Thursday, 14 December 2017

To Build Public Trust In The Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Please sign here.

Richard Burgon explains why.

Putin It Out There

Vladimir Putin has just given his end-of-year press conference. Five hours, to an international press corps, with no script, no vetting, nothing. Imagine that here. You can't, can you? And that is the point.

The Moguls Versus The Raj?

I just don't get this extreme hostility, either to Rupert Murdoch, or to RT and Sputnik. In either case, compared to what? The BBC?

A Meaningful Vote?

I am not terribly concerned about that vote last night. None of the Labour Brexiteers who have, in the case of Dennis Skinner, voted against every Treaty even including that of Accession, voted with the Government. It was symbolically important as a defeat. But it did not add up to much.

Our Own Mickey Mouse Deal

Disney may be paying £39 billion for 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, including its stake in Sky. But we are paying £39 billion to the EU just so that it will negotiate a trade deal with us. We have our own Mickey Mouse Deal.

Points of Interest

Just like that, we are told that there will, or will not, be any change in interest rates. It was not ever thus. This is the Original Sin of New Labour.

In redemption, we need the reassertion of democratic political control over the Bank of England, including that the approval of the House of Commons be required for changes to interest rates. And we need the assertion of democratic political control over the City of London, with a Glass-Steagall style of division between investment banking and retail banking, with the extension of that principle to crack down on loan sharks throughout society, and with a criminal investigation into the privatisation of the Royal Mail.

Together with the closure of all tax havens under British jurisdiction unless they opted for independence instead, leading to the incorporation of all four parts of the United Kingdom, of all nine English regions, of all of the Crown Dependencies, and of all of the British Overseas Territories, into the Belt and Road Initiative.

In order to bring about these changes, we need to secure the election to the City of London Corporation, the election to the States of Jersey, the election to the States of Guernsey, the election to Tynwald, the election to the legislatures of the British Overseas Territories, and the appointment to the House of Lords while it exists, of supporters of economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends.

And we need to effect the transfer of the exercise of the Royal Prerogative, including Royal Assent, to six or seven out of nine Co-Presidents elected nationally by each of us voting for one candidate so that the top nine would be elected.

Alongside a new second chamber elected by the 99 lieutenancy areas, with each of us voting for one candidate so that the top six would be elected. And alongside the 50 Commons seats that would otherwise be abolished by the boundary changes, filled by a national election, with each of us voting for one candidate so that the top 50 would be elected.

Make it happen.

Reach For The Sky

Rupert Murdoch is a proper old newsman, second generation, from a world that has very nearly passed away. Even in 2017, he has chosen print over broadcasting and streaming. What now for Sky News? Well, be on the bus, or be under it. If you are not at the table, then you are on the menu.

There are positions that the BBC simply ignores. The workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, as the key swing voters. Identity issues located within the struggle for economic equality and for international peace. The leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars.

The decision of the EU referendum by areas that voted Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru. Opposition from the start to the failed programme of economic austerity. Against all Governments since 1997, opposition to the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, to the persecution of the disabled, to the assault on civil liberties, to every British military intervention during that period, to Britain’s immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to the demonisation of Russia.

Rejection of any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers’ rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. Rescue of issues such as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And refusal to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration. 

The new owners of Sky News ought to identify and include representatives of the traditions that those and other marginalised views express in practice. We stand ready to serve.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Just The Job?

Fewer people are in employment. Well, of course they are. As some of us tried to tell you, the low unemployment figures are just fewer people on JSA. Using that logic, if it can be so described, you could abolish JSA altogether, thereby declaring full employment.

If Theresa May wants to bang on about the last Labour Government, seven years after she herself became a Cabinet Minister, then she needs to be asked which of the measures in question she opposed, and which Jeremy Corbyn did.

The Power of Three?

Whip This Out

Contempt of Parliament. Again. And I am a Brexit supporter. But that is because I am a good Bennite believer in parliamentary sovereignty and in parliamentary democracy.

Here's The Rub

Labour will not make a decision until January, at the earliest, about Kelvin Hopkins. He may or may not have done something that he should not have done. But he did at least two things that he should have done.

He was the first MP to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for Leader of the Labour Party. And he campaigned for Leave, on all the good Old Labour grounds that, based on the map, did in fact carry the day. Hence the fuss over him, but not over, for example, Keith Vaz.

Or is Hopkins accused of something worse than betraying his wife with rent boys for whom he had offered to buy cocaine?

Sweet Home Alabama

Even way down in Dixie, the Democrats now do not need to moderate or modify themselves in the slightest in order to beat the Republicans under Donald Trump. That is what Donald Trump has done to the Republican Party.

I am sorry that Roy Moore had to be beaten by an Establishment liberal. He could have been, and therefore he should have been, beaten by a Sanders supporter, perhaps even more comprehensively than he was.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Show Racism The Red Card, Indeed

Aged only 60, Anne Marie N. Morris, to whom the Conservative Whip has just been restored, used an expression that had not been current in 50 or 60 years.

But more to the point, she used a word that would have been career-ending in the American South. Roy Moore could not get away with it, and he probably would not want to.

Morris ought to be expelled from the House of Commons. That is an extremely rare censure, but this is a mercifully rare case. Forget the anti-racist credentials of any MP who failed to support that censure in this case.

"The Alternative Would Be Runaway Inflation"

Imagine that.

If you do not want this, then you need Modern Monetary Theory.

The Smell of Cannabis

We need a single category of illegal drug, with a crackdown on the possession of drugs, including a mandatory sentence of three months for a second offence, six months for a third offence, one year for a fourth offence, and so on.

Most certainly including cannabis, which is linked to violent psychosis, and any medicinal properties of which are no more applied by smoking a spliff than those of opium would be by injecting heroin, or than those of aspirin would be by ingesting bark.

Make it happen.

Lost In The Post

On this Postal Workers' Day, the reason why the Royal Mail cannot be made to issue a stamp commemorating British withdrawal from the EU, apart from the fact that it has not yet happened, is that the Royal Mail has been privatised. On the orders of the EU. But with the enthusiastic support of those who are now demanding a Brexit stamp.

Give and Take

I overestimated the number of Brexiteers on the Conservative benches. I suggested that they might approach the two dozen or so Conservatives who opposed Maastricht, and include some of the same individuals.

But it turns out that there is precisely one, Philip Davies, who did not enter Parliament until 2005, since, almost unbelievably, he is only five years older than I am. The likes of Iain Duncan Smith queued up to agree with Ken Clarke and Anna Soubry.

There are half a dozen times that many Brexiteers on the Labour benches, just as there were three times as many anti-Maastricht Labour MPs as anti-Maastricht Conservatives. In any case, all Labour MPs will vote against "Canada Plus Plus Plus".

By contrast, even the DUP is now signed up to a deal that is even worse than staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union would have been. But then, had the old man been dead a couple more years, then the DUP would have campaigned for Remain.

The entire Tory and Murdoch press has also rallied behind the white flag of Theresa May and David Davis. With The Guardian about to axe Giles Fraser's column, Leavers are left with only the Morning Star. And The Word, of course. This could be the making of that. I very much hope that large numbers of Leavers will become regular readers of both.

They might then realise that the election of a Corbyn Government was the only way to keep the economic and foreign policy debates open, whether or not you agreed with Corbyn in any way on economic policy, in particular. Unless you want a return to "the centre ground" of the 20 years BC, Before Corbyn, then you must vote Labour at the next General Election, no matter what.

Happy Holidays?

Hanukkah is a strange one. After the emergence of Judaism, set out below, Hanukkah was historically a very minor festival until almost into living memory, and in much of the Jewish world it still is. But it does provide an opportunity to pre-empt this year’s round of lazy claims that Christmas is a taking over of some pagan winter festival. 

There is of course a universal need for winter festivals. But the dating of Christmas derives from Hanukkah, not from the pagan Saturnalia or anything else. No British or Irish Christmas custom derives from paganism. There is little, if any, fokloric pagan continuation in these islands, and little, if anything, is known about pre-Christian religion here. Most, if not all, allegations to the contrary derive from Protestant polemic against practices originating in the Middle Ages, and usually the Late Middle Ages at that. The modern religion known as Paganism is an invention from scratch, the very earliest roots of which are in the late nineteenth century. 

Furthermore, the dating of Christmas from that of Hanukkah raises serious questions for Protestants, who mistakenly exclude the two Books of Maccabees from the Canon because, along with various other works, they were allegedly not considered canonical at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. But in fact, the rabbis only excluded those books specifically because they were likely to lead people into Christianity, and they are repeatedly quoted or cited in the New Testament, as they were by Jewish writers up to their rabbinical exclusion. Even thereafter, a point is made by the continued celebration of Hanukkah, a celebration thanks to books to which Jews only really had access because Christians had preserved them, since the rabbis wanted them destroyed.

Indeed, far from being the mother-religion that it is often assumed to be, a very great deal of Judaism is actually a reaction against Christianity, although this is by no means the entirety of the relationship, with key aspects of kabbalah in fact deriving from Christianity, with numerous other examples set out in Rabbi Michael Hilton’s The Christian Effect on Jewish Life (London: SCM Press, 1994), and so on.

Hanukkah bushes, and the giving and receiving of presents at Hanukkah, stand in a tradition of two-way interaction both as old as Christianity and about as old as anything that could reasonably be described as Judaism. As Rabbi Hilton puts it, “It is hardly surprising that Jewish communities living for centuries in Christian society should be influenced by the surrounding culture.” There are many, many, many other examples that could be cited.

These range from the Medieval adoption for Jewish funeral use of the Psalm numbered 23 in Jewish and Protestant editions; to the new centrality within Judaism that the rise of Christianity gave to Messianic expectations (the Sadducees, for example, had not believed in the Messiah at all) or to the purification of women after childbirth; to the identification in later parts of the Zohar of four senses of Scripture technically different from, but effectively very similar to, those of Catholicism; to Medieval rabbis’ explicit and unembarrassed use of Christian stories in their sermons.

Many a midrash – such as “to you the Sabbath is handed over, but you are not handed over to the Sabbath” – is easily late enough to be an example of the direct influence of Christianity, yet Jewish and Christian scholars alike tend to announce an unidentified common, usually Pharisaic, root, although they rarely go off on any wild goose chase to find that root. I think that we all know why not. 

But the real point is something far deeper, arising from the definition of the Jewish Canon in explicitly anti-Christian terms, and from the anti-Christian polemic in the Talmud. Judaism hardly uses the Hebrew Bible directly rather than its own, defining and anti-Christian, commentaries on it and on each other. Jews doubting this should ask themselves when they last heard of an animal sacrifice, or which of their relatives was a polygamist. 

Judaism, I say again, is not some sort of mother-religion. Rather, I say again that it is a reaction against Christianity, and specifically, like Islam, a Semitic reaction against the recapitulation in Christ and His Church of all three of the Old Israel, Hellenism and the Roman Empire; there are also, of course, culturally European reactions against that recapitulation by reference to Classical sources, as there always have been, although they are increasingly allied to Islam.

Thus constructed, Judaism became, and remains, an organising principle, again like Classically-based reactions, for all sorts of people discontented for whatever reason with the rise of Christianity in general and with the Christianisation of the Roman Empire in particular, including all the historical consequences of that up to the present day, without any realistic suggestion of a common ethnic background.

Above all, Judaism’s unresolved Messianic hope and expectation has issued in all sorts of earthly utopianisms: Freudian, Marxist (and then Trotskyist, and then Shachtmanite), monetarist, Zionist, Straussian, neoconservative by reference to all of these, and so forth. They are all expressions of Judaism’s repudiation of Original Sin, Christianity’s great bulwark against the rationally and empirically falsifiable notions of inevitable historical progress and of the perfectibility of human nature in this life alone and by human efforts alone.

It is Christianity that refers constantly to the Biblical text. It is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that has a Temple, Jesus Christ, Who prophesied both the destruction of the Temple and its replacement in His own Person. It is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that has a Priesthood. It is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that has a Sacrifice, the Mass.

And it is Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that is the religion of the Hebrew Scriptures. Including the two Books of Maccabees, the origin of Hanukkah. The true form of which, as of so much else, is Christmas.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Cheggemony

Apparently, Theresa May is giving some speech on Brexit, or she has been. But who cares? Keith Chegwin is dead. And that is the news. Well, of course it is.

Also today, Ed Sheeran, the biggest pop star in the world (for good or ill) and the darling of Middle England's youth, at least, surprises no one by coming out as a very strong Corbyn supporter.

His best mate is another huge star in Britain, but with a rather more working-class and ethnic minority audience, and is himself the link man between Jeremy Corbyn and Prince William. That's right. Prince William.

The dull-as-dishwater Tories just do not come into it. If this is the popular culture, then what can they get done even in the office that, if this is the popular culture, they cannot expect to hold for very much longer?

Even those of the Royals who have any real pull or clout these days prefer people who prefer Corbyn. This is what hegemony looks like.

The First Casualty

Nothing about Jeremy Corbyn's Séan MacBride Peace Prize, his second major international peace award. But the claim by The Times that Vladimir Putin has tried to use RT to stir up a class war in response to Grenfell Tower.

Neil Clark On Tour

Taking the fight to Oliver Kamm in 2018.

Gulf Strait Talking

We are all supposed to be terribly pleased that our self-appointed, thick-as-mince but nasty-as-hell Defence Secretary is selling 24 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Qatar, which is already a constitutionally Wahhabi state even before the backsliding rulers are overthrown. When those jets are turned on us, then you will see that the bleeding hearts were right all along. Getting out of both the Gulf and the arms trade is nothing other than good strategic sense.

Meanwhile, from across the Gulf, back comes Boris Johnson, having proved exactly as useful as he has ever been. With Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's trial having been delayed, there is ample time for someone capable of doing the job to fly to Tehran and simply refuse to leave without her. It does not much matter who, with a sufficiently high profile, does this. Foreign policy hawks who fail to do it, as they all will just as they all applaud the arming of Qatar (never mind Saudi Arabia) to the teeth, are particularly worthy of contempt. But Jeremy Corbyn, over to you.

Officially More Dangerous Than George Galloway

Next season's programme for the Gala Theatre, Durham arrives with a message from Ossie Johnson. Ossie needs to consider that the County Council's savage cuts to bus services, not least affecting his own ward (where a bus stop is named after his house), have largely excluded from cultural life many of us disabled people who used to participate in it.

Those responsible for that exclusion would have lost control of the Council if those with the power to deliver that result had listened to me, instead of listening to the political advice of a man who is now the Political Advisor to the Member of Parliament whose constituency contains Ossie's ward, where she now resides.

As a result of the fact that certain people took that advice instead of mine, 472 Teaching Assistants are still on course to lose 23 per cent of their pay. But then, can anyone name a specific austerity measure against which that MP, Laura Pidcock, ever voted during her time on Northumberland County Council?

That question might usefully be asked at a meeting of her Constituency Labour Party, which I am aghast to discover still exists, despite the ruling of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party that no one in North West Durham was capable of being a parliamentary candidate. Anyone not sharing that assessment might consider that there is a world elsewhere.

I do hope that George Galloway, who with Alex Watson remains one of my Campaign Patrons, is successful in his quest for readmission to the Labour Party. Unless I am very much mistaken, then that would leave me as the only person alive who remained subject to a lifetime ban. Being officially more dangerous than George Galloway would be too delicious for words.

But I intend to vote Labour at the next General Election. And I wish Laura no ill. I assert that the following is an accurate summary of her view: "It is blatantly obvious that David Lindsay is innocent, that there is absolutely no evidence against him, that the charge against him should be dropped, that the complaint against him should be withdrawn, and that any and all Police files on him should be closed." She is free to deny that that is an accurate summary of her view. Until that time, however, it stands as such. And why, therefore, would I stand against her?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Brexit Breakdown

If you want negotiation done properly, then you need trade unionists to do it. The Government's claim to want something like CETA, only even more so, will unite the Labour Party like nothing in years. There are people in Labour who want Brexit, and there are people who do not. But none of them wants this. 

Meanwhile, the wholesale capitulation of Theresa May and of John Major's erstwhile Europe Minister, David Davis, is being hailed as a triumph by the supposed Brexiteers on the Conservative benches. Those truly of that mind number barely the couple of dozen that opposed Maastricht, several of them are the same individuals, and none of them stands any more chance of becoming Leader than Tony Marlow ever did.

The Gathering Stormzy

Stormzy is one of the cleverest people in this country, and if he is not already one of the most powerful, then he very soon will be. Not only is he best mates with the biggest pop star in the world, but he is gym buddies with Prince William (who is a brave 35-year-old, to work out with a man of 24), and he is so close to Jeremy Corbyn that he appears on entirely serious lists of Britain's most influential left-wingers.

No one does self-preservation like the Royal Family, and no one understands better that real power, perhaps especially in Britain, lies in controlling popular culture. That was how they more than survived the United Kingdom's nearest thing to a republican Government, New Labour. And now, with Corbyn's having ruled out any attempt to give effect to his republicanism while little things like poverty and war were still to be addressed, the new Court Party is taking shape nicely.

Indeed, it is already winning. The late-middle-aged, middle-middle-class voices and faces of the semi-suburban Home Counties can release Industrial Strategies if they please, only to be upstaged by Royal Engagements announced on the same day. Those voices and faces fail to induce, as they fail to attain, even Tolstoy's definition of boredom as "the desire for desires".

But elsewhere, beautifully and brilliantly elsewhere, there are pop stars, and princes, and Jeremy Corbyn.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

A 2018 General Election?

I know that I said a few days ago that it was unlikely. But never bet against anything these days. My trial has been delayed until 11th April, a year after the so-called conclusive evidence supposedly turned up, while they purport to be looking for that or any other evidence against me. They have yet to find any. Really, though, this is so that my trial will either be after a General Election that I would therefore find it difficult to contest, or else so close to one as effectively to preclude my candidacy.

I wish that I had stood this year. I would not have won. But I would have taken enough votes to ensure that Laura Pidcock was elected with fewer than 50 per cent of the total. That might have restrained her a little, which would have been good for all concerned. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats might also have felt emboldened to challenge the fact that she had clearly given an false address on the paperwork. Whatever the outcome of that, then it, too, might have cooled her  head a little, and stayed her tongue. Most people now expect this to be a Conservative seat within three electoral cycles. Ho, hum, I shall be well over 50 by then.

This seat could do with an MP from the Left who was capable of political co-operation and personal friendship with people of all political allegiances and none, who was unsullied by any connection to the present Leadership of Durham County Council, and whom it was impossible to imagine describing the third or more of this constituency that voted Conservative in 2017 as "the enemy". That phrase recalls Margaret Thatcher's attitude to the miners.

But I wish Laura no ill. I intend to vote Labour at the next General Election. I assert that the following is an accurate summary of her view: "It is blatantly obvious that David Lindsay is innocent, that there is absolutely no evidence against him, that the charge against him should be dropped, that the complaint against him should be withdrawn, and that any and all Police files on him should be closed." She is free to deny that that is an accurate summary of her view. Until that time, however, it stands as such. And why, therefore, would I stand against her?

Unproductive?

Feel free to give this disabled person a hand up, Philip Hammond. Or, indeed, anyone else.

Out of Turkey by Christmas

Why are there still American nuclear weapons in Turkey? I loathe the regime there, but it could at least walk the walk of which it talks. The Trump Administration must face the geopolitical consequences of its clod-hopping into Jerusalem.

The Speech of The Year

Heard around the world. Well, except in BBC Land, obviously. Today's main news here in the non-call-up of a cricketer. In December.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Weak and Stable

And so Theresa May gives the EU everything that it had wanted, in one case on the say-so of the DUP, in the other cases, well, just anyway. But it has taken her eight months to do it. And we are in for another four and a half years of this style of government, if “government” be the word.

But there is still room for co-operation with people of all parties and none, in order to implement Theresa May’s original Prime Ministerial agenda of workers’ and consumers’ representation in corporate governance, of shareholders’ control over executive pay, of restrictions on pay differentials within companies, of an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme, of greatly increased housebuilding, of action against tax avoidance, of a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, of a cap on energy prices, of banning or greatly restricting foreign takeovers, of a ban on unpaid internships, and of an inquiry into Orgreave, while returning to her world-leading record of work against human trafficking and modern slavery, now that slavery has returned to Libya.

Meanwhile, we need the negotiation of Brexit in the Welsh, Northern and working-class interests that delivered the result in its favour, including the extra £350 million per week for the National Health Service, something that needs to be written into the Statute Law.

All the while rejoicing that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, were now the key swing voters who deserved direct representation on local public bodies, on national public bodies, in the media, and at the intersection of the public and media sectors in the Parliamentary Lobby, in the BBC, in any future structure of the Channel Four Television Corporation, in any arrangement that made possible Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of the whole of Sky News, and so on.

Make it happen.

Sipping Away My Last Gold Star?

With the blocks to one side,
The beach on the other,
And the trees and the leaves

As Michael Portillo, a strong supporter of Israel over many decades, said on last night's This Week, the far larger, modern, coastal Tel Aviv, with its major international airport, is simply a far better capital for the modern State of Israel than Jerusalem is.

Jerusalem was "the eternal capital of the Jewish people" long before there was a State of Israel, it would have been even if there had never been any such State, and it will be after that State has gone the way of them all. That is the thing about being eternal. Something that States are not, and they cannot be run as if they were.

Flying Into Downing Street On A Persian Carpet?

Good luck to Boris Johnson in Iran. He ought to refuse to leave without Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. But he is only doing this so that he can launch his bid for the Leadership of the Conservative Party on the tarmac upon his return. Otherwise, either he or Theresa May would have done it weeks ago. As Jeremy Corbyn ought also to have done. As someone certainly ought to have done. Had I been a Member of Parliament, then I would have done this during the recent parliamentary recess. Why did none of them do that? They cannot all have children to consider.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Keeping Up Momentum

In the face of a planned picket, and not one of your middle-class kind, the National Coal Mining Museum for England has confirmed that it will not be hosting a Conservative Party event.

That would have been perfectly scandalous before there had been an inquiry into Orgreave. That inquiry was promised by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister. Come on, then. It is time for justice.

And there are still plenty of places to picket. Top of the list at the moment is 3 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8YZ, which is the seat of the Electoral Commission. The homes addresses of the Commissioners, and of the Executive and Management Team, ought not to be too hard to find, either.

Invisibly Reassembling

Boris Johnson tells us that Islamist terrorism ought not to be considered an existential threat to Britain, the biggest shift in policy in at least 16 years. Meanwhile, however, Gavin Williamson has been torn to shreds on the law by Ken Macdonald and on security by Pauline Neville-Jones. Willamson is a barely half-educated foghorn down the pub. But he knows the truth about sexual harassment. So he is the Secretary of State for Defence. Heaven help us all.

The other of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse's Self Righteous Brothers is John Woodcock, who wishes to extend detention without charge (not trial, but charge) beyond even the 14 day that are already seven times longer than in Donald Trump's America, and more than three times longer than in Vladimir Putin's Russia. Woodcock owes his parliamentary seat to Theresa May, whose decision to call a General Election this year delayed his deselection. But he is now merely detained without charge.

No doubt Woodcock applauds the decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He probably thought that it was already there. But while a tiny handful of tiny states may follow suit, even that is unlikely. This marks the bitter end of American leadership in the world.  America is now in a position comparable to that of those who oppose the One China Policy. It also has to choose between its actual allies, however repulsive, in Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf, and Israel, which is not in point of fact an American ally at all, but whose meddling in American politics has now endangered every American citizen in the world.

Momentum Stalled?

If there are any charges, or even if there are not, then remember that they never charged numerous people from the 2015 General Election who freely admitted to having overspent such as to have made the difference between a hung Parliament and an overall majority. I have it on impeccable authority that Momentum only has £10,000. But it also has Twitter, Facebook, and enthusiasm.

Both the Conservatives and the Blairites were so convinced that a three-figure Conservative majority would be the end of Jeremy Corbyn that they are convinced that the eventual result, which some of us predicted, must have been the result of cheating. In fact, though, that was the result in 2015, as no one denies, but which the Crown Prosecution Service sees as not a matter of public interest.

"We rely on hundreds of thousands of dedicated council workers who go the extra mile in keeping our children safe," declares a letter bearing the name of Simon Henig, among many other shameless characters terrified for their positions now that there is a Labour Party.

I am told that there is now little chance that a figure of the extreme right-wing Labour machine on Durham County Council could expect the Labour nomination at North Durham when Kevan Jones retired, and in fact more chance that Kevan might be leaving sooner than he had anticipated. But Carl Marshall needs to know this: if he does not want me to contest every election that he did for the rest of his life or mine, whichever ended sooner, then he knows what he has to do.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

April Shower

I knew that I would not be spending Christmas in prison. I now know that I shall not be spending Easter in prison, either. My trial has been put back to 11th April next year. I was charged on 13th April this year, having been arrested on 14th March. The judge was no happier than I was, but the Crown Prosecution Service is still insisting on two or three days to try no evidence whatever, including further no evidence whatever that they profess to need another four months, over and above the eight months that they have already had and the ninth month that the Police had before that, in order to uncover.

Certain public figures received one of those unhinged communications which they receive very regularly, and a highly ambitious councillor, whose identity is common knowledge in these parts, took the opportunity to curry favour with those in a position to arrange the Labour nomination for a certain safe seat when the sitting MP retires, by using that communication to seek to remove an outspoken and, though I say so myself, an energetic opponent of the local municipal Labour machine. 

But this has now gone on for an outrageous length of time, entirely at public expense, and there are now, unlike in the first instance, credible threats to the safety of numerous people, including me, but more to the point including teenagers. Those threats have not been not been posted once, from Durham or thereabouts, and referring to a local dispute. They have been posted at least twice, from thousands of miles away, from a country that I have never visited, and referring to major international conflicts. This needs to end. That councillor needs to withdraw the complaint. Or, frankly, expect to face me at the polls when that opportunity next presents itself.

More broadly, we need reversal of the erosion of trial by jury and of the right to silence, reversal of the existing reversals of the burden of proof, abolition of conviction by majority verdict (which, by definition, provides for conviction even where there is reasonable doubt), extension throughout the United Kingdom of the Scots Law requirement for corroborating evidence, requirement that the prosecution present its case within three months of charge or else that case be dismissed, abolition of the admission of anonymous evidence other than from undercover Police Officers, exclusion of the possibility of conviction on anonymous evidence alone, restoration of the provision that no acquitted person should ever have to stand trial again for the same offence (the previous change to this having now done its job in the Stephen Lawrence case), a return to preventative policing based on foot patrols, Police Forces at least no larger than at present, restoration of the pre-1968 committal powers of the magistracy, restoration of the pre-1985 prosecution powers of the Police, restoration of the network of police stations and police houses placing the Police at the very heart of their communities, and disbandment of MI5 in favour Police Officers who, while highly specialised, were nevertheless part of accountable community policing. Among very much else besides. Make it happen.

Impact Assessment

It is not difficult to assess the impact of the unfolding shambles and fiasco that is David Davis and all his works, or lack of them. He could have been one of the great campaigning backbenchers. But he should never have been a Minister. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is writing articles for The Sun attacking online campaigns against The Sun, because, as the Foreign Secretary with responsibility neither for Brexit nor for International Trade, he has nothing else to do.

Nor is it difficult to assess the impact on the electorate of the realisation that the Prime Minister can now be called to heel like a dog, and publicly humiliated on the international stage, by the DUP. That party ought to stand candidates anywhere, and I do mean anywhere at all, in England, Scotland or Wales, purely in order to see the results.

Are most of the DUP's voters even in favour of Brexit, an issue that has little or nothing to do with how people vote in parliamentary elections? Just as the majority opinion in Scotland is to remain both in the United Kingdom and in the European Union, yet the only party of that mind has all of four seats out of 59, so the majority opinion in Northern Ireland is the same, yet is represented by precisely one out of 18 MPs, and Sylvia Hermon is an Independent.

For two years now, we have been told that the country was crying out for a pro-EU party of the liberal "centre". This year, such a party contested every seat in Great Britain. It won 12 out of 650 seats, with 7.4 per cent of the vote.

For far longer, we have been told that the country was crying out for a populist party to the right of the Conservatives. This year, such a party contested every seat in Great Britain. It won none of the 650 seats, not even the one that it had already held following the defection of the Conservative incumbent, and it took a whopping 1.8 per cent of the vote. Its 594,068 votes in the entire country were not even three times the attendance at the Durham Miners' Gala a few weeks later.

UKIP's was a populism without that most vital of ingredients, popularity. Meanwhile, the Conservatives toyed with bringing back grammar schools and foxhunting, and they duly lost their overall majority. That toying was the impact, and that loss was the assessment.

Olympic Games

None of this would be happening if Hillary Clinton had won. We are on the brink of all-out wars because of her petulance and that of her spoilt, over-entitled supporters. But I do hope that President Putin will not prevent Russian athletes from competing in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Sporting boycotts seem cruel to very young people whose chance to compete at a certain level may come only once or twice in a lifetime.

If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem

Having your embassy in a different city from everyone else's would be just plain daft. But in any case, Jerusalem will never be the capital of anywhere, except perhaps of itself. The final status agreement will put the Palestinian capital at Ramallah, and the Israeli capital at Tel Aviv, with Jerusalem as an undivided city under some kind of UN authority, as if it had not already suffered enough. Thus would it be everyone's, and thus in turn would it be no one's, with untrammelled access to all of the holy sites for anyone who wanted to visit them.

For yes, Jerusalem is, among other things, "the eternal capital of the Jewish people". But there is no argument that it ought therefore to be the capital of the modern State of Israel. To suggest so would amount to the greatest annexation of them all, the annexation of every Jew in the world, past, present and future. But just as one fifth of Israeli citizens are not Jewish, predominating in half of the territory within the pre-1967 borders and growing at a very high rate, so well under half of the world's Jews are Israeli. And that is before counting the Jews who died before 1948, and who were very much part of the eternal Jewish people.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Fares Fair

The biggest hike in rail fares in five years will be coming next month, with an average increase of 3.4 per cent. With the cost of HS2 diverted to reconnecting many towns to the rail network, we need the renationalisation of the rail services as each franchise came up for renewal, and thus at no cost, as the backbone of a rebuilt network of public transport, eventually free at the point of use, and prior to that requiring the approval of the House of Commons for any increase in fares. Make it happen.

Regulatory Alignment

Theresa May never needed to offer the DUP anything at all. She should simply have told them that if they did not back her, then they could go home and explain why John McDonnell was Chancellor of the Exchequer. But instead, she gave them more money than anyone in particular would have got out of McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. And are they grateful? Are they gracious? Are they hell! Spoilt children never are, and once you have paid the Danegeld, then you never get rid of the Dane.

The last Conservative Prime Minister was dependent on the Lib Dems, and the one before that survived by playing off what were then Northern Ireland's two Unionist parties and one maverick Unionist MP on a vote-by-vote basis, night after night for years. Lo and behold, 20 and more years later, they are back. Once you have paid the Danegeld, then you never get rid of the Dane.

But at least half of the hardcore Leavers on the Labour benches are also hardcore United Irelanders, and most of those on the Conservative benches would place withdrawal from the EU above the Union or anything else, so May could pass the Brexit deal of her choice with no more than 50 votes against it, and quite possibly with fewer than 30. There might even be a referendum on it across the United Kingdom, with Northern Ireland told to take or leave the result, even if that meant taking or leaving the Union.

That said, the DUP is lucky (as, in the other direction, were the Lib Dems) to be dealing with one of the two types of Conservative Leader, rather than with the other. David Cameron was the kind that is economically and militarily as hawkish as anyone could possibly imagine, while also being the most socially liberal figure in British politics, and that is saying quite something.

Whereas May is the kind that barely notices the outside world while making socially conservative noises that never come to anything despite the impression that Leader spends the evening sewing samplers to the sound of all of the Queen's Christmas Messages on a continuous loop, and while being economically well to the left of 80 per cent of Labour MPs. It will be interesting to see whether the requirement to have a more left-wing economic policy than most of the Parliamentary Labour Party will remain the requirement for even the mildest social conservatism into the next, Corbyn-dominated Parliament. Very probably so.

For be in no doubt, Corbyn will dominate whether or not he wins. Already, in a period of Conservative Government, High Street brands apologise publicly and profusely for having dared to advertise in The Sun and the Daily Mail. I am not necessarily happy about that, but there it is. No governing party, never mind any Opposition, has ever had anything approaching that level of cultural dominance. In such an environment, precisely what Conservative legislation in the post-Thatcher sense, including many measures of the type that New Labour introduced against the votes of Corbyn and McDonnell, would be possible even if anyone wanted to propose it? And that is before the next General Election.

Corbyn ought to bypass and blindside his enemies at The Guardian and the BBC, by saying that he would support Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the whole of Sky, provided that The Sun were moved entirely online and placed behind a paywall, and provided that Tom Watson and someone from Unite or Momentum were appointed to the Board of Sky. Any dissent would then be confined to a dwindling band of Labour MPs who had previously kissed Murdoch's feet for an entire political generation.

Notice the shift in the editorial positions of The Sun, the Daily MailThe Times and the Daily Telegraph over the course of that generation. Not the party allegiance, but the reasons for it. Newspapers that took those titles' respective lines from the early to middle 1990s could not conceivably exist in Britain today. But, by contrast, the editorial positions of The Guardian, the Daily Mirror and the Morning Star are just as they were then: liberal, Old Labour Right, Left. Yet still, in a period of Conservative Government, High Street brands now apologise publicly and profusely for having dared to advertise in The Sun and the Daily Mail, so far. Think on.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Court and Circular

I still have to turn up to Durham Crown Court at 10 o'clock on Wednesday morning, 6th December. But only to be told what my new trial date is going to be, doubtless well into 2018, and thus anything up to a year after I was arrested, perhaps even a year after I was charged. They have nothing. Nothing. But they are determined to spin out this shameful and shameless political hit job to the last possible moment. In the meantime, please give generously to the reason why they are determined to take me down, which is the reason why I am determined that they never will.

Museum Peace First

I do a lot of cross-party and non-party work. But it is perfectly scandalous of the National Coal Mining Museum for England to host a Conservative Party event before there has been an inquiry into Orgreave. That inquiry was promised by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister. Come on, Prime Minister (as you are, whether I like it or not). Come on, Amber Rudd. It is time for justice.

Customs Union

Northern Ireland can leave the European Union on terms acceptable to the United Kingdom, or it can leave the United Kingdom.

Don't Look Back In Anger

I'll be a Britpop boy to my dying breath. The Golden Summer of 1995 was right in the middle of my time as a Sixth Former. But Noel Gallagher's heyday was before 2022's first time voters were born. The idea that Jeremy Corbyn's appeal to youth can be undermined by the intervention of this 50-year-old is the most hilarious indictment of Corbyn's desperate enemies.

Panoramic Vision

So, the "Russian bots and trolls" were right all along about the "Free Syrian Army"? Who'd have thought it?

Leading Ladies

Fight on, Angela Rayner and Emily Thornberry. You are fighting for a lot of us.

I have never been any kind of Marxist. Until the infamous abstention on the Welfare Bill, I advocated only a second preference vote for Jeremy Corbyn, with a first preference vote for Andy Burnham. I always supported Tom Watson for Deputy Leader, and I still do; when Angela Rayner becomes Leader, then the balance that Jeremy and Tom provide each other would most obviously be provided by Angela and by my old university drinking companion, Jonathan Ashworth.

I am not a member of Momentum, although I do advocate joining it, along with the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party. I am a member of the Fabian Society, and I was recently a candidate, albeit an unsuccessful one, for its Executive Committee. Progress still sends me its magazine, so I must still be on its books somehow. I have had links to Blue Labour for as long as it has existed, to such an extent that John Milbank wrote the preface to my first book, while he and Maurice Glasman wrote commendations of my second. I regret that its Nottingham conferences are no longer held.

Although I am not in any ideological sense a Zionist, and although I am extremely critical of the present Israeli Government, of Israel's anti-British terrorist origins, of Israel's atrocity against the USS Liberty, of Israel's arming of Argentina during the Falklands War, and of Israel's persistent interference in the internal affairs of the Conservative and Labour Parties, I am wholly resigned to the simple existence of the State of Israel, dating as it does from the same year as the Empire Windrush, and I am only a qualified supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, in that academic and cultural boycotts strike me as contrary to the nature of scholarship, art and science, while sporting boycotts seem cruel to very young people whose chance to compete at a certain level may come only once or twice in a lifetime. 

There are a lot of us about.

Where This One Ends

"We've seen it all before, and we know where this one ends," we converts sometimes tell cradle Catholics about liberalisation. We have, and we do. But some of us have also seen other things before. We always knew about Damian Thompson. And we could have guessed, anyway. Self-conscious traditionalism and the unassimilated, unassimilable old school of male homosexual separatism. We've seen it all before, and we know where this one ends.

Closing Frame

Late on Saturday evening, ITV showed 1988's Rambo III. The closing frame declared that, "This film is dedicated to the gallant people of Afghanistan." But the original version of that frame is here:


Whatever happened to "the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan"? By what unmentionable name are they now known?

Vocative Case

This has not been published in the Northern Cross, but here it is:

Another year, another Patronal Festival here at Lanchester, and another outing for the Happytudes. Useful though the Jerusalem Bible’s footnotes are, the text itself is atrocious. I know that they are really supposed to translate the liturgical books exactly as they are. But at the very least, could someone not reissue the RSV Edition of the Missal?

After all, the Ordinary of the Mass has now been translated accurately, giving the Modern Rite a fair go in the English-speaking world for the first time. Thus, among many other blessings, we do now say “Blessed” where the frightful old rendition insisted on “Happy”, as in “Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb” (“Beati qui ad cenam Agni vocati sunt”), rather than the gravely inadequate “Happy are those [never mind “Happy are we”] who are called to His supper”. Yet, when it comes to the Beatitudes, we are still living in the long-faded summer of 1968. It is time to let the sunshine in.

Meanwhile, as the seasons turn, we are doubtless to be treated again to the following: “Like a sea without a shore, love divine is boundless. Time is now and evermore, and His love surrounds us.” What does that mean? What does it mean? It does not mean anything at all. Catholic hymnody also includes endless little examples of dumbing down, often to the brink of doctrinal error, not only of lyrics by Protestants, but sometimes even of those by Catholics which continue to appear in their original forms in Protestant hymnbooks. There, you will also find the continued use of the vocative case, against which Catholic editors have a merciless vendetta.

Who Goes Home?

If anyone knows about unelectability, then it is Roy Hattersley. A good writer, he was never a good politician, but he now expects a continuing political role even after having retired from the House of Lords. He lauds the supposed moderation of those who gave us the Private Finance Initiative and the Iraq War. But PFI was the work of the former Militant Alan Milburn, and of Militant’s economic guru, the late Andrew Glyn.

If Momentum is now as dominant as Hattersley claims, then it is its enemies who are a party within the Labour Party. British politics has long been prey to entryism. Hattersley defends the nominally Labour Haringey Council, whose social cleansing policies are denounced in George Osborne’s Evening Standard. Thatcherism arose on the outermost individualist fringe of the tiny Liberal Party. New Labour arose on the outermost Eurocommunist fringe of a Communist Party that had already dissolved itself.

But those in Margaret Thatcher’s own party who have since produced Theresa May did eventually bring down Thatcher. Ostensibly, that was over a European policy that, as a policy rather than as a tone, did not change with her departure. But it was really because of the mass opposition to the Poll Tax, an opposition that had been organised by Militant. And Tony Blair was eventually removed by his own party. Can anyone remember the official reason? But the real reason was of course the mass opposition to the Iraq War, an opposition that had been organised by those to the left of Labour who are often now in it, and who are all very close to Jeremy Corbyn. Think on.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Clean After Green

Damian Green had pornography on his workplace computer, which would be a sackable offence from any other job. In the meantime, however, the technology has advanced such that age verification will now be required in order to access such sites. Well, if there is the means to do that, then there is the means to block them completely in this country. All that is lacking is the will. And that can never come from people who believe in the "free" market.

Back On Track


The "anyone old enough to remember British Rail" argument is obviously not true, as most people are old enough to remember British Rail. Privatisation did not begin until 1994, and it did not end until 1997. All polling for years has shown clear majorities in favour of renationalisation, including among Conservative and UKIP voters.

On This Week, all that Michael Portillo could manage as an argument against renationalising the railways was the antique joke about how bad British Rail sandwiches were. We are winning this one.

Hostile Takeover?

Of those who deserve one, yes. As he himself tells Morgan Stanley, "We're a threat to a damaging and failed system that’s rigged for the few."

During his second Leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn did not know who Ant and Dec were. But if you ask him to do anything in popular culture, then he does it, and that is the key. The Last Leg, Glastonbury, the Pride of Britain Awards, Gogglebox, and now GQ. Of course he found the GQ shoot uncomfortable. But he did it. Don't ask, don't get. But do ask, do get.

As a result, this wildly improbable figure is almost certainly now the single most famous person in the country. People who know nothing about politics know who he is. People who know nothing about football know who he is. People who know nothing about pop music know who he is. People who know nothing about the soaps know who he is. People who know nothing about reality television know who he is. People who know nothing about the Royal Family know who he is.

He has a sheer cultural ubiquity that has been matched in living memory, if ever, by no politicians, and by few, if any, people at all. With that kind of clout, does he need to win a General Election? Perhaps not. But the rest of us desperately need him to do so. And he will.

Thinking Beyond The Boundaries

The House of Commons has just debated Afzal Khan's Private Member's Bill to stop the reduction in the number of MPs from 650 to 600 with no reduction in the size of the Government, one of Theresa May's several anti-parliamentary power grabs. Pat Glass did sterling work against this in the last Parliament.

Khan was first elected this year, but he is already Shadow Immigration Minister. He is certainly a man to watch. His Bill never did stand much chance of becoming law, but the new boundaries will have to be signed off by the Commons, where it is far from clear that there is any majority for them. Labour won the vote to close the filibuster on this Bill, by 229 to 44.

But if this reduction in the number of constituencies were indeed to go ahead, then the number of MPs might nevertheless remain the same. The whole country could elect 50 MPs, with each of us voting for one candidate, and with the top 50 elected at the end. Candidates would not be nominees of political parties, but any party of which a candidate happened to be a member would be listed next to his or her name on the ballot paper, for the information of the voters.

What would be the deposit to become such a candidate? There would not be one, as there ought not to be in general. Instead, the requirement to be a constituency candidate might be nomination by at least five per cent of the voters, while that to be a national candidate might be nomination by at least 2000 registered parliamentary electors, including at least 10 in each of the 99 lieutenancy areas. In this day and age, obtaining that would cost little or nothing.

The lieutenancy areas ought also to be the basis of a new second chamber, to which the powers of the House of Lords would be transferred, with remuneration fixed at that of the Commons. In each of the areas, each of us would vote for one candidate, and the top six would be elected, giving 594 Senators in all.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats would be required, and other parties would be permitted, to submit their internally determined shortlists of two to binding, independently administered, publicly funded ballots of the entire electorate one week before the election itself. Ministers would no longer be drawn from the second chamber; instead, all of them, including the Prime Minister, would appear before it regularly. Its term of office would be six years, while that of the Commons would go back down to four.

And all non-ceremonial exercises of the Royal Prerogative, including Royal Assent, would be transferred to at least six, or possibly seven, of nine Co-Presidents, elected in the same way as the 50 national MPs, with each of us voting for one candidate, and with the top nine elected to hold office for eight years. That would in fact enfranchise those who inexplicably look to the monarchy to protect them from social democracy, or social liberalism, or European federalism, or what you. It has never done any such thing.

Candidates for Co-President, for Senator or for national MP would all be required to name a second, who would also be listed on the ballot paper, to take office in the event of the position's becoming vacant.

In the words of the old Tory battle cry, Trust The People.

World AIDS Day

The position of the Catholic Church is fully borne out by the facts, and is unique in being so. Certain people might consider applying some journalistic or scientific objectivity to the question of where in Africa the condom use relentlessly promoted by Western nongovernmental organisations and compliant governments has ever arrested, never mind reversed, the rate of HIV infection. There is nowhere.

However, such a reversal is under way in Uganda, where the government's message is the same as the Catholic Church's: "Change Your Behaviour". Huge numbers of condoms have been distributed in Botswana, and the result has been for President Festus Mogae to declare, "Abstain or die". 

Who, exactly, is incapable of fidelity within a monogamous marriage and abstinence outside such a marriage? Women? Black people? Poor people? Developing-world people? Or just poor black women in the developing world?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

"Theresa May Is Not Governing Her Party At All"

Ringing In The New Year

Well, it will be Advent on Sunday.

Milo is taking down Damian Thompson. Neil Clark will soon take down Oliver Kamm. And after Christmas, I shall be putting the armorial bearings of Durham County Council on my signet ring.

Life is good.

Happy Saint Andrew's Day

Today ought to be a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom, before which there would be nothing to do with Christmas. Saint David's Day, Saint Patrick's Day and Saint George's Day, which are all in these Islands' incomparable spring and early summer, ought also to be public holidays throughout the United Kingdom, and away with pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks were on holiday. This is now Labour Party policy, but I have been saying it for 20 years.

"Cut All Ties To North Korea"?

What ties to North Korea? If you have any, then you probably ought to cut them. But of the two most evil regimes on the planet, North Korea is not armed by Britain, nor does it drag Britain into wars, nor has it had much success in spreading its ideology to Britain, and nor is it the financial, organisational and ideological centre of global Islamist terrorism, such that to arm that regime is to arm that terrorism. The one like that is Saudi Arabia. Cut all ties to Saudi Arabia, because we have them to cut.

Moreover, our membership of NATO commits us to the defence of the Islamist regime in Turkey, and of Baltic and other Eastern European types who downplay the numbers killed by Hitler while, at NATO's expense, glorifying those of their own compatriots who fought for him. There are other possible uses for two per cent of our GDP. We should just get out of NATO. We should cut all ties. Again, because we have them to cut.

Outside The Triangle

Less than an hour ago, as "the Editor of the influential Lanchester Review", I was on Sputnik Radio in Moscow talking about Brexit. Less than an hour before that, I had heard the Today programme's version of the Trump versus Theresa debate, with Jamie Rubin as the Left, meaning that, with Ann Coulter as the Right, Melanie Phillips was the centre ground. This is what triangulation sounds like. Sputnik and RT are the alternatives and the correctives.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

#MiloToo


For half a decade, between 2007 and 2012, former Daily Telegraph blogs editor Damian Thompson sexually harassed me, dangling career advancement, fame, and money in my face while attempting to control who I hung out with and what I said and demanding that I satisfy his peculiar personal urges.

I had arrived in London in the mid 2000s, a lonely young man with a lot of issues. I was young, handsome and enthusiastically sexually active, living in a capital city in an unsatisfying relationship with someone I did not love. I looked for affection – usually settling merely for attention – in low places. I drank too much. And I lied to everyone, all the time. Because I was ashamed and contemptuous of my family, every time someone asked me about my background, I made up a new story. I didn’t realize at the time that these people would one day meet each other and compare notes – nor that my claims were so amusingly improbable to those who had seen the world and could tell when a troubled young man was spinning tall tales.

Damian offered to save me from all this. He reined in my worst habits. He taught me how to write well. He screamed at me when I behaved in a gauche or insincere manner around his friends. It was a trial by fire, but it made me a better person. Damian hammered out the affectations and fake mannerisms in my character that were getting in the way of my career and preventing me from writing clearly and effectively.

Before I had even heard of Breitbart News, the American website at which I would eventually become an award-winning journalist and a New York Times bestselling author, Damian Thompson groomed me for stardom, nurturing my waspish instincts, helping me to craft a bitchy and devastating way with words and teaching me that ridicule was the most powerful weapon in any social commentator’s arsenal.

Damian took me for dinner with politicians at Brooks’s, a gentlemen’s club in St James’s. He loved to show off his connections and the fact that despite being a grammar school boy from Reading he had managed to get into rarefied social circles in London. He gave me experience as a research assistant on a book he was writing. He got me a job as an assistant and speechwriter to a brilliant but unstable celebrity. He got me a job writing for the Telegraph about technology, and advising the paper on digital strategy.

He even coached me through family dramas, such as when I gave up my mother’s maiden name and chose to go by Yiannopoulos, my father’s name, because at the time I loathed my mother and wanted to sever any connection to her. Some decades my senior, Damian was in many ways a surrogate father.

But my chaotic relationship with Damian took a dark turn. I began staying in his Notting Hill apartment for long stretches of time and noticed that he would use Valium late at night before making long, conspiratorial phone calls.

Damian was and is a powerful and influential figure with an intimidating personal network – he is on first name terms with everyone a young conservative journalist might idolize – but he had bizarre fetishes which, then, in my naïveté, I didn’t fully realize were sexual in nature. Most strikingly, he had a thing for younger men in glasses. He showed me a website called the Eye Scene where other older men, most of them gay, shared this particular fetish.

Men with this sexual preoccupation refer to spectacle prescriptions as though they were bust measurements, enthusing over high diopters and discussing optical effects such as “power rings” (the white parallel lines that appear toward the edges of high-index lenses) and “cut-in” (when you can see the wall behind a person in their glasses due to bending of the light).

Sometimes, Damian would make me get on my hands and knees and pretend to look for my glasses on the floor of his living room. I didn’t dare look back over at him while I was complying with his wishes. Like the posters on the Eye Scene, he got a kick out of seeing young men helpless without their glasses. Afterwards, he would insist that I stayed the night. He had one bed; we shared it.

Over the years he asked endless, repeated questions about his appearance, especially his weight, and was proud that his hair transplants had left him with such a “natural look.” It seems absurd now, but, at the time, it didn’t even occur to me to say No or to step back and realize I needed to get out of this destructive interpersonal dynamic.

Damian would fly into rages if I alluded to any kind of sex life or personal life, if I hung out with people he didn’t approve of or expressed the wrong opinion, or if I gave the impression of relying emotionally or professionally on anyone except him. He would stare at me for hours late at night while he played Beethoven and Bach and buy me white wine from the local supermarket, encouraging me to guzzle bottles of the stuff well into the early hours of the morning “so I was nicer to him.” When I was very drunk, he would try to kiss me. Meanwhile, he would brag about his rich and famous friends, including members of the Royal Family.

By day, Damian was my boss at the Telegraph. What was I supposed to do? Quit my job and lose everything? There was never any full sexual contact between us, but other things did occur late at night on his side of the bed. In the twilight of our tempestuous relationship, he tried to ply me with Valium and cocaine, in the hope, I now realize, that it would loosen me up and I would return his advances. He gave me money and drip-fed me career advances at the newspaper, but he always made sure I knew he could snatch it away at any time. I was alone in London, knew no one and at the time he felt like my only route to success, and my only escape from a desperately unhappy childhood and a miserable relationship. It was terrifying.

One afternoon, Damian took me to his therapist, whom he referred to as his “shrink,” who informed me: “Damian is in love with you.” I had no idea why I’d been taken there in the first place. At that point, I was just doing as I was told. The whole thing felt like a set-up or a bad joke — to what end, I didn’t know. I was by no means the only boy on the scene at that time, but being the least well-connected of the young men he took interest in, I was the one he focused on and humiliated most and kept around him in his flat and in the office where we worked alongside one another.

It has been a long time since I even thought about Damian Thompson and the weird indignities he subjected me to, but hearing about Harvey Weinstein in recent months and considering the imbalance of power between Weinstein and his accusers, it occurred to me that I should tell my story. In particular, I’m sympathetic to how Weinstein’s victims thought he could destroy their careers. I experienced the same anxieties about my harasser. They have been with me for a decade.

When, after years of feeling confused and embarrassed by Damian’s obsessive behaviors, I finally told him there was no hope of a romantic relationship with me, he became uncontrollably angry and set about trying to destroy my career with vague “warnings” to anyone who would listen not to work with me, paranoid allegations that I was lying about who I was and that I could not be trusted — in short, that I was “trouble.” I have never felt more hopeless, more helpless or more alone.

He threatened and insulted me via email and text message, complaining that I had “betrayed” him, and called everyone I had ever met or worked with in London, delivering late-night rants about how I must never be allowed near a newspaper or magazine again and listing my supposed sins. Months after our friendship came to an end, I received calls from people who had been on the receiving end of a two-hour phone call from Damian about me. They told me he sounded unhinged.

I recognized in his repetitive, obsessive attempts at character assassination the personality of the alcoholic: Damian was some years sober, but never wasted the opportunity to draw attention to his past as an addict. He had even written a book on the subject, which I had enthusiastically helped him draft.

Some of what Damian told people was true: he had pounced on me at a time I was immature, emotionally vulnerable and unstable and I had behaved badly. But five years later, I had straightened myself out and was on the path to success in journalism — until I crossed him.

By 2012, I was experiencing professional resistance in Britain, in a media environment that does not readily accommodate iconoclasts. Damian had effectively torpedoed my career in London, as revenge, because I finally plucked up the courage to say No. Suddenly, I was plunged back into the obscurity and loneliness from which he had plucked me. It took me years, and a startup media company of my own that almost bankrupted me, to get my reputation back.

In the years that have passed, I have gone on to terrific success in America, but the main reason I drifted from London in the first place was that Damian Thompson systematically alienated every publication I might conceivably have worked at. Recently, as I’ve been planning a UK leg of my tour, having just sold 10,000 seats in Australia this December, I’ve heard that he has renewed his efforts to drag my name through the mud as he is apparently still seething at the rejection.

Writing this, I am risking Damian’s wrath — further aggressive and repeated attempts to destroy my career, my reputation and my friendships. These days he has set aside alcohol only to become addicted instead to feuds, jealousy, bitter recriminations and character assassinations. But sexual harassment and controlling behavior was a constant feature of my life, in and out of the office, for half a decade, thanks to him. Now I’m free from it, and in a happy marriage, safely pursuing my dreams on the other side of the Atlantic, I feel better about sharing my story.

I’m speaking up now because Damian abused his power over me and then took cold, calculated revenge for the indignity of being turned down sexually.

I don’t think I’m alone. I happen to know a half-dozen young men working in prominent positions in London media who have experienced much of what I did with Damian. I don’t know if any of the others got as far down the rabbit hole of control and manipulation. But I’m sure they all share my shame and disgust at allowing a powerful and much older man to subject me to his odd proclivities in exchange for professional favors and money.

Even though many people I’ve confided in privately say Damian’s behavior is an open secret in London, he is still associate editor and music critic of a respected conservative magazine and editorial director of a prominent Catholic newspaper.

As anyone who has ever heard the name Milo Yiannopoulos will know already, I’m hardly a paragon of saintly virtue. But I know the difference between sin and evil. Sinning separates us from God; I’ll be working on that my whole life. But evil is the attempt to control other people, especially the vulnerable and powerless, and especially to satisfy something as undignified and frivolous as carnal desire.

Britain First, Indeed

A State Visit by Donald Trump would now galvanise an entire generation, changing Britain in ways too numerous to list, over the next 50 years and more.

Provided that the demonstrations were organised and headlined by opponents of other unsavoury State Visitors such as successive Kings of Saudi Arabia, and by opponents of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama who would have opposed Hillary Clinton just as vigorously.

And provided that those organisers and headliners were just as robust, both against the leading members of the present governing party who had deep roots in the 1980s subculture that also produced Thomas Mair, and against the White Helmets who were funded by the Jo Cox Foundation. 

Cumulative Impact Assessment

This Sunday, 3rd December, is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. There are calls for a Cumulative Impact Assessment. It needs to start with Durham County Council's abuse of its Teaching Assistants, and with Durham County Council's cuts to its bus services.

Momentum Against The Moderates?

There is nothing moderate about the occasion of the present furore, namely the Shirley Porter housing policies of Haringey Council. But that is what Britain would look like under a mercifully improbable Government of anti-Corbyn Labourites.

Something In The Air

At Prime Minister's Questions, peddling the latest anti-Russian hysterical nonsense, was Damian Collins, a stalwart of the Henry Jackson Society. Standing in for Theresa May, Damian Green wholeheartedly agreed with him. Well, of course. The Henry Jackson Society wants to subsume Britain into a single EU defence capability under day-to-day German but overall American control, something that presupposes a Russia-baiting German Government and an American Administration such as Hillary Clinton would have headed.

Within that, it wants to abolish the RAF, whose hundredth birthday Green was ostensibly so keen to celebrate. Denying a country an air force is a time-honoured way of emphasising that it has been defeated and that it is under occupation. We have been defeated, and we are under occupation, by Damian Green, Damian Collins, and the Henry Jackson Society. But the liberation struggle has begun.

Brexit Is The New Trident

The regular leaps in the cost are eye-watering enough in themselves, even before thinking about the sums thus arrived at. But the difference is that there are other ways of doing Brexit. We either have Trident, or we don't.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

But As The House Is Pleased To Direct Me

In any battle between Parliament and the Executive, then Parliament, and especially the House of Commons, always has to win. Always. David Davis used to be a leading light shining for such principles.

In Libya, Every Day Is Black Friday


Given a sufficiently high profile, such as that of a loudly and proudly anti-racist and anti-war Member of Parliament, or indeed that of a Prime Minister whose international reputation was made as an enemy of the slave trade while Home Secretary, then I would begin this action myself.

Burma Source Verification

The World at One was still spinning for Aung San Suu Kyi. Sadly, she still has clout with the likes of the BBC (although certainly not with my splendid old mate, Jonah Fisher) and the people around the Pope, who did not even say the word "Rohingya", but who met a leading racist Buddhist monk. Why do people buy into the GCSE RE myth of Buddhist pacifism?

Brothers and Aunties

As a non-EEA national, Meghan Markle will require a marriage visa, which will in turn require her to prove that the new family unit that she intended to co-found could be supported “without recourse to public funds”. That’s the law.

Meanwhile, the BBC managed to subtitle Jeremy Corbyn’s “Harry and his brother” as “Harry and Hezbollah”. Speaking of royalty, it had also originally intended to broadcast that documentary on Stephen Kinnock and his courtiers under the title, The Night That Labour Died.

Yet Nick Robinson had the gall to attack RT on the Today programme this morning. The Today programme, on which John Humphrys recently used his £600,000 salary, which Robinson angrily claimed did not come from the public funding that apparently the BBC does not receive in its own mind, to call for the problems of Zimbabwe to be solved by “more white farmers”.

Fast forward to The Daily Politics, and Owen Jones is still the BBC’s Licensed Lefty, debating the earth-shatteringly significant question of Momentum’s role in Labour candidate selections with someone from the circle sleeping with certain members of which was what really made him famous in the first place. No one on the real Left will still be in a room with Owen Jones. Many of them took that view of him from the start.

Not for the first time, just how right-wing do you have to be, to think that the BBC is left-wing?

Strategic Indifference

Even Newsnight, which managed to wait until Item Two before mentioning the Royal Engagement, did not mention the Government's Industrial Strategy. At all.

Think on.

Putting Asunder?

The case of Jakki Smith illustrates that there is a perfectly reasonable case for civil partnerships to be available to opposite-sex couples. It is not as if those couples would otherwise be getting married. Civil partnerships for opposite-sex couples would mean that no one would get married unless they very explicitly wanted to be married, in preference to a specific alternative. That could only strengthen marriage. For one thing, divorce could be made far more difficult, at least for people who had chosen marriage after this new arrangement had come into force. After all, if they had not wanted that, then they could always have had a civil partnership instead.

Any marrying couple should be entitled to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 with regard to grounds and procedures for divorce, and any religious organisation should be enabled to specify that any marriage that it conducted would be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly. Statute should specify that the Church of England and the Church in Wales each be such a body unless, respectively, the General Synod and the Governing Body specifically resolved the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses. There should be similar provision relating to the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy. Entitlement upon divorce should be fixed by Statute at one per cent of the other party's estate for each year of marriage, up to 50 per cent, with no entitlement for the petitioning party unless the other party's fault were proved.

Unmarried opposite-sex partnerships are not some recent innovation. They are this country's historical norm. Most legal marriages used to last to the grave, if only because they could not be dissolved. But everyone who knows the first thing about the subject knows that between the Reformation and the late nineteenth century at the absolute earliest, relatively few people in Britain ever were legally married. They lived together, they had children, women often took men's names. But there was no marriage certificate, and it was quite normal to have several such arrangements over the course of a lifetime. When people sought the validation of the State (as much local as national) and of its Established Church, then they really did want that validation. And, of course, they could afford to obtain it.

The near-universality of marriage probably did not last 100 years, and it tellingly collapsed under Margaret Thatcher, when the economic order to which it was integral was dismantled. The introduction of opposite-sex civil partnerships would once again create the space in which the only people who got married were the people who really meant it. There might not be very many of those on these shores. But there almost, if almost, never have been. And never having needed to be consummated, civil partnerships ought not to be confined to unrelated couples.

Am I trying to go back to the 1950s? To which features of the 1950s, exactly? Full employment? Public ownership? The Welfare State? Council housing? Municipal services? Apprenticeships? Free undergraduate tuition, once other, rather more pressing needs had been met? All of those things were bound up with things like this. That they have all been eroded or destroyed together has not been a coincidence. It is not called neoliberalism for nothing.

Mecklenburg Markle

As he prepares to settle down, consider that, like Henry VIII before him and Prince Hal before that, Prince Harry has always been an amateur compared to their ancestor and namesake, Henry I. William the Conqueror’s youngest son probably became King of England by having one his own brothers murdered, certainly became Duke of Normandy by defeating another brother in battle, had at least 29 children by at least eight (and possibly 19) different women, and literally ate himself to death on the night of 1st and 2nd December 1135, aged 67.

No one with anything like the Royal Family’s foreign background would ever stand a hope of becoming the President of Britain. The Queen is of heavy immigrant stock, and she is married to an immigrant. They are both probably part-black. In fact, no one could believe anything else having seen a portrait of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whose features were publicly called “Negroid” at the time, when her ancestry was common knowledge and apparently disturbed nobody. The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is named after her, and it is the seat of Mecklenburg County.

She was descended from the part-black Royal House of Portugal, another member of which was Catherine of Braganza, who was the consort of Charles II but from whom no one is descended, unlike her husband, whose descendants included Princess Diana and include both the present Duchess of Cornwall and the former Duchess of York. In a portrait displayed in one of the private areas of Durham Castle, Catherine is shown looking just like a mixed-raced Briton of today. Or, indeed, like Meghan Markle.

Furthermore, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are plausibly believed to be descended from Muhammad through various part-Moorish royal lines on the Iberian Peninsula, back through the Kings of Portugal and Castile, to the old Moorish Kings of Seville. Even if Robert Graves was once ushered away from Her Majesty after he had mentioned their common descent from the Prophet of Islam, that view is widely held in an entirely matter-of-fact way across the Islamic world. Genghis Khan and the Tang Emperor Suzong are less plausible ancestors, but not impossible ones.

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Happy Couple

Defence Mechanisms

Conservative MPs may be in revolt against proposed cuts to "defence", but the latest that this country ever fought a defensive war was in 1982, and we have had no shortage of adventures since. Several of those have actively created threats that did not previously exist, notably in Iraq and in Libya.

We function as a satrapy of Saudi Arabia, the global nerve centre of Islamist terrorism. Not only do we arm it, thus arming every Islamist faction by what barely even qualifies as proxy, but we even have personnel in the command room of its wicked, wicked, wicked war in Yemen.

When the British arming of the Saudi war in Yemen was last brought to the floor of the House of Commons, then anti-Corbyn Labour MPs ostentatiously abstained. But since then, the hateful Michael Fallon has been forced from office, and it has been found that British-made cluster bombs were being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Since as long ago as last December, that has been admitted by absolutely everyone. 

Saudi Arabia is not poor. It is fabulously rich. Its British-made cluster bombs, in use in Yemen and soon (if not already) by Saudis against Saudis, are not from the 1980s. On this country's absolutely toxic relationship with what is jointly the most repressive regime in the world, matched only by North Korea, Jeremy Corbyn has been right all along. 

The supply of British arms to Saudi Arabia needs to be brought back to the floor of the House of Commons as a matter of the utmost urgency. The rather good Labour Chief Whip ought to publish in advance the list of MPs with leave of absence. For anyone else, abstention this time ought to mean deselection in due season, and universal moral revulsion with immediate effect. No such person ought to be re-elected. Therefore, no such person ought to be reselected.

The attackers in Egypt were waving the flag of the so-called Islamic State. Well, so were the hundreds of fighters whom we allowed out of Raqqa, even though they were not supposed to display it. I have no idea whether they and the attackers in Egypt were the same individuals. But they might as well have been.

Still, never mind. Theresa May has just given away £100 million to "counteract Russian propaganda in Eastern Europe". From the Baltic to the Adriatic, neo-Nazi glorifiers of those of their compatriots who fought for Hitler are looking forward to a payday, if they have not already had it, or even if they have. Heaven forfend that any good might be spoken of those who, for all their faults, have been, and who remain, on the right side of the fight against the greatest evil in the world since 1945.

It entirely defeats me that torchlit neo-Nazi processions are objectionable in Virginia, as of course they are, but are positively laudable in Ukraine. Another attempted Far Right putsch assisted by the CIA, no more a popular uprising than anything else that is capable of staging a helicopter grenade attack on the Supreme Court, is being attempted in Venezuela.

If there is one thing worth knowing about Venezuela, then it is that the people who are now beating the drum against it have been wrong about every foreign policy of the last 20 years, and that they had barely heard of the place, which they still could not find on a map, until they needed a stick with which to beat Jeremy Corbyn. That, and the fact that no policy of Corbyn's resembles anything in Venezuela, except coincidentally while already being the norm in places like Germany and Scandinavia.

Had I the money, then I would bring an action before the High Court of Justiciary of Scotland, asking it to exercise its declaratory power against Tony Blair and his accomplices in relation to their crime of aggression against Iraq in 2003. At worst, the Court could say no. I continue to demand the Coroner's Inquest that has never been held into the death of Dr David Kelly, whose remains were recently exhumed and cremated in anticipation of a Corbyn Government. Why is there any other news than that?

It is not bleeding heart stuff to oppose the arms trade. It is good strategic sense. We never know where the arms might end up. Or, in the case of Saudi Arabia and of its other satrapies, we do know that the arms run a very high risk of ending up in the hands of the so-called Islamic State or of forces that are in no meaningful way distinguishable from it.

BAE Systems ought to be renationalised as the monopoly supplier to our own Armed Forces, while all other sale of arms abroad ought to be banned. The State has a responsibility, not least to its own defence, to enable the diversification of the skilled work that is currently being done in the arms trade.

The same is true of Trident, the ever more eye-watering cost of which ought to be diverted to rebuilding the conventional Armed Forces (and not least the Royal Navy, which has gone to rack and ruin, having been the world's mightiest before nuclear weapons were ever thought of), to caring for veterans, to flood defences, and to the real nuclear deterrent, which is civil nuclear power.

That, and the exploitation of Britain's vast reserves of coal, need to be the backbone of an "all-of-the-above" energy policy with its commanding heights in reformed public ownership, even while appreciating that if the shale gas is there at all, which unlike the coal we do not know, then it is in places that do not want or need fracking, unlike the coal that is very definitely in areas in dire need of mining, both as an industry and as a culture.

I have always said all of this. That is but one of the many, many, many reasons to want to send me to prison.