Conservageddon.

  Brexocalypse and the Revenge of the Corbynator.

  Step by stumbling step, this country is being destroyed by feckless Tory chaos.
  It began with David Cameron’s manifesto promise to have a referendum on EU membership.  That manifesto was written when all signs, all polls, indicated a hung parliament.  It was included in order to mollify the eurosceptics in the conservative party, a group who had been a constant thorn in John Major’s side during his similar tenure as a Prime Minister with a slim majority in the commons.
  The feckless Tory chaos continued in the aftermath of their EU referendum.  Cameron, after promising he would not, resigned.  At first it seemed obvious that Boris Johnson would be Prime Minister, but due to the Cuckoo Nest Plot he failed.  There was a risk it would be Michael Gove for a moment, then a bizarre nineteenth century throwback called Andrea Leadsom, then Theresa May won by default after every other conservative party leadership candidate quit.
  Pitiful.
  But May’s honeymoon lasted, and the brutality of the gutter press toward Corbyn was undeniable.  By last month Labour were at a catastrophic low according to the pollsters and the conservatives would waltz to a three figure majority if they called an election.  May, after promising she would not, did.
  I would like to pause for a moment to remind you of this:

crush saboteurs

  This was what they thought they were doing.  This is what they thought was going to happen.  This is what they think of everyone who disagrees with them, and they are so utterly, caustically pompous they will never understand that’s not the case.
  The public evidently disagreed with this sentiment.  Now yes, there are nuances here.  The election in Scotland was a completely different animal for a number of reasons, the Labour Party did not ‘win’ by any stretch (though Jeremy Corbyn’s ideas, leadership qualities and campaigning style have all certainly been vindicated), the Conservatives are still the largest party in the commons.  What is absolutely certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that Theresa May is finished.
  At the time of writing there are less than two weeks before the Brexit negotiations are due to begin and there is almost no chance this government survives until they finish.  They have little confidence in May, poisonous, racist Boris Johnson is on manoeuvres and things are about to get much, much worse.
  In a functioning democracy, with responsible politicians trying to govern in the national interest, the Prime Minister would reach across the aisle and try to come to some sort of agreement.  There would be tensions, true, but collegiate debate with the opposition would replace the tribalism our political system encourages, at least while the crisis of Brexit is dealt with.  This has not happened and I very much doubt it will happen.
  The fact of the matter is that the Tories are incapable of viewing themselves as one political party among many.  They see their philosophy as ‘common sense,’ not a point of view, they see the country as property of the Conservative Party and view any opposition to their policies as unpatriotic sedition.  They are not democrats, they are demagogues.
  This is the only explanation for their decision to get into bed with the vile, spiteful DUP.  After running a large part of their campaign castigating Jeremy Corbyn for his past association with Sinn Fein in, he (believably) claims, his attempts to work towards peace in Northern Ireland they have thrown in their lot with a party that doesn’t believe in dinosaurs.  Four years ago one of its candidates was jailed for bombing his catholic neighbours’ house.  Right now they are mired in a corruption scandal so deep that Stormont has broken and direct rule from Westminster may have to be re-imposed.  They wrote to the Scottish government to demand gay Northern Irish couples be denied access to equal marriage rights.  They have worked hard to keep abortion illegal in Northern Ireland even in cases of rape or incest.  Last week, less than two weeks after a man was shot dead by the UDA in front of his daughter in a car park they had a jovial meeting with UDA members.  There are rumours that they will demand the Orange Order be given the right to march through various catholic areas in exchange for their cooperation with May.
  If all of that wasn’t enough to let any sane person know that these people should be kept as far away from power as possible; this is a flagrant breach of the Good Friday Agreement.  The government in Westminster is bound by its terms to remain neutral when it comes to the parties in Stormont.  How could a government claim to be impartial if the DUP is part of it?  If it clearly puts itself in debt to the DUP?  If it signs any kind of agreement that grants power over the whole of the UK?  And when direct rule is imposed again, as it will be very soon, the insanity of this deal becomes even more acute.
  Do you remember the troubles?  I remember the tail end.  I remember kneecappings, bombs and terrified children on the news.  I remember the IRA, and the UVA, and the rest of the blinkered, fundamentalist thugs who pretended their cause was just while they bought their semtex from Gaddafi.  I don’t think it would all come flooding back at once, not full bore, but the idea that Theresa May has the negotiating skills to prevent an upsurge in tension spilling into violence feels equally unlikely.
  And yet still the Tories chose this path over trying to reach out to Westminster parties.  The arrogance of it.  The gall it takes to view your own attempts to cling to power as being more important than peace in Northern Ireland.  Not one Tory has come forward to suggest this is a bad idea.  Not one has raised concerns about the peace process.  This government of failures cannot possibly last, and these toxic, Brextremist, feckless Tories deserve the hell the electorate will rain upon them.
  In the meantime I have no idea what happens next.  It feels like something big is brewing, people are tired of politics and constant upheaval.  The Queen’s speech at the opening of parliament has been delayed for the first time ever because this Tory shower can’t get it’s act together.  There is no way, at all, that we go another year without another general election, and it’s all the Tories’ fault.

Why I’m Voting Labour.

And why you should too.

  This is the most important election of my lifetime.  This is more important than 1997, when New Labour swept to power, more important than 1992, when the Tories somehow won, more important than 2010, when the Tories went into coalition with the LibDems.  And the reason for this is Brexit.

Leaving the EU changes everything.  It changes this country in ways we can’t even understand yet, and the next government is going to build the foundations for whatever comes next.  The idea that the process of withdrawing from the EU can be reversed, as much I would love it to happen, is simply wishful thinking.  We are on our way to a lonely place, and the gaps left in our laws will have to be filled.

Jeremy Corbyn believes in progressive taxation, he believes the public sector is a force for good, he believes that the state can and should own and operate the railways and hospitals and that the private sector cannot, he believes a university education should not be prohibitively expensive.  Theresa May believes in cutting taxes for the wealthiest, cutting public services, leaving the railways in private hands, bringing back fox hunting, cosying up to Trump, isolating us from our European Allies, and abolishing the Human Rights Act.

The Tories are now so far to the right it astonishes me.  They are a toxic group, falling for the belief that the Brexit vote was not the misguided cry of the oppressed masses, but was somehow tethered to nostalgia.  The truth, of course, is that a vast number of complex issues led to Brexit, but the xenophobic lobby has been the most gleeful and noisy and Theresa May has thrown in her lot with them.

If the Labour party is allowed to build the foundations for a new, post-Brexit Britain I believe they will try to make sure it is fair.  Corbyn, despite reports to the contrary, is no ravening communist hell bent on establishing a soviet system, he is not the second coming of Lenin, he’s a fairly ordinary sort of socialist.  His party will bear the poor in mind as they shape our future, they will take some of the riches from people who own more than they need and give them to people who need it, they will protect our right to healthcare, our right to education and our essential human rights.

The Tories will make us a tax haven.  A kind of oligarchy, where billionaires are the new aristocracy and the rest of us are the peasantry.  They will screw you out of every workplace protection, they will cosy up with the orange nightmare in charge of America, they will pander to the xenophobes to retain the UKIP vote, and, when you are old, they will take your home if you dare to develop dementia.

I can’t do that.  I worry they will win, and win big, and all the polls seem to suggest that’s how it’s going.  All bar one, the one that tells me this election can be entirely changed by 18-24 year olds getting out to vote.  If you’re of that age vote on Thursday, if you know someone of that age take them to the polling booth on Thursday.  Is this naked electioneering?  Maybe.  Are Labour perfect?  No, of course not.  But the Tories are poison.  Don’t let us drown in a future ruled by a billionaire aristocracy.

Everybody In Labour Is Wrong.

But the Tories are still worse.

  There are quite a lot of frustrated articles out there about the future of the Labour party.  They range from the broadly accurate to the deranged and, as far as I can see, they all miss some of the most important points.  So, despite my best efforts, here is my take on what needs to be done to rescue the Labour party.  Gods help me.

The first thing is that both the left of the party (hereafter occasionally referred to as the Corbynistas, a word I use without malice, I actually quite like it) and the more mainstream wing of the party (hereafter referred to as ‘the more mainstream wing of the party.’  Stop calling them Blairites, it’s inaccurate) need to admit that they are both at fault.  Yes, that includes you, Nick Cohen, and you, John MacDonnell, and you, David Miliband, and you, Diane Abbott… the list goes on.  The left has been furious with the direction of the party for decades now, with many good reasons and, arguably, many poor ones.  The mainstream wing of the party had grown hopelessly, laughably unimaginative and complacent, fiddling at the edges of their own threadbare ideology without doing anything about the anachronistic, neo-liberal rot at its core.  Of course Corbyn won, he offered to represent the ideals of millions of people, and the other candidates had absolutely nothing.  They are all competent politicians but they really were offering Tory-lite policies, all of them were calling for slightly less austerity instead of none.  None of them offered a big, desperately needed change to the way our financial industries are run.  None of them offered anything at all to the North.  Corbyn said the right things and, I still think, meant them.

But then came the EU Referendum and Corbyn’s dismal Remain Campaign.  Even now some of you reading this will be saying that he did his best and campaigned hard; stop.  I did not see him at any point talking positively about the EU.  I did not hear anything he had to say about the EU during the entire campaign.  He barely talked to the press, stayed away from the airwaves, held some impressively large rallies with thousands in attendance but, and I hate to point this out, ‘thousands’ is not enough when you need to engage with an electorate of sixty million people. 

So parliamentary Labour party members seized their opportunity to get rid of him, as well they probably should have.  They resigned en masse from his cabinet and forced him to hold a new leadership election.  Their standard bearer would be Angela Eagle, for a few minutes, before it became Owen Jones.  And he was rubbish as well.

Corbyn won easily, and I voted for him both times.  So did my girlfriend at the time.  Some of you are nodding at this decision, some of you want to smash your computer screen.  Calm down.  It felt to me, at the time and with good reason, that the parliamentary Labour party had been briefing against Corbyn, sabotaging him and openly displaying disloyalty and why the hell should anyone reward that?  He hadn’t had a chance to actually do the job and now they were trying to get rid of him.  The hopes of more than half of the Labour party had been placed in him a scant few months earlier, and the contempt in which those hopes were held by the PLP was scathing, snobbish and infuriating.  Angry yet?  If not you’re not a Labour party member.

It’s only after all this that the scales have fallen from my eyes.

This is what both sides need to understand; I am bitterly, brutally disappointed that I can’t continue to support him as leader.  Nobody should be crowing about this.  Nobody should be continuing to support him.  Nobody should be angry with anyone for failing to keep the faith with him.  I still don’t doubt his principles, I think he’s got an extremely difficult job, and he’s not up to it.

A party leader who never speaks to the press never speaks to the people.  You don’t like the mainstream media?  Neither do I, but a lot of people do and those people have votes and the right to be informed.  A new leader need not speak to the Mail or the Sun, but they should speak to someone at some point.  The Canary doesn’t bloody count.

A party leader who allows the conservatives to get away with holding the rights of EU nationals ransom, like a bargaining chip, can’t do the job.  A party leader who only uses a three-line whip once, and that to help the government drive us off the article 50 cliff, isn’t acting in the interests of the country or the world.  A party leader who isn’t absolutely wiping the floor with these risible, shambolic Tories every time he steps up to speak can’t do the job.  He has to go.

‘And what then?’ as most Corbynistas would immediately say.  Well you get a new leader.  It should probably be Kier Starmer, he’s brilliant, of the left, principled and capable of actually speaking to the public.  Bookie’s favourite is Clive Lewis, who would be fine.  Not inspired, but fine.

There are, no doubt, rather a lot of nodding heads in the mainstream party camp, rather a lot of raised voices in the Corbynista camp.  Fine, you’ll all be yelling in a minute, because the Labour party also needs to do a swift U-turn and rebuild its manifesto pretty much from the ground up.

These are the policies that are good and true, and mostly not even controversial:

–          Remaining in the EU.  You’d pick up as many votes as you lose with this one so stop having a flap.  We need to stay in the EU, Labour needs to use the vast army of members it’s gathered to go and tell people why it’s good.  Yes it has problems, no I don’t like it very much, but I honestly don’t trust the UK government to guarantee the rights the EU gives me.  And if you’re saying we can remain in the EU you’ll be able to form some other policies because your entire workload for decades won’t be figuring out bloody Brexit.

–          Tax the rich, stop austerity.  This isn’t even complicated, poor people are not at fault for the banking crisis of 2008 that started this whole mess and they shouldn’t pay for it.  Wealth disparity is vast, they can afford to pay more.  Nobody, anywhere, should personally own a billion dollars.

–          Invest in the North.  Find industries that work up there and build some of them.  Not wind farms or some half-formed idea about ‘reindustrialising,’ something new.  Most likely many new things.  Yes, this is a bit of a wash of an idea but I’m not an economist, I just know that leaving people to slowly waste away is vile and turning back the clock is impossible. Massive investment is needed now, jobs are needed now. Find a way, or at least start talking about it seriously, the political silence around this is scandalous.

–          Give hospitals the money they need. The Tories are not doing this, and they are claiming that it’s somehow the fault of the NHS structure, some inherent facet of the public sector that’s leading to this crisis.  It’s not, it obviously needs money to function.

–          Stop sanctioning job seekers for being late to a meeting, get rid of disability assessment tests.

–          Burn everything owned by Serco, Capita, G4S, and every incompetent parasite company like them to the ground. Scatter the ashes. Salt the earth.

Does this win the next general election?  Maybe, if you have someone capable of speech to talk about the policies and win the argument.  I might even go so far as to say it probably would win, it’s big, it’s new, it’s not too extreme, basically it’s not nearly far enough to the left for me.  But it would win.  And Labour needs to win, it needs to stop these Tory bastards from wrecking absolutely everything.  Scotland is gone, you know that?  It’s not in doubt, within ten years Scotland will have left the UK because Tories buggered it all up.  Personally, I think that’s fine, but the fact that Tory incompetence has ended the union beggars belief and the Labour party still would lose seats if an election was held tomorrow.  A lot of people on the left seem to have a strange fondness for this state of affairs, but the Tories in power are a nightmare and the only real way to stop them is to get Labour into government.  You’re all wrong, calm down, stop shouting and read this again.  Keep reading it.  It’s not just the other side.  This does include you, all of it does, don’t kid yourself that it doesn’t.  Stop swearing at each other, stop blaming each other, stop dredging up the past, stop sniping, unite and save this country from these reckless, fanatic, dangerous Tories.  You’re running out of time.

What Comes Next?

Antifa logo  I really don’t want to have to write about Trump, but right now I feel I have to.  There’s a pattern forming which nobody is talking about yet, and we need to be vigilant.

First the good news; it is now no longer a fair criticism to claim that the American people are apathetic about politics.  They are absolutely awake to the feckless fascist lurking in the White House and willing to kick up a hell of a fuss about it.

Here ends the good news.

The last week has been, it’s fair to say, monumental.  Trump entered office and managed to immediately infuriate most of the media and the CIA with a pair of insane, rambling speeches.  Even his inauguration speech sounded like one of his rallies, a screeching, self-congratulatory gout of grievance and verbal masturbation that those who don’t support him find repulsive.  The day after he became the most powerful man in the world there were marches against his bigotry and misogyny which obviously dwarfed the crowd watching him take the oath of office.  Trump, however, is such an insecure man-child that he could not allow this objective fact to settle in his mind, and sent his spokesman out to claim, on the basis of no evidence, that his supporters outnumbered the Women’s Marches and President Obama’s inauguration.

A lot of people have tried to read more into this.  They say that it was a deliberate distraction while the Republicans pushed through legislation to strip away several million American’s access to healthcare.

Come off it.

Trump is not a master of manipulation.  He’s a bully, a racist, a misogynist, a climate change denier, a fascist, and a hundred other disgusting things but he is, first, a showman.  He only knows how to interact with the world in that capacity.  He continues holding rallies because he’s good at it and he craves a cheering crowd, he signs grand, sweeping executive orders because it keeps the attention of the world on him, he lies all the time because in his mind he is the main character in a television show.  In his mind he is not lying, the show is wrong and must be rewritten.

By all accounts he voraciously consumes media (though not books).  He watches a quite unsettling amount of television and, I am sure from observing his account, is constantly glued to Twitter.  As he tried to settle into his office (and reintroduced the ‘global gag rule,’ which every Republican President has reintroduced and every Democrat has repealed) he would have seen the suggestions that he had used his insanity to try to distract the world.  I think he took this on board and, as reports leaked out about the chaos caused by his incompetence in government and a backlash grew at the fresh lie his press secretary had told claiming that he had won the popular vote (which, incidentally, he absolutely did not) he announced he was actually going to build a wall along the border between the US and Mexico.

And why wouldn’t he think that was a good idea?  It shows that he’s planning to keep his campaign promises.  It shows that his government is on track and decisive.  It always played well at the rallies.

It did not play well in the press.  It did not play well in the international press.  His promise to somehow make Mexico pay for it played extremely badly with the former President of Mexico (who posted these exact words in a Tweet: ‘We’re not going to pay for that fucking wall #fuckingwall) and it was, at its core, mental.  A bloody stupid policy from a bloody stupid man.

Steve Bannon, his neo-Nazi media advisor, probably thought it would play rather well with rather a lot of Americans.  He has spent decades living in a bubble of his very own, one comprised of bitter men who think they’re the master race.  He was probably surprised it didn’t go down well, and he blamed the mainstream media for its poor reception.  This is why they doubled down on their attack on the media, it’s not some Putin-esque power play, it’s panic.  We need to worry about Bannon though, Trump is a media obsessed man, his media advisor will be favoured in his court.

I’ll have to skip over rather a lot because so much dumb crap happened.  Trump has no idea how to govern, he’s only interested in looking like he knows how to govern.  And then he signed an executive order to ban immigration from Muslim majority countries.

America has never been a sectarian state before.  It is now.

Now there are protests at airports, there are people in the Republican party (very, very tentatively) suggesting it’s a bad idea, foreign governments are angry, a Daily Mail columnist agreed with Jeremy Corbyn that Trump should not be allowed in the country while this racist ban is in place.

Now, ignoring all the other crap, ignoring that the ban specifically targets Muslim majority countries where Trump does not have business interests and ignores Muslim majority countries where he does have business interests, ignoring that a five year old child was detained by police for hours on end at an American airport, ignoring that a court has ordered the executive order be suspended and Trump has carried on enforcing it anyway, ignoring the fury and the protests and the international condemnation (though not from my government, but that’s an infuriated rant for another day) this has been a disaster for Trump.

I know, I know, he treats the press like an enemy and he doesn’t seem to have even the briefest connection to the truth, but this will get to him.  There’s no way it can’t, an avalanche of infuriated condemnation is being launched at the USA from every corner of the earth and it will get to him.  Even if it doesn’t it will get to the Republicans, though whether they can find their spines or grow some values and actually do anything about it is another matter.  No matter what else happens he has almost certainly alienated everyone outside of his inner circle, and nobody can govern like that.

It’s the future I fear, though.  He has in the last few hours begun to make a great deal of noise about Daesh.  It sounds to me like the first, terrible rumble towards war.  And his will be a terrible war.  He will order airstrikes that butcher civilians, then deny it ever happened.  He will level cities.  Slaughter families with cruise missiles.  He will ignore human shields and kill ‘em all.

And then what?  What will he do when his army is bogged down in another middle eastern quagmire and someone with brown skin and a foreign accent opens fire and shouts allahu akhbar?  His knee will jerk, and he will crack down on Muslims even more.  ‘Gitmo times a thousand’ was one of his campaign promises, so there, on American soil, we will see the first internment camp.  Then he will try to follow through with his promise to deport millions of undocumented migrants.  The conditions will be terrible.  They will have to work for food.  Internment camps will become concentration camps, the step from concentration camp to death camp is barely visible.

This probably will not happen.  The world won’t allow it, the American public won’t wear it, he probably won’t last that long.  But I was sure he wouldn’t try to build a wall.  I was sure he wouldn’t be so stupid as to ban Muslims from traveling to America. I was certain he would never win.

Be afraid, America.  I was going to tell you that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, but you’ve heard that and evil may triumph despite your efforts.  Instead of Burke I give you Bakunin:

‘Destroy or be destroyed, there is no middle way.  Let us then be the destroyers.’

This Seething Mess of a Year In Review.

  ‘Let’s be honest, 2016 has been shit’ – The beginning of the British Green Party’s New Year message.  No, really.

Let’s start with the obvious, unforeseen horror of David Bowie’s death.  This should have been a warning, really, if you’re inclined towards magical thinking.  The only upside to it was the outpouring of love and grief in Brixton which saw a sudden, unplanned street party and singalong that still honestly brings tears to my eyes when I see it.  But we should have known then that the transgressive, unifying force of love for the other that Bowie embodied was about to take the worst kicking of my lifetime.

bowie-tribute
RIP

 

I’ll try to avoid discussing other celebrity deaths in this piece, that’s not really what it’s about, but I would probably be remiss in not mentioning Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan,, Victoria Wood, Prince, Caroline Aherne, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, AA Gill (who I disagreed with often and profoundly but still enjoyed), George Michael, Muhammed Ali, Leonard Cohen and a ridiculous list of others.  With every passing month there was another front page obituary which could not help but add to the sensation that the world we recognised was vanishing.

There were some moments of hope in 2016.  Not many, admittedly.  The Panama papers leaked, giving the world an insight into the rampant corruption we all sort-of knew was happening around the world.  The first solar powered aircraft to circumnavigate the world.  The USA and China ratified the Paris global climate agreement.  The first proven vaccine for the Ebola virus was developed.  The good stops here, though, and I’ve got to talk about the darkness.

Brexit came first.  It arguably isn’t as bad as the other big political story of 2016 but it’s still disastrous.  A lot of my friends, some younger than me, some relatively new to politics, felt repulsed and lost.  They felt, I think, that the world they believed they lived in was an illusion.  It’s interesting to me how much they all, bar one or two exceptions, leapt to the remain side of the Brexit debate.

Now I know that a lot of Brexit supporters roll their eyes at this phenomenon.  They write off all the Remain voters as a naïve, liberal, metropolitan elite and, actually, I think this is a mistake on their part.  The truth of it is that Remain voters are by and large involved with the world in a way Leave voters aren’t.  There is a generation of voters who now feel disenfranchised, betrayed and furious with their treatment and they have no love for an isolationist world they neither remember nor care about.  It’s been the habit of commentators to examine the Leave voters meticulously, I’d like to see some more attention paid to the fact that the people who are going to inherit the fallout of Brexit are never going to forgive those who stole the future from them.

Nevertheless; Leave won.  The campaigns they ran were a disgusting, racist, toxic nightmare and even when a neo-Nazi supporter murdered a left-wing Remain supporting MP in the street they shamelessly carried on with the empty rhetoric of nationalism and race baiting.  For forty years the repellent right wing newspapers of Britain had been screaming hysterically about the evils of the EU, nobody dared publically defend it and even Jeremy Corbyn, who ostensibly supported the remain campaign, said he was only ‘about 70% in favour’ of staying.  David Cameron, the other half of the Remain campaign leadership, brought out banker after banker to announce the dangers of leaving and how much it might damage their bonuses.

Does anyone really wonder why Remain lost?  And then the hate crimes began.  An undercurrent of disgusting blood-and-soil nationalism was implicit throughout the Leave campaign, so naturally the racists took the referendum as a victory for their fucknugget philosophy.  Suddenly Mr Farage is even more ever present in our media than he was before, constantly babbling crap about how those who do not support Brexit are treacherous scum, and the right wing press lap it up and repeat it.  We’ve seen judges attacked in print for rendering a judgement, in a democracy, that the press did not like.  We have a government so weak that they barely bother to mention that this is unacceptable.  We have the disgraced, possibly corrupt former defence secretary Liam Fox in a position of what looks like power.  We have Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.  We have Theresa May as a prime minister.  And the more they go on the more convinced I am that they have no idea what the hell they’re doing.

Enough.  I can only talk about Brexit for so long.  I have to talk about Trump now.

Urgh.

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States of America should have come as more of a surprise than it did.  Not only were the polls trending heavily against him, he was a monstrously awful campaigner by the standards of a normal campaign.  I think we forget, in the rest of the world, just how abysmally racist America can be.  It’s a paranoid, insular place with some of the most appalling wealth disparity in the world and a terrifying tendency to glorify in its worst aspects.  Even more than Britain it refuses to look elsewhere for inspiration, when it seeks inspiration it looks only to its own past.  Now, finally, its rapacious worship of the dollar, its cult of celebrity and its bigotry has reached its culmination; a man who has praised internment camps, admitted to sexual assault and expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin.  If you are a left wing person still somehow under the impression that being enamoured of Putin is no bad thing then you need to read about Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Nemtsov and the invasion of Ukraine.

He will be a disaster and he can’t bring back the world the people who voted for him want.  It’s gone.  Yes he’s a dangerous fascist and he should be treated as the pariah he deserves to be but for the next four years he’s going to be POTUS.  Gods help us all.  So much has been said about him that I feel anything I add here might be redundant.

So what’s to be done in 2017?  It’s probably going to be worse than 2016, if only because Trump will actually take office and get to work dismantling the rights people in the USA have fought so hard for.  Nationalism is an empty, vile creed that wins because it is the creed of selfishness, it is Adam Smith’s vile maxim; ‘all for me, and nothing for anybody else.’  There’s more to it than that, obviously, but I have neither the space nor the inclination to go into it here.  It will have to suffice to say that internationalism represents the hope of humanity at this point, that closing the blinds and pretending that the world ends at the borders of your nation-state is not a healthy or good way to govern the world.  We’re going to need to fight for this, but we’re also going to need to examine our own failings.  The rate of homelessness has soared in the last few years, the use of food banks has become commonplace, a contempt for the poor has become the watchword of all of our political classes across the whole spectrum of ideology, and the poor are being seduced by the filth who will not help them but will use them as a stepping stone to power.

In the meantime, and more urgently, we will need to stand up against the casual cruelty of this blinkered, nostalgia-led fascism.  From Farage, to Trump, to Putin, to Le Pen, the hope of the world is under threat.  They are the past, shuddering through a final, convulsive last gasp, we’ll all have to be ready to resist them and repair the damage they do.

March of the Victorious Scum.

Or The Complacent Suicide of the Stagnant Left.

 

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I despair.

It’s too late, in case you’re wondering.  If you’re one of those people who believes themselves to be reasonable and restrained and you’re looking at President-Elect Trump with anything less than bitter, seething fury then you haven’t been paying enough attention.

And if you’re looking at the leaders of the left with anything less than total contempt you haven’t grasped what’s going on either.

So what’s happening?  We’ve had Brexit, we’ve got Trump, Marine LePen might well be President of France, Viktor Orban is in charge of Hungary… the world is voting against its own interests and embracing racism, homophobia and isolationism while rejecting political correctness.

It’s not difficult to see the appeal.  In the poorer parts of the west both cities and countryside have been systematically let down by successive governments for decades.  When the credit crunch hit in 2008 and the financial sector was bailed out the wealthy and the middle classes were saved from the pain of recession, but the poor were not.  They plunged deeper into poverty, look at rise of food banks in the UK to see the proof, and poverty breeds anger.

The traditional right didn’t care.  They still see the world through a skewed lens, one which focuses on economics and does not see human beings.  Human beings are complex and unmeasurable, but in their eyes as long as the economy is doing well they will be looked after so they ensure that it grows at any cost.  The traditional right still clings to trickle-down economics even while the rest of the world can see clearly though that absurd fantasy.

Of course this doesn’t mean everyone defaults to the left, though most left wing people seem to think it does.  The far right saw the collapse of the banks and the desolation of the rural west and have been licking their rotting lips with glee.  Their entire philosophy hinges on pouring into the gaps left by hopelessness, by pointing at something tangible and saying ‘look!  That is your enemy!  That is the cause of all your ills!’  It doesn’t matter to them that it’s not true, they need what Mosely called a ‘hate platform’ to hide that their entire creed is power and strength.  True fascists, the ones who run the far right parties and actually do well at it, aren’t generally truly racist, they simply use it to secure their route to power.  This isn’t to say their followers aren’t racist, a mob needs a target or it breaks apart.  Last time the target of the mob was the Jewish people and Slavs, now it’s Arabs and Persians.  And the specific aim of Islamist terrorists is to make the west hate them enough to leave them the hell alone and let them conquer their neighbours.  This is why the far right is winning, because the discourse the terrorists have been violently thrusting into western thought is one which plays right into their hands.  Fear is a great motivator.

So what of the left?  Why do I blame them for this catastrofuck as much as anyone else?

Let’s start with Clinton, a woman who was a fine candidate and a shit campaigner.  I could have beaten Donald Trump, and I am far from a practiced politician.  She was given the gift of the worst candidate I can remember for any office in any election for an opponent and she still managed to make a bollocks of it.  There was no specific incident (‘basket of deplorables’ notwithstanding), no moment which cost us all the world, just a consistent, total failure to address the poor, disenfranchised voters of America in any way whatsoever.  What did she say she would do for the mouldering countryside towns?  How did she plan to help those stuck in miserable decrepitude after being ignored, beaten down and lied to for decades?  She pretended the thriving cities were the whole of her country, and that fantasy might have handed America to a man who believes climate change is a Chinese conspiracy.

So what about Bernie Sanders?  Well, what about him?  He wasn’t there.  He was damned quiet after bellowing his way very close to the candidacy of the democratic party.  He lost though, and a lot of his followers refused to forgive Clinton for that.  ‘Oh but there were irregularities, and she’s corrupt,’ you say?  So what?  If you’re reading this and you didn’t vote for Clinton because Bernie lost to her then fuck you, you’re as responsible for the ‘grab them by the pussy’ President as anyone else.  Sanders might have been okay, he didn’t seem like a bad person, but the predictable, ongoing, childish infighting of the left after his loss cost Clinton the election as much as any other factor.

What about Corbyn?  Well he’s doing the same thing Clinton did.  He’s not a different kind of politician, he’s brilliant at campaigning when he’s talking to people who already agree with him and awful at speaking to the poor.  What’s his plan for the north?  Some vague nonsense about impossibly reindustrialising it?  It’s rubbish.  It’s incomprehensible drivel compared to the creed of the far right; ‘no more immigrants, then you will all have jobs.’  It’s a simple message, wrong in every respect, and waffling like you’re at a university seminar isn’t going to combat it.  I’ve even spoken to people who hope for a general election right now because they think Corbyn would win, not realising that May would romp home with no difficulty because he is terrible at getting his point across to the people who need to hear it.  He’s now spent so long avoiding the press and treating the media as the enemy that the left wing fears of the mainstream media have become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Meanwhile the left wing people I know, who I agree with for the most part, have spent so long arguing over tiny, pointless details that they’ve rendered themselves completely incapable of taking on the right.  I’ve seen people post crap about teetotalism being a vital part of feminism, about trying to evacuate all the animals from war zones, about ethically sourced food somehow being an LGBT+ issue.  Nobody living in a dying town or rotting council estate with no job prospects, no income and no way to move to a nicer place gives a tu’penny fuck about your naval gazing whining and there’s absolutely no reason that they should.  They have problems of their own and those problems are life and death.

And that’s the situation we’re in.  That’s why the far right are winning, the left aren’t a movement with ideas and goals and a philosophy anymore, we’re a self-regarding crowd of elitists screaming the pointless minutiae of fringe beliefs into the echo chambers of our social media accounts, blocking anyone who disagrees with us for fear we might not like what they have to say rather than engaging them in any kind of reasoned debate and feeling smug about holding superior values to the poor, parochial running dogs.  We don’t talk at length about foodbanks, about how to reinvigorate the north or take in refugees, we’ve laboured under the arrogant belief that our views are self-evidently correct and not bothered to defend them for decades. The right wing press call us all elitists, and they absolutely aren’t wrong.

The State of the Union.

The pound has dropped to, according to one Financial Times calculation, a 168 year low. The last time the pound was that low HMS Daedelus reported a sighting of a sea serpent and 5,000 people died of cholera in New York. Incidentally the British Empire was somewhere near its height, we could squeeze our colonies to plug the gaps in our economy. That is no longer an option that is open to us.

But what do the press make of this backlash, and by backlash I mean terrible things actually happening due to the stupid Brexit vote? Let’s have a quick look at who these measured moral guardians have decided to blame. I’ll start with the Daily Mail, it’s the obvious choice.

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Yep.  Front page, all across the top.

What a surprise.  The first, last and only retreat of the brainless right when they’re proven wrong.  Let’s do this then, word by word.

First of all apparently I’m ‘damned’ and so is the MP representing my interest and all of my friends and anyone who agrees with me, which is slightly less than half of the people who actually voted in the referendum.  Well fine, it’s not even a swearword any more so who cares?

Secondly I’m ‘unpatriotic.’  I don’t feel an especially strong need to defend myself from this facile statement but I know some do.  Just remember; this sort of right wing filth consider themselves patriots so if you disagree with them you are, by their infantile logic, unpatriotic.  This absurd fantasy of inverted, self serving, megalomania is probably the best argument for retiring the meaningless word entirely.  Wilde said that ‘patriotism is the virtue of the vicious,’ which is a good line but I disagree, it’s the virtue of the meaningless, the platitude of the pointless, a rallying cry for those who know they have lost.  It, like faith, is exactly as worthy as the actions it inspires and absolutely no more.  Treat those who question your patriotism with the blistering contempt they deserve.

‘Bremoaners’… weak.  Weak, Daily Mail, I thought right wing papers were supposed to have a knack for puns?  ‘Bremoaners’ is just rubbish.

‘Their plot to subvert the will of the British people.’  All right, I think I have to explain something that most adults understand: when everything goes wrong and someone points it out it is not necessarily their fault.  Sometimes you have a terrible idea, the grown up thing to do is to own it and try to rectify your mistake.  And it’s only a plot if they do it in secret, nobody is being quiet about this nor are they hiding their intentions.  Grow up.  As for the idea that the way this is being handled is somehow ‘subverting the will of the British people’ I feel the need to remind you that there were two boxes on the ballot, one which said ‘leave the European Union’ and one which said ‘remain in the European Union.’  There was no mention of leaving the single market, no mention of free movement of labour, nothing about the human rights act… nothing.  The shape of Brexit is absolutely up for debate, why do you seem to be so worried?

Time to move on, I think.  Let’s see what the Express has to say.

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That is a fairly unambiguous and sinister threat.  Are they suggesting banning discussion of the most important political issue in Britain today?  Are they suggesting leaving the EU with no plan whatsoever?  Let’s take a look inside to find out:

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Oh.

Nope, they’re talking about jailing their political opponents.  This is what political discourse in our press is nowadays.  This is disgusting.

Well let me show you something that I find important, Daily Express, this is my passport:

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Do you see it yet?  No?  Let me show you again:

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One more time, because you still won’t see it:

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You want to strip me of my citizenship.  That’s what this is about.  I am a European, the closest I ever felt to ‘patriotic’ was my pride in being a part of the project that put a stop to the constant apocalyptic wars across this continent.  You want to lock up people who disagree with you?  You want us all to shut up and let you do whatever you like you small minded cowards?  You have so little faith in your position that you want to imprison the ‘Bremoaners’?

Try it.  Come and try to take sixteen and a half million people away.  See what happens, you simpering xenophobic scum.

I dare you.