Quote of Last Week:
“If the MPS are delaying an investigation into a likely crime because of political interference then ‘scandal’ does not begin to cover it.”
– Jolyon Maugham QC, on learning that, five months since the likely perpetrators were indicted by the Electoral Commission, Scotland Yard has decided not to pursue an investigation into the evidence of fraudulent acts committed by EU Leave campaigners, blaming “political sensitivities”.
“If we ‘Remoaners’ have a sense of injustice, it’s because we have been deprived of an essential freedom…”
Get us out of here
One of the country’s top linguists, 27-year-old language teacher Alex Rawlings, fluent in 15 languages, has featured in the press after tweeting out to his personal universe the news that he is emigrating to Spain to get away from the horrors of a post-Brexit Britain.
“This whole country is on the brink of the worst disaster since the second world war, and everyone is just sipping coffee, going about their daily business as if nothing is happening”, he told The Observer. “I don’t want to live an environment where I have to apologise for believing in European unity.” The story explains:
“Rawlings, who is half Greek and retains a Greek passport, will move to Barcelona on 1 November to pursue “creative passion projects”.
At that point I began to cry.
For it seems that anyone with any slender claim to another country’s passport has become a first-class passenger, able to get off and tour the ancient ruins, while those of us who, like me, are so English we miss out on the opportunity to escape, are trapped in steerage on HM Prison Ship Britannia, moored somewhere off the coast of the civilized world in a rotting hulk filled with opportunistic and disputatious madmen – and that’s just the officer class, fighting one another for the last lifejacket.
For us, there is no way out. If we ‘Remoaners’ have a sense of injustice, it’s because we have been deprived of an essential freedom through the intemperate actions of a dimly illuminated mob, persuaded in its sullen and mutinous ignorance to torch the building around us; their retrograde sense of British entitlement heightened by the propaganda of a nasty, neo-Thatcherite cabal seeking to profit from chaos. Formerly secret, their motivations are now openly worn on their flushed and greedy faces.
Power! The power to be sharks in a goldfish bowl.
Among them, the failed applicant for the Tory leadership and useless ex-Environment minister, the formerly obscure housewife Andrea Leadsom, a small-minded woman of the shires for whom the word ‘conservative’ should be written in all-caps, stands out. An extreme Brexophile, she has called for the abolition of all regulation safeguarding the rights, health and safety of the British workforce and consumers; all financial regulation and food subsidies too.
Was that lunacy really what the fish porters of Sunderland were voting for? The sheer, unbridled hurricane-force of naked capitalism, bearing down on them and their children and – if the Environment permits the extension of the race for enough years, which is by no means on the cards – their grandchildren: economic chattels, debt-peons trapped in the maelstrom of the markets, waking poorer every day, subject to the will of giant corporations in a retail culture of delivery “yesterday”?
I ‘ve racked my brains to think of a way out of the horrible future that these rabid, post-truth politicians with their all-digesting ambition propose for us. Sadly, though my late grandparentage includes one (renounced) Greek-born citizen and one dual British-American of Irish ancestry, neither offers me sufficient relevant DNA to apply for alternative nationality. (And who now would want to become an American?)
In any case, it would be hypocritical: I don’t believe in nations, and I’m mildly revolted by nationalists, as it seems to me they are essentially co-dependants in a corrupted system of bordered parentalism, tribalists unable to think or act for themselves without the protection and permission of a self-defining state and a national creation myth.
I tried seven years ago to get myself out of a Britain I could see one day splintering into factions separating both from Europe and its own senses; but my Committee of Discarnate Entities had other ideas; and it seems they had good intent, because if my house sale – the only one offered – had gone through in 2012, I should now be living on a worth-less pension in the burnt-out ruins of a Portuguese village consumed by wildfire, broiled in 48-degree summer heat and battered by powerful storms; half-blind, half-mad and pissing into a bag.
It might sadly have been preferable to continuing to exist on an impoverished island sinking rapidly in the West, governed by closed-minded native isolationists paradoxically pinning their hopes on faraway countries’ inclinations to owe us a living.
Nor do I speak Portuguese.
“…until I realized that, not 1968, but 1648 is exactly where British politics has returned to in the Year of Our Lord, 2018.”
“Oh, Gerrard Winstanley…”
I’ve not yet succeeded in “getting” Jeremy Corbyn.
He’s always struck me as being a bit of a cantankerous old sod. An obstinate, puritanical stick-in-the-mud, who spent the greater part of his long political career in near-obscurity on the back benches, delighting in his perversity, forever rebelling against his own party whips and demonstrating right-on international solidarity, flirting with some really quite inadvisable representatives of liberation movements not averse to using violence for political ends.
Making me Head Boy for just my last term, my old junior school headmaster, Jeff Cornes, admitted that he was only offering me the position out of respect for my academic record – I had been “top” of the top form for a year by then. “But”, he cautioned, “You should be aware that you have no leadership qualities whatsoever.”
Reader, it’s true. But like Corbyn, I’ve never been a follower either. “I just go where I’m pointed!” I will explain to anyone looking to me for a lead; and then step aside and snipe cruelly from the sidelines as they blunder on.
Since his unexpected election as party leader faute-de-mieux, and Prime-Minister-in-Waiting, a “stalking horse” elected by accident, Corbyn (who is the same age as me, older by five months) seems to me to have displayed a similar lack of interest in actually leading anything; preferring to bask in the extraordinary personality cult that has grown up around him.
When it comes to policy, his party seems hopelessly divided around his lack of direction, especially on Europe, where he is at odds with most of the rest, imagining the EU as a corporatist superstate rather than, as I see it, a bulwark against US hegemony.
The faction of Jeremy fanatics known as Momentum has displayed a Stalinist enthusiasm for purging the party of its less radical elements, careless of the polling figures that still put Labour several points behind what is, by universal acknowledgment, the worst, the feeblest, the most incompetent, most corporate-leaning, the most damaging and most fractious Tory government since at least the Second World War.
Until this morning, when the word “Leveller” popped into my head, and I started reading up on this and other disruptive anarcho-syndicalist factions that emerged from the Roundhead tendency during the interim period between the two acts of the English Civil War; and realized that, not 1968, but 1648 is exactly where British politics has returned to in the Year of Our Lord, 2018.
Take, for instance, the Diggers. No, not a reference to our Australian cousins, such as Rupert Murdoch – known to Private Eye readers as “The Dirty Digger”; although the Digger movement embraced precisely the ragbag of suppressed nativist sentiments exploited by his papers.
If you are looking for a C17th origin for the obnoxiously stubborn and self-destructive Leave campaign, the unbending “Brexiteer” mentality, where would you find a better analogy than in the section of Wikipedia reserved for this communitarian working-class faction, dedicated to the common ownership of national resources?
“An undercurrent of political thought which has run through English society for many generations and resurfaced from time to time (for example, in the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381) was present in some of the political factions of the 17th century, including those who formed the Diggers. It involved the common belief that England had become subjugated by the “Norman Yoke”. This legend offered an explanation that at one time a Golden Era had existed in England before the Norman Conquest in 1066. From the Conquest on, the Diggers argued, the “common people of England” had been robbed of their birthrights and exploited by a foreign ruling-class.”
“Ding, dong…”. (©Leslie Philips, ‘Carry On, Teacher!’)
Led by a man called Gerrard Winstanley, the Diggers were a more rural offshoot still of the Levellers, an informal movement led by Col John Lilburne, who were arguing for extending the franchise to all but a few male voters (no women, of course.) Their signature protest at a time of rising food prices was to react against enclosures by planting crops on newly privatized land where there had formerly been common rights; hence the sobriquet. (I thought immediately of the allotment-tending Corbyn when I read: “The Council of State received a letter in April 1649 reporting that several individuals had begun to plant vegetables in common land…”!)
A combination of thuggish intimidation by private landowners, bent judges – themselves extensive landowners – and endless lawsuits finally did for the Diggers. There was a revival in America in the 1960s, with the liberal, egalitarian, non-property-owning society proposed by the San Francisco Diggers; a quasi-political hippie faction who perhaps had more in common with the C17th “Ranters”, a small, sexually liberationist, proto-anarchist movement; again, an offshoot of the liberalizing, pro-democracy Levellers, whose ambition was to restore (as they saw it) a popular sovereignty and a sturdy independence that had been misappropriated by a ruling elite.
These currents of thought seem to me to have resurfaced in a modern populist movement that has coalesced, somewhat incoherently, around ideas of common ownership, self-validation (identity politics), anti-elitism and the idea of England as a prosperous, independent nation free from foreign influence: the Jacob Rees-Mogg thesis leavened with Socialism. (Opposites attract; similarities divide…)
Perhaps it also explains the curious dichotomy we seem to be wrestling with, between excessive permissiveness on the one hand, and excessive prudishness on the other. While the internet grants unlimited access to pornographic imagery, and removals of oppressive laws have offered apparent licence to express our desires freely, nevertheless the popular press goes on tittering, and we have at the same time adopted a Puritanical tendency to punish sexual individualism harshly, to make examples of those (mostly men) who transgress a somewhat fluid code of “appropriate” moral behavior.
There are parallels with an era in which Britain – principally England – was so bitterly divided between those who cropped their hair short and those who grew it long, the dispossessed and the elites, that 600 thousand citizens were slaughtered during eight years of brutal internecine conflict; not over land or treasure, but over abstract ideas of nationhood and sovereignty.
And here we are again.
- Editor’s note: I have removed an item here for space, that others have Commented on below, in case you were wondering what has happened.
The odds against a No-deal Brexit lengthened considerably today, when Buckingham Palace announced that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is expecting a baby “in the Spring”.
Already the poor little sod is being hailed as a new dawn for a triumphant new post-Brexit Britain. Oh, Brave New World! (Assuming they don’t induce her on 29th March….)
Well done, Harry. Hundreds of pages of hysterical press coverage should take the British public’s mind off having to queue at heavily guarded military outposts to receive our weekly food ration and essential medical treatment.
“In failing to challenge their toxic arguments … BBC News renders itself totally unfit for purpose.”
And the rot goes on
“I think the climate may be changing but it could change back again. It might not be a hoax…. I’ve seen a lot of reports, some bad, some good. I don’t know that it’s man-made. I don’t want to spend trillions and trillions of dollars and lose millions and millions of jobs.”
Thus Trump, expatiating in his usual inventive fashion on the most troubling issue of our age (roughly as heard on BBC R4 Today this morning, extracted from yet another discontinuous and self-pitying ABC 60 Minutes interview.)
Interviewer: “…but what about the scientists who say it’s worse than ever?”
Trump: “You’d have to show me the scientists….”
And you ELECTED this childlike imbecile to be your president?
He is surely unique in believing that whatever he knows least about, is what he knows more about than anyone. As usual, Shakespeare got it first:
“Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet, Act 2, Sc. 2)
Seriously, there will be people who believe this nonsensical drivel because he IS the president and so he should be the most informed politician on the planet, when I will give you £100 if you can prove he’s read a single word of the IPCC report or seen any evidence to contradict it. (Then I’ll deny I ever offered you the bet, hahaha! Losers!)
Is it responsible journalism to put those lies on the air without anyone sensible being invited to challenge them?
Has no paid individual within the media wondered logically what Trump imagines he would be spending trillions of dollars ON, if not on creating millions of jobs in the alternative energy and environmental clean-up businesses? I don’t suppose they have, I’ve seen nothing to suggest that they have, so why anyone else would in the current climate, I don’t know. They just seem to absorb his guff like sponges. Maybe just me?
And while we’re at it, the CEO of Cuadrilla was on Today this morning to defend the resumption of fracking in Lancashire, and told a tremendous fib, that natural gas produces less CO2 than coal, and nobody challenged him either. The Union of Concerned Scientists writes that, while on some measures gas emits 50 to 60 per cent less CO2 when burned than coal (depending on the relative efficiency of the systems):
“The drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells and its transportation in pipelines results in the leakage of methane, primary component of natural gas that is 34 times stronger than CO2 at trapping heat over a 100-year period and 86 times stronger over 20 years. … Whether natural gas has lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than coal and oil depends on the assumed leakage rate, the global warming potential of methane over different time frames, the energy conversion efficiency, and other factors. …
“Some areas where drilling occurs have experienced increases in concentrations of hazardous air pollutants. Exposure to elevated levels … can lead to adverse health outcomes, including respiratory symptoms, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.” (Edited from web page entry)
Nor was he challenged to defend the safety of the process for groundwater, both in terms of toxicity and overextraction of aquifers, while in the Colorado and Kansas fracking zones the number of measurable M3 or greater earthquakes increased with fracking from two to 850 a year. He would not be drawn on what magnitude of quake he thought his operations should be safely limited to causing! (Currently drilling has to stop if an Eq. of more than M0.5 is registered.The government is considering removing limits altogether.)
Green MP, Caroline Lucas, was however allowed to mention that the establishment of large-scale fracking zones in the restricted area that is the UK will make it impossible to meet our current emissions reduction targets, supposedly set by law.
Yet the ostrich argument persists: we know it’s dangerous to go on burning gas, admitted the Cuadrilla man, more or less; contributing to an extinction-level crisis within a decade (he didn’t exactly say that!). But what else are British housewives supposed to cook on?
(Smoking is killing you, but since you have terminal lung cancer you might as well carry on buying our brand of cigarettes….)
And that’s the principle too behind the US Government’s opportunistic admission last month that yes, the planet is warming catastrophically but it’s too late/costly to do anything about it now (after decades of lying that there was no problem) so we just have to go on burning oil and coal and gorging on red meat so dinosaur industries can create badly paid jobs that no-one will live to retire from, and hope someone comes up with a technological fix before we go extinct.
(Incidentally, I recommend Stacey Dooley’s intense report on the devastating environmental impacts of the fashion industry as a necessary corrective to shopping addiction. Available on BBC iPlayer and at all good branches of Primark.)
These people have been driven insane by the profit motive, prepared to bet their children’s lives on some fantastical and far-off, unaffordable “unicorn” technology being discovered in time to save them.
In failing to challenge their toxic aguments and in continuing to present the most anodyne editorial view of this rapidly advancing crisis, BBC News renders itself totally unfit for purpose.
Way to go?
I used to have a mild interest in collecting stories of the strangest or most absurd ways in which people die, like the chap in Australia who was killed on the golf course when a high-flying bird of prey dropped a mullet on his head; a mullet being both a kind of fish, and an unfashionable hairstyle.
Few I think can compete with the tragic death of former police officer Elizabeth Isherwood, 60, a care worker, who died after locking herself in a cupboard at her timeshare in North Wales, which she had sold on and was preparing to leave the next day.
Her death was the result of a bizarre series of events.
Apparently, she got up in the night to go to the bathroom, with nothing on, and blundered into the airing cupboard by mistake. The door closed behind her, locking her in, and the handle broke off in her hand.
Unable to call for help in the deserted building, she quick-wittedly wrenched off a piece of pipe and used it to hack a hole through the wall, big enough to wriggle through.
However, she seems to have failed to understand in her confusion that what she thought was the last layer she could not get through was just a picture in a frame, hanging on the other side of the wall.
The pipe she had broken was live, so all the time she was being sprayed with cold water which, acting as a rapid coolant on a body that had overheated with the exertion, caused her temperature to fall rapidly, and hypothermia set in, causing her to lose consciousness.
The poor woman wasn’t found until a week later, as nobody had noticed she was missing.
Verdict: misadventure. (Guardian report, 17 Oct.)
GW: It’s getting wetter all the time
France: At least 13 people have died during heavy storms ahead of remnant hurricane Leslie, that cut off many roads and caused rivers to burst their banks in parts of south-western France, officials have said. The Aude department was particularly badly hit; the Aude river seeing its highest level in 100 years. 7 inches of rain fell on Carcassonne overnight; 2 metres (6ft) of floodwater was recorded in the streets of Conques; at Trèbes, floodwater was as high as seven metres (23ft), local authorities say. (from The Guardian/BBC News, 15 Oct.)
Caribbean: Is another Gulf hurricane brewing? “Invest 94L was on its way to developing a well-formed surface circulation near the northeast coast of Honduras, and the system had a moderately large area of heavy thunderstorms to the southeast of the developing center. These thunderstorms were growing in organization and areal coverage. Its forward speed of 10 – 15 mph should bring the center inland over Belize by Tuesday afternoon, … bringing 2 – 4” of rain with isolated amounts of up to 8″ to Belize and northern portions of Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. These rains will be capable of causing dangerous flash flooding and mudslides. The next name is Oscar.” (Wunderground)
Shades of Puerto Rico: Farron Cousins, of the “Ring of Fire” videocast is reporting, more than a week after Hurricane Michael devastated the region, the 3rd most powerful hurricane ever recorded on mainland USA, that many survivors in the Florida panhandle have still received no help from FEMA, gutted by budget cuts ordered by the Trump administration. The death toll stands at 18, with over 30 unaccounted for at Mexico Beach.
Mexico: Off the Pacific coast, “…the 20th named storm of its ultra-busy 2018 hurricane season (saw) the development of Tropical Storm Tara on Monday morning. Tara was centered about 95 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico at 11 am EDT Monday, with top winds of 45 mph, and was bringing heavy rain to the nearby coast.” Again, up to 8″ is possible. Dr Jeff Masters writes:
“The 2018 hurricane season in the East Pacific (east of the date line) has now had 20 named storms, 11 hurricanes, and 9 intense hurricanes. An average season has 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 intense hurricanes, so we are well past those benchmarks with several more weeks of hurricane season remaining.”
Uganda: At least 41 people are confirmed dead after a massive landslide and flooding in the district of Bududa, Eastern Region on 11 Oct. Heavy rain caused the River Tsuume to burst its banks, which in turn caused a landslide in Bukalasi. Some of the affected areas are still not accessible and it is possible the death toll could increase. Local media said that 100s more are feared dead.” (from Floodlist)
Portugal: ex-hurricane Leslie finally made landfall as a post-tropical storm, three weeks after appearing in mid-Atlantic. 170 km/h gusts and heavy rain brought down trees and power lines, injuring 37. (CEWN #141)
Europe: the jetstream is maybe going to produce a pattern-flip next week, with an area of intense cold forming over northeastern Europe, where it’s been unusually warm; and a heatwave over northwestern Europe up into the British Isles. More torrential rainstorms with “major flooding” and threat of waterspouts are forecast for southern Spain and Morocco/Tunisia, starting Thursday 18 Oct.
Australia: Red warnings were issued as severe thunderstorms broke over the Brisbane, Queensland region. Two concurrent supercells joined forces, with damaging cyclonic winds, torrential rain and heavy hail. (CEWN #141)
Sumatra: 27 die in flash floods and landslides around Pasaman on the Indonesian island, 11-12 Oct. In the north of the island, 11 children were killed when their school was swept away by floodwaters. (CEWN #141)
To date, humans have been responsible for the extinction of over 300 mammal species, according to new research at Aarhus University in Denmark, that in combined total took 2.5 billion years to evolve.
It would be 5.7 million years before 300 new species evolve to take their place.
And Yellowstone… yes, the largest geyser in the park, the normally almost inert Steamboat, went off on Sunday for the 23rd time this year. Rocks ejected over hundreds of feet, “the size of bowling balls”. Ground temperature still rising, more shallow earthquakes, many not being reported, continuing erratic ground uplift….
The Blessed Mary Greeley reports, the breaks in the data transmissions from the monitoring equipment also got so bad at the weekend, the USGS (United States Geological Survey) is claiming they were knocked out by lightning. No conspiracy theorist believes that, as it hasn’t happened before, the monitors are scattered over the whole park – and besides, they have capacitors ‘n’ stuff to soak up the lightning, so.
Actually when you consider they recently tried very hard to put earthquake forecaster Dutchsinse (Michael Janitch, of St Louis) off the air, and he reports ‘quakes from other monitoring services which they don’t, there may be something in the theory that they just don’t want anyone to know when it happens.
Staring at the sun
I know people would think me mad if I tried to discuss my current obsession, that there’s something wrong with the sky. Luckily, I have no-one to talk to all week, so it doesn’t matter.
Now, below is a photograph of some clouds, that I pulled the car over and took just this afternoon. Have you ever seen clouds looking like this? The dark ones, I mean? They look like a bucket of eels, or a pod of leaping dolphins, or something more sinister maybe. I have never before seen clouds do this: