Dig Your Own Hole

Katie Hopkins, the ultra right-wing columnist and broadcaster recently said in an interview in The Times, that “Speaking my mind cost me my career” and that “her views have left her unemployable and living in the shadows”.  She was forced to sell her last house for £950,000 to pay off a legal bill in excess of £500,000. A bill she could have settled early by giving £5,000 to a migrant’s charity. Something she refused to do.

She is hated by many people and never really has a good word to say about anyone, apart from other ultra right-wingers, and, of course, Trump.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote, in a quote often attributed to Voltaire said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it“. This is the foundation of the freedom of speech in a democracy.

But is it true to say she has lost her career as a result of her right to a freedom of speech? She claims that 50% of her income comes from public speaking engagements, so there are definitely some people out there who want to listen to her.

She lost her job at LBC after tweeting there needed to be a “final solution” after the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.  Since then she just tweets words and videos as she sees fit, mostly unpleasant attacks on other faiths, races or people.

But is it OK to say such things? In a free society we all should be allowed to say these things (or the complete opposite) and take the rough with the smooth. This, she obviously has done.  It’s not as OK for an organisation such as LBC to continue giving her a salary to say such things.  Although, that said, they continue to have Nigel Farrage on their station.

My view is she deliberately overstepped the mark, in the full knowledge of what would happen.  Losing a job and a house is a natural consequence of that deliberate action.

Should she be allowed to continue to overstep the mark?  In my view, yes.  We don’t need to silence her. The more rubbish she spouts the less likely she is going to be listened to.  Let her dig her own hole.

Dig Your Own Hole2019-11-19T16:47:01+00:00

Do you wanna be in my gang?

Last night the “Grand Old Duke Of York” told the world that he wasn’t a paedophile and instead of having sex with an under-age girl he was having a Pizza in Woking.  Normally the “Royals” keep their mouths shut in the face of a scandal, but he decided to break protocol and give his side of the story.

It failed spectacularly. Today’s commentary is awash with people saying he failed to give a convincing performance, didn’t have good enough answers and couldn’t explain away the damning photograph of him with the victim.

Before the interview it was made clear the questions had been vetted by the security services, and was not under any oath, so getting to the “heart of the matter” was going to be impossible. The interviewer Emily Maitlis, tried her best to dig deeper, but left no doubt of her own position by looking deeply uncomfortable throughout.

So is it right to brand him as guilty before even a charge has been brought against him?  Clearly he’s lived in a complete bubble throughout his life. He was never the “heir” and just the “spare” for many years until the younger Royals have pushed him down the succession.  He was nicknamed “Randy Andy” by the press years ago and has been under a cloud ever since.  But is he guilty of something?  Can we ever find out? Can a charge of paedophilia ever be brought in a British court where it is The Crown versus …. The Crown?  It seems unlikely. Should we therefore presume innocence until guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt?

But why did he join Jeffrey Epstein’s circle of friends?  Surely he knew what was going on?  Any self-respecting person would run a mile from a situation where they could be linked to paedophilia, wouldn’t they?  Especially after they have been found guilty in a US court.  This is not just bad judgement.  This is someone who was reluctant to give up a lifestyle that they enjoyed.  They stayed friends and hoped that the Royal connection would keep it all hidden.  Being part of Epstein’s “gang” was something that should never have come out.

Scandal is nothing new to the Royal family, or to Britain.  Boris Johnson’s claim that he did not have an affair with Jennifer Arcuri  looks likely to blow open in the next few days.  Little is likely to change as a result of these revelations. Soon it will be buried under new stories in the broadcast media’s frantic search for 24×7 news.

But the big question is whether a “normal” person be allowed to get away with the same level of duplicity and survive unscathed. We really should be holding our “leaders” up to the same level of scrutiny as we hold for ourselves and asking of they are fit to hold the office that we, the country, pay for.

Do you wanna be in my gang?2019-11-17T12:55:43+00:00

So here it is …. Merry Christmas

The John Lewis 2019 Christmas Advert has just been released.  It features a dragon called Excitable Edgar, who proves to be a bit of a liability with anything flammable until Christmas Day when he sets alight to the brandy on the Christmas pudding. Already people are saying how it’s bringing a tear to their eyes, especially with the tag line:

“Show them how much you care”

But of course, it’s the cost of such an extravaganza which also captures the attention.  This year the cost remains roughly the same at £7 Million. The same as last year’s Elton John love-fest (of which Elton got £5 Million), 2017’s Moz the Monster and 2016’s Buster the Boxer.  That’s a cost of £19,178 per day, £799 per hour or £13.32 per second.  Given inflation, I suppose the cost is getting cheaper in real terms, but  given that the store who made a loss of £25.9 Million in the six months prior to 27th July 2019, and have made a lot of staff redundant, it seems a bit strange.

So why do firms do these things? Do they see it as a necessary service to provide? Is it a good return on investment, or is it a terrible thing to do to waste so much money that could be spent on good causes?

In 2018 filmmaker Phil Beastall re-released his own 2014 video called “Love Is A Gift” which he made for £50, which left more people in tears with a simpler, more heartfelt message. Many people suggested he create the 2019 John Lewis advert. Obviously he hasn’t been invited to do so.

Maybe 2019 will give us another alternative video message from a budding filmmaker?  One who understands that the Christmas message is about real people and real love and not about dragons, superstars or other monsters?  

Update 17th November. He’s done it again, and it’s brilliant!

I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but the poor, the elderly, the sick and the homeless could do a lot more with £7 Million pounds than John Lewis.

So here it is …. Merry Christmas2019-11-17T21:14:27+00:00


All of us have bands or tracks that we used to like, but which now seem a little embarrassing.   I have a copy of “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” by Paper Lace somewhere in the Garage.  Just awful.  In my defence, Is was only 13 when I bought it, and later that year I did go on to buy “Dark Side Of The Moon”, by Pink Floyd and “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk.  It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

But it’s always a shock when someone you dislike ends up liking a band that you love.  When Johnny Marr found out that David Cameron liked The Smiths he said:

“David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it.”

No comment from Morrissey on that at the time, but then again his views are appalling right-wing these days, so he may have been happy.

Now we find out that Boris Johnson likes The Clash.  Really?  Did you listen to the lyrics?

Did you really sing along to “Daddy was a Bank Robber” when your Pappa was at the World Bank?

Did you listen to “I Fought The Law” and thought…. actually I have ways to avoid all that?

Will you ever listen to “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” and think OK, I’ll bugger off then?

What would Joe Strummer think of this revelation? I doubt he’d be happy.

When Joe was asked what he favourite lyric was he “Vacuum Cleaner Sucks Up Budgie” (from “The Magnificent Seven”) probably because it’s the least political and because he was being playful.

Well Boris, I don’t believe you like The Clash. I think its all spin. This vacuum cleaner sucks up Bullshit!


“We will teach our twisted speech
To the young believers
We will train our blue-eyed men
To be young believers”


It’s up to you, not to heed the call up

White Poppy for PeaceOnce again it’s Remembrance Day and I find myself conflicted.  

I give thanks that I live in a free society that I can say what I want, believe what I want and agree to disagree with the government.  That took a struggle, like WWWII. A struggle that cost lives and that probably was the only way to stop global rise of fascism. I fight I would have been expected to join, if I had lived at the time of my father.

Yet I would never fight for such a cause. I would never kill anyone to maintain one nation’s right to rule of another.  I’m a conscientious objector.  I will not pick up a gun because my government tells to do it.

So I would probably have gone to jail, possibly even shot.  Maybe I’d have gone “to the front” as a non-gun carrying stretcher bearer, determined to support the cause but not all of the means? Undoubtedly I’d have been labelled a coward. Afraid to fight. Those that know me well will know that I’m not afraid to fight. Quite the opposite. I have to maintain my anger sometimes to maintain my beliefs. I think all humans are capable of murder.  That doesn’t mean we should do it.

My father, thankfully, never saw active service in WWII. He was always “behind” the action. It’s an interesting story, which I may tell here one day. My maternal grandfather went to war in WWI. He won the George Cross for Heroism, after single-handedly taking out a German machine-gun emplacement after all his friends were killed. But was it bravery or a case of momentary madness.  He came home with what we would probably call PTSD these days. He never got help and was killed in a mining accident in 1928. He was 38. My mother was 4.

But when I see the politicians standing by the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday I remember that wars are not started by men such as my father or grandfather. They’re started by fools who strive to get their own way at any cost. In the middle-ages Kings used to fight with their men. Not anymore. Now they watch from the sidelines and watch lines move from side to side on a map.

So when our leaders talk about the “sacrifice” that people have made to keep us safe I feel sickened. War is failure. The failure of leaders to give up on peace when more can still be done.  OK, you might not get what you wanted, but at least nobody dies. That’s the kind of “sacrifice” I want.  Compromise.

Remember your dead if that’s what you want to do, but I will be remembering the peace I had today, the peace I’ve had all my life and hoping the politicians will do the same.

It’s up to you, not to heed the call up2019-11-09T15:32:18+00:00

We can be heroes, just for one day

I spent two very happy years commuting back and forth to Berlin between 2010 and 2012. I’d never been to the city before and didn’t know what to expect. I was working in Mitte, the central district that featured The Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, Checkpoint Charlie and Bernhauer Straße, scene of people jumping out of windows to get to the West in 1961.

It was a interesting place. The history was there for all to see.  Bullet holes still in buildings that had been there since World War II, and which had subsequently been used by the Stasi.  Plaques in the cobbled streets showing where holocaust victims had been taken to death camps. Sections of “Die Mauer” turned into art galleries. Disused factories and air-raid shelters that were used by squatters and turned into clubs, skate parts and climbing wall.  All sat next to a fenced-off railway siding that had still not been cleared of unexploded allied bombs.

During the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, I spent an unscheduled weekend wandering around bits of the city I’d not seen before.  But apart from a short walk through Kreutzberg I never really saw “The West”. After wards people asked me if I’d seen Kurfürstendamm, or if I’d been to The Zoo. I had no interest. The East was more interesting.  More different.  There were still some sad things to see, such as a dreadfully thin, clearly drugged up prostitute plying her trade and the armed guards standing outside the Synagogue on Oranienburger Straße in case of trouble. But, all-in-all, it was educational and emotional.

The other thing about Berlin that fascinated me was the population.  I was told the place was built for 8 million people, but has only housed around 4 million. You could be exempt from National Service if you lived in Berlin, so naturally it was full of lefties, artists & musicians. My idea of heaven. You could walk safely around the streets and see very few people.  Those I did talk to had great stories from the days before the Wall came down.

I know that many of the places I visited have now gone. Mitte was the prize in the eyes of so many real-estate agents and companies, the value of land being so cheap.  These locations will be homogenized into a typically western city look-and-feel. Close your eyes and you’ll have no idea where you are.  This is sad for a city that is as unique as Berlin.

So as 30 years since the fall of the Wall is celebrated, remember that this history will be gone soon, as will the people that lived it. If you get the chance, go and visit.  Experience it or yourselves, if only just for one day.

We can be heroes, just for one day2019-11-09T15:35:42+00:00

An Island In An Ocean Full Of Change

I’ve always been hard-left in my politics. If I believe in something, I tend to be “all-in” or not bother at all. As my mate Rowley says (about music I should add) “There’s only one way and that’s ALL-THE-WAY!”

The Centrist way got us Tony Blair (or Tony Bliar as I usually write it) which was good in parts (The Good Friday Agreement) but not so good in others (The invasion of Iraq). I thought Thatcher was an extremist in her policies, leading to some of the self-centred attitude of modern Britain.  I’d prefer something more socialist, more about the good of all, not just the pursuit of wealth.  But I appreciate I’m in the minority and as such I’ll rarely be heard above the centralist noise.  Until now.

Centralist MPs seem to be leaving their parties left-and-right.  Both say that their parties are becoming dominated by far-left or far-right factions.  All very wall, you might say.  At least there’s a clear alternative between the parties rather than the view that “they’re all the same”.  This is true.

What I suppose I had not considered is that with such polarized positions, the country would send up becoming split in the same way.  I had this hopeful view that common sense would prevail and extreme views would become ameliorated by the majority.  How naive of me.  We now have a divided society, which will continue to be divided long after we “get brexit done” and Britain is “dead in a ditch”.

So I’ve looked at tactical voting.  Can we get a consensus on at least righting the far-right in the Conservative and Brexit Parties?  Several websites have now appeared that suggest they can help you decide which party to vote for.  However they too disagree over the recommendations. Getvoting.org suggests I vote Lib Dem.  Tactical.vote suggests I vote Labour.  Bother argue about their data being more accurate. Both disagree.  Where does this leave me?

In some locations the decision to form an electoral pact may help me. The Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru and the Green Parties are working together to limit competition in some seats.  Sadly, not my constituency.

Maybe the opinion of the tactical voting sites will converge as the campaign continues?  However I feel I will have to “wing it” as usual, hope others do the same and hope The Conservatives lose the election. 

An Island In An Ocean Full Of Change2019-11-07T09:42:59+00:00


I like reading autobiographies.  It always seems that someone else’s life is more interesting than my own.  The last couple I’ve enjoyed were by Elton John and Edward Snowdon.

The first revelation was that Elton John is actually quite funny. I had a suspicion that the book “Me” was dictated from audio conversations and ghost-written, and indeed it does appear that GQ’s former music editor Alexis Petridis did the honours.  That said, both Alex and Elton have produced a thoroughly entertaining book that is funny, sad, and does not hold back anything.  If you’ve seen Rocketman then you’ll be familiar with parts of the story, but the book tells the whole tale without fast forwarding or missing out the later chapters.  He may have “been a cunt since 1975” but he’s not anymore and he’s making amends.

The second revelation is that Elton John is still alive.  The sheer amount of cocaine and alcohol the man consumed, the number of partners he had sex with during the AIDS outbreak, his insane temper tantrums and his struggles will bulimia make you appreciate he’s got an iron constitution (and is bloody lucky).

All-in-all it’s a happy ending for both Elton and the reader. 

This is in contrast with Edward Snowdon’s “Permanent Record”.  Snowdon’s revelations send shivers down your spine.  If you’ve ever thought (as I have) that your political views may have been singled out at some point by the security services then you can rest easy.  In fact everyone’s views, political or not, have been captured by the NSA.  Not just the loony-lefties like me, but everyone.  If you’ve got a computer with an operating system from Microsoft (check), or a Google email (check), have purchased anything from Amazon (check) or entered any details into an Oracle database (hell, I worked for them for 17 years!) then you’re in the system.  The fact that it’s a crime is irrelevant. It’s happened.

It doesn’t mean that they’ve taken an interest in you just yet, but they have collected your data, just in case you do something in the future. Just as the Wayback Machine can show you what a website looked like back in the day, they can recall all your digital history and just like Minority Report your “pre-crimes” will be planned out if you do become a person of interest.

How do you become a person of interest?? According to Snowden if you type in XKEYSCORE into a browser then “then congrats: you’re in the system, a victim of your own curiosity”.   To be honest you’re probably in the system just associating with me.

What gets me is how Snowden decided to sacrifice everything to be the whistleblower on these crimes.  He gave up his country, his family, his girlfriend. Everything, just so we could all know the truth.  I know I couldn’t do that.  My wife is my rock, the only solid piece of ground in a society built on shifting sand.  I could not afford to leave that rock behind.

As it turns out Snowden’s girlfriend followed his to Russia, where he is now exiled, and they are now married. I’m not sure it’s quite a happy ending, but it’s as close as you might expect given the circumstances.

Maybe one day I will write my autobiography. I’m still not sure Gateshead in the 1970’s is quite as cool as you might think!


Dirty Cash

According to an article in the Guardian Super-rich prepare to leave UK ‘within minutes’ if Labour wins election.  Not all of these super-rich will be UK citizens of course, and are free to chose where they want to live based on all manner of things.

But let’s take a look at those that are UK citizens.  Labour singled-out 5 individuals who would be targeted with by a Labour government.  Mike Ashley, the billionaire owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United, is one of those targeted. Another is Rupert Murdoch, although the “charge sheet” against all of them is pretty damning.

So would the country be worse off without these people?  No doubt they are already practicing tax avoidance schemes already, so the lost tax revenue will be minimal. The real question is whether they will close down their UK businesses?

Personally I doubt it. Ashley needs his Sports Direct Empire to remain in the UK despite any government action. I personally never shop there as I find their good to be crap and their sales staff incompetent (no doubt because of little or no training) so it will have no effect on me.  In fact I’d rather someone else took the business over and put a stop to all the bad practices.

As for Murdoch, his business will never leave the UK.  He is addicted to selling the masses a political fiction in support of the right-wing and that will never change.

But will the country be poorer for having these people move abroad? We’re always told that we need entrepreneurs to make money and let the “trickle-down” effect mean that the money goes into the pockets of the average person. I’m not sure the person on a zero-hours contract at Sports Direct would agree with that,  or the person who’s been evicted by Hugh the 7th Duke of Westminster , to make way for luxury apartments.

No, if these gentlemen (and let’s face it they are usually men) want to leave then feel free chaps. I want a better society where people like you don’t exist anyway, so they will be doing me a favour.  

We deserve better people, with better values who contribute to society, not just their own pockets.

Dirty Cash2019-11-02T13:22:54+00:00

Won’t Get Fooled Again?

It’s not Brexit day (again) but for many it is the first day campaigning for the December 2019 election.  Yet the BBC says that up to 50 MPs are standing down. Some are obvious candidates, such as my MP Nicolas Soames, who lost the whip earlier in the year and is way past his sell-buy date in any case.

Others appear to be standing up for their “conscience” and leaving politics at a time when it’s seen to be at an all-time low. Even Boris Johnson’s own brother, who resigned from the cabinet, has now decided to call it a day.

It’s normal for this to happen, however. The BBC report details that around 90 MPs left before the 2015 election and a whopping 150 left in 2010. It’s got to be a tough job being an MP. Days away from your families, constant travelling, interviews, meeting people you hate and the sheer boredom of the commons chamber sometimes. I admire those that truly do make a difference, like Jess Phillips, and MP based on Birmingham.

But while we a say a fond farewell (or a good riddance) to some MPs we need to be careful what we wish for.  MP selection is a party political process and in today’s climate will be as Machiavellian as possible.  I’m prepared for a complete SHIT to be the Conservative choice for my neck of the woods. Is have no idea who he/she they will be but they will be completely pro-Boris, pro-Brexit and terrifyingly right-wing.

My heart will always be socialist, but they will never win in this location.  So, do I tactically vote for the Liberal Democrats and possibly tip the apple cart, or do I vote with my heart and symbolically “piss into the wind”. I did vote Lib Dem before, in 2010 and Nick Clegg sold the party for a few pieces of silver and suffered the consequences.

My Lib Dem MP put a flyer through my door the other day. The first I heard of it was it hitting the doormat.  No cold call to chat over the issues.  No-one does that anymore.  Instead politics becomes the topic s du-jour of local facebook groups.  Left and Right slug it out, amidst neighbours trying to sell last-years tat in order to give their kids a more extravagant Christmas.

This year my local group has put up a referendum on whether political posts will be banned from the group.  So far it’s looks like a complete ban is likely.  It’s going to be an enormous job for the group admins. Some people will just not take NO for an answer and there are some particularly unpleasant people in the group. I was an admin once. Never again.

Today Twitter have announced that all Political Advertising will be banned globally. Of course they are thumbing their nose at Facebook who recently said they will allow fake-news adverts.  Plus unpaid opinion (like this one) will probably go unchecked.

So where will we get the unbiased news?   The critical comment? The deep dive into the carefully crafted sound-byte?  Well not the tabloids that is for sure as yesterday’s headlines showed. 

Now is the time for us to be critical of everything we read.  If in doubt ask yourself “who gains from this”.  Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Won’t Get Fooled Again?2019-10-31T10:15:50+00:00

You’re so vain!

As a Brit I’m naturally self-deprecating.   I say “sorry” when something that is not my fault.  I say “I must not have explained that properly” when I’m talking to someone who is stupid to understand.  I smile politely when someone breaks the rules when I’m driving *.

I don’t tend to like people that are narcissists.  Most of the leaders of the companies I’ve worked with have that degree of self-assurance and self-importance that leaves me cold.  I’m told “It’s OK, they are geniuses”.  Some of the senior management adopt this attitude as well, despite proving that the genius gene has never been observed in any of their decisions. 

Yesterday I read an article about Psychologist Dr Kostas Papageorgiou, from Queen’s University Belfast. It says narcissists have grandiose delusions about their own importance, are horrible people and an absence of shame. However it goes on to say, surprisingly perhaps, they are also likely to be happier than most people. They are less like to suffer from depression

The biggest narcissist on this planet is of course Donald Trump.  He takes credit for things that other people have achieved.  He’s made up stories that make him seem to be a good person.  He’s claimed he’s made lots of money.  Most of these things are unlikely to be true, but he keeps repeating his fake news and some people believe it.  Especially himself.  But is he happy?  Who will ever know?

So why do some people behave this way?  What do they hope achieve?  Papageorgiou suggests this may be an evolutionary trait developed to protect us against attack.  But surely people attack narcissists more?  Isn’t that asking for trouble?

I read Erving Goffman’s book “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” back in the 1980’s when I was studying for my Open University degree in Social Science.  I was fascinated by the way we all “perform” differently depending on the “situation”.   Following that logic, narcissism is just a way of react to the situation.  Believing you are the best is a strategy in order to become the best.

Certainly it would be nice to have a life where there’s more happiness, where I have more self-belief but I’m not sure if I want to become a narcissist.  There are more people I know who have achieved greatness without becoming one.  

Piers Morgan is perhaps the UK’s most well known narcissist. A pseudo-journalist, implicated in phone-hacking, who is currently on vacation from his stint on ITV’s Good Morning. Recently there have been petitions set up to have him fired, and counter-petitions to keep him working.  He’s provocative, combative, rude and consistently talks over interviewees who he disagrees with.  So why do people like him?  Because he’s “entertaining”?  Because he’s not “boring like the BBC”?  Since when did “entertaining” become more important than the truth?

What irks me most about Trump and Morgan is that they both believe they have a right to say what they want because they are famous.  Because they are famous they must have a more valid opinion than anyone else. Because they are famous they must be right.  

We are living now in a post-truth world.  The world is just a myriad of opinions.  Just like the one you’ve just been reading. 

So what is your opinion?  Are you a narcissist?  Are you happy?

Cup of tea anyone? Well I did say I was British**.  


* Actually that is a barefaced lie.  I shout and use hand-gestures.  I’m not a saint.

** Sorry I don’t really like tea, but that would ruin the ending wouldn’t it.

You’re so vain!2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00


“You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me…..”

So we now have the option of another delay in leaving the EU. We could have a general election before then. We could have a people’s vote to confirm if we still want to do this. We could have both at the same time.

Election manifestos will be written, promises given, hands shaken, babies help and shirt sleeves will be rolled up. But will there be time to think?

There’s been no economic assessment shared with the country as to the effects of leaving the EU. We don’t know the strengths of that position, or its weaknesses. What opportunities will arise if we do it, and what will threaten us if we leave?

I am in no doubt an economic assessment HAS been done but it’s not been released because it will show the stupidity of the move economically, politically, environmentally, technically, legally and socially. So why don’t the opponents of Brexit formulate their own?

Now we have three months to THINK about these things isn’t it time we had these arguments presented, rather than just the rhetoric of “get Brexit done” or “take back control”. I do not think it’s a good idea to jump off a cliff because 50% of the public voted for it. No shout of “get on with it” will help.

Present me with an argument that there’s a lovely warm lake at the bottom the cliff, or that you’ve inflated a great big crash mat then I may consider the possibility. It might be a wild ride. It might even be nicer down in the valley than on the hilltop. But it could be suicide.

So Boris, Jeremy, Jo, Ian, Nigel, Liz and Caroline…. tell me what you think and why and give me time to decide. No headlines. A full essay please, with constructive and critical argument. And no, your dog cannot eat your homework.


Please don’t let me be misunderstood

I believe Israel is a rouge state.  They have a rogue government.  It does terrible things to people in Palestine. It moves Palestinians out of their homes to enable Israelis to move in. It builds on disputed areas of land and moves settlers in. It gets away with murder. Literally.

I believe this makes me an anti-Zionist. It does not mean I’m anti-Semitic.  I have Jewish friends. I love Jewish music. I know the holocaust happened and it was an abhorrent act that should never be repeated, against anyone. I cried when I saw the small plaques embedded into the cobbled streets of Berlin, naming the Jews who had been taken away to concentration camps. The Jewish people need to feel safe in their historic homeland and around the world. Faith-based hate is wrong.

But because I say this out loud I will be branded by some to be an anti-Semite, anti-Jewish, a Fascist.  It’s a knee-jerk reaction. “Well he must be anti-Semitic if he believes that”.  

I also believe North Korea is a rogue state.  As is Iraq.  As is Syria. When Aung San Suu Kyi became Myanmar’s leader I thought that would be a great thing, but then she allowed the massacre of a Muslim minority.  Another rogue action.

Yet, I will not be called out as an anti-Muslim, anti-Communist or anti-Buddhist to the same degree, as I will be called an anti-Semite.  Yet it happens every time, to whoever makes the comment that Israel is bad.  It serves to muddy the waters, make the argument less legitimate and more racist, and make it difficult for decent people and politicians to stand up for the anti-Zionist cause.

Does The Labour Party have an anti-Semitic problem?  Yes it does.  All organisations of people have divisions, based on fear of difference, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation and wealth, to name but a few.  The Jews have been stigmatised for centuries and the stench of that persecution still pervades today. 

The Labour party needs to root anti-Semitism out. I However, it does not need to stop saying its anti-Zionist.  It should be proud to face down rogue nations – all rogue nations – and those that support those rogue nations, such as the USA and Saudi Arabia.

Hate me for saying this if you want, but don’t let me be misunderstood.



Please don’t let me be misunderstood2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00

No One’s Illegal

I was born in Newcastle.  In the UK.   In 1961.  On a Monday.  The number 1 on the UK charts was “I Love You” by Cliff Richard.  If I’d been born a few days earlier it would have been “It’s now or never” by Elvis Presley.  If I’d been born 80 miles north I’d have been Scottish.  If I’d been a girl I’d be called Wendy (or was it Sandra, I can’t remember).

Yesterday we found out that the 39 people found dead in a truck in Essex came from China.   They could have come from Syria or Mexico, or from the Moon for that matter.  They were “illegal” immigrants. They were not meant to be here.  Or so we’re told.

Some of the earliest humans lived in what is now Ethiopia.  The “cradle of civilisation” was located in what is now Iraq. People have been migrating for tens of thousands of years.   All of the countries of “The West” were populated through migration.

You can’t see the borders of countries from space. A visiting alien would not know which country was which when they observed from orbit.  The earth is just a beautiful blue globe floating in space. Unless you believe the flat earth theorists, but I’m not going there.

So why do we have to view people as “illegal”. Is it because we don’t want to pay for them?   Some studies suggest that migration is good for the economy.  Is it because we don’t understand their values?  Are our values so much better?  Who decides?

The point is simple.  No-one decides where they are born, when they are born, whether they are rich or poor, powerful or powerless.  It’s a human trait that we want our children to have a better life than we’d had.  So, some people decide to migrate to another location.  Some risk prison, deportation or death to make this happen.  They spend all that they have to some low-life wanting to make a fortune out of their “illegal” status.

So before we make a decision that someone is “illegal” or should “go back to where they came from”, remember it’s only a twist of fate that made you who you are. 

If the sea levels keep rising due to global warming some of the places that we live in may become uninhabitable. It could be you migrating next. It could be you that is considered “illegal”.

Show some compassion.

No One’s Illegal2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00

What do you want from life?

When I was younger I identified with Marxism in it’s purest sense.  A explanation of society in terms of those that owned the means of production, and those that did not, fuelled by a pursuit of profit.  Was this a good way to run a society? I wondered.  What about the sick, the unemployed, the poor? Why should those that “own” something be the only people to reap the rewards?  Was capitalism the only way forward?

Obviously different models had been tried.  The centrally controlled economies in Chinese and the Soviet backed countries were still strong, and seemed more egalitarian. At least, as long as you agreed with the political doctrine.  Societies could be controlled within borders through news media and the police.  Stay true to the Marxist ideals and you can be as happy (or perhaps as miserable) as anyone else.

Thatcher (and Reagan) said “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families“, and so we became a nation of shareholders in British Gas, British Telecom and other British Institutions.  We put up boundaries between us and our neighbours. They were not us, therefore we did not need to care for them.

It’s a far cry from when National Insurance was devised after WWII. From the founding days of the NHS and the “world fit for heros”.

I’ve spent my entire life thinking differently from those around me.  For those that espouse “Free Markets”, I see the destruction of towns and cities because coal is cheaper from Taiwan, and there is no consideration of the effects of unemployment and poor health.  For those that decide that we need a “War on Terror” I see the underlying “War for resources” that America is really waging to keep the country’s gas-tanks full of Iraqi oil.

And so we come to Brexit. It’s not about whether we should be “in” or “out” anymore. It’s not about “the will of the people” or “honouring the result of the referendum“.  I ask myself “what sort of society do I want now?”  Is it one where we collaborate, we seek solutions, we agree to disagree, or is it one where no MP is safe from being assaulted at their place of work, or no person is safe from being labelled a “snowflake” or a “remoaner” by a narcissistic pseudo-journalist on breakfast television.

British society cannot be controlled within borders anymore. Nor by news media. We’re free to believe what we want, but all we hear is soundbytes of anger, snippets of rhetoric and the carefully crafted marketing terms of shadowy political spin-doctors. Imported new-speak from people who want to “break” the existing structure, before imposing a terrifying new one.

When I was a 16 year old writing essays for my O-Level exams I was encouraged to “compare and contrast” viewpoints. I had to assess arguments for “coherence and consistency”. Later I learned to assess “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunites and Threats”. A failure to recognise and understand an alternative point of view was marked down.

We don’t do that anymore in our society. We should.

What do you want from life?2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00
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