March 5. Here’s
my nice long honest and funny chat with Jim Davidson.
Voters think David Cameron is ‘posh and out of touch’, Ed Miliband is a ‘weak idiot’ and Nick Clegg is a ‘spineless liar’, according to a major new survey. Very perceptive. But where are these people when BBC1 recruit audiences for Question Time?
The Beeb might scrap BBC3. Will we miss it? The channel’s greatest
achievement was Gavin & Stacey, a sitcom that could easily (and
more logically) have been launched on BBC2. Ditto Being Human
and Torchwood. Monkey Dust, darkly and dangerously comic, sadly
died when Harry Thompson did. And the magnificently bonkers The
Mighty Boosh has been off air since 2007. What else decent have
they had? Uncle, Ideal... umm, is that it? BBC3 has been around
for eleven years and I can’t even come up with eleven great commissions
from them. The best shows on BBC3 right now are Family Guy and
American Dad, quality imports that seem thrown away here.
March 4. My new punk and Ska podcast is up and running right now
on Total Rock, with guests Rhoda Dakar and Angie Brown, plus songs
from Booze & Glory, Stief A’Billy, Control, the East End Badoes,
Chris Pope, Secret Affair, Dave Wakeling, Kill For Eden, The Angry
Agenda, the Damn Vandals, the Versatiles, System Of Hate, Bad
Manners and a whole load more. It’s about as laid-back and organised
as a fist-fight in the House of Fools. Hear it here.
March 2. Russian forces have seized the Crimean Peninsula. In
a worrying echo of the 1936 Sudeten crisis, Putin has moved to
“protect” the Russian-speaking citizens of Crimea and by doing
so has turned this into a dispute about ethnic nationalism. His
illegal invasion has pleased many Crimean citizens - who are about
58 per cent ethnic Russian - but it has understandably horrified
most of the rest of the country. To the men and women who risked
their lives deposing Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev recently, their
struggle is all about independence from Russia. The Russian press
is calling them “ultranationalists”, Red Ken claims they’re mostly
fascists – even though their main demand is for greater ties with
the West. There are extremists involved, but they’re a small
minority. One sensible short term solution might be to split up
the country, ceding Crimea and parts of the east to Moscow, and
allowing the rest of the Ukraine to pursue their dream of freedom.
But there isn’t much sign of sense at work here. Will the threat
of economic sanctions be enough to keep Putin’s forces in Crimea?
If not, has the West got the balls to stand up to him? We’ve been
down this road before – precisely 161 years ago, when Tsar Nicholas
1st sent the Russian fleet to sink Ottoman ships in the Black
Sea. That sparked the Crimean War, which you might remember Russia
lost. The tragedy is the Ukraine people will be no better off
inside the EU. The West only offers an illusion of freedom and
prosperity. The real revolutionary slogan would be: Neither Moscow
nor Brussels, but genuine independence.
Comedian Paul Eastwood has horrified media nitwits with his gags at the UKIP conference. Referring to the Olympics, Eastwood quipped: “Team Somalia – they did well, didn’t they? They had to apologise. Didn’t realise sailing and shooting were two different events.” The joke police got their knickers in a twist about this, but given the established link between Somalia and piracy it’s clearly based on observable facts rather than racial prejudice. (The last time I looked sixty seafarers were still being held by Somali pirates; according to UN estimates, they received around £247million in ransoms between April 2005 and December 2012.) If Graham Norton had come up with that line no-one would have batted an eye. Paul also said: “Poland did well. They took home bronze, silver, gold, lead, copper – anything they could get their hands on.” Now this was a shocking joke, not to mention an insult to the Poles – everyone knows Romanian gangs have been behind the boom in metal thefts.
Feb 28. I recorded my Total Rock podcast today with Rhoda Dakar
(late of the Bodysnatchers and the Special AKA) and Angie Brown,
fresh from her experience on BBC1’s The Voice last weekend. What
a great colourful character she is – funny and bubbly with a rock’n’roll
past involving the Dirty Strangers and the Stones. Angie also
toured with the Happy Mondays and has a life-long love of Ska.
People who think in boxes might dismiss her as “just a dance act”.
They need to get their heads out of their backsides. The woman
has a massive soul voice worthy of sixties Stax; I hope she records
a solo album that shows it.
The latest issue of Street Sounds is out now, bursting with
punk, Ska and Mod features, cartoons, news and views. It’s still
pretty underground; endearingly enthusiastic and amateurish but
determinedly blue collar. Grab a copy from here
for £2 + postage.
The paedophile scandal rolls on, with former cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt
today admitting that the organisation to which she and her former
Labour Party colleague Harriet Harman belonged to was "naive and
wrong" to accept the assurances of PIE that it was a campaigning
and counselling organisation. PIE was affiliated to the National
Council for Civil Liberties for eight years from 1975 to 1983.
In her first public statement since the scandal broke, Hewitt
said: “I got it wrong on PIE and I apologise for having done so.
NCCL in the 1970s, along with many others, was naive and wrong
to accept PIE's claim to be a 'campaigning and counselling organisation'
that 'does not promote unlawful acts.” She went on: “As general
secretary then, I take responsibility for the mistakes we made.
I should have urged the executive committee to take stronger measures
to protect NCCL’s integrity from the activities of PIE members
and sympathisers and I deeply regret not having done so.” That’s
the way to kill a story, Harriett: own up, accept you were wrong,
apologise and move on. Is this the end, or do you suspect like
I do, that the link to child abuse runs much deeper into the Establishment?
Feb 27. Lee Rigby’s killers have been banged up for life. I’m sorry, that’s not enough; they should have been hanged. I don’t buy the argument that executing these wicked men would have created ‘martyrs’. The Jihadists have got ‘martyrs’ coming out of their dishdashas, what difference would another two make? Instead, we’ve given the terrorists two political prisoners for them to spend the next forty years protesting about. And what are the odds, given our wishy-washy political class – surrender monkeys to a man - that they’ll be out with a comfort letter in a decade or so? The only martyr here is Lee Rigby, brutally murdered on a London street in cold blood. These sentences make us look weak, not strong. Hanging his killers would have more just.
Feb 26. Was the link between organised paedophiles and the National
Council for Civil Liberties as casual as Harriet Harman suggests?
To hear her talk it was as if the PIE infiltrated the NCCL (for
years) almost by stealth. On Monday’s Newsnight she said “any
organisation could pay their affiliation and join”. Yet as my
friend Matt reminds me that there is far more to the link between
PIE and the academic Left; if you check out the ‘progressive’
mags of the time, such as Big Flame and The Leveller (copies of
which can be found at the British Library), you’ll unearth a shed-load
of pro-PIE articles. Some were tied into the Gay Liberation Front
but a surprising amount came via women's groups. If I remember,
the line was: men (the ‘patriarchy’) had repressed sexuality in
all its forms, including children’s. That argument was used within
the NCCL as well. It wasn’t an accident; it was part of their
ideology. A real can of worms.
Fifteen people across London have been nicked in a series of
dawn raids targeting notorious crime gang the Adams family. It
was part of an operation codenamed Octopod. Have you noticed how
the cops always love to raid at dawn? You don’t often hear of
tea-time raids, or siesta raids. The message for the criminal
underworld is clear: never go home until after breakfast… Mexican
drug lord El Chapo Guzman was also nabbed at dawn last Saturday.
He’s alleged to be the biggest cocaine distributor in the world.
And here’s what I heard: the top names on his speed-dial were
1) Reverend Flowers 2) Cara Delevinge 3) Those guys you see loitering
in the bogs at the Brits…
I’m still not sure what to make of events in the Ukraine. You
can understand people wanting to be independent of Russia, but
breaking away from one corrupt undemocratic regime to join the
EU is like fleeing a burning building to get hit by a petrol bomb.
The Ukraine’s pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych legged it
a few days ago. If Putin can’t reinstate him, maybe George Galloway
can get him a gig on the next Celebrity Big Brother.
Feb 25. STOP PRESS. Sickening to see that John Downey, the main
suspect behind the IRA’s horrendous 1982 Hyde Park bombing, has
just walked away a free man because of a police blunder. This
was an appalling atrocity. The Provos had packed 25lb of gelignite
surrounded by 30lb of nails into the boot of a Morris Marina.
When men from the Household Cavalry rode past, the device was
detonated. Four soldiers died, 31 others, including bystanders,
were injured and seven horses were destroyed. Downey’s fingerprints
were linked to the car, and he was arrested at Gatwick last May.
But today Mr Justice Sweeney ruled that Downey will not face prosecution
because of a letter – dubbed a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ – sent
to him by mistake by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in
2007 saying that he was not wanted by the cops. Nearly 200 suspected
terrorist fugitives received similar letters, effectively granting
them amnesty following a deal struck by Tony Blair and Sinn Fein
leader Gerry Adams. During the case, the court heard that he should
never have received the ‘comfort’ letter as he was still wanted
by Scotland Yard, yet the letter was sent and Downey will never
face prosecution. To rub our noses in it even further it appears
he could now be entitled to thousands of pounds in compensation
for ‘wrongful arrest and imprisonment’. We’re told we have to
swallow this as part of the alleged Peace Process. Time will tell
how well that turns out. In the meantime, our criminal justice
system has failed the men who were murdered – Lieutenant Anthony
Daly, Staff Corporal Roy Bright, Corporal Jeffrey Young and Trooper
Simon Tipper. At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.
Incidentally, Downey’s bail sureties included Roy Greenslade, the oleaginous former Maoist and ‘media expert’ who works for the Guardian – the paper that supports any country but our own.
The Labour Party is playing this paedophile scandal in completely the wrong way. Harriett Harman’s immediate response should have been to declare outright that the National Council of Civil Liberties were out of order to tolerate the PIE in the late 70s and early 80s. Instead on last night’s Newsnight, she wriggled and prevaricated. Under a sustained grilling from Laura Kuenssberg, she finally and reluctantly expressed regret, but her first instincts were to ignore and then deny. In reality these well-meaning right-on useful idiots (to use Lenin’s phrase) were hoodwinked by cunning child-rapists who used the language of liberation to pull the wool over the eyes of professors, lawyers, social workers and politicians. They were conned, it was wrong and they should admit it. To pretend otherwise is shameful.
Feb 24. South London dance legend Angie Brown appeared on The
Voice’s blind auditions on Saturday, performing her 1992 Bizarre
Inc smash hit ‘I’m Gonna Get You.’ It was a massive rendition,
but not a single judge turned round. Doesn’t this suggest that
either the contest is rigged/orchestrated by the producers or
the judges don’t know star quality when they hear it? ‘I’m Gonna
Get You’ sold two million copies worldwide and topped the US dance
chart – as did the follow-up ‘Took My Love.’ Angie’s powerhouse
performance this weekend rocketed the song back into the iTunes
Top 100. Lovers of the Brixton girl’s feisty and distinctive vocals
will be chuffed to hear that her new single, 'Fight
No More’ is out today – very garage house it is too.
As it happened, we couldn't stay too long in the pub last night
as Jim had a constant stream of nice people wanting their pictures
taken with him. Ah, the healing effects of Celebrity Big Brother.
I'll let you know when the podcast is up.
Feb 23. My friends at the Mirror tell me the paper is strapped
for cash, and yet I see that Trinity Mirror’s former CEO Sly Bailey
is in line to collect shares worth £800,000 next month. Bailey
was a disaster for the company. Trinity Mirror’s value slumped
by 90% during her time as boss. She was notorious for cost-cutting,
but strangely the one thing she never got round to trimming was
her own hefty salary. In 2011, with pre-tax profits down by 40%,
Sly pocketed £1.7million. Nice work if you can get it. They finally
got shot of her in 2012, with a generous £900K pay-off. Now she’s
set to benefit again from the company’s executive pay scheme.
Ker-ching. Talk about one law for them, and another one for us...
Alex Turner is blaming his bizarre, rambling Brits speech on
“nerves”. Apparently they come by the pint.
I’m interviewing Cockney comedian Jim Davidson for my podcast
tonight, assuming we get out the pub before the studio closes...
details to follow.
Feb 22. The Mail has exposed the historic links between senior
Labour Party officials and organised paedophiles – but don’t expect
the BBC to cover the story. The Labour bigwigs include the party’s
Deputy Leader Harriet Harman who was the legal officer for the
National Council for Civil Liberties’ (now Liberty) when the Paedophile
Information Exchange was part of that organisation. P.I.E. wanted
MPs to allow sex with children as young as ten, if consent was
‘genuinely given’ and the child ‘understood the nature of the
act.’ They campaigned to legalise incest, and lower the age of
consent to four. Jimmy Savile could have been their poster boy.
On P.I.E.’s behalf, Harman wrote a four-page submission to MPs
trying to water down a proposed ban on child porn. Patricia Hewitt,
once Labour’s health secretary, was the NCCL general secretary
at the time. And Harman’s husband, Jack Dromey (now part of Miliband’s
frontbench team) was an executive committee member for more than
ten years. The Left were very keen on supporting the P.I.E. –
I was part of a demo sent down to ‘protect’ one of their meetings
from furious parents in East London. It was a turning point for
me – I agreed absolutely with the parents, and this night was
one of the key reasons I left the International Socialists. Under
Labour control, children’s homes in Islington were rotten with
abuse and paedophile rings. An inquiry found that dozens of sexual
predators worked for the council under then leader Margaret Hodge
(formerly Labour’s Children’s Minister (!), now chairman of Parliament’s
Public Accounts Committee.) Her lawyer husband Henry was another
NCCL exec member... So will Harman and co now apologise? Don’t
hold your breath. They’re more likely to keep schtum and hope
it goes away. The BBC - still wedded to the simplistic “if left
is right then right is wrong” Tom Robinson view of the world –
are doing their best ostrich impression too. But it’s important
for the Fiddlers’ Three to face up to their mistakes and admit
“We were wrong.” With Operation Yewtree still investigating historic
sex crimes, what possible reason could they have for staying silent?
If they don’t speak out, wouldn’t a reasonable person assume that
they’re still apologists for this vile group?
Feb 20. We’ve just had the wettest winter since records began, according to the Met Office. Their records began in 1910, but other records started in 1776 – and it’s been the 16th wettest winter since then. Christopher Booker notes that 812mm (32 inches) of rain fell between November 1929 and January 1930, which trumps the Met Office’s provisional figure of 486.8mm between 1 December 2013 and 19 February, 2014. Let us not forget that just three months ago these clowns predicted we were on course for a Winter that fell “into the driest of our five categories.”
Feb 19. Ninety-nine servicewomen in Afghanistan and 102 in Iraq were sent home for falling pregnant between 2006 and the end of last year. That’s what I call active duty. Apparently the big clue was the ‘Baby On Board’ signs on the back of the tanks.
Feb 18. The wait is almost over. My rock memoir - Riff-Raff, Rebels & Rock Gods - is being released as an audio book on the 4th April (4/4/14). It covers a whole range of thrilling and provocative bands, often in bizarre locations. So as well as big box office names like Ozzy and Iron Maiden, the collection includes Hanoi Rocks in India, the Exploited in West Berlin before the Wall came down, ZZ Top in Vegas, the Angelic Upstarts' prison gig, the first US tours by the Specials and The Selecter, Judge Dread in Germany, Rainbow in Scandinavia, Twisted Sister, the Cockney Rejects etc. It’s been a real labour of love, too. I’ve gone back to my original notes and diaries, written them all up and then recorded the results. Old friends, like Mick Geggus, Rod Smallwood and JJ French have been helpful and supportive and the whole process has been tremendous fun. The book should be available to pre-order next month. Watch this space for details…
According to Buzzfeed, in 30 years time we’ll have hangover-free alcohol and clothes that repel dirt. And you know what? We’ll still be waiting for the Tories to give us a referendum on Europe…
Feb 17. Just watching tonight’s two televised live debates on
immigration and benefits. When did TV discussion shows come down
to who can shout the loudest? Why fill a TV studio with idiots
who just want to drown out views they disagree with? Depressing.
Carry On Oi – an album I compiled the best part of 33 years ago - has just been re-released on vinyl by Plastic Head. We had our backs properly against the wall at the time I put this together. Oi had managed to upset every shade of middle class opinion from the hippy left to the Tory right. Rock pseuds hated us, we were getting blamed for the summer riots and the Daily Mail had gone into over-drive, absurdly calling Sounds (which covered more black music than the rest of the rock press combined) “the fascist bible of hate.” Carry On Oi was my way of hitting back. The message was defiant, uncompromising, and occasionally funny. Listening to it again now, I’m pleasantly surprised both by how well the tracks stand up and how hard it would be to misinterpret the lyrics and sleeve-notes. Songs range from the Last Resort’s terrace anthem ‘King Of The Jungle’, which lionises hooligans, to the solid South Wales socialist anger of The Partisans. There are tracks from Blitz, Red Alert and the Business – who put Garry Johnson’s poem Suburban Rebels to music, attacking right-on protesters as “the sons and daughters of well-off bankers/Tom Robinson’s army of trendy wankers”…in contrast to the picket line solidarity of Oi The Comrade. The second Business number ‘Product’ is about marketing and alienation. There’s Infa-Riot, The Ejected, the 4-Skins sending up their media image with ‘Evil’, Peter & The Test-Tube Babies with their pathetique nonsense and even The Gonads. And just to make sure even the thickest detractors got it, the album was dedicated (among others) to Wat Tyler, Winston Groovy, Amnesty International, the Prisoners’ Rights Organisation, George Orwell and long-dead dockers’ leader Ben Tillett. Most of the featured bands are still going today, and many of them have influenced much bigger bands all around the globe. Within weeks of Carry On Oi being released in 1981, I was contacted by Black Flag in the States who wanted to include a song on the next comp – and did. Many followed. I still get young bands getting in touch now, from Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, and Eastern Europe. The media might have bought into the bullshit but youth around the world got what we were really about. I’ve had nothing but stick for decades over my involvement in Oi music, largely because of the transparent lies the Mail printed at the time. History will judge us and the truth will out.
Feb 16. The standard Tory line against UKIP up until the next
general election is going to be: ‘vote UKIP, get Miliband’, the
old Red scare. But if you vote Tory, you get Miliband’s policies
anyway because in power there is barely a happenth of difference
between the two parties. Forget what they say, judge them by what
they do. A case in point: European Union Commission President
Barroso, on today’s Andrew Marr Show, revealed that all of Cameron’s
waffle about “renegotiating key powers back to the UK” has been
about as honest and above board as the EU accounts. Barroso made
it clear that any significant reform of the EU would require treaty
change and any such change would require unanimous agreement.
In other words, it’ll never happen. He also let slip that to date
our government has presented precisely zero plans for renegotiation,
and that open door migration between member states cannot be changed.
That’s what a single market means – as Ministers fully realise.
All talk of “clawing back powers” and creating “a new relationship”
with Brussels is Buster Gonad-size cobblers. Vote for any Establishment
party and you get Establishment bullshit.
Feb 14. The Lib-Dims lost another deposit in Wythenshawe & Sale last night, racking up a feeble 1,176 votes. Clegg’s chumps are going downhill faster than Matthias Mayer, plummeting by a whopping 17.5%. They are now as discredited as the BNP, although they of course retain their undeserved and disproportionate influence in government – and will do pretty much anything to hang on to it, up to and including going into Coalition with Kim Jong-un if they had to. They’re utter weasels.
UKIP did pretty well, coming second from nowhere; their vote was six times
higher than it was in 2010 and they smashed the Tories into third place. But
they need to take many more votes from Labour; in truth they need a win to
make real headway and time is against them. Labour's victory looks
impressive until you realise they managed to appeal to less than one in six
potential voters. The real winner? None of the above.
Hacking scandal update: Piers Morgan's Life Story henceforth
Piers Morgan's Life Sentence? Stranger things have happened.
Feb 13. Journalists have been in touch over the last few weeks, looking for an English voice to back Scottish independence. Essentially they want me to say: “Stuff the Jocks, let’s re-build Hadrian’s Wall and bring on an English Parliament.” It’s not that simple, though. For starters ‘Scottish independence’ is a complete con. Scotland might become independent of Westminster but it would still be ruled by Brussels. They’d be as free as a salmon in a sandwich. It’s like a convict in a prison yard getting to wear his kilt…
Of course ‘Home Rule for England’ would be a good thing, but it’s a meaningless slogan within the European Union. What annoys me more is the fact that the Scots get their referendum while the rest of us are denied the “cast-iron” one Cameron promised us over the EU. We can’t have that vote because it could bring about Real Change, rather than a cosmetic one. I don’t even buy Cameron’s apparent opposition to Alex Salmond's fake nationalism, because the Tories would benefit greatly from losing the Scottish Labour vote. In reality, Cameron, Salmond, Milliband, Clegg and Barroso all want the same thing: ever greater union, ever less democracy and ever greater rewards for those merry turncoats on the gravy train.
Feb 12. Today’s Times runs a list of the Top 20 guitarists which wilfully ignores most of the acknowledged six-string rock gods. Hendrix and Page are in, but not Clapton, Beck, Blackmore, Slash or Brian May. Naturally there’s no Steve Vai. More surprisingly, the list is weak on the punk and post-punk guitarists who redefined the electric guitar in the late 70s and early 80s. When punk kicked open the doors of the music business to a flood of young bands, it also ushered in a new wave of guitarists who weren’t content merely to mimic their predecessors. Musicians like John McKay (The Banshees), Robert Smith (The Cure), John McGeoch (Magazine), Tom Verlaine (Television), Keith Levene (Public Image), Stuart Adamson (The Skids/Big Country), Johnny Marr (The Smiths) who is in their Top 20, and The Edge (U2) all took guitar-play in radical and stunning directions. Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) was more traditional, but his Fender Twin reverb turned up to the max was the backbone of the band’s sound and became the template for guitarists such as Steve Whale (The Business), and Mick Geggus (Cockney Rejects) who created and inspired street-punk which in turn influenced bands such as Rancid, Blink 182 and the Briggs. Wouldn’t a TV show focusing on the brilliant creativity of New Wave guitarists and the Second Golden Age of the Electric Guitar, involving expert testimony from contemporary guitarists, be great viewing for viewers (okay, mostly men) of a certain age? It would reward nostalgia freaks and music aficionados alike and maybe inspire some young whippersnappers to build on that fine legacy.
I’m closing this blog down for a while to concentrate on a new book. Back in a bit.
Jan 20. UKIP have suspended a councillor for saying the recent
floods were an expression of God’s anger about gay marriage. Although
according to some sources, the opposite is true and for the first
time in history it’s about to start raining men. We need to test
the theory. Let’s send all our gay couples on a package holiday
to Bongo-Bongo Land. If the South of England dries up and spouts
palm trees over night, God’s pleasure will be evident. If geezers
in leather pants parachute down from the clouds, we’ll know the
Weather Girls got it right. Councillor David Silvester (no relation
to disco star Sylvester) has caused problems for UKIP, but that’s
the risk you take when you sign up Tory defectors. The truth is
the Farage brigade aren’t the only party to harbour fruitcakes
in their ranks – they all do. There are senior folk in British
politics who believed in the Euro, which is even more bonkers.
In my distant days as a far-Left activist I met people who thought
that Eastern Europe’s police states were bastions of human progress
and freedom, that Chairman Mao was a force for good and that each
and every human being is a potential Einstein – and if you believe
that think how much damage you could cause to education once you
came to power. Oh hold on... I remember one Labour Party militant
in East London who got angry to the point of apoplexy at the very
mention of the word charity. People worship many strange gods.
But as we chuckle, spare a thought for Mr. Silvester who, after
watching the soaps and TV chat-shows for a week, is now busy building
himself an ark.
Jan 19. Jim Davidson is looking increasingly isolated on Celebrity Big Brother, which is understandable as he’s sixty and is surrounded by loud dull drunken child-adults with no conversation and a liking for the worst kind of cheesy pop. I feel his pain. Jim has put up with a lot, and held his tongue admirably, but he’s obviously bored out of his head in there and only came alive today when he hosted the mock talent show. Whatever the outcome, he’s surely done enough – and received enough obvious public support – to land a new TV show of his own.
Jan 17. Last night “Frank Carson’s dressing room” was trending
worldwide on twitter because of the extraordinary row between
Linda Nolan and Jim Davidson on Celebrity Big Brother. What happened
in Frank’s dressing room? Speculation is rife, but the answer
is simple: Linda was supporting the late great comedian up in
Blackpool over the summer of 1995 when Frank realised that money
was going missing from his wallet. Small sums - £20 one night,
a tenner the next - were vanishing regularly. It happened so frequently
that the cops rigged up hidden cameras in his dressing room –
and caught Linda’s late husband Brian Hudson helping himself to
a score. He was only ever charged with stealing £20 because that’s
all that could be proved, but Frank was in no doubt that Hudson
had been taking his cash all season. He was furious, and so were
most people in showbiz circles. Jim, who was a good friend, was
so livid that he threatened to sort Brian out over the incident
– if memory serves they had to be pulled apart. This must have
all come back to him as he’s sat there trying to work out why
Linda has been so off with him all series. The former ‘Naughty
Nolan’ is doing herself no favours with her sour attitude and
shit-stirring on this show. She’s Narky Nolan now. PS. Linda did
my ITV series in 1996 and was a lot of fun, but she turned up
at my house with Brian and my wife at the time made damn sure
he was never left in a room on his own.
Jan 16. Jan 16. R.I.P. Trigger. Sad to hear that Roger Lloyd-Pack
has died; this wonderful rubber-faced actor might have starred
in a Harry Potter movie and played Owen in The Vicar Of Dibley,
but he’ll always be Trigger to me. The pubs will be ringing
with Only Fools & Horses quotes tonight.
Jan 13. Ed Miliband is the new champion of the middle classes. They certainly
need one! Pensions are shrinking, energy costs and taxes are rising,
savings are being eaten away by low interest rates, and decent
jobs are increasingly scarce. For the average two-parent family
with one parent working income has stagnated. Unfortunately for
Super-Ed no-one is likely to forget that he was in government
when pensions went into free-fall under New Labour. Gordon Brown
did nothing to stop the loss of jobs in manufacturing, nor to
boost wages. And as his Energy Secretary, Ed Miliband gleefully
heaped on Green taxes. He’s always been part of the problem, never
What we see as middle class values – self-reliance, hard work and the belief in bettering yourself – were traditionally shared by the aspirational working class too. The core value – work hard and be rewarded – is surely better than the Benefits Street alternative which is laze about, knock out ten kids and get rewarded anyway. If welfare pays more than work can you blame the feckless for putting their feet up? Rather than demonise the poor, though, the real solution is to create jobs, maybe even start making things again. As the old song says: ‘Oh why don't you work like other men do?’ ‘How the hell can I work when there's no work to do? Hallelujah I’m a bum, hallelujah once again…it’ll take a revolution to free me again.’
The row about François Hollande’s affair continues to rumble. Turns out he’s been doing to Julie Gayet what his government have done to the French economy. This story will courir et courir. But is it much of a story? A French politician having a fling is about as surprising as an English one fiddling their expenses. What’s tomorrow’s headline? Hollande eats cheese? Hollande drinks wine?
Jan 10. Sad to see pictures from Clerkenwell fire station after
it and nine other London stations were closed yesterday. It’s
not just personal memories - my Dad was stationed at Clerkenwell
and Shadwell before transferring to London Fire Brigade HQ in
Lambeth. It’s more that these are completely the wrong kind of
cuts. When trimming public spending, surely it makes sense to
lay off pen-pushers and management baggage rather than front-line
services? Closing these stations will save £28.8m, but at the
cost of 552 fire-fighter jobs. It also inevitably increases the
risk to public safety. Clerkenwell was the third busiest fire
station in London.
Just watching last night’s Question Time, from Goldsmith’s College.
Blimey, hasn’t Lewisham changed? At the last Euro elections in
2009, UKIP had just shy of 5,000 votes. At the General Election
the following year, the Tories had 26,890, many of whom, you’d
suspect would be Euro-sceptic, as would a good many of the Labour
voters. Yet somehow BBC1 managed to find an audience for Question
Time which was entirely “on-message” regarding Europe, immigration
and so on. UKIP’s Paul Nuttall went down like Francois Hollande
at a marital fidelity rally. It was like debating Celebrity Big
Brother and finding everyone in the crowd loved Liz Jones and
Luisa. Or turning up at White Hart Lane tomorrow and finding the
entire ground supports Palace. Could they all have moved, these
thousands of terrible Euro-doubters? Or is there a fishier explanation
such as, whisper it, audience fixing? A preposterous suggestion.
The BBC insist that the Question Time audience is scrupulously
balanced with participants invited from a cross-section of political
parties, ranging from Labour to the Greens via the Socialist Alliance,
the Lib-Dems, and the Deptford branch of the Sandinistas.
Never mind the quenelle, why don’t all lovers of earthy blue
collar comedy adopt a secret semi-Masonic sign of our own? We
could call it The Kinnell, in honour of Cockney comedian Jimmy
Jones, and every time some pompous middle class bore like Marcus
Brigstocke turns up on telly we could make The Kinnell to show
our disapproval. Perhaps a discrete two-fingered salute moved
up and down the right cheek, or to use another visionary Jimmy
Jones creation, the five-knuckle shuffle.
Today’s Sun confronts the stark truth that the sacrifices made
by British troops in Afghanistan will have been in vain. The Taliban
are on course to regain Helmand province as soon as we pull out.
Tragically, 447 UK servicemen and women gave their lives for nothing.
I hate to say I told you so, but I did…
Jan 9. The BBC’s decision to “tell the truth about immigration”
was at least a first. Immigration has long been the Bombay aloo
of British politics with anyone raising the issue however mildly
being dismissed as racist, “far-Right” or worse. BBC political
editor Nick Robinson admitted that the Corporation has failed
to cover immigration adequately for at least the last two decades.
In the programme, Robinson gently mocked ordinary people at a
New Forest county show for not knowing what percentage of the
UK population were born abroad. Wow, Nick, I wonder why they were
so unsure. Do you think that maybe it’s because state-funded radio
stations and state-funded TV channels have stifled debate and
misled us all for years?
Various Labour former ministers popped up to say they had got
immigration wrong. Jack Straw expressed “regret”; Blunkett, more
bullish, said if the Blair government hadn’t opened the doors
people would have come in anyway, while shadow Home Secretary
Yvette Cooper said there should have been more debate, which is
nice of her. Although like Cameron, when it comes to issues that
the liberal elite disagree with the people over (immigration,
crime and punishment, the EU, grooming gangs etc) Labour have
been keen to avoid any conversation whatsoever. In the Sunday
Times at the weekend, Robinson said the BBC had made a “terrible
mistake” in censoring “warts-and-all” coverage of immigration.
“They feared having a conversation about immigration, they feared
the consequence,” he said. They still fear it – which is why the
Question Time audience is so uncharacteristically right-on and
Even Robinson’s documentary was loaded with false assumptions,
the most glaring being his suggestion that immigration equals
prosperity, and that to limit it would mean less growth and lower
wages. Not so. The last House Of Lords study on the Economic Impact
of Immigration found that immigration ‘has very small impacts
on GDP per capita’. That’s right - all the chaos and
over-crowding, all the strain on hospitals and schools, is for
nix. I’ve gone through the pro-and-con arguments about immigration
here before and in my book The World According To Garry Bushell
so I won’t regurgitate them again here. The simple truth, still
not told by the BBC, is that immigration is great for bosses who
want to keep labour costs down, but terrible for the British working
class whose wages are undercut, whose jobs are lost and whose
life prospects are diminished. Still if it keeps Kensington and
Chelsea in cut-price au pairs so be it.
There was a more revealing BBC South East report by Rachel Royce
on the effects of a decade of Polish immigration to Kent and Sussex,
where Polish homelessness is likely to reach more than one in
seven by 2015. You can see it here.
Like most people I think immigration should be sensibly controlled,
although after The Ashes, I am willing to let in anyone who can
Jan 8. Boris Johnson has described Deputy PM Nick Clegg as a
“prophylactic protection device”, or condom. Has he thought this
through? If Clegg is a condom, this makes Cameron a massive plonker
– and I’ve cleaned that up. By the way, the Prime Minister’s hairdresser
is getting an MBE. Understandably, Boris’s prefers to remain anonymous…
My daughter came home from school yesterday and told me that
the storms were evidence of climate change, as opposed to being
evidence of weather. We had worst winds in 1969, and, according
to the Met Office, higher storm surges in 1953.
Jan 7. The EU are busy establishing a new European Public Prosecutor
who will be able to use the European Arrest Warrant against British
citizens. The EAW suspends Habeas Corpus and allows other countries
to arrest our people in our own country and bang them up pending
trial. EU apologists says it’s okay because anyone they
nick is still protected by the European Human Rights Act. Here’s
the difference: under Habeas Corpus, a person may not normally
be detained for more than a few hours without being charged in
open court. And a charge can’t be brought unless the investigators
have already gathered enough evidence to show there is a prima
facie case to answer. All the ECHR offers is entitlement ‘to a
fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent
and impartial tribunal’ (article six). Nowhere does it specify
what is “reasonable”. In many EU countries, and in the “Corpus
Juris” proposed embryo EU-wide criminal code, it is six months,
extensible. After Andrew Symeou was extradited to Greece from
North London under an EAW he was held in a hell-hole prison for
11 months before appearing in court where it became apparent that
there was no serious prosecution evidence against him. His extradition
went ahead despite compelling evidence of mistaken identity and
evidence that the charges were based on statements extracted by
Greek police through the violent intimidation of witnesses, who
later retracted them. The ECHR also makes no provision for Trial
by Jury, no Right to Silence. It has no provision against trials
in absentia, or double jeopardy, or hearsay evidence, or prejudicial
media reporting before a verdict. There is nothing to stop previous
convictions from being read aloud and used to establish guilt,
and no need for judges' impartiality to be assured by their having
had experience as defenders as well as having served as prosecutors.
It is an absolute disgrace. It overturns English Common Law and
abolishes our hard-won liberties. Why is it not being debated?
Jan 6. Sad to hear that Simon Hoggart has died. He was a masterful
sketch writer, as this passage from November reminds us: ‘Another
day, another U-turn. This is less a government than a dodgem car
ride. Sparks fly from the roof. Attendants bellow unintelligibly
from the sides. Nominally driving, ministers crash into each other.
Sometimes they fling the wheel round and nothing happens…’ It
was Hoggart who wrote of Mrs Thatcher: ‘There was always the gleam
of a drunken navvy looking round a bar for the chance of a fight.’
Wonderful stuff, his wit, warmth, intelligence and impatience
with nitwits and sycophants is already sorely missed.
Dermot Murnaghan duped Nigel Farage into agreeing with an extract
of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech. It was a cheap shot.
Like getting Ed Miliband to agree that every woman who can work
should be enabled to ‘under the principle of equal pay for equal
work’ and then denouncing him as a rabid Maoist.
This may be the beer talking, but I believe I need another beer.
I wasn’t going to drink, this month, honestly I wasn’t. But tonight’s
EastEnders drove me to it… and Secrets of the Living Dolls is
still to come… That red-haired one looks disturbingly like country
Jan 5. I’ve reviewed Channel 5’s ridiculous Top 50 ‘Greatest
Stand-Up Comedians’ over on the On The Box page. If you didn’t
see the show, the producers included David Baddiel but completely
blanked Chris Rock. They had Jo Brand in their Top 10 while giving
Jackie Mason and Steve Martin the bum’s rush. Michael McIntyre
was at Number Six, ahead of Richard Pryor. I’ve no disagreement
with Billy Connolly being number one, but was surprised to learn
that Sarah Millican at 15 is considered funnier than Peter Kay
(16), Joan Rivers (23), Bill Hicks (33) and Frankie Howerd (44)...
The question is: did C5 cleverly construct this Top 50 to wind
up viewers to the point of apoplexy or did it accurately reflect
the prejudice of the clueless executives who put it together?
The presence of Ben Elton at 32 suggests the latter. These were
people whose idea of what comedy should be was forged in the late
eighties when the rising tide of right-on university graduate
stand-ups persuaded TV bosses to apply a Pol Pot Year Zero policy
to comedy. ITV sacked Benny Hill, BBC1 laid off Les Dawson. Even
the Two Ronnies were pilloried by the Not The Nine O’Clock News
team. Blue collar gag-telling comics, so popular on ITV’s The
Comedians, were purged in favour of those who saw stand-up as
a form of therapy or social work. The posh boys won the culture
war and the long-term results of this can be seen every week in
the schedules. TV comedy, as Bob Mortimer recently pointed out,
is now largely in the hands of Oxbridge graduates. As a consequence,
satire has died (as comics share the same assumptions and prejudices
as our rulers) there is no longer any mainstream laughter in prime
time and the Christmas comedy larder, once home to Eric & Ernie
and the Trotters, is shockingly bare. Well done, everyone.
THE exception of course is Mrs. Brown’s Boys, the Xmas Number
1, which basically re-jiggles the kind of jokes Jimmy Jones told
as a sitcom. Naturally comedy snobs hate it. Would the show even
have been commissioned if its loveably coarse creator Brendan
O’Carroll hadn’t been Irish and a drag-act?
THE all-time great comedians missed by Channel 5 include Max
Miller, Tommy Trinder, Chris Rock, Steve Martin, Ken Dodd, Jackie
Mason and Rita Rudner. There was no room for Sam Kinison, Jim
Davidson, Jerry Sadowitz, Jerry Seinfeld or Mike Reid either.
And surely any serious student of humour would make a case for
George Carlin, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Milton Jones and Lewis
Black? There are many fresher stand-ups better than some of C5’s
choices, like Aisling Bea, Jim Jefferies, Terry Alderton, Doug
Stanhope and Louis CK. Andrew Dice Clay had a bit more of a following
than Tim Vine (who is great in five minute chunks) and surely
Dara is a more impressive performer than Alan Carr? There are
many great neglected British comedians who should be on TV now
but aren’t because they’re not hip – such as Adrian Walsh, a craftsman
in the Bob Monkhouse mould, and Cockney comedian Keith O’Keefe
who is a great gag-teller, and a genius ad-libber. My old favourite
Micky Pugh has never wanted fame, but in my view should be in
EastEnders in a kind of Frank Butcher wag-at-the-bar role. There’s
always a wag at the bar in an East London pub, except in Walford...
IN Marxist dialectics, a thesis always creates an antithesis
which eventually produces a synthesis. So it has been in comedy.
The old guard of Bernard Manning and the blue collar comics kick-started
the opposing middle class wave of Ben Elton and co. Their synthesis
has been the likes of Peter Kay and more recently Micky Flanagan
who are working class comedians doing observational material brilliantly,
although in Kay’s case not often enough. (And I hope Flanagan
gets his own show soon but keeps creative control of it, he’s
doing too many bad telly gigs at the moment.) But that said, I
still get off on seeing a great old pro like Mick Miller work
an audience. Long may he continue.
Jan 4. R.I.P. Phil Everly, the youngest of the Everly Brothers,
who has died in Burbank, Los Angeles. US miner’s sons Phil and
Don melded country harmonies with rock’n’roll and notched up nineteen
amazing hits between 1957 and 1962, including ‘Bye Bye Love’ and
‘Wake Up Little Susie.’ They were such an influence on Lennon
and McCartney that at one stage the Scouse pair called themselves
the “Foreverly Brothers.” The Everlys also inspired The Byrds,
the Hollies and the Beach Boys. Phil died following complications
from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74.
Jan 3. P.J. Harvey’s old Left edition of Radio 4’s Today Show
has caused a stink, but it was really a rather dull affair – clichéd
and unsurprising. How much livelier could the programme have been
with genuinely radical voices and challenging opinions? I’d book
Brendan O’Neill to make the case for why free speech trumps political
correctness, Bjørn Lomborg to debate climate change with James
Delingpole, and Ed Husain to ask who on the modern Left is on
the side of Muslims who support secularism and pluralism. And
if we can’t get Nigel Farage to grill a Cabinet member about their
EU lies, I’d invite Bob Crow and an investment banker to debate
who the real anti-social elements in modern society are.
Developers could be allowed to destroy ancient woodland under
a proposed “bio-diversity off-setting” scheme – i.e. if they agree
to replace old forests with new trees. The government says this
is the only practical way to deal with the demand for more housing.
Really? Wouldn’t planned and limited immigration be more practical
and less destructive?
Jan 2. Here’s an early contender for serious book of the year.
Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy by Peter Mair
which argues that our mainstream political parties have become
so disconnected from wider society that our democratic system
is curling up and dying. Voter turn-out, like party membership,
has plummeted all over Western Europe as political elites turn
their backs on everyday concerns and conspire to stamp their will
– or more accurately the EU’s will - on the rest of us. Real decisions
are taken by bureaucrats and bankers, nation states lose control
of their borders and economies and popular opinion is crushed
underfoot. The biggest mystery in all this is why so many on the
Left stay locked in to the EU ‘project’, and how those left-wingers
who can see through the charade can marry their beliefs with Labour
Party membership. They’re like a cuckolded husband who won’t give
up on his cheating wife no matter how many times he catches her
in bed with shady geezers from Brussels. It’s time for a UKIP
of the Left.
Jan 1st 2014. Happy New Year! I’ll post my TV awards over at
On The Box on Sunday. But here is my pick of the cultural highs
of 2013, starting with Book of the Year: Lost Victorian Britain
by Gavin Stamp; Best biog: Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography,
Volume One: Not For Turning by Charles Moore. Film of the Year:
Django Unchained. Album of the Year: AM by the Arctic Monkeys;
Top Punk Album: For The Love Of It All by the Old Firm Casuals;
Protest Album: Dreams From The Factory Floor by Louise Distras
(remember when we had factories?). TV Show of the Year: Game Of
Thrones. Best wishes to all my readers, and good luck - in our
damaged, decaying, tranquillised and infantilised culture we’ll
Some of today’s papers, along with a few opportunist politicians,
seem to be trying to drum up hatred towards immigrants. But why
target the poor Romanians and Bulgarians? You can’t blame them
for wanting to make a better life for themselves. If there are
too many immigrants heading for the UK, the people responsible
are the fat-cats who benefit from this ready supply of cheap labour,
the European Union and its Free Movement policy, politicians of
all establishment parties who want to be part of the EU, and the
newspapers that encouraged us to vote for those parties. It wasn’t
the Roma who conned us into the ‘Common Market’. It wasn’t the
Bulgarians who caused the banking crisis. It’s madness that we
can’t control our borders, but we should blame our rulers, not
the immigrants – and sign
the People’s Pledge.