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(and reintroduced the ‘global gag rule,’ which every Republican President has reintroduced and every Democrat has repealed) he would have seen the suggestions that he had used his insanity to try to distract the world.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.’
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Do you see it yet? No? Let me show you again:
One more time, because you still won’t see it:
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.
Yes, and me.
I’m angry. I’ve tried to calm down using music, booze and venting at a mirror but I can’t. Instead I’ve written a comprehensive telling off for everybody including you. In the interested of making this readable in a timely manner I’ve limited myself to two sentences and no swearing, which was a hell of a challenge. Read this and feel bad, you deserve to.
I understand you’ve been messed around and despised by successive governments for decades now but which part of you decided ‘I know, I’ll mash my nose in to a fine paste with a heavy meat tenderiser to spite my face?’ The knee jerk reactionary part, that’s which, you damned fools.
The Woman Who Said That She Voted to Leave the EU Because She ‘Didn’t See the Point in her Daughter Learning French’ Because, In Her Words, ‘She’s Never Going to Go There.’
Merely repeating what you said is dressing down enough you utter, utter cretin.
Cynical Appropriators of World War 2.
Seventy year old conflicts from a time when the shape of world politics was absolutely unrecognisable are completely irrelevant and when you bring up either World War to argue about Brexit you, by implication, suggest that I dishonoured the memory of my grandfather’s distinguished service in the Navy fighting the Nazis by voting to remain. How dare you.
Being concerned about immigration may not always be racist but it is the sort of curtain twitching xenophobia I had hoped we’d left in the twentieth century. Add to that the fact that we will need to take part in the common market in order to survive, which will also guarantee free movement of labour and so make no difference to immigration, and I hope you feel like the idiot you are.
The tiny number of you who voted overwhelmingly wanted to remain, the ones who didn’t bother deserve the hell they’re bringing down upon themselves. And well done for failing to organise all those rallies before the vote when they might have actually made a difference.
All Other Remain Voters, Including Me and, Probably, You.
Where was your passion before the results were announced? You failed to convince anyone because you didn’t even bother to try or, if you did, you failed to say anything remotely inspiring or interesting, idiot.
Hey, you necro-porciphiliac, how’s that plan to unite the Tories by getting the European question answered once and for all doing? Keep your shiny cheeks shut on the back benches, you abject failure.
Hope you’re happy you jowly, mop headed, Beano character, look what you did. Also you owe the country enough money to build a new hospital every month and I’m sorely tempted to try to find a way to take you to court to get it, liar.
You’ve failed to show even the slightest concern for the failure of the remain campaign, the campaign of which you were a part, and as a result of your failure you’ve risen to the top by virtue of everyone else sinking down. What a shameful, pointless Prime Ministership you’ve managed to grasp.
Good man you may be but your complete inability to do anything but yell in to an echo chamber has destroyed all hope of anything ever getting any better. I want a competent version of you in charge of the Labour party so that it can win elections, to most people a ‘movement’ is something you flush down the toilet.
The Parliamentary Labour Party.
He’s been fighting for this for forty years, his supporters are absolutely passionate and full throated and you’re bringing nothing to the table. The fact that you thought a mass resignation could work just demonstrates how completely out of touch you are.
Your tepid and simpering response to the disgusting, misogynistic, homophobic abuse I’ve seen some of you hurl at people online is repulsive and you should all be ashamed, saying ‘but they’re mean to us too’ is a pathetic excuse used to do nothing. Also you’re doing it wrong, a cult of personality is supposed to form around a person with an actual personality.
‘Balance’ doesn’t mean inviting one pro-brexit economist on for every pro-remain economist any more than it means getting climate change deniers on to argue with other people who are actually correct. I’m not sure what the point of reporting news actually is if facts, established actual facts, are ignored because the government of the day don’t like them.
The Murdoch Papers.
Three decades of howling about immigrants and whinging about the EU has got you what you wanted, well done, you’ve destroyed even the illusion of democracy in order to serve Darth Murdoch. You might be the worst people in this, you bunch of race baiting filth.
UKIP and Other Racists:
You said ‘not a bullet was fired’ in order to achieve a ‘revolution,’ forgetting Jo Cox’s murder which was absolutely the result of your mendacious campaign clearing a path for the sort of racism you’ve always pretended to disavow. Now you’ve vanished because you already know how terrible the storm that’s coming is going to be, well done Wormtongue.
Every other racist.
Slope off and rot in your hovels, dogs. In the 21st Century the only excuse for actual, full blown racism is genuine cranial trauma, otherwise you’re the sort of simpering coward who fears anything they don’t expect.
Boris Johnson is not standing for the leadership of the Conservative party. This, to many people, is a bit confusing. If you are a leave voter and reading this then, firstly, you made a stupid choice at the ballot last week and you should feel awful about it, secondly you’re probably wondering why the mop headed traitor you trusted didn’t do what he said he would do and actually see this catastrophe through. If you’re a remain voter you’re probably laughing at the Tory in fighting and don’t care about the details. Trust me though, this is one of the most astonishing stories to emerge from this whole mess. In place of Boris Johnson is a man who has engineered one of the most breathtakingly brutal political plots since the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Reading about it, finding out just how duplicitous and destructive this fish lipped narcissist’s schemes were, I am a little stunned. Boris Johnson is an irresponsible, lying turd but Michael Gove may actually be the devil.
For those with no interest in the breeding practises of birds (so most of you); some breeds of cuckoos raise their young by laying their eggs in other bird’s nests. Birds, not being the brightest of beings, often don’t quite notice that their clutch has changed so dramatically and proceed to nurture the things, then the cuckoo chick destroys all the other eggs before they hatch and reaps the rewards of being an only child for a while until it leaves its surrogate parents forever. This ‘Cuckoo nest plot’ has the perfect name.
Gove must have been planning to stab Johnson, his friend of twenty years, in the back before the campaigns got underway. He may even have planned it from the moment Cameron declared there would be a referendum, so calculating were his actions. The Gods alone know where the seed of his evil began but they started to sprout during a dinner party at Boris Johnson’s house. It is well known that before the referendum Johnson was vocally in favour of the European Union but, during a dinner party with his old friend Gove, he was convinced to cross the divide and campaign to leave. Don’t get me wrong; Johnson made a calculated political manoeuvre and gambled the future of the country for his own selfish ends but Gove was his enabler. This in no way absolves Johnson of guilt, of course. Gove, in contrast, has always been a Eurosceptic, men of his lack-of-calibre tend to be. This is his one saving grace; the consistency of his callousness.
So, armed with the backing of another cabinet minister and a vacuum at the head of the leave campaign to fill, Johnson stunned Cameron and the country to announce he would be campaigning for Brexit. Well we all know how that turned out.
The second step in Johnson’s myopic master plan was to win the Conservative leadership contest. His plan was simple; he would use his position as leader of the leave campaign to unite both the remainers and the Eurosceptic wing of his party and take a fresh, revitalised Tory bloc in to the next election. The problem was that he won, and now the old guard loathed him with a seething, unexpected passion. It wouldn’t matter though, he would still have enough support unless there was some unforeseen problem, he and Gove had enough allies between them to easily secure the future of the party and Gove had never had any pretentions to leadership. He had said as much, repeatedly and at a loud volume.
There was, however, the problem of Brexit to contend with, he would have to spell out a clear, coherent vision for that swiftly in order to seize the initiative in a now freewheeling conservative party. Cameron had gone and the entire country was languishing, all he had to do was make sure everyone knew he had a plan. He penned an article for the Telegraph and had Gove check over it. It was perfect for Gove; an obscene abrogation of absolutely every promise and hint their campaign had made, so he finessed it to make sure it came across as even more bewildered and useless than it already was. It was a fantasy list of unachievable hopes that nobody in the European Union could ever accept. No free movement of labour but access to the single market. If he had carried those pledges in to Brussels he would have been laughed out of Belgium, and rightly so.
After that he was done, but it was possible he didn’t know it. Gove and his wife continued their blitz against his hopes. To tee it up his wife, Ms Vine, ‘accidentally’ sent an email to a member of the public which was supposed to go to her husband. This public spirited, anonymous individual who almost certainly doesn’t exist and is a journalist, leaked it to sky news. It painted a picture of an indecisive government in waiting and a Gove rightly troubled by the goings on in camp Boris, extolling in him the need for ‘SPECIFIC assurances from Boris OTHERWISE you cannot guarantee your support.’
By now Johnson’s bid was looking less like a smooth transition and more like a blundering mess. If the party couldn’t get this right at a time like this then the government could fall, haemorrhaging Tory voters to UKIP and Labour and costing them their tiny majority. Never mind the chaos in the Labour party, half of the country now loathed them.
It was time to act and Johnson was becoming increasingly frantic. First he met with Andrea Leadsom to try to convince her to withdraw her leadership bid and, by all accounts, succeeded. She would throw her support behind him in the coming contest and it could well be enough to secure his leadership. He sent out invitations to his launch event, best to make it official and quickly.
The morning after the Conservative party summer ball (because of course Tories have one of those) Gove struck. He had told as many people as he could, presumably, all sorts of horror stories about the dithering and meandering of Boris the botch, the overgrown schoolboy who would burn the country down if he could be king of the ashes. By the time the sun reached its zenith the work was done, no longer was Johnson a brief spark of the old order of the conservative party, he was a babbling schoolboy blundering from one position to another.
It was enough. Gove was Johnson’s closest political ally and friend of twenty years, who wouldn’t believe that his concerns were genuine? It was self-evident that the next leader of the Tories had to be a Brexiter and if not Johnson it would have to be Gove.
So the next day we were treated to one of the most flagrant assaults in the rear with a bladed weapon since Caesar. Gove announced his candidacy and, by all accounts, told Theresa May in advance and said nothing to Johnson. By mid-morning Johnson’s support was all but gone to Gove, his ‘dream team’ partner had taken up arms against him and he had a press conference organised for that afternoon. Surveying the devastation around him he stepped up to the podium, mop hair ruffled and looking as dumbstruck and distraught as he had the morning his great ‘victory’ in the referendum was announced, and he told the stunned crowd that he would not be standing in the leadership contest.
Now I understand if, after that, you might feel a flicker of emotion for the shell of Johnson’s career. It’s human to want to pity a man subject to such a colossal betrayal, but never forget: the man has probably destroyed the country in order to fulfil his sad little ego trip. As for Gove? Well, it looks like some things are beyond the pale even for a party that tends to celebrate a well-executed scheme no matter how evil. Gove is trailing badly, yesterday’s man, losing support from MPs who see his actions, as they would repugnantly put it, as ‘not cricket.’ The good news is that we won’t see a Gove or Johnson Prime Ministership, the bad news is that we are likely instead to get a woman who campaigned to stay and has always, throughout her entire political career, been a Eurosceptic.
This is a time of lies in our political circles. A time of grinning through causes they don’t believe in to position themselves better for the future. Corbyn wanted to leave but campaigned to stay, Johnson wanted to stay but campaigned to leave, May wanted to leave but campaigned to stay and not a single member of our political establishment has managed to tell a single truth from the beginning of this free-wheeling disaster. A plague on all their houses, and remember that Gove is the most callous of all.
Okay, I need to write something comprehensive about this disaster and I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Partly because it’s incredibly complex but mostly because this entire country has gone insane and nobody can figure out what’s happening or how the hell to get out of this mess. Honestly I would only be a little bit surprised if, by the time I publish this, the Queen had dissolved parliament and was directly ruling the country for a bit while our political parties found a way to stop exploding.
If you’re apolitical or coming to this blog from another part of the world you’re probably looking for answers. I am going to try to explain this one bit at a time because there’s no other way to do it without writing a novel.
The Right Wing Press.
For thirty years or so almost all of the newspapers in this country, which are effectively owned by a Machiavellian old right wing Australian and a few tax exiles, have demonised and rubbished the EU. They have given the impression that it’s an undemocratic, bloated empire and we have somehow surrendered to it. This isn’t true but economics is complicated and pouring money in to poor areas doesn’t create headlines that can sell newspapers on slow news days. The unelected media barons have done a very good job of blaming the EU for all the problems their right wing friends in government have created, more recently they decided to blame refugees as well. Their lies have played an enormous role in shaping public opinion and stoking racism and the leave campaigns were happy to run with it. They don’t care, they are happy to tell people that division is strength, hatred is unity and our friends and allies are our enemies. They are the scum of the earth.
The Poor ‘Leave’ Voters.
The overwhelming majority of people who voted to leave are neither racist nor stupid nor xenophobic. They are the poor and disenfranchised. In the North East of England, for instance, the leave campaign won with enormous majorities because those areas of the country have been ignored, marginalised and ruined by years of successive governments. I’m not saying the people there didn’t want to leave, I’m saying that they quite reasonably saw the political parties of Westminster and the bureaucrats in Brussels as a bunch of establishment tossers that either sees them as an electoral resource or couldn’t give a toss about them depending how far away the next election is. They aren’t wrong.
The Defrauded ‘Leave’ Voters.
The leave campaigns, both of them, have now admitted that their two key promises were lies. They said they would have an extra £350 million per week to give to the NHS in the event of Brexit, which was an outright lie. They also said they would be able to reduce immigration because the EU has imposed the free movement of labour on the UK, but there’s no way we can get out of that for various complicated reasons to do with trade agreements which I won’t bore you with here. Nothing these people thought they were voting for was what they were actually voting for. They were lied to. When a political party backtracks on its manifesto pledges they can be punished for it at the next election, when it is a once in a lifetime referendum the voters have been defrauded forever. Many of these people are the ones displaying ‘buyer’s remorse’ now, and getting quite animated at the con they’ve been subjected to.
The Racist ‘Leave’ Voters.
There are more of them than the right wing acknowledges and there are less of them than the left wing feared. There are still far too many of these noisy pricks juddering around and making everything worse. They’ve been emboldened by the result and the tone of the two leave campaigns so now, to reign them in, you now have a responsibility to confront them in public. I know it’s the English way to keep your head down and avoid making a fuss but that has to change. The racists need to be stopped and you have to do it or we all have to live with these shits forever. Fuck them and the horse they rode in on.
The ‘Remain’ Voters.
‘I dunno, it’s not perfect but it’s better than the alternative I suppose.’
The European Nationals Who Already Live Here.
I am so sorry. You won’t have to move back to your birthplace but if you decide to I absolutely won’t blame you. Britain is now a frightening place to live thanks to our useless or irresponsible politicians invoking blood-and-soil nationalism in their squalid games.
There were four of them in a referendum with two possible outcomes, just to give you an idea of how stupid and feckless this whole exercise was. A breakdown of each follows.
David Cameron’s Remain Campaign.
Leader: David Cameron, an irresponsible pig fucker.
This campaign trotted out a coalition of bankers and business leaders because they apparently didn’t realise the British people hate them more than anyone else. Then they threatened people with an emergency budget of even more cuts. They failed to take the leave campaigns to task for anything they said at any point and never said anything positive about the EU. They were as dismal and worthless as their counterparts were dishonest and vile.
Boris Johnson’s Leave Campaign.
Leader: Boris Johnson, an even more irresponsible careerist, scheming liar and probably also a pig fucker. He has always been in favour of Britain remaining in the EU and only joined the leave campaign because he thought it would lose and it would help him shore up support in the right of his party in a coming leadership bid. His power play might have destroyed the United Kingdom. He knew the risks and he did it anyway.
This campaign tried to make a fiscal argument for leaving the EU and in order to do so lied through their teeth at every turn. They rode around in a big bus telling people that the UK spends £350 million per week on the EU and if we left we could instead spend it on the NHS. The day after the referendum, in fact it may have even been in the morning, they said that would not be possible. This was not the only lie they told but it was the most glaring and, the history books will say, infamous. They also promised tighter control of our borders without once saying that in order to retain any kind of trade agreement with Europe we would have to accept free movement of labour anyway. It probably turned the tide in this referendum and it was, basically all of it, lies.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Remain Campaign.
Leader: Jeremy Corbyn, a lovely waffling university lecturer who is incapable of running an effective campaign. He has famously been vocally in favour of Britain leaving the EU for the last 35 years. He should not have been in charge of running a campaign for a cause he was passionately opposed to.
This campaign did nothing of note and part of the reason for that is that the Tories were pulling themselves apart and Labour thought they could make political gains by sitting back and letting it happen. It was tepid to the point of vapour, failing to speak up for workers or their rights, failing to hold the racism of the fourth campaign to account. Their complicity and incompetence is as important a factor as everything else and they have brought shame to the Labour party.
Nigel Farage’s Leave Campaign.
Leader: Nigel Farage, a disgusting fascist shit smear and criminally narcissistic prick.
This campaign gleefully invoked the worst aspects of nationalism, racism and nativism in order to win. It was nominally associated with UKIP, a racist far right party that has somehow managed to convince people it isn’t and that its leader’s previous links with the openly fascist National Front and the implicitly fascist BNP were some sort of youthful high jinks. They ran a racist campaign with a heavy focus on the dangers of immigration, introducing a poster so vile and race baiting that some people from the other campaigns were finally forced to offer some quiet mutters of disapproval without committing themselves to taking a stand or risking whatever shredded remains of their careers might be left. At this point in the campaign the fact that nobody from either leave campaign quit or swapped sides tells you that they were either okay with the tone of the campaigns or didn’t understand what was happening. They’re either completely incompetent or okay with implicitly propping up racism, neither of which are remotely acceptable in western society. They cannot be allowed any role in shaping our society.
I know I am often hyperbolic, I know I am often angry, but please understand; this is a worse national crisis than Suez. It is by far the worst national crisis in my lifetime and it’s certainly not going away soon. Forget about a quick and easy solution to this, our political parties have no leadership, it’s unclear where the borders of our state actually are and our society is now so deeply polarised and poisoned that I can’t even put it in to words. It’s frightening, this depth of division is how civil wars start and unless the feckless crowd of bumbling gobshites in Westminster sort themselves out now there are going to be bodies in the streets. This isn’t exaggeration, there’s been an increase in racist attacks, the economy is collapsing, the mood when you step outside your door feels like hidden knives and nobody trusts each other. This is Weimar Republic Britain and there’s no end in sight.
This was an abject, irresponsible failure and the whole thing only happened in the first place because a couple of overgrown schoolboys wanted to one up each other. The scale of their arrogance, the madness of invoking article 50, the refusal of an opposition leader in whom nobody but his weird cult of personality has any faith to resign, the certainty of a general election which is likely to result in an effective rerun of the referendum and the screaming of the tiny minority of racists who revel in this violence mean that we’re stuck in limbo and I don’t even know what shape this country is any more. I haven’t even mentioned the looming threat of resurgent Irish republican violence, which is absolutely going to happen again now no matter what, and that’s partly because our political leaders didn’t either. Can you imagine that? The IRA are, if we invoke article 50 and leave the UK, going to rearm and start bombing England again almost immediately. It was very obvious that this would happen in the event of Brexit and yet nobody in the political establishment brought it up. That includes Jeremy Corbyn, the one person I had thought would at least try to run a respectable campaign.
There’s no way out. Everybody involved in this has been shit except most of the voters on both sides. Today my MP resigned from the front bench and some of Momentum, the cult of personality/supporters of her party leader, posted some of the most disgusting things I’ve ever read about her recent treatment for breast cancer on to her twitter feed. Fuck Momentum, fuck the Tories, fuck Jeremy Corbyn, fuck David Cameron, fuck Michael Gove, fuck Douglas Carswell, fuck Liam Fox and especially fuck UKIP, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.
You lying heap of vacuous cryptofascist shits need to take a long, hard look at yourselves. Yes, I know, the left wing media has effectively given up and scampered away to some dark corner and allowed you to blather as much racist bollocks as you like for years but that has to end now. Right now.
It’s not okay to talk about ‘waves’ or ‘hordes’ of immigrants coming in to the country, it’s racist. It’s not okay to make up lies or publish context free stories about immigrants being put up in mansions while UK citizens sleep rough, it’s racist. It’s not okay to blame immigration for the financial crisis when it’s the fault of the bankers and tax dodgers that own you, it’s fucking irresponsible and racist.
It’s not okay to pretend the right wing extremist terrorist who assassinated a left wing MP in the hopes of influencing the EU referendum was a ‘loner’ or just mentally ill, he chose her on purpose and he did it to make a point. An awful, racist point that many of you bastards have been preaching for years.
It’s not okay not to examine the way you carry on, demonising foreigners and turning this country in to a nation of curtain twitching nimby pricks and feigning innocence when violence breaks out as a result. It’s not okay to mutter something about not politicising a tragedy when it was a political killing carried out by a self described political activist.
It’s not okay to put up huge posters saying ‘breaking point’ on a picture of a mass of people who “coincidentally” aren’t white. It’s not okay to build a political party on a base of ex BNP filth and National Front nutters and pretend it’s mainstream. It’s not okay to lie and lie and lie about the malign influence of foreign powers and constantly talk in combative terms and be surprised when someone gets hurt. It’s not okay to carry on as before, stoking up racism so your self interested tax dodging owners can pocket another few hundred million. It’s not okay to talk like this happened in a vacuum. It’s not okay to pretend you’re making things better.
Look at what you’ve done. Look at what you’ve done to us. Open your eyes and look.
Okay, look, this is just stupid. We’ve got people on both sides of this acrimonious divide screaming lies at one another and generally making things up, we’ve got racists getting agitated and a focus on immigration that’s making this country a worse place to live. What the hell are we supposed to think? Are we supposed to argue about the Schengen agreement or try to tell everyone the history of the Maastricht treaty? This is the route most remain voters and campaigners seem to be taking and it’s doing no good.
The problem is that the leave campaign has an emotive message and the remain campaign does not. Saying ‘our country is broken because of immigration and foreign interference’ resonates far more than ‘yes the EU is imperfect but it’s better to be on the inside than the outside because the benefits it brings far outweigh the risk of leaving.’
The truth is the EU is a mess. It’s a mountain of bureaucracy which occasionally makes some terrible decisions and its secretive, undemocratic incompetence makes it difficult to defend. Add that to a generation of hostile right wing press and we have a general ambivalence towards the EU that seems insurmountable.
Perhaps the distaste began in Sarajevo. Perhaps the failure of the EU to get its act together and actually do anything about the disgusting war crimes being carried out in its back garden began the slow slide. I don’t think so though. I don’t think most people in Britain know anything at all about the EU, what it does, how it works, its history, its purpose… anything. All we ever hear from the press and politicians is how awful the whole thing is and how bureaucrats from Brussels are ruining our way of life. It’s a joke, a failure of the press that weighs on us now.
So what can be said? What positive messages can we reduce to sound bites in order to convince wavering voters that remaining in the EU is a good idea?
Well for starters we could remind them that the member states of the EU are our friends and allies, not some international coalition of somehow anti-British plotters. Spain is our friend, as is France and Germany, and the rhetoric of the Brexit campaigners is the turgid mutterings of pre-war nationalist thinking.
We could remind them that land wars in Europe have barely happened while it exists. I’m not suggesting, as the prime minister has, that a continent wide conflict would be the inevitable result of Brexit but if you think the prejudices and discontent that precipitated two world wars have somehow gone away then you just need to have a quick look at some of the darker corners of the internet. I don’t want to be drafted in to a conflict that would end in nuclear annihilation anyway, do you?
Talking about the working time directive or the increase in food standards or the cleanliness of our beaches doesn’t seem to be doing much good. I’m mainly voting to remain part of the EU because I don’t trust the political establishment in this country to govern fairly without the checks and balances the EU provides. Do you really want to see Prime Minister Boris Johnson enacting legislation with nobody to stop him? The only people who would have any way to block his choices would be the House of Lords or the Queen, do you want to live in a country where they, inevitably, have greater power? Do you want to live in an even less democratic society?
For all its faults, and they are many, we are better in the EU than out. It, like all governments, does some good things and some bad, but our political establishment are chomping at the muzzle, clawing at power they cannot be allowed to have.
*** Spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice throughout. Though you shouldn’t care because this film is terrible***
For the first time I have been moved to write a movie review. It’s a big movie, you may well have seen it already, and it has received a very poor critical reception so far. Its enormous marketing campaign will ensure it makes enough money to succeed, fans of the characters will still buy its merchandise, but it is still and will remain an abject artistic failure. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has problems far deeper than a poor script, inept direction and awful CGI and I’m still trying to figure out how it went so badly wrong. I shall try to break this review in to sections to better organise my thoughts and stay on topic but it’s probably inevitable that I will digress in to infuriated rants and call for Zack Snyder’s head on a plate, I apologise in advance.
The Good Stuff.
As with all Zack Snyder helmed projects there are flashes of brilliance. Ben Affleck is believable as Batman, for instance, portraying a more psychologically unstable version of the character than Christian Bale’s suave ninja. He is a muscular presence in every sense of the word, occasionally filling the screen with barely contained fury.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is… fine. I suppose.
Henry Cavill’s Superman is also fine, though he is certainly not given enough to do by either the writers or the director.
Gal Gadot was very promising and gave me some hope for the upcoming Wonder Woman film.
There was a jump scare during one of the many poorly signposted dream sequences, it worked. I know a lot of people find jump scares cheap and irritating but I enjoy them, they’re a perfectly acceptable film making tool.
The Bad Stuff.
This film needs an editor. That editor needs to be legally allowed to simply guillotine Zack Snyder and send me his head on a plate if he makes any kind of fuss. The middle third or so of Batman V Superman: Blades of Glory was a meandering, meaningless mess which served no purpose and should have been left on the cutting room floor.
On top of that there were a number of confusing dream sequences. They are very, very poorly signposted, though I suspect this may have been the result of Zack Snyder’s misguided attempts to employ subtlety rather than simple incompetence.
The greater problem with the dream sequences is that they told the audience nothing and did not advance the plot or illuminate the motivations of the characters in any way. At their worst they were effectively adverts for upcoming films in the series and meant nothing to non comics readers. Why would someone unfamiliar with Darkseid and the New Gods react with awe at the sight of an enormous omega symbol burned in to ground? The answer is that they would not, nor would they care or be intrigued by it in any way.
STOP DESATURATING THE COLOURS IN ALL YOUR FILMS, ZACK. I like a bit of darkness in my movies as much as the next Goth but if you don’t have anything to compare it to because everything’s dark then it loses all impact. When Batman and Superman are squaring off against one another while wearing, due to your extreme colour desaturation and decision to shoot in 3D (which makes the resulting film considerably darker) the same grey cape and grey jumpsuit combination while standing on the grey batmobile in a grey landscape under a grey sky then something has gone wrong, hasn’t it? Was anyone on hand to tell you when you’d made a blindingly obvious mistake? When watching Batman v Superman: Tower of Pisa I get the feeling that you were surrounded by yes men, it is the same feeling I had when watching the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Just to make clear how bad the desaturation was; like about 5% of people in the world I am colourblind. I find red and green hard to distinguish and I also have more than my fair share of difficulty with blue and yellow, though as long as the shades are different enough I don’t have much of a problem. Zack Snyder decided to have a man spray paint a slogan on to a statue, a statue which, due to the extreme desaturation effect, was a kind of grey/green colour. The man in the film used a can of red paint. I could not see the slogan he painted at all, and this is the first time in any film that this has been a genuine problem.
The Naked Product Placement.
Lex Luthor eats some sweets. We get a nice close up of the bowl and see that it contains a number of snickers sweets. The close up lingers for long enough for us to read the logo several times. Lex Luthor is wealthy and has Jesse Eisenberg’s hair. You could be wealthy and have Jesse Eisenberg’s hair if you act like him. Go and buy some snickers.
I wanted to call this section ‘The effects’ but I honestly don’t think there were any practical effects in this whole mess. Batman v Superman: House of Pancakes makes no visual sense during action scenes and those are the sequences in which you, as a member of the audience, need the most visual clarity. Snyder spent his time with the FX team telling them to add more clutter to his film instead of going to a nearby guillotine and chopping his own head off after instructing his PA to send it to me on a plate once he was dead. Nothing has any weight in this mess; buildings collapse, everything explodes at the drop of a hat, lightning arcs through the sky and all of it looks bad. When there are no practical effects in a film then objects and people obey the demands of the director rather than the laws of physics and your subconscious mind knows that what you are watching is not real. Contrast this mess of a film (which you will, statistically speaking, go and see even if you haven’t already) with last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road; the action sequences in that were bone crunching, astonishing sights made to feel all the more real because the director insisted on stunt work wherever possible and used digital effects only to enhance what was already present.
Now, granted, some directors fall in to the trap of realising how much of a powerful tool modern computer driven effects are and start trying to use them for everything in every instance because it, genuinely, seems like a good idea (I’m looking at you Peter Jackson) but I don’t think that’s the case here. I honestly believe, from looking at his past work and extrapolating what I can about his personality from interviews, that Zack Snyder is simply too bloody lazy to do it right. Practical effects mean directing sequences with stuntmen, pyrotechnicians, health and safety officials, choreographers and a dozen other people over the course of a long, complex working day. It would surprise me if a man as bone idle about film making as Zack “Sucker Punch” Snyder didn’t look at all that and decide he’d be far happier sat about in an office somewhere occasionally yelling at an animator.
Don’t get me wrong, computer driven special effects are amazing, but the best way to use them will always be to enhance what’s already there or to create something that is otherwise completely impossible.
The Miniature Trailers for Upcoming DC Comics Films.
Wonder Woman, in one sequence, sits at her computer and watches some video files. Each of them showcases a new superhero. Each of these superheroes has an upcoming film. Zack Snyder, unable to think of a good way to hint towards them in any other way, has Wonder Woman sit down and watch video files of them on her computer. This is the laziest, most artistically bankrupt sequence in the movie, to the extent that I suspect even Snyder is a bit embarrassed about it.
I was going to write a long rant in this section. I was going to get really, really cross about his relentless awfulness but I just don’t have the energy now that I come to it. I’ve had too many people try to tell me that there are no politics in a Zack Snyder movie, that I’m gazing too deeply in to a shallow pool. I’m saving my rage for the next part. All you really need to know about Zack Snyder and his infantile politics, especially if you somehow believe he hasn’t got any, is that he has recently expressed a desire to make one of Ayn Rand’s books in to a film.
True to Snyder’s predictable form; it has been a film before. It would be a remake.
The film opens with the iconic sequence. We all know how it goes; mother, father and child step in to an alley, a figure with a gun emerges from the shadows. The mother moves forward to shield her child with her body while the father tries to hand over his wallet and calm the situation. Something goes wrong, a flash of light or a backfiring car startles the mugger. As he panics two bullets make Bruce Wayne an orphan.
Snyder does not understand this story.
In Batman v Superman: Out of Ideas the story goes slightly differently. Mother, father and child step in to an alley. A figure with a gun emerges from the shadows. The mother moves forward to shield her child with her body while the father gets really angry and, like, totally hulks out brah and tries to punch a man holding his family at gunpoint even thought that’s an incredibly stupid move cuz he’s totally badass. The mugger arguably acts in self defence and kills the obviously psychotic and instinctually violent Thomas Wayne, presumably causing his family to sigh with relief. Then he kills Martha Wayne but she’s not a complete moron like her husband and she’s, you know, a girl so she doesn’t really fight. The mugger kills her anyway because the origin story of Batman demands it and for no other reason.
Similarly; Superman does not kill. Many times, in many comics, Lois Lane has been held at gunpoint by some sort of villainous man. In order to deal with this problem Superman has a number of abilities that he can deploy. He can use his heat vision to make the gun hot, forcing the hostage taker to drop it. He can use his freezing breath to encase the weapon in ice. He could, while the gunman blinks, simply snatch the weapon from his hand or deploy his super strength to crush the barrel and render the firearm unusable.
The Superman of Batman v Superman: Horn of Plenty is a bloodthirsty monster.
The first thing he does in the entire film is clearly and brutally murder a guy. In a sequence clearly modeled on Benghazi, because Zack Snyder, Lois Lane is taken hostage. Superman arrives. He has the options outlined above but instead he opts to fly at just under superluminal velocity and smashes the hostage taker through two brick walls. The hostage taker is human and possessed of no special abilities. That man is dead now, there can be no doubt about it.
Zack Snyder does not understand that heroism and violence are not the same thing.
Zack Snyder on Killing.
When Zack Snyder was asked about the fan reaction to the massive collateral damage caused directly by Superman his response was thus:
‘I went, really? And I said, well, what about Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens? In Star Wars they destroy five planets with billions of people on them. That’s gotta be one of the highest death toll movies in history, the new Star Wars movie, if you just do the math.’
Zack Snyder thinks this makes sense. Either Zack Snyder thinks the civilisation destroying villains in Star Wars are the good guys or he thinks it’s acceptable for Superman to destroy civilisations on a whim or… what do you mean Zack? Do you even know? He doesn’t know. Zack Snyder is the end product of a Hollywood that happily bankrolls Michael Bay. He is the bastard love child of Renny Harlin and Battle-of-Five-Armies-era Peter Jackson.
On My Own Obvious Fanboyism.
Yes, I am a comics enthusiast. Stop sniggering.
At his best Superman is an immigrant story, or a sun God, or a benign philosopher, and he is always a beacon of pacifism in a complex world. At his best Batman is a saviour and protector, a believer in redemption and mercy who delivers his mentally ill adversaries to a secure mental health unit where they can receive treatment for their afflictions.
These are not optional aspects of the characters. Superman is a hero because of, not in spite of, his pacifism. Can you imagine if such a being existed in reality and he was not a pacifist? Someone who could fly at light speed and annihilate whoever he pleased with a glance? He could not be anything other than a terrifying monster. By the same token Batman, at his best, is a billionaire with mental health problems who has channeled his illness to a constructive purpose. He wishes to make the streets safe for the people of Gotham, to ensure that no child has to go through the trauma he once suffered. If he kills criminals, or allows them to die by his own inaction, then he is a serial killer.
Saviours, heroes, are complex. Their struggles are morality tales, their victories are pyrrhic, their kindness is bottomless and they will sacrifice themselves for you without hesitation. Their actions are not driven by guilt but by compassion for compassion’s sake. Having a punching competition with a green CGI lightning monster does not make for a compelling story. Zack Snyder likes the idea of heroism, but he doesn’t understand it.