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


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.

Picket Lines

Picketing is not something that the mainstream British pro-life organisations really do, anyway. This rather un-British behaviour attracts adverse publicity to the cause, but it is not very common over here. It has been imported from, and largely by, the American lot.

Theirs is a spectacularly unsuccessful movement whose only function is to lose the Republican Presidential nomination once every four years, and then to pretend that they had somehow won it. In 2012, they were reduced to urging a vote for a Presidential candidate who derived an income from the public funding of abortion in the state where he had legalised such funding. In 2016, they stooped to supporting a candidate with a long record as a generous donor to Planned Parenthood.

All of that said, however, Amber Rudd's proposal to outlaw such picketing, something that never happened under a New Labour Government steeped in feminism while unacquainted with trade union activity, is further evidence of just how ferociously pro-abortion this Government is. By accepting an amendment to the Queen's Speech, it did not even bother to hold a parliamentary vote in order to provide funding in England and Wales for abortions for women from Northern Ireland.

The last time that there was a Commons vote on abortion, a generation ago, the Thatcher Government legalised it up to birth, dutifully opposed by John Smith and Charles Kennedy, by Ronnie Campbell and George Galloway. So it is for abortions up to and including partial birth that this new provision will be paying. Apparently, though, the fetus is both "a part of the woman's body" and "insentient". Is it the whole of a woman's body that is insentient? Or is it only the parts that are directly concerned with reproduction?

1936 And All That?

The Abdication Crisis, you say? Well, at 35 years until his death, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor had one of his family's longer-lasting marriages. Meghan Markle's first marriage was civil, like Wallis Simpson's second, whereas her first had been in the Episcopal Church, so that it was possible to see the Church of England's point.

82 years later, however, Ms Markle is to be married next summer either in Westminster Abbey or in St Paul's Cathedral, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, according to the Book of Common Prayer on which the Royal Family still insists, and in the presence of the Queen, all apparently without ever having been baptised. That is the real theological problem here.

The Abdication Crisis was perhaps the most notable outing for the very hard line that male homosexual clergy, on both sides of the Tiber, characteristically take on the subject of divorce, and most especially of divorced women. Cosmo Gordon Lang and his circle were victorious, because, detached from the Magisterium, they had to fight.

Evangelicals are usually, although not always, a little easier-going on divorce, perhaps because they tend to be the marrying kind themselves. But they might usefully employ their current ascendancy in the Church of England to ensure that its parishes no longer sponsored those who allowed adolescent male genitals in the showers at the Girl Guides. Girlguiding UK, indeed.

In General

There would either have been another General Election this year, or there would not have been another one until 2022. 2022 it is, then. Vote Labour in every seat. After all, there is now ample time to ensure that the Labour candidates everywhere will be the right people. And not the wrong people.

The Last Days of Northern Ireland

Give it the dignity of a full hundred years, until 2022. That will still have been three, four or even five times longer than anyone expected or intended in 1922. But there is only one way in which this ends. There was only one way in which it was ever going to end. That day is nearly here. What matters now is ensuring a National Health Service for the whole of Ireland.

Game of Thrones

Meghan Markle ought to insist on getting married like a normal person, on the bride's side (and, it must be said, at the bride's side's expense). This will be a Hollywood event, so let it be held in Hollywood. Perhaps according to the rites of Scientology, with Tom Cruise officiating.

But we now have a Court Party, and it is winning. Everyone knew that the Industrial Strategy was going to be published today rather than tomorrow. The announcement of the Royal Engagement has been timed in order to upstage it. And it has.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Please Support Me On Patreon

I am a writer, broadcaster and political activist who is not a member of any political party. I am happy to work with people of all parties and of none. My national and international work is focused on participating in the formulation, articulation and implementation of the alternative to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy. In my own case, that is based on the pursuit of economic equality and of international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends.

Locally, I support justice for the 472 of Durham County Council’s Teaching Assistants who are still set to lose 23 per cent of their pay, I am working to bring Volkswagen’s production for the British market to County Durham after Brexit, I am seeking to provide a platform for the concerns expressed by and to the non-Labour majority of County and Parish Councillors in the North West Durham parliamentary constituency, and I intend to identify in each ward of the former Districts of Derwentside and Wear Valley a number of projects equal to the former number of District Councillors in order to campaign in support of those projects.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Quite A Bombshell

Theresa May, who as Home Secretary was responsible for letting the future Manchester bomber back into Britain and for turning Manchester into a haven for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is now refusing to pay the full cost of that bombing. Somehow, it was Manchester's fault, at least in part. Where, exactly, is the line north of which the Government stops being responsible for our security?

Twin Forces

The only reason to want an EU Army is to fight a war. And the EU, which has supported and encouraged every act of NATO aggression since the end of the Cold War, would only stage its own in the closest possible concert with NATO. Brexit will not save us from this one. We need to get out of NATO, too. As I have been saying for years. Yet another reason, I suppose, to want to send me to prison.

Our Own Money Back

Since there is absolutely no suggestion of making a profit out of the sale of the public stake in RBS, that stake ought simply to be distributed, equally and tax free, among the holders of all active National Insurance numbers in the United Kingdom.

No More Donkeys

I am all for demonstrations against Donald Trump. But only if at least the organisers, and preferably everyone involved above the necessary age, had been just as vigorously opposed to his three immediate predecessors, and would have been just as vigorously opposed to President Hillary Clinton.

All political parties are least worst options, but never was that truer than it is of the American Democratic Party. If it nominates another Establishment liberal in 2020, then it will deserve to die by means of a second defeat at the hands of Trump.

It is, after all, the party of Japanese-American internment, of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, of the enforcement of the Jim Crow laws throughout the entire century of their existence, of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, of the repeal of Glass-Steagall, of Bill Clinton's trigger happiness, of the perennial failure to sort out healthcare, of Obama's bombing of eight countries in eight years, of the fix that nominated the unelectable Hillary Clinton instead of the electable Bernie Sanders, and of the ridiculous attempt to blame Trump's victory on "the Russians". 

If it is still like that in 2020, then it will deserve to die, and it will deserve the supreme indignity of having been killed by Donald Trump. But no one should have anything to do with any demonstration against him unless at least the organisers, and preferably everyone involved above the necessary age, had been just as vigorously opposed to his three immediate predecessors, and would have been just as vigorously opposed to President Hillary Clinton.

If I were a sufficiently prominent figure, then I myself would be organising such demonstrations, with carefully selected speakers to fit the bill and to say so from the platform. Yet another reason, I suppose, to want to send me to prison.

They Are Not Caracas In Colchester

It was good to see Dreda Say Mitchell on Question Time. She is a staunch Left Brexiteer from the specific perspective of working-class black London. Having her and Diane Abbott on at the same time was a great improvement on the usual practice of "balancing" even the occasional token supporter of Jeremy Corbyn with one of his obsessive haters from the Westminster Village Branch Labour Party. 

Someone in the audience, in Conservative-held Colchester, knew who Abbott was, but did not even know the name of the Cabinet Minister on the panel. Nor can I remember it, if I ever knew. But off he went about Venezuela and blah blah blah. Whereas Abbott accurately pointed out that Corbyn's policies were taken as read in places like Germany and Scandinavia.

Last week, it was Rod Liddle who pointed out that simple fact. Rod Liddle, as Associate Editor of The Spectator. Rod Liddle, a columnist on the Sunday Times and The Sun. The Sun. Beyond the comments threads of certain websites, the Caracas Chorus has no audience whatever. It needs to be asked precisely which specific policy of Corbyn's resembled anything in Venezuela. Even were such a policy to be identified, then they would probably have it in several First World countries, too. Sometimes including the United States, as in the case of the rent controls that were to some extent supported by four out of five panellists last night.

"Look at Cuba!" shrieked the odd one out, the nameless grey suit from central casting. I'd do more than look at it. Just as I would welcome missionaries from Africa to sort out the Church in this country, so I would welcome missionaries from Cuba to sort out the Health Service. They are not necessarily unfamiliar with each other, anyway.

Labour needs 65 seats for an overall majority. It needs to identify the most dilapidated part of the NHS in each of its 65 target seats, and the same in each of the 65 most marginal that it already holds. It then needs to secure the establishment of a Cuban medical mission alongside, and in support of, that facility, as in other areas of the Third World. Ideally, each of those missions would be opened in person by a touring Jeremy Corbyn.

If I were a Member of Parliament, then, alongside and in support of the dilapidated NHS, there would already be Cuban medical missions in and serving my constituency. Supposedly up-and-coming MPs on the Left, whose nearest and dearest may even be given to cries of "¡Hasta la victoria siempre!", need to be asked why they are not doing this. Yet another reason, I suppose, to want to send me to prison.

None Recorded

Nor ever will. 24 hours after the most courteous of courtesy visits from the Police to inform me that I was once again a victim of a crime with Simon Henig's Mossad fingerprints all over it, my DBS certificate for something came today. No issues. Well, of course not. I'm David Lindsay. And the University renewed my staff card for another however many years this afternoon. It took three minutes, and it only took that long because of the new photograph. Well, of course. I'm David Lindsay. And don't anyone ever forget it.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

This Needs To End Now

With less than a fortnight to go until the showiest trial this side of Pyongyang, I have been informed by the ever-excellent Durham Constabulary that our old friends "the defenders of Bharat, the defenders of Eretz Israel" have once again been writing from the United States, a county that I have never visited.

This time, they have been writing to prominent but non-political figures in these parts. They have not only repeated their death threats against me (and possibly against others, although I have not been told that), but they have also extended those threats to "the teenage sons of female Police Officers". Those will be killed if I am not convicted and imprisoned, "the teenage sons of female Police Officers". 

This whole business has now crossed a line even by its own standards hitherto. Durham Police Federation must now demand that the charge against me be dropped and that any Police file on me be closed, as must every Member of Parliament and every County Council representing any teenage son of a female Police Officer. That is almost certainly all of them, and certainly all of the MPs.

Look, what do you want me to do? Forgo any claim to financial compensation? I would do it. Undertake never to seek any elected political office that I did not currently hold? I would do it. I am not asking for the Crown Prosecution Service to admit that it never had a case against me, even though it never did. I am not asking for the Council Council election in Lanchester that Labour, although not the candidates themselves, won by these nefarious means to be rerun at expense to the community at large.

Just drop the charge against me, close any and all Police files on me, and concentrate on protecting, not so much me, as others besides, now even including "the teenage sons of female Police Officers", from the intercontinental "defenders of Bharat, defenders of Eretz Isreal", who have defined themselves in the past as the heirs of Nuthurum Godse and of Moshe Sneh, and who are clearly bad and possibly mad, but who are not joking.

They hate me. The likes of Simon Henig hate me. But we trust that only one of those categories is prepared to see "the teenage sons of female Police Officers" go to their graves for the sake of its hatred of me. The one with quite literally more firepower than a single fingerprint that turned up seven months to the day after I had been charged and which may or may not have been mine (it is not), on one side but not the other of a folded piece of paper that any of hundreds of people might have touched, but not on the envelope in which it had been posted, an envelope that bears no trace of my DNA where it had been sealed.

This needs to end. Now.

Our Days In Court

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is to appear in court in Iran on 10th September. If you can be there, then you should be, simply refusing to leave without her. Obviously, this is not a job for any of us little people. This is one for a prominent figure. Jeremy Corbyn would be ideal. But anyone with a sufficiently high profile would do.

Had I been a Member of Parliament, then I would already have done this, during the recent parliamentary recess. Yet another reason, I suppose, to want to send me to prison four days before Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's day in court. A member of the General Synod of the Church of England recently told me that my treatment was, "like something out of North Korea." We shall soon see whether I might at least have fared better in Iran.

How The West Can Be Won

"The people I talk to tell me they have more money than ever," retorted the MP for Taunton Deane, Rebecca Pow, to John McDonnell's suggestion that poverty might exist in this country. Do you reside in that constituency, and has your MP clearly not been talking to you? Of course, it was a Lib Dem seat until 2015. Had the Conservatives expected to win it, then they might not have put up some squirene whose education had begun with laying the table and ended with laying ... no, let's not.

Another such is Newton Abbot's Anne Marie N. Morris, whose expulsion from the House of Commons for something that would now have been career-ending in South Africa, the former Rhodesia or the American South I would have moved if I had been a Member of Parliament. Yet another reason, I suppose, to want to send me to prison. What, exactly, are the practical anti-racist credentials of any MP who has failed to Show Racism the Red Card in this way?

Labour is even in second place in Newton Abbot now. But that scarcely matters. Both Taunton Deane and Newton Abbot need to be fought as if they were knife-edge marginals, if not by the Labour Party itself, then by Momentum and its wider network. Jeremy Corbyn's Leadership campaign was organised in the South West by the remarkable George Aylett. There is no reason why two of the biggest stories of the next General Election could not be, and there is every reason why two of the biggest stories of the next General Election ought to be, the election of Corbyn supporters in place of Marie Antoinette and Lurleen Wallace.

Fiscal Studies

It is time for Modern Monetary Theory. It is time for the Universal Basic Income. It is time for the Land Value Tax. It is time for the restoration of democratic political control over monetary policy.

And it is time for greatly expanded national and municipal public ownership, with a far greater level of democratic political control than has ever previously been the case. 

Time To Apply Ourselves

Uber's days are numbered. Over to the unions and the councils to set up their own. It's an app. It's not hard to do.

This could all be built into the existing black cab trade. With Uber out of the way, then the black cabs would not be undercut if they adopted the technology. All overseen by the councils and the unions. It could be integrated with Oyster and everything. Everyone would love it. They would rapidly wonder how they ever did without it.

The Knowledge is no more a "restrictive practice" than a medical or a legal qualification is. The same was true of many working-class protections that have been lost. Let this be the beginning of their restoration. No satnav in the world could ever match The Knowledge, or that latter would no longer exist, still less would it command such healthy remuneration.

This is a moment to be seized. The technology now effectively belongs only to the people. Seize this moment.

Worth Getting Out Of Bed For

The millennials' railcard will not work before 10am. Their morning commute will still cost exactly the same. 

Forward to a renationalised rail system as the backbone of a restored public transport network reaching every community all day and all evening, and free at the point of use to everyone.

If we can conceive this, then we can achieve it.

Ladies First?

The appointment of a Lady Usher of the Black Rod gave Theresa May another opportunity to ask when the Labour Party was ever going to elect a woman Leader. Well, the Conservative Party's membership in the country has never elected a woman Leader. Indeed, it has never even been invited to do so. And we all know that the next Leader of the Labour Party is going to be a woman, the incomparable Grangela, the first woman to be elected to lead a national political party by its membership at large.

Conviction Politics

By all means rot in your cell, Ratko Mladić. But what about the rest of them? Jeremy Corbyn and the Morning Star, the only national newspaper that took the same view, were right. Ask John Laughland, or Mark Almond, or Peter Hitchens, or any of the American paleocons.

The neocons ought to stay away from the Yugoslav Wars, although of course they won't. "Serbs Evil, Croats Sort Of UK, Muslims Saintly" was not taken seriously by any serious person even at the time, and it would not wash with anyone at all today.

The collapse of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as such, has been, and remains, an unmitigated disaster. A disaster visited upon Europe and the world by the EU and by NATO. Yugoslavia was authoritarian, but it was hardly so by the standards of twentieth-century Eastern Europe. It was multiethnic, and it was properly independent. It was also rather Anglophile. Margaret Thatcher even bowed to Tito's coffin. No one is all bad. 

On and on people bang about Corbyn and imaginary "anti-Semitism" or even "Holocaust denial". But for those, you needed the late Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Alija Izetbegović of Bosnia. Or you need the pro-NATO governments and parties in Eastern Europe, with their NATO-funded films glorifying those of their compatriots who fought for Hitler.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

That Black Friday Feeling

The Americans think that Thanksgiving is religious, while the British think that Christmas is not. The Puritans despised harvest festivals, and ruthlessly suppressed them. The association of Thanksgiving with the Pilgrim Fathers is also a fiction. A pious fiction, but a fiction all the same. Unlike the holding up of the Puritans as apostles and prophets of religious liberty. That is an outright lie, and downright pernicious. Every year, I give thanks that they left England.

But if we must have Black Friday, then we ought at least to precede it with Thanksgiving. As it is, our cultural relationship with the United States is perfectly encapsulated by the fact that we have managed to adopt Black Friday but not any form of Thanksgiving. We only ever take the bad from America, never the good. As a Catholic, I wish that the American bishops would declare a day of fasting, abstinence and penance on this "Black Friday".

The supermarket chains claim that one in six people in Britain now keeps Thanksgiving. Utter bilge, of course. It is kept only by expatriate Americans and by the members of their households, a tiny proportion of the population. The major Jewish, Islamic, Hindu and Sikh festivals are all bigger, and they are all small minority interests. But our commercial overlords obviously see both Thanksgiving and Black Friday as enormous opportunities, to be made part of the cultural mainstream by the old trick of pretending that they already were, so as to make everyone else feel abnormal and as if we were missing out.

I honestly do not think that half of these corporations even know that Thanksgiving and Black Friday do not, or at least did not, exist outside the United States. They keep them without even thinking about it, and such is their power that, as a result, those days do now exist in more and more of the world. Within 10 years, and possibly five, the media will refer to them as "traditional", and the run-up to Thanksgiving will see it taught as such in primary schools.

But the world turns. Which Chinese festivals will we all be keeping another 10 years again after that? Right now, I would make all four of St George's Day, St Andrew's Day, St David's Day and St Patrick's Day public holidays throughout the United Kingdom, rather than pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks are on holiday. Three of those are in these Islands' incomparable spring and early summer, while the fourth, being 30th November, would mark the last day on which nothing, absolutely nothing, Christmas-related would be allowed.

Gender Recognition

If you go into the men's changing room of your local municipal swimming baths, then you will see penises. To everyone present, they are mundane to the point of banality, since everyone present has his own, and he has known for longer than he can remember never to look at anyone else's, still less to remark upon it.

But ask yourself what proportion of the population would regard it as remotely acceptable for there to be penises in the women's changing room of the local municipal swimming baths. At all, never mind on display. And quite regardless of whether or not anyone intended to do anything with them.

We can win this one. And we will.

Sentient Beings?

Animals do not have rights. Rather, we degrade ourselves as human beings if we are cruel to them.

I am no vegan. I never cared for the hunting ban with which Tony Blair and Hilary Armstrong bought support for the Iraq War, although now that it is the law, then it ought at least to be enforced as such, and the Conservatives' loss of their overall majority showed how much of a vote-winner the prospect of its repeal would be. And no, animals do not feel human emotions, which is why, among other things, they ought not to be given awards for bravery.

But animals do feel pain. Of course they do. That the Government thinks that they do not, or is at least prepared to pretend to think that, is not a surprise. By accepting an amendment to the Queen's Speech, it did not even bother to hold a parliamentary vote in order to provide funding in England and Wales for abortions for women from Northern Ireland.

The last time that there was a Commons vote on abortion, a generation ago, the Thatcher Government legalised it up to birth, dutifully opposed by John Smith and Charles Kennedy, by Ronnie Campbell and George Galloway. So it is for abortions up to and including partial birth that this new provision will be paying.

Apparently, though, the fetus is both "a part of the woman's body" and "insentient". Is it the whole of a woman's body that is insentient? Or is it only the parts that are directly concerned with reproduction?

No Pot of Gold

We have the Budget's headline policy: one, on Stamp Duty, lifted from the Labour manifesto, but then successfully messed up by Philip Hammond. The Conservatives engaged in organised public school jeering when Jeremy Corbyn dared to mention poor people, but they have their own catastrophic growth, productivity and borrowing figures to worry about. Corbyn has had a good day. He is at his best when he is angry about poverty. After that BBC Two documentary about Kinnock and all that trash, he can now be as authentic as he pleases.

Come back George Osborne, all is forgiven? Well, not "all". But you were certainly better than this. My letters are now published in the Evening Standard, even prompting debate that you allowed to be aired. And as the heir to the Baronetcy of Ballentaylor and Ballylemon, you had the wit to bail out Ireland as, among other things, our closest neighbour when the people with neither your background nor, for example, John McDonnell's were shrieking into the Internet and onto radio phone-ins that "It's not! It's not! That's France! That's France!"

The people who have been allowed to delude themselves that they decide General Elections in this country, the ones who want to know whether or not a potential Prime Minister would press a science-fictional nuclear button, and who believe that economic policies endorsed by Nobel Laureates and the IMF would turn Britain into a Venezuela that they themselves could not locate on a map, have absolutely no concept that the United Kingdom has a land border with another sovereign state, even while being extremely exercised about long ago Northern Irish affairs of which they know nothing more than has been told to them by some barely literate relative who was briefly "over there in the Army".

Mercifully, if it ever kicked off again in Northern Ireland, and this Government's incompetent handing of Brexit makes that a distinct possibility, then either the Conservative Government that would therefore replace this one, full of people with Ascendancy connections, or any Labour Government, full of people with Irish ties of a very different kind, would just pull out. The Republic could have Northern Ireland if it wanted it, but we would just quit, regardless. Across the political spectrum, hardly anyone in Britain ever really wanted to fight the war in Northern Ireland the last time. The mere suggestion of doing so again would bring down any Government that suggested it, and would confine that Government's party to electoral oblivion.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Ransom Notes

So, who is going to be paying this ransom to the EU? As a comment on a previous post very kindly put it, "200,000 of us here in the Leave heartland cheered Dennis Skinner even though he wasn't even speaking and cheered Jeremy Corbyn until some of us were in tears. You were there, I saw you up at the front where you belong. People as far as the eye could see."

It was the individuals, families, communities and areas that had suffered most as a result of politically chosen austerity, and which have given most to wars of political choice, that elected Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, that delivered the referendum vote to leave the European Union, that re-elected Corbyn even more overwhelmingly, and that deprived the Conservative Party of its overall majority in the House of Commons. Yet Brexit is being negotiated, insofar as it is being negotiated at all, in precisely the interests of which the referendum result was a comprehensive rejection.

Instead of that, we need a Brexit for those who voted for Brexit, namely the formulation, articulation and implementation of the alternative to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy, based on the pursuit of economic equality and of international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including a Leader of the Labour Party who is, and who deserves to be, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

That Leader is Jeremy Corbyn.

Helter Skelter

The death of Charles Manson calls to mind the ghastly existing subcultures that became mixed up with the 1960s counterculture, which itself became mixed up with them. Fred West came off something similar, the English hillbillies whom we pretend to be unable to see.

One day, we shall see that something very similar applied to what saw itself, quite erroneously, as the 1980s counterrevolution. Thomas Mair's background and views powerfully recall Manson's. It is inconceivable that certain people who are now very prominent indeed did not know him back in the day.

I strongly suspect that it what is going to come out about the Medomsley Detention Centre, about which we always knew to some extent, will demonstrate the seamlessness of all of this.

We are only just beginning to see The Full Story of the Sixties. One day, we shall see The Full Story of the Eighties, too. In the meantime, I am going to keep telling as much of both as I can find. Go on. Do your worst.

Changing Everything Again

They are very much of a type: Constantine XI Palaeologus, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Charles X, Nicholas II, Puyi, Mehmed VI, Stephen Kinnock.

The Kinnocks, like the Blairs, could all be wiped out simply by throwing a penny piece in front of an oncoming train. They have been a cancer in the body politic for more than long enough.

Lucy Powell is a satirical character, and not even a well-drawn one. She is a ridiculous caricature of a New Labour MP, something that no one would any longer see the need to satirise.

Even in 2005, after two terms of Blairism including the invasion of Iraq, Jeremy Corbyn did not ask the electors of Islington North to vote for him in order to get rid of Tony Blair. Ruth Cadbury ought not to have the whip.

And Sarah Champion knew so little about the party that she imagined to have been founded by Blair as a Bill Clinton tribute band, that she could not foresee or comprehend the fuss when she wrote an article about race in The Sun.

Vote Labour in every constituency next time. But do not vote for Stephen Kinnock (or, rather, for his wife, Grace Mugabe), or for Lucy Powell, or for Ruth Cadbury, or for Sarah Champion. It follows, therefore, that those must not be Labour candidates next time.

That is not the only reason to ensure the election of Yasmine Dar, Rachel Garnham and Jon Lansman to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. But it is a very, very, very good one.

Russia Has Won In Syria

And a good thing, too. Saudi puppet politicians and media types can oppress and repress all they like. But the truth will be known.

A Sea Border, Indeed

We all know where this will end, don't we? Whether or not we want it, we know it. By 2019, Northern Ireland will have had 97 years, between twice and three times longer than anyone expected or intended. It will have had a good run. But the priority now must be to ensure that no one who has the NHS is deprived of it. That will mean an NHS for the whole of Ireland.

The White Man's Burden?

Ponder why our media are still quite so fascinated by Zimbabwe, a country to which this one now has hardly any connection.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Seventy Years On

One of Prince Philip's sisters was married to Gottfried, Eighth Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who was dismissed from the Wehrmacht for his role in the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler on 20th July 1944, although it is worth reiterating that he had been in it up to that point. But another was married to Prince Christoph of Hesse, who was a director in the Third Reich's Ministry of Air Forces, a Commander of the Air Reserves, and an Oberführer in the SS. And that is before looking into the very strange case of her second marriage.

Yet in Athens in 1941, so his diary records, Chips Channon met the future Duke of Edinburgh, great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria. In their reduced circumstances, the sisters of the young Prince of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (how Greek does that sound to you?) had made some very interesting marriages indeed. But, records Channon quite matter-of-factly, "He is to be our Prince Consort, and that is why he is serving in our navy." At that time, the then Princess Elizabeth was 15 years old.

"Really Quite Frightened"?

Anna Soubry, come back to me when you have had an actual attempt on your life by a relative and agent and someone who was on the staff of the Government Chief Whip at the time, when you are the subject of an international terrorist threat that does not preclude the continuation of a baseless criminal prosecution of you even though it is likely to result in mass murder, and when a proven agent of both foreign powers behind that threat is soon to appear on Question Time despite having been sacked from the Cabinet for her treason.

Variable Standards

Well, that is the point on energy prices conceded by the providers themselves. Renationalisation, leading to the requirement that price increases by approved by a Division of the House of Commons, is now a formality.

Chinese Whispers No More

Nothing that is happening in Zimbabwe would be doing so with at least the permission of China. Such is now the way of the world.

George Osborne, for all his many faults, did understand that. He was right to accede this country to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and it is a pity that he never tied that in with the Northern Powerhouse. His Editorship of the Evening Standard is obviously with a view to standing for Mayor of London, so perhaps he will have more opportunity for joined up thinking there?

He needs to be matched by a candidate who understands that every corner of these Islands, including the Crown Dependencies, needs to be integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative, as do each and all of the British Overseas Territories, with all tax havens closed, and with the Chagos Islands resettled by their rightful inhabitants.

Those tax havens include the City of London, the most urgent need for the reform of which is being thrown into increasingly sharp relief. But Labour has had some success there in the recent past, despite the jaw-dropping electoral system. And candidates for Mayor of London have to be nominated by at least 10 local government electors in each of the 32 Boroughs and in the City. Sadiq Khan, Siân Berry and George Galloway all managed that last year. Those 30 people are there.

Are there also people in Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man who joined the Labour Party because of Jeremy Corbyn? Are there even branches of Momentum in those places? Might it be difficult to set up such branches? The voting age in all three is 16, and since Labour does not organise in the Crown Dependencies, then it ought not to be a problem to observe custom and practice by standing candidates as Independents.

As for Osborne, even he was better than his successor who denies the very existence of unemployment. Although, in his own terms, he has a point. His definition of unemployment is "claiming JSA". If he simply took, or ordered, everyone off JSA, then hey presto, there would be no unemployment. Keep on eye on that one. But don't fall for it.

Town and Country Planning

Congratulations to St Ives Town Council on having successfully blocked yet another development for the expensive second homes that have already taken up one quarter of residential properties there.

The whole country needs a statutory requirement of planning permission for change of use if it is proposed to turn a primary dwelling into a secondary dwelling, a working family home into a weekend or holiday home.

Just as the whole country needs the requirement that 50 per cent of housing on all new projects must be dedicated to affordable housing, redefined as 50 per cent of average rents, not the 80 per cent that is currently the case. Just as the whole country needs rent controls. Just as the whole country needs the Land Value Tax.

Just as the whole country needs at least 100,000 affordable new homes per year for the next 10 years, including council housing, with an end to the Right to Buy, which even its defenders must now accept was a thing if its time. And just as the whole country needs action against the buying up of property by foreign investors who then leave it empty.

Yes, that last problem mostly presents itself in London. The problem in St Ives mostly presents itself in places like St Ives. But in both cases, the whole country needs the solution.

Never Mind The Kinnocks

By all means tune in tonight to laugh at the biggest losers of 2017. The worst thing about this year's General Election was that it was held too unexpectedly for them all to have been deselected. But there is plenty of time until the next one.

Since both of his parents have peerages, he is presumably The Honourable The Honourable Stephen Kinnock. The only thing worth knowing about that family is that they betrayed the miners. Thereby, as much as anything else, causing this coal-rich country's dependence on oil from all and sundry, and thus leading to the wars over it.

Where's The Need?

After the Poppy Appeal and Children in Need, how about reversing things next year? Veterans and children would be looked after out of public funds, and a telethon would be held for Trident in Need. After all, since Trident is apparently so popular, then it ought to have no problem securing vast voluntary contributions.

Winning The TERF War

From John Healey's doubts on The Westminster Hour last night, to the fact that the proponents of what is, after all, the Government's proposed Bill are now targeting Linda Bellos, a friend and comrade of Jeremy Corbyn's since the 1970s, it looks increasingly like a Labour free vote, and a substantial number of Labour votes against.

Women only spaces will have protectors against the presumed neoliberal right to define oneself as anything that one pleases and then to demand that everyone else, including the State, go along with it. The Morning Star has now been saying so for years.

I have no objection to the treatment of gender dysphoria on the NHS, because it is an illness. There would be no case for treating anything on the NHS if it were not a diagnosed, and thus a diagnosable, medical condition. And that treatment does not change anyone's sex. It just doesn't. That is a fact.

Women only spaces. That is the ground. And we can win on it. We can win this one.

Needling Questions

I have no complaint against Durham Constabulary, which is on record that it would not have charged me, and which has been the model of kindness and consideration where my disability has been concerned. But I profoundly disagree with its approach to drugs.

The first principle of neoliberalism is, of course, the "free" market. Like any economic arrangement, that is not a law of nature, but a political choice, and every political choice is a moral choice. There cannot be a "free" market in general but not in alcohol, tobacco, arms, drugs, prostitution or pornography. Therefore, there must not be a "free" market in general.

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. That most certainly does include 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.

I am a declared candidate for election as County Durham and Darlington's Police, Crime and Victims' Commissioner in 2020, an electoral process in which the continuation of the action against me is now an unwarranted interference. I am also regularly asked whether I am on the Bench "yet". Never say never.

Let's Get This Show On The Road

Especially with the developing constitutional crisis in Germany, there is increasing attention to the fact that this Government's incompetent handling of Brexit is imperilling the motor industry. Some of us saw this coming.

As something of a model of a different economy and of the opportunities for post-Brexit Britain, I have for some months, and despite the best efforts of the supposedly Labour County Council in trying to send me to prison instead, been working with everyone worth approaching on a proposal. 

Following the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union, or in anticipation of that withdrawal, the Volkswagen Group would move to this historically industrial County of Durham all of its production for the British market that was not already located here in the United Kingdom, as I appreciate that a very small amount is.

The suggestion is for a company wholly owned by Volkswagen. One Director would be nominated by each of the Groups on Durham County Council other than the Labour Group, which is clearly unsympathetic to this project, and one Director would be nominated by those Councillors who had no formal political affiliation. A number of Directors equal to the number of non-Labour Groups would be nominated by Unite the Union, including one by Durham Unite Community. One Director would be nominated by the Durham Miners' Association. 

A Chairman appointed by Volkswagen would exercise the parent company's veto over all decisions. This new company would undertake to match (by such means as to avoid any conflict of interest) the Members' Initiative Fund of £2000 per annum at the disposal of each of the Councillors who were represented on its Board of Directors. It would underwrite the cost of the activities of Durham Unite Community. It would underwrite the Durham Miners' Gala. And it would underwrite the cost of maintaining the Durham Miners' Hall. 

Were it not for Simon Henig and his ghastly little mob, then this would now be very well-advanced indeed. But they are determined to stop many thousands of well-paid, highly skilled jobs from coming to County Durham. They are determined to deny any kind of voice, both to all political positions other than their own, and to the trade union movement. They are determined to punish financially wards that have had the temerity to vote for anyone else. And they are determined to prevent a secure financial future for Durham Unite Community, for the Durham Miners' Gala, or for the Durham Miners' Hall.

So determined are they, in fact, that they are engaged in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and in malfeasance in public office, in an attempt to kill this scheme, among others, by sending me to prison. If I am wrong, then let Simon Henig sue me.

The Russian Threat Is A Fake

Peter Hitchens writes: 

Last Monday the Prime Minister rattled her plastic sabre at the Russians, in a silly speech at the Mansion House. She doesn't even know what she's talking about. She said: 'Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from another in Europe.' This is wrong. Nato Turkey (now an increasingly nasty despotism) seized Northern Cyprus in 1974 and still sits there, unpunished. 

She claimed Russia had 'repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries'. I asked No 10 for details. Two days later, whimpering that the information was somehow secret, a spokesman could only admit 'Russia has not violated UK airspace'. So whose airspace had it 'repeatedly' violated? No answer. If it's true, the Russians must know, so why the secrecy? The Russian threat is a fake.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Acquiescing To The Forces

This letter does not appear in The Observer, despite having been signed by a prominent former MP and by a Lobby journalist: 

Dear Sir,

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the Great Crash, and the fifteenth anniversary of the catastrophic invasion of Iraq. In the scandalously arranged absence of Bernie Sanders, President Trump has been elected by the American individuals, families, communities and areas that have suffered most as a result of politically chosen austerity, and which have given most to wars of political choice. The British individuals, families, communities and areas that have suffered most as a result of politically chosen austerity, and which have given most to wars of political choice, have elected Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party, have delivered the referendum vote to leave the European Union, have re-elected Corbyn even more overwhelmingly, and have deprived the Conservative Party of its overall majority in the House of Commons.

Yet Trump is, predictably, acquiescing to the forces against which his supporters voted, while Brexit is being negotiated, insofar as it is being negotiated at all, in precisely the interests of which the referendum result was a comprehensive rejection. In the midst of this, the senior newspaper of the Anglophone liberal tradition is disgracing itself by peddling a bad James Bond parody in which Hillary Clinton and the Remain campaign, limitlessly funded and with almost entirely sympathetic media coverage, were defeated by tweets and Facebook posts from the Kremlin.

Instead of this nonsense, The Observer needs to be participating in the formulation, articulation and implementation of the alternative to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy, based on the pursuit of economic equality and of international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including a Leader of the Labour Party who is, and who deserves to be, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Yours faithfully, 

David Lindsay, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay 
George Galloway, broadcaster and former MP; @georgegalloway 
Nadeem Ahmed, Birmingham Yardley; @Muqadaam 
Sean Caden, Leeds; @HUNSLETWHITE 
Neil Clark, journalist and broadcaster; @NeilClark66 
James Draper, Lanchester, County Durham 
Krystyna Koseda, Essex; @kossy65 
John Sweeney, Islington North Constituency Labour Party (personal capacity); @johnsweeney18 
Matt Turner, Evolve Politics (personal capacity), @MattTurner4L

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Northern Light

The BBC will not report 120,000 deaths due to the Government's austerity measures, as reported in the British Medical Journal. Nor will it report the Prime Minister's husbands links to a tax haven. But remember, RT is the problem. Of course it is.

The real problem with RT is that it allows the real Left, and indeed the anti-neoliberal and anti-war Right, on the air. The BBC has not given the Left a regular gig since Diane Abbott departed This Week seven years ago. In the meantime, the Labour Left has become one of the principal political forces in the country. But you would never guess it.

The Daily Politics and The Sunday Politics routinely feature only Conservative supporters "balancing" each other. There, on Question Time, and on Any Questions?, a rare Corbyn supporter has to be "balanced" by a figure from the infinitesimal Labour faction of irreconcilable Corbyn-haters, even though such people barely exist outside the Palace of Westminster or the official media.

Notice that Conservatives on Newsnight, or the Today programme, or anything else, are asked about personality politics, about potential Leadership plots and what have you. But their figures are never challenged. It is assumed that everyone trusts them implicitly on the numbers. Not so, Labour representatives, or at least Corbyn-supporting Labour representatives.

The BBC that will not report the British Medical Journal gives absolutely credibility to Guido Fawkes, most recently in its campaign against Emma Dent Coad in order to silence her questions about Grenfell Tower. Someone needs to look into the crossover of staff between Guido Fawkes and the BBC.

But the SNP's Twitter army is rattled today. Even in Scotland now, the Left no longer has "nowhere else to go" meaning that it has to vote for a party with its heartlands in areas that always voted Conservative until it came along, pursuing right-wing policies yet somehow "not the Tories", who are themselves on the way back up.

The SNP is, in fact, losing in all three directions. It will now be made to answer for its baleful record on economic inequality and on public services. It will no longer get to set the terms of the debate, independence and nothing else, while pursuing the Conservative economics of its fundamentally and previously Conservative voters.

As of today, that is all over. There always was a Tartan Tory market for the SNP, and there always will be. Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson can fight over the same voters, like the old days. But Richard Leonard will have the rest. The majority. Everyone knows it.

The Red Lion Rampant

Splendid news that Richard Leonard has been elected Scottish Labour Leader. Owen Smith won Scotland, so this is a highly significant shift. In the meantime, the SNP has lost Westminster seats in all three directions, indicating the electorate's desire to move on from the constitutional question to issues of more immediately pressing concern.

Richard Leonard offers the chance, at long last, to make the Scottish debate, not about the question of independence, but about the abject failures of both the Conservatives and the SNP in relation to the causes and effects of economic inequality. Thereby, as much as anything else, exposing the bizarre claim of the SNP, as a party, to be any part of the Left.

Even while standing firm for international peace. The SNP did oppose the wars in Kosovo and Iraq. But they have a Lib Dem-like inconsistency in these matters. Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn do not. They are the real deal.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Shining A Light

It ought to be in almanacs: Lumiere means the first woolly socks of the year. I know that I shall love it this evening. I always love Lumiere. But we are talking about a million pounds from the County Council. The language of priorities, I'm afraid.
Some rural communities have had their common or garden street lighting taken away from them. The buses have been cut to the bone, making it difficult or impossible for many disabled and other people to attend Lumiere.
And, thanks to the political advice of a man who is now a high profile new MP's Political Advisor, 472 Teaching Assistants are still being left behind, continuing to lose 23 per cent of their pay. I reject that betrayal out of hand, and I will fight it to my last breath. This campaign has greatly awakened my interest in new patterns of trade unionism.
Durham County Council is the last outpost of bad old New Labour, snarling that, "You have nowhere else to go." Well, we shall see about that. And before anyone tries, I do not mean that my own somewhere else to go is prison.
One month to the day after I had been arrested, they took six hours to charge me on the strength of a pair of fingerprints that turned out, six months later again to the day, to have been a single fingerprint that may or may not have been mine (it is not), on one side but not the other of a folded piece of paper that any of hundreds of people might have touched, but not on the envelope in which it was posted, an envelope that bears no trace of my DNA where it was sealed.
Such contortions would be beyond me even if I were not as arthritic as I am. The prosecution has added physical impossibility to the moral impossibility of my having committed this offence, which latter is the publicly recorded view of every member of Durham County Council who has ever met me. It is also a matter of public record that the Police would not have charged me.

Come my trial date on Wednesday 6th December, consider that if anything else has purportedly turned up, then there had been absolutely no sign of it during the preceding eight months of this campaign of persecution at scandalous public expense.
It may harm your prosecution if you do not mention now something that you later rely on in court. Or, at any rate, it should.

No Deal Is Not The Ideal

A No Deal Brexit does need to be planned for. It must not, however, be treated as the ideal outcome. Alas, there is an awful lot of that kind of chest-beating going on.

Sachs of Insolence

In a clear act of foreign interference, Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, has called for a second British referendum on EU membership. That would be the Goldman Sachs that, having admitted to defrauding investors, had to pay out $5 billion dollars after the Great Crash of 2008.

Market Values

In the Libya that the sainted Hillary Clinton liberated, you can now buy a human being as a slave for $400. On the floor of the House of Commons, scarcely a soul voted against that war. But two of those who did were Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Serious Questions To Answer

Tom Peck writes:

Labour has said Theresa May’s husband Philip has “serious questions to answer” about his firm’s links to possible tax avoidance highlighted in the Paradise Papers. Private Eye magazine has seen emails that suggest Mr May’s company, Capital Group, used an offshore law firm called Appleby to arrange investments for clients in tax havens. The documents suggest Capital Group has funds registered in the Cayman Islands, which were used to investment in a South American agriculture company called El Tejar.

Labour's Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jon Trickett, said: “There are some serious questions for Philip May to answer about his firm's use of tax havens, whether he had any knowledge of it and if he thinks this is an acceptable way to do business. “Labour has previously asked Theresa May what her government plans to do to clamp down on the tax havens where money is squirrelled away to avoid paying taxes for public services in this country. “When it comes to paying tax, there is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us and, in refusing to act, the Prime Minister appears to condone this.”

A Number 10 spokesperson said that Mr May works in “retirement solutions” not offshore investments. Neither he nor Theresa May have any personal interests in offshore investments. “Neither the prime minister nor Mr May have any direct offshore investments,” her spokesperson said last week. “Their investments have been declared to the Cabinet Office and are held in a blind trust.” Capital Group has not yet responded to a request for comment.