BUSHELL ON THE BLOG
Jan 26. Syriza has won a stunning victory in Greece taking 149 seats in the 300-member parliament. This puts the far-Left anti-austerity party on a high speed collision course with the EU. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras says he'll renegotiate the £179bn bailout deal, stop repayments and bin many of the reforms that EU creditors demanded in exchange for keeping Greece afloat since 2010 – measures he has likened to "a financial water-boarding". Put simply the Bubbles are going to default on their debt. So what happens next? The EU has said they won't bail 'em out any more, so Greece may well have to leave the Euro and go back to the drachma. Of course, if they'd kept the drachma to begin with they wouldn't be in this mess.
Jan 25. My new The Hungry & The Hunted podcast is up now, looking at the best punk/Mod/Ska/indie releases from 2014, including tasty tracks from Stiff Little Fingers, Menace, the Brompton Mix, Neville Staple, the Bar Stool Preachers, Electric River and many more. But who had the Song of the Year? My sage and sensible jury, Jonny Wah Wah and Shona Wattise Watts, reach a unanimous verdict. Have a butcher's.
Jan 24. From the latest Spectator, images of Mohammed in Muslim art - here.
Jan 23 RIP. Edgar Froese. The founder of Tangerine Dream – "the German Pink Floyd" – died yesterday. He was 70. Edgar had been a trad rock keyboardist until Salvador Dali convinced him that originality and authenticity were worth pursuing. Cue loop-tapes, cue synths, and around 100 albums of sequencer-driven experimental music, of which the most successful were 70s Virgin released platters like Phaedra and Rubycon.
Jan 22. The SNP insist that they will vote on matters that only affect England after the next election. Nicola Sturgeon, who could very well be Alex Salmond in drag, has pledged to support a minority Labour government and pass legislation regarding the English NHS, English education etc. Talk about having your haggis and eating it. Of course, this would blow Labour's mealy-mouthed promise of "English votes for English laws" right out of the MacWindow; it also presents us with a huge constitutional dilemma. How can it be right that the Scottish government will have complete control of their health service while Scots MPs will exercise a decisive influence over English health matters? Ditto income tax etc etc. How can it be right that the wishes of English voters are subverted by people who have no interest in our welfare? And how long before those of us south of the border sit up and take notice? The only genuine solution to the democratic imbalances caused by devolution is the creation of an English parliament.
Why has Al Murray announced that he is standing for election in Thanet South? Turns out he'll have a new book out at the time, Al Murray's Vision For Britain published by the very posh Random House. It's a publicity stunt, and one that the media has swallowed hook, line and sinker. Tsk, and people call politicians cynical...
Jan 21. Was last year the "hottest on record" (i.e. since 1880) as Obama claimed yesterday? Not really. When NASA first trotted out this claim on a press release, the increase was just two-hundredths of a degree on 2010 - in other words way below the scientific margin of error. It seems that the chances of it being accurate are little better than one in three. Naturally this hasn't stopped every broadcaster repeating the claim as scientific fact. As Christopher Booker notes, satellite temperatures tell a completely different story than surface ones and are far more comprehensive. According to satellite temperature studies, 2014 was only the sixth warmest year since 1997. They further show that there has been no upward trend in world temperatures for 18 years, and that most of the world's hot air is still generated by the climate change lobby. Question everything.
Jan 20. Anyone who was swept up in the exciting Mod renewal of the late seventies, early eighties will be delighted to know that The Rage are playing London's 100 Club this Friday (23rd). It's their 30th anniversary reunion show – another reason to feel old. According to my review from three decades ago, the last time they played this venue two modettes got so excited they jumped on stage and stripped. I'm not saying that this will happen on Friday, just that it could. #BeatMurdoch #BeatTheBan #JeSuisCharlies
Jan 19. You can register complaints about Channel 4 using music by the Cockney Rejects and the UK Subs in their piss-poor documentary about the far-Right here.
Jan 15. Just watching last night's Angry, White & Proud, which sounds like some dazzlingly vivid paint colour not yet on sale at Homebase; possibly a couple of shelves down from Furious, Islamist & Demented and just along from that new Dulux number, Posh, Thick & Right-On – like the C4 bods who commission this crap. Angry, White & Proud began by telling us that Britain's far-Right is "re-emerging" and then spent an hour proving it isn't. They focused on two small mobs of politicized football hooligans; one had ten members – so it wasn't exactly Mosley at Olympia. It didn't help their credibility that earlier yesterday a new report suggested that support for the far-Right is at its lowest for two decades. The BNP's vote has collapsed; they've lost their MEPs and most of their councillors, and no similar party has filled the vacuum – largely because mainstream politicians have been forced to address issues like uncontrolled immigration by the UKIP vote (more on them in a bit). A similar thing happened in the late 70s when Thatcher's rise did for the National Front. Today's far-Right appears to consist of a proliferation of tiny splinter groups, ranging from self-styled street crusaders to actual neo-Nazis, few of whom would worry Alfred Rosenberg in a game of chess. It's a bit like the far-Left in the seventies, when Trots came in 57 varieties, oddball Maoists ran book shops, terrorist and paedophile apologists abounded, and the Communist Party still pretended Uncle Joe was a great guy and hadn't really slaughtered more people than Hitler, honest.
The only place C4's activists were well received was Rotherham, home of the shocking child abuse scandal where working class families were once again betrayed by the Labour Party. And even then their national demo attracted one thousandth of the people who marched to no avail against the Iraq war. It is the cowardice of the Left and the Establishment that fuels genuine popular anger; their reluctance to discuss real Muslim-related problems such as grooming gangs, female genital mutilations, "honour" killings and false/mental interpretations of the Koran. But TV exacerbates matters by rarely allowing liberal Muslims air time. "Radical" (i.e. reactionary) preacher Anjem Choudary is a fringe figure, not the main game in town; not even close.
The other ludicrous aspect of this C4 crap is it included a Cockney Rejects song. Guitarist Micky Geggus has issued this statement: "When I heard that Channel Four had used a section of 'Oi Oi Oi' in a programme including themes of racism, I was so angry I nearly choked. If the privileged, middle class twats had even bothered to listen to the lyrics, they would know that 'The kids they come from everywhere, the East end's all around' means exactly that – a rallying call to kids across the globe, from Athens to Zanzibar. My band and I have fought narrow minded people from both sides of the political divide for over three decades now, and we have the scars to prove it. If it's the last thing I do, I will not let Channel Four get away with this slanderous act."
Despite Twitter twerps sniping, there is a whole world of difference between UKIP and the BNP. The latter are an authoritarian socialist party in favour of economic protectionism and renationalising parts of the economy; the former are (or were) essentially libertarian and committed to free trade. One comes from a neo-Nazi tradition and believes in ethnic nationalism, the other from classic liberalism and advocates a civic nationalism that doesn't discriminate by colour or faith. Their worldviews are just as far apart as those of Keir Hardie and Pol Pot, both "socialists" on paper...
Jan 13. Sorry to hear of the death this afternoon of Jimmy Edwards, who some of you might know from Masterswitch or Flintlock. Jimmy was a great musician and a good bloke. Rest In Peace, mate.
Jan 12. One small footnote to the Paris coverage: why does the British Broadcasting Corporation insist on referring to "the prophet Muhammad"? Other religions see the seventh century preacher as a false prophet; a heretic. Dante saw him frying in hell for eternity. It would cumbersome but more accurate if the Beeb referred to him as "the man Muslims view as a prophet". Not, I should add, that I am in the slightest bit religious being lapsed Church of England, turned hardcore teenage atheist. Now agnostic, I appreciate the power and comfort of faith – the opiate effect – and its importance in times of crisis. I also find the hostile certainty of atheist fundamentalists like Dawkins as hard to swallow as the Old Testament. Science doesn't know all the answers either. Most physicists will tell you that our universe is one of millions, a multi-verse. But they can't prove that; it's a theory based on mathematical constructs. Advocates of the block universe tell us time doesn't exist and the future is already here, when common sense tells us it does and it isn't – otherwise we'd know who's won the 3.15 at Fakenham tomorrow, putting the nation's bookmakers out of business. Much modern scientific "truth" is speculation disguised as fact, with no empirical evidence to back it up. It's reasonable to say that there is a lot more to the universe than we will ever know. If we are alone in it, and we might as well be, we ought to get on with solving humanity's problems because you can be damn certain that they won't ever be solved by prayer. Time maybe to believe in ourselves more. And if we can't manage that, let's just pick ourselves some tougher gods...
I'm not bothered who takes part in the televised election debates as long as the studio audience is picked at random and they're fully armed with rotting fruit and veg. The shows would be so much better if every waffle or evasion were rewarded with a shower of rancid tomatoes. Clearly only Cameron or Miliband can win in May (the losers will be the electorate as usual), so there is a solid case for restricting the debates to just the two main party leaders. But if doomed Nick Clegg is involved then so must Nigel Farage be, especially now Ofcom has ruled that UKIP are major players. Slippery Cameron is understandably bricking it at the thought of taking on Farage, and has used this development to insist that the Greens take part too, knowing full well that Miliband will want to block a more leftwing rival. Here's my solution: open the TV debate to ALL parties, but impose divisions. Everyone in the lower division, i.e. everyone except Cameron and Miliband, would have to fight it out in a series of mini-debates with the winner chosen by phone vote. So Bez from the Reality Party would take on Robin Tilbrook of the English Democrats, the SNP would clash with the Raving Loonies and so forth, with the over-all winner (Farage) getting promoted into the big boys' club. All fair and above board, and as democratic as TV voting can ever be. Alternatively they could just replace Shameron with a tub of lard.
Ed Miliband wants to "weaponise" the National Health Service. Here's a better idea. Why not agree that the NHS is too important to be a political football and form a National Action Committee, with the emphasis on action, to work out how to stop blowing millions on unnecessary layers of management and bureaucracy?
Far Left watchers tell me that the comrades are still tying themselves up in knots over the Charlie Hebdo horror. The SWP's statement, issued in the immediate wake of Paris, didn't even include their usual response to terrorism ("we condemn this, but... "). Instead they contented themselves to attacking "racists and right-wingers" who are apparently using the killings to try and drum up "Islamophobia". The SWP did not feel the need to update their statement after the Kosher supermarket incident when four members of an ethnic community (Jews) were murdered. Elsewhere Lindsey German of the SWP splinter group Counterfire was banging on about French and Western foreign policy and savaging the media coverage. Nowhere on either site can you find any condemnation of the atrocities carried out in the name of dim/medieval religious certainty. We hear a lot about Islam's impact on western countries, but its impact on British socialism has been far more destructive. The global system is in crisis, yet the Left has never felt so pointless or marginalised. The only exception appears to be in Greece where the far Left, anti-EU Syriza party look likely to win a snap general election on January 25. Syriza has become extremely popular by opposing austerity and promising to take on the oligarchs – the wealthy and often corrupt close-knit elite who dominate the Greek economy and much of the country's television.
UK footnote: In fairness, Bob Crow's old mob are more on the money; this is a genuinely Marxist response to French events (which is not meant as an endorsement; I still hold that Lenin falsified Marx long before Stalin falsified Lenin).
Jan 11. This year I'm launching the Garry Bushell Experience project, GBX, as a live show. It'll marry London humour with old-style 60s reggae, rants, glamour and a dollop of rock. GBX will be available in various x-rated packages; serious booking enquiries to email@example.com.
Jan 10. If you're in to my band The Gonads, I have to tell you that our new album Greater Hits Volume III – The Complete Cobblers is the best yet. Seriously. We finished mixing and mastering it on Sunday, I left it a while and have just listened to it all the way through. There isn't a duff song on here. It's even better than Volume One and I never thought we'd ever top that. 25 tracks, power, glory, filth, fury... a brilliant Dennis Stratton guitar solo... how are we ever going to better this??? It should be out in April!
Cockney comedy legend Jimmy Jones is my latest chat show guest talking about Reg & Ron, royals, rockers, Michael Jackson and much more. Hear it here.
Jan 9. Strange "leftwing" reactions to the Paris atrocity continue. Lib Dim blogger George Potter who describes himself as a feminist and looks about 12 has written a piece on the Lib Dem Voice site which claims Charlie Hebdo was "racist", "bigoted" and "bullying" because it criticised Islamists. He says the mag targets "the powerless, marginalised and the oppressed" – it doesn't; it targets the strong, the corrupt and the powerful. What Potter seems to be suggesting is that satirists should make an exception for some extremists, some faiths, some backgrounds; that some interest groups should be exempt from normal criticism no matter how twisted or reactionary their beliefs are. Meanwhile former SWP activist and frequent BBC booking Mark Steel helpfully likens the killers to Anders Breivik and Raoul Moat conveniently forgetting that these lone wolf nutcases were a shocking exception whereas the Paris Jihadists were not. They are part of a long trend stretching from the fatwah on Salman Rushdie and the murder of Theo Van Gogh to waves of killings across the world. That old Communist David Aaronovitch made a better point yesterday. Writing in The Times he noted: 'This is the deal for living together. The same tolerance that allows Muslims or Methodists to espouse their religion is the same tolerance that allows their religion... to be depicted, criticised or even ridiculed... You live here, that's what you agree to. You don't like it, go somewhere else.'
Jan 8. It didn't take long for the nitwits to kick off. Charlie Hebdo was a left-wing satirical magazine; it sent up politicians, establishment figures and religious hypocrisy – that's all religions. Yet within hours of yesterday's callous attack on the periodical's Paris offices, various "revolutionary socialists" could be found on social media suggesting that the carnage was the fault of the slaughtered writers and cartoonists rather than the barbarians who pulled the triggers. They had it coming, see. They were "Islamophobic". No they weren't! They poked fun at fanatics who use a twisted interpretation of Islam to justify their campaigns of murder, mayhem and intimidation. The likes of ISIL might claim to be at war with "Western imperialism" but they're actually at war with humanity. Jihadists are the enemies of liberty and democracy (not to mention women's rights, gay rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of religious belief and no doubt freedom of trade union activity). They butcher all races and other Muslims too. Self-styled "progressives" who take the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" line on these unhinged terrorists play into the hands of the very "forces of reaction" they claim to oppose. Their chances of building a "socialist alternative to Labour" are precisely nil.
Jan 7. Shocked by the savage slaughter in France. At this moment nous sommes tous Parisiens... Shocked, I should add, but not surprised. We have tolerated the intolerant for too long. Decent people know that not every Muslim is an Islamist Jihadist, but we also know that a mixture of careless immigration and the disingenuous creed of multiculturalism – designed to separate the children of immigrants from Western values - has created a growing cancer inside every Western nation. A death cult. Islamist violence has erupted everywhere from New York to Moscow, via Toulouse, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Woolwich, Boston, Ottowa, Sydney and Central London. Yet our ruling elites react like ostriches. "Our enemies are small worms," Hitler told his generals in 1939. "I saw them at Munich." The leaders of al-Qaeda, ISIL and Boko Haram see our leaders the same way: weak, spineless creatures so hung up about minority rights and "cultural relativity" that they no longer seek to protect our own. You don't need to be a knee-jerk reactionary to know that we can't go on burying our heads in the sand forever. Or to realise that the standard leftwing response – which is to be more concerned about potential "Islamophobia" than the fate of the victims – is cowardly nonsense. There is nothing remotely "progressive" about these merciless bigots. They are the harbingers of a new dark age. Let us hope that the French track them down and introduce them to Madame Guillotine. That decent Muslims around the globe continue to state their opposition loud and clear. And that we Brits remember George Orwell's words and act accordingly: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear." As a people, we either live free, or we die.
Jan 5. Did Prince Andrew have sex with an "under-age American sex slave"? We aren't in a position to know. Virginia Roberts says that she was procured for sexual services by Robert Maxwell's daughter acting on behalf of loaded Yank sleazebag Jeffrey Epstein. Whether she was or wasn't, the "sex slave" headlines don't hold much water. By her account Virginia appears to have been a willing participant - she wasn't forced into bed at gun point; she was paid for her alleged services. She was 17 at the time, under-age in her home state of Florida but not in the UK. So the only part of the "under-age American sex slave" claim that is correct is her nationality. We do know however that Andrew's friendship with Epstein continued after he was jailed for soliciting teenage girls, which suggests he is at best misguided and at worst thicker than Epstein's wallet. We also know that this story will run like Mo Farah...
Already republicans are using the scandal to call for the Royal Family to be confined to the wheelie bin of history, sparking this heady vision... "2020, and Comrade Citizen Edward Miliband is anointed President For Life at a grand people's ceremony in the Place de Mandelson (previously Trafalgar Square). Beside the magnificent Russell Brand monument (previously Nelson's Column), the new President and his entourage watch the fly-over of the Redder Arrows (one Hawk jet, five drones and a kite) as it proceeds towards the imposing newly constructed 200metre Harriett Harman wind turbine in Parliament Square. The dual ceremony, conducted according to both European and Sharia law, is followed by a toast proposed by Minister of Culture Lord William Bragg, the socialist earl of Dorset. By popular request, he does not sing. In his acceptance speech, Comrade Citizen Miliband announces the return of the top rate of income tax to 98%, prohibits the sale of bacon sandwiches and confirms that any Londoner living in a property valued at over £2million will be immediately evicted and their homes used for "the greater good" - either to house Roma refugees from the tyranny of work or to be stripped of valuables which will then be sent north for the benefit of the comrade Scots who ensured Labour's 2015 victory. All hail the new order."
The Conservative Party's new general election poster shows a country road purportedly representing Britain's "road to a stronger economy". Hilariously the road in question is German – it's from a 2008 photo taken near Weimar and has been photo-shopped to remove cracks. (If they'd been really smart, they'd have added authentic British pot-holes). Apt of course, because whatever they say or "promise" the leadership of the Tory party still sees Britain's future inside the Greater Germany we know as the European Union... There's still time for a u-turn, people.
Jan 4. My latest new music show is up and running with special guest Kiria Lepink and her Missy Le Pink pals, plus great fiery songs from The Boys, The Backhanders, The Droogettes, the City Saints, Keyside Strike, Fuzzbrats, Daveit Ferris, Model Society and many more. Hear it here. You can submit your tracks for the show here.
Kiria LePink makes an old punk very happy
Jan 3. Much as it pains me, I feel compelled to defend Katie Hopkins over this latest Twitter spat. I'm not a fan. Katie's "plain-speaking" reputation is built on succession of knee-jerk opinions that wind up liberals but never surprise. If the former Apprentice loser is aiming to be Britain's Ann Coulter then she's falling short by many an IQ point. But the idea that Hopkins should be nicked for "racism" after calling the Scots "Jocks" on Twitter is just laughable – or it would be, if the cops hadn't taken it seriously. According to Police Scotland, tax-payers' money has been used to investigate and "establish any potential criminality." Och, away and boil yer heed, as my Glaswegian friends would say. Freedom of speech is what matters here, and up to the point where it becomes libellous or slanderous that includes the freedom to piss off people who don't agree with you. My old rock press colleague John Robb takes the opposite view, stating in his Open Letter To Katie Hopkins today, that she represents "the ugly face of dear ole Blighty". She doesn't. Katie represents a slightly spiteful, rather snobby, bog standard face of middle England unaccountably running in The Sun, but I don't hear her calling for her opponents to be gagged. I don't see her denying people their right to a express an opinion – as idiot Scottish protestors did with Nigel Farage say in Edinburgh last May. "We don't hate," John writes. "Hate is for your mob" (i.e. the evil Tories). Is he for real? Look at the hatred spewed out by Scots Nats against anyone famous who dared to oppose them on Twitter. Look at the insults spat out at anyone who questions any of today's sacred cows (climate change, high taxation, "free movement of labour" etc). Look at who bans and who calls for bans these days. Censorship, once the business of Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, is now almost exclusively the preserve of Outraged of Hampstead. Why is Dapper Laughs evil while Jo Brand joking about killing her husband is fine? Why is it okay to take pot-shots at Israel, when if you aim a gag at Hamas you'll find yourself excluded from campuses? Why is all the "satire" churned out by the BBC aimed at those who oppose the EU status quo? The way I see it the real hate is almost exclusively coming from the so-called Left.
I don't pretend to be perfect. I wrote one or two things 25 years ago that I feel ashamed of. At the time, I was getting death threats and hate mail, my family were abused, and that provoked a reaction from me that I deeply regret. All I'll say in my defence is that I'm big enough to admit my mistakes – and did so in my autobiography. Are you?
January 1st 2015. Happy New Year. My awards for best film, book, TV show and album of 2014 can be found here. My verdict on the best and worst of last year's telly will be posted on Sunday here, along with several reasons to be cheerful in 2015.
Probably the most significant book of the year was Ruling The Void, The Hollowing Of Western Democracy by the now late political scientist Peter Mair which demonstrates how the rise of a political class has effectively disenfranchised the mass of citizens both here and across Europe.
I tend to swerve modern art because it's largely con artistry, but Paul Cummins and Tom Piper's poppy installation was a breath-taking exception. Designed to commemorate the dead of the Great War, their crimson sea of ceramic flowers flowed over the Tower Of London moat like a tidal wave of spilt blood and straight into the public imagination. It was both respectful and genuinely moving; millions came to soak up its sombre glory.
Punk died in 1977 according to the NME. I might even have said it myself, tongue firmly in cheek, five years later. And yet 2014 saw some vintage albums from great punk bands, not least Stiff Little Fingers' No Going Back and the Buzzcocks' The Fall (both funded via PledgeMusic). But for me, the year's stand-out album was Rancid's ... Honor Is All We Know which served up a bucket-load of rousing songs full of energy, grit, attitude and fist-pumping choruses. If the Clash had grown up on the US west coast, they would probably have sounded like this.
2014 wasn't a vintage year for movies, but I lapped up Guardians Of The Galaxy – a blockbuster superhero film that gently subverted the genre with humour. (For a Marvel romp that delivered costumed action straight, with a side order of paranoia, see Captain America – The Winter Soldier). Roll on Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
In musical theatre, Harry Hill's X Factor spoof I Can't Sing stunk like the bins at a seafood restaurant during a dustmen's strike. The Kinks musical, Sunny Afternoon was much classier. At the pop end of the market, Pharrell Williams's Happy was the track of 2014. It was infectious, irresistible and everywhere. Gloucestershire's FKA Twigs grows in stature around the globe, and London-born Sam Smith continues to impress with his brand of sad, blue-eyed retro soul. For quality punk pop, check out Beach Slang's e.p. Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken?
2015 is awash with splendid anniversaries: Agincourt, Waterloo and Simon de Montfort founding the first Westminster parliament, the prototype House of Commons. In June we celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, which unlike the Napoleonic legacy of interfering in our lives was about upholding liberties. That fundamental difference in attitude is at the root of our uneasy relationship with the EU.