Saturday, November 25, 2017
Now, the short answer to Michael Crick's question here is "No it isn't" with the follow-up of "How in the name of God did you get a job explaining politics to the public?"
The longer answer is that getting the Conservative Party out of government is priority number one for addressing most of the country's serious problems. The Tories can't solve our multiple current crises because the Tories are the crisis.
Consider just Brexit alone. The striking thing about our national response to Brexit has been the bizarre lengths we've gone to for a reason why Brexit isn't the Tories' fault, variously blaming Labour's immigration policies, the snootiness of urban librulz and a conspiracy of Russian tweets, to name just a few.
None of these excuses ring true, because they aren't true. Brexit didn't just fall on Britain out of a clear blue sky. It was willed into existence by generations of Conservative politicians, driven by their donors and applauded to the rafters by their creatures in the press.
Public resentment of the EU was the creation of decades of hard work by Conservative politicians, including the current Foreign Secretary. The wave of idiotic spite that created a 52% vote in favour of leaving the EU is the product of years and years of made up and half-true tabloid dreck - mostly for profit, but in no small measure because newspaper owners instructed their employees to boost the Conservatives' electoral prospects.
The decision to hold a referendum in the first place wasn't forced on the Tories, but was consciously chosen by David Cameron in a successful strategy to win back the party's plummeting popularity with racist pensioners.
Despite what you might have heard, it was the Tories that led the Remain campaign with such stellar levels of competence and credibility. The Brexit negotiations with the EU haven't been catastrophic because of some innate diplomatic difficulty, but because Theresa May's Tories decided to turn Brexit negotiations into a vote-winning campaign pitting older rural voters against younger, urban ones - "Somewheres" against "Anywheres".
Ultimately, the reason there's such an air of unreality around Brexit as an issue is because so many people can't admit to this one simple truth - that the Tories can't ever solve this problem because the Tories themselves are the problem.
And that's just one issue, rather than the full range of immediate problems that need to be addressed. From our ludicrous housing market to tottering public services and the sharp differences in the interests of the young and the old - these are in large part the handiwork of the Conservative Party and more importantly, they're absolutely essential to the Tories' future electoral prospects.
The Tories can't and won't do anything to tackle any of these problems because they're not problems, as far as the Tories are concerned - they're a pre-requisite for their continued success.
Which is a long way of saying that it doesn't matter how loudly Anna Soubry condemns Brexit while she votes with the government, nor does it matter that certain journalists are too dim to realise that she's part of the problem, not the solution.
If we want to even begin to tackle the nation's problems, the Tories have to go - all of them out of Parliament, even the less openly carnivorous ones, preferably forever. There is no alternative.
Saturday, November 04, 2017
I see why Hadley is shocked that Nigel Farage's comments have largely been met with indifference. After all, the hacks have reported almost every belch, fart and whistle that the malignant Ukip nutsack has emitted over the last few years, so why the weary response now?
Farage may no longer be the leader of his party but he still has a radio show; he still tours the world meeting with senior political figures in Europe and the US; he still speaks at rallies for Nazi sympathisers and most importantly, he's the living avatar of Brexit, the worst political crisis in recent British political history. It should be astonishing that there hasn't been a public outcry.
Being an enormous smartarse however, I wasn't surprised at all that nobody much cares about Farage's wacky racist view on "Jewish influence", and I certainly wasn't "genuinely astonished". If you'd asked me at the time what would happen, I'd have said "It'll be reported; there will be some snotty tweets, and then nothing will happen", and not only because that's precisely what's happened in the past.
That Hadley is astonished and I'm not, suggests to me that she's holding on to some incorrect presumptions. That doesn't necessarily mean that my views are correct, but in the interest of us all growing as people and learning about the world around us, I thought I'd talk a bit about how I was able to call this one right.
There are a variety of reasons and I might look at others later but for now, let's consider the people whose job it is to report on matter of public interest - the press. It'd be discourteous and dickish to put words into Hadley's mouth, so I'll consider here what I take to be the views of the Average British Opinion Writer.
I think the Average British Opinion Writer believes that the men and women of the British press are mostly decent, rational humans who would object to overtly foul behaviour, including the dissemination of openly racist conspiracy theories.
Conversely, I think the British press is mainly peopled by half-bright hacks who can usually be relied upon to noisily dislike such behaviour only when it's politically and personally expedient to do so. I think many of them blithely accept certain unpleasant realities, including public racism and the ongoing career of Nigel Farage, as Just The Way Things Are, immovable and unconquerable.
If that's true, it'd go a long way to explaining why Farage can express views that would see almost any other politician either immediately drummed out of public life, or at very least besieged by a squad of reporters everywhere he or she went.
Further, I think the Average British Opinion Writer would say that most of their colleagues are dedicated and reasonably honest people, giving their flawed but often brave views on complex issues and mainly just calling it as they see it.
But what if instead - with only a few exceptions - most of the nation's political commentators are incurious, easily-led shitehawks? What if the majority of opinion writers mistake received wisdom for deep thought and deeply-held conviction? What if they need to see others lead by example before they'll reevaluate their views, and if they regularly exhibit the herd instinct of pissed lemmings?
What if these personality traits are the main reason why they're employed as opinion writers in the first place?
That would certainly explain a lot, and not just about Farage, but about how the ongoing disaster that he and people like him created came to pass.
So that's one facet - we take different views of the press's role in public life. Again, it's possible and perhaps even likely that I'm wrong, but you'll note that I'm not the one having brain explosions over events that aren't even unprecedented in the last few weeks, let alone years.
Saturday, February 04, 2017
Given the sheer quantity of "How dare you call me racist, sir" that there is flying about just now - clogging the airwaves, filling the papers, determining the outcome of elections and the very future of entire countries - I think it might help to ask the Not-A-Racist-Bone-In-My-Whole-Body types the following question:
If you decided tomorrow to be an out-and-out, self-declared white supremacist, then what would you do differently?
If you already spend your time e.g. writing articles about how touchy-feely liberalism puts everyone at risk of being beheaded by crazed Jihadists, or discovering who The Real Racists are by sharing dodgy comments made by black teenagers, or continually retweeting news stories about Muslims being convicted of crimes, or angrily focusing on Mo Farah's alleged steroid use while wholly ignoring similar stories about non-religious athletes, or calculating the percentage chance of a random male being a sex offender by controlling for country of origin....
Well, my point should be fairly clear. From this baseline, it's difficult to see how you can take it up a notch to actual declared white supremacism.
If you're already carrying on like this, and quite gleefully too, then the difference between your behaviour and what you'd consider to be provably bigoted activities is pretty academic. You could maybe be a bit more conspiratorial or wave suspect flags or use racial epithets but ultimately, these are differences of tone rather than content.
So I suppose the question is: If the only way that you could be more openly prejudiced would be to do exactly what you're doing but slightly more so, then why the hell would you bother getting pissy when people tell you that you're racist? The line you're attempting to draw is so impossibly fine that it may as well not exist.
And this is before we get onto one of the iron rules of public conduct, which is: You don't have to be racist to be an arsehole, nor do you need to be a strident bigot to be a really unpleasant person to spend time with.