We don’t just report off-beat news, breaking news and digest the best and worst of the news media analysis and commentary. We give an original take on what happened and why. We add lols, satire, news photos and original content.
So how did CNN illustrate the story of the Islamist maniac who murdered scores of people on Bastille Day in Nice, France? With an advert for Falken tires [sic] that grip:
Native advertising is a horror, Whoever invented it should be taken from this place and forced to live in an echo chamber.
Nice, France. Many words will be said about the barbaric horror that has left so many dead. An Islamist in a lorry mowed them down at Bastille Day celebrations along the Promenade des Anglais. The victims are being mourned by those who knew them and loved them.
Others want to wallow and retreat. Where there might be fury and outrage at the hideous actions of one Islamist in a truck, there is this:
Can we get angry that people are being slaughtered? No, said one writer in the Huffington Post, “ISIS counts on anger… to advance its cause.” We are told to conform, not to speak out and speak freely. We are only in the Safe Space if we all agree to say little and do nothing. The masses must not be heard.
What if cowardice and candles are not enough? One Washington Post writer said changing our Facebook status to feature the Tricolor could be interpreted as “an endorsement of the far right”.
What about singing the stirring anthem of France? No way. One Guardian writer tells us La Marseillaise is “not a million miles from the ISIS anthem”.
Maybe we should sing this instead:
I went to the place where every white face is an
invitation to robbery
an’ sitting here in my safe European home
I don’t wanna go back there again
– The Clash
Is it an isolated view that the West and ISIS are natural bedfellows? No. As President Barak Obama, champion of free speech and liberty told one and all:
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.
“In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Don’t get angry. Don’t fight. Get retrospective. Seek therapy. Heal thyself.
US Secretary of State John Kerry saw the murders of Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris and opined:
“There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that.”
Hebdo staffers, those free speech extremists, were asking for it, said the gilded elite, those champions of free speech and free expression.
And when once again the nihilists struck Paris, Kerry had more to say:
“This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration. It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, “Here we are.” And for what? What’s the platform? What’s the grievance? That we’re not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it’s indiscriminate.”
Having heard a leading figure in the so-called Free West provide ISIS with a list of legitimate targets, there was the Guardian writer who told us all beneath the headline, “The Isis women’s manifesto is grotesque – but some in the west would agree with every word” that an alleged rapist employed as a footballer is like women who think a man marrying a nine-year-old girl is fine:
Ched Evans, in believing that it’s fine for him to have sex with a woman without her consent – if she is drunk and already having sex with a stranger anyway – probably has a good deal of common cause with the ideas of these women of the Islamic State.
As the bodies pile up in Nice, just as they did in Paris, the intelligent and knowing warn the thick and reactionary not to be angry that our hard-won values and freedoms are being attacked. Don’t summon the sprit of Bastille Day, and take on the bigots in the name of liberté, égalité, fraternité. All we need do is light a candle and huddle round in the dim light. This introspection serves no useful purpose other than to allow the enemy a better shot at us in the dark.
Allons, enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous, de la tyrannie
L’étendard sanglant est levé
Vive La France!
When not leaving for her place in Tuscany, Polly Tonybee remains at his keyboard talking to Guardian readers about Brexit and all that inconvenient democracy.
Having called David Cameron “the man who sauntered effortlessly along a privileged path”*, Polly Toynbee – old school: Badminton (day pupil fees £5,650 per term); daughter of the literary critic Philip Toynbee (school: Rugby; friend of the Mitford sisters); granddaughter of the historian Arnold J. Toynbee (Winchester College), and great-great niece of philanthropist and economic historian Arnold Toynbee (after whom Toynbee Hall in London is named); dated the man who would become Boris Johnson’s uncle – adds:
What is to become of us? Cameron has led us into a state of paralysing uncertainty, at the mercy of erratic negotiations with 27 countries over which we have no say. Take back control?
Those are 27 countries over which the UK has no control.
Are you paralysed with uncertainty? Are you unable to find your own arse without a politician taking your hand and showing you the way? Are you wailing and weeping about the future? Get this in the Mirror:
A Labour official who voted on Jeremy Corbyn’s future wept today as she claimed colleagues were “bullied and intimidated” ahead of the crunch ruling.
Johanna Baxter was one of the 32 National Executive Committee (NEC) members who voted 18-14 to put Mr Corbyn on the ballot paper in the Labour leadership election – without MPs’ backing.
— The World at One (@BBCWorldatOne) July 13, 2016
Or are you just getting on with things, like a grown-up should?
Let’s end the uncertainty just Trigger Article 50. Get on with it. The working-classes have spoken. Join here.
*No problem with Tonybee’s good fortune, but why use another’s good fortune as a stick to beat them with?
To Australia, where a wedge-tailed eagle is wowing the crowds at the Alice Springs Desert Park. Witnesses says the bird swopped for a young onlooker and tried to make off with him “like a small animal”.
The boy, aged around 7, was running his zipper up and down just before the bird made its play. Keenan Lucas was there:
“We’re at the bird show in the afternoon, having a great time and looking forward to seeing the wedge-tailed eagle come out for the finale.
“The bird then flew over the crowd and tried to grab on to a young boy’s head. He screamed, the mother was distraught and the presenters wrapped up the show very quickly.”
The brochure promises: “Get up close with Australia’s largest bird of Prey, the Wedge-tailed Eagle. Discover the interesting lives these magnificent birds live!”
The Guardian’s Hugh Muir talks of “black flight”. The teaser explains the phrase: “Black flight: how England’s suburbs are changing colour.”
What is remarkable in our national story is the extent to which thousands of… black and Asian Brits have followed that trajectory [from the city centre to the suburbs].
It isn’t the least bit remarkable, is it. The Jews moved to London’s East End because they were poor, housing there was cheap and you could get manual work in the big city. As they set up their own companies and got more money they sought more space and moved out, first along the Tube lines, then further from city. As for Jews, so too for Irish, Huguenots, Asians and, well, every immigrant group to have settled in England.
Muir says that “less talked about” than “white flight” is the “growing movement of visible minorities into the heartlands of Englishness”. What’s Englishness, then? We’re not told. But he suggests it means not being a victim, but a member the white, working-class public who voted Leave in the EU Referendum. Remainers narrate that the EU stopped the UK from being a racist country. Voting for Brexit was not a vote for self-determination, an end to independent states being trampled on, democracy, risk, change and an enlarged world view. It was a vote for bigotry, so the losers say.
In post-referendum Britain we have seen sudden waves of intolerance.
Eastern Europeans told to go home. A BBC reporter branded a “Paki” in the English town where she was born. An African-American on a bus told by fellow passengers to go back to Africa. This is distressing.
Racial abuse is abhorrent. Thankfully, the shock value to the rest of us is in the rarity of such attacks. And before we go on, what of the “surge”? The Indy reported:
Reports of hate crime have risen 57 per cent in the aftermath of the EU referendum vote, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council. There were 85 reports of hate crimes to True Vision, a police-funded reporting website, between Thursday and Sunday compared with 54 reports over the same period four weeks ago.
True Vision was launched by the Association of Chief Police Officers in 2011. On 18 May 2011, it was announced that Gary Dobson and David Norris would face trial over the murder of Stephen Lawrence following a review of forensic evidence that the “institutionally racist” police force missed. Valuable or not, True Vision is foremost an exercise in police PR.
Mark Hamilton, Assistant Chief Constable for the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, was quoted in the Indy:
“At the national level, the vast majority of people are continuing to go about their lives in safety and security and there have been no major spikes in tensions reported.
“However, we are seeing an increase in reports of hate crime incidents to True Vision, the police online hate crime reporting site. This is similar to the trends following other major national or international events. In previous instances, crime levels returned to normal relatively quickly but we are monitoring the situation closely.”
John Betjeman would have spotted it immediately, for it is via the former poet laureate and his celebrated 1973 BBC documentary Metroland that the traditional perception of the English suburbs has been formed. On a gentle jaunt, in his gentle way, he described communities stretching from Neasden in north-west London all the way to the Chiltern Hills, along the path of the Metropolitan underground line. Betjeman’s suburbia spoke of cricket pitches, golf clubs, women’s institutes and verdant farmland: a new life for indigenous Britons at arm’s length from the bustle and smoke of London.
Indigenous Britons who were living in Neasden, north-west London, in the 1970s took flight? I know Neasden well, very well. It was there and in nearby Hendon my immigrant family settled after moving from Stepney Green and Old Ford in London’s East End, and inner-city Leeds. They sold their Neasden home to an Irish family and went down The Bakerloo line (now the Jubilee Line) to Stanmore.
Muir says black flight “tells us that minorities themselves feel psychologically able to move to new areas.” No. It tells us they got enough money to buy a home with a garden and garage. It tells us also that rising housing costs and declining school quality encourage human beings to move.
Muir then adds:
One can’t be Pollyannaish about this, as alongside black flight, demographers detect an extension of white flight. Minorities move out; many white Britons move out even further. But perhaps there is a natural filtering system at play, and perhaps that’s for the best. Those who can be comfortable with a changing Britain embrace it or make the best of it. Those who can’t just pack up and leave.
Before long the only people living in London’s village will be Guardian writers basking in self-affirmation, fretting over the falling FTSE and using their London borough’s diverse population and ‘filtering system’ as a signal of their virtue – unless they’re staying at their holiday homes in Italy, France and Cornwall.
Good news. Leave voters can be cured of mental disorders through therapy, wonder of the age and booming business sector to boot.
Ewan Cameron, “a psychologist who provides assessment and treatment of forensic and clinical clients”, writes on Politics. co.uk:
So your mother voted Leave: How to fix a family broken by Brexit
It’s a new version of David Cameron’s “broken Britain”, the former Prime Minister’s view of the working class and other Untermensch. It’s no longer the much-derided, dystopian Tory vision, what the Guardian called “glib jargon” that “feeds off popular anxieties”, a “popular, ill-defined sense that somehow things are going wrong in society”, adding that “there is real hostility to being tarred as a broken society”. That broken Britain was “offensive”. This broken Britain is all about helping. It is, of course, entirely offensive, bigoted, condescending, ageist, and dismissive of the working class and the right of one person one vote.
Says E. Cameron:
It’s not just political parties that are being torn apart by the Brexit vote. Across the country, families have been pitted against each other, usually on generational lines, as the emotional fallout continues. Millions of older voters feel they’ve taken back control of their country. But for many of their sons and daughters, it’s like someone just stole their future. The political has never felt more personal.
Never felt more personal? It’s history day one all over again. What about when being gay was a crime? What about when women were banned from voting? What about abortion law? What about 1780, when less than 3% of the total population of England had the right to vote? Democracy won the day in the EU Referendum. The people voted in large numbers. The Leave vote won. The therapy should be short and succinct: suck it up and crack on.
But Cameron E has tips on what you should do if you can’t grasp the concept of democracy and are slamming bedrooms doors and shouting “I never asked to be born”:
1. Seek to understand before being understood
Try to understand not just your mother’s political arguments, but the personal reasons and emotions that contribute to them. Maybe her fears are both political and personal, reflecting a general fear of change or a core belief that unknown others can never be trusted.
A fear of change for the woman who, er, voted for change, who embraced the new and the risky.
Personality factors are also relevant – are your mother’s view sustained by a sense of entitlement? Do her political views conform to a broader sense of personal alienation, or vulnerability? Seek to understand not just ‘what’ but ‘why’ she has the views she does.
In a word: experience.
2. Communicate in neutral, non-judgemental language
What an utter kno..
Simple techniques like avoiding the pronoun ‘you’ and instead structuring sentences around ‘I’ can reduce the potential for the other person feeling blamed, and keeps the focus on your needs.
Why not go the full superior and opt for “one”.
Examples might include “I have noticed that when I express those thoughts, I am often not heard”, as opposed to “you’re ignoring everything I say”.
3. Specify the problem, even if it seems obvious
…Maybe it’s that your mother deliberately ignores certain widely known facts in order to sustain a distorted worldview.
You: you need to look at the facts.
Mum: I do. You lost.
4. Express the emotion you are feeling
Tell your mother what emotion you feel when you bring up this problem. Telling someone how you actually feel makes an issue harder to ignore. Examples might include “I feel hurt that you voted in a way that I believe damages the future of my children”, or “I actually feel quite alone and sad when I think about the political distance between us”. Be honest when you do this.
Mum to child: “I feel hurt that you voted in a way that I believe damages the future of my children.”
5. Specify what you want – and be realistic
…Maybe you need to tone down the moral certainty.
But without moral certainty you’re left with nothing apart from the T-shirt that orders ‘Hug An Immigrant’.
6. Practice Acceptance
If you are troubled by any of the above or see assurance and direction, seek help immediately. No, not therapy. That clinic has a revolving door. Ask your mum what you should do.
Remember: mother knows best.
Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne has triggered “fears”. The Sun shows a picture of Gazza and says, “There were new fears for Paul Gascoigne last night after he accidentally exposed himself in the street.”
What street? Who was watching or, rather, being exposed to? What did he expose, accidentally?
All will be revealed soon enough.
For now, we’re grateful the Sun is here to help Gascoigne and relay news of his latest humiliation, sorry, suffering to us. To recap: Gazza, as he is known, is not dead. In 2008 the no less caring Daily Star reported beneath the headline “Gazza dead and gone for good”: “FUN-LOVING football legend Paul Gascoigne is ‘dead’, his TV star stepdaughter Bianca revealed last night.”
They were wrong. “The former England star is seriously ill with depression, and Bianca admits his family is powerless to help him,” the Star continued. Gascoigne was not dead then. He remains not dead now.
Today we see a photo of Gascoigne in a dressing gown. A generous black triangle hangs over his crotch. The paper reports:
The football icon heading to buy booze in only a dressing gown stumbled barefooted from his flat with a bent cigarette hanging from his lips. Slurring his words, Gazza, 49, climbed into a taxi before returning with a bottle of gin, cigs and painkillers. As he stepped out of the cab his gown fell open revealing he was naked underneath.
Again, let’s recap: man comes out of his home; a passing photographer takes the trouble to take pictures of him and alert the Sun newspaper; the Sun publishes the pictures in the hope Gascoigne can be helped.
The paper says a photo it published in March of Gazza’s bruised face “made him realise how low he had sunk”. Gascoigne “admitted” this when he appeared on Good Morning Britain (see below). It’s not about gawping at a man with issues and exploiting him to sell pictures and papers. It’s about caring.
Here’s Gascoigne thanking the press on GMB after the Sun published that photo of his face after a “drunken fall”:
Right. OK. Andrea Leadsom has gone. Theresa May is now the only candidate in the ‘race’ to become the next British Prime Minister.
Angela Eagle wants to be the next leader of the Labour Party. First she has to defenestrate Jeremy Corbyn, who says he will stand against her and sue the party if they don’t let him.
Could May call an election before Labour can dump Corbyn?
It’s all nothing short of brilliant.
Highlights so far:
Angela Eagle gets her big announcement gazumped by Andrea Leadsom quitting:
— Livvy Bolton (@livvybolton) July 11, 2016
David Cameron calls it a day. Right. Good. He did not says right-ho. But he might have done. As @SimonNRicketts puts its: “I could watch it over and over. Your last moments as Prime Minister. Wandering off like Bertie Wooster going to get a sandwich…When British people realise things have gone a bit rubbish, they say “Right” very meaningfully.”
A slightly longer version of Cameron’s exit. There’s not only a ‘right’ but the classic follow-up ‘good.’ I adore it pic.twitter.com/w311FNKabL
— SimonNRicketts (@SimonNRicketts) July 11, 2016
It’s not over yet. Former Tory MP Louise Mensch thinks May could quit / implode / defect to Labour / tie herself to an radiator and drink her own urine / insert option here:
It's not going to be Theresa May, there is no chance.
— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) June 30, 2016
“If your loved ones were in this situation, what would they like you to do? ” asks Venerable Dan of the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society. As you look at Aunt Maud and wonder how chewy she might be after she’s been boiled alive, know that Venerable Dan and his fellow monks bought 600lbs of lobster from a fisherman, said Buddhist prayers over the creatures and returned them to the seas off the coast of Prince Edward Island, Canada.
“Hopefully, we can find a spot where there are no cages waiting for them,” said Dan. And maybe they’ll be lots of crabs for the lobsters to eat. (Who will think of the crabs?!)
“We respect everyone’s dietary choice, so we’re not doing this to convert everybody to be vegetarians or vegans. This whole purpose for us is to cultivate this compassion toward others,” he adds.
“It doesn’t have to be lobsters, it can be worms, flies, any animals, drive slower so we don’t run over little critters on the street.”
Fly farmers, to Prince Edward Island. The market is booming.
PS: Says Dan: “Fishermen actually found us a better place to release the lobster so they won’t be captured again.”
Hey, if you can’t trust a lobster fisherman to recycle lobsters, who can you trust? (You people are such cynics.)
Your writer spots the Bahamas’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement on black men heading to the USA. Following the assassination of five white police officers in Dallas by black Micah Johnson, and the police killings of black males Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana, the ministry warns against tourism while black:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by police officers…
We wish to advise all Bahamians traveling to the US but especially to the affected cities to exercise appropriate caution generally. In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and cooperate.
US police officers are aggressive and menacing to pretty much everyone. They are the rudest, most offensive police force I have ever encountered. They are also heavily armed. Marjorie Cohn, of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, adds:
“I don’t think it’s victim blaming, but it’s advising them [black men] to the extent that they could become paranoid. A lot of the black men stopped by the police or who are racially profiled are doing nothing wrong, illegal or out of the ordinary.
“They are ‘driving while black’ and ‘walking while black’ and nothing they do can prevent that, unless there are structural changes to policing.”
It’s not paranoia. It’s self-preservation and common sense.
Today anti-Brexit campaigners held a picnic in Green Park, London, to display solidarity with the European Union. The Standard said it was “aiming to be the biggest picnic London has ever seen”. Anorak was there. We spotted a few hundred people (and this might have been the whitest protest ever) sat on the grass talking and eating. And we noticed that what many were eating was…hummus, stable diet of the bien pensant.
It’s the Hummus Revolution!
Hummus is Greece’s lasting gift to the European Union.
Next week: Onwards with chia seeds!
Andrea Leadsom clenched her fist and smacked Theresa May, her rival for the Tory Parry leadership, right below the belt and into the ovaries. May has no children. Leadsom has three children. This, reasons Leadsom, makes her a better human being than May, more able to think of the future and other people.
In the numbers game, Dear Andrea is, of course, not as good as the old woman who lived in the shoe (loads kids), Rose West (eight children) but a bit better than Jezebel (two kids). Leadsom is a lot better than Mother Teresa, Gloria Steinem, Dame Helen Mirren and Dolly Parton (no children between them).
This was is what Dear Andrea told the Times:
She also said this:
Dear Andrea is supported in her leadership campaign by Ian Duncan Smith. Dear Ian has already stated: “I believe that Andrea’s strong family family background… will make her a great prime minister for the UK.”
This attack seems awfully familiar. In 2001 top Tory Norman Tebbit (three children) backed Duncan Smith (four children) to beat Michael Portillo (no children, married and who spoke of his “homosexual experiences” – what Tebbit called “deviance”) in the Tory leadership race. Said Tebbit: “He [IDS] is a remarkably normal family man with children.”
Portillo was winning the race. After the gay story was fanned, he lost. IDS won.
PS: Leadsom has accused the Times (like May, and unlike Leadsom, the paper backed Remain in the EU Referendum) of “gutter journalism”. The writer stands by her story.
What Mrs Leadsom said:
Rachel Sylvester: “Do you feel like a mum in politics?”
Andrea Leadsom: “Yes. So…
RS: “Why and how?”
AL: “So really carefully because I am sure, I don’t really know Theresa very well but I am sure she will be really really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t’ because I think that would be really horrible.
“But genuinely I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.
“She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people, but I have children, who are going to have children, who will directly be a part of what happens next.
“So it really keeps you focused on ‘what are you really saying?’. Because what it means is you don’t want a downturn but ‘never mind, let’s look ahead to the ten years’, hence it will all be fine. My children will be starting their lives in that next ten years so I have a real stake in the next year, the next two.”
So, she said it, then.
Phillip Collins is of the mind that “party members choosing leaders is pure folly“. Why? That’s how many clubs chose their leaders. Collins doesn’t write the headlines for his Times story, of course.
Below it he opines that Tory Party members acting “in the name of democracy, are making a shambles of our democracy”.
As it is with the Tories so it is with Labour, he argues: “The gap between the parliamentary party, in which 172 MPs have declared no confidence in their nominal leader, and the members at large is breaking Labour apart.”
You might not like who the members chose, but that’s the system. Collins should be more bothered by the EU Referendum in which anyone of voting age did get to choose. More than a week after the Leave campaign won nothing has been done to trigger Article 50 and with it UK’s Brexit from the European Union.
At this point Corbyn supporters piously intone that “democracy” is on their side. They say, as if it clinched the argument, that Mr Corbyn has a mandate from the membership which renders dissent illegitimate. The numbers from the Labour leadership ballot are, indeed, clear. Mr Corbyn won a handsome mandate to be leader of the party. But he did not also win a mandate to be a hopeless leader of the party. There is no mandate to trail a leaderless Tory party in the midst of a nervous breakdown by seven points in the polls. Mr Corbyn did not win a mandate to be a general who cannot command the confidence of his parliamentary cavalry.
Democracy is not a single event. The first clause of the Labour Party constitution commits it to taking the cause of working people to parliament. It is a charter for victory for a party that was founded, out of the trade union movement, to take control of the levers of the state as a government. Labour was therefore a parliamentary institution before it was a members club. Labour MPs represent, within the party, the voters who put them into parliament. They have a democratic mandate too, larger in number than the members and a viable leader has to retain the confidence of all parts of the Labour structure.
The catastrophic election system introduced by Ed Miliband in 2014 fails to respect the Labour Party’s tiered structure. Candidates are proposed by MPs but the vote is conducted entirely by the membership. Between 1922 and 1981 Labour’s leader was chosen entirely by the parliamentary party. In 1981, Tony Benn’s intervention established an unwieldy electoral college in which MPs held 30 per cent of the vote, members the same and trade unions 40 per cent.
The terrible answer that dropped out of the bottom of that Heath Robinson machine was Michael Foot. But at least the college made some reference to the different levels of Labour Party democracy. Certainly it was preferable to the current disaster in which any ex-member of the Socialist Workers Party can vote for less than the price of a pint. The Labour Party is left with just one option. Sign up the moderates, of whom there are more in the nation than the Corbynistas, and then let the new leader abolish the system.
There are 84 Conservative MPs, people actually paid out of public funds to conduct politics, who believe that Andrea Leadsom should be prime minister. Somebody as smart as former leader Michael Howard should be ashamed of himself
You might have thought, with Labour helpfully providing a primer in what not to do, that the Conservatives might draw the obvious lesson. Perhaps it will. Those who know the party better than I do suggest that Theresa May will win and that 199 Tory MPs took the sensible option in yesterday’s second leadership ballot. Yet there are 84 Conservative MPs, people actually paid out of public funds to conduct politics, who believe that Andrea Leadsom should be prime minister. Somebody as smart as former leader Michael Howard should be ashamed of himself. It is scarcely credible that, fired with fervour, Tory MPs will risk setting their membership against the bulk of their colleagues in parliament.
Mrs May’s victory yesterday was so overwhelming that the contest should be stopped. She should offer Mrs Leadsom the business brief and Mrs Leadsom should accept. Between 1965, when the system that Ian Macleod described as the “magic circle” was abolished, and 1998, when that dangerous radical William Hague gave the members a say, Tory MPs chose their leader. They should do so now. Then the party can get on with the task of forming a government without taking the risk that its membership is as far from political credibility as the Labour Party’s.
Yesterday, as Mrs Leadsom toured the television studios telling interviewers that she would absolutely tell Vladimir Putin to stop if he got a bit uppity and taking questions on her questionable curriculum vitae, Tim Loughton MP led a march from her rally to Parliament Square, chanting leaden Leadsom slogans along the way. As I watched the Leadsom march on Westminster I had a dream, of a deputy investment bod from a fund management company who voted both for and against gay marriage becoming prime minister. This was a delicious parallel to last Monday when, as Labour MPs gathered in parliament to declare his leadership defunct, Mr Corbyn chose to address a rally in the square outside. With the MPs lost, he took refuge in the members.
The Tories are choosing a prime minister and it would be a disaster if they did the same as Labour. It is, in any case, a democratic outrage that the next prime minister will be chosen by the 0.3 per cent of the electorate who happen to be odd enough to be members of the Conservative Party. Can any of them, I wonder, see the irony of their regular sermons about the lack of “democracy” in the EU? Probably not. These are people who have taken hold of the wrong end of the stick in order to beat the country with it. The candidate of their looking-glass world is the wholly ill-prepared Mrs Leadsom.
Just over 2 per cent of the nation are members of a political party. These members are not representative even of the people who vote for their party, let alone of the nation. They have no monopoly on the idea of democracy, which does not stop at the constituency meeting. Political parties are not sacrosanct organisations that bend to the whims of their votaries. They are simply useful agencies for gathering collective opinion. They have to look up as well as down, at the stars and not just the gutter. We will have to trust that the Tory members in the shires will do that.
Dunno really. I tend to think that chess club members get to choose the officers and leaders of the chess club. Tory party members get to choose the leader of the Tory party.
Tony Blair is “on the couch”, says the Daily Mail. There are questions over the former Prime Minister’s sanity, writes Stephen Glover. Blair is “delusional”. Blair “has some kind of Messianic complex”. Blair is a “near lunatic”. Blair is “manipulative and devious”. Blair is “an extreme narcissist”.
Vain, pushy, manipulative, self-regarding and self-absorbed. So what. He’s a politician, and one who, most worryingly of all, wore his god on his sleeve. The sadness is that the voters are now being portrayed as victims of his sorcery and trickery. If you accept that he duped you, then you accept that you are easily duped. It’s the same narrative that infects the post-Brexit haze and seeks to portray the white working classes as ignorant scum.
Did we all believe Saddam Hussein could launch chemical weapons within 45 minutes? Did you believe in New Labour’s “ethical foreign policy”evident in Nato’s attack on Serbia over Kosovo in 1999 that established the rule of a humanitarian intervention? Blair called the Kosovo intervention “a battle between good and evil; between civilisation and barbarity; between democracy and dictatorship”.
Did you nod when Tony Blair, champion of “humanitarian warfare”, said in 20014:
“…the notion of intervening on humanitarian grounds had been gaining currency. I set this out, following the Kosovo war, in a speech in Chicago in 1999, where I called for a doctrine of international community, where in certain clear circumstances, we do intervene, even though we are not directly threatened.”
Did you feel good when Blair said in that 1999 address:
Looking around the world there are many regimes that are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. If we wanted to right every wrong that we see in the modern world then we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries. We would not be able to cope.
So how do we decide when and whether to intervene. I think we need to bear in mind five major considerations
First, are we sure of our case? War is an imperfect instrument for righting humanitarian distress; but armed force is sometimes the only means of dealing with dictators.
Blair was clear: if the United Nations failed to act, then individual countries should go it alone.
Were you one of the 412 MPs who voted to use “all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction”?
No matter if you did or did not. The Chilcot Report clears you of blame. This was Tony Blair alone. It was his “private war”. The political elite are in the clear. The Guardian says Chilcot can “restore trust in the process of decision-making in government”. The New Statesman says Chilcot will “drain the poison that has built up in our national life since Blair took the calamitous decision to follow the US into invading a country that its president knew zip about”.
Invading Iraq was not a calamity of moral and ethical convictions, a horror show for the media and Westminster, a disaster fuelled by “sexed-up” political flimflam over substance. It was just the ultimate expression of mad Tony’s diseased brain.
Now let’s hang the bastard and be made clean.
“We are all tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime,” opined Tony Blair. If he’s the criminal what were the causes of his crime?
We think that “one person, one vote” is the hallmark of any democratic election. However, the EU referendum and the Australian election suggest that, in the interest of democracy, we should grant more votes to younger citizens, and fewer to older ones.
How’s that for justice?
“One magazine even suggested that the pensioners’ right to vote should be taken away, just as their driver’s licenses are, after they reach certain age,” says Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, “the UN independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons.”
You can call an old git a bigot and demand they be shut in a box and ignored and be a bigot. Who knew?
That was George Chesterton in GQ:
With the abject failure of Britain’s youth to rise to the democratic challenge (ie, to pull their fingers out in time to register to vote), I am advocating a total ban on anyone of retirement age voting in the EU referendum as the only effective way stopping the Leave campaign…We take pensioners’ driving licences away… why not their right to vote?
More appalling than the predictable racist claim has been the dismissal of older voters as reactionaries, wreckers of our children’s future. As if ‘older’ people, who’ve worked, paid taxes, brought up children in far tougher times, shouldn’t have a say and that the young, many of whom couldn’t be bothered to vote, should have their non-votes registered.
Ah, the wisdom of youth…
Natalia Potanina, who claims to be exiled in Britain, wants £5 billion from the pockets of Russian Vladimir Potanin. Christina Estrada, 54, would like £196 million off her ex-husband Dr Walid Juffali, 61. Estrada’s claim includes £58,000 for two luxury handbags – every year. Seems reasonable.
Frances Gibb suggests that such claims, if approved, would “cement the UK’s reputation as the country favoured by the ultra-rich for their divorce disputes.” Well, not quite. The party who seeks the massive pay-off for martial services surely would give consideration to making a claim in a British court. The wealthy party would most likely prefer the case was heard elsewhere, like in, equal opportunity, Saudi Arabia, perhaps, or Russia.
“Body of German Maddie is found,” says the Daily Star on its page 7. The so-dubbed “German Maddie” is a “missing girl who looked like Madeleine McCann”. How grim. A dead child called Peggy Knobloch – yep, she had a name of her own – is recast as another person. Worst yet, Peggy vanished from her home in May 2001 – six years before Madeleine McCann went missing. Before Madeleine McCann – the Star’s ‘Our Maddie’ – had been born.
Peggy Knobloch was nine and making her way home from school when she vanished.
The Mail says Peggy Knobloch is “considered ‘the German Madeleine McCann'”. The Sun says she is the “German Maddie”. The Mirror calls her the “German ‘Madeleine McCann'”.
Madeleine McCann was four when she vanished. She was on holiday in Portugal.
As papers browse old missing person’s files for other blonde children they can rebrand as “[insert location here] Maddie”, we read that a man was jailed for life in 2004 for telling police he had sexually abused Peggy and killed her. After 10 years in a secure hospital, the man withdrew his confession and was released.
He wasn’t in Portugal in 2007.
The link between Peggy Knobloch and Madeleine McCann exists only in the pages of the febrile Press, wherein blonde children are always news.
The Mirror, however, produces a tasteless clickbait-style “Five reasons why ‘German Maddie’s’ disappearance 15 years ago is strikingly similar to the McCann case”. Writes Sophie Evans as “REASON 1”:
Peggy had blonde hair – just like Madeleine. The German youngster also had bright blue eyes, while Madeleine has ‘blue and green eyes’.
Will the Mirror see spooky similarities when black or Asian children go missing in Portugal, the UK, Germany or beyond? Or does the Mirror save its biggest scoops for blondes?
And why else is Peggy in the news? The Indy says the “remains of ‘German Madeleine McCann'” were found in woods after a 15-year search. The thinking is that a wild animal dug up her body, which was found by a man out looking for mushrooms. The paper adds”: “At the time it was presumed she had been kidnapped and murdered, although police will now be able to launch a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.”
A body helps a missing person story reach a conclusion.
The search for Madeleine McCann goes on.
Just over a year ago the former Liberal Democrat Party leader Charles Kennedy died at his home in Fort William, Scotland, aged 55.
We said then, “…despite his alcoholic affliction, he brought humanity and common sense into UK politics and governance when he entered the Westminster Parliament.
He was Leader of his party when Premier Blair launched the UK into the Iraq conflict.
In what many found to be a magnificent stand, in 2003 Charles Kennedy fought against all-comers from other major parties over the proposed invasion and war in Iraq.
There is little doubt he was right in every respect in his then dire predictions of what was to follow. Later in September, 2005 at the Blackpool, annual Liberal Democratic Party Conference he made it clear he neither forgot nor forgave when in a passionate speech he called on on the then still prime minister Tony Blair to make a timetable of the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq.
The long-delayed Chilcot Report may very well be his finest epitaph….”
How well dow you understand financial markets? In the post-Brexit haze, lots of Remain voters are citing the falling pound and the volatile FTSE index as signs of disaster. Is the UK in the mire? Are they right? Helping you make sense of it all is Robert Shiller. He was one of the few voices who foresaw the housing bubble burst 2008. This is the first lecture from his series of talks at Yale University.
It’s a worthwhile watch:
The post-Brexit UK was, as the Daily Mirror put it with a front-page photo of a large black hole, a leap into the unknown. Where the Mirror saw danger, chaos and, if the country voted Leave and thereby fell into that hole, death for all, others saw adventure and opportunity. Who embodies the spirt of rosy-fingered dawns over new horizons better than Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin brand and the man who signed the Sex Pistols – those working-class dupe-proof advocates for Anarchy in the UK and a rejection of the tired, old Establishment.
Branson opines axiomatically on his company’s website, “In order to think outside the box, avoid getting into one. There is no need to accept accepted thinking. Remember, it was once accepted that the world was flat.”
“If you don’t let anybody build a box around you, then you will never have to think outside of the box. Basically, in order to think outside the box, avoid getting into one.
“But if you do find yourself getting boxed in, think to yourself: I will only think outside the box when the box is empty. Get everything you can out of a situation, but keep an eye out for the next opportunity.”
The box was the European Union. The vote to get out of it was a vote for a bigger planet view that doesn’t end where the EU border lies. But Branson is scared. He is not eyeing the next opportunity. Sky News reports that this knight of the realm “has held secret talks with Theresa May in an effort to boost his plea for a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU).”
In a blog-post published on 27 June, Sir Richard wrote:
“The vast majority of MPs voted in by the electorate want the UK to stay part of Europe. In light of the misrepresentations of the Leave campaign, Parliament should reject the results of this non-binding referendum as Nicola Sturgeon has announced she will do in Scotland’s Parliament.”
How’s that for thinking outside the box? Ignore the anti-Establishment risk-takers, the people who voted for change, and side with the elite who want to snuff out democracy. ‘Safety-first,’ says box-ticking bureaucratic Branson. Big business must take priority over independence and “screwing it, just doing it”, something he advises we do in one of his “lessons for life”. Richard is now of the “screw you, the multi-nationals and connected are in charge”.
To paraphrase the Sex Pistols, We Do Mind the Bollocks. We voted against it.
Invoke Article 50 NOW! is spiked’s campaign for the people’s democratic will to be enforced. The British public were given the vote on whether to leave the European Union. They voted to leave.
But the Government has not triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, initiating Britain’s exit. Why not? There is talk of a second referendum, and with it the opportunity to correct what the likes of David Lammy MP, Bob Geldof, big banks, Tony Blair and multinationals think a mistake. They don’t like democracy. They don’t think the people are worth listening to when they fail to agree with what they want. Democracy is the great invention. It is under threat.
Uphold the vote! Defend democracy! Invoke Article 50 now! Join the campaign here.
How can Boy Scouts of America ensure the lads grow into full-blooded leering heterosexual males who like breasts and more breasts, and don’t fancy men? Boy Scouts of America had a ban on gay leaders, but that was lifted in 2015 amid howls of outrage. So how else could boys be kept on message? The Boy Scouts of America Denver Area Council had an idea: Hooters. It invited waitresses from the Hooters tits and tacos restaurant chain to meet, greet and give ruby dreams to cubsters at the Frontier District Day Camp.
“It’s just the philosophies of the two organisations are polar opposites and I just don’t think they should be together,” says Marsha Corn, a “concerned parent”, who is of course utterly wrong. Unless the waitresses are gay? In which case, sorry boys, the ladies are out of reach.
Much of the post-Brexit talk has focused on the Leave voters who now regret their decision. The Metro said 7% of Leave voters regret voting to leave the EU. It and the Indy cited research that suggests “1.2 million Leave voters regret their choice”. The Huff Post built a story of Leavers regret – regrexiters – around Barbara Ansdale, from the Black Country, who told BBC Radio 4 she had voted leave but “wasn’t really voting to get out of the union” and “Adam” who told the BBC’s TV News: “I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain.”
The Guardian – “‘I hope I don’t live to regret this’: Brexit doubts linger at the centre of England” – likened Leave voters to frightened children:
In the West Midlands village of Meriden, some of the 17 million voters who had willed Britain’s departure from the EU into being were not so much celebrating Freedom Friday as enduring terrors of self-doubt. A few seemed like kids who had disobeyed instructions, pressed the eject button in the pilot’s cockpit, and were starting to wonder what the hell was happening.
Leave votes minds were troubled by a “strange tingling”.
The London Evening Standard heard from a tweeter, who opined: “I personally voted leave believing these lies and I regret it more than anything, I feel genuinely robbed of my vote.” The anonymous tweeter was one of the “The Brexit voters who wish they’d backed remain”. The Telegraph quoted Mandy Suthi who says that “she her family voted for Brexit but they’ve changed their mind now that she’s seen what’s happening.”
The only change is in a narrative that says Leave voters are all dolts who never knew how democracy worked and would dearly love to rewind the clock. The idea, presumably, is that Article 50 will not be invoked and everything will continue as before, sparing the blushes of 17 million people who voted out.
But today the Sun produces an Ipsos MORI poll. It finds that more Remainers than Leavers regret their vote. If therw was second referendum – which we hope there will not be – the Leave campaign would win by a bigger margin.
Vote once and make it count.
Nicola Sturgeon cuts a Presidential figure. In July 2016, the BBC reported her words:
“People from EU countries are an important part of Scotland’s future. I am therefore seeking immediate guarantees from the Prime Minister, and all Conservative leadership candidates, that the residency status and the other existing rights of the 173,000 EU nationals living in Scotland will remain unchanged, now or in the future. This is a commitment that can and should be made and enforced now.”
In July 2014, the Scotsman reported her words:
DEPUTY First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned that keeping an independent Scotland out of the EU could mean people from other European nations living in Scotland could “lose the right to stay here”.
At best she’s no worse than the other political elite the electorate despise.
An odd little Brexit story in the Guardian, which reports that “almost half of voters aged 18 to 24 cried or felt like crying when they heard that the UK had voted to leave the European Union”.
A poll for the London School of Economics, called “Inside the mind of the voter”, found that 47% of the youngsters wanted to cry when they lost the vote. You will recall that just over 48% of voted for the losing side in the EU referendum.
And is news that young people cry, especially those who like the cosy EU, shocking?
PS : can anyone find the question the pollsters asked?