THE SPECIAL ONES

Whatever the reasons behind the recent revelations concerning the contents of Damian Green’s office computer a decade ago – and the scramble for the moral high-ground between accuser and accused is an unedifying spectacle that speaks volumes about both – the fact the current First Secretary of State had such material on his hard-drive in the first place might appear somewhat careless. That the apparently ‘extreme’ nature of the pornography discovered was present a mere matter of weeks before it was outlawed only adds to the stupidity of Green in not deleting it. However, perhaps it was not so much stupidity as arrogance, the kind of ‘breed apart’ arrogance characteristic of either the old school tie or amongst those breathing the rarefied air of elevated social status.

I suspect Green wasn’t unduly concerned with having extreme pornography on his PC at work simply because he regarded himself as untouchable; he could afford to be lax when it came to such things because, unlike anyone in an ‘ordinary’ workplace – where the discovery of hardcore porn on an office computer would result in instant dismissal – he was in possession of the arrogance and sense of entitlement that comes with high office as well as being a by-product of certain seats of learning and the professions these seats subsequently lead to. Why should he have to worry about being caught out? His privileged position exempted him from the likelihood.

Politicians are particularly guilty of exhibiting this arrogance, and we notice it more with them because they’re always on our bloody TV screens flaunting it. Of course, there are the prep-school/public-school/Oxbridge conveyor-belt Honourable Members, whose conviction they were born to rule is bred into them from the off; yet there are also those who maybe didn’t have their inherited advantages but have acquired the same arrogance through mixing in the same circles. The instinctive craving to need someone to look down on is satisfied with promotion to Westminster if an MP emanates from humble origins, and a socialist can progress from cider to champagne with remarkable ease.

The Abbott’s and Thornberry’s of this world as just as arrogant in their own way as Dave and Gideon; that both are profoundly thick is evident whenever they open their mouths, yet what makes them so hilarious is that they’re not aware of how stupid they are. They speak with the confidence of the intelligent and appear to genuinely believe they’re a cut above the plebs; the Tweet that earned Lady Nugee her expulsion from Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet in 2015 was as clear an indication of just how ‘clever’ she thinks she is next to the majority of the electorate. But to single out politicians as especially unique in this field would be to unfairly exclude many other professions that encourage the same Us and The Rest mindset.

Emily Thornberry could easily be the head of a social care department; she has the same ‘bossy fat woman’ demeanour that would complement a Birt-speak job title, enabling her to look down her nose at the distraught parents confronting her across the table like Oliver Twist asking for more. She could equally be running your local Job Centre (taking great delight in informing claimants their benefits have been suspended); she could be a school headmistress and could be a barrister.

Indeed, I have it on good authority from a member of the latter profession (one who mercifully lacks its least appealing traits) that the arrogance so in abundance when it comes to the legal game is practically a qualification for entering it. Law students are amongst the most pompous, smug, conceited, up-their-own-arses set of elite peacocks one could ever have the misfortune of being locked in a lift with, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by their detachment from the real world once they make it to the Bar, one that is blatantly obvious with some via their self-indulgent Tweets.

A friend recently selected (yet utterly unsuited) for jury service was able to eventually be excluded on medical grounds, yet it was hard work getting there; at one point, she contacted a solicitor for advice on how to go about it. The solicitor’s response, which was obviously intended as consolation, inadvertently exposed the arrogance of which I’ve been speaking. The solicitor (a lady) explained she herself also once had to do jury service, despite her exalted status. ‘Even I’, she declared. The phrase ‘Even I’ is imbued with everything employed by those who regard themselves as superior when conversing with their perceived inferiors. Yes, even I – someone who would never have a kitchen containing a washing-machine – had to do jury service! Can you imagine what a sacrifice that was for someone of my standing?! ‘Even I’ has now become an in-joke between my friend and me when in need of a simple description for a certain type of professional individual. ‘She was most definitely an Even I.’ Say no more.

It goes without saying that social snobbery stretches beyond the workplace; it’s there in those who feel the need to employ a cleaner when they can’t really afford one, but gain Brownie points from their peers for doing so; it’s there in those who measure their worth as human beings by how many recommended status symbols they can boast; and it’s there in those MPs who never imagined their own clumsy flirting rituals could drop them in the same hot water as the plebs hung out to dry by changes to the law governing sexual conduct that Westminster endorsed in the belief it wouldn’t be affected by them. Ironically, when it comes to some things, we are all in it together.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510941083&sr=1-1

NICE ‘N’ SLEAZY

Whilst that odious Jabba Tom Watson weeps crocodile tears over the suicide of Carl Sargeant, seemingly oblivious to the blood on his own hands, the excuse for an administration perched on the opposing benches could have done without what passes for a ‘sex scandal’ in 2017, certainly on top of everything else. But whilst rolling news channels prefer the ridiculous spectacle of helicopters trailing a returning member of the Cabinet en route from Heathrow to No.10 as though she was OJ Simpson being chased by the LAPD, there’s nothing the tabloid end of Fleet Street loves more than what happens, as Peter Wyngarde once said, ‘when sex leers its inquisitive head’. Parallels with John Major’s similarly shambolic Cabinet have come thicker and faster in recent weeks, though it’s no great surprise. One has to go back 25 years to find the nearest comparison of a governing party so viciously divided over Europe and simultaneously saddled with wandering hands.

When the disaster of Black Wednesday hit and Britain was forced to leave the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, a move that cost the Treasury £3.3 billion as desperate attempts to defend sterling’s value proved futile, the same week saw the resignation of high-profile Major Minister David Mellor, following a proper sex scandal. The fact Major dithered over replacing Norman Lamont, his Chancellor during Black Wednesday also suggested the PM was weak and indecisive; even though the economy was slowly improving and unemployment was beginning to fall, confidence in the nation’s leader had plummeted. The inauguration of Back to Basics, unveiled at the 1993 Conservative Party Conference, was seen by many as an attempt by Major to salvage his dwindling reputation and appeal to the right-wing tabloids that had begun to waver in their support.

In retrospect, Back to Basics can be held responsible for the public perception of the Tories as the ‘nasty party’ as much as any of the divisive policies pursued by Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s. Hallmarks of Tory policy that have continued into this century via the likes of IDS were key to this horrible, desperate gamble by Major, singling out a small section of society as the cause of society’s ills, safe in the knowledge that this small section were powerless to fight back.

Along with single mothers, there were criticisms of soft sentencing on the part of the justice system, painting a picture of Britain’s inner cities as lawless hotbeds of unchecked criminality; illegal raves were also held up as a further example of the country’s lapse into immoral anarchy. The blame game is always a sure sign that an administration has run out of ideas, and whilst Major’s accusations chimed with editorials in some of Fleet Street’s more reactionary publications, the vast majority of the press and public found the whole Back to Basics project utterly ludicrous. And, as luck would have it, within a few months of Back to Basics being unveiled, a steady stream of scandals emanating from the Tory party undermined Major’s credibility and highlighted the hypocrisy at the heart of this most ill-advised of political projects.

In 1990, Tory MP Tim Yeo had made a speech in which he declared – ‘It is in everyone’s interest to reduce broken families and the numbers of single parents. I have seen from my own constituency the consequences of marital breakdown’. Just three months after the launch of Back to Basics, the man John Major had appointed Minister for the Environment and Countryside was forced to resign when the press revealed Yeo had fathered a ‘love child’ with a Tory councillor. The same month as Tim Yeo quit the Cabinet, John Major’s Government also lost its leading Peer when the Earl of Caithness resigned following the suicide of his wife, who had shot herself upon discovering her husband’s affair with another woman. The following month, Stephen Milligan – MP for Eastleigh, a former journalist and ‘rising star’ of the Tory Party – was found dead in his flat from apparent autoerotic asphyxiation, strangled by an electrical cord with an orange stuffed in his mouth; elements of cross-dressing and self-bondage made this bizarre, lurid tragedy a gift for the more sensationalist corners of Fleet Street. It also triggered a by-election that was won by the Liberal Democrats, dealing a further humiliating blow to John Major’s shaky administration.

But these weren’t the only scandals to affect the Conservatives in the middle of the 90s. There was also was the Cash-for-questions affair, involving ‘The Egyptian Grocer’ and Neil Hamilton – Minister for Deregulation and Corporate Affairs, no less – not to mention the dramatic downfall of Jonathan Aitken, Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Aitken’s libel proceedings against allegations by both the Guardian and ITV’s ‘World in Action’ dragged on for two years, but resulted in him being charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice and receiving a sentence of eighteen months behind bars. His cell wouldn’t be vacant for long, however.

Jeffrey Archer, one of the most public advocates of Back to Basics, was brought back into the Tory frontline by John Major, who elevated him to the peerage. Archer had evaded prosecution over the Anglia Television ‘shares affair’ in 1994, but when he was selected as Tory candidate for the London Mayoral Election five years later, Rupert Murdoch’s newfound love-in with Labour saw the News of the World dredge up Archer’s 1987 libel case against the Daily Star, when he had been found not guilty of paying a prostitute for her services, and was awarded £50,000 in damages. The new allegations that emerged in 1999 presented strong evidence that Archer had committed perjury during the 1987 libel trial by fabricating an alibi. The Tory Party immediately dropped him as their Mayoral candidate and expelled him from the party for five years. Archer was charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice in September 2000 and when the case came to trial in the summer of 2001, Archer was found guilty of the offence and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment, of which he served half.

Even though there was a gap of four years between Major’s Government being thrown out of office and Jeffrey Archer’s imprisonment, the fact that notable players in that administration were still being subjected to the long arm of the law underlined how the malodorous odour of corruption and sleaze continued to hover around the Tory Party like the scent of unwashed feet on a Twister mat. When former gaffe-prone Major Minister Edwina Currie later revealed she and Major were engaged in a four-year affair during the 1980s, it was the belated icing on an especially unappetising cake. As things currently stand, Theresa May has yet to bake an equivalent confection; but the stench emanating from the Downing Street kitchen is beginning to linger.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510503885&sr=1-1

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVILISH

Again – yet again – the memorable sketch from ‘Not The Nine O’Clock News’ springs to mind. Rowan Atkinson and Mel Smith play MPs from opposite sides of the House, engaging in a lively debate chaired by Pamela Stephenson; as their argument reaches fever pitch, Rowan Atkinson keels over and dies of a heart attack. Mel Smith abruptly switches his vitriolic critique of his opponent’s stance midsentence and ends it by paying tribute to a Great Parliamentarian. We’ve seen it one more time today as the death was announced of Labour MP Carl Sargeant, a man who was the Welsh Government’s Secretary for Communities and Children until he was sacked last Friday. The reason for his dismissal was related to another allegation of the kind Westminster has been awash with over the past seven days.

It appears Mr Sargeant’s death was by his own hand, which is always a painfully sad way to end a life; but it was really only a matter of time before one of the politicians falling under the finger of suspicion took this route out of it. The kind of gushing tributes being paid to Carl Sargeant in the wake of his apparent suicide probably didn’t accompany his dismissal and party membership suspension just a few days ago because, as we all know, a man is guilty till proven innocent in ‘the Court of Public Opinion’, that non-Judicial body vigorously endorsed by every MP confident their own conduct was free from the allegations that have plagued other public bodies since society spinelessly kowtowed to the ‘I believe her’ mindset.

The Crown Courts of Britain assemble for business each Monday morning with disparate members of the public pulled out of the Jury Service tombola having to put their lives and livelihoods on ice for a fortnight. Whilst the barristers and judges casually stroll into the hallowed environs smug in the knowledge they won’t be lumbered with the extortionate parking fees that the potential jurors have to endure if they ignore the condescending advice to use that useless means of getting from A to B known as public transport, the system grinds on at a snail’s pace as people without a ‘Right Honourable’ prefix to their names face the music.

These insignificant plebs have been enduring the allegations Westminster residents are now suddenly confronted by for the last half-decade or so; their pariah status is emphasised by the warnings dished out to the jurors that craving a cigarette break outdoors might entail sharing a smoking space with ‘criminals’ – the status afforded the accused before their trial has even been graced with a verdict. Of course, the police and the CPS have no politicised agenda at all, and the accused wouldn’t even be there if smoke hadn’t been sighted before their fire began. Anyone fortunate enough never to have fallen foul of the boys-in-blue nail varnish has absolute faith in their integrity, naturally, and thus a negative opinion of the individual is formed even before the swearing-in ceremony.

Despite the Expenses’ Scandal of less than a full decade ago, the elected gravy train freeloaders have continued to recline in their exalted cocoons, convinced their lifestyle choice has rendered them immune from the curse of the false allegation or the taint of an accusation imbued with the power to end a career. How crushing it must be to finally realise they actually have no immunity from a moral crusade that has laid waste to hundreds of less important lives across the country, not to mention showbiz veterans whose advanced years and kitsch celebrity means they don’t matter.

Chris Evans and his ginger willy aside, there are no further entertainment icons to pursue, and dead public servants have had their graves so saturated with piss that even their pursuers are now seeking a golden handshake – see Wiltshire Constabulary’s Mike Veale. Where else to go to feed the insatiable appetites of Alison Saunders and Vera Baird? Why, Westminster, of course – not forgetting the poor relations of Cardiff and Edinburgh.

It was fine when a dying has-been like Leon Brittan was being shaken out of slumber on his deathbed or a WWII hero like Lord Bramall was having his house turned over on the instructions of a despicable Met chief ironically poised to replace him in the Lords – raised voices were few and far between then. But now we are supposed to be outraged that those who facilitated a climate wherein such events could take place are being bitten by the monster they approved the creation of. Well, sorry for the inconvenience, Westminster 2017; but it serves you right.

Yes, it’s sad that a man has to take his own life in the wake of allegations that have yet to be proven; but how many other lives have been taken in similar circumstances – ones that were denied the spotlight Carl Sargeant’s suicide has received today? And how many nauseatingly hypocritical tributes were paid to those lives when they were lost? Not many, I suspect. I’m afraid the chickens are coming home to roost now, and it’s increasingly hard to summon-up sympathy for the highest profile victims of a witch-hunt that the latest victims of gave the seal of approval to in the belief it would never touch them.

© The Editor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Yesterday-Johnny-Monroe/dp/154995718X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509989926&sr=1-1&dpID=41ppifNq5pL&preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

THE F**K-IT LIST

You may recall a post on here last year titled ‘Tumbleweed Injunction’, all about a story involving a certain Grande Dame of British pop music who couldn’t be named by the mainstream media on account of a super-injunction and accompanying threat of legal proceedings should a TV programme or newspaper dare to say his moniker out loud when reporting his alleged threesome. This particular case was as good an example as any of how the senior mediums have been rendered redundant by cyberspace when it comes to free speech. Although my piece didn’t once say the stage name said musician adopted almost fifty years ago, one would have to be a bit dim not to guess to whom I was referring. Besides, everybody bloody knew who it was, with or without the trademark platform boot I illustrated the article with.

We now have one more example of how the info is out there and the MSM is powerless to use it whilst the rest of us can choose to access it if we want, finally liberated from having that choice dictated to us by the press or TV. Westminster’s uncut ‘dodgy dossier’ is available via Twitter and the version I’ve seen is a straightforward photocopy sourced from God-knows-where, with the contents laid bare and not needing a running commentary. My job today is not to repeat that list verbatim; for one thing, there’s no point, what with it already having been seen by a potential audience of thousands; for another, it’s not my role to be a ‘rogue journalist’. A bit of rogue I might be, but I’d never presume to label myself a journalist. Besides, if I were, I’d be even more restricted in what I can or can’t say re the names on the list.

It’s an odd combination of personal kinkiness, innocuous (and hardly illegal) activities between consenting adults, and genuinely unpleasant lechery. Whoever compiled it clearly collected every snippet of gossip from the frivolous to the serious that had been overheard in the corridors of power and cobbled the lot together in one unsavoury package – not unlike the way in which such behaviour outside of Parliament has been cobbled together in law by a poisonous moral crusade that politicians have endorsed in the belief it would never pierce their sanctimonious bubble. Now it has belatedly encroached upon their own sexual misadventures they’re suddenly screaming ‘Witch Hunt’! Tough Titty – or should that be Sugar Titty?

Like most, I should imagine, there are a great deal of names on the list I’ve never heard of, but that’s no surprise when one considers the sheer volume of parasites sucking on the breast of our democracy. It’s a bit like whenever I casually switch on BBC Parliament and catch some moribund late afternoon debate as opposed to the all-star parade that is PMQs. I struggle to recognise the majority of MPs lounging around on the half-empty benches as some anonymous nonentity drones on, and many of them could well be included on this list for all I know. It goes without saying that my eyes took note of names I did recognise when perusing it, and there are around a dozen of them. Some have already been safely ‘outed’, whilst others raised the odd eyebrow. Good Lord, there are even some women on there! And here’s me thinking this sexual predator thing was a purely male pastime.

One of the women on the list has a very high-profile post indeed, though her crime was having had ‘a workplace relationship’; that hardly makes her Rose West. Another female member of the Government with an important day-job is accused of fornicating with a male researcher while a backbench MP – and, yes, fornicating is the somewhat quaint word the compiler of the list uses. One of the mostly male MPs listed is described as being ‘handy at parties’; another is ‘handy in taxis’. One ‘asked a female researcher to do odd things’, but we’re not told what they were (or what constitutes ‘odd’ in this context); another ‘likes to have intercourse with men who are wearing women’s perfume’. One has ‘odd sexual penchants’ (again – how odd?) and is also ‘sexual with a fellow MP’, who happens to be described as ‘a drunk’; another takes the starring role in a video that features him being urinated on by not one, not two, but ‘three males’! Whatever turns you on, eh?

However, also included are the likes of one male MP who allegedly impregnated a former researcher and made her have an abortion; another ‘paid a female to be quiet’ – a right pair of charmers by the sounds of it. At the same time, one MP is damned for taking his personal trainer to the cinema and then to ‘private rooms at the Carlton’! I’m sure the personal trainer appreciated the gesture more than the researcher who was cajoled into having an abortion, which makes one wonder why the two actions share the same list. I suppose both are demonstrations of how politicians exercise power over those that work for them – benignly and malignantly; and isn’t that what this hoo-hah is really about?

As we have seen, some of the descriptions of behaviour read like stage directions from a sketch on ‘The Benny Hill Show’, which again underlines the error in throwing the trivial in with the far more worrying allegations; it elevates one to a level it doesn’t warrant and diminishes the seriousness of the other. But, as the minor incidents outnumber the major ones on the list, maybe jumbling them all up was the idea; maybe this is a means of enabling those under threat from the list to dismiss it and survive the scandal because the entire dodgy dossier could be discredited as having blown everything out of all proportion. In fact, the leaking of the list could even be viewed as a pre-emptive red herring to derail a proper investigation into the few allegations present that are a bit extreme for your average ‘Carry On’ movie. But it might just be too late now.

© The Editor

ASHES TO ASHTRAYS

Authority, pomposity, hypocrisy – what I consider to be the key trio of perfectly valid targets to satirise, and the ones I persistently aim at via my YouTube video sideline; if anyone ever takes umbrage because I’ve somehow gone where no so-called ‘comedian’ on TV dares to go in these sensitive days, that’s a fault in them, not me. I don’t claim to be breaking new ground, nor do I believe I’m doing anything that wasn’t once commonplace. Maybe my stuff only appears risqué because the alternative today is so lame, having had the fire in its belly dampened by committees, focus groups and the overwhelming craving not to offend. ‘Offensive comedy’ was once the province of deliberately belligerent comics like Bernard Manning, but now any comedy that fails to adhere to the unwritten rules of what can and can’t be said is placed in the Manning or (even worse) Chubby Brown bracket.

Comedy on television used to be rather fearless and now it’s fearfully toothless – as are the broadcasters who don’t want to be battered by a Twitter storm so therefore play it safe with Michael McIntyre for the mums and dads, whilst panel shows do likewise for the kids with their virtue-signalling stand-ups. It’s a pity this is the state of affairs we’ve fallen into because there’s such an abundance of targets asking for it today, yet we’re somehow ‘not allowed’ to poke fun at them. Bollocks to that. Did Chaplin relent from satirising Hitler in ‘The Great Dictator’ at a time when the US hadn’t entered WWII and was still trying not to be beastly to the Germans? No, he didn’t. Why should we be so bloody cautious almost 80 years later?

Of course, there are always politicians, and politicians are an absolute gift to a satirist – they fulfil the criteria re the trio named and shamed at the beginning of this post and always have, bringing out the best in everyone from Swift to ‘Spitting Image’; but even then there are rules as to which of them we’re allowed to ridicule. White male Tory – fine; black female Labour – ooh, racist and misogynistic. No-go. Yet Diane Abbott offers up so many open goals, how can anyone resist? There’s no need to descend to the lazy online level of simian-based insults (which those who use them are too stupid to realise gives her additional ammunition); Abbott is such a Grade-A car-crash every time she opens her mouth that it only takes a little imagination to nail her.

In this week’s strange climate, the lines one can cross have been reinforced with renewed mortification, beginning with the outrage over Michael Gove’s Weinstein joke – which he, naturally, had to apologise for. It ends with Harriet Harman, the high-priestess of po-faced Political Correctness for the last twenty-odd years, exposing the double standards inherent in her agenda on live television as she shared the sofa with Michael Portillo on ‘This Week’. Quoting a rag-mag gag from her student days, Harperson highlighted her smug arrogance in assuming Andrew Neil wouldn’t take offence at a blatantly anti-Semitic joke before she told it. There’s no real need to recite it, as it’s all over Twitter and YT already; but had the joke been about black people, Muslims, women or ‘The LGBT Community’ (as Owen Jones likes to call it, as though it’s a stop on his bus route) and had been told by a Tory, Harman would have headed the queue demanding an apology, a resignation and a public execution.

The context in which Harperson told the joke was, ironically, a discussion on the subject of what can and can’t be joked about, but it backfired on her spectacularly. One could be generous and suggest Harman was simply stupid in telling it, though I think it’s more likely she didn’t regard its potential offensiveness as being on a par with Michael Fallon once touching Julia Hartley-Brewer’s knee. It’s interesting that the main offence taken by the Labour side on social media was the fact that Andrew Neil then told his guest to shut up. What a sexist bastard! But a party whose leader has hung out with Hamas and then conducted a belated investigation into its anti-Semitic elements (the main outcome of which appeared to be Shami Chakrabarti’s elevation to the House of Lords) evidently doesn’t regard Jews as being in the same ‘worthy victim’ category as the rest of its pets. Mind you, there are so many Labour seats in the midlands and north of England dependent on the Muslim vote that it’s no real surprise.

One overlooked aspect of this week’s Westminster sex frenzy has been the contrast between the allegations levelled at politicians from both sides of the House. The Tory stories in the main seem to be ‘Carry On Conservative Party’, whereas the Labour members to have had fingers pointed in their direction sound far more serious. Only today, the party has suspended Luton North MP Kelvin Hopkins pending an investigation into his conduct towards a young activist two years ago. It goes without saying that we haven’t heard every allegation yet and there could well be one or two alleged rapes emanating from the Tory camp as well; but, as ever, glass houses remain vulnerable to those a little too eager to throw stones at their neighbours.

Anyway, time for a commercial break…

© The Editor

THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE

If Jacob Rees Mogg is a 60-year-old eighteenth century gentleman trapped in the body of a 48-year-old twenty-first century politician, Gavin Williamson is…well…what? Doubtless few of us had heard of the MP who was the Tory Chief Whip until today, though we may have picked up stories of the anonymous Westminster resident who keeps a pet tarantula in his Commons office to manufacture a Bond Villain image worthy of former Machiavellian veterans like Peter Mandelson; yes, that’s him. I saw a photo of this prat earlier; he’s only 41, but he has the gait of a much older man despite possessing the same oddly unnerving boyish countenance that made Michael J Fox cute in his 20s and a bit creepy-looking once he reached his 40s.

Williamson is now Defence Secretary, a speedy promotion for someone with no previous Ministerial experience, and one that has apparently left a few more seasoned Cabinet colleagues a tad miffed at being passed over following Michael Fallon’s resignation. Let’s face it, though; it’s not as if Theresa May had an outstanding talent pool from which to select a successor – and she owed Williamson a favour, what with him having organised her campaign to replace David Cameron last year (is it only last year?) and playing a key part in buying DUP favours in the aftermath of the General Election. One of Williamson’s motivations in offering his services as May’s campaign manager during the leadership race following the EU Referendum result was an avowed intent to prevent Boris grabbing the keys to No.10; Williamson’s sudden promotion is therefore bound to make a few Ministers more than a little uncomfortable. He could well have an eye on the top job himself.

The office of Chief Whip is especially important to the governing party at times such as these, and though it’s not traditionally regarded as a stepping-stone to greater things, we shouldn’t forget Ted Heath held the post under both Eden and Macmillan. And whereas Cabinet reshuffles are straightforward enough in normal circumstances, these are not normal circumstances; the PM’s position has been perilous ever since June 9 and her authority has been so undermined by running a minority administration (let alone persistent leaks to the media by those with an eye on her job) that it’s taken a high-profile resignation to force her hand. Had she been able to command any sort of authority, Boris wouldn’t still be Foreign Secretary, for one thing.

Gavin Williamson appears to have opted for a tarantula over a sports-car as a means of solving his midlife crisis, though this cultivation of the unusual as a presumed attempt to make himself moderately interesting contrasts with his predecessor’s determined and – until this week – successful efforts at portraying himself as terminally dull. If there are no more ‘revelations’ to emerge from Michael Fallon’s closet, I find it hard to believe his sole reason for resigning was a drunken fumble over a decade ago, particularly when the recipient of his wandering hands herself regards that reason as ridiculous. Williamson’s predecessor clearly regarded his behaviour fifteen years ago as unsuitable for holding a leading Ministerial job in 2017, yet perfectly suitable for remaining a Tory MP; maybe as long as his constituents don’t mind the fact he once touched Julia Hartley-Brewer’s knee, he no longer has to consider the outrage of the rest of the electorate.

Although his name will forever be linked with a sex scandal, it’s worth remembering John Profumo resigned as Minister for War (the more honest title that preceded Secretary of State for Defence) because he lied to the Commons over his affair with Christine Keeler; that was regarded as far more unforgivable amongst his peers than the actual affair with a prostitute dividing her favours between Profumo and a Russian spy. Ten years after Profumo’s resignation, another Tory MP, Antony ‘Lord’ Lambton quit as a Junior Minister following an exposé by the News of the World that he also paid for the company of ladies (photos were forthcoming).

Exactly ten years after that, the revelation that Margaret Thatcher’s Trade and Industry Secretary Cecil Parkinson had impregnated his secretary Sarah Keays provoked another resignation, though Parkinson’s apparent disregard for his illegitimate daughter – who has learning disabilities – in the years thereafter should cast a far more malignant shadow across his questionable character than the affair that led to her conception. As for John Major’s motley Ministers – where to start? Another post, perhaps.

When placed next to these scandals, Michael Fallon’s activities seem very lightweight indeed, even if they uphold the belief that any scandal leading to a resignation when the Tories are in power is sex-related whereas with Labour it’s always money-related (John Prescott’s loose zip not withstanding). Maybe it’s an indication of how seriously the morose (ex) Minister takes himself that he views what he did as being on a par with Profumo, Parkinson and Lambton; then again, it could just be a depressing reflection of how times have changed and how even the most innocuous of ‘sexual assaults’ can inspire such vociferous online ‘off with his head’ hysteria that the accused has no option but to walk the plank.

© The Editor

HANDS, KNEES AND BOOMPS-A-DAISY

Unfortunately, it’s one of the recurring stories of our times and one that it becomes increasingly difficult to say something new about whenever it rears its ugly head; once again, the headlines keep us in a state of permanent déjà-vu and the seriousness of the crime is almost diminished through terrible repetition. Sadly, we’re back where we’ve been so many times before, but there’s no way it can be avoided; the grim truth demands our attention. Yes, Damian Green allegedly touched a woman’s knee.

In other news, New York experienced a major terror incident when a Jihadist drove a van onto the sidewalk and ploughed down pedestrians and cyclists alike, killing eight of them before being apprehended. Miraculously, he wasn’t shot dead by cops and survives to face the music, though the biggest concern for some is inevitably not the bodies cluttering up Manhattan’s pavements but an anticipated upsurge in ‘Islamophobia’. Anyway, enough of that trivial little domestic business across the pond. Onto more serious matters.

The journalist and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer claimed Defence Secretary Michael Fallon once touched her knee and she made it clear in no uncertain terms what she would do to him if his hand came into contact with said body part again. Fallon withdrew. Fallon is someone who previously edged Philip Hammond in the contest to decide the dullest member of the Cabinet, yet this moment of indiscretion has suddenly and remarkably made the grey man moderately interesting. I doubt few of us would have been surprised had Boris stood accused of such a dastardly deed, but Michael Fallon? Lock up your daughters, especially if they happen to be young party activists; just ask Labour.

It’s interesting that a professional political class which has unquestionably supported DPP Alison Saunders’ cynical crusade to up the rape conviction statistics by broadening the legal definition of sexual assault is now being confronted by the ramifications of this support. The Saunders approach is all fine and dandy if some pleb has the finger of suspicion aimed at him, but the problem with legal definitions is that they’re supposed to be egalitarian and don’t distinguish between class, wealth and social standing. Granted, the ruthless cuts to legal aid have severely limited Joe Public’s ability to defend himself when confronted by an allegation of a sexual nature, but those whose incomes can feather the most exclusive law firm nests probably never imagined they’d be placed in a situation where they’d have to deal with the grim reality of everything they failed to challenge the wisdom of.

William Hague urged caution on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ this morning when it comes to believing the authenticity of every allegation aimed at a public figure, though I don’t remember similar caution being advised by Westminster when the Yewtree witch-hunt was rounding up showbiz stalwarts from the 70s and 80s; back then, the ‘I believe her’ mantra was being recited from every political platform. Operation Midland attracted more criticism in that its targets weren’t quite as irrelevant as Yewtree’s hapless has-beens, though despite a grovelling after-the-event apology from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe as the outgoing Met Chief sought to cover his back, the damage done to the likes of Harvey Proctor remains a shameful example of what can happen when the powers-that-be allow our police force to be politicised by an inherently merciless and perennially unsatisfied agenda.

The sudden downfall of a liberal left Hollywood darling like Kevin Spacey shows how when the ‘I believe her’ (or in Spacey’s case, ‘him’) rule is applied to everyone rather than a select few, it’s actually not very nice at all. Holding up a placard or wearing a T-shirt bearing a nifty hash-tag slogan is easy when you imagine you’re above the net being cast; when that net is widened and you risk being entangled in it, the experience of thousands of nonentities denied your privileges is brought into extremely sharp focus as the irresponsible gamble of not questioning the placing of a clumsy pass on a level playing field with a brutal rape is writ horrifyingly large. The system that has promoted and repeatedly failed to challenge this fallacy can eject its favoured sons without a second thought if it means the whole system risks being tarnished with the same unsavoury accusations. There must be a lot of leading men in Tinsel Town consulting their lawyers at the moment.

When OJ Simpson was on trial for the murder of his ex-wife way back in 1994/95, the defence shrewdly played the race card, garnering wide African-American support in the process as focus shifted away from the actual crime itself and onto the broader subject of US race relations; their client was rewarded by walking away from court a free man, hailed as the victim of the trial as opposed to the cause of it. One cannot but wonder if Bill Cosby had been accused of murder rather than rape that the voices noticeably silenced in their support for one of the entertainment industry’s great black pioneers might have been heard in a way they weren’t as, one-by-one, women came forward to accuse him whilst the system that had celebrated him for decades denounced him.

The ruling elite have sat back and allowed this state of affairs to develop unchecked for a long time because they imagined they were immune to it. In their desperate search for votes and eagerness to be seen endorsing various pseudo-‘liberal’ causes, they have gleefully given the thumbs-up to dubious moral movements without reading the small print; and now they are finally paying the price for their stupidity. Well, more fool them. I should imagine many little men rotting away in a prison cell on the strength of an allegation propelled towards a guilty verdict via a climate fully endorsed by the political class will be short on sympathy; and who could blame them?

© The Editor

STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF

Ooh, where to start? A weekend of finger-pointing and retrospective accusations as summer’s ‘silly season’ is extended into the autumn has left me spoilt for choice when attempting to document the insane landscape we inadvertently inhabit. It began with that Hollywood PR exercise masquerading as a BBC TV chat-show presented by Graham Norton. Adam Sandler, one of those actors whose career provokes the question – ‘What the f**k have you ever done?’ – appeared alongside Emma ‘Miss Jean Brodie’ Thompson and actress Claire Foy, apparently placing his hand on the knee of the latter throughout the ‘interview’, something that provoked frothing-at-the-mouth hysteria on Twitter. A friend then sent me a leaked video of unknown origin in which another superstar of similar charisma – Ben Affleck – was mauling an MTV-style interviewer of Eastern European accent as she sat on his lap, a clip that climaxed with Affleck’s impersonation of a ‘spaz’. Suffice to say, he came across as an arrogant slimeball, albeit one that Tinsel Town’s system positively encourages. See also Harvey Weinstein.

This was followed by the dubious exposure of an online ‘closed group’ of ladies gossiping about various Westminster stalwarts that it’s best to avoid sharing a lift or taxi with. Lecherous old MPs groping young lobbyists, secretaries and PR trainees young enough to be their daughters? Jesus! Who knew? Call Mr Profumo! It’s not exactly Cecil Parkinson impregnating his secretary, but it’s what passes for a political sex scandal in 2017; hot on the heels of Jared O’Mara being suspended by the Labour Party following the publication of comments he made 15 years ago, we need to be vigilant, sex toys and ‘Sugar Tits’ pet-names not permitting.

Then we were told the actor who plays Todd Grimshaw on ‘Coronation Street’, the soap’s first openly gay character (currently in a relationship with a rather wet vicar on the show), has been shown the same exit door that illustrious predecessors such as Peter ‘Len Fairclough’ Adamson were shown for more serious crimes in more innocent times. Bruno ‘Todd Grimshaw’ Langley’s own crime was allegedly sexually assaulting a young lady in a Manchester night-club, though he received his cards before the allegation became a charge, suggesting the powers-that-be at Granada were waiting for an excuse to boot him out, anyway. This revelation broke more or less simultaneously with the news that a Five Live broadcaster has also been suspended on the basis of allegations he was guilty of letting his fingers do the walking where his female colleagues were concerned.

And we round off this supremely silly weekend with the convenient full-circle headline of another member of the Hollywood Royal Family being accused of a foul deed in the dim ‘n’ distant past. This time, it was the turn of none other than Kevin Spacey – someone whose off-screen activities have evaded my own personal ‘gaydar’; Spacey pre-empted an allegation of inappropriate behaviour with an underage actor in the 80s by belatedly coming out. Spacey is someone whose career has largely consisted of commendable efforts on celluloid (unlike Ben Affleck) and also included a stint as guv’nor of the Old Vic in London. Curiously, considering how ‘right-on’ the ruling elite of Hollywood are, they still have a problem with out-and-proud actors, casting resolutely straight leading men as gay characters in the likes of ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘Milk’, whereas we in Blighty have a lengthy list of gay Lord and Lady thespians, even if they tend to play it straight when cast in California.

So, what conclusions do we draw from several days of post-Weinstein allegations and accusations? Well, in the case of Ben Affleck, irrefutable evidence that he’s a bit of a prick is out there in cyberspace, so anything unsavoury levelled against him has pretty solid proof to go on re how he behaves in the company of young women. Kevin Spacey’s conduct is slightly different in that it took place before the days when everything was recorded and documented online, yet he’s still been forced into belatedly admitting his bedroom preferences courtesy of the imminent media storm. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe whatever men or women get up to behind closed doors is their own business and has no relevance to their profession unless they choose to be defined by it; personally, I don’t care if Kevin Spacey is gay or straight, but it evidently matters to media whores deprived of genuine scandal, so Spacey bows to their God-given authority before they exercise it.

Five years on from the tsunami of allegations triggered by the despicable Mark Williams Thomas’s ‘Exposure’ hatchet-job on Jimmy Savile – which served as a handy smokescreen to obscure the genuine outrage of Rotherham and Rochdale – we appear to have reached a point whereby any authentic act of deplorable misogyny aimed at the opposite sex by the male of the species has been overshadowed by the abuse of descriptive terms for actual assault, applied as they are with cavalier nonchalance to clumsy attempts at seduction, making men believe that any move on their part will be labelled ‘rape’. Perhaps it’s laying the ground for western women to adopt the burqa as a modern-day secular chastity belt, duped into the illusion of emancipation by the propaganda. Who knows? We are the dead, as someone once said. But maybe there’s life after death after all. Fingers crossed!

© The Editor