The bowlingatvincent.com Multinational Corporation Review of the Year – 2022.

bowlingatvincent.com – literary wing of the Protest Channel that is @bowlingatvinny – had a strongish year. (I know ‘cos I just looked back). Except that it accidentally traduced the original purpose of the whole damn enterprise, which was to roar about sport and art pretty much alternately. I may reflect on this.

Of the fourteen blogs during 2022, five were about football. I rather unpicked Wales’s World Cup Adventure, got into United and Ten Hag (v West Ham), covered England’s Lionesses v USA and through their Euros win and watched my home town Town at the Play-off Final. Astonishingly, of the eight zillion opinions and tactical judgements I expressed through nerve-janglingly live coverage of all these occasions, I can – even in the allegedly sobering light of day – find none that were wrong.

  • Contest. And then maybe not? I was dead right that Wales needed to play better and that Bale should retire from (certainly) international football and probably club action, too. Now.
  • ‘Where are Wales? What level they at? Are they heroic over-achievers, in a cruel, more heavily-endowed-with-everything kindofa world? Or what? Where’s the Wales Place, in footballing terms – and maybe the other stuff? Football-wise, are they brave and bold, or are they ungenerous and perverse? Are the ‘limitations’ enabling or stultifying? Where do, or should Wales pitch themselves?’
  • I was right to note with some embarrassment that the USA – not Argenbloodyteena – ‘slaughtered’ Wales in the first 45 minutes of their campaign and that for all the justifiable gas about a rare and wonderful World Cup appearance, Page’s ‘pragmatic’ conservatism disappointed. Sure, Wales have few great talents (so responsible caution blahdiblah) but the endless holding patterns only seemed to undermine both individual performance – no surges; no racing adrenaline for player nor support! – and the essential hwyl that has carried Wales for aeons. It was all a bit lame.
  • I nailed the Rashford Thing and the signs of re-growth, under Ten Hag, in Holding Players. Elanga was similarly *seen* and Fernandes un-picked, en route.
  • …’quality-wise, there was little difference. In the first ten both Casemiro and Eriksen showed glimpses of their rarified best, either threading or spraying fabulous passes into feet, offering real hope that the mythical(?) corner into Team Flow and Sumptuous United-ness might yet be turned. But no’. 
  • In Things Have Changed I trumpeted the stunning transformation in women’s football, in England, and by implication, beyond. Ingerland ‘bossing the yanks’ said it all, after a decade or more where North American soccer all-too-serenely ruled over us amateurish Brits. I noted the ‘supreme equanimity and humour (as well as tactical intelligence)’ of the new gaffer – Wiegmann.
  • More controversially, perhaps, I mischiefed-up the Euros Final, fearlessly calling out relative under-achievement, performance-wise – even in victory – on the day. (Come ON. Don’t you get bored of the faux euphoria that massively over-inflates the *actual performance(s)?* It’s perfectly possible and generally the case that trophies are won in ordinary games by ordinary performances. This in no way deflates the fabulous significance of the achievement).
  • So, in Clickbait? You betcha! I do argue that recent SPOTY winner Beth Mead was one of several who were mixed, rather than brilliant, in an absolutely brilliant tournament win. I correctly identified that presser invasion as ‘the best moment in the history of sport’ and named Millie Bright Player of the Tournament… because she was.
  • Finally – well, previously – I *actually went* to the home of West Ham United FC, to cover the Mighty Mariners. Great day/crap game.
  • ‘It’s absurd in 2022 to use phrases like ‘attractive football’; worse still to associate that with abstracted, rose-tinted community goodness but as I look around the acres of ‘park’ now home to the Happy Hammers, the clash of values, vistas and jazzed-up-verbals is somewhat mind-blowing’. 

The Other Channel, now sportslaureate.co.uk , carried more football but bowlingatvincent.com was always the home for rugby. Life and *things* – like cricket, mainly – have regrettably drawn me away from funny-shaped balls but I managed to post homages to the egg on three occasions.

Despite being a Likely Phoney – male, middle-aged, possibly voyeuristic; at best a flawed dilettante – I watched a good deal of the Women’s Rugby World Cup. It was sensational. England may not have produced to their absolute peak but they have been utterly magnificent – frighteningly, powerfully so – for two years. France are not far behind. And then there were the homefolks.

  • The final, between England and the Black Ferns, had to somehow bear comparison with the semi, between New Zealand and France, which may have been the best rugby match of all time. I wrote rather wryly about the Black Fern’s ultimate, inevitable win; again creating mischief, again misunderstood. England had a player sent off – rightly, under the rules of the modern era. It (the offence) wasn’t malicious and it happened so early that the contest was effectively re-drawn as a training-ground routine. England held-out wonderfully gamely but were done, from the moment of the card.
  • ‘The second half may have been as colossal as the first. It was an exhausting watch, with the defiant visitors floating through chunks of time, before selflessly, heroically heaving against the inevitable. Both sides naturally made changes and inroads. Both scored. But the universe had been shifted. The crowd knew it. England were overhauled, before striking back. Then overhauled. With three points in it, the battered visitors kicked for the corner rather than look for the three points that would bring extra-time’.

I wrote two posts on (men’s) Six Nations stuff, back in February. They stand up, too. One of them channelled both The Mekons and Dylan Thomas: it also morphed into part-coverage of Eng women v Aus, at The Cricket, with ‘Rafters clanging. Sea rumbling’. It’s likely that I was in a caravan, in one of those storms, at the time, so it wasn’t Heather Knight who was fearing airborne adventure. Oh: I may or may not have been drinking.

There were but two artsy posts. One on Freddie Flintoff’s TV caper and the other around the Sensationalists/YBO’s art and lifestylery. I am critical of both… but right… as you will see… if you go back through. I’m really not sure what caused the apparent shift away from The Arts: they remain at the core of my life and my learning. I still believe I have some contribution to make, to reviewing and/or ‘criticism’.

From Sensationalists: people who might convince us: ‘Morons at the Mail, poor or tokenistic arts education and profound levels of ignorance have engineered a situation where we are a) visually illiterate b) suspicious and small-minded and c) too bloody lazy to stand in front of an artwork and let it do its job – beguile us, transport us, challenge us. This, for what it’s worth, is my context; the belief that art matters and that artists carry that privilege of being our conscience with courage and often a deep, deep, incorruptible honesty’.

From The Sublime to…

The unfortunate truth is I felt compelled to write upon multiple occasions – well, four – about the Tories, or Our Government. These are angry pieces.

In more than one of these blogs I savage Johnson and regret not a word of it. Plainly he is the worst Prime Minister of my medium-considerable lifetime. In A Christmas Puppy? I almost dare to bid an un-fond adieu.

‘So could the Age of Embarrassment finally be over? Might the Bumbling Buffoon, the Etonian Mess really be done?

It’s possible. In a characteristic veil of porkies and shameless, conscience-less swerves between the reported fact, his Urgent Gatherings and the forbidding fridges of a life lived in cosseted anarchy, Johnson really may have spent himself. It’s possible. The lies and the deceit and the vile uncaring will of course go on, endlessly, but it may be that his time in the Real Spotlight is over’.

I am content, foolishly, perhaps, to judge him morally as well as describe his practise, which has brought chaos, death and shame to an increasingly grubby kingdom. There is surely a kind of Shakespearian wickedness, an epic foulness around his skiving off from the first five COBRA meetings, in a world emergency, in order to a) sort his ’women problems’ and b) finish writing his effing book. This is un-caring – not needing to care – on a truly appalling level. It’s absolutely him.

So I’m fuelled with hatred and contempt, for Johnson and his thin acolytes. There are dishonourable mentions for the whole filthy clan: Mogg; Truss; Kwarteng; Hancock; Cummings – and by implication for the quietly grotesque hinterland, into which the likes of Dido and Mone hope to disappear. They appall and offend me, as does the xenophobic Brexit catastrophe and the ongoing, raw corruption across those VIP Lanes, corporate favours – particularly the gaze-averting re our scandalous water industry – and the whole, humiliating House of Lords gravy-train.

My dismembering of the Tories is less forgiving, less funny than (say) Marina Hyde’s – deliberately so. I fully accept that driven, polemical writing of this sort may contribute little to the task of ‘turning things around’: but forgive me if I simply bear honest, angry witness. Despite the fact that nobody’s paying me to do this, it does feel like ‘my job’. (Plus lacerating hostility may not necessarily devalue the writing).

The year, then. Set in a matrix of an Ingerland that feels like it’s unravelling further – or at least the brink seems closer.

Thankyou to all who do read. Regulars, who may have a sense of how ‘niche’ I remain, will understand that there are times when I am tempted to either give this malarkey up, entirely, or to further streamline, by gathering all the writing and twittering into one place. This may yet happen, but might curtail my ability to speak the truths I want to speak. We’ll see.

Anyhow. Please do continue to visit the two websites and, if you would, RT on the Twitters – that’s oxygen, for us bloggists. In case you’re wondering, if energy permits, I hope to produce a sportslaureate.co.uk Review of the Year, too.

Love and heartfelt thanks to all: have a wunnerful New Year.

              Rick.

Who else… and how?

Whoopeedoo. Our friends at AOL are reporting that the unseasonably warm weather in October has probably saved our glorious government 260 million smackers: monies that would have gone out to the Great (Undeserving) Unwashed to cover heating costs. Rishi and the team will no doubt crack open a coupla bottles of something half-decent to celebrate.

I may have missed the stories about how a #WindfallTax on the energy giants – plainly a legitimate, popular and equitable solution – would have fixed this particular inconvenience. And I may have been distracted when the unanswerable arguments for taxing the super-rich were pumped out, along with the other urgent stuff about Strictly, Meghan’s make-up and the new Three Lions vid. Forgive me for being so lax, you AOL-peeps.

260 mill is obviously a smidge of a deficit – or bonus – when we do the Whole National Math. (I get that most of us never do and are indeed ill-equipped to do the Whole Math, but yaknowhattamean?) Even dumbos like me understand that the Brexit-sized, post-Truss-&-Kwarteng-sized hole we’re in is a fucking monster. Interest rates, food prices, fuel going or gone scarily up: political choices heavily squeezed. A time for good, responsible government.

Fat chance. Rishi may have rather skilfully been positioned as the gentleman-who-knows-what’s-good but with his personal powerbase and charisma negligible and his party still in the throes of a weird, exceptionalist and deeply nasty ideological mud-wrestle, sustained careful steering seems unlikely. Sunak (the Impossibly Wealthy One) may have a wee bit of credibility amongst those gullible enough to associate his working experience with financial competence but he’s also, patently, another obscenely privileged toff. The plebs may easily turn.

The PM does have the advantage of not being as crass as Truss and Kwarteng. He’s less noisily, stupidly strident, ideologically, and probably less stupid, all-round. He will allow himself to be guided, to be considered, you suspect, in a way that his predecessor and her oddball Chancellor shunned. They were consumed by a sharp, masturbatory, Tufton Street-curated frenzy; Rishi is too well-groomed, too self-aware for that. He’s quietly mad – Freeports, hedgefunds, that depressing ease around Market Forces – as opposed to barking and under-equipped, like Liz and Quasi. Despite the pitiful incompetence of a succession of Tory governments, Sunak is likely to seem okaay… and to close the yawning gap in the polls, over time. Incredible-but-true.

‘People’ (or enough people ) may forget Partygate, Dido H and the systematic looting of the Covid resources. Despite both being offenses of a contemptibly filthy nature; despite that almost shocking, ‘un-British’ stench of corruption and deceit. Some are already either forgetting or have been consistently beguiled by the amoral clown that is Johnson: let’s put it on the record, the worst and most grotesquely shallow Prime Minister ever to have smooched with the dispatch-box. It will be fascinating and probably cruelly depressing to see how ‘things settle’, in Sunak’s favour, as the various oven-ready catastrophes fade into history.

Large swathes of the media will obviously either make it their business to distract, or somehow acquiesce to the endless protection of the great families, the shadowy elite, the Establishment*. Johnson and Harding are unlikely to face justice. The roster of palpably hopeless and/or careerist Ministers of the Realm escaping scot-free with a pay-off will be noted but then slung in the chipper with the rest of the old news stories. Politics of a sort will resume.

This may be a difficult period for Labour, depending upon how the execrable mob still labelled The Government can handle the next few months. Starmer has, understandably to some extent, been a non-protagonist throughout the chaos: no doubt advised that it’s wiser to keep his counsel re- Brexit, immigration, even the modest redistribution of wealth. He’s both failed to lead – been a kind of silent passenger – and chosen not to. Some of us find that abdication-by-focus-group depressing and unwise. Not only does it feel a dereliction of duty to allow politics itself to become bland to the point of meaningless; it also deprives the country of hope.

When a succession of appalling Conservative governments shamelessly and endlessly allude to (and deliberately conflate) race/immigration/’invasion’, dragging the discourse into the swamp, it must be the job of the Opposition to oppose, articulately and with moral force.

Currently Braverman is an obvious national disgrace – as was the Johnson/Cummings campaign before her – with regard to that lowest common denominator, racial signalling. Sadly, bigotry, so heavily supported in the national press, appears to draw as much positive agency as revulsion. But people understood that there was something powerfully wrong about Partygate. Then something cruelly cynical about unlimited bankers’ bonuses and tax-breaks for the rich. So there is a measure of decency out there. A Labour Party that proudly champions things that are right and just and explains the rationale in terms the population can understand is a) fulfilling its purpose and b) (probably) grabbing hold of the political narrative.

Those of us who sympathise with the centre-left understand Starmer’s cool determination to win. We see the barriers. We suspect, however, that any movement needs leadership; that if Sunak gets a smooth ride – remains essentially unchallenged – things will conspire towards restoring a general faith in Tory competence, however ludicrous that may seem.

A final thought. With philosophical discourse drowned beneath either a general disillusion or the acidic rants of the Twitterverse, there is a worrying vacuum. There are dangers here, which bots and Press Barons might be/have been quick to exploit. On the plus side is there not the possibility that a single individual with manifest decency, integrity and appeal (horrible word but…) could transform this vapid/wretched environment?

If any one of the progressive parties could find such a voice, in such a void, surely people would fall-in, and an Alliance Against Xenophobia and that other Nasty Stuff might begin to heave us all back towards civility and a certain level of social justice?

You may (I hope) have names in mind and agree with my good self that this feels like a job for some cross-party cooperation? Beyond Labour I can’t help but think that in Sturgeon and Lucas – very much ‘for example’ – we have people who could make a contribution.

But who else… and how?

*Some folks argue that the likes of Johnson, Rees-Mogg, Truss, Farage, even, are too right-wing, too bursting with fervour to be of the Establishment. Cobblers. They are all cosseted, all protected; they all reek of money, exceptionalism and privilege.

Pic (I think) is from Spectator, Australia. Forgive me if wrong.

A Christmas Puppy?

(An apology: the last thing I wanted to do is to make everything ‘all about him’ again. But the reason I do that is because I really do have some hope that this really might be it, for Johnson – an ending. I’m not optimistic about a Sunak Premiership, however short, what with likely roles for Braverman and other Nasty Party rightists but there would be some satisfaction at the thought that BJ’s time was rather unceremoniously snuffed-out. Let’s hope that proves to be the case).

So could the Age of Embarrassment finally be over? Might the Bumbling Buffoon, the Etonian Mess really be done?

It’s possible. In a characteristic veil of porkies and shameless, conscience-less swerves between the reported fact, his Urgent Gatherings and the forbidding fridges of a life lived in cosseted anarchy, Johnson really may have spent himself. It’s possible. The lies and the deceit and the vile uncaring will of course go on, endlessly, but it may be that his time in the Real Spotlight is over.

Rees-Mogg’s insipid declaration of confidence proved as thin as the man himself. His ill-matched bedfellow (the lard-arsed one) never, ultimately stood, preferring to come over all ‘tactical’ until defeat slapped him in the kisser. It’s widely believed that the 102 MPs were as genuine as de Pfeffel’s protestations of love, and that Johnson’s toying with politics may now be short-lived. The good people of Uxbridge have barely seen the former PM, what with all the foreign holidays: they are unlikely now, to be graced by long-term service – nobody (but nobody) gets that.

Boris doesn’t do contributions of this sort. Ever since Eton, his singular egotism has blinded him to the whims and needs of the un-Boris. Surely the whole charade that is his life has been a kind of gristly reflex towards the destiny that family and place had promised? Masses of fame, masses of moolah; fawning women and footmen a-drooling. The irresistible fact, then, of Great Office (briefly) precursing comely adventure, from exotic break to highly-remunerated Public Speaking Engagement. In so far as Johnson is capable of planning ( I think in his case these things tend to be assumptions), this has been The Plan. Tick the big juicy boxes, proffered by happy circumstance towards one; reap the rewards.

Much to its shame, the universe has provided. Women got on their knees, blokes laughed at the ‘quirkiness’, folks voted, presumably out of that feudal inferiority complex that defers to Them Who Know Best: yaknow – the toffs. Silver Spoon-dom; Eton; Balliol. Boom.

Even having the Most Embarrassing Father In History somehow failed to work against him. Five missed Cobra meetings; patent corruption and murderous incompetence around Covid planning and response; relentless extravagance and grotesque indulgences within Downing Street itself (largely at some mindless but presumably mortified sponsors’ expense). None of this seemed to register against; except, perhaps Partygate.

Finally the clowning seemed unfunny. Enough of the ordinary Mail-reading psycho’s felt a twinge. There was a cover-up, there were further blanket untruths and omissions but even without a Kuenssberg or a Peston Revelation – like how could they not know? How could they not have personal experience?!? – Partygate stank the place out. People could smell it. That whole culture of taking the piss, of being superior, of not needing to care because the rules just don’t apply… leaked out. And there was no other place for that to be centred than on B J.

Boris, we all knew, had been guilty all his life of believing in his divine right to indulge, freely and without conscience. But now it was obvious this included during lockdowns. Whilst we were – whilst the Queen was! – behaving or making cruel sacrifices for the common good, Johnson and co were popping the corks. We’re not so foolish as to believe they will ever be truly held to account… but we know they were guilty of this. That transgression landed. Shockingly, a miniscule number of Tory MPs acknowledged the nature and the heft of the betrayal and the Opposition seemed – appallingly – unable to call out the great sin of the age. But it landed enough.

This is why Boris was unzipped; disowned by 60-odd MPs, ultimately. They finally found safety-in-numbers and finally called him out. Now his unseemly bundle back has been stymied. A last porkie – 102 supporters, lols! – waived in front of a gullible press. A phone call to Mordaunt to schmoozle her into backing down. But nope. That old magic has waned.

Sure there were a few spineless cretins calling him ‘boss’ right until the end. Some actually believed there was a future in it – a Boris 2. But it’s likely now that neither those hand-relievers nor the Press Barons themselves can keep the Johnson delusion afloat. The bloke’s still under investigation – and again whilst natural justice on the matter is unlikely, ultimately to be enacted, I’m guessing now that (hilariously, finally!) enough Tory MPs view him as a serious, short-term risk to the party’s credibility.

It may be possible that lots of people would, if given the chance, still vote for the Big Dog. But a sufficient consensus has arisen, within Westminster, to keep the unkempt beast chained. He may yet become, in political terms, at least, a Christmas Puppy: loved briefly then ‘too much trouble’ – forgotten.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, born New York. Made for life, of course. Will flit from speaking gig to courtesy holiday. Will play the jester and delight those predisposed to crawl. Never, actually, a serious political figure: now, quite possibly, ‘over’.

Field of Dreams.

A challenge, this: to wrangle with the conflictions around Flintoff and somehow appreciate fairly the reality-docu-dip that was his “Field of Dreams”.

Let’s blast away at the opening concerns, and indeed the opening credits. Crap intro which ladles on the Freddie-lurv and traduces the state of the game as it stands. (Of bloody course cricket is dogged by elitism – I spend half my life trying to oppose or render it obsolete – but it’s not THE most privileged sport in Britain. Let’s not start with a shameless dollop of clickbait and a slack falsehood: that debate is important).

Get that this is ‘popular TV’ but not sure that means we need to launch with Sun readership-level positioning of the central issue; that faaar too many kids are either denied the game entirely, or are rendered ‘irrelevant’ by lack of facilities/coaching/dosh. Wonderful that Frederico is (belatedly?) struck by the need to do something… but c’mon, let’s have a wee look at the thinking or motivation behind that. Then we can un-pick the socio-economic/class-based problems and hopefully look with clarity at the pitiful, possibly unsustainable failures of leadership.

Do I doubt the quality of Fred’s feeling for the game, or his impulse to pitch in and use his profile to put something back? Absolutely not. Would I have preferred it if he hadn’t made a documentary series off the back of that concern – i.e. if he had quietly but maybe more magnificently done all of this stuff off-camera? (Yes).

On the one hand Flintoff’s generosity shines through, here but it’s also the case that the former cricket-god has form for being relentlessly attention-seeking: in short Fred’s made more appalling telly that almost any man alive, and much of this seemed to be driven by a deepish neediness which may spring from his own, heavily-reported issues. (Issues I am absolutely not under-estimating. I’m just speaking plainly). Flintoff, like many great sportsfolks, has both an ego and some not insignificant baggage.

Flintoff also authentically has that Northern Way of being good and being honest. He is genuinely concerned for and genuinely proud of the mixed bag of dysfunctional ‘nutters’, borderline depressives and fabulous ‘under-achievers’ that make up his group. There are legitimately poignant (and even important) stories intertwined with the inevitable gather towards comradeship/achievement/growth.

Speaking as a Northern Lad (originally), brought up with sport in the blood and hugely conscious of the role it can play, it struck familiar chords. I didn’t grow up with or encounter Afghani immigrants who had cut their way out of lorries not knowing where the hell they were. I did, however, grow up (in the fullest sense) with lads who were allegedly ‘a waste of space’ everywhere but the sports field. I have coached a million hours in Community Settings and am proud to know people who spend their lives doing what Flintoff did – offering that way in. I know cricket can be a platform, a shelter, a right bloody laugh.

So I welled up, listening to lads who are nearly lost; imagining my kids on the streets; seeing Sean’s clandestine brilliance so dismembered by circumstance.

Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams” is enjoyable and compelling but flawed – of course it is. Fred’s that way himself (and so say all of us). Cricket is neck-deep in privilege and therefore dysfunction but this join-the-dots shuftie at ‘estates’, idylls and elite private schools, may not have added much to the urgently necessary discussions around administrative change and resolving inequality. (To be fair, that probably wasn’t The Brief).

Fred, and the essential team of (community) coaches who (though largely absent from our screens) clearly effected much of the cricket development, did some great stuff. I love and honour both them and the game, for that. The obligatory former SAS hunk threw in a team-building exercise that might have taken gold at the Blokey Back-slapping Olympics and Our Lovable Rogues *really did* make progress, not just as cricketers but as citizens.

Fred got some scallywags got off the streets, off their arses and (yes) inspired them to *do something positive*. Some fell in love with the game. Some made much-needed mates. Perhaps most importantly, about half of them joined the local club after the TV Caper was done. Flintoff used his clout, some of his personal wedge and an infectious lump of encouragement to make a difference. To paraphrase him, late-on; it may even be that the listening, the offering, the life-changing malarkey was waaay more important than any win over a bunch of toffs could be. This was bigger than cricket.

Pic courtesy BBC TV.

Johnson.

We can’t just leave it to James O’B, so…

Johnson. The heave-inducing haystack; part lard, part Scarf(e)ian nightmare . The Liar. The Cheat. The Truly Grossly-Entitled One. The son of his father. ‘King of the World’. Did all of this stuff really happen?

Of course it did. And however much we absolve ourselves – even those of us who knew (who knew!) what sort of a malign prick he was – every single one of us has some serious thinking to do.

Without setting aside the Johnson-specific howlers, the international embarrassment, the murderous strategic failures, the government-by-racism, we have to be smart enough and generous enough to think beyond our justified contempt of the man. It’s fair enough to hate him, he’s a low-life in a surreal, truth-less realm he really does think he owns; a particularly foul individual. But this can’t happen again; this can’t all just be about him. Let’s deny him that.

We have to seek progress, do we not? So need to be as clear as we can about the enablers. (We won’t, sadly, be able to do much about the systems of privilege and prejudice in these islands but we must call them out).

Murdoch, Dacre and waaaay too much of the media has either created the environment for Johnson’s grotesque rampage or facilitated it via omission – by failing to call lies lies. Look with any intelligence or fairness at what the Mail/Express/Telegraph/Times have been pumping out and there’s a truly sinister level of delusion, bigotry, disinformation. The whole concept of news has been subsumed under a kind of contemporary signalling: imagery and relentlessly crass soundbitery hussling readers towards a mean, othering worldview. It’s strategic – meaning choreographed towards a specific purpose. Big Money, in short, is being protected.

I’ve just watched James Rob utterly eviscerate the Daily Mail and nodded along with the (yes, gedditt, plainly flawed) Alistair Campbell’s twitter onslaught against the worst PM of my lifetime. How many other significant public figures have been actually calling out Johnson’s filth and amorality, directly? Should it be down to Johnathon Pie to steer the public consciousness towards what’s really going on? Is that not the very purpose of The Media? How have they been so absent when The Story – that we’ve had a plainly debauched Tory leader with a high-viz capacity for lies, corruption and cronyism – is so obvious and undeniable? To repeat… is it not the media’s very function to report and therefore make judgement possible?

Of course it’s not, when they themselves are driving the urge towards cheap, dumb, race-based patterns of behaviour.

The Mail (surely a candidate for Most Vile Newspaper on the Planet?) enabled Johnson every step of the way – championed him. Dacre and co. made possible the rise of xenophobia and evil that powered Farage and Brexit, and the conflation/reduction of every political discourse to a dreamy return to a Proper Ingerland: white; noisy; exceptional. The Daily Mail coaches zillions of old, dim reactionaries towards a more exceptional bigotry every day. It is really not alone in this but everything from the relentless lying to the disappeared corruption around Covid contracts, Track and Trace, Arcuri, cash-for-honours, Russian influence, lobbying and second jobs, as well as the editing-out of the central horrors that are the Covid deaths, Partygate and the astonishing extravagances and outright law-breaking of the desperado couple, Cummings and Johnson is a function of the Murdoch/Media Baron Environment. We have to break that somehow.

Zooming out, the deliberate damage to political life and discourse is scary. The fact that Keir Starmer has been steered away from ‘controversy and ‘divisiveness’ for so long is indicative of a deadly failure within the system. The Opposition dare not oppose, for fear of a) Tory rags whipping up yet more dumb rage against them and b) this rage winning out, electorally. Only now, that Johnson is going (pleeeeeeze god), are we seeing any legit moral outrage from the Labour leadership. Previously, he daren’t call out lies for fear of scoring own goals.

On many levels this is offensive and inadequate – it serves us badly. But plainly Starmer has been advised not to appeal to people’s intelligence and decency, because three inch headlines about immigrants or scroungers will hold sway over that. That is, there is no (or there is insufficient) conscience out there – no sense that historic boundaries or norms around individual or collective behaviour remain valid. So nothing matters. When the PM’s getting blowjobs in parliament and/or been trying to get his mistresses jobs or jollies, or finishing his book/sorting his divorce instead of attending to international emergencies and this stuff somehow leaks away from view, things political are being steered ver-ry dangerously.

We’re still being run – being played – by a few families. Folks with colossal power, unthinkable wedges and an iron grip on all of us. It’s only occasionally that the truth of this cuts through. Cummings loved to paint himself as some anti-Establishment guru but he was (is) neck-deep in money and privilege. Johnson’s father is the very epitome of Olde English Entitlement: he will enjoy those privileges alongside those now afforded by his residency within the EU. (By the way, could there be a better symbol of Tory Hypocrisy than Our Stanley? True, there are a glut of contenders but everything about Johnson senior reeks of the very smuggest form of exemption – of the rules simply not applying).

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – c’mon, let’s hoist him by that petard (no doubt) imposed by pater – is going. He hopes and expects to choose the time of his going – of course he does – and apparently expects us to host and underwrite his extravagant wedding during this period. After that he will (of course) slot into the easy life that is gifted consultancies and the After-Dinner Circuit, where he will command huge fees. (Can it just be me who’s thought all along that the whole degenerate Prime Minister Project has for Bojo been just another way of collecting anecdotes with which to entertain Lady Amplebosom, of Hartley Wintney? The shameless bastard will probably have his own talk show, never mind as many £100k speaking engagements as he wants. And he knew this would happen for him.)

Masses more of ‘Boris’ then, in the offing. Because the truth is paths will open, scandals will fade or disappear. Power persists. Johnson, despicable man that he is, will probably never be held accountable. And if he was, he wouldn’t care – wouldn’t need to. We may never know if his flirtations with Russian Intelligence were genuinely a threat to our national security, nor where the missing Track and Trace billions have landed. When it comes to Elite Family members, even the ‘quirky’ ones get protected.

Ooh, Sooop-err!!

So the whispers and the dry-runs – remember Project Big Picture? – have turned into reports in the nationals. These of course don’t necessarily mean that a European Super League will happen but the bells are ringing pretty loudly.

Folks will tell us on the one hand that it’s just the Free Market expressing itself. Maybe those same people, when we call out and indeed coolly itemise the contemptible greed, irresponsibility and crass unawareness at the heart of this, will then tell us to keep politics out of sport. That’s if they can actually formulate a sentence. ‘Keep politics out of sport’.

We’re in a dark hole and it figures that some ‘businessmen’ might try to sell us shiny things to see… from an aspirational distance.

From our puny seat on our puny island it’s tempting to assume that this is simply entrepreneurism in (and for) the time of Johnson. But it’s a Europe-wide, nay world-wide travesty. It’s depressing to consider that it’s not just a reflection of us. Some twat in Barcelona, Milan, Dubai, or the States is ‘right behind this’, too – you betcha, ‘Xander/Gino/Phil/Philippe.

For Brit-based ‘ordinary supporters’ of Man Utd/City/Liverpool/Chelsea/Tottenham/whoever, what other way is there to process this than by imagining someone on the soullessly-brilliant spectrum realising a Performance Art-level symbol for the Era of the Mendacious Clown and his Trough-snorters? A magnificent, insulting, neon-clad testament to… what? Absolutist grasping? It’s so far beyond the perimeters of our common decencies that it fits snugly next to the cronyism scene: like some poisonous twin in the pram.

This is purely business. No respect, no regard, no love of the thing. Just selling of the thing. C’mon. Forget those who love the thing, just sell the fucking thing BIG, NOWWW!! Boris is still at 43 per cent in the polls. That bloke just took over the BBC. There’s never been a better time!! There are no implications, there’s only the deal. Set up the zoom and let’s get it done!

Let’s hope the fascistic dumbos come unstuck early doors – maybe around the notion that players participating will automatically be barred from international duty. Even the dumbest Prem Legend might register the significance of that. It feels pleasingly terminal as a hypothesis but who is clear just yet about who holds which levers? Not me.

I have no expectation of a good outcome – certainly not from within the elite ranks. Unless Rashford breaks through the inevitable Super Club embargo, I suppose(?) Elsewhere we can only fear the kind of diabolical heartlessness that characterises much of Boardroomland. We’re in a hole, alright.

Brexit Day – some words. A #Universe #podcast.

Been wrestling with what to do, as a Remainer. Been probably unhelpfully angry, but also determined not to shrink. Looking for something that feels like appropriate defiance… and to be honest, not that bothered if some view it as inflammatory.

Understand that Brexiters will simply view my wee statement as typical Remainer arrogance, including, as it does, the notions that exiting is wrong, and predicated on racism. Worse still, I guess I’m insinuating into the argument the ver-ry contentious idea that we Remainers are Better People than t’other side, because we’re right, we’re anti-xenophobic and therefore we hold the moral ground. (Think we are, think we do, think there is).

If that hasn’t put you off entirely, please do have a listen. Don’t expect any worthwhile debate will ensue, because we’re all so bitterly entrenched: know that I may indeed be contributing to that particular, ongoing malaise, by digging in. Hey ho.

If we could brush aside those narrowish political red lines for a moment, I might finish by saying that I really do have concerns about a divided future – especially where the scramble for food security really will be an issue for millions, worldwide. How’s it gonna be when every leek, cabbage or chicken matters? How ugly will it be when the protectionist juices unleashed here and now are swilling towards swathes of desperate, starving, near-drowned or parched and emaciated peoples from country X?

Crazy-paranoid? Don’t think so. Think what defines us needs to be generosity, open-ness. Think xenophobia is bad. Have a listen.

 

I say in here that democracy was poorly served – deliberately – by Cummings and Johnson and by a nauseating, bigoted Billionaire Press and of course I stand by that. It’s obvious. But what Brexit and my argument points to is a deep dive (that’s what folks are saying, currently, right?) into democracy itself.

In short I’m with Orwell in the sense that democracy gets just the two cheers. Because people maybe shouldn’t get the right to decide on MASSIVE stuff they *lack knowledge* about.

Yup, I get that dangers aboundeth, here. The politically correct – or those involved in politics, who therefore can’t unload contentious notions without engaging their Ooopsie Alarms – cannot say (for example) that people are too dumb to be allowed a vote on capital punishment. But they would be right about that.

Likewise Brexit. Too many people were always going to be drawn to immediate, neanderthal prejudice for this ever to have been good politics – wise, considered politics. The Tories knew this, of course, like they knew that the detail of any leave agreements would be waaaay beyond the ken or the interest of the Great Unwashed. But a strangulated Cameron capitulated to his right wing and then Cummings and Johnston chose to press the prejudice button… because that way they could turn democracy to their purpose.

So democracy is deeply fallible, deeply vulnerable to corruption in the fullest, scariest, most moral sense. Democracy is the best we can hope for but it needs good, genuine, honest, intelligent parliamentarians to lead us through it – to debate at a high level and then lead, on things the public don’t or can’t know about. We haven’t had that, eh?

#Preseli #Pembrokeshire.

I was a Labour Party member, moons ago. Think I drifted because of the New Labour thing (Mandelson, the cynical centrism) but it may actually have been before that.

I reckon I’ve stayed loyal to something but would I call that Corbynism? No, not instinctively, certainly not entirely. And yet I very much wanted to go to my local town centre – Haverfordwest – and stand with those exuding comradely love, or just ‘wanting to see’.

Once there, it felt good to see the old Solva & St David’s Labour Party banner spread un-stylishly but proudly at the rear of the makeshift stage. I came away both glad that I went and with any reservations about The Campaign swept away: we must a) get the tories out and b) begin to claw back some social justice, some dignity. People, it’s just right.

 

It’s been a dank, grey old day. There’s a storm a-comin’ again, tomorrow, too. The will, therefore, was medium-tested.

Daughter failed the test – stayed, to continue a teenage kip. It was left to us, the Older Generation to join with the carnival.

I say carnival but this overstates the level of upfulness. Sure it was comradely and good-natured in Castle Square but things were pitched more towards what we might call like-minded solidarity than street-dancing euphoria. There is work to be done and Jeremy Corbyn is doing it.

From Swansea to Carmarthen to Haverfordwest; the last stop of another exhausting day, or so you might think. Another crowd to raise, another marginal to cover, spirits to be stirred and maybe inspired. Unforgiving; relentless; necessary.

At about 4.45 pm we hear that ‘Jeremy will be late. Because of the crowds and the travelling’. Nobody really minds but a few of us nip to the local caffeine emporium.

We return to be entertained, more or less, by several hugely worthy speakers (who speak like Ordinary-but-committed People) and by an endearingly average local musician. There are flashes of good stuff but nobody’s pretending this is anything other than the warm-up.

It’s fine that these big-hearted people are filling the gap; it’s fine that they lack the brilliance of a great, public orator. We get that they have thrust themselves forward in the knowledge that they are Orn’ary Folks, out of belief, because they want to put their shoulder to the cart, to shove, forwards. Whilst they own the stage, there is almost no sense that ego is in play; more that solidarity is being imperfectly expressed.

Inevitably local activists featured strongly in this – forgive me if I don’t namecheck them all. Inevitably, too, there were union representatives and a young bloke from Momentum who has obviously been a force even when no-one was listening. (He spoke without sufficient fluency or authority to bear his message, as did others. I don’t mean to criticise any of them; they are not career politicians or public intellectuals. They are just people who want to change things – genuine respect to them for that).

Intermittently, we hear Jezza updates. He is forty minutes a way, then nine. We must listen out for the Big Red Bus. The Withybush Event (indoors, up the road) has been cancelled because timings are out due to big crowds and long-distance travel. Those booked into the later gig will be joining us in the square: cue tribal roar.

Grace Blakeley is welcomed to the stage. My wife – being typically more informed than my good self – breaks out her ‘this will be really top’ look and we recalibrate our attention.

Ka-pow. If we needed oratory and brilliance, we got it. If we needed someone to truly articulate both the economic and moral arguments, we got it. In an outstanding, flawlessly eloquent speech lasting about twenty minutes, Grace proper-delivered.

She was spiky and clear, without being cheaply adversarial. She was intellectually plausible, whilst making an invigoratingly radical case for system change. Blakeley absolutely smashed it, in terms of communicating Ideas We Might All Recognise, whilst raising the level of discourse to edifying (and again one suspects necessary) heights. Put her in against anybody; Grace will joust superbly well for us all. She lifted us.

Back to local activists and the MC, briefly, before the bus nudges into view.

A welcome that speaks of real warmth, flecked with a smidge of adoration. The “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” bass-line sparks up, along with most of the 1500 or so voices, gathered for the visit. This isn’t, it seems, all-out love – there’s too much plain, unsexy, hard-won respect – but there is excitement and palpable warmth.

Philippa Thompson, the Labour candidate for Preseli Pembrokeshire speaks briefly first. The sound is imperfect but she does well enough and is wise enough not to ‘rattle on’ and undermine the moment. She defers to Jeremy pretty promptly – quite rightly.

(Minor but maybe important note, which I will preface by saying that with every fibre of my being I hope she can unseat the incumbent Tory, Stephen Crabb; yes-man, former careerist now shamed into bland irrelevance.

Philppa, you spoke about four words of Welsh. Take it from me, as somebody with little Welsh but with a family now full of Welsh-speakers, that your pronunciation was beyond poor. It was insulting, or would be to anyone blessed with the language – and therefore you are strongly advised to either avoid, or get immediate help with this. It really matters… & it’s such an obvious own goal for a public figure – particularly an ‘incomer’).

But now Jezza, plus more activists and more locals, joining us from the battle bus and/or that cancelled event. We have a crowd, we have The Attraction and we have goodwill.

Corbyn is good. Fluent without being schmaltzy, prepared, without being in automatic mode. If Grace Blakeley was 9.5 out of 10, Jezza is 8 plus. Because he’s not a fabulous public speaker (and this is fine!) – he’s goodish.

Corbyn, flawed like all of us, inspires quietly, more by his common decency (remember that?) than any sparkling wit, or weighty or ‘Churchillian’ intervention. By and through the epic contribution he’s made to thoroughly commendable, often unfashionable causes.

Of course many either hate him or are deeply suspicious but I’m simply not lingering there. Let’s dismiss them as either conned by the billionaire press or prejudiced by dumb acquiescence to their betters – the toffs, the tories, the Natural Leaders. Back to Jezza.

It might even be that he isn’t an elite-level intellectual, he’s merely competent-plus. And this is fine. Jezza feels cut from our cloth: he’s believable and now projected forth into believe-in-able, by circumstance. The man may need to scheme behind closed doors, but he is publicly apparently without side or ego. He could be a teacher, postie, or the bloke who shuffles papers in the council office.

He speaks well, covering ground now familiar to all of us. Social Services, Education, plans to transform towards a green economy. To his credit, despite knowing surely that the crowd might lap it up, Corbyn remains notably averse to the kind of personal attack to which he is relentlessly subjected: Johnson is barely mentioned. Instead we get sketches of the vision, the hope.

There are ‘highlights’ but this is not highly-coloured fayre: the rabble in us is not roused, is not meant to be. That wouldn’t be Jezza. Our communal sense of what is right and fair and proportionate is rather gently appealed to, or stimulated. There could be barely be a greater contrast between this man and his showy, brainy, brazenly mendacious opposite number.

I’m dealing in generalities but trying to reflect how this felt. Seeing Jeremy Corbyn address a biggish bundle of people in Haverfordwest. On the eve of an extraordinarily important election. Being no longer a Labour Party member (and I promise you, not entirely doe-eyed, when it comes to Jezza) but supportive, nevertheless – and being daft enough to remain attached to ideas around virtue, around moral imperatives.

Wow, the pull towards optimism is strong. I want the guy to go well and will be punching the bloody air if Philippa Thompson wins. And the arguments feel won after a night like this. And there were lots of people. And Corbyn was good and Blakeley was wonderful.

Too much, to be optimistic? Maybe. But whatever. This was a restorative night – a valuable night.

#Brexit – an exorcism.

Ok. So it’s unwise to go there but it feels the best way. The best way to exorcise something – maybe everything. Don’t go looking for either a work of art or anything too comprehensive, here; too angry, too bitterly clear, too close to giving up.

Think I’ll bullet-point this, partly because many of you ferkers simply don’t deserve Fully Laid-out Arguments… and partly because I dread loading up more time into this sinkhole. Plus, to be honest, I don’t know the answers; the intricacies around Trading Agreements and Common Market doo-dahs being pret-ty far out of my sphere of knowledge and interest.

This is of course the chief reason Us Plebs should never in a million years been asked to vote on EU membership – the whole sorry business being a sop to the morons on the right of Cameron’s party. We have little specific knowledge but lorryloads of juicy prejudice relating to ‘Europe’. Johnson, Farage and their crypto-fascist colleagues have simply stoked all that unbecoming ‘othering’.

So we should never have been here. But we are. And amateurs like me – knowing little of the minutiae, churning with the whole cowabunga – are battling our best to make what feel like possibly moral and certainly philosophical calls, as we try to STAY TRUE to our UNDERSTANDINGS.

(So why? Because we still believe there is decency and brotherhood).

This, then, is where I’m driven to.

    • Can’t believe ANYONE could vote for or support the embarrassing clown that is Johnson, or his arse-wipe of a sidekick, Rees-Mogg.
    • How is it possible to support men who reek so utterly of privilege, arrogance, indulgence? How is it possible to avoid seeing their palpable, greedy ‘superiority?’ How could your flesh not creep when BOTH, recently, signalled ver-ry loudly that BEING RACIST IS ACTUALLY OKAY?
    • I get that most who support them do that out of like-minded xenophobia or outright racism… so I suppose that’s it.
    • Either that or you too actually believe in the Etonian Right to Rule; that there’s nothing unduly concerning about ONE SCHOOL providing the four countries in the union with god-knows-how-many Prime Ministers.
    • Here’s the nub. If you are a tory and in the Brexit Camp then the overwhelming odds are that you are either an outright racist, or what we might call a casual-cultural xenophobe.
    • (I salute those of you who are finally realising just how poisonous 2019 Conservatism has become and now scamper away in disgust, or better still whilst puffing out your chests and calling out the utter nastiness of it. Scary fact: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is presiding over something sinister and repugnant).
    • Percentage-wise, of those who voted for Brexit and now support Boris, I reckon *60% are outright racist and about 30-odd % xenophobes. The latter maybe have six more brain-cells than the former, per head, enabling them to actually avoid saying in public the stuff their dumb hearts are screaming inside.
    • I leave about *10% as folks who could make an intelligent argument for Brexit, devoid of any bigotry. (Okay. Re-thinking that I may revise that figure in the population upwards somewhat, to include those on the Left who can make a genuine, intellectual case for Brexit: despite the fact that we haven’t heard it, I do accept that this can be made. The EU is essentially imperialist and as witnessed in Greece, for example, arguably brutally so: I recognise that as a legitimate argument. The right has an almost total absence of legitimate arguments).
    • So we are divided and there may be no way back from that. Brexit is absolutely a function of bigotry. People on my side know what people on the other side are generally like. People on the other side hate us, for our snowflake-ism and our superiority – for surely if you are bigoted and we are not, then we are superior in that respect?
    • I can live with people hating my inability to discriminate – or discriminate waaaaay less crassly than they do. (All of us carry baggage and therefore all fall from the path of righteousness at some point, eh?) But all this is clear: the Brexit Project was and is founded on racism.
    • So it is RIGHT, for me that Parliament, is fighting against no deal. It is RIGHT that 20-plus tories have opposed that rush to the ‘cliff-edge’. And, importantly, it is implicit, in their revulsion towards Johnson and his cronies and his fawning admirers, that the moral component in this – however exposed it may leave us snowflakes – is a part of the argument.
    • Is there hope – you do wonder if we deserve any?
    • There is no hope for reconciliation, or virtually none. You Daily Mailers and me are probably not gonna be pals. I’ll talk to you and be civil enough when necessary but…
    • Fortunately, I do know some tories I genuinely like. I apologise to them for this contribution to our divisions and hope they respect my right to An Opinion. (Just need to get this out there and done. We will again take beers together).
    • There will be an election. I just don’t know how that will go, because The Clowns of the Right may club together; Farage may march his seedy mob right into centre-stage.
    • I respect Corbyn’s radicalism-against-the-odds but recognise that the cruel demonisation of the man (and his vacuum of leadership through the Brexit trauma) means he may not steer us through this. Specifically, he is unlikely to win out in a General Election.
    • Does this leave us with a new figurehead, a tactical voting imperative, or a possible Progressive Alliance, or similar? (Clearly talks have been taking place on this theme). As I said; I’m not sure we deserve any hope.

*My numbers don’t matter – and yes I know they’re inflammatory. But I’m leaving them in as food for thought. I really think that racism is that central.

In which I *make judgements*…

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States is many things – feels like many things. Firstly it’s a disaster, in philosophical/symbolic/moral terms as well as with regard to what passes for American Policy, both within and outside the country.

There, that’s my colours nailed; my duff liberalism exposed.  Maybe you know the rest, in the way I know I’m right – we’re right – to make our case against.  Maybe it’s not wise to rub my certainties up against yours or his, or hers?  But given I’m too shocked and angry to waste energy on fencing around, here – with no apologies – is my case against.

The Trump campaign was a shameless appeal to the dumb machismo at the core of America (and, frighteningly, possibly everywhere else) which made it okay to holler prejudice as opposed to make arguments about policy.  Racism and misogyny in particular have been validated – made sound, acceptable and poison-free – through both a shockingly calculated Republican narrative and via Trump’s refreshingly non-groomed mouthings-off.  *Coughs, strikingly*.

They won by glorifying in the stupidity and prejudice of a whole lot of people; not (please note) just the allegedly dumb and downtrodden working or non-working classes, who a) blame immigrants for everything b) hate politicians.  In the same way that Farage in the UK tapped into something despite being a patently inadequate human, Trump – surely part dangerous clown, part ardent lap-dancing club regular? – won out by smearing innuendo and worse across anything that felt like an issue.  In doing so, he lurched all of us, everywhere further away from civilisation.

Yes, civilisation.  A word I think we should maybe look to claim back from pro-Western morons and well-meaning anthropologists alike.

(We know that the idea of that c-word has been hi-jacked and traduced too often but maybe we need it as a weapon against the tyranny of cynicism and xenophobia; and maybe if we can find a way to use it in the absolutely non-geographically or culturally specific sense then we can get past the problem?  Because we need to defend ideals and it should be possible to describe aspirations which are plainly good and true and common whatever your – or their, origins, yes?)  But we digress; let’s get to the bulletpoint; Trump is not a good man.

We don’t even need to have clarity on the various charges against him: Trump is not a good man because he doesn’t so much court trashy-but-serious enmities as wallow in them.  Everything is about the other – who can’t be trusted or tolerated.  This and the idea that government is necessarily bad.

We can point to ‘difficult times’ as a factor in this evil.  Economies stretched, jobs threatened.  Perfectly natural for people to be protectionist, right?  Wrong.  It is wrong to be hostile, or ungenerous – not natural.  We are no longer tribal beasts.  For all the evidence to the contrary it is incumbent upon us to be better than that, to oppose (in this case) the pornography that is Trumpdom and elsewhere the pornography that is religious zealotry or fanaticism.

Sure the Democrats might have picked a less divisive candidate and certainly one less steeped in the baggage of the Political Class.  Hilary Clinton – brilliant and committed though she may be – was arguably a softish target for those disaffected and disconnected by that link between money and family, politics and power.  Who knows where a more ordinary candidate might have gotten to?

This whole question infers a kind of intelligence and appreciation from the Great American Public that simply may not be there.  The Yanks have voted by instinct, with their guts.  There’s been a vacuum where the political debate might have been.  Hilary was beaten partly, no doubt, by personal dislike and sexism against her but mainly by rottenness – fear and loathing for The Other.  A different Democrat may have been subsumed beneath the same, amoral shitstorm.

So do we capitulate to this?  Do we mither about the role of Social Media in the criminal dumbness of things but then accept that t’internet, rather than facilitating an explosion in knowledge, has merely handed things on a plate to those who can bawl or troll loudest?  Do we wonder how the hell this election can happen when kids are taught about good citizenship and World Wars and what adherents to the great religions of the world actually study?  Do we, at any level, accept that sexism, racism and homophobia are acceptable – never mind legitimate levers towards the destiny of civilised nations?  NO WE DON’T.

We need to think a bit, for sure, longer-term about how people can be so uneducated that Trumpdom’s choices become attractive… when they are repulsive.  We need to be smarter and more engaged at a political level – here I mean everything from discussing things with friends and family to making minor stands or major stands on local or national issues.  In short, those of us who fall under the banner of humanist(?) progressives(?) need to stand up – be counted.

Donald Trump is indecent and malicious and creepy.  He is President.  His list of campaign promises (some of which I accept are likely to melt away in the reality of responsibility) reads like some weird fascist agenda.  Really.  (He will build a wall; he will kick foreigners out; he will make the nation great again.)   This is beyond divisive, beyond inflammatory.  This is beyond the pale.

If the presence of the North Atlantic Ocean comforts us Brits, or anything about this extraordinary and concerning American Dream makes us Brits feel in any way superior then we better look out.  There’s nowhere to hide from this.  The Global Village is real – even when played out in cyberspace.

Not only do we rely on the U.S. to patrol the planet militarily, but on philosophical/symbolic/cultural matters, we have shared arteries.  We have our own politics but they are mediated around western possibilities.

Traditionally, this has meant relative freedom, relative tolerance.  America has raced ahead in the negative re-calibration of all that; meaning it’s just a little easier, a little more do-able, for some noisy or dangerously insular or aggressive or nationalistic hoodlum (or billionaire) to jump up on a tank or a pedestal and shoot his mouth off… and get hollers of support.

He might do this and claim to be fighting back against the Political Class – for you, the Forgotten Ones.  He probably will tell you he’s out to save your job, keep those others off/out/away.  He might look like a bloke you could share a pint with. Just be careful.