DON’T CALL ME SHIRLEY

WilliamsAs has become evident in recent years re what can no longer be said in polite company, once words drift out of the colloquial lexicon, it’s rare for them to be welcomed back. Like ex-lovers or disgraced celebrities, all evidence of them is wilfully erased to the point whereby they only continue to exist within the context of whatever caused them to be blackballed in the first place. Many words which disappear are never seen again in the present tense; and if they happen to unavoidably feature in a work of drama produced before their social exclusion, contemporary witnesses are warned of their presence as a kind of trigger disclaimer. A few words that don’t fall into the ‘rebranded offensive’ category simply fall out of common parlance because they sound so old-fashioned or are too associated with a past no longer relevant. Random words heard routinely during my own childhood such as courting, demob suit, shop steward and goolies spring to mind. Added to that could be housewife – once a valid job title, yet nowadays usually uttered by actual housewives in a rather embarrassed tone of voice that implies it’s a poor substitute for a real career.

I’m sure ‘housewife’ is regarded in some circles as a demeaning insult, though it used to describe an entire – and considerable – demographic; famously, of course, it even inspired a hugely popular radio request show that ran on the BBC Light Programme for 20 years, ‘Housewives’ Choice’. If ‘Woman’s Hour’ was intended to act as an afternoon instruction manual for those whose workplace was the domestic environment, ‘Housewives’ Choice’ soundtracked the morning following the exodus of hubby and the kids; the presenter spun discs chosen by the listeners and established an intimate relationship with the audience, providing something that was as near to an interactive experience as was possible in the pre-internet age. The best illustration of this comes in the wonderful opening sequence of the 1963 movie, ‘Billy Liar’; it brilliantly evokes a vanished Britain with a montage of all houses great and small across the country, accompanied by a burst of ‘Housewives’ Choice’ as a million women hanging out their washing wait to see if their request will be read out on air.

Despite the radical revival of feminist rhetoric during the 1970s, being a housewife remained the majority option for half the population – indeed, ‘The Housewife’ was a much-coveted figure for advertisers and politicians alike. This is particularly notable in party political broadcasts of the period; whenever one of the small number of well-known female MPs appears they tend to address ‘women’s issues’ as ‘housewives’ issues’. When Shirley Williams was, along with Barbara Castle, the most prominent female member of Harold Wilson’s team, she appeared in a February 1974 Election broadcast brandishing a shopping basket, pointing out how various items of foodstuffs had increased in price under Ted Heath’s Government. It was impossible to imagine Tony Benn or Jim Callaghan doing likewise, but Williams became Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection when Labour returned to power, so I guess her supermarket sweep made a kind of sense.

Prior to the General Election victory of February ’74, Shirley Williams had served two years as Shadow Home Secretary, which was an unprecedented promotion for a female MP at the time. It’s a shame her stint took place during the era before the broadcasting of Parliament, for it would be fascinating to see how Williams squared up against an old-school Tory Alpha Male like Reginald Maudling. In office, however, Shirley Williams’ Cabinet position reflected the ‘home economics’ role most female members of the electorate were still familiar with; she’d been Minister for Education and Science in Wilson’s second administration in the late 60s, a period when few Westminster women could expect to ascend the heights later reached by the likes of Priti Patel, Theresa May, Jacqui Smith, Margaret Beckett or – naturally – Margaret Thatcher. So, in her own way, Shirley Williams – or, as she was eventually known, Dame Shirley, the Baroness Williams of Crosby – was something of a trailblazer. Her death at the age of 90 means this here blog is in danger of reverting to an ongoing obituary again, but as a break from Covid-19 or Woke-21, marking the recently-departed can actually come as rather welcome breather for yours truly. Besides, I find any politician from the era Shirley Williams made her mark in interesting, because they were genuinely interesting times.

Shirley Williams’ status as one of the Labour Party’s original glass ceiling-smashers is somewhat overlooked now. If she’s recalled at all in Labour circles, it’s more likely to be with a regretful sigh following the part she played in abandoning the Party to the Left in 1981, alongside Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Bill Rodgers. As one quarter of ‘the Gang of Four’, Williams didn’t so much cross the floor of the House as move into a new conservatory christened the Social Democratic Party, better known by its acronym of SDP. She’d been elected to Parliament at the 1964 General Election as Member for Hitchin after three previous failed attempts, though – as with many MPs of her generation – she was far from being a career politician, even if her eventual destiny almost seems preordained when one considers her background. She came from classic academic, upper middle-class liberal stock.

The product of a highly intellectual household – her father was the philosopher Sir George Catlin and her mother ‘Testament of Youth’ author Vera Brittain – the woman born Shirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Catlin was schooled in old-school Socialism from a young age, though it’s curious that she was initially drawn towards acting. As an evacuee in the USA during WWII, she even screen-tested for the leading role in ‘National Velvet’, losing out to Liz Taylor; she carried on treading the boards as a student, playing Cordelia in a touring production of ‘King Lear’ by the Oxford University Dramatic Society. After graduating from Oxford as a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy, politics and economics, Williams studied further at New York’s Columbia University before following in the Michael Foot-steps by beginning a career as a journalist upon returning home. Barely had she begun, however, before her eagerness to enter politics was evident as she stood at the 1954 Harwich by-election.

Europhile Williams was a key figure on the right of the Labour Party at a time when simmering tensions between both wings of it were masterfully kept in check by Harold Wilson’s expert man (and woman) management. When Wilson resigned in 1976, Jim Callaghan just about held things together, but defeat at the 1979 General Election – when Williams lost her seat – proved to be the writing on the wall for the post-war political consensus, not merely within British politics itself but within the Labour Party. Williams was the first SDP MP elected to Parliament when she won the 1981 Crosby by-election, though she lost the seat at the 1983 General Election and never returned to the Commons thereafter. The breakaway formation of the SDP may have been a short-lived experiment, but it certainly contributed towards Labour’s 18-year exile from government; that said, the SDP’s brand of democratic socialism also undoubtedly proved to be a major influence on New Labour. By the time of the Labour landslide of 1997, Shirley Williams was already a Lib Dem Peer, though she was officially based in the USA as a Harvard professor.

Whether or not Shirley Williams can be spoken of in the same breath as some of her political contemporaries is something open to debate; she lacked the ruthlessness required to be a contender for the first female PM, though her impact on Blair’s generation was indisputable, and I’ve no doubt her high profile at a time when politics was very much a boy’s club helped pave the way for an increase in women entering Parliament. But she’s one more player from an era of giants gone to that great debating chamber in the sky, and her departure yet again shines an unflattering light on the dwarves struggling to stand on those shoulders today.

© The Editor

THE WOKE IN WESTMINSTER

Oh, dear. Does anyone ever look at the Labour Party and not emit a weary, Hancockian sigh? And when I say Hancock, I’m not referring to Matt, but to Anthony Aloysius. Every time a story connected to the Labour Party hits the headlines, my immediate reaction evokes the atmosphere of the classic radio episode of ‘Hancock’s Half-Hour’ in which the existential dreariness of a traditional British Sunday is encapsulated in the despairing groans of the title character when confronted by yet another drab day of rest, just seven after the last one. In many respects, I think the wretched impotence and irrelevance of Her Majesty’s Opposition is perhaps intensified in that they’re not even up against an especially strong and popular Conservative Government – though let’s face it, this has been the case ever since the days of the Con-Dem Coalition ten bloody years ago; and nothing has changed.

The Party has gone from Gordon Brown to Ed Miliband to Jeremy Corbyn to Keir Starmer, losing four consecutive General Elections en route, and still appears to have learnt nothing along the way. It has been wiped out in Scotland and decimated in the North of England, and it has managed to keep the Tories in power for a decade due to its remarkable inability to address its unelectable status. As used to be the case with the England football team before their impressive performance at the 2018 World Cup, I don’t even expect to be surprised by the Labour Party’s incompetence anymore; it’s just a given now. Whenever a member of the frontbench pops up online, I no longer anticipate they’ll have anything to say other than something that will make me cringe, laugh or shake my head; yet I look at what they’re up against and wonder how they can miss so many open goals over and over again. It even gets to the stage whereby you find yourself focusing on the various tics and mannerisms of the Shadow Cabinet – Starmer’s upset Dalek voice, Angela Rayner’s lisp, Anneliese Dodds’ air of someone who would be more at home heading Islington Social Services – and apportion blame to them.

The past week has seen a development which seems to sum up why so many have abandoned the Labour Party and just how clueless Labour are in gauging the public mood. I suppose it was merely a case of serendipity that news should seep out about Sir Keir’s latest misguided attempt to reconnect with the lost voters of the Red Wall heartlands just as the nation bade farewell to ‘Captain Tom’, the 100-year-old WWII veteran whose zimmer-frame sprint around his back garden raised a fortune for the NHS last year. How it must have grated with the Corbynistas that a representative of the very social demographic they hold responsible for all society’s ills should have captured the affection and respect of that society by doing a good deed in which all the petty issues that prevent the far-left from sleeping at night had no place. Captain Tom’s efforts transcended age, race and gender, trashing the tunnel vision of the Woke narrative with one simple and admirable gesture that provoked unity rather than the division deemed necessary for The Revolution.

Yes, a week in which some SJW bright spark declared butter to be the newest addition to the ‘Things that are Racist’ shopping list simply because a supermarket own-brand featured the Union Jack on its packaging to indicate the location of its production was the same week in which an edict from Sir Keir hinted at the inclusion of the national flag on new Labour promotional material. Coming to the conclusion that the thick, illiterate bigots the Party loathes but is dependent upon for votes seem to have an inexplicable attraction to this symbol of white nationalism, the leader surmised projecting the image that Labour isn’t just a political party for university-educated, Guardian-reading, middle-class metropolitans (like him) might just be a vote-winner. It’s a wonder Starmer hasn’t announced all remaining Labour MPs north of Watford should henceforth wear flat caps and declare bread & dripping to be their favourite dish, all washed down with a bottle of Ena Sharples’ preferred tipple of milk stout, of course.

His problem is considerable because the intense dislike of the people the Party is eager to bring back into the fold permeates all of Labour’s ideological barriers. Starmer’s team includes both Ed Miliband as Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Emily ‘Lady Nugee’ Thornberry as Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade; the last time the pair were united under the same banner, Miliband sacked Lady Nugee for her infamously snooty Tweet of a white van parked outside a house displaying the flag of St George, a picture speaking a thousand words on what the Labour Party thinks of traditional Labour voters. And, at the other end of the scale, there’s Momentum. Yes, the cult which propelled Sir Keir’s predecessor to power remains a deeply-engrained malignant tumour in the dark heart of the Party, a toxic force within it that hates the nation and its people; and in the frustrating case of the latter, they continue to exacerbate that hatred because they won’t do as they’re told by adhering to the rules and regulations of the master-plan.

Just as the use of gender pronouns on a Twitter bio is the badge of a twat, any proclamation from the race-baiting branch of the Labour Party can provoke both laughter and despair. Renowned veteran Identitarian Clive Lewis MP reacted to the Party’s ‘patriotism strategy’ by echoing a colleague comparing it to the motivation behind the recent storming of Washington’s Capitol – ‘Fatherland-ism’ was the novel term Lewis coined. Any promotion of the Union Jack is invariably seen through the imperial prism of colonialism by this section of the Labour Party; whereas most people in Britain tend not to obsess on the distant past – lest we forget, the Empire actually ceased to exist before most of us were even born – it’s funny how those quick to accuse working-class scum of an obsession with the unacceptable face of the nation’s history are the ones who won’t shut up about it.

But it’s essential to their narrative that we all have our designated roles of oppressor and oppressed; gradual integration of the races with each successive generation descended from the original immigrants of former colonies has really f***ed-up this storyline, so the fanatical desire to revive division on racial grounds not only validates their viewpoint but also obscures the perennial source of authentic division within Britain – class. The fact that most ‘ethnic’ sections of society feel more British and feel more pride in that fact than the privileged elite reciting the ‘Britain is a Racist Country’ mantra must really stick in their throat. Ironically, however, it’s not as if discerning the futility of one side’s perspective means one therefore has an appreciation of the other side’s latest brainwave to dispel it.

The Labour leadership’s hapless attempts to pander to what they perceive as the patriotism of their ex-voting base is such a cynical, patronising and opportunistic move with no genuine understanding behind it; it’s like some old-school, cigar-chomping showbiz impresario giving teenage trends a cursory glance and declaring Skiffle is where it’s at when Skiffle has already taken the last train out of town. The Starmer side of the Labour Party is no more in touch with the population beyond its most enthusiastic fan-base than the Corbynites, as its tiresome infatuation with minority concerns, perhaps best embodied by Lisa ‘Trans Rights for Wigan’ Nandy, continues to underline. Put these two strands together – both of which would separately summarise why a political party cannot get into government – and it’s a heady blend of unelectable uselessness. If it were the Lib Dems, it’d be easy to dismiss as a sad joke; the fact it’s the party of Keir Hardie, Ramsay MacDonald, Clement Attlee, Aneurin Bevin, Harold Wilson, Barbara Castle, Tony Benn, Roy Jenkins et al just makes it all the more tragic.

© The Editor

THIS BLESSED PLOT

Liverpool FC are League Champions again. They deserve it, even if they won it in an atmosphere evocative of a reserve game at Torquay United. Maybe the team can celebrate down on the beach – as long as they pick the right resort. Of course, had the multitudes crammed onto the beach at Bournemouth been waving BLM or rainbow flags, perhaps their flouting of social distancing etiquette wouldn’t have led to their presence being regarded as a ‘major incident’. Instead of throwing their hands up in despair when confronted by such uncontrollable numbers, the police could have stripped down to their trunks and done ‘a gay dance’ on the sands or maybe taken the knee. Clearly, the latter addition to the police training manual didn’t work in Brixton the night before; or maybe a Force already regarded as an ineffective joke in the capital were facing the inevitable consequences when submissive virtue-signalling has portrayed them even further as weak and spineless. Well, they only have themselves to blame.

As somebody instinctively immune to the delights of either intense heat or crowds, the scenes at Bournemouth and Brighton would have resembled Hell on Earth to me, anyway – regardless of pandemic issues; but the minute mass demonstrations swept across several British cities when so many restrictions had yet to be lifted, the game was up; applauding those with a cause and condemning those without looks suspiciously like double standards. Neither type of gathering was a good idea for the containment of an infectious virus, but you can’t give the thumbs up to one and the thumbs down to the other because you’re scared of what will become of you should you stand up to the relentless emotional bullying of the loudest voice.

Indeed, as our old pal Mr Orwell said, ‘At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is “not done” to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was “not done” to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.’ The lexicon of undesirable labels to lob into the debating arena and instantly curtail criticism of the consensus is sold as a means of upholding democratic rights, though the beneficiaries of these rights are entirely selective in the New World Order, lest we forget. ‘In other words,’ added Orwell, ‘defending democracy involves destroying all independence of thought. These people don’t see that if you encourage totalitarian methods, the time may come when they will be used against you instead of for you.’

And they’ve come for Rebecca Long-Bailey now. The cancel culture so beloved of the regressive left has turned round and bitten one of their own on account of Sir Keir Starmer’s ‘first priority’ as Labour leader being to get a grip on the anti-Semitism rife in his party. Ms Double-Barrelled Socialist was ejected as Shadow Education Secretary for re-tweeting an interview with actress (and renowned Corbyn groupie) Maxine Peake, who spun a conspiracy theory yarn that the tactics used to squeeze the last breath from the lungs of George Floyd had been taught to the US police by Mossad. The chief Auton saw this promotion of yet another imaginary association with wicked old Israel as a good excuse to sack his former leadership rival and one-time heir to Jezza.

Whilst few outside of Momentum would mourn the exile of Long-Bailey from the Opposition frontbench, Starmer has a job on his hands if he truly intends to purge Labour of something so intrinsic to the extreme Identity Politics agenda that has both bolstered its membership and alienated its traditional voting base. Filling his Shadow Cabinet with yes-men entirely sympathetic to his own ‘Identitarian-Lite’ vision is not a unifying tactic anymore than Corbyn filling his with his own yes-persons was. Neither can call upon the considerable skill of Harold Wilson in holding together a frontbench of diverse opinions that were forced to work together for the greater good. Maxine Peake was quick to issue the standard humbling apology, perhaps mindful of her career receiving a Laurence Fox-type period of extended ‘resting’ as a consequence, and though Long-Bailey has also bent over backwards to stress she is NOT anti-Semitic, it made no difference to her reduced status.

If only Long-Bailey had been a Woman of Colour and an academic to boot, such as Cambridge charmer Priyamvada Gopal, who tweeted the following heart-felt message of love and harmony – ‘Now we have the opportunity to carry out a resolute offensive against the whites, break their resistance, eliminate them as a class and replace their livelihoods with the livelihoods of people of colour and LGBTQ.’ A fairly routine and not remotely controversial opinion to hold within the hallowed walls that have served as the nursery for contemporary groupthink and enough to secure Dr Gopal promotion rather than the no-platforming reserved for academics whose opinions are the ‘wrong’ ones. Flying a banner over a football stadium bearing the legend ‘White Lives Matter’ is not a great idea, of course, but the race-baiters got what they wanted there, so why the fuss? It was bad racism and the idiot behind it has lost his job while that nice Dr Gopal has kept hers because she’d said ‘White Lives Don’t Matter’, which is good racism. Both dicks, but only one currently claiming Universal Credit, funnily enough.

At least we can rely on the BBC for a semblance of sanity. They might have quietly shuffled the horrific murder of three gay men in Reading to the back of the queue because the nasty man that did it might invite…ooh…’Islamophobic’ responses, but I’m sure the trio of victims received a respectful minutes’ silence in the Commons, didn’t they? Anyway, Auntie is getting her house in order by promising to spend £100 million of your licence fee on ‘diverse and inclusive content’. About time too. It’d be nice to think the BBC would extend its concept of diversity and inclusivity to encompass diversity of thought, opinion and – more than anything – class, but I suspect the Oxbridge graduates will keep their jobs and continue to portray the entire country as an Islington dinner-party ideal of a multicultural, LGBTXYZ Britain akin to the old Coca-Cola ad that taught the world to sing. We can probably look forward to an all-trans version of ‘Henry V’ once production resumes on the corporation’s drama output; in the meantime, it needs to keep the iPlayer clean of any embarrassing old uncles that contradict the narrative.

Failing that, the Beeb could simply do what the rest of the bankruptcy-threatened Arts have done. Woke infestation had already placed them on life-support, but Covid-19 could well deliver the fatal blow that the creative industries have brought upon themselves. As Maoist principles are chic again, it’s worth remembering how any plays, books or films deemed even vaguely critical of the regime were banned during the Cultural Revolution and replaced with regime-approved propaganda substitutes that ticked all the right boxes, the so-called Model Dramas. Look at the output of the BBC, Hollywood and the publishing industry under the rewritten rules and regulations and tell me we’re not being served-up our very own Model Dramas right now. It might explain why they’re all so shite, I guess. Suppress the dissenting voice of the individual and kill creativity in the process. That’s the kind of diversity and inclusivity we like in 2020. I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a long summer.

© The Editor

PROPHET AND LOSS

A shadow backbench MP nobody beyond her constituency had heard of was ‘owned’ by the Home Secretary last week. Hot on the heels of a staggeringly condescending letter to Priti Patel signed by various Labour MPs that accused the Home Secretary of using her race to ‘gaslight other minority communities’, this latest desperate leap on the BLM bandwagon by Her Majesty’s Opposition wheeled out the usual Labour copyright claim on race issues. Florence Eshalomi sought to uphold the oppressed immigrant victim narrative so beloved of the left and it was immediately evident the gambit had backfired brilliantly. Priti Patel disputed the accusation that her government doesn’t understand racial inequality.

‘On that basis,’ Patel retorted, ‘it must have been a very different Home Secretary who as a child was frequently called a paki in the playground, a very different Home Secretary who was racially abused in the streets or even advised to drop her surname and use her husband’s in order to advance her career, a different Home Secretary recently characterised in the Guardian newspaper as a fat cow with a ring through its nose, something that was not only racist but offensive both culturally and religiously. This is hardly an example of respect, equality, tolerance or fairness; so when it comes to racism, sexism, tolerance or social justice, I will not take lectures from the other side of the House…and sadly, too many people are too willing, too casual to dismiss the contributions of those who don’t necessarily conform to preconceived views or ideas about how ethnic minorities should behave or think. This…is racist in itself.’

The Labour MP didn’t call Patel an ‘Uncle Tom’, but the implication was inherent in her arrogant assumption that only Labour has the right to narrate this saga. Four great Offices of State and two of them held by British Asians rather than the evil white men who should always occupy them in order to validate the left’s story arc – that wasn’t in the script. And what a script; primarily penned by the self-loathing white middle-class that has echoes across the Atlantic at the heart of the Democratic Party, the politically-correct facade of tolerance obscuring a myriad of old-school bigotry and nastiness. Priti Patel doesn’t fit the narrative, so she’s fair game to be demonised in a racist character assassination as vile as any the left routinely accuses its enemies of.

Ditto the recent graffiti on the statue of Queen Victoria in Leeds – look beyond the historically inaccurate ‘slavery’ sloganeering and notice the statue’s breasts and genitals have been highlighted in spray-paint; what does that say to you about the ‘artist’s’ attitudes to women? Funny how so many who wear their Woke colours with pride are – beneath the approved T-shirt and the perceived immunity that comes from occupying the moral high ground – utterly guilty of everything they are quick to weaponise and aim at anyone who doesn’t fall into line; one might conclude the shame over their own thought-crimes is manifested as transferring them onto the enemy. One particular Facebook ‘friend’ of mine is such a prolific virtue-signaller for all the correct causes that her posts imply she’s one of the kindest, most compassionate people you could ever wish to meet, when she is in fact one of the most unpleasantly manipulative and nastiest individuals imaginable. But I keep her in my newsfeed because I derive amusement from her hypocrisy.

At times like this, it’s always apt to defer to a man who nailed it 80 years ago – George Orwell. How long, one wonders, before some possessed fanatic discovers such a wry critic of the British Empire in its decrepit redundancy was actually employed as a colonial copper in Burma and decides his statue outside the BBC deserves the ‘racist’ epithet? You heard it here first. Of course, Orwell’s impression of the Empire came from the one thing today’s obsessive experts on it don’t have – first-hand experience; but his experience – and gradual disillusionment with – the left in this country seems the most relevant and timeless when placed in a contemporary context. His 1941 essay, ‘England Your England’, is as well worth a read as either of his two most famous works of fiction in what it has to say about where we are now.

‘It should be noted that there is now no intelligentsia that is not in some sense Left,’ he writes – and with the mainstream media of 2020 forbidding any diversity of thought or opinion, that certainly rings true. ‘The mentality of the English left-wing intelligentsia can be studied in half-a-dozen weekly and monthly papers,’ he goes on. ‘The immediately striking thing about all these papers is their generally negative, querulous attitude, their complete lack at all times of any constructive suggestion.’ When was the last time you saw anything but what he describes in the pages of the Guardian? Everything is shit, everything is rotten and corrupt, everything is beyond repair, and – it goes without saying – everything is racist.

When he writes ‘under this is the really important fact about so many of the English intelligentsia – their severance from the common culture of the country,’ one cannot help but instantly think of the political class’s failure to anticipate – and its reaction to – Brexit. ‘England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality,’ he writes. ‘In left-wing circles, it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution.’ The contemporary left narrative certainly endorses that statement; in Orwell’s day, naturally, most Englishmen were white; if one were to insert the word ‘white’ before the word ‘Englishman’, that last quoted passage would make even more sense in 2020, where the disgrace is embodied in ‘taking the knee’.

But perhaps his opinion on how the left of the 1930s was complicit in creating a sense of the English being a defeated, redundant race that they themselves should be ashamed of highlights how doing so leaves the English vulnerable to the enemy within. ‘All through the critical years,’ he writes, ‘many left-wingers were chipping away at English morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British. It is questionable how much effect this had, but it certainly had some. If the English people suffered for several years a real weakening of morale, so that the Fascist nations judged that they were decadent and that it was safe to plunge into war, the intellectual sabotage from the left was partly responsible.’ Witness the response to what happened last weekend – or this – from the left; the violent desecration by their side was justified because the hymn sheet is the same one passed around the whole congregation, and those at the top have been distributing it for years.

Fear of reprisals governs discourse. One is not allowed to question or query the incoherent manifesto of an organisation that wants to defund the police, destroy the nuclear family and effectively reorganise society along the lines of a neo-Marxist kibbutz. As the FA follows the same cynical line as all other public bodies, institutions, companies and corporations in enforcing BLM on football shirts with the ‘you must wear this or else’ decree previously applied to the LGBT rainbow logo, any resistance will result in instant dismissal; ditto the black square on social media. Funnily enough, the same sporting authority informed any England player refusing to give the Nazi salute when the team lined-up to play Germany in Berlin in 1938 that they would never be picked for their country again. Wonder if Orwell watched the game?

© The Editor

MALICE IN WONDERLAND

Just look at that image. Just look at that shameless, opportunistic vapid vacuum of an excuse for a politician. Do you really hate the admittedly useless Boris Johnson so much that you’d want this unprincipled plastic weasel as your leader? Even if you were ignorant of the far-reaching crimes he committed in his past life as DPP and of the long-term damage he inflicted upon Law and policing in this country even before he’d set foot in Westminster, surely that image alone, an image of a man who seeks to be Prime Minister submitting to the demands of a divisive race-baiting cult because he values the transient currency of hash-tags so much, is worthy of your eternal contempt. It says everything you need to know about what a complete c*** he is. How could you ever respect someone so pussy-whipped by the Twitterati that you’d want him to move in to Downing Street? How could you ever vote for the party he leads ever again after seeing that image?

It’s amusing, yes – and one has to laugh now, really – how giddy so many on the left became when Sir Keir Starmer applied the plodding forensic techniques he’d honed as an unspectacular barrister when first facing Boris Johnson across the dispatch box during his inaugural PMQs. Ooh! He’s really putting Boris on the spot, isn’t he?! Excuse me, but isn’t that what the Leader of the Opposition is supposed to do? Perhaps Starmer’s desperate groupies were so excitable because they’d forgotten this fact. And perhaps it highlighted just how f***ing useless their beloved Jezza had been in the same spot when confronting three Prime Ministers throughout his argument-winning tenure as Labour leader.

As someone unpleasantly estranged from actual family members, my gradual estrangement from the left in this country has the same feel to it. It’s like having to abandon an old uncle I was once extremely fond of because he’s finally lost his marbles and has started spouting incoherent nonsensical bullshit that essentially has the same logic to it as 2+2=5. The left – like the right – always had its lunatic fringe, but it was traditionally the madwoman in the attic, the one kept locked away from polite society because everyone knew she would only frighten the horses and alienate the electorate. And then the lunatic fringe seized power in the coup d’état of 2015, instigating five years of disintegration that some foolishly imagined would cease with Corbyn’s retirement. That image of his charmless successor says everything you need to know about what has become of that forlorn hope.

A decade ago, I would’ve been regarded as a lefty liberal, whereas the goalposts have been shifted so far from the penalty area since then that I’m probably now viewed as a far-right fascist/Nazi/racist/misogynist/Transphobe/Islamophobe (apply where applicable), i.e. somewhere to the right of Oswald Mosley. But groupthink has never been my bag; I’ve always had what you might call herd immunity, spending most of my life fighting against being boxed, labelled or pigeonholed. I resisted safety in numbers at school by defiantly declaring I thought ‘Happy Days’ was shit when everyone in my class thought the Fonz was the personification of cool; I knew in my heart (and still do) that ‘Happy Days’ was shit, even if it meant I couldn’t be part of the crowd for going against the consensus. I remember during my 80s adolescence, many of my peers were Goths; I might have found some of those ladies-in-black attractive, but to embrace the lifestyle would have required blocking my ears to the latest catchy hit by Madonna or Prince – and I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice myself to something that necessitated that kind of personal dishonesty.

In many respects, I’m not entirely surprised the under-25s have embraced the lunatic fringe in its new role as the alternative to the Conservative Party. Loyal old lefties remain true to ‘the cause’ because they still cherish the struggle of the 1984 Miners’ Strike like previous generations on the left clung to the General Strike of 1926. Their blind faith is almost touching, however irrelevant. They remind me of the hardcore supporters of football clubs that are destined to spend their days in the lower leagues, forever dreaming of a giant-killing act in the FA Cup every time the Third Round comes around. But at least they did alright out of capitalism, for all that; not so their offspring. What has capitalism ever done for them? If they’d studied for a degree that meant something, they’d have graduated to a career that meant something and would own a home as a reward for their efforts. Capitalism has given them none of that, so why should we be surprised that they’ve rejected it completely and attached themselves to a series of dogmatic cults that simply want to destroy without actually offering a tangible replacement for the system?

The blame is entirely with the previous generation of western leaders that created this situation, yet their successors are doing nothing to repair the damage, being more concerned with signalling their virtue and appeasing the demographic their predecessors didn’t plan for because they never thought to wear a condom. Like a divorced parent attempting to buy their child’s favours, Sadiq Khan falling over himself to remove statues of philanthropists whose tenuous links to a global trade the British initiated the abolition of 200 years ago does so whilst simultaneously failing to address an epidemic of inner-city black-on-black murders. Then again, so does the organisation whose logo is becoming as depressingly ubiquitous in suburban Woke windows as the Unionist flag is in East Belfast.

For anyone pushed away from the left in the wake of the lunatic fringe’s power-grab, it’s a lonely world indeed. With the right as repugnant as ever, you’re stranded in the middle; and the middle is not a location occupied by those you’d want to spend much time in the company of. It’s like attending a party and being stuck in a corner with the kind of people who make you wonder if a social life is worth it. Tony Blair? The Lib Dems? Change UK? That’s the pathetic choice when it comes to centrist politics today. Even if you didn’t want to be a ‘centrist’ in the first place, finding yourself amongst that lot is as depressing as having to choose between a blue-haired SJW throwing a tantrum on one hand and Tommy bloody Robinson on the other. After a while, you find yourself withdrawing completely, yet any guilt over doing so doesn’t linger long when you watch the spineless capitulation of authorities to the minority and feel utterly powerless to prevent the madness from escalating further.

Recent events are something some of us have seen coming for a long time, mind. We saw the first stirrings during the Paedo-shaming hysteria of the post-Savile Yewtree era, and I wonder who was in charge of the CPS when that was all kicking-off? If only I could remember. Anyway, as insanely damaging as that witch-hunt was, it retrospectively feels more like a warm-up for the main event now. It was easy to dismiss some of the more extreme campus lunacy as just students letting off steam before they grew up and moved on, but then we have to remember that these are the same people that leave academia and are welcomed into the media, politics, the social services, and the teaching profession, indoctrinating the next generation with the same nihilistic Marxist dogma they themselves were taught. The masses may reject their message, but the minority remain in control of the biggest platforms. So, we were warned. In fact, we were warned a long time ago…

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten…every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped.”

© The Editor

THE HOME FRONT

The country is in crisis; the people are struggling to cope; they’re scared and afraid for the future. Yes, Sir Keir Starmer has been elected leader of the Labour Party. Faced with the alternative of either Rebecca ‘Mrs Merton’ Long-Bailey or Lisa ‘Trans-rights for Wigan’ Nandy, the membership opted for the architect of ‘Believe the Victim’. The joke is, outside of Guardian-Land, nobody gives a flying f**k. And anyone who celebrates the election of the Alpha Auton simply because it marks the end of Corbyn as leader is no better than those who cheered when Crazy Frog kept Coldplay from the No.1 spot a decade or so ago. The victory is just as meaningless. What Starmer’s ascent to the top of the greasy pole says about where the Labour Party are in 2020 isn’t something especially concerning the populace right now, for most are too busy clapping for the NHS to contemplate an opposition led by a shop window dummy manufactured in Brussels.

Probably no election of a major political party leader has provoked less interest since Iain Duncan Smith rose without a trace back in 2001, and the opposition’s irrelevance is further enhanced by the fact it can’t even grab the headlines when the Prime Minister is incapacitated by illness. Mind you, he’s not the first; both his hero Sir Winston and Harold MacMillan directed events from their sick beds at various times during their respective premierships, as did Anthony Eden – though perhaps the latter is not a comparison Boris would relish. The daily press briefings the PM was fronting until the coronavirus caught up with him now appear to be operating on the kind of rotation basis pioneered by José Mourinho back in his first spell at Chelsea. I half-expect some kid who won a competition to host one at some point in the next few weeks, though the far-from soothing Matt Hancock and his rabbit-in-the-headlights expression appears to have taken charge at the moment.

Occasionally, we extend our interest from the home front and receive reports of how the rest of the world is dealing with this unprecedented global situation. We hear how bonkers macho Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at first regarded Covid-19 as if it was some threat to his masculinity, implying that confronting the virus with caution was a sign of gay-ness; his East European equivalent, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, is treating the crisis like it’s his audition to be a Putin tribute act; and there’s the inevitable Trump take on events, providing the usual stand-up entertainment as the Donald confidently recovers from early misjudgements in preparation for a confrontation with doddery Joe Biden later in the year – if the former Vice-President makes it that far. And, of course, there are also the anticipated suggestions that perhaps the Chinese authorities haven’t been quite so straight in their stats when it comes to how many lives the coronavirus has claimed in the place where it began.

The Identity Politics brigade, largely (and mercifully) muted by public concerns above and beyond gender pronouns, have sought to cling on by targeting the traditional classification of diseases based upon the location of their initial outbreak and declaring any reference to Covid-19 as ‘the Chinese Virus’ is racist; but other than those in their usual social media safe-spaces, few are paying attention to their Woke bleating. Ditto the self-isolating celebrities whose sudden separation from the spotlight they can ordinarily command is clearly having a terrible impact. Weeping superstars in mansions have actually become one of the few genuinely hilarious distractions at the moment, whether an almost-unrecognisable Madonna inadvertently exhibiting the frightening extent of the hideous work she’s had done on her face, or the pass-the-sick bucket ensemble rendition of ‘Imagine’ that was like every 80s charity single rolled into one tone-deaf ball-sack and smothered in syrupy pus.

The sight of mountain goats strolling around the empty streets of Llandudno and wild deer chilling out on front lawns in London boroughs has undoubtedly been a novel development and maybe an indication of how swiftly the beasts we share our planet with will reclaim our surroundings should we ever vacate them permanently. It’s also a reflection of how quickly the public seems to have largely adapted to the dramatic change in circumstances; the 27 million viewers who tuned into Boris’s landmark television address a couple of weeks ago evidently took his advice on board and have on the whole stayed indoors. The promise of better weather on the horizon poses a threat to this new nation of recluses, but as somebody pointed out the other day, do we really even need a weather forecast right now? Never has it been more apt to dismiss the institution by recommending people simply look out of their windows to see whether or not the sun is shining.

The panic buying that characterised the pre-lockdown atmosphere appears to have receded a little too, though unless the majority of those who indulged own a series of warehouses, it’s hard to see how much more they could have stashed away for a rainy day. Supermarket shelves are closer to their normal state again, though the policy of only allowing in a limited number of shoppers at a time is still being applied at several stores. As someone becoming accustomed to weekly stocking-up rather than popping out for food on the day I intend to eat it, I once more have to admit that every time I venture outdoors I’m increasingly warming to the quieter ambience of the urban environment in its new guise. Yes, shops remain unpredictable in the extent of their adherence to the latest emergency regulations, and there’s the persistent worry one might encounter a Jobsworth copper excited at the prospect of making up the law as he goes along; but the absence of the madding crowd from the pavements is bliss.

It goes without saying that I’m in a better position than many, however. Working alone from home with the kind of social diary designed with self-isolation in mind, very little has changed for me, and any inklings of depressive tendencies cannot in any way be attributed to the factors that might be stirring them in folk unaccustomed to such conditions. Lest we forget, those trapped in prisons and care-homes don’t have the luxury of solitary confinement, and they can’t even take the permitted daily walk. There are also those with challenging children of various mental and physical disabilities, whose full-time presence at home must be placing an unimaginable strain on parents usually reliant on the system to at least give them a few hours off. Maybe the next celebrity to signal their NHS-friendly virtue by donating to the cause via their press office should spare them a thought – or lend them a hand.

How much longer any of this will last remains the province of guess work – everything from weeks to months has been mentioned – and the lack of mass testing means most have no idea if they have it or have already had it; personally, nobody of my acquaintance has – or maybe they had it and just never knew it. The accuracy of the deaths credited to Covid-19 is still questionable and the predictable sensationalism of the media reporting is probably wearying as many people as the severe restrictions imposed on the public are. That said, few of us can hardly compare our individual situations to Anne Frank, so we may as well grin and bear it – or enjoy it.

© The Editor

THE SMIRKING CLASS

There’s an especially memorable ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ episode in which an exasperated Jim Hacker decides to clip Sir Humphrey’s expanding wings a little by locking the interior adjoining door that enables his cocksure Cabinet Secretary to stride into No.10 from the Cabinet Office; incensed and outraged by this sudden challenge to his overbearing authority, Sir Humphrey is forced to walk the long way round along Whitehall and protests with characteristic ‘how dare you?’ pomposity. Enjoying seeing the power behind the throne losing it, Hacker then takes things a step further by removing Sir Humphrey’s Downing Street pass, thus denying him access altogether. Eventually, all is back to normal by the end of the episode; but the PM has made his point.

I was reminded of this over the weekend when one of the Home Office’s top civil servants, Sir Philip Rutnam, resigned his post as Permanent Secretary in melodramatic fashion by delivering a vociferous critique of Home Secretary Priti Patel. The usual sympathy that might accompany a resignation prompted by alleged bullying in the workplace was tempered somewhat by the detectable Sir Humphrey-like sense of entitlement in Sir Philip’s statement. This is a man who himself had a reputation as being difficult to work with and appears to have embodied all the arrogance that comes with a lengthy stint in the upper echelons of the civil service. Choosing to resign in such a public and narcissistic manner was almost reminiscent of a TV personality begging for forgiveness after being caught on camera snorting coke with rent boys; and only an idiot or opportunist could express empathy with Sir Philip’s tragic plight.

Promising to issue a claim against the Home Office for ‘constructive dismissal’, Sir Philip accused Priti Patel of being behind an orchestrated smear campaign against him, alleging she held him responsible for briefing the media about the Home Secretary’s rumoured conduct towards employees. Patel is apparently guilty of ‘swearing, belittling people, and making unreasonable and repeated demands’, so up stepped Sir Philip in an act of (in his own words) ‘bravery’ to out the Home Secretary and shine an unflattering light on the clandestine machinations of the Home Office under Patel. It is worth noting, however, that Sir Philip’s stint in the top job is poised to be exposed in similarly unflattering light with the imminent report into the Windrush scandal and the part he played under the regime of Amber Rudd; his recent actions could therefore be viewed as something of a pre-emptive strike.

Lest we forget, the Whitehall civil service was itself accused of an overwhelming Remainer stance during last year’s Brexit battles, suspected of playing its part in obstructing progress and allying itself with Labour and Lib Dem aims to thwart the implementation of the outcome of the EU Referendum. The civil service was exposed as an autonomous establishment mole at odds with government policy – something it could get away with during a period of minority administration; for a majority government whose intentions to resolve the issue by honouring the electorate’s 2016 mandate to then come into office was bound to shake the foundations a little, so Sir Philip was perhaps looking for an excuse to make a getaway with handsome redundancy package intact. This was apparently arranged in advance, though the egotistical craving to air his sour grapes placed that severance payment in jeopardy, hence his headline-grabbing stunt and opportunistic signal to the left by playing the victim.

The left has latched onto Sir Philip Rutnam as an unlikely ‘heroic’ whistleblower, though this symbol of the privileged and unelected autocracy of the Whitehall civil service is only really being feted because the language of his resignation speech upholds the ‘we told you so’ mindset of the left re Priti Patel. The incumbent Home Secretary seems to embody everything they find objectionable about British-born Indians – i.e. the refusal to adhere to the ‘immigrant victim’ narrative and tendency not to vote Labour due to their aspirational ambitions. Patel herself is a descendant of Ugandan Asians, though her family migrated to the mother country before Idi Amin expelled the architects of the independent Ugandan economy in 1972. Like many of Hindu descent raised during British rule, Patel has inherited the Protestant Work Ethic and instinctively resists playing the patronising part assigned to her by the opposition. She may not be the brightest button to hold one of the major offices of state, but the ill-advised liaison with Israeli officials that provoked her ejection from Theresa May’s Cabinet in 2017 earned her the undying enmity of the left, so the latest storm in a teacup was the gift that an increasingly desperate Labour Party was looking for to condemn her further.

The recent resignation of Sajid Javid as Chancellor, which he claimed was down to pressure from No.10 to replace his own personal advisers with SPADs of Dominic Cummings’ own choosing, has fed into the current ‘crisis’ storyline re the Government, though Patel has been under disproportionate scrutiny for months. The below-the-belt Andrew Marr accusation that she was smirking during an interview as the subject of society’s less fortunate members was raised highlighted the somewhat pathetic straw-clutching by her opponents, something that has resurfaced in the wake of Sir Philip’s grandstanding exit.

Obviously, not being a Home Office minion myself, I cannot comment with any accuracy on the validity of the accusations against Priti Patel regarding her ‘bullying’ tendencies, but the media reaction to such allegations do speak volumes as to what kind of individual we want running the Home Office. I would surmise most of the holders of the post of Home Secretary have been guilty of displaying ‘bastard’ tendencies over the years; but do we want a primary school teacher with a touchy-feely Call me Tony/Dave approach at this moment in time – or do we want a whip-cracker who will lay down the law and not take any shit from civil servants at odds with government policy? Nobody gets to such high office by being a nice guy/girl, so we shouldn’t necessarily expect a potential CBeebies babysitter to be in charge of an institution most would agree is in need of an iron fist.

Were Priti Patel a Labour rather than Conservative MP, she would no doubt be celebrated as an example of Britain’s ‘diversity’; she would be a multicultural poster-girl demonstrating that ethnicity is no impediment to achievement. As it is, her unfashionable views on capital punishment and steely-eyed attitude to Radical Islam have turned her into a trendy hate figure in the same way that Sajid Javid’s successor at No.11 has already been targeted because of his similar reluctance to adhere to the expectations his origins demand. An online campaign against such an innocuous brand as Yorkshire Tea simply because Rishi Sunak posed with a box of said beverage a week or so ago says so much about how low the opposition will go when their main priority is arguing over ‘Trans-rights’. And they can’t understand why they’re not in office?

© The Editor

WALKING THE DOGMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© The Editor

THE BEST MEDICINE

The return of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ is always welcome, not merely because it is undisputedly one of the funniest TV shows of all time, but because the targets of its humour are so deserving. Astonishingly, it’s now 20 years since the series first appeared on HBO, and when it initially crossed the Atlantic it served as a novel portal for bemused Brits into the American extremes of what used to be called ‘Political Correctness gone mad’. For those unfamiliar with the show (and you should be ashamed of yourselves), it follows the journey of one man through the complex maze of changing social mores in polite (and not so polite) society.

After an on-off career as a stand-up, Larry David established himself as a successful comic writer with the creation of ‘Seinfeld’ in the 90s. Although ‘Seinfeld’ regularly touched on topics that had previously been beyond-the-pale for sitcoms (especially US ones), it had done so within the conventions of a traditional format; when Larry David decided to put himself in front of the camera with ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, however, he opted to depart the confines of the studio and went for the filmic ‘documentary’-style approach ala ‘The Office’. In ‘Curb’, David plays a fictionalised version of himself and gives vent to his inner demons by saying out loud what most people think; the Larry David of ‘Curb’ basically lacks a bullshit filter and cannot prevent himself from interjecting when anyone else would keep an opinion to themselves. But that’s why we love him.

Living in LA and therefore encountering Hollywood royalty from both the big and small screen, the Larry David of ‘Curb’ runs up against Tinsel Town’s ever-changing checklist of what can and can’t be said in company practically every episode. David’s response to the increasingly dogmatic strictures of the speech police is one of bemusement; but his inability to bite his lip means confrontation of the most inventively foul-mouthed nature is inevitable. Larry has a habit of putting his foot in it, but he never does so from a position of malice, merely understandable confusion.

Surrounded by fastidious practitioners of Woke thinking, Larry is regarded by them as the most un-PC individual on the planet, but he is actually the one character in the show without any prejudice, utterly immune to the pigeonholes that place people in clearly defined groups based on ethnicity, sexuality or gender. This was crystallised during one memorable episode in which he chaperones a blind man on a date with a Muslim woman in a burqa and the three of them end up sharing a raucous meal with a group of special needs car-washers; two members of a golf-club Larry sought to join stumble upon this impromptu gathering and their facial reaction betrays the prejudice that their veneer of social justice usually suppresses in public. In ‘Curb’, Larry David relentlessly exposes such hypocrisy and double standards, and he does so funnier than anyone else; he’s been doing it now for two decades.

Just as ‘Nathan Barely’ satirising a cult of stupidity restricted to a tiny clique of London media twats in 2005 inadvertently prophesised a pernicious trend that would soon spread across the country, Larry David noted what was happening in small showbiz circles long before it infected and polluted the whole of western culture. 20 years ago, nobody imagined the enclosed world David was taking a pot-shot at would eventually colonise everywhere; but it has – especially in this country, where all media outlets and cultural institutions are controlled by those with the loudest voices who all sing from an ever-expanding hymn-sheet of dos and don’ts. In 2020, it would seem we need ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ more than ever.

Yes, it was hard to avoid noticing the weekend was awash with outrage over actor Laurence Fox apparently ‘doing a Nick Griffin’ on ‘Question Time’, the BBC’s once-unmissable debating forum now seemingly on its last legs. Anyone who watched will testify Fox admirably stood his ground and refused to kowtow to the Woke narrative permeating the programme and its panellists; challenging an audience member insistent that a poor little Duchess has been hounded out of the country because the UK is a hotbed of virulent racism, Fox received the customary retort of the regressive left via the playing of the ‘white privilege’ card and shrewdly pointed out that judging him solely on the colour of his skin was racist – which it is; what was it Martin Luther King said about the content of one’s character being the most important factor?

It’s a measure of where we are that one man having the nerve to speak common sense and express the kind of authentically liberal values the majority of people actually live by could be branded far-right for his troubles. Some within the actors’ union Equity are even demanding Fox be subjected to McCarthy-style blacklisting, and his ‘posh-boy’ status is also being attacked. It’s interesting, though, that what this storm in a teacup has shown yet again is how much more the upper-classes and working-classes have in common with each other than either do with the middle-classes; the middle-classes hate both in equal measure – and Woke is inherently middle-class in its imaginary oppression and perpetual victimhood. It’s no coincidence the British electorate chose another posh-boy as their PM just over a month ago.

Laurence Fox was berated by the unelected Shami ‘I won a peerage’ Chakrabarti for not nominating one of the women candidates as his favoured Labour leader; heaven forbid the successor to Corbyn should get the job on merit rather than patronising affirmative action. Rebecca Long-Bailey’s continuation of the Identity Politics agenda in her own predictable response to the tedious Meghan soap opera has simply demonstrated yet again how this stance represents the Labour Party’s estrangement from its traditional supporters perhaps even more than Brexit. But just as Mary Whitehouse could see sex even when it wasn’t there, the far left views everything through the prism of racism (bar the blind spot of anti-Semitism, of course), and it’s been undeniably entertaining watching Grauniad scribes suddenly falling over themselves to defend a privileged pair of millionaires who are beneficiaries of the kind of inherited wealth they’re supposed to be opposed to.

When such smug zealots devote so much energy to crying racism on behalf of a pampered Duchess, it serves to highlight their criminal silence on the ‘wrong kind of victims’ – i.e. those who don’t fit the profile. The tragic consequences of this damaging divide-and-rule approach has been grimly highlighted by the revelations of the so-called ‘grooming gangs’ – or Pakistani Paedophiles, if you prefer – whose decades-long industrial abuse of underage girls in Greater Manchester was allowed to progress unimpeded due to so-called cultural sensitivity. You couldn’t make most of this up; indeed, how can Titania McGrath compete when Sheffield ‘Stasi’ University is recruiting students for paid reporting on the ‘micro-aggressive’ speech and thought crimes of their fellow guinea pigs? The whole Puritan project of Woke is gradually over-stretching to the point where it will (hopefully) eat itself. All we need is Larry David to document its death and we can at least look back in laughter.

© The Editor

OLD WINE, NEW BOTTLE

Well, what have we learnt in the first week-and-a-half of 2020 so far? Perhaps – as is generally the trend when a New Year begins – not a lot that we didn’t know already. Years, never mind decades, take time to establish themselves as separate entities to what has preceded them, and with less than a fortnight on the clock the 2020s have naturally given us more of the same, or a newly-bottled version of the over-familiar. Yes, it was undeniably joyous seeing Ricky Gervais roasting a self-important Hollywood aristocracy demanding a pat on the back for wearing the same tux for the entire awards season (thus saving the planet in the process), but this necessary interlude was followed by hysteria over a list of BAFTA nominees that failed to include any women or ‘people of colour’; with an Identity Politics agenda being so crucial to whether or not a movie is worth watching, such an outrage needed a mention if we are to make sure the colour-blind dinner table of Martin Luther King’s dream remains out of bounds.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Woke are fleeing excessive press coverage by making sure they receive excessive press coverage as they flounce off into the taxpayer-subsidised sunset of the Commonwealth; we received shock confirmation that both the US and Iran are run by point-scoring arseholes exercising their machismo by keeping a 40-year-old grudge match going – and woe betide those who get caught in the crossfire, such as the blameless passengers on a commercial flight; evidence suggesting some of Australia’s awful inferno may have been the result of both arsonists and counterproductive ‘green’ policies rather than climate change are being argued over as heartbreaking images of innocent animals suffering continue to flood social media newsfeeds; oh, and attempts to resurrect an opposition to government in UK politics, whilst seemingly back on track at Stormont, are floundering yet again at Westminster.

Yes, the hopefuls making their respective pitches to become Labour Party leader have kick-started their campaigns by merely proving the period of reflection following such a catastrophic electoral annihilation entails learning absolutely nothing from it whatsoever. Rebecca Long-Bailey gives Corbyn 10/10 as a leader, whilst Clive Lewis continues with the ‘all Leave voters were thick racists’ narrative as his launch-pad; both are either too stupid to recognise where their party went wrong or are simply incapable of taking the reasons on board. Emily Thornberry is risking the wrath of the dominant Momentum vote in her bid by daring to suggest Corbyn made mistakes, despite the fact she was telling us all what a great Prime Minister he’d be barely a month ago; and Jess Phillips is doing what Jess Phillips does best – i.e. reminding the world how great Jess Phillips is, though not offering any concrete evidence why, such as in the form of plausible policies.

Maybe it’s no surprise that Keir ‘slimy’ Starmer has leapt ahead as front-runner in this lacklustre contest. As ever, the Starmer chameleon has employed sneaky stealth to progress almost unnoticed, avoiding headline-grabbing statements and courting favour as a ‘safe pair of hands’ by radiating the charisma of an ironing board. I can only assume he’s been able to garner support from both within and without the Labour Party on account of him cleverly avoiding the twin toxic taints of New Labour and Corbynism and therefore giving the impression to those tired of both that he somehow represents the way forward as a bland, faceless ‘moderate’ who can win back all those lost voters. Ignorance of Starmer’s pre-Parliamentary career probably helps.

Lest we forget, Starmer’s insidious (not to say pivotal) role in pushing forward the ‘Believe The Victim’ mantra during his disastrous stint as Director of Public Prosecutions led pretty much directly to the Carl Beech fiasco; though this stage of Starmer’s career is mysteriously absent from his leadership portfolio, he created the climate that enabled Beech to pull the wool over so many eyes. Starmer’s influence helped establish this policy within the nation’s police forces, filtering to the frontline from the top on down, and whilst Carl Beech was the most high-profile example of how fatally flawed this approach is, God only knows how high the numbers behind bars whose cases have yet to be heard beyond the courtroom might be. Not to worry, though; Keir wants to be your Prime Minister.

The whole Beech affair has smoothly slid off Teflon Man Starmer in a way it hasn’t with his departed colleague Tom Watson. It stuck like the jammy residue of a tuck-shop doughnut to Bunter because he’d allowed his ego to seize upon it as a means of propelling his profile into the public consciousness; when Beech was mercifully exposed as a fraudster, Jezza’s deputy suffered the consequences thereafter; something which he had cynically weaponised ended up shooting him in the foot. Watson then had no option but to walk the plank, crushing his obvious ambitions to be Labour leader in the process; however, it is characteristic of the man that he continues to refute accusations of wrongdoing in his post-political existence, seeking forgiveness via TV confessionals ala Michael Barrymore. In denial but in the wilderness, Watson now has to sit back and watch an operator who is far more responsible for Beech and his odious ilk run away with the opening round.

Jezza remains at the helm during this odd interregnum, albeit suddenly rendered utterly powerless at the dispatch box; indeed, Corbyn’s ability to connect with Yoof due to him having the mindset of an eternal gap-year student trapped in a pensioner’s body was something that only worked to a degree in the chamber when the Tories lacked the numbers to neuter him. Now that Parliament has a Government with a majority for the first time in a long time, it would appear normal service has been resumed. The chaos that came to characterise the Commons has completely vanished since business reconvened in the wake of the General Election, and with it has vanished Corbyn’s clout. Imminent legislation being passed onto the Lords with ease is something we’d almost forgotten was possible, yet it is finally happening again.

As his party struggles to cope with resolving the detachment from the electorate that he helped accelerate, poor old Jezza has the hapless demeanour of a past-it comedian in a working-men’s club whose act is being largely ignored by patrons drinking and talking amongst themselves. ‘We are the resistance to Boris Johnson’ was his follow-up gag to ‘We won the argument’; and it’s a pity the ones who really should get the joke are the only ones not laughing. Mind you, unless we simply watch Gervais’s Golden Globes evisceration of Tinsel Town on a loop, there’s not much else to laugh about right now, anyway.

© The Editor