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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Monday, March 07, 2016 

Cartoon hippopotamuses planning a "spectacular" attack, says head of counter-terrorism.

The so-called Islamic State group may be planning a "spectacular" attack in the UK, the national head of counter-terrorism policing has warned.

So-called Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley also spoke of the myriad other groups that may be planning "spectacular" attacks in the UK.

"We haven't, for instance, received intelligence that a splinter group of radicalised so-called Moomins are intending to carry out suicide bombings in multiple cities at the same time, but we are preparing for every eventuality.  It may happen," he said.

"Likewise, at the moment there is no indication that members of the so-called Labour party opposed to Jeremy Corbyn's continued leadership may resort to desperate measures and take their anger out on the public in a wave of sickening outrages.  We are though open minded when it comes to the threats the country faces."

"Similarly, we haven't ruled out the possibility that at some point the so-called Metropolitan police might finally get a head of counter-terrorism who doesn't constantly speculate about the impending doom the public faces, only for the much forecast "spectacular" attack to never arrive.  I obviously am not that man.  Then again, hasn't the police officer/politician warning of imminent mass casualties from marauding Muslims become a part of the so-called Western lifestyle in itself?  Would a head of anti-terrorism not constantly warning the public to be ready to duck and cover in itself be a surrender to Islamic fascists?  What year is this?  If a jihadist explodes in a forest and no one is there to witness it, am I still really me?"

At this point the press conference was brought to a hasty close by a man who looked eerily like Peter Sellers.

In other news:
European politicians negotiate with prime minister of country where newspapers are being shut down, academics arrested and civilians bombed; absolutely no one protests
British athlete swaps bike for horse; British media swaps hype for yet more hype
Millennials: The label everyone other than the media fucking detests
Meet the Saudi comedians Saudis can't laugh about (unless they want 100 lashes or to lose a limb): the Al Sauds!

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Thursday, February 18, 2016 

He told us so.

The year is 2046.  30 years have passed since the great cataclysm, since the nuclear fire consumed so much of the globe.  Billions died.  Few survived.  Even fewer are alive now, as the Earth begins to repair itself.

Exterior: a lone cottage on the moor, which somehow escaped unscathed and still now stands, indefatigable.  Smoke rises from the chimney.  The windows are whitewashed out.  A bag hangs from the door knocker; through a slight hole the outlines of a dead rat's frozen face can be seen.

Interior: the only sources of light are the fire and a small oil lamp.  A table with four chairs stands in the middle of the kitchen.  Animal furs adorn the walls.  A skinned rodent lies on the draining board of the sink, where the tap drips a brown viscous fluid, clearly undrinkable.  As the camera pans we now also see that on the table is a all but worn-out typewriter, with a heavily marked piece of paper inserted in it.

Suddenly, one of the two doors also in view opens.  Through it shuffles an emaciated, wizened old man.  He is wearing what looks to be the entire pelt of a sheep, complete with the creature's eerily grinning skull on top of his own head.  His eyes are clouded, his lips shrunken and cracked, and he has not shaved in a very long time.  Hair peeks from out of his ears, nose.  He sniffs, then sits down at the table.

He peers at the typewriter, as though he cannot believe what he's about to do.  He contemplates, pulls at his curly, pure white beard, and water wells in his eyes.  Slowly, but certainly, he bangs at the keys, although we cannot yet see what it is he's typing.

Then he stops.  He pulls the paper out of the mechanism and stares at it.  Only now does a smile come across his face, and we see that he has only three teeth left of what was once a full set.

The camera focuses on the paper.  Although the ink has long since been used up, a faint imprint of the letters has been embellished on the material.  "WHY I'M STILL RIGHT, 40 YEARS ON", runs the legend.  On the next line reads "THE LEGACY OF THE EUSTON MANIFESTO".  After a gap of two further lines, "BY NICK COHEN".

The old man threads the paper back into the typewriter, and gets down to work.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016 

Ousted in a landslide: what are former Liberal Democrat MPs doing now?

Yes, it's the question absolutely no one has been asking!  Just what have the Liberal Democrats so cruelly cut down in what has become known as the May the 7th Ashdown Hat Eating Massacre been up to since they lost their seats in the Houses of Parliament?

Princip Lostdeposit - Newspaper Columnist

One of the most high profile of the Lib Dem MPs to lose their seats last year, Lostdeposit swiftly found himself back in employment thanks to the munificence of the current owner of the no longer Daily Sport.  Lostdeposit has been given a whole page to write whatever he likes - among his most celebrated thinkpieces so far are Tits: Are They Getting Bigger? and Arses: Are They Getting Smaller?

Boyd Dangleflapper - Peer of the Realm

Alongside such household names as Lynne Featherstone, Dangleflapper was one of the select few to be rewarded for their services to the Conservative party by getting nominated to the House of Lords.  Since his elevation Dangleflapper has distinguished himself by attending precisely no sessions whatsoever, instead focusing on a new business venture in PR which makes much of his experience as an MP and now Lord.

Michael Onan - Adviser to Ugandan Government

Long regarded as one of the most controversial of the 2005 intake of Lib Dem MPs, Onan was accused repeatedly of sexual impropriety, most notoriously by Downing Street cat Larry.  While Larry's allegations were never substantiated, despite the mysterious brown stains found on a discarded suit near to Number 10, Onan was nonetheless among the vanquished last year.  He has since found work advising the Ugandan government on their criminalisation of homosexuality.

Patricia Wrinklehammer - Meerkat Fancier

In spite of her reputation for being the most intellectually formidable of Lib Dem MPs, Wrinklehammer has admitted to finding work hard to come by after losing her Summer Isles seat by just 43 votes to the SNP newcomer Hamish Hamish McHamish, since suspended by the nationalists after it was discovered "he" was in fact 3 toddlers standing on top of one another concealed by a full length coat.  Filled with ennui at her situation, Wrinklehammer has devoted her time to collecting every meerkat toy from, taking out insurance policies she doesn't need in a bid to give her life something resembling meaning.

Ian Rhiannon O'Bannon - Wormwood Scrubs

In one of the lesser noticed arrests under Operation Midland, O'Bannon found himself accused by an anonymous individual who first went to Exaro News with murdering 50 homeless orphans he befriended on the streets of London.  A witness known only as "Rick" alleged that O'Bannon, along with prime minister William Pitt the Younger, King Ethelred the Unready and TV personality Pat Sharp had ripped out the throats of the children with only their teeth in an orgy of bloodlust that lasted a whole month.  While the Metropolitan police were unable to uncover any evidence to back up Rick's account, O'Bannon's laptop was found to be stuffed to the gunnels with videos of dog mongling.  He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Charles Kennedy - Dead

(That's enough former Lib Dem MPs.  Ed.)

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Thursday, February 04, 2016 

The search is over.

Update: This guy only beat me to it by 12 hours or so. Using the exact same Sooty photo no less. Memes and originality, eh?

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Saturday, January 09, 2016 

Quote of the millennium.

When asked about the Sun payment, Danczuk said: “I am not talking to the press.”

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Monday, January 04, 2016 

Please let it be Rebel Ringo.

Yes, it's the game currently being played in newspaper offices across the country, it's the what do we call the apparent replacement for Jihadi John jamboree!  Now you too can join in, so long as you have no qualms whatsoever with coming up with an alliterative title for a masked killer who is merely a propaganda tool and has no wider significance within Islamic State whatsoever!  

Will his moniker be:

Rebel Ringo?
Genocidal George?
Plundering Paul?
Fundie Fred?
Militant Maurice?
Terrorist Terrence?
Attacker Arnold?
Salafist Samuel?
Evil Ernie?
Killer Karl?
Islamist Ian?
Balaclava Bill?
Decapitating Donald?
Headlopping Harold?
Neckcutting Nicholas?
The White Widower?
Continuity Corbyn?
Jihadi John (again)?
Hanoi Jane?
Benedict Arnold?

(That's enough silly names. Ed.)

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Saturday, January 02, 2016 

A shorter Towards a Realignment of the Left.

Me and my two other mates think other people on the Left are at best idiots, and at worst, active enablers of genocidal Stalinist Islamofascist scum.  We accept the responsibility to protect, believe in war all the time, all of the time, so long as it's not me or my mates having to do the fighting, and we read such seminal essays as Why Jeremy Corbyn is Worse Than Hitler by Dan Hodges.


Some of us *also* think all the other stuff the Left thinks.


Some of us think both of these things at the same time.  Inspired by democratic socialist thinkers such as that dead bloke what wrote a blog, Hal David, Larry David and Groucho Marx, we are committed to new ways of thinking about critical theory and solidarity.

We intend to establish a 'little magazine', entitled Pompous Leftists With High Opinions of Themselves for War, an open online journal of ideas, mainly how right we are about everything ever, but where others of like mind can also contribute.

Without wanting to seem grandiose, knowing that we stand in the rubble of past Historic Projects of the Left, seeing our tradition stretching as far back as when The Prized Three plotted insurrection against Ethelred the Unready, only for Peter Turnip to turn on his two comrades and betray them to the Paganists, our aim is to reimagine everything - except our devotion to military action planned and executed by people who despise everything we stand for.

If you find yourself in agreement with this statement, for goodness sake keep it to yourself.

James Bloodworth Martyn Hudson Alan Johnson

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Thursday, December 31, 2015 

New old proverbs.

"You live by the Sun, you die by the Sun."

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015 

Basic: journalism in 2015.

On the evening of Sunday 7 June, an easyJet flight from Bodrum, Turkey landing at Luton airport was met by police who escorted passenger Kate Moss from the plane for disruptive behaviour. The internet discussed little else for days, for this was a story with many talking points.

What were the police wearing when they arrested her?  Did Kate's dress match the plane?  Were those Schindler's Rungleforeskin sunglasses she was wearing?  Exactly how much Shatner's Bassoon fragrance did the police use as a makeshift alternative to CS spray to bring the raging model under control?

But all of that was by the by.  The detail of this story, one that literally changed the entire course of 2015, was the insult Kate threw at the pilot of the plane as she was escorted, kicking, screaming, clawing and foaming from the flight.  She called her a basic bitch, and overnight a hitherto, underground term of abuse hit the mainstream.

How we all roared with laughter at the crushing humiliation the "basic" pilot went through after being tongue lashed by this spoilt, overgrown 41-year-old millionaire brat.  What better way to make clear to such a pleb that the the normal rules clearly don't apply when it comes to a superstar model?

Because Kate is nothing like basic.  Kate is the very opposite of basic.  She smokes, she drinks, she snorts cocaine, she looks increasingly like a 65-year-old who has spent her entire life doing those things, but still all us fashion journalists love her as she is the ultimate get out.  When in doubt, write about Kate.  It's just so very basic.

Basic though has an extremely long heritage.  While difficult to pin down precisely when it was first used as an insult, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's bag-handler, is recorded as describing Catherine of Aragon, the King's first wife, as "being so basic she no doubt still enjoys Chaucer".  Oscar Wilde is believed to be the ultimate progenitor, explaining to a Reading gaol screw on admittance that "I have nothing to declare except my not being basic".  Most famously, rapper Big Dick Dwayne on his track Niggas, Bitches and Being Basic, proclaimed "Basic bitches on my dick / Basic bitches on my dick / Basic bitches on my dick / Basic bitches on my dick / All you niggas basic too".  More poignantly, Sylvia Plath's final journal entry before she stuck her head in the oven reads simply "Turns out I'm basic after all."

Basic works because it can mean whatever you want it to mean.  Sure, it's mainly used by vacuous, hateful fuckbubbles who imagine themselves better than everyone else because of what they've just bought when compared to what your mum just did, and anyone using it can be effectively written off as even shallower, even snobbier and even more empty a person than whoever it's being directed at, but it can also be thrown at an arrogant, vain man, and then it's perfectly acceptable.  Face it, we all live on a rock where life at best is random, if not completely meaningless, and if we journalists can't encourage our readers to also be self-regarding consumer slaves, then what can we fill space up with?

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Monday, December 14, 2015 

The vicious circle of twatitude.

Hey, you there.  You're a twat.  Yeah, you heard me.  Now, wait a second, I didn't mean you're a twat in the sense that you, singularly, are a twat.  Far from it.  What I meant was, we're all pretty much twats.  I'm a twat.  You're a twat.  The people gathering around us anticipating you smashing me in the face with your clenched fist are twats.  That twat there with the beard and man bun with the smartphone filming all this, he's really a twat.  And all the people that had some sort of role in the production of that phone, whether it be the designer, the programmers that coded the apps, the poor sods in China that put it together while getting poisoned in the process, the people that marketed it, they're all twats.  Most of all, the people that will then share the video of you twatting me, the journalists who will write clickbait articles on it, all the people on Twitter that will laugh about it, they especially are twats.  Life isn't a bowl of cherries.  It's a neverending parade of twats, twatting about, twatting each other and shoving their twats in our faces.  Do you get me?

It won't have escaped your attention that a good section of the commentariat appears to have declared the general public to be twats.  Of course, they aren't talking about the general public at all.  The actual general public are completely indifferent to what the commentariat thinks about anything.  A good percentage of the general public never watches the news, listens to the news when it comes on the radio, reads a newspaper, or so much as visits a news site unless a huge, earth-shattering story like man bites dog breaks.  The real general public, if they are on social media, use it to stay in touch with friends and acquaintances and talk about everything other than politics or the news.  The commentariat are really talking about the people who don't agree with them.

And now, especially following the Syria vote, MPs too have decided that the general public, i.e., anyone who contacts them, are for the most part twats.  They're a bit more discreet than most hacks, but former MP Tom Harris rather lets the cat out of the bag.  Think Hugh Abbott in the have you ever had to clean up your own mother's piss episode of The Thick of It, only without agreeing with him that the public are another fucking species as it's impossible not to like him.

Harris, bless him, thinks just as how the way someone treats a waiter tells you a lot about their character, the same should be the case with how MPs get treated.  Leave aside just for a moment how there are plenty of waiters out there who could do a darned sight better job than a good number of the MPs we currently have, and just focus on the thought process behind that.  Waiters, MPs, what's the difference, apart from the power they have, the wage they get, the people they serve, the clothes they wear, the having to deal with incontinent brats barely past shaving whining about how their steak isn't precisely medium rare?  I'm stumped.

Just for good measure, Harris brings up Jess Phillips MP telling Diane Abbott MP to "fuck off".  Harris and all the people cheering on Phillips don't like Abbott.  Abbott just happened on this occasion to be right, in telling Phillips to stop being so sanctimonious about women not getting top roles in the shadow cabinet when there were more women overall than ever before, but that doesn't matter.  Phillips is to put it mildly, another of those MPs who believes the world revolves around them and if their name isn't in the press on any particular day they have failed.  They adopt a faux of-the-people persona, write comment pieces about how hard it is being an MP while at the same time not suggesting for a moment that they want or deserve sympathy, and then carry on stirring the pot for all it's worth.  The media as a result love them, regardless of how idiotic, repetitive, narcissistic or publicity seeking their comments and reactions are.  Simon Danczuk and John Mann have made great careers out of being loudmouth blowhards jumping on every passing bandwagon, with only the former ever held anything approaching to account.  Phillips will apparently stab Jeremy Corbyn in the front if it comes to it, thinks the public wanted to hear from Corbo that terrorists with AKs and bombs strapped to them will be shot in the head 10 times on sight, just like that Brazilian jihadist was, and the party needs to stop going on about Trident.  Because you haven't been able to move for the Labour party obsessing over Trident of late, rather than about itself thanks to say twats like Phillips not knowing when to shut the fuck up.

Which brings us to the media as a whole.  They love twats even as they denounce them.  They couldn't exist without twats.  While the commentariat denounce petition writing twats and complain about free speech being eroded, the hack at the screen opposite them writes up the latest piece about whichever petition some idiot on Twitter has just started, and how many people a second are signing it.  The editor demands yet another piece on what Trump just said, and another to go with it on what it all means, and then a thinkpiece by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett or someone of that ilk on why Trump has a dodgy hairpiece and herpes.  Of the brain.  Look at what this twat is wearing!  Look at what this twat thinks!  Look at how this twat looks tired!

It doesn't seem to occur that you can only go on regarding everyone as a twat for so long.  This is being borne out by, you guessed it, Trump.  The media in America might be slanted to the right to a ridiculous extent, but Trump supporters still don't believe a word they write.  And why should they?  They think the media are twats, and the people behind the media think they're twats.  It's a vicious circle of twatitude.  The same is the case here.  We saw it in the Labour leadership election, where the "modernisers", the "moderates", whatever you want to call them, exasperated the grassroots to the very limit.  The result was Jeremy.  You see it with the SNP and their supporters, who are convinced the media is biased against them, which it is, and that it matters, which it apparently doesn't considering the election results.  Look at this opening line from a Wings Over Scotland post, and try not to see either projection, or an irony so overwhelming that it should by rights knock you off your feet:

A strange phenomenon we’ve remarked upon numerous times since the independence referendum is the inexplicable undying rage of a certain subset of Unionist voters.

We heard lots about how the internet was supposed to be this great democratic force, how it will transform everything, how nothing will ever be the same ever again, the end of history, and so on.  In fact what it seems to be doing is quite the opposite: we've never been exposed to so many different views, and yet at the same time we've never been so prepared to dismiss them when they don't fit with our prejudices.  Like the old Marx (Groucho) joke about those are my principles, and if you don't like them I have others, if we don't like the fare offered by the lamestream media, there are a whole host of new and improved alternative news sources that will tell it just like it is.  Their content might be unbelievably narrow in scope and subject, but when they think the same people are twats that you do, what does it matter?

Naturally, you can discount all of this as I'm a twat.  Indeed, I'm an even bigger twat than most, as I'm a twat pointing at twats being twats while being a twat myself.   If there's a coda to all this, beyond how we so often mistake those we disagree with as being twats or being the majority when the majority is never very interested in anything you're doing, it's that disagree on how serious what this group or this person or that petition writer is currently doing, there are some individuals who would rather we were less human, and they're not necessarily the Trumps of this world.  For example, see the conclusion of this otherwise fairly reasonable Laura Bates piece:

The feminist endgame is not to publicly punish everybody who makes a rape joke, or ban every advert that uses rape as a titillating way to sell products. It is to create a society in which it would never occur to anybody to do either in the first place.

That's a world I for one would not want to live in.  A society where we cannot make jokes about anything, to anyone, where the very human spirit of finding humour in the bleakest aspects of our nature is denied, even if that means Dapper Laughs or Jimmy Carr still existing?  Count me out.  I'll take my chances with all my fellow twats.

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Wednesday, December 09, 2015 

The petitioners and the Fury.

As another miserable year draws to a close, it does so with an air of deja vu.  The year began with demands that Ched Evans be denied employment with any football league club after being released on licence from his jail term for rape.  It ends with demands for Tyson Fury, not convicted of anything but with a whole array of obnoxious opinions, to be denied so much as a place on the shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year.

Sports Personality of the Year has always been a misnomer; some might go so far as say an oxymoron.  Rare has the public vote ever been about personality as opposed to achievement, with it only coming into play when there is something resembling a choice on offer, as opposed to the usual one or two with the main claim to being the outstanding performer of the year.  And let's face it: when Zara Phillips can win (worth noting is that the infinitely more deserving Beth Tweddle came third that year), despite having no discernible personality beyond being a minor Royal and on the basis of being quite good on top of a horse trained to do something you can't so much as gamble on, there has in the past been something rotten at the heart of Dodge.

Fury everyone agrees does have a personality.  He is as Barney Ronay puts it in an excellent profile a more complex figure than merely a boxer with a sideline in expressing his unpalatable religiously influenced views on homosexuality, women and the fast approaching apocalypse.  Not many pugilists will during their careers admit to any sort of weakness, let alone as Fury has talk about depression and suicide.  Not many "dickheads" with boneheaded, antediluvian views will be able to outfight and outthink an opponent like Wladimir Klitschko, proving the experts wrong.  Not many from Fury's background will have a moment in the sun beyond getting the chance to appear on a Channel 4 documentary, to be gawped at, laughed about and feared all at the same time.

Fury in short breaks all the agreed upon rules of being a sportsperson in 2015.  No, you can't be a completely blank canvas and succeed, but nor can you be any more divisive than say, Andy Murray is, criticised in the past for coming across as grumpy and morose.  The vast majority will shrink from making any sort of comment on politics whatsoever, not least because it's often written into their contracts and is bound to come into consideration when sponsors make their decisions on whom to fund.  Only once you've achieved the success of someone like Murray can you then start to make your views known on a topic as controversial as Scottish independence and get away with it, personally and financially.

We are then back in the parallel universe where some truly believe the aura of a sportsperson can be so overwhelming, it can subvert every norm and value inculcated in an individual since birth.  Ched Evans, the argument went, could not just waltz back into his former position at Sheffield United as he was a role model.  It would send the message that you could commit a crime as terrible as rape and be welcomed back afterwards as though nothing had happened.  With Evans there were the further extenuating circumstances that he continued to claim his innocence (his case has since been referred back to the Court of Appeal), that he was out on licence rather than having completed his sentence, and that his victim had been repeatedly named and abused on social media by supporters of Evans, connected with him or not.  The campaign as it was succeeded, and failing the quashing of his conviction it seems Evans will not play professional football again.  To me at the time it seemed a punishment out of all proportion with the offence, however grave; others felt strongly the other way.

With Fury there are no such extenuating circumstances.  Nothing he has said is or should be illegal, as Peter Tatchell for one has set out while condemning his views.  The absurdity of not so much as wanting the wider public to be allowed to reject him in a vote is made clear by the petition itself, which says

The BBC clearly do not understand that by nominating Fury, who has on a number of occasions expressed homophobic views and compared homosexuality to paedophilia, they are putting him up as a role model to young people all over the UK and the world.

In this strange view of how things work, it's not Fury's achievement of winning the world heavyweight championship that makes him a role model, it's the BBC's recognising of his success.  Leave aside that you can look up to someone's sporting prowess while at same time despising them in every other respect, as you can with the man Fury was named after, or as will become the case with Oscar Pistorius, and you're left with the impression the petition starter truly believes if only the media were to ignore or ostracise people who make their unpleasant views known in public, the remaining barriers to LBGT participation in sport would fall away.

Scott Cuthbertson presumably doesn't believe that, as discrimination is far more insidious and embedded in both sport and society as a whole than encapsulated by the brash statements of a throwback, and yet both he and 130,000 others seemingly don't want to chance the British public deciding otherwise.  While it can often seem as though the great British value of tolerance isn't all it's cracked up to be, do the signatories truly believe someone who says a woman's place is either in the kitchen or "on her the back" and speaks in the same breath about homosexuality and paedophilia can win such a major award, rather than Jessica Ennis-Hill, whom Fury insulted?  Wouldn't those who signed it better serve their cause if they campaigned for Greg Rutherford, who has made clear his unhappiness about Fury's inclusion but decided not to withdraw?  Indeed, wouldn't this country be a better place if the ridiculous pretence was dropped that a person's talent, or when it comes to "reality" stars complete lack of, means they should be judged and treated more harshly?

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Tuesday, December 08, 2015 

The left is to blame for Donald Trump adopting Douglas Murray's old ideas.

"The left is to blame for Trump" trills Douglas Murray over at the Spectator, as though the rise of the Donald could have been put down to anything other than the worldwide ranks of radical Islam deniers.  At the very head of those responsible argues Murray is President Obama for not letting that phrase pass his lips.  Most would probably take it as read that Obama has a low opinion of Islamic extremists; he has after all authorised more drone strikes on the leaders of various jihadist groups in more countries than his predecessor ever did.  Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, you name 'em, he's turned a "radical Islamist" into ground beef in one of them.

Murray's great disagreement with Obama isn't on any of this, naturally.  It's rather that in his view the President "refuses to name Islamist terrorism or identify where it comes from".  Considering virtually no politician anywhere points out it originates from Wahhabist thinking, and is still being spread by our great ally Saudi Arabia, Murray is right on that score, just not in the way he imagines.

Some people might reflect the wars and targeted strikes of the past 14 years don't seem to have had much effect, all told.  They would be wrong of course, as the reason why there hasn't been much effect is we haven't been fighting the wars properly.  We've been acting like a bunch of pussies, goes the Trump critique; we should be "bombing the hell out of them".  It doesn't expand much beyond that, like pretty much all of Trump's policies.  That Obama has been fighting about the smartest war possible (read: it's not very smart at all, but we're talking relatively), following on in many ways from where Bush left off after the clear out of the ideologues in the latter half of his second term is precisely what they so object to.  Counter-insurgency tactics, getting American troops out where and when it was politically possible, half-heartedly going along with arming jihadists to overthrow secular dictators (see Syria passim ad nauseum), even teaming up with al-Qaida to fight Islamic State, all the good stuff, these were all complex and difficult decisions as opposed to simple ones.

Murray agrees this is a complex problem that doesn't have easy answers, except obviously if only the president and the left were to admit Islam isn't a religion of peace then Trump would never have been able to get to a position where he could make the strongest possible signal of his intent.  If only the left hadn't for years "made the cost of entering this discussion too high, so too few people were left willing to discuss the finer points of immigration, asylum or counter-terrorism policy", then now they wouldn't be listening to a demagogue saying keep them all out.  Perhaps more than anything Murray is pissed that they didn't listen to the person back in 2006 who said "It is late in the day, but Europe still has time to turn around the demographic time-bomb which will soon see a number of our largest cities fall to Muslim majorities. It has to. All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop."  Now that someone with the gravitas of Trump has adopted his stance, Murray disowns it.

To step back for just a moment from the snarkiness, there is a very small kernel of truth to the idea that Trump is in some way a reaction to political correctness.  It is incredibly tempting to look at how controlled the terms of political debate appear to have become, with both left and right intent on policing what is and isn't permissible in seemingly any discussion, and extrapolate that Mr and Mrs American Voter aren't interested in pleasantries, safe spaces or whichever practice is deemed to be getting shamed at this precise moment.  They just want someone to mean what they say, and when a figure like the Donald turns up and says something incredibly stupid while making clear how not stupid what he's saying is and how smart he and his audience in fact are, why should we think otherwise?

Except the truth is Trump is just the latest in a long line of Republicans who got where they are by giving their audiences precisely what they want, which is simple, moral lessons borne out of long-held values expressed with conviction, certainty, and strength.  Ronald Reagan was the master of this, but he was only following on from Nixon, and Nixon had adapted his strategy somewhat after Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy.  Trump might well be this strain of the GOP in its purest, more virulent form, possible only in 2015 where the abuse of anyone that either stands in your way or criticises you is no longer a barrier as it's precisely what a subset of Republicans have come to expect.  It also helps immensely that Trump's campaign is to an extent self-funded.  Make no mistake though: Trump owes his origins entirely to the American right post-Goldwater, merely given a new gloss of saying whatever "outrageous" thing comes into his head next, knowing that the coverage given to the resulting outrage seems only to work in his favour.

Trump is also different in that there isn't anyone behind the throne.  Much the same figures behind Reagan, given their first positions under Nixon, then came back to the fore under Bush Jnr.  Trump by contrast is his own man, another of the reasons why the Republican establishment is in such despair over the inability of his challengers to do him almost any damage whatsoever.  While there are a number of reasons to think it's extremely unlikely Trump could become president (assuming he manages to win the Republican nomination), not least demographics and his turning off of everyone other than the true believers, it's worth considering what's happened in the past when the Republican candidate hasn't faced a charismatic Democrat alternative.  Reagan beat a wounded Jimmy Carter and then Walter Mondale; Bush Snr beat Michael Dukakis, before losing to Bill Clinton.  Bush Jnr beat Al Gore and then John Kerry, before John McCain lost to Barack Obama.

Trump's all but certain challenger, Hillary Clinton, is the American equivalent of a Blairite, only without the charm of the man himself and lumbered with the political wisdom of Tristram Hunt.  There's no guaranteeing she can reach the same people Obama did, demographics in the Democrats' favour or not.  And as other commentators have been quick to note, once the previously unthinkable becomes thinkable, political discourse as a whole quickly changes.  That might be the real threat posed by Trump, but anyone betting on it remaining the only one is a far more optimistic person than me.

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