The Bay of Marrows

I am, after all this time, quite willing to say that with a couple of caveats I’d be happy for Jeremy Corbyn to go as Labour leader. Quite frankly, the man is shit at politics; principled, decent and with lots of good ideas, but unfortunately he’s about as persuasive as a damp rag and I can fully understand why the parliamentary Labour party have lost all patience. As much as he is principled, principle is not enough to win an election; if that were the case then we would not currently be on day 5 of the post-referendum shitheap where Nigel “Schoolboy Fascist” Farage gets to strut around like, well, like someone who after his performance earlier this week richly deserved to have his teeth smashed in by the rest of the European Parliament, to be frank. There is nothing wrong with principle, and there is nothing intrinsically laudable about pragmatism either, but principle without paying basic attention to how you come across in public is pointless and self-destructive, especially when you’re the leader of the opposition. Principle also does not mean that you must necessarily spout your unvarnished views whenever asked – one wonders how much better things might have gone in PR terms if Corbyn had simply changed the subject rather than allowing interviews to get lots of lovely shots of him dragging up an all-but-settled question like the Falklands as if it actually meant anything.

I say all this despite arguing, quite forcefully, that there is a good reason for his popularity and why I can’t quite loathe the man; because he’s the only person in the room arguing so coherently for the actual solutions to Britain’s problems rather than simply doubling down on free market “ignore the problem and it’ll go away” non-fixes for problems, and not willing even slightly to switch to blaming immigrants or immigration for the country’s problems. Besides his neither-here-nor-there supposed appreciation for the IRA and his deeply questionable comments regarding Hamas (it is worth listening to the full quote on this – he goes beyond calling them “friends” and describes them as “bringing about long-term peace and social justice”, which is certainly one way of looking at things) I find it hard to disagree with much of what he says. However, my support for him has and had nothing especially to do with him as a person, it was for his views on domestic politics and his articulation of how to solve a lot of the deep issues within our society – inequality, the steady erosion of worker’s rights and a lack of government investment. If Andy Burnham had said the same things in the same way with the same amount of conviction I would have voted for him in the leadership election without a single concern. But he didn’t, so I didn’t.

Which brings me to the rub of this “coup”, a coup that makes the Bay of Pigs look positively masterful. This coup is the shittest coup that has ever happened, ever. It is barely worth the title. Leave aside any ideological qualms, about “Blairites” attacking the principled Mr Corbyn or whatever; it’s just incompetent. No wonder voters think we can’t run a piss-up in a brewery when our supposed political heavyweights can’t even boot a demonstrably incompetent old man out of the big chair. Corbyn has basically outmaneuvered them all by simply existing, not resigning and by having the support of the majority of the membership, possibly being the first sitting Labour leader to have retained his position simply by inertia. Barring some sort of shift, or him finally deciding he’s had enough of this shit and resigning (and I honestly couldn’t blame him if he did) he is essentially in situ as leader of the Labour Party until he chooses to be otherwise, and that simply isn’t going to change unless the PLP change tactics.

It’s telling, in fact, that the chief failure of this coup, which I’m going to call the Bay of Marrows affair for no reason other than that it personally amuses me, is that it is a coup in favour of nobody. One could make a very persuasive argument that Corbyn isn’t going to win us an election, but then who is? The Labour brain trust is so depleted at this point, with no Ed Balls to fall back on, Andy Burnham running for Manchester mayor and Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall both a busted flush after 2015, that there isn’t any obvious replacement. Angela Eagle is being floated as a replacement – to tell the truth, I have little against her, but electoral Viagra she is not. The idea that the entirety of the problem facing Labour is Corbyn alone, and therefore that job #1 is to get him gone before we actually try and find someone to replace him speaks to the complete failure to consider what it actually is that the MPs are trying to achieve. They have yet to provide a decent answer to the question, so concisely yet so comprehensively answered by Corbyn, of what they think the Labour Party should be intrinsically for or what they want it to argue in favour of. Much is said about reclaiming Labour “heartlands” in the north and north-east but it is difficult to see them doing so without also repulsing the membership, since it’s difficult to see exactly what a segment of the population that has drifted towards the wink-wink-nudge-nudge xenophobes’ party Ukip could be lured back with other than shifting enormously to the right on immigration. As I’ve said to basically anyone who’ll listen, treating these as our core voters is absurd since they have demonstrated no recent willingness to vote for us, and repelling our actual reliable core voters (the urban working class and the university-educated middle class) in order to attract such people seems fruitless.

It is surprising that they are even bothering to field a leadership candidate at this point, since it is all but guaranteed that Corbyn will win any ballot, and the timing is nowhere near apropos. The membership, rightly or wrongly, are enraged by this pisspoor attempt at a backstabbing, especially the considerable post-Corbyn intake, and are not pleased that it is happening immediately after the government has shat the bed and is extremely weak. In any contest they are likely to support him in droves, since oddly enough when you’re the only person in politics who seems to speak to peoples’ concerns (as Corbyn is for a great many people, especially younger people) you tend to amass a bit of personal loyalty. It’s easy to dismiss that as being a “personality cult”, and indeed placing all of your hopes into one man is not a clever thing to do, but perhaps some reflection is needed on why so many people feel that way rather than simply dismissing them as cultists, communists and former SWP members (did the SWP even have that many members?). The only hope for any potential replacement leader, be that Eagle or whoever, is to understand exactly why people feel that way and provide a way forward for them, without entering into any misguided attempts to try and capture the Ukip vote by shifting far to the right on immigration or to wholesale row back on Corbyn’s platform back to one with a focus on the public finances above all else, neither of which will ever get past the membership and wouldn’t have done before Corbyn was leader either. The membership is in absolutely no mood to go back to that and trying to drag it back that way will lead to whichever candidate espouses it being crushed; all that will do is lead to one more MP out of the count for the next inevitable challenge.

That said, I have absolutely no faith that whoever this mysterious challenger is is going to think that far ahead. They are going to try to recapture the mystical core Ukip vote and the membership will tell them where to stick it. We will then get another six months of this psychodrama, all while the government we should be opposing has essentially fucked off and left an enormous hole where it should be. I genuinely, truly, hope it doesn’t turn out that way; that Corbyn is challenged by someone with some political nous who also accepts that he won the leadership for a reason and that there’s also a reason he’s so vociferously defended that isn’t that his fans are all Trotskyists. I hope we end up with someone who actually listened to what Corbyn’s supporters were saying, took it on board and came up with something to inspire them to vote for a more politically talented candidate, and had the membership respond in kind. I would be more than happy to vote for this alternative candidate, whoever that may be, if that was the case; if such a person doesn’t turn up, I’m sad to say I’ll probably hold my nose and vote for Corbyn again, with a far heavier heart than I did last time, simply because the PLP will simply have learned nothing from the drubbing their chosen candidates got last year.

You reap what you sow

For years, the British left (or at the very least, a large swathe of it) has been quite clear on identifying a lot of the discourse around immigration, or even the fact that there has been so much discourse around immigration, as racist and xenophobic. We have had years of callous stories about asylum seekers barbecuing swans in the Sun, pictures of menacing queues of olive-skinned faces in the Daily Mail scaremongering about Eastern Europeans coming to take our jobs and ruin our lives. We have had a general climate in which “immigrant” is a snarl word, where bald assertions that immigrants have taken jobs and housing that rightfully belong to British citizens go completely unchallenged, feeding into a prevailing narrative that “immigrants have ruined the country”. All along while this has been happening, the left has been quite clear – you cannot do this without consequence. The media cannot build up peoples’ fear of immigrants without there necessarily being some reaction against people from abroad, or who appear to be abroad. You are not fomenting a proper debate over public policy, what you are stoking is racism, the belief that these people are not worthy, are worth less or are intrinsically worse people than British citizens.

We’ve watched as Ukip has gone from a tin-pot party of cranky retired colonels into a major fighting force with some 16million voters. They have talked a good game about sovereignty, about pulling back “control” (of what?) from an unaccountable Brussels elite, but their bread and butter has been immigration. When Farage made comments to the effect that he wouldn’t want to live next door to Romanians and that many migrants had been “forced into a life of crime”, there was uproar, but nothing really changed. This is the tone his party has taken, consistently, to a level that seems so incredibly obvious at this point that I’m not sure any further citation is necessary. He has been given free platforms by major broadcasters, newspapers and others to spew xenophobic rubbish on a daily basis, a platform which isn’t justified by either his reputation as a thinker (he’s a famous idiot), his party’s support (it had basically none before 2013) or his representation in Parliament (he’s never been elected to it), and has used these platforms to – if not out and out call for extermination, he’s stopped short of that – at the very least set the tone that immigrants are the problem, immigrants are a problem to be solved. He talks about implementing a “points-based immigration” system (which we already have) without specifying the many details – namely how you allocate the points, which is the most crucial thing since it speaks to the actual effects of the policy and who would be allowed into the country into it.

And all along, while that was happening, the left were clear; this man is not serving any actual public purpose, he’s not articulating any amazing new thoughts; he is stirring up xenophobia. He is putting things into a simple us-versus-them dichotomy and he is not getting anywhere near the level of challenge he should do. He can’t be silenced, it’s his right in a democratic society to speak, but by giving him repeated airtime on Question Time and on otherwise serious news programmes in complete disproportion to his actual support or relevance he has been given a platform to blow dog-whistles. This will have consequences. We should not be legitimising xenophobia by giving it a friendly, cheery, pint-swilling face. Nor should we believe his bullshit about the “points-based” system and think he’s not xenophobic – that’s not a policy proposal, it’s a buzzword, and he can’t give any coherent explanation of how it would work. People will listen to this idiot and think “you know, he’s right, since the immigrants came things have got worse” and then we’ll be going down a road we can’t come back from if we don’t explain that it’s not the fault of immigration, it’s the fault of government policies and try and put this all to bed once and for all. Please, rethink.

We’ve watched as this referendum campaign descended straight past the sewer and entered the pit. Do I really need to go over this again? Enormous queues of refugees portrayed, with a wink and a nod, as people coming to the UK. The official campaign for leaving the EU scaremongering, blatantly, about Turkey (oogabooga Muslims!) joining the EU, something that is vanishingly unlikely to happen, as being a route for millions of Turkish people to inevitably come to the UK. Farage, again, talking incessantly about freedom of movement as if it is a one-way street where swarthy foreigners travel here to steal jobs and claim benefits. And the left piped up, again; stop. This is not going to end well. You are stirring up hatred for a cheap political end, and once you have stirred that up it will never settle down. Please, think about the consequences.

Throughout all of this, the reply has come back loud and clear. Stop calling us racists. We have legitimate concerns about immigration, and we’re sick of being called racist for expressing them. Ignore that our manner of speaking is racist, that our concerns (that our lives are being ruined by foreigners) are intrinsically racist and that they aren’t borne out by any evidence other than our own prejudices. Listen to our legitimate concerns and don’t shout us down as racist to silence us. The political parties (with the notable exception of the Greens and the Lib Dems) have gone along with this, and in Ukip actively encouraged it; feeding grievances then not only with the foreigners themselves, but with the lefty metropolitan liberals who call them racist rather than listening to their legitimate (racist) concerns. The broadcasters went along with this too, and gave airtime to the legitimate concerns/racism. The newspapers have been printing these legitimate concerns for years, so they continued to do so, only now with the added tone of someone suffering unjust persecution – persecution for standing up for their country by elites who don’t understand what life is like for some people in areas with high immigration (never mind that you can understand what life is like for them without believing that immigrants caused all their problems).

Suddenly, on Friday, after 52% of voters elected to leave the EU, it was as if a boil had been lanced. A sudden, severe, and noticeable uptick in reported hate crimes, ranging from the minor (foreigners being shouted at to “go back home” in public settings) to the severe but mercifully rare (actual, random physical violence) has evidenced that casual prejudice and hatred of foreigners is now not only prevalent in our society, but thanks to the fact that the prejudiced think more than half the country is on their side, it’s now believed to be socially acceptable. Most of the accounts that have been publicised in the media and seen on social media have all been in public, with people suddenly almost proud to be vocally telling some poor soul they’ve never met before to get out of the country, and feeling bold enough to be able to do so in public without fear of censure or argument. The country is with them! The country voted with them! They want the foreigners gone too!

(I should make the obvious point that not everyone who voted or campaigned for leaving the EU is racist, or that wanting to leave the EU isn’t racist. However I should also make the equally obvious point that if you’re racist, you probably voted to leave the EU.)

Suddenly, at long last, the mask has slipped. Sorry, guys, but the left called it all along. It was never about jobs, housing and public services. It was about base racism and fear of foreigners all this time, and by pretending it was anything else, by pretending it was in some way a legitimate reaction to peoples’ circumstances, you’ve legitimised hatred. By political campaigns, including Vote Leave, trying to use these “legitimate concerns” to win elections they’ve fed the beast until it got too big for them to handle because they cynically never called out the “concerns” for the misdirected bullshit that they are. And why would they? Blaming immigration for peoples’ inability to get jobs, housing and medical treatment shifts the blame from the Government whose policies have caused those things. It’s a handy scapegoat, right up until the point you realise that by stirring up those feelings of grievance all you’ve done is created a significant number of people who blame foreigners for all their ills. And the left called it. We’ve been saying all along that the stances taken by media, by politicians, by public figures are feeding into resentment against and hatred of immigrants on flimsy grounds and that we need to do something now in order to stop it from spiralling out of control, but we were just told that we should stop calling people racist.

Well, I’m sorry, but that ends today. I’m not going to pull punches about calling racists racist, and that is what these people are and should be called – racists. We should have been bolder in doing so before. We should be in the future. And we shouldn’t allow it to be shouted down, when true, with cries of “legitimate concerns”. Because that doesn’t legitimise the concerns, it legitimises hatred.

It’s finally time

Tomorrow, in case you haven’t heard, the UK votes on leaving the European Union. I am not pleased with this.

I’m going to vote remain, if all of the posts about what an awful bunch of lying arseholes the leave camp are didn’t clue you into this – lying arseholes who repeat their lies ad nauseam and have lost more or less every actual argument they’ve entered into. This debate has ended in the sewer and it was dragged there entirely by leave – culminating in the absurdly anti-intellectual stances of Michael Gove and others in besmirching the name of experts, since apparently if someone tells you not to jump off a cliff because you’ll break all of your bones and die then this is “fearmongering” and bad, whereas if you offer relentless optimism that if you jump off the cliff then all your bones will actually get stronger and you’ll also end up with a sixteen-inch penis somehow. Of course, only Gove could somehow find a way to sink lower – today he accused these shadowy “experts” of literally being akin to scientists who were paid off by the Nazis. I will give Gove this; it is a masterclass in bullshit personal attacks to both liken someone to a Nazi collaborator and accuse them of being corruptible. This now increases his number of genuine talents to one.

Every source appears to indicate that this vote will be on a knife-edge – tighter even than the 55-45 of the Scottish independence referendum. This is, frankly, shit scary for two reasons. The first, that it makes the entire result too close to call; this is an important constitutional question that will have ramifications lasting centuries and the outcome is so close that it could, within the realm of possibilities, be swayed one way or the other by bad weather. That’s disturbing. No wonder the markets have shat the bed – when the entire trading, social and legal future of this country essentially relies on a coin toss, it tends to make people rather edgy. We’re playing Russian roulette solitaire and half of us want to lose.

The second is that a close victory for either side will call into question the legitimacy of the result. For the avoidance of doubt, it shouldn’t; perverse as it is, 50% plus one vote is sufficient to tip the balance either way, because that’s how majority votes like this work, and anyone arguing about the legitimacy of this in any way should rather reflect on why we went through this rigmarole at all if they’re then going to quibble over the most basic form of voting that exists. However, we have on the leave side a significant group of people who are convinced, immovably, that the EU is an illegitimate force over their lives – that it is inherently anti-democratic, anti-British and anti-them, and that anyone supporting it is a traitor to the country and all of its people and institutions. I’m not saying this is all or even most of the leave side, but frankly anyone with a Twitter account who’s looked at any discussions at all on the subject will be fully aware that there really are a significant number of people who consider the EU to be akin to a foreign dictatorship over the UK and view its supporters as Quislings.

If leave were to lose by a tiny margin then I have about as much faith that these people will accept the result as democracy in action and that they lost in a fair fight that I do that the nice Nigerian prince telling me I’ve won the lottery in my Junk Email folder is really going to pay out if I send him money through Western Union. In contrast, they will scream bloody murder. The conspiracy theories are already flying (remember to take your pens tomorrow folks, because Jean-Claude Juncker’s just been seen with a shitload of erasers) and a close victory over people who already see the EU as an illegitimate imposition will inevitably lead to the creation of many more. The vote was rigged, the election was illegitimate, democracy has been snuffed out in the crib, and our country is being sold down the river. In what way is that going to end at all well? We’ve already had one murder which ended with the accused in court talking about killing traitors and freeing Britain – the idea that leave would have been cheated out of a victory that’s rightfully theirs and that the country will now be subsumed into something akin to an anti-democratic dictatorship would almost certainly catalyse a significant amount of anger. That over half the electorate could therefore be reasonably defined as “against them” would make this immeasurably worse. The results wouldn’t be pretty.

On the other hand, what if leave wins? Leaving aside the petty stuff about Cameron’s future as Prime Minister, I don’t for a second think that the same sort of virulent anger exists on the remain side. I have seen nothing of the sort that leave voters are traitors, that they are somehow an “other” who are against the UK. The most objectionable thing I have seen is the idea that leave are voting for something stupid and are wilfully ignoring anyone telling them that they are doing a stupid thing and are therefore stupid. I can confidently say that the odds of a remainer going full Travis Bickle on the leave side in the event of leave winning are immeasurably less likely than the other way around.

What would probably happen however is a very, very harsh reckoning. The markets have already reacted to every poll indicating that a leave vote is likely by dropping like a hooker’s drawers. An actual vote to leave is therefore unlikely to cause the FTSE to soar. What will actually probably happen is the sort of crisis that will make 2008 look like a storm in a teacup. If the pound crashes, that will be an immediate hit on peoples’ living standards as imports will be more expensive, as will foreign holidays. If the stock market crashes and assets begin to flee the UK in favour of other EU (or non-EU for that matter) nations, the economic effects will be disastrous; lost jobs, flattened pensions, a diminished tax take leading to the sort of cuts to public services that George Osborne normally has wet dreams about. For what it’s worth, Osborne’s suggestion that he would enact an emergency budget with swingeing tax rises and spending cuts is at least believable if we work from the assumptions that such a financial shitstorm would leave the UK economy significantly smaller as a result and that Osborne is unlikely to pursue any state-led solutions; while I’d love to see significant Keynesian stimulus in response to such an event, there is a greater chance of me shitting candy floss. The upshot is that the people who are going to be most affected by this are not the elites or the most rich; it will be the young and especially the working poor, who have now been told over and over again that they will be helped by leaving the EU but are also more vulnerable than anyone else to the loss of jobs and consumer confidence that would result from market turmoil, like that that would probably be caused by leaving the EU.

To summarise, my predictions (pulled out of my arse and based essentially on educated guesswork, if you make any actual decisions based on a blog by me then you’re an idiot): if we vote remain by anything other than a reasonable margin, an embittered leave side will take it as the ultimate betrayal of them and their country and will react with a maelstrom of anger that will poison public life for years to come, if not actually lead to violence. If we vote leave, the near-inevitable market turmoil will completely kneecap the economy and the ideological austerity of the Conservatives enacted hastily in response will finish the job. In short, we are now screwed both ways. The only winning move here was to not play the game at all; the referendum has opened up deep wounds that will probably never be healed, and it is very difficult to see how anything good will ultimately have resulted from this process.

Next post is on Friday, by which time the result will be clear. See you on the other side.

Speechless

There’s not going to be a substantial effortpost today because, frankly, what needs to be said that hasn’t already been said? Alex Massie’s article for the Spectator is deservedly doing the rounds, as it should because Alex Massie is right about everything and especially this, but I also wholly endorse this post from a blog that appears to have about three different names:

What is with our inexplicable collective shyness about getting this whole cavalcade of nasty, disordered shitbags to just fuck off to the far side of fuck and once they’ve got there, fuck off some more? An elected representative is dead, is that not enough? The whole blanket of irony that coats our political and our personal lives, the protective armour we use against the naked primitive aggression of nasty little people who are prepared to go far, far further to shame and silence moderate people than we ever would go to silence them – it has to stop. It has to stop. These are the consequences of irony and passivity. These are the consequences of that mildly cynical entertainment of the mildly uncomfortable evil staring you in the face.

You can also, if you choose, read the above but put far less well and with much less grace and florid language by me on Facebook.

 

Dignity

As the country is apparently extremely close to making its mind up that, yes, exiting the entity that ensures a common and tariff-free market with the countries that are the consumers of 44% of our exports is a really good idea because immigrants, one has to inevitably turn to how David Cameron should react to such an event; I think I’ve found a good template.

As the London Stock Exchange opens at 8am on the 24th after a simple majority of British voters elect to cut their own head off to spite their face and almost immediately shits the bed like an anally incontinent ten year-old with dysentery (as it has done to a lesser extent for the past few days, with £30bn being wiped off the FTSE’s value on Tuesday alone as soon as the polls started turning towards “leave”, but just ignore that that’s just more #ProjectFear scaremongering amirite?), David Cameron would inevitably have to say something, most probably something about his own resignation since his position would be untenable. The above 30 second clip more or less encapsulates exactly what he should say and how he should say it without deviation, as a bare minimum.

That said, Cameron could go some way to redeeming his entire incompetent government –  if he went full Bill Burr on the steps of Number 10 in the event of a leave vote. He’d be fully justified. If I was David Cameron, put in the position of being the voice of reason on a matter that basically every political party agrees on, and I’d just lost to the rough British equivalent of the Tea Party, I would not be able to disguise my unbridled and limitless contempt for the fucking morons who voted for them. I’d be completely scandalised that a plurality of adults believed Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove over just about every credible political, social and economic authority on the face of the planet, or had an irrational belief that immigration and the EU are what is causing their hospitals and public services to be shit rather than a government that deliberately underfunds them. I dare say Cameron would feel much the same way, although I doubt he’d say it like that.

Put simply; he should. The man usually comes across about as human and emotional as a toaster (admittedly more so than George Osborne, who only ever comes across as some kind of cosmic horror) so to see him actually say what he really feels, without needing to worry about PR or repelling swing voters or any such thing would be a glorious event. I say this as someone who isn’t fond of him or his politics, but this is a man who has, not for the first time, made a decision to back a cause that will inevitably repulse a great number of his party activists; not for any naked political calculation but because it’s the right thing to do for the country and the people living in it. All this principled stance has got him is some cretins telling him that the reasonably foreseeable consequences he’d warned people of were some kind of made-up scary story while his own party rush around to defenestrate him. If, next Thursday, his efforts have been in vain and we do wake up to the economy collapsing around our ears because of a nakedly suicidal majority of voters that are scared of Romanians, I don’t want to see Cameron making a dignified speech about respecting the will of the people; I want to see him ranting, profanely and at length, about exactly what a thick bunch of twats the British public are in the sort of punishing personal detail usually reserved for a couple’s row.

Start with that fact above about the EU making up about 44% of our exports (that we have just made more expensive), and about the markets crashing even before the vote because of even the idea of us voting to leave as a preview of things to come, but you did it anyway because you’re all fucking thick. I want him to have CNBC on a big screen behind him showing the market carnage, which he intermittently points to and shouts “YOUR FUCKING FAULT” as he breathlessly howls abuse at the stunned press pack like a man having his bollocks gnawed off by a starving dog. I want his big puffy face to go puce as he points out, via the medium of barely coherent screaming, to the pensioners sitting at home that the stock market, which incidentally (points to CNBC and shouts) is in freefall, is what makes up basically every private pension fund going so enjoy your fucking poverty, dickheads. But good news, there won’t be so many Eastern Europeans out for you to be poor around, or indeed to wipe your arse in whatever godforsaken care home you wind up in.

More than anything, I want him to fucking savage Farage and Johnson. I want Farage to be so roasted at the end that the only place left for him is a fucking Toby Carvery. I want Johnson to look like an extra from some nightmarish extended director’s cut of Threads after Cameron is done burning him. Start with the fact that Farage, a man whose bread and butter is railing against unelected bureaucrats, knows all about being an unelected bureaucrat because he’s failed at every single opportunity to gain a meaningful public office (and I hesitate to call being a Ukip MEP “meaningful”), and that he can only not be classified as one of the “career politicians” he mocks so openly because he’s not ever had a proper career or been a proper politician. Continue on to the fact that Boris Johnson’s chief qualifications are being a bumbling fucking idiot on television and somehow having lots of extramarital sex despite him looking like a deflated Mr Blobby wearing a Donald Trump toupee. He could include an impression of what Boris’ cum face looks like if he really must; I’m thinking a cross between a man on ketamine getting the electric chair and an Aphex Twin album cover. Point out, at length, exactly how many lies Farage has told over his political career and how you fucking dickheads still believed him despite being a drink-sodden fucker who never tells the truth, and how that calculating prick Johnson was an enthusiastic supporter of the EU right up until it became politically advantageous to be against it but you fucking dickheads believed him anyway and look where that’s got you you soon to be pensionless and economyless arseholes, and how Michael Gove looks like Pob and why would you listen to a man who looks like that oh wait you did you useless, brainless fucknostrils. He can do an impression of Gove too by puffing his cheeks out and calling teachers cunts, although personally I’d say that may be going a bit far. It’s not Pob’s fault an awful cunt looks like him.

All of this is being broadcast live and uncensored on all major news networks, by the way. Ofcom won’t care because they’ll be too busy laughing and/or cooking rats over a burning barrel for sustenance.

Finally, as Cameron draws closer to the end of his final glorious act as Prime Minister, he should stare down the lens and talk directly to the viewers at home. “You did this, you fucking cunts”, he says. “You did this. Every single negative consequence to this decision is your fault and yours alone. I gave you the opportunity to vote on your destiny, to make a decision that will have consequences reaching centuries down the line, and I put my fucking neck on the line to do it, and rather than come to a sensible decision based on rationalism, facts and common fucking sense, you’ve believed a collection of swivel-eyed idiots who have stirred you all up about those filthy foreigners and about a repatriation of power that you will never get anywhere near the levers of because it’s still going to rest with people who aren’t fucking you.”

“The EU never hurt you, you fuckwits”, he continues, “we fucking did. Every single decision that has meaningfully affected your lives in a negative way has had basically nothing to do with Europe, the EU, or anything outside these borders. Your public services are shit because you’d rather vote for tax cuts than increased funding for them; houses aren’t expensive because of immigration, they’re expensive because there’s not enough of them and we need to build more. Hospitals aren’t shit because A&E is overcrowded with Poles, the Poles would probably be the ones treating you after you fall and crack your heads open putting up another fucking Ukip poster like the useless tossers you are because you’re too stupid to climb a ladder correctly, let alone make a momentous decision on our future as a nation. Fuck you, fuck your country, fuck this pisspoor notion of democracy and fuck your imaginary ‘sovereignty’. All that ‘sovereignty’ means, although you were too fucking stupid to notice, is that now Boris Johnson is the leader of a country with a hollowed out economy that is now negotiating the most bitter divorce in history, besides his own after he stuck his penis in one too many other women. Good for him and good for you. Hey, Boris, you alabaster philandering shitheap toilet brush lookalike; remember how much people loved Gordon Brown after the financial crash caused lots of people to lose their livelihoods? And he didn’t even argue in favour of the event that caused that to happen. Enjoy being Prime Minister, cockweasel. See you on Have I Got News For You soon, if you’re not lynched first. Cameron out.” Mic drop. Cameron walks off, pulls a bottle of Glen’s Vodka out of his suit jacket, chugs the entire thing and throws it on the ground. It shatters into a million pieces. Fin.

If that doesn’t happen, verbatim, it will be a wasted opportunity. Go on Cameron. Redeem yourself. Go out with a blaze of glory nobody will forget. Do it for Britain.

Some thoughts on going to Japan

I’m sick of talking about Europe. I’m sick of talking about Vote Leave and the fact they can’t seem to exhale without telling at least one barefaced lie, or the fact their leading lights seem physically unable to write their own names without using some sort of logical fallacy (“fallacy” being a word derived from a corruption of the Latin “phallus” that means “the act of being a fucking dick”). So instead I’m going to post something about the fact I was in Japan recently to visit my partner, who is over there studying at the moment. I was going to write it in some travelogue-style format but I am about as suited to writing travelogues as I am to childbirth, so here instead are a series of bullet points. You can, if you wish, imagine some sort of connecting paragraphs between them.

  • I am excessively paranoid about travel connections and trust National Express’ punctuality record about as much as I trust sandpaper condoms, so booked a coach from Norwich that arrived at Heathrow seven hours before my flight was due to leave and four hours before I would even be allowed through the gate. In hindsight, this was a mistake.
  • My flight cost me £400 return to go halfway around the world. It was better than it had any right to be, although given that all I’d been told about the airline (China Eastern) that may just be because I was half-expecting a British Leyland bus with a single jet engine and wings made of feathers.
  • Airside at Heathrow Terminal 4 was busy, annoying and depressing until I paid £25 to get into the SkyTeam lounge and drank:

  • Arriving into a country where the main written language looks like strange inscrutable runes to you after around thirty hours without any decent sleep clutching a Midland Bank Griffin Savers bag from the mid-1980s (don’t ask) and a paper bag containing a stuffed panda (ditto) is not a good look and is actually rather like having a severe head injury.
  • Japan has no litter. Discarded wrappers and fag butts were as noteworthy as it is in the UK seeing a minor celebrity.
  • Approximately 60% of Japan’s economy appears to be made up of convenience stores, of which there are twelve per person and which despite being of various brands (the chief ones being 7-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson, none of which are present in the UK in any way and the latter of which charmed me a bit with its bizarre branding style that looks like and actually more or less is something from 1950s America) are all more or less equivalent in terms of range and price. I was a bit worried that some of the only ATMs that take foreign debit cards were in 7-Elevens until I found out you couldn’t fall over without banging your head off of one.
  • I genuinely, sincerely miss being able to walk past a vending machine (which there are fucking loads of, even more than there are convenience stores), put in about 130 yen and receive a can of decent cold coffee from a reasonably extensive range, which beats the piss out of maybe paying nearly £3 for a plastic cup of cold Starbucks shit from a Tesco Express. I ended up quite fond of the Boss brand, partially because its logo resembles Clement Attlee, my personal favourite being the Gay Pride Clement Attlee variant:

    I do love a taste of Clem's delicious creamy drink
    I do love a taste of Clem’s delicious creamy drink
  • Yo! Sushi can fuck right off. £3 to £8 per plate for what I have on good authority is about as close to good, authentic sushi as Big Macs are is a joke when you can literally get great, freshly made sushi for ¥100 a plate in Japan. They’ve taken what is essentially the cheapest fast food imaginable and turned it into something ridiculously expensive and shit, and then had the temerity to call it “Japanese”. I have never been into Yo! Sushi as I haven’t ever felt the need, but I felt I should put this point of view across on behalf of my sort-of-Japanese-ex-pat partner, who despite being very calm and mild-mannered can’t walk past the place without wanting to firebomb it after once paying upwards of £30 for an amount of shit sushi she would have got for around £4. It takes effort to not even have your price be authentic.
  • In fact, everything is cheap beyond words. While I was there I was mentally converting everything into sterling, so the above sushi became 70p a plate, the coffee about 90p, some meals out at the rough Japanese equivalent of Little Chef about £4 a head. The issue then came that when I got back and had to pay £4 for a shit “meal deal” in the Heathrow branch of Smiths I mentally converted that back to ¥640. The whole place has ruined buying things in the UK for me. You have no idea what an imposition £3 for a Tesco ready meal is until you’ve been overseas to a country just as advanced (more so even) than this one and you can get a full freshly cooked sit down meal for about same amount. For added fun, try going into Marks and Spencer and see how many £5/¥800 ready meals you can see before you think about assaulting someone.
  • Why don’t we have Calpis here?
  • Nicotine energy drinks are abundant and are a concept that should be imported into the UK without delay.
  • A country where you can buy a small bottle of tolerable whisky (note: actual bottle, not a miniature) for £2 is one I’d be quite happy to live in. A country where you can buy a 4 litre bottle of that same whisky for £21 is one where I’d probably die of liver failure.

  • The whole attitude to everything in Japan is markedly different to the UK. As mentioned, there’s no litter, everything is clean and maintained, there’s no graffiti, and people generally seem to respect each other and their surroundings. It’s a very different ethos; whereas the attitude of the average Brit appears to be something along the lines of “this country is my pot as much as it is anyone else’s and I’ll piss in it if I want to”, the Japanese attitude appears to be “why would I want to piss in my own pot?” There’s a general sense that the country actually invests in making its infrastructure good and public spaces pleasant to be in, which makes a pleasant contrast to the UK’s general tenor that everyone living happily in a well-maintained, clean, efficient country comes second to the desire to spend no money whatsoever on anything.
  • Deer are vicious fuckers. We went to Nara, where deer roam freely and can be fed with special deer biscuits, which is advertised as a magical and exciting experience; this is true, in the same sense that using Domestos to mix drinks gives your mouth an amazing new sensation. Oh sure, the deer look cute, right up until you buy the biscuits, at which point they swarm you. Originally, the plan (stupid though my partner told me it would be) was to lure a deer in with some of the biscuits and then stroke it and be friends with it and be one with nature. This plan lasted about twelve seconds before I panicked and just threw away the biscuits as I was swarmed by about six deer who could sense that there was food available, that I was holding the food and that I could give them the food but I just wasn’t doing so; my partner actually did the same but still got bitten. If I wasn’t so utterly paranoid about having my face visible on a site where I call numerous authority figures horrible things you’d currently be looking at a video of me being accosted by some of the cutest bastards you’ll ever see.
  • We also went to a private nude hot spring. Similar to the above, you’re not going to be seeing a picture of me sitting in idyllic surroundings with my bollocks out, albeit for different reasons (i.e. such pictures being banned under the Geneva conventions as a crime against humanity).

In conclusion, if you want to eat amazing food extremely cheaply, see what a society that actually gives a shit about making things nice looks like and realise just how off base the whole “wacky Japan” stereotype really is, then visit Japan. If anyone would like to fund me going over there again until this bullshit referendum is over and done with, or better yet for several decades afterwards, I’d be quite grateful.

Coherent arguments

I have to admire the sheer balls of this “argument”, and wish I could bring myself to be such an arsehole on the Internet (names censored for reasons):

Spelling Bee

I share the guy’s frustration really. For all the talk of “sovereignty” (or “sovreignty”), I do sometimes wish that the people who are so gung-ho about control over the UK’s affairs had absolutely none of it. And this isn’t some “lefties/remainers are innately more intelligent and superior” thing; I’d prefer someone like David Cameron or even (if I really had to pick a Tory leave fetishist) Michael Gove, who at least can string sentences together, have control over the country rather than some rote-learner who’s heard what sovereignty is but doesn’t even know how to spell the damn word, much less be able to articulate what they mean by it.

Too bad those same rote-learners are probably going to be voting us out of the EU in a couple of weeks’ time; if we do vote to leave, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride as soon as they realise that whether we’re in the EU or not, the amount of control anyone here who isn’t insanely wealthy has over their own pissy lives is basically nil but the financial markets that overwhelmingly indicate they want us to stay in can fuck them six ways from Sunday.

Gut feelings

One other disconcerting thing about this godawful campaign is how the whole “my ignorance is as good as your knowledge” thing has been actually advocated by the “leave” side, only in a far more patronising way because I doubt any of them actually believe it. When I hear Michael Gove talking about how people have heard enough of experts, I’m not really thinking that that is what Gove actually believes, what I’m thinking is that it’s a clear attempt to court the sort of dullard who genuinely believes that on matters of public policy some sort of gut feeling is better than taking account of the opinions of people who are better informed on a certain issue than you are. Except, apparently, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, who you should listen to, for no apparent reason.

If experts – actual experts, in large and respected institutions whose bread and butter is macroeconomics like the Bank of England and the IMF – are concordant on the subject of the economic impact of leaving the EU (specifically, all saying some variant of “you’d be fucking crazy”), then I genuinely couldn’t give a shit if a failed Secretary of State for Education that looks like an overinflated sex doll thinks that “Britain can make it!” or some such patriotic bullshit. Even if I was someone who thought the Bank of England or whoever were corrupt or in the pocket of the Government or whatever, the fact would remain they are still better qualified to make judgments on the economy and its future prospects than basically anyone fronting the “leave” campaign. Similarly, when high up people in EU governments say, as today, that our single market access will be curtailed if we vote to leave the EU because, well, we’ve just voted to leave the EU, to then respond as Vote Leave have done and say “well actually it won’t be because reasons” is nothing short of bugfuck mental.
The most hilarious side of this is when we get people who don’t know jack shit about the subject on which they’re expounding, but still feel it supposedly necessary to tell us how awful experts are and how they don’t know anything. Someone who doesn’t know anything telling everyone that the people who know something know nothing because it would be helpful if that were true. My brain hurts. What’s the opposite of the Dunning Kruger effect again?
Again, as I have stressed repeatedly, I really don’t care that much if individual people vote “leave” for whatever reason, having been a relatively late arrival to the cause of supporting remain and largely being influenced by the lack of coherent arguments on the “leave” side that stand up under scrutiny rather than any deep love for the EU as an entity. Everyone has their own reasons for voting the way they will and those reasons are often a matter of private conscience. But the red line is that you don’t get your own facts and your ignorance is not as good as someone else’s knowledge.

Jet fuel and steel beams and voter registration

One of the defining traits of this pisspoor attempt at public discourse we call “the EU referendum campaign”` has been those on the “leave” side’s repeated excursions into the field of paranoid conspiracy theories. Basically, anything which may assist “leave” is a legitimate expression of the will of the downtrodden silent majority; anything that may assist “remain” is a disgusting stitch-up by a corrupt establishment. Bodies or companies that support exiting the EU are noble and good, whereas any that goes on the record as wanting us to stay in is corrupt and acting entirely in its own self-interest.

Hell, even bodies that aren’t explicitly advocating to remain but do things that are seen as contrary to the interests of Vote Leave or whoever get in the firing line. Vote Leave described the decision to include Farage in the quasi-debate a couple of days ago as an “outrage” on the part of ITV and accusing “the establishment” of fixing the debates, before bizarrely accusing ITV of being “led by people like Robert Peston who campaigned for Britain to join the euro”. Leaving aside that even if true it wouldn’t be anywhere near the most reprehensible thing ITV have ever done, given their concerted effort to become the worst channel in the world, it’s not even a particularly good conspiracy theory. A better one would be that David Cameron was a senior PR operative of Carlton Television, a company that merged with Granada in 2004 to form the current ITV plc, and that David Cameron is therefore calling in some sort of shadowy favour from higher ups at the station. I’m not saying that’s true, because it isn’t (saying “I had the job of making Carlton Television look good” is a way to get laughed out of the room, not to call in favours) but it’s more rational than the idea that Robert Peston is somehow pulling strings at ITV; not least since he only joined the station in the last few months and can hardly be described as “leading” it.

Given this general tendency to believe completely insane things, it was no surprise that when the voter registration site crashed a couple of hours before the deadline, and the government extended said deadline by 48 hours to make sure anyone who wanted to vote could do so, Vote Leave immediately began flinging shit at everyone and masturbating like a gaggle of pissed off chimps. What was essentially a fairly decent gesture of goodwill by the government (who could, after all, have simply said that if you’d had several months to register and you only decided to do so two hours before the deadline that’s on you, but didn’t because at the end of the day it was their website that crashed) was the worst betrayal of democracy to have ever befallen us. Explicitly, the line is that the people registering last minute were probably young voters, and young voters are more likely to vote Remain, and therefore this is an attempt by the government to unfairly tilt the vote and the referendum is now illegitimate. The unspoken implication therefore is that it’s better if people who are otherwise eligible to vote don’t vote because otherwise “leave” might lose. Excitingly, Arron Banks has threatened to sue the government over this, which doubtless will go the same way as his threat to sue the government over Leave.eu not being designated the official “leave” campaign, something he almost immediately pussied out of as such an action would be totally meritless on basically every level).

The leave camp pissing and moaning about more people being able to vote, and in addition the jaw-dropping assertion by Dominic Raab that there may be a push for a second referendum if we vote to remain (something even the supposedly-fixated SNP haven’t threatened), makes a mockery of their own rhetoric about the British people having a democratic choice; they’re happy for the UK to have a democratic choice and more people to have a democratic say… so long as they vote to leave the EU. Anything else is an undemocratic stitch up, as is anything and everything that goes against their insane plan to turn the country into Singapore on a shoestring budget, and if we don’t vote the way they want they’ll do it again and again until we give them the right answer, but David Cameron and remain are the undemocratic ones. Essentially, the “leave” camp are aiming to be filed into the same paranoid, ranting pigeonhole as the idiots in the US spouting about Obama taking away guns, instituting martial law and drugging everyone into compliance with chemtrails. On behalf of people who want to remain everywhere; have at it, guys.

The Great Debate

I don’t know why I watched the ITV quasi-debate last night. It was never going to end well; exorcising the television after allowing it to display ITV is a costly and long process, and Farage vs Cameron is normally a battle I’d wish both would lose, somewhere far away from me, in a soundproof box. But I was drawn to it like a moth to some cuntish shouty flame, so I watched it. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have.

People on Twitter compared Nigel Farage’s segment to a car crash. I disagree. It was more like the results of a four car pile up that happened on a railway line, after a train crashed into the wreckage and then somehow a cruise liner fell on it. I don’t know how anyone could consider Farage’s performance anything other than an embarrassment to both the leave camp and the concept of debating in general. It takes an extraordinary amount of chutzpah to have someone raise a question about the industry they work in and how it would be harmed if we left the EU, then respond by saying their industry is shit anyway after that someone methodically shows your argument up for the big bag of bollocks it is.
It then takes an even more incredible amount of balls to tell someone who is asking a question, perfectly calmly, about a needlessly inflammatory statement you’d made, to calm down. Perhaps if this person was (justifiably) shouting at Farage and frothing at the mouth in the way only the loony lefties that live in his head do, I’d understand. As it is, all he did was come across as what he is; shouty, ill-informed, thin skinned and just generally a bit of a twat. When he got out his passport and waved it around, as he is now oddly wont of doing because apparently Leave arguments are so transparently aimed at simpletons that they need props, he may as well have been waving his dick around. In fact, that might have actually been better for Leave overall.
Nigel Farage with his four-inch tall purple pride of joy
Nigel Farage waving around his four-inch tall purple pride and joy in the faces of unimpressed onlookers
In fact, the main thing Farage accomplished was to make David Cameron seem oddly sympathetic. I am on record as saying many unkind things about David Cameron, such as calling him a “cretin”, someone who’s “overdue a good knifing in the back”, a “world class cunt”, a “useless fuckwhistle”, a “bumbling ineffectual twat”, “as much a skilled international statesman as I am a fucking Chippendale”, either a “spam-mouthed fuck” or a “cock-lipped shitwank” (as part of a poll – the latter won), and a “hamfaced hamfucker”, and that was just over the past eight months. He’s someone who has presided over a government that ranges between actively harmful to simply inept, and whose campaigning style is usually to spout outright lies and distortions of fact to anyone who’ll listen, but the referendum seems to have given him a sudden reverence for sound statistics, expert advice and evidence-based policy which would be admirable if I didn’t think he’d renounce it two seconds after the votes are counted, and he batted away the often incredibly stupid questions with ease. In fact, the one thing this godforsaken referendum has done is give me slightly more respect for the man, and if that’s not terrifying then I don’t know what is. I think this may have been why I drank so much while watching him speak. I’ll need years of therapy to undo this trauma.
Ultimately however, nobody’s mind will really have been changed by this; anyone who was already minded to vote Remain is desperately unlikely to have been convinced by Farage’s incredible hypersensitivity, while hardcore Leavers are unlikely to have paid much mind to anything Cameron said. A sober discussion of facts and different positions, it wasn’t. A delightful and welcome opportunity to see an opportunist chancer like Farage get torn apart, it was.