Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Moving beyond mere survival in 2017

In a year of utter lunacy, where six months have been spent in an ever-more febrile combination of disbelief and shock, the temptation to retreat, to disengage and to watch the unravelling of decency from a self-defined redoubt becomes increasingly tempting.  The inner emigration was how the less-vulnerable opponents of 20th century totalitarians maintained a level of equilibrium and self-respect, and it has a place in a world where there is a closing-down of the values that have underpinned respect.  In 2017 this is understandable, but the final admission of defeat.

Defining everything in terms of the Brexit vote is a concession to the demagogues and cynical manipulators.  It remains the immediate crisis in the British Isles, but it is the tip of an iceberg of darkness.  The real challenge remains how to respond to it and to escape the narratives of hatred, contempt and fascism that the hard right are attempting to blame anyone who dissents from their control and their interpretation of events.

There are two principles that we need to bear in mind.  The first is that traditional political boundaries and definitions, while important to those who are engaged, do not either reflect the reality of the challenge nor the means of providing credibility to the vaguely-progressive cause.  Tribalism and personal vendettas do not serve anyone other than the hard right, as it creates the impression of division and squabbling.  Anything beyond coming together to face down the forces of reaction and control is the kind of self-defeating delusion that results in a skewed political system and leaving the field open to those with whom we have nothing in common, while denying the communal interest.  This is not just an issue for leadership groups but for the politically-engaged.

Apart from anything else the second principle is that the politically active assume that everyone is as interested as we are.  This is true on both "sides" of the current crisis.  There is every reason to go on calling out the fascists and the idiots who are the majority of the echo-chambers for the sinister backroom purveyors of the hard right message, but they do not form the basis of those who voted to leave the EU.  It is the majority of that side who need to be persuaded of the folly of the current course, and we need to be clear that there were reasons explicable and honourable for many of their votes, as well as the tissue of lies and vile idiocy that fed the campaign.  The aim has to be to continue engaging with them, and to channel their anger when they realise that they have been played for interests even further removed from their own than those of the demonised "elites".

2017 will not be easy, but at least the terms of dissent and engagement are clear.  Whatever evil goes on, we cannot lose values and momentum that reflect an approach to the world that is not based around either control or displacing hatred.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Playing the Nazi card - the Tories and British values

Surprisingly, Sajid Javid has not gone the whole hog and proposed that his loyalty oath is couched under the banner of a Law for the Restoration of a Professional Civil Service.  The entire sensation-driven trope smacks of a regime aware of its own illegitimacy and its constant backside-sniffing towards its paymasters.  The suggestion that civil servants and holders of public office should, in effect, be purged unless they are prepared to declare fealty to a set of "British Values" defined by the ruling caste is a parallel to the Nazi seizure of power.

In both cases, a swivel-eyed set of lunatics was elected through at least a veneer of legitimacy, in the belief that they could be held in check by those who believed that keeping their enemies in plain sight and within the confines of law would be sufficient.  It took the Nazis less than six months to consolidate power, through the Enabling Act of March 1933 and measures such as the Civil Service law.  May is either colossally ignorant of history or preparing a deliberate coup - the disdain for Parliamentary process and the established constitutional contempt which she demonstrates towards other nations than the English seem to point to the latter.

One of the disadvantages to a study of history is that even if the ideology has limited parallels, the methods of the pursuit of power are often frighteningly similar.  I am not suggesting that the vast majority of the Tory party are pursuing an overtly-authoritarian agenda, but that there are those in the wings for whom this is a desirable outcome.  Cameron may have thought that he might have isolated most of the bacillus (apart from Jamiroquai-lookalike Peter Bone) into the saloon-bar Klan of the Kippers, but they have never gone away.  This time, instead of the intense monomania of Keith Joseph, the far right dribble through buffoonery.  For every Rees-Mogg, there is a Breitbart clone beavering away, feeding vileness that is apparently spoon-fed.

The only "British values" worth subscribing to are those that are universal hallmarks of civilisation - not defined by the pseudo-patriotic card.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a benchmark, not some sort of cobbled-together Empire Loyalism that Javid will be pursuing as a saccharine frontman.  Indeed, if holders of office and paid employment cannot subscribe to the rule of law and the rights of others, then they should be drummed out - without some kind of spurious loyalty test.  It sets the state on a collision course with reality, and the fall-out can be ugly.  It is worth extending the mid-20th century parallels, the shifting of German loyalties to the Fuhrer rather the state, as the embodiment of the "will of the people", sends shivers down the spine.

The Tories are not Nazis, but their logic of having secured power through a dubious process and without the deep roots in either the machinery of government or popular support that would legitimise an open state is worryingly similar.  Rudderless, without principles and without the constant challenge from opposition, they should be an easy target.  Instead apathy and impotence, coupled with targeted attacks on the more articulate advocates of an alternative vision, will be their preferred medium of social control, dressed up in the language of values.

How long this lasts for is more moot.  The run up to Christmas is marked by an upswing in strikes and disgruntlement, fuelled even more by the clear signs that the economy is teetering on the brink of a Depression that will make the 2008 crash look like a picnic, and inflation rising.  The response of the outright fascists in the media, for example the tax-aboding Telegraph and the pornography-bankrolled Express, is to call for the barriers to any form of collective action to be raised to the level of the unattainable, forgetting in their vile contempt for the rights of workers that they are, without irony, denying one side of the labour market any right to express grievances individually or collectively.  Doubtless they will want the return of the forelock and due deference to form part of Javid's "British" values.

Piling irony on top of dictatorship, the hoops through which unions and their members have to jump through before taking action are much greater than Parliamentary election or idiotic plebiscite would require.  We have an ideologically-charged cretin as Transport Secretary in Great Britain, who when not apparently committing hit-and-run offences in his ministerial car (whatever happened to using public transport, as he would insist for his civil servants?), is speaking with forked tongue from one of his many faces.  It is so transparent, but the Tories feel that they can get away with peddling lies and delusion.

Where the 1930s parallel breaks down - I'm sure that Grayling would be quite happy, though, to merge and castrate the trade unions into a British Labour front - is that the catastrophic crisis into which May and her cronies are leading us is not one which ends well with short-term fixes.  The Autumn Statement demonstrated the hole in which the government has found itself - and, rather than throwing its toys out of the pram, it has not merely abandoned the spade and the tools by which it could escape but it has made a public declaration that it will eschew all sanity in pursuit of a snarling hatred of its European lifeline.  The Just About Managing rhetoric is a windy hypocrisy that distracts from cronyism and venality at the centre of government.

People will wake up to the fact that they have been played.  Hilariously, as predicted, some of the monobrowed right are now blaming those of us who warned of the risks and consequences of a toddler tantrum, egged on by the scum like Arron Banks who will be unaffected at worst, profiting most likely from the manipulation of the angry and gullible.  It is not our fault that the rational analysis that was decried as "Project Fear" is emerging.

Where the Tories have their trump card is that they have a gerrymandered, usurped polity with no coherence in opposing them.  This is not necessarily sustainable, but it will need both a clear ability to identify their failings and to ensure that blame does not land where it does not belong.  Turning on the "cosmopolitan" and the "metropolitan" elites is the current preferred tactic of the right-wing propagandists who know that their position is not as secure as they make it out to be.  This is dangerous, as the "enemy within" rhetoric is already spilling out into abuse both verbal and physical, but it needs leadership and a recognition that the crisis engulfing the British Isles is as great an existential threat as Nazi aggression was in the 1930s, but that this degeneracy is now embedded in our own politics to a greater extent than it was then.

Burke's axiom that for evil to prevail, it is only necessary for good people to do nothing remains valid today.  This is a long-haul, and it will be both a process of defining the ridiculousness of the parallel idiocies of upholding democracy while attacking the right to dissent, while keeping a weather eye on the larger forces of evil that the Tories are still, just about, damming up.  The state relies on its legitimacy through consent, rather than coercion.  May and her inadequates will try to establish that the motivation for crushing dissent is to uphold their values - but this is not a mark of strength but the fundamental weakness of a seditious government.

As they destroy all they claim to support - the Union, the economy, the rule of law - a gimmick dreamed up by the public relations spivs to promote "Britishness" could be another ratchet in the spiral towards an upheaval that upends the certainties of their paymasters.  That would be ironic, but dangerous.  Drifting into authoritarian territory does not delegitimise opposition - but it needs to be articulated with care, sympathy and with a recognition that one's fellow subversives are in need of support and engagement across the current political boundaries.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Lies, contradictions and the Tory implosion

For those whose considered opinion was that the vote to leave the European Union would usher in a perpetual state of paralysed crisis, there is no satisfaction in recording the symptoms.  From a government elected on dubious premises in a corrupt and undemocratic system, which used its position to destroy the nation in the spurious pursuit of party unity, this is unsurprising.  The speed with which May has demonstrated both arrogance, incompetence and the forked tongue of the far right is even faster than could have been imagined six months ago.

May's cluelessness is fascinating to watch.  She clearly considers that the role of Prime Minister defines her, without the need to recognise either the dubious mandate upon which she operates or the requirement not merely to repeat moronic mantras about Brexit's definition but to set out some form of strategic direction.  With a front bench full of chancers, charlatans and the borderline criminal, the rot has set in from the top.

It is instructive to consider the differences between a modern legislature and what passes for debate in Westminster.  Whatever one's default opinion, discussions around taxation and spending take place in public in Scotland, and conclusions differ.  Such is the reality of devolution and the drift to self-determination, which is doubtless why the Scottish Tories are sounding like May's echo-chamber and have surrendered the capacity for independent thought and action - a futile tactic as the most recent examples of Tory success have come from distancing themselves from the amoral spivs who dominate the British party.

As a typical example of the current drift into anarchy, May's resort to the bread and circuses school of events management is instructive.  Rather than engage and provide an honest response that recognised the complexity and sheer unpreparedness of the state machinery to respond to the referendum result, and managing the expectations of her slavering followers, there has been denial and accusation.  The enemy within is now those who dare to challenge her narrative, especially with the experience and the long view that both predicted and wished to avoid the current fiasco.

Vainglorious, she goes on peddling the myth that there is some magic bullet that fixes the economy and society - where there is a nirvana of low taxes, high quality public services for those who "deserve" it, and where whichever group is marked out for obloquy is hunted down, abused, and, eventually, killed off.  The illogic of the concept is never exposed - the viability of a shrinking economy, low taxes and the expectations of the citizenry ever to coalesce is a question which, if raised, borders on the treasonable.

2016 has seen the two worst Prime Ministers of my lifetime in office, but not in power.  May is now facing a reckoning where the weakness of the UK government internally and externally will be exposed and ridiculed.  For every foolish posture adopted by the risible trio of mendacious opportunists charged by May with leading the suicide, there will be a reaction of monstrous asymmetry, and the humiliation of the UK will be persistent and endemic.  In that situation all she will be able to offer is shooting the messenger and rhetoric void of content and morality.  To think that a once-great power is dying with this particular whimper is a depressing note to end on, but it is hard to contemplate an up-side.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Corbyn sells out as the Union crumbles

Representative democracy is endangered.  There is exquisite and painful irony in the way in which, even as the Supreme Court deliberates on the extent to which an unelected dictator can arrogate powers under the cover of the Royal Prerogative, the official Opposition leader and many of his party have cravenly surrendered their right to oppose, the right to challenge and their political tactics.  Each time his apologists plead for the bestowal of the benefit of the doubt, it becomes clear that Labour's alleged leaders are now the willing stooges of a government without legitimacy and without a programme.

Given May's treachery and unfitness for office (last week's New European contained an enlightening and harrowing account of her contempt for constituents who might disagree with her), this is the act of a rat.  Assimilation of opposition parties into a hegemonic dictatorship was a feature of post-war Eastern Europe, most notably in the shotgun marriage between the KPD and the SPD in the Soviet occupation zone, and May has clearly learned much of her behaviour and almost all of her values from Stalin.

Corbyn was elected as an alternative to the managerialist politicians and the new right who captured the Labour Party between 1994 and 2008.  He has never lived up to this hype, and there will be a lot of discontented fair-weather followers as his true nature becomes clear.  As for those in his party with an understanding that politicians are there to shape and influence public opinion, rather than be bellwethers in the context of the fascist definition of "democracy" that May and her mountebanks perpetrate, I suspect that now is the time for them to examine their conscience.

Not merely is his approach ideologically bankrupt, it is also inane and insulting.  Given the attention being paid to the Supreme Court this week, it was suicidal to table an amendment that in effect gave May and her Goebbels-lite apparatchiks an opportunity to crow that the Commons had endorsed Article 50 being triggered on her terms.  An amendment with strength, for example requiring not merely a plan but an assessment of options, with costs, advantages, disadvantages and risks set out to inform Parliament, would have been clever, as it would have shown up the complete inanity and ineptitude of the "rainbow Brexit", where the destination is either somewhere beyond it, or managed by the denizens of a 1970s children's programme.  Labour walked straight into the trap, and condemned themselves as a consequence.

This has been allied to an upping of the rhetoric around the Liberal Democrats, doubtless as part of the fear that support in England will recover as Labour's mendacity is revealed.  The half-sentient Shadow Attorney General, the meaningless Richard Burgon, is a case study in the arrogance that has cost them dear - claiming that the Liberal Democrats are untrustworthy because they formed a Coalition with the Tories is risible and pathetic when he and his party have rolled over and had their collective tummies tickled by a seditious government.  Whatever the rights and wrongs (mostly the latter) of the Coalition period, at least it flowed from a specific agreement rather than a fatal combination of Stockholm Syndrome, arrogance and tactical ineptitude.

Meanwhile, it is clear that the unravelling of the legal and democratic framework in the UK is a primary objective of this government.  Watching the figure of Lord Keen, the Tories' Advocate-General for Scotland, implicitly denying the legitimacy of the 1999 Scotland Act and the rights of Scotland to even the current levels of self-determination was gruesome.  Quite apart from being the kind of disgusting caricature Tory who presided over the demise of the Scottish party, his breathtaking denial of any of the promises bestowed to win the 2014 referendum should form all those of concern for the future of Scotland to draw conclusions about the Tories that will not rebound well on their shrill banshee leader, whose constant pursuit of publicity is based on neither skills nor integrity.

If this is the case for Scotland, the consequences for Northern Ireland do not bear thinking about.  The Tories fudge behind the Sewel Convention, which they claim only applies to domestic law.  Quite apart from the impossibility of distinguishing between EU, British and devolved competencies, this stores up a major constitutional crisis, as at the moment of the triggering of May's pathetic Great Repeal Act, all the issues suddenly become domestic and Sewel applies.  Whatever harlequinade May and her law officers cook up there is a disaster waiting to happen that will prolong and deepen this unnecessary constitutional crisis.

Yet where has Labour been?  There are many honourable exceptions in Parliament and in the party, so it is not a simple matter of condemning them.  Nor is it simply a matter of opposing the process, but it is now time to articulate that there is an existential crisis between law, the balance of power and the rights of citizens, and a fascist clique who are determined to usurp and subvert the state for their own ends.  It is beginning to look like a parallel to the grievances of the American colonists of the 1760s and 1770s, and the consequences thereof.  Now it is about defending the enlightenment and the ability to shape power.  This should have been a reflex from Corbyn.

The febrile nature of politics makes prediction difficult.  The parties and individuals who defied both May and Corbyn have made a start - the crisis is across traditional allegiances and nations.  A popular insurgency against the forces of darkness, based around a recognition of the common foes and perils, is now the last hope both for those who do not want the nations to slide into disputatious anarchy, and for those of us who still retain any vestigial optimism about the human condition.

Monday, 5 December 2016

The road to dictatorship - British style

Theresa May is descending into dictatorship.  Her euphonious adoption of totalitarian tropes such as "will of the people" and "Team UK" betrays her inability to recognise either the flawed representative democracy or the dangers of the right-wing linguistic mire she connived with to secure her elevation to office.  Those, including the alleged leader of the soi-disant official opposition, who connive with her are emulating the nationalists and conservatives who delivered Hitler his Enabling Act in March 1933.  They awoke to the reality before they were exiled or shot.

May's disgusting progress needs to be seen in the context of the venal authoritarians of the last few decades.  Crony capitalism, against a populist rhetoric is the stuff of Peronism, and the cynical manipulation of media and the apostrophising of the free market is similar to the evils that underpinned Pinochet's Chile.  She uses the same phraseology that Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin adopted - none of them, like May, legitimate representatives of a democratic system.  The natural response of the autocrat is to either assimilate or to persecute.

At present, the Tories are running scared of the Supreme Court upholding the rule of law.  Despite the hysteria from May and others that the legal challenge is against the referendum result, those capable of rational thought and inductive reasoning (which does not include the fascists and Nazis of the right-wing, offshore-owned press) can determine that it is focused on the arbitrary abuse of executive power and the unravelling of citizens' rights enshrined in the erratic modernisation of the UK constitution.  Hardly surprising that there has been a cacophony of dunces denouncing the Supreme Court judges as an elite and undermining the integrity of the overall legal system, dribbling without even awareness of the irony that "taking back control" does not imply its immediate destruction.

May then abuses the opposition.  After the rejection of her crony and her policies at the Richmond by-election she uses her deluded messianism to suggest that any party to oppose her in Parliament is frustrating the "will of the people" that only she can embody.  This is narcissistic treason, and nothing less.  The racists and fascists who cheer her on want to shut down debate, knowing that they would lose to rationalism.  May fans the flames.  She is a clear and present danger.

There has been no condemnation of the abuse by the right or the increase in hate crimes.  There has been silence from Liz Truss, supposedly the Lord Chancellor and supposedly responsible for upholding the independence and status of the judiciary, to the extent that the Supreme Court this morning had to condemn the climate of intimidation and threats that the lapdog press and boneheaded pseudo-politicians has unleashed.  The route to the breakdown of legitimate authority is sick and clear.

May has no mandate, no real majority and is relying on paralysis to confirm that the dictatorship of net-curtain twitching Poujadism is enshrined.  It is ironic that her personal style appears to be based on a bizarre mixture of Imelda Marcos and Elena Ceaucescu, while her politics increasingly resemble an unattractive hybrid of their unlamented husbands'.  She should, however, consider, that in neither case did this end well.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

The avoidable death of the BBC

There is a rotten stench about the BBC at the moment.  In a febrile world, when previous national calamities and divisions have been at the forefront of people's concerns, the national broadcaster has maintained a scrupulous impartiality.  Nowadays it is populated by a timorous brigade of nonentities whose agenda is both informed by the tabloids and the desire to become lickspittles to an illegitimate and seditious government.

Thatcher always regarded the broadcast media as representing the enemy within.  They still do, but they are now enemies of informing and empowering citizens.  I suspect that the proliferation of channels and the constant desire to set the agenda rather than report it lies at the base of the BBC's decline.  24-hour rolling news, and the wish for journalists and alleged personalities to have their name plastered over competitors' websites, makes a mockery of explanation and analysis.

Added to this is the Westminster-centric reporting of the entire world.  You would get the impression that the emasculated "Newsnight" is now a playground for chinless wonders waiting for the call for a B-list Tory seat, from the attention or the depth of informative analysis that it provides.  From the general tone of reporting the risible Ruth Davidson is not the unpopular leader of the Scottish Tory opposition, but a Governor-General appointed by the right's tribunes to frustrate the will of the Scottish electorate.  News is not investigated, it is recycled press releases and the victim of spin culture.  There is not more of it around, but it takes a great deal longer to provide feeble excuses of interpretation.

Given the credulity with which the BBC's presenters are treated, it is unsurprising that the right-wing pre-senile dribble of David Dimbleby and Andrew Neil goes unchecked.  Yet they constantly give airtime, unchallenged, to the neo-Nazis of UKIP - and the "balance" of their programmes is suspect.  The BBC cannot adapt to either a devolved, federalising nation, or to the plurality of opinion and the validity of voices who do not assent to the trivialising and the sloganeering agenda.

The BBC is now treating news as entertainment, not as part of the commitment to lead and shape the intellectual and political information of the nation.  Personalities, from Andrew Marr to Eddie Mair, do not have any intrinsic authority or right to express their views - and the constant parade of minor figures such as the fascists Farage and Nuttall does not endear their coverage.  In the meantime, sanity is best preserved from finding out about the moral turpitude at second hand rather than endure the drivel and propaganda.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Learning lessons from Richmond

Sarah Olney's election was worth staying up for and validating.  After the European referendum and the apparent election of Trump, there may have been an element of superstition in not believing the unfolding evidence that a vile scion of a vile family was about to be given a lesson in the powers of representative elections.  Goldsmith's ejection from Parliament is a welcome flickering of a feeble flame amidst the gloom we now inhabit.

Richmond was a fertile seat for the Liberal Democrats - recently held and in part of the areas where the Cameron strategy had destroyed the Parliamentary redoubts built up under Ashdown and Kennedy.  Highly-educated, highly-alienated from the monstrous regiment of treasonable liars marshalled by Theresa May and Paul Nuttall, spiritual bedfellows of the most odious construction, it was nevertheless a challenge worthy of the heady days of the Liberal attempts to break through in a broken system two decades ago.

To read exclusively partisan advantage from the by-election would be wrong and dangerous.  There will be a parade of analysis to demonstrate how far the triumph was driven by tactical voting by natural Tories, but the fundamental issue is how the opposition to national catastrophe can address its tribal particularism and work to ensure that there is both challenge in the current Parliament and a concerted effort not to allow the Westminster system to be gamed against the interests of the electorate when the next General Election comes around.

The Tories and Kippers used their muscle for Goldsmith.  Not to oppose one of their own who was opposing government policy tells you all you need to know - the Conservative Party is now, as Nick Clegg observed, in thrall to the demagogic populists and Nazi apologists that Nutcase and Farridge parade as an authentic insurgency, all the time bankrolled by the corrupt and amoral roubles that Arron Banks and other enemies of the people pass over to fund an illusion of rebellion.  Immorality and scum go together like blue and purple rosettes, so no surprise, but not something to be forgotten or passed over in the next stage of the fight.

It was Labour who should have held the key to an unequivocally-positive outcome from this by-election.  Despite the evidence that Labour's supporters (a dwindling band at present) support a close relationship with Europe, the Labour leadership did not engage in an atypical election to push a message that a far-right "Independent" should be challenged on his home patch by a much more progressive, centrist force.  For the Greens, the Women's Equality Party and those Labour members and supporters more sensible than their alleged leaders, this was both a matter of experiment, pride-swallowing and a recognition that in order to shift the political landscape a two-horse system will need to be created that does not handicap the diversity of opposition to the present band of criminals and wreckers.

A strategy for the future needs to recognise that, as the consequences of the vandalism orchestrated by Cameron and catalysed by May's imbecility, allegiances will shift and the anger will need to be directed towards the forces of conservativism.  May and Corbyn are now locked in a courtship ritual with fascists, racists and others for whom Goebbels is a role model - such as the right-wing press.  Articulating anger and directing it to its true centre is the strategy needed, and this means that those who value liberal values across all parties and none need to coalesce - civic national parties as well as those who worked together so well in Richmond.

Olney's victory is a triumph of an informed electorate.  If the parties cannot work together, then they will fail as the movement against the right gathers pace.  A coup has been executed - there is a genuine need for revolt now.  Farron and Olney struck the right note in their recognition that it was not Liberal Democrats who won on their own, but a wide range of groups prepared to recognise that the post-coalition landscape is now replaced by an existential threat to civilisation.  From Scotland, I shall continue to support the SNP for Westminster, and would expect across the rest of the country there to be a range from the sane wing of the Conservative Party leftwards who can be encouraged to work against the disaster unfolding.  The plates shifted horribly on the 23rd June.  Hopefully Richmond, and the legal challenge to May's dictatorship, may be the advent of at least the potential for salvaging something from the wreckage.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

May fiddles while Britain implodes

Almost feeling sorry for Philip Hammond demonstrates the depths of the pit the formerly United Kingdom has dug itself into.  Presenting an Autumn Statement the day that a home-grown fascist terrorist was jailed he managed simultaneously to demonstrate that the last six years' austerity have failed and that the destructiveness that Brexit brings is incalculable and damaging.  Then to be excoriated by the vile fascist apologist tag-team of John Redwood and Jacob Rees-Mogg.  You do wonder why a smug plutocrat like Hammond bothers getting out of his Surrey bed in the morning.

The judge's summing-up and sentencing of the Nazi Mair was a masterpiece in terms of the rule of law and civilised values.  Political murder by a right-wing ultra is terrorism and needs no euphemisms.  It is too much to hope that the scummy rabble-rousing of the right-wing press is self-policed; the duty of concerned citizens is to keep the pressure and the exposure of the moral stench from the press in the forefront, and to call out the trolls, fascist apologists and inciters.  Every week where the norm is defined by Paul Dacre, Tony Gallagher and Melanie Phillips is one too many for the triumphal scum.  They will deny that their spittle-flecked bile had anything to do with the murder, but they have created a climate of accusation, vilification and disgust that legitimises even the most heinous act.  They are beneath contempt and should not be given any quarter.

As for Hammond, the same kind of cretinous self-entitled creeps have been out for his blood since his scepticism about the impossibility of delivering even a thousandth of the lies and fantasy of the Leave campaigners has been clear.  The forecast of slower growth, uncertainty and inflation that underpinned Treasury numbers was, as with anything in this era of incompetence, arrogance and uncertainty, subject to even more uncertainty than usual, but it was probably on the optimistic side of measured.  This is not treason, this is reason.

To hear David Gauke admitting that the fiscal targets would have been met without the threat of Brexit impacts is telling, and admitting that the current course of policy is totally abhorrent to any rational definition of the national interest.  On the day that at least some closure was given following the logical culmination of the incitement that Farage and his apologists let loose, it is typical that no attention is being given to the destruction of the country by May and her useless idiots.  At some stage I shall return to the theme of opposition, but in the absence of any response from Corbyn and McDonnell that is anything beyond opportunist cant, it merely implies that we are living through a period where omnishambles transitions to a state where the first two syllables are "cluster" and the third relates to fornication.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Fascism comes in many shades

The new fascists are very thin-skinned.  Poke them and their armour collapses almost as quickly as their "arguments", gossamer-thin and marinaded in hate speech.  Yet in a time when every week sees an escalation in the outrage that can be paraded as mainstream, legitimate opinion, this is not sufficient to expose their hypocritical, sham manoeuvrings that are a threat not just to political stability but to the peace and ecology of our planet.

In a week where, on Remembrance Sunday, the BBC's prime political interview was devoted to a political leader whom to describe as a fascist has been deemed non-defamatory by the French courts, and where the President-elect of the United States has been endorsed by the Klan and appoints a white supremacist to his leadership cadre, this should be a rallying-cry to reason and defence.  Yet the political discourse seems to be framed entirely by legitimising vileness, repetition implying consent and its acceptability rather than the other way around.

Given the context, the mainstream media's conspiracy to downplay the significance of the terrorist assassination of Jo Cox, a sitting, mainstream MP, by someone fed by the bile, hatred and ignorance spewed out by the right-wing media into a delusional frenzy is hardly surprising.  The sewers of the right are not clean, and they have blood on their hands.  A Prime Minister who does not denounce the activities of the fascist Farage, threatening civil disobedience at the head of a motley rag-tag array of boneheaded monobrows from his own "party", Britain First and the EDL, not to protest anything more than the upholding of the rule of law is unfit for office.

Instead, we watch the panjandrums of the Tory party, such illuminated souls as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Peter Bone cheering on the homoerotic symbolism of Trump and Farage, making out that a demagogue, who has never achieved victory in a domestic election and who is still fraudulently living high on the hog at the expense of an institution he is hell-bent on subverting, should be representing a divided nation at a time of existential crisis.  For the fascist Kippers, these morons are a gift, useful tools towards the outcome that they want but will not declare, which is for the UK to become a satellite state of countries with pariah leaders and an insane policy agenda.

Meanwhile, the media scum continue unchallenged.  For those of us with no real love for Corbyn, the manipulation of photographs at the Cenotaph resembled the mockery and derision directed towards Michael Foot over thirty years ago, but carried without comment and without regret by Murdoch's toilet paper and Rothermere's fascist fellow-travellers.  Never mind that the image had been fiddled with by a photographer with his own agenda, or that it misrepresented in a libellous way, the "truth" as defined by the treacherous editors has to be sustained.

They have a chorus, too.  The echo-chamber controversialists are there to legitimise opinion and to howl down those who dissent.  Point out their stupidity with irony and you receive a tirade of abuse.  Their moral certainty around the little people's need to accept the neo-conservative medicine does not extend to their own accountability, and if there is a voice raised against them then they squeal like the babies they are.

A prime example of the species remains Melanie Phillips, who cannot engage with reality on any forms.  As the neofascist minions spread hatred, swastikas and the language of pogroms across the world, a writer for whom any criticism of Israel under any circumstances counts as anti-semitism and hate speech is acting like a nodding dog in support of the new elites, closing down freedom of speech and totally unable to see the hypocrisy and evil in her own position.  From Hampstead Garden Suburb, surveying the world through sneering spectacles, it is much easier to aim brickbats and promote hatred than it would be if confronted, as Jo Cox was, by the logical extension of the language and ideology being perpetuated by the new right.

What these evils are heading towards is totalitarianism and the stifling of dissent, which is to be resisted through all peaceful and legitimate means.  They already deny the rule of law, the operation of cause-and-effect or that there is a plurality of views all of which are both legitimate and open to challenge.  This is the way of the fascist state, and even within Britain there needs to be resistance at all times.  If that means leaving the monobrowed, knuckle-dragging hate-pedlars in their self-imposed nihilistic gutter, and the breaking-down of the nation state, that may be a high price worth paying.  If not, the darkest hours are yet to come.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Unleashing the barbarians - the triumph of the new right

In the euphoria after the collapse of the Soviet Union there were many who proclaimed "the end of history" as a neoliberal surge engulfed the world.  In the light of recent events the hubris that this demonstrated was not merely misplaced but sowed the seeds of the destruction of the Enlightenment and the values that underpin the Western model of representative democracy we are now living through.  The idea that one paradigm, driven by manic microeconomists with no grasp of psychology or morality, would triumph has now been exposed as the sham that it was, and as the biggest existential threat to the world in a century.

In Europe, at least, the post-war prosperity was based around at least some acknowledgement of the mutual dependency of citizens.  Democratic socialists co-existed with the centre-right, nuanced, but fundamentally in agreement that a functioning society requires obligations as well as entitlements.  The construction of a social stability based around this assumption marginalised the most extreme while creating conditions which, in retrospect, look idyllic.

The real enemies of the people are not the political poltroons, such as Trump and Farage, who exploit their self-styled iconoclasm, but those who seek to impose a political and economic hegemony based around exploitation of others - be they in the same room, or halfway across the world.  In reducing the human to the status of a parasitic organism that eats into the pursuit of profit, they have paved the way both for inchoate resentment and for the destruction of the social capital that could have acted as a brake on fascism.  In electing the fascist, and doing their bidding, the howls of self-destructive rage are misdirected and the reckoning will not be pretty.

Any belief in progress is now on hold - the inability to organise and mobilise caused by the tendency to prevaricate and make much of small differences rather than focusing on the enemy is the blocker.  Turning on each other is less frightening than taking the battle to the enemies of the human race and the vermin who cheer them on.  This is a descent, not just to the 19th century, but to the Dark Ages.  Pessimism is the watchword, alongside a recognition that there is nothing else to do but ensure that those who share values and aspirations are recognised, protected and supported.  In the meantime, the lunatics have taken over the citadel and have merged with the idiot barbarians.  Depressing times.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Broken Britain and the rise of Tory fascism

Immoral, incompetent and inane.  Generous verdicts on the alleged UK government, whose descent into the slime of authoritarian derangement has been underlined this week by its frightening response to a decision merely to uphold the law.  The cavalier ineptitude demonstrated by both the Prime Minister and her Lord Chancellor when faced with a seditious libel perpetrated by her press controllers is a compelling argument that the logic and integrity of the British state is being undermined from within its own government.

Reading the High Court's ruling in the context of the evil assault and intimidation practised upon the judges it is impossible to understand what all the fuss is about.  Last year, David Cameron, the chief architect of the current perdition, in his perorations around the anniversary of Magna Carta, was a staunch defence of power against the Crown.  In the mendacious and forgotten world of the Brexit treachery, their entire farrago of lies was based around "taking back control".  What should not be forgotten is that the judgement this week was not about whether or not to act on a referendum result but the process whereby rights and duties can be extinguished without reference to Parliament.

There is a dishonourable trait amongst many of the dribbling fringe of Tory backbenchers to drift into the UKIP fringe - using the Maoist mantra of "will of the people" to justify subverting the constitution and launching ad hominem attacks on those who seek to uphold due process and the checks and balances of an already-imperfect system.  Their denial that the constitutional settlements across the four nations of Britain implies rights to those who disagree with them is a recipe for intolerance at best, fascism at worst.

Analysis of the Brexiteers' whining this week is not rewarding, other than to demonstrate both the depth of ignorance and their fear of challenge.  Their behaviour is based around an incredible canard, to the effect that the only decision that matters is that of an advisory referendum, and that there is no deviation from their individual peculiar, diverse and mutually-incompatible definitions as to how it should be implemented.  Public policy cannot be based around such a cretinous reductionism, and the Tory vileness is that they are encouraging this to become the lingua franca of discourse.

In a state where there was a functional government, the abuse and subversion of the media would be prosecuted and editors such as Paul Dacre arraigned for contempt of court and sedition.  In a state where there was a functional Opposition party this would be their battle cry, in the context of defending those who should be rallying to topple a corrupt and seditious administration.

Instead we have a Labour Party determined to fight yesterday's battles when there is an existential threat to the future of the entire country.  Why else would Labour, faced with a Tory/UKIP stitch-up in Richmond Park's ego-driven by-election, not tap into the reality that an unjust system and a crisis needs new thinking, rather than indulging Christian Wolmar's not-inconsiderable ego?  Why not look to an anti-Tory, pro-Britain campaign which would do more to improve Labour's chances elsewhere through picking up tactical votes for a different agenda?  On policy, I find myself aligned with many of Corbyn's positions.  On strategy, he is standing in the toilet bowl waiting for someone else to flush.

In such a context, it is easy to see why disengagement may be the best strategy, if only to preserve sanity.  The increasing requirement of civilised people will be to protect their values.  Much as happened in Germany under the Nazis, this is the outcome that the rabid right are banking on, so they must be deprived.  The courts have deprived May of riding roughshod over legal and parliamentary precedent, and it is encouraging that the devolved nations are joining the challenge.  As the only modern parts of the UK constitution their enforcement of rights will be central.

Yet this is not going to be enough.  In the longer-term, each outpouring of racism, bigotry and ignorance undermines both the authority and legitimacy of the state.  As this crumbles, the final decencies of a civil society diminish and disappear.  Unleashing the mob is the approach that Farage and other fascists have left, given that their arguments have been disproved.  It may be necessary now to contemplate the British Isles with a rogue state at the centre, and to ensure that this is avoided at all costs - if that means breaking the current constitution through fragmentation of the devolved nations, London and the modern city regions from a regressive, fearful backwoods peasantry in England then it may be sensible to cast the feral fascists adrift.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Goldsmith, Johnson and the parade of liars

Whenever my cynicism needs a top-up, the contemporary Conservative Party can be relied upon to deliver the goods.  Yesterday's third-time lucky announcement that Heathrow Airport is to be the preferred site for expanded air transport in South-East England was hailed by the inconsistent and illegitimate Prime Minister as demonstrating that the country remains "open for business", simultaneously with further announcements from industry and finance that it will be seeking to protect themselves by moving offshore.  Consistency doesn't appear to be May's strong point.

The damage being inflicted by the lunatics and traitors is irreversible, but I suspect things will have to get worse before they get better.  May's inconsistency over everything from Heathrow expansion to her assumption of the Mussolini mantle in Birmingham last month is risible, and even someone as bizarrely detached as Jeremy Corbyn appears to have worked out that the lack of a plan is a suitable attack on an amoral, grasping and entirely seditious government.  Taking his cue from Nicola Sturgeon, whose well-aimed barbs as the complete lack of plans and ineptitude of the current squatters in Whitehall, I think if I were Baldrick I would sue.

From a transport policy perspective, there is much more to say about airport expansion.  What it has shown up is the incoherence and mendacity at the top of the government.  Johnson is on record as having claimed he would resign his seat if Heathrow were to be the preferred choice, instead he provides his usual incoherent bumbling doublethink - doubtless going back to work out how he can always have been in favour of airport expansion and that the decision was one in which he was able to flip-flop faster than ever before.

After his disgusting, racist and corrupt (not to mention failed) campaign for the London Mayorality, Zac Goldsmith is living up to his reputation.  Publicity-seeking, another self-declared iconoclast, he nevertheless assumes that he will be the automatic darling of the Green lobby for opposing one project, while simultaneously fellow-travelling with all the rest.  The vileness and ego of the man need to be tempered.

Obviously, the lies that May spins are the most odious.  The Tories are in effect unable to defend their own policies, standing aside for Goldsmith in the by-election he has triggered to achieve more obloquy.  This is actually good news, as it means that the campaign will be about the candidate best placed to represent constituents.  The irony is that it might result in the momentum that Witney unleashed being maintained - as Goldsmith and his voters were estranged on Europe in June, and doubtless with the affluence threatened by the crassness of his erstwhile colleagues they may be less forgiving.

The opposition needs to coalesce here, and take the fight to May's backyard.  There is dishonesty, there is chicanery and there is rebarbative idiocy stalking the land.  The English polity needs to demonstrate that it has the wit to use this gift to send both a message to May and a rejection of everything that Goldsmith has ever claimed to stand for and proved wanting around.  Lies, privilege and arrogance need to be given a clear rejection.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Calling out the Brexit traitors

Apparently "scum" is the insult that most offends the unfortunately-continuing Kelvin MacKenzie.  Thus, this is an entirely appropriate epithet to be applied to him, his fellow-travellers and hypocrites, preferably prefixed with "evil" and a selection of explanatory adjectives that set out the contours of the monstrous coup that they have unleashed.  Eventually their actions sow the seeds of their own destruction, but the collateral damage that will be inflicted in the meantime make the fight and the resistance to their darkness and vitriol all the more important.

In the last four months, British political and public life has been pushed into a vile hole that resembles a totalitarian slurry pit.  Those of us who dissent are increasingly self-censoring for fear that expressing opinions informed by anything other than the prevailing ideology marks you out for verbal or physical abuse, which is nothing compared to the racist violence and thuggery that the dark maguses behind the Leave campaign have unleashed on those who do not have either the protection of silence or the ability to blend into the background.  If this is a country that the new right consider it to be worth living in, no civilised or educated person should want a part of it.

The widespread trope that expressing compassion and sympathy is some mark of treachery fits an agenda of fascist control that the filthy, offshore-owned, tax avoiding tabloids of Rothermere, Desmond and Murdoch peddle - urged on by sociopathic editors and nodding-donkey columnists whose feeble defence of "controversialism" should be exposed for the canting hypocrisy that it is.  A functioning state, with a modicum of civil society, should be prosecuting the screeching vileness of the Katie Hopkins, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Isabel Oakeshott variety (to name but a few) for incitement.  That Dacre and Gallagher, the foul antitheses of journalism, stand behind them says more about them than any detailed analysis could express.

And where is the government in all this?  Theresa May's expressive silence and refusal to condemn the ugly fascism of one of her own Councillors sets her views out clearly.  The collusion between the fascist tendencies of the unravelling UKIP and the apparent new mainstream of Conservative thought was emerging, it is now visible and crystallising.  What party of government in a legitimate state would describe citizens testing the legality of its actions as "subverting democracy"?  What party of government lies and evades questions about its relationship with other legislatures over which it has primacy but not automatic superiority?  This is treachery and betrayal institutionalised through the state and disseminated through the media.

In the meantime, al the evidence that was glibly dismissed as "Project Fear", orchestrated by those whose wealth is secured offshore and with little to lose, become clearer by the day.  To listen to the mendacious toad that masquerades as Foreign Secretary, because the sky did not fall in on the 24th June everything in the garden is rosy.  It is either moronic or manipulative, but in no way is this demonstrating any fitness for office, let alone discharging the obligations of Ministers set out in their Oath of Allegiance to the Crown - a further anachronism that perpetuates an authoritarian oligolopolistic state.  It is clear that May's model is not that of a functioning modern country, but a cronyism and vindictive coercive state with uncomfortable parallels with both Putin's Russia and North Korea.

As the winter nights draw in, darkness comes over the disunited country - an obvious metaphor.  Jobs disappear, exporting industries relocate, investment crashes and inflation resurrects itself.  This will hurt those groups duped by the traitors disproportionately, but it is increasingly difficult to feel sympathy given the way their spokespeople trot out the hollow slogans and refuse to debate.  Their risible assertion that it is up to those in the population who warned of the consequences of their egotistic folly to rescue them is utter canting ordure, as their descent into the abyss will be assisted, preferably never to emerge once more, rather than an acknowledgement of their rightness.

Pity those taken in by the "will of the people" delusion.  It's a throwback to the 1930s and the more extreme moments of Thatcherism that the messianic leader wraps themself up in when confronted with the choice between the national interest and an act of folly.  The way in which our unelected Prime Minister has conducted herself with current and future trading partners is pathetic, forgetting that no matter what relationships we have they will continue to be needed for a third-rate offshore power incapable of feeding itself or manufacturing its basic requirements.  As stupidity it ranks alongside Cameron's sacrifice of his country to buy himself a short-term truce in his own party.

It has got beyond the stage of trying to understand and engage.  There is treason afoot, and it is not from those of us who call time on the delusions and lies, or the authoritarianism that masquerades as strong government.  Its perpetrators are now aware that they are on the brink of a catastrophe unequalled in its self-inflicted crassness, and that they will eventually be proved accountable.  Trying to shut down debate, dissent and denying their narrative is, paradoxically, cause for optimism, as the tumbrils are likely to descend on those who are really selling out the citizens of the British Isles.  For those who dissent, the key priorities are to accelerate this reckoning, while attempting to preserve something of civilisation even during the long dark winter of the fascist treachery.

Friday, 21 October 2016

An elegy for England

Were Theresa May merely to represent the bastard offspring of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Farage, as opposed to a treacherous demagogue whose tendency towards authoritarianism then there might be cause for optimism.  Instead, she presides over an amoral administration that, paradoxically, may be doing us all a favour by calling time on the United Kingdom.

Throughout the miserable period in the run-up to the European referendum, and the frightening descent into fascism that we have been witnessing since its cocked-up bravura and constitutional illiteracy (thank you Cameron, you will be judged accordingly), the one theme that should be obvious is the extent to which this is a triumph of ignorance and idiocy.  Any sensible individual with a grasp of history will recognise that the Little England trope was played out even before the accession of the UK to the EEC in 1973, and that its resurrection is the final triumph of venality and manipulation over evidence.

May's appropriation of the language of extreme nationalism has been odious but predictable, and will make her easier to dislodge.  It is the exercise of an evil, deluded fantasy that the decline of British power, entrenched since 1918, can be rolled back by an advisory poll in a world where hubris will meet the reality of the neoliberal jungle that May's chorus of corrupt spivs echoes as some form of aspirational state.

The resurgence of English nationalism is ugly and irreconcilable with a realistic view that the British nations are a global participant, with a legacy of imperialism but without the moral or actual superiority that provides a springboard to tell the rest of the world what to do.  This delusion propels the Brexit maniacs into further lies about the queues of countries lining up to make trade deals with an isolated Britain, and into the territory that would be pathetic and mad were it not so damaging for the remainder of the country.

As someone who grew up in England, and whose culture and values were informed accordingly, this is a tragedy.  This is the appropriation of a diverse, mongrel but ultimately tolerant culture into a weak and deliberate parody of a Nazi Volk, appropriating the symbols and the rhetoric for a sick initiation of sovereignty and influence.  The radical, anti-establishment tradition, still bubbling despite all efforts by the right to silence it, is now in danger beneath a sanitised, pseudo-patriotic agenda of disgusting xenophobia and ignorance, where to be narrow-minded, dismissive and deluded is a badge of pride rather than something to be hidden and corrected.

England is no longer a relevant state of mind.  The principal reason for the UK joining its neighbours in Europe is even more pressing in 2016 than it was in 1963, when De Gaulle rebuffed Macmillan.  A declining, deluded peripheral power, distinguished principally by its denial and its possession of nuclear weapons, is not relevant, nor is it likely to benefit from cutting itself off from its main markets.  The Brexit delusion was spread around on the basis of some form of harking back to Empire, and the simplicities of a world where May and Paul Dacre can tell us what to do.

Instead, the lack of constitutional propriety and oversight means that citizens have to go to court to challenge an unelected traitor in Downing Street to use the imperfect scrutiny of Parliament.  The electoral system and the structure of government would disgrace a country emerging from dictatorship, rather than sliding into one, and all for the name of a non-patriotic delusion.  It is hardly a thing of wonder that people beyond this particular bubble are convinced that there is more to be gained from leaving such a monstrosity to work out its own fate rather than hang around hoping that there are groups prepared to challenge it.

May is diminishing the UK's standing every time she opens her unprepared mouth.  The end of the Union will probably result.  This will be a forcing of the historical pace, but for those in England it may push the authoritarians into hegemony.  Whatever the ultimate outcome, the logic of May's abandonment both of the rest of the Union and common decency will haunt her, and she cannot expect those of us who have been disgusted, put off and disparaged to lift a finger to save her, her cronies and her failed country when there is a prospect of something better beyond.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Why I will (probably) vote for Scottish independence

As a "traitor", as defined by a Surrey Tory councillor whose words have been regretted by the Prime Minister but not disowned, I am clearly deficient in any rights and should, by the standards of the panicking Brexit brigade, turn myself in for a period of reeducation and removal of the capacity for independent thought.  As an old-fashioned Liberal who remembers life before the Orange Book, and internationalist this does not appeal.

There has been a predictable reaction by the Unionist side to the tone of the recent SNP conference, at which the party set out its stall for the coming bunfight precipitated by the absence of a credible administration in Westminster.  The ugly side of the right, epitomised by far too many in the Scottish Tories and what remains in Scottish Labour, is no longer masked by any respect for an alternative narrative, which in itself is a sufficient cause for consideration.

Following her coup, Theresa May made great play of engaging with the devolved nations, apparently recognising that Scotland's emerging and more mature polity would require to be taken into account.  However, alongside the platitudes that she dribbled out with respect to Ireland, it is clear that not having a clue, telling lies and then playing to an intolerant gallery of Little Englanders has rendered this not merely invalid but an exercise in specious hypocrisy.  The exclusion of her pathetic sole MP from the inner workings of the Brexit lunacy is a further calculated insult that only someone with the combined lack of insight and backbone as her party leader in Scotland would not be complaining about.

In parallel with the marginalisation of Scotland from any recognition of its differences, ignoring the 20 years of devolution and the principles of government by consent, there is an intriguing process of legal debate on whether there is any check on the UK executive power.  When the government is hiding behind a spurious and antiquated defence of royal prerogative, then it is clear that the UK state is so corrupt and irretrievable that it is hardly worth defending.

For most of my politically-engaged years, I have been convinced that the lack of any coherent British constitution will be the undoing of the Union.  It may well be that Blair's most enduring and positive legacy will have been the creation of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish authorities with proper constitutions and defined powers, as when played out against a central government that revels in its slipperiness and ill-defined despotism it creates at least some framework within which the rights of the citizen are defended and can be exercised.

Without rehearsing the irresponsibility and downright idiocy of the current UK administration's path, and the consequences that are now emerging, the arguments that were put out by the Better Together campaign in 2014 now ring so hollow as to be near silent; the fiscal rectitude and the federalist tropes are discredited.  With the little Englanders moving towards an authoritarian abyss, the choices become much clearer, and the risks of dissolving the Union appear to be offset by the damage that the egregious and unrepresentative stupidity of the May maladministration appears to be hell-bent on wreaking.

Paradoxically, Scotland voting to leave the UK may be the catalyst for the kind of democratic and constitutional reform that the current court case demands.  To watch the denial of accountability, the assault on freedom of expression and the arrogance of power that exists as a consequence of a constitutional vacuum is heart-breaking.  Destroying its certainties may be required to remake a world where the English subject is liberated.

As a federalist, internationalist and an optimist the future looks bleak and uncertain.  Whatever the hate-filled rhetoric emanating from the fascists and fellow-travellers, this is not a given, and there has to be a chance for something better, based around a more socially-coherent, outward-looking society. Scotland has much more of this than much of England outside the enlightened enclaves, and therefore I for one am prepared to listen to the SNP and weigh up its deeds against its words.

It is not about party alignment, but about citizenship and rights.  Listening to the Tories and Labour you would have thought that this is all caprice - and as with the Brexit debate in England they are behind the curve.  There is a lot to play for, but the evidence points me towards independence as a positive option.  Whatever the risks, being shacked to a dictatorial and decaying Union is no longer axiomatic as a precondition for a successful country.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Farewell to the Brexiteers' honeymoon

When it is clear that sterling is to be replaced by Marmite as a reserve currency, the problem becomes  how to avoid the sins of the Brexit lunatics.  Virtually everything that the more thinking advocates of Remain put forward as risks are crystallising, and there remains a vacancy in government which no amount of right-wing rhetoric and third-rate demagoguery can patch up.

For the tin-eared partisans, this is proving far too much to cope with.  They cannot cope with any argument that comes with more than one clause, or with the concept of time and the interdependency of the choices made.  Therefore to see the fascist-tinged press calling for the head of the Governor of the Bank of England, whose eloquent encapsulation of the economic folly launched on the country was moderate in tone and nuanced, demonstrates that their case is failing, and that they will resort to the totalitarian in order to maintain their control, and damn the fate of the plebs and serfs whose credulity was manipulated (for any Brexiter reading this that was laced with irony, I think) into a neoliberal plot which is backfiring spectacularly.

The cretinous and maladroit triumvirate given the task of taking May's disastrous administration forward are not covering themselves in glory.  From the half-witted Panglossian myths that the sky has not fallen in since the vote, partly because they have failed to note that there has been no action taken, and that there will be no consequences, to the racism and hatred they are stoking for those who dare to argue that to dissent and to challenge is a human right, this is a corrupt, ugly and illegitimate use of the machinery of government.

In truth, this probably means little, although the clarity of thinking being demonstrated across the oppositional spectrum, from Anna Soubry through Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Keir Starmer and Tim Farron, to name a few of the more clear-sighted, may make a government with a teetering and illegitimate majority seem a little more frail.  However, when the rhetoric of hate, indifference and hypocrisy that May's Tory faithful lapped up is conflated with the unemployment, inflation and ridicule that her path will bring, it is hardly surprising that there is a pressure valve about to explode.

Looking at the alternatives, it is not clear what can be done short of a General Election and a pro-British, anti-lunacy platform to retrieve whatever of the vandalism can be repaired and to set out a new agenda.  The politicians may be behind the curve on this, but they need to wise up.   The last week has demonstrated quite how far the nations of Britain can still fall - and I'm glad to be a citizen of Scotland at present - but there has to be resistance and courage in speaking to the truth that the consequences of an ill-thought-through act are only just unfolding, and they are very ugly.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The criminals have taken over the asylum

Being identified as a traitor by such patriotic fascist fellow-travellers as the Daily Mail and the Daily Express is a life-affirming experience.  The pathetic parade of incompetence, malice and total dishonesty that they evince in their Tory clients is less so, albeit predictable as the reality of the national folly that has been unleashed becomes apparent.

The breathtaking hypocrisy of Paul Dacre, the foul-mouthed, EU-funded overlord of the tax-avoiding Rothermere's cut-price toilet paper is so glaringly obvious not to require comment.  In the context of the bile-fuelled abuse being legitimised by his newspaper it is less so, as the tone and approach suggests a combination of Julius Streicher and the Salem witch trials.  For an organ that is read by people who purport to be respectable, the Heil is a nasty, depraved perversion of what a newspaper should be.  It is to be hoped that many others will join me in complaining to the toothless IPSO, if only to make the point.

The farrago of criminal lunatics that comprises much of the Maidenhead Mussolini's cabinet are in thrall to the Murdochs and Rothermeres of this world - not accountable to the citizens of this decaying country.  Their behaviour is despicable, their toadying backbenchers and ignorant rebuttals of the rule of law should be called out.  As it is, the headlong rush into lunacy is being presided over by those both too venal and too self-obsessed to realise their duty is to govern the country, not unleash lynch mobs.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Into the totalitarian abyss

The once-United Kingdom's descent into the abyss continues.  For a century, it has been a managed decline, with governments and politicians of all hues attempting to arrest the process.  Listening to the rhetoric emanating from the Tory conference it is now a challenge for the political leadership to accelerate it.  Isolated from the consequences of their actions, where damage to lives and prospects is dismissed as "bumps in the road", this is a amoral and unrepresentative coup by a group of people whose disrespect for the rule of law and those who dissent from their vision is based around no concept of representative government or accountability.

Perhaps the only vaguely-positive spin that can be placed upon May's performance was that she was seeking headlines in the absence of any strategy or vision, diverting the electorate from the moral vacuum at the heart of her coup.  That this could be the most generous assessment possible represents the extent to which the referendum campaign and its consequences have shifted the country into a space of mob rule, where even to express caution and scepticism, let alone dissent, is called out as treachery and by extension turning those who do not buy into the mendacious drivel as legitimate targets for obstructing the "will of the people".  This is not representative government.  This is totalitarianism underpinned by a baying, self-serving media whose interests have never aligned to those they patronise and incite.

What is now clear is that the Tory party is heading towards totalitarianism.  The last time the word "democracy" was abused to the extent that it has been in the last week was by the former Eastern bloc states.  For a Prime Minister to use their party's gathering to accuse those who wish to test the legality of government intention through legal means of "subverting democracy" is a terrifying portent of the abuse to come, legitimising attacks on those of us who believe that the rule of law and the balance of power needs to be validated in a failed state with no workable constitution, and close to a direct incitement to violence.

Add this to the rhetoric of pure, full-throttle racism and hatred epitomised by the proposal to make firms declare either the names or the proportion of their non-British employees, and you have a vision of state control that would have seemed to come straight out of the inter-war fascist period or apartheid-era South Africa.  This is not a state to which anyone should aspire, yet the reporting of the conference suggested that the vast majority of those sycophantic fellow-travellers lapped it up.  It could have come straight out of the pages of the Daily Mail (Hurrah for the Blackshirts) or the Scum, so it is small wonder that last week had seen May brown-nosing Murdochs, father and son alike.

As an aside, I assume that the May disdain for human rights, demonstrated so effectively when she was an undistinguished Home Secretary (making Charles Clarke and Jack Straw look like Roy Jenkins), would be tempered if the lawyers she excoriated were fully paid-up Tories.  To diminish humanity, license war crimes and insult professional military personnel was a triple dog-whistle that received the acclaim the Tories felt it deserved and which scared the rest of us to the marrow.

The final insult was to those of us who are capable of assimilating more than just the Little England narrative.  May's denouncing those of us who are internationalists and outward-looking as "citizens of nowhere" is chilling and inflammatory.  I identify as a citizen of Scotland, Europe and the world with British identity and culture - hardly complex yet apparently treachery.  A small-minded bigotry that reveals more than anyone would want to know.

Hardly surprising, therefore, that the tone of the Conference was dictatorial.  After the charm offensive to Scotland immediately after the palace coup, May has rowed back so that the charmless and clueless David Mundell and Ruth Davidson are now peddling both a Unionist line of "lump it, you peasants" and attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the devolution settlement.  As this is in parallel with the ever more dangerous dismantling of the Irish peace process, this is a potential powder-keg waiting to be tripped by the blind idiocy of those who have never reconciled themselves to a universal franchise, let alone citizens' rights and power.

It was all straight out of the UKIP populist neo-fascist handbook, so it was small wonder that the diminishing band of monobrows staged their own sideshow.  With the Tories moving ever more to the right and spraying like incontinent tomcats to denote their territory, it is hardly surprising that the lunatic fringe feels ever more marginalised.  The fusion of the Tory right and UKIP was obvious during the referendum campaign - the antics of Fox, Davis and Leadsom during the last few days demonstrate that the inevitable process is coming to an end.

This is no longer a battle about Europe.  This is no longer a battle about party politics, but a battle to save the political process and the wider humanity of the country.  It should not be forgotten that the Nazi party achieved power on a minority of the vote, and that then it subverted the constitutional process to entrench itself.  For the hard of thinking, I am not calling the Tories Nazis (at the moment) but the techniques are parallel, and the end could be similar.  The real issue is that there is now a force in government that has no respect for the law, no respect for the legitimacy of debate and opposition and which has implicitly licensed a descent into authoritarianism.  This is to be resisted, and there will be many of us who will be reflecting in the months to come about the limits to this.  May has let the genie out of the bottle and the consequences will not be the ones she professes to desire.


Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Creating a failed state in the United Kingdom

There are parallels between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn that their adulating sycophants would not wish made.  The alleged Prime Minister and the absentee Leader of the Opposition are both immensely skilled in pretending to adopt positions that they do not actually hold, in maintaining a facade of pseudo-democracy and in a stitch-up of a political system that is manifestly so unfit for purpose that they cannot even trust the semi-elected Parliament in case it frustrates their ends.

May's transition to the risible cross between Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Farage has been completed this week by what has been portrayed as a united Tory Party.  As sager commentators such as Matthew Parris observe this is a long game, and the remaining sentient and decent Tories are probably well-advised in allowing the constant parade of charlatans and half-wits their heads.  

The tragedy is that these are no longer the backwoods Midlands troglodytes ranting in favour of Imperial Preference from the rostrum before returning back to their monobrowed half-timbered semi-detacheds, but the Ministers who have been selected for the process of disembowelling the UK economy and destroying the UK itself.  To imagine that a corrupt and disgraced hypocrite such as Liam Fox would be lining up to sell out the country is multiplied by the clearly semi-sentience of David Davis and the scrofulous cant of Boris Johnson to create a machine that combines the worst aspects of North Korea with a xenophobia which is straight out of the 1930s textbook.

May is presiding over this, revealing that the bile she attracted as the most illiberal Home Secretary since Charles Clarke is a mere prelude to authoritarianism, lies and the tearing-up of the constitutional protections that have made Britain bearable to live in.  She does not give credence to the idea of legitimate government, preferring the sense of entitlement that characterised the Tory party through the 1980s and 1990s.  As a global disgrace she is at least demonstrating that the UK can compete with Trump and Putin.

Meanwhile Corbyn's visibility is one of the mysteries that surpasses that of the Holy Trinity.  Apparently he has taken to Twitter today not to excoriate the Tories for their callous "bumps in the road" casualties of Brexit, those who will lose jobs, homes and livelihoods in the service of a delusion, but to promote a Labour film festival.  As with May, he was a prisoner of a party with policies before the referendum that he disagreed with, and he is not providing any challenge to a government whose ravages to the public finances, the constitution and the rule of law would inspire Robert Mugabe.  Absent without leave, explanation or respect for the wider electorate - the people who might vote him in.  Much more comfortable retreating to the same 1980s narrative that propels May, I fear.

No accountable government and an invisible Opposition indicate a failed state which may require external intervention to stabilise before being dismembered into functional units.  To listen to the inadequate and mendacious David Mundell, the alleged Scottish Secretary, airbrush the commitments that the Tories (especially May) made to Scotland after her coup out of history, while waiting for Northern Ireland's first legal challenge to the legitimacy of the process does not suggest a government with a programme, or one that is fit for office.  They are not governing to promote the rights of the citizens across the country, and there is a credible case that the state will unravel as its legitimacy disappears.

There are signs of hope and challenge - the legal case against a further diminution of the rights of Parliament, a by-election in the liar's lair of Witney and the evidence that the UK could break up under the strain of being unable to accommodate a government whose legitimacy was always questionable and is now non-existent.  Opposition needs to have a leadership and a cause, for those of us who are still prepared to fight.  Yet picking battles may mean that the corpse of the UK is May's legacy, allowing the nostalgic lunatics a free run in the English shires while creating a modern democracy in those parts of the British Isles that do not already have one.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Dare call it treason

What is obvious from Mrs May's tenure of the Tory leadership is how tenuous her grip remains on both it and reality.  Her behaviour is both venal and treacherous, daring to build on the snivelling charlatanry that characterised her unlamented predecessor, more concerned with holding the vicious cyphers of the Tory party in check than acting in the national interest.  This is not the act of a leader or a government that is fit for office.

There is a currency within the Brexit apologists that those of us who did not vote for their farrago of lies and misrepresentations are traitors at worst, moaners and dog-in-the-mangerists at best.  We are told that we should accept the result of the referendum and that we should work with them to continuing digging into the pit of ignoble self-harm that they peddle as a solution to the self-interests of the plutocrat, the oligarch and the parasite.  They are the traitors.

May is also usurping both the gains of Magna Carta and the Civil War to limit the power of the Crown and restrain the executive from illegal action.   As previously noted, the planned abuse of the Royal Prerogative is analogous to the Nazis' Enabling Act, and the general tone of her seditious bunch of conspirators is clearly designed to stage a coup against both the rule of law and the rights of the citizen.

Witness the bare-faced hypocrisy with which May breezed into the Scottish political world, all emollience and participatory language.  Now when tested she has resorted to the Thatcherite language of authoritarianism and admonishing the uppity subjects which served the Tories so well in Scotland, and she will blunder into Irish affairs at her peril.  Whether she can push through her totalitarian vision is likely to be the test of endurance that will determine her success.

This is fast becoming not a European, nor a left-right issue.  It is whether there is a legitimate, controlled government in place, or whether we have moved towards the junta-based model that the hard right would excoriate in theory but collude with in practice.  There is a need to wake up before it is too late.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Article 50, the 1933 German Enabling Act and a failed state

The preliminary exchanges between government lawyers and the litigants representing those of us who consider that the use of royal prerogative to trigger major legislative change is seditious are fascinating.  It is hardly the indication of a government confident in either its own position or its own legitimacy that it seeks to redact its legal arguments, nor of a regime which has any respect for the rule of law.  Whichever side of the advisory referendum people chose, this case is fundamental to whether there is any legitimate United Kingdom.

Those who fail to read history are doomed to their fate, but need not consign the rest of us to perdition.  What Maggie May's usurpers are up to at the moment is nothing short of an authoritarian coup, as the idea that fundamental rights, legislation and legality can be set aside by exercising a diktat in the name of a hereditary monarch is a monstrous canard that deprives citizens of any stake in this or future decisions of government.

Hitler's legitimacy rode on an Enabling Act.  It might even be argued that this was more viable than a hole-in-the-corner procession of self-defined experts and "patriots" who, having got the result that best serves their interests, do not want the process of government to be exposed to scrutiny.  The refusal to countenance Parliament's role in the process, let alone the people's, is an intriguing insight into a mindset that sees citizens as pawns in a game of hedge fund speculation and graft.  That is a generous interpretation, there are those of us increasingly leaning to the theory that the national interest being served is not one of the four British nation's.

May needs the equivalent of the Reichstag fire to cement her delusional view that she speaks for all of Britain.  What the rest of the country needs is an urgent awakening that rights, due process and legitimate authority are being undermined in the name of Brexit, but really to perpetuate the rule of spies and oligarchs.  Opposition party politics are a sideshow - as citizens of a failed state we should be examining how we can be protected by the UN, EU and any other body which maintains a semblance of respect for the rule of law.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A winter of discontent for the Medusa of Maidenhead

Considering that the death-rattle of the United Kingdom is now approaching its fourth month of exhalation, there is surprising quiescence.  Partly a consequence, no doubt, of the default position of apathy becoming embedded in the psyche of the British nations, but also continuing disbelief that the precipice is approaching and the unelected Prime Minister and her henchpersons are not taking evading action but hitting the accelerator.

The charlatans of the Leave campaign are smelling rats - which, surprisingly, is not leading to helpful self-identification.  This may be consequential to their anaerobic status, but the tendency to establish egregious splinter groups, all dribbling over each other with their manic ranting consigning other people to perdition, is a tendency that should only be encouraged.  The frailty of the Gorgon's grip on power is nowhere better illuminated than by the scrofulous and fissiparous divisions between her three fetid Brexit Ministers, and her total inability to achieve a unified message or discipline.  The moronic toddler's mantra of "Brexit meaning Brexit" has passed beyond parody.

For anyone demonstrating an iota of self-awareness, her predicament would result in exertions to achieve both unity and discipline.  Instead she is sending mixed messages to European leaders, and hardly establishing the credibility of her own administration in the eyes of those with whom a diminished England might hold some attractions.  These are not the actions of someone who should be entrusted with a whelk stall, let alone the trappings of power.

Faced with a Labour Party spending too little time contemplating why it is failing to break through, and with a leader whose Europhobia is becoming more obvious by the week, this lets the scoundrels and criminals off the hook.  The plight would be pathetic were it not an abdication of the responsibility that goes with opposition - the only area where there is a claim of "public opinion" appears to be a willingness to assist the Tories in committing the ultimate act of national suicide.  Labour MPs will need to consider what they do in the face of a tactical blunder that could hand the Tories hegemonic power on a plate.

The pressure from the non-Labour opposition, be they civic nationalists, Green, Liberals or non-aligned but aghast at the direction that the Tories are taking, is the only language that should be understood.  The basic cant, hypocrisy and lies around "taking back control" while denying the constitutional representatives in Parliament the right to exercise scrutiny and challenge should not be forgotten, and indeed should be rammed down the throats of the lunatics and evil-doers who are currently advocating much of the urge to destruction.  Whether they are in the pay of foreign powers is becoming a more plausible speculation as each day unwinds.

In the meantime, maintaining perspective and stamina is important.  There is a certain confirmatory glee to be achieved through the constant exposure of the illiterate, idiotic and plain vile of the ongoing Leave campaigners - articulated by the new Kipper leader who aspires to be Marine Le Pen but resembles more closely a monobrowed acolyte of Farage and Helmer - but this is not enough to sustain solidarity and momentum in the face of uselessness.  As a strategy, it is designed to encourage apathy and acquiescence, but it is disturbing that it makes the latter years of John Major look like a period of enlightened, progressive and united government.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

A farewell to Cameron

It is difficult to imagine, from the perspective of an affluent, trust-funded family, why you would want to remain an MP after your paws have been removed from the throat of the nation.  The news that there will be a by-election in David Cameron's constituency is hardly surprising given the inconsistent and mendacious positions he adopted throughout the referendum campaign, nor in the fragility of the roots of his purported compassionate Conservatism.

As a Prime Minister, he has been a monumental disaster.  In terms of making catastrophic misjudgements afflicting the wider citizenry, he is up there with Neville Chamberlain, combining it with the flair of Douglas Home and the slimy insincerity of Tony Blair and Harold Wilson.  Playing the purported reasonableness card enabled him to make advances in 2010, while riding the far right insurgency that, as with the much more creditable John Major, proved to be his ultimate downfall.

Whereas Major faced down his opponents within his own party, Cameron's position was too weak to address the dribbling backwoods lunatics and the neoliberal ideologues.  Instead he propitiated, simpered and preened himself, never able to take a decision that was focused purely on the national interest or even betraying any hint of either values or a strategy.  Everything was expedient, from the co-option of the Liberal Democrats as human shields to the determination of a complex and irrevocable long-term decision through a referendum which was improperly drafted, without legal clarity, and whose ramifications, whatever the final outcome, will paralyse and emasculate the political and economic climate for two decades.  Hardly the actions of a statesman.

In bequeathing this legacy to the country, he is lucky to be able to run away.  The rest of us are not, or at least not until the forces of idiocy are vanquished.  In the meantime there will be unrest, there will be decline and depression, and there may be the final collapse of what passed for a United Kingdom.  All down to his legacy and vanity.  All that is left is to look forward to the by-election.

Monday, 12 September 2016

A very non-British coup

The coronation of Theresa May marks a new nadir in the progress towards authoritarianism in the United Kingdom.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of the current Labour unravelling, and its unfortunate timing, at least there is evidence that the leadership of a political party, let alone a nation, is subject to scrutiny and due process.  Other than the misguided electors of Maidenhead who elected to put a cross next to her name, her claim to legitimacy is only within the boundaries of the Conservative Party.

This is part of the great illegitimacy of power  that gives the United Kingdom a bad name beyond its boundaries.  For each of us who can pride ourselves on living and contributing within those sections of territory that have a more modern mode of constitutional operations, there is an uncomfortable truth that the perception is of a country where elective dictatorship rules, within a flawed sub-democracy that is designed to ensure binary politics and to disincentives consensus.

In the last week, the spectacle of two of May's new appointments, the disgraced Liam Fox and the disgraceful David Davis, managing to undermine both her authority and the credibility of government, was topped out with the third stooge joining the duplicitous and hypocritical Change Britain campaign to "keep up pressure" on a government in which he allegedly holds one of the three great offices of state.

This does not look like a government, more a rag-tag collection of self-seeking individuals who would not be behaving in this way if they had the interests of all the nations at heart.  As time passes, it becomes less idle and paranoid to speculate as to whether their interests are at all transparent, or whether the agenda is being fed by those who are best served by destabilising both Britain and Europe.

There is much "bread and circus" activity being thrown into the mix.  The charlatanry of promoting English education policy to the centre of the political agenda, alongside the ongoing cash and confidence crisis in the NHS is linked to the above.  Add to this the cheerleading for Trump by the Tory fringe and the Kipper nutcases, and it is difficult not to wonder if the Leave campaign's cornering of the tinfoil market was a canny move.

There needs to be accountability, both for the current government and for the forces that have led us to this pass.  I suspect that by the terms of the legal framework for the referendum doubts about the funding source for the leave.eu campaign may not be challengeable through electoral law, but the extent to which this is being used as a front organisation, in the US terms "astroturf", should be a constant challenge.  For every Arron Banks, for every Daniel Hannan, there are several layers of intrigue.  If it can be proved that this is in the national interest, all well and good.  If not, there has been the kind of seditious usurpation of power that fomented revolution 250 years ago.  It could happen here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Corbyn conundrum

For those of us old enough to have experienced life under Thatcher and Major, and to have formed political opinions informed through that particular lens, Labour's current travails have a grotesque quality. Were it not for the requirement for an Opposition, an annoyance that the Tories are sniggering about as they lead the country into perdition, this would be a matter of private grief into which intrusion would be unseemly.

Even eighteen months ago, Labour looked as though there was a chance that it would be able to form part of government.  Despite signing its Scottish death warrant by propping up the Unionist cause in the 2014 referendum, there was the prospect of a strong showing in 2015 that might have changed the course of the UK.  The Tory strategy to destroy their coalition partners was clearly defined, and without hubris and tribalism a leftward shift might have been achieved - a tacit recognition that Labour's success even in the good years depended upon exploiting the electoral system rather than a massive endorsement by the voters would have given another strategic push.

Instead, we are now facing the consequences of a tainted election and a right-wing coup within the Tory Party.  The referendum has thrown everything into the air, and given the Tory uncertainty over what demons they have unleashed, it would have been rational to expect the official Opposition to exploit and articulate this.  There is more effective challenge coming from within the Tories than from Labour at the moment, and if it wasn't for the efforts of the Greens, SNP and Liberal Democrats, alongside Labour stalwarts standing outside the leadership battle, you could be forgiven for imagining that the future prosperity of the country was an unimportant sideshow in the battle for ideological purity.

Corbyn's ambivalence during the referendum campaign is now becoming much easier to understand.  Today's pronouncements on the Single Market, which is the basic building block of all those who seek to retain British engagement with Europe and the world, resemble a spoilt child, confronted with a pick-and-mix sweetshop.  No wonder that the self-defined nuancing during the campaign played out the way that it did, given the fundamental hostility at the leadership's core.

Perhaps this is all for the good, as the extremes peel off on both sides.  Unlike the Kinnock years, Labour cannot expect to regain its ground in a diverse polity, where devolved nations have their own politics.  Instead, the break-up of the uncomfortable political blocs that have dominated a binary narrative is inevitable, and may need to be accelerated.  At one stage, it looked as though the new Labour approach ushered in by Corbyn's win might be more pluralist, but the approach remains that of the vanguard party rather than a player in pluralism.

About the only certainty is that May's honeymoon will end.  Her own party will devour every slip or perceived backslide, and the bastards continue to peddle their racist insanity.  An effective opposition exploits this, which is why the SNP's paradoxical clarity is speaking for the disenfranchised at Westminster so clearly.  Corbyn's supporters are mostly sincere in their desire for change, and the policies put forward, when they are, appear to be broadly in the social democratic space, but the inept handling and the inconsistencies make it difficult to engage with a party which appears to want to turn the political clock back to simpler times.

With the slow-motion catastrophe unfolding, seizing the initiative becomes vital.  Britain's relationship with Europe is central, but the democratic deficit and constitutional horror show that we face is fundamental to resolving this.  What the shape of an transforming political and social force looks like is unclear, but it is unlikely to emerge from within a bunkered mentality.  Had Labour shifted into a more pluralist space as part of its redefinition, it might have become a point of coalescence for this process.  Instead it will be individuals, groups and cross-party debate that can escape the mire - and this may even be exciting and liberating.  It is, after all, the only chance for salvation across the British nations.