Like many who participated at the time, I can’t honestly say the European Union loomed very large in my life (if at all) before the Referendum of June 2016. Yes, I occasionally wrote about it on here because it was a topical story, just as I was aware it had been a running sore on the Conservative Party for the best part of forty years, something that provoked intense – and what seemed to me, disproportionate – passions in separate Tory factions; but the EU was not something I personally lost sleep over or frothed at the mouth about. Like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ or ‘Bake Off’, it was largely irrelevant to me; I didn’t really care one way or the other, and the fact I voted Remain reflected my ‘oh, well – better the devil you know’ attitude rather than revealing any deeply-held opinions. I only really took notice of the EU whenever the Tories returned to power and it proved to be the one factor that threatened to split the ranks and damage the brand. For them, it just wouldn’t go away.

Most looked on at this peculiar obsession and couldn’t really understand why it was an issue that got so many Tories so hot under the collar. When David Cameron announced there was to be a referendum on our membership of the Union, it appeared to be a move designed in response to two pressing factors, neither of which meant much to those without an investment in either. For one thing, the Tories were haemorrhaging votes to UKIP and their more traditional base was as opposed to Dave’s pro-Europe stance as it was to his socially liberal policies; secondly, the PM was evidently determined this issue would not bring him down as it had brought down previous Tory tenants of No.10, so here was an opportunity to finally lance the Brussels boil festering on the Conservative body politic once and for all with a (to quote Nicola Sturgeon) ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ vote. Thank God for that. It had become a very boring ongoing saga for far too long and was not a subject that would register much beyond Tory circles the moment it was done and dusted.

Imagine my surprise the day after the Referendum, then, when so many of my Facebook friends suddenly supplanted their regular profile pictures with the EU flag as though the EU were some über-cool band they’d just discovered; indeed, imagine my surprise when so many of them, who had previously never aired any political opinions on the forum, had transformed overnight into Great Political Thinkers, little Edmund Burkes, one and all. Grand pronouncements on the issue replaced enjoyably frivolous trivia, as if Facebook had abruptly changed channels from ‘The Generation Game’ to ‘The World at War’ with the flick of a switch. The unexpected rush of love for the EU on social media reminded me a little of the way in which the imminent closure of Woolies provoked a rash of sentimental shoppers to flood through doors they’d summarily ignored for decades. Yes, the usual suspects had been vocal in their support before the Referendum result, but now it seemed the majority of apolitical folk I followed had become possessed by this newfound passion that evoked unwelcome memories of the vicious tribal splits that characterised opposing camps during the Miners’ Strike of 1984; and their fury has multiplied as the rest of us who voted Remain have gradually realised just what a rotten shower the EU really is.

Since that moment, the approach to every issue has been cast in the black & white Brexit mould, whereby all is politicised in the most aggressive and divisive Us and Them ideology. We, the good people are virtuous, unsullied and pure; our enemies are the worst people who ever lived – like, literally Nazis. Brexit has narrowed, shaped and defined political and social discourse for five years now, and it appears there’s no letting up; even the pro-lockdown/anti-lockdown debate languishes in its toxic shadow. For many of us whose natural home had always been leaning towards the left, this atmosphere opened the floodgates for the lunatic fringe to seize control of the argument and edge the rest of us towards the no-man’s land of the middle ground, branded ‘far-right’ for not submitting to the propaganda, and painfully severed from friendships that had been fine before battle lines were drawn by the malignant hands of others. The instinctive response to BLM being put forward for the Nobel Peace Prize should be to wonder why the KKK haven’t received the same accolade, for there is no discernible difference between the ultimate aims of the two other than the former have successfully exploited the fear of being labelled racist by duping every conceivable institution and corporation in the West into supine compliance with their odious dogma. Yet whether through ignorance, reluctance to risk cancellation, or simple cowardice to reject the mantra of the herd because the herd offers an illusion of safety and security that social exclusion doesn’t, many continue to be blinded to the uncomfortable truth – and this is part of the 2016 fallout.

However, the past week has offered a sliver of hope that threatens to shatter the narrative. Unlike many Brits post-2016, I had never regarded ‘Europe’ as a single entity, which is what it suddenly became the day after the Referendum result – a myth the EU has always been keen to propagate in order to validate its existence. Personally, I like different European countries for their differences, just as I like the four constituent countries of the UK for the same reason. A huge landmass viewed as a de facto ‘One Nation’ that rides roughshod over independent sovereignty doesn’t work; it didn’t for Europe in the long run when much of it fell under the sprawling bureaucracy of the Holy Roman Empire, and history shows us how rarely it has successfully worked for the USA. The European Union has repeatedly tried to sell itself using the ‘one-size-fits-all’ idea, but it was always a sham. The way in which the institution has treated Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal in recent years whilst simultaneously favouring Germany and France has made this blatantly obvious. Continents are not countries and the EU is not a democratically-elected government.

Attempts to apply its official principles to the issue of the coronavirus vaccine have exposed the unattractive reality of the EU to many of those who proclaimed their love for it five years ago. The leading cheerleaders of the EU project dragged their heels when it came to a vaccine rollout, forbidding member states to import vaccines without EU permission, and resulting in the European Commission pointing the finger at Oxford-AstraZeneca to obscure the fact that EU officials hadn’t moved with the same swiftness as the UK when it came to ordering the antidote. Both Germany and France have tried to cover Brussels backs by badmouthing the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab at a time when their respective populations sorely needed it; and then the EU badly misjudged the global mood by falling back on emotional blackmail and trying to use the vaccine as a weapon in Brexit trade wars, making it look petty and vindictive, prioritising trivial grievances over the lives of the European citizens in whose interests it has claimed to be acting.

The below-the-belt attempt to threaten the Northern Ireland Protocol, the survival of which has been central to disputes over Brexit, made it look like a hard border on the island of Ireland was something the EU was prepared to invoke whenever it suited them and brought the authentic EU attitude to Ireland into the open. For the last few years we’ve been repeatedly warned by Brussels how Brexit would be the harbinger for the Troubles Part II, yet the EU throwing its toys out of the pram by sanctioning vaccine for Eire and refusing it for Ulster, theoretically erecting the very hard border it has repeatedly claimed Brexit would disastrously lead to, managed the impressive feat of uniting the DUP and Sinn Féin in condemnation. The vaccine issue has been a PR disaster for the EU all across its fiefdoms, yet none more so than in the very ex-member state it has been determined to punish for having the nerve to expose its sales technique as bullshit. Five years on from Brexit, perhaps now is finally the moment when Leave voters can say ‘told you so’ without fear of a spontaneous backlash of the kind we’ve become accustomed to. Silver linings and all that…

© The Editor


With the economy in meltdown, the threat of a hard border on the island of Ireland, a rocky relationship with mainland Europe, and the public enduring wartime restrictions on their freedoms, it often feels like the nation is in the midst of a most unwelcome 70s revival – minus the great music and wacky fashions that made that decade worth living through. The Three-Day Week and the Winter of Discontent were probably the last occasions remotely comparable to what we’ve had to put up with in 2020, and looking back on those (literally) dark days can no longer be entered into with the same sense of ‘can you believe people put up with all that?’ smug detachment. But the final icing on a quite unappetising cake of nasty nostalgia has now come via the latest chapter in the ongoing Brexit farce, i.e. the prospect of a potential Cod War all over again – or something as near to it as we’ve had since the UK and Iceland battled it out for fishing rights on the high seas. If anything, we’re going even further back in time as we appear to be squaring-up against the old enemy across the Channel, more than a century on from the Entente Cordiale that was supposed to have ended our ancient animosity towards our Gallic cousins.

Actually, disputes over territorial waters with other maritime nations are just as old as our rivalry with the French; and we can blame it on the Vikings. The Nordic rapists and pillagers introduced cod and other North Atlantic whitefish into the British diet, centuries before fish and chips became the national dish. So engrained was our appetite for these delicacies by the 15th century that voyages by English ships into the plentiful Icelandic fishing grounds prompted King Eric of Denmark (who ruled Iceland) into barring Icelanders from trading with the English. Despite efforts to diplomatically resolve what evolved into a long-running dispute, vessels continued to set sail from Blighty and head north for hundreds of years, venturing deeper into Icelandic territory with the advent of steam-power. Denmark eventually declared a fishing limit around Iceland and the Faroe Islands of 50 nautical miles, though this tended not to be observed by British ships. There were a series of clashes at the back end of the 19th century, leading to the 1901 ‘Anglo-Danish Territorial Waters Agreement’; however, British catches in Icelandic waters remained substantial for the first half of the 20th century.

When disagreements rose again in the immediate post-war period, British ports imposed a landing ban on Icelandic fish, a move which proved highly damaging to the Icelandic fishing industry; sensing a way-in, the USSR began to import fish from Iceland, whilst the US – fearful, as ever, of Soviet influence being extended beyond Eastern Europe – did likewise, a move that effectively neutralised the damage done by the British landing ban. When this latest round of the never-ending dispute resulted in the extension of Icelandic fishery limits in 1958, British trawlers largely ignored it and were accompanied for the first time by Royal Navy warships during their forays into Icelandic waters. The ill-feeling between the two nations escalated into what is regarded as the First Cod War, with clashes, collisions and shots fired; NATO ended up acting as a mediator and the conflict officially ended in 1961 with an agreement that allowed British vessels to visit specific Icelandic fishing grounds at specific times of the year. This uneasy truce lasted around a decade.

When what is referred to as the Second Cod War erupted in the autumn of 1972, it somewhat contradicted the image of European unity that the EEC (of which Britain would be a member as of New Year’s Day 1973) and PM Ted Heath were so eager to sell to the British public. Iceland had decided to extend its waters once again, with its new left-wing government spurning the treaty agreed to by its centre-right predecessor, which required the involvement of the International Court of Justice in the Hague should any further disputes arise; aggressive patrolling of the new limits and the cutting of British nets inevitably provoked retaliation. By the beginning of 1973, the Royal Navy had become involved and anti-British feeling was so strong in Iceland that the windows of the British Embassy in Reykjavik were smashed by a mob; but in increasingly harsh economic times, fishing communities on either side were prepared to fight gloves-off to keep their livelihoods going. NATO – which Iceland threatened to leave – eventually became involved again and an agreement was finally reached in November 1973, albeit one that limited British catches in Icelandic waters; this agreement only lasted a couple of years before hostilities resumed at the end of 1975.

Iceland extended the so-called ‘exclusion zone’ once again, and as Britain refused to recognise the extension, the Third Cod War broke out. This chapter of the trilogy proved to be the most violent, with several serious incidents that exceeded the tit-for-tat exchanges of the previous two conflicts. The situation became so dire that Iceland broke off diplomatic relations with the UK in February 1976; when an agreement was reached that June, it may have been one that officially ended hostilities but it was also one with stipulations that resulted in heavy redundancies in ports such as Hull and Grimsby, whose economies were almost exclusively dependent on fishing. What always sounded to me like some sort of ‘joke war’ when I was a child dipping into ‘John Craven’s Newsround’ – after all, I associated cod with chips, not wars – had severe repercussions on British industry at a time when it was hardly in the healthiest of shapes.

40 years on from the end of the Third Cod War, the decision by a majority of the British population to leave the EEC’s bloated successor didn’t initially throw up concerns regarding a revival of disputes over fishing rights. However, with the EU stating its desire to maintain access to fishing grounds within the British ‘exclusive economic zone’, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit would complicate matters; Britain’s cause also isn’t helped by the fact that more than half of England’s fishing quotas are in foreign ownership – though that shouldn’t come as a surprise when one considers what has happened to other British industries in recent years. The seemingly doomed talks in Brussels have provoked the promise of the Royal Navy being deployed once more to police British waters – this time in the English Channel. Although the Royal Navy tends to patrol the seas around Britain anyway, shots are rarely fired in anger; were they required to be, the constant cutting and trimming of the service over the past few decades means it is a shadow of what it was at the time of the Cod Wars, so expecting a fleet of warships to tackle illegal fishing by the French in the Channel is pretty unrealistic.

What has predictably been labelled ‘gunboat diplomacy’ in the wake of this threat could be viewed as the EU deliberately backing Boris into the kind of corner it knows he will react to with a futile jingoistic flourish. The EU has also refused to allow the PM to speak directly to Macron and Merkel, insisting he deal solely with Michel Barnier; indeed, events of this past week seem to have highlighted yet again how the EU is consciously punishing the UK for having the temerity to depart the club. Negotiations were destined to be difficult, but the EU needed them to be in order to make an example of Britain and further dissuade any other member state contemplating following suit. Southern Europe – Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece – has failed to reap the ‘benefits’ of both the Euro and free movement promoted as beneficial in France and Germany, but the less Britain emerges with from the melee, the less appealing the rewards of departure for anyone else. No, if anyone can lay claim to ruling the waves right now, it’s not Britannia, but Brussels.

© The Editor


The diminishing post-war role of Britain on the world stage must have been evident to anyone who was a regular cinema-goer in the 50s and 60s, though the manner in which this message was received would have been unintentional. A fixture of the Pathé News bulletins for a good 20 years after 1947 was the independence ceremony; the sight of euphoric natives celebrating a colony finally standing on its own two feet was presented in characteristically jolly fashion by these optimistic interludes between the support picture and the main feature. The Queen’s presence implied a gracious acceptance of independence, even if the apparent benevolence of the mother country disguised relief at the breaking-up of an Empire it could no longer afford to run. Yet, for all the dressing-up of such events in a positive style, there’s no doubt the increasingly regular sight of the Union Jack descending down one more flagpole on a foreign field must have had a subconscious psychological impact on national morale – and one that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Bar the 1997 Hong Kong Handover, the last time an occasion of this nature took place was in Rhodesia in 1980. By then, the cinema news bulletin had long been superseded by TV reports reaching the nation’s living rooms via satellite; moreover, there were few people left in the country who clung to the image of Britain that had been inherited from the imperial forefathers. Even before Zimbabwe was dragged kicking and screaming from the Commonwealth womb, Britain had already reduced its global ambition and had settled for a future much closer to home – Europe. The continent had welcomed belated British membership of the Common Market, but the economic woes that plagued the nation throughout the first decade of so of Britain’s seat at the EEC table were something that seemed to give our neighbours a sense of superiority over the ‘sick man’; and the condescending perception of an incurably ill member state lingered.

Britain as a minor Brussels suburb was something the British public never truly embraced wholeheartedly, and it could be argued our mainland neighbours never really regarded us as ‘proper Europeans’ either. Middle-class Brits liked it because it fitted their image of themselves as sophisticated continentals a cut above the native yahoos; but for most in the UK, the Great European Project – especially when the organisation progressed from being a simple trading partnership to a reincarnation of the Holy Roman Empire – began to seem like an unnecessary encumbrance that made us feel like a naughty schoolboy permanently stationed outside the headmaster’s office. Yet, anyone observing the sudden rebranding by some Brits as instant Europeans in June 2016 may have thought otherwise. They reminded me a little of my cousin in 1977, whose bedroom wall became a shrine to Elvis Presley the minute he died, despite there being no sign of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll up there the day before.

England and Wales were the two constituent countries of the UK that sealed the deal in 2016, and will probably play host to the most celebratory reactions when the clocks strike eleven. Even here, however, I suspect celebrations will be muted mainly because the polarised fault-lines now run so deep. The recourse of Remoaners to lazy name-calling of the most basic nature – Nazi, Racist, Fascist etc. – evokes the way in which ‘Scab’ became the ubiquitous buzzword when one side verbally attacked the other during the similarly divisive Miners’ Strike of 1984/5; and just as there were ‘Quiet Tories’ not broadcasting their voting preference at the 2017 General Election, there’s no doubt there are ‘Quiet Leavers’ declining to be drawn into Remain-dominated discourse on the likes of Facebook today for fear of being cast out of the village.

North of the border, the EU has been adopted by the ruling party as a handy addition to the independence portfolio. Indeed, the most obstinate, head-in-the-sand English Remoaners took their cue from those Scots who never accepted the 2014 Referendum result when echoing their demands for a rerun because it didn’t turn out the way they wanted. The SNP promotional brochure that the rest of the UK receives glosses over the fact that during the 1975 EEC Referendum, the SNP was as virulently anti-Common Market as the Brexit Party is anti-EU today; the Salmond/Sturgeon incarnation of the SNP, on the other hand, makes the Lib Dems resemble UKIP. This curious juxtaposition of the desire to be an independent nation yet still chained to a Union that offers it far less leeway than the Union it has been part of for 300 years is not the only contradiction at the heart of Holyrood.

It’s no real surprise the EU is so appealing to Sturgeon’s tartan army. The SNP as a political force contains all the elitist ‘executive’ elements that so alienated 17.4 million voters when it came to the People’s Vote campaign – the same sense of sneering, superior entitlement embodied south of the border in the likes of Lord Adonis or Anna Soubry; it boasts all the worst aspects of Identity Politics that has cost Labour so much of its traditional support; and it has a finger-wagging tendency to persistently incur into people’s private lives by attempting to regulate what they eat and drink, how they chastise their children, and to punish them for smoking – to prioritise Nanny State interference over the far-from impressive condition of many of Scotland’s public services. Yet, like Labour in England, the SNP is keen to sell itself as a ‘party of the people’, picking up the Stop Brexit banner with far more success than any other political party in the UK.

Across the Irish Sea, the resumption of the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont comes at an opportune moment; the peace process, along with the province as a whole, finds itself at something of a crossroads. Many of those who played a pivotal part in the Good Friday Agreement and the crucial early days of power-sharing are no longer around. Paisley and McGuinness are both dead, John Hume is now lost to the No Man’s Land of dementia, and Seamus Mallon passed away barely a week ago. Enough time has now elapsed since 1998 to place the future of Ulster in the hands of a generation who weren’t manning the barricades at the height of the Troubles; and just as significant is the fact that December’s General Election saw Northern Ireland elect more Nationalist MPs to Westminster than Unionists for the first time ever. For those seeking a united Ireland, the prospects have rarely looked brighter.

Along with Scotland, of course, Northern Ireland voted Remain; the DUP may have been the cheerleaders for Brexit during the period when they made up the numbers for Theresa May’s threadbare Tories, but they were hardly representative of the majority in Ulster. The loss of Nigel Dodds at Westminster was an additional blow for a party that punched way above its weight when the British Government needed it; but the British Government doesn’t need it anymore, and one wonders how much longer Unionism can survive as a potent political force when the momentum appears to be with Nationalism. Belated alignment with the more enlightened social policies of the Republic has recently come despite DUP opposition, and it’ll be interesting to see how events develop at Stormont during the next twelve months.

Nationwide, the next twelve months will be just as interesting, if considerably less intense than the last three years. Wherever one stands, this was what the majority voted for and that should always have been reason enough for implementing it. It’s only taken us so long to get here because some just couldn’t accept it; and I don’t think they ever will. Some of us who voted Remain did. We might not have liked it, but hey, that’s democracy. Au revoir.

© The Editor


The belated pensioning-off of my VCR a couple of years ago was followed by the eventual clear-out of hundreds of VHS tapes, the earliest of which stretched back to the beginning of the 1990s. Whilst this has been beneficial in terms of space, I often notice the absence of what was effectively a comprehensive visual library when I feel the need to check a fact I can’t verify anywhere else. Without a machine to play them on, there was little point retaining these tapes – many of which contained numerous documentaries and factual series that will never see the light of day as commercial releases – so I often scour YouTube to see if any have surfaced courtesy of those who had the equipment to upload obscurities they’d also recorded off-air. Sometimes I find them; other times, I don’t. One such programme I’ve never found again was a documentary transmitted on Channel 4 in 2001, looking back on the day Britain went Decimal.

In it, there was an archive interview with a shopkeeper who refused to go with the flow and accept the currency change. Now unable to re-watch this programme, I can’t name him or the location of his shop and therefore have to rely on memory, though the nature of his protest is easy enough to recall. Footage of him standing his increasingly shrinking ground two years after decimalisation displayed his doomed defiance as he continued to insist his premises wouldn’t accept ‘new money’. By 1973, most of his loyal customers had probably exhausted their un-renewable supplies of defunct coinage and one would imagine his obstinacy cost him his business in the end. But for people of his generation, the loss of traditional £sd, a mere year before Ted Heath signed the country into the Common Market, was symbolic of something greater.

Often, the powerless seize upon something of apparent triviality when they feel the bigger picture is beyond their grasp. We’ve seen it with the so-called ‘metric martyrs’ in more recent years as, for some, the European Union has acquired the autocratic qualities once reserved for longer-established institutions that have wielded widespread influence and power over millions for centuries, such as the church, absolute monarchies or totalitarian regimes. Unable to attack these behemoths with bazookas, the incensed tend to resort to slingshots. Although decimalisation was planned and prepared long before the EEC finally accepted British membership – and the former certainly had a far more immediate impact on ordinary people’s lives – the two were linked in the minds of older generations for whom basic (and seemingly unnecessary) inconvenience was coupled with the loss of omnipotent signposts that had helped define in their minds what it meant to be British.

Naturally, what it means to be British can vary between different demographics. To those largely on the left for whom being British is a rather distasteful notion, Brexit represented their ultimate nightmare come true. As we all know, many of them – unlike the anti-decimal 70s shopkeeper – just happened to be in positions of power and spent the best part of three years abusing that power to try and overturn a democratic mandate. However, if the result of December’s General Election achieved anything of lasting significance, it could well be that it has ironically reduced the over-powerful Remain lobby to the same level as that poor deluded shopkeeper whose own protest was coming from a different place altogether. And perhaps it’s no coincidence that the delicious desperation of the arrogant entitled clique whose perception of its own importance was made possible by a neutered minority administration now finds the ultimate manifestation of its inability to accept the inevitable comes via a coin.

The so-called Brexit 50 pence piece has already had a somewhat troubled history; first optimistically announced to commemorate the original departure date of 31 October last year, the predictable delay forced a swift change of plan. Apparently, 10 million were intended to be minted; whether or not any sneaked out will probably keep collectors of rare coins busy for decades, but the ‘recycled’ version was confidently unveiled shortly after the Conservative victory on 12 December and will enter circulation at the end of this month when overdue departure is finally confirmed. And so, denied the illusion of clout they achieved during the high summer of their opposition to the majority, Remoaners have now fixated on the humble 50p as representative of everything they hate about Britain.

The 50p has become something of a sandwich board for historic anniversaries or celebrations of Great British icons in recent years – everything from public libraries and Paddington Bear to Beatrix Potter and the Battles of Britain and Hastings have been featured on the coin; and it’s interesting that the first such variation on the standard Britannia design to appear came with the memorable Common Market ‘joined hands’ version issued in 1973. The Brexit 50p could be viewed as an inversion of that particular coin’s fraternal message, yet its inscription of ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’ essentially conveys the same spirit of international brotherhood as the visual equivalent from 1973 – with or without an ‘Oxford comma’.

The accusation of a grammatical error was made by author (and noted Remainer) Philip Pullman, though one suspects his objection runs deeper. The reaction to the coin amongst the pettiest bad losers within the Remoaner camp is undoubtedly entertaining and has made them look more like Little Englanders in their attitude than those they routinely label as such. Pullman claims he will ‘boycott’ the coin, though does this mean he will vigorously examine his change when being served in a busy shop and then demand a replacement for a Brexit 50p as though it’s one of those ‘funny foreign coins’? The ever-laughable Alistair Campbell echoed Pullman’s sentiments, and it is truly something to see a man who once pulled so many powerful strings with such pig-headed arrogance now taking out his frustrations on a little bit of copper-nickel. Sometimes, the falling of the mighty is worthy of celebration. Maybe a commemorative coin could be minted to mark the occasion?

But perhaps the most extreme example of Remoaner excesses at their OTT worst came from some wag on Twitter yesterday, one who had the insensitive gall to deface the image of the coin with a swastika – on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. His point was that the Brexit 50p and the occasion it commemorated were somehow on a par with the rise of the Nazis and all that led to. Yes, that’s how corrosive the effects of being denied getting their own way has become for some. In many respects, such a response to something as inconsequential as a commemorative coin chimes with the ongoing narrative re the desperate search for something to vindicate victimhood, a trait generally reserved for the privileged and the bourgeois. And the loudest voices on the Remain side of this debate have invariably hailed from that camp. Oh, well. Maybe when we ‘crash out’ and the economic apocalypse leaves them begging for spare change in shop doorways, take pity and slip them a coin. 50p should suffice.

© The Editor


There are some things in life with an eternal longevity that serves as an inexplicably curious comfort; we may not devote much attention to them, but it’s still a source of satisfaction knowing they’re there. The Shipping Forecast, for example – or Ken Bruce. Then there are others that appear in annoying possession of an undeserved immortality that outlasts any relevance they once had. ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ was one of those for what felt like centuries before receiving a belated mercy killing; yet we’ve still got ‘Later with Jools Holland’. And added to that listless list could be this current Parliament, which seems set to go on and on and on until every member of the electorate over 40 is pushing up the daisies. By then, the young – all of whom are unquestionably of a Remainer persuasion, of course – will have inherited the ballot-box and it should be safe to hold a General Election again without fear the result of the 2016 Referendum will be honoured or that we will actually leave the EU.

Social media is today awash with reminders of how Boris Johnson once declared something or other and has now outrageously gone back on his word – as though reciting the PM’s catalogue of U-turns proves without doubt that he’s not a man to be trusted. In most cases, his record both in and out of politics shows, yes, he probably isn’t a man to be trusted; but when it comes to Brexit, he hasn’t really been left with any option but to reverse every public pronouncement on the subject courtesy of a Commons that clearly takes perverse delight in thwarting him seemingly just because he’s Boris. But whilst MPs of all opposition parties – not to mention many in Boris’s own – are having fun playing parliamentary parlour games, the rest of us are watching on with weary exasperation, thoroughly sick and tired of the entire repulsive circus.

Given what we have seen this year, did anyone really believe the Halloween deadline day would be adhered to? I’ve already lost track of how many deadline days we’ve bypassed in 2019, so the news that the EU has granted yet another extension against Boris’s declared wishes hardly warrants the Prime Minister being regarded as the reincarnation of Richard Nixon. Even if his own incompetence undoubtedly played a part, the fact is that yet again he was confronted by a brick wall of Remainers whose self-serving obstinacy is having the counter-productive effect of making the PM a sympathetic figure; rightly or wrongly, and whatever the true motivation of his actions, to the public it appears he’s the one person trying to implement what a majority of the electorate voted for over three years ago. In their eyes, he is not the one to blame for the latest in a long, long line of delays; we all know who is, and the guilty parties know we know – which is why they won’t give us the chance to vote them out of office.

Oh, sorry! I forgot. The Lib Dems and SNP have now colluded to dangle a carrot that may at least present the Government with the opportunity to override the support of the Labour Party that the wretched Fixed Term Parliaments Act requires. And amen to that. For all there is to admire in some of Labour’s proposals when it comes to those areas of social policy the Tories have shamefully disregarded over the past decade, it is Labour’s deluded stance on Brexit that will probably cost them dear at the nation’s polling stations. Throwing in its lot with the cosseted concerns of the metropolitan Parliamentary Labour Party is a catastrophic misjudgement of the opinions of all the lifelong Labour voters a long way from London – the disillusioned diehard that has no more in common with the champagne socialism of Starmer, Watson and Thornberry than it does with Oliver bloody Letwin.

Labour’s pitiful position in the polls after probably the most disastrous couple of years for the Conservative Party since the mid-1990s speaks volumes as to its prospects on the hustings to come – and delaying a General Election is as much a tactic of self-preservation for Labour as kicking Brexit into the endless long grass is for the Liberal Democrats. If Boris Johnson has a habit of shooting himself in the foot whenever his fortunes appear to have taken a turn for the better, Jeremy Corbyn has been equally accident-prone; the anti-Semitism issue has been swept under the carpet time and time again, yet it keeps coming back to further tarnish the Momentum bandwagon.

The remarkably close-run thing of 2017 is currently being exhumed by media Labour luvvies as an example of how the polls shouldn’t be relied upon as a pointer to the party’s performance. But Jezza was an unknown quantity to the electorate two years ago, when we were approaching a full decade since the financial crash and people were wearying of Austerity; his voice doesn’t sound quite so fresh now. Neil Kinnock’s failure in 1992 has often been put down to the fact he’d been Leader of the Opposition for too long – nine years at that time; Corbyn has held the same post for four, but it already seems so much longer.

The fanaticism of the Corbyn cult that characterised the 2017 General Election campaign has dwindled back to the hardcore now – as was inevitable with Corbyn not being crowned PM, despite his undeniably impressive, against-all-odds effort. Whipping-up the giddy enthusiasm of first-time voters by selling Jezza as a rock star was a policy destined to meet the same fate that befalls many a rock star whose zillion-selling debut album floods the charity shops when fashion moves on; the ‘difficult second album’ is not exactly eagerly-anticipated by the wider public. Indeed, for all its romanticising by the faithful, 2017 could actually be viewed in the same despondent light as the missed opportunity of 1992. Had Labour managed to win an outright majority and ousted Theresa May before her own party beat them to it, we wouldn’t have had a Hung Parliament, and therefore wouldn’t be trapped in this bloody Groundhog deadlock.

At least, for all their dominance in media circles, the People’s Vote mafia will invariably be split come Election Day, and this may well be their merciful undoing. A General Election should be fought on more than a single issue, but this one is bound to be even more Brexit-themed than the last; and that is not the fault of the electorate, but our elected representatives. The Second Referendum brigade are all-too aware that the problem when Parliament is overwhelmingly in synch with Remainer sensibilities is that voters are left with a dangerous variety of multiple choices – thus a ‘People’s Vote’ is the preferred option; that way, parties don’t come into it and they can all unite under the EU flag. With a General Election, however, the voters can only pick one pro-Remain faction, knowing another faction will suffer as a consequence – and there are so many to choose from! Leavers, on the other hand, largely only have the Tories or the Brexit Party – which is a profoundly depressing choice in itself; but such is life when you’re dead in a ditch.

© The Editor


It’s a toss-up as to which is the most undignified gesture, really – gate-crashing Europe’s leading gentleman’s club with a choreographed stunt during the playing of ‘Ode to Joy’, or wearing T-shirts bearing the legend ‘Bollocks to Brexit’. It’d be comforting to think the former was a protest at Ludwig Van’s masterpiece being purloined for political purposes, but alas, no, for these are our representatives on the European stage in 2019; it’s enough to make one hanker for Brotherhood of Man and Buck’s Fizz. Then again, representatives for both sides of the divide advertised their intentions in advance, or at least the respective stances they would take once in a) The Lion’s Den or b) The Garden of Eden (tick where applicable).

The Brexit Party certainly made it clear they planned to descend upon the European Parliament determined to disrupt proceedings in the manner of Paisleyite Unionists striding into 1970s Westminster; similarly, the servile sucking-up to the same institution by their Lib Dem opponents whilst wearing their contempt for democracy as a literal T-shirt (just in case anybody missed it) shouldn’t have come as a surprise either. Of course, three years ago 17 million members of the Great British electorate decided we wouldn’t be sending any MEPs to Brussels in 2019; but the fact we are means it was almost inevitable the conflicting responses of the British intake would be akin to children being let loose in an adventure playground without parental supervision. That’s where we are now.

Whether ‘Carry On Up The EU’, milkshakes as missiles, baby blimps hovering over London, or every Grauniad reader’s favourite ‘Urban’ person Stormzy leading a white woke audience in a chant of ‘Fuck Boris’ at the rock & pop Glyndebourne known as Glastonbury, it would appear the nation is experiencing its second childhood. The default panic room when faced with the intractable series of crises confronting the country seems to be the nursery. People are worried about the future, impoverished by Austerity, browbeaten by Brexit and powerless in the face of Parliament discarding its democratic duty, so they retreat to the sole surviving safe-space available to them – sticking their tongues out at the powers-that-be en route, and shouting ‘Fascist’, ‘Nazi’ or ‘Racist’ for good measure.

Reduced to hurling an aforementioned dairy-based beverage at a pantomime villain when the ability to articulate frustration any other way appears a lost art – that’s 2019; the argument has exhausted the nation, even though most of us ironically do now know a great deal more about the EU than when presented with a choice in 2016. Unfortunately, those of a Second Referendum bent have failed to realise that possession of this knowledge doesn’t necessarily serve as the ideal recruitment weapon for the Remainer narrative; if anything, the more we learn the more likely we are to be drawn to the Leave cause. They really should’ve retained the beguiling mystique of the EU and not exposed the grotesque bureaucratic behemoth to the light.

At least we all had a say in 2016 (even if it appears to have counted for nothing in the end) – unlike the race to No.10, the latest offshoot from Cameron’s can of worms. Yet, if eras are given leaders most pertinent to those eras, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that Boris Johnson is still the odds-on favourite to be the next Prime Minister. He is the ideal candidate for our times – immature, immoral, avaricious, frivolous, reckless, devious, dishonest – and so say all of us. Maybe the most significant example to date of Boris’s inability to cope in a crisis came via his infamously sloppy response to the detainment and imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe; the potential damage the then-Foreign Secretary’s casual comments did to the British-Iranian citizen held on dubious spying charges in Tehran contrast sharply with Jim Callaghan’s response to the threatened execution of Ugandan-based British author and lecturer Denis Hills in 1975. Hills was sentenced to death by firing squad on charges of espionage and sedition; but Callaghan as Foreign Secretary made a personal approach to Idi Amin, flying out to Kampala and bringing Hills home. That’s the kind of thing grownups do – or used to.

An elderly, ailing Churchill returning to power in 1951 was the perfect personification of the early 50s malaise, playing the nation’s grandfather in the manner of an aged stationmaster from the Rev. W. Awdry’s Railway Series; Harold Wilson was the right man for the job in 1964, surfing the wave of the nation’s dynamic go-getting attitude via his utilisation of both the pre-eminent pop culture and the white heat of the new technology; he performed his own late Churchill role ten years later, holding both party and country together as one last duty before collecting his carriage clock; in contrast, the big hair & big shoulder pad ensemble of Mrs Thatcher was the stylistic embodiment of mid-80s excess in all its ‘greed-is-good’ vulgarity as the free-market hounds were released for round one of casino capitalism’s ascendancy; the middle-management, superficial blandness of Blair and his heir, Cameron, equally made them men of their times. We’ve got Boris.

Yes, like Trump, he may piss-off the right-on chattering classes – which is undeniably entertaining; but that’s not a good enough reason on its own to hand him the keys to No.10. We should be able to do better. But take a look at the opposing frontbenches and nominate a great man or woman who would make a great leader. No, me neither. This is an age of unprecedented parliamentary mediocrities. Boris has always caught the eye because of the amusing comic character he plays in public; surrounded by such nonentities, he was bound to stand out. But the Enoch Powell-like ‘voice in the wilderness’ aura he has generated from the backbenches ever since his exit from government should have kept him as a perennial beacon for mischief-makers to congregate around, not propel him all the way to Downing Street.

Boris wants to be Prime Minister, whereas Nigel Farage claims he doesn’t want to be an MEP; his presence in Brussels inevitably provokes cries of hypocrisy from his enemies. ‘But you still collect your Brussels salary!’ Yes, just like all those SNP MPs whose avowed aim is to detach their country from the UK and its parliament, yet still receive their Westminster paycheque – or all the members of the Northern Ireland Executive who continue to be paid, despite the fact it hasn’t sat at Stormont for over two years. Nice work if you can get it, eh? All adult avenues are sealed-off now, so while you arm yourself with a milkshake, I shall continue to exercise my own puerile prodding with the occasional silly, satirical video as I proceed towards my destiny as Miss Havisham. Or maybe not…

© The Editor


If you’ve nothing to say, say nothing. The image to the left of this paragraph says nothing other than I like it. Even though the last post on here wasn’t bad, it didn’t attract much attention and I have admittedly written about the subject matter several times before; dejá vu and all that. As of December 2017, the pace has also slowed considerably, so I suppose my missives have ceased to be key to the daily routine of many; followers don’t know when to expect them anymore, but then again, neither do I. And, as I’m not an end-of-the-pier comic going through the motions before an audience of comatose pensioners whose dementia means every old gag is a new gag every time they hear it, I am not obliged to repeat myself to make a living. I used a photo of Archie Rice on a recent post, so I can’t recycle it as a visual accompaniment to enhance my point, but you should get where I’m coming from without it.

Sure, I’ve got my favourite recurring jokes – ‘Have you heard the one about complainants making unproven sexual assault allegations being described as rape victims by the mainstream media?’; ‘A man walks into a polling booth and is faced with a choice between staying in the EU or staying in the EU’; ‘How many Guardian journalists does it take to rewrite British history to vindicate their white guilt complex?’; ‘A mentally-ill Englishman, a disabled Irishman and a Scotsman with cancer all manage to walk unaided into a DWP assessment centre and are deemed fit for work’; and not forgetting the funniest joke ever, ‘Chris Grayling’. It’s the way I tell ‘em.

Back before YouTube blocked, banned and censored anyone expressing an opinion at odds with the imposed consensus, I used to upload little videos of a humorous and occasionally satirical bent on a regular basis, a practice from which all the fun was gradually extracted as navigating the increasing obstacles placed before the individual voice became more trouble than it was worth. I still receive comments on said videos, however, many of which implore more of the same. Even if I hadn’t been demonetised and demoralised by the new order controlling the old forum, they probably did me a backhanded favour by making me an undesirable; it gave me a reason to quit whilst ahead, thus just about avoiding excessive repetition in the process.

As with re-watching the YT videos that have survived the cull, I sometimes return to old posts on here and re-read them in as much of a non-narcissistic manner as I can manage; the passage of time thankfully provides sufficient detachment that negates accusations of masturbation. As with other blogs out there, there are numerous posts grouped under the same subject matter, often an ongoing saga in which updates are necessary if said subject can be mined for multiple articles. Yet, I find there’s a limit to how much can be written about one topic – not all, as my persistent probing of Brexit demonstrates; but when it comes to some, yes, I really don’t feel like I can add anything else to what I feel I’ve said rather well in the past.

As a novelist who has recently returned to the habit after more than a year away from it, I’ve never been drawn to ‘the series’ – that is, a sequence of books featuring recurring characters inhabiting worlds visited in previous books. Writing a novel takes months and a ‘difficult’ one can be a bit of a grind. When I reach the end, I’m done. I want to get as far away from the world I’ve just spent every day of the last half-year inhabiting, and I never want to meet any of the characters again; the thought of creating a Holmes or a Bond or a Potter is anathema to me. When it comes to the next book, I want to create somewhere I’ve never been before and go there with someone I’ve never met before.

I guess it’s a bit like when a band gets home from a long, gruelling tour and vows never to set foot on the road again; virtually all eventually relent because that’s how they make most of their money. It’s different for me, as there aren’t the same financial pressures associated with my ‘art’. I make around 50p from every book of mine that someone buys. An author’s royalties are akin to what one of the be-quiffed thoroughbreds in Larry Parnes’ early 60s stable could hope to earn; and those signed-up to big publishing houses (whose surnames aren’t Rowling or Brown) don’t fare much better, hence their endless sidelines as newspaper columnists or ‘Question Time’ regulars.

Despite what the opening statement of this post says, I do have plenty to say right now – only, it’s not the kind of stuff that should be shared, closer to what ought to be reserved for a diary; if I still kept a diary, it’d probably end up in there. Nobody else would want to read it, trust me. And it’s, like, boring, innit. So, in the meantime, I shall wait for another notable name to die or for the European Elections to take place, if there is indeed British participation; the potential annihilation of the Conservative Party at the polls is too joyous an event not to be inspired by, after all. And that’s it, I suppose – inspiration. I need it to do it. If there ain’t any, a visit to this blog will result in the visitor being greeted by the last post, whichever post that may be. Time for a chuckle while we wait…

© The Editor


One of the many reasons why I have drifted away from the daily missives some of you used to look forward to is that I don’t talk politics with anyone anymore. Conversations that spawned and informed many a past post on here no longer take place due to unforeseen circumstances that have led to a loss of appetite for many things, never mind talking politics. Nobody I now know is as clued-up as some I used to know, so I tend to get asked questions about what’s going on as though I’m some expert oracle of the kind Michael Gove would no doubt despise; that in itself would be a good enough reason to be one, but I’m not, alas. At the same time, I’ve broken my blog silence without any advance planning simply because my sedated, slumbering inner blogger has been stirred back into action through sheer exasperation.

I guess I don’t have to elaborate on what motivated this unscheduled return to the frontline. Yes, I’ve followed events like the rest of you of late – the BBC News Channel, ‘Peston’, ‘This Week’, the programme formerly known as ‘The Daily Politics’, and that bastion of outrageous institutionalised bigotry that won’t even allow MPs fond of playing the race card when their myriad shortcomings are exposed to drone on forever, ‘Question Time’. So hapless have I become in trying to locate any light at the end of the Brexit tunnel that all I could conclude from a recent ‘Newsnight’ debate on the subject was the undeniable fact that 65 year-old Baroness Meyer has a great pair of legs. Yes, I’m that f****d. But angry as well. I know I’m not alone there; perhaps this country’s defining characteristic at the moment is anger, though it’s no real wonder when our elected representatives make one yearn for the intervention of Guy Fawkes and his pals.

OK, let’s start at the top. Theresa May is perhaps the most nihilistically intransigent Prime Minister since Ted Heath, yet like the equally toe-curling portrayal of a certain Time Lord by Jodie Whittaker, our Glorious Leader tries to draw on her predecessors to create her own interpretation of a part she lacks the talent to make her own. She combines the blinkered, deluded cluelessness of Cameron with the bloody-minded tunnel vision of Thatcher in her Poll Tax death-throes, and blends the excruciatingly uncomfortable, awkward-on-camera bumbling of Gordon Brown with the God-bothering righteousness of Blair at his most sanctimoniously evangelical. She seems to have the knack of taking on the worst characteristics of past PMs, and as a result she’s even got people feeling sorry for her, just like they feel sorry for every tone-deaf wannabe being ripped to shreds by the judges on TV talent shows. What an achievement that is, to win the favour of the electorate by courting their pity.

Never mind – Mrs May and her unruly Cabinet of careerists, crawlers and backstabbers will soon be overthrown by the Great Socialist Revolution of the Messiah, an event which has had more postponements than HS2. Oh, God. What a choice we face – dumb or dumber. Yet there’s always the prospect of a Third Party, of course, an SDP for the twenty-first century composed of all those Honourable Members who are largely responsible for the mess we’re in. Yes, those (© John Major) ‘bastards’ who have made it their daily duty to thwart the outcome of a democratic vote they didn’t want and didn’t expect. Whether it’s Chuka Remoaner and the rest of the Miliband deadwood or the likes of Anna ‘Nazi’ Soubry, the two and-a-half years since the actual People’s Vote have been defined in Parliament by this contemptible coterie of detached demagogues deliberately throwing down obstacle after obstacle in order to prevent the enacting of something a majority of the electorate voted for. To put it plainly, they are despicable.

I admit I voted Remain in 2016, motivated by a ‘better the devil you know’ approach rather than any particular affection for an organisation I honestly hadn’t really given much thought to. Since then, however, my perspective has undergone a radical transformation entirely due to those who voted the same way as me. I have been appalled by the attitude and behaviour of some of those who advocated Remain and their foot-stamping refusal to accept a result that told them what they didn’t want to hear. Their superior arrogance has only been matched by the superior arrogance of the EU itself. No wonder they’re such kindred spirits.

To me, it now seems the reasons behind the result of the EU Referendum of 2016 have distinct parallels with the circumstances that put Donald Trump in the White House. The outcome was the consequence of so many people feeling so powerless after being ignored and dismissed for decades, whether by the scythe Thatcher took to communities dependent on heavy industry or the Coalition’s ruthless austerity policies. Suddenly, the powerless were presented with a platform to give the powers-that-be that had trampled them underfoot for generations a legally sanctioned bloody nose. MSM talking heads can waffle on about immigration or every other explanation given for the result, but in the end, Brexit was the most gloriously defiant ‘fuck you’ aimed at the political class in post-war British history. That’s the way it seems to me now, anyway. And the subsequent response of the political class and their media sponsors has only strengthened this opinion.

Just a couple of weeks ago, that nasty old guillotine-knitter Polly Toynbee reiterated the jaw-dropping narrative of Remoaners at their most vile by openly wishing death upon anyone over 50 who voted Leave in order that Youth would inherit the vote. This narrative of course assumes anyone who wasn’t eligible to vote in 2016 would naturally vote Remain in the event of a second Referendum. Yes, I’ve no doubt all the ‘young people’ Polly Toynbee and her fellow Grauniad scribes probably come into contact with – at a guess, the student offspring of their affluent acquaintances – probably would vote Remain; but what of the products of under-privilege in every grotty corner of the country who are tumbling out of an educational bubble trashed by useless Blairite rhetoric and straight into zero-hours uncertainty or the Circumlocution Office maze of Universal Credit? Why should they automatically give the thumbs-up to the system that exists to make their lives a misery? The great divide in Great Britain is the same today as it has always been – not gender, not colour, not creed, but class.

Yes, I know I’m guilty of generalising here. If Leave was an entirely working-class upsurge, how does that explain Jacob Rees-Mogg? Maybe he gets so much air-time because he helps reinforce the MSM view that Leave voters are all either eccentric, vaguely unhinged toffs like the Honourable Member for North East Somerset and Boris, or red-faced gammon men in yellow vests to whom Tommy Robinson is Che Guevara. Dehumanising your enemy is the first rule in the book of warfare, and the populace has been battered by a sustained campaign of dehumanisation by the powerful Remoaner mafia since June 2016, something that continues to this very day with the Project Fear prediction of martial law, absent medicines, empty supermarket shelves and a future Britain resembling that of the BBC’s mid-70s Dystopian drama, ‘Survivors’.

In many respects I wish the Referendum had never happened. I think it has been disastrous for the country’s (admittedly shaky) concept of unity, but at the same time has served to highlight divisions that have been in place for far longer than most were prepared to admit. There is no easy answer and there is no easy outcome, but if the will of the majority is denied, the contract between electorate and elected will be broken forever. And God knows what happens then. Be careful out there…

© The Editor


This has not been a good week for world leaders who’ve overstayed their welcome. Robert Mugabe had to be effectively woken-up in order to be notified he’d been overthrown by a military coup; and Angela Merkel’s twelve-year reign as German Chancellor seems less secure now than it has at any time since her rise to power. Not that you’d know it from her body language, however; with the characteristic arrogance that has become a hallmark of the institution Frau Merkel sponsors – the EU – Germany’s figurehead is carrying on regardless. Her party achieved its lowest share of the popular vote since 1949 in September’s Federal Election and a Government still hasn’t been formed, yet Merkel’s failure to cobble together a coalition from the chaos appears to be a mere storm in a democratic teacup to a woman whose dominance of German politics in the post-war era can only be matched by that of her one-time mentor, the late Helmut Kohl.

One thing you can say in Tony Blair’s favour (okay, I realise that’s not easy) is that he timed his exit at precisely the right moment, just on the cusp of an imminent economic crash he left his hapless successor to deal with. He didn’t wait to be pushed; he jumped. For politicians with a decade or more as top man to their name, such second-sense skills are rare. After that long in power, the talent that propelled them to the pinnacle is usually numbed by a notion of unassailable invincibility that generally tends to constitute their downfall; Mrs T inevitably springs to mind. One wonders if Angela Merkel has finally reached the point in 2017 that Maggie reached in 1990.

Theresa May’s unconvincing assertion that she intends to go ‘on and on’ a few months back was either a grandiose act of self-delusion on the part of the PM or Central Office propaganda that few of even her most devoted insiders swallowed without coughing-up again seconds later. When it comes to her counterpart in Central Europe, however, I have little doubt Merkel herself is a serious subscriber to her own political immortality. September’s abysmal election result, especially following the historic landslide victory of four years before, doesn’t seem to have dented Merkel’s conviction that nobody else is capable of controlling her country, and she’s prepared to go back to the German electorate if need be to ensure her survival after the collapse of coalition negotiations.

At a time when many Western Governments were practising understandable caution when it came to relaxing their immigration rules for admitting Syrian refugees, Merkel embarked upon a grandstand gesture in the wake of 2015’s European migrant crisis that masked the motivation behind the opening of Germany’s gates – i.e. the fact that the nation has an ageing population and too many jobs for too few young natives to fill. The plaudits she received beyond Germany for the publicised arrival of people fleeing Middle Eastern and African war zones also conveniently contradicted Merkel’s own opinions on multiculturalism, expressed in 2010. Addressing the youth wing of her Christian Democratic Union party, Merkel said attempts to construct a multicultural society in Germany had failed. ‘The concept that we are now living side-by-side and are happy about it does not work’, she said, before going on to emphasise immigrants should integrate and adopt German values, something she evidently believed they hadn’t up to that point.

Seven years later, Merkel’s previous beliefs were ironically expanded by the right-wing party Alternative for Germany in the Federal Election, claiming 94 seats in the Bundestag and making AfG the third largest party. Needless to say, Merkel is not looking to form a coalition with them. Up until AfG’s success in September’s Federal Election, they were led by Frauke Petry; but Frau Petry, whose views are far-from ‘moderate’, nevertheless announced she would sit in the Bundestag as an independent for fear of her political career being tarred with the kind of extremist far-right brush parties such as AfG invariably attract. The surge of support for AfG, however, undoubtedly represents the first real electoral backlash against the policies Merkel has pursued on immigration in the last few years; and as someone so closely associated with the EU, Merkel for many represents a strain of European politician whose pursuance of economic, social and racial integration between nations overrides concerns for home-grown natives left behind by the great Brussels gravy-train.

The success of such a project is rarely judged on the impact it has on those directly affected by it, anyway. An arch-advocate of the EU, Angela Merkel is as detached from the mindset that propelled AfG to such a strong showing in the Federal Election as one or two of our own broadsheet ‘cultural commentators’ are from some of the less-publicised negative effects that EU membership has had on Britain – mainly because they largely reside in wealthy, all-white neighbourhoods in which Eastern European immigrants have a fixed and lowly subservient role as au-pairs and nannies, glorified coolies for the post-imperial nouveau-riche, representing no threat to the position of those who employ them. As a ‘Question Time’ audience member recently memorably observed, who will serve us our café lattes in the event of an open-door policy being abandoned courtesy of Brexit?

Angela Merkel is no idiot; she is perhaps the most skilful professional politician of the past decade, one who has used her considerable talents to keep herself at the top of the tree whilst so many of her contemporaries and counterparts – Sarkozy, Cameron, Berlusconi et al – have fallen by the wayside. Yet even the greatest of political sagas has to have an end as well as a beginning and a middle. Merkel’s journey from the GDR has been one of the stories of our times; but nothing lasts forever, as Echo and the Bunnymen once said, and it’s hard to avoid the feeling that another one of this year’s Ms – along with May and Mugabe – is reaching the end of the road. What that might mean for Germany, for Europe, and for the EU, is too early to say; but maybe we’ll find out if the Germans are poised to go to the polls again before 2017 is out.

© The Editor


Well, Tsar Vladimir must be crapping himself; receiving a public ticking-off from a woman whose own Cabinet pays no heed to her authority must be like being asked outside by Walter the Softy. The PM last night used her speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to issue a warning to Russia over its alleged cyber interference in recent European affairs, as well as the US Presidential Election of 2016. Trump remains unconvinced Russian online infiltration had any part to play in his unexpected victory last year, though to be honest he’s hardly likely to say otherwise. Granted, no concrete evidence of cyber skullduggery on the part of Moscow has yet to emerge, but the rumours persist.

If the desperate straw-clutching of our Democrat cousins across the pond a year on from Hillary’s disastrous attempt to return to the White House isn’t demoralising enough (for further details, see her whinging blame-game of a book), the need to attribute one’s own failure to another party has continued apace as all responsibility is absolved yet again. In case you didn’t already know, the reason a majority of Brits voted to leave the EU was due to the Russians. It’s official. No proof is available, naturally, but it had to be down to a malevolent alien force influencing the thought processes of those too stupid to make their own minds up, of course. It couldn’t be that many in this country were sick and tired of being dictated to by wealthy elites of tax-evading wankers and told that the grandiose gravy train of unelected Brussels bureaucrats was something their lives would be immeasurably poorer without.

I don’t believe Bob Geldof or Eddie Izzard truly understand the daily struggles of making do and mending at the bottom of the social ladder any more than Iain Duncan Smith does. The latter has never had it hard, so his perspective is formed by a lifetime of material comfort; on the other hand, the former may have both begun in humble surroundings, but were beneficiaries of eras when the edgy side of the entertainment industry offered a way out for terminal waifs and strays. For Izzard, it was the arse-end of ‘Alternative Comedy’; for Geldof, it was Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The Boomtown Rats reaching No.1 with ‘Rat Trap’ in November 1978 was a hugely significant pop cultural moment and shouldn’t be underestimated. No act from the Punk/New Wave scene had scaled the summit of the charts up to that point; yes, The Sex Pistols had unofficially done so the year before, but the music biz had conspired to prevent ‘God Save the Queen’ from hitting No.1 during Jubilee Week, so it was down to a bunch of Oirish Oiks to curtail the reign of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John a year later. More significantly, the success of ‘Rat Trap’ opened the floodgates for Blondie, The Police, The Jam, Tubeway Army and others over the following couple of years, so it was no mean feat. Sadly, it’s an achievement Geldof himself has summarily trashed with his post-Live Aid activities.

Izzard at one time appeared to be a breath of fresh air, particularly during the ‘Loaded’ Lads era of the mid-90s, challenging stereotypes by openly flaunting his penchant for feminine cosmetics and making those of us who didn’t subscribe to the prevailing masculine trends feel as though we weren’t alone. Since then, however, Izzard has sabotaged his credentials by becoming a self-appointed spokesperson for every ‘phobia’ and ‘ism’ to pollute the dictionary and has engineered an atmosphere in which a teacher can be suspended from his job for the crime of (I kid you not) ‘misgendering’; yes, such a thing apparently exists amongst stupid people obsessed with identity politics trivia that most of us don’t have the luxury of being distracted by.

The late 70s and even the mid-90s are both a long time ago, though; whatever relevance either Geldof or Izzard once possessed is something that has no currency in 2017, certainly not for those who once bought the records of the former or applauded the outré appearance of the latter. Their willing submission to the Gina Miller manual plays upon the cultural importance both could lay claim to in their youth, but one that means bugger all as they career towards their pensions. Narcissistic egos, confronted by the uncomfortable reality of achievements with a vintage of 25-40 years, require fresh injections of the zeitgeist and they have hitched a ride on the Brexit bandwagon as a means of keeping their respective hands in. The mistake both have made is to attach themselves to a vehicle whose passengers are the kind of figures whose detachment from the day-to-day lives of the uneducated multitudes is as potent as hereditary peers of old, and one that inspires similar loathing.

Geldof and Izzard are contemporary cheerleaders for a trait characteristic of the left for decades – the paternalistic ‘we know better than you’ approach to the plebs, one that complements the contempt of the right for the lower orders, and one that treats them with equal condescension. It assumes the position that those who rose from the bottom of the heap in a distant era of easy social mobility are somehow qualified to preach to those that haven’t a cat in hell’s chance of following suit – and are more qualified than those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths as opposed to those that waited until they could afford said utensil. The distance of the rise, however, renders the opinions of Geldof and Izzard out of touch and out of reach. Both have long moved in exclusive circles, and their grasp of reality is rooted in the reality of their pasts, a reality that is irrelevant to the here and now.

Geldof making a particular hand gesture on a flotilla hired at great expense to cruise down the Thames in the run-up to the Referendum is as detached from the concerns of the average voter as Izzard calling upon half-a-dozen Met Officers to wrestle a pleb to the pavement for nicking his silly beret. Neither has any real notion as to why those they view with such patronising cluelessness voted in a way that jeopardises their tax-evading lifestyles, and the more they sponsor Icke-esque conspiracy theories over Russian involvement in a democratic process, the more they remove themselves from those they purport to support.

© The Editor