Tuesday, June 14, 2016 

Hard and fast.

The result of the 23rd of June 2016 referendum on whether to stay or leave the European Union came as a shock to those campaigning for Out.  Very few of them had genuinely believed they would win, let alone by a mirror image of the result in the Scottish independence referendum of two years previous.  The 55%-45 vote in favour of Leave stunned most of the political establishment, but not the leadership of the Conservative party.  Just as their private polling had suggested they were on their way to a majority in 2015, so too it had pointed towards a victory for Leave.  In the last couple of days of the campaign, David Cameron and George Osborne had become fatalistic in private, preparing for the inevitable.  Labour's canvass returns led them to reach a similar conclusion, but their reaction was the opposite, throwing everything they had into trying to get their supporters to realise what they were going to vote for.

It did no good.  Their minds had been already made up.  The Leave campaign's unending focus on immigration from the EU had overwhelmed all the opposing arguments from the Remain side.  More precisely, the unrelenting focus on immigration post the 2005 accession of the A8 countries is what did for Remain.  Most damaging by far was the Conservative promise to reduce immigration to the tens of thousands, an unachievable aim the leadership had never been serious about, and yet kept even after winning their majority in 2015.  David Cameron's claims that his renegotiation, extracting concessions on benefits, would somehow bring the numbers down was specious and he knew it.  Migrants from Europe came to work, not claim benefits.

Few politicians dared to make a positive case for the wave of migration from eastern Europe, instead either making false promises or pretending to listen to concerns while doing nothing.  The coalition government went so far as to abolish the fund that had directed increased spending to areas of the country where migration was highest.  That 5% of nurses and 10% of doctors working in the NHS were EU nationals made no difference; most chose to believe that immigration was in fact a drain on the health service, when the opposite was the case.  Labour voices that had previously spoken up for migrants were drowned out by other MPs panicked by what their constituents were telling them.  The last minute pledge to work to change the rules on freedom of movement came far too late to make any difference.

The Remain campaign had started out believing that a repeat of the "Project Fear" tactics seen in the independence referendum would work again two years later.  What Remain had not reckoned on was the remarkable dishonesty of the Leave campaign: almost every single claim made was a lie, and yet it did them no harm.  By far the most egregious was how many times over Leave spent the money they claimed would be saved by leaving the EU. It was variously promised to the NHS, to cut VAT, to keep up the payments the EU made to universities, farmers, the arts etc.  The internet was meant to have made fact checking the claims of politicians all the easier, and still it made no difference.  All politicians were liars, went the refrain, so why would anyone bother?  The required neutrality of the broadcasters meant they had to treat the figures produced by Leave with credulity, even when they were fantastical.  With the vast majority of the print media virulently anti-EU, producing front pages that day after day warned of a new migrant surge, any attempts to move the debate away from immigration on to the economy, how the UK wanted to be seen in the world and how it would affect the rest of Europe failed.

The morning of June the 24th was grey and wet, as much of the previous month had been.  The exception were the images beaming out from every TV screen: the grinning, jubilant faces of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage.  David Cameron, his face ashen, begrudgingly congratulated the Leave campaign at a dawn press conference in Downing Street, where he also announced his immediate resignation as both prime minister and leader of the Conservatives.  Cameron in the past few days had tried and failed to come to terms with the extent of his failure, what he now recognised as his act of the utmost irresponsibility in promising a referendum.  With the focus on winning the 2015 election, the Tory leadership had failed to recognise that its success would also be its downfall.  The coalition it had put together to win that election, overwhelmingly focused on voters over 40, was massively opposed to the EU and resistant to change.  The Tories had imagined that Labour voters would make up the difference.  Instead, faced with a Tory government, continuing austerity and without the prospect of any apparent improvement in their lot, many decided that leaving couldn't possibly make things any worse.

George Osborne took over as interim prime minister, launching his bid to become party leader a year earlier than he had imagined would be the case.  Osborne ended up finishing third, behind Michael Gove and the all conquering Boris Johnson.  Johnson within days of taking over conspired behind the scenes with the SNP for a vote of no confidence to be called.  While Labour opposed the vote, the other parties voted in favour, and a snap general election was called.  Jeremy Corbyn campaigned valiantly on a manifesto designed around leaving the EU on the best possible terms, remaining in the single market, but the party was as divided as ever.  The SNP swept the board in Scotland, Plaid Cymru and UKIP picked up seats in Wales while Labour fell back even further in England, the Tories under Johnson winning a landslide victory.

Writing from the vantage point of 2040, with Scotland long independent having rejoined the EU, Wales on the cusp of its own independence vote with the polls suggesting a clear majority in favour of seceding from England and Northern Ireland, and London an effective city state, with Neo Labour mayor Owen Jones entering his fourth term having negotiated a free trade agreement with the EU where the Tories had long refused to, it's easy to see how disastrous the Leave vote was.  Johnson lasted only 2 years as prime minister before a scandal involving his giving the home address of a BBC journalist to a underworld figure forced his resignation.  One of the first moves of his successor, Michael Gove, was to join in with President Trump's attack on Iran.  The last British troops leave Tehran in September, with the total number of dead numbering over 5,000.

The Leave campaign never had a plan for what to do in the event that it won.  While the worst predictions of Remain were not realised, at least not in the short term, the results over time have if anything been worse.  With the Tories failing to agree a trade deal with the EU, everything reverted to WTO standards.  With the advantages of being in a trade block gone, the global manufacturers who had based their operations in the UK one by one relocated to the continent.  Communities that had already been hit hard by the 2008 crash were hit again, this time never to recover.  The voters did however get their wish on immigration: with the UK no longer one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, net migration fell within 5 years to below the tens of thousands target.  After ten years the pendulum had swung completely: more were emigrating than were arriving.  Still however there is a comfortable majority for the Tories in England,  Labour having split, merged with the Greens and Liberal Democrats in an attempt to create a progressive bloc, and then re-emerged as Neo Labour under the leadership of Will Straw.

The UK post-2016 seems to this writer the embodiment of H.L. Mencken's statement that "democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard".  At least it would be if it didn't result in numerous Neo Labour MPs informing me of how these are very real concerns that we must listen to.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016 

This is how you don't silence journalists in a democratic country.

There are many wonderful things about this Stephen Daisley piece that has been doing the rounds, but for reasons of time and brevity let's just zero in on his thundering conclusion:

But media hatred is not criticism. It is a rage against a world that refuses to work out the way it ought to and replicates a hostility to critical enquiry familiar from earlier forms of populism. The object is not "fairness" or "balance" but complicity by intimidation. The object is to single out journalists like Kuenssberg and, by making an example of them, produce a chilling effect.

Am I sure I want to write this story? Is publishing this sceptical analysis going to fill my timeline with abuse and invective? Look what happened to Laura Kuenssberg. Is it really worth it?

That is how you silence journalists in a democratic country. Not a finger lifted, not a bone broken. Make their job more and more difficult. Make employing them more and more bothersome. Eventually, you'll shut them up or prompt their employer to rein them in. And you won't have to worry about hearing them in the mainstream media anymore.

Once upon a time, journalists used to expect green ink letters, dog shit in an envelope, or exceptionally rarely to never having actually happened, letter bombs.  Actually, that's not true.  Some journalists in democratic countries can potentially face far worse, as we sadly know.  But no, what they really have to fear is an unpleasant timeline.

Abusing journalists as opposed to criticising (some) commentators is rarely worth the effort, not to mention not condonable.  Your average punter might not like the media that much themselves, but if you so inspire your supporters to descend en masse outside a BBC building to protest about perceived biased coverage say, then you start looking ever so slightly unreasonable.

Still, the ironies here are nearly impossible to count.  In his scattergun spray against everything he disdains, Daisley mentions identity politics.  It doesn't seem to matter that Daisley zeroes in immediately on why Kuenssberg has faced abuse and complaints so quickly - it's because she's a woman, obvs.  Actual evidence for the dislike of Kuenssberg, which I am not defending in any way, being based on her gender is extremely thin on the ground, but no matter.  Just throw it in there.  That the media deciding Kuenssberg being hissed was more of a story than Jeremy Corbyn's actual speech doesn't really suggest there's much in the way of silencing going on either.

What's happening more widely is the mixing up of journalists and MPs as though they were one and the same, with strangely the same people, suddenly aware of what some normies and a lot of motivated, hateful shits think of them, wanting something to be done about it.  The Reclaim the Internet campaign, laudable as it is, would make more sense if the internet had ever been a place where wide open spaces invited debate rather than flame wars and abuse.  It hasn't, and probably never will.  Facebook and Twitter are too open and too big to moderate.  This is not a bug; it's a feature.  The internet has always been about subcultures, where groups of like-minded people congregate and either get on or fall out, but did so in a confined space.  Throw a whole load of people of different, competing world-views and backgrounds together on one huge place, remove the barriers to communication, and what do you expect is going to happen?


The fact that journalism is becoming one of the worst possible professions to work in, as hardly anyone wants to pay for the product, allied with how it's so easy for the cunts of this world to scream at you thanks to how the media embraced Twitter only for it to come back and bite them in the arse is merely coincidence.  Actual populism, the kind that sees hateful bastards warn that staying in the EU will raise the chance of women being raped because of all the people with different "attitudes" coming over here, is a threat.  


The "populism" Daisley and friends object to is people daring to speak up against the overly deferential treatment of not the mainstream, but the real, actual establishment, or rather establishments, as there's the political establishment and media establishments, as obviously the Graun/Indie/FT aren't the same as the Mail/Sun/Express/Times/Telegraph.  The coverage say that for so long treated Farage, a populist if he wasn't such a pompous prig, with kid gloves.  Farage has had a far better press than Corbyn, and I'll leave it up to you which one is the more radical.

Such though are the biases we've long got used to, for better, for worse.  What really grinds the gears is when the bosses of the Daisleys of this world piss on my head and then he and others like him insist I'm the one doing the pissing.

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Thursday, June 02, 2016 

Not everything is about you.

In the latest development in the everything is Labour's fault meme, the last couple of days has seen first the Times and then the Graun ascribe the apparent dip in the fortunes of Remain to the party "failing to pull its weight".  If only Corbyn and friends were out there campaigning night and day, putting their message across to all the Labour voters across the country rather than leaving it to Dave and his shitty mates, then clearly all would be well.

As with most of the criticisms of Corbyn's Labour, there is a smidgen of truth to this.  Yes, Labour could be doing a bit more.  Yes, it could be making its case more forcefully.  By doing so though, does it risk getting associated with a campaign that is essentially internecine warfare between the Cameron leaning Tories and the UKIP leaning Tories, and doing more harm to itself than good in the process? Also yes.

And then we have the media's own agenda when it comes to the EU vote.  No bones about it, the actual debate stripped of the histrionics and personalities is as dull as ditchwater.  While Alan Johnson's campaign is more in line with Remain in general, the one being ran by the leadership itself is attempting to play it reasonably straight.  Which is boring.

It didn't make much difference then that today's speech by Corbyn was easily his most significant intervention yet.  He made clear that while Labour is foursquare in favour of the EU, the party is only supporting Remain with the intention of reforming the organisation from within.  He will veto the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership if Labour is in power come 2020, and made clear that he fears if Leave wins, whichever Tory ends up leader will gut the workers' rights we owe to the EU.  He and the rest of the shadow cabinet won't share a platform with the Tories on the basis of the rest of their policies, and he criticised the idea that Leaving would result automatically in a recession.

In other words, he walked the same line he has throughout.  Everyone knows he isn't the biggest fan of the EU and he's not pretending to be.  His position is pragmatic: leaving is the wrong choice, but it wouldn't be the biggest disaster in the history of the world.  The Tories are a far greater problem, which they are.  He isn't going to make the same mistake Scottish Labour did and hitch his party to a campaign that will damage it far more than it will its main constituent.

What then has the media decided is the biggest story from the speech?  That "Corbyn supporters", not Labour supporters notice, hissed Laura Kuenssberg when she asked an question.  The BBC is about the only organisation giving the speech itself a higher billing.  The most ocular proof yet of Labour's misogyny, on top of its obvious antisemitism?  Err, not really, as ITV's Chris Ship was booed as well when he questioned whether Corbyn had been half-hearted in his support for Remain up to now.  As Corbyn responded, this also depends on the media's decision of what to cover.

And obviously, the reaction of those present to a journalist is far more newsworthy than the contents of yet another lecture from Uncle Tom Corbo.  Do I really have to say it's daft to boo or hiss a journalist, as it is, especially one from the BBC?  That it is doesn't make that the story, unless hacks have no intention whatsoever of playing by their own rules, which they don't.   You don't have to think there is some great get Corbyn campaign to realise portraying him and his supporters as not playing by the accepted rules is much to their advantage with their other anti-Corbyn sources.  That one "senior Labour figure" was briefing after the speech that Corbyn "had just sabotaged the Remain campaign", about the most obtuse possible reading you could make of it just sums up how spiteful such people are determined to be.

One of the reasons there has been a change of attitude towards journalists, deserved or not, is they so often seem determined to make everything about them.  Criticism of Labour from a media overwhelmingly biased against the party, let alone under the leadership of Corbyn is expected.  What's going beyond that is to criticise, and then try to shift the story when Corbyn does precisely what was asked of him.  Everything is not always about a self-obsessed media, just as it isn't always about a self-absorbed political class.  A few egos being punctured every now and again wouldn't hurt, only it's usually just the one side that gets it in the neck.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016 

The absurdity of it all.

I take it all back. The EU referendum is brilliant.  How could it not be when it results in such delicious absurdities as have taken place over the past couple of days?  First, mere weeks after accusing him of palling around with extremists, David Cameron appears on the same platform as to Sadiq Khan to big him up as though he was the winning Tory candidate.  A proud Muslim!  A smasher of glass ceilings!  A thoroughly delightful chap!  Oh, and he thinks it'd be swell if you would now vote to stay in the EU.

Khan can of course do as he likes.  He now has a mandate of his own, to the extent where he can pretty much shut Labour out if he so wishes.  If he wants to share a platform so soon after the election with one of those chiefly responsible for a campaign he said was putting off other Muslims from going into politics, that's up to him.  Clearly he thinks the ends justify the means.  Which again, is fine.

Some of us though are far more petty.  Far as I'm concerned, all things considered, Cameron got himself into this mess, and Cameron can get himself out of it.  Sure, this means if he manages to pull it off he gets the glory, but equally if he fails then he gets the Gene Wilder/Willy Wonka treatment.  Add in how Cameron implied Khan was an extremist not to be trusted as far as he can be thrown, and my response were I in his position would be to tell Dave to GTFO.

This is also the view of John McDonnell, who equally rightly thinks sharing a platform with the Tories full stop is a bad idea.  Which it is.  If Labour must campaign to stay in the EU, leaving it to Alan Johnson in the main while McDonnell and others pootle around not getting much in the way of attention is definitely the way to go.  Anyone saying Labour has to do this or that first has to explain whether their proposed plan of action will bring any benefit to the party whatsoever, because as we saw with Scotland, the public seem more than prepared to decide for themselves as to whether or not a particular party acted in their best interests.

The horror with which the results of focus groups saying they didn't know whether Labour was in favour of leave or remain, backed up with a further poll, just demonstrates that politicians don't always think the worst of the public; often the public amply do that themselves.  What it does show is that first, the vast majority aren't the slightest bit interested in the internal machinations of political parties.  Duh.  Second, not knowing whether Labour is for leave or remain is a good thing, as at the moment the party should be graceful for small mercies.  Third, that again, the vast majority also aren't the least bit interested in the referendum, otherwise they would know that Labour is overwhelmingly in favour of remain.  Fourth, they also don't know what the Tory position is.  Because, just to rub this in, they don't freaking care.

Labour politicians attacking each other for sharing platforms with the Tories isn't the most absurd thing of the last couple of days though, oh no.  Two examples merely from today beat it.  Chris Grayling, the berk's berk, the journeyman's journeyman, the bone in the spicy wing, the tits on the bull, said this morning that voters shouldn't be making their minds up based on the EU of today, but on the EU of the future.  Again, either this is a politician having a surprisingly high opinion of the average voter, most of whom haven't the slightest clue about practically anything the EU does beyond exist and that it's bad, or it's a politician with not even the beginnings of knowing how to make a case.  Can you imagine if parties tried applying this to any other election?  Voter!  Don't make up your mind up on how the government is performing today!  Just think how it will be in 10 years' time, even though we're not providing you with even the most basic facts of how it is currently!  Manifesto?  You want a manifesto?  You're joking!

And then there was Boris, Gove and err, Gisela Stuart, making clear we have entered the handjob, or moon on a stick phase of the campaign.  Despite telling us for eons that the £350m going to the EU each week could instead be sent straight to the NHS, now here come the most unlikely threesome since REMOVED ON LEGAL ADVICE to claim that if we left the EU we could dispense with VAT on fuel as it disproportionately hits the poorest households.  Put another way, Boris, Gove and Stuart are offering happy endings if you vote leave, as it's about as likely they would put any savings genuinely left at the end of the process on lifting the burden on the poors as they would on a state body of sex workers.  It's completely transparent, and yet what else is Leave to do?  Admit that once we've left any money coming back will instead be spent on reintroducing the subsidies and funds the EU currently distributes in the UK?  Absurd doesn't really begin to cover it.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016 

Who would notice the difference?

The former CEO of McDonald's has caused outrage after suggesting replacing the company's beef patties with formed round cakes of human excrement.

"I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday, and checked out an impressive start-up company that is making Scotch Eggs out of dog dirt, hipster beard shavings and cat eggs," said Ron McBurgler, "and it set me thinking. They're selling these foul creations for $10 a time.  Now just imagine if we could do away with the cow altogether, recycle our own waste products, and put the prices of our new burgers up at the same time.  We'd not only be saving billions, our profits would go through the roof."

While most commentators have responded with disgust to McBurgler's idea, one public figure willing to defend his blue skies thinking was Labour MP Wes Streeting.  "The vast majority of the reaction has been old-fashioned snobbery," the street fighting representative for Ilford North told Burger Off magazine.  "I for one can't wait to tuck in to the new style Big Mac, and McDonald's will still be very much welcome at this year's Labour conference.  I've also heard they've some ideas for new condiments, and as a big fan of mayonnaise, can't wait to see what they've come up with."

Ron McBurgler is also unrepentant, telling the Cannibal Times that if still in charge his plans wouldn't stop there.  "I've heard about this thing called Soylent Green.  Apparently it's people, but I don't see why that should stand in our way of properly marketing it.  Consumers are too damn fussy these days."

The Kool-Aid man declined to comment.

In other news:
Legal highs to be banned; formerly legal highs and already illegal highs to remain available from your friendly neighbourhood drug entrepreneur
Institute for Fiscal Studies warns whoever wins EU referendum, we lose
The men who live as goatses - "we're just as normal as all the other gaping assholes you see walking down the street'

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016 

Killin.


In the end, everything comes back to the Simpsons.  In Rosebud, after being wished a Happy Birthday by the Ramones, Mr Burns orders Smithers to have the Rolling Stones killed.  "But sir, that wasn-" "Do as I say!"

In the same way, it would be far too easy to have those personally responsible for da yoot #Votin campaign for the Remainers slaughtered unceremoniously in their beds.  Equally, those at the Stronger In headquarters who commissioned it, then gave the OK after seeing what venturethree came up with should also not be shot down on their way to work as recompense.  No, to really make clear just how traumatised everyone who has watched just the 25-second clip urging the youn t ge ou an vot will be, as you can't just drop the g from words ending in ing and claim that is how the childrens speak, innocent people have to die.

Hang on a minute you're probably saying, that seems a bit much.  Except it's not.  Is it really that hard to put together a campaign that might just have an impact with younger voters while not both being as dumb as a bag of rocks and therefore also treating them as having the IQ and attention span of an exceptionally dim goldfish?

Here's one idea I just pulled out of my ass, and I've been awake already today for 17 hours.  Black background.  White text.  If you're watching this, you're probably already aware of the issues around the EU referendum.  We just want to remind you of who's in favour of leaving, and who's in favour of remaining.  Black and white shots of Farage, Gove, IDS, Chris Grayling, Dr Death, Katie Hopkins, etc etc.  Colour shots of Nicola Sturgeon, Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Alan Johnson, Eddie Izzard, JK Rowling, any number of the other various celebs/artists who signed the luvvie letter.  That's what we think too.  Vote Remain.  End.

Now, which of you Remain dipshits pays me, and which one of you is going to cut down the requisite amount of first born?

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016 

That Lady Royall report into allegations of antisemitism at the Oxford University Labour Club in full.

  • I do not believe that there is institutional antisemitism within Oxford University Labour Club
  • However, in order to remove the possibility of any such claims being made in the future, OULC should take action to ensure there is a safe space, i.e. by disbanding immediately in case anyone's feelings get hurt again
  • All further allegations of micro-aggressions should be reported immediately to The Telegraph, The Times, or John Mann MP in order to be used against Jeremy Corbyn
  • Err...
  • That's it

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Monday, May 16, 2016 

June 24th: never the end.

By Christ, politics is dispiriting at the moment.

Not that it isn't normally.  It's just the absolute quality of the nonsense of late.  The entirely confected Labour antisemitism row, that just so happened to coincide with the local elections and has since vanished without trace, just for one.  You obviously can't legislate for the newt fancier to suddenly decide to tour TV studios talking about Hitler, but it does show the depths to which a party establishment still unable to face up to how it got itself into this mess will sink.  Just look at the anonymous quotes given to Sam Knight for his New Yorker profile of Corbyn.  "He is an allotment digger," said one ex-cabinet minister.  "Plodding".  What does that say about you then, mate?

It's also that no one it seems can learn the very simplest of lessons.  I hate to keep coming back to this, it's that it's so fucking obvious.  If the Scottish referendum campaign taught us anything, it's that it's suicide to share platforms, even if it's for the greater good.  To see Osborne, Balls and Cable all on a stage together, joined by another of those unacceptable faces of capitalism, Michael O'Leary, it's as though the whole Yes/No neverendum didn't happen.  No, Balls and Cable might not be MPs now, having both lost their seats to the Tories, making it all the stranger why they would decide it was in anyone's best interests to play the part of the shit to Osborne's latest round of bull, but that doesn't make a scrap of difference.  It still looks like the establishment ganging up together, even if the Leave campaign is just as much the establishment as Remain.  There isn't any need for conspiracy theories, as Osborne said, because something that looks very much like a conspiracy to your average passer-by is only made all the more apparent by figures that used to be at each others' throats suddenly making eyes at each other.  Talk about a trifecta of dunces, only one joined by someone who would sell you his grandmother and then charge you extra for her handbag.

Then we have the Leavers, with Boris himself deciding to dust down old Adolf and bring him into the debate.  Now, it might sound beyond stupid to everyone else, comparing the EU to a dictator who used his military in the attempt to create a united Europe, and that's because it is.  It doesn't though to some in the Leave campaign, as Matthew d'Anconservative in one of his lucid moments sets out how comparing the EU to the Nazis has long been a thing.  Those on the far-right usually prefer to describe it as the EUSSR, as clearly all EU member states are just vassals to Brussels, with Jean-Claude Juncker as Brezhnev.  Either way, it's the same thing: the EU has no democratic accountability or credibility.  You only need look at how the EU doesn't take for an answer on previous referendums to see that, obviously.

Which is precisely why as d'Ancona relates, should Leave lose this time, those who want out will just agitate at every turn for a referendum under the 2011 European Union Act, the first attempt at placate Tory backbenchers by Cameron.  The merest transfer of power to the EU will then trigger another referendum, another fight, another round of each side calling white black, while everyone else either tunes out or becomes so desperate for the end they consider opening their wrists a viable alternative.  June the 24th will never be the end.  Leave learned from the SNP.  Remain hasn't from the mistakes of the No campaign.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016 

The prime of Master Dominic Cummings.

In the pantheon of spin doctors completely losing the plot, Dominic Cummings' (for it was surely he) freak out out late last night is rather special.  It's not quite on the level of Alastair Campbell storming into the Channel 4 News studios demanding to be put on the air (but then what is), nor is it Comical Ali denying the Americans had reached Baghdad as a tank was seen rolling past in the distance, and yet it still feels not that far behind.

It really does have it all.  Allusion to Goldman Sachs funding Remain, that if made by someone on the left in the current climate would probably prompt accusations of antisemitism and conspiracy theorising?  Check.  Implication that absolutely everyone and everything is against Leave, and yet still the polls remain at 50-50?  Check.  Naming of specific journalist with claim they are biased against Leave, with spurious allegation that Robert Peston campaigned to join the Euro, the same straw man Cummings and Leave throw at everyone?  Check.  Attempt at intimidation, with threat that ITV will face the consequences once Leave wins? Check.

Quite why the initial decisions about the debates caused Cummings to lose his shit quite so fantastically is a mystery.  What on earth made Leave think that Downing Street would suddenly decide to play hardball any less than they did last year, when they successfully bullied the broadcasters into acceding to their demands on the basis there wouldn't be any debates if they didn't?  Did they really believe that cowardly custard Dave would be willing to take on Boris or Gove when both intend for this to be their springboard to the Tory party leadership?  Far better to go up against Nigel Farage, with his record of being easily riled if the audience dares not to applaud his nonsense, than a fellow Conservative with slightly more self-control.

Not that Boris does have more self-control; he'd likely descend into muttering within 10 minutes.  You can though see Vote Leave's point: Farage is part of the Grassroots Out group, rather than Vote Leave, and Vote Leave is the official out campaign as designated by the Electoral Commission.  If there's going to be anyone sort of facing Dave, as the ITV "debate" would take the same format as Channel 4's non-debate between Cameron and Miliband did last year, then it ought to be someone from Vote Leave.  It shouldn't be up to the government to dictate whom it will or won't face, especially when part of the reasoning is that the Tories don't to further their impression they're at war with each other.  Sorry Dave, ought to have come the reply, it's a little late for that now.

The fact is the debates have become a prestige event for the different networks, caring far more about holding them come what may rather than whether or not they're in the slightest bit illuminating.  Last year's non-debates were absurdities that should never be repeated, and yet it would seem as though much the same is going to happen only a year later.  The referendum has already been one of the most over-covered and somehow still least informative media debacles in recent memory, principally for the reason that the two campaigns agree on almost nothing.  Each side accuses the other of scaremongering, and we have nothing remotely approaching an independent adjudicator to separate the complete bullshit from claims slightly more grounded in reality.  The debates as proposed would do absolutely nothing to change that.  Which, once again, would seem to be the point.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016 

A microcosm of wider stupidity.

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Thursday, May 05, 2016 

The state of journalism in 2016.

This is the front page of a non-state owned newspaper, urging a vote for a party that has been in power for 9 years. 

And we make fun of the Americans, and tut and say "it could never happen here" about the likes of Turkey.  Politics only gets stranger.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016 

A politics we don't deserve.

We, and by that I mean all of us who contribute to the tenor of politics in this country, have a tendency to exaggerate.  Exploiting the differences between parties in favour of policies that are broadly similar requires focusing on the negatives.  Ferocious debate about issues that subsequently turn out to not amount to a hill of beans are often the order of the day; just look at our contribution to the military action against Islamic State in Syria, for instance.  What was the point of the weeks of arguments last December when the end result has been so negligible?

Bearing this in mind, I honestly cannot recall a week of politics that has been so unrelentingly stupid, self-defeating, obtuse and at the same time as instructive as the past 7 days.  Absolutely nothing of any real note has happened, and yet what has been established is we've finally, truly, entered the period where controlling the terms and structure of political discussion has become the be all and end all.  That this has been established not by the politically correct left, students or any other of the usual bogeymen of controlled thought and speech ought to be surprising, and yet it isn't, because this is the way it's been going for quite some time.

Labour as a party is antisemitic, it has been decided.  The newspapers of record in this country have decreed it to be so.  Labour, the party that only a year ago had a Jew as its leader, and who was pretty popular at grassroots level.  Said press you might recall had great fun in repeatedly printing those photos of dear old Ed failing to eat a bacon sandwich correctly.  Now, while a few people at the time muttered to themselves that this was whiffy and smelled vaguely of antisemitism, I didn't think it was and thought they were being overly sensitive.  Fast forward a year, and the same newspapers that on one page carry columns declaring that the Leave campaign should shack up with Marine Le Pen and the far-right in Europe, declare on the other in no uncertain times that Labour from top to bottom is riddled with racistsIt's a cancer.  Something has to be done.  Not an investigation by Shami Chakrabati though, that's not good enough.  Jeremy Corbyn should have announced all this yesterday, anyway.

Let's though just for a second digress from the quite believable chutzpah of the never knowingly under hypocritical British media.  Instead, let's consider the general level of prejudice in the country in 2016.  The picture, as always, could be better.  Prejudice still exists.  Racists might have to be more coded in the way they go about trying to incite hatred, but they still attempt to spread poison and take any opportunity that comes their way to do so.  For the most part though, I'd say taken as a whole the British people have probably never been as tolerant as they are now.  I don't mean that in the passive aggressive sense of tolerance, but in the general living alongside each other with a minimum of tension sense.  There are hotspots of disquiet and plenty of anxiety, sure, yet no indication that anything is about to go beyond that.

We then have a political party that in the main takes its membership from among the most liberal and open-minded sections of an already broadly tolerant society.  You would not expect that most such people would be hostile to one sub-section of that society on racial grounds, especially one that historically has been among the most mistreated and abused.  And indeed, all the evidence suggests that is the case.  The members and councillors identified so far have almost all been suspended on the basis of questionable tweets or social media posts, some of which have quickly been identified as taken out of all context jokes.  Others do seem to be more serious examples of potential prejudice, and need to be properly investigated, but most tread a fine line between being antisemitic and being critical of Israeli government policy.  Naz Shah and Livingstone we've hopefully already dealt with.

None of this is to downplay the disquiet a number of Jews have voiced as feeling.  Phoebe Ray makes an eloquent case on how Britain as a whole, not split down the middle between left and right, does antisemitism.  Both she and Jonathan Freedland voice the opinion that Jews are the only ethnic minority not allowed to define what they feel to be racist attitudes against them are.  The obvious problem here, one that requires great amounts of nuance, is that claims of antisemitism have long been used against critics of Israeli governments, a country that polls show a majority of Jews feel a connection to.  Not all Jews are Zionists, and not all anti-Zionists are antisemites, you could say.  Adding to the problem is that as Ray and others identify, there are a whole series of tropes and "modes of thinking" that creep into debate on Israel, both consciously and unconsciously.  We have for instance seen Israeli government figures criticising British cartoonists for using such tropes, whether they truly have or not.  When newspapers that are otherwise vehemently pro-Israeli are alleged to be carrying such imagery, it's hardly surprising that your amateur political tweeter, or even student leader, might slip into using the verbal equivalent.

As Ray also says though, "right wing politicians are only interested in addressing anti-Semitism when they see it as a weak point in an opponent’s armour".  You can add to that newspapers, and assorted others within Labour who are so determined to bring down the party's leadership they will sink to seemingly any depths, regardless of the wider damage it causes.  The last week has not really been about racism; it has been about power.  The power within Labour, power within the country, and the power to limit what is politically acceptable as a whole.  Jeremy Corbyn has a weak spot on antisemitism, not because he is antisemitic, but because he has made questionable if not condemnable alliances in the past.  He has had a long time political friendship with Ken Livingstone.  Ken has long been more harm than help, but he was one of the few well-known political figures who would defend Corbyn to the media.  He's also still on Labour's national executive committee, and has a role in the party's defence review.  Getting rid of him will help the party's moderates in the long term.

Then we have the power in the country.  Labour most likely wasn't going to do well in tomorrow's elections anyway: Sadiq Khan will triumph in London regardless, it's a toss-up whether or not Labour will come second or third in the elections to Holyrood, and the seats being fought locally were last up for election in 2012, when Labour did well at the expense of both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.  Things look different four years on.  Add in a whole week's worth of claims of Labour being racist, of a crisis, of Ken Livingstone making an arse of himself, and there is bound to an impact.  The Tories' main approach as made clear by PMQs today is to portray a classically left-wing as opposed to left of centre party as extremist.  This has involved focusing on Khan being an extremist purely on the grounds that he is a Muslim, to the outrage of much of the left but to very little from the right-wingers coruscating Labour for its supposed anti-semitism.  The newspapers have helped by getting comment from the likes of the Chief Rabbi, who says Zionism is inseparable from Judaism.

Finally, we have the attempt to define just what is and isn't acceptable as a whole.  David Cameron wasn't asking Corbyn to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah today.  He was asking him to denounce the idea of so much as considering they have a role to play in any eventual peace settlement.  This approach is summed up by Danny Finkelstein's piece in the Times today:


What is happening in the Labour party is not (just) the crassness of a few councillors and the odd MP saying some embarrassing things about Jews.  It is the abandonment of its identity as an Atlanticist progressive party.  And it cannot be stopped until this identity is reasserted.

In other words, this won't stop until Labour snaps out of its malaise and adopts the correct foreign policy.  The correct foreign policy according to this confidant of both Cameron and Osborne is the backing to the hilt of the Saudis in Yemen, involving the defence secretary making the feeblest of excuses for our allies to a parliamentary committee.  It involves acting as the media wing of the "moderate" Syrian rebels, as the Guardian reveals today, with the government underwriting their propaganda.  One of the groups named in the documentation, although the government denies it ever considered it moderate, is Jaish al-Islam, the group the Alloush clan control.  Its former leader, Zahran Alloush, called repeatedly for Damascus to be "cleansed" of both Christians and Alawites.  It involves putting a stop to even the most limited reaching out to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, despite both being moderates compared to likes of the al-Nusra Front, which many of the "moderate" Syrian groups we're still encouraging to fight have no problem allying with.   It involves smearing a genuine moderate running for London mayor as an extremist while continuing to sell weapons to the biggest sponsors of Islamic extremism the world has ever known.

This was never truly about antisemitism.  Sure, it's been the excuse.  Instead it's been about reinforcing the boundaries.  You can want a foreign policy which is progressive, just not Atlanticist, but you'll pay for it.  You can want a party to be a genuine opposition to the status quo, but it'll be denounced as extremist.  You can want the MPs of a party to at least respect for a year the leader elected by the membership, but they'll do everything in their power to undermine him, regardless of the consequences in the long term.  Sure, it'll put politics itself in the gutter, alienate the public at large when the message they'll take is that the meres wrong word will result in opprobrium, discourage Muslims from entering politics if they have ever so much as sat next to someone with the vaguest of unsavoury views, and give the impressions to Jews they still aren't welcome anywhere, but it'll be worth it in the end.

I often used to agree when it was said we get the politics we deserve.  No one deserves this.

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Thursday, April 28, 2016 

Where would we be without Leninspart, eh?

It's not often these days anyone can say they agree with Nick Clegg, as was oh so achingly funny a few years ago, not least as he wisely keeps a low profile.  He couldn't however have been more right, finding himself stuck at the side of Ken Livingstone by grim chance this morning after what even by Ken's standards was a clusterfuck of remarkable proportions. "I never ever thought I would see the day that mainstream, well-known politicians like you would start raking over Hitler’s views in a way that people would simply not understand," Clegg said, in what also has to be one of the more understated reactions to a few hours of pandemonium via interview and Twitter.

I mean, it's not like this is difficult or complicated.  Here's a very simple rule all would do well to follow: unless a debate is about Hitler and the Nazis, don't bring Hitler and the Nazis into it.   It doesn't matter if someone else made reference to Hitler first, don't then follow their lead.  For instance, if someone ill-advisedly made reference to Hitler even if only through an image meme, don't then try and defend them by saying that well actually, Hitler supported this or that, even if your intention is not to make an allusion to the modern day.  Moreover, especially don't suggest that Hitler only "went mad" later.

In the grand scheme of things, Ken's remarks this morning to Vanessa Feltz, of all people, were less offensive than Naz Shah's.  He was completely and utterly wrong about Hitler supporting Zionism, obviously, which he didn't even in 1932, but he also didn't say Hitler was a Zionist, as some have wrongly claimed since.  There is a difference, however subtle.  It's true that Nazi policy until later in the 1930s was to in the main force Jews to leave Germany, to begin with encouraging them to do so, before then making it ever more difficult involving payments to the state and confiscation of assets, but there was not a concerted attempt to direct Jews towards what was then Palestine.  A German Foreign Ministry circular from January 1939 makes clear the opposite was the case.

Ken was not setting out to be antisemitic, and probably just about avoided being so.  He did however allow the impression to arise, as Rabbi Danny Rich has said, of equating Zionism and Nazism, as antisemites routinely do.  As Laura Janner-Klausner has also stated, Ken has form in this area, and while not a Nazi apologist, has in the past failed to apologise for being unpleasant rather than outright racist.

His suspension from the party, with the leadership moving slightly more quickly today than previously, is deserved.  Had though Ken not decided to make himself available today for interviews, defending Shah and the party when neither want or need Ken to speak up for them, it's likely the claims of antisemitism in Labour would have began to blow over.  If instead of following up his interview with Vanessa Feltz by appearing on every show going he had read the tweet from Sadiq Khan, the man battling to become the second Labour Mayor of London, calling for his suspension, realised the furore he had already caused and retracted what he said, he wouldn't then have got in a slanging match with fellow professional idiot John Mann.  But then, Ken doesn't apologise.  He doesn't think.  Exactly why it is the leadership has not made this clear to him before that his "help" is more hindrance than it is support I don't know, unless Ken has simply ignored their advice.

We're now in a situation where thanks to Livingstone's stupidity the race to discover more "evidence" of antisemitism is bound to continue.  Ken has without question helped Jeremy Corbyn's enemies in the party, all of whom were exceptionally quick to call for his dismissal, for which they can hardly be blamed, many of whom have no compunction about having their party portrayed as hostile to Jews if it hastens Corbyn's departure.  It makes those who have pointed out and argued that the claims of antisemitism against Labour members so far have been weak to non-existent look foolish, and encouraged groups that have long opposed the party's attempts to be even-handed between Israel and the Palestinians to declare this proves the "evidence is there for all to see".  Most damagingly of all, it will have an effect, no doubt small, but an effect nonetheless on the elections next Thursday.

A great day, all told.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016 

The antisemitic muppetry of Naz Shah and connected silliness.

Naz Shah, it's fair to say, is a bit of a muppet.  After scrabbling around for months for evidence of antisemitism within Labour, turning up little more than allegations against students at Oxford and idiotic tweets by one or two activists on Twitter, some poor sap at Guido Fawkes was apparently tasked with going through years' worth of timeline updates by MPs on Facebook.

With Shah, they finally hit paydirt.  Back in 2014 she shared one of those wonderful image memes that tend to be prevalent there, suggesting a "solution" to the Israel-Palestine conflict was to relocate the country to America.  Transporting the population to the States would also only cost the equivalent of 3 years' worth of US aid to the country, so everyone would be a winner.  Shah was so taken with the idea she suggested she would send it on to both David Cameron and Barack Obama, not apparently in the least bit troubled by the history of the transporting of Jews, to focus on merely one of its objectionable aspects.

It would have been slightly less embarrassing, albeit only slightly, if Shah hadn't also recently denounced a local Tory councillor for his alleged racism, demanding that he be suspended from the party.  That it took Labour the best part of today to do the same with Shah despite knowing about the post yesterday, with Shah resigning as John McDonnell's PPS, also doesn't look great.  Shah has at least made an unequivocal apology, and did so in the House of Commons, saying that her views have changed greatly over the past 2 years.

Whether that turns out to be that, and the claims that Shah has associations with others with exceptionally dodgy views on Israel stay only that, with Shah regaining the whip at some point in the future remains to be seen.  So long as other unacceptable posts are not forthcoming, I'd like to see Shah given the benefit of the doubt and for her to be judged by her deeds rather than past words.

We have though been going through another of those periods where accusations of racism and extremism have been chucked around liberally by all sides, all in the belief that there is some political advantage to be gained.  If it seems a bit rum for a prime minister involved in the smearing of Sadiq Khan as being a pal of Islamists to then comment on Labour's alleged problems with antisemitism, that's because it is.  It also ignores how all of us will have at some point come out with some misjudged, overwrought or plain wrong commentary; social media has only made it easier to discover and make an issue of at a later date.  


Nor is this necessarily of much interest to the wider public, whom if anything would prefer politicians to sound more like they do.  When you have people texting into phone-ins declaring themselves relieved that unaccompanied refugee children in Europe won't be coming to this country, describing them as "vermin" and "leeches", as I heard on the local BBC station earlier in the week, it's worth reflecting for the most part our representatives resist the temptation to use inflammatory language.

The same cannot be said for our allies.  When you consider how former Iranian president Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial and remarks on how Israel would "disappear from the page of history" were brought up every time he made the news, it's somewhat odd we don't hear much about the views of Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev.  This is even more surprising when you consider he makes them in English, on Twitter, and to over 200,000 followers.  His most objectionable by a considerable margin was a tweet from a couple of years back when he declared that his country and Turkey were working together to counter the "myth" of the Armenian genocide, but he regularly insults neighbour Armenia, whether or not the on-going Nagorno-Karabakh conflict over the disputed territory is blowing hot or cold.  Such remarks from the head of state didn't stop Tony Blair from "advising" on the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, despite Azerbaijan's turn-around on human rights in general being described as outpacing even Russia's, of which we've heard much more about.  


Far be it from me to suggest we should care far more about genocide denying leaders of men than Labour MPs sharing viral images on Facebook, completely unacceptable as it was, but well, you know.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016 

90 glorious years.

From world war to World War Z, reluctant heir to hair apparent, Lilibet to I'm now so old that my pussy is haunted, Septicisle reflects on nine decades that have shaped a royal dynasty.

1926-1936: The nappy years
When the home secretary, Sir Tolbert Jingobird-Pustule is torn away from the pressing matter of giving his manservant a damn good thrashing to witness the birth of Princess Elizabeth, no one imagines that the ugly little bag of flesh and bones, remarked upon by the Queen Mother to more resemble the royal wastepaper bin after one of her gin parties than a child, will be Queen.  Elizabeth, soon known to everyone as Lilibet after the amount of drink she is slipped most nights by her parents to shut her up, was third in line to the throne.  Growing up in a life of the utmost privilege, Lilibet spends most of her days chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool, shooting peasants outside of nothing I put here is going to scan, is it?

1936-1946: That American woman, and mass death
Entering her teenage years Lilibet dreams of nothing more than being a country fishwife, settling down and spending her days nagging away at a husband, who as a matter of course cheats on her on a regular basis.  This is all shattered when her uncle Teddy insists on marrying some American brass everyone regards as a bit common and is duly forced to abdicate.   Now second in line after her father, who apart from his Kingly duties stars in a film about declaring war on Germany but not being able to get the right words out, a happenstance that ends with life imitating art, Elizabeth hides her parents' contraceptives in an attempt to escape her fate.

Happily, she shortly afterwards meets "Blockhead" Phil of Greece at Royal Navy College Croydon, where the straight-talking seagull puncher is the only student in the entire school not to be a raving homosexual.  Noted royal commentator Vincent Bandersnatch described it as destiny.  It was in an attempt to meet Phil that Elizabeth and Margaret famously sneaked out from Buckingham Palace into the crowds on VE Day, only for the pair to become caught up in the moment and get drunk on half a pint of Watneys Red Barrel.

1946-56: Apple pie and dressing up
In a still garlanded radio broadcast, Liz pledges to "devote" herself to "your service".  This is an offer quickly taken up by the rest of the royal household, the future Queen banished to the backstairs for months on end as punishment for showing them up.  She and Phil marry in November 1947, despite it being well known to all, including Liz, that Phil spent the night before the event in the bed of prominent society hostess Kitty Malone.  Malone dies in mysterious circumstances within a week.  Most of the royal families of Europe are invited to the wedding, except Phil's sisters who married Germans, naturally, and Ted and his tart, whom spent the war years trying their best to convince the rest of the royals that Hitler wasn't a bad sort really, just misunderstood.  It is on a trip to what Phil calls "Bongo Bongo Land" that George IV dies from complications arising from his haemorrhoids, and Lilibet the Unlikely duly becomes Queen.

1956-66: Tramp stamps and Johnny Foreigner
With the country at war with Egypt, Phil puts the royal household on a similar footing.  Servants are shot at dawn for the most minor of alleged misdemeanours, while savage beatings are administered by the precocious Charles as punishment for not wiping his backside properly. The young prince is soon known to everyone alternately as both Ronnie and Reggie.  Exposed in the News of the World, the prime minister Rab C Nesbitt orders that Charles be sent to borstal; instead Nesbitt is found hanged the next day.  After a drunken frisson with a Hackney sex worker in December of 1963, Phil is arrested.  The entire matter is quickly hushed up, but not before the press gets wind of a VIP with a tattoo of a crown on his lower back having been accused of cottaging.

(Continues interminably for thousands of pages, broadcast hours, Commons debates, etc)

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Monday, April 18, 2016 

Contrary McContraryface.

God, it must be tiring being a professional contrarian.  The world is in such flux it's hard enough remaining consistent as it is, let alone when your entire raison d'etre is to be against whatever the current trend or movement is.  Should you be cheering on Donald Trump because he's upsetting so many people, or now that it seems he's finally hit the buffers should you be abandoning him also?  Equally, judging by how it's been standard right-wing practice for the last 40 years to be against whatever students are currently up to, shouldn't you in fact be on the side of those few demanding safe spaces, insisting on trigger warnings and counting all the micro-aggressions they suffer on a daily basis?  Or would that in fact be too contrary by half, and lose you vital cred with your other contrarians, huffing and blowing about young people being young and stupid?

Brendan O'Neill's Spectator piece on how terrible the whole Boaty McBoatface thing is an absolute classic of the contrarian genre.  The best contrarians you might have noticed always contradict themselves, and never for a moment recognise they are guilty of the same crimes they are ascribing to others.  In one single paragraph O'Neill manages to be a magnificent hypocrite three times over, and still ploughs on regardless.

The problem with over 100,000 people voting to name a boat Boaty McBoatface then, rather than something more serious like Condoleeza Rice or Thrusting Organ or Sir Ron Micklethwaite or John Whittingdale or Brendan O'Neill isn't public opinion, but a "shallow, sneery culture taking hold in certain sections of the internet".  Heaven forfend that many of those people will have voted to name it that not because they were led by the hand by some minor Twitter celeb, but because they thought it funny.  Brendan, all but needless to say, doesn't find it funny, although his piece is so suffused with irony while not being ironic that it's difficult to be certain whether or not he does find it at least somewhat amusing or like those people he says deserved to be bullied for being able to recite whole episodes of Filthy, Rich and Catflap.  Irony alert!  He doesn't really mean anyone deserves to be bullied!  Or does he?  Who knows?

See, O'Neill and the whole Spiked lot are very keen on democracy and public opinion so long as it reflects their own views on how stupid everyone who isn't in their little clique is.  When then so many people do something so daft, the blame has to be assigned not to them but to those who drove them to it.  Hence this sneery culture gets in the neck, as directed by a media that loves nothing more than "than writing news stories based on some spat Stephen Fry had or a YouTube video".  No doubt it's all part of the onion-like layers of irony contained in O'Neill's piece that Spiked currently really does have a piece on why Stephen Fry was right to call out self-pity.

It's at this point that an editor ought to come in and say to O'Neill that "hey, dingleberry, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE DOING, AND YOU'RE SNEERING AT THEM TO BOOT."  Only there aren't editors any more, just freelancers sending in their work to the content aggregators that O'Neill is complaining about and contributing to AT THE SAME GODDAMN TIME.  Still, there is one serious argument left, or at least seems to be: is it not true that the Boaty McBoatfacers are of "a new po-mo generation that has absolutely no sense of history or depth or meaning?"

Well, no.  O'Neill's band of anti-po-moers have been going on about how terrible post-modernism is since the early 90s, forever slapping each other on the back, whether it be for tearing apart Jean Baudillard for his the Gulf War Did Not Take Place essays or over the Sokal affair.  If this is a whole new po-mo generation, then his group and all the other anti-po-moers have rather failed, haven't they?

It's a good thing then there isn't a new po-mo generation with no sense of history or depth or meaning, as this is the same generation that is in fact acutely aware of history etc.  We know this because this is the same generation O'Neill etc so detest precisely because of all their trigger warnings, micro-aggressions and so forth, who at the same time are apparently incapable of taking anything seriously, except for racism, transphobia, etc, and who love the "flippant, camp purveyors of 140-character gags and 90-second videos of some comedian ‘ABSOLUTELY DEMOLISHING DONALD TRUMP' served up by Buzzfeed et al.

Yep, O'Neill is right, taking things seriously is a real downer these days.  Or at least it is if you take O'Neill and his pals seriously.  Which I seem to have done.  Oops.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016 

That leaked Lynton Crosby list ranking Tory cabinet members in full.

G'day Dave!

Lynton here.  Here's the list you asked me to draw up of members of the cabinet (and one additional), ranking them as to whether they're hostile, neutral or core loyalists.  Now don't be a drongo, keep this eyes only, we don't want this leaking like Corbyn's did.  Otherwise we will look like a load of great galahs.

George Osborne - Core, obviously.  You might want to think about whether or not you really want to him to take over though, as frankly he's not as smart as he thinks and if anything is becoming a liability.  Your choice though mate!

Theresa May - Neutral.  Colder than a penguin's dangler, none of us have ever managed to get a proper insight to her.  Has done a reasonable job as Home Sec, more down to so much of the bloody office having been split up by Labour than any real skill.  Came round on Europe, after you threatened to sic me on her.

Michael Gove - Core negative.  A worse traitor than Quisling, a bigger bum than the Queen, possible Maoist in Tory clothing.  I warned you about him, and did you listen?

Michael Fallon - Core.  What more is there to say about our premier dead cat merchant?  Always willing to talk absolutely bullshit on mine and yours behalf, we owe him a damn huge barbie one of these nights.

Sajid Javid - Neutral.  Another of your mates with higher ambitions, with a head that could double as a solar panel, such is the beam you get back off his bonce.  Another we just about managed to win over on the EU, in this case as we threatened the Sadiq Khan treatment on him.  How many times do I have to tell you you can't trust the bloody Muslims?

Stephen Crabb - Core.  Replacement for useful until he was no longer useful idiot IDS.  Has beard, will travel.  Decent background story we will make all we can off.  Great for neutralising all the stories about us doing in scroungers and cripples.

Jeremy Hunt - Core.  Complete idiot, first made a balls up at culture, now making an even bigger balls up at health, but is totally loyal.  The kind of bloke we like.

Nicky Morgan - Core.  Or as we like to call her, the Bride of Finkelstein!  How's that for two jokes in one?  Again, thinks she is far more intelligent than she actually is, is utterly hopeless on TV or under interview, but Gove has already done the damage at education.  Has leadership aspirations; obvious candidate for suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Justine Greening - Core.  Known for discussing Rwanda when she should be voting for you, otherwise she's no threat whatsoever.  Boring, really.

Theresa Villiers - Core negative.  Northern Ireland secretary, the job we give to those without a clue and who can barely find the place on the map, naturally wants out of the EU.  One to dump the first chance you get.

John Whittingdale - Neutral.  Brexiter, but is otherwise harmless as these Thatcherite throwbacks are, and useful.  Bit thick mind.

Elizabeth Truss - Core.  Ah Lizzy, our golden girl, a true Sheila.  Will do anything for you, except that.  Out of my league, know what I'm saying?

Chris Grayling - Core negative.  The half-wit's half-wit, I'm amazed you didn't sack this bloody galah before now, like I told you.  Yeah he reaches the base, but only because the base are know nothing bumpkins.  Can't do much damage as leader of the house, just make sure to get rid of him once the EU crap's over.

Priti Patel - Core negative.  Exceptionally stupid even by Tory party standards, thinks you poms are all lazy buggers, wants out of the EU.  What more can I say?

Boris Johnson - Core negative.  Biggest buffoon I've ever bally met.  Still managed to get him elected when that drongo Ken was his opponent.  Comes unstuck the moment anyone starts asking anything like a taxing question, untrustworthy, unreliable, thinks he's a comedian, would sell his grandmother, father, Sheila, ankle biters, anything or anyone if it would help him become PM.  Will be next PM.  Sorry Dave.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016 

That all purpose Labour and the left are a bunch of antisemites thinkpiece in full.

I write more in sorrow than angerCan it be that, my party, my politics, has become so infested with antisemites and antisemitism?

Yes.  Yes it can.  All the evidence is sadly there.  This is not just a case of two internet bad apples.  This is not just a case of a minority of students always having been raving numpties, and my now taking it out on them for having been one myself.

Of course I agree that anti-Zionism does not automatically amount to antisemitism.  Accusations of antisemitism were thrown around too liberally in the past in an attempt to stifle criticism of Israel.  But anti-Zionism has without doubt become a cover for overt antisemitism, of comments on big noses, shadowy conspiracies and control of the media.  The fact that one of Benjamin Netanyahu's key demands from the Palestinians is that they recognise Israel as the Jewish state, not just the homeland of the Jews is irrelevant.

This is all the fault of Corbyn.  Corbyn is not an antisemite himself, even though he describes Hamas as friends, went to meetings organised by Holocaust deniers, and has taken tea with those who have pushed the blood libel.  That Corbyn denies he knew about these things, or that they were disputed at the time, or that he was attempting to reach out to help bring peace simply isn't good enough.

Corbyn in turn has attracted those on the extreme left, those who simply hate Israel and Jews because they believe in white privilege, because they have ties with Islamists, or because they are just really nasty people, whatever it is they claim.

So yes, Labour (and the left) really does have a problem with Jews, as I think I and the other hundred commentators pushing this line have established.  Why oh why do they get so upset about Israel killing civilians, protesting as soon as so many as a dozen women and children are blown apart by weaponry supplied by Britain, while absolutely no one cares when the Russians massacre hundreds of thousands in Syria?

The Labour leadership might not care about this, but the Jewish community does, and so do all us journalists, ex-MPs, and people on the right of the party, as it's a really easy and effective way to get at Corbyn and pals.  We are in danger of becoming the true nasty party unless something is done about the racists in our midst.  Not that I'll give the party any credit if it does do more than just expel members with appalling views, but it's the thought that counts, right?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016 

Because it might as well be.

In a move unprecedented since the paper changed its name from the Cockermouth Guardian, the Grauniad has announced it is about to undergo a new transformation.

"We've decided to rename the paper The Millennial", editor in chief Katharine Viner announced to a packed press conference of three interns and a dachshund.  "This is not a decision we have come to lightly, obviously, and there has been some opposition, mainly from the oldsters.  The fact is however that practically all our journalism is now aimed at people who imagine themselves more intelligent than they actually are, and who are also more pretentious and pompous than they admit to being, which describes millennials almost perfectly.  When we aren't pumping out articles on deep frying sage leaves and how terribly dull breakfast was before shakshuka entered our national vocabulary, we find ourselves repeating over and over again how terrible it is to be young, while using the label millennial as much as we can.  Journalists come into this building and instinctively ask each other, "have you millennialled your millennial millenialism yet, my good millennial millennial?"  That was when I knew this change had to be made.

"Of course, we're also hoping that renaming the paper The Millennial might actually prompt some people of the extraordinarily vague age group to buy the paper.  Some critics have suggested that perhaps if we hadn't decided to follow the trail blazed by Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and all those other purveyors of lowest common denominator clickbait then maybe our sales wouldn't have fallen through the floor, and that millennials are mainly entitled, spoilt bastards who expect everything to be free.  To which I can only say here are 22 reasons why it's great to be a millennial, and once you've read that you can find out why Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett is anxious.  Spoiler: she's afraid she's going to get seagulled."

--

Amazon is selling age-restricted folding knives without checking they are safely delivered to adults, a Millennial investigation has shockingly discovered.

"This is shocking", said a Tory MP.  "It is time to bring the knife sales law up to date, as clearly knives are not every day kitchen utensils, or available from practically anywhere, nor can you relatively easily sharpen say a toothbrush or piece of plastic until it's a potentially deadly weapon.  I must praise the Millennial for this by no means tabloid expose."

In other news:
In this week's why the left are the real bigots: How this expelled antisemitic Labour party member is representative of everyone on the left
I agree, says Owen Jones
Every school to be freed from the dead hand of local authority control, transferred to the freedom of control from Whitehall
Every school to be freed from dead hand of Whitehall control, transferred to the freedom of control from the private sector
Every school to be closed - "No longer economically viable, each pupil to be given an iPad instead", says head of EduCORP
How we called every single aspect of the Russian intervention in Syria wrong, Western analysts in alternate universe admit

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Wednesday, March 09, 2016 

Leave for the Queen.

In the annals of tabloid stories that are complete bollocks, the Sun's QUEEN BACKS BREXIT is set to be a future classic.  All the tropes are present and correct: headline that isn't backed up by the story itself?  Check.  Story based on anonymous sources?  Check.  Story denied immediately by those who are named, while the others that we now know were present refuse to comment?  Check.  Story reflects the editorial line of the newspaper?  Check.  Story refers not to a recent event but to in fact something that supposedly took place years ago, which is now being used to portray those named as supporting a campaign that wasn't even a twinkling in Nigel Farage's eye then?  Check.  Complaint made to the press regulator about inaccuracy?  Check.  Paper running obviously untrue story for reasons known only to itself?  Check.

Quite how the Sun thought it would get away with it boggles the mind to such an extent that it makes you wonder if that wasn't the point in itself.  Only yesterday the Sun was whinging about our glorious future King William going off on holiday with the People's Kate and his two devil spawn, as though the entire point of being second in line to the throne isn't to get out of this dive of a country as often as possible.  The Sun's beef is not of course that Wills 'n' K8 are hitting the slopes as and when they can, it's that they're being stingy with the number of snaps of the sprogs they're handing over to the nation's finest.  It's a bit of leap from there to splashing on a story they know full well will piss Brenda and the palace off, thinking that it will in turn make Madge urge her grandson to loosen up a little with the hacks, but then the Sun's relationship with the royals has always made no sense.

Because the Sun truly is reaching with its reporting.  Even if you accept that she apparently said Europe was "heading in the wrong direction" to Nick Clegg at a privy council lunch, and told another group of MPs at some shindig when asked that she "didn't understand Europe", neither suggests for so much as moment that she favours leaving the EU.  The second claim especially seems laughably out of character, given how careful the Queen is about anything vaguely political.  She knows full well it's part of the reason why there's such forelock tugging crap as Clean for the Queen; her standing aloof while her husband acts the twat and Charles involves himself in every cause going only enhances her reputation.

More pertinent is just how odd the idea that Liz favouring one side or the other somehow helps the cause overall is.  Did anyone voting in the Scottish independence referendum really think twice about going Yes or No after Lilibet urged everyone to "think very carefully" about it?  There might have been one wavering royalist/Sturgeon fancier living on the edge of a loch in a tumbledown cottage who was persuaded not to go Yes after her social better asked her to consider things again, but come on.  It only works as part of a general campaigning theme: if you have a cross-section of businesses, academics, politicos and other assorted figures all saying the same thing, then it might just become a nagging doubt in the back of the mind to the undecided.

Otherwise, it's a boost only to the credulous and those with an absurdly high opinion of Queenie's interest in such things.  Jacob Rees-Mogg, fresh from telling Bank of England chairman Mark Carney he was an EU stooge for doing his job, comes across as this close to rubbing himself as he exclaims he always felt the monarchy was our last line of defence against European domination.  Well yes, apart from every other institution, but you get the point.  The Queen is always going to be important to those who still regard Britain as this light in the darkness, a bastion of freedom, a symbol of defiance in a world going to hell in a handcart, where campaigning for Leave is comparable to the struggle for the vote itself.  This projecting of a fairy world helps explain why Leave is floundering so; it doesn't why the Sun would think giving such refugees from reality the slightest encouragement is going to help in any shape or form.


Which leads to the only possible conclusion for why it would run such nonsense, horrifying as it is: the Sun is negging the Queen.  Stay classy, Tony Gallagher.

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