party. That one really is worth watching. UKIP simply is not.

Sunday 25 May 2014

Israeli and Palestinian: Twin Identities

When Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas kneel in prayer in Rome alongside Pope Francis, in what capacity will each regard the other as being there?

Being Israeli, as distinct from being Jewish, and being Palestinian, as distinct from being Arab in general and Greater Syrian in particular, are twin identities, created by exactly the same events at exactly the same time, a time which is still within living memory.

Zionism and the modern concept of Filastin (which, like Arab nationalism in general, was and is an expression among the oldest inhabitants of the Land of popular Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Christianity as it organised itself politically among students at American “mainline” Protestant missionary universities) were both new at the time, and each had very few adherents, although of course those believed that huge numbers of other people ought to agree and identify with them.

Now, in both cases, they do. By definition, there were no Israelis before the creation of the State of Israel. But there are now, quite distinct from Jews at large, and not all Jews in any case.

Even leaving aside the large and growing Arab population, which is the majority in half of the land area within the 1948 borders, there are Russians who refuse to eat kosher food and who insist on taking their Israeli Defence Force oaths on the New Testament alone, the Russian Nazis, the East Africans who have invented a religion based on the Old Testament brought by Christian missionaries, and the Peruvian Indians, with even the Pashtun are now classified as a Lost Tribe with a view to airlifting them to Israel in future, since at least they are not Arabs.

If Israel does not want to become a haven for Russian Nazis, then she needs to repeal the Law of Return, declaring that she is now a settled culture and society in her own right, and precluding any wildly impracticable demand for a corresponding right on the part of Palestinian refugees or their descendants.

The people who will do anything for Israel except live there, and who throw their weight around in demanding policies that suit their prejudices expressed from comfortable berths thousands of miles away, could thus be told where to go, or not to bother trying to go.

In any case, Theodor Herzl denied the possibility, once the Zionist State had been founded, that Jews, as such, could then continue to exist anywhere else. They would have lost the right to call themselves Jews, according to the founding father of Zionism.

If Hamas really can never come to terms with the existence of the State of Israel, simply as a fact of life, then with what did it imagine itself to have been negotiating, thereby scoring the significant public relations victory that was the release of hundreds of detainees in 2011?

For that matter, if Israel can never deal with Hamas, then what was she doing in the case of Gilad Shalit, and would she rather that he had been left to rot?

If there cannot be a Palestinian State, contrary to the position of the last Republican President of the United States, then with whom and with what have the Israelis ever been negotiating?

Those interlocutors do not seek recognition of a Muslim state; on the contrary, the Palestinian Authority already operates a Christian quota without parallel in Israel, though corresponding to similar arrangements in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. They do not even seek recognition of an Arab state.

Ever since 1993, they have recognised Israel within her borders before 1967, and, although they ought also to claim the territory to the east that a Palestinian State would rapidly come to include, they seek nothing more than recognition of Palestine within the territory captured in that year, the home of everyone who lives there, and if anything an emerging or emerged Orthodox Jewish refuge from godless Zionism.

The only problem is with recognising Israel as “a Jewish State”, condemning a fifth of the population, including the world's most ancient Christian communities, to the second class citizenship from which the Israeli Constitution theoretically protects them, however different the practice may be.

As things stand, Israel already deals with what can only realistically be described as a Palestinian State on so regular basis and so successful a basis that the President of that entity is openly opposed to the strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Saturday 24 May 2014

Number 10, Indeed

At the end of it all, UKIP has precisely one more Councillor than the Greens, and still has precisely one fewer MP. The Greens took 45 per cent of the vote in Bristol. They control a council, whereas UKIP does not, anywhere.

91.6 per cent of the seats contested on Thursday were not won by UKIP. Labour's publicly declared target was to take 200 seats, and it smashed that out of the park.

The Conservatives lost their flagship London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham straight to Labour, which even picked up four seats next door in Kensington and Chelsea, as well as now holding all of the seats in Chipping Norton.

The four Labour Councillors in Barking and Dagenham who had defected to UKIP all lost their seats.

Suzanne Evans of Question Time lost her seat, and she then attributed that to the better education and media-savviness of her London electors (or non-electors), too clever to vote for her.

But in fact, UKIP did not do terribly well anywhere, by no means only in large cities, and it did pitifully almost everywhere.

And so on.

After which, Lord Ashcroft's huge poll of Conservative-Labour and Labour-Conservative marginals today shows that, in the constituencies that will determine the next General Election, Labour has a 10-point lead, putting it on course for an overall majority larger than in 2005, and quite possibly in triple figures.

Return To Sender

With the threat to the Universal Service Obligation causing the stolen Royal Mail's share price to plummet, renationalisation at flotation price only, of the shares not held by the workers, is looking more and more plausible.

Hey Joe

Sorry, but I had just heard the Wilson Pickett version on the radio as I was about to write this.

Joey Barton on Question Time? Is that their idea of a working-class voice?

This week's edition featured the ultra-posh presenter of some programme about ultra-posh property purchases. She was one of two card-carrying members of the Conservative Party.

A third panellist was a former Conservative MP and Minister, while a fourth panellist did a more than passable impersonation of a present or future Conservative MP and Minister.

But what of Jack Monroe? Confusing matters by going about with a bloke's name calls to mind Princess Michael of Kent. Her recipes are fair enough, but her accent is prolier-than-thou rather than prole, and she can never keep it up.

At the time of my birth, my late father was entitled to be styled "The Venerable". Yet I have never sounded remotely as plummy as she did. She has been on Any Questions twice in about three months, and now she has also been on Question Time.

Next week, the pleb's seat is to be filled, not by a well-born celebrity chef, but by a man with quite recent convictions, including prison terms served, for several crimes of physical violence, and who even without those would be notable only as a footballer.

From one extreme to the other.

And more to the point, none of the many working-class Members of Parliament who do in fact still exist, but who are among those 19 out of 20 MPs who are never on television.

Take Steve Rotheram, a bricklayer and a Hillsborough witness who went on to become Lord Mayor of Liverpool and then, in 2010, one of that city's parliamentary representatives. His fellow Labour MPs have already put him on their party's National Executive Committee. Yet he never receives airtime even when the subject is Hillsborough.

2010 also brought in Ian Lavery. That's right. An ex-miner who was first elected in 2010. You might have thought that that would attract some attention. But dream on. Even a thuggish footballer is preferred.

As he is over people who have been in Parliament for many, many years: Dennis Skinner (a parliamentarian since as long ago as 1970 and a very longstanding NEC member, but whom the media uniformly think is a joke), Ronnie Campbell, Jim Dobbin, Jim Hood, Mike Wood, George Mudie, Roger Godsiff, Joe Benton, David Hamilton, Dai Havard, George Howarth, and others besides.

Agree or disagree with the analysis being presented in the last couple of days by Graham Stringer, John Mann, Simon Danczuk or Austin Mitchell, but at least any of them has been allowed on. That never normally happens. Time and space must instead be found for Joey Barton.

A secret ballot of Labour MPs put Graham Stringer, a scientifically trained climate change sceptic, onto the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. But not onto the Question Time panel. With the next edition coming from Heathrow Airport, we await with baited breath Joey Barton's illumination of that or any other subject.

But even that is not quite the point. He has been elected to absolutely nothing. The above have been elected to the very House of Commons.

Humble Pie

James Lyons writes:

Norman Tebbit has admitted people are being forced to use food banks because they are wrongly being denied benefits.

The Tory grandee, 83, recently sparked anger by suggesting ­claimants took emergency handouts to save money which they then spent on junk food.

But he said he was eating “humble pie” after seeing a food bank in action.

Writing on his blog, he went on: “I was impressed with the quality and dedication of the people working there.
“There was a systematic approach to uncovering the deeper problems which had brought people to the point where they simply did not have enough money to buy adequate food.

“Some had fallen foul of the bureaucratic processes of welfare support, leaving them waiting for, or even denied, the cash support to which they were entitled.”

Lord Tebbit, who once urged the jobless to get on their bikes and find work, had previously attacked the huge growth in food banks which handed out more than a million parcels last year.

He claimed their popularity was down to “near infinite demand for valuable goods given away free”.

But after visiting the Trussell Trust food bank in Haverhill, Suffolk, the former Employment Secretary and party chairman admitted: “There was no slap-happy handing over of boxes.

“The staff worked through ­procedures to establish whether the claimant was genuine and how he or she came to be in such need.

“Sometimes that was the failure of the bureaucracy, sometimes alcohol or family breakup.

“But whatever it turned out to be there was someone to act as a champion, offering counselling on money management, job-seeking or further education.”

The right-winger said the visit made him think that too many young people had not been taught how to look after themselves and find a job.


I have been accused (you would never believe by whom) of "trying to become Prime Minister"!

What, by being a state school, non-Oxbridge, mixed-race, Northern, disabled convert to Catholicism, who was born abroad, who has never been elected above Parish level, who still lives in rural County Durham, who has never been married, who has no children, and who is not a member of any political party?

Yes, dear. Of course I am trying to become Prime Minister.

Other State Ownership

Peter Lazenby writes:

The government’s mad dash to hand Britain’s rail network to overseas operators continued yesterday as German and French state-owned companies lined up to take over more services.

Overseas operators now run 70 per cent of Britain’s rail network, raking in taxpayer-funded subsidies of hundreds of millions of pounds.

Rail union RMT revealed that German state railway company Deutsche Bahn is being primed to snatch the contract for publicly owned East Coast Mainline.

Deutsche Bahn has established a new British operation, Alliance Rail Holdings, to cash in on the coalition’s privatisation of Britain’s most profitable line.

RMT says the firm is planning a “back-door privatisation” of East Coast, through which it does not even have to bid for a franchise.

Instead it could become an “open access” operator, needing only the rail regulator’s permission to run the service — and could cherry pick East Coast’s most profitable services.

RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said:

“It is a sickening indication of the nonsense of rail privatisation that while the German state rail company is being given the opportunity to cherry-pick a lucrative, money-spinning opportunity on the East Coast tracks, our own publicly owned rail operator on the same line is threatened with being kicked off by this pro-privatisation government, despite transforming the service and delivering hundreds of millions of pounds back to the British taxpayer.”

East Coast, which operates between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh, has twice been taken back into public ownership after privateers proved incapable of running it efficiently or profitably.

Under public ownership, it has raised more than £800 million for the Treasury over four years — and become Britain’s most highly praised service among passengers.

East Coast bosses also warn that a Deutsche Bahn takeover would be devastating for passengers.

They said in a letter to Alliance Rail Holdings that it “would undermine the overall integrity of the East Coast timetable, reducing connectivity, extending journey times to other destinations and further reducing the value of this franchise to the government.”

The government is flouting its own franchising process to push privatisation of East Coast through at breakneck speed before next year’s general election.

It was also revealed yesterday that the lucrative Southern-Thameslink franchise has been handed to a consortium involving France’s state rail operator.

Mr Cash said it will mean passengers in London subsidising low fares in Paris.

“This government is quite happy to have state ownership of our railways as long as it isn’t the British state,” he said.

A national march and rally against rail cuts will take place today in Doncaster.