Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bring Back The Free Owls

It's the ten-year anniversary for the blog today, and it's ironic that it falls on referendum day.

When I started, my declared aim was: If there must be bullshit, at least let it be entertaining bullshit.  I like to think that I succeeded, if only occasionally.  I was young at the time, and I had a naive fear that the growing reach of social media was making us all angrier, more resentful and less tolerant of each other.

Well, I needn't have worried.  The only blogs that anyone reads these days are the professional ones like Guido Fawkes, and the only people who read those are politicians, political journalists and cunts.

The maximum political content that most people get out of e.g. Facebook in the average day is likely to be their racist uncle sharing one of those dipshit photo memes - Army veterans are homeless, but Abu Hamza lives in a castle made of tits with a champagne moat, and he guzzles taxpayer-funded Micro-Chips.  Britain First!

To be honest, going by the last few weeks, I'd say that the mainstream news orgs are more than capable of providing all the anger, resentment and intolerance that we could ever need.

Still, since it is my anniversary, it's probably worth a few observations on the referendum, for old times' sake.

What does this tell us about ourselves, as a nation? 

This question has mainly been coming from the Hey Guys, Why Don't We Stage an Inclusive Democratic Revolution, Right Here In The Church Hall? wing of Labour Twitter, and it strikes me as a reasonable one.  What have we become, lads?

Well, let's have a look at the respective campaigns and try to draw some conclusions.

Remain has been pretty much what you'd expect from a modern political campaign, insofar as it's been a barrage of focus-grouped, feelgood horseshit with continual outbreaks of hysterical terror.

And to be fair, it's probably true that we'd all be a bit poorer if we voluntarily left one of the world's largest trading blocs - maybe even considerably poorer.  On the other hand, we would probably manage to survive.

Without going into detail, the Remain campaign has mostly been deceitful and fear-crazed, but that's pretty much standard in the modern era.

Still, I have a particular affection for the earnest pundits who have spent the last few months anxiously warning us all that If Britain leaves the EU, then It will make Vladimir Putin happy.  I have no idea why the hacks are so certain that any part of the British electorate gives a shit what a Russian gangster-politician thinks about anything, but lots of them are absolutely convinced of it.

On the Leave side... Well, I don't want to exaggerate, but practically every statement out of the campaign leaders' weasel mouths has been a flagrant misrepresentation, an outrageous lie or an outright incitement.  The Leave campaign is a vast field of poisoned slurry, trailing a hateful stench that will stink out the entire nation for decades.  A lifetime of determined hosing won't shift it. Every single person involved in it should be ashamed of themselves and every notable figure within it should be immediately drummed out of public life.

If we end up voting to leave, we won't even be able to claim that we were suckered by clever, polished PR men.  We'll have enthusiastically bought a fistful of farts and fuck-all, from what may be the most blatantly crooked clique of conmen ever assembled in British politics.

And even now, it looks like Leave have a good chance at winning!

It's not too early to draw conclusions from that, and here's what it tells us - that you can promise us a lovely roast duck on a silver platter, and then serve us up a donkey-dick on a dishcloth, and fifty percent of us will love you for it.

So, that's who we are.  A huge chunk of the populace are the type of people who joyfully vote to slash their own public services and then blame foreigners because they can't get a doctor's appointment.

But again, this is normal.  Many other countries are exactly the same and have been forever.

And while so many pundits are commanding us all to respect the views of Leave voters, it's worth pointing out here that

Class is a major issue this referendum in the same way that meerkats are a major issue in car insurance

My dad's a mechanic, and he's voting remain.  Mrs R's dad was a miner, and he's probably voting leave.

The campaigns themselves, by contrast, are led a shower of galloping Hooray-fucking-Henries, and their various opinion-creatures are Oxbridge down to their last straw boater.

Treat anyone who tells you that the referendum is about class in the same way that you'd treat an urgent email from Prince Billy Akatakatawengo, who has five million pounds going spare and only needs a handy bank account to keep it in.

Oh my, how surprising! 

But my absolute favourite thing about this referendum has been the sheer number of people who are just staggered, astounded, to discover that e.g. racism is popular with racists, or that politicians are happy to peddle racism for votes.

Seriously, the number of hacks that I've seen asking some variation upon - What is Michael Gove doing, associating himself with racists and cranks, in a bid to gain political power?  It's awesome.

What in the world could a politician be trying to achieve, by sucking up to racists for political benefit?  Truly, it is an enigma wrapped in a mystery and stuffed into a cough-medicine bottle. 

I can summarise this one in an image, from Monday's Times...

Yes, that is that awful Mr Farage, forcing that nice Mr Gove and Mr Johnson to be all racist against their will.

The idea that a fool like Farage could force anything on his Tory chums is hilarious, and it tells us a lot about how far certain people will go to either delude themselves, or just to keep themselves in the good graces of the powerful.

And while this may be funny, it represents a far more serious problem.  The reason why this type of campaign was even possible - the reason why it wasn't fragged into electoral space-dust, the very instant that it started plastering up pictures of refugees - is because the political mainstream isn't just accommodating of open racism.  It's courting it and stoking it, and it's been doing so for a very, very long time.

Ten years ago people laughed at Michael Howard's rubbish election posters, but I notice that they're not laughing now.  Now that our outright xenophobia has reached the point where it can bring the nation to the point of financial calamity, it's not quite as funny as it used to be.

And that's the really important point here.  For a while, overt racism was a characteristic of the political fringe.  And yet here it is, front-and-centre on the nightly news, on the front page of the Metro.  This is the product of years-worth of earnest articles about the Very Real Concerns of voters; of hand-wringing and poll-watching, of politicians and pundits haggling amongst themselves to establish what is the permissable level of prejudice in any particular campaign.

The BNP used to get a million votes in this country, but now that Nigel Farage is a figure of fun and a even a celebrity in his own right, they've all miraculously disappeared.  Where did they go?

The answer - they all went right into the heart of the political mainstream, into the sensible centre of establishment politics from where this referendum sprang in the first place.  The mushy middle of politics, where Times columnists announce that Leave should pal up with the French National Front, because their leader doesn't deny the Holocaust like her dad does.

And the really awful thing here is, we won't admit that this is mostly just old-fashioned racist nationalism, any more than we could admit that the Leave campaign were selling old-fashioned racist nationalism. The Guardian has the balls to call its own readers all manner of fannies, but none of the others will ever tell their customers what they are to their faces.

To be blunt about it - if we can't even admit that we might have a racism problem after a Nazi has gunned down an MP in broad daylight, for no better reason than because we're so very addicted to ticking off a bunch of metropolitan hipsters for snobbery, then we have a long, long way down to fall yet.

And to think, it's only been a year or so since our worst national concern was a crippling fear that that communist firebrand, Ed Miliband, might start handing out free owls.

Compared to Cameron's awesome idea of giving the country a nice, cleansing referendum, it's difficult to imagine what Red Ed could've done that could possibly have been worse - mandatory petrol for toddlers maybe, or the reintroduction of anthrax in the wild.  Thank God we listened to all those sensible centrists.

Ah, 2006 doesn't half seem like the distant past.  Lordi, Zinedine Zidane headbutting Materazzi, carbombs in Baghdad.

It wasn't especially great at the time, but it was surely better than this.


ejh said...

I am looking forward to all the hacks who wet themselves over Cameron's conference speech writing pieces about how his party's core vote is out of kilter with the ideals Cameron expressed.

And I shall carry on looking forward to it forever.

Gary Othic said...

Good post; it's really startling how quickly this has all gone off the rails - I swear things weren't this bad even last year!

Of course with the referendum done we can get back to the important things in British politics: talking about how awful Jeremy Corbyn is.

Phil said...

Good point about the BNP vote. When I was looking at the 2015 election results in search of the dreaded Labour->UKIP vote shift, that was something that really leapt out - time after time, constituencies with a 20% UKIP vote in 2015 turned out to have had a 10% BNP vote in 2010, quite often with another 5-6% accounted for by the NF, the English Democrats or some local racist ragtag. Surprise, surprise, putting racism on Question Time once a month leads to more people being willing to turn out for it.

We're in this weird position now where overt racism is more or less illegal - it would be severely career-limiting for anyone in my profession and many others - but the nod-and-wink variety passes right under the radar; it's only even seen as a problem when we're talking about Labour, and then the problem is that Labour isn't racist enough.

Luther Blissett said...

Not only the racism, but also the media pretending that politicians have a genuine concern about the views of the poor, and wish to protect them.

The only financial catastrophe will one of Osbornes' making.

But if you want to see the average person looking at you like a martian, try explaining that money is not real, just an abstract fiction, and shouting we've run out of money makes as much sense as UEFA declaring that they have run out of goals to add to the scoreboard, due to a structural deficit, think of the grandchildren etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for 10 years of great blogging.

"When I started, my declared aim was: If there must be bullshit, at least let it be entertaining bullshit."

Achieved, I think. And I still don't know how we can hold back the tide of bullshit apart from lacking at the absurdities. If you didn't laugh, you would have to cry.


Anonymous said...

"Of course with the referendum done we can get back to the important things in British politics: talking about how awful Jeremy Corbyn is."

Well it took about 12 hours from the close of the polls for the blame to be put on Corbyn. It was utterly predictable really. And the decline of Iraq into a failed state will be blamed on Corbyn as well, mark my words.


Gary Othic said...


It'd be funny if it weren't so predictable and sad.

Today, for example, Polly Toynbee in the space of a paragraph goes from ticking off the Leave campaign for pandering to anti-immigration sentiment, to blaming Corbyn for not pandering to anti-immigration sentiment.

organic cheeseboard said...

First of al, thank you for all the blogging. Keep at it - will need entertainment in the cold post brexit winters.

I note that you called this years ago by the way in a fine post on Tory bullshit by the way.

One of the things I've wanked on about on here is the preposterous short term focus of the Cameron/Osborne team, and this disastrous result proves that once and for all. The idea that Cameron would resign just over a year after winning an election is pretty bloody incredible but they have absolutely nobody to blame but themselves. Read this for instance - - it's really grim. Why did they think they'd win this easily, given that sort of nasty pandering? How did they think they could convince their own supporters that the eu is actually brilliant? And more importantly for them, how is this going to affect party funding? That's why they were pro remain after all, since their members are all brexiteers...

Darius Jedburgh said...

Do keep up the good work Mr R. No blog I know of has anywhere near your consistent level of lolz. You have a rare talent for the humorous phrase. The speculative image of Gordon Brown in a rage as a 'pissed-up tyrannosaurus rex' will, I think, always stay with me. Similarly, I am unlikely to forget the description of a large proportion of UKIP types as 'leathery sexual deviants'. Many such descriptions are lodged in my brain. My disagreements with you on matters of substance are nowhere near serious or frequent enough to diminish my enjoyment of such memorable mots justes.