Sunday 21 January 2024

They, "The People"?

Rishi Sunak calls the Rwanda Bill "the Will of the People". They used to call themselves "the Country". It is "the People" now, but it still means the same. By no means only in Britain, socially interchangeable liberal and reactionary elites have always been united against the rest of us, all the way down to the centrism and the right-wing populism that exist to sell exactly the same economic and foreign policies to different audiences while pretending to fight culture wars and while excluding everyone else from the debate. They are the People. This is its Will.

After I suggested an ITV drama about the Single Justice Procedure, I have had it suggested in turn that that Procedure might be used for the Rwanda appeals. "Don't put it past them," I was told. I don't. Parliament could legislate to make that happen, as surely as it could and should legislate to exonerate and compensate the subpostmasters. Dominic Grieve was Attorney General in 2013, when the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act retrospectively convicted the innocent. Within a much wider context of justice, the purely potential exoneration or even compensation of a handful of guilty people, who had already been punished, would be nowhere near as objectionable.

Then there is the question of whom Toby Jones could play in a miniseries about successive Governments' direct theft of the Mineworkers' Pension Scheme, which was once so mighty that it owned the Watergate Complex, the ultimate Trustees of which therefore included Arthur Scargill and Mick McGahey. In an echo of matters discussed below, in 1982, on first becoming President of the National Union of Mineworkers, and again in 1992, straight after the death of Robert Maxwell, Scargill tried to have the MPS buy the Mirror Group. At least on the first occasion, that was considered a serous proposition. Where would Alastair Campbell have been then? As we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Miners' Strike, ponder the wealth and power that have been lost by communities that still have a thousand years' worth of their valuable natural resource beneath their feet.

The Britain that was born in the defeat of the miners subsidises with tax relief the export of 80 per cent of North Sea oil, has the Government decommission the oil rigs, allows the profits to be paid in tax havens, and is paying Indian and Chinese companies to make this the only G20 country that was incapable of producing steel. It is not explained how we were expected to fight so many wars with no steel. When the wind blows, then we cannot run trains north of Newcastle or Preston. If we really were facing war with Russia, then the Russians would not be quaking in their snow boots.

Would you die for Grant Shapps? Ignore anyone who advocated a military intervention unless you could imagine that person as an 18-year-old in battle. The call for war always comes primarily from the liberal bourgeoisie. That is the class least likely to join the Armed Forces voluntarily, or to see combat even in periods of conscription. Military, especially Army, recruitment depends heavily on the working class, if the people in question could always still be called that.

Are they going to join up to defend the foodbanks, the poor doors, the playgrounds that social housing tenants' children were not allowed to use, the school menus with items not available to pupils on free meals, and the criminalisation of homelessness to the point of the imprisonment that some people already contrived for themselves every winter because it was warmer than the streets? Either a lot of people escape poverty by joining the Army because they still feel that they have something worth defending, or hardly anyone from Britain joins it at all. Here we are. They would rather go to prison. Forty years on.

We are also approaching the seventy-fifth anniversary of the foundation of NATO, which was not in fact founded even officially as a defensive alliance against Soviet expansion, but which, had it been, would have had the advantage of being a protection against something that did not exist, since we have now known with absolute certainty for well over 30 years that the Soviet Union had never had either the will or the means to invade Western Europe, much less North America, just as Russia obviously has neither any such will nor any such means today. As for nuclear deterrence, even in its terms, how has it worked against Russia, or on the part of Pakistan against Iran, or on the part of Israel against first Hamas and now also the Houthis, or on the part of Britain and the United States against the Houthis? We are supposed to be gearing up against China, but China has nuclear weapons, so we are obviously no more deterred by those than the Chinese are by ours. Anyone would think that it were all a load of rubbish.

China's population is in any case shrinking as a result of its central role in the global capitalism to which it was admitted on conditions including the adoption of the one-child policy and of liberalised abortion. The one child policy was eased once the new economic order had entrenched its culture and vice versa, but abortion remains because that order cannot function without it in China or anywhere else. There are several clear lines between that and the payment of £25 million in bonuses, "incentives" and benefits to those who pumped raw sewage into Britain's rivers, lakes and seas while failing to build a new reservoir since 1989, "regulated", as ever, by their own former and future employees. Again, would you join up to fight for that?

At least Shapps is not inviting anyone to join up and fight for Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and the rest of them, are the unanswerable riposte to the question of what if a Palestinian State elected Hamas. Unlike Hamas, two parties that were already in Netanyahu's coalition before 7th October do not allow women to be candidates for public office. It is Keir Starmer and David Lammy who, mark my words, want to conscript the least academic school-leavers into the IDF. For all practical purposes, the Labour Party now has the same constitutional commitment as Likud to Israeli sovereignty from the River to the Sea while rejecting a one-state solution as ordinarily conceived, which leaves only the options of evicting more than half the population or of killing them.

The age of conscription for white boys in apartheid South Africa was ordinarily 16, although you could wait until you had left school. Ephraim Mirvis was 16 in 1972 and moved to Israel in 1973. So, even if only for a year, did he or did he not wear the uniform and wield the weapons of B.J. Vorster? Classification as white under apartheid, and it also applied under the Jim Crow laws, settles once and for all the question of whiteness or otherwise. When the people of most of the 193 countries that are parties to the International Court of Justice look at Tal Becker, then what do they see? What aspects of their own histories are called to mind by the scenes from Gaza of white men singing and dancing as they killed brown women and children?

For example and even especially, the same is true in Britain. Is it the victims of "the last acceptable racism" who are stopped and searched? There have been a lot of genocides in history, there are people with ties to all of them in this country now, there is someone with a tie to at least one of them in any area, and your most recent genocide does not entitle you to define what is or is not one, especially since you were not its only victims, while at least one other such group remains very much subject to extreme racism in this country, as it has been longer than any other. The members of that group do not share your affection for Oliver Cromwell, any more than they share the Anglican Establishment's mere ambivalence about Henry VIII, or its lionisation of Elizabeth I.

Mirvis is a man of undeniable gifts and accomplishments, but he is the Chief Rabbi of whom? Of what? He is the head of the single largest of the several sections of the Orthodox minority within this country's tiny Jewish minority. For all his legacy title, he is nothing more than that. That ought to be made clearer. Many of his enthusiasts would ordinarily be a lot less indulgent of a man born and raised in Africa who, via the Middle East and the Irish Republic, had turned up in London at the age of 36 to become a leading figure, and eventually the leading figure, of a small but vocal religious minority that was mostly of fairly recent immigrant origin, that maintained cultural practices a very long way from the mainstream (no Christmas ham on either count), and that had a particularly close relationship with a foreign state that had been founded by anti-British terrorists in living memory.

There are as many Arabs as Jews in Britain, half of one per cent of the population apiece. An Arab, and indeed BRICS, state will soon own the Telegraph Group, and the publication of Mirvis's article in the Sunday Telegraph is one of the many signs that that Group as we have known it is delirious with demob happiness and the death rattle. The Spectator, like The Economist in an example of the fake distinction between "the centre ground" and the Hard Right, has argued in favour of the globalisation, privatisation and deregulation that are now threatening to kill them both off by ending postal deliveries on Saturdays, and the Telegraph Group has cheered for a British economy so "open" as to allow the ownership of this country's essential infrastructure by foreign interests and even foreign states, several of them deeply unsavoury. It was ownership by our own state that was unconscionable, even when the alternative was to pay public subsidies to other people's, which then proceeded to overcharge anyway. Again, this has all been as fundamental to centrism as to rightism, to Blairism as to Thatcherism.

Suddenly, though, it is a problem when it is coming for a daily newspaper with a last known circulation of 317,817 more than four years ago, for a Sunday newspaper with a lower circulation even than that, for a weekly magazine with a circulation of 102,212 three years ago, and presumably also for a monthly magazine with only 30,000 readers worldwide, albeit very loyal readers and often very rich ones. Boo hoo. Unlike the Saturday post, which must indeed be defended by any means necessary, those who were happy for Abu Dhabi to own everything but them can cry more. The Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator howled against the Leveson Report on the grounds that absolutely anyone should be able to own a newspaper and to publish whatever they pleased in it. That time, they were right.

No one is more replaceable than a newspaper columnist. Telegraph Group writers are mostly doing it as a joke, and half the joke to them and to half of their readers is that the other half does not realise that it is a joke. But while it would do for a fairly pricey monthly magazine, a combination of fogeyish news stories with funny pictures, and affected reactionary opinions such as the return of pre-decimal currency because there were references to it in nursery rhymes, is not a viable model for a daily newspaper that could also carry a Sunday paper and a weekly magazine. Yet this is a profitable endeavour.

You see, it is the spooky scare stories that pay the bills. Having bought the paper for a daily dose of amusing hats in one context or another, people will then read everything else in it, in order to get their money's worth. Anyone who stumped up enough cash could have that arrangement, and either the Emiratis simply have more money than our own spooks, or the spooks no longer feel that the Telegraph audience is worth cultivating, or they would have no serious objection to what BRICS Arabs might place before the gin and gymkhana set, or any two of those, or all three of them. Yes, that's it. All three of them. As much as Mirvis, read Starmer in it while you can.

Or while anyone would want to. Labour needs a swing of 8.3 per cent to become the largest party, or 12.7 per cent, the largest in its history, to win an overall majority. 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. Any more than the imploding SNP is. Any more than the Liberal Democrats are, with the Post Office scandal giving long-overdue crystallisation in the public mind to their failures in the Coalition of austerity and war. Or any more than the Greens are, with their enthusiasm for the war in Ukraine, and with increasing attention to their role in the "Labour anti-Semitism" scam.

The most basic of checks would have confirmed that the wreath, and the mural, and the "not understanding English irony", and the "friends from Hamas and Hezbollah", and all the rest of those, were complete dross, as everyone who did bother to check did find out. The Equality and Human Rights Commission found precisely two cases in its entire report, neither of them involved Jeremy Corbyn or indeed anyone who was still a member of the Labour Party, and even in relation to those, it was found in court that it was, "arguable that the Defendant [the EHRC] made an error of law in relation to Article 10 ECHR." Rather than defend that at judicial review, the EHRC settled with Ken Livingstone, whom it had continued to pursue despite knowing that he had Alzheimer's disease, and with Pam Bromley. As a matter of record, "Labour anti-Semitism" never existed. One for ITV, perhaps?

And if Starmer had not unilaterally announced a policy of a second referendum, for which Corbyn ought to have sacked him, then there would have been no General Election in 2019. It would have been in early 2022, and it would have resulted in a hung Parliament with Corbyn's Labour as the largest party. Heaven knows what would have happened then, but that would have been the result. Having found a more lucrative way to be a callous, lazy, corrupt, priapic and drunken cokehead, then Boris Johnson would have left Parliament either at that Election or earlier. Everyone in politics and the media knew that that was what he was, yet they made him Prime Minister rather than risk a bit of mild social democracy at home or a bit of peace abroad.

"Let the bodies pile high," said Johnson, the most unsuitable candidate for Prime Minister ever presented by either main party at a General Election. "Just let people die," said Sunak. If you participated in either or both of the scam and of the call for a second referendum, then you made those two Prime Minister, with Mad Liz Truss in between. There are gallons of blood on your hands, and you cost the country £111 billion, £37 billion over two years for Test and Trace, and £74 billion in one afternoon for the mini-Budget all but one measure in which was supported by the Official Opposition. But 2024 is our opportunity to establish that we are the People now. Let our Will prevail.


  1. Bloody hell. Looks like the Speccie has got to Sunak to save Saturday deliveries and save your magazine too, but apart from that from reading this, bloody hell.