Friday 30 June 2017

"A Good Man Fallen Among Fabians"?

Very soon, the Fabian Executive will be up for election. Members will vote for up to 10 candidates, and the top 10 will be elected for a two-year term, provided that at least two must be under 31 years of age at the time of election. There are also a few regional and other reps, but the 10 are the big ones.

My 70-word statement will read:

Jeremy Corbyn is the most culturally significant British politician in living memory, the most agenda-setting Leader of the Opposition ever, and the global leader of the opposition to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy. Fabians must co-ordinate that critique at home and abroad, in preparation for the Corbyn Government that will lead Britain and the world out of politically chosen austerity, and away from wars of political choice.

In 2015, even the highest scoring of the 10 successful candidates won only 464 votes, while the lowest scoring was elected with a mere 305. You do not necessarily have to be a member of the Labour Party, or anything like that.

The Fabian Society can be joined here. But hurry. And if possible, then do please let me know:

The Executive meets quarterly, and if we could stretch to 10 candidates, of whom at least two were under 31, then so much the better in order to take control of the Society’s prestigious name and not inconsiderable resources for publication and conference purposes.

But come what may, I for one will certainly be doing this. Third time lucky? Luck does not enter into it.

Proper Politics Has Returned

Giles Fraser writes:

The centre ground in British politics is dead. Or, at the very least, extremely poorly.

A year after plotters tried to oust Jeremy Corbyn for being unelectably leftwing, those on the right of Labour have finally fallen silent.

The Liberal Democrats made no electoral breakthrough, despite being the only go-to party for Brexit dissenters.

And the left of the Tory party looks embittered and lost [for now].

So much for the oft-repeated mantra that elections are won from the centre ground.

I, for one, am delighted that centrism is ailing, because there has long been a fantasy at the heart of it that rots our brains and makes us servile – a very British kind of fantasy that there exists such a thing as non-ideological politics, some calm and sensible mid-point set between the howling gales of ideological extremes.

Centrists think this is where the grown-ups do their politics.

Indeed, the very metaphor of the “centre” uses language to position others out on to the suspicious “extremes”.

From this sensible centre, those on the “edges” of political life are readily patronised as the idealistic young, waving flags at Glastonbury, or the dangerously partisan plotting to overthrow the status quo.
Ever since the English civil war, the British have feared ideology as a reason that fellow countrymen would brain each other with pikes and cannon.

From the late 17th century onwards, we would begin to organise our common life so as to exclude ideological contestation.

We don’t do God. We don’t discuss politics at dinner parties. We are a practical people who want to know if something works in practice before it works in theory – which was the basis of Edmund Burke’s opposition to the French Revolution.

Forget “Rise, like lions after slumber”. A better poetic instruction would be the warning about Wallace: not to take a stick and poke it down the sleeping lion’s ear.
Unlike those who want to change the world, the defining feature of centrists is not a belief in any particular kind of political philosophy but simply a supreme confidence in their ability to run things.

They gaze out on to the messy political fray with a superior disdain, ready to step in and adjudicate some sensible compromise.

Politics is a management exercise led by suitably educated professionals.
The fantasy here is that there is some way to transcend all the aggravation of political division and contested interests.

There isn’t.

But what’s often missed is that this powerful idea has also become a way for the elite to secure their power.

The left often gets it wrong by assuming the elite try to govern from the right. They don’t – at least, not any more.

The elite try to govern from the centre. Emmanuel Macron is a perfect example.

How is it possible, especially after all the trauma of the financial crash of 2008, that a former Rothschild investment banker and graduate of the École nationale d’administration was able to present himself as the middle-of-the-road inclusive saviour of French politics?
The answer has partly to do with the quality of his opponents.

But just because the alternative was racist and Islamophobic, it would be a mistake to normalise as centrist Macron’s free-market, privatising, investment banker’s instincts.

A smattering of social liberalism should not disguise the business interests that he serves.

Macron is precisely the sort of entitled technocratic elitist that we have rejected with Brexit and the collapse of centre-ground politics.

To give centrists the benefit of the doubt, I suspect that they generally don’t realise just how much they come across as superior and entitled.

They carry themselves in that born-to-rule kind of way that offends against the democratic instincts of many ordinary voters who have rumbled the centrist ruse: that a certain style of political deportment – looking the part, talking in perfect PR-like soundbites, having opinions sieved through focus groups etc – is what we want from our political leaders.

That was precisely why Hillary Clinton lost. And that’s also why Jeremy Corbyn is doing so well.

Proper politics has returned. Ideology is back.

Politics is not just about the elite trying to manage things into staying roughly the same. We are now asking in whose interests things are being run.

Suddenly, big ideas are OK again. Suddenly, there is much to argue for and change is in the air.

Looking Very Much Like The Old One

Something peculiar happens to American presidents after they take office on January 20.
Campaign promises to right the easily perceived misdirections in foreign policy are abandoned, and the new program for dealing with the rest of the world winds up looking very much like the old one.
Bill Clinton was an anti-Vietnam War draft dodger who preached the moral high ground for going to war before he turned around and got involved in the Balkans while also bombing Sudan and Afghanistan.
George W. Bush promised non-interference and no nation-building overseas, but 9/11 converted him into an exemplar of how to do everything wrong as he sank into the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Barack Obama’s margin of victory in 2008 was likely due to the perception that he was the peace candidate, particularly in contrast to his opponent Senator John McCain, but he wound up deeper in Afghanistan, out of, and then back into Iraq, interfering in Syria, and bringing about disastrous regime change in Libya while also allowing relations with Moscow to deteriorate.
Donald Trump has surrounded himself with generals after promising no deeper involvement in foreign wars and the generals are telling him that winning wars only requires more soldiers on the ground and just a little more time and effort to stabilize things, all of which are self-serving formulae for policies that have already failed.
And then there are the perennial enemies, with Iran at the top of the list while Russia and China play supporting roles.
Some would blame the foreign policy orientation on the Deep State, which certainly is suggestive, but I rather suspect that the flip-flops of recent presidents are also based on some other elements.
First, none of them has been a veteran who experienced active duty, which makes war an abstraction observed second hand on PowerPoint in a briefing room rather than a reality.
And second, the shaping of their views can be directly attributed to the pervasiveness of the establishment view on the appropriate role for the United States in the world.
Sometimes referred to as America’s “civil religion,” one can also call it “American exceptionalism” or the “leadership of the free world” or even “responsibility to protect” but the reality is that a broad consensus has developed in the United States that enables serial interventionism with hardly a squeak of protest coming from the American people.
Donald Trump has been in office for five months and it would appear that at least some of the outlines of his foreign policy are beginning to take shape, though that may be exaggeration as no one seems to be in charge.
The “America First” slogan seemingly does not apply to what is developing, as actual U.S. interests do not appear to be driving what takes place, and there does not seem to be any overriding principle that shapes the responses to the many challenges confronting Washington worldwide.
The two most important observations that one might make are both quite negative. First, lamentably, the promised détente with Russia has actually gone into reverse, with the relationship between the two countries at the lowest point since the time of the late, lamented Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State.
Second, we are already at war with Syria even though the media and Congress seem blissfully unaware of that fact.
We are also making aggressive moves intended to create a casus belli for going to war with Iran, and are doubling down in Afghanistan with more troops on the way, so Donald Trump’s pledge to avoid pointless wars and nation-building were apparently little more than glib talking points intended to make Barack Obama look bad.
The situation with Russia can be repaired as Vladimir Putin is a realist head of state of a country that is vulnerable and willing to work with Washington, but it will require an end to the constant vituperation being directed against Moscow by the media and the Democratic Party.
That process could easily spin out for another year with all parties now agreeing that Russia intervened in our election even though no one has yet presented any evidence that Russia did anything at all. Syria is more complicated.
Senators Tim Kaine and Rand Paul have raised the alarm over American involvement in that country, declaring the U.S. military intervention to be illegal.
Indeed it is, as it is a violation of the United Nations Charter and the American Constitution.
No one has argued that Syria in any way threatens the United States, and the current policy is also an affront to common sense: like it or not Syria is a sovereign country in which we Americans have set up military bases and are supporting “rebels” (including jihadis and terrorists) who are seeking to overthrow the legitimate government.
We have also established a so-called “de-confliction” zone in the southeast of the country to protect our proxies without the consent of the government in Damascus.
All of that adds up to what is unambiguously unprovoked aggression, an act of war.
The war began in earnest when the Obama administration began building bases and sending Special Ops into Syria in the late summer of 2015, after the White House announced that it would “allow airstrikes to defend Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. military from any attackers, even if the enemies hail from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”
That policy guaranteed escalation and direct American involvement in the conflict.
In the last month, for the first time since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, the United States has directly attacked Syrian government forces or proxies four times, including two air attacks against Iranian militiamen allied to Damascus.
Those moves were preceded by the April U.S. Navy launch of 59 cruise missiles in an attack directed against a Syrian air base.
The recent escalation has produced a response from Russia, which decried in the strongest terms the latest of these incidents, in which a U.S. F-18 Hornet shot down a Syrian SU-22 fighter-bomber.
Moscow has now threatened to act against any U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying over western Syria, a step that could in short order lead to a Russian-U.S. war in the Middle East.
Syria is currently under attack from the air forces of sixteen nations operating within its airspace loosely affiliated with the U.S. effort to bring about regime change.
When Syria resists, it is routinely accused of using “forbidden” weapons by the mouthpieces of the terrorist groups operating inside the country under the American umbrella.
Yemen is also experiencing American “boots on the ground” in a horrific war in which Washington has no conceivable interest.
The death of a Navy Seal in a botched raid also produced the usual White House lying about what had occurred and why.
And one should not forget that Syria and Yemen are ultimately all about Iran, with the U.S. ratcheting up pressure that is just short of open hostilities.
New sanctions were recently approved by the Senate and all of the Trump advisers who have spoken on the issue have stressed that Iran is enemy number one.
An incident at sea two weeks ago could have easily turned into a shoot-out between an Iranian patrol vessel and a U.S. warship.
Much of this acting against actual U.S. interests has come about due to the “worthless ally” syndrome which has been prevalent in Washington for several decades.
In the Middle East, where many of the problems begin, there is no coherent policy that has evolved beyond unconditional support for local “allies” Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Israel.
This has meant in practical terms that the U.S. defers to Riyadh, Ankara, Cairo, and Tel Aviv in nearly all regional matters while it is also the guarantor of a feckless Afghan government.
So in spite of pledges to disengage from the cycle of warfare in the Middle East, the United States seems to be on course for direct involvement in a series of local conflicts with no clear “victory” and exit policy in place.
Remove al-Assad and what comes next? What will the Russians do?
Will America’s so-called allies Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia be satisfied with dismemberment of the Syrian state or will they insist on pushing on to Tehran?
Who would fill that vacuum?
There are certainly other foreign policy black holes, to include the awful decision to rollback normalization with Cuba and the hot-then-cold moves against North Korea. Venezuela, a major U.S. oil supplier, is about to implode and it is not clear if the State Department has any contingency plan in place to deal with the crisis.
But Russia and Syria are in a class by themselves as they have the potential to turn into Class A disasters, like Iraq or possibly even worse.
And then there is Iran lurking, apparently hated by all the talking heads in Washington and inextricably linked to what is happening in Syria.
It is more than capable of becoming the next catastrophe for a White House that is apparently staggering from crisis to crisis. What will Trump do?
I am afraid that the lesson learned from the cruise missile attack on a Syrian base in April was that using force is popular, repeat as necessary.
That would be a major mistake, but there is every sign that some of the people around Trump have their eyes on escalating and “doing something” in Syria and also against Iran for starters, and if Russia gets in the way we can deal with them too.

The Ties That Bind

Removing the requirement to wear ties in the House of Commons is not about being inclusive; it was never as if women had to wear them.
Rather, this is about saying that there are now so many riffraff in the place that it is no longer worth bothering to try and maintain proper standards.
There was a reason why the old trade unions and Labour councils did very much insist on this kind of thing.

Symbolic of the System at Large

There are those who find this confusing; some may say, archaic.

But nothing could be more British, and perhaps especially more English, then to have the criticism and even the mockery built in and expected.

The tradition that is Radical and republican, populist and at least de facto pacifist, largely (but not exclusively) Celtic and regional, is an integral part of the organic Constitution.

In and with the full ceremony and pageantry of the parliamentary and municipal processes, that Constitution, including that tradition, has delivered social democracy before, and could deliver social democracy again.

Hence the octogenarian figures of the Queen and Dennis Skinner at the State Opening of Parliament, each with a specific role, and each the latest, but not the last, in a long, long line.

The regime that executed Charles I also persecuted the Levellers and the Diggers for their appeals to “the Ancient Constitution” and “time out of mind”.

That regime anticipated the bourgeois capitalist Revolutions of 1688, 1776 and 1789. Our own Radical tradition does not derive from those Revolutions.

Rather, it predates them, and it opposed them and their consequences, making common cause with Tories for the abolition of slavery (by very specific appeal to the Ancient Constitution), for factory reform, for the extension of the franchise, for action against substance abuse and gambling, and so on.

Something similar presents itself in opposition to the neoconservative war agenda, and through that to the neoliberal economic order. But that opportunity has yet to be taken.

The ostensibly irreverent, undeniably irascible, utterly indispensable tradition of Radicals and populists, republicans and pacifists, is as old as anything else in these Islands, and it is a great deal older than the present reigning dynasty.

That tradition is as much a safeguard of our liberty and democracy as is the Crown, and as is the full pageantry and ceremony of the parliamentary and municipal processes. No more so. But no less so, either.

In his memoirs, Skinner correctly points out that both his opposition to Scottish and Welsh devolution in the 1970s, and his opposition to European federalism from the very start, have turned out to have been correct.

Everything that he and others predicted has come true.

One should add in the current climate that the Radical tradition is an ongoing product of an uncountable number of what turn out to be illegal exercises of “undue spiritual influence”.

Without such influence, we should still have opium dens, a limited franchise, sweatshops, and slavery. Indeed, without such influence, forms of all of those are rapidly returning.

That Skinner should have become an expected and celebrated aspect of the State Opening of Parliament is entirely as it should be, and not at all a betrayal or even a dilution of his position.

Related to his working-class strand is a decidedly posh one, of Tony Benn, of Tam Dalyell, of Michael Foot, of Jeremy Corbyn, and, beyond the House, of figures ranging from Foot’s nephew Paul, to Auberon Waugh, to Richard Ingrams and to Ian Hislop.

Paul Foot identified as a Trotskyist, and he was even a member of the SWP. But beyond his party card, he showed not the slightest sign of being anything other than an upper or upper-middle-class Radical, predating Marx by an enormously long way.

Such are distrustful of those who exercise authority, but they are profoundly convinced of its inherent value, and they are therefore determined that those who hold office be held to account and found worthy of their eminence.

Thus was Paul Foot like the rest of the Private Eye boys, at least back in the day. Like his uncle and several other relatives. Like Benn. Like Dalyell. Like figures from different backgrounds, such as Alan Watkins and Michael Wharton (Peter Simple).

Radicals and reactionaries are often closer to each other than either is to the centre as conventionally and conveniently defined.

Both in its Common Room and its dead common room aspects, there is the unshaking and unshakable sense that if Ministers, MPs and others are not good enough, then they damn well ought to be, and that there is a positive duty to call them out for not being.

Parliament, especially, is worthy only of those who are worthy of Parliament, and Ministerial office is worthy only of those who are worthy of Ministerial office.

That is because of those institutions’ capacity to do harm in the wrong hands. But it is also because of those institutions' capacity, and therefore their duty, to do good in the right hands.

Skinner has devoted his adult life to Parliament, just as Foot and Benn did.

It was three of the other working-class warriors who sat on the bench below the gangway with him – Ronnie Campbell (who still does), Dennis Canavan and the late Bob Parry – who flew to Baghdad to secure the release of British hostages in 1990.

In April 1992, Parry, whom the “anti-totalitarian” Oliver Kamm describes as “among the thickest parliamentarians I can recall”, was arrested in Tiananmen Square for unfurling a banner in protest against the 1989 massacre there.

He, Canavan and Campbell were all pro-life Catholics, a stance that Campbell maintains, just as he, like other resolutely working-class figures such as Joe Benton and George Mudie, voted to uphold the traditional definition of marriage.

That is all a long way from Skinner's views, yet Campbell speaks of Skinner as a lost Leader.

The Irish Catholic heritage does of course coalesce very well with English, Scots or Welsh Radicalism in many cases.

Parry turned up to vote against Maastricht one day after he had had quadruple heart bypass surgery. He had discharged himself for the purpose.

His Liverpool constituency neighbour, Eric Heffer, turned up to speak against the first Gulf War in the final stages of terminal stomach cancer, and to vote against it in a wheelchair.

Heffer straddled the two wings of the Radical tradition, in that he could have passed at times for Skinner, or for another of that brotherhood, yet, in a shining example of the vanished world of worker-intellectualism, this joiner son of a boot-maker, who had himself left school at 14, had a personal library of some 12,000 books.

That’s right. Twelve thousand.

That said, Skinner is better-read than he often lets on, in the way that Benn was possibly a touch less so than his accent and demeanour might sometimes have led one to assume.

Yet both belonged to the tradition that Skinner continues to make felt by everything from State Opening one-liners to searing questions of swanky Cabinet Ministers.

I say again that that tradition is as old as anything else in these Islands, and that it is as much a safeguard of our liberty and democracy as anything else is, including the Crown. No more so. But no less so, either.

It was Margaret Thatcher who mounted an assault on the monarchy, since she scorned the Commonwealth, social cohesion, historical continuity and public Christianity.

She called the Queen “the sort of person who votes for the SDP”, and she arrogated to herself the properly monarchical and royal role on the national and international stages, using her most popular supporting newspaper to vilify the Royal Family.

Whereas the movement that delivered social democracy was replete with MBEs, OBEs, CBEs, mayoral chains, aldermen’s gowns, and civic services.

That movement proudly provided a high proportion of Peers of the Realm, Knights of the Garter, members of the Order of Merit, and Companions of Honour, who had rejoiced in their middle periods to be Lords Privy Seal, or Comptrollers of Her Majesty’s Household, or so many other such things, in order to deliver the social democratic goods within the parliamentary process in all its ceremony.

The Silver Jubilee was held under the Callaghan Government. The Queen had famously good relations with Wilson and Callaghan, in stark contrast to her famously bad relations with Thatcher.

Peter Shore denounced the Major Government’s decision to scrap the Royal Yacht, and unlike John Redwood he did it at the time.

Shore also supported Canadian against Spanish fishermen not least because Canada and the United Kingdom shared a Head of State.

Labour MPs opposed Thatcher’s cutting of Canada’s last tie to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, so opposing for the sake of the Aboriginal peoples and of the French-Canadians specifically as Her Majesty’s subjects.

Both King George VI and the Queen Mother were honorary members of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, which the latter accepted from her great friend, Ron Todd, with specific reference to her late husband’s great admiration for Ernest Bevin.

Bernie Grant vociferously supported the monarchy because of its role in the Commonwealth, and that is probably also the view of Diane Abbott.

Efforts to cut constitutional ties to Britain have been a white supremacist, and an anti-Catholic, cause ever since Thomas Jefferson.

Which is to say, ever since Dr Johnson asked, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”

That wretched tradition has continued down through the foundation of Irish Republicanism by those who regarded their own Protestant and “Saxon” nation as the only true nation on the Irish island, through anti-monarchist attitudes to Australian Aborigines from the Victorian Period to the present day, through Hendrik Verwoerd and Ian Smith, through attempts to abrogate the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand, and through the patriation of the Canadian Constitution against the wishes, both of the Aboriginal peoples to whom the Crown had numerous treaty obligations, and of the government of Quebec.

The fact is that only a movement steeped in royal, parliamentary and municipal pageantry and charity, could preserve and celebrate the pageantry and charity of the City of London while ending its status as a tax haven and as a state within the State, Europe’s last great Medieval republican oligarchy, right where the United Kingdom ought to be.

The liberties of the City were granted to a city properly so called, with a full social range of inhabitants and workers.

The Crown should explicitly guarantee the hereditary economic and cultural rights of, for example, the Billingsgate fish porters in the same way as it guaranteed or guarantees those of Aboriginal peoples elsewhere in the Empire and the Commonwealth.

Although there are those who find all of this confusing; some may say, archaic.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Chuka Can't

It would be worth checking for Conservatives who did not vote on Chuka Umunna's amendment. 

There are certainly 60 in favour of the Single Market, but they are probably biding their time. 

Meanwhile, 49 Labour rebels, although very much the expected sort of figure, is pitiful.

This was supposed to be the PLP's great post-Election reassertion of itself against Jeremy Corbyn. 

But it couldn't even muster one fifth of Labour MPs.

More than 80 per cent are now at least resigned to Corbyn's Leadership.

The ambitions of the likes of Umunna are over once and for all.

On This Rock

"Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam Meam, et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus Eam."

Not even the priests who, having grown unused to Holy Days of Obligation in the middle of the week, have booked their holidays for this week, and have been frantically ringing round their retired brethren.

Yes, really.


This country's role in the Saudi bombardment of cholera-stricken Yemen ought to have been enough to lose the Conservatives the General Election outright.

Especially to a Labour Leader whose record on these issues is impeccable.

Indeed, it would have been.

If this war and that role had been reported properly.

Around The Houses

What a lucky escape that I never did end up in Parliament, and, being soon to turn 40, presumably now never will.

As a result, I am not struggling to get by on £74,000 while marvelling that such abject poverty did not entitle me to a council house.


"It is entirely undesirable that on modern housing estates only one type of citizen should live.

"If we are to enable citizens to lead a full life, if they are each to be aware of the problems of their neighbours, then they should all be drawn from different sectors of the community.

"We should try to introduce what was always the lovely feature of English and Welsh villages, where the doctor, the grocer, the butcher and the farm labourer all lived in the same street."

And Aneurin Bevan, for it was he, was as successful in this as he was in delivering universal healthcare free at the point of need.

In 1979, two fifths of people lived in council housing, an impossible figure for a mere "safety net for the poor".

As public provision, by definition, never is. Not the NHS, not state education, not public transport, none of it.

As recently as 35 years ago, what is now a breathtaking 20 per cent of the richest tenth of the population lived in social housing.

I have never been rich, but I have certainly always been middle-class, and I did live, albeit briefly, in a council house in the early 1980s. In, for local readers, Burnhope.

Now, after three decades of selling off the stock and of not building any more, the stringent criteria for new tenants effectively guarantee a large number of single mothers of dependent children who are thus unable to work full-time, if at all, and of people newly released from prison or newly discharged from psychiatric institutions.

Thatcher's assault on council housing is the one thing that her supporters still feel able to defend unconditionally.

But in reality, it created the Housing Benefit racket, and it used the gigantic gifting of capital assets by the State to enable the beneficiaries to enter the property market ahead of private tenants, or of people still living at home, who in either case had saved for their deposits.

What, exactly, was or is conservative or Tory about that? Or about moving in the characters from Shameless either alongside, or even in place of, the respectable working class?

We need 200,000 new houses every year, for 10 years.

The ban on councils' spending the capital receipts from council house sales needs to be lifted, too, requiring them to use the money to build new ones.

And the rent-to-buy scheme doing the rounds also demands serious attention.

Civil Order

Having topped the Private Members’ Bill Ballot, Chris Bryant is talking about introducing a Bill to enable opposite-sex couples to contract civil partnerships.

I very much hope that he will do so.

There is a perfectly reasonable case for civil partnerships to be available to opposite-sex couples. It is not as if those couples would otherwise be getting married.

Civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples would mean that no one would get married unless they very explicitly wanted to be married, in preference to a specific alternative.

That could only strengthen marriage.

For one thing, divorce could be made far more difficult, at least for people who had chosen marriage after this new arrangement had come into force.

After all, if they had not wanted that, then they could always have had a civil partnership instead. 

Unmarried opposite-sex partnerships are not some recent innovation. They are this country’s historical norm.

Most legal marriages used to last to the grave, if only because they could not be dissolved.

But everyone who knows the first thing about the subject knows that between the Reformation and the late nineteenth century at the absolute earliest, relatively few people in Britain ever were legally married.

They lived together, they had children, women often took men's names. But there was no marriage certificate, and it was quite normal to have several such arrangements over the course of a lifetime.

When people sought the validation of the State (as much local as national) and of its Established Church, then they really did want that validation. And, of course, they could afford to obtain it.

The near-universality of marriage probably did not last 100 years, and it tellingly collapsed under Margaret Thatcher, when the economic order to which it was integral was dismantled.

The introduction of opposite-sex civil partnerships would once again create the space in which the only people who got married were the people who really meant it.

There might not be very many of those on these shores. But there almost, if almost, never have been. 

A Bill such as this would have ample scope for amendment, even if I cannot be in Parliament in order to table them, so that I am not struggling to get by on £74,000 while marvelling that such abject poverty did not entitle me to a council house.  

Never having needed to be consummated, civil partnerships ought not to be confined to unrelated couples.

Any marrying couple should be entitled to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 with regard to grounds and procedures for divorce, and any religious organisation should be enabled to specify that any marriage that it conducted should be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly.

Statute should specify that the Church of England and the Church in Wales each be such a body unless, respectively, the General Synod and the Governing Body specifically resolved the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses.

There should be similar provision relating to the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy.

Entitlement upon divorce should be fixed by Statute at one per cent of the other party’s estate for each year of marriage, up to 50 per cent, with no entitlement for the petitioning party unless the other party’s fault were proved.

Am I trying to go back to the 1950s? To which features of the 1950s, exactly? Full employment? Public ownership? The Welfare State?

Council housing? Municipal services? Apprenticeships? Free undergraduate tuition, once other, rather more pressing needs had been met?

All of those things were bound up with things like this. That they have all been eroded or destroyed together has not been a coincidence.

It is not called neoliberalism for nothing.

Reach For The Sky

As the proprietor of the whole of Sky, Rupert Murdoch might do some good.

There are positions that the BBC simply ignores.

The workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, as the key swing voters. Identity issues located within the struggle for economic equality and for international peace.

The leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars.

The decision of the EU referendum by areas that voted Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru.

Opposition from the start to the failed programme of economic austerity.

Against all Governments since 1997, opposition to the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, to the persecution of the disabled, to the assault on civil liberties, to every British military intervention during that period, to Britain’s immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to the demonisation of Russia.

Rejection of any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers’ rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet.

Rescue of issues such as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems.

And refusal to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration.

Mr Murdoch ought to identify and include representatives of the traditions that those and other marginalised views express in practice.

For some of us, such a role might be the only way to avoid having to become Members of Parliament, which would leave us struggling to get by on £74,000 while marvelling that such abject poverty did not entitle us to a council house.

Good Cheer?

The cheers of Conservative and DUP MPs last night as they voted to cap the pay of emergency workers below inflation were the most disgusting spectacle since the cheers of Conservative and anti-Corbyn Labour MPs for the war advocated by a now forgotten person called Hilary Benn.

Be in no doubt that, left to themselves, all of the MPs who cheered on that occasion would also have been cheering last night.

Before Jeremy Corbyn became Leader, Labour was as pro-austerity at home as it was usually pro-war abroad (there had been a small amount of moderation under Ed Miliband).

But since Corbyn became Labour Leader, even the Conservatives can only get austerity through on the votes of people whom they have entirely exempted from it. As to war, that remains to be seen.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Action for Liberation

I agree with Peter Hitchens about the role of cannabis and of antidepressants in violent crime.

But he is wrong to try and detract from the clear political motivation of the murder of Jo Cox.

People tell me to stop going on about the links between the 1980s Far Right, including Thomas Mair, and the people who are now running the country.

But they told me to stop going on about the links between Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt on the one hand, and the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation on the other.

Fleet Street-as-was had always, always known about that story. But I dared to mention it. So, among other things, I remain banned from several major websites.

The official media finally said what they had always known when it became necessary to distract the public from the story of Patrick Rock, a story about which I also have no intention of shutting up.

Just as I have no intention of shutting up about the links between the 1980s Far Right, including Thomas Mair, and the people who are now running the country.

And just as I never did shut up about the links between Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt on the one hand, and the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation on the other.

Each of those stories is a gateway into a vast, and partially overlapping, history of this country over the last 40 years and more.

Both of those stories, both of those partially overlapping histories, are at play in the current abuse of the criminal justice system in order to persecute me.

But I have been proved right once. I shall be proved right again.

A Union of Equals

That is, of equal citizens.

The Union with Northern Ireland is a protection racket, with all the parties in on it in the way that all of the Mafia's Five Families are in on it in New York.

"We'll start blowing each other up again [or, at the very least, "People over here will start blowing each other up again"], which might very well spill over into blowing you up again, if you don't give us whatever sum of money we happen to demand."

Again I say that the DUP ought to be on every Question Time panel for as long as this arrangement holds.

The SNP is on every week, yet it runs nothing outside Scotland. The Hundred Million Pounders of the DUP should be made to account for themselves Thursday by Thursday, from Gateshead to Gloucester, and from Aberdare to Aberdeen.

Forget any DUP policy with which you might happen to agree. It has absolutely no interest in trying to introduce that over here.

It has undertaken to support the Brexit legislation even though, officially, no one yet knows what that legislation is going to say.

The logic of the DUP's position on everything specific would in fact have been "reluctant Remain", and that would have been its line if the referendum had happened even a couple more years after the death of the Big Man.

The DUP is now a bigger brake on Hard Brexit than even the 60 Conservative MPs who intend to join 50 Labour ones in voting against both of their respective front benches and manifestos if withdrawal from the Single Market and the Customs Union were ever to be put before the House of Commons.

The DUP, you see, is the guarantee that no such withdrawal will ever be so put.

An entire generation in Great Britain now sees the DUP as the enemy in Northern Ireland, so that, if it thinks about Jeremy Corbyn's past at all, then it thinks that he must have been basically on the right side, because he was on the side that was opposed to the DUP.

The problem, however, is that that view is not based on anger at the protection racket while austerity burns on in the tower blocks of England.

Instead, it is based on the DUP's attitude to homosexuality, an attitude that it has no desire to seek to ship across the Irish Sea.

Still, if David Davis never did become Prime Minister, then be in no doubt that his vote against same-sex marriage would be the reason why not.

For that reason, he is less likely ever to attain the Premiership than Corbyn is.

A history involving Sinn Féin is one thing; scarcely worth mentioning, even.

But anything less than total historical soundness on "LGBT issues" is an absolute bar to the Leadership of any party.

Well, any party apart from the DUP.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Proudly Parochial

The supporters, and perhaps even the persons, of Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson ought to keep in mind that they owe their respective positions to the votes of large numbers of the same people.

In similar vein, I am getting it in both my left and my right ears about Lanchester Parish Council.

As a former long-serving member, who stood down voluntarily in 2013 and who then failed to win back his seat this year, I comment with some trepidation.

But people have asked for my view. Therefore, here it is.

I voted for 15 candidates to fill the 15 seats on Lanchester Parish Council, and 12 of those candidates were elected.

Among those 12 were, and are, Labour, Independent, Conservative and Liberal Democrat representatives.

No one on that Council would have been elected on the votes of people who had voted only Labour, or only Independent, or only Conservative, or only Liberal Democrat.

Such ballot papers were submitted, but I was at the count, and I can assure you that there were not enough of them to have elected anybody.

Everyone who was elected ought to keep that in mind.

The State of This

IS teeters on the brink of defeat.

So the Saudis' latest puppet, Donald Trump, wants to bomb the people who have brought about that happy state of affairs.

His State Visit cannot happen too soon. I for one am thoroughly looking forward to it.

Living It Down

Today is the tenth anniversary of the resignation of Tony Blair as Prime Minister.

With Paul Mason suggesting that his supporters ought now to form their own party and see how far it got, whatever happened to Blair's scheme from last year for "more than a movement, but less than a political party"?

We have all had projects that petered out, or that never quite got started properly.

But we are not all Tony Blair.


The problem with the Co-op Bank was precisely that it was not a mutual, but merely happened to be owned by one.

The Left has missed a trick here. We could have had it for a song.

We must not make the same mistake again.

We ought to be have been in on the Academies programme from the start, bypassing the municipal Labour Right in order to cut our own deals.

The same is true of the reorganisation that is undoubtedly now coming to housing in general and to social housing in particular.

And all sorts of changes are coming to the ownership of broadcasting, from Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the whole of Sky, to the plans of the Conservative-DUP Coalition for the BBC and for Channel 4.

We are no more here to cover the backs of the metropolitan Liberal Establishment than we are here to cover the backs of the municipal Labour Right. What has either of them ever done for us?

Jeremy Corbyn is the political and cultural phenomenon of the age. We have no need of those who have kept us off everything for 100 years.

We can just bypass them and deal directly with anyone we like, or at the very least need.

We can, and we should.


The Conservatives need to retain or regain marginal seats in the South West, in the North West, and here in the North East.

They have promised an extra billion pounds to Northern Ireland.

Formula requires that that translate into well over the same for Wales, and into so much extra for Scotland that a second independence referendum has today been kicked into the long grass.

All of which will go down just swimmingly in the South West, in the North West, and here in the North East.

Political Choice

Whatever your views on abortion or on same-sex marriage, the key point is this: Theresa May's deal with the DUP has nothing to do with either of those issues.

The Conservatives have conceded that austerity is a political choice.

While the DUP, by having given up on the loose morals of the godless English, sound for all the world like Irishmen.

Monday 26 June 2017


Most people have no idea that the councillor's allowance exists, and most of those have no idea how much it is.

To the general public, being on the council is voluntary work in the evenings, by people with full-time day jobs. How little they realise.

Although the allowance is paid for attendance at as few as four meetings per year. Anything over and above that is, in that narrow sense, voluntary.

At the very least, it ought to be illegal for any council pay any of its staff less than it paid its members.

And at the very, very least, the Leader of the Labour Party ought not to appear on a platform with any member of the majority Group on any council that failed to adhere to that rule.

Such a member ought to be booed heartily by the crowd at, for example, the Durham Miners' Gala.

The basic allowance for a member of Durham County Council is £13,300.

The pay of at least a large minority of that authority's Teaching Assistants will soon be less than that.

Home Truths

Enemies in one's own party are one thing.

But when the only Conservative MP to come out against a Labour Shadow Chancellor is only an occasional member of that party at all, then it is obvious that the Shadow Chancellor is right.

If a figure of the libertarian Right had used exactly the same words as John McDonnell, then those attacking him would have applauded wildly.

And the failed safety tests multiply by the hour, from councils of all hues, and from before and after either the 2010 Election or the Crash.

There needs to be a Royal Commission into housing.

Just don't put Nadine Dorries on it.

Well and Truly DUPed

One hundred million pounds for each DUP MP. Theresa May has the most heavily subsidised job in the entire British economy.

Northern Ireland does tourism rather well. It ought to organise trips to see the Magic Money Tree that turns out to have existed after all.

Remember, kids, this time last month we were on the brink of "a coalition of chaos" in a hung Parliament that would have weakened Britain in the Brexit negotiations.

We faced the prospect of a Prime Minister who thought that money could be conjured out of thin air (it pretty much can be by a sovereign state with a free-floating fiat currency, and in fact that happens all the time), and who had dodgy ties to the Northern Ireland whose politicians would have been interfering in central government.

What a lucky escape.

"They Would Never Say That About Islam"?


Here are a few quotations.

"We have known in our own religion people doing things which are deeply offensive to some of us. We feel it very much. And that is what is happening to Islam."

"The British Government, the British people have no affection for this book. It compares Britain with Hitler's Germany. We do not like that any more than people of the Muslim faith like the attacks on their faith."

"How many societies, having been so treated by a foreigner accepted in their midst [a foreigner whom the speaker also called an "outstanding villain"], could go so far as to protect him from the consequences of his egotistical and self-opinionated attack on the religion into which he was born?"

"The Embassy wishes to emphasise that the US Government in no way associates itself with any activity that is any way offensive to Islam or any other religion."

The first quotation is from the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The second is from the then Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe. The third is from Thatcher's closest political ally, Norman Tebbit. And the fourth was issued by the first Bush Administration's State Department in response to riots in Islamabad.

The target of all of these was also excoriated by the Old Right grandees of Hugh Trevor-Roper, John le Carré and Roald Dahl, as well as by the emerging neoconservative movement.

All the way up to September 2001, that latter was saying how much it admired the robustness of Sharia.

It was also thoroughly keen, like the Thatcher Government, on Pakistan in general and on the Islamist regime of General Zia-ul-Haq in particular, as well as on arming what became the Taliban and al-Qaeda (and on arming Saddam Hussein).

Of course, the "outstanding villain" under discussion was Salman Rushdie, and the book was The Satanic Verses, which can now be bought off the shelf of any Waterstones without the slightest raising of an eyebrow.

The Daily Mail, which never went as neocon as the Daily Telegraph did, has never quite come to terms with Rushdie, even to this day. They both hated him, really and truly hated him, at the time.

If you think that Islam, or at least the South Asian among its attendant cultures, is treated as beyond criticism, humorous and otherwise, then you cannot be watching Coronation Street, you cannot be watching Ackley Bridge, and you cannot have been watching EastEnders in the last 10 years.

If you feel like being sniffy about the suggestion that you might have such viewing habits, then one should add that you cannot have been visiting Waterstones, either.

Saturday 24 June 2017

Putting The Big Into The Big Meeting

You will of course all be at the Durham Miners' Gala on Saturday 8th July.

Who won't be? 200,000 are expected at the high point of the Third Corbyn Summer.

It might even get some national coverage this time, although don't bet on it.

With scarcely an affordable hotel room left in the city, camping will be available, if you book now.

But are Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Rayner, Ken Loach, Len McCluskey and Steve Gillan prepared to appear on a platform with a member of the majority on Durham County Council?

Even if it is only the Mayor saying a few opening words?

Those words would more appropriately be delivered by one or more of the Teaching Assistants.

Paradise Regaining?

The UN's referral of the Chagos Islands to the International Criminal Court is excellent news.

The treatment of my friends the Chagossians is a stain on this country and a stain on the Labour Party.

But Labour's current Leader has been valiant in their cause over many decades, as he has been in the causes of my friends and theirs, the Dalits, and of my friends and theirs, the Rohingya, the mere mention of which latter is enough to secure one's arrest here in the fiefdom of his internal party enemies.

Moreover, Vince Cable does also have some history of sympathy towards the Chagossians. There are many reasons to see him as the best available candidate for Leader of the Liberal Democrats. This is one of those reasons.

The Red Rose and The White Rose

When my friend Richard Burgon, who has told me that I set the sartorial tone of the whole movement, balked at swearing allegiance to the Hanoverian monarch, then I was delighted to see what a good Catholic boy he still was. 

Perhaps he should have worn an oak leaf and acorns? Next time, perhaps he will?

Andrew Murray, meanwhile, is a scion of the Jacobite Dukes of Perth. That is as it should be.

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.

Of course, I know that Richard was really expressing doubts about the monarchy itself. I refuse to believe that every White Gold merchant on the Conservative benches is a God-fearing monarchist.

But when Prince George was born, there were complaints that we now knew that our next three Heads of State, probably stretching into the twenty-second century, would all be white males.

Well, they would all have been white males, anyway. The present one is not male. But any elected Head of this State always would be. And white. And quite or very posh. So why bother changing the present arrangements?

No one with anything like the Royal Family’s foreign background would ever stand a hope of becoming the President of Britain. The Queen is of heavy immigrant stock, and she is married to an immigrant.

They are both probably part-black. In fact, no one could believe anything else having seen a portrait of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whose features were publicly called “Negroid” at the time, when her ancestry was common knowledge and apparently disturbed nobody. The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is named after her, and it is the seat of Mecklenburg County.

Furthermore, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are plausibly believed to be descended from Muhammad through various part-Moorish royal lines on the Iberian Peninsula.

Even if Robert Graves was once ushered away from Her Majesty after he had mentioned their common descent from the Prophet of Islam, that view is widely held in an entirely matter-of-fact way across the Islamic world.

Genghis Khan and the Tang Emperor Suzong are less plausible ancestors, but not impossible ones.

Loyalty to the monarchy is nothing if not a bulwark against racism, and not only, although certainly, because the Queen is the Head of the Commonwealth, as well as directly of 16 member-states. Only four of those 16, including this one, have white majority populations.

Only two of the remaining 14 British Overseas Territories are predominantly white, and only one of those two has a population descended primarily from these Islands, something that Canada and Australia also do not have.

Try and imagine anyone with anything remotely approaching the Queen’s known ancestry as a candidate for President of Britain. No such person would stand the slightest chance of election to that office. Nor would anyone aged 26, as the Queen was when she came to the Throne. Nor would anyone aged 91.

The Royal Family is not at the pinnacle of the class system. That is the old Noble Houses of England and Scotland, who look down on the Royals as immigrant noovs, an unfortunate political necessity from the eighteenth century.

That was the root of the trouble with Diana. She had married down. Time was when the Spencers, then the richest family in the Kingdom, had even bankrolled the indigent Hanoverians.

Liberty is the freedom to be virtuous, and to do anything not specifically proscribed.

Equality is the means to liberty, and is never to be confused with mechanical uniformity; it includes the Welfare State, workers’ rights, consumer protection, local government, a strong Parliament, public ownership, and many other splendid things.

And fraternity is the means to equality. For example, in the form of trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies and mutual building societies; numerous more could be cited. 

Liberty, equality and fraternity are therefore inseparable from nationhood, a space in which to be unselfish.

Thus from family, the nation in miniature, where unselfishness is first learned.

And thus from property, each family’s safeguard both against over-mighty commercial interests and against an over-mighty State, therefore requiring to be as widely diffused as possible, and thus the guarantor of liberty as here defined.

The family, private property and the State must be protected and promoted on the basis of their common origin and their interdependence, such that the diminution or withering away of any one or two of them can only be the diminution and withering away of all three of them.

All three are embodied by monarchy.

Monarchy further embodies the principle of sheer good fortune, of Divine Providence conferring responsibilities upon the more fortunate towards the less fortunate.

It therefore provides an excellent basis for social democracy, as has proved the case in the United Kingdom, in the Old Commonwealth, in Scandinavia and in the Benelux countries.

Allegiance to a monarchy is allegiance to an institution embodied by a person, rather than to an ethnicity or an ideology as the basis of the State.

As Bernie Grant understood, and as one expects that Diane Abbott understands, allegiance to this particular monarchy, with its role in the Commonwealth, is a particular inoculation against racial feeling.

No wonder that the National Party abolished it in South Africa. No wonder that the Rhodesian regime followed suit, and removed the Union Flag from that of Rhodesia, something that not even the Boers’ revenge republic ever did. No wonder that the BNP wants (or wanted, since it now scarcely exists) to abolish the monarchy here.

It was Margaret Thatcher who mounted an assault on the monarchy, since she scorned the Commonwealth, social cohesion, historical continuity, and public Christianity.

She called the Queen “the sort of person who votes for the SDP”, and she arrogated to herself the properly monarchical and royal role on the national and international stages. She used her most popular supporting newspaper to vilify the Royal Family.

When the Sex Pistols sang of a “Fascist regime” in the Britain of 1977, then they were referring to a Labour Cabinet with Tony Benn in it. Benn had also been the Postmaster General who had taken on the pirate radio stations in order to protect the livelihoods of the unionised musicians.

The fans of pirate radio and then of the Sex Pistols went on to elect Thatcher three times, and did not vote Labour at another General Election until Tony Blair had come along, giving him a third term as Prime Minister even two years after the invasion of Iraq.

God Save The Queen, Comrades.

God Save The Queen.

Lest We Forget

Armed Forces Day is an invention of the Blair Government, which speaks for itself.

Remembrance Sunday was already there, in the way that the Legion was already there before the strange emergence of Help for Heroes, also under Blair.

Frankly, that seems to be a campaigning organisation for an interventionist foreign policy and for the commercial interests of the arms trade, while today's newfangled shenanigans seem to be held in the same dubious cause.

Save these things for November, and take them back to their original meaning even then.

Friday 23 June 2017

Teaching Assistance, Indeed

I do not mean this question rhetorically.
What says my Member of Parliament, and apparently now my near neighbour, Laura Pidcock, on the latest development in the saga of Durham County Council and the Teaching Assistants?
On her answer depends whether or not she will be worth a vote at the next General Election, no matter how desperately one might yearn for a Corbyn Government, a yearning that is not shared by the Leadership of Durham County Council.
The same is true of every other Labour MP is this county, which is of course every other MP at all in this county.
Laura walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally when their principal spokeswoman on last night's Look North, a Lanchester resident who is therefore also now a constituent of Laura's, called for a vote against every Labour candidate at what were then the forthcoming local elections.
Under the influence of people very close to Laura, and of one in particular, the TAs seemed to back away from that simple and brilliant strategy.
As a result, Labour kept control of Durham County Council and the injustice continues unrectified.
If Labour had lost that control, then it would have been possible to call for a Labour vote at the recent General Election, and it would be possible to call for a Labour vote at the forthcoming one.
But as things stood, that was possible only at Easington last time. Will it be possible anywhere else next time?
The Teaching Assistants will march again at the Durham Miners' Gala this year. One speaker, Steve Gillan of the Prison Officers' Association, has already assured me that he will march with them.
Will Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Rayner, Ken Loach and Len McCluskey, all of whom have offered strong support in the past, do likewise?
For that matter, will Laura Pidcock, who already seems to be getting a lot of coverage as a poster girl for the Left?