BBC SingersFor those not in the know, the BBC Singers are the UK’s sole professional chamber choir; perhaps lack of competition has enabled this ensemble to remain a revered fixture of the country’s Classical furniture for the best part of a century, but it also means people take notice when such unique BBC employees feel the brunt of their employer’s diminishing commitment to the highbrow. A couple of years ago, it was announced that the BBC Concert Orchestra would be dispatched to the wilds of the provinces as yet another token gesture in the ongoing (and increasingly tedious) operation to make the Beeb less ‘London-centric’; but this week an even more dispiriting sign of these BBC times came with the announcement that the BBC Singers are to be disbanded before the start of this year’s Proms, just a year before reaching their landmark 100th birthday; another penny-pinching body blow to the declining morale of these unsung old retainers was the announcement that salaries for members of the English BBC orchestras will be slashed by 20%.

Axing the BBC Singers was described in one newspaper article as an ‘act of vandalism’; BBC DG Tim Davie was the recipient of a joint letter penned by several Classical luminaries, declaring the intended cuts to be ‘irreversible and catastrophically damaging plans’; the BBC’s response reads: ‘Since 1922 we’ve been an integral part of the Classical music ecology in this country, and in order for us to continue to be a leading force in the industry, we need to modernise, make some necessary and difficult changes to the way we operate to ensure we are responding to audience needs and provide the best possible music to the widest possible audience.’ That statement just stops short of masking its meaning in Birt-speak buzzwords, but bearing in mind the self-destructive path the BBC seems determined to stick to, one wonders if their remaining ensembles will be restructured so that they will henceforth hire not on musical merit, but on box-ticking diversity/inclusivity grounds; perhaps ‘The BBC Rainbow Orchestra’ will eventually emerge from the ashes.

Naturally, the ominous spectre of the licence fee looms over every bumbling move the BBC makes these days as it struggles to justify its existence, and in the process has a habit of forgetting what made it special in the first place. The BBC’s nine musical ensembles may be a legacy of the old Reithian principles that regarded broadcasting as a moral mission to raise the artistic appreciation of the nation, and are viewed by some (especially within the BBC itself) as an anachronistic luxury; yet their continued presence in the face of the relentless dumbing-down that has characterised the Corporation in recent years has been something of a minor victory, particularly when compared to the fate of BBC4, a channel that for a good decade or more was the last remaining bastion of the Beeb’s once-peerless television output.

Now, rather than playing the long game of starving them out, the BBC has instead decided to disband its Singers in the same week as its somewhat kneejerk decision to hand a P45 to a grossly-overpaid star following the latest in a lengthy litany of gormless missives on social media. The fact the Beeb would have happily carried on paying Gary Lineker’s astronomical wages had his current comments on illegal immigrants not landed the Corporation in one more row with the Government that it could desperately do without says as much about its priorities as cutting the salaries of the BBC orchestras. Okay, so BBC TV’s football coverage commands far higher ratings than the listening figures for Radio 3; but we’re not talking about ITV or Channel 5, are we? Isn’t the BBC supposed to amount to more than merely chasing ratings?

Gary Lineker has been a bit of a repeat offender for quite some time; remembering I once wrote a post on here about his Twitter activities, I was surprised to learn when I tracked it down that it had been written as far back as December 2016; in a way, that shows just how long the BBC has tolerated his off-air utterances. As with Jeremy Clarkson before him, it seems the Beeb will allow the front-men of their most profitable franchises to get away with stretching the Corporation’s supposed ‘impartiality’ to breaking point for years until one incident too many provokes enough outraged headlines for a favourite son to be shown the door. I suppose the main difference between Lineker and Clarkson’s positions is that the latter was popular with that section of the viewing public the BBC disdains, whereas the former is a darling of all that the BBC bigwigs hold dear; one suspects they’d been keen to get rid of an embarrassment like Clarkson for years but didn’t dare, whilst losing Lineker was the last thing they wanted. However, unlike ‘Top Gear’ – which has failed to thrive since Clarkson’s departure – ‘Match of the Day’ will survive Gary Linker just as it survived David Coleman, Jimmy Hill and Des Lynam; viewers don’t tune in for the presenter or the pundits; they tune in to watch the games.

From all accounts, the entire commentary team of ‘Match of the Day’ have walked out in solidarity with Lineker; moreover, this Saturday’s edition will have neither presenter nor pundits as it seems Lineker’s sofa mafia have also downed tools and refused to work – although most of them, like Lineker himself, are essentially freelance anyway and routinely turn up on other broadcasters to cover matches the BBC hasn’t got the rights to anymore. Personally, I quite like the idea of ‘Match of the Day’ taking a ‘TOTP 2’ approach to coverage, with no host and no waffling ex-pros endlessly analysing what we’ve just seen. Who knows – it might work as a formula and we’ll be spared the inevitable Alex Scott inheriting the hot-seat. Anyway, as things stand, this move is not being officially regarded as permanent, though it’s hard to see a way back for Lineker with the BBC so terrified of offending a government that wants to take its own shears to the Beeb’s myriad tentacles.

The reactions to the comments that ultimately left the BBC with no choice but to give Gary Lineker the push mirror the polarisation of our times and highlight the dividing lines between those who applaud the compulsion of celebrities to virtue signal and those who deplore them doing so. One side praises Lineker and accuses the BBC of being spineless Tory lapdogs whilst the other claims the freedom the ex-footballer has had to make a mockery of BBC impartiality is symptomatic of the metropolitan Woke elite that forces its arrogant agenda down the throat of a viewing audience sick of being lectured to. Ironically, Piers Morgan, of all people, supported Lineker’s right to express his opinion (even if he disagreed with it) and argued it wasn’t a sackable offence, what with Lineker not being the host of a news programme. The culture wars do indeed occasionally throw up unlikely bedfellows.

It’s interesting that suspending a high-profile presenter of a popular programme provokes an across-the-board ‘everybody out’ attitude not just amongst BBC staff but at the equally PC Premier League, and provides further ammunition for social media soapboxes; it gives the impression that the BBC has been reduced to an ineffective supply teacher unable to exercise any authority over its unruly pupils. On the other hand, when it comes to a corner of the Corporation with a lower profile (albeit one with a far more distinguished history), the BBC can wield the axe unchallenged and protests are limited to the small albeit passionate circle of musicians directly affected. Perhaps these particular BBC employees don’t fit the profile the Beeb is keen to cultivate and consequently aren’t viewed as important – even if their gradual obliteration will do far more long-term damage to the Corporation’s dwindling reputation than the loss of Lineker ever will.

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JaredI guess one overlooked consequence of 13 years of Tory misrule is that being exposed to such a rich barrel of rotten apples means all corruption in public office is inevitably painted blue. How easy it is to forget the Labour MPs that have fallen foul of the law, not least those who were named and shamed (and, in one or two cases, imprisoned) following the expenses’ scandal. So, considering the supposedly ‘nobler’ alternative to the Tories could well end up in government a year or two from now, it’s rather timely to be reminded that some of their own are just as capable of crookedness as those on the other side of the House. Take Jared O’Mara – you remember him, of course; he’s the one-time ginger geezer who caused one of the biggest upsets of the 2017 General Election by ousting Nick Clegg. Well, yesterday he was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to four years in the clink. Convicted on six counts that the judge described as ‘cynical, deliberate and dishonest’, the former MP for Sheffield Hallam had stooped to play the mental health card as a defence for his actions, but it didn’t wash. Said Judge Tom Bayliss in his summing-up: ‘I have concluded that, although Jared O’Mara was without doubt suffering from autism at the time of the offences, that does not reduce culpability.’

Even before the cocaine habit that he bent the rules to fund became public knowledge, Jared O’Mara’s political career had ground to a premature halt in a matter of months following the surfacing of archaic tweets of a sexist nature along with allegations of sexual harassment. After a period of suspension, he stepped down at the 2019 General Election. Whereas his predecessor in the constituency was rejected due to the sacrifice of pre-Election Lib Dem promises on the altar of coalition, it rapidly emerged his successor was one of those Honourable Members who has little time for his constituents, his attitude towards them being described as one of ‘vile, inexcusable contempt’ by a former aide. In O’Mara’s case, revelations at his trial suggested it was no wonder he didn’t bother, considering he devoted most days to a steady ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ diet of five grams of cocaine and a bottle of vodka. The ex-nightclub manager evidently didn’t alter his lifestyle to fit his new responsibilities and carried on regardless. But it was the deception he employed to screw cash from the public purse that elevated his actions above mere hedonistic hubris.

O’Mara’s defence lawyer attributed his client’s behaviour to being ill-equipped when it came to ‘the stresses and strains of public life’, which is a fair enough explanation for an individual to turn to a chemical crutch; but O’Mara didn’t simply sink into substance abuse, something which many might have expressed sympathy towards had he received treatment and then emerged rehabilitated. For someone allegedly suffering from autism on top of an expensive drug habit, O’Mara displayed a clear and calculated business head when attempting to claim taxpayers’ money in the region of £24,000 for a nonexistent charity called Confident About Autism South Yorkshire; this fake organisation was a front for a friend of his he’d falsely named as his constituency support officer, though said friend appeared to have had his name taken in vain, as the jury cleared him of any part in the fraud. Another acquaintance on behalf of whom O’Mara had attempted to extract cash totalling £4,650 from Ipsa in relation to PR work that was never actually undertaken was less fortunate, found guilty of three counts of fraud and receiving a 15-month suspended sentence.

Understandably desperate to blame his actions on his ‘condition’, Jared O’Mara’s barrister Mark Kelly KC said, ‘When he felt he was being hounded by the media…he felt under pressure for certain circumstances that had come to light; he resorted to taking drugs and alcohol, distancing himself in many respects from those around him. These circumstances were very difficult circumstances for him to cope with, with his particular disabilities.’ This approach, however, failed to convince either judge or jury; the mental health card was not an adequate excuse, something Tom Bayliss KC emphasised in his conclusions. ‘You, Jared O’Mara,’ said the judge, ‘are a highly intelligent man. You were, I am quite sure, able to exercise appropriate judgement, to make rational choices, and to understand the nature and consequences of your actions. You may have occasionally behaved bizarrely or demonstrated disordered thought, but whether that was caused by your disorder or by your consumption of drugs – or both – is neither here nor there so far as this fraud is concerned. You knew perfectly well what you were doing with this fraud, you were behaving rationally, if dishonestly, and you were using your autism diagnosis to extract money from Ipsa to fund your cocaine and alcohol-driven lifestyle. It was deliberate, it was cynical and it was dishonest.’

The judge’s summing-up seems a fairly succinct summary of Jared O’Mara’s character and yet another sober warning when it comes to endemic Labour Party policy of selecting a candidate not on the grounds of merit but on box-ticking. In O’Mara’s case, his playing of the mental health card satisfied the criteria of the Momentum-dominated National Executive Committee, who went over the heads of the local constituency party to select him for the seat; his surprise success in winning it eased concerns, but his unsuitability was quickly exposed. One suspects a party so immersed in the ideology of Identity Politics probably won’t learn from its mistake.

BURT BACHARACH (1928-2023)

BurtThe emergence of the self-contained pop music artist in the early 60s undeniably dealt a body blow to the dominance of Tin Pan Alley; but the best of the professional songwriters were a resilient bunch and found there were still outlets for their talents. Not all of the bands at the forefront of the Beat boom and British Invasion contained in-house hit machines, and there were also what used to be called ‘girl singers’ in abundance – young, spunky sirens for whom the elegant standards of the 50s were old hat; the likes of Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Petula Clark and others were in need of their own standards, ones that reflected the changing mood of the 60s; and few songwriters delivered what was required better than Burt Bacharach, whose death at the grand old age of 94 was announced yesterday.

It would be easy to pay tribute to Bacharach by simply listing the staggering roll-call of hits that flowed from his genius melodic mind; although the 60s saw the end of the era in which standards were shared between all the great song stylists so that no performer could claim theirs was the definitive interpretation, Burt Bacharach’s songs – the most well-known being collaborations with lyricist Hal David – would still find themselves in the set-lists of most solo singers, whether or not they’d had the hit version. And sometimes the original recording would inspire a cover that would then be regarded as the definitive article; this occurred when The Carpenters had their breakthrough with ‘Close to You’, which was first recorded by the woman who served as Bacharach’s muse for several years, Dionne Warwick. Bacharach managed to achieve an almost symbiotic relationship with the women he wrote for; prior to his partnership with Warwick, his day-job had been arranger and bandleader for Marlene Dietrich when the Teutonic chanteuse was still touring the world’s concert halls; it was a steady income for Bacharach, but he knew he needed to devote his full-time to what he was best at – penning instant classics.

Bacharach was pivotal to what became known as ‘easy listening’ as the 60s progressed, which was basically the old pre-rock ‘n’ roll grownup pop coolly restyled for the new decade; his songs often seem tailor-made for a very 60s ‘Lounge-core’ vision of suave 30-something men in bachelor pads, handing a Martini to a languid lady in false eyelashes as a prelude to laying her clean as a whistle. His winning streak may have waned by the 70s, but his phenomenal output prior to that left behind a breathtaking legacy that will remain the gold standard of pop songs while ever there are people still around to listen to them.

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ArchieA TV interview Paul McCartney gave to Russell Harty in the early 80s contains an anecdote from Macca that underlines how the parent/teacher relationship has often been a strained one. In it, he recalled how the young George Harrison had been caned at school in a manner that appeared extreme to his father once he saw the wound, even in an era wherein most dads regarded corporal punishment as not only a necessity but a good thing. Apparently, Mr Harrison turned up at school the following day, entered the classroom, asked the teacher if he was the man who’d scarred his son, requested the teacher step outside for a quiet word, and then laid him out with a single punch. As McCartney remembered, little George’s old man was unsurprisingly an instant hero to the kids who were witness to this incident, and I’ve a feeling no police or lawyers were dragged onto the scene thereafter; this was simply how men resolved disagreements back then. Mr Harrison had made his point and that was the end of the matter. In theory, parents and teachers work in consort to ensure a child receives the best education and is eased back onto the right path should they stray; in practice, the two parties can sometimes vary in their beliefs as to how much influence the other should exert over the child, and as Paul McCartney’s colourful recollection proves, this is no new development.

Having been lumbered with home schooling during lockdown and simultaneously observed the lingering negative effects on their child’s education due to the unnecessarily lengthy disruption of it, I do wonder how sympathetic parents really are to teachers adding their names to the endless round of strike action. Of late, the balance of power over the child has been gradually tilting in favour of the teacher, with some parents consciously feeling their natural and traditional rights slipping out of their hands. The negative perception of the family unit widely held within what one might call ‘Woke’ circles preys upon their paranoia when they suspect many of their child’s teachers subscribe to this ideology, and could well be enthusiastic salesmen for it. Under-fire parents are increasingly mistrusted as guardians and protectors, liable to steer their child away from the current consensus promoted by the teaching profession, as it is by all other institutions in thrall to it; the parent is coming to be viewed as an obstacle to indoctrination.

The gender zealots represent a serious assault on parenting, when parents are criticised for denying their kids the right to opt for new pronouns at best and surgery at worst if they suddenly decide they’ve been born in the wrong body; the so-called ‘transgender child’ is a sinister fabrication that appears to be one more concerted effort to wrestle authority away from the parent, and the fact some schools and/or individual teachers seemingly endorse this pernicious development gives cause for further concern on the part of parents. Numerous reports have claimed some schools have allowed pupils to change gender in the school environment without their parents even being notified; in several cases, parents have been prevented from finding out what lessons their children have been taught on ‘gender identity’ in sex education classes. There is the understandable worry of involuntary indoctrination when it comes to this particular issue, with the teacher acting as substitute parent and filling the child’s head with the fantasy reality of the Trans activist.

Were I a parent myself, I’d no doubt be concerned if confronted by this scenario, and I sympathise with every parent who is. At the same time, however, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of parents out there who see nothing wrong with this dubious trend and are more than happy that the curriculum now mirrors their own belief system – and any parent who disagrees with it is naturally a right-wing, transphobic bigot. It certainly sounds like a manipulative exploitation of the pliable infant mind with a specific dogma that such an undeveloped mind really shouldn’t be exposed to, and one that simply didn’t exist when the majority of us were enduring ‘the happiest days of our lives’. On the other hand, hasn’t involuntary indoctrination always been crucial to the school experience? Haven’t those who attend, say, Catholic schools always had the Good Book drilled into them against their will? And whilst the Bible admittedly contains many a memorable story, there’s no more proof any of those tales are rooted in truth than the most fanciful Trans twisting of biological fact is. One could almost argue nothing has really changed in the classroom bar the nature of the ideology.

The different dogma drilled into me as a school-kid was enforced with the same degree of inflexible, authoritarian vigour as is employed for today’s dogma. For all the talk of indoctrination children are now being exposed to, I’d argue indoctrination was just as pivotal to education back then; what are schools anyway but training camps to breed obedient little citizens? Back then, it was obey and submit to any adult in a suit or uniform; don’t answer them back, bow down before their authority – whether teacher or parent or policeman or priest – and never, under any circumstances, question their right to issue commands; they don’t need to earn your respect, for they engender it in you through fear and intimidation. That’s the same sadistic educational model that stirred enough long-term resentment in someone like Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters to eventually come out in a damning indictment of the schooling system such as ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. The fact the song sat atop the UK singles chart for five weeks over the Christmas period of 1979 suggests its observations still rang true with school-kids 20 years on from Waters’ own school-days – and, as one of them at the time, I can confirm they most definitely did.

The enforcement of the ideology that parent and teacher largely shared in my own childhood was done so with absolute conviction on their part; there was never a doubt in their minds that they were right and anyone who opposed their philosophy was wrong. In this sense, their unswerving conviction was identical to the immovable righteousness that runs through the upside down, opposite ideology of today, the one that reverses the players and replaces the parent at the pinnacle of the moral pyramid with the child – aided and abetted by the teacher. Even when the products of campus rebellion against the old order eventually entered the teaching profession in the shape of the bearded ‘hippie generation’ of teachers that began to appear as the 1970s progressed, once absorbed into the system they were just as quick to wield the cane as their older colleagues, which suggested the power invested in the teacher corrupted even those who professed to detest it.

Despite the shared beliefs of that era, there were still differences between parent and teacher that divided them. My own old man always mistrusted well-spoken, well-educated types he encountered on parent evenings, dismissing them as ‘clever’ and perhaps reacting in a manner that reflected his self-confessed grudge against his social ‘betters’ as well as his longstanding difficulty with authority, something that had hampered his own schooldays. He never punched a teacher on my behalf like George Harrison’s dad, but his opinion of some teachers he met at my school was often no better than mine. Still, I had to accept their authority and abide by it – and the use of corporal punishment was deemed a more effective deterrent than the naughty step. Of course, some kids emerged from this system scarred but unscathed in their opposition to it, whereas others who had never questioned it fulfilled the contract and did indeed become obedient little citizens. I should imagine there are a fair few being schooled right now who are resistant and will be released no more convinced or converted than they were when in the thick of it. For the majority, however, we won’t know for another few years yet just how damaging the current model will prove to be.

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Old Father Time2022 – yet another one of ‘those years’; yes, this glorious century hasn’t exactly been short on them, and if you, like me, had a fittingly crap Christmas then you won’t be sorry to see the back of 2022, even if 2023 is hardly loaded with optimistic anticipation. When a year is characterised by chaos, chances are the chaos is as prevalent at the top as it is at the bottom, and we certainly had that in abundance from our ‘betters’ this year. The fact that 2022 saw the UK led by three different Prime Ministers – including one who had the shortest run in the history of the office – suggests either those at the top are keeping up with the rest of us, or they’re largely responsible for the chaos, depending on how one apportions responsibility. But when one recalls the year began with the fall-out from the Partygate affair that eventually led to Boris’s premature exit, and that by the autumn his immediate successor managed to set off alarm bells in the City – provoking an even more premature exit – then looking to leaders for leadership proved an utterly futile exercise, fracturing even further the already fragile faith and trust in our elected representatives.

And then, the Health Secretary overseeing the pandemic response turns himself into a tawdry celebrity with a staggering absence of shame and guilt in a desperate attempt to court redemption; who in their right mind could respect an unprincipled worm like Matt Hancock, a man whose actions seemed as emblematic of the corrupt, degenerate decay at the amoral heart of an amoral administration as Boris Johnson himself? If that’s the way those at the top behave, perhaps it’s no wonder those of us who reside closer to the bottom express nothing less than absolute contempt for them – and no longer have any belief in their ability to make our lives better; and if they can’t, who can? That can’t really be good for democracy. But it’s not as if the UK was alone in being exceptionally ill-led in 2022. Out in the colonies, Monsieur Trudeau reacted to a grass-roots challenge to his authority by unleashing every verbal weapon in the Woke arsenal to demonise and discredit the protesting truckers and their supporters; he even stooped to freezing their bank accounts, exploiting the vulnerability of a monetary system the public has been bludgeoned into depending on and using lessons learnt during the pandemic, when those doubting the wisdom of lockdowns and untested vaccines were smeared as enemies of the people.

Closer to home, in Soviet Scotland, the even more authoritarian and illiberal SNP pressed ahead with their plans to allow men who simply ‘identify’ as the opposite sex to be legally recognised as women – surgery not included – after a mere three-month trial period. Hot on the heels of wee Nicola’s attempt to push for yet another independence referendum being rendered null and void without Westminster’s say-so, the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill not only faces potential legal challenges in the rest of the UK, but could prove to be an Identitarian step too far, certainly if the uproar amongst women’s and children’s rights campaigners is anything to go by. One hopes it might belatedly alert the more English-phobic Scots that their nasty nationalist darlings don’t necessarily have their best interests at heart. The long-overdue revelations of the crimes committed in the name of ‘diversity’ by the likes of the butchers at the Tavistock Clinic and the pseudo-paedophilic charity Mermaids had at last enabled dissenting voices to finally be heard without censorship, yet the SNP turned a blind eye to all this, displaying greater sympathy towards the ‘human rights’ of male sex offenders than in preserving natural-born women-only spaces.

The ‘empowerment’ of confused adolescents by such a bill is a dangerous development that threatens to set back progress just at the point when it was finally being made; the scandal of Tavistock and its ilk was gaining exposure as endless stories of children brainwashed into believing gender reassignment was the answer to all their teenage problems were being heard, yet the SNP bill fails to acknowledge the damage done just as it fails to recognise Transgenderism in its most superficial form is effectively the latest adolescent cult. Online videos of schoolboys in makeup undergoing ‘period pains’ in their bedrooms is a sick trend that recalls devotees of fanatical religious sects being possessed by the Devil; however, unlike past tribal loyalties with a short sell-by date, any emotionally disturbed teenager buying into this particular cult and paying the ultimate price with life-changing surgery can’t simply bin the clothes and haircut that served as the visual hallmarks of the cult once he or she moves on to the next one – as teenagers are prone to doing; and the SNP bill ignores the evidence to appease its rainbow flag-waving activist friends. Mind you, those activists now have such a deep foothold in so many of our institutions that the 2+2=5 dogma they espouse is in danger of becoming legal fact; even revered dictionaries have capitulated to this fantasy reality, further adding to the sense that the West is rapidly disappearing down the toilet.

No wonder Vladimir Putin doesn’t see the West as an obstacle to his imperial ambitions; in his own way, Vlad is as much a fantasist as the Trans activists or the Net Zero climate zealots vandalising works of art, and he’s getting away with it as much as they are; only a couple of days ago, yet another former ally who had the nerve to question Putin’s Ukraine adventure ‘committed suicide’ via the familiar leap from a skyscraper window; I wonder why Putin’s enemies never just opt for the old gas oven or bottle of pills, eh? Funny, that. But while Vlad disposes of his foes on foreign soil completely unchallenged, he found that his assault on Ukraine received its most devastating setback not from the timid West, but from the courageous Ukrainians themselves. The perfectly natural wave of sympathy for the innocents exposed to the merciless march of the Russian war machine led to Brits who just a few months earlier weren’t even allowed to visit each other being encouraged to open their doors to Ukrainian refugees; less public sympathy was reserved for illegal economic migrants hailing from the war-less environs of Albania as the unscrupulous people-smuggling trade appeared to be one of the year’s few boom industries. Whether Rwanda is the answer is another matter; sadly, the Channel has rarely been kind to opportunists.

If Vladimir Putin was shaken out of his complacency by the unexpected resistance of the Ukrainian people, Iran’s similarly ruthless rulers were equally taken aback by a rebellion on home turf, largely led by incredibly brave young women publicly trashing the symbols of their oppression – something that was again met with notable silence from the gutless West. And when overseas protests did receive tacit support from the West, such as those that occurred as a result of China’s futile attempts to maintain a ‘Zero Covid’ policy, that support came from none other than Justin Trudeau, incapable of discerning the parallels between the inhumane authority of the Chinese Government and his own approach to both the truckers and the coronavirus. Indeed, having been presented with unimagined control over their own people during the pandemic, it was unsurprising that many Western leaders have been reluctant to relinquish the powers they’d acquired, continually extending their over-reach into the private lives of their citizens in an insidious trend that needs to be resisted.

Back home, a series of strikes by both rail and postal workers served to gift additional joy to a British public already browbeaten by a surge in fuel costs, though at least the whole ‘cost of living’ narrative has provided the MSM with a boost to the flagging Project Fear plotline. The fact that the one certainty of 70 years’ vintage should breathe her last in the middle of all this chaos seemed almost symptomatic of a year in which nothing and no one could be relied upon or trusted anymore. 2022 was a year bereft of certainties, and after the last twelve months, only a fool would confidently reach for the crystal ball and predict what comes next.

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MessiConsidering the nature of events over the past two or three years, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find ourselves in a time when the World Cup Final is staged seven days before Christmas Day; the topsy-turvy, upside-down nature of where we are now expects nothing less – ditto the fact that (against all odds) a tournament rightly mired in controversy from the off climaxes with a match that ends up being one of the most edge-of-the-seat contests anyone can ever remember, one that also confirms a 35-year-old is officially acknowledged as the planet’s finest footballer. After all, the natural order was shown the door when this dismal decade was no more than a couple of months old, and ever since then we appear to have been living through a strange age when anything that had previously been logically written-off as fringe lunacy now goes – an era in which double-speak, thought-crime and 2+2=5 are the new normal; and questioning this trend is verboten in polite society. Not that Lionel Messi will be complaining; he’s finally got his hands on the one trophy that has always eluded him in a professional career that began as far back as his league debut for Barcelona in 2004. A lot of the talk over the past month has been focused on ending that career on a high, but there are a small handful of precedents should he care to dip into the history books.

The legendary Stanley Matthews played his last game for England at the age of 42 in 1957 – 23 years after his international debut; the fact he didn’t retire from football altogether until the age of 50 in 1965 is all the more amazing when one remembers he belonged to a generation of players whose careers were interrupted by six years of World War; moreover, he was unfortunate to be playing at a time when England’s performances at the World Cup never matched up to pre-tournament expectations. Lionel Messi has himself experienced many occasions during his five World Cups when the hopes of a nation have rested on his shoulders, shoulders weighed down by the burden of carrying average talents unworthy of his boots; but soldiering on eventually paid off. Due to his quiet, unassuming manner, Messi’s fame within the game has never really transcended football in the way of his flamboyant contemporary Cristiano Renaldo – nor indeed the ghost who haunts Argentina’s international side, Diego Maradona. But perhaps the additional crowning glory to Messi’s career has been to finally achieve global pop cultural status.

On Sunday’s field of play, Messi’s reputation was up against a young contender in the shape of his Paris Saint-Germain teammate, Kylian Mbappé of France. The other 20+ men on display almost seemed superfluous next to the God-like genius present in the feet of these two, certainly if pre-match hype was to be believed; but it was Messi who lived up to that hype in the first half, scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot and inspiring his side to a 2-0 lead that appeared unassailable to the lacklustre defending champions. France’s unexpected comeback towards the end of the game, levelling things at 2-2 and coming close to a shock victory in the dying light of normal time, revived a match that looked to be smoothly careering towards a preordained conclusion. But, as with the late West Germany equaliser that enabled 1966 to loom so large in the collective memory of all Englishmen, extra-time proved to be the making of the 2022 Final; and a game that seemed to contain everything had other echoes of 1966 too. There was Messi’s second goal (making the score 3-2) momentarily disputed at having crossed the line, and there was Geoff Hurst’s 56-year-old record finally being equalled as Mbappé scored a hat-trick, with a late penalty bringing the score to 3-3.

Okay, so it was eventually decided on penalties; but this wasn’t the contrived climax to one of those drab, fun-free Finals of recent years (1994 and 2006 spring to mind) – instead, it served as the only fitting icing to a nail-biting drama unparalleled in the footballing memories of most watching. And, whilst there may have been an interminable wait between the winning penalty and Messi being handed the trophy by a FIFA President who clearly didn’t want to let go of it (not to mention the player of the tournament being inexplicably draped in what resembled a see-through negligee from a 70s sex comedy), in the end the script penned by celestial hands was upheld and Argentina were recognised as world champions for a third time. A month ago, such an outcome had seemed pretty unimaginable, not least due to the fact Argentina had begun their campaign humiliated by the first of many upsets the contest produced, losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia. Gianni Infantino, the same FIFA President who evidently wanted to bask in Messi’s magic glow on the podium, had opened proceedings with a bizarre press conference in which he responded to justifiable criticisms of the Qatar setting by declaring, ‘Today I feel Qatari; today I feel Arab; today I feel African; today I feel gay; today I feel disabled; today I feel a migrant worker.’ He didn’t add, ‘Today I feel President of an institutionally corrupt organisation that will bend over for any country with enough cash to roger it senseless and drag the sport through the mud.’ But you can’t have everything.

Opening in a key so low only Paul Robeson had previously been there, the 2022 World Cup prompted a generous amount of somewhat belated questions on the part of mainstream TV presenters and pundits from their executive boxes in stadiums built by slave labour prior to a ball being kicked; once the football actually began, anticipation over which players would choose to stage a protest was as widely discussed as any proposed performance on the pitch. As has been said before, however, there was always the 1978 example of the great Johan Cruyff, who opted out of that year’s World Cup in Argentina on account of refusing to condone the country’s ruling military junta – though none of today’s soccer superstars decided to follow suit. Despite rumours that the England team would honour their manager’s Woke credentials once again by running on the field bedecked in rainbow armbands, they restricted themselves to the jaded knee-taking ritual; that this virtue-signalling ceremony is well past its sell-by date was highlighted in an amusingly ludicrous manner when England played the USA, and the American players – who had started the whole thing in the first place – remained standing whilst the England team knelt before them; one could almost see it as a metaphor for the ‘Special Relationship’.

Sure, the German players added to the checklist of virtuous signals by indulging in a spot of pre-match mouth-covering before another embarrassing exit at the group stage, but the one visual statement made by a team that represented genuine bravery rather than the superficial ‘stunning and brave’ accolade routinely awarded to millionaires making a token gesture to ensure they remain on the Right Side of History was made by the Iran team. Their incredibly courageous decision to remain mute during the playing of the Iranian national anthem took balls, especially when one considers their families back home risked reprisals from the powers-that-be, let alone what might await the players themselves upon their return. In some respects, this memorable moment couldn’t be topped, and the focus more or less settled on the sport itself thereafter. And there were various surprises along the way, none more so than Morocco’s remarkable progress to the Semi-final, disposing of favourites such as Belgium, Spain and Portugal en route.

But, of course, whatever sour taste so much of this World Cup leaves in the mouth, at least it enabled Lionel Messi to fulfil his destiny; and I suspect that incredible Final will be the lingering memory of a tournament that should never have happened yet eventually served as a novel distraction from all the other cheery issues of the moment that are bringing so much joy into our lives. And all will recommence again three-and-a-half years from now in North Korea…er…sorry, North America. Well, you never know with FIFA…

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Trojan HorseBack when Fleet Street still had some clout in dictating the mood of the nation, a regular tactic employed to garner headlines during a quiet week was the journalistic ‘sting’, whereby the likes of an avaricious individual such as, say, Prince Andrew or his estranged missus could be set up for an encounter with a hack disguised as an African prince or Middle Eastern potentate and thus expose themselves as self-aggrandising parasites prepared to sell their inherited prestige down the river for a few tax-free quid. At the time of these kind of manufactured meetings, there would be a palpable reaction from the public bordering on shock, whereas we’re all now so used to our public servants being bent bastards that we barely batter the proverbial eyelid when they’re caught out. It’s symptomatic of how low we’ve plummeted since more innocent times, I guess; we expect nothing less these days. The contemporary redeployment of these techniques by self-identified ‘activists’ can therefore be counterproductive due to the fact that the plebs have wised-up.

While it goes without saying that anyone who includes gender pronouns in their Twitter account is deserving of every ounce of contempt we can muster, anyone describing themselves as an ‘activist’ is equally asking for it; and when the latter attempt a sting of their own we no longer respond with shock and awe; we see it for what it is and reserve our contempt for the instigators of such stunts. Step forward Ngozi Fulani, a BLM-sponsored, Marxist ‘activist’ with an adopted ethnic moniker and culturally-appropriated wardrobe; over the past couple of days, she has maximised her fifteen minutes by doing the daytime TV chat-show circuit and milking every ounce of her encounter with one of Brenda’s former ladies-in-waiting at Buck House. In case you missed it, Fulani is the ‘activist’ who managed to add her name to a Royal guest-list on the pretext of representing a charity, though to many it seems she accepted the invite with the intention of locating racism at the heart of the British establishment. I often wonder if such characters have a tool-box akin to Batman’s utility belt, crammed with hi-tech gadgets designed to detect racism whether it’s there or not.

It would appear Ms Fulani certainly came prepared, primed with a prearranged agenda to lift the lid on the enemy and build a career on the back of it; to ensure success, she opted for native dress – native, that is, to various African countries. I’d imagine she knew full well that an elderly employee of the House of Windsor accustomed to meeting and greeting Commonwealth dignitaries would probably mistake her for an African ambassador of some sort; and she apparently arrived armed with a hidden tape recorder just to be on the safe side. It’s hard not to conclude that Ngozi Fulani went to this reception with a mission in mind; she may as well have been an agent programmed by some race-baiting branch of the SIS to carry out a task guaranteed to generate fevered discourse on social media and in broadsheet columns, thus further exacerbating an imaginary, unbridgeable gulf between black and white that is essential to dividing and ruling, not to mention upholding the myth of Britain as a racist hellhole obsessed with a long-gone Empire which only the over-60s can even remember the tail end of.

Since Ms Fulani’s version of events went viral, she has displayed the customary victimhood hallmarks, claiming she’d been ‘traumatised’ and ‘violated’ by her meeting with 82-year-old Lady Susan Hussey, who had slipped into a default polite conversation mode with this exotic-looking Woman of Colour; Lady Hussey understandably assumed – given the context – Ms Fulani was a visitor to our fair shores due to wearing the kind of garb commonplace amongst overseas invitees to such events. The dressed-to-kill Fulani honed in on an aged official, sniffing-out an easy ‘toxic’ target in a career move possessing all the premeditated intent of a grandchild mischievously coaxing a mildly right-wing opinion out of a grandparent around the Christmas dinner table. And we only have Fulani’s version of events due to the fact her version has provoked the inevitable cancellation of the only other person witness to it. That’s convenient, for it means the familiar, unquestioned narrative can be maintained free from contradiction.

As has subsequently emerged from the routine root through her social media history, Ngozi Fulani is a committed race-baiter who believes Meghan Markle was a victim of ‘domestic violence’ at the hands of her now-deceased in-laws; gaining access to the lion’s den behind enemy lines must have been like all her Christmases coming at once for said ‘activist’, and she clearly didn’t waste the opportunity when it was presented to her. The ensuing media storm in a chipped teacup has certainly given her the spotlight she evidently craved and has resulted in a demonised servant of more than half-a-century stepping down from her post with the compulsory grovelling apology and a notable absence of support from former gutless associates like that dim Woke marionette Prince William. Ms Fulani has apparently declared Lady Hussey’s forced retirement is ‘not enough’ – what precisely, one wonders, does this ‘activist’ want? A public procession along the length of the Mall in which Lady Hussey receives a hundred lashes? After all, Identity Politics is a religion that doesn’t countenance forgiveness and redemption. Even if Lady Hussey was strung-up for her heinous crimes and her severed head was displayed on a pike for all eternity at the entrance to London Bridge, it still wouldn’t suffice as punishment.

If any punishment needs dishing out, it should be directed towards Identitarian opportunists who promote sectarian dogma that will callously toss irrelevant octogenarians onto the landfill site of public opinion in pursuit of its nihilistic aim. I can do no more than defer to the wise words of Jonathan Meades before changing the subject: ‘To emphasise differences merely consigns people to their background, to where they’ve come from, to their tribe, their caste, their religion. It creates ghettos.’ Everything Ngozi Fulani accuses Lady Hussey of is everything Ngozi Fulani embraces; it is her raison d’être and has provided her with all the invaluable attention she’s received in the past 48 hours. She owes Lady Hussey big time.

CHRISTINE McVIE (1943-2022)

The two threads that run through both distinct incarnations of Fleetwood Mac are the drummer and bassist that gave this long-running transatlantic soapChristine McVie opera its brand name, but of equal importance is the unsung singer-songwriter who replaced the band’s original creative force Peter Green when he succumbed to post-LSD delusions in 1970. The Blues revivalists who morphed into a proto-Hard Rock powerhouse at the end of the 60s suddenly found themselves in a similar situation to contemporaries Pink Floyd upon the loss of Syd Barrett – who was going to write the hits? In the case of Fleetwood Mac, the moment Green departed the hits dried up, despite the handy fact that John McVie’s missus was a proven hit-maker with the band Chicken Shack. Christine McVie joined her hubby’s band at a point when their commercial fortunes nosedived, yet she stuck with them throughout the tricky early 70s; by the time they relocated to a more receptive California in 1974, the recruitment of two new members to a band with the kind of personnel changes that would put Spinal Tap to shame revitalised the enterprise and gave Fleetwood Mac a facelift that turned them into one of the best-selling acts of the decade.

Overshadowed by the dramatic theatrics of the Lindsey Buckingham/Stevie Nicks love/hate saga, McVie quietly churned-out some of the most memorable tracks on the landmark 1977 LP ‘Rumours’, such as ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘You Make Loving Fun’ and the immortal ‘Songbird’; lacking the photogenic flamboyance of Nicks, McVie got on with her job from behind the keyboard comfort zone and delivered the goods on the band’s succeeding albums, maintaining a low profile that perhaps robbed her of the recognition that has now belatedly come with her untimely passing at the age of 79. But, as with anyone capable of penning songs of such enduring quality, McVie is survived by her art.

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Wolf‘Hard Times’, the often-overlooked 1854 novel by Charles Dickens set in a fictitious Northern Powerhouse named Coketown, features the character of Thomas Gradgrind, a school board superintendent whose rigid adherence to cold, hard facts at the expense of imagination is drilled into the children in his charge; one of his star pupils is known as Bitzer, a humourless product of Gradgrind’s educational model. Towards the end of the book, Bitzer – who has matured into an emotionless bank clerk allergic to any appeal to humanity against which his education has immunised him – appears unmoved by Gradgrind’s change of heart, and Gradgrind belatedly realises the error of his ways. In many ways, the story is a morality tale based upon the ‘you reap what you sow’ maxim, but it could also be interpreted as a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. The character of Bitzer is a warning of what can happen when a malleable individual is exposed to an immovable ideology at an impressionable age by those too full of their own righteousness to countenance the possibility that their utterly inflexible dogma might not be the be-all and end-all after all. But it is too late.

For some reason, ‘Hard Times’ sprang to mind when I was watching an interview on the ‘Triggernometry’ YT channel with Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull, better known by her user-name of Posie Parker, the so-called ‘anti-Trans activist’ (© Wikipedia) who has endured a campaign by the MSM and social media over the past three or four years demonising her as a (Shock! Horror!) free speech advocate and campaigner for women’s rights. The interview included graphic descriptions of the kind of state-sponsored butchery which even Nazi surgeons would’ve regarded as a bit much, but brainwashed ‘Trans-teens’ are subjected to in pursuit of their perceived human rights, and was an eye-opener as well as further sad confirmation of the sorry state we’re in. But it also made me think of the long-term feminisation of the western world, something which is all around us (often in the most innocuous places), and something that has perhaps led us to where we are now, including the brand of insanity Posie Parker has based her public career in opposition to.

It made me wonder if the way in which traditional masculine virtues have been repeatedly rebranded in a negative light over the past two or three decades – AKA ‘toxic masculinity’ – could be indirectly responsible for the extremities of the Trans movement that Posie Parker is such a virulent opponent of. Whilst some men have been driven towards suicide by a society that regards their once-prized qualities as poison, others – specifically on the far fringes of the Trans cult – have dealt with the negativity by aping ‘feminine’ characteristics to the point whereby they come across as female caricatures, straight out of a sensationalistic 90s ‘Jerry Springer Show’ dealing with drag queens. But their freak-show personas make sense in some respects; it is almost as though they’ve realised the only way in which they can be validated as human beings in an increasingly feminised society is to transform themselves into women – even if that transformation neatly sidesteps all the awkward and uncomfortable biological factors that separate natural-born men from natural-born women.

As part of the illusion, they simply pretend to be in possession of these factors, such as pregnancy and menstruation – just witness the revamped unisex marketing of female-exclusive products like tampons in recent years – and their successful monopolisation of the victim narrative so prevalent within mainstream culture has guaranteed them the co-operation of a corporate world eager to signal its virtue; the near-religious worship of the Stonewall interpretation of LGBTXYZ values before which all have to bow down has enabled them to implement their non-binary fantasy into every strata of society and to indoctrinate another gullible generation in the process. But we already have one generation that has been taught the only way to get on and get ahead is to be a woman rather than a man. Over-representation within the MSM as a hackneyed method of compensating for past discrepancies has its undoubted drawbacks – even my mother has complained she’s sick of women presenting everything on television, particularly sports programmes; but this is one of the more noticeable results of submitting to the demands of radical feminism. There are no contemporary Des Lynam or Dickie Davies figures for granny to drool over anymore; they have to make do with the likes of Alex Scott because women obviously only want to see other women on their TV screens. A younger female friend of mine made a similar complaint that all the male presenters today seem to be gay, but that’s what diversity and inclusivity’s all about innit. TV executives used to make the same mistake when producing kids shows presented by kids; they didn’t twig that kids didn’t want to see other kids on the telly; kids actually want to see grownups instead of nauseating little brats they fantasise about punching.

There are far more serious unforeseen side-effects when one chooses to use radical feminism as a blueprint for society, however; is it any wonder some men conclude that avoiding the dreaded masculinity and embracing what they believe to be feminine traits is the way forward if social mores have been reorganised to fit the Rad Fem agenda? The ‘fashion acccessory’ Trans-fanatics that aren’t prepared to commit to the time-consuming surgical processes of actual transition but imagine wearing a dress and donning makeup is enough are the monsters that radical feminists have created. And this is the monster that has come back to bite them, for now we have men in drag encroaching into women’s spaces that legislation provoked by radical feminist doctrines has facilitated. So, we end up with a sadly ironic situation that has diminished hard-won women’s rights and has marginalised biological women to a reduced status within society once again – a place where they’re described as ‘bleeders’ or ‘birthing people’ in official literature produced by the likes of the NHS so as not to offend the Trans lobby, where the actual word ‘women’ itself has become so loaded that even a darling of the Left such as JK Rowling can be cast out, ostracised and blacklisted from polite society for daring to say it.

Posie Parker claims that the ultimate manifestation of ‘toxic masculinity’ is the adoption by some men of female trademarks in order to pass themselves off as women and to therefore be accepted by a western world that has remodelled itself along feminine lines – and she may well have a point. When we think of toxic masculinity we usually picture a pea-brained macho idiot who talks of women solely based on their physical attributes; but some of the unhinged Trans activists who turned up to protest outside the venues comprising Posie Parker’s recent US visit were – for all their superficial co-opting of visual female tropes – far more vociferous and vicious in their aggressive misogyny towards the actual women attending than a mob of MAGA hat-wearing rednecks. By exposing their surgically-manufactured breasts in a show of narcissistic exhibitionism and haranguing attendees, they did far more damage to their own cause than someone like Posie Parker could ever do; but it does make one wonder why such evidently mentally-ill individuals are so indulged in their imaginary worldview. Or is this the actual patriarchy in action, not the old-school, testosterone-fuelled male stereotype, but reborn as the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing of imitation women – the worst kind of toxic masculinity?

The pendulum which once swung in a very masculine direction appears today to have swung to the absolute opposite, yet the one place it would work for both sexes is somewhere in the middle, a place where there is room for the old-style male and female archetypes as well as those that borrow a bit from both and blur the lines in a healthy fashion. But that’s not where we’re at right now, unfortunately; like Thomas Gradgrind, we’re confronted by a poisonous harvest of our own making.

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Pointing 2Like a stubborn dad repeatedly making a pig’s ear of repairing something in the house, determined not to lose face by calling in a professional tradesman, the knee-taking footballers cannot countenance entirely dropping the habit. Even though the virtue-signalling futility of it has seen the ritual reduced to specific showcase matches rather than a pre-match ceremony before every game, its presence remains. Then again, the FA are too full of their own noble narcissism to accept such a vacuous gesture is a safe pose compared to making a real stand against genuine injustices by, say, refusing to participate in the upcoming World Cup in the human rights haven that is Qatar. Similarly, rentagob Woke football pundit Gary Neville, notoriously swift to seize upon any imagined discrimination within the game, clearly sees no contradiction in accepting lucrative offers from the totalitarian Middle Eastern autocracy that has built stadia via slave labour – which pretty much tells you all you need to know about the hypocritical morality of a sport too eager to maintain the affluence to which it has become accustomed to put conscience before avarice.

Football authorities capitalised on the absence of uncouth fans and their dissenting voices when resuming play behind closed doors during the pandemic; the national game was quicker than any other sport to bombard viewers at home with divisive dogma and political sloganeering because it – as with every other institution that profits from a weaponised cause – knew any objections could be instantly dismissed as bigotry. And the moment supporters were allowed back into the newly-consecrated temples of ‘tolerance’, the inevitable objections to being preached at were predictably (and unjustly) branded as bigoted nostalgia for the bad old days of bananas being thrown at black players. The supporters’ beef wasn’t with Footballers of Colour, but with being lectured by wankers who view them as inconvenient scum; not that they’re given a break from it, mind. Watching ‘Football Focus’ these days is akin to being battered about the head with a copy of the Guardian, so relentless is the pushing of ‘the message’ with endless features on mental health issues or homophobia or misogyny or racism. Not that the programme is unique when it comes to BBC1, however.

Having been reluctantly forced to sit through a sample of Saturday evening BBC1 a few weeks ago, I discerned the latest box being ticked on the BBC inclusivity/diversity checklist appeared to be dwarves. There was one on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, one on a trailer for a sitcom, and then one as a contestant on ‘Blankety Blank’. It goes without saying that there’s no reason whatsoever why dwarves should be excluded from such shows, but the fact three in a row featured within the space of fifteen minutes was obviously yet another example of the cynical – not to say condescending – BBC approach to a minority within society. You overload every programme with the minority-of-the-week to compensate for past omissions and then present a lopsided picture of that society, all the while patting yourself on the back for being such a Good Person. Many years ago, a friend of mine saw a thalidomide comedian at a small venue and told me how the audience was crammed with smug, self-satisfied middle-class punters laughing hysterically at every joke, demonstrably pleased at how they were in possession of so little prejudice that they’d treat a thalidomide comedian the same as any able-bodied comedian; only, they weren’t treating him the same; they were effectively patting him on the head.

This trend is never more apparent than when these types – and a fair few of them work for the BBC, let’s be honest – speak to any non-white guest on TV or the radio. One can almost count down the minutes until the ‘racism question’ gatecrashes the interview. Anyone white who has a black or Asian friend or neighbour would find such a line of questioning rightly ridiculous in ordinary conversation, yet the MSM presenter has to insert it in there as soon as possible. ‘Oh, you’re black, therefore you must experience racism all the time’. Yes, I’m sure the minute the interviewee steps out of the door he or she feels as though they’re in 1950s Alabama. Of course someone black or Asian will probably have experienced some form of racism in their lives, just as many women will have experienced some form of misogyny, many gay people will have experienced some form of homophobia and so on. But chances are other things far more interesting will have happened to them in their lives – or even merely ordinary, relatively dull things that everybody experiences. Not that the MSM want to know that, though; they need their precious victim narrative reinforcing, even if organisations that exploited it have belatedly been exposed as charlatans.

Suddenly, celebrities who could’ve been relied upon to ‘do the right thing’ a couple of years ago are openly questioning BLM. Fancy that – everyone from Kanye West to Sharon Osbourne. Ozzy’s missus wants her money back – good luck with that. They’ve just realised this unashamedly Marxist mafia that deliberately stoked division, were sponsored by everyone from ice cream manufacturers to the Mayor of London, and scammed a fortune from well-meaning individuals motivated by good intentions, using the cash not to improve the lives of the impoverished communities they purported to speak on behalf of but to feather their own multi-million dollar nests, aren’t saints after all. Well, some of us were pointing that out at the time, whilst Seattle neighbourhoods were burning and lockdown-breaking marches were laying waste to our city centres. The online reaction to famous names expressing their feelings of being conned has ranged from deafening silence to obstinate denial to confused claims these former fellow suckers have turned ‘right wing’ overnight.

But when you have a world in which medical students – such as those at Minnesota University – are forced to take an oath to ‘fight white supremacy, colonialism and the gender binary’, don’t be surprised that opportunists will spring up to build careers and generate immense wealth on the back of it. Not that spinning this shit is exclusive to seats of learning in the US, however. Only the other week, the Students Union at the University of Westminster announced it was getting into the colour bar business by declaring white students would be barred from its ‘Black History Month’ events, which will be ‘reserved for black students to encourage a safe space for discussions and honest conversation’. Dr Neil Thin, a lecturer at Edinburgh University, said in response, ‘It is bitterly ironic to see the rhetoric of “safe spaces” abused to justify racial segregation. Nothing is more likely to make social spaces unsafe than this kind of wilful sowing of interethnic suspicion and division.’ Indeed. Isn’t this…er…institutionalised racism?

Ditto the NHS. Amy Gallagher, a nurse in the final stages of a two-year course in forensic psychology, is suing London’s Portman Clinic following claims she had no choice but to participate in a compulsory 2020 online lecture titled ‘Whiteness – a problem of our time’. When she raised objections, Gallagher says she was threatened with suspension from her course. ‘They are forcing Critical Race Theory onto people,’ she says. ‘You’re not allowed to disagree with it or they will bully you for two years. The NHS is forcing someone to adopt a racist ideology and it needs to be stopped…what they describe as anti-racism is racism. What they describe as tolerance is an intolerance of anyone who thinks differently to them. Left unchallenged, such institutional bullying will only be emboldened.’ As with the long-overdue questioning of the ethics of child transgender clinics and the disturbing theories of their affiliated organisations such as Stonewall and Mermaid, it was only a matter of time before people began standing up to the toxic ideology that has infiltrated our institutions. There may be a long way to go, and many battles to be fought, but at least it’s a start.

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Iran 2Despite ‘The Sopranos’ and Scorsese movies, most Italian-Americans are not slaves to their inherited heritage, though they are selectively proud of it; like Irish-Americans, their affinity with an ancestral homeland they’re considerably distanced from by several generations and more than 100 years is really a sentimental ideal rather than something rooted in the lived experience of its realities. First and foremost, what they feel more than anything is American, probably because their immigrant forefathers didn’t want to be regarded as ‘others’; they wanted a piece of the American action and wanted to be integrated; their destination was a blank slate, unlike the homeland that had evidently offered them nothing. Some initially clung to the comfort blanket of the culture they’d left behind, but this gradually shifted into the background, only occasionally exhumed for a sporting event or a saint’s day. Descendants of Jewish communities in the US and over here have undergone a similar transformation; they too followed the same pattern, with each successive generation one further step away from those who coped with an alien environment by seeking solace in the religious symbolism, the mother tongue, and – perhaps the most enduring legacy – the food.

Likewise, distinctive dishes remain one of the most notable elements of a West Indian culture that has survived amongst a community with deep roots in the UK stretching back to the first decade after the War. The original pioneers of all these groups, but particularly the Afro-Caribbean, often found their new countries bewildering and occasionally hostile places to settle, yet they were eventually absorbed into their chosen home to the point whereby their children and grandchildren are today as native as the descendants of the indigenous population. Indeed, all the examples given could be regarded as ‘multicultural success stories’, for however strong the romanticised image of the original homeland remained as a badge of identity, it was to be gradually superseded in significance by the new society in which the first wave fought hard to have a stake. Slang has sometimes been adopted as a verbal nod to the old country, albeit purloined and twisted by youth; and sub-Jamaican patois eventually morphed into the standard lingo of adolescents of all colours attempting to cultivate a ‘street’ image, the one mercilessly parodied in the comic creation of Ali G. Innit.

Nevertheless, the rise of the hardest-working immigrants and their offspring up a social ladder to eventual acceptance succeeded because it eschewed ghettoisation, isolation and separatism. Sure, keep those cherished relics of granddad’s birthplace up in the attic or in the memory, but don’t weaponise them and let them hold you back from being a contributor to the society he fought to be a member of; instead, let those artefacts and those oral stories serve to show you how far you’ve come. That, surely, is what multiculturalism should mean? Not social apartheid, with self-contained, cocooned communities cut off from their neighbours of different races, inhabiting an imaginary facsimile of the homeland most have never lived in, having little or no contact with anyone beyond that community and being patted on the head by the white middle-classes for being so wonderfully ‘ethnic’.

The ‘Muslim Community’ is such a ghastly, catch-all term that lumps together many disparate groups who happen to share the same faith (regardless of its myriad forms), though it tends to operate in one context where the ruling cultural and political elite are concerned. And Muslims of a certain strain are the adopted pets of the elite – infantilised victims forever at the receiving end of this hideous, institutionally racist country that immigrants from numerous Muslim nations mysteriously decide to set up home in. Don’t even think about integrating to the point whereby you can progress all the way to holding one of the four Great Offices of State like a socially mobile opportunist! Stay in your lane.

What may well begin in cosseted faith schools and end in the industrialised grooming and raping of vulnerable ‘white trash’ children has been left to fester due to fear – fear harboured by the graduates of a system now entrusted with authority and reluctant to enforce it. Events in Leicester last weekend – and the East Midlands city itself is often held up as a multicultural success story by the usual suspects – showed the consequences of turning a blind eye. The kind of ancient sectarian hatred that has scarred the Indian Subcontinent for centuries – or has indeed done likewise via a different religion just across the Irish Sea – has now boiled over in the middle of England, with gangs of young Hindus and Muslims clashing like Mods and Rockers with God on their side. As police seemingly stood by and declined to intervene, the multicultural fantasy of the chattering classes went up in flames that have been fanned by decades of non-interference and appeasement.

Added to the combustible mix is a divisive dose of Identity Politics, whereby a single (and usually irrelevant) characteristic of the individual is multiplied across the group and thereafter utterly defines them all as one homogenous racial tribe pitted against another. And if it’s reported at all by the MSM, it’s seen through the manufactured prism of Islamophobia, with good guys (Muslims) being victimised by bad guys (Hindus). Ironic in a week which saw the majority of the nation feel more united than it has in a long time that this ugly side-effect of Identitarian separatism should erupt. Moreover, it’s equally ironic that this desecration of a cornerstone of the Woke manifesto should come at a moment when an actual Islamic State is seeing an angry uprising against the symbols of oppression the Guardianistas refuse to countenance as dehumanising at all. Young Muslim women are cutting their hair and burning the hijab, and they’re doing this on social media sites for all of Iran to see.

What sparked this wave of incredibly brave protest against the strictest interpretation of Islam’s doctrines was the death in ‘morality police’ custody of 22-year-old Masha Amini, who was arrested in Tehran for the heinous crime of displaying her hair in a public place. Within hours of being arrested, Amini’s State captors informed her family she’d fallen into a coma following a ‘heart attack’ and had been hospitalised; within three days, a perfectly healthy young woman with no history of heart trouble was dead. One imagines this is not an uncommon occurrence in Iran, yet the sudden death of Masha Amini has ignited tensions that have been simmering for a long time; dissatisfaction with severe measures that uphold Iran’s brand of Islam as dictated by the country’s rulers seemingly needed one grotesque incident to provoke civil unrest – and Iran now has it. Upwards of a dozen people have been killed during these violent street protests; riot police have opened fire on protestors, yet still the female population of a country that views them as second-class citizens are defying the weight of the State and tossing their hijabs en masse onto bonfires. One would think the democratic land of the free that is the West would celebrate and support this valiant rebellion against the ultimate repressive regime, no?

Well, unlike the disproportionate response to the admittedly brutal killing of a career criminal by a Minneapolis policeman, there have been no widespread Western protests over the death of Masha Amini or symbolic gestures of solidarity with the fearless female rebels of Iran; no, you won’t see footballers taking the knee for Masha or wearing shirts with Amini’s face plastered all over them. Sadly, unlike George Floyd – whose death nicely chimed with the Woke ‘White Supremacist’ narrative – Masha Amini was the ‘wrong’ kind of victim and the rigid league table of the Oppression Olympics doesn’t recognise the hijab as something that suppresses women’s rights, just like the misogyny of extreme Trans activism isn’t acknowledged. The twisted logic of the dogma in which all our institutions are indoctrinated is confronted by an insoluble conundrum when it comes to events in Iran, hence all those heads currently buried in the sand. One would like to think evidence all the way from Tehran to Leicester would highlight the gaping holes in the argument; but don’t hold your breath. Or burn your hijab.

© The Editor

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La RueThey might be stereotyped as gammon-flavoured ‘White Supremacists’ at worst or plebeian homophobes at best, but the parents concerned about the indoctrination of their prepubescent children into the extremities of Trans dogma are rightly up in arms that the educational authorities have allowed nurseries, libraries and primary schools to be infiltrated by an ideology that should be reserved for those old enough to make their own minds up. The parents have been left with little choice but to gate-crash the disturbing trend for drag queens to host an alternative ‘Jackanory’ for toddlers in some of our public libraries, promoting ‘gender fluidity’ and ‘queer role models’ before an audience far too young to grasp the intricacies of a philosophy that routinely outfoxes adults. Drag queens – occasionally entertaining foul-mouthed parodies of female sexuality and purveyors of camp sensibilities in the right context – have no place broadcasting Identitarian propaganda to pre-school children in a supposed ‘safe space’. And those parents who allow their offspring to be exposed to a trend (unsurprisingly) imported from across the pond are as misguided in their attempts to raise a generation without prejudice as parents in the past were in trying to beat traditional gender roles into children exhibiting signs of ‘effeminacy’ or tomboyish traits.

Along with bowing and kneeling before the ubiquitous Pride flag in an enforced ceremony of emotional blackmail that would raise a smile on the chubby countenance of Kim Jong-un, accepting extreme Trans beliefs without question has become a sinister strain of social engineering in recent years, helped in no small part by the successful lobbying tactics of a one-time gay charity that lost the plot a long time ago. That now-beyond saving bastion of unhinged activism called Stonewall has a strong foothold in the corridors of power and a disproportionate influence in the corporate world; it awards brownie points in the Top 100 Employers Index to businesses and organisations that slavishly adhere to its Workplace Equality doctrine in a desperate bid to evade social media blacklisting. The gender-identity mantra pursued with such aggressive fanaticism by Stonewall since around 2015 has been adopted across the board by virtually all of our institutions, and any dissenting voices are silenced by unleashing online hounds that take no prisoners, whether the critic is male, female, straight or gay.

Former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies has been fighting a brave battle against the desecration of her old sport as it has allowed mediocre male swimmers suddenly identifying as female to enter women’s disciplines and to utilise their physical advantages in order to claim the top of the podium when the medals are dished out. For her troubles, Davies has been subjected to awful levels of online abuse; but just as race-baiting activism often exposes the racism of its practitioners, the deep-rooted misogyny at the heart of Trans activism is similarly plain to see when natural-born women rebel against the deranged dogma pushed at them from all sides. Labelled TERFs – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists – any woman opposed to men who abruptly declare themselves women without committing to gender-reassignment surgery, those who believe simple self-identification entitles them to overnight access into female-only spaces such as public toilets and changing rooms, is fair game for the same treatment received by Sharron Davies and – even more so – JK Rowling.

The insanity of being beholden to this fantasy philosophy is evident in the increasingly embarrassing activities of Police Forces online (activities that erode the last remaining vestiges of respect for the Force even further), as well as headlines describing a ‘male rapist’ whose victims were duped due to ‘his’ prosthetic penis; yes, of course, this rapist was a woman identifying as a man, for an actual man obviously wouldn’t need a fake prick to commit his vile crime. Yet, the fact the misleading headline portrayed her as a man was as disturbing a diversion into fiction as the fact she has to be referred to as a man during court proceedings and in any reporting of the case. This is how the 2010 Equality Act – one of the most abused pieces of legislation arguably ever passed by a British Government – has been twisted to fit the Trans ideology. OK, one can identify as anything one wants to, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world has to fall in line with the individual’s personal preference; I mean, I could suddenly say I identify as an 18th century nobleman, but does that entitle me to turn up at the House of Lords in an ermine ensemble and demand entry to the chamber?

Yes, it’s mad enough when all of this is inflicted upon the voting-age public by academia, the media, the NHS, the Church of England, the Police Force and the worlds of sport and entertainment, but when children are subjected to it as well, something has to give. Parents who take it upon themselves to diagnose their kids as gender dysphorian and decide they need sex-change surgery are playing a dangerous game that could have lifelong consequences for their children. Take the case of Keira Bell, a young woman who a couple of years back won a High Court case against the now rightly-discredited (and soon to close) Gender Identity Service at the NHS Tavistock and Portman Clinic. Aged 14, the tomboy Bell came to believe this defining aspect of her personality meant she required gender reassignment when nobody told her it was perfectly fine to not be ‘girly’; after a mere handful of appointments at the said clinic, she was placed on a course of ‘puberty blockers’ whilst barely 16, her life in the hands of gender-identity ideologues who have espoused the belief that even 10-year-olds who don’t conform to gender stereotypes can undergo experimental treatments.

On testosterone at 17, Bell endured a double mastectomy at 20, yet shortly afterwards the damage done began to dawn on her. By this time, she was mature enough to decide personal issues around gender and sexuality for herself; but it was too late. She has since joined the lengthening queue of those who have ‘de-transitioned’, but the mental scars of her state-sanctioned mutilation will probably outlast even the physical ones. At times, the solution to Keira Bell’s adolescent confusion is chillingly similar to that practiced in Iran, whereby anyone suspected of homosexual leanings is automatically placed on the transitioning waiting-list; moreover, it’s also reminiscent of the kind of ‘chemical castration’ Alan Turing was subjected to in the 1950s, as though the G in the LGBTXYZ acronym is something to be discouraged; showing gay or lesbian symptoms when young is now seemingly seen as a green light for transitioning.

Confused teens in a mess due to a variety of tragic reasons have been sold the idea that changing sex is the panacea that will resolve their problems, with organisations such as the Gender Identity Service at Tavistock responsible for spinning such a dangerous yarn – though the likes of the NSPCC and Bernardo’s, establishments that are supposed to protect the interests of children, have been just as culpable in propagating this myth, along with the dubious Trans-youth lobbyists, Mermaid. And all are in the pockets of Stonewall, who have recently put forward the ridiculous proposition that ‘children as young as two recognise their Trans identity’. Stonewall already has a handy guide for parents and schools re children living as their ‘chosen gender’; along with primary school teaching materials selling fanciful theories as fact – such as claiming sex is assigned at birth by doctors rather than being determined by straightforward biology – it’s no wonder parents are waking-up to just how deeply the Stonewall agenda has been embedded in the educational system.

An acquaintance of mine who has spent the past twelve months or so transitioning from male to female took this life-changing decision following a slow realisation spread over several years. Children do not have the luxury of getting to know themselves in the same way, and any efforts to ‘sexualise’ them can also take them down some very dark roads indeed. However, it does appear that people are at last beginning to push back against this dogma; those in genuine need of help should be able to receive it, but those whose issues are not gender dysphorian should be steered well away from an ideology whose fantasy is not reality.

© The Editor

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