Saturday, 25 March 2017

Well and Truly Trumped

So, Obamacare is to last forever, then.

Thanks to the insistence of the Republican Party.

November now seems like a very long time ago.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Bring Your Banners, Bring Your Voices


City Lights

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour fielded eight candidates in the City of London, where Labour acquired its first ever seat a mere three years ago.
 
Last night, five of those eight were elected.
 
Jeremy Corbyn's Labour enemies intend to field 126 candidates for Durham County Council, which Labour has controlled for more than 100 years.
 
There is no reason why any of those 126 ought to be elected.

Fiddling While Rome Burns, Indeed

The University computers are as slow as ever, and they still don't have spellcheck on the Internet. There is something reassuring about those two facts, isn't there?
 
My main point, however, is that an unbelievably posh student (even by Durham's standards) is braying at huge volume that he has been taken to Caffè Nero and interviewed about becoming a Labour member of Durham County Council.

Wolves Inside The Door

Thomas Mair, the murderer of Jo Cox, described himself to the Police as “a political activist”, and so he was.
 
No Irish Republican organisation has murdered a Member of Parliament in the present century or in the preceding decade, and the people responsible are now such pillars of the British Establishment that they are entertained at Windsor Castle. No Islamist or Leftist organisation has ever murdered a Member of Parliament. But the Far Right has done so, only last year.
 
Although a “strong supporter” of Israel did attempt to murder George Galloway while he was the MP for Bradford West. These days, though, that constitutes part of the Far Right. Give that a moment to sink in.
 
National Fronts come and BNPs go, EDLs come and Britain Firsts go, but certain institutional and organisational manifestations of the Far Right are perennial, hitherto even permanent. Mair’s is the Springbok Club, which is run by the people who also run the London Swinton Circle. And that, in turn, was addressed by Liam Fox (born 1961) and by Owen Paterson (born 1956) as recently as 2014.
 
Ah, those old 1980s Tory Boys, in their Hang Mandela T-shirts and all the rest of it. Wherever did they all end up?
 
In the Thatcher and, to a lesser extent, Major years, there were Ministers who were members of the Western Goals Institute or the Monday Club. Those crossed over, via such things as the League of Saint George, to overt neo-Nazism on the Continent, to the Ku Klux Klan, to apartheid South Africa, to Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, to the juntas of Latin America, to Marcos and Suharto, to the Duvaliers, and so on.
 
Nick Griffin’s father, Edgar, was a Vice-President of Iain Duncan Smith’s Leadership Campaign. He answered what was listed as one of its official telephone numbers (in his house) with the words “British National Party”.
 
The days of treating even support for the NHS as Loony Leftism, while maintaining no right flank whatever on the officially designated political mainstream, are well and truly over. The dominoes have already started to fall. Some highly prominent people in what thinks that it is now this country’s perpetual party of government need to be very, very, very afraid.
 
But no part of the Far Right, including fanatical support for Israel, is ever treated as a security risk. Just as you can never be too young to be taken entirely seriously as a right-wing commentator. Not long ago, the Telegraph and the Spectator were simultaneously carrying someone who was still at school.
 
And just as there is no view so right-wing that it would preclude, say, a Times column, or a regular gig on The Moral Maze. “White Western nationalism” was extolled repeatedly by Melanie Phillips a few weeks ago, days after she had written that there were no such nations as the Scots and the Irish.
 
Try and imagine a public figure remotely as Far Left as that is Far Right. You can’t. It couldn’t happen.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Safe As Houses?

Parliament attacked using a hire car and a kitchen knife.

The state pension age to go up to 70.

Aren't you glad that we kept Trident?

Caste and Crew

Not least by means of the hashtag #GG4Gorton, through which the posters that are already up may be viewed, George Galloway's by-election campaign is in full swing at Manchester Gorton, using the same means that succeeded at Bradford West, and using much the same pitch, too. 

The Labour shortlist has again been designed to placate the various factions of the Pakistani braderi system, which is in fact the carrying over of ancestral caste into Indo-Islam. Caste itself also persists even among Sikhs, founded though they were in a rejection of it, and among people whose families have been Christian for many generations, even centuries.

Braderi, however, just does not interest second or third generation Mancunians whose first language is English and who easily pass any cricket test (but who are far more interested in football), as it just did not interest second or third generation Bradfordians whose first language was English and who easily passed any cricket test (but who were far more interested in football).

Moreover, the concentration on it alienates everyone else. In 2012, Galloway topped the poll in every ward of Bradford West, including those which were more than 90 per cent white. The seat itself had been a Conservative target only two years before.

The election of Galloway at Manchester Gorton is as important as the re-election of Len McCluskey as General Secretary of Unite, and it is as important as the removal of Labour from Durham County Council, a removal on which depend many thousands of new jobs that would simply never occur to the know-nothing, do-nothing, right-wing-if-anything Labour Establishment here.

As much as anything else, Galloway's return to Parliament would restore the situation that obtained between 2012 and 2015, when members of the House of Commons from outside the Labour Party and to the left of most of its MPs were taking their seats on behalf of all five of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the South of England, and the North of England.

Meanwhile, at least one of my slogans for the 2020 General Election is already "Tony Blair Didn't Dare", and I intend to put out a leaflet under that title which would detail the entire case against him, stating the fact that that was why had not had the courage or the gall to seek this open seat right here in his old County Durham stomping ground.

As to who was the Labour candidate, is there even going to be one worthy of the name? The new boundaries suggest a Constituency Labour Party even more of the local know-nothing, do-nothing, right-wing-if-anything Labour Establishment than North West Durham was in the dark days of Hilary Armstrong.

With no chance of getting lucky a second time, and finding another Pat Glass figure whom they had not realised was there, the all-women shortlist will mean that they really were looking at some girl out of the typing pool, and almost certainly the London typing pool at that.

Beating her would be so easy that it would seem almost cruel. But politics is a rough old trade.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Pride of Lions

In itself, this can be seen as the taking of three minutes to say nothing. 

Nevertheless, “I can today announce that we are now extremely close to confirming new grading proposals which will mark a sea change from where we were previously.

“Watch for an update on the review being carried out of roles, responsibilities and job descriptions of teaching assistants from Leader of the Council, Cllr Simon Henig.”

We shall, Simon. We shall, indeed.

It is the Teaching Assistants themselves who have fought so very, very hard for this. The rest of us have been the ancillaries here, and proud to be so.

I, for example, secured the endorsement of their cause by several national trade union leaders in the Northern Echo on 3rd August 2016.

I secured their landmark meeting with Jeremy Corbyn on the eve of last year’s Miners’ Gala.

And I secured the support that George Galloway expresses for them regularly on his radio programme, and routinely to his quarter of a million followers on Twitter, as well as at least once in a letter to the Northern Echo.

All credit, though, is the TAs’ own.

I could not have been more privileged to have played even so small a part in their justly legendary campaign.

As we approach the County Council election on 4th May, we must all continue to provide powerful criticism of the treatment of the Teaching Assistants, of the closure of the DLI Museum, of the amassing of vast reserves while services have been and are being cut, of the bailing out of Durham County Cricket Club despite those cuts, of the mismanagement of relations with the Regional Assembly, of the selling off of care homes at discounted value, of the scandal of Windlestone Hall, of the circumstances that necessitated the award of enormous compensation to a teacher, of the substantial additional cost of the failure to pay that compensation promptly, and of the lavish expense of entertainment by senior Councillors and Officers.

Some of us are also working on an enormous proposal that will unite the trade unions with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents in very stark contrast to the last third of a century, during which, even while the then Labour MP for Sedgefield was the Prime Minister for 10 years, Labour in County Durham has merely managed the poverty that its own leading figures have so conspicuously evaded.

Everything now hinges on who will be the new Leader of Durham County Council.

I Challenge Tony Blair

This letter of mine appears in today’s Northern Echo, and may well turn up elsewhere over the next couple of days:

Dear Sir,

At 11 o’clock this morning, Tuesday 21st March 2017, listeners to Radio Four were treated to the latest of Tony Blair’s increasingly frequent political interventions, this time bewailing the disarray of the political “centrism” that is in fact nothing more than his own collection of opinions.

In 2020, I shall be contesting the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale, most of which is where Pat Glass MP will be retiring. I shall be doing so without any party designation, not even the word “Independent”. I am not a member of any political party, but I am part of numerous partially overlapping networks of political interdependence locally, nationally and internationally. 

Since he has taken to reasserting himself in British politics, I challenge Tony Blair to declare that he is the Labour candidate for this open seat here in his old County Durham stomping ground. Either that, or to shut up and go away. 

Yours faithfully,

David Lindsay

The Traditions In Which We Stand

Although, despite several assurances, this does not seem to have made it into print anywhere, it is a matter of record, and it will be pursued:

Dear Sir,

As the proprietor of the whole of Sky, Rupert Murdoch might do some good. We represent 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 vote 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. 

We respectfully request that Mr Murdoch identify and include representatives of the traditions in which we stand.

Yours faithfully,

David Lindsay, 2017 council candidate and 2020 parliamentary candidate, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay
Sean Caden, Leeds; @HUNSLETWHITE
Ronan Dodds, Newcastle upon Tyne, @RonanDodds
James Draper, Lanchester, County Durham
Nicholas Hayes, Durham; @Nicholas_Sho
Connor Hodgson-Brunniche, Cramlington, Northumberland; @Randomaited
Krystyna Koseda, Essex; @kossy65
John Mooney, Lurgan, County Armagh
Aren Pym, West Cornforth, County Durham; @arenpym
Gavin Thompson, Newcastle upon Tyne; @GavinLThompson
Matt Turner, Nottingham; @MattTurner4L
Adam Young, Burnopfield, County Durham; @JustALocalSerf

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Summer Lightning

There are three elections to win this summer.

They are the removal of Labour from Durham County Council (including for a very specific post-Brexit reason; watch this space), the return of George Galloway to Parliament at Manchester Gorton, and the re-election of Len McCluskey as General Secretary of Unite.

All within the context of supporting Jeremy Corbyn and of securing the People's Brexit.

At a rally at the Durham Miners' Hall last night, it was confirmed that Len would be joining Jeremy as a platform speaker at this year's Durham Miners' Gala.

Those of us who will by then have taken control of the Council will also march at that, and, if I may, I hope that at least one of the triumphant Teaching Assistants will also speak.

And, while hoping for him on the platform might be a bit much, one very much hopes to see George, one of the two strongest supporters of the Durham Teaching Assistants among national politicians (with Grahame Morris), and the strongest of all those without constituencies in County Durham, at this year's Big Meeting.

In the meantime, see you all on Saturday at the Teaching Assistants' march, which will begin outside the Gala Theatre at 12 noon, and end in what promises to be a fabulous rally at the Miners' Hall.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

This Is What A Bad Week Looks Like

For some people, anyway.
 
The thirtieth Conservative U-turn since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour Leader.
 
The abandonment of the Budget's flagship policy.
 
The Police and the CPS knocking on the door over the huge and flagrant electoral overspending by the Conservative Party, involving figures who are now at the very heart of government.

The formal emergence of two rival UKIPs.
 
The damp squib of the overhyped Geert Wilders.
 
The collapse of the pro-austerity Dutch Labour Party, which has been comprehensively outflanked from the left.
 
And the striking down in court of Donald Trump's second attempt at a Muslim Ban.
 
For some of us, this is what a very, very, very good week looks like.
 
Here's to many, many, many more.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Far From Trigger Happy

Article 50 was supposed to be happening tomorrow.

But it is now pencilled in for "the last week of this month", with the BBC duly pretending that it always has been.

And then, when?

A Bore No More

Theresa May should refuse to grant Nicola Sturgeon a Section 30 Order without a referendum on whether or not to have one.

My generation thought that politics was boring. As, domestically, it was.

In the 20 years between the death of John Smith and the accession of Jeremy Corbyn, the only domestic policy dispute in England was over foxhunting.

And even that ended in a ban that absolutely no effort has ever been made to enforce.

Once devolution was in place, then Scotland, Wales and even Northern Ireland were scarcely, if at all, more thrilling than that.

Well, politics is certainly not boring now.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Cutting Edge

I carry no candle for Michael Heseltine.

He privatised more of the British economy than any other Minister, ever.

And he completed the destruction of the British coal industry.

All in all, and even granting that he opposed the Iraq War, it is no wonder that he loves the EU so much.

But he did say a sensible and important thing this morning.

He accurately pointed out that Copeland had been a "flukey" by-election result based on the unusual prominence of a single local industry.

There is ample time between now and 2020 to set straight the record of both parties on civil nuclear power.

And there are no nuclear power stations in what are hysterically being described as the Conservative target seats from Bishop Auckland to Tooting.

The boundaries of Bishop Auckland are in any case being altered significantly in what would ordinarily have been Labour's favour.

Much of the constituency, rather than purely the town, will be joining us in the new seat of Durham West and Teesdale.

But is perfectly possible, and it is therefore imperative, that all of the County Durham seats elect MPs from within the Teaching Assistants' campaign.

That campaign is itself the focus and the cutting edge of opposition to the regime that is soon to be overthrown on Durham County Council.

Pat Glass is retiring, and while Grahame Morris is a stalwart of that campaign, none of the other MPs who will be seeking re-election has given it any support whatever.

When Heseltine closed the pits after all, then he betrayed the UDM, as Mick McGahey had always predicted.

Its downfall since then has been the kind of thing that could happen only in real life.

But no one knows where its money went.

Meanwhile, a faction with more than one tie to it controls the massively dominant Labour Group on the first council that Labour ever won, a council that Labour has never lost in more than a century.

But nothing lasts forever.

Vote For NATO's Christmas

NATO revolves around Turkey.

It is the only member, other than the United States, without which the wretched thing simply could not function at all, and indeed would have very little pretence to a purpose.

It is to this that NATO membership commits us, and indeed the Dutch.

We must defend Turkey, against whomever.

The Dutch should get out. We should get out. Everyone should get out.

Elect George Galloway at Manchester Gorton on 4th May.

And elect Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister in 2020.

Britain Is What's Left

All three parties have their most left-wing Leaders ever. The Conservative and Labour ones have attracted popular attention in a way that has not been seen simultaneously since the heyday of Ted Heath and Harold Wilson. Moreover, the Liberal Democrats are increasing in membership, in funds, and in vote share.

As the largest political party in Europe, Labour does not even notice the loss of a number of members comparable to the electorate of one parliamentary constituency, but spread across the entire country. That handful of people comprises the sum total of those who were ever New Labour, as such, to the extent that they would leave Labour if it ever stopped being like that, but would not therefore go back to the Conservative Party, since they had never come out of it in the first place.

Of course, they could hardly attach themselves to the Conservative Party now, with its talk 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, and of banning unpaid internships.

Yet that is as far right as British politics, rather than political commentary, now goes. There is no potential electorate to the right of that. Merely because a few newspaper columnists hold views that could be so classified, then that does not mean that anyone else does. UKIP managed to fail to win even Stoke Central, even this year. It has never won any seat without the incumbent MP as its candidate. But it managed to lose half of those in 2015. That left it with one MP, and he pretty openly wants to quit.

By very stark contrast, within the present decade, Scotland, Wales, the South of England (outside London, please note), and the North of England have all elected MPs from outside the Labour Party who were to the left of most Labour MPs and of the then Labour Leadership. Scotland, Wales and the South still have such MPs, at this very moment.

It would be quite a job to be to the left of the present Leader of the Labour Party. But the most active, and by far the best known, candidate at the impending Manchester Gorton by-election is undeniably to the left of most Labour MPs. He is on course to be elected to Parliament as many times as Nigel Farage has failed to be so.

The Absolute Insistence

I've written some lines in my time.

But I have impressed even myself with, "The maintenance of sanity necessitates the absolute insistence that Peter Mandelson does not possess genitalia." 

And that was just a tweet.

The Life of Brian is so rarely shown, and so impossible to imagine being made today, that it belongs in the same category as Performance.

But in the scene that so tickles Jeremy Corbyn's uncultured despisers with its "Judean People's Front", we also see Stan's demand to be known as Loretta.

In similar vein, and indeed vain, we see Owen Jones's demand to be known as Melanie Phillips.

Or is it Jess Phillips?

Why does Comment is Free feature two new articles by her?

"Hasn't £13k a day George Osborne already got a job as an MP?", asks one of them. Well, haven't you, too?

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Absolutely Fine

Bring on the second Scottish independence referendum.

The second No vote would be a body blow to the SNP, whose horrific austerity policies and whose general incompetence are impossible to oppose on the part of the Blair Era time warp that is the Scottish Labour Party.

This campaign would be Jeremy Corbyn's opportunity to start again, more or less from scratch, and most obviously around the Leader that Scottish Labour ought to have, Neil Findlay.

In all fairness, the SNP does send a few people to Westminster, such as Mhairi Black, who might be seen as to the left of most Labour MPs, even if not of Corbyn.

Plaid Cymru also does that in Wales.

And Caroline Lucas would at least describe herself in such terms.

So that's Scotland, Wales, and the South of England with MPs outside the Labour Party and in some sense to its left.

Since 2015, however, none such has been returned from the North of England.

Step forward a star of the last Scottish referendum campaign, and a star of the next one, the next MP for Manchester Gorton, George Galloway.

Come on, George, since you already seem to be living there, get on and declare  your candidacy.

Then we can all get on with the twin campaigns up to 4th May.

One would be for the tormentors of the Teaching Assistants, and of so many others, to be removed from Durham County Council.

And the other would be for the champion of the Teaching Assistants, and of so many others in every corner of the world, to be restored to the most famous Parliament in the world.

George, that is the only excuse that I, for one, would accept for your absence from the count here that night.

Twitter Ye Not

On the left side of Twitter, they are singing and dancing so much over the departure of Owen Jones that you would think that Margaret Thatcher had died all over again.

In fact, that was quite restrained compared to this.

But having had dealings in the past with Jack Monroe, I can honestly say that, where her battle with Katie Hopkins is concerned, I have no dog in the fight.

Still, that's a lot of money.

If Hopkins has to pay Monroe quite that much for a couple of deleted tweets, then imagine how much Oliver Kamm is going to have to pay Neil Clark.

Soon, very soon, we shall no longer have to imagine.

Spam For Brains

Owen Jones will not starve. 

No one ever went down either the economic or the social ladder by betraying the Left, and he was already pretty far up both of those. 

Owen Jones has become Nick Cohen, and Nick Cohen is doing fine.

Owen Jones has become Melanie "white Western nationalism" Phillips, and Melanie "white Western nationalism" Phillips is doing fine.

As for those who are taking yet another opportunity to use the line about "the Judean People's Front", that is always an useful illustration of the fact that for Blairites and for what were once called Thatcherites, Monty Python is the upper limit of their frame of reference.

They may, especially in the Blairite case, have been to university, and even to the very grandest of universities. They may have lived much or all of their lives in London.

But the dead parrot, the knights who say "Ni!", and the songs about sperm and penises in The Meaning of Life, are still the most sophisticated things that they have ever seen or heard.

There are no most sophisticated things that they have ever read, because, like Thatcher and Blair, they have never read anything of the slightest cultural importance, if anything at all.

That is what distinguishes them, both from traditional Tories, and, even more so, from the Left.

Fitness To Govern

The days are coming, and are arguably already here, when it will be as bizarre to question the present Government's (and even more so, last year's) old links to the 1980s Far Right, and thus to Thomas Mair, as it would now be to question the Bushes' and the Clintons' links to Saudi Arabia, and thus to the attackers on 11th September 2001. 

We, I, used to branded as loonies for mentioning that, too. But everyone accepts it now, and a lot of people pretend that they always did. 

That does not mean that the Bushes and the Clintons organised those attacks. Nor that, say, Michael Gove or Liam Fox ordered the murder of Jo Cox. 

But it is still important, and it raises very serious questions about fitness to govern.

The Good Riddance of Owen Jones

We should be so lucky, of course.

But he was only ever the BBC's licensed impersonator of a left-winger, anyway. 

Perhaps now it could let a real one on from time to time?

The only people to have murdered an MP since 1990 have been the Far Right.

To which numerous members of Thomas Mair's own generation who are now senior Conservatives or leading UKIP members (if there can still be said to be such a thing) were intimately connected back in the day.

Although a "strong supporter" of Israel did attempt to murder George Galloway while he was the MP for Bradford West.

These days, though, that constitutes part of the Far Right. Give that a moment to sink in.

But no part of the Far Right, including fanatical support for Israel, is ever treated as any kind of security risk.

Just as, to return to Owen Jones, you can never be too young to be taken entirely seriously as a right-wing commentator.

Not long ago, the Telegraph and the Spectator were simultaneously carrying someone who was still at school.

And just as there is no view so right-wing that it would preclude, say, a Times column, or a regular gig on The Moral Maze.

"White Western nationalism" was extolled repeatedly by Melanie Phillips this week, days after she had written that there were no such nations as the Scots and the Irish.

Try and imagine a public figure remotely as Far Left as that is Far Right.

You can't.

It couldn't happen.

"Owen Jones Quits Social Media"


His Twitter account still blocks me, indicating that it still exists. 

Silly little boy. 

Come back to me when you have had an actual attempt on your life, as some of us have had in our time.

And that doesn't go only for Little Owen.

Corbyn Hides £40,000?

One of the many people whom returning to politics has caused me to befriend, and whose impossible youth is matched only by their brilliance, is Liam Young. 

This is a tour de force.

Friday, 10 March 2017

We Are Many

Come along to the Durham Miners' Hall on Monday at 7pm, and see this, introduced by your humble blogger. 

Apparently, I am that important. News to me, but there we are. 

There is talk of asking for £2:50 on the door, so be prepared. But don't worry, none of that will be going to me.

Election Expenses Exposed


The clock is ticking.

Burma Source

Jonah Fisher is a very great man. It is a privilege to have known him way back when. 

Watch his report on the Rohingya at 21:30 GMT on Saturday and Sunday, on the BBC News Channel and on BBC World. 

It is of the utmost importance, not least with regard to the complicity of Aung San Suu Kyi. 


The subject is also addressed in great detail here.

No One Loves A Fairy When She's Forty

Although in the case of Councillor Neil Fleming MP, who is 40 today, no one ever loved her in the first place.

Famously, when asked her greatest achievement, Margaret Thatcher replied, "New Labour."

If anyone were to ask my greatest achievement, then my reply would be, "Councillor Neil Fleming MP."

Or, rather, the fact that she is no such thing, that she has never been elected above Parish level any more than I have, and that she is most unlikely ever again to attain even that dizzy height.

In 2009, the Labour Party went to the length of imposing an all-women shortlist in order to scupper even the remote possibility that Fleming might become a parliamentary candidate, although many of us did wonder how that excluded her, as it certainly would not do today.

In view of recent developments in these parts, developments that have tellingly received little local and no national attention despite the best efforts of certain politically beleaguered self-publicists, mention of Fleming and her family explains why I remain dry-eyed.

Something through the post? Come back to me when you have had an actual attempt on your life, complete with hands around your throat. Come back to me when, although no one disputes that it has happened, absolutely nothing is ever done about it.

I go back a very long with the right-wing-if-anything Labour Establishment in County Durham, and I do not even bother to pretend to have any sympathy.

Although I am sorry that the names of the other signatories have been omitted, this letter of mine appears in today's Northern Echo

There are five groups on Durham County Council, plus two completely independent independents.

But only Labour members voted against the teaching assistants.

None voted in support of the campaign that has electrified the trade union movement and the Left throughout the country, thereby earning international attention.

Yet that campaign has been endorsed by the Leader of the Labour Party, at the largest working-class and left-wing event in Europe, the Durham Miners’ Gala, in front of at least 150,000 people and the television cameras. Only the Conservatives abstained, although that does make the Labour Group objectively “worse than the Tories”.

It is therefore not only reasonable, but morally and politically obligatory, to call for the election of no Labour candidate whatever to that Council on May 4.

And then, what? A Cabinet position for every non-Labour Group and for those of no group, with the numbers made up based on their relative size. The same for scrutiny chairs, obviously never mirroring the portfolios of their respective partisans. And representation on each committee and subcommittee in proportion to their numbers on the authority as a whole.

Such is the support that has been attracted by the Durham teaching assistants, the Lions of Durham as once there were Lions of Grunwick, that Labour’s loss of overall control, and indeed its loss of every seat, will be heard from the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Crimea, to Kashmir, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia.

A bully with a bloody nose is still a bully.

Don't dish it out if you can't take it.

And no one loves a fairy when she's 40.

If anyone ever loved her in the first place.

Disaster Insurance

Defeat, whether by surrender or otherwise, is coming the Government's way on the issue of National Insurance contributions.

But this is nothing.

Just wait for grammar schools, should Theresa May ever be daft enough to try and life the statutory ban on new ones.

And just wait for leaving Thatcher's European Single Market.

Staying in that, regardless of any referendum result on EU membership, was a Conservative manifesto commitment in 2015.

As, of course, was not increasing National Insurance contributions.

The Price of Leaving

The EU could unilaterally declare that every British Citizen would remain a citizen of the European Union unless he or she chose to renounce that status, a renunciation for which an "administrative" fee would be charged.

The European Parliament would probably insist on that, anyway.

It certainly would if Guy Verhofstadt told it to.

Open, Reach

Who are to be these Independent Directors of Openreach (which it is blatantly obvious ought to be in public ownership, but never mind)?

Instead of protecting the powerbase of the municipal Labour Right, we need to bypassing it and cutting our own deals for representation in the new educational order, a representation that we seldom or never enjoyed in the old one.

Instead of protecting the privileges of the most Liberal Establishment institution of all time, we need to bypassing it and cutting our own deals for representation in the new broadcasting order, a representation that we seldom or never enjoyed in the old one.

And instead of being pitifully grateful if some Fabian or Progress grandee is appointed to one of these economically, socially, culturally and politically vital new positions, we need to bypassing that little world and cutting our own deal for representation that we seldom or never enjoyed in the old nationalised industries.

Theresa May at least professes to support elected workers' and consumers' representation in corporate governance. She could and should start here.

To Join The Dots

In possibly the last daily newspaper that would still print this, Frankie Green writes: 

Prostitution is at the heart of women’s oppression. 

The commercial sex trade is both cause and consequence of men’s greater economic, political and legal status — although it is absurd to refer to “sex” in the case of the sex trade when desire is not mutual and only money is the facilitator. 

At the junction of patriarchy and capitalism the forces sustaining the global prostitution industry interlock, preying, as Pala Molisa says: 

“On women already marginalised by class and race … [feeding] off the despair, poverty and hopelessness that global capitalism is producing and that afflicts the lives of young people, especially indigenous women and people of colour.” 

Prostitution’s underlying assumption is of men’s entitlement to demand sexual access, but is this an unquestionable right? As Jeremy Seabrook writes: 

“‘Demand’ takes precedence in the seemingly neutral equation of supply and demand; demand is imperious and dominant; supply, submissively responsive.” 

Those who condone prostitution effectively tell others it is acceptable to purchase women’s bodies, licensing a sexist, predatory masculinity. 

They appear to have no problem with prostituted people being consigned to what Naomi Klein terms “sacrifice zones” — subsections of humanity accorded no value other than the profit extracted from them. 

For socialists this should be anathema, yet the specious categorisation of prostitution as “work” has gained traction on the left. 

Basic socialist tenets — such as that people are not things and should not be used instrumentally — align with the feminist principle that women are not objects, they are not for sale and do not exist for men’s use. 

Belief that exploitation and oppression are not inevitable, coupled with an analysis of gender roles as social constructs, means prostitution is no more ineradicable than other entrenched wrongs. 

Anti-prostitution campaigners — some within the Labour Party — advocate the Nordic Model’s threefold approach: decriminalising prostituted people, supporting those wishing to exit and criminalising demand for paid sexual access. 

Aware of prostitution’s harm within a spectrum of misogynist abuse, they focus “on the root cause, the recognition that without men’s demand for and use of women and girls for sexual exploitation, the global prostitution industry would not be able to flourish and expand.” 

Prostitution is inextricably intertwined with trafficking. 

SPACE International likens discussing sex trafficking without seeing how demand for prostitution drives it to “talking about slavery without mentioning the plantations.” 

The Coalition Against Trafficking In Women says: “Cultural acceptance and normalisation of commercial sexual exploitation fuels the cycle of violence against women.” 

The prostitution lobby is now seeking to expand the British market, using euphemisms like “sex work,” “sex industry” and “client” to sanitise prostitution. 

Prostitution proponents engage in a kind of grooming, encouraging us to shut down conscience and empathy. 

The left should ask: who benefits? 

This should be axiomatic for activists who consider ethical treatment of others a cornerstone of their work. 

Anti-Trident campaigners have mooted alternative employment for workers if Trident is not renewed — why not extend that to prostituted people? 

The left has a distance to travel in taking on board feminist challenges to male supremacy. 

The transformed world envisaged by left-wing movements, where oppressive hierarchies of gender, racism and class are ended, is inconceivable without the abolition of prostitution. 

Labour’s slogan “No-one and no community will be left behind” would be empty and pro-equality programmes rendered meaningless. 

Can education focusing on “sexual health, healthy relationships and consent” succeed if kids know that men have state-sanctioned entitlement to (predominantly) women’s bodies?

In the better society we’d like to see, would men continue to have this right, making a mockery of women and girls’ right to equality and safety? 

Positing use of prostitutes as a private matter is wrong-headed — transactions involving third-party profiteering can hardly be described as private, and only from a male punter’s perspective can be seen as such. Individual lives, shaped by socioeconomic forces, are constructed to serve vested interests. 

Legal changes regarding domestic violence and spousal rape acknowledge this, but politicians who have not caught up with the fact that this applies to prostitution too reveal their antediluvian bias by speaking from punters’ point of view. 

Marge Piercy’s poetry comes to mind when prostitution is described as work. “The pitcher cries for water to carry/ and a person for work that is real,” she wrote.

But perhaps it is the logical extension of the purchase of labour, albeit not only people’s time and energy but their flesh, vagina, breasts, anus, mouth, whole bodies bought to be mauled and penetrated by endless strangers. 

Just another job in an economy where low pay, slashed welfare, debt and global trafficking ensure supply of streams of bodies — venal, unregulated neoliberalism at its brutal extreme, callous in its unfettered greed, with training provided through childhood abuse. 

Suppose this is work? Would that make it OK? 

What constitutes “real work,” with the satisfaction of socially useful, properly remunerated fulfilment of our potential? 

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, endorsed by the International Labour Organisation, call for decent safe work for women. 

The secretary-general’s Leave No-one Behind report defines decent work as “productive … conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.” 

As prostitution in Britain is mostly controlled by organised crime — criminal gangs not being known for providing ideal working environments — prostitution clearly meets no such criteria. 

With decriminalisation, gangs’ control increases under a legal veneer. 

The purchase of a human being’s depersonalised body for sexual use, power, control and contempt is an expression of contempt. 

To understand the consequences of legalising this objectification, look no further than the horror of Germany’s brothels. 

Anyone seduced by industry lobbyists should educate themselves about this hellish scenario. 

Isn’t it the left’s duty to demarcate types of employment, distinguishing the legitimate from the unacceptable? 

Labour movements and unions have a responsibility to protect people from the untrammelled ravages of the market, not just mitigate it, but say: “No, enough! You cannot use people this way.” 

Labour promises to be interventionist when in power; this must include the prostitution industry, where, if decriminalisation prevails market forces can continue rampaging unhindered by ethics. 

Wasted human potential is one reason for opposing grammar schools — rejecting selection and notions that children are destined for preordained places in the social hierarchy, a clearly unjust, immoral ideology. 

Yet similar logic is not applied to tolerance of prostitution, which writes off swathes of people, primarily women. 

Why are they seen as fit for nothing more than use for men’s gratification? 

Is this not also an inhuman, right-wing and reprehensible waste?

Left-wingers should be as outraged by women’s subjugation as they are about corporate capitalism’s treatment of workers, but often seem as laissez-faire and indifferent as bosses are to employees, colonisers to the dispossessed, racists to refugees. 

They continue to lose credibility if they are not seen to be able or willing to join the dots.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Red Pirate, Indeed

Say what you like about George Galloway, but a series of children's books? Who would have seen that coming? 

The Nine Lives of George Galloway is a book that will cry out to be written in due season. There'll never be another.

George has given the Durham Teaching Assistants more support than any other national politician who was not based in County Durham (and far more than most of those who were), even including Jeremy Corbyn.

Jeremy ought to have suspended the Labour Group on Durham County Council for having brought the Labour Party into disrepute. 

There is still the time in which to do that, but that time is running out.

George, on the other hand, has given an unconditional, and highly effective, platform to the cause on his radio programme and via his vast followings on Twitter and Facebook, which extend to every continent.

That is no small part of why the TAs are lionised, not only throughout the trade union movement in these Islands, a movement that has sprung into action by a combination of both the oldest and the newest means at its disposal, but also everywhere that George's name is known.

From the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Crimea, to Kashmir, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia. Among numerous other places.

The other key contributor to that combination of a national and and a global, a trade unionist and a broader activist profile has been the Durham Miners' Association, which has sat at the centre of such a network throughout living memory, although never more so than under Davey Hopper.

Davey never re-joined the Labour Party after he had left it over the war in Afghanistan and over the neglect of the former coalfield communities by the Blair Government. We owe it to his memory to elect no Labour member whatever to Durham County Council on 4th May.

That would be heard wherever Davey's name was known, and wherever George's name is known.

As would George's election at Manchester Gorton on that same day. His online offerings drop more than enough hints. He is an invaluable source of information about the chaotic Labour selection procedure there.

But why is he waiting for that?

If he were simply to declare, then we could begin in earnest our twin campaigns, simultaneously to remove the TAs' tormentors, among quite a few other people's, from Durham County Council, and to restore the TAs' champion, among so very many other people's, to the House of Commons.

Well and Truly NICsed

National Insurance contributions cannot be increased by an ordinary Finance Bill.

That would require separate legislation.

And separate legislation would be far easier to defeat.

This is all making an old Nineties boy quite nostalgic.

But this time, we have far better than Tony Blair to look forward to.

Has Heseltine Really Been Sacked?

A fascinating rumour reaches me this morning, that he is pretty much still at it, only from home and off the books.

One does not simply sack a man who has been in some sense a member of every Conservative Government since 1970, including seven years as Deputy Prime Minister.

And one certainly does not do so merely in order to placate someone who, after a fairly brief Ministerial career, has been taken seriously by no one who mattered in 27 years and counting.

If and when the Prime Minister's domestic programme ever reached the House of Lords, then we should see which of them voted for it, and which against.

But then, only one of them would have written it.

Lest We Forget

The most obvious point is the truest one.

The most fitting monument, perhaps even the only fitting monument, would be the trial of Tony Blair.

Co-operative Thinking

The trouble with the Co-op Bank was always that it was not a mutual, but that it merely happened to be owned by one. 

No one in the general commercial world is going to buy the thing now, let's face it.

So this is our chance. 

To get it for a song, and then to turn it into what it always should have been.

Digging For The Truth

Even Amber Rudd does not dispute the NUM's version of events at Orgreave. 

Based on the interview with Alan Billings on this morning's Today programme, even South Yorkshire Police no longer disputes that version of events.

Perhaps the most striking thing, so to speak, about Orgreave is what a cheap date the Conservative Right has become in its old age, flattered by even the slightest romantic attention. 

Theresa May can put trade union reps on the boards of private companies, and she can pay Nissan to pay people in Sunderland. 

But as long as there is no official inquiry into Orgreave, then the Right is in a state of positively unseemly delight.

The Tide Has Turned


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Action, Not Faction

When a leaflet from Derwentside Independents is favourably quoting the late Davey Hopper, then the world has changed.


The only thing that I would add to this would the scandal of Windlestone Hall. Plus a couple of photographs specific to my own campaign, perhaps.



I seek the guidance of readers as to whether to include another.


As to that original leaflet, it is in circulation in Stanley, which with Chester-le-Street is the base of the Labour faction that now controls Durham County Council.

Against that very faction, I remember the Derwentside Independents providing the line of defence for the rest of the Labour Group on the old Derwentside District Council.

That Group and that Council were led by the great Councillor Alex Watson OBE, who is now the Patron of my campaign.

Inadvisable

When Gordon Brown was Prime Minister, then his advisers included two Lib Dem Peers and two Conservative MPs.

They continued to vote with their respective parties.

It could be argued that, as a Conservative advising a Conservative Government, Lord Heseltine ought to be expected to toe the party line.

But would that have applied to any other issue?

Heseltine has been removed from five positions that took up three and a half days of the working week, necessitating an office and a Private Secretary in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Who will now be doing that work, in fields supposedly dear to the heart of our One Nation Prime Minister?

As by threatening to withdraw the Whip from any rebels when these mattered returned to the Commons, thereby confirming that she did not really have the votes there, so by sacking Heseltine in order to placate people who were in any case always going to despise her, the Prime Minister has demeaned herself.

International Women's Day: The Teaching Assistants

Of course, the great heroines of today are the Durham and Derby Teaching Assistants.

Sent a week ago, we have so far been unable to get the following into print, but here it is:

There are five Groups on Durham County Council, plus two completely Independent Independents. But only Labour members voted against the Teaching Assistants.

None voted in support of the campaign that has electrified the trade union movement and the Left throughout the country, thereby earning international attention.

Yet that campaign has been endorsed by the Leader of the Labour Party, at the largest working-class and left-wing event in Europe, the Durham Miners’ Gala, in front of at least 150,000 people and the television cameras.

Only the Conservatives abstained, although that does make the Labour Group objectively “worse than the Tories”. 

It is therefore not only reasonable, but morally and politically obligatory, to call for the election of no Labour candidate whatever to that Council on 4th May.

And then, what?

A Cabinet position for every non-Labour Group and for those of no Group, with the numbers made up based on their relative size.

The same for Scrutiny Chairs, obviously never mirroring the portfolios of their respective partisans.

And representation on each committee and subcommittee in proportion to their numbers on the authority as a whole. 

Such is the support that has been attracted by the Durham Teaching Assistants, the Lions of Durham as once there were Lions of Grunwick, that Labour’s loss of Overall Control, and indeed its loss of every seat, will be heard from the souks to the favelas, from the Dalit colonies to the Rohingya camps, and from Crimea, to Kashmir, to the scattered outposts of Diego Garcia. 

David Lindsay, 2017 council candidate and 2020 parliamentary candidate, Lanchester, County Durham; @davidaslindsay 
Sean Caden, Leeds; @HUNSLETWHITE 
James Draper; Lanchester, County Durham 
Krystyna Koseda, Essex; @kossy65 
John Mooney, Lurgan, County Armagh; @FitzjamesHorse

The Lanchester Forum: Rupert Murdoch's Sky Might Even Do Some Good

Here: 

The Sun is The Bloody Rag of Hillsborough, and the persecutor of my friend (yes, still my friend), Tom Watson. 

The Times employs Oliver Kamm, the tormentor of my friend, Neil Clark. 

But try as I might to work myself up about Rupert Murdoch’s attempt to purchase the rest of Sky, I cannot bring myself to do so. 

What would such an acquisition make any worse? 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who understand the lesson of the EU referendum result in the United Kingdom, and of the election of Donald Trump in the United States, which is that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are the key swing voters. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who locate identity issues within the overarching and undergirding context of the struggle against economic inequality and in favour of international peace. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who welcome the fact that the EU referendum was decided by those areas which voted Leave while voting Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru for other purposes, and which have thus made themselves the centre of political attention, except, of course, on the BBC. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who celebrate the leading role in the defence of universal public services of those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, and the leading role in the promotion of peace of those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have opposed from the start the failed programme of economic austerity. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who opposed Tony Blair’s privatisation of the NHS and other public services, his persecution of the disabled, and his assault on civil liberties, all of which have continued under every subsequent Government. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have opposed every British military intervention since 1997. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who oppose Britain’s immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and who reject the demonisation of Russia. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who have the real eyes to realise real lies, recognising that the truly fake news is propagated in support of the economic policies of neoliberal austerity and the foreign policies of neoconservative war. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who reject any approach to climate change which would threaten existing or potential jobs, workers’ rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. 

The BBC gives little or no platform to those who seek to rescue issues such as male suicide, men’s health, and fathers’ rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. 

And the BBC gives little or no platform to those who refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration. 

Over-concentrated media ownership, especially by a foreign national who is not based in this country, is inherently problematic. 

But in the very great scheme that is these things, the biggest problem is not Rupert Murdoch. 

He already owns a lot of Sky, on which the much-maligned RT does indeed provide these platforms. 

He now also owns talkRADIO, on which they are provided by the much-maligned George Galloway, whom Murdoch has not sacked, and who is a friend and comrade of mine and of Neil Clark’s. 

As the proprietor of the whole of Sky, Murdoch might even do some good.

Just About Managing To Kick You Out

Dividend relief is to be cut from £5000 to £2000. 

So you can take the one million ordinary savers hit by that, and add them to the 2.48 million self-employed people who will be paying an extra £240 in National Insurance.

What's that, you say? "A lot of them are the same people"?

And those people vote, sweetie. And those people vote.

Legacy Preference? Legacy Admission?

Why is leaving a 'legacy of public debt' worse for 'our children' than a legacy of private debt, or a legacy of collapsed public services?

So tweets my friend Tom Miller (@TomMillerUK), a Sunderland supporter in exile in Willesden Green and on Brent Council.

He is right.

Everyone knew that George Osborne was economically illiterate, and that he was more or less innumerate.

But we really had expected better of Philip Hammond.

"Free Transport for Poor Children to Grammar Schools"?

What grammar schools? Any more would require an impossible change to the Statute Law.

And of those which exist, what poor children at them?

The reason why Theresa May's and Philip Hammond's base favours grammar schools is precisely that there are no poor children at them, and there never have been.

Not even in Kent, which has no shortage of poor people in it.

Bogus Insurance Claims

No fewer than four quotations from the 2015 Conservative manifesto:

“A Conservative Government will not increase the rates of VAT, Income Tax or National Insurance in the next Parliament” 

“we will not raise VAT, National Insurance contributions or Income Tax”

“commit to no increases in VAT, National Insurance contributions or Income Tax”

“we can commit to no increases in VAT, Income Tax or National Insurance. Tax rises on working people would harm our economy, reduce living standards and cost jobs”

So much for Philip Hammond, and so much for Theresa May, as the self-made, striving, state-educated, suburban type of Tory.

Please Give Generously


I have been brought back into active politics as a campaigner for justice for Durham County Council’s Teaching Assistants, as a campaigner against the proposed drastic cuts to hospital services in County Durham, and as a campaigner against the cuts to the public transport on which, as a disabled person, I am reliant.

I was a member of Lanchester Parish Council from 1999 until I stood down voluntarily in 2013. I was a governor of Lanchester Endowed Parochial Primary School from 1999 to 2007. I was a governor of St Bede’s from 2000 to 2008. 

Please give whatever you can afford today.

Not So Sweet

The Chancellor of the Exchequer bribed a council. A council that covered his own constituency, in fact.

Then the Prime Minister lied about it. In and to the House of Commons.

Why is there any other news? Any other news at all? Why?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Taking Back Control, Indeed

On both of the major Lords amendments, Theresa May ought simply to acquiesce.

Would the opponents of that acquiescence, such as there are and who are in any case her bitterest enemies, then vote against the legislation permitting the invocation of Article 50?

Of course not.

But even if they did, then that legislation would still pass on the votes of the Labour Party.

Who's Surrey Now?

Of course they did this. We have always known that. 

But why did they do it? 

They cannot have been in fear of losing control of Surrey County Council. So, what was it, then? 

That will be the real story, even the real scandal. If anyone bothered to look. 

Or in the very fact that, at least ostensibly, no one did bother to look.

"Some of Them Could Be Grammar Schools"

Of course, none of them will be grammar schools.

That would be illegal under the Statute Law, a provision for the changing of which  there is no conceivable majority in either House of Parliament.

Including that change in a Conservative manifesto would be enough to split the Conservative Party organically in two.

Europe never did that, and never could have done. But this could, and it would.

There was in fact such a manifesto commitment in 2015 on the part of a party that, despite almost comical levels of media hype, managed to go from all of two MPs to all of one.

The exclusion of the working classes and the poor is of course precisely why Theresa May's base wants grammar schools.

That they are middle-class and even upper-middle-class ghettoes, as they always have been, is what endears them to those who feel any such endearment.

Mrs May herself did not gain admission to a grammar school until she was 13, following several years of private education to that end.

When she was 15, however, her girls' grammar merged into the much larger and mixed comprehensive that sent so unpromising a candidate to Oxford.

But if she feels any gratitude, as well she should, then it is outweighed at her resentment at having been made to share a classroom, or even just a building, with the oiks after all.

More broadly, though, the Left should be more on board with the changing structures of education.

Why is it protecting the principal powerbase of the municipal Labour Right and its hangers on; of the people who put the petty into petit bourgeois?

What have they ever done for us?

We ought to be bypassing them in order to cut our own deals with regard to, for example, representation on governing bodies.

We now have the organisational means by which to do that.

Something very similar is true of the potential acquisition of the whole of Sky by Rupert Murdoch.

Why are we protecting the privileged position of the BBC? What has it ever done for us?

Indeed, on this morning's Today programme, while discussing grammar schools, Angela Rayner was incessantly hectored, interrupted, and condescended to.

Whereas Toby Young was heard in a respectful silence that bordered, if bordered, on awe.

For all his faults, Rupert Murdoch does not do awe.

But Never In The Same Place Twice

Craig Murray writes: 

I have often pointed to Melanie Phillips to illustrate the fact that, while left-wing radical thought is excluded from mainstream media, you can be as completely mad, raving, off the wall right-wing as you wish, and yet still get invited onto every BBC panel or discussion series in existence. 

She still justifies the Iraq War. She thought Saddam did indeed have those WMDs and they were hidden in secret underground chambers underneath the Euphrates. 

Less harmlessly, Phillips employs hate speech and was praised by Anders Breivik. Sweeping anti-Muslim phrases such as “the Islamic enemies of civilisation” come easily to her. 

I was appalled by this particular example of Phillips’ hate speech four years ago. You can see how Breivik found her inspiring: 

Romney lost because, like Britain’s Conservative Party, the Republicans just don’t understand that America and the west are being consumed by a culture war.

In their cowardice and moral confusion, they all attempt to appease the enemies within. And from without, the Islamic enemies of civilisation stand poised to occupy the void.

With the re-election of Obama, America now threatens to lead the west into a terrifying darkness. 

called this out at the time as incitement to religious hatred. Interestingly enough it has now disappeared from Phillips’ own website: http://melaniephillips.com/america-goes-into-the-darkness.

But you can’t hide your disgrace on the internet. 

Today Phillips spreads the hatred still wider by telling us the Scots and the Irish are not real nations. Only Britain is an authentic nation (behind the Times paywall). 

Scottish nationalism, she states, is based purely on romance and a hatred of the English. As for Ireland:

Ireland itself has a tenuous claim to nationhood, having seceded from Britain as the Irish Free State only in 1922.

The truth is that a large majority of the states in the world achieved independence after 1922. 

Even if you pretend an Irish nation did not exist until 1922, that still makes it one of the world’s older states. 

In fact, of course, Ireland, like most other states, re-emerged into independence following colonial dominance. 

Nationality is a human construct, not a fact of physics or geography.

There never was a state before colonialism with the precise boundaries of India, or Nigeria, or almost any post-colonial state you can name.

But there were autonomous peoples. And very few would describe them as not a nation now. 

Even old states change their boundaries from time to time. 

Norman Davies has a beautiful phrase about Poland emerging again and again into statehood through the mists of history, but never in the same place twice. 

Yet, despite radical boundary changes and having had political autonomy for only 50 of the last 250 years, nobody doubts Poland is a nation state. 

Nobody doubts Ireland is a nation state, either, except Mad Mel. 

As for Scotland, not only was it a full nation state for hundreds of years until it entered into a voluntary union, but it is possible to trace distinct political and cultural expressions of popular nationhood. 

Phillips’ hate-filled opinions would be her own affair, were she not given such powerful platforms from which to expound them. 

I return to where I started. 

Phillips is evidence that you cannot be too right-wing for a media platform in the UK, even if you propound actual religious hate. 

By comparison, nobody as left-wing as Phillips is right would ever be given airtime on the BBC, or a column in The Times.

It seems a shame to ruin the line, “Only Britain is an authentic nation (behind the Times paywall).”

But the whole column, which informs Unionists in Northern Ireland that they are not British whereas apparently the inhabitants of the 26 Counties are, is here.