Garry Bushell
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Garry Bushell OnlineSTOP PRESS. Here I am at Bez's bed-in, between the Happy Mondays' dancer and his girlfriend Firouzeh on a reasonably happy Friday. We debated his anti-fracking cause on camera. I'm sceptical, but in this increasingly apathetic world I admire anyone who has the balls to make a stand for what they believe in. Bez's party, now renamed We Are The Reality Party, are said to be running second in Salford & Eccles. Could he do the unthinkable and over-turn the Labour majority? Bez certainly got me thinking about this poor kid's death:


While I'm here, the current issue of Street Sounds, which we're reading in the picture, is out now, featuring the Dropkick Murphys, the Boys, Chris Pope, Alan McGee's new protégées Alias Kid, Rhoda Dakar, Garry Johnson, punk and Oi in Argentina, and much more. Get it from here or from great independent shops like All Ages and Oi Oi The Shop in Camden.


At the other end of the political spectrum, earlier in the week I watched UKIP MEP Tim Aker go down a storm with about 70 local deaf people. No other party bothered to send a speaker. Labour said they would, but didn't call back; the Tories didn't even bother to reply. And of course Bez was in bed. Makes you wonder how many constituencies will 'do a Clacton' - if only to give the political class a boot up the jacksie. If Mark Berry is appealing to one lost generation, the apathetic working class young, UKIP connect largely with an older generation who feel they've lost their country and their voice. In their very different ways, UKIP, the SNP and Syriza in Greece offer something the establishment can't – hope, change and a listening ear. However illusory that might be.


Feb 4. ISIS has released gruesome footage of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being torched to death by his captors. A sickening and barbaric war crime that makes you despair, although no doubt someone woolly-minded nitwit from the BBC will be on hand soon to tell us that it's not helpful to call the perpetrators terrorists. Maybe radicals or militants, would be better... or offended men of God... shall we have a quick focus group?


What do Islamic State and their supporters around the world hope to gain by their repulsive actions? Victory, clearly – and with good reason. Terrorism has proved the most effective tactic for "national liberation" for more than half a century. It's how the FLN forced the French out of Algeria, how the Mau Mau drove the British from Kenya and how the IRA achieved their place in government. Terror works, and that's why it thrives. The people who burn other people alive or shoot cartoonists or kidnap children can only do so because they believe absolutely in their cause, whether it be to drive Johnny Foreigner out of their homeland or to rid their region of an "infidel" religion. What can be done in the face of such belligerent certainty? What do the leaders of the West have to offer the world? The fashionable belief that all cultures and customs are equally valid has made us sitting ducks. If we no longer believe in ourselves then why should anyone else? Our politicians can waffle on about freedom, tolerance and equality until the cows come home, but their spines crumble when faced by opponents who are powered by a faith we can despise but cannot match.


Feb 3. Bez is to emulate John & Yoko's infamous bed-in. The Happy Monday's dancer will stage a seven day bed-bound protest at London's Montcalm Hotel next week with his girlfriend Firouzeh Razavi. No doubt other Madchester characters and minor celebs will pay him a call, and the sheets will hit the fans if anyone decides to bring along a sniffer dog. The stunt is a direct copy of the 1969 'Bed-In For Peace' when the Lennons laid in for a week at the Amsterdam Hilton; the difference being that Bez is not protesting against war but against shale gas fracking. "Frackers" are the new bogeyman for the modern, green/hippie crusty underground. What Montague Burns did next. But not everyone on the Left swallows the hysterical propaganda. Here is a guide to anti-fracking whoppers from spiked online. The only thing Bez says about his bed-in that I can fully agree with is that it'll "take the hassle out of what to do for Valentine's Day".


Feb 1. What does it mean to be a conservative in 2015? My latest podcast guest is Professor Roger Scruton, one of England's leading philosophers and the author of How To Be A Conservative, along with many other provocative and intelligent books which question the dominant left-liberalism of modern Western thought. The son of a working class Mancunian Labour Party supporter, Roger's contrary views were shaped by the 1968 Paris uprising when he realised that he was on the other side, the side that wanted to preserve rather than destroy. Scruton went on to bravely champion dissidents in Eastern Europe before the fall of Communism, and was banned from Czechoslovakia for his pains. One of the many subjects that concerns the prof more recently is the fate of England. He criticised English voters being excluded from the debate about Scottish independence last year, and has said that given the opportunity he would vote for English independence. His book England an Elegy was a stout defence of English values and virtues. In a free-flowing chat, we discuss intolerance of dissent on university campuses, free speech, the Labour Party, the Conservative Party's failure to conserve, the culture of spin, modern art and the Church of England. And I ask why he thinks that the belief in human progress is unreal. Literacy is widespread, we've beaten many diseases, our people are relatively prosperous. Isn't that progress? Is Roger Scruton really just a pessimist?






Garry Bushell