A New Place Of Exile

Richard Hutton

Select index of odds and ends, and things.

I’m taking a break from writing, but decided to index some of the pieces I’ve written previously; which few people have read.

Or demonstrated the slightest interest in.

Be that as it may, however:

 

 

Plays

 

Inside Out – a romantic comedy, in several acts.

Partly about identity, partly about Hull’s history, and partly about…some other things.

I wasn’t aware there was a Pixar movie by the same title, until after I’d written it. Though I’m fairly sure it’s not about the same themes (hopefully – I haven’t seen it).

It was named after a song by the Mighty Lemon Drops – but on the imaginary soundtrack, I thought Captain’s ‘Keep an open mind‘ was more fitting.

 

Jesus performs karaoke in red light district.

About a Christian upbringing; in a manner of speaking. I can’t recall what inspired the title.

 

The wisdom of fools

About pretensions and grandiosity among the upper echelons. I have begun working on a more extended piece of the same theme.

 

Strange Free World (unfinished).

A comedy about the far-right, whose foremost exponents had begun to make gains in local elections around the time of writing. The play became more about the relationships between people, and what distorts them.

I didn’t finish it, due to lengthy illness. Its themes have become topical again, recently; and I may complete it at some point in the near future.

Strange Free World was the working title, after an album by the band Kitchens of Distinction. I was originally going to call the play ‘Nothing but rain’, in honour of Hull’s fabulous weather – only that seemed too cheerful.

 

Christmas at the Inn

An extract from Strange Free World. A play within the play. But taken out of it. You know what I mean.

 

 

More recent parodies of the far-right 

 

Sanguine Rivers – Enoch Powell’s speech modernified.

Powell’s words still have the ability to reach out from history, and harm people. So, I updated them.

 

Marine Le Pen’s victory speech

Similar, but different, to the above.

 

The Tommy Robinson protest march

Thicc Piglet for the win.

 

Yes, we’re in the middle of a zombie epidemic – but that’s no excuse for being uncivil. 

More about media commentaries, as penned by legitimate concernsmen, than the far-right themselves. But still.

 

‘I Am Britain – Now So Can We!’

Extracts from the unauthorised autobiography of Nigel Farage.

 

 

The Right-Minded View

 

These are parodies of media commentaries and talking-points. They occasionally get misunderstood; often leading to colourful responses.

For an early version of the same thing, see the View from Hull.

 

 

Research Essays

 

Migration, Employment Levels, and Welfare Reform

An analysis of claims made by Theresa May and Iain Duncan Smith that migration into Britain was responsible for unemployment among Britons.

Were they telling the truth? The answer probably won’t surprise you in the slightest.

 

Brexit was the result of a corporate lobbying campaign, which backfired. What did the people behind it really want? 

A study of the lobbying campaign which led to the EU referendum of 2016, along with its outcome; and the interests this effort was intended to serve.

 

Brexit – a cursory overview: why it’s a debacle, and why the People’s Vote campaign is equally misconceived.

A study of the counter-lobbying campaign against Brexit; and the motives behind it.

 

 

Welfare and disability issues 

 

I used to write mainly on this subject – mostly, these are fairly short pieces about specific articles or policies. For more in-depth posts, see:

Why A Refugee’s Baby Starved To Death In London

Some of the cases which illustrate the truth of ‘I, Daniel Blake’

Truth and Lies About Poverty

Some posts are archived under Disability & Welfare, due to dodgy filing for my part.

 

 

Interactive stuff

 

Stuff you can interact with, if you see what I mean:

You be the ref – current political farragoes.

There Is An Article About Feminism/Sexism. What Is Your immediate thought? – A Questionnaire For Men.

Choose your adventure – as an investigative journalist, reporting on the EU withdrawal bill.

 

 

How to’s

 

Several of these are quite old – and I accept no liability for time and energy wasted reading them:

How to write short stories (with working examples)

How to create uninteresting and uncomplicated male characters (a sort of guide)

How to survive unemployment (another sort of guide)

How to prevent sexual assault (a guide for men)

A gentleman’s alternative to pick-up artistry (a guide for gentlemen)

 

 

Euphemisms

 

A guide to DWP euphemisms

A brief guide to euphemisms in political-journalism

Contemporary Political Euphemisms

The encyclopedia of sensible politics

A brief glossary of Brexit

 

 

Three-line poems

I like Japanese poetry, more than any other. My favourite books are R. H. Blythe‘s four volumes on Haiku, which translated Japanese poems into English.

I wrote a lot of three-line poems when I was younger. These can be accessed on Scribd.

More recent ones can be found under the category three-line poems.

 

Why Chris Williamson needs to step down as an MP – for everyone’s sake, including his own.

It is slightly unclear why the latest round of furore over Labour and anti-Semitism has begun.

However, it coincides with the efforts of Labour MPs to obviate the party’s belated Democracy Review.

It also dovetails with the Tory leadership contest, having entered its final stage [1].

 

What served as the pretext this time was the brief reinstatement, and resuspension, of Chris Williamson MP – a noted advocate of the Democracy Review.

Much to the chagrin of an inevitably anonymous series of his peers, Williamson had joked that he wanted to see a number of them being de-selected; which, unsurprisingly, did not prove endearing.

However, Williamson had initially been suspended from the party in February 2019; after reportedly saying “Labour has been ‘too apologetic’ about antisemitism”, as the Guardian’s headline puts it.

That is not a fair reflection of Williamson’s remarks, as can be seen from watching the Guardian’s own video. What he had said is that:

“The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party.

I’ve got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that, you know. Because in my opinion…I’ve got to say, we’ve backed off far too much, we’ve given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic…

And we’ve done more to actually address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other political party” [2].

Needless to say, referring to anti-Semitism as a “scourge” hardly indicates sympathy for the prejudice.

It is also pretty clear that Williamson was not suggesting Labour had been too apologetic about anti-Semitism – but that it had been too willing to accept accusations of being a racist party.

That is perhaps a matter of opinion.

Nonetheless, the issue evidently has been used to try and undermine Jeremy Corbyn personally, and Labour more generally, by their political opponents.

This is a point Williamson can be heard making in the more expansive video of his speech, uploaded by the Daily Mail – which, oddly enough, was more accurate with its headline than the Guardian had been.

Although its accompanying article was somewhat less exact.

 

It may be tempting, then, to be supportive of Williamson – but I don’t agree that this is merited. It is important to watch the video of Williamson speaking.

It is fair to say that the media’s coverage of these matters is unhelpful, and frequently wide of the mark. Or something far worse, at times. Likewise, that people involved in Labour’s leadership, including Corbyn, have often made life needlessly difficult for themselves.

But then, that is all anyone needs to say. It does not necessitate rabble-rousing, or histrionics. Williamson’s tone is way over the top, and beyond insensitive. That’s not good enough as conduct to begin with – particularly given the circumstances.

Neither is it an anomaly for Williamson; who has repeatedly made ill-considered gestures, and thoughtless remarks – indifferent to any wider personal impact, or political repercussions, these might have. Often being very blithe in the process [3].

He is not alone in that respect among Labour politicians. Nor is it difficult to demonstrate that the behaviour of Williamson and similar personalities has proven damaging to themselves, as well as to Corbyn – and Labour – in a way that mudslinging has not.

 

There has been a very obvious campaign of denunciation run against Jeremy Corbyn; which began once it became apparent that he might win the Labour leadership contest of 2015.

According to one commentator alone, Corbyn is variously implicated in anti-Semitism, while being an intolerant populist, a purveyor of Stalinesque elitism, and a hard-left conservative [4].

Elsewhere, Corbyn has been accused of overseeing a Trotskyite uprising, being a secret supporter of Brexit, and personally responsible for Brexit, an apologist for the IRA, an apologist for Islamist terrorism; and even the informant for a Czech spy.

No doubt, all from the confines of his allotment [5].

 

In fact, disparaging claims against Corbyn have centered on a remarkably wide variety of issues.

When he opposed the continued underpayment of European agency workers, Labour politicians likened him to Nigel Farage.

When he spoke up in defence of migrants at his party’s conference, Labour politicians complained that he was not listening to the public’s supposed concerns about immigration.

He’s wrong to prioritise Labour Party members over the public, said the Observer newspaper in September 2016.

He’s wrong to prioritise the public over Labour Party members, said the same paper two years later.

He’s not appealing enough to the middle class.

He’s appealing too much to the middle class.

Corbyn is a red Tory. A right-wing sell-out (a Blairite, it notes in the URL); who doesn’t care about the problems faced by people on low wages, says the journalist John Rentoul.

Corbyn is an anti-Capitalist, who is insufficiently grovelling towards companies which employ people on low wages, says the same John Rentoul.

He’s too radical, according to Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley (note the URL).

He’s not radical at all, according to the same Andrew Rawnsley, in the same paper.

And too radically left-wing, says Nick Cohen in the Observer.

And not radically left-wing enough, says Nick Cohen in The Spectator – a famous hot-bed of radical left-wing thought.

Corbyn is too elitist, says the Times.

Too populist, says the BBC.

Too nostalgic, bemoans John Harris in the Guardian.

Not nostalgic enough, bemoans Harris in the New Statesman.

Corbyn is like Donald Trump, suggests James O’Brien.

He almost makes Trump look like a genius, in fact, O’Brien adds on LBC radio.

He’s not like Donald Trump after all, O’Brien explains.

He’s worse than Donald Trump, O’Brien concludes.

Corbyn’s problem is that he’s too principled – suggests one pundit in The New Statesman.

Corbyn’s problem is that he’s not principled at all – suggests another pundit in The New Statesman.

Too milquetoast, says Brendan O’Neill in The Spectator.

Too terrifying, says O’Neill in the same publication.

Too sensitive, O’Neill opines in The Sun.

Too insensitive, he suggests back in The Spectator.

And a threat to life as we know it.

Too mundane to be a threat to life as we know it.

Not a communist.

Definitely a communist.

He’s not interested in power, says Nick Cohen in The Spectator.

He’s too interested in power, says Nick Cohen in Standpoint Magazine.

He’s unelectable, says Nick Cohen in the Observer.

He’s too electable, says Nick Cohen again in the Observer.

Too keen on Brexit, complains Dan Hodges.

Not keen enough on Brexit, complains Dan Hodges – covering both bases, there.

He’s wrong not to oppose Theresa May’s plans for Brexit, says Phillip Collins in The Times.

He’s wrong not to support Theresa May’s plans for Brexit, says Phillip Collins in The Times.

By failing to oppose Tory Brexit, he’s acting against the national interest, says an angry Peter Mandelson in the New Statesman.

By failing to support Tory Brexit, he’s acting against the national interest, says a no less angry Peter Mandelson in the Daily Mail.

He’s wrong for not wanting a general election.

He’s wrong for wanting a general election.

Corbyn makes Labour’s electoral oblivion inevitable.

He should easily have won the General Election of 2017, with a landslide victory.

 

In sum, whatever Corbyn says or does, his critics will denounce – no matter how much they contradict themselves in the process.

This evidently has not prevented him being elected to lead the party; or retaining his position, in a second leadership vote. Nor did it prevent the surge of support for Labour in the 2017 General Election; despite all efforts to the contrary.

Likewise, a commotion over anti-Semitism was contrived by Labour MPs hostile towards Corbyn, to coincide with the onset of Labour’s NEC votes in July-August 2018 [6].

Yet the nine pro-Corbyn candidates were all elected to the NEC. Eight of them comfortably.

Languishing last among them, however, was Peter Willsman; who had thrown a temper tantrum in response to the allegations of anti-Semitism. Failing to learn his lesson, he would be suspended from the party in May 2019; after equally ill-considered comments came to light.

In February 2019, similar accusations about Corbyn and anti-Semitism were made to serve as one pretext for launching The Independent Group – later renamed Change UK; thereafter the Independent Group For Change [7].

Amidst a blaze of media hype, Change UK entered the European elections of May 2019 with zero MEPs – and left the elections with none. The party disintegrated immediately afterwards.

So, all of the nonsense directed at Corbyn has achieved precisely nothing in four years. Beyond the personal embarrassment of those concerned, at any rate.

 

By contrast, the behaviour of Ken Livingstone, Peter Willsman, and Chris Williamson, has resulted in their own respective downfalls.

Handing easy gifts to their political foes. Creating needless problems for others to contend with; while undermining Corbyn, and Labour, in the process.

More to the point, somebody’s conduct does not need to have the worst of motives, in order to be unacceptable.

I don’t think Chris Williamson is anti-Semitic, or that he has any sympathy for anti-Semitism. But I think he is irresponsible. That he very consciously plays to the gallery – in a deeply divisive and inconsiderate fashion; purposely courts controversy, no matter the cost to others; and that his judgment is severely flawed.

These are serious failings in their own right. They do not help anyone, or benefit any cause. Instead, they only serve to damage them.

Regardless of any wider context, or anybody else’s shortcomings, Williamson’s personal conduct is troubling; and ultimately indicates that he cannot be regarded as fit or proper to hold an office of high trust and responsibility.

They are sufficient reasons to say he needs to step down as a Member of Parliament. For everyone’s sake; including his own.

 

 

 

Notes

[1] At the time of writing, Jeremy Hunt remains the one Tory leadership candidate who can still potentially beat Boris Johnson, in a race to the bottom.

This was made plain when Hunt recently suggested that Jeremy Corbyn might create another Auschwitz, in Britain. Suffice to say, Hunt’s comments are more than a bit unhinged.

Hunt attempted to justify his presentiment, however:

“I think some of his comments, for example about Jewish people not understanding English irony, betray some deeply-held prejudices which ought to worry people.”

Corbyn had not said this, of course.

As Jewish News go on to almost clarify themselves, he had instead described “a group of British Zionists of lacking any ‘sense of irony’ despite having lived in this country ‘for a very long time’” (link in the original).

This is not quite accurate either. Nor is it the whole story.

In 2013, Corbyn had given a short speech at a conference called ‘Britain’s Legacy in Palestine’.

During the course of this, Corbyn alluded to several pro-Israel activists, who attended a previous lecture made by the Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian, at a Palestine Solidarity event, in January 2013; and were seemingly oblivious to the drollery of a remark he had made.

One of the activists in question was Richard Millett – who, in 2018, complained about Corbyn’s speech, to the Daily Mail.

That Millett very clearly had not understood Hassassian’s joke is demonstrated in his blogpost; under which a number of similar personalities had posted comments. Seemingly no more alert to sarcasm than Millett himself.

There is no independent transcript of either Hassassian’s words, or the comments made to him; and journalistic coverage would seem to have merely duplicated material directly from Millett’s blog, despite his unreliability.

Nonetheless, even going by Millett’s write-up, it is clear that Hassassian had made a dry joke about his own despondency at the diminishing prospect of a two-state solution, for the Israel-Palestine conflict.

It was this which Corbyn had been referring to; as Millett and his peers would seem to have reproached Hassassian aggressively in response.

Several attempts at tortuously extrapolating a prejudicial inference from Corbyn’s words ensued, in August 2018; along with various misrepresentations of what he had actually said.

Needless to say, alluding to one group of Zionists is not the same as referring to Zionists – let alone Jewish people – en masse.

It is also clearly a nonsense to suggest that Zionism and Jewish identity are coterminous; while implying that Corbyn can be faulted for supposedly doing the exact same thing. Which he had not done, anyway.

Quite the opposite, as it happens; before devoting the rest of his speech to criticism of Britain and British colonialism. Not that either of these aspects received much notice.

More could be said here – but people can watch the video of Corbyn’s speech for themselves; and make their own minds up about whether he had meant anything untoward, or was simply poking fun at several individuals.

 

[2] My transcript – the ellipses denote unintelligible/inaudible parts spoken by Williamson. Other peoples’ hearing may be better than mine, I will concede, however.

 

[3] Chris Williamson has been criticised for a number of incidents, in addition to the speech which led to his suspension.

Some of the allegations against Williamson are not accurate, while several are badly distorted; and none of these cases resulted in disciplinary procedures.

However, others exemplify the reasons why his conduct is both a problem, and cause for concern – sufficient to warrant his replacement as an MP.

One of these involved Williamson signing and promoting a petition, in defence of the musician Gilad Atzmon.

Atzmon is a disquieting personality, by all accounts.

He is himself Jewish and Israeli, yet has repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements; and was barred from performing at a venue in Islington, by the Labour council, ultimately on account of this.

A petition was created on Atzmon’s behalf; which Williamson then endorsed on Twitter.

There perhaps is an uncomfortable question to be asked about the rights and wrongs of banning a musician from performing, on account of their obnoxious views. But there is no reason to believe that this was Williamson’s motivation.

In fact, Williamson professed to have been unaware of Atzmon’s past comments. Stating “I wasn’t aware of this until after I tweeted the petition”.

There is room for doubt, but this is at least plausible for Williamson’s part. Atzmon is quite notorious, and openly repudiated, by many Palestine-rights activists; but he remains an obscure figure in general.

Moreover, anyone familiar with Atzmon’s past history must surely have foreseen how much controversy would ensue. Particularly in the current political environment.

Equally, it is maybe not surprising that anyone unfamiliar with Atzmon’s anti-Semitic statements could be misled by the petition, as it omits any reference to them.

It begs the question, however, why Williamson did sign and publicise the petition in the first place. This can perhaps be answered by the petition itself (I’m not linking to it directly here, as it is still active).

It states that the Council had banned Atzmon “in response to pressure from a single ardent pro-Israel campaigner”.

In his apology on Twitter, Williamson attested that he signed the petition, after being told Atzmon had “been banned by Islington council merely because of his pro-Palestinian views”. 

This was not true – but nonetheless, incidents of that kind have occurred in the past, on grounds which were unjustified (although the circumstances were not always straightforward).

So, it is not inconceivable somebody could read the petition, and believe it was accurate. However, the language of the petition itself should have given anyone cause for serious doubt.

Not least of all its quite ridiculous complaint that “Britain is now a tyrannical Orwellian state” and “we are witnessing an end to a free society, as we know it”. The remainder of its wording was hardly more temperate.

So, Williamson may not have known very much about Atzmon; but he can be faulted for signing such an obviously tendentious petition to begin with.

It is also fair to be concerned about any MP supporting an initiative, when they knew nothing of substance about it. Especially when, potentially at least, it could prove harmful.

Likewise, Williamson has retweeted posts by a Twitter user, who had previously made anti-Semitic remarks.

Williamson was seemingly unaware of this – and it would not be fair to assume that retweeting somebody’s recent comments means endorsing anything they have ever said or done in the past.

However, when it was brought to Williamson’s attention, and was plainly true, he dismissed the concerns very nonchalantly.

There have been commentaries defending Williamson, and calling for his reinstatement; on the grounds that the speech which resulted in his suspension was misrepresented. It undoubtedly has been.

Likewise, a number of his critics are extremely hypocritical.

Ultimately, it makes no odds.

There is no concrete reason to doubt that Williamson is sincere when he states his opposition to all forms of racism – but clearly, actively mitigating prejudices, of any kind, requires more than platitudes.

Williamson’s decidedly glib sentiments are not matched by his conduct. Instead, there have been repeated instances where he was demonstrably unconcerned; even when something untoward had been in evidence. This is clearly a significant failing.

So, the initial reason for Williamson’s suspension may not have been valid; but I think his overall behaviour necessitates his resignation, or replacement.

 

[4] As it happens, Bloodworth was bemoaning Corbyn’s opposition to regime change – of the kind which proved such a noted success in Chile during 1973. Or more recently, in Iraq, and Libya.

It is a mystery why Corbyn does not welcome the prospect of something similar occurring in Venezuela.

 

[5] Corbyn supposedly informed the Czechoslovakian agent, at regular intervals, about Margaret Thatcher’s choice of breakfast.

Just the kind of thing you might expect from a Trotskyite, of the Stalinist variety. And if what I hear is correct, some Trotskyite Stalinists might even be communists.

The Czech agent was a busy man, it would seem. How he found space in his schedule to collaborate with Corbyn, at the same time as founding the Live Aid concert, was not explained by any of the newspapers which reported his claims verbatim.

 

[6] To cut a very long story short, during the Summer of 2018, Labour’s leadership engaged in several weeks of pointless bickering with colleagues, over four examples in the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism relating to the State of Israel; only to adopt them anyway, once the elections had concluded.

A combination of calculated political cynicism, indifference towards accuracy, boorish antics, invective, mudslinging, ineptitude, and disregard for freedom of expression – or pluralism – made the surrounding upset one of the most farcical, but troubling, episodes in recent political and journalistic history.

To no avail, all round.

 

[7] Other pretexts for Labour MPs resigning, and creating the Independent Group/Change UK, were Jeremy Corbyn’s supposedly insouciant attitude towards Venezuela’s government; and his “handling” of Brexit.

The latter is perhaps plausible. After all, even a Labour MP who had lobbied for the first EU referendum – called for it a second time – voted to conduct it, and derided others for not accepting its result, has faulted Corbyn for respecting the outcome.

However, the impetus was largely the upshot of a US-UK lobbying network.

This is made plain by Chuka Umunna’s involvement. Umunna being an advisor to the Progressive Centre think tank – which includes a number of politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, and lobbyists.

It was derived from the Global Progress nexus – itself set up by the Centre for American Progress; staffed by former aides of Barack Obama, and Bill/Hillary Clinton, amongst others.

Change UK bore all the hallmarks of these peoples’ combined talents, strategic mastery, and personal foresight; in as much as it failed abysmally.

Suffice to say, for present purposes, three MPs had also quit the Conservative Party to join this endeavour; and cannot plausibly have done so in order to protest against Jeremy Corbyn, on any grounds.

 

Enter Boris – into the Prime Ministerial fray, that is.

 

Veritable proof that one can fly without wings

 

Cynicism is the curse of our age; and nowhere is that more prevalent than in responses to Boris Johnson’s hoisting of the political trousers.

Far from being ‘self-serving’ or ‘opportunistic’ (to use the emotive language favoured by the Left, here) Mr Johnson’s penchant for saying one thing, then doing the opposite, is no less than the kind of integrity that I have come to expect from the man – as a matter of course.

Johnson is not one for any mere bandwagon-hopping. Evincing, instead, the rapid circular motion of a man at the peak of his form: one who is more than able to both have cake, and eat it – as his amply-proportioned bosom testifies.

It may very well be true that Mr Johnson owes his existence to a similar comestible vacillation of Mother Nature’s. Having first intended to create a blancmange, then changing her mind midway – thus gifting Boris Johnson, as is, to the world.

But we should all be grateful for small mercies. Especially at a time like this.

One cannot be too careful about a delicate conundrum such as Brexit. It is just the sort of thing which could very quickly turn a most frightful purler, without firm hands holding the reins on Britain’s ship of state.

And that is where Boris Johnson comes into his own.

As a test of his mettle, BJ was tasked with quaffing a full can of Fukushima peach juice. A lesser man might have quailed – but a true Buller always downs it in one.

 

Rightly or wrongly, people judge by appearances – and on that score, Johnson stands peerless: as a fellow of unquestionable swank.

No matter the political storms that rage in the Parliamentary teacup, Mr Johnson’s comb-over has invariably proven unflappable. Not a folicle is ever out of place. Or not so as you’d notice, at any rate.

Would it be a touch flattering to suggest that this is the very epitome of the man? Demonstrating the ingrained British reluctance to surrender, to the steady dawning of reality?

Few may care to venture such liberal odds – but I say fellows of Johnson’s caliber are the very reason why I rank being British among my greatest achievements.

The task ahead remains a daunting one; but with Boris Johnson standing athwart the historical moment, I am certain that the whole Brexit process will prove to be a singularly fruity binge.

And that’s the kind of pledge you can put on the side of a bus.

You can’t say anything, these days – why Nigel Farage goes from strength to strength

Farage drinking 0.57th of a litre – because you can no longer call it a pint.

 

I thought I had seen it all in my time; but even I am surprised – in fact, appalled – by the sheer effrontery of not making Nigel Farage Prime Minister, following his recent electoral triumphs.

If losing elections does not instantly put you in charge of things, then you have to wonder what the whole point of democracy is, after all.

Not only did the Brexit Party win the Peterborough by-election, by finishing second; but they won the European Elections with an unprecedented margin, too. Gaining almost a third of the vote – which is well over half, in my opinion.

(And ‘Peterborough’ sounds suspiciously like ‘Petersburg’, if you ask me – so we should not discount the possibility of Russian interference here, either).

 

 

Why, the electorate have as good as commissioned Farage to become the one-man team, responsible for delivering Brexit. Well, now that call is answered!

Farage stands ready, and willing, to negotiate No Deal; even though it requires absolutely no negotiation at all. Thereby ensuring that no agreement is reached between Britain and Europe – with the full agreement of both countries.

And not a moment too late, in my opinion.

I no longer recognize the country of my own birth. If what I read in the papers is anything to go by, you can’t say anything these days.

You can no longer make deprecatory remarks about members of other ethnic groups, without being called racist.

You can’t suggest that women are less important than men – and should jolly well know their place – without being called sexist.

Less still can you say that foreigners are weird, and faintly unsettling – and should not be allowed to join the local golf club – without being called xenophobic.

In fact, if the signatories of Magna Carta were alive today, they would roll in their graves. Britain has changed beyond recognition – in a mere eight centuries.

 

Nigel, demonstrating the correct way to play James Bond – instead of all this politically correct nonsense.

 

That is perhaps the very reason why Nigel Farage goes from strength to strength.

The Brexit Party stood on a clear platform, with 3 simple messages:

  1. Brexit now
  2. Details to follow
  3. Britishness
  4. Everything else will work itself out, forthwith.

Admittedly, these were all largely the opposite of what Nigel said during the referendum – but that is merely the sort of pettifogging detail which only the most extreme Remainers would consider relevant; and simply serves to show the liberal bias of linear time-frames, as well.

Why straight pride matters so much.

 

People who are straight can marry their partner, wherever they live.

Enjoy a sex life without being persecuted.

Have never had to fight for very basic rights.

Never been denigrated on account of their sexual orientation.

Never lost public office when their sexuality become open knowledge.

Don’t have to worry about being rejected by parents, or friends, when they mention their sexuality for the first time.

Can hold their partner’s hand in public, without being harassed or assaulted.

Never been classed as mentally ill on account of who they fancy.

Never lacked role models in public life, or positive representations in culture.

Haven’t been denied housing – or access to health services – just because of their orientation.

Hell, not ever been fired from their jobs for being straight.

You can even start a family, without anyone giving the matter a second thought.

You can be a blood donor! You can help save lives!

And at no point in history have people ever struggled to be regarded – let alone treated – as human, simply for being straight.

 

It’s the way it’s been forever – the entire world over.

It’s great when you’re straight – yeah!

You can be born, and grow up, without being ostracized by anyone on account of it!

 

It’s very easy for straight people to take all of this for granted, without even thinking about what it might be like to have such basic rights denied.

So, for one day of the year, people who are straight get to celebrate enjoying all of these liberties, every single day, without any hindrance whatsoever. Just as they always have done – every day, every year.

What’s not to like about that?

 

In fact, I spoke to a straight acquaintance of mine, who was exactly the same as 95% of everyone who ever lived; and I asked them “are you proud to be free from any demeaning prejudice on account of your sexuality?”.

“I sure am!” they replied. “It took me years of no work at all to achieve – and now I take pride in a job well done”.

And that’s why Straight Pride matters so much.

The Tory leadership contest

 

And so it begins. The contest to become leader of the Conservative Party. Leader of Great Britain.

There can be only one.

And there is no shortage of top-drawer statecraft on offer, thus far.

So a summary, of what’s on the upcoming itinerary:

⋅ Fixed dates are not fixed dates.

⋅ The EU risks being cut-off from civilization – unless Europeans buck-up their ideas a bit.

⋅ Britain’s government should pursue a No-Deal strategy, to achieve Brexit on our terms. Either the EU gives us everything we demand – or we’ll walk away with nothing. That will show them how powerful we are!

⋅ Average British voters have exactly the same concerns and interests as American billionaires.

⋅ Politicians voting against proposals they negotiated, and disagreeing with what they agreed to, demonstrates the kind of integrity which only money can buy.

⋅ We must not let Brexit distract us from the serious task of telling Russia to shut up and go away.

⋅ Jeremy Corbyn is evil, because he doesn’t indulge in the acceptable kind of racism – like sending vans around the country telling foreigners to go home. Instead, he engages in the bad kind of racism – like, campaigning on behalf of Palestinian rights.

When the Prime Ministerial stakes are so high, it is reassuring that coves of such calibre are competing for the top job.

It is perhaps a testament to the sheer strength of character on display, from a government determined to cling on – against all odds; well past the point of dignity.

London is no longer the country that I grew up in.

 

 

Britain’s capital city these days feels like a foreign land. English culture is disappearing – right up the yin yang; and I find myself a stranger, in my own home town.

Admittedly, I moved out of the area, twenty years ago – but this is beside the point.

I have witnessed first hand the impact that a rapid bout of things changing has wrought upon the once proud nation of London.

In the aisles of a local supermarket, no less, I encountered as stouthearted and sensible a chap as ever I met.

A fellow who was no stranger to roughing it, having spent 30 years working in the cut-throat world of antiques. Yet there he stood, completely overcome – and weeping tears of bitter lament.

Several other distinguished men – retired officers from the merchant navy, all, I would imagine – were standing close by; rapt in a similar state of anguish.

The cause of their distress? A French baguette, being sold in full view of the unsuspecting general public – on a British shelf, in an aisle entitled the ‘world food’ section!

My constitution is as hardy as it gets – yet even I was forced to draw a handkerchief of my own.

This whole incident is symptomatic of the sweeping devastation faced by the embattled British population; who now comprise a mere 60% of the local community. Leaving them an outnumbered majority.

It should be understood that I have nothing against foreign bread on any personal level; but many people are concerned about the demographic threat it poses to British loaves – on already crowded supermarket shelves. And this must be taken seriously.

The suggestion that we might simply use a larger shelf – or build an additional one – is, frankly, preposterous.

I have spoken to close acquaintances of mine, who occasionally bake – and they say much the same thing. So there must be some truth in it. And I’m sorry, but I refuse to apologise for simply telling the truth.

The fact that nobody is even allowed to talk about any of this, these days – well, I will say no more.

Hot-takes condensed: the European Parliamentary elections.

 

 

1. The great anti-Brexit backlash of 3rd May 2019, has been followed by the great pro-Brexit backlash of 26th May 2019. Sending a clear message, to both main parties.

2. One Pro-Brexit party may very well have gained more MEPs than all of the anti-Brexit parties combined; but this only demonstrates how much the public now opposes Brexit.

3. The Conservatives’ ineptitude, inner-turmoil, Parliamentary defeats – and heavy local electoral losses – all reflect very badly on the Labour Party.

4. Ukip voters have switched almost entirely to the Brexit Party. This changes everything; even though nothing material has altered.

5. Jeremy Corbyn would do well to heed the advice coming from people who oppose him, undermine him at every opportunity, and have judged nothing correctly in recent years.

6. Politics journalists have the very keenest understanding of matters – as proven by the fact that, after all the media hype, Change UK finished with an impressive zero MEPs. That’s a number which can only increase.

7. By saying one thing, then saying the opposite, then saying something else – then proposing something completely different altogether – media columnists demonstrate their sheer mastery of the current situation.

8. Either evil Jeremy Corbyn’s villainous refusal to relinquish his tyrannical grip on the Peoples’ Vote-eteers valorous uprising is the sole obstacle to their imminent and glorious victory over Brexit. Or the Peoples’ Vote campaign is ineffectual, due its own inherent short-comings.

It’s impossible to say which is more likely.

9. The European Parliamentary elections are of the utmost significance for Britain’s long-term future, even though it is set to leave the EU in a few months’ time.

10. Labour are not centrist enough to win a General Election, and too centrist to win European Parliamentary contests, and not centrist enough to win Council votes.

11. There is no difference between short-term and long-term strategies. There is no difference between short-term and long-term gains.

12. The Labour Party should form its policies via a brisk read of the comment pages, once a day – and deliver a different manifesto, every 24 hours.

 

Why The European Parliamentary Elections Prove Something Or Another – And What To Do About It.

 

 

If one forms judgments via evidence, and the application of logic, then Brexit can be said to have played no straightforward part in the contradictory outcomes of recent elections.

However, numerous commentators, pundits, and professional analysts – all primed for this sort of thing – suggest otherwise.

Not only do these people hold Britain’s most important opinions – but their track-record of getting the big calls correct is simply imperious.

So, we have demonstrable reality on the one hand – and media output on the other. I think we can come down strongly in favour of the latter on this issue.

With that matter resolved, all that remains is the simple question of how to do something or another about it.

Therefore, let us take 48% (the number that voted against leaving the EU), and add 52% (the percentage which favoured departure). Times it by 3 (one wishes to be fair about these things). Then take precisely one third of the resultant figure (a fraction of the sum); before subtracting zero (a negative), and multiplying by one (a positive).

It all adds up to no less than 100% of the electorate. Which is very nearly as good as the entirety.

 

A diagram – explaining this sort of thing in picture form.

 

Now, if my modest calculations are correct – and as of yet, I have seen no reason to believe otherwise – then all anyone need do is the following: craft a pro-Brexit message for the half of Britain who support it. An anti-Brexit message for the half who oppose it. And an ambivalent message, for the half who remain non-plussed.

This can thus be then combined into one compelling message – representing all things to all people: ‘Brexit: yesnomaybe’.

With that in place, it is not at all unreasonable to suggest that any compliant party might be expected to gain fully three halves of the public vote, in any contest you could mention. Its mathematical impossibility not withstanding.

It all rather makes one wish we had just this type of credible party, pragmatising so electably; and saying “yesnomaybe”, right now.

Or so I see it, at any rate.

LGBT lessons, sexual/religious identity, and jalapenos (jalapenos are the important part – sort of).

By Reza Abbasi

 

I’m bisexual; and a lapsed Christian.

Also, right-handed – if it’s of interest. It bears scars from a lifetime of origami.

Being Bi – and right-handed, for that matter – is not something that I chose to be; and certainly wouldn’t have done during adolescence, given how awkward it made life.

I didn’t really accept it until quite recently; when I realised it was a blessing, in its way.

Kind of. Give or take.

 

My reasoning is thus: potentially, you could love anybody. And also be turned down by anyone, as well. So, it sort of balances out.

In a way, therefore, I play a key role in maintaining the equilibrium of our cosmos; without which the universe itself would cease to exist. I find that quite reassuring.

But anyway.

 

My handiwork, this.

 

I kind of knew from a fairly early age that I wasn’t straight – after watching an episode of Eurotrash; of all things.

Specifically, a segment on the Israeli Eurovision contest singer, Dana International; who I thought was quite gorgeous. Then I found out she was transsexual; and also still gorgeous.

Which got me thinking. And thinking was a rare experience for me, in those days [1].

I had hoped it was just a phase – only it wasn’t. And, in time, I grew to not so much accept it; as ignore it, then repress it, and pretend it wasn’t really there at all. Then kind of accepted it. Then got bored; and watched a movie instead.

 

Dana International: where it all began. She is, though, isn’t she?

 

There weren’t LGBT lessons when I was at school – which was a fair while back; but not that long ago, relative to the sum of humanity’s existence. Perhaps because Section 28 still applied [2].

Instead, there were biology classes – devoted to the subject of sexual reproduction. With diagrams depicting urethra; and explaining where the seminal vesicle is located.

Just the ticket, if you ask me. But clearly, times change; and this is no longer considered adequate.

Ultimately, this has seen a number of schools introduce LGBT curricula – which, in turn, prompted a series of hostile protests; from a number of Muslim parents, and a few Christians, concerned about the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle among students [3].

 


The type of explicit, homoerotic material actively promoted in schools, before Section 28 was repealed.

 

So are these fears well grounded?

Is it possible to merely read one or two books about different relationships between men and women; then be converted to the whole rough and tumble of frivolous same-sex passion?

Well, consider the fact that after no more than one history lesson about Yorkshire’s Viking heritage, I lived as a seafaring oarsman for a full six months. Even now, I find the temptation to indulge in piracy, or build settlements, almost too inviting [4].

 

Our Viking heritage: an average day in Yorkshire.

 

This is largely beside the point, however.

LGBT education is not really about promoting any aspect of homosexuality: be it romance, legislation, or fabulous moustache parades – for men or women alike.

Instead, the aim is to encourage acceptance of difference; and discourage bullying.

Much the same can be said of religious education.

Irrespective of somebody’s own personal identity, learning about someone else’s upbringing and beliefs helps people to better understand one another; rather than having contempt for the differences between them.

Which does not seem particularly unreasonable. More reasonable than encouraging children to torment each other, at least.

 

I also think there are parents who are concerned about the prospect of their own children growing up, and being gay, not because they want them to be miserable and repressed; but because they care about them, and want them to be happy.

Only they’re afraid that homosexuality means they won’t be.

That instead of falling in love with somebody, and enjoying a fulfilling family life, it will pave the way for an unchaste and debauched lifestyle: of Bronyism, tart repartee, exquisite interior design, effetely-sipped coffee, and dubious fashion choices aplenty.

Well, maybe. Sometimes. For a while.

In the same way that religiosity sometimes leads people to dress in a fashion which seems strange; and express viewpoints that others find barbed. Or do far worse things.

But not very often.

 

Not me, but Sylvia does bear a distinct likeness, to be fair.

 

It should go without saying that not everyone who is Muslim will be identical; and that holds equally true for anybody who falls under, or onto – or over? – the LGBT spectrum.

Same-sex attraction does not betoken promiscuity, any more than heterosexuality precludes it.

In my case it means being rejected by men, as well as by women. Which is less colourful than it may sound.

So, moving on.

 

I’ve had one sexual partner in life; and I’ll leave the sordid details therein to peoples’ own imaginations (you wouldn’t believe the kind of things they were into, incidentally) [5].

They were a social worker, who helped in the rehabilitation of addicts. They had a banjo, as well, which I tried to teach them how to play [6].

Or, to look at the issue another way: I am the most boringly ordinary person who ever lived. My personal rainbow would comprise seven shades of grey – and, on days of particular excitement, maybe a strand of beige.

Religion, race, sex, and sexuality are not all that there is to anyone. You can have all of these traits, and still be as mundane as me – if you try [7].

 

The great spectrum of mundanity.

 

Homophobia and racism are two sides of same dehumanising coin. If you add sexism, that would make three sides of the coin – although I’ve never seen a three-sided coin, admittedly.

Maybe a different comparison would be more helpful. And that’s where chilli peppers factor in (I told you they were important).

I used to dislike jalapenos, on the grounds that they were gross, and unpalatable; and ruined any plate of nachos they adorned. I eat them with pretty much everything, now.

That’s how I roll [8].

 

Oh yes.

 

People can change. Be it their views, tastes, ideas, or identity. It happens.

There will be people of any age, but especially when young, who realise they are gay, bi, trans – or any variation thereof – at some stage.

It’s a change that can’t be altered; and happens of its own accord. It’s not a temporary phenomenon, they’re not ill; and it’s not due to any failing for their parents’ part.

Unlike growing up listening to Celine Dion records, which – let us be brutally honest here – would suggest that something has gone wrong somewhere.

However.

Some children have two mothers, or two fathers – at times due to their parents’ orientation; and at others, because their parents divorced, and re-married.

Not all families are the same – and plenty of seemingly normal households are dysfunctional; or downright weird [9]. None of which necessarily stops people caring about each other.

 

Islam teaches the concept of Adab: the need to have courtesy and respect for other people. And to regard them as relations – if not in faith, then at least in humanity.

Likewise, LGBT lessons teach the same thing, in their way. Namely, that being mean to people who are different doesn’t really make the world a better place.

Regardless of what branch of humanity anyone belongs to, we probably all seem slightly odd to someone else. But whatever differences exist between people, we still have more in common than divides us.

Like a shared experience of being whinged at, for supposedly proving a subversive minority; while not usually being that interesting.

Or being placed under pressure to give up our own identity, in order to fit in, somehow.

And the same capacity for being hurt, by those who are afraid of difference. Which is what seems destined to generate so much needless misery among people, when they can’t help but be different [10].

I think love and empathy are more worthwhile than hatred, or fear.

They’re more fun, too.

 

 

 

 

Notes

 

[1] If you’re not familiar with Eurotrash, it was a highly sophisticated comedy series: immaculately researched, impeccably scripted, and intellectually rigorous.

The quality of its presentation was matched only by the sheer breadth and scope of its informative content.

Just the kind of high-quality cultural programming I used to watch, as a teenager.

 

[2] Section 28 of the Local Government Act began in 1988, and forbade the promotion of homosexuality in state schools. It also proscribed teaching “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. It was finally ended nationwide, in 2003.

Its reasoning had been much the same as that of the present furore – only rooted in the supposed preservation of Christian identity and family values, rather than their Islamic equivalent.

I belonged to various Christian youth groups – which were not quite at the cutting edge of education on the subject of sexual development. Instead of diagrams, we got proverbs.

At school, most homophobic bullying centred on heterosexual boys being horrible to each other on the knowingly baseless grounds that they were gay, somehow. I don’t think you need to be directly on the receiving end of bullying to be affected by it.

 

[3] It has been suggested that the No Outsiders programme is linked to the UK government’s Prevent strategy – and is treating Muslim pupils as a potential danger; therefore triggering the current response from their parents.

That is not supported by any currently available evidence. Instead, the belief seems to stem from a presentation made in 2015; rather than the No Outsiders programme itself.

Nor is it the actual focus of the points being made by the protesters, which are overtly centred on LGBT lessons; rather than any other aspect of the programme – such as disability equality.

Suffice to say, the two men leading the demonstrations do not have children attending the schools in question.

It appears that the parents protesting against the No Outsiders programme believe it is designed to undermine their own religious identity and personal values; but that does not appear to be applicable.

Instead, two sets of people who are often treated as second-class citizens in British society, seem to be at loggerheads; in a dispute over contemporary British values. Which is both a bit sad, and kind of funny, if you think about it.

 

 

[4] Admittedly this is standard behaviour among the men and women of Yorkshire.

Only, instead of marauding, looting, feasting – and pillaging – our endeavours are mostly devoted to tutting, and complaining about the cost of things.

Some stereotypes are accurate. Acutely so, at times. This is one of them.

 

[5] Mainly reading books, and going for walks. Really quite disgraceful.

 

[6] I didn’t actually know how to play one – I just made it sound like I did. Picture thrash-metal banjo, and you’re about there. There are even people who play death-metal tambourine, as it happens.

 

[7] It takes time, and effort; and it’s not worthwhile – but it can be done.

 

[8] It’s tangential, but I also used to find Scotch bonnet chillis too hot. Not anymore! I use them to make vegetarian chilli all the time now.

While it may incur wrath from a few antediluvian types – who are more than a smidge stuck in their ways (not that I judge) – I would recommend experimenting with chipotle paste, too.

This can be expensive; and some disparage it as nothing more than a mere lifestyle choice – encouraged by illicit cookery books. But it is worthwhile, in my opinion. And my opinion is correct.

 

[9] The Royal Family, for instance. You really don’t get much more conformist and simultaneously warped than them.

 

[10] I think some misery in life is needed, because where would goth music be without it? Nowhere. That’s where. Nowhere at all.