Floods, rain, snow, wind, oriental viruses – is February the most dismal month of the year or what? Yes, the climate always takes a turn for the worst once autumn morphs into winter; but December receives a bye on account of Christmas; January gets a relatively easy ride because it’s a clean slate and all the good people enter it on a wave of over-optimistic resolutions; March may still be prone to the occasional biting breeze, but there are indications of spring scattered around that hint at better days to come; yet February is wedged in-between – a dull, dark, dreary nothing of a month that had to buy the sponsorship of St Valentine and give itself an extra day every four years just to make it seem interesting. When it comes to the twelve-month calendar, February is the spiritual soulmate of a day like Tuesday or a county like Bedfordshire.

The novelty of February 29 retains a certain intriguing quality purely on account of it only appearing at four-yearly intervals. Those born when it falls find themselves in the strange position of only being able to celebrate their ‘real’ birthday every leap year, which means they can justify being rather flexible when having to declare how old they are. Had I myself been born on the nearest February 29 to my actual date of birth, I’d be celebrating my thirteenth birthday in 2020. And whilst such an anomaly could be viewed as a canny (if futile) ‘get out of jail’ card for an opportunistic paedophile, I guess it’s the nearest thing the Gregorian calendar has to ‘showbiz years’. However, the whole concept of a leap year seems to be best embodied in February and its extra day, which gives a month with so little to shout one of its few notable distinctions.

Most countries seem to work around potentially problematic issues thrown up by February 29 by declaring March 1 to be the legal date anyone born on February’s extra day would be recognised as turning 18, for example. Mind you, if one was to be rigid about it, what a quite appealing thing it would be to only have to celebrate a birthday every four years. For those of us who dread the annual approach of that day when we’re reminded of everything we’ve failed to achieve in the past twelve months, only having to endure it every time the Olympics comes around might actually make it feel as special as we’re constantly pressurised into pretending it is once a year. A pity the day we’re born is one of the few aspects of who we are that we can’t control or change – though I’ve no doubt the Labour Party leadership contenders are planning to propose ‘self-identified birthday rights’ as we speak.

The roots of this aberration in the calendar lie in the inconvenient fact that a complete revolution by the earth around the sun takes six hours longer than a nice, neat 365 days. The gradual accumulation of an additional 24 hours within four years therefore necessitates an extra day being added to the calendar to prevent the eventual order of the seasons being thrown into disarray. The Ancient Greeks and the Romans, who were quite a clever lot, worked all this out and incorporated it into their respective calendars, those from which our own slowly developed. The most significant change since then came in 1582, with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar as an attempt to correct perceived faults in the Julian calendar; although immediately adopted by most Catholic countries in Western Europe it was slow to catch on globally.

Britain and its colonies didn’t convert to the Gregorian calendar until 1752; doing so necessitated the undeniably strange process of having to bypass almost two whole weeks – the most extreme example of putting the clocks forward in history. Essentially, Wednesday 2 September that year was followed by Thursday 14 September, a move which brought the British Empire into line with the major European powers excepting Russia, which didn’t drop the Julian calendar until as late as 1918; this means, for example, that any study of the Napoleonic Wars from a Russian perspective requires the use of ‘Old Style’ and ‘New Style’ dates in order that the scholar doesn’t become confused. Mind you, I guess it must have been awkward arranging international dates in advance when there were two competing calendars which were separated by weeks…
‘Where were you? I waited for three days and you never showed up!’
‘Sorry, I thought we were using the Julian calendar.’

Interestingly, the presence of Valentine’s Day in the middle of February – the day that means a lot when you receive a card and is downgraded to a crass commercial con when you don’t – is echoed on February 29 in some cultures via the tradition of ‘Bachelor’s Day’. This is loosely observed in the UK and Ireland, and is a twist on that cringe-inducing stunt in which narcissistic dicks embarrassingly propose to their girlfriends in public places, pressurising their intended into accepting when a gawping crowd demands a specific outcome. In this case, the roles are reversed and it is the woman who has ‘the right’ to propose; an additional incentive for the woman is that if the man turns her down, he is obliged to financially compensate her. It goes without saying this ritual is now seized upon every four years as nauseating filler by regional news magazine programmes and daytime television. A four-year gap at least spares viewers something.

Oddly, not many household names or people of distinction were born on February 29. Looking through a list, the only one who stood out for me was actor Joss Ackland (b. 1928), a man in possession of central-heated vocal chords that must have made him a fortune in TV ad voiceovers for decades. It’s a similar situation when it comes to those who died on February 29. Monkee Davy Jones passed away on that day in 2012, though it was interesting to note Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer in 2011, was hanged by the Islamabad authorities on February 29 2016 in order to prevent his supporters from annually marking the anniversary of his execution.

I suppose an extra day on the calendar once every four years remains such an oddity that one can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have a permanent extra day of the week – though given how many excessive hours Brits already work in comparison to their continental cousins, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been introduced. One feels such a day wouldn’t sit between Saturday and Sunday as an additional 24 hours of relaxation, but would probably be lodged between Wednesday and Thursday as an extension of the working week. In the Year Zero revamp that followed the 1789 French Revolution, attempts to develop a secular republic accompanied a desire to ‘decimalise’ the calendar along with currency and the number of hours in the day. A week was extended to ten days, though even this radical approach to redrawing everything still included an extra day every leap year.

So, this most miserable of months has one more further 24 hours of cold, wet ‘n’ windy drudgery to endure than it had in 2019, ’18 and ’17, and then we hit March. There probably won’t be any immediately noticeable change in the air, but at least it won’t be February anymore.

© The Editor


When the BBC aired ‘A Very English Scandal’, its entertaining Russell T Davies-penned drama about the Jeremy Thorpe/Norman Scott affair a couple of years back, I remember explaining to a friend how the general public of the time were reluctant to believe the allegations against the Liberal leader due to him being a popular politician. I compared him to Charles Kennedy in that he was representative of an increasingly rare breed, i.e. a prominent Parliamentarian the majority of the electorate didn’t actually hate. I cited the 1975 Oxford Union Debate on the EEC Referendum as an example of Thorpe’s considerable oratorical skills; sharing the stage with plodding old Heath, as well as a stuttering Barbara Castle and a flustered Peter Shore, Thorpe shines as an eloquent and witty speaker; it’s a rare opportunity for TV viewers to see him at the height of his powers, for the Commons wasn’t televised in 1975; by the time it was, Thorpe had already left the building – in disgrace.

I recall my mother’s response to the sinister stories encircling the most high profile Liberal leader since Lloyd George in 1976 – ‘Poor Jeremy Thorpe,’ she declared whilst ironing. ‘All these horrible people spreading nasty lies about him.’ I suspect my mum’s response to the tabloid frenzy when the Fleet Street levee broke wasn’t an isolated one. It’s always far easier to believe scurrilous rumours concerning the private lives of those who divide opinion – Jimmy Savile, for example – than to accept those who elicit admiration might have feet of clay. Of course, Thorpe’s desperate attempts to cover his homosexual tracks caught up with him in the end and demonstrated the extremes public figures were then prepared to go to in order to obscure proclivities that are today worn as an identity-defining sandwich board. But it left a political party that just two years before had been within the grasp of a coalition administration paddle-free and heading towards an especially unpleasant creek.

And then David Steel stepped forward. Widely respected for his activities in the Anti-Apartheid Movement as well as his pivotal role in securing the legalisation of abortion in 1967, the MP for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles was elected full-time Liberal leader in July 1976. In less than a year, he had led his party into a working arrangement with the Labour Party, the so-called ‘Lib-Lab Pact’. Faced with a motion of no confidence from Margaret Thatcher’s Tories, PM Jim Callaghan approached the Liberals for support; an agreement was reached whereby the Liberals would vote with the Labour Government as long as Callaghan accepted a handful of Liberal policies. But it was a long way from being a genuine coalition, and this short-lived alliance expired in September 1978, when Callaghan was expected to call a General Election he fatally postponed until spring 1979.

The Liberal Party David Steel inherited in 1976 included amongst its 14 elected representatives perhaps its two most notable members in the popular imagination, Clement Freud and Cyril Smith. The former was a celebrated wit via his broadcasting career and the latter was primarily known for being immensely fat at a time when obesity was a rarity in Britain. The reputations of both were subjected to characteristically twenty-first century revisionism in the wake of their deaths in 2009 and 2010 respectively, though Smith had been dogged by unsavoury rumours for years.

Picking up on circulating stories in 1979, ‘Private Eye’ had been at the forefront of exposing Smith’s inappropriate behaviour in the company of young boys during his time as a Rochdale Labour councillor and governor of an all-male children’s home in the 1960s; but despite these allegations being investigated by Lancashire police a full decade before ‘Private Eye’ printed them and then Smith being interviewed in the early 1980s, no action was taken against him. Smith defected to the Liberal Party relatively late in his public life and wasn’t elected to Westminster until a 1972 by-election, by which time the allegations against him had already received police scrutiny. The fact that he hadn’t been charged or ended up in court implied he was innocent and there was no palpable reason for Smith not to be appointed Liberal Chief Whip; a party with such a small representation in Parliament needed larger-than-life figures to maintain a high profile, and the 29-stone Smith certainly fitted the bill.

In response to ongoing rumours during Cyril Smith’s lifetime, many claimed Smith’s alleged crimes constituted no more than standard (if cruel) practice in the more severe educational and ‘correctional’ establishments of the immediate post-war period – which is, to an extent, true. ‘All he seems to have done is spanked a few bare bottoms’ was the alleged response from David Steel’s Press Office in response to the ‘Private Eye’ exposé. Besides, Steel had more pressing political issues to concern him, such as the electoral alliance of the SDP and Liberal Party from 1983. Steel’s relationship with the SDP leader David Owen was particularly fractured during the General Election of 1987, with the former ‘baby of the House’ memorably portrayed as an elfin-like imp permanently perched on Owen’s shoulder. Despite the alliance’s poor showing in 1987, a proper merger between the two parties was proposed and Steel was determined a single leader was the better option; he won the vote when the Liberal Democrats came into being in 1988.

Despite a coalition with Tony Blair’s Labour Party being discussed in the run-up to the 1997 General Election, the landslide victory Labour enjoyed put paid to the hopes of Steel’s Lib Dem successor Paddy Ashdown of a place for the party in government; but Steel himself stood down as an MP at that very Election and as well as undergoing the traditional promotion to the Lords, he also became an MSP in 1999, inaugurated as the Scottish Parliament’s first Presiding Officer that same year. He remained an active figure in British politics despite his retirement from the Commons and was a respected elder statesman whose career in public life had certainly spanned an eventful era.

The instigation of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, inspired in part by the hysterical accusations of Tom Watson re the imaginary ‘VIP Paedophile Ring’ at Westminster, revived the old allegations against Cyril Smith; and before the conviction of Carl Beech confirmed everything most of us knew about that serial liar, Beech’s lurid fantasies – given legitimacy by Bunter’s headline-grabbing promotion and by a police force desperate to make amends for presumed past failings – pushed David Steel’s ambivalent attitude towards Cyril Smith under the spotlight again. Yesterday, Steel quit both his party and the House of Lords, citing his weariness with certain colleagues who were keen to see the back of him. The myth of the Westminster Paedo Ring has finally been officially dispelled, but mud sticks.

When any inquiry stretches its remit so far back in time, one has to take the laws of the land at that time into account. Talk of MPs and ‘rent boys’ should come with a reminder that the homosexual age of consent was only brought into line with the heterosexual one as recent as 2000; therefore, any gay exchange in which one party was under 21 (18 from 1994) meant the other half (if over 21) was eligible for prosecution and technically regarded as a paedophile. On paper, the same laws that had convicted Oscar Wilde a century before could still be applied up until the Millennium. Conspiracies and cover-ups are not dismissed by the findings of the IICSA, but just as dead men are beyond prosecution, the living should not have to answer for the alleged offences of the dead. When a lawyer from that most mendacious of ambulance-chasers, Slater & Gordon, welcomes the resignation of David Steel, you know it’s hardly worthy of celebration.

© The Editor


When Peter Cook passed away in 1995 at what now seems the ludicrously young age of 57, I recall the BBC putting together a fitting tribute programme not long after, one that included recollections of the great man from family and friends, many of whom are now also sadly no longer with us. Among those offering their remembrances was Cook’s partner-in-crime Dudley Moore, who outlived Cook by just seven years, dying aged 66 in 2002. In one of the most moving moments of the programme, Moore confessed the first thing he did after being told of Cook’s death was to ring his answer machine just to hear his old comrade’s voice one last time. The ‘ghost voices’ of the recently-departed that are now preserved in a digital rather than analogue format (often as social media Personal Messages) are always poignant testaments to the individual in question when they’ve just left us. I have one in my Twitter messages list today.

‘Thanks so much for taking the trouble to contact me,’ it says. ‘I’d be delighted to read your book.’ The message relates to a novel I published last year called ‘The Kamikaze Harvest’. The book fictionalises the odious virus of the false allegation, an insidious symptom of contemporary society that was facilitated in its legitimacy by the likes of Sir Keir Starmer in his role as DPP; that Starmer now seems odds-on to become the next leader of the Labour Party tells you everything you need to know about how this toxic trend has both shaped the twenty-first century narrative and infiltrated the thought processes of the ruling class, one wracked with guilt over the imagined crimes of its ancestors and desperate to be seen to right wrongs in a culture that prizes victimhood as an achievement.

After he had re-tweeted several posts from this here blog, one of the first people I contacted upon publishing ‘The Kamikaze Harvest’ was the author of the quoted message, Simon Warr, whose death at the age of 65 was announced yesterday. Having undergone an awful ordeal that far too many have experienced in recent years, I surmised Simon Warr might get a story that I didn’t see any mainstream writers too terrified to poke their heads above the parapet daring to tackle in the form of fiction. He was kind and courteous in his response and provided me with an address to dispatch said book to as he continued to regularly speak publicly on a subject whose genuine victims he had become a tireless campaigner on behalf of. But just a couple of days ago, he abruptly issued a final tweet that read ‘I have a serious health condition and am now receiving care in a hospice…I’d like to thank you all for your friendship and support’. His death from cancer was announced barely 24 hours later via his Twitter account.

A man with a long and distinguished career in teaching, Simon Warr first appeared on the wider public radar with the 2003 Channel 4 series, ‘That’ll Teach ‘em’, one of those sub-reality TV shows characteristic of the 2000s, in which present-day kids submitted to the typical regime of a 1950s boarding school. The success of the series brought with it the kind of attention that would eventually be exploited by despicable parasites capitalising on the post-Savile compensation climate of the 2010s. In 2012, Warr was the recipient of a dawn raid by the Tractor Gestapo…sorry, Suffolk Constabulary, who promptly arrested him on charges of Historical Child Abuse.

The allegations had been made by an ex-pupil of a school Warr had taught at thirty years previously, an ex-pupil who had never been a member of Warr’s class and who alleged he was abused during a lesson in a subject Warr hadn’t taken – PE. Not that such trivialities troubled a police force indoctrinated in the Starmer-sponsored ‘Believe the Victim’ mantra, in which traditional routes to justice such as corroborated evidence and the presumption of innocence re the accused were regarded as secondary to vindicating the ‘victim’ by whatever means; if that included canvassing other former pupils of St George’s in Suffolk, so be it. The boys in blue were determined to get their man and placed him on bail limbo for nine months as Warr was exposed to the joys of social media with his name and reputation dragged through the dirt whilst the police trawled yellowing school registers in a desperate attempt to persuade other ‘victims’ to come forward. They even approached the author of a disreputable website spreading similarly vile accusations about teachers in order to bolster their shaky case.

Two other ex-pupils eventually joined the fantasist chorus conducted by the Suffolk Constabulary and the case came to court as Warr was faced with little option but to take early retirement from the job he’d devoted his working life to – a job he’d been prevented from doing during his tenure on bail as he found himself socially blacklisted, as is customary for those branded with the ultimate career-destroying slur in which guilt is instantly presumed and promoted as fact. At his seven-day trial in 2014, Warr was found not guilty on all counts, with the jury taking less than 40 minutes to reach their verdict; he chronicled his horrific experience in a book, ‘Presumed Guilty: A Teacher’s Solitary Battle To Clear His Name’, and was able to establish a reputation in media circles as a respected voice of reason, often highlighting other cases of false allegations that the CPS were all-too eager to pursue.

As an erudite individual who was able to articulate his ordeal in print and via broadcast mediums, Warr’s high profile brought much-needed attention to a shadowy netherworld of policing and dubious legal practices that hundreds of individuals and their families have been subjected to in recent years – the short and long-term ramifications of which can be unimaginably devastating for those it draws into its black hole. Whilst media outlets are rarely slow in promoting the allegations of those crying abuse, the accused tend to be cold-shouldered and excluded from the debate. This is why the likes of Simon Warr, Harvey Proctor and Paul Gambaccini are vital in presenting balance and acting as spokesmen for those who have no public voice as they undergo a trauma with the potential to span years.

Warr himself admitted he contemplated taking his own life in the immediate wake of his arrest, and it’s telling that one of the last examples of the tragic consequences of the CPS ruthlessly pursuing a case which Warr publicly spoke about was that of Caroline Flack. If it takes the suicide of a TV star to belatedly alert a public who had previously shown scant sympathy for the casualties of a legal body not fit for purpose, all well and good; but Simon Warr had already given invaluable support and hope to many in positions he himself had experienced – some of whom were not as fortunate when their respective cases came to court, and found themselves behind bars for something they didn’t do.

I don’t claim to have personally known Simon Warr, but I do mourn his passing. Having known people directly affected by the kind of ordeal he underwent, I understand how important his presence in the public eye was to them as they too were banished to the periphery of society by the malicious avarice and moral bankruptcy of that society; and he was kind enough to volunteer to read my book, something which mattered to me. One hopes his own book will serve as a memoir of madness to future generations who will look back at this insane era with rightful incredulity. He seems to have been a good, decent man who didn’t deserve the treatment he received at the hands of the police and the Clown Prosecution Service. Sadly, he wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last; but he made a difference.

© The Editor


At one time in the late 1970s, BBC2 would close down for the evening with a poem. BBC1 remained loyal to ‘God Save the Queen’, but its more erudite sibling opted for the kind of sign-off that reflected its reputation as a patron of the arts. Mainstream TV channels no longer go to sleep, of course; but the original glut of quirky and set-the-video shows that ITV ran during its early through-the-night transmissions are just as much a part of television history now as an actor reciting Ted Hughes at the approach of midnight. Repeats of programmes screened earlier in the week with in-vision sign-language, or switching to the repetitive tedium of rolling news isn’t exactly making use of all those hours supposedly freed-up for broadcasting when the closedown ritual disappeared forever in the late 90s.

To be honest, TV may as well finish for the day even earlier than it used to, for after around 11.00, there’s bugger all to watch, anyway. If your viewing doesn’t begin until, say, 9.00pm, you’ve just a couple hours to watch ‘new’ television before there’s a second chance to see something you saw a few days before. Back when TV had a limit on broadcasting time, nothing went to waste; today’s graveyard slot was actually used for interesting programming. All we have now is the weekly ‘Front Row Late’, which often comes across as ‘Loose Women’ for the chattering classes. No wonder I end up sticking a DVD on.

As a night-owl, it’s nice to have a little televisual stimulation when I’m at my most awake and engaged in a creative break; but the DVD box-set suffices in the absence of programme-makers providing the goods. As regular readers will already know, I’m something of a connoisseur of vintage British TV, both familiar and obscure. In fact, I own such a lot that there isn’t much left to purchase now. Consequently, there’s something of a ‘painting the Forth Bridge’ factor in that every couple of years I work my way back to a series and enjoy it all over again. Recently, I revisited the controversial 1978 BBC four-parter, ‘Law and Order’, which lifted the lid on corruption within the police force and the legal profession as a villain is fitted-up for a job he didn’t do. One instalment covers his time behind bars and is so graphically brutal it makes ‘Scum’ resemble an episode of ‘Porridge’.

A familiar extra on the best box-sets of this nature is the new documentary recalling the series in question, usually featuring cast and crew interviews. ‘Law and Order’ is no exception, and it wasn’t until viewing it again that I remembered Tony Garnett was the programme’s producer. The groundbreaking Garnett – one of British television’s most fiercely fearless figures – sadly passed away in January; when his CV was belatedly celebrated in the obituaries, his contribution to intelligent and compassionate drama with an attitude that punched-up was writ large. From his association with ‘The Wednesday Play’ in the 60s, his collaborations with Ken Loach (including ‘Cathy Come Home’ and ‘Kes’), his work on ‘Play for Today’ in the 70s, and all the way up to ‘This Life’ in the 90s, Tony Garnett was the kind of visionary character with a heart that British TV used to inspire and no longer attracts.

On the ‘Law and Order’ documentary extra, Garnett speaks of how the producer was venerated and left to his own devices at the BBC in the 60s and 70s, hence so much undiluted dramatic output that impacted on the public consciousness; free from managerial interference and spared committee groupthink, not to mention concessions to ‘diversity and inclusivity’ initiatives, the producer channelled his vision directly to the audience without any unnecessary cosmetic surgery en route. In 2009, an ‘open email’ by Garnett to the BBC was widely circulated, one in which his criticisms of the changes within the corporation contained the accusation that the techniques of BBC management ‘stifle the creativity which the organisation is supposed to be encouraging’. Of course, the impact of Garnett’s key productions was helped by them being screened during the three-channel, pre-VCR/iPlayer era; but even watching them 50-60 years on, the visceral strength of the writing, acting and direction remain comparable to any old movies rightly recognised as significant landmarks in cinematic history. Alas, in the same way that Hollywood eventually collapsed into the hands of lawyers and corporate executives, British television similarly surrendered to the artless automatons that have made the BBC its own worst enemy.

The left claims the BBC is anti-Labour and biased in favour of the right whereas the right claims the BBC is a hotbed of Remainer lefties. With the former, such accusations feel like a symptom of the incurable Corbynista persecution complex that its sufferers level at all media outlets – perhaps underlining their chronic lack of awareness re their own shortcomings. With the latter, there is some truth, in that the BBC is on the whole manned by graduates of left-leaning academia who tend to think the same way and feel compelled to infuse the corporation’s programming with their worldview. This has certainly seeped into news and current affairs, something which has prompted the withdrawal of Government Ministers from the likes of ‘Today’ and ‘Newsnight’ – though this counterproductive measure, reminiscent of that period when Alex Ferguson refused any post-match interviews with the Beeb, could just as much be seen as symptomatic of No.10’s control-freakery.

I totally understand those who have given up on the BBC; but I will say that over the past seven days via various BBC radio and television channels, I’ve watched a superb documentary featuring a Brummie folk musician of Irish descent looking at the fascinating history of the Irish community in Birmingham; I’ve listened to an especially touching edition of ‘Desert Island Discs’ featuring Arsenal legend Ian Wright; I’ve watched the return of one of the warmest and funniest comedy series of recent years, ‘This Country’; and I’ve heard former ‘disgraced Tory MP’ Jonathan Aitken tell his rollercoaster of a life story through his love of music on ‘Private Passions’. For me, all of these represented what the BBC can still do better than any other broadcaster, but I caught what I wanted and avoided what I didn’t want – for a monthly fee of £14. My phone/internet provider charges me around £70 a month; gas £33; electricity £55; even water, which is only paid between April and November, was £40 a month last year. Personally, when it comes to the licence fee purely in terms of cost, I have no problem with it. What seems to irk most is the principle of it.

No, the problem for me is not the licence fee, but BBC box-ticking and its related impact on so much of what it produces. The way in which the organisation has effectively written an Identity Politics agenda into its programme manual is the consequence of a corporation that falls over itself to hire on grounds of race, gender, sexuality et al, yet will not countenance anyone with a different political perspective. This gives Mary Beard free rein to see the history of the nude in art as all about the evil ‘male gaze’, or ensures every drama has to have a sufficient multiracial headcount, regardless of where and when the drama is set, or that #MeToo has to be said at least half-a-dozen times during every edition of ‘Woman’s Hour’, or that the arts have to be viewed through the prism of race or LGBT issues on every edition of ‘Front Row’.

It has also turned ‘Doctor Who’ from being an eccentric and exciting adventure in space and time to being an über-Woke, witless weekly lecture of pious, joyless, patronising, preachy and ham-fisted propaganda penned by piss-poor soap scribes with no knowledge of sci-fi or what made the programme work for over half-a-century. When the BBC wields its axe, however, the guilty parties won’t be losing their heads. And that’s the crying shame of what is one of the great cultural gifts this country has given the world.

© The Editor


It was hardly a great shock that the candidate to make way for the final three in the Labour leadership race was Emily Thornberry. Nobody could really imagine Lady Nugee – the embodiment of the middle-class metropolitan champagne socialist looking down her nose at the proles – winning the contest, let alone presenting herself to the electorate as a potential Prime Minister. But it was interesting when she joined the other candidates on last week’s ‘Newsnight’ debate that she was the only one who expressed reservations over the latest diktat from the Momentum Politburo; regardless of her own political shortcomings or her failure to secure the endorsement of a leading union, it’s possible Thornberry ruled herself out of the race the moment she publicly doubted the unquestioning acceptance of what goes by the catchy name of ‘The Labour Campaign for Trans Rights’.

This proposal is the epitome of the dogmatic obsession with Identity Politics that helped deter great swathes of traditional Labour voters from sticking with tribal loyalties during the last General Election. It essentially declares the outlawing of debate around the transgender issue, demanding unswerving obedience to the 2+2=5 logic of the most intolerant Woke extremism when it comes to this particular topic. It gives the green light for another party purge should any member dare challenge the ‘trans-women are women’ mantra, promising expulsion of all bigots in the process – and be in no doubt that if you venture to question anything in the edict, you are a bigot. If you have the gall to raise concerns over men in drag invading women’s private spaces – such as toilets or changing-rooms – you are beneath contempt; if you argue that simply declaring one’s self female without actually possessing the necessary biological components is ridiculous, you will be exiled from both the party and polite society.

Emily Thornberry stated she was uncomfortable with the possible impact on women’s rights, and this Trans manifesto labels two campaigning organisations, the LGB Alliance and Woman’s Place UK, as beyond-the-pale ‘hate groups’. Both have what, until very recently, would have been regarded as not-unreasonable aims – putting forward the legitimate concerns of gay and female groups respectively as the establishment shuts down debate around an issue that places the interests of a tiny minority of unhinged activists over the majority of fairly liberal-minded people. Maybe Thornberry has belatedly realised that, as with all branches of Woke activism, surrendering to one demand is never enough. Those who ignore this fact do so at their peril.

Comedy writer Graham Linehan, for example; he was happy to line-up with the SJW stone-throwers and condemn ‘Nazi pug’ YouTuber Count Dankula as a fascist deserving of imprisonment, yet the moment the co-creator of ‘Father Ted’ raised doubts over extreme Trans ideology, he found himself on the receiving end of the kind of online abuse and career ‘blacklisting’ he was content to see inflicted upon Dankula. The Labour Party should take note of this, but it won’t.

That the party still posing as Her Majesty’s Opposition should draft a document that is an inflexible proclamation of intolerance towards anyone who feels groups Labour has traditionally been supportive of have been unfairly demonised in favour of one over-exposed and ring-fenced subculture shows the party has learnt even less from December’s devastating defeat than imagined. That the three candidates left in the leadership race have fallen over themselves to earn PC points by signing their names on the dotted line is akin to a three-way suicide pact re any hopes of recapturing office. No surprises about Rebecca ‘10/10’ Long-Bailey or Keir ‘Believe the Victim’ Starmer, but it was a bit disappointing Lisa Nandy succumbed so readily, as she’s so far been the sole promising contender. But needs – AKA careers – must.

The outspoken women’s campaigner who goes by the name of Posie Parker has felt the wrath of the powerful pro-Trans lobby by being banned from Twitter and declared a witch; yet, amidst her occasionally provocative-for-the-sake-of-it outbursts, she does make a valid point on the subject of oversensitivity within the Trans-extremist camp. She notes that women become accustomed to attracting and arousing the male eye from the moment they hit puberty and their physical attributes are suddenly visible; therefore, by the time a woman reaches her 30s, she has had ample time to get used to the kind of treatment she stands to receive from some members of the opposite sex and has developed means of dealing with it.

A man in his 30s, on the other hand, who suddenly declares himself a woman and believes simply dressing as a woman is all it takes to be accepted as one, is singularly unprepared for the fact that the rest of the world might not have come to the same conclusions as him. Cue abusive reactions on the street or in the workplace, leading to a narcissistic persecution complex and a belief that ‘coming out’ as a woman makes him/her the most discriminated-against individual in society. Yet, a discriminated-against individual whose cause has the support of politicians, academia, the media, the BBC, the chattering classes, Silicon Valley – and the police force. That’s pretty substantial support for a minority.

Posie Parker was photographed last week standing beside a man whose sinister investigation by Humberside Police demonstrates just how far the sentiments laid out in the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights have infiltrated our public bodies and institutions. Harry Miller, a former policeman himself, had challenged Trans ‘wisdom’ on Twitter and received a phone-call and visit from a graduate of the Trans-awareness school of policing for his troubles. Whilst informed he had committed no crime, Miller was nevertheless logged as someone who was guilty of a ‘non-crime hate incident’, as an offended individual had contacted the police over his tweets; the Humberside Police therefore needed to ‘check his thinking’. Scary, eh?

Outraged over this Orwellian interpretation of crime (or non-crime), Miller wouldn’t let it lie and decided to take the thought-police to court. Mercifully, he won. Mr Justice Knowles, the judge at the High Court, delivered a necessary indictment of this abuse of the law in his summing-up. ‘In this country,’ he said, ‘we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi.’ He added ‘I find the combination of the police visiting the claimant’s place of work, and their subsequent statements in relation to the possibility of prosecution, were a disproportionate interference with the claimant’s right to freedom of expression because of their potential chilling effect…the claimant’s tweets were lawful and there was not the slightest risk that he would commit a criminal offence by continuing to tweet.’

The ruling on Miller’s harassment by Humberside Police simply because he expressed an opinion online that one person was ‘offended’ by is undoubtedly a much-needed victory for free speech at a time when free speech is under its most relentless assault in living memory. The likes of the moral-crusading Festival of Light had a few powerful friends in the 70s, but could never claim the clout today’s opponents of freedom of expression can command. If the increasingly-ludicrous demands of Woke culture go unchallenged, more and more open-minded people who have always regarded themselves as reasonable and liberal risk being edged further to the right because the left has become a refuge for every cult crackpot who views everything through an ism prism. And they won’t vote Labour again.

© The Editor


The seemingly forced resignation of Sajid Javid as Chancellor, substituting one casino capitalist for another, has understandably owned the front pages when it comes to Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle; but perhaps the removal of Julian Smith as Northern Ireland Secretary should warrant a little more attention than it has so far received. Having played his part in the restoration of the Executive at Stormont after three years of suspended animation, Smith’s stated Remain stance and conviction that a no-deal Brexit would have an especially disastrous impact on Ulster probably didn’t help, regardless of the key role he appears to have played in helping repair an apparently intractable situation.

However, this Downing Street regime isn’t merely engaged in the traditional power struggle between No.10 and the Treasury (see ‘Yes, Prime Minister’); as the PM demonstrated when expelling 21 rebel MPs from the Conservative Party last year, any divergence from the Cummings script that can be perceived as disloyalty is swiftly dealt with. Julian Smith’s dismissal highlights how a minster’s better-than-expected performance cannot even save them if they express an opinion contrary to the consensus. Indeed, following the favouritism extended to the DUP as a means of shoring up Theresa May’s decimated numbers in 2017, it’s a miracle anyone has managed to bring the opposing factions together again. But perhaps the scant coverage given to this particular dismissal also reflects what a busy, transitional time it’s been on the island of Ireland lately; maybe the appointment of the third Northern Ireland Secretary since 2018 was bound to be overshadowed by other events.

A week which saw Northern Ireland’s first same-sex wedding ceremony take place also saw 52-year-old Paul McIntyre charged with the murder of Lyra McKee, who was shot dead as she observed a riot on the infamous Creggan estate in Derry last April. The province was united in its outrage at the death of the 29-year-old journalist, with the priest conducting her funeral earning a standing ovation as he angrily noted the assembling of Northern Ireland’s political class in its Sunday best at the service; Nationalist and Unionist politicians could be brought together to virtue signal their disgust at a senseless murder, yet couldn’t overcome their differences to revive Stormont, mothballed since the resignation of Martin McGuinness in January 2017.

As a rising star of political journalism and a prominent gay rights campaigner, Lyra McKee had seemed to embody the changing climate in Ulster, highlighting the coming of age of a socially-liberal generation too young to have experienced The Troubles and too focused on the future to be weighed down by inherited sectarian baggage. That Lyra McKee should be cut down by a gunman representing a diminishing number of ideological antiquarians was a cruel blow, yet not without its significance; the overwhelming revulsion at the backward-looking violence of her killer underlined just how much the gun and the bomb have been comprehensively rejected by the Nationalist community bar a tiny handful of dead-end dissident Republicans.

Just as recent social legislation in the Republic has now been belatedly echoed in Ulster, the post-Brexit political frontrunners of the North are finding shared aims in the South. Sinn Féin, for so long tarred by the toxic brush of its terrorism associations, has successfully shed its past reputation and repositioned itself on the political spectrum to the point where it has now become established as the dominant party on the island. The result of last weekend’s General Election in the Republic, hot on the heels of more Nationalist than Unionist MPs being elected to Westminster for the first time ever, saw neither of the two parties that have dominated Irish politics since partition – Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael – gain a majority. The former won 38 seats whilst the latter managed 35. Yet, sandwiched between them with a staggering 37 seats, is Sinn Féin. The party that was traditionally accompanied by the suffix ‘The political wing of the IRA’ has smashed the mould in the Republic after a century, mirroring aspirations and ambitions on both sides of the border.

Although many hinted the new, broader appeal of Sinn Féin – binning the old romantic Republicanism in favour of focusing on left-of-centre social issues (particularly housing) – might secure the party a record showing, the pitiful placing it had suffered during last year’s European elections hardly suggested it would ascend to the position it now holds in Eire with such rapidity. As things stand, neither Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael can contemplate a formal coalition administration with each other, but one of them will have no choice but to enter into such a partnership with a party that won almost a quarter of the vote, a party that was seen as something of a pariah in the Republic not so long ago.

Over the border, Sinn Féin’s detachment from the party’s old allegiances on home soil was further emphasised by the news that Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and her Sinn Féin colleague Gerry Kelly have received death threats for their appearance at a recruitment event for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. O’Neill’s response to dissident dinosaurs still associating the province’s police force with the RUC or even (more accurately for those spending their days living in the past) the Black and Tans, was succinct. ‘These people have no politics, no strategy and nothing to offer,’ she said. ‘They are at war with the community and are now threatening political representatives…These groups have nothing to offer.’

Those who had directed the armed struggle brought it to an end with the Good Friday Agreement, though this was a bitter pill to swallow for some lower down the pecking order who’d had a good war. Obstinate opponents continuing to cling to ye olde Republican mythology have been very much in a minority ever since; and as the country moves further away from 1998, let alone the savage carnage that typified the three decades before it, dissidents will find little support in their retrogressive attempts to preserve the spirit of 1916 in amber. Even the old-habits-die-hard singing of ‘rebel songs’ has been severely admonished by Sinn Féin’s leaders in Dublin and Belfast, recognising the negative connotations such dirges have and how contradictory they are to the aims of a party with its eyes fixed on the road ahead rather than behind.

The question of Irish Unification is in the air again as a result of all these events, something that was undoubtedly kick-started by Brexit. Standing still and maintaining the status quo is no longer an option. However, Boris Johnson’s fanciful idea to revitalise the province – i.e. building a literal bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland – has been scuppered by the realisation that the proposed route of the 28-mile site would risk disturbing a WWII munitions dump in the middle of the Irish Sea. A more realistic proposition would be a plebiscite on unification, something that – regardless of Sinn Féin’s strong foothold in both North and South – is bound up with the Good Friday Agreement and would still require the British Government playing a substantial part in proceedings. After all, we remain the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But for how much longer?

© The Editor


As someone whose intended blissful slumber is plagued by an inordinate amount of nightmares, it’s no surprise that most of them are so bloody awful that they’re always an immense relief to wake-up from. I recently had one in which I was out walking on a public park with a friend; as we were casually ascending a fairly steep hill, we heard an almighty bang and ran to the top of the hill to be confronted by the iconic atomic mushroom cloud on the landscape. Right there and then, I knew the game of life was up. But the fact my subconscious selected such an arcane image to represent death perhaps gives my age away. Having lived for half-a-century, I belong to the last post-war generation whose Doomsday narrative was scripted by the Bomb, the toxic shadow that fell over everyone born in the first 25-30 years after Hiroshima. For us, the Bomb took on the role played by the Four Horsemen for centuries before. It defined the end of the world in one instantly unmistakable image.

The last time the Bomb loomed large as the embodiment of the apocalypse was in the 1980s. From Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Two Tribes’ to the BBC’s terrifying ‘Threads’ and from US TV’s ‘The Day After’ to Raymond Briggs’ ‘When the Wind Blows’, the Bomb was so prevalent in the culture that there was a general feeling it would probably drop sooner rather than later. The curtailment of the Cold War appeared to put paid to this long-running paranoia, but all that happened was that plenty new forms of paranoia queued-up to take their turns and fill the void in the public consciousness.

Along with Radical Islamic terrorism, Global Warming swiftly seized the spotlight from the Bomb, and despite perennial competition from the former, it is the latter that has comprehensively claimed this century’s Doomsday narrative. I certainly didn’t spend the majority of my 80s days worrying about imminent annihilation courtesy of the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal, and I don’t blame the personal ‘mental health issues’ that began to ferment during that period on it either. It was always an abstract threat that people knew they were powerless to prevent; the first you’d hear of it would be three or four minutes before it happened, by which time it would be far too late to alter your fate. So, why worry? But perhaps the fact the Bomb should resurface in a nightmare almost 40 years later demonstrates how deep that horrific sight remains buried in my psyche, a hereditary sleeper cell bedded before I was born.

One wonders what apocalyptic imagery will feature in the nightmares of today’s kids and teens 30 or 40 years from now. I’m posing this question on their behalf because most of them don’t believe they’ll be around 30 or 40 years from now. That’s what they’ve been told by those they turn to for responsible reassurance. There have been reports recently that the excessive coverage of the Climate Change debate within the media and the promotion of it by parents and teachers as indisputable fact is leading to serious sleep deprivation and depression in their children. The relentless exposure given to the scaremongering of the movement’s most vocal figureheads and constant ‘if we don’t act now, we’ll all be dead in a decade’ threats is understandably having a worrying impact on those too young to realise their parental role models don’t actually have all the answers.

The religious cult that parts of the Climate Change movement has developed into over the past couple of years at times reminds me of various extremes on the fringes of the Christian Church, those Armageddon-worshipping lunatics actively praying for the onset of The Rapture. One is dismissed as the deluded death-wish of pliable minds susceptible to warped interpretations of the Holy Book, whereas the other is sold as a scientific certainty that cannot be questioned. To do so is heresy and punishable in the eternal damnation of a global funeral pyre that will consume us all unless Sainsbury’s stop selling their fruit and veg in plastic food bags. And while the world’s attention is overly focused on something only corporations and conglomerates really have the power to do anything about, more old-fashioned and reliable threats are constantly playing their part in curing the problem of overpopulation.

I read one report that the source of the so-called Wuhan coronavirus – y’know, the one that’s gone…erm…’viral’ – had something to do with the Far East’s bafflingly enduring belief in the healing powers of rhino horns and the like. If this is payback for the loathsome trafficking of endangered species for dubious medicinal purposes that are rooted in superstition, it’s easy to think that it serves them bloody well right. But, of course, we shouldn’t perceive an entire nation or race of people as a single entity; remember we’re talking about over a thousand individuals who have died. Actually, despite so much attention being given over to the contemporary Doomsday narrative, the epidemic that began in Wuhan demonstrates that new strains of traditional viruses which periodically wipe out vast numbers of people on the planet have been getting on with it.

In the early 2000s, the SARS virus outbreak – which is believed to have originated from wild animals sold as food at markets in China – killed an estimated 774 worldwide; the Ebola virus – which was first identified as far back as 1976 – was responsible for over 11,000 deaths in West Africa between 2013 and 2016; swine flu killed more than 2,000 in India in 2015. And ancient plagues the western world has largely eradicated continue to regularly reappear elsewhere, thriving in places prone to poor sanitary due to poverty, natural disasters or wars. Cholera, for example, has had several outbreaks in Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East this century; over a thousand died of it in Yemen as recent as 2016-17; more than 4,000 in Zimbabwe in 2008-9. However, even those figures pale next to the staggering 9,000-plus killed by the disease in Haiti since 2010. Ever get the feeling the Doomsday narrative is being recited from the wrong manual?

Well, at least the response to the current coronavirus has been pretty prompt. Parts of China have been effectively quarantined in efforts to contain the virus, though with international travel to and from mainland China now so commonplace – especially during Chinese New Year – the rapid spread of it was inevitable before an epidemic was acknowledged. Over 40,000 cases have been confirmed in China alone, whereas the likes of Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have also been hit. Surprisingly, the highest number of confirmed cases outside of the Far East so far has been in Germany.

Brighton businessman Steve Walsh, unfortunately labelled the UK’s ‘super spreader’, is said to have unknowingly infected 11 other people with the virus following a sales conference in Singapore and then a skiing holiday in the French Alps. Sealed-off in an isolation unit at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, Mr Walsh is now more or less recovered by all accounts. To date, the only recorded deaths from the coronavirus outside of mainland China have been one each in Hong Kong and the Philippines respectively, so that suggests the worldwide prevention operation is currently working to plan. Genuine nightmares are the mind’s unrestrained demons running amok when we have no control over them; the waking world, on the other hand, has a degree of control over events – the kind we cannot command during sleep. It just sometimes requires a little redirecting to discern where the real nightmares reside.

© The Editor


Keith Richards once mused on the reasons why an underground sound from the segregated South crossed the Atlantic and spoke to a generation of white war babies better than any other art form in the 50s. His conclusion was that to ‘get the Blues’, one has to have suffered; and ‘thanks to Adolf’, he observed, Britain had suffered. Another Brit who got the Blues was Eric Burdon of The Animals; recalling an early encounter with Nina Simone, he remembered how the incendiary siren accosted him for having the gall to cover one of her numbers and receive more credit for the cover than she did for the original – something she perceived as classic ‘white theft’. Burdon countered her aggression by revealing his knowledge of how she herself had won plaudits for purloining songs penned by obscure bluesmen who were still working on chain-gangs whilst she was filling Carnegie Hall. Astonished that Burdon was aware of this, Simone softened; both realised they had more in common than that which society had weaponised to separate them. Music – like all art – is colour-blind.

One of Nina Simone’s most celebrated – and repeatedly played – recordings is her bombastic 1965 version of ‘Feeling Good’; both her voice and the production give the track a sexy, snazzy swagger that is jazz on a cinematic scale. But it was written by a couple of British white boys – Leslie Bricusse and his songwriting partner of the time, the multi-talented Anthony Newley. Who was culturally appropriating who – Nina Simone for covering a number penned by white songwriters, or white songwriters for writing in a style derived from the musical roots of Black America? Who gives a f**k? It’s a great song and hers is the definitive version. If popular music had adopted a contemporary Identity Politics approach to prevent the cross-fertilization of culture in the 1960s, Motown would have been confined to the ghettoes, and London would have swung to The Beverly Sisters.

When different artistic genres emanating from different cultures bump into each other and then spend the night together, the fruit of the union is often a hybrid that takes art to an exciting new place altogether. It has always been thus. It’s not about one stealing from the other; it’s about coming together and bridging unnecessary divides; realising these divisions are illegitimately imposed by the artless – just as Eric Burdon and Nina Simone recognised when music united them – is a vital bulwark against the preachers of knowing one’s place and not rising above a station one was designated at birth. To not resist is to seal art in stasis and sign its death warrant.

Attempting to enforce a cultural apartheid in which, say, the colour of the artist’s skin places them in individual boxes that they must remain locked in is a regressive restriction concocted by the creatively philistine. To use one of the most chillingly revealing phrases coined of late, the artist must ‘stay in their lane’. Within this Woke approach to art, to even imagine what it must be like to swap skins and perceive the world from the perspective of someone in another box – the ultimate expression of a creatively fertile imagination – is regarded as heresy. Ironic, really, when we’re simultaneously told that in ‘the real world’ a man can inhabit the persona of a woman and has to be accepted as female; but for an artist’s imagination to inhabit the persona of someone from a different cultural slipstream? Cancel!!!

Were I to personally adopt this credo, I could only listen to brass bands and would have to write stories with characters who are all based on myself and are forbidden to venture beyond their hometown. It ironically echoes the very attitude the practitioners of the Woke manual profess to loath – the Victorian approach to imperial rule that frowned upon the kind of mixing with the natives that the Georgian Empire-builders employed in India when they embraced the indigenous culture of the Subcontinent and took Indian wives. This insidious strain of segregation may have captured cultural institutions and media circles – the once-unmissable Radio 4 arts show ‘Front Row’ is now practically unlistenable as a result of its slavish dedication to the cause; but the art itself should be stubbornly immune, with the artist refusing to have their restless curiosity constrained by rules and regulations that have no place in art.

What I find especially concerning when one considers how creativity is suffering such an onslaught is how so few artists with clout – those who have both the financial means and critical respect to place them above blacklisting – are prepared to put their necks on the line and fight this attack. The arts can be perilous from the perspective of ‘making a living’ and it is to a degree understandable that those on the way up are worried of jeopardising their chances of future earnings; but the established have no excuses. One of the few lone voices making a stand is the novelist and columnist Lionel Shriver, a writer I regard as a real kindred spirit. The British-based American author of ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ has been subjected to the full vindictive nastiness of the cultural Stasi simply because she has had the guts to challenge its increasingly ludicrous dos and don’ts, a list which is added to on a seemingly daily basis.

Lionel Shriver was stirred into action because the most extreme example of Woke thought-policing at its McCarthy-esque worst can currently be found in the field of literature. Publishers of Young Adult Fiction now employ ‘Sensitivity Readers’ to weed out anything they regard as ‘problematic’ before a book goes to print, basically doing what the Lord Chamberlain used to do back in the days of this country’s theatre censorship. Books from the classical canon have been issued with retrospective trigger warnings, whereas new releases are perused with a fine toothcomb. A couple of months ago, the likes of Oprah Winfrey were falling over themselves to praise ‘American Dirt’ by Jeanine Cummins; the book was lauded as a novel for our times in its story of a mother and her young son fleeing the dangers of Mexico and making an illegal crossing into the US. Guess what happened next.

Well, several fellow authors (who should be ashamed of themselves) took to Twitter to criticise Cummins’ ‘stereotypical’ portrayal of Mexican immigrants; and this wasn’t either professional jealousy or legitimate criticism of the kind that might emerge in a book review; this was a deliberate dig at a novelist whose Irish-Puerto Rican lineage presumably disqualifies her from using her imagination to put herself in the mind of a Mexican – y’know, just like that bigoted old Tolkien pretended to speak on behalf of that notoriously discriminated-against minority, the hobbit. Rather than defending the right of the author to write about what the hell she likes, Cummins’ publisher promptly cancelled a planned book tour in the wake of the latest tedious teacup storm. Great to know the industry is backing the writers it creams a disproportionate chunk of royalties from.

If artists could put their own professional concerns to one side and unite to fight this assault on the one thing that put them where they are, their individual futures would be ensured. As it is, by spinelessly kowtowing to a ruthless movement that will take a mile from every inch conceded to it, they are allowing the school bully to pick on the weakest kid in the class in the misguided belief that they will then be spared a kicking. But this kind of crusade has an appetite that can never be fully quenched, and it will eat up everyone in the end if everyone gives in to it. And if mankind stands by and allows its imagination to be taken away by those who have none, all art – and civilisation with it – is doomed.

© The Editor


No doubt Nancy Pelosi tearing up the State of the Union speech whilst stood behind Mr President after he’d just delivered it was regarded by the Speaker of the House of Representatives as an act of rebellious defiance. Yeah! Go, girl! However, this rather petty and pathetic gesture could equally be taken as symbolic of something else, perhaps the shredding of the Democrat hopes of recapturing the White House in November. To use a phrase that has never really crossed the Atlantic, right now it appears as though the Democratic Party couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery.

The farce that the Iowa caucuses descended into – suggesting much-trumpeted advancements in technology haven’t exactly improved upon the notorious ‘hanging chads’ of 2000 – almost felt preordained; to expect a slick and professional operation from a party that has left it until the last minute to turn its attention to finding a credible contender was a tall order. Okay, I’ll admit the lumbering American political system can be confusing enough for an American, let alone an outsider; but whereas Brits find even a month’s campaigning for a General Election tiring, the US electorate has to endure everything being stretched out over an entire year – and, lest we forget, the Democrats have had four to prepare for this.

Whilst 2020’s early front-runners are the doddery double act of ex-Vice President Joe Biden and veteran socialist Bernie Sanders, the other two to have hogged the headlines are token woman Elizabeth Warren and token gay Pete Buttigieg. As the tedium progresses, a dozen candidates seeking the nomination are whittled down via caucuses, primaries, fund-raising events and endless television debates. The campaign trail is a twelve-month marathon that comprises every cliché associated with US politics as the hopefuls kiss babies, pose for selfies, stand beside their spouses, and try to adopt an everyman/everywoman persona that will appeal to the widest possible demographic. But it’s increasingly difficult for the individual Democratic hopefuls to broaden their personal appeal beyond their own fan-base within the party, never mind attract the country’s floating voters, when the party still hasn’t recovered from 2016. It remains in denial, staggering around with political PTSD and resorting to many of the tactics that so alienated the electorate four years ago because it still can’t accept that 2016 happened.

The caucuses are the beauty contests of the protracted process, the platform upon which the candidates emerge as household personalities for the first time; how they fare here can determine whether or not they then go on to the next level, the ‘Super Tuesday’ circus, when a dozen heavyweight States hold their primaries and separate the wheat from the chaff. California and Texas are the traditional targets for the candidates; capturing them enables the ambitious to pull away from the no-hopers and establish a nationwide foothold as a realistic challenger. But the man or woman who is nominated as the Democrats’ great hope won’t be named until July. In the meantime, some Democrats are a little too preoccupied with a suicidal mission to defeat the incumbent President by foul rather than fair means.

The almost-fanatical obsession of certain leading Democrats with ousting Donald Trump from office has so far failed to be manifested in a way that has the best guarantee of achieving its aim. Finding the right man or woman to take on the President and defeat him at the polls would seem to be the logical step, something the Democrats have had four years to devote their energies to. Instead, all their energies have been exhausted on the superficial charade of an impeachment trial, one destined to end with the same outcome as the two previous attempts to eject a President by invoking an eighteenth century irrelevance. The Republican numbers, upon which success or failure will be determined, have been against the Democrats from the beginning, and the whole pointless exercise smacks of the kind of desperation that has characterised the Democrat response to Trump from the moment in 2016 that the awful realisation of his victory set in.

Accepting that Hillary Clinton lost the race to the White House has been as hard for Democrats as accepting losing that same year’s EU Referendum has been to Remoaners; both events overturned complacent expectations and have remained existential crises for the losers ever since. The hilarious howl of the anonymous crowd member during Trump’s inauguration ceremony summed up this dilemma better than any soul-searching treatise on the subject. Like children who have never been made aware of the word ‘no’, the collective inability of the opponents of both Brexit and Trump to overcome their disappointment and let it go reflects an emotional and intellectual immaturity that is politically counterproductive and doomed to distance them even further from the great unwashed voters who saw through their righteous arrogance. This childish refusal to acknowledge they lost and their willingness to surrender all reason to the conspiracy theory mindset is a sad indictment of their infantile philosophy.

This has been proven by the left’s reaction to the inexplicable triumph of Trump in 2016; barely had the shock result been officially announced before Hillary Clinton’s own shortcomings were rejected as a key factor and a fantastical blame game began; indeed, if her self-pitying memoirs are anything to go by, Clinton herself still can’t accept she has to carry the majority of the responsibility for the defeat – and that says a great deal about where we are now. Running with a thread that had initially surfaced during the campaign itself, the Democrats quickly put forward the theory that Russian interference played a pivotal role in the result. This unproven allegation was the first indication that the Democrats and their supporters were embarking on a nihilistic dirt-digging operation, employing the kind of below-the-belt tactics the President himself is routinely accused of.

As with Labour in the UK, I suspect it will take another pounding at the polls before the Democrats belatedly address precisely where it is they’re going wrong. Hillary Clinton’s clout in calling up a parade of shameless showbiz cheerleaders eager to earn a few Woke points in the culture wars may have thrilled the media, but as has been demonstrated in Blighty over the past three years, the media and its cultural allies represent a tiny minority of those eligible to cast their vote. No matter how loud their voices might be, their numbers are too small to swing it. Donald Trump may have represented a branch of that mysterious entity known as ‘the establishment’ by virtue of his fame and fortune, but it was easy for him to pitch himself as an outsider four years ago because he genuinely was outside those controlling the print and online consensus; it’s harder for a Democrat to do likewise and therefore appeal to the same disenfranchised American voter who also identifies as an outsider because the Democratic Party is part of the problem.

© The Editor