Anger when it emanates from someone we’re not used to seeing express it can be a remarkable spectacle. Accustomed to former Labour Cabinet Minister Alan Johnson playing the avuncular sidekick to Michael Portillo on ‘This Week’, it was wonderfully unexpected during ITV’s General Election coverage last night to witness Johnson erupt as he was sat next to Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum. ‘The working-classes have always been a big disappointment to Jon and his cult,’ said Johnson. ‘Corbyn was a disaster on the doorstep. Everyone knew he couldn’t lead the working-class out of a paper bag.’ Johnson kept his composure, but his fury was unmistakable. ‘I want them out of the party,’ he said. ‘I want Momentum gone. Go back to your student politics.’ Words well and truly un-minced, Johnson added – ‘The most disastrous result for the Labour Party, the worst result since 1935 – people like Jon and his pals will never admit this, but they have messed-up completely; and it’s our communities that are going to pay for that. I feel really angry about this – that we persevered with Corbyn for this experiment of back-to-the-future.’

During the darkest days of Theresa May’s premiership, it seemed Brexit was destined to destroy the Conservative Party, yet it is now clear that it has contributed more towards the destruction of the Labour Party. The result of the 2016 EU Referendum was the worst thing that could have happened to Corbyn’s Labour; the fact that so many diehard Labour areas of the country voted Leave completely contradicted the stance of Jezza and his London-based team, highlighting an uncomfortable truth Labour had turned a blind eye to even before Corbyn seized control – that the PLP and the old Labour heartlands had become completely incompatible. This was a divide that widened even further once the Labour Party fell under the control of middle-class revolutionaries, or what the Guardian (no less) has labelled ‘the sectarian left’.

Not only did the Referendum result further alienate the provincial party faithful from the Corbynistas; it exposed the ‘Champagne Socialism’ of the anti-Corbyn faction within Labour ranks as equally detached from the concerns of traditional Labour voters – none more so than the opportunistic, party-hopping Chuka Umunna, whose eviction from the political landscape was one of the undoubted highlights of the evening. Smarmy Umunna was perhaps the ultimate embodiment of the arrogance and sneering contempt for the electorate that has been displayed at Westminster over the last couple of years.

For Umunna and his allies, the result of the 2016 EU Referendum was such a seismic shock to their unchallenged righteousness and superior sense of entitlement that their only way of dealing with it was to pretend it never happened. How many times have we been told of late that the electorate – including ‘many of those who voted Leave’ – were ‘coming round to our way of thinking’? Umunna, Soubry and the rest reacted to Brexit like a tone-deaf contestant on a talent show being told he cannot hold a note; a shake of the head, a refusal to accept the facts. ‘No,’ says the man confronted by Cowell. ‘You’re wrong. I’ll have a million-selling record to my name one day – or maybe I’ll become Prime Minister.’

And on and on they went – throwing down obstacle after obstacle in the way of May and Boris after promising to honour the referendum result on re-election in 2017, recruiting the wealthy businesswoman Gina Miller to try and thwart the Brexit process in the courts, proposing a People’s Vote, crossing the floor of the House to form a Remoaner alliance and eventually announcing their aim to scrap Brexit altogether. Those who suspected not all Leave voters might have changed their minds and fallen into line with the Remainer consensus didn’t want a General Election because they had an inkling of what could happen; most of those promptly declared their decision to stand down once the Election was announced.

Those unable to see beyond their unshakable, delusional, narcissistic egos fought on, somehow imagining the proles would by now have seen the error of their ways and would reject Brexit altogether. Jo Swinson seemed to epitomise this attitude better (or worse) than anyone else, and now she has paid the price for her blinkered refusal to accept not everyone thinks overturning a mandate delivered by 17.4 million members of the electorate is fair play. At least when Nick Clegg lost his seat in 2017, he’d already quit as leader; Swinson didn’t even have that option, becoming the first sitting leader of a major party to lose her seat at a General Election since the Liberals’ Archibald Sinclair in 1945; and now her party is only three seats better off than after the wipeout of 2015. The heady days of Charles Kennedy seem a very long time ago indeed.

Swinson’s ousting is as emblematic of the gaping chasm between how Westminster Village sees the rest of the country and how that perspective works the other way round as Labour’s decimation. The result of this General Election is also a comprehensive rejection of the Woke/Identity Politics agenda propagated by both Labour and the Lib Dems. Because the majority of its promoters are encased in a London bubble and are over-represented in media circles, they cannot comprehend it means Jack Shit outside the more privileged corners of the capital. Even when venturing beyond its London comfort zone, Corbyn’s Labour focused exclusively on the big ‘metropolitan’ cities made in London’s image and utterly ignored the former industrial towns that had loyally seen the party through many a lean decade. Hiring Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan to further remind the plebs that they didn’t know what they were doing in 2016 was a suicidal move that nevertheless reiterated the regressive left’s utter inability to understand the mood of the nation as a whole.

Yes, there are many millions in the country who have suffered under a decade of Tory rule – and I’ve no doubt their suffering will be extended as a consequence of this General Election; but whose fault is that? Is the fact that the Conservative Party have just scored their biggest victory since 1987 a vote of confidence in Tory policies or a wholesale rejection of a pitiful opposition that had dozens of open goals to capitalise on yet shot the ball over the bar or hit the post on every f***ing occasion? Labour’s better-than-expected 2017 campaign was achieved on the back of promises to implement the decision of 2016; and Labour Leavers have spent the last two years watching their party wilfully prevent that decision being implemented.

The collapse of the so-called ‘Red Wall’ in the Midlands and the North wasn’t remotely surprising; seats it was once unimaginable ever turning blue, such as Sedgefield, Bolsover, Workington, Blyth Valley et al, have all fallen into Tory hands, yet they’ve been Labour in name only for a long time. If the US Democrats are responsible for Donald Trump, responsibility for the man who can now look forward to at least four more years as the tenant of No.10 lies with the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, Change UK, and all the independents who failed to win back seats they held before reneging on their promises and quitting their parties. But hey, if you sow it, you reap it.

© The Editor


Talk about false dawns. Those invigorating in-between times – those by-elections and local elections and European elections – always fool us into believing they’re the harbingers of political earthquakes rocking the foundations of the two major parties; and yet, the real threat to the red and blue corners’ century-old monopoly of power, if it comes at all, tends to come from within rather than without. The Labour and Conservative Parties are more than capable of destroying themselves without any assistance from outsiders. Give them the exclusive right to elect their respective leaders and look what happens. Having said that, however, their joint ability to overcome these internal disasters is either a tribute to their admirable capacity for survival or a damning indictment of not only the other parties snapping at their heels, but the first-past-the-post system – and possibly even the electorate itself.

Two and-a-half years ago, pre-General Election talk was of the death of two-party politics; come polling day, the nation chose to give Labour and the Tories the biggest share of the vote they’d had since 1970. This time round, pre-General Election talk was of the death of two-party politics; and now, just days away from polling day, all focus has shifted back to the usual suspects. The first half of this year was dominated by the formation of TIG and the overnight Euro success of the Brexit Party, yet as we approach its end all talk of a major break with the old politics seems as deluded as putting money on an unlikely club winning the Premier League simply because they topped the table after the opening weekend of fixtures. Regardless of unrealisable spending plans, anti-Semitism or born-to-rule arrogance, like the Old Firm poised to do battle in today’s Scottish League Cup Final, it’s the same teams playing for the trophy once more, with everyone else relegated back to making up the numbers.

Naturally, nobody was expecting anyone other than Boris or Jezza as PM from the kick-off; but perhaps the unique, if unenlightening, head-to-heads the pair have taken part in on TV have served to remind voters that when it comes to deciding who runs the country there’s only ever a choice between two – even if the two on offer are the worst two in living memory. The quick-fire format of those debates doesn’t promise much more than the enticing prospect of a heated argument to make for good television, anyway; even if the electorate had faith in either man, it’s doubtful watching such a programme would make up the mind of a floating voter. Viewers come away remembering Jezza’s wonky glasses or the laughter greeting Boris’s theories on trust in politics – whereas ‘the message’ is lost somewhere along the way, buried beneath instantly forgettable catch-phrases and vapid sound-bites.

Lest we forget, one issue continues to dominate discourse, and I suspect without it the Tories would be toast, even up against such an unpopular opposition; the Brexit factor will save their skin, for when Leavers look around and are confronted by wall-to-wall Remainers, there’s only one party that can (in theory) ‘get Brexit done’ – and that won’t be Nigel’s barmy army, something even he acknowledged when announcing his decision to pull out of several seats where his party’s presence could split the vote. On the eve of the campaign, the Leave/Remain votes appeared to be spread evenly, yet the defection of four prominent (ish) Brexit MEPs to the Tory cause last week suggests most Leave voters will probably back Boris; similarly, the Remainers now seem to be favouring Labour more than the early frontrunners for the pro-EU vote, the Lib Dems. And so, the traditional equilibrium is restored just in time for polling day.

Outside of General Elections, it’s as if the electorate are a philandering husband who repeatedly tells his Lib Dem and Brexit Party bits-on-the-side he loves them and will definitely leave his wife for them; then, as soon as a General Election is called and the reality of the gamble hits, he heads back home to the familiar certainty of the marital bed. Characteristically overconfident, premature bravado on the part of Jo Swinson having now been quietly swept under a carpet once belonging to David Steel, the Lib Dems have slipped back to recognising their realistic place in the scheme of things; as with both the SNP and DUP, they can cling to the possibility their presence might count for something in the event of a Hung Parliament; but that’s the best they can hope for.

If the smaller parties serve any purpose beyond their own interests, one could say they exist to give the big two a rejuvenating kick up the arse; any by-election drift away is swiftly addressed as the factors that tempted previously loyal voters to look elsewhere are absorbed into the Labour and Tory machines, luring the faithful back home. It happened way back in the early 60s, most dramatically at the Orpington By-Election of 1962; the appeal of Eric Lubbock and the Liberal Party to the red-brick graduates was noted by Harold Wilson when he took charge of the Labour Party a year later, wooing the Liberal voters by presenting Labour as the only modern, dynamic alternative to the Conservatives – and the only party capable of ousting them from office. And what did the Tories do when the likelihood of haemorrhaging votes to Farage on the biggest stage of all threatened to scupper their chances of victory? They allowed the ERG wing to take control and Boris purged the party of dissenting voices, thus presenting themselves as the ‘real’ Brexit Party come this Thursday.

Corbyn’s cabal have taken a similar path by forcing moderates out of the Labour Party and ensuring all new recruits are loyal to the leader’s vision, though Labour don’t have a Brexit-like issue that will attract the floaters, regardless of how much everyone professes to love the NHS. The big two are now controlled by what used to be their respective lunatic fringes – and if it wasn’t for the good fortune of all the other parties promoting the Remain cause, the Tories would be as buggered as the opposition. But what of those who voted for Tony Blair in 1997, 2001 and 2005 – or even David Cameron in 2010? Where do they go now? Even the traditional welcoming harbour for voters lost at sea – the Lib Dems – have undoubtedly been tarnished by having a crack at their own version of extremism; and they’ve left it too late to repair the damage and offer the usual bed-for-the-night to the politically homeless .

It’s hard to see any ‘good’ outcome to come here; whoever is declared winner on Friday or spends next weekend cobbling together a coalition, it’s nothing to look forward to. Whichever candidate receives my cross next to their name on Thursday, there’s no way I’ll be able to walk out of that polling station without feeling an overwhelming sense of shame and embarrassment having momentarily endorsed a party boasting more I vehemently disagree with than agree with. There’s no pride in 2019.

© The Editor


There’s been a distinct upsurge of activity this past week that has made even the most casual of observers aware it really is that time again – that time when honourable members suddenly cease to treat the electorate with contempt and want to be our friends. After two years of not merely reneging on promises but actively ensuring the major promise made in 2017 was discredited and discarded, there is an abrupt about-turn. For many who were happy to see out another three years tormenting and torturing a castrated administration in the insularity of the Westminster bubble without the need to attend to any actual business, a General Election was what they most dreaded; some reacted by jumping ship; those that remained onboard now have no choice but to submit to the firing squad and hope the bullets miss.

Both leaders of the main two parties have seen to it that their respective broad churches will now only contain an increasingly narrow congregation; many of the enemies within have opted out, and the approved replacements sing from a specific hymn-sheet. All Tory wannabes must be Brexiteers; all Labour wannabes must receive the official Momentum stamp as subscribers to the cult of Corbyn. Any deviation from the script will no longer be tolerated. Both Boris and Jezza have concluded that incessant questioning of their visions from the ranks of their own parties has been an inconvenient hindrance to the master-plan. Yes, the Lib Dems have benefitted from this Stalinist approach to internal criticism, but it seems the next Parliament could possibly contain a record number of independents no longer welcome in their former homes thanks to the purges. One might wonder why they don’t form a new party and…oh, I forgot; they’ve already had a go at that.

The undeniable feeling that the campaign is now well and truly underway has been accelerated by the television debates of the last seven days. The first head-to-head on ITV was unique in that it gave us something British viewers have never seen before – the Tory leader and Labour leader alone, bereft of the little siblings demanding the same level of attention. But the constrained nature of the format, cramming everything into a time slot that can’t have amounted to much more than fifty minutes if one takes the two ad breaks into account, didn’t do either man any favours.

Whenever both Boris and Jezza appeared poised to either expose their inadequacies or emphasise their Prime Ministerial credentials, the host would cut them short and move on to another question. Granted, the incumbent PM attempted to overcome this by engaging in his regular habit of continuing to speak even when asked to stop, but it meant the viewer came away from it no better informed than they were before it began. Boris seems to have adopted ‘Get Brexit Done’ as his equivalent of ‘Strong and Stable’, whereas Jezza dodged the question of where he would stand in the event of a second referendum on each occasion. There were also uncomfortable moments when both men inadvertently provoked laughter from the studio audience. The only impression most watching at home probably received was how poorly-served the electorate is when it comes to the party leaders.

A similar impression must have been made following the special edition of ‘Question Time’ on Friday, when the franchise was extended to the Lib Dems and the SNP. The latter was an obvious inclusion if we are to be reminded this is a nationwide Election and not solely restricted to England; but the presence of Nicola Sturgeon is always a tricky issue. The SNP are not a nationwide party. Sturgeon may well be queen of her own castle, yet voters south of the border cannot vote for her or anyone standing for her party. Nevertheless, as a seasoned campaigner, Sturgeon was probably the most polished performer during the QT debate; she was also probably relieved that enough years have passed since she succeeded Alex Salmond, thus sparing the party the kind of curse that the private life of Jeremy Thorpe placed upon the Liberals for years. Ultimately, however, it matters not if Sturgeon impresses viewers in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, for her message is largely irrelevant outside of Scotland – with the exception of any under-the-counter deals done in the possible event of a Hung Parliament.

Boris and Jezza had a little more breathing space in this debate than they’d enjoyed in the first; the two-hour timeslot meant each leader had thirty minutes to sell their respective parties to the public. This campaign so far has been marked by the PM attempting to come across as a serious statesman – something he spectacularly failed to do during his stint at the Foreign Office; but he’s clearly struggling to play the straight man after successfully playing the clown for so long, and were the Tories not in possession of such a comfortable lead in the polls, the thought that party members might just have elected the wrong leader could be putting them through what Labour members went through in 2015.

Jeremy Corbyn at least finally came down off the fence and declared he would be ‘neutral’ should Labour get into office and rerun a scenario we’ve spent the last three and-a-half years languishing in the miserable shadow of. We all know where his true feelings regarding Brussels lie; but his dithering over this particular issue and doomed, deluded hope that he can appeal to enough voters beyond the faithful to form a majority Government could cost him more than any ineffective TV appearances.

And talking of ineffective TV appearances, the QT debate will perhaps best be remembered for the way in which it finally exposed Jo Swinson to the British public as the clueless charlatan she is. If Nick Clegg momentarily charmed an electorate tired of Labour and mistrustful of the Tories back in 2010, this Lib Dem leader couldn’t even manage to convince in the half-hour she held the platform. Perhaps imagining her relatively recent election as the bright young replacement for an old dodderer might airbrush her part in the worst austerity excesses of the Coalition, Swinson hadn’t bargained that both host and audience hadn’t forgotten. She struggled to justify her actions when confronted by them, and equally struggled to justify the anti-democratic intention of cancelling out the votes of 17.4 million members of the electorate.

After raising their profile by moving from a People’s Vote policy to an all-out ‘Scrap Brexit’ mantra, the Lib Dems are now beginning to realise not everyone sick of the Brexit saga necessarily believes we should just act as if the last three and-a-half years never happened; many believe that concluding we went through all that for nothing isn’t that great a strategy. There has to be something at the end of it. Jo Swinson’s sixth-former-at-the-debating-society delivery and unconvincing arguments just made her look out of her depth, and quite possibly condemned the Lib Dems to collecting not many more seats than they have already.

Away from the TV debates, the manifesto fairy stories are tumbling down from the magic money trees like bird droppings from branch to bonnet. For now, the parties are Lucy inviting Charlie Brown to kick the football and promising not to move it before his foot makes contact. But we all know they will move it; and we all know we’ll end up flat on our backs. Good grief.

© The Editor


Yes, it’s the book they’re all talking about! It’s the book they’ve all been waiting for! It’s the book that definitely won’t be going for 99p in the Great British charity shop within a matter of months, no sir! The book in question is, of course, ‘Winegums from The Telegram’, the first volume of collected posts from this here blog in paperback form. Had you fooled for a minute there, didn’t I. Apparently, some posh-boy pig-f**ker who used to run the country or something has got a memoir out that he’s desperately plugging across the media, but nobody really gives a shit about that.

Anyway, as the Telegram is coming up for four years-old, I thought it long overdue that I gather together its finest moments in one volume, just like the columnists of old used to do. Then I began trying. I realised four years means a lot of posts – a hell of a lot. At one time, I’d be posting something on an almost-daily basis, and years inconveniently having over 300 days has meant I’ve had to be scrupulous in deciding what to put in and what to leave out. Gradually, I realised if I wanted to do the blog justice as a document of what has been pretty much a ‘Golden Age’ in terms of having big events to write about, I had to make the book version a series. Therefore, I’ve put together three so far, and there’s still enough material to easily make four.

Each essay is reproduced exactly as it appeared – and still exists online – for it would have seemed dishonest to edit any simply because my opinion might have changed from the one expressed within the individual article. As I began to read through them, it dawned on me that these little time capsules were virtual diary entries, accurately reflecting how I felt at the precise moment I pressed the ‘publish’ button (which is what happens when you’ve finished writing and you’re ready for the readership to sample it). These aren’t after-the-event retrospectives, but subjective reportage ‘as it happened’, so it felt important to reproduce them properly on the printed page, warts and all.

Although each post is in chronological order of publication, collected posts on the same subjects are divided into separate chapters to try and establish some sort of narrative. In volume one, for example, the first chapter features all the posts covering UK politics this year, right from the very first post in January (‘Divide and Misrule’) and up to the one that appeared on 10 September (‘Prorogue State’); a shame 2019 couldn’t have been more eventful in Westminster, but you can’t have everything. Chapter two is devoted to pop cultural posts, whereas the third features my more personal chronicle of 2018, which was a unique year for all the wrong reasons. Naturally, the scope widens for volumes two and three so that the USA, Europe and the rest of the world get a look in. Indeed, it was only when I started working my way through the Winegum back catalogue that I realised just how many different topics I’ve covered since December 2015 – even if a few have tended to dominate. It is true however, that some subjects have proven to be more inexhaustible than others.

Thankfully – well, depending how you look at it – this blog got off the ground just in time to catch the beginning of Brexit; the date of the game-changing Referendum was announced barely two months into the Winegum’s existence. I’ve therefore been able to chronicle the whole messy business from day one, and I’ve no doubt Dave imagined that by the time his own masterly contribution to the libraries of the nation appeared on the shelves the chaos he unleashed would have settled, thus saving him from any unpleasant revivals of the blame game. Instead, it rather fortuitously happens to fall smack bang in the middle of the latest attempt by the arrogant and entitled (led, of course, by Ms Miller) to not so much ‘take back’ control as hold onto it for dear life.

The English judiciary is now in the proroguing spotlight, hot on the heels of its Scottish equivalent giving the thumbs-down last week; a nation governed by rampant pro-EU Nationalists was hardly going to judge the PM’s decision favourably, though. Following a slickly-staged stunt intended to humiliate beleaguered Boris in Luxembourg, the ‘other side’ are turning up the heat on the Prime Minister in the hope Parliament will be recalled. What exactly they hope to actually do in Parliament if the Supreme Court bows to the Remainer mafia remains to be seen, however, for all they’ve done for the last three-and-a-half years is to try and thwart a democratic mandate at the expense of implementing any important legislation. So, I guess we’re talking more of the same.

Good old dependable Jo Swinson has at least dropped any pretences of a phony ‘People’s Vote’ this week, so that’s been a refreshing confirmation of everything we already knew about the Lib Dem approach to the issue. Most amusingly of all, Swinson’s brazen honesty has irked ideological allies such as Caroline Lucas, who still prefers to mask her true intentions in the Second Referendum smokescreen. But Swinson is oozing self (or over) confidence at the moment.

Buoyed by the addition of another lacklustre Tory reject to the ranks, the Lib Dem leader roused the faithful at the Party Conference with an echo of David Steel’s infamous ‘Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government’ call. Liberals do have a habit of getting carried away with what passes for popularity between General Elections. But perhaps Swinson’s belief that her party can win a majority is merely another reflection of Remainer righteousness – or perhaps the righteousness of the political class as a whole. Swinson herself is, like Dave before her, another product of the smooth conveyor belt that took her from university to Westminster at a tender age with a brief pause en route for a short sample of what ‘real life’ feels like. Therefore, she’s expertly qualified to lecture 17 million members of the unwashed electorate on where they went wrong.

One benefit of going through old posts with a fine tooth comb has been to remind myself just how Cameron and his rotten administration (both with and without their Lib Dem whipping-boys) really were the embodiment of the Nasty Party ideal. No posthumous whitewash in attempting to reclassify himself as a ‘compassionate Conservative’ simply by standing next to his successors holds water when one re-reads instant gut reactions to his appalling policies at the point they were unveiled. In a way, the serendipitous timing of my decision to reacquaint myself with what I thought in 2016 has rekindled my contempt for a man who hoped sufficient distance would soften opinion towards him. No chance – especially not when the consequences of his irresponsible actions continue to dictate our increasingly fractious political discourse.

Anyway, the first volume of my book will be in direct competition with Dave’s in a matter of days. One will apparently retail at £25, and one will definitely be on sale at £4.99. Spend your hard-earned pennies wisely, boys and girls.


© The Editor


‘They won’t let it happen, y’know’ – so spoke a shrewd Leave-voting friend of mine two years ago, back when the farce to block Brexit was barely twelve months into its record-breaking run. I doubted her word then; I doubt it no longer. Yes, we’ve all come a long way since 2017, let alone 2016. And this week has seen such an action-packed chapter in the saga that it’s something of a challenge to issue this brief summary of events as an up-to-date bulletin because it’ll probably be superseded by other events by the time it appears. From what I can work out at the moment, Boris Johnson has offered the Labour Party precisely what they most desire on a plate – but will they take the bait? This is like Tom popping a slab of cheese before Jerry’s hole-in-the-wall, and Jerry wrestling with the demands of his appetite, knowing from the off that his feline nemesis has set yet another trap.

So, the most vocal Second Referendum proponents won’t consent to a genuine ‘People’s Vote’ after all; no, they won’t let the electorate have their say if there’s a risk that by doing so they themselves might lose their seats. Jo Swinson has gone on the record that she won’t accept the result of another referendum if it ends up being the result she doesn’t want, anyway, so why should we be surprised by this latest surreal development? The Fixed Term Parliaments Act, one more contributing factor towards David Cameron’s candidacy as the Prime Minister with the most damaging legacy on record, is an irrelevant encumbrance to getting things done that should have been repealed the second the Coalition ceased to be. It is entirely responsible for yet another impasse when the loss of the Government’s tiny numerical advantage over its opponents demands the traditional resolution.

We now have the bizarre situation whereby a Prime Minister without a majority has to go cap-in-hand to a hostile Commons, seeking permission to dissolve Parliament – and being refused permission. Of course, Boris’s motivation for doing so is not quite black-and-white (to put it mildly); but the power to call a General Election without recourse to Parliament should never have been stripped from the resident of No.10 – especially when we currently have a Parliament that cannot agree on anything. Well, a majority can agree on something, and that will be demonstrated when the bill to block a no-deal Brexit is fast-tracked through the tortoise marathon of the Lords.

Another episode in this gripping chapter came with the 21 expulsions from the Conservative Party – numerous grandees (including the Father of the House himself) and recent Cabinet Ministers all deselected overnight, rebranded as Independents and prevented from standing as Tories ever again; never before has rebellion against one’s own party been so ruthlessly punished. Boris’s own brother Jo, a serial quitter – how many times has he walked out of the Cabinet now? – has resigned as an MP today, adding further minus marks against this administration’s numbers; the PM has already experienced the choreographed stunt of a dishonourable member crossing the floor of the House in the middle of a speech this week; and while the instant dismissal of the 21 rebels may have been a promised reprisal the Prime Minister was faced with no alternative but to carry out, the authority to govern based on a greater proportion of seats has been completely obliterated now. No Government in living memory has ever been so swiftly diminished, and yet for the electorate to be denied their say as a consequence seems to be one more example of the elected’s blatant contempt for those who elect them.

The sole beneficiaries of the crises eating away at the heart of both the Conservative and Labour Parties are the Lib Dems; having gained a Tory this week, Swinson and her anti-democratic cronies have now secured a former Labour member, albeit one who took the Umunna route from Labour to TIG to CHUK to Lib Dem. Luciana Berger famously quit Labour after well-documented and sustained anti-Semitic abuse, so her decision to walk seemed to be more understandable and worthy of sympathy than some of the colleagues who followed in her wake. But it appears the Lib Dems are now very much the Battersea Dog’s Home for MPs unloved and unwanted by their own parties; the fact that many of them represent Leave-voting constituencies is pure coincidence, of course. No wonder Jo Swinson is so against a snap Election when the sudden boost to her number of seats could be wiped out all over again if the polling stations are reopened for business tomorrow.

Justine Greening, Education Secretary for a while under Theresa May, announced a couple of days ago that she won’t be defecting to the Lib Dems, but will stand down altogether; possibly jumping before she’s pushed, yes, though it’s a sign of these turbulent times that Tory MPs who would previously have been regarded as future prospects with plenty more to offer are deciding their party is no longer conducive to their worldview. The cliché often trotted out about the Conservative or Labour Parties being ‘broad churches’ capable of encompassing a variety of opinions appears to be utterly redundant now.

Reluctant as I am to agree with the Lord of Darkness Peter Mandelson, I actually thought he had a fair point when he reminded people how Tony Blair never expelled Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party despite Jezza’s serial rebellions when in his backbench comfort zone; today, whether Labour or Tory, so narrow has the focus of the leadership and the leader’s advisers become that any deviation from the script will not be tolerated. In the end, it is the two parties themselves – whether represented by Labour’s Momentum takeover or the Tories’ capitulation to the ERG – that will suffer as both begin to resemble single issue pressure groups rather than wide collectives capable of addressing all the problems that need sorting instead of just the ones reflecting the interests of the elites at the pinnacle of the pyramid.

So, Boris will apparently put the call for a General Election to the Commons again on Monday, following the anticipated assimilation into law of the bill to block a no-deal Brexit. The majority of Labour’s leading lights want to hold back an Election until yet one more extension to D-Day has been secured, thus preventing Boris from repealing no-deal legislation. That’s what they say, anyway. More than three years after the event, we are where we are because they actually don’t want to do what the majority told them to do; and for all her faults, at least Jo Swinson is being honest. Maybe they won’t let it happen, y’know.

© The Editor


There have been a lot of Twitter knickers in a twist over the past 48 hours; then again, it’s hard to think of a time when there aren’t. The globe’s favourite social media platform for the outraged and offended has rarely observed such a thing as a Sabbath, and the polarising political climate in Britain since June 2016 has seen Twitter established as the battleground that never sleeps. Every development instigated by one side of the Brexit divide is fought at its most furious by the other not in the Commons, but in cyberspace; and after Tuesday’s coming together of Remainer MPs – despite the amusingly delusional Jo Swinson’s refusal to accept the candidacy of the Leader of the Opposition in the event of one unelected PM usurping another – the bursting of their bubble by Boris 24 hours later sent melodramatic hysteria into unmissable overdrive.

First of all, there was Brexiteer outrage at Remainer attempts to sabotage democracy as an effective Second Referendum/Revoke Article 50/Scrap Brexit coalition belatedly emerged; then there was Remainer outrage at Brexiteer attempts to sabotage democracy by proroguing Parliament and denying debate on the issue until there’s not enough time left to stop the No Deal Apocalypse. Both opposing parties are claiming ‘The People’ as their own, even though the people in question are merely those on their respective sides of the barricades; those who voted the wrong way can go whistle or at least submit to a course of re-education to understand why they’re in the wrong and the other side is in the right. Over three years on, and Cameron’s toxic legacy is more divisive than ever; indeed, it’s hard to see any potential resolution between the warring factions at all. A shame Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness are no longer around to bring everyone together.

However, thank God so many of the entitled egomaniacs fuelling the divisions remain oblivious to how stupid (and inadvertently entertaining) they are. Paul Mason played a manic street preacher preaching to the converted in a video aired on ‘Newsnight’ before appearing in the studio, predicting Poll Tax Riots-style civil unrest as the inevitable outcome if his side don’t get their way; and this after his side have constantly decried the other side for intimidating Remainer MPs outside Parliament, as though the other side’s notion of expressing their democratic right to protest somehow lacks the ‘purity’ of his side’s right to do likewise. To emphasise his working-class credentials, Mason invoked the fighting spirit of his hometown Leigh, conveniently overlooking the fact that the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan (to which Leigh belongs) voted 63.9 % Leave in 2016; but maybe Leigh has suffered the same post-industrial dismissal by the political class – the one that Mason’s attitude upholds – as neighbouring Bury; no wonder such places remain defined by what little they have left, like their football clubs…

John McDonnell, a man whose approach to taking on his opponents is juvenile at best, was also on hand with the microphone at the impromptu alfresco shindig in the wake of yesterday’s Downing Street announcement, as was Diane ‘abacus’ Abbott and Keir ‘Plastic Man’ Starmer. Nobody present could be left in any doubt that those who have facilitated the longest unbroken Parliamentary session since the Civil War are outraged. Such outrage was noticeably absent from the Remoaner camp when an electronically-tagged convicted criminal who just happened to be a Labour MP played her part in disrupting democracy by casting the decisive vote a few months ago, of course, and what of Mr Speaker himself? Little John has hardly been a bastion of impartiality, has he? But it’s okay ‘cause he’s one of us. The hypocrisy is hilarious.

I should imagine the PM probably had the proroguing plan ready and waiting for the right moment and he certainly seems to have timed it to perfection, ensuring Brenda’s seal of approval just one day after the parade of smug, holier-than-thou signatories to Jezza’s proposal queued-up on camera to sing from a shared hymn sheet at last, united in their righteous conviction. When the other side try to enact the will of the majority, that other side divides; when they try to enact the will of the minority, they unify; when the other side tries to prevent those responsible for blocking a democratic decision for three years from continuing to do so, it’s a coup; when they attempt to put together a fantasy ‘Caretaker Government’ of hand-picked losers for the purpose of reversing that democratic decision, they’re saving the nation.

It’s handy that we’re on the eve of the 80th anniversary of Mr Chamberlain’s declaration of war, for the tireless and tedious evocation of ‘fighting them on the beaches’ by Brexiteers not even old enough to have been Mods or Rockers in the 60s is a baton that has now been grabbed by the other side. After rightly ridiculing the irrelevant summoning of the Dunkirk Spirit by their opponents, some prominent Remoaners have once again decided when they do the same thing it’s not the same at all. ‘You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend’ tweeted Hugh Grant – not from beaches littered with bodies; ‘Weep for Britain. A sick, cynical and brutal and horribly dangerous coup d’état’ added Stephen Fry – not from a dead and long-abandoned Lancashire mill-town.

Perish the thought that politicians might be motivated by cynical self-interest, of course; the possibility Boris Johnson could be seeking to hold onto his job via his recent actions is as appalling as the possibility Jeremy Corbyn could be seeking to steal it via his recent actions. No, as ever, the moral high-ground is always with whichever guys you have decided are the good ones.

A three-week suspension of Parliament by the PM is standard procedure in the early autumn, allowing the party conference season to progress free from its star performers being recalled to Westminster for an emergency vote; adding a couple of weeks to the usual break is not really surprising considering the circumstances. Neither is the fact that by doing so, all those who endorse the decision are going back on what they’d said on the subject just a few weeks or tweets ago. They’re being led by Boris Johnson, don’t forget. After imagining they’d pulled a master-stroke in managing to temporarily gather all No Deal opponents under one united umbrella, the Remainer brigade are now confronted by the inevitable fact they have even less time to finally kill a democratic mandate than they thought. No wonder they’re upset. They’re going to take it to the streets, apparently; I wonder if Jon Snow will be on hand to count the number of non-white faces when they do.

© The Editor


As someone currently in the thick of manic creative hysteria – don’t think that’s a recognised syndrome, but it should be – I can sympathise with the increasingly-detached-from-reality mania afflicting the Remainer majority at Westminster; well, to a point. My own experience is of hammering at this bloody keyboard for hours at a time, desperately trying to transcribe the relentless flow of words pouring out of my fevered head with the same speed they appear in it; even when I take a break and try to unwind with brown bread and eggs (hearty meals not being conducive to the condition), I have a notepad beside me, for I cannot switch off. I’ve been like this for about a fortnight now, and it’s exhausting as well as mind-altering. You really do inhabit a world of your own making, one in which normal rules do not apply. It would seem I’m not alone.

Over the last three years, attempts to overturn the result of the 2016 EU Referendum by the losing side have gone from street protest to Project Fear to Second Referendum to where we are now, a new video game called ‘Fantasy Prime Minister’. In this, the player gets to choose which MP he or she would rather have in 10 Downing Street than the man who’s been there for less than a month. The player can pick from the incumbent Leader of the Opposition ol’ Jezza or the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson; they can pick the sole Green in the team, Caroline Lucas; or they can even opt for a couple of veterans who were never elected leaders of their respective parties, Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman. Once a prospective PM is selected, the player then engages in a series of gripping constitutional crises, battling for the right to replace an unelected premier with an unelected premier.

In order to derail what appears to be a determined No Deal ‘crashing out’ (© ‘Newsnight’) policy being pursued by Boris and the Brexiteers (great Merseybeat band name), Remainers have this week scaled unprecedented peaks of foaming-at-the-mouth fantasies they seriously believe will rescue us from ruin in the event of Boris being defeated in an expected no confidence vote. A Government of National Unity is one phrase we’ve heard a lot, but a country as disunited as ours currently is means such an administration would require representation from both ends of the great divide to truly unify; and nobody proposing the National Unity concept is proposing that. A Government of Remain Unity would be more accurate. When Caroline Lucas put forward her amusing idea of a middle-class ‘mumsnet’ Cabinet led by her in full headmistress mode, the only issue her side of the divide took with the notion was the absence of ‘women of colour’ from the line-up. The mind-boggling undemocratic ludicrousness of the proposal wasn’t a problem, apparently.

National Unity was much-discussed in the inconclusive wake of the February 1974 General Election, but Ted Heath’s proposals for coalition with Jeremy Thorpe’s Liberals floundered and Harold Wilson led Labour back to power with a minority administration. An actual peacetime ‘National’ Government comprising members from all three major parties had, of course, existed from 1931 until the outbreak of the Second World War; and though initially led by Labour’s Ramsay MacDonald, it was overwhelmingly Tory-dominated, as would’ve been any Heath/Thorpe coalition in 1974 and as indeed was the coalition led by Lloyd George in the aftermath of WWI. We don’t even have to go back that far to discern the imbalance in most coalition administrations and how the ultimate aim is more a case of the largest party keeping out the opposition rather than any noble aspiration to save the nation.

Jeremy Corbyn’s brainwave of playing the part of a caretaker PM to prevent the Halloween deadline coming to pass before then calling a General Election which he assumes he will win is bonkers, but at least he is the leader of the second largest party in the Commons. He is, however, dependent on disgruntled Tory backbenchers to achieve this aim, and while Enoch Powell may have advocated voting Labour in 1974, today’s Remainer Tories feel this is a rebellion too far.

Anyway, Jezza’s own ambiguous stance on the EU has been a hindrance to any successful exploitation by Labour of the Conservative divisions over the issue, and this clearly rankles with Jo Swinson, who doesn’t seem keen on the prospect of Corbyn at No.10, even if it means another Brexit delay is more likely. But then, the Lib Dem leader has been quite brazen that it’s her intention to prevent Brexit altogether, so merely kicking the date we leave back into the long grass yet again just isn’t good enough. The notion of giving the gig to Clarke or Harman is seen by Swinson as a genuinely realistic alternative to Corbyn. I mean, yes, good old Ken is the Father of the House and everyone’s favourite jazz-loving, hush puppy-wearing Tory uncle; but get real. As for Ms Harperson – come on!

But this is where we are. So intense is the panic amongst the hardcore Remainers now, nothing is deemed too fantastical. Caroline Lucas included Nicola Sturgeon in her fantasy Cabinet, and the First Minister isn’t even an MP. Why stop at nominating a prominent Remainer who at least happens to be a politician (albeit in the wrong parliament), though? Why not send out the call to Gary Lineker? Brian Cox? Greta Thunberg? And, no doubt, Chuka Umunna would be up for it too – how many parties has he been a member of this year? Anyway, this dream Guardian Government would revoke Article 50, reverse the Referendum result and deliver the same kind of ‘fuck you’ to 17 million members of the electorate as they themselves received three years ago. Lest we forget, the electorate will have no say at all – just as they didn’t when Boris succeeded Theresa. Why let such unnecessary annoyances like the electorate get in the way of democracy, though?

Considering we’re marking the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre this week – an event regarded as a watershed moment on the long and winding road to universal suffrage – it’s ironic that we’re currently watching politicians attempting to seize power (or hold onto it) without any involvement from voters at all. With the Government reduced to a majority of one, of course, it’s inevitable we’ll see a General Election before the scheduled date of 2022, probably before the end of this year; but what happens in the months leading up to the hustings appears to be being scripted by Chris Morris. I might regard myself as a bit fanatical at the moment – and if anyone could observe me during this breathless creative process they’d probably conclude I’m a bit ‘frazzled’. Compared to that lot down Westminster way, however, I feel confident I’d receive a clean bill of health. If I could get an appointment at my local GPs surgery, of course. Which, needless to say, I can’t. Welcome to 2019. It’s mad.


© The Editor


I’ve still never set foot in a betting-shop. Even though I know the old image of the grubby dive inhabited by seedy, dirty old men smoking dog-ends has received a facelift in recent years, I remain resistant to the premises’ questionable charms. The only time I ever considered it was during the Blur Vs Oasis chart battle of 1995. For those too young or too indifferent, this was the moment when the nation’s two rival Britpop bands rearranged their release schedules for an ingenious PR exercise that saw their new singles simultaneously hit the record-racks. I would have put money on Blur reaching the top spot because I figured your average pop fan would buy ‘Country House’ as well as hardcore Blur fans, whereas I correctly guessed only Oasis devotees would invest in ‘Roll With It’. What this odd example is supposed to represent is the fact that you can’t get to No.1 on the strength of your fan-base alone; you need the support of the masses too.

It’s something Hillary Clinton failed to appreciate during the 2016 US Presidential Election campaign; dismissing a vast section of blue-collar, working-class voters as essentially illiterate idiots and then expecting to be elected without their votes was a measure of her delusional arrogance. She drove them into the arms of Trump and then couldn’t understand why she didn’t win. It’s fine to be seen signalling your virtue by standing next to Beyoncé on a podium, but you can’t get elected unless you cultivate an appeal that cuts across all the divides that Mrs Clinton’s attitude exacerbated. Even if you think great swathes of the electorate are morons, you don’t say it out loud; you pretend to be their friend. Once you’re in office, f**k ‘em; but not before. Trump laid a trap for Hillary and she walked right into it; I can’t help but feel he’s playing the same game at the moment as well.

His typical Twitter baiting of the so-called ‘squad’ of four Democrat Congresswomen last week resulted in the unedifying spectacle of a crowd chanting ‘Send her back’, displaying openly racist rhetoric in a political context like we haven’t seen in the States (outside of a KKK rally, anyway) for half-a-century. The worldwide condemnation of the shit Trump stirred even caused the President to backtrack a little; but not much. As has been pointed out by various commentators, in choosing to take on a quartet of Democrats not necessarily representative of Democrats as a whole (one of the four has apparently expressed distinctly anti-Semitic sentiments in the past), he is cunningly re-branding the Democratic Party as a kind of Identity Politics pressure group, something that will alienate floating voters come 2020 and could well contribute towards a second term for the Donald.

Trump’s new counterpart on this side of the Atlantic didn’t require the electorate to be promoted to the top job, but he’ll need to court their favour before long. Boris Johnson’s inaugural lectern speech will probably be delivered in a way we can predict in advance, crammed with the standard vapid platitudes – just as Mrs May’s was three short years ago. He will no doubt declare his intention to ‘unite the nation’, for the tiny majority he inherits from his predecessor will necessitate a General Election sooner rather than later and he will still have an appetite for electioneering after the interminably prolonged Tory leadership contest. He may also imagine relocating to Downing Street wipes his previous pitiful ministerial slate clean; after all, the main focus during the leadership campaign was on his stint as London Mayor – though claiming Boris delivered the 2012 Olympics is a bit like saying Harold Wilson delivered the 1966 World Cup.

The outcome of the Tory leadership contest was the most foregone of foregone conclusions, akin to being bloated by a hearty meal and knowing the following day will inevitably open with a lengthy stint on the throne. We all knew Boris Johnson would become Prime Minister, and now he is. Just think of what that says about where we are. Anyway, the understandable outrage over the fact that the new tenant of No.10 was elected by a miniscule section of the electorate isn’t that big a deal if your political memory predates Brexit. Boris got the gig like Theresa May did in 2016; and Gordon Brown in 2007; and John Major in 1990; Jim Callaghan in 1976; Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1963…and so on. It’s hardly unprecedented. The only unique aspect to this contentious succession was how desperately Mrs May dragged it out, stretching her lame duck status simply because she wanted to be PM for a few days more than Gordon Brown managed.

Other than Brexit, Boris’s in-tray is interesting. The rather shameful state of the nation’s maritime traditions has been highlighted by a certain incident involving Iran’s piratical Revolutionary Guard; memories of how similarly swingeing cuts intended for Jolly Jack Tar’s fleet were only prevented by the actions of some Argentine opportunists planting their flag on Falklands soil back in 1982 probably don’t help in that this time round the cuts have already happened. And now we’re paying the price. As Boris doesn’t appear to believe in bugger-all but Boris, it will be fascinating to see how he responds to external events that are part-and-parcel of what a PM has to deal with. He has enough internal events on his hands with the odd ‘look at me’ resignation on the eve of his coronation, suggesting we should expect a Cabinet of yes-men and women. However, perhaps it’s no surprise when one thinks of the collective irresponsibility of the unruly rabble his predecessor was surrounded by.

Somewhat under the radar, there’s been further changing of the guard with the election of Jo Swinson as leader of the Liberal Democrats. A casualty of the electoral cull of Coalition Lib Dems in 2015, Swinson bounced back in 2017 in the same way the man she replaces did. The most striking contrast between the Party’s first female leader and the guy she’s succeeded comes with their respective birth certificates, however: Old Mother Cable is 76, whereas his successor is 39. Swinson seizes power at an opportune moment for the Lib Dems, fresh from their repositioning as The Remain Party and conscious that Tory voters on the left and Labour voters on the right are reasonably in their sights; Swinson’s intention to ‘stop Brexit’ may be refreshingly honest – most politicians hide behind the Second Referendum smokescreen – but the leader of a party with ‘Democratic’ in its name declaring her determination to overturn a democratic mandate has all the undemocratic irony of the world’s most totalitarian regimes ruling countries that also boast ‘Democratic’ as part of their title.

At least Remoaners have a Party leader they can flock to now, anyway; threats of a ‘No Deal’ Halloween are causing a fair few sleepless nights, I should imagine. Yes, it goes without saying that much amusement has been had via the Woke brigade’s tearful tantrums in response to Boris’s upgrade; it’s always entertaining to see them sob. But it’s as much a depressing sign of the times that a dick like Boris Johnson is the best the other side can rally round simply because he winds up the enemy as it is to have Katie Hopkins sold as a champion of free speech. We should be able to do better, but we can’t. Oh, well. At least it won’t be boring.

© The Editor