Dec 6. One aspect of the Autumn Statement you might have missed
is a table which shows that most of the additional deficit reduction
that George Osborne is forecasting will come from putting up taxes.
In 2014-15 an additional £9.6bn of tax is 77% of the extra deficit
reduction (compared to March). In 2015-16 £13.2bn of extra tax
is 79% of it, and in 2016-17 ££14.5bn of extra tax is 91% (OBR
Table 1.3 p.14). Under cover of talk of targeting corporate tax
dodgers, the government is actually planning to screw yet more
cash from honest companies and people who currently pay the right
amount of tax.
Dec 5. Gideon ‘George’ Osborne beamed triumphantly during his
Autumn Statement, but in truth the Chancellor’s achievements are
piss-poor. This was the bloke who told us the structural deficit
would be in balance by 2015, and that the deficit would down to
£60billion by 2013-14. Now he’s chuffed that it’s “only” £111billion!
Under the Coalition and their “savage cuts”, which blustering
blockhead Ed Balls and the BBC keep telling us about, Britain’s
national debt ratio is still rising. Yes, the economy is growing,
but painfully slowly. The Shadow Cabinet mantra of “too far too
fast” should really be “too little too late.”
STOPPRESS. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela, a wise and courageous man
who taught us that sometimes it’s right to take up arms against
a repressive, undemocratic regime. Reflect on that as our elected
representatives queue up for their place on the EU gravy train.
Dec 3. This is my world today… a nice long chat with Secret Affair’s
Ian Page and Dave Cairns, here.
The Glory Boys play Islington Assembly Hall on Saturday (7th).
Bona to vada their jolly old eeks again.
Dec 2. R.I.P. Junior Murvin. The legendary Jamaican reggae star,
best known for the brilliant Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry-produced ‘Police
& Thieves’ died peacefully at his home in Summers Town Road in
Port Antonio early this morning. Murvin - real name, Murvin Junior
Smith - was born in Saint James, JA, in 1949. His haunting falsetto
made ‘Police & Thieves’ one of the defining hits of the 70s. Co-written
by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, it was famously covered by The Clash and
won a new generation of fans via Grand Theft Auto V. Junior Murvin
was reportedly suffering with an advanced stage of diabetes and
hypertension. All together: From Genesis to Revelation, yeah/The
next generation will be, hear me…’
Dec 1. This new House Of Commons advent calendar is a proper
let-down. Behind every door there’s just a sneering toff lighting
a cigar with a £50 note and saying: “Up yours, plebs!”
According to today’s Sun, Annabel Giles has come out as a lesbian.
I was more surprised when she came out as a celebrity.
Nov 30. Yesterday was Black Friday, consequently today is Stony
The Big Six energy companies swear blind that the recent glut
of price rises are beyond their control. But this week we learned
that their average profit per household shot up by 77% last year,
and has nearly doubled again since. According to a new OFGEM report,
total profits from supplying electricity and gas to households
and businesses rose from £1.25bn in 2011 to £1.6bn last year.
As Mike Reid used to say, at least Dick Turpin wore a mask. At
least we can hope that they’re using the money wisely to invest
in infrastructure maintenance and building generation capacity
for the future. Can’t we?
Lawyers have censored the tasteful Nigella gags in tomorrow’s
column on the ground that she denies being a cocaine user. Quite
right too. Most women on the receiving end of a rampant Charles
Saatchi would have required something far stronger.
Nov 29. I’m not comfortable with press coverage of the sickening
Ian Watkins case. This creep has admitted a series of sexual offences
against babies. The only possible interest we should have in his
‘celebrity ex-girlfriends’ is if one of them volunteers as his
Nov 29. Would I compile a contemporary Oi album, an interviewer
asks. Well, there are certainly a lot of terrific bands about.
On the pure brickwall street-punk side, I rate the Harrington
Saints, Booze & Glory, Bishop’s Green, NOi!se, Victory, Lion’s
Law, Gesaltz, Stomping Ground, the Broadsiders, and the Uppercuts...
So yeah I probably would put a new comp together, if it were a
joint release by a label in Europe and a US label. If they paid
the bands’ modest recording costs or paid them in vinyl, and especially
if Lars Frederiksen wanted to be involved on the production side.
I love the sound he’s got on the OFC album. ‘Born Criminal’ is
a blinding song. And that’s the most important part of this equation.
If Oi or bands with the same spark are ever to mean anything in
the future then first and foremost they have to write decent songs.
I love the spirit of the original working class punk bands and
think Oi-influenced bands could make a global impact again, but
it won’t be done by geezers in their 50s with beer-guts spouting
tired old clichés. So if I were involved it wouldn’t be backwards
looking and limited in sound and theme. I’d include bands that
shatter expectations, take chances and address modern concerns.
You have to be the poison in the machine not the nutter on a park
bench ranting at squirrels. Too much UK punk and Oi is retro these
days. I think that’s true of the UK Ska scene too, there are way
too many people in that looking backwards. As the great sage Noddy
Holder said “Look to the future now, it’s only just be-gu-uh-uh-uhn.”
Nov 28. Well here’s a thing. When I stood for Parliament in
Greenwich & Woolwich a few years ago on a platform calling for
the establishment of an English Parliament and the creation of
an English Bill Of Rights the media – specifically the BBC and
The Times – ludicrously portrayed this as a “right wing agenda”.
In some unexplained way, arguing for increased democracy and self-rule
had apparently made me the UK equivalent of the Tea Party. How
times change. Today’s Times carries an article by Tim Montgomerie
headlined ‘It’s a rip-off. We need an English parliament’ which
calls for the Barnett formula, which hands Scotland an additional
£4billion a year, to be scrapped. Montgomerie lists the many and
varied inequities of the current set-up which deprives English
voters of free medical prescriptions, subsidised college places
and long term care for the elderly while allowing those same English
tax-payers to fork out for the Scots to receive them all. Public
spending in Scotland is nearly 20% higher per head than it is
in England. His solution is the creation of an English parliament.
He writes: ‘All British MPs could continue to meet in the House
of Commons to debate UK-wide issues… But for part of the year
English MPs would meet separately to determine for example the
budgets of England’s public services and the level of tax.’ I’d
invite you to read the feature on England and the English in my
archives which reached similar conclusions about scrapping the
Barnett formula (already disowned by its creator Joel Barnett)
and settling the West Lothian question once and for all. Let the
Scots pay for their own spending and let English tax revenue be
invested in our own deprived towns and cities. Self-rule? Maybe
it’s not such a crazy idea after all… although whether you can
have it inside the EU is another matter.
How humbug works # 1. Boris Johnson gives a speech saying that
all humans aren’t equally bright and all hell breaks loose. But
all humans aren’t equally bright. I would rather be operated on
by a surgeon than by Joey Essex, even if Joey spends the next
20 years at medical college. I’d rather ride in a rocket built
by a NASA scientist than a nice pink one with lots of mirrors
and ribbons built by Helen Flanagan. That’s not snobbery. It’s
reality. Some people are good with quantum mechanics, others are
great at driving tractors. So what? Society needs all kinds of
skills to work. The great thing about grammar schools, as Boris
acknowledges, is that they allowed bright kids from poor backgrounds
to get a decent education for free. How humbug works # 2. Attorney
General Dominic Grieve points out that corruption is endemic within
some minority communities. Grilled further, he singles out Pakistanis.
All hell breaks loose. Grieve duly apologises, even though the
Electoral Committee concluded back in May that electoral fraud
‘is more likely to be committed by or in support of candidates
standing for election in areas that are largely or predominately
populated by some South Asian communities, specifically those
with roots in parts of Pakistan or Bangladesh.’ That’s not racism,
it’s reality. The cops investigated more than 20 cases of electoral
fraud in constituencies relating to results in the 2010 General
Election, including Bradford, Halifax and Oldham . Baroness Warsi,
who was of Asian descent the last time I looked, claimed that
one of the reasons for her party's failure to win an outright
majority was the result of voting irregularities in the Asian
community. The six men jailed for election fraud during a council
vote in the Slough Central ward in May 2007 were Raja Khan, Gul
Nawaz Khan, Mohammed Basharat Khan, Arshad Raja, Mahboob Khan
and Altaf Khan. Not a Welshman amongst them. We might not like
that reality but we won’t change it by refusing to acknowledge
it. It’s up to those communities to clean up their acts, not for
us to pretend it doesn’t happen. As the great Lenny Bruce said:
“The truth is what is, what should be is a filthy lie.”
Nov 28. R.I.P. Mark Rough, a great North East comedian, gone
Nov 27. Alex Salmond has said that an independent Scotland will
keep the pound, the monarchy and the BBC… well, two out of three
ain’t bad. Yeah, Salmond wants to cling on to every possible aspect
of being British. Has he considered voting UKIP?
Coming soon for Christmas: the Nigella Lawson Coke Book. It’s
very classy but you pay through the nose… (PS. So when Nigella
was heard yelling “Where’s my effing Charlie?” she wasn’t talking
about her husband then…)
Nov 26. I interviewed Ian Page & Dave Cairns from Secret Affair
today for my Radio Litopia pod cast. It's a cracker - I'll announce
when it's up. Unfortunately it then took three hours to get home
thanks to Not-Work SE. Oh how I miss the joy of commuting. London
trains: a great advert for Skype.
Have you noticed how the BBC headline news last night kept calling
the Brixton slave house people “a hard-line political cult.” They
just couldn’t bring themselves to describe them as “Marxist” or
“far-Left”. Do you think they’d have minced their words like this
if the cult could have been in any tenuous way linked to the far-Right?
Nov 25. So the couple at the centre of the South London slave
scandal turn out to be Marxists. And not just your normal everyday
Marxists, but full-blown unbowed unapologetic Maoists. Aravindan
Balakrishnan, aka Comrade Bala, has been nicked along with his
fragrant missus Chanda on suspicion of holding three women captive
for 30 years. Bala was once a senior member of the Communist Party
of England (Marxist-Leninist), but split from the Party in 1974
to launch his own Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse
Tung Thought, which is said to have been ‘characterised by ultra-left
posturing and Mao worship’.
The Institute was tiny but fanatical. Back in the day they boasted
“We have undertaken the unprecedented task of building the first
stable base area in the imperialist heartlands, in and around
Brixton... this has driven the British bourgeoisie up the wall.”
Yeah! Freedom for Tooting! In fact there’s a strong possibility
that John Sullivan based Citizen Smith’s Tooting Popular Front
on Bala’s rhetoric. But there were obviously a few more disturbing
things about the real Marxist-Leninists than the TV show’s comedy
heavy Harry Fenning...From what I remember, Maoists at the time
were a dreary, humourless and dogmatic lot. Their politics were
chilling. They adored China’s Revolution and the legacy of Joe
Stalin but despised the Soviet Union for “revisionism” - they
hated the Soviets even more than they did the “running dog” capitalist
West. Maoism first arrived here in the early sixties when ex-Communist
Party members – hardcore Stalinists disgusted by Krushchev’s perceived
liberalism - formed the Committee to Defeat Revisionism and For
Communist Unity (CDRCU).
These were people who thought the actual Communist Party were
sell-outs for not fully supporting the Soviets when they sent
tanks to crush the popular uprising in Hungary. They were actually
proud that Mao had claimed government responsibility for 800,000
executions between 1949 and 1954. They backed Mao’s Great Leap
Forward which led to the death by starvation of between 20 - 30
Yet Maoism stayed credible on the Left, and the 1965 Cultural
Revolution gave Mao’s brand of ‘Marxist-Leninism’ its greatest
boost overseas. Not here though. Maoism in Britain had next to
no influence compared to the Trots - the Socialist Labour League
(later the WRP), the IMG and the IS (later the SWP). But a few
small parties proliferated including Bala’s Communist Party of
England (Marxist-Leninist), the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist),
and the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain. Most of their
members were students, plus a few lecturers. To no-one’s surprise,
one of Mao’s biggest fans was old Red Ken Livingstone who once
claimed that the abolition of the foot binding of women “justifies
the Mao Tse-tung era.” Yeah, never mind the fact that Mao oversaw
the creation of bamboo gulags in which millions died. As Stalin
once said, they’re just a statistic.
So to put this in perspective, yes keeping women prisoners for
thirty years is abominable, but its small beer compared to the
crimes of Chairman Mao, and the Western intellectuals who supported
him in the name of “liberation”. Mercifully the peoples of Lambeth
(and Tooting) remained un-roused by the words of The Great Helmsman.
Yet his image, along with mass murderer Che’s, can still be found
in trendy Camden markets. Maybe one day we’ll realise that the
Left don’t have a monopoly on virtue. Maybe one day, even our
home-grown revolutionaries will realise that their ‘heroes’ aren’t
worth a light.
Nov 24. Last night’s big fight stunk like ITV’s jungle dunny.
George Groves, the challenger, dominated the super-middleweight
bout, putting Carl Froch on his back in round one with a right
to the side of his head. His counter-punching was first class
through-out. It wasn’t until round nine that the champion looked
dangerous. He caught his opponent with a fearsome left hook. Groves
was in trouble, but he wasn’t put down. So what made referee Howard
Foster grab him round the neck and stop the fight? Groves was
so far ahead on points, if it hadn’t been for the ref’s fortuitous
intervention Froch would have needed a knock-out to win. But if
Foster thought Groves was badly hurt, why put him in a head-lock?
A standing eight count would have given him all the time he needed
to assess George’s condition properly. No wonder boxing fans are
up in arms. Despite the result, George Groves was the better fighter
on the night and he deserves a rematch pronto. Just don’t expect
the Froch camp to agree...
Nov 23. A couple of days ago, Flexipop asked me to come up with
my Top Ten 1980s singles. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. The
Top 30 was easy, but whittling it down to the perfect ten took
ages, and will probably change by the day or according to my mood.
But the list, which is up on their facebook page now, is currently:
1. Staring At The Rude Boys – The Ruts, 2. Ghost Town – The Specials,
3. Going Underground – The Jam, 4. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy
Division, 5. The Story Of The Blues – Wah! 6. Straight To Hell
– The Clash 7. Golden Brown – The Stranglers 8. Rebel Yell – Billy
Idol 9. Jump – Van Halen 10. When Doves Cry – Prince.
To prove how tough this was consider the acts I’ve got bubbling
Under: Dexys, Iron Maiden, Marvin Gaye, Run DMC, The Business,
Bruce Springsteen, Gregory Isaacs, The Stone Roses, AC/DC, The
Beastie Boys, The Farm, Bowie, The Pogues, Madness, Guns ‘n’ Roses
etc etc. A difficult choice, I think you’d agree. So imagine how
much harder it would be to devise a definitive Top Ten list of
70s hits. You’ve got Slade, Sweet, Sabbath, The Kinks, Marvin
Gaye, T.Rex, Bowie, Rod Stewart, Cockney Rebel, Thin Lizzy, Purple
and ELO – and that’s before punk, Bruce, Elvis Costello, Squeeze,
The Only Ones and Ian Dury...
Nov 22. The Reverend Flowers story is the gift that keeps giving.
Now we find that his rent-boy lover was an armed robber who had
turned over the Co-Op... and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls had once
boasted that he (Balls) was “the Co-operative Shadow Chancellor.”
The news about Flowers, aka The Crystal Methodist, broke on Sunday
and has blown up like Kate’s skirts. The then £125K-a-year Chairman
of the Co-Op Bank had been filmed apparently handing over £300
for cocaine and crystal meth, boasting about his love of ketamine
and discussing the odd “two day, drug-fuelled gay orgy” (with
a little help from Grindr). It’s particularly shocking because
bankers had such a great reputation before all this... (Pause
here for small sarcastic cough). Of course the real scandal isn’t
what Flowers puts up his conk, or where he chooses to push Percy.
It’s the fact that he knew about as much about banking as Joey
Essex and yet he’d ended up running a bank with a £1.5billion
deficit. Insert your own ‘black hole’ gags here. Worse, the former
Labour councillor had been appointed Co-Op Chairman despite having
to leave a drugs charity after a suspected £75K expenses scam
and being forced off Bradford council – where he’d racked up £63K
of expenses in just three years – for having gay porn on his council
PC. (The BBC seem reluctant to report on this aspect of the story,
even though it’s highly relevant given that Flowers is a Methodist
minister and that the church traditionally preached abstinence
or restraint when it comes to alcohol, and still denounces promiscuity
as “unacceptable”). Some might joke that they’d like a man like
this as their bank manager (“Overdraught, schmoverdraught have
another line mate”) but the reality isn’t funny. It’s not just
how did he get the job, it’s also how did he hang on to it after
his pathetic performance at the Treasury select committee a few
weeks ago where he’d estimated the bank’s total assets at “£3billion”
– some £44billion less than its actual worth. He seems to have
about as good a grasp of economics as Ed Balls, and the stink
he’s left behind threatens to engulf Balls entirely. But there
is some good news. The Co-Op has already found a suitable replacement.
It’s Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto...
*No 1 Rent Boy complaint: Flowers in your hair...
I recorded my latest Bloodstock radio podcast with hot new songs
from DMG, The Warriors, The Harrington Saints, The Skoidats, Marmalade
Sky, The Goddamn Electric, The Bermondsey Joyriders, Buster’s
All-Stars, The Crunch, The Ganders, Section 60, The Riffs, Buster’s
Ska Battalion, King Hammond and Monkish. Studio guests were Garrie
Lammin and Terry Rawlings author of a new book about the highly
dodgy death of Rolling Stones legend Brian Jones... the show should
be up by Monday.
Well done to the fifteen MPs who today voted in favour of an
In/Out referendum on our EU membership being brought forward to
2014. They were brave and they are right, the people should not
be denied our say. As ever, the political establishment is entirely
Nov 19. Monty Python are re-uniting for a nostalgia-soaked stage
show. Like a million other fans, my first thoughts were “Who’s
had a tax bill?”, “Is Cleese saving up for another divorce?”,
and then “Let’s hope they do...” followed by my ten all-time favourite
Python sketches (see below), which rapidly became 15... and then
20. The show, which launched in 1969, was as much a part of my
childhood as Sabbath, Slade, Desmond Dekker, socialism and Lt
Uhuru. It was also the first comedy I can remember that appealed
to a generation rather than across the board. Naturally, Python
fans tend to remember the brilliant moments rather than the awkward
mistakes, which included that whole series without Cleese. That
said, it’s a shame that Spike Milligan isn’t treated with the
same reverence. Spike kicked open the doors for the Flying Circus.
The Pythons admit they could not have happened without him. Their
comedy was essentially Spike’s manic mix of surrealism and
slapstick with added youth and a University degree. Milligan’s
anarchic comic vision broke new ground in the 50s with the Goons
and the 60s’s Q TV series. His humour was touched with both madness
and genius. Many have been influenced by him, but he’s never been
surpassed. So why isn’t Spike more celebrated? Why isn’t his work
still shown on TV? Could it be related to the facts that, unlike
the Pythons, Milligan was from a down to earth background, he
was driven by manic depression, he was thoroughly politically
incorrect (see Pakistani Daleks) and his views were as frequently
as wild as his moods?
My all-time Top Ten Python Sketches: 1) Dead Parrot 2) The Spanish
Inquisition 3) Four Yorkshiremen 4) The Lumberjack Song 5) The
Architect Sketch 6) Hitler In Minehead 6) The Philosophers’ Song
7) Doug and Dinsdale 8) Argument Clinic 9) Spam 10) The Bruces.
Which leaves these gems bubbling under: The Milk Man, The Visitors,
Upper Class Twit Of The Year, Nudge Nudge, Ministry Of Silly Walks
and of course The Funniest Joke In The World. (What, no Crunchy
Frog? – Ed).
Nov 17. Marine A will be sentenced by a Court Martial Board on
6th December for murdering a wounded Taliban captive. The Daily
Telegraph is running a petition calling for sentencing leniency.
They write: ‘While in no way condoning the murder of the captive,
the Telegraph believes this case needs to be seen in context of
the terrible mental strain our battle-hardened troops have been,
and continue to be, subjected to in Afghanistan – a conflict that,
since 2001, has claimed 446 British lives and inflicted horrific
injuries on many hundreds more.’ That strain includes being subjected
to daily sniper attacks, deadly Improvised Explosive Devices and
the ever-present threat of suicide bombings. Our troops have been
asked to fight a war with one arm tied behind their backs. No
wonder the number of Afghanistan veterans seeking help from the
Combat Stress charity has risen by an average of 50 per cent each
year since 2009. Marine A told the court martial that he took
the fatal shot on the spur of the moment because of pent-up emotions.
The Telegraph adds: ‘This is a man seemingly pushed to the brink
by a war in which he was fighting for his country - his country
should stand by him now.’ Their petition can be found here.
Fire-fighters in England and Wales downed hoses last Wednesday
over threats to their pensions. Where I live, many cars and lorries
beeped in support as they passed the picket lines. I did too,
partly because my Dad was a fireman, and partly because they’ve
got a point. The government is trying to rewrite their contracts
and make them work on until they’re 60. The most ridiculous attack
on the striking fire-fighters came predictably from the Mail who
accused them of being “underworked” and of spending most of their
time “hanging around their stations.” Leo McKinstry wrote: “It
is a little known fact that, on average, each fire-fighter in
England attends just 43 fires a year, fewer than one a week.”
Yes and on top of that, just 121 of them were killed on duty between
1978 and 2007. Why, that’s diabolical. What’s the alternative
I wonder, maybe the Mail could send reporters out in arson squads
to start a few blazes to keep ’em busy? (“I’ve just seen the lads
at Shadwell station playing ping-pong, guv” “The lazy bastards!
Right, chuck another petrol bomb in the 99p Store.”) Mercifully
London isn’t burning all the time, and nor are the rest of our
cities; so inevitably fire-fighters have time to kill when they
aren’t out risking life and limb on our behalf. My Dad had two
part-time jobs, but that didn’t make life any easier for my Mum
when she knew he was out on a shout. Raising the retirement age
to 60 will make it easier to sack them early and no doubt rob
a few of them of their full pensions. Besides do you really want
to be rescued by the modern equivalent of Dad’s Army? You know
when they put the retirement age up to 60, the next target will
be 65... then 68. And why stop there? Corporal Jones might be
able to scale a ladder but I doubt he could give many of us a
fireman’s lift without doing his back in.
Rock legend Roger Daltrey has attacked Labour’s mass immigration
policies for destroying jobs. Who singer Daltrey, once a staunch
Labour voter, tells the Sunday Times today that the Labour Party
has let down his generation by allowing an influx of workers to
undercut wages. Adding that immigrants “get wrongly blamed for
the problems” caused by a political mistake, he says: “I will
never ever forgive the Labour party for allowing this mass immigration
with no demands put on what people should be paid when they come
to this country. I will never forgive them for destroying the
jobs of my mates, because they allowed their jobs to be undercut
with stupid thinking on Europe, letting them all in, so they can
live 10 to a room, working for Polish wages.” Daltrey adds: “I've
got nothing against the Poles at all, but that was a political
mistake and it made me very angry. And the people who get it in
the neck are the immigrants, and it's not their fault.” The full
article can be found in today’s Sunday Times magazine.
Jack Straw joined the immigration debate last week saying the
scale of legal immigration into Britain was a “spectacular mistake.”
It wasn’t. Mistakes happen by accident. New Labour’s open door
policy was deliberate policy.
Nov 15. Tomorrow on twitter, a chance to get my new book Face
Down for free as a download... but be quick, it'll be first come,
first served from 8am...
And while I’m here, the transcript of my recent chat with Pauline
Black is now
I’ll drop back soon with news on my brand new audio rock book,
which covers everything from The Specials to Ozzy via the Cockney
Rejects and Iron Maiden, and should be out in a fortnight or so...
Nov 4. Many thanks to The Galaxy & ZANI Music Awards for the
Lifetime Achievement gong they have given me. I’m touched and
genuinely appreciate it. Now where do the batteries go?
This blog is currently closed. If you’d like to contact me about
my new book, Face Down, please email email@example.com.
If you're enquiring about TV bookings or PAs contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the Gonads, DJ sets and all other enquiries contact email@example.com.
The next Gonads gig is on 2nd November at the Charlton Liberal
Club – we’re all radical Whigs now...
Do you ever get frustrated with the things the broadcast media
obsess about? Po-faced BBC news is often as trivial in its own
way as the tabloids the Beeb’s executives despise: school gate
smokers, a Jimmy Savile Halloween outfit, the bonkers non-story
of Roy Hodgson referring to a monkey as a monkey... I’m more interested
in the barely reported fact that food and non-alcoholic drink
prices in the UK have risen a whopping 35.6 per cent in the last
six years alone (“Global factors,” politicians mumble, but prices
for the same food items in Ireland haven’t risen at all). We’re
getting screwed. Consumer prices up 20.7per cent in the UK since
2007 compared to 3.2 per cent in Eire. We’re getting screwed.
Energy prices over the same period: in the UK, up 61 per cent,
in the republic just 28 per cent. We’re getting screwed. Why so
little discussion of this uneven inflation? I want to know who
exactly is screwing us, and how we can screw over these bastards
Other things pissing me off today: Talk of British Paras facing
prosecution over Bloody Sunday. Growing restrictions on free speech.
The lack of honest debate about the consequences of another huge
wave of immigration starting in just over two months time when
Bulgarians and Romanians get an open door into our over-crowded
labour market. The fact that we’re using a French company and
Chinese cash to build nuclear power plants. Why? Because green
policies are shutting down coal and gas-fired power stations,
wind turbines aren’t up to the job and fracking is a gift horse
we appeared to have looked in the mouth and shied away from due
to some irrational, ideological fear of off-message halitosis.
How many of those crusty middle class protestors understand the
science involved? How many politicians for that matter know the
first thing about physics or bio-chemistry? Who in the Cabinet
could have a rational discussion about geo-engineering? I’m guessing
I was an ardent revolutionary in my youth. My heart will always
be socialist, but mercifully my head knows that state ownership
and obsessive over-regulation have always proved disastrous in
practice. If we want a better, freer life for our people, the
simple truth is we have to be more productive. We can’t go on
borrowing beyond our means to sustain an entitlement culture.
It’s fiscal insanity. To spend more, we have to make more. We
have to create wealth, produce things. As well as being economically
inefficient, socialism in practice has lumbered us with the flawed
welfare culture, generations who don’t want to work, young adults
who don’t want to grow up and lost souls who know sod-all about
anything that actually matters. The old socialist belief in learning
and the self-improvement culture that flourished throughout the
19th century and most of the 20th century is now as abandoned
as our pits.
Oct 20. I’ve had a busy old week what with the launch party
for my new novel Face Down, interviewing Pauline Black for Radio
Litopia and the Gonads playing the Skamouth festival – a crazy
30 hours of beer, Ska, more beer, great company and the chance
to see the magnificent Dave Barker (double u o-o-o) live at last.
Early reactions to the book have been kind – my favourite is ‘Mickey
Spillane with a dash of Micky Flanagan’. Here are a couple of
pictures from the launch below.
This blog now returns to hibernation. Toodle pip.
My lively encounter with Pauline Black is up
and running now at Radio Litopia. Selecter singer Pauline
was the charismatic leading lady of 2-Tone, one of the very few
women in the male-dominated movement. But as a bright mixed-race
girl growing up in an all-white working class suburb of Romford,
Essex, she was used to being an outsider...
Oct 13. Here is reformed hooligan Cass Pennant mentoring me in
advance of my book launch next Wednesday (16th). Face Down, the
third part of the Harry Tyler trilogy, is available for pre-order
Let's hope Edward Snowden doesn't give away the ending...
Oct 10. What a week. The major political parties have shuffled
their packs, and there’s not an ace in either hand. They’re all
just polishing turds... No wonder politicians want to control
the free press. They’re terrified of anyone shining a torch on
their multiple failings. Britain 2013: our law is an ass, our
schools are a joke, the NHS is rotten to the core, dignified old
soldiers are reduced to heckling a Tory defence secretary and
the gap between what the people want and what our political class
impose on us is wide enough to park the Titanic – which our country
increasingly resembles – sideways. This week we’ve seen scum mum
Tracey Connelly, the mother jailed for allowing her son to be
tortured to death, prematurely released from jail and the unsurprising
announcement that England’s 16 to 24-year-olds rank 22nd out of
24 nations in literacy and 21st for numeracy. We live in an age
where our phones are smarter than our kids!
*THE BBC will announce tomorrow that nine long-lost episodes
of Doctor Who, unseen since the 1960s, have been found in a storeroom
in Nigeria. I understand that boss Danny Cohen was alerted to
the discovery when he received a letter from an African prince
promising the return of the shows plus a share of licensing royalties
and repeat fees in the region of 30million American dollars. Unfortunately
the money has to be processed in Lagos but all Dan has to do to
receive this windfall is supply his full name, address and date
of birth, the Corporation’s bank details, passwords, and
the answers to all their security questions...
I saw Jim Davidson live this week. The theatre was packed. The
audience was aged from 18 to 80 and he got a standing ovation.
Yet we can’t see Jim, or any other old school blue collar comedians
on TV because the po-faced middle class twerps who run the show
don’t want us to laugh at him. Jim stands for something the culturati
hate – he’s a working class Tory with views they find offensive.
The current lot of not-too-funny TV stars tow the liberal line.
Richard Bacon once told me, proudly, that he didn’t know a comedian
who wasn’t left-wing. Well why should that be the case? I don’t
agree with a lot of Jim’s opinions, but millions do, and besides
he makes me laugh a lot more than Miles Jupp or David Baddiel.
Let’s have some real diversity. Let 1,000 flowers bloom. And let
comedians the public love appear on the TV channels the public
Forget the tedious row about whether Marxists hate Britain,
what our rulers detest most of all is the idea of England and
the freedoms the English fought for and achieved... freedoms which
one by one are being stamped out. They’ve got the BBC on board
lock, stock and barrel. All they need to do now is shut down press
freedom and all opposition will be driven into cyberspace. Job
Oct 3. Everyone is telling us you can’t blame Ed Miliband for
sticking it to the Daily Mail because what decent son wouldn’t
stand up for his Dad if he came under attack? Hmm. Yes of course,
but this is a politician we’re talking about and his real agenda
is different and hidden. Let’s consider the evidence. The Mail
described Marxist academic Ralph Miliband as “the man who hated
Britain” – a headline that was contentious but did what headlines
are meant to do, grab the attention. The actual piece written
by Geoffrey Levy was not contentious at all, and as Ed has brought
up his father many times in public, the Labour leader can’t reasonably
complain when someone has a good look at what he actually stood
Levy quoted lines from Ralph’s 1941 diary when he wrote (inaccurately):
'The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most
nationalist people in the world... you sometimes want them almost
to lose (the war) to show them how things are. They have the greatest
contempt for the Continent...’ He went on: ‘?To lose their empire
would be the worst possible humiliation.' Ralph was 17 then and
of course none of us can reasonably be judged by what we thought
when we were 17 (although C4 happily did just that with Nigel
Farage). When I was that age, I was further left than Ralph was,
with a burning belief in Trotskyist revolution. But Professor
Miliband seemed to think exactly the same way four decades later
when the Falklands Conflict kicked off. Safely ensconced in the
halls of academia, Ralph’s views were rarely tempered by reality.
I read a few of his books back in the days, so I know that he
1) That the Labour Party wasn’t socialist enough. Miliband initially
thought (like Militant) that it could be changed from the inside
but after the Wilson government of the Sixties, he argued that
the Left needed to create a new Marxist party.
2) The State in all its forms was controlled by the bourgeoisie
and run in the interests of the ruling class; and that managerial
capitalists were just as bad as the old fat cat owners.
3) That meritocracy is an illusion perpetrated by the capitalists
and their media whores to make us believe we live in a fairer
society. (Although of course it was the Labour Party that did
away with grammar schools, thus ensuring that the brightest working
class kids were kept in their place). Ralph wrote: ‘Class success
means the ability of a dominant class to maintain its position
in society, and to contain and subdue any challenge to its power
and privileges. This is what has happened in Britain.’
Miliband Snr was taught by Harold Laski, one of the giants of
20th-century British socialism. A strong supporter of nationalisation,
Laski was party chairman when Labour were elected in 1945 on a
genuinely socialist platform. Ralph, fresh from three years service
in the Royal Navy, praised the Labour victory as 'the country's
capture from its traditional rulers'. Levy notes: ‘He relished
what he called the 'genuine sense of outrage... of bourgeois England',
adding that 'the nationalisation proposals of the government were
designed to achieve the sole purpose of improving the efficiency
of a capitalist economy'. In practice nationalisation did nothing
of the kind.
So did Ralph Miliband hate Britain? Yes and no. He hated the
Daily Mail’s version of Britain. He hated the Establishment, the
Royal Family, the Empire, public schools, the House of Lords,
Cambridge and Oxford (although naturally both his sons went there).
But in fairness he dreamed of a different Britain, one that was
theoretically run by the working class. And there’s the problem
because, having once dreamt that too, I can now see that socialism
has never worked in practice and probably never will. State-run
economies have failed the whole world over, often horribly, yet
Ralph Miliband continued to believe in the necessity of public
ownership of the means of production until the day he died. The
Marxist vision of the state ‘withering away’, which he subscribed
to, is pure hogwash. Under socialist governments the State has
always grown at the expense of individual rights and liberties.
Orwell’s Big Brother was a vision of socialism not of fascism.
Over the years, we’ve watched the Left distort its own values
to support gay-hating, women-hating clerical fascists and to demand
and enforce bans on freedom of expression. We’ve also seen the
Labour Party lose all touch with the working class in whose name
they still theoretically operate. Marxism itself has been twisted
into an elite ideology, a kind of radical illiberalism. The crimes
of ‘socialist’ states are always excused or over-looked. Freedom
of speech is completely disregarded. In a very real sense Miliband
detested Britain as we know it – and the kind of Britain he wanted
to replace it with is a dangerous chimera. Until those who wish
to genuinely spread power to the people acknowledge that the old
Statist way will never achieve liberation, then contemporary revolutionaries
are doomed to fail...
What we really have here is a non-story, a fuss about nothing.
For a socialist being rubbished by the Mail should be a badge
of pride. So why has Ed escalated one poxy article into such a
big issue? Clearly it’s a political move aimed at reining in a
hostile publisher in advance of the next election. And because
he has many sympathisers across the news media, at the BBC, Channel
4 and the Guardian etc etc he’s been able to milk it for all he’s
worth. But Voltaire is still right and in this battle the Mail’s
freedom to comment should be defended.
Interestingly the liberal establishment quickly leapt to support
Ed Miliband against those horrible middle class upstarts at the
Mail. Slimy Europhile Tory Michael Heseltine attacked the paper,
while The Times ran a page claiming that Ralph Miliband was not
opposed to freedom of speech because he once wrote to them defending
Robin Blackburn - it did not mention that Mr Blackburn was then
a prominent member of the Trotskyist International Marxist Group
(IMG) and was the on the editorial board of their revolutionary
publication Red Mole. ‘Marxist defends Marxist’ is hardly an endorsement
of free speech – especially when you recall how self-proclaimed
Trotskyites terrorised and persecuted conservative academics in
the 1980s, driving them from university campuses for daring to
question prevailing right-on orthodoxies. (Mr. Blackburn, a professor
of sociology, was actually to the left of the IMG. In 1970 he
called for the organisation to disrupt both Tory and Labour conferences,
a tactic that was deemed too extreme even for them.)
My Dad, if you’re asking, was a Labour-voting fireman who described
himself as “left of Left”, although he never supported the firemen’s
strikes as he thought they only hurt the people the Brigade were
there to serve.
Sept 30. This blog is closing down for a week or so. Bushell
On The Box continues as normal...
To see off the UKIP threat, David Cameron is promising to challenge
the EU’s agenda of “ever closer union.” (Wot? No “cast-iron guarantee”
this time?) If you believe him, please get in touch. I have some
magic beans you might be interested in buying.
I’m no fan of slippery Dave but he did come up with a good gag
about Miliband’s conference speech: “It was a great miracle of
memory – he managed to memorise the entire 1983 Labour manifesto
and recite it.” Wonder who wrote that for him.
When Ray Cooney’s Run For Your Wife movie came out, it was slaughtered
by the film critics. “As funny as leprosy,” sneered the broadsheets.
“A catastrophe.” The reviews were so savage it put me off going
to see it. Don’t be misled. I’ve just watched it on DVD and it’s
tremendous fun. Run For Your Wife is firmly in the tradition of
early 70s English comedy films. If you watch it expecting Woody
Allen you’ll be disappointed. But realise it’s from the same school
as the Carry Ons and the Confessions movies and you can expect
laugh out loud moments and grins galore. Cooney has adapted his
own long-running West End farce for the big screen. Danny Dyer
is just right as the lead character John Smith, an easy-going
cabbie who just happens to be bigamously married to two beautiful
women Denise van Outen and Sarah Harding (however would you have
the energy?). Smith’s double life is threatened after he is knocked
out while saving an old dear from being mugged. With the cops
suspicious, he finds himself constructing an ever-more frantic
pyramid of porkies with the help of his idiot next-door neighbour
Gary (Neil Morrissey). We also get Lionel Blair and Christopher
Biggins camping it up, and the greatest procession of big name
cameos you have ever seen – everyone from Frank Thornton to Cliff
Richard via Robin Askwith, Russ Abbott, Richard Briers, Andrew
Sachs, Brian Murphy, Bernard Cribbins, June Whitfield and Dame
Judi Dench. Would it appeal to Channel 4 commissioning editors?
Not for one moment. But there are generations of viewers who’d
thoroughly enjoy it. My only criticism is that the Carry On team
would have shoe-horned more gags in. And probably engineered a
shower scene for Sarah...
Sept 29. The Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken of Christians
suffering "mass martyrdom" in Muslim countries. Churches are being
wrecked in Egypt, and Christians driven from their homes in Syria.
Last weekend 85 worshippers were killed in a double suicide bombing
at the All Saints church in Peshawar as they left Sunday Mass.
They were targeted because of their faith. So why is there so
little outrage in our newspapers? Where were the angry speeches
at last week’s Labour Party conference? It’s hard to avoid thinking
that our politicians and media are too hog-tied by political correctness
– and the fear of being denounced as “Islamophobic” by the Guardian
– to face up to the sickening problem of Islamist intolerance,
let alone deal with it. It was of course Islamist nut-jobs who
murdered 39 innocent people and injured and tortured 150 more
at a Nairobi shopping mall this week, but for some reason the
BBC prefers to refer to them as “Somali militants”. Decent Muslims
should spend more time condemning the atrocities carried out in
the name of their faith, and Western commentators should wake
My chat with Louise Distras, the new left-wing face of punk,
is up and running on Radio Litopia – the home of free speech -
Sept 27. The Times recently ran arts pull-outs devoted to the
25 books you should read, films you should watch, music you should
hear etc. I can’t say I agreed with much of it. The book list
felt like it had been picked by a self-conscious committee, and
too many of their choices were dull, worthy or ridiculously over-rated.
Is Moby Dick as exciting as C.S. Forester’s Hornblower series?
I don’t think so. Is Conan Doyle a better writer than Raymond
Chandler? Not in a million years. A lot of it is down to taste
of course. Novels I treasure range from Tom Wolfe’s brilliant
satire The Bonfire Of The Vanities to Horace Silver’s horribly
authentic London crime saga Judas Pig. Nik Cohn’s Awopbopaloobop
Alopbamboom is the best book on pop I’ve ever read. Orwell’s Nineteen
Eighty-four was on the Times’s list as well as mine, but I would
suggest reading Iron Curtain: The Crushing Of Eastern Europe 1944-56
by Anne Applebaum straight after it. I’m a sucker for great crime
fiction, from bona fide 20th century classics like Chandler’s
Farewell My Lovely to cracking pulp fiction like Mickey Spillane’s
One Lonely Night – a book I first read from cover to cover on
the plane home from New York after a riotous week with Rose Tattoo.
Jake Arnott’s The Long Firm is so good that when I first read
it, I very nearly gave up writing The Face there and then. And
wouldn’t my life have been different if I had! Three terrific
novels you might not have read are John Niven’s Kill Your Friends,
a savagely hilarious satire of the music biz in the 90s, Carter
Beats The Devil by Glen David Gold and Nick Harkaway’s clever
fantasy Angelmaker; all thoroughly recommended.
The Times list of essential movies criminally overlooked the
Ealing comedies. No Kind Hearts & Coronets, no Passport To Pimlico,
no Whisky Galore... The British film industry of the 50s and early
60s turned out a string of solid gold classic, all ignored by
The Thunderer. These included The Lavender Hill Mob, The Ladykillers,
The Titfield Thunderbolt, Tony Hancock’s The Rebel and the Boulting
Brothers’ marvellously observed I’m All Right Jack. That said,
the films I’ve watched more than any other are probably It’s A
Wonderful Life, Goodfellas and The Long Good Friday.
I’d struggle compiling a definitive list of the music you must
hear because it changes for me every day, which is why I’m quite
relieved that the BBC are unlikely ever to invite me to do Desert
Island Discs (the BBC have not asked me to do anything for them
since I stood for Parliament on a platform calling for an English
Parliament... they’re not too keen on England, as you know). But
if Kirsty Young ever did come on the blower, all I know for certain
is that my choices would include Pluto Shervington’s ‘Dat’, Led
Zeppelin’s ‘Achilles Last Stand’, The Jam’s ‘Down In The Tube
Station At Midnight’ and Charlie Drake singing ‘My Boomerang Won’t
Sept 25. Miliband pinned his colours to the mast yesterday,
with a Back To The Future keynote conference speech that re-positioned
the Labour Party in the era of Jim Callaghan and Michael Foot.
Back To The Failure perhaps. Ed’s recipe for recovery was a simple
one: state intervention. It was populist stuff. A Labour government
would freeze energy prices, re-nationalise the NHS and confiscate
private land if the land-owners don’t develop it. “Use it or lose
it,” he warned. Ed spoke for over an hour and mentioned the budget
deficit just once. It all played well in the hall, of course,
but did it add up? Those evil energy giants aren’t to blame for
high prices. Green taxes and other Labour-backed ideological nonsense
account for double the energy companies’ supposed filthy lucre
(they’re not exactly raking it in; last year, SSE’s net profits
were just 4.2per cent). Maybe Ed is unaware that similar price
caps in California twelve years ago resulted in falling investment
and multiple blackouts. And maybe he has forgotten that he was
Energy Secretary in the Brown government that committed the UK
to the barking mad subsidised renewables policy. Ed rightly pointed
out that wages are lagging behind prices, the (slightly) rising
tide “just seems to lift the yachts,” he said – a nice line. But
on vital issues of wealth creation, welfare reform, Europe, EU
regulations, education and immigration control he had nothing
to say. He has painted Labour as the party of small businesses,
prompting many cynics to comment that they’ll create small businesses
by sucking the life out of big ones. Punitive taxation and price
fixing are not a strategy for a better Britain. They are a recipe
for decline. The real alternative of low-taxation, enterprise,
free trade, spread of ownership and an unshackled private sector
generating growth is not on any of our major parties’ agendas,
but it has never been further away from Labour’s.
Sept 24. Is it possible to believe a single thing Ed Balls says?
Yesterday the Shadow Chancellor claimed that he didn’t know what
Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor Damian ‘McPoison’ McBride had
been up to when he was in office. As Balls was Brown’s most trusted
ally, this is harder to swallow than a crusted trough full of
year-old ITV bush-tucker. It’s a bit like Eva Braun saying “Invade
Poland? Really? He told me he was taking the dog for a walk...”
If Ed’s porkies were any more transparent you’d see right through
him. And there’s a lot more of him to see through these days.
Balls and Brown, as voters will recall far better than Ed seems
to, made a complete dog’s dinner of the UK economy, recklessly
running up a deficit several times larger than Blair’s combined
bank accounts – something Balls has never acknowledged , let alone
apologised for... Consistency has never been Ed’s thing either.
His big conference speech boiled down to promising that a future
Labour government would be fiscally prudent - except when it wants
to spend money in which case they’ll take it from the bankers.
Balls promising to be prudent, with his record, is like Attila
The Hun promising to stay at home and put his feet up. Believe
either of them and you’re likely to regret it. Spending other
people’s money is what Labour do, of course, but what will they
do to actually create wealth? Ed didn’t tell us. How can we trust
Labour to run the economy when they want to put this clown in
charge of it?
Sept 23. I recorded a new podcast last night with Louise Distras,
the woman least likely to join the Godfrey Bloom Fan Club. Louise
speaks at length about her beliefs, her influences and her debut
album Dreams From The Factory Floor (*note to younger readers:
factories were something Britain used to have when we had a manufacturing
industry). This should be on-line by the weekend. I’ll be back
with some thoughts on the Labour Party Conference in a bit.
Just heard Ed Balls call himself a socialist on Radio 4...and
then qualify it by claiming Labour embodies the “spirit” of the
1945 Labour government but not the actual policies. So he won’t
be promising to nationalise the commanding heights of the economy
– the corner stone of socialism – any time soon. I don’t expect
he’ll be saying much about ‘Plan B’ or double dip recessions today
either. But will he make any reference to the bitter truth behind
the Coalition’s chest-beating about the recovery – that living
standards are plummeting, that most working people are having
to get by on frozen wages while prices continue to rocket. That’s
the lucky few who still have jobs and haven’t yet been priced
out of the market by cheap imported labour.
Sept 20. It’s Bloom and bust for UKIP! Or so we’re told.
The BBC News has seized gratefully on Godfrey Bloom’s “sluts”
gag which they claim shows that Nigel Farage is not in control
of his party, and consequently UKIP should not be taken seriously.
The odd thing here is that Godfrey’s off-the-cuff remark appears
to have offended just one body – the media. The incident occurred
at a UKIP Women In Politics fringe meeting. Two UKIP women Lisa
Duffy (the party director) and MEP Janice Collins made friendly
digs at Bloom; both referenced his earlier remarks on housework
saying that they don’t clean behind their fridges. Godfrey interrupted,
heckling “This place is full of sluts.” Everybody laughed. No-one
was offended, no-one complained. It was quite clearly a joke between
friends, until news reporters leapt on it and promoted it as a
scandal to humiliate Farage. As it was the lead item on BBC1’s
Six O’Clock News, you can understand Nigel’s frustration. Was
he right to remove the party whip from Godfrey Bloom? I don’t
think so, I think it was kowtowing to a bunch of humourless dicks
with a hostile agenda, and yet you can see why the UKIP leader
did so. UKIP have more claim to be considered Britain’s third
party than the flailing Lib Dems, so the smears and dirty tricks
campaign against them will now intensify in a bid to dent their
performance at the European elections next May. The slut remark
was used to over-shadow deputy leader Paul Nuttall’s forceful
speech. Scouser Nuttall urged members to focus their energies
on rounding up disgruntled Labour voters in the North and wrote
off the Tories as a party who “wouldn't know a council estate
if it fell out of the sky.” This did not fit in the imposed new
agenda. The liberal media are always keen to portray UKIP as a
bunch of barking mad Tories, but the party is actually as much
a threat to Miliband as it is to Cameron. And that worries them.
Support for Britain leaving the EU now stands at 67 per cent.
EU membership, like Labour’s unfettered immigration madness, has
hit the working class hardest. UKIP should say this louder and
more often. They should also continue to embrace eccentrics because
voters love them. Don’t back down, Nigel. Like Skinner, Bevan,
Thatcher and Powell, you’re that rare beast – a politician who
actually believes in something. Your time will come.
After the ‘slut’ non-story broke Godfrey Bloom walloped C4 reporter
Michael Crick in the street with the conference programme. Crick
had attempted to mock the sea of white faces on the front of the
conference programme, perhaps unaware that they were all elected
UKIP councillors and that UKIP have fielded many candidates from
ethnic minority backgrounds. I don’t blame him. Crick had it coming
just like the Craig Evans did when he threw that egg at Prescott.
I like the fact that you know where you are with people like this.
Sept 19. The Lib Dems are ending conference week two points
behind UKIP. Hardly surprising – look at their policies. The party
would close down British factories, impose an annual capital tax
on houses, and maintain a nuclear deterrent with unarmed Trident
submarines... At a fringe meeting, Philip Collins who once worked
in investment banking and wrote speeches for Tony Blair, argued
that they should ditch the idea of encouraging social mobility,
which he called “a terrible objective.” Yeah, keep the plebs in
their place, Phil.
Sept 18. Cocky Nick Clegg said today that he wants the Liberal
Democrats to be a "permanent anchor” holding the two main
parties to the ‘centre’ of politics. I accept that he could be
a permanent anchor, although I think a ‘w’ may have fallen off
the second word; but I would suggest that what he really wants
is a permanent place in government – irrespective of the fact
that hardly anyone agrees with Lib Dim policies and that the party
is likely to receive far fewer votes at the next election than
they did in 2010. A true European, what he wants is power without
support. There’s little doubt that Clegg will end up as just another
jumped-up EU official, but could his transparent opportunism sink
his party? The Lib Dems are already trailing behind UKIP. Nobody
knows what they actually stand for. They’re widely seen as unprincipled.
Some of them would like to overtake Labour as the party of the
left, but as that’s never going to happen I would suggest a different
tact. Why not go back to being properly liberal? Why not put your
faith in the people rather than the State? True liberals would
surely distrust centralised government as much as they should
question attempts to control the markets and rein in free speech.
If the party embraced genuine liberalism rather than tired centrism
and Statism they might find that their conferences stopped looking
like a Cocoon day-trip. PS What is the centre of politics by the
way? When politicians use the term they mean the consensus of
opinion in the Westminster bubble. It doesn’t come close to what
most voters believe in.
Sept 17. Forces charity BLESMA is organising another cycle ride
across the South Downs. More than thirty wounded UK and US service
personnel will undertake a six day long bike tour cycling between
30 – 50 miles a day, from Sunday 6th October - Friday 11th October.
BLESMA has run the event in partnership with the USA’s Wounded
Warrior Project for three years now. The riders, including many
amputees, will do around 250 miles over six days and finish with
a Victory Lap from Horse Guards Parade to the Tower of London.
More info here.
Sept 16. Modern liberal thinking on women’s rights explained:
it’s okay to wear the niqab because a woman’s right to choose
what to wear is paramount, except in the case of women who choose
to go topless in newspapers and magazines because they are clearly
being exploited. Women suppressed in the name of patriarchal reactionary
religion: good. Women who make money through smart use of their
genetic good fortune: bad. Glad to have cleared that up...
Of course women should be able to wear whatever the hell they
like, within the limits of common decency. But there is no sacred
right to cover your face at airport security, in school examination
rooms, or in the dock, whether you try it on with a balaclava,
a niqab, a crash helmet, or a Abu Qatada fright-mask. We need
to apply common sense here. Blanket bans would encroach on freedoms,
nearly as much as medieval-minded clerics do, but there is nothing
‘Islamophobic’ in asking someone to show their face
at a check-in desk, and neither is there anything in the Koran
demanding the wearing of the niqab. It’s a recent development
designed to genuinely keep women “in their place.”
Outside of the wilder shores of Islamism, many Muslims don’t
even accept that it is a religious duty to cover their hair, let
alone their face.
Sept 15. Here’s a glimpse inside the Mod exhibition at the Northampton
Museum & Art Gallery. It’s running until 29th Sept...
Sept 13. Right-on students at Edinburgh University have banned
Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ hit. They say it encourages rape
(it doesn’t). The impulse to ban anything you disagree with was
once associated mostly with old-fashioned religious Tories, now
it’s almost exclusively the preserve of the far-Left. Student
unions around the country have banned everything from the Sun
newspaper to speakers who are pro-Israel. Do they think that students
are so dumb and pliable that their minds could be warped by someone
expressing an opinion that isn’t PC or a pop ditty with lyrics
they’re not keen on? You don’t get Tory students demanding a blanket
ban on Billy Bragg braying like a donkey. Censorship now is a
leftwing disease. But if these nitwits find Thicke offensive you
dread to think what they’d make of ‘Brown Sugar’ by the Stones,
Guns N Roses’ ‘One In A Million’, Carl Perkins celebrating the
A-bomb in ‘Tennessee’, Lynyrd Skynyrd singing about George Wallace
on ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ (‘In Birmingham they love the governor’),
or Rose Tattoo’s ‘Revenge’ (‘My city is full of people/That I
don’t understand/They got no love for the life/In this my motherland...’).
Maybe some enterprising Edinburgh student should start up a pirate
radio station: “This one is for all the feminists on campus, it’s
those lovable lads The Monks with ‘Nice Legs, Shame About The
SONGS you could argue are about rape or abuse: 1) ‘Maggie May’,
Rod’s an underage boy, Maggie seduces him, wrecks his bed and
kicks him in the head. She wants locking up. 2) ‘Young Girl’ –
Gary Pucket’s paedophile anthem, enough said. 3) ‘Baby It’s Cold
Outside’ – Dean Martin and Doris Day. He’s slipping her a Mickey
Finn! The dirty no-good rapist bastard. And how about ‘You’re
16, You’re Beautiful & You’re Mine’? Who writes this stuff? Jimmy
Sept 12. That new world peace deal in full: Assad has agreed
to give up all of Syria’s chemical weapons, and in return
we will hand over our explosive devices Gregg Wallace and Janet
Sept 11. Vladimir Putin writes about peace in the New York Times
today. He should watch himself – journalists in Russia have a
tendency to get banged up. Putin’s article urges the Yanks not
to launch air strikes on Syria. You might think it odd to be lectured
on non-aggression by the bloke who supplied Assad with 71 per
cent of his arsenal. Fighter jets, Mi-25 combat helicopters –
you name it, Russia delivered it. But it was the sheer cheek of
the piece that got me. This was basically Putin pissing on Obama’s
lawn and then swinging his dick around for all to see...Maybe
for his next trick he should write a column for Gay News condemning
the USA’s record on gay rights.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the toad-like President of the European
Commission treated MEPs to a ‘State of the Union’ style speech
in Strasbourg today. He told them that without the EU there would
have been a Third World War. Hmm. Did the EU bring peace to Europe
or did NATO? Is the EU prospering or is it gripped by a crippling
austerity that has created mass unemployment and social disorder,
helping loopy extremists to flourish? The vast majority of EU
citizens are of course opposed to Euro-federalism and the EU’s
endless meddling in our lives. But as an ex-Maoist, Barroso has
no problem with the state imposing its will on the people, no
matter how demented that will might be.
Sept 10. Channel 4’s Blackout asked what would happen if we
lost our electricity supply. Basically it was Revolution without
much of a plot. C4’s answer was urban chaos. Looting started almost
immediately; law and order broke down. Crime was rife. It was
a relentlessly bleak view of human nature. Those of us who lived
through the early 70s will remember that people reacted to power
cuts by playing cards by candle-light. Even now, surely if an
energy crisis persisted, charities would set up soup kitchens;
communities would pull together and keep criminal gangs at bay.
There’s still some of the old English spirit left, despite decades
of criminal misgovernment. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to
stock up on bottled water, corned beef, candles and a generator.
THE UN says Denmark is the happiest place on earth. Well wouldn’t
you be happy if you lived next door to Mia Rosing or Anne Lindfjeld?
In a related story, the unhappiest places on earth are 3) Luanda
2) Islamabad 1) Walford.
Sept 9. A huge cheer went up in the BBC newsroom today when
Margaret Hodge, chairman of the public accounts committee, told
her witnesses, including BBC chairman, Lord Patten, and former
DG, Mark Thompson: “I’m not having any more lies this afternoon.”
Quite right too – how did the BBC’s broadcasting remit come to
mean bumper pay-offs for useless executives? Mark Byford, former
DG, collected more than £1million quid in severance pay. Jana
Bennett, the Corporation’s former director of television and ‘Vision’
copped close on £700,000. Lucy Adams, their head of Human Resources,
is on £320,000 a year – more than double what the Prime Minister
gets. Maybe, just maybe, they could justify this if the BBC made
dramas of the quality of The Wire or Breaking Bad or made us laugh
like they used to. But they don’t. They pick our pockets for £3.6billion
a year and blow it on moving to Salford (£1billion), a dud IT
system (£100million), unnecessary executive pay-offs (£25mill)
and inflated top salaries. BBC bosses are often better paid than
their equivalents in the private sector – even though they don’t
run the risks that decision makers in the competitive world do.
When they commission yet another flop sitcom the exec responsible
doesn’t gets sacked, they get promoted or moved sideways. The
BBC has plenty of talented people working for it, on the staff
and freelance – producers and directors, writers, reporters and
even one or two decent performers. But these hardworking folk
are betrayed by the incompetent management and the dismal Lord
Patten of the BBC Trust (a contradiction in terms). And so are
we. We are forced to pay the archaic licence fee even if we don’t
watch a single BBC programme; forced to finance their relentless
right-on world view, and threatened with jail if we don’t. Surely
it’s the gang of shifty racketeers who run the BBC who should
be facing porridge?
Meanwhile in Syria, the battle for Maaloula continues; al-Qa’ida-linked
rebels over-ran the Christian town last week. Maaloula, which
is strategically located in the mountains north east of Damascus,
is a World Heritage Site, hailed as a beacon of Christianity and
one of the last places in the world where the ancient language
of Aramaic is spoken. Jabhat al-Nusra rebels overran government
roadblocks and entered the town last Wednesday. There are reports
that rebels chanting “God is great!” attacked churches and homes.
Christians who didn’t flee were told “Convert to Islam or you
will be beheaded.” These are the people Hague and Obama want us
to bat for!
Sept 8. News that British companies sold poison gas to Assad
recalls the old joke: how do we know Saddam has weapons of mass
destruction? Because we’ve still got the receipts...
Tomorrow is the 500th anniversary of the battle of Flodden,
when hostile Scottish invaders were crushed by a smaller English
army. Some might say that the balance has shifted the other way
in recent times, with English tax-payers being repeatedly shafted
by the Scots. We subsidise their spending, and allow them to be
over-represented in the UK Parliament despite having one of their
own. It is time surely to rectify this imbalance. We need 1) an
English Parliament with at least the same powers as the Scottish
one within a federal UK 2) fiscal devolution so the Scottish,
Welsh and Northern Irish become responsible for financing their
own expenditure; and 3) to spring free of the suffocating grip
of the European Union, and reverse its damaging influence. More
democracy, less bureaucracy is the only workable formula for a
Sept 7. It’s an unstated fact that the noisiest supporters of
Western intervention in Syria are friends of Israel. Is the real
reason for war the defence of the Jewish state? If so, let’s say
so in advance so the world knows what we’re really being asked
to commit to. You never know we might go along with it. For all
its faults, Israel is still the only genuine democracy in the
Middle East. Despite what the Left tell us, Israel is worth championing.
From socialist roots, the country has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial
success. It embraces Western values and is a global leader in
technological innovation. It is also the only nation in the region
that doesn’t persecute homosexuals. (It’s odd to see Palestinian
flags flying next to Gay Rights banners on demos in the West –
try doing that when Hamas are in charge). Israel stands for liberal
values, universal health care, free speech, the right to dissent
and individual liberty. It has liberated thousands from slavery,
and for a nation that has lost so many citizens to terrorist attacks,
it also has a decent record on its treatment of prisoners or war.
Yet Israel, surrounded by intolerant despotic states, is constantly
painted as the bad guy by self-styled ‘Marxists’, whose guilt-free
association with known anti-Semites is genuinely shocking.
Millions have died in religious disputes. Sunnis fight Shiites
just as Catholics fought Protestants - that’s when the different
faiths aren’t beating the Shiite out of each other. To the cynical
post-Christian European West it does indeed look like madness
to see so many innocents slaughtered in the name of imaginary
gods. Yet there is something in human nature that makes us want
to believe in the supernatural. Scientology is an absurd and obviously
made-up ‘religion’ yet at one stage it had over 50,000 believers
in the States. In Britain, the fall in church attendances has
been matched by the rise of belief in mediums, astrology, numerology
and other transparent cobblers. You and I could start a church
today based on the worship of human achievement, throw in some
baloney about the universal life force, and I daresay we’d have
100,000 followers in our life-time. We could be entirely logical
and scientific, we could have precepts based on common sense,
love of nature and universal tolerance and yet give it a few more
decades and the schisms would come. There would be factions who
wanted to include chimpanzees or dolphins or embrace worship of
the life-giving sun, the religion would split and the carnage
would start all over again. Depressing. (All those wishing to
join my Church of Achievement & Spiritual Humanity should send
me cheque for £100 immediately, made out to C.A.S.H.; you’ll receive
your accreditation in the post. God bless you all).
The Top Ten Made-Up Religions: 1) Festivus (Seinfeld) 2) Quantum
Presbyterianism (The Simpsons) 3) Hitlerism (South Park) 4) The
Cult of Skaro (Doctor Who) 5) Dudeism 6) The Church of The Fonz
(Family Guy) 7)The Church Of Oi (Gonads blog) 8) Feeders Of Vaal
(Star Trek) 9) The Church of Elvis ("you are nothing if not a
hound dog") 10) The Order of Wen, the Eternally Surprised (Discworld).
And perhaps proving my point, the most successful of them all
(other than Scientology) is Jediism. There is a Temple of the
Jedi Order in Texas, teachings and maxims, and famously nearly
400,000 people in England and Wales cited Jediism as their faith
in the 2001 census... Too many times watched Star Wars I think
Sept 3. There’s a dodgy regime that has been throwing its weight
around for the last few decades, invading countries at will, bombing
wherever the hell they like with impunity, abducting foreign citizens
and flinging them into their jails... I reckon it’s time for regime
change. Can we have a vote? This jumped-up bully boy nation state
goes by the name of the USA, a country I love, but which has seriously
lost its way over the last sixty years. Its recent disasters include
two Iraq wars and the tragedy of Afghanistan, which has dragged
on longer than World War II and will end in retreat and defeat.
Now they’re shaping up to bomb and no doubt invade Syria. Barrack
Obama, the country’s great ‘liberal’ hope is openly talking about
regime change in Syria; saying that he wants to topple the Assad
government. So much for just firing off a few missiles to stop
the use of chemical weapons... This proves Parliament was right
to just say no. Once this kicks off, the Yanks will be sucked
in to another gruesome conflict; one that will almost certainly
spill over into Iran. Maybe that’s the true objective.
Sept 2. Why should there be a second Commons vote on Syria?
This seems disturbingly like the EU approach to democracy: keep
asking the same question until you get the answer you want...
the only justification for a second vote would be a major escalation
of the war; but even so, this is not our conflict. Have a look
on the map. This is Arab League country. Turkey is next door,
Israel’s just down the road. Let them sort it out.
Sept 1. Sad to hear that Sir David Frost has died. I met him
many times; he was hugely bright, engaging and constantly surprising,
although far more ambitious than the obituary writers will let
on. He was extremely well-connected of course. Once backstage
on Through The Keyhole, a writer stopped him and asked if he could
ring George back as soon as he could. Frost immediately replied
“Bush?” It didn’t even occur to him that his caller might have
been his son George, who was then at Eton. When I was a guest
on Keyhole, Frosty cut away from the usual LE chat and started
asking about why I’d become disenchanted with the SWP back in
the 80s. You wouldn’t get that with Keith Lemon...although he
might have made a few bad ‘uprising’ gags and offered the opinion
that Vanessa Redgrave was “bang tidy”.
Such a shame to see poor old Rolf Harris get nicked by the Yewtree
plod; things could go badly for him in court. Picture the scene.
Prosecutor: “Mr Harris, do you admit to asking a young man to
‘keep me cockatoo cool, Curl’? while telling Roy not to be coy,
Jack to ahem ‘slip out the back’ and another witness to ‘play
your didgeridoo blue’? For the record, the accused is nodding
in the affirmative...”
I’ve written about The X Factor over on the On The Box but I’ve
just watched Sam Bailey perform at the arena auditions and she
is phenomenal; powerful, pitch perfect and definitely one of the
best singers the show has ever had. Pop music is all about image
and hype; this woman is pure talent. Maybe stop the squatting
on stage though Sam; it looks like you’re about to do what that
baby elephant did on Blue Peter.
Aug 31. It’s just nine days until the 500th anniversary of the
Battle of Flodden, when an invading Scottish army was crushed
by English forces under the Earl of Surrey. 12,000 Scots were
killed, including their King James IV; England lost around 1500
men. I don’t anticipate much coverage on the BBC.
The Chinese plan to land men on the moon by 2017 after an unmanned
lunar mission this December. India, who launch a Mars orbiter
next year, expect to begin manned space missions by 2016. It’s
another space race! Something tells me a lot of abandoned NASA
projects are going to get brought out of cold storage pretty damn
quick. First one to bring back Milla Jojovich wins.
If Frank Carson were still alive he might tell us about the
Irish astronauts who wanted to be the first men to walk on the
sun. Told that they’d burn up, the outraged astronauts replied:
“We’re not stupid, we’ll be going at night.”
Random things that irritate the hell out of me: 1) hospital parking
charges. It costs a minimum of £1.50 even if you just park up
for five minutes to take a loved one up to their ward; the machines
don’t give change, and ‘don’t accept the new 10p and 5p pieces’.
Why not? How long do you need to adapt your machines??? In my
local hospital car park, only half of them work and you have to
programme in your licence plate to stop you passing on your unexpired
time to other visitors. Greedy, incompetent and mean-spirited
– that’s modern Britain.
Aug 30. Well done the Tory rebels! The House of Commons gave
the Coalition a bloody nose and put the brakes on the Gadarene
rush into a reckless new military adventure in Syria. Former Lib
Dem leader, pious old Paddy Pantsdown said he was “ashamed”, that
Britain was “greatly diminished” and our “special relationship
with the US is seriously damaged.” Some quick points: 1) there
is still no concrete evidence that Assad used chemical weapons
on his opponents (unlike, say, the US who dropped millions of
tons of Agent Orange on Viet Nam) 2) Parliament reflected the
will of the people who by an overwhelming majority are opposed
to Iraq Mark II 3) If it turns out the Syrian rebels (already
guilty of cannibalism) used the chemical weapons, would sanctimonious
Pantsdown want to bomb them instead? 4) What special relationship?
5) There is no UN mandate for military intervention 6) Isn’t this
the same Assad who Blair wanted to give an honorary knighthood
to? 7) Was Paddy equally ashamed when the West failed to come
to the aid of the Tibetans crushed by the might of China? Just
The reaction of Lindsey German to the vote was mystifying. Ms
German, famously of the Stop The War coalition (and less famously
once of the central committee of the SWP), is quoted as saying:
“This is incredible. We've broken Britain from US foreign policy
for the first time in many decades, turning the Falklands into
Suez.” Does this make any sense to anyone? Britain ‘broke free
of US policy’ during the Falklands campaign, which the Yanks opposed,
as indeed old Linds and her bourgeois comrades did, and which
we nevertheless won. The Yanks also opposed Suez which ended in
an embarrassing retreat. So how on earth does not getting involved
in Syria turn the Falklands into Suez? Or am I nuts for thinking
the far Left can ever make sense?
Let’s not forget that Harold Wilson also broke dramatically from
US foreign policy in the 1960s when he refused point blank to
send British troops into the Vietnam War – the Yanks asked us
to commit combat forces in December 1964, and again the following
February. Later, during that year’s sterling crisis, President
Johnson’s national security adviser McGeorge Bundy, suggested
that “a British brigade in Vietnam was worth a billion dollars
at the moment of truth for sterling” but Wilson held firm. The
following year he publically disassociated the Labour government
from the US escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam; he twice
tried to initiate peace negotiations.
Why are people surprised that France might get involved in Syria?
The Syrian state was established ninety-odd years ago as a French
Interesting piece here
on Islamic law and democracy.
Breaking News: UK will not now bombard Syria with cruise missiles...
Instead will send crack squad of suicide badgers...
Cameron must be gutted; now he’s missed out on his share of the
bunce ‘world statesman’ and ocean-going hypocrite Tony Blair has
been pocketing on the US convention circuit...
Aug 28. Old gag remembered: Two old people reminiscing about
the 70s. “We had terrible winters back then... Mike and Bernie.”
R.I.P. Mike. Long live Schnorbitz.
Aug 27. My latest Rancid Sounds podcast is now up and running
on wonderful Radio Litopia, with special guest Nick Welsh and
a host of fine noise from the likes of the Old Firm Casuals, Control,
Missing Andy, the Goddamn Electric and more. Hear it here.
Apparently we’re against the use of toxic gas because it kills
indiscriminately, and so to teach the wicked Syrians a lesson
we’ll be firing off a few highly discriminating cruise missiles...
There is still no hard evidence that the Assad regime used chemical
weapons, yet the case against Assad is described as “undeniable”
by politicians whose dishonesty is exactly that... meanwhile we
learn that the BBC ‘accidentally’ used a picture taken in Iraq
in March 2003 to illustrate the senseless massacre of children
in Syria this month... how long before a dodgy dossier turns up?
Aug 26. No British blood should be shed in Syria, and our government
has no mandate to go wading in with Tomahawk missiles. It constantly
amazes me that the politicians who have cut our armed forces back
to the bone are so gung-ho about sending them off to die in someone
else’s war – even without a UN security council mandate. The least
Cameron could do is recall Parliament. Given the mess Western
intervention has made of the Middle East in recent times, I’d
suggest it best to restrict our contribution to humanitarian aid.
There is no evidence that the Assad government is using chemical
weapons, the rebels appear to be equally repulsive, and the whole
set-up seems engineered. How likely is it that on the day Assad
invited in UN inspectors would his forces rain chemical hell on
women and children close to the very hotel in a Damascus suburb
that they were staying in? Either he’s very dumb or someone is
manipulating events to guarantee military escalation. As Terry
Hall from the Specials used to say, this could be your last chance
to dance before World War III. Enjoy yourself, it’s later than
Syria, gay rights in Russia... Cameron does like to keep himself
busy doesn’t he? Any chance he could spare some time to take a
look at JOBS for Britain’s 973,000 young unemployed? Thought not.
Away from the heady realms of international ‘diplomacy’ child
poverty in the UK just hit 3.6million.
Aug 25. Today’s Sun arrives with a huge picture of Cheryl Cole’s
bum on the front page, covered in tattooed roses. I’ve seen roses
just like these before – on my nan’s old tea towel. Maybe Cheryl’s
washed up too. She must be desperate to go in for this kind of
publicity stunt. Although at least it proves that there are definite
perks to becoming a tattooist. Many men have dreamed of being
described as “Cheryl’s tattooed arse” for entirely different reasons.
(Ashley is an arse of course, but as far as I know has no ink.)
I daren’t turn my mobile on all day now because of the inevitable
rose/prick text gags which will be flying about.
The strangest thing about tattoos is how fashionable they’ve
become. Tatts were once almost exclusively the province of the
working or criminal classes, with certain jobs (sailors, soldiers,
wrestlers) over-represented in the ranks. Villains, outlaws and
sociopaths had their own preferences: Love and Hate on the knuckles,
Cut Here on the neck, ACAB – all coppers are bastards, etc. My
own great grandmother May Wager had tattoos on her arm that she’d
done herself with coal dust and a hot needle (it’s said she was
a bit of a handful; her sisters had been known to fight bare-chested
in Charlton Village). When I had my first one done, nearly forty
years ago, it wasn’t by some artistic soul in a smart clinical
parlour, it was by a hulking great Scottish fella at Kings Cross
who went by the name of Tattoo Jock and was genuinely more terrifying
than 95per cent of his clientele. Working class delinquents forming
bands in the late 70s and early 80s – the Cockney Rejects, Iron
Maiden and of course Rose Tattoo – helped spread the appeal of
skin ink. But now tattoos are one of the fastest growing industries
in the Western world, every nitwit on reality TV has got one,
and inevitably they’ve lost that edge of rebellion. It’s a mighty
long way down rock’n’roll from Lemmy to Harry Styles... I’ve had
most of mine a long time, and currently have no plans for any
more. But if the mood ever took me, there is still space for Maiden’s
The Trooper on one calf, and Cock Sparrer’s decapitated bird on
the other - and Diamond Jack’s in Soho is the place to get them
done. PS. When I played LA with my band in 1998, we had a bloke
come backstage who had Adolf Hitler tattooed on his upper thigh.
Every time he got a perk on it looked like the Fuehrer was saluting.
If he ever ran into Cheryl he could try invading the hinterland.
AUG 23. Frank Dikötter’s new book The Tragedy of Liberation
is heartbreaking. A study of China under Chairman Mao’s ‘Great
Leap Forward’, it tells an horrific story of mass murder, hunger,
humiliation, hardships, torture and suicide, as the Great Helmsman
unleashed unspeakable terror on his own people. It was, Dikötter,
argues persuasively “one of the worst tyrannies of the 20th century.”
Mao Zedong’s vision sent at least five million civilians to an
early grave. Forced collectivization in the countryside left villagers
on near-starvation diets, while “intellectuals” and “capitalists”
in the city were forced to give up all of their property. Provincial
leaders were set execution targets and the whole country ran red
with the blood of innocents. Dikötter’s award-winning previous
work, Mao’s Great Famine (2010) told how 45million died in the
early years of the revolution and was rightly praised for its
diligent scholarship. This tightly-written volume is just as impressive.
It’s a must-read for anyone who ever described the Communist regimes
as “progressive”, or believes in the virtue of the State uber
alles. It’s also all the proof you need that the end does not
justify the means. In practice, the means become the end, and
the real end is flushed down the toilet of history in a sea of
Aug 22. Labour front-bencher Diane Abbott has had a pop at Ed
Miliband for failing to press for MORE immigration. Yeah, good
call Diane, that will get the working class voters flocking back.
Abbot’s deranged outburst might make some cynics conclude that
Ed’s recent about-turn in support of limited immigration control
was just a crafty PR response to opinion poll findings. Most people
accept that a degree of immigration enriches any culture, but
the immigration tsunami recklessly and deliberately encouraged
under Blair and Brown has caused no end of problems for public
services, schools and jobs. Not that Diane had to worry too much
about education. Like many a good socialist, she could afford
to send her own boy to a £12,700-a-year private school... (In
other words, comprehensives are good enough for YOUR kids, but
not hers.) Her latest comments prove the Party has learnt sod
all. Cameron should be as doomed as HS2 but with these clowns
in opposition I’m starting to think he might nick it.
Aug 21. All of the charges brought against Jim ‘Nick Nick’ Davidson
under Operation Yewtree have been dropped. So who can Jim sue
for loss of earnings? The Charlton-loving comedian has been living
under a dark cloud of undeserved suspicion since he was first
lifted at Heathrow airport eight long months ago. He lost his
£100,000 Celebrity Big Brother fee immediately, and god knows
how much since. The cops had his phone, his computer and took
sack-loads of “evidence” from his home – which is odd considering
that the alleged offences all took place more than a quarter of
a century ago. If this had happened to Russell Brand, we would
never have heard the last of it, but because it was Jim, an unashamed
working class Tory, the liberal press has been surprisingly quiet
about his rights. Whatever happened to ‘innocent until proven
Aug 20. I’m not sticking up for that idiot Chris Fountain, but
the shock-horror expressed about The Phantom’s dubious lyrics
suggest that the people getting worked up about them have never
listened to much hip-hop. The kind of words Chris spewed are pretty
widespread in the genre. A recent number by Rick Ross boasted
about raping a woman after drugging her with ‘Molly’ – slang for
MDMA (ecstasy). He raps: ‘Put Molly all in her champagne, she
ain't even know it /I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't
even know It.’ (‘U.O.E.N.O.’) It’s a hymn to date-rape! Then there’s
codeine-guzzling Lil’ Wayne rapping: ‘’Bout to put rims on my
skateboard wheels/Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till...’ (‘Karate
Chop’) – and thereby likening his sexual technique to a particularly
nasty racially inspired killing; Emmett was murdered in Mississippi
in 1955 for talking to a white woman; he was 14 years old. If
a rock band were churning out crap like this all hell would break
out in the liberal media, but middle class criticism of rap culture
remains muted for standard bleeding heart reasons. At least in
the US, Reebok were pressurized into dropping Ross who insists
he is “misunderstood”. As with reality TV, the pressure in hip-hop
is for acts to be more outrageous and irresponsible than those
before just to get noticed. Murder, guzzling class As and everyday
shagging seem tame these days. But it’s up to the artists and
the industry to clean up this mess. Hip-hop activist Rosa Clemente
has challenged male rappers to make a stand for what’s right and
what isn’t. Not that this has stopped US radio stations from playing
Ross’s rape song or major record companies from profiting from
numbers like it... Clemente, who once ran for Vice President on
a Green Party ticket, says: “I believe that even if Rick Ross
were to get dropped by his record company or Chief Keef gets dropped
by Interscope, that they have a lot of mostly young brothers down
the pipeline, that they’re saying, ‘Say whatever you want to say
and the worst and most violent and misogynistic, we’re going to
pay you.’ Some rappers think that nothing is going to happen to
them and the reality is something has happened to Rick Ross, but
what about the record company that said it was okay for him to
do this and that continues to put him on tour?” Exactly, to root
out the problem, follow the money trail and call the fat cats
Aug 19. I thoroughly enjoyed the Punk Britannia mini-series
that was repeated on BBC4 this weekend, my only reservation is
that all the talking heads gave viewers the idea that the original
punks knew exactly what they were doing (they didn’t) and that
they were all really principled, which was certainly the myth
we were sold at the time but it was never true. Every punk band
member I ever knew desperately craved fame, and their principles
were always negotiable. The Clash (who I loved) famously sang
“No Elvis, Beatles or Rolling Stones” but happily turned into
the Stones as soon as the opportunity arose. Strummer claimed
to be “bored with the USA” but you wouldn’t have guessed that
from the indecent haste the band adapted to American radio! Not
that this mars the brilliance of their early albums. My only criticism
of the series? Too much pub rock, and not enough on Oi (working
class punk) and 2-Tone.
We tend to forget now how hostile the Left were to punk at the
time. Punk exploded under a Labour government, Labour councils
shut down punk gigs and I recall writing an article in 1976 defending
punk from those on the far-Left who wrote it off as dangerously
reactionary (‘Sex Pistols: Whose Finger on the Trigger?’ in Socialist
Worker, 18th December 1976). The WRP saw punk as being ‘tailor
made’ for the interests of big business, being bankrolled by the
record companies and plugged by the media, as well as being ‘a
breeding ground for fascism’. While the Maoists of the PLM (People's
Liberation Music) dismissed it as 'fascist' on the basis of the
cover of the first album by The Clash (!) largely because of the
Union Jack on Paul Simonon’s shirt pocket and the picture of the
police charging at Notting Hill rioters on the back. Most Marxist
intellectuals saw rock and pop as ‘agents of US cultural imperialism’
and punk as a substitute for real rebellion - a way of pacifying
the young working class and channelling its energy towards ‘hierarchal
aspiration, fake liberation from drudgery and the goal of a higher
level of wage slavery with all its alluring but alienated sexual
appeal’ (from Punk, Reggae, A Critique by David and Stuart Wise
– unearthed by the ever diligent professor Matthew Worley). By
1978 however, largely because of RAR’s success, even the WRP were
putting on punk gigs featuring the likes of X-Ray Spex and Chelsea,
and writing positively about the Upstarts, Sham and the Ruts.
Not too surprisingly, a far-Right backlash duly followed. You
still get musicians today who believe their songs and gigs are
the engine of social progress (or neo-fascist reaction), and it’s
less true now than it was back then. You’re all kidding yourselves.
Those great old Clash albums couldn’t keep Mrs. Thatcher out of
office. The Clash enjoyed brief global fame, CBS made a fortune
from them and more than three decades on big business still calls
the shots. The best songwriters can hope for is that they change
a few minds with their lyrics or provide the background music
for wider protest movements. If you want to change the world,
buy a suit, get a haircut and run for office.
The true spirit of punk was libertarian, of course. It dressed
to the left, but valued the individual. Its ethics were d-i-y.
That's why punk became a magnet for mavericks, misfits, free-thinkers
and rebels of all descriptions. It didn't fit comfortably into
any one box.
Not surprised by today’s two-fisted Gregg Wallace revelations.
Gregg is an MFC Bushwhacker through and through. Last year Camilla
Long wrote a piece about him in the Times which began with his
habit of getting into fights and reported that the Masterchef
presenter has a tendency to lose his rag with rude or pushy people.
Sometimes, she wrote, he has to be ‘physically removed from altercations’
and said that he now ‘always has a press officer’ around him to
keep him chilled. I’ve liked him much more since then!
August 18. I’ve just sent Face Down off to the publisher, so
no more tinkering! It's part three of the Harry Tyler saga, and
for my money it’s the best of the trilogy. Face Down should be
on sale in two months time. You can pre-order it here.
Don’t miss the latest issue of Street Sounds. As well as a funny
chat with reggae legend Susan Cadogan, there are articles on Crashed
Out, Klasse Kriminale, Maninblack, Section 60, Iron Maiden, the
2-Tone Village, Decca Wade and Stomper 98, plus a great new cartoon
strip about a super-powered skinhead villain called Super-Yob.
Truly, the spirit of Sounds lives on! More info here.
Aug 17. Remember the Arab Spring? Remember how the UK media,
and the BBC in particular, were cheering it on? They saw it as
the dawn of democracy in the Middle East. The airwaves were bubbling
away in a sun-kissed stream of liberal wishful thinking. Look
at the Middle East two years on. In Cairo, 500 died on Wednesday
as clashes between Egypt’s new military junta and the Muslim Brotherhood
descended into bloody chaos. Syria is worse, Iran is a nightmare,
the Lebanon is kicking off again and strife-infested Iraq doesn’t
look particularly ‘liberated’ to me. So what now? It’s hard to
believe liberal Egyptians will look to the West for assistance.
The USA backed the over-throw of the old regime (our allies),
they backed the useless Morsi and now they’re backing the ruthless
generals who over-threw him. The only message that sends out is:
don’t trust these bastards. The Egyptian military meanwhile don’t
dare hold free elections because the Brotherhood and the Salafis
together would be likely to scoop more than 60% of the popular
vote. It’s a tragic mess. Real politics dictate that the West
will back the generals as a shield against resurgent Islamists
in the region; but real economics means that their oil-rich Gulf
state neighbours will have to stump up the aid. The Yanks are
as skint as we are – and just as short of principles and backbone.
Aug 16. I’m about to start writing new numbers with two of my
favourite songwriters – a split single with King Hammond’s own
Nick Welsh, and a whole album with my old buddy Clyde Ward, which
will be our first proper project together since Old Boots No Panties.
This won’t be a Gonads album, but it will view Old Boots’ recipe
of top tunes and low humour as a starting block. With these two
geniuses I’ve written some of my favourite songs since we reformed
the band: ‘Oi Mate’, ‘Glorious’ and ‘Grant Mitchell’ with Clyde,
‘Reinfected’ and ‘Threes Up’ with Nick.
Aug 15. Great, sensible piece on fracking by Matt Ridley in The
Times today. Ugly, inefficient wind turbines cause far more ecological
Aug 14. Ed Miliband just got pelted with an egg in South London.
It’s an odd coincidence because Chris Bryant got egg on his face
on Monday. I don’t approve of chickens’ eggs being used for political
protests. Ostrich ones are far more effective...
My life would be so much easier if I could bring myself to support
the Labour Party again, but even if I could forget how badly they
mucked up under Brown and Blair, it’s hard to take many of the
Shadow Cabinet seriously. Bryant’s a buffoon, Harman’s horrendous
and Miliband himself appears to be as clueless as Clouseau. Alan
Johnson would have made a much better leader; Egg lacks charisma,
the common touch - and a big idea. Labour’s appeal these days
is similar to that of the NHS in that it’s rooted in respect for
what the institution once was rather than the disastrous reality.
The party is £13million in debt! If they can’t manage their own
finances how on earth can we trust them to run the country? We’ve
been ruled shakily for three years by a Coalition of two-faced
posh boys who have made the honest poor pay for the mistakes of
bankers and brokers, if Miliband was even half-decent Labour would
be storming ahead in the polls. He isn’t, they aren’t. Ed isn’t
even popular in his own party. The bloke who threw the egg was
a Labour voter. You wouldn’t have been that surprised if Ed Balls
had flung it.
Aug 13. I recorded my latest podcast today with brilliant Nick
Welsh – I’ll let you know when it’s up and running. My review
of Nick’s ‘Life & Times Of A Ska Man’ album is available in the
latest issue of Street Sounds along with great chats with Susan
Cadogan, Stomper 98 and many more.
What’s this? The government tells us that inflation is down.
Yeah? How much smoke do you want with those mirrors? This at a
time when rail fares are about to rocket up by nearly 10% and
house prices set to rise by seven percent. Energy bills are up,
food prices are up... and yet most people’s wages (unless employed
by the state) have been frozen. As always, it’s sensible to question
Why do rail companies always fleece the poor old commuters?
Labour think the answer is for tax-payers to subsidise them more.
Why? Businesses that aren’t subsidised tend to be better run than
those that are. It’s always easy to spend other people’s money
– look at the BBC. Why not try running rail companies more efficiently,
and selling seats at more sensible prices so their off-peak trains
are busier? We have the dearest rail system in Europe and one
of the least efficient. On Sunday I came home from Blackpool on
Virgin Trains. I’d booked a seat in advance. But when I got to
Preston station, there were no London trains on the board. There
was no-one in the customer service office, naturally, so I asked
a fellow in a uniform when the next train would be in. He pointed
at a stationary inter-city and told me it was due out 50 minutes
later. After 45 minutes there was no sign of life on the train
and still no-one in the customer service office, so I asked another
bloke who told me there were no London trains today because of
repair work and that I’d have to get the Birmingham train and
change at Stockport. No-one had thought of putting a sign up,
or making announcements to this effect. I had a reserved seat
on a train that wasn’t running. Any company can cancel trains
of course, but Virgin like to give it that extra twist and NOT
ACTUALLY TELL YOU. Long story short, it took me longer to get
to Kent than it would have done to fly to New York. The company’s
official line, if you can spare the 50 minutes or so it takes
to speak to an actual human being, is “This can happen.” Next
time, I’ll drive or jump on a plane to Manchester because that
can happen too.
Aug 12. Labour’s chief clown Chris Bryant was due to have a
go at Tesco and Next today for not doing enough for British workers,
but in the event he realised he’d got his facts wrong and watered
down his speech. The odd thing about all this is that Labour have
always been keen on recklessly encouraging immigration and giving
Britain’s borders over to the EU. Under the rules Bryant’s own
party signed up to, all UK companies are obliged to treat job
application from other EU citizens fairly. Brown’s ‘British jobs
for British workers’ slogan was unworkable.
Aug 11. I’ve spent the weekend up at Rebellion, watching bands
like the Cockney Rejects, the Business and Cock Sparrer - all
old friends - play to thousands. It’s nice to see the scene NME
once claimed I’d “invented” still thrives the whole world over.
The Rejects film, East End Babylon, tells the true story.
There’s a ridiculous ‘review’ of Iron Maiden in the Independent
today, which claims among other things that Eddie “dates back
to the Sanctuary sleeve” (he predates that by years) and that
heavy metal in the eighties was “for weaklings...heavy metallers
were always the acne-encrusted, bespectacled, runty kids.” Not
at the Ruskin Arms they weren’t, mate. Odd that the self-styled
quality press out-do the much maligned tabloids in presenting
their prejudices as facts.
On the On The Box page, I mildly mock the BBC’s Make Me A German
programme but there are things we can learn from the German approach
to life, not least their apprenticeships system, their attitude
to family and community, and their disregard for credit cards.
It’s a beautiful country, the people are friendly and hard-working,
and the beer is great. Prost. Germany’s big problem is its dwindling
population. The New York Times reports that ‘In its most recent
census, Germany discovered it had lost 1.5 million inhabitants.
By 2060, experts say, the country could shrink by an additional
19 percent, to about 66 million.’ (In Britain we’re told our birth
rate is the highest in Europe, although not for native-born mothers...
Like it or not, New Labour’s deliberate plan to "open up the UK
to mass migration" – now acknowledged as a conspiracy rather than
a cock-up - will change old Albion beyond recognition.)
Thought: if you were really having a good time, would you feel
inclined to stop and post a picture of yourself on Facebook?
Aug 8. There’s a Lee Rigby Fundraiser on Friday August 30th
at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet in Essex; seventeen acts, including
some of the last great Cockney comedians not in captivity, and
at least one big name surprise. All for a tenner! All proceeds
to Lee's family. Let's do them justice and make it a sell-out.
Box office: 01708 863838.
Ahead of Rebellion, here’s
my chat with Steve Ignorant.
Aug 7. The bongo-bongo land row is relatively bonkers of course.
Both because offence at the words used by Godfrey Bloom in a private
meeting have been allowed to over-take real and necessary debate
about the foreign aid issue, and also because the term ‘bong-bongo
land’ is from another time. It betrays a view of the world that
is essentially ignorant of Africa, where countries like Botswana
and Morocco are doing quite nicely thanks, at least three African
states have a higher income per head than we do, and of course
India (who we’ll stop giving aid to in 2015) which has Asia's
third largest economy and a space programme. I don’t agree with
Godfrey on a lot of things, but he’s right about wasteful aid,
and unlike most politicians he’s honest and plain-spoken. Godfrey
Bloom adds to the gaiety of the nation and should be a shoe-in
for reality TV, but if UKIP want to be taken seriously they have
to distance themselves from the language of the 19th hole.
*Godfrey Bloom update: Bongo-Bongo Land bad, Mu Mu Land groovy.
Aug 5. I had a good drink yesterday with Steve Ignorant from
Crass, a thing neither of us ever thought would happen. And here’s
what is stranger – we got on like a commune on fire. Differences
were resolved, pints were sunk and misconceptions corrected. Steve
is a lovely, fascinating bloke, involved with volunteer sea rescue
crew at Palling, as well as being a surprisingly staunch Cockney
Rejects fan. Afterwards, I interviewed him for my podcast, which
will be on-line as soon as possible. It’s a shame we didn’t do
this 35 years ago, but there was probably too much sound and fury
around back then.
I finished writing the new Harry Tyler novel Face Down in the
Portuguese fishing village of Burgau, getting up at 5am and working
flat out on it for five hours every morning before the rest of
the family stirred at 10am. I’m delighted with the way it’s turned
out. There’s something about a change of location that oils the
wheels of the imagination. Either that or the vinho verde. The
third part of the Tyler trilogy reunites Harry with Johnny Too,
and other old faces besides. I think it’s better, funnier, and
certainly harder-hitting than the first two books. You can pre-order
- or if you're in the USA, here.
Things that irritated me while I was away: 1) the great Twitter
row. Either you agree with freedom of speech, or you don’t, and
if you do, you have to accept the freedom to offend that comes
with it. The likes of Caitlin Moran seem to believe that only
those who adhere to dull unquestioning culturati herd-think should
be allowed to say what they like, including in her case suggesting
that Germaine Greer should run ‘a sword through Toby Young’s face’.
A joke of course, but no worse than many she objects to. Historically
cyber lynch mobs have been a phenomenon of right-on, name-calling
middle class hypocrites. 2) Spain acting like a bully-boy towards
Gibraltar – odd that the EU is happy to take tax money from the
Rock’s residents but won’t guarantee their freedom of movement.
Odder still that the UK hasn’t sent a frigate.
3) The rancid cronyism that hangs over the new peers list like
the stench of rotting fish. Seems you can buy yourself a seat
in the Lords simply by bunging Cameron a modest £100,000 party
donation. The total given by the new appointments? £1.5million.
Are these the brightest and the best, or simply the vainest and
most pompous? The second chamber serves a useful purpose, but
why not end this cash-for-coronets farce and make it democratic?
A second chamber, elected under proportional representation, would
have the independence and the legitimacy to check and challenge
the power of government as well as being utterly accountable to
the electorate. It would be a massive leap forward and help halt
the steady erosion of our essential rights and liberties.
July 7. This blog returns in August. So does Street Sounds issue
4 and the new Gonads album, prophetically entitled Built For Destruction.
July 6. Last night Emily Maitlis on Newsnight described a Tory
Private Members’ Bill calling for a referendum on Britain’s EU
membership as “crazy”. So much for the BBC’s pro-EU bias being
‘historic’! That said, there’s no doubt in my mind that the bill
is a cynical ploy designed to slow UKIP’s rapid growth. Cameron
isn’t euro-sceptic, more pseudo-sceptic...
A major new YouGov study in Britain, France, Germany and Sweden
confirms what we already know: most voters no longer believe that
the political Left represent their interests. As I argued in The
World According To Garry Bushell, the self-styled ‘progressive’
parties have lost touch with working class people and don’t appear
to give a toss about their problems. Currently, less than one
in three of the British people polled think that Ed Miliband’s
Labour Party care about them. In England, that percentage is probably
lower. The post-socialist Left has become fixated with minorities,
political correctness and special interest groups; they rarely
connect with the vast majority of working and lower middle class
people. Even the legacy of Labour governments has been tarnished.
State-run industries have proved massively inefficient. Benefit
fraud is rife. Reckless open-door immigration has not benefited
British workers one iota. In the UK, we prefer to remember the
myth of the NHS rather than the dismal reality. In all four countries,
at least 60 per cent think the tax system is unfair, 75% of Swedes
think they pay more in taxes than they get back in pensions and
public services. The old post-war consensus is a house of cards
waiting to collapse. Some, like Owen Jones, think the solution
for Labour is to revive the 1983 manifesto of nationalisation
and high taxation. That would be suicide. The real alternative
to big government and high taxation is to scale back the state,
spread ownership and encourage small businesses. Labour has to
embrace the good honest values of self-improvement and self-reliance.
They must realise that there’s nothing wrong with aspiration,
or traditional families or in seeking excellence in education.
There’s nothing wrong with ‘British Jobs for British Workers’
either, or in wanting our children to be able to get jobs and
afford housing. Above all, hard work should be rewarded not penalised.
Jobs. Health. Housing. Opportunities. Wages. Wealth creation.
It’s the bread and butter stuff that matters most. The Tories
are weak on Europe, crony capitalism, HS2, Syria, immigration,
and a whole range of issues. Miliband should be hammering them.
He isn’t. He can’t. He’s just as bad.
The oddest thing about Glastonbury is how cosy it is nowadays.
Once linked with crusties, eco-warriors, druggies and hippy rebellion,
the festival is now thoroughly Establishment. Our state broadcaster
adores it, politicians throng to it, the local council welcomes
it... everybody loves it. Well apart from grumpy old bastards
like me who prefer to see bands (and comedians) up-close in sweaty
clubs. You wouldn’t know from BBC music coverage that less cosy
scenes still exist. Some of the bands at Rebellion for example
still terrify the culturati, largely because they don’t share
their roots, political prejudices or class assumptions. We’re
unlikely ever to see Argy-Bargy on Later with Jools Holland, Stinky
Turner in ITV’s jungle or BBC4 commissioning documentaries on
The Business. And although part of me thinks that’s a shame, there’s
also part of me that knows it’s the way it’s got to be. Oi, street-punk...they’re
the real alternative, the genuine blue-collar counter-culture,
maaan. Not John Lydon looking more like an advert for Pils and
pies than PiL.
You know who I feel sorry for? All those minicab drivers hanging
around at various airports all over the world holding up placards
for Ed Snowden...
July 2. There’s an uprising in Cairo, Arizona is in flames,
MPs want a 10% pay hike and yet the big news apparently is a Channel
4 publicity stunt. Today’s Sun front page is barking mad. They’re
attacking C4 for screening a daily Muslim call to prayer in the
middle of the night during Ramadan. But who is going to be watching
at 3am? Shift-workers, insomniacs, speed freaks... Certainly not
devout UK Muslims who have managed to get up for prayers for decades
without C4’s help. The Currant Bun has fallen for a slick PR ploy,
and one that is guaranteed to cause offence – largely to Muslims
who will have to suffer their religion being cynically used by
a channel that has recently celebrated dogging, sex toys and Bi-Curious
Me. (Not to be mistaken with Pi-Curious Me – that’s Wolfy on C5.)
It will also wind up nitwits who mistake Islam for Islamism, militant
atheists and talk-radio hosts who have to get het up about nothing
for a living. I’m rather looking forward to other faiths getting
coverage in C4’s new ‘imaginary god’ slot. Maybe costume drama
The Odin Line, Celebrity Big Buddah, They Think It's All Jehovah,
or the Buddhist game show Wheel Of Dharma.
July 1. This day in 1916 saw the beginning of the battle of
the Somme. The attack was made by eleven divisions from the British
Fourth Army, two divisions of the Third Army, and five divisions
of the French Sixth Army. The Fourth Army alone lost 19,240. Nine
men were awarded the Victoria Cross. Their names: Eric Bell, Geoffrey
Cather, John Green, Stewart Loudoun-Shard, William McFadzean,
Robert Quigg, Walter Ritchie, George Sanders, James Turnball.