Did You Ever Get The Feeling You've Been Cheated?

Hello.

I’m going to use the word “You” a lot today. I don’t mean you. I mean You. Yes: You.

I’m one of those (North London) Lefties you hear about in the mostly right-wing press and media, the ones who sneer at the likes of Hugh Grant or Steve Coogan for daring to voice an opinion.

I’ve not always been a (North London) Leftie; for a while I was a Cambridgeshire Leftie, living in John Major’s constituency and arguing on the bus home from 6th Form; and then a South Wales Leftie, where frankly I didn’t stand out from the crowd all that much.

But always a Leftie. I’ve never voted Tory. Never have, never will.

I’m the sort of person who, the red tops would have you believe, lives in a bubble, divorced from the realities of modern life.

That may be true. (Narrator: It’s not true.)

But one thing I can say is that I lived in London for the two terms that Anthony Boris Pfeiffer Oxbowlake Jerusalem Wiffwaff Johnson somehow managed to gain consent to act as our Mayor. And I know what he is. I’ve told you before.

But let’s pretend You knew nothing of his past, of his being fired from two (three?) jobs for lying, of his agreeing to have a fellow journalist beaten up, of his – to use his vernacular – “spaffing up the wall” public funds on an unbuilt bridge, or an unusable water cannon.

Yesterday You all looked at Johnson and somehow, despite everything You saw and heard, You went and voted for him anyway.

You ignored his refusal to go head to head with Andrew Neil in an interview, and thought, “Yeh, that’s okay – why should he be scrutinsed in the same way that every other party leader has done? He’s just our Prime Minister, he doesn’t need to be held accountable. Leave him alone, he has funny hair!”

You ignored that he shrugged off the televised Leader’s Climate Conference, which he failed to attend, but sent his Dad instead, thinking that was an entirely reasonable thing to do. Oh, and rubber faced gimp mask Frodo Michael Gove, like that’s any better.

You ignored the allegations of improper conduct in public office with a lapdancer business woman.

You ignored the allegations of spousal abuse.

You ignored the lies about the number of hospitals he says he’ll build.

You ignored the lies about the number of additonal nurses that would fill them.

You ignored him not even knowing – or at least being prepared to admit, or even discuss – how many children he has.

You ignored him giving the “cut” signal to a semi-hostile radio interviewer asking a difficult question, forgetting it was also being filmed.

You ignored him wrestling a mobile phone from a journalist, pocketing it because it was showing a photograph of a child laying on coats in a hospital in Leeds.

You ignored his part in the Vote Leave law-breaking.

You ignored that bus.

You ignored the tossed-off-the-cuff racism and homophobia.

You ignored him blundering into the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair and getting her sentence increased.

You ignored him hiding in a fridge, for fuck sake.

Did I miss anything? Probably. It’s a really long list.

And You thought: this man, he, who has been at the heart of Conservative politics for many years, their champion, who has with relentless relish sought out every dogturd, stepped in it and then waved it in our faces, this proven liar, full of bullshit and bluster, he is the man to lead us.

Well done You.

Do You remember when we laughed about how stupid Americans must be to vote in Trump? Something like that couldn’t happen here, could it. You said.

Except it just has.

So many people I know – my family, my friends, me – have had to rely on our wonderful NHS recently. I literally would not be here were it not for them. And they gave me almost 15 years with my now passed best friend, 15 years I will always cherish and be thankful for.

You saw the NHS on its knees, crying out for help, and You said: I like the bloke with the funny hair that knows some Latin.

And we all know what is likely to happen to the NHS now. Don’t pretend You don’t.

You had documents proving the NHS is up for sale in post-Brexit negotiations waved in Your face. You had Trump admitting it (and then denying it, but let’s not get into his consistency issues). And You ignored it.

I hope you and your families never get ill and need to rely on our beautiful NHS.

I hope none of them ever have to visit a food bank.

Sloganslogansloganbullshitbullshitbullshit.

Swallow.

But of course, I can’t look away from Labour’s leadership either.

For had there been a credible alternative, I don’t think Johnson would be where he is this morning.

I’ve written about them here before; initially in glowing terms (though with a caveat: I made reference way back when he got elected as Party Leader that Corbyn could be as disasterous as Michael Foot – and so it has proved, only more so) and more recently relinquished my support for him.

Me? I’m doing (kinda) okay, but I work in the public sector, and I’ve seen jobs and budgets chipped away, jobs amalgamated, people let go. I saw a friend be told he had to take a (significant) pay cut to continue his work – do the same, but for less, or be off – and so he had to leave.

It might be me next. Nothing I can do it about it if it is. I’ll join the three-year waiting list for a council house, no bother.

It’s austerity, see? Cuts need to be made.

Meanwhile, here’s a £billion for the DUP to buy their compliance. Here’s £140m on an advertising campaign for a No Deal Brexit which hasn’t happened (yet).

But can we spend some money putting proper cladding on a tower block so that our brothers and sisters from ethnic minorities and/or poor people don’t burn to death? Or compensate the families of those who did? Of course not. Too busy deporting them in the Windrush scandal.

I’m angry.

I’m angry I fell for Corbyn, back then.

I’m angry I saw the light (too) late.

I’m angry that the people who so desperately needed a lift will have another five years under the heel.

Because that’s what voting Tory is: a flagrant disregard for others. “I’m Alright Jack”, and sod the rest of you.

But one day, trust me, You will be angry too. You probably already have been, but didn’t realise it.

I voted Labour yesterday, but I didn’t vote for Corbyn. I voted Not Tory.

We’ve all known for a long time that this election was going to be a maelstrom of messed-up; the unreliable versus the unelectable.

Because that’s what Corbyn is. Unelectable. No more questions. No more doubt. No more debate. Get rid.

Had there been a better Leader of the Labour Party – Phillips, Starmer, Thornberry – last night would not have happened.

This day has been coming for a long time. It’s just such a shame it happened at exactly the point where the country most needed the opposite.

I’m done.

Johnny Boy – You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve

Jarvis – Running the World

Gene – Sleep Well Tonight

More soon.

Rant O’Clock

You may have missed this, but last week UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted that “…Melton Mowbray pork pies, which are sold in Thailand and in Iceland, are currently unable to enter the US market because of, I don’t know, some sort of Food and Drug Administration restriction.”

The thing is, Melton Mowbray pork pies are not sold in Thailand and Iceland, as confirmed by The Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, who probably know what they’re talking about.

The pie currently holds EU protected status, which means that only 10 manufacturers can legitimately claim to produce the most famous of pork pies. Ironically, this protected status will, in all likelihood, be lost if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, leaving the door open for any number of non-UK manufacturers to claim they are the real purveyors of pastry products whilst actually making piss poor parodies of the pork pie, and thereby increase the risk of job losses within our own proud ground pork industry.

“Why are you talking about pork pies, Jez?” I hear you ask. I bet you’re thinking it’s just an excuse to post this:

Well, you’d be wrong.

It’s because, deliciously, Johnson had been caught telling pork pies about pork pies.

Question: How can you tell when Boris Johnson is telling a lie?

Answer: His lips are moving.

As I write this, our undemocratically elected Prime Minister Boris Johnson (remember when Brexit was all about standing up to those pesky, supposedly undemocratically elected EU ministers?) has stepped out of No 10 to make an annoucement, which had widely been expected to be that he was calling an election.

Of course, he said the opposite, and that he really, really doesn’t want to have an election. No: what he wants is to either be able to negotiate a new deal for Brexit with the EU, or failing that, to leave on October 31st without a deal.

That would be a different deal to the one which he voted in favour of at the third time of asking, by the way.

I think what he wants is a little more complicated than that, though.

What I don’t think he wants is to go down in the history books as the Prime Minister who took the UK out of the EU without a deal, because deep down he knows just how catastrophic that would be for our economy.

And how do we know that a No Deal Brexit is going to be catastrophic? Because today the Goverment launched its campaign to get us all ready to leave the EU at the end of October. It’s called Get Ready for Brexit and is reportedly costing the taxpayer around £100 million. That’s roughly double what the National Lottery spends on advertising in a whole year. Call me a cynic, but you don’t spend that kind of money on something which is going to be as great as leaving the EU was described to us as being in the build-up to the referendum.

The Housemartins – People Get Ready

For example: you’ll recall how former Brexit Minister Dominic Raab was derided for failing to understand the importance of the Dover-Calais crossing? Well, his replacement, Steve Barclay doesn’t seem to be that clued-up either: just last week he tweeted this:

Good idea Steve! Best to do it now, with two months left until the deadline, rather than, say, at any other time in the last three years!

It’s not just the Dover-Calais border which is going to be problematic post-Brexit, of course. The main bone of contention, of course, remains the Irish border, where the back-stop is written into the Withdrawal Agreement which Theresa May failed to get through Parliament on three not-very-different-really occasions: Johnson wants it scrapped, but the EU insist that there must be something in place to maintain the integrity of the Republic of Ireland, who will not be leaving the EU anytime soon

The Sunshine Underground – Borders

Johnson insists that he has several viable alternatives up his sleeve – I actually saw one (not credited to Johnson, I must admit) which suggested that the Republic of Ireland should temporarily give up its EU status so that no border checks are required, like the problem was all their making – and he told EU leaders as much when he did a flying visit last week, along with his attendance at the G7 summit. Their unified response was: “Okay, let’s hear them then”. Given that most of these have already been suggested, and dismissed as unworkable, I think we can understand their scepticism.

Nothing has been forthcoming as yet.

So what we have here is the biggest game of chicken you can imagine; Boris doesn’t want us to leave on No Deal, but he believes that to have any kind of leverage with the EU, he has to make them think that we are prepared to walk away without a deal, and that as a result they will make concessions. It’s a case of who’s going to blink first.

But it isn’t simply a case of staring down the EU, for there is – at last – some cross-party unity in trying to prevent the UK leaving the EU without a deal, and there can be little doubt that blocking them was the reason that Boris got the consent from Her Maj last week to close down (prorogue) Parliament in an effort to shut down any opposition to the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Don’t forget, that after the recent by-election in Brecon, the Conservative Party has a majority of just one, so he cannot afford any dissention amongst the ranks.

Obviously he didn’t say that was the reason for doing it (although he inadvertently alluded to it a day or so afterwards), because to openly admit it would be accepting that, having banged the drum in the build-up to the EU Referendum in 2016, citing “taking back control” of our sovereign Parliament as one of the main reasons for leaving, it would be rather inconsistent to then close Parliament to prevent it doing the job he claimed he wanted it to do.

It was interesting to note that certain Conservative MPs – Gove, Rudd, Javid, Hancock, Leadsom, Truss, Morgan – who, in the race to become leader of the Tory party, or since, had all been quite out-spoken against and critical about the idea of proroguing Parliament, now, satisfactorily bribed with positions within the Cabinet, were suddenly unavailable to do any press interviews.

I do love someone who uses pop records to make a point. It’ll never catch on though.

What I think Johnson massively underestimated was the outrage which prorogueing Parliament provoked across the country, and the determination of those MPs who wish to prevent No Deal are. For just because Parliament isn’t sitting, there is nothing preventing them from meeting elsewhere, which is exactly what I have read they are doing, the resourceful little scamps.

Over the weekend, there were whispers and rumours that any Conservative MP who rebelled against the Goverment by voting against them would have the whip withdrawn; in other words in the event of an election, they would not be permitted to stand as Conservative MPs. Instead, they would be replaced by a candidate who is fully on board with the party’s position.

And this tells us a lot. It reminds us that all of this has never really been about the EU, that’s just the backdrop against which all of this has been played. It’s never really been about curtailing immigration either, as there’s been nothing stopping us doing so for years had the inclination been there – certainly nothing the EU is insisting on anyway – our governments simply haven’t bothered to implement the rules which the EU have introduced. It hasn’t even been about dodging the EU laws to close tax-avoiding loop holes, although that’s certainly a benefit the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg would enjoy.

No, all of this has been about the survival of the Conservative Party, firstly in the face of the challenge from UKIP which led to then-Prime Minister David Cameron (who, allegedly, also had a somewhat unsavoury relationship with pork), and now it is about the challenge from the party which has replaced UKIP, The Brexit Party, led by the same (self-appointed, undemocratically elected to the position of party leader) foe, Nigel Farage.

It’s not just the EU that Boris is trying to out-stare: it’s the whole of the British electorate, or, more specifically, those who are likely to switch from voting Tory to Brexit Party. He needs them to think that his position on the EU is the same if not stronger than theirs, which he hopes will nix any allegiance swapping ideas those pesky pensioners might be having.

And that’s why I think we’re probably going to have an election before the 31st October, whilst Johnson can still maintain the facade that he wants No Deal, and whilst he can point the finger elsewhere: he’s told us he doesn’t want an election and now, if the cross-party conglomerate are succesful in blocking No Deal before Parliament closes, then the finger can be pointed squarely at them.

Whatever happens next, the sad thing is that it’s too late to put all of the division, the hatred, the racism which Brexit has unquestionably stirred up back in the box.

Blondie – Island of Lost Souls

The Adventures – Broken Land

More soon. Undoubtedly.

Rant O’Clock

Back when the last Labour leadership battle was on, I tried to officially join the party, for the princely sum of £3, so that I could vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

I say “tried” because they rejected my application on the grounds that they didn’t think I was a registered voter at my current address, despite me having been for a few years prior to the vote; indeed since living at my current address I’d voted in a General Election, in the EU Referendum, various council elections, and the vote about proportional representation. But, hey, if he didn’t want my support, no big shakes.

In a way – in fact, in three ways – this was a blessing in disguise.

  1. I was £3.00 richer
  2. My conscience is clear now that my support for Corbyn is utterly revoked, and
  3. I would have had to make a confession which would undoubtedly have led to me being expelled from the party.

For in the recent EU elections, for the first time in my life, I didn’t vote Labour. I voted Lib Dem, purely on the basis that they were one of the parties whose position on Brexit is explicitly clear.

Of course, Alistair Campbell – former “spin doctor” for Tony Blair, and a fully paid-up member of the Labour Party – wasn’t quite so lucky. He announced that he had voted the same way as I, and was promptly ejected from the party.

Now, this is a bit rich, isn’t it? Especially when you have the likes of Kate Hoey practically joined at the hip with Nigel Farage, who are allowed to (ironically) remain. Or that a blind eye is turned to the oh-so many Labour members who have been accused of anti-Semitism.

There were – you’ll be surprised to learn – a couple of other things which annoyed me about the media coverage and analysis of the EU elections and the council elections a couple of weeks earler.

Firstly, that my vote for the Lib Dems was a “protest vote”. No, it wasn’t. It was a vote for a political party with whom I agree on the matter of Brexit. If Labour had said that they opposed the idea, instead of trying to keep a foot in each camp and appease all, then I wouldn’t have switched allegiances.

Secondly, the council elections – where the Tories lost 1269 seats (but, admittedly, still held the majority), and where Labour lost 63, UKIP lost 36, but the Lib Dems (+676), the Greens (+185) – was portrayed as the electorate telling the government to “get on with Brexit”. No it wasn’t. It showed a clear resurgance in the two parties who have categorically stated that they’re against Brexit happening at all.

Thirdly, the EU election results being described as “a massive surge” towards The Brexit Party. No it wasn’t. Sure, they won the most seats, with the highest percentage of the vote. But: look at UKIP’s share. For whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote – 29 seats – whilst UKIP lost 24.2% – 24 seats. I think it’s safe to say the other 7.4% are more likely to have swapped allegiances from Conservative to Brexit Party than to have come from anywhere else.

So, it’s fairly safe to say that there hasn’t been a massive swing towards The Brexit Party – it was their first election, so whatever happened was going to be an improvement on last time – rather all of UKIPs voters deserted them and a few Tories shifted their allegiance.

And then look at the two parties who explicitly oppose Brexit: the Lib Dems (20.34% of the vote, up 13.4%) and the Greens (12.1% of the vote, up 4.2%). Add those two percentages together: 32.44%. So that’s more support for the two Remain parties combined than for the one Brexit Party (for I don’t think you can call Labour or the Conservatives one or the other…at the moment…Tory leader elections pending…but more of that another time.)

So looking at the EU elections – which, traditionally, I accept, is the time when protest votes are likely as they’re not really considered to be important (which is half the problem, but never mind) – what we can say is that there was a resurgance in the two obviously Remain parties, and that The Brexit Party stole all of UKIP’s votes and a few others from here and there.

The other thing we can say is that yes, whilst The Brexit Party won 31.6% of the vote, the turnout was very low: 37% of the UK population bothered to vote, which is quite some way down from the 72.2% who voted in the referendum back in 2016. And what that means is that in the referendum, Leave got 17,410,742 votes, and in the EU elections considerably less (I’ll admit, I’ve tried to find this figure, but my head is swimming with numbers, but it’s less, right…?). Which isn’t quite the same, now is it?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Revolution (rebranded).

These are all, of course, statistics and facts. And I, more than anyone, knows that these are to be mistrusted. For I used the following quote in pretty much every essay I ever wrote when I was at college:

There are lies, damned lies, and statistics – Mark Twain

Or, to put it another way:

The other thing that we can say is this: people vote for Nigel Farage, no matter what. Unless it’s for him being an MP, of course (*coughs* defeated seven times *coughs*.)

And I find this utterly baffling.

See, to me, Farage is nothing more than an opportunistic ex-banker bully boy, spouting vile rhetoric supposedly in the name of a love of his country.

And then you look at the detail, and it doesn’t take too long because there is no detail.

The Brexit Party has no manifesto. So other than “We must leave the EU” it has no other policies. Nothing. Zip. Which means that in the unthinkable event that he ever gets anywhere near anything even slightly resembling power, he can do whatever he wants, because he never promised anything.

And, although it calls itself The Brexit Party, it’s not a political party. You can’t join it. But what you can do is support it, by giving Farage £25.

And I say Farage gets the £25 rather than The Brexit Party because Farage is the self-appointed leader, the sole beneficiary.

And as an unelected leader, he has already said that he can’t be got rid of.

We used to have a word for people like that.

And, whilst we’re on the matter of funding, let’s not forget that Farage is already being investigated by the EU Commission for the financial arrangements he has with Aaron Banks. Financial arrangements which Farage initially denied existed, then back-tracked when Banks confirmed they did, and which Farage then claimed he didn’t have to declare to the EU (which he did; under the (ART4) MEP’s Code of Conduct, he must declare support for political activity, or (ART5) gifts above 150 euros within 30 days). Not that it matters, because if found guilty, it’ll likely end up in either a fine – which Banks will pay – or a ban from EU – which, given he never turns up anyway, won’t be that much of a choker either.

The man is a cad, a bounder, a charlatan, a liar. And those are the nicest words I could choose.

And so it was with some trepidation that I awaited the local election results from my hometown of Peterborough this week. I can’t say I held out much hope: until very recently it’s been Tory through and through, and the one time in living memory (ok, in my memory) that it votes Labour, the MP in question goes and gets herself imprisoned for lying about who was driving her car when it got some speeding points, kicked out of the party, instigating the election.

Things did not look promising.

And to my delight – yes, even though I voted Lib Dem in the EU elections – Labour won, narrowly beating the Brexit Party candidate into second place. I would have been so sad if the town where I grew up had gifted the country with it’s first Brexit Party MP.

Want some stats? I got ’em:

  • in the 2016 referendum, Peterborough voted Leave, 61% to 39%
  • this time, Labour got 31% of the vote, whilst second-placed Brexit Party got 29%
  • the turnout was 48.4%, down from 67.5% in the 2017 General Election
  • in that election, Labour beat the Conservatives by 607 votes
  • on Thursday, they won by 683 votes
  • that’s an increased share of a lessened turn-out

I’ll make no bones about it, I think that Donald Trump waddling into the UK this week and announcing that post-Brexit negotiations would have to have the NHS “on the table” had an effect. Those who trust Trump in the UK are in the minority, and those who see Farage cosying up to him really should be alarmed by this.

For Farage, lest we forget, doesn’t agree with the NHS. No, he wants to scrap it with an insurance based system, like…oh, oh, coincidence alert…like they have in the USA!

Have a look at this, courtesy of our friends over at @LedByDonkeys.

Strange, isn’t it, how Farage is getting financial backing from a man who owns insurance companies….?

And if you need an illustration as to quite what switching to private helathcare means, read this, written after 2018’s Manchester bombings (and try not to let the writer describing themselves as a “social injustice warrior” detract from the point they make):

What was funny, though, was when it looked like The Brexit Party was going to win, Farage turned up in Peterborough to give his gloating speech to the cameras, only to arrive and find things not going entirely to plan….

Which reminded me of this GIF:

Anyway. I’ve ranted patiently explained enough. Here’s some tunes:

The Long Blondes – Peterborough

And yes, I know I only posted this under similar circumstances recently, but nothing’s changed (by which I mean: I’ve not thought of anything more pertinent to post):

Public Enemy – Don’t Believe The Hype

Here endeth the sermon.

More soon.