Sunday 24 September 2023

Beset On All Sides

Very many thanks for all the kind birthday messages, sadly far too many to reply to them all individually. Yesterday, I attained the age that Samuel L. Jackson was in Pulp Fiction. I'm sorry, did I break your concentration?

The average male life expectancy in Britain is 81, so I am well past halfway, and I am therefore adept at spotting cant. Let us begin with those who have been dancing on the grave of the still living Rupert Murdoch while continuing to pay homage to Tony Blair, whom Murdoch and his media supported fanatically at the time. Neil Kinnock rails against The Sun, yet he infamously repeated one of its anti-Liverpudlian lies. Liverpool City Council did not sack anyone when it hired taxis to hand out redundancy notices. Those notices were an accounting device. No job was lost.

With Channel 4 and the BBC, the Murdoch media, if admittedly not so much The Times and the Sunday Times, created the unpleasant popular culture that defined and was defined by New Labour, and exalted as its personification Russell Brand. He was briefly both a presenter on the most popular radio station in Europe and a star of Hollywood films, living with Jemima Goldsmith in London and married to Katy Perry in Los Angeles. No one ever got that big either by accident or on his own.

You can search this site and find that I disliked Brand when that position was exceedingly unfashionable. Like Prince Harry, like at least one senior member of the present Cabinet, and like numerous members of recent ones including the Prime Minister before last, Brand has flagrantly lied on his United States visa application. Whatever his habits, his views on drugs have not changed. As to his more recently acquired opinions, I remain an unapologetically intolerant anti-anti-vaxxer, with a particular aversion to pro-drugs anti-vaxxers, for whose position I can scarcely find the words.

But no one said a word about Brand until he stepped out of line politically. More than a week after the hitjob, there has been no arrest, and the only Police investigation is into an unconnected allegation from 20 years ago. Those anonymised, voiced up women do not exist. Prove me wrong. Yet the whole thing is being intentionally mixed up with, for example, a bizarre claim by the University of Edinburgh, and once again reported in The Times, that one in 10 men had committed a sexual offence against children because, out of a small and self-selected field, one in 10 reported having had sexual contact with an under-18 while aged 18 or over, so with a girl who might have been one day younger than him on his eighteenth birthday, putting her a year and 364 days above the age of consent. The Brand-baiters who are making hay with this are being played. The purpose of this report is to make sexual contact with children seem so normal that nothing could be done about it. One man in 10 is a paedophile? More people than live in Wales, and far more than live in the North East of England? That is obviously rubbish. But if it were true, then what be the point of trying to fight it? And there you are. As of course the Brand-baiters know.

There are plenty of other steaming hypocrites at the moment, as there are at every moment. Law and order hardwoman Suella Braverman wants the Police to feel free to open fire without consequence, and she is therefore interfering illegally in an impending criminal trial while she prepares to deploy the Army on the streets of London. Rishi Sunak affects to be reconsidering Net Zero when in fact he has merely pretended to have cancelled things that were not happening, and followed the EU in pushing something back from when he would probably have left office to when he will certainly have done so. The sound money Conservatives have tripled the National Debt since 2010, as they quadrupled it between 1979 and 1997. There is endless rattling about gender self-identification from the party on whose watch the concept has emerged from the outermost fringes of academia.

On that party's own fringes, people who always held the absolute infallibility of the Bank of England, the City, the money markets, and the American Administration of the day, have spent nearly a year bewailing those forces' removal of the worst British Prime Minister that they had ever seen even as a realistic possibility, never mind as an actual fact. Those same individuals had considered it an unanswerable argument against Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell that those forces would never have stood for them. If their expectations in relation to Liz Truss were anything to go by, then they would have been wrong about that. The Bank, the City and the markets have been wargaming a Labour Left Government forever. They would have got by, as they still would. It was the mini-Budget that they could not countenance.

Keir Starmer gushes over Joe Biden, but he would sack him from his frontbench for standing with striking workers. Starmer mutters about HS2, but he will not consider the nationwide extension of Andy Burnham's reregulation of buses. Labour presents itself as the alternative to the Government's undeniably atrocious economic policies, but on the bizarre grounds that it would implement whatever those policies happened to be in a year's time. It has reneged on its commitment to incorporate into law the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Whose vote is that supposed to attract? Those are my rights. You are only ever one illness or accident away from their being your rights.

The entire Canadian Parliament has just given a standing ovation to Yaroslav Hunka, a 98-year-old Nazi collaborator, but so many of the same SS Division ended up in Britain that, for example, on Sunday 16th November 2014, there was a march in their honour from Trafalgar Square to the Cenotaph, where a wreath was laid. To a Division of the SS. At the Cenotaph. One week after Remembrance Sunday.

People who bang on about Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, neither of which is under any meaningful threat, deny that there is a Chagossian people, because those Islanders' ancestors had been taken to those Islands as slaves before 1814 (when the French ceded that atoll specifically as a dependency of Mauritius), thereby justifying their eviction as recent immigrants, if recent immigrants may legitimately be so treated, between 1968 and 1973. Would they try that line in the Caribbean? Perhaps so, since, while professing to be history buffs, they imagine that Britain's only role in the slave trade was to end it.

Just as they imagine the National Trust to have been founded by and for Tories. The circles of Octavia Hill, John Ruskin, F. D. Maurice, Henry Mayhew, Dame Henrietta Barnett, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley are obviously a closed book to them. If you do not find that funny, then there is something wrong with you. The same goes for Boris Johnson's recent column on the Chagos Islands, of which the highlight was the assertion that they were too far from Mauritius and ought therefore to belong to Britain. A close second came the argument that Diego Garcia had been central to the oh so successful wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As the party of Denis Healey and David Miliband, the party that launched those wars no doubt agrees.

Opportunistic though it is, the Liberal Democrats' casting of themselves as the protectors of the Triple Lock makes it even surer than it always was that when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.


  1. You've got the measure of the lot of them.

    The Yaroslav Hunka story should have been the biggest in the world.