Moron CoVid-19

Right.

Developments are developing fast; this morning the entire country of Italy has been put on lockdown by its government.  Italy is facing the worst crisis thus far in Europe.  The latest figures are that the country has had 9,172 cases, with 463 (5%) of those proving fatal.  Now, it has become serious.  They’ve had almost as many cases in that country alone, as they did across the world during the SARS pandemic of 2003/4.  This time tomorrow, I expect the Italian total will exceed that of the world of 17 years ago.

In the former United Kingdom, we’ve had 319 cases and five deaths (1.5%) since our first infection back in January, and, considering as of nine o’clock this morning, 24,960 frightened souls have been tested, that’s about 1.27%.  Therefore at the moment at least, 1.27% of 1.5% of those who have been tested have died as a result of the illness.

But, there are small bright spots of hope.  In China, case numbers are lowering to such a degree that President Xi Jinpingwas able to visit Wuhan yesterday for the first time since the outbreak began there in December.  Indeed, in a population of 1.4 billion, only 19 people were tested positive on Tuesday, of which 17 were in the central province of Hubei, and one was an airline passenger from Britain.  There’s an irony!  Takin’ it back to China.

And in South Korea, formerly the second-worst affected country, now overtaken by Italy, the rate of infection has slowed down there in the last few days; indeed, enough for its health minister to express the hope that they had passed the peak.

These, however, are glimpses of hope, but only small ones at the moment; the media plays a huge role in this international crisis that exceeds politics, religion, or football.  The media must cease its alarmist reporting, and not focus on the deaths but on the living.  The people that have survived.  The people who test negative after illness with it and have therefore recovered.  What about those?  Little reported.  After all, who’s interested in survivors when you are queuing up for toilet roll?  We love a good panic, we humans.

In churches up and down the country, I can imagine priests closing their eyes, kneeling down and praying:

Let us panic:

‘Dear God,

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!”

Amen.'”

I’ll keep this one brief, because as I said, panic is not the answer, and besides, you wouldn’t want to spend your last moments on Earth reading this shit. x

 

Who Are the Real Ticket Touts, You Thieves!

First of all, may I point out from the outset that, in this rant, I shall be referring to concert tickets, and not airlines, or travel, or any such like.

So, this morning, tickets to go and see prog-rock legends GENESIS were ‘released’ to the public for them to snap up for themselves to go and see this band’s first concert tour in 13 years.

Now, Genesis are one of those tricky bands that existed for a number of years with three different lineups.  There were others but I’m just talking about those since Phil Collins joined on drums in 1971.  The ‘classic’, pre-1975 lineup included: Peter Gabriel (vocals), Steve Hackett (guitars), Phil Collins (drums), Mike Rutherford (bass) and Tony Banks (keyboards).  In 1975, after Gabriel’s departure for a solo career, Collins took over on vocals and live drummer Chester Thompson was brought in.  Furthermore,  Steve Hackett left in 1977 and, while Rutherford could take over some of the guitar parts, he simply wasn’t in Hackett’s league, so live guitarist Daryl Stuermer was brought in to play those tricky Hackett parts Rutherford couldn’t play.  But these were live performers only.  In the studio, Genesis were now a three-piece.

Bear with me; this detail of the band’s history does have some relevance.

In 1996, Phil Collins announced that he was leaving Genesis, because his personal life was suffering as he was touring for, say, two years as a soloist; he would then go into the studio, record an album, and then tour two years with Genesis.  The two remaining members of the band, Rutherford and Banks, recruited former Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson to replace Collins.  For touring, they recruited Nir Zidkyahu (drums) and Anthony Drennan (guitars) to cover Thompson & Stuermer, who were both on tour with Phil Collins at the time.

The 1998 lineup, the final one, sank like a sack of shit.  I went to see the band at Earls Court on the ‘Calling All Stations’ tour, on 27 February 1998, and it was awful.  Wilson had no charisma at all, and when they tried to do the ‘I Can’t Dance’ silly walk around the arena, it was embarrassing.  Nobody knew where to look.  At the conclusion of that tour, Banks and Rutherford finally decided they had had enough, and formally disbanded Genesis.

That was the end, or so everybody thought; all the band members were still friends, and in 2007 they decided to put that friendship to the test once again by touring as Genesis with the ‘pop’ lineup from the 1980s – Collins, Banks and Rutherford (with Thompson & Stuermer) would tour the world’s stadiums making pots of money.  It was one of the top-grossing tours of the year.  I saw them on that tour also, and, despite limited view at Twickenham Stadium (I also saw them the day before at the Live Earth concert), they were fantastic.  That was the end.

Or, so everybody thought.

On Wednesday, 4 March, 2020, Collins, Banks and Rutherford appeared on Zoe Ball’s breakfast show in the UK to announce a British tour which would mark their first live appearance since 2007.  What?  Still no Gabriel, no Hackett?  No; the official reason is that Collins, through various health problems including a number of quite serious back operations, is no longer able to play the drums, and, if Gabriel were to return, Collins would not be able to play drums for a whole concert.  Furthermore, touring drummer Chester Thompson had retired, so he would not be along for the 2020 tour, which, to date, only includes gigs in the UK.  Fans in the rest of the world were left disappointed.

Who to play drums?  I’ve got someone who can play, Collins said to the rest of the band.  His own son, Nic, has been bangin’ on the bongos like a chimpanzee since Collins himself resumed touring in 2017.  At the time, young Nic was just fifteen years old, and here he was in a professional band led by his old man!

We shall see how young Collins Jr. copes with the 15/8, 11/4, etc. time signatures that the band’s most prog-rock music demands.  Playing in Phil’s more pop-oriented music is one thing; a 25-minute prog medley is quite another.

At least, some will see that; but I won’t.  Why, as a confirmed Genesis fan for almost 40 years, will I not, I hear you both ask.

Because the f***ing tickets are too expensive, that’s why!  They are playing a number of concerts in the UK, and the tickets are split into four bands: £68.15 / £85.35 / £136.50 / £176.50 are the base rate prices.  That is daylight robbery in itself.  Seventy pounds for a restricted view of a band whose drummer can’t play and is replaced by his son, two of whose members will never play with the band again, and the other two who clearly need the money.  That can be the only reason for this tour – maximise income for the minimum of work.  Phil Collins’ health is very poor at the moment; why is he doing this?

But those base rate ticket prices, I’m sure you’re both aware, will not be enough for the online ticket touts – sorry, agencies.  Head over to Ticketmaster, I was told, and buy tickets from Friday, 6 March (today, readers of the future), and buy your tickets there.

Of course, all the tickets sold out in double time, and additional dates were added at all of those venues, except the one in London, for some reason.  What they don’t tell you is that ticket agencies are allowed to buy tickets in huge blocks, normally the best seats, to sell them at ridiculous prices to gullible customers in ‘Platinum’ packages.  Live Nation are selling these tickets at… wait for it… eight hundred pounds (UK) each!!!  You can buy a maximum of four tickets, which will cost you about three thousand two hundred pounds!!!  For you and three mates!  It’s unbelievable.  Basically a ‘platinum’ ticket is the gig plus dinner thrown in.  And people are buying them!  Who?  How???

Anyone who has been to a rock concert will know about the touts who go up and down the queues waiting to get into the venue, asking for “any spare tickets, buy or sell.”  These people are the Devil, according to the official sellers, because, of course, they take their profits away from them.

But the online ticket agencies – and I mean you, Ticketmaster, Viagogo, Live Nation, Stub Hub (two thousand pounds per ticket in the front block), and the rest of you – You are scam artists – touts – of the highest order where concert tickets are concerned.  What you practice should be made illegal.  You limit people to four tickets per purchase so that it’s ‘fair,’ but you then slap on anything up to 1000% of the ticket price for your own profit!  It’s wrong.

A few weeks ago, I went to see a Pink Floyd tribute band in Malvern Theatre for twelve pound fifty pence.  This is what I plan to do from now on, you thieves!  I will go to a tribute band concert – in this case, Genesis – rather than see the band themselves.  Only one of them will be playing with real affection for the music, and I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be Genesis. x

 

Wuhan Solo

There is a virus going round the world, and many in my head have been asking me why I have not commented upon it thus far.  The symptoms of that virus are complete and total fear, panic, anxiety, making unreasonable demands upon society, and a refusal to look at the facts.  This virus can affect anyone, but most vulnerable are politicians, the media, the easily led, the intellectually bereft, and just about anyone, really.

The reason I have not yet commented on it is because, well, it’s totally stupid, isn’t it?

Now, I’m not for one moment suggesting that this coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, an infection that can give your lungs a really bad day, is fake.  Far from it.  It is a real disease, the World Health Organisation says so, caused by a virus that jumped species because some idiot in China forgot to wash their hands after handling a bat.  Or a snake, or a cat, whatever it was.

Viruses can do that – jump species, that is.  They don’t often do it, but they can, and, when they feel like it, they do.  Just to flex their DNA muscles, you know.  Let you know who’s Boss*.

So, some cretin handles a diseased bat in an hygienically-bereft market in the back-arse end of Wuhan, China, in the weeks before Christmas.  He or she forgets to wash their hands, then shakes hands with a customer, and within two months, it’s a national emergency in 57 countries.

What makes this disease particularly shitty is its incubation period.  It is thought to be around fourteen days, or up to that limit, before you even show any symptoms, which means you can be infecting people quite happily for a fortnight before you come down with it yourself.  Thus, one week you might have one infection, a week later you could have several hundred.

WARNING: STATISTICS AHEAD.

The nerdally sensitive among you may want to look away now.  Keep scrolling down; I’ll post a line telling you where you can pick up reading from.

The fear that this global series of epidemics is causing is totally out of touch with reality.  Seasonal flu, you know, the influenza that circulates around the world every single year, is caused by a number of different viruses, and a number of different subtypes of those viruses.  There are twelve subtypes of the Influenza A virus which are the most common flu-causing viruses.  The worst of these, H1N1, is actually considered one of the least fatal, but it caused the pandemic of 1918/19, killing anywhere up to 100 million people worldwide; and it caused the 2009/10 pandemic, commonly known as ‘Swine Flu,’ which killed far less people, but still a significant number – around 500,000 people.

If you want to know more about Influenza, and who doesn’t, then I would advise you to check out its Wikipedia page here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Influenza

I understand that this current epidemic is caused by a coronavirus and not an influenza virus, but the virological principles are precisely the same.  Because I’m not here to write about Covid-19 as a disease, but I am here to write about the effect that it has had on us as a global population.

Wuhan, located in the Hubei province of China, is home to about eleven million people.  So, it’s quite a sizeable metropolis in a country that has the world’s largest population, roughly 20% of the entire total of souls living on this Earth at the present time.  The coronavirus probably couldn’t have picked a worse city to perform its little species-jump; probably only Beijing or Shanghai might be the only ones in that country that could have had a more severe outcome.

The coronavirus, which I shall hereafter refer to as ‘the virus,’ was already a significant problem in the city of Wuhan before the world even got to hear about it.  As I understand it, the first cases came to the attention of the Chinese authorities on 1 December 2019.  Case numbers grew further more or less exponentially, but the government did not notify the World Health Organisation until 31 December 2019.

What were the Chinese authorities doing during the intervening 4+ weeks?

Attempting to cover it up, that’s what.

It was felt necessary to protect the reputation of President Xi Jinping than to help those poor individuals who were scared stiff, frankly, and suffering from an illness even the World Health Organisation didn’t know anything about.

If, when this is all over, the world starts looking for someone to blame, as I am sure they will, then this man, the President of the People’s Republic of China, must shoulder the ultimate responsibility for the spread of this virus around the world.

By the time the virus was public knowledge, and it was clear that containment was the only ‘cure’ at the time, he should also have at the very least postponed the celebrations of the Chinese New Year, because it was estimated that half the country’s population would be travelling to meet with family and friends.  As difficult as I am sure it would have been, that would have been the best answer in the long term.  Citizens could at least still be alive to look back and say, ‘Well, at least I’m still alive.’

But no, profits of the companies that sold public transport, a huge cut of which goes to the Central Government, were more important than people’s lives.  And the reputation of the President.

Of course, we don’t know what would have happened, had the Chinese government acted quicker at the start of the outbreak, and informed the World Health Organisation sooner.  But still, since the vast majority of cases at the time of writing (March 2020) are still located within the city of Wuhan and in the province of Hubei, then it’s a safe bet that the numbers would have been much lower.

In the vast majority of infected countries, including the United Kingdom, case numbers are relatively low.  In Britain, for example, we have 53 infections which, being less than one millionth of the population, can hardly be called an epidemic.  But our government knows that that number has the potential to skyrocket any day now.  On the other hand, the numbers may stay low.

But there are certain other countries who are not so fortunate at this time.  South Korea, where a religious cult leader refused to give the names of infected members because he feared persecution (he thinks he’s Jesus), is struggling with over six thousand cases in just two short weeks because of his paranoia.  Why the virus is so virulent in some countries and not others is a mystery.  Their neighbours North Korea do no have any cases at all; it just goes to show that complete isolation from the world does have its advantages every now and then.

Then there is Italy.  The president there has made all sorts of claims in recent weeks, including that the virus circulating there is not the same coronavirus that is attacking the rest of the world, suggesting that it has mutated there.  More than 80 people have died there, and the number looks set to rise very quickly in the coming days.

So, there is some serious shit going down, there’s no denying it, but the kind of panic-buying that has been seen in Australia in the last few days does nobody any good at all.  It seems to me that the media want to keep the panic going because it sells papers/advertising space, and anything that brings them in money.

***YOU CAN READ AGAIN FROM HERE, NERDOPHOBES***

The media should report the facts and not instill panic all across the world.  They’re all doing it, no matter what part of the world you are in, as though they have been struck down by some sort of panic-virus.  Especially in the United Kingdom where, thank God, the virus situation is not too serious at the moment.  The government is right to prepare, and to ask the population to remain hygienic, but they also need to reassure people that relatively few people die from the disease, especially if they have no underlying health conditions.

You know, deep down, everyone has a fear about infectious disease, but most people don’t want to show it for fear of looking stupid.  But now the media has created a sort of institutionalised fear; people now feel free to air their panic in public, because everyone else is.  Everyone is wearing masks – which, by the way, does no good at all in most instances – and they’re wearing them to protect themselves, not to prevent the spread of it to others.  If you’re wearing a mask to protect yourself, take it off; it won’t work.

Yesterday, 3 March, our beloved Prime Minister Boris “BloJo” Johnson, held a press conference in London to launch the Government’s four-stage initiative to combat the virus.  He said – and I bet he never envisaged this during his dreams of ultimate power – we must all wash our hands regularly using hot soapy water, long enough to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.  Great.  Does the Prime Minister know that that particular song is still in copyright, which means that if we sing it in public, we should pay the Performing Rights Society?  I thought not.  See?  Panic means you don’t think through your plans properly.

This is an epidemic of an infectious disease; we’ve had them before, we’ll no doubt have them again.  Just remain calm, look after yourselves, and we’ll get through it. x

Rant Roundup #2

*Written on January 13, 2020:

This decade (don’t start with the whole ‘decade doesn’t start until next year’ shit) is barely two weeks old and already a number of topics have been raised that require my full ranting attention.  In no particular order:

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

This week, the ex-Pope Benedict XVI has co-authored a book which covers one of the key aspects of Catholic clergy, and that is the issue of whether priests should be allowed to marry.

The current pope, Benedict’s successor Francis I, is debating whether to allow priests in a certain region to marry.  This is simply to address the issue of a shortage of priests in that region.

To me, it does seem a bit hypocritical that priests can, or could, potentially be allowed to marry in one region of the world but not in the rest of it, just because there aren’t enough priests there.  Whatever next?  Why not raid the prisons and the drug dens next because there aren’t enough married priests?  In that sense, Pope Benedict is correct, in my view.

BUTUntil 2013, when Benedict retired due to ill-health, and in doing so became the first pope to retire since Gregory XII in 1415, he too went against Catholic doctrine, which has always put popes in office until they draw their last breath.  Just look at Pope John Paul II, Benny’s predecessor, who famously appeared at his window barely able to breathe two or three days before his own death in 2005.

It seems, once again, to be one rule for him and another rule for the rest of us.  Just goes to show you what a crock of hypocritical shit Catholicism – and, indeed, religion in general – really is.  And, in case I get a whole slew of no comments at all on this, just remember before you switch that caps lock on that I am talking about religion and not faith.

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle

This is only likely to be given a shit about by my UK reader, who will no doubt be shocked by the news that, last week, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that they were scaling back their roles as “senior royals,” learn how to earn money for themselves and move to Canada (probably).

The Duke of Sussex is of course Prince Harry, younger brother of our heir to the throne Prince William, and who married former Suits actress Meghan Markle in May of 2018 and has since fathered a son with her that they have named Archie.

Right from the moment this couple announced their engagement, I knew it was a crazy marriage, as did most of the United Kingdom.  It was crazy because it flew against every tradition that the Royal Family has instituted since the days of Victoria.  Recognise any of that, Pope Benedict?

Admittedly, Harry is not in the direct lineage of the British (and Empirical) throne, but the fact that he was allowed to marry an American divorcee did seem a little odd, and I knew there was going to be trouble.  It’s not my view, I don’t care who the Royal Family marry, but since it is the Queen’s view, and that of those around the Royal Family, one knew that trouble was not far behind.

I like both of Charles’ sons, more so than any other member of that family, or indeed the tradition and sense of duty that props them up there.  But William & Harry both went through a great deal at a very difficult age, and I must give full credit to Prince Charles, who divorced their mother but then took charge of the situation when their mother, Princess Diana, was suddenly and surprisingly killed in a car crash in Paris about 10 months after the divorce.

I have a great deal of respect for those two princes, despite Harry’s tendency in his younger days to do some crazy shit like go to a party in a Nazi costume.  I believe everyone can come to regret the stupid things they do, and deserve another go.  And before either of you write a comment like does Hitler deserve another chance, I would have to say, probably not, because he never accepted that was doing was wrong or sought forgiveness either in a spiritual or an Earthly sense.

I thought that Harry had matured since those days.  Turns out he hasn’t.

At least, not in some areas.  He still appears to nurture some degree of jealousy that he missed direct lineage to the English throne by one.  His brother will be king, barring fire, flood and famine, and not him.  And if his brother does something, he wants to prove than he can do it, too.  It’s called sibling rivalry – it’s not exactly uncommon, but some can grow out of it and besides, not everybody has to do it under the scrutiny of such a large media presence documenting their every move, do they?

We know from testimony from her family that Ms Markle, as she was then, was an extremely ambitious, pushy and difficult young lady, and it was telling that no member of her immediate family except her mother was there at the royal wedding.

Even for an American, where else do you go once you become Her Royal Highness?

I wrote the above on January 13, fully intending to finish it that day, but you know how it is, other things pop up that somehow assume priority over a small blog that maybe half a dozen others will have read before you are now perusing this document of no historical significance whatsoever. But I’ve left in because so much has changed in the ensuing ten days that it’s interesting to compare my view of then to that of now.

As always, the end result is nothing like what I imagined, because I am not capable of imagining that which those whose job it is to imagine the impossible can imagine.  In essence, Harry and Meghan have moved to Vancouver, Canada, have been coerced into dropping the use of their royal titles (HRH & HRH), and have, or will, stop receiving money from the public purse for the carrying out of royal and/or military engagements.

OK, the first bit is easy: they’ve moved to Vancouver Island, for several reasons.  Meghan likes it there, she worked in Canada when she was an actress on the US TV series Suits, and they think it’s going to somehow shield them from the attention of the world’s media.  One-nothing to the “royal” couple, says Harry.  We’ll see about that, say the world’s paparazzi photographers.

The second bit is a little more complex.  Many, who do not read between the lines, simply believe that, by dropping the use of their HRH titles, that the “Royal” couple are dropping the titles themselves, as The Duke of Windsor was forced to accept when he married Mrs Wallis Simpson, an American divorcée, in 1937.  He was allowed to use the term, His Royal Highness, but his wife was not allowed to use the female equivalent.  The next thing you know, Prince Harry marries an American divorcée, and he drops his ‘n’ hers HRH titles and moves to Canada.  Smacks of form, don’t you think?

Except it doesn’t.  Just because the “Royal” couple have stated that they are no longer using their royal titles, it doesn’t mean that they are being forced, or even voluntarily, giving up those titles.  They can still use Their Royal Highnesses if they want to, or if they feel like changing their minds – although I’ve a feeling that if they did, the Queen would have something to say about that.  Furthermore, they are still The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, can use Sussex as their surnames if they so wish – indeed, for their son, Archie, as well – although his surname, as written on his birth certificate, is Mountbatten-Windsor, the correct surname for members of this current royal family.  But it’s going to be a while before we can call them plain old Mr & Mrs Mountbatten-Windsor.

The third part is perhaps the most disturbing and confusing part of all for the British taxpayer.

Harry & Meghan’s statement included the fact that they would no longer receive money from the ‘public purse’ for the carrying out of duties, both civil and military, on behalf of the Queen and the royal family.  Essentially, they are all on benefits.  Prince Charles, Harry’s father, receives his income from the Duchy of Cornwall, and that is considered a “private” income; indeed, it is.

In exchange for shaking hands with loads of babies – or is it kissing loads of pensioners? – the Royal family get, oh, millions of pounds given to them every year out of the public purse, get to live and travel in the utmost luxury and privilege, and, should they get sick, they get given treatment far and away more quickly and of a higher standard than someone, aged 82, stuck on a hospital gurney in a dark corridor for 27 hours with nothing to do, no-one to help them, and frequently in a state of great confusion and fear.

And don’t give me that shit about them bringing in loads of money every year in tourism.  It’s not enough.  Yes, you might have guessed, I’m fairly anti-royal.  Not as people, I’m sure they’re all very lovely people, and I wish them all the best on a personal level, but with the concept of royalty as, well, a concept.  And as a financial responsibility upon the state.

Those in the Royal family cannot help being born into it any more than I can help being a powerless ranter, venting impotently on WordPress.  It’s not their fault, and no-one is blaming them personally for their situation, or indeed any member of any royal family across the world.

But it’s us, the fawning masses who have decided, because we innately need someone to rule and be our god on Earth, if you will, that certain individuals and bloodlines are so much more entitled to life’s little luxuries and preferential treatments, who are at fault.

We have said, you must lead us.  Except that today, of course, we are so much more enlightened, and we don’t really want hereditary rulers, thank you very much, we’d rather elect them, and we’ll set up our own rules for that.  But… we’re too scared to let you go formally, what if… we’re wrong?  We’ll keep on on as constitutional figureheads, if that’s OK.  What?  Oh, you’ll be paid well, don’t worry about it.  Where’s the money coming from?  Don’t worry about that, either, we’ll just shave a little bit off other areas, they’ll hardly notice it, and you can still have your gold carriages, servants to undress you, and the power and privilege to get pretty much anything you want.

Just ask Prince Andrew.

But, the thing is, and this has been talked about in the media, that money from the taxpayer, their Universal Credit, if you like, that they are giving up, only really constitutes something in the region of 5% of their wealth, and they still get to keep the other 95%, which comes from private sources, none of which they have to work for.  Daddy pays him a little, just to tidy them over in yachts, bullet-proof cars and so forth, and it seems that estimates of their wealth can range anywhere between 25 and 40 million U.S. dollars!

Furthermore, it has come to my attention here at Rant Music HQ that certain elements of the media are ‘leaking’ stories that Meghan was forced to quit the UK because of ‘racism.’  If Meghan truly believes that, she can f*** off.  In my view she would be insulting the many who have been the true victims of racism in this and other countries of the world by claiming that, well, what exactly?, was aimed at her as a direct consequence of her race.  And besides that, even though I of course accept that idiotic individuals might have made racist comments about her down the pub, that surely does not constitute enough grounds for her to leave the country with her son and husband who just happens to be sixth in line to the throne of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth – which includes many nations of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds – would it?

Although I think his use of the word ‘boring’ was somewhat rash and ill-advised, I otherwise fully endorse the words of the actor Laurence Fox on Question Time (BBC) last week.  The so-called ‘Twitter Storm’ (*the new name for ‘Storm in a Teacup’) that ensued as a result of that comment is simply a faked backlash from people with nothing better to do than rant aimlessly at their friends with all the false horror of those who simply must have something to be horrified by or judgemental about.  What do you mean, me?

I have a deep wish that we could one day see beneath the skin and look at the person beneath, in all cases, and in all walks of life.  That’s idealist, I know, but it’s what I look forward to.  If there is an afterlife, I don’t think race will matter, and if there isn’t, I don’t think the worms will be picky what race you are.  I have to be careful phrasing things in order not to offend the overly sensitive, if anyone ever reads this, that is, not because of my own views on it.  But, you cannot change the past, and in the past, there have been many, many shameful incidents and examples of racism – especially by those who were European or of European descent, but not exclusively so, that we should not forget, but not act as if we were the ones victimised by it ourselves.

We remember slavery, for example, and God forbid that it should ever happen again in any culture in any part of the world, but nothing Meghan Markle has experienced could ever equate to that.

The Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump

It’s started.  Senators and Congressmen and women are arguing already.  President Trump has issued many statements denouncing it as a fraudulent and frivolous exercise.

I for one hope that Trump is unceremoniously removed from office, but all that means is we have a President Pence instead.  And in that case, you won’t get many Pence to the pound.  He’ll just do what Trump tells him to do.  So, is it better to leave him in office and risk his losing the election in November?  That’s a gamble, especially when you consider the dregs that the Democratic Party are once again throwing up as a potential opponent to Trump’s reelection campaign.  True, they’ve got Bernie Sanders, but he stands no chance of candidature, since he will be 78 next birthday, campaigning for four, possibly eight years as president?  I have nothing against it, I don’t think age should matter, but when you’re campaigning for office at the highest level, that’s going to be a tough sell for the American people.  Who else have they got?  Oh yes, Joe Biden???!!!

Come on.

Whoever is selected better get some good people around them feeding them great ideas for slogans, catchphrases and balloons and stuff that the public can quickly latch on to, because otherwise we are looking at four more years of Trump.

World War Flu…Bless You!

Whenever a new virus or bacteria is discovered in animals, there is always the worry, what if it affects us?  Never mind the animals’ welfare and wellbeing, what about us???  Then, of course, the virus does make the jump from animal to human, because they are usually kept in such depraved conditions that the squalor around them makes it easy for the virus, always mutating to ensure its survival, a bit like Boris Johnson really, to jump into and infect the human race.

And it’s no coincidence that many of the so-called ‘killer viruses’ have started their sweep around the world in China, whose disrespect for animal life and their treatment in the day-to-day order of things seems to be so much dirtier and horrific than many other parts of the world.

And this latest virus, which made the jump to the human race at the end of December 2019, and which is called – well, they don’t have a catchy acronym such as ‘SARS’ yet for it, but I’m sure someone will think of something really dreadful and obvious, a bit like the illness itself.  ‘CARS,’ maybe, since it started in China…

I am sure that public health officials in China, and indeed the rest of the world, are doing their utmost to contain this virus which, on the surface, looks and feels like the common cold, but is distinguished from that unpleasant and largely harmless condition by potentially leading to pneumonia and, possibly, death.  And it’s that last bit that seems to have got everyone’s attention.

If you read the headlines of this morning’s tabloid papers, you’d think that apocalypse was already on its way, when in reality it has been proved to be nothing of the kind.  At least, not yet, it hasn’t.  Medical authorities could still contain the virus, and attempts are being made to do so by shutting down travel outside of the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it is alleged to have started in the human race.

The Metro: CHINA VIRUS ‘ON THE WAY HERE.’

The Sun: WORLD WAR FLU: 10,000 Infected by ‘SNAKE BUG.’

Daily Mail: UK ON KILLER VIRUS ALERT.

The Times doesn’t even have it on its front page, neither does The Daily Telegraph, except for a small paragraph about it that you can hardly read.

It’s irresponsible journalism from the tabloids, headlines specifically written to engender fear and alarm among those who don’t know any better.  It’s all about, ‘never mind them, what about us?’ again, isn’t it?  A sense, perhaps, that as long as it’s far away, nobody here is going to care, and there’s nothing else to scare them with, so let’s just say it’s on the way here and it’s going to affect you!.

Firstly, we don’t know that, it could well be, but we simply don’t have the evidence to support it, so to lead with the headline ‘UK on Killer Virus Alert’ is just ridiculous.  Certainly precautions are being taken, and rightly so.

Secondly, it’s not a ‘killer virus.’  Again, it may well turn out to be, I can’t say it won’t, but I can’t say that it is, either, as though the chief headline writer for Sun, armed with nothing but an Apple Mac and Wikipedia, knows better than the Chinese medical authorities – or indeed the UK ones, for that matter.

Court Caught

On the BBC News website is an update on the situation surrounding the case of former tennis legend Margaret Courtwho, fifty years ago, in 1970, won all four of tennis’ ‘grand slam’ tournaments in the same year.

Court, now 77 years of age, is about as far removed from tennis as you can get these days, she is a baptist minister, who uses her fame and privilege as a means by which she can spread her views on all sorts of issues from gay marriage to the teaching of LGBT rights in school as ‘the work of the devil.’

She’s an idiot.  But I respect her right to hold her own views, however idiotic they may be.  I despise political correctness with a passion.  Fuck it.  The politically-correct movement today thinks itself so powerful that it can object to someone’s views and make them stop just because it’s offending them.  What happens is you just ignore them; they will soon go away.  That’s what my Mum told me when I was bullied at school.  When bullies don’t get the attention they want, they f*** off and try to bully someone else, or become baptist ministers.  Or activists for political correctness.

I am not suggesting for a moment that I support or endorse Margaret Court’s comments; merely that she does have a human right to express them, just as we have a human right to ignore them.  What right do these politically-correct bullies have to stop expression of anything they don’t like ‘to protect our children.’  It’s always about the children, isn’t it, when it’s truthfully about themselves, children are just waved in front of the guns to try and make the other side stop, almost as a kind of weapon in themselves.

That said, of course, politically-correct activists also have the right to express themselves in a healthy, robust manner, don’t they?  What gives some old lady who happened to be a tennis champion fifty years ago the right to judge the behaviour of others, who are her equals in this world, based on a work of fiction – The Bible –  written thousands of years ago, before we even had smartphones.  My advice to either one of you would be to ignore her, like I’ve just done… well, someone’s got to do it, haven’t they?  Jesus H. Christ on a Union Jack Scooter, life’s complicated, isn’t it…x

 

Some Policy Ideas for Dominic Cummings

Dear Worshipper(s):

Yesterday, state-controlling media announced that the UK Prime Minister’s right ear, Dominic Cummingswrote a blog detailing his vision for government moving forward, and in particular the rôle of non-elected, anonymous civil servants in that vision.  In addition, he projected the rather frightening view that government could be shaken up in any way that he sees fit, and that he wants to see government policy experts, database and project managers, and weirdos and misfits.

Seeing that I see myself as belonging firmly in the misfit category, I took it upon myself to write a letter in the form of an email to Mr Cummings, who clearly makes no bones about his being the controlling arm of Boris Johnson’s particular brand of puppetry, and send it.  However, on reflection, I decided not to send it as a regular email, it would get lost in the millions of similar ‘spoof’ applications that Mr Cummings would no doubt be receiving right now.  Better to copy it here and then send Mr Cummings a link to it.

So, I reproduce my reply here for your edification.  Perhaps either of you readers could suggest to me whether I send it, or indeed if not to send it where I should put it.  The only caveat I would add that, wherever you want me to shove it, the sun must be shining there:

Dear Mr Cummings:

I am 53 years old and on my last legs.

I wonder if I may have a job in the Civil Service working under you for the time being, because I have a ton of great ideas that, were they to be implemented, would leave the country under Tory rule for the next century or more.

I have not worked for 15 years because I have a condition called Fibromyalgia, which attacks the nervous system in such a way as it thinks it can’t do anything.  A bit like Labour, really.

In addition, and furthermore, I have anxiety and depression which has kept me almost housebound for that length of time, except for the times I went out.  When it strikes, it’s a crippling, nasty condition.  However, I feel I can begin to address this by putting the country right.

If I may, I will lay out a few policy ideas below which I believe can bring the country back up off its knees and draw the best out of us as a nation.  They include:

  • A complete removal of Parliament.  It is no longer needed.  I believe the Prime Minister used the word ‘irrelevant,’ or something like that.  I cannot now remember.  Prior to the election on 12 December, I had thought of there being a clean sweep of members of Parliament, inasmuch as all those who were sitting MPs before the election, would not be allowed to stand for their constituencies.  A complete new House of Commons (government excepted, of course).  However, this did not happen and the same lot of clueless, bumbling battery of buffoonery was elected. 

 

  • A one-party state.  We are already halfway to this, so why not go all the way?  Labour, instead of taking the opportunity to shoot the opposition, ended up turning the gun on themselves and blasting themselves to Kingdom Come.  The Prime Minister will still have to tolerate Mr Corbyn sitting across the dispatch box for the time being, but he will be completely and totally ineffective as an opposition to government, as leader of his own party, as an MP, and… lots of other things.  Besides, when the HoC is swept clean, he will be thrown out with the rubbish.

 

  • The Prime Minister must take complete control of all government decisions.  While members of the Cabinet can of course advise the Prime Minister, and continue responsibility for their respective departments, it is Mr Johnson who must make all decisions of government.  If they succeed, Mr Johnson will be the greatest British Prime Minister that ever lived.  If they fail, it’s the individual Cabinet member’s fault.  

 

  • The public, via the media, must be told that any form of dissent will not be tolerated.  The police will be given added powers to arrest and instantly sentence people to a specific term of imprisonment for violent misconduct, and any civil unrest must be treated with an iron fist.  

 

  • Speaking of media, the government must take over all media outlets, including the internet, so that only government policy can be expressed through newspapers, television news, and web media.  All media will broadcast state propaganda, concerning the return of public services to government ownership, one-party state, and prog rock music.  There is a band called Spiral Planet who get played occasionally on Forest of Dean radio, whose music is most definitely prog, with leanings towards teaching its audience about climate change, astrophysics, human emotion and inflatable robotic women that would be ideal as a distraction for the audience while we adopt these policies that will appear to be dictatorial but in reality for their benefit.  We need: one internet supplier, offering download speeds just enough for people to get government propaganda and access to the Spiral Planet (band) Facebook page; two radio stations – one for speech and ‘discussion,’ and one to play Spiral Planet’s music and interview the band; one TV station, broadcasting government propaganda and Spiral Planet’s YouTube videos (YouTube itself will be taken down, along with everything else except the Government’s and Spiral Planet’s respective Facebook pages.  Interaction and all messages will have to be scrutinised carefully so that only government-approved opinions can be aired, and no unrest is encouraged.  This is for the benefit of the public, you understand.  

 

  • No mobile phones allowed.  Phone boxes will be reintroduced.  Again, enormous expense at initial outlay, but the long-term cost will be much cheaper.  Companies in which Cabinet members, their friends and relatives, have shares can only be used.  Take the money and run, I say.

 

  • All social media, blogs (except those of government employees) must be taken down if they contravene government policy in any way.  The presentation to the outside world must be of a happy and carefree life here in Britain, and any reports of unrest or disorder that do somehow escape the media embargo are complete falsehoods.  By the way, if the individual leaking any false or fake news is caught, which extra police and military powers could be brought in to deal with, then the iron fist mentioned in the earlier point will be brought down on them.

 

  • The Prime Minister must take complete and direct control of the military, who can assist (or even take over from) the police in discharging their duties.  Military weaponry can also be used to beat back dissenters.  Unfortunately, it may be necessary to sacrifice some dissenters in order to benefit the population as a whole.  The public must realise we are not fooling.  

 

  • All public services must be brought under direct government control.  This is not nationalisation; it simply means that members of the cabinet, and perhaps their civil servants, can fight among themselves as to which public service they wish to profit from.  Parliamentary profit from the public purse has caused scandal before, but as you are no doubt aware, the stink dies down after a while and nobody cares anymore.  Why worry?  The government can do what it wants, and nobody can protest about it because the government has given itself powers via the military to crack down on protesters.  And the media will have been more or less silenced vis a vis policy opposition.

 

  • Billions of pounds will need to be spent on the NHS, schools, libraries and other public services to bring them back to the standards they were back in the 1980s.  Or even better.  The public need perfect public property in order to create the illusion that the government cares about them, which it plainly does not.  How can the public be convinced (for the time being) that the government is working for them if their public services are shit?  They need good, clean hospitals, surgeries that don’t give you a stroke trying to book a bloody appointment, and treatment for their condition without running the risk of coming out of hospital with a bacterial condition that nobody can spell.

 

  • Furthermore, the government must also look after the environment.  Climate change is very real and can cause some pretty dangerous situations.  Just take a look at Australia.  The prime minister there is walking around pretending to care and he’s not even a very good actor.  Look what he is allowing his underlings to do to him.  And the way the public talked to him!  That, too, must be stopped here.  As before, the police and the army must be able to have the power to arrest, and lock up there and then those who wish to abuse the Prime Minister and/or make him feel that he is in any danger.  In the UK we need to ensure that the countryside is kept in a beautiful state so that government members, their staff and families can enjoy buying up hundreds of thousands of acres of land at a massive bargain.  This would probably mean taking land from their rightful owners, by force if necessary (police & military, etc.) but we would only be doing it for the good of the nation, and for the good of the environment.  Again, the Prime Minister must take personal responsibility for getting rid of all the rubbish generated by the public in an environmentally friendly and ecological way.  He’s got to give an example to the population, who just don’t seem to be getting it.  

 

  • Oh yes, the last general election must be the last general election.  We cannot get all these things done with the prospect of another election in five years, or even less if we allow the public to pressure Parliament into a second referendum on EU membership, or even another election if MPs, including Conservative ones, lose confidence in the government.  A one-party state can rule for as long as it wants to – or have elections where there is only one candidate, or possibly multiple candidates with only one that has any chance of winning.  A Conservative and two or three armchair politicians pulled out at random from a hat.  It seems to me that is what was going on in a lot of constituencies anyway last December.  This goes back to my original point about the destruction of Parliament as a building and as the illusion of democracy that it has been for so many years.  

Mr Cummings, I hope the above will give you a few ideas, some of them perhaps radical, but this is what is needed after years of Labour rule under Blair and Brown – the former being a war criminal who should be arrested and put on the first plane out to The Hague as quickly as possible.  Mr Cameron was PM for five years – a nice bloke but he almost broke the nation with his silly referendum idea, and he has taken no responsibility for what he has done.

I further hope that you will consider employing me as one of your underlings.  I would need some assistance from the point of view of my disability, with perhaps even the consideration of working from home if that can be arranged.  I can send you any ideas you wish via WhatsApp (which will have to be taken over by the government), Skype (same) and FaceTime (same).

Government austerity will be cranked up and yes, some areas (like the North) will be sacrificed with food shortages, starvation and complete lack of jobs.  But they can be sacrificed with the secure knowledge that at least the South can enjoy itself with all the luxuries that life can offer.  I propose the North/South divide around the Birmingham area.

Would the above ideas fit in with your policies?  It seems to me from media reports that they will, and I am very excited to see you implement these at the earliest opportunity.

I look forward to hearing from you very soon.  My CV is attached.

With best wishes,

Sincerely,
Stephen Butler
Dymock, Gloucestershire (come and find me; I’ll be waiting).

These are fairly reasonably requests, I feel, for Mr Cummings to take on board and use for the ‘new style of government’ he is after.  I’ll not go through his blog in great detail, if you want to take a poke at it, you can do so here:

‘Two hands are a lot’ — we’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos…

Straight away, he sets out his stall: government’s great, he says, but there are fundamental problems that need to be addressed now, because we are a government with a significant majority with little need to worry about short-term unpopularity in order to make progress with long-term problems.

Further down, he tells us that he wants to make himself ‘much less important.’  I don’t think so.  I think he wants to make himself much more important, the guru of a load of junior misfits whose job it is to take the shit when things go wrong so that he can go and hide underground.

My advice to both of my fans is: don’t apply.  If you do, you’ll become part of the Fascist machine that Cummings is in the process of creating.  Think I’m wrong?  Look at the things that he has ordered his boss, the Prime Minister, to do.  Hold a general election, not a second referendum.  That way, you can claim a ‘significant majority,’ in Parliament, but with just 43% of the vote.  None of your old democratic crap, like getting more than half, to run your agenda through without opposition.  No; in other words, the opposition has no voice despite achieving 57% of the overall vote.  But the difference is, that 57% didn’t all vote for the same party, plus the fact many deserted the Labour party in their droves.  So, Labour gifted Boris Johnson the election, and killed themselves off as an effective opposition in one fell swoop.  No wonder they don’t want to change the electoral system!  

For the first time, we are faced with a government that is absolutely unequivocal about the destruction it is about to wreak on the country.  And at the centre of it all, like an Iago, or even a Judas, is Dominic Cummings, pulling the strings and now looking for folk with strange talents to assist him as he begins to wage war on democracy, and turn Boris Johnson into a sort of European Robert Mugabe, which I’m sure he didn’t intend to be but will soon end up that way.

I have an odd talent – I can recreate historical buildings and artefacts using only toilet rolls – does that qualify me for a rôle in the civil service at the heart of government?

I think it might. x

Donald J. Trump: James & the Giant Impeach

Now that the General Election is over with, with the Tories winning their third victory since 2015 after the Fixed Term Parliament Act was introduced eight years ago (go figure), we must await the inevitable utter destruction of the United Kingdom once Brexit happens and Boris Johnson is able to exact his revenge on all those opponents, political or otherwise, who voted to Remain and those who stood in his way in the three years since the Referendum.

Yes, I realise that Johnson has only been prime minister since July 2019, but don’t forget, he argued the case for Leaving the EU in the run-up to the 2016 Referendum, and has been very vocal about implementing it ever since.  He also referred to Parliament as having ‘outlived its usefulness,’ which is very scary indeed.

But don’t get me started again on that.  We are here to discuss other matters, probably for the first time in a year or more.  We are here to talk about another popular topic in my head: Donald J. Trump.

Trump’s appointment as US President has always been contentious.  We all know who he is, what he does, and how he does it; we don’t need to go over all that, do we?

Unless you’ve been living at the far end of the Milky Way for the last year or so, you will be aware of the fact that Trump is facing impeachment, that little clause in the US Constitution that allows for the removal of a sitting president if and when it is felt that he (or she) is getting ideas above his (or her) station.

I’ve read it a number of times, but I still don’t get why it is that Trump tried to use the Ukrainian President to slag off Joe Biden in exchange for some money that the US would release in aid to Ukraine, which they badly needed over there.

If, and I repeat if, Trump did this, it is a clear abuse of power, and he should be removed from office, there’s no question of that in my mind.  I don’t know if recordings of said phone conversation have been released.  I know that the White House released a so-called transcript of the call, but have we heard the call itself?  The transcript is saccharine, almost as though it were written by a computer program; a guide for presidents as to what to say when speaking to your counterpart in another country.  It can’t possibly be all that transpired between the two leaders, could it?

Trump is accused not only of abuse of power, but of obstructing the subsequent inquiry.  This, I have no doubt, is true, because we’ve all seen the evidence for it in the news as the heat increased on Trump and impeachment hearings looked ever more likely.  Trump stood in the way of investigators almost from the very beginning.  Who knows, he may even have released a fake transcript of the call between himself and Zelensky.  It would certainly be ironic that a president with such a massive beef about fake news would be so instrumental in creating fake news of his own.

Impeachment, as an inquiry in itself, will almost certainly go ahead.  Why?  Because, as ever, this isn’t so much about making sure that the presidency is kept pure and trustworthy, but more about politicians playing politics in front of the American people as their audience.

The House of Representatives, which is debating the impeachment as I write.  And the House is run by Democrats, and their Speaker is Nancy Pelosi, one of the most famous Democrats in America.  She wants Trump out of office – I don’t think you would need the services of Sherlock Holmes to work that one out.  And the Democratic Party want Trump out of office – they’ll never forgive him for the way he treated Hillary Clinton during the campaign and for the fact that he beat her to the presidency despite getting four million votes less than her across the country.

So, Trump is pretty certain to be impeached.  But – will the impeachment be successful and Trump kicked out of office?  That is much less likely, because in order to be impeached, the vote must get a two-thirds majority in the Senate, and the Senate is controlled by the Republican Party – Trump’s party of choice (despite the fact that he was a registered Democrat in the 1980’s).  I would be very surprised if they got a vote to dismiss out of the Senate.  Very surprised indeed.

And I have to agree with Trump that this is all about politics, and the result of a personal beef between Nancy Pelosi and Donald J. Trump.  Something is going on there that we, the humble public, don’t know about.

Only two presidents in the history of the United States have ever faced impeachment: Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln’s successor, was tried in 1868 for something very minor like sacking someone on fake grounds or something like that; in 1998, President Bill Clinton was impeached because he (allegedly) lied to the American people about his affair with Monica Lewinsky – basically so his wife didn’t find out – and he (allegedly) asked Miss Lewinsky to lie, too.

Neither impeachment was successful – in other words, no sitting president has ever been sacked.  Now, before you all mention Richard Nixon, don’t forget that Nixon resigned from office in August 1974 before impeachment proceedings could be brought against him over the Watergate scandal of 1972.

Of course, stranger things have happened in life, but I will be extremely surprised if Trump, after proceedings have been brought against him, he is found to be corrupt and asked to pack his shit up and go.  As I said, very surprised indeed.  As I write, the House is debating impeachment, and I cannot be arsed to wait until the result comes through before posting this.  I’m sure I will be coming back to this topic in the not too distant future. x

The Hard Left’s Hard Lesson

The reasons behind Boris Johnson’s stunning victory in the December 2019 General Election can be analysed in three words: Jeremy Fucking Corbyn.

When Corbyn was elected leader of the UK’s Labour Party in September 2015, many, myself included, expressed great delight; at last, someone on the left who would restore the party to its core traditional values of nationalisation of public services, end austerity cuts wherever possible and a less interventionist approach to military strategy abroad.  He had been put forward for candidacy simply to give the left of the party a voice; MPs wanted as broad a political debate within the Labour Leadership contest as possible.

When Theresa May, then Prime Minister, called a snap general election in June 2017, Labour, under Corbyn, was able to increase its vote share to 40%, and force Mrs May to do a deal with the DUP in order to stay in government.  And this was after his own party had forced him into a second leadership contest the previous year, which he also won.  From the outsider’s point of view, Corbyn seemed right for the leadership, and it wouldn’t be long – five years, according to the Fixed-Term Parliament Act of 2011 – before he would be Prime Minister.

The confusing issue for me was: how come, if he was so unpopular within his own party, he was twice elected its leader?

Even Wikipedia, which could hardly be described as having an anti-Corbyn agenda, points out the fact that any member of the public who supported Labour, could register as affiliated members for the princely sum of three pounds Sterling, and therefore vote in any leadership election.  Corbyn won by a landslide – even without these additional voters – achieving a 49.6% share of the full-member vote.  Furthermore, in the space of just a few weeks after Corbyn was elected leader, membership of the party almost doubled.

Then came the EU Referendum on 23 June 2016.

Three days after the country voted by a narrow margin to Leave the EU, Corbyn sacked Hilary Benn because it turned out that he had been organising a mass resignation of Shadow Cabinet members in order to force Corbyn to resign.  Nevertheless, nine members of the Shadow Cabinet did resign, and the Labour Party was now in open civil war.

Soon after the Referendum result, Corbyn lost a vote of no confidence among Labour MPs by a margin of more than four to one.  It was then we began to see the ‘real’ Jeremy Corbyn for the first time.  He argued that the vote had no constitutional legitimacy and he would carry on as leader.

Within 24 hours of the Referendum result, both of the UK’s major political parties, Conservative and Labour, were in meltdown.  David Cameron, whose idea this whole mess was, and had supported Remain (as did Corbyn), resigned as Prime Minister soon after the result was known.  Jeremy Corbyn was all but kicked out of his job as Labour leader, except that he refused to go.

During the next three years, MPs tried and failed to ‘get Brexit done.’  Silly parliamentary tricks were employed, such as voting abstentions ordered by Corbyn, to stop Brexit legislation going through.  Little else could be achieved in Parliament, because Brexit was dominating everything.  And Mrs May’s inability to get her legislation through Parliament was dominating all of that.  Indeed, Parliamentary trickery meant that the initial date for the UK’s departure from the EU, 29 March 2019, passed by without a deal and without our departure.  The EU granted an extension to 31 October.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, were having issues of their own; Theresa May was forced to resign over her ineffectiveness in dealing with the Brexit problem.  In came Boris Johnson in July 2019.  From the start, he pledged to have the UK out of the EU by its new date, 31 October 2019.

Johnson’s luck fared no better; he tried to get the necessary Brexit legislation through Parliament, and he was blocked at every turn.  Well, we’ll leave anyway, regardless of what Parliament says.  You can’t do that, said Corbyn (and others), that’s not democratic.  Oh, and you’re being democratic in calling for a second referendum, cried Johnson.

The Prime Minister refused to budge on the departure date, after Corbyn said that MPs needed more time to debate it.  Eventually, at the 11th hour, Johnson finally relented on asking the EU for a further delay, as long as Parliament agreed to vote in favour of another general election.  It was childish stuff.  Johnson wrote to the EU saying it was Parliament’s wish to gain a further extension, not his.  The EU granted this delay, now until 31 January 2020.  Johnson ordered a general election to be held on 12 December 2019, the first December election since 1923, and the third one since the Fixed-Term Parliament Act was passed just eight years ago.

I should point out that the negative media coverage of Jeremy Corbyn, particularly since the 2017 election, has been relentless.  The guy is stubborn, there’s no doubt of that.  He has held on to the leadership where many would have let go.  And his support for the lower paid, the working class, the less fortunate in society, is admirable, as is his support for re-nationalisation of public services and for an end to austerity wherever possible.

BUT2019 turned out to be a very bad year for Mr Corbyn.  In February, a number of Labour MPs, including potential leadership candidate Chuka Umunna, resigned from the party and formed The Independent Group.  They were disinclined to accept the party’s left-leaning policies, and more importantly, allegations of antisemitism within the party’s membership.

While these allegations could not be directly proven, the Labour leadership’s (i.e., Corbyn’s), ineffectiveness in dealing with the situation risked “…lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally antisemitic” (Boffey, Daniel; Sherwood, Harriet (16 October 2016). “Jeremy Corbyn accused of incompetence by MPs over antisemitic abuse”The Observer.)

In April 2019, the Jewish Labour Movement passed a motion of no confidence in Corbyn’s leadership, while six members of the House of Lords resigned from the party.  Corbyn has, in fact, repeatedly condemned antisemitism, but it wasn’t enough; there seems to be little factual evidence to support any theory that he is in any way antisemitic, or misogynistic, but nevertheless these allegations continued to persist.

However, there was greater evidence for Corbyn’s previous support for the end of British rule in Northern Ireland.  Several times during the 1980’s he was pictured with senior members of Sinn Fein, the so-called (alleged) political wing of the IRA.  Corbyn opposed the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985, but supported the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.  More seriously than that, Corbyn has repeatedly declined in interviews to condemn the use of violence by the IRA during the Troubles of the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.

All of the above is a very brief analysis of the reasons behind the opposition within the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.  But at the end of it all, some mysteries do remain; if he is so unpopular, how was he elected twice?  Where is the evidence for his so called antisemitism and misogyny? An article titled ‘Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite,’ appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 5 December 2019, but provided no evidence of same, smily accusing him of presiding while other members of the party were (allegedly) offensive to Jewish colleagues, according to the Jewish Labour Movement’s submission to an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

At the end of the day, Corbyn has been damned by media pressure, and by opposition to his direction to take Labour more to its origins in the political left, with all its faults.  Nobody is perfect, and no political ideology is either, but I supported Corbyn’s core value of treating everybody equally, but offering particular consideration to those in society who have been less fortunate than others.

Corbyn has not had the strength of character, charisma, call it what you will, to successfully challenge these criticisms of him.  He has been knocked from pillar to post, and seems unwilling to do anything about it except to say, “I’m staying, and you can’t stop me.”

Even now, after Labour’s worst election defeat since 1935, Corbyn refuses to stand down immediately.  He says he will not fight the next election, but that could be five years from now.  It is clear now that Corbyn must go, and a new direction found for the party.  In my view, it is necessary for all sides – left, centre and right – to make concessions and find a unified direction forward so that Labour can mount a serious challenge for government at the next election.  Otherwise, they are doomed to repeat the eighteen years they spent in the political wilderness between 1979 and 1997 with a further eighteen years – maybe more – without a sniff of power.  It is also clear that a leader has to come from the political ‘centre ground,’ with understanding and empathy for both sides of the political argument.

Unfortunately, Jeremy Corbyn’s stubbornness, lack of character and unwillingness to challenge some of the more unsavoury aspects of the Labour movement’s membership, has brought Labour to its knees and allowed Boris Johnson to claim the so-called ‘Red Wall’ – the row of constituencies in the north of England stretching from North Wales to the east coast – in December 2019.  These constituencies have been Labour for decades – one for 130 years – before Brexit and dissatisfaction with Corbyn forced them to vote Conservative, many for the first time in their lives, their parents’ lives, and in some cases their great-grandparents’ lives.  Boris Johnson, disgusting character that he is, does not even need to take the blame for Labour’s defeat in the election, he didn’t have to do anything.  Jeremy Corbyn did it all for him.

x

Once Again… Deal or No Deal?

Today is the day we find out whether the United Kingdom is fucked or not.

Saturday, October 19, 2019, a date that will live on in infamy.  The BBC have sold this to the nation good and proper.  They have essentially told us that, well, Parliament is likely to reject the deal that Prime Minister BloJo got off the EU this week, because it’s essentially the same as Theresa May’s deal, but with a different line down the Irish Sea.

But, almost in the very next sentence, they have said, but you never know, Parliament might just vote in favour of it…

All I know is, from a personal perspective, I leave for Los Angeles on Monday morning, a citizen of the EU, and return two weeks later a citizen of the UK.  I think they have told me that I can still use my old passport to return, but I’m going to have to get a new one if I want to leave the UK again at any time in the future.

The deal is, just as May’s deal was, a sell-out, a compromise, a shafting to all those who voted either way (OK, maybe not those who didn’t vote; how can you be shafted if you don’t offer yourself for a shafting?).  Three years of arguing, fighting, in-fighting, former friends falling out, friends and lovers calling it a day based on a difference of opinion over whether we should be ruled by one town or another one.

And Boris Johnson’s deal, especially if you hail from the great province of Northern Ireland, or indeed their Irish cousins in the Republic, who are most definitely staying in the EU, has most definitely shafted you because you may feel that your vote in the 2016 Referendum counts for nothing.  Or, for those in the Republic, you may feel that your dear cousins up there in Northern Ireland voted for you to be tied to a non-EU state, i.e. the UK, despite your wishing to remain in the EU and have nothing to do with countries that actively want to leave it.  Despite there being no ‘hard border’ between North and South, goods and people are still going to have to be checked either way because otherwise – and the Tories are going to hate this – people could come in and out of the UK illegally through these non-checked borders as a way of getting in or out of the EU.  Other unchecked items such as, I don’t know, drugs and so forth could also very easily make their way in and out of the EU.  Guns, knives bought off the dark web for eleven-year-olds to take into school with them.  Great big, eighteen-inch meat cleavers that might be ever-so handy to have about your person should you be gripped by that uncontrollable urge to knife your geography teacher through the neck and pull out his lungs one by one.   All of that may now be possible once these tariffs and border checks are not in place between north and south.

Now, you might say, that’s already possible, but since most of those deadly guns and other assorted weaponry comes from the USA, then actually it’s going to be easier to get them into the UK.  Anyhoo, that’s a separate argument for another day.

This is one area in which I agree with Labour leader Jeremy “don’t call me Jezza-bel” Corbyn.  Mr Corbyn has systematically disproved every single thing I thought and wrote about him after his election to the post in 2015.  I thought he was the great hope for Labour after the Tories defeated them in the election that year, paving the way for the referendum the following year.

Unfortunately, Mr Corbyn was nothing of the kind.  His biro-in-my-pocket shtick quickly became tiresome, and it also turned out that he and other members of his party held some rather deeply disturbing pro-Palestinian views in which Jews were not given much airtime, let’s put it that way.

But when Mr Corbyn said yesterday that this deal is worse than Theresa May’s, I had to agree.  Yes, Jezza-bel, I said to the TV almost before I realised I had said it. But, I then retorted to the image of Mr Corbyn who made no attempt at making eye contact with the camera – and, de facto, me.

OK.  I can’t remember what I’ve explained in previous blogs, so forgive me if I repeat myself, but here’s what’s going to happen today (Saturday):  Parliament is meeting on a Saturday for the first time since the Falklands War back in 1982.  That’s 37 years in old money.   And they’re doing it to vote on BloJo’s deal with the EU as explained above.  If the vote is carried, then legal ins and outs are carried out, Boris rubs his hands with glee, and we leave the EU on October 31, God help us.  If the deal is not carried, then by law Johnson must go to the EU and ask for an extension – which, he has said on many occasions he will not do and the top brass over in Brussels have said they wouldn’t grant it even if he did.

This puts the Prime Minister in a bit of a pickle.  He refuses to ask for an extension, but he must by law if this deal doesn’t work.  The EU already gave the UK one extension (remember the UK was originally scheduled to leave on March 29, 2019).  So I don’t blame them for not giving us another one.

All of this mess stems from the Referendum result in June 2016.  The final result was so close that nobody was really sure how to frame it in negotiation; was it ‘the will of the people’? Or a small majority?  In the end, they decided to go with ‘the will of the people, despite being only 1.9% of two thirds of the electorate.  Yeah, that’s democratic.  Leave voters say, respect democracy, but that is because the result was so close they are worried about defeat.  What if that 1.9% majority turns into 0.01% in favour of remain?  That’s why they don’t want another referendum!

Another referendum is called and a two thirds majority of the entire House of Commons is demanded.  That means all of those who thought going down the pub was more fun, change your minds, nip down the polling station and then go off to the pub.  As long as you don’t go to the pub to sing racist songs and football chants while England football team try to satisfy all you armchair pundits who think Harry Maguire isn’t worth £85 million. x

Boris Should Do Bird?

Boris Johnson is a self-entitled criminal.  That’s official.  OK, that’s not quite official, and I have been informed that committing an unlawful act does not automatically make one a criminal.  I could drop a crisp packet on the ground outside, and I’ve acted unlawfully, but I wouldn’t expect to be called a criminal after that.  But does BloJo’s actions compare to dropping a crisp packet, or is it slightly more serious?  In a political context, at least?

The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom ruled about forty minutes ago that the Prime Minister acted unlawfully when he advised the Queen to suspend or prorogue, Parliament.

How can the prime minister, the government, ask sixty-five million people to respect the law, when the highest-level court in the United Kingdom has just told him that he acted outside the law with the simple motive of getting his own way?

Basically, this court decision is all that BBC News can think about; it’s hardly surprising, since not only did the Supreme Court rule against the prime minister, but gave him both barrels, so to speak.  Their ruling was unprecedented in its level of criticism of his actions.  They stopped short of calling him a criminal, but said that his decision to suspend Parliament was ‘unlawful.’  They informed MPs to act as though the prorogation never happened.

If the action was ‘unlawful,’ what other conclusion is there to draw than he must resign.  He has been found guilty of an unlawful act.  In any other area of our society, that would make his job untenable.  In any other area of our society, he would be ordered to leave his job.  As prime minister, the scale and severity of the judgement, not to mention the judgement itself, means that there is no way he can carry on with any degree of authority whatsoever.

There has never been a judgement like this in my lifetime; indeed, those with a greater knowledge of history than I have already said that a judgement like this against a sitting prime minister has never been made before.  We live in momentous times.

But what has not yet been talked about in the sheer chaos that is the news in Britain at the moment, is that not only did the prime minister lie to the Queen, but he lied to the country as well.

Our country has just been turned on its head, ladies and gentlemen; this judgement was not about Brexit, it was simply a legal decision on whether or not it was right to close Parliament for five weeks.  But since Brexit is undoubtedly the reason why BloJo shut Parliament down, obviously it is relevant to the debate.

Some are already arguing that this decision has divided the country further than it already was.  Leavers are saying that it has ended what democracy was left; Remainers are jumping up and down and calling it a victory for democracy.  It’s up to you who you believe, but my view is that democracy did indeed receive a massive boost today.

Boris Johnson may not and perhaps should not receive criminal charges for this, but at the very least, he and his government have got to go, and the MPs he kicked out for daring to disagree with him must be returned to office.

There has never been a decision like this in the history of our country since the English Civil War.  Therefore it is a little difficult to gauge what the solution will be, but I would have thought that a second referendum, in which a majority of the electorate must be achieved, either way, would be the way forward to end this craziness.  Most people around the world are, I would imagine, sick of it, I know we are in this country.  A general election would not solve this crisis, merely prolong it.  Surely Leavers are not afraid of a second vote if they are so confident of winning.  If two-thirds of the electorate vote Leave, so be it, I – as a member of a democratic society – will abide by it.  But remember, the referendum is an opinion poll and not a democratic vote, so a government saying they will abide by it and then not doing so, while I admit it is fucking annoying, is not a criminal action either.  You can argue that your MP is not representing you, in which case a general election would then be the way forward if you want to vote him or her out of office.  These are simply my views of a way out of the worst constitutional and political crisis of my lifetime. x

We’ve Got a Dick For a Prime Minister!

Here in the United Kingdom, I think the title pretty much sums it up.  Unlike some, I don’t compare Boris Johnson to Adolf Hitler, despite the fact that we have moved into a temporary dictatorship after the prime minister closed down parliament last week in order to stop any further debate on Brexit.

This means that BloJo has put himself above the law.  Apparently, the world believes that the Scottish High Court is going to overturn the ruling that the prorogation of parliament was illegal and make it all hunky-dory for the PM again.  Quite why the rather disparate band of rebel MPs had to go to Scotland to do it is unknown to me; perhaps they realised that the English High Court no longer had any authority over Johnson.

Power, they say, is a drug.  It can influence the thinking of even bumbling idiots like Boris Johnson – or, more particularly, like that despicable little brainfart Dominic Cummings, whose whisperings into the PM’s ears about genetics and power over what they can get away with are having such a ready effect on BloJo’s actions because Johnson is too stupid to even think them through.

I know that both of my American audience can readily identify with this; they, too, have a ginger twat for a leader, in the shape of Donald J. Stump, the greatest moron ever to disgrace that great office.  He makes George W. Bush look like President Kennedy, and that’s saying something.

It is 2019, dear reader(s), and we have been very fortunate in the ‘Western World’ these past 74 years, since the end of World War Two in 1945, and the death of that German dictator already mentioned above.

We have not been so unlucky as to have a dictator on that scale here in Europe, and neither has the United States of America.  Other countries, Zimbabwe, Chile, Argentina, North Korea, Russia, etc., have all been run by dictatorships at one time or another.  Yes, I know Russia is theoretically in Europe.  As was Poland.  OK, I’ll give you Poland.

We don’t need reminding that 2016 was a tumultuous year; politics in our country, in the USA, and indeed in other countries across the world have moved unequivocally and dangerously to what the media likes to call, ‘the hard right.’

By chance, the Brexit Referendum (June) and Trump’s election as president (November) both occurred in the same year.  The worst factor, for me, of Trump’s election was the fact that had he lost, to Hillary Clinton, the likelihood is that she would probably have been just as bad.

Back in the days when I used to rant regularly on Facebook, I was addressing this topic almost on a daily basis.  Politicians could get away with whatever they wanted.  The media would scream about it for a while, and yes, public opinion might turn one way or the other depending on what these powerful media outlets were telling them, but it would soon go away, and all would be quiet again.  I’ll give you an example from British politics: the Expenses Scandal.

For the benefit of whichever one of you two doesn’t know, I’ll give you a brief summary.

Once, on an episode of Question Time (BBC political discussion show), then-Conservative Party Chairman Eric Pickles claimed quite openly and boldly that he often claimed for things he shouldn’t do, like personal improvements to his second home, non-Westminster trips, and even maintaining a flat in London despite living just a few miles away anyway.

Ay ay, I thought, there’s going to be trouble here, and there was.  Soon, MPs were being ordered to release their expenses claims for public scrutiny (I believe the Sunday Times had already done an exposé on somebody’s expenses claims).  They made for interesting reading.  One MP claimed for a 42″ plasma TV in his home.  George Osborne, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, famously flipped homes, made his second home his first, despite it being in Yorkshire or somewhere, and then sold it, making a profit of £500,000 (about $550,000 then, I think).

When I was working, I was never able to claim for my travel to and from work, I wish I had.  But, apparently, MPs can, because their job is oh, so hard.

But, as I mentioned earlier, while the scandal has never truly gone away, it has died down, and I’ll bet there are many MPs still on the take, although admittedly perhaps not as many as there were before.

So, Boris Johnson is taking a load of flak for the moment, but how long will it go on for?  Will it cost him his job?  And if it does, who will replace him?  Jeremy C***?  Please.  Or will Johnson’s dictatorial shenanigans die down in the media, past October 31, and we’ll all just sit back on our popcorn-strewn sofas and watch the Strictly Come Dancing results show?

We need a Second Referendum, or a people’s vote, now!  And, the majority must be at least 66% either way.  Not simply because that’s the only way Remain will get a victory (as things stood at the last referendum, they wouldn’t, anyway), but because with an issue that everyone is this sensitive about, we must have a clear majority either way.

If that majority is not achieved for either side, then another vote will be required.  It’s a very tedious approach, I agree, but the only way that one side or the other can claim a moral and political victory.  And even then, the government is not legally bound to abide by it.  Don’t bang on to me about a lack of democracy.  The Prime Minister can demand – and get – a second vote on a snap election (he lost that, too), and we can’t have a second opinion poll on Brexit because it is undemocratic?  Give me a break. x