Thursday, 21 July 2016

Everything that will happen to the Corbyn movement up until roughly the year 2045.

Every time I write about Jeremy Corbyn I get way way more readers. I should monetise it. He'd love that - if I turned my dislike for him into a small business. Capitalism wins! Can't be doing that though can I? I'm already worried that I'm becoming the sort of blinkered obsessive cultist I decry his supporters for being in my ability to go on and on and on about the man. I've only written a couple of blog posts to be fair but you should see the inside of my head. It thinks of nothing else. Maybe I actually love him. I doth protest too much, right? Yep, that's it - hand me a Socialist Workers banner and a bottle of coconut water and bus me to the next Momentum rally.

I've given up thinking I can persuade firm Corbyn supporters. If the fact he earned £20,000 propagandising for Iranian State Television arouses not the slightest bit of concern in you then one more pithy blog isn't going do it. That's not a 'smear' by the way. It's a fact. Having said that, maybe I've earned money from Iranian State Television. Is it possible that one of the £2.87 royalty payments I get from time to time is down to my appearance on Jonathan Creek being broadcast in Iran? Perhaps. Hypocrite!

How are we going to get out of this? There's a group of people who love him, a group who don't and a much much larger group of people who Do. Not. Give. A. Shit. No one's changing their mind are they? Doesn't feel like it.

So here's what I think is going to happen - he wins the leadership election by a smallish margin - 55/45. Jubilation amongst his supporters. A small group of MPs (20?) break away and either join the Lib Dems or, more likely form their own new party. The rest stay to see it out. Many 'disloyal' Labour MPs who didn't support Corbyn are deselected by their Constituency Labour Parties and replaced with Corbyn loyalists. Gradually, anti Corbyn Labour party members like me drift away to either the new party or become disillusioned with politics altogether and take up squash.

There is an election. Both Labour and the new party which has foolishly named itself the Red Tory Party are butchered. Corbyn's enormous fanbase is not deterred - of course Corbyn was going to lose they say, his MPs and the hostile media let him down - and they'd have a bit of a point. Not a great one I'd argue but a point nonetheless.

Meanwhile the enthusiastic socialist movement Corbyn has inspired feels like it's going somewhere. There are enormous anti austerity and anti Brexit marches as big as the anti Iraq War ones. And there is a lot to protest. With a gigantic Tory majority, rhetoric about the privatisation of large portions of the NHS and education system is becoming a reality. But just like the Iraq War protests they don't change policy because protest alone rarely does. I never saw those 'God Hates Fags' placards encourage anyone to cross the street and join the Westboro Baptist Church. And now I've just compared the Corbyn movement to the Westboro Baptist Church and belittled the idea of protest - like I said, I've given up on persuasion.

Still, the polls don't look good at all for Labour and Corbyn is getting old and tired so he retires to his allotment, safe in the knowledge that he will always be loved by many. If he's lucky he may even become a Che Guevara style t-shirt star.

And now Labour has a new leader. A white bloke probably, in another example of how the left has become better at talking about equal opportunities than enacting them. This leader is a little more organised - you don't get the feeling, like you do with Corbyn, that he keeps meaning to check if he has a PPI claim. But the Labour brand is tarnished and the majority of its supporters are still arguing amongst themselves. This leader makes some headway but still loses the next two elections - let's call him Kinnock 2.

Now we're into the 2030s and the last few years have been as been bat shit fucking mental as a turn of the century documentary about Michael Jackson. Many of those who drove the Corbyn movement are hitting their mid 40s. Some have mortgages and 'would it be so bad to send our kids to private school? I mean, we'd still keep their feet on the ground' and 'ooh, wouldn't it be nice to have a little place in Umbria?'. Finally, when confronted with the advantages of an off shore tax savings account, they find themselves easing off on the old radical socialism. So, suddenly, they find themselves voting for and in many cases leading something that looks an awful lot like Blairism. Most of Blair's cabinet were flirting with Communism in the 70s. So that's what we have - a decade or so of a 2030s version of Blairism led by the very people who, at the age of 22, fought to destroy it. This only ends when their children leave private school and decide that mum and dad are evil and the only way to get back at them is to take over the Labour party and turn it into a radical socialist movement.

Decades and decades of the comfortable middle classes fucking around with dog shit ideologies, supposedly in service of the working classes, but then abandoning them when it inflicts on their own lifestyles.

My predictions are usually wrong (I have never won a bet on football) but that was fun.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

More ill judged ranting about Trump, Johnson and Corbyn.

We're now on week four of 'thinking about politics' being not a hobby one can dip in and out of but a relentless high pitched ringing sound dominating every waking hour. This morning's episode of 'Apocalypse: 2016' brings the news that eleven time winner of 'worst man in the world' Donald Trump has officially won the Republican nomination. We knew that was coming though. It's been on its way for ages now, like a root canal we booked in last Autumn.

I've been following Donald Trump on twitter for a good few years now - you could say I discovered him. I used to find him hilarious. Every couple of days he'd sit there for literally two hours, retweeting compliments. Some faulty chromosome would tweet him something like 'You're the best Mr Trump' and he'd let us know, adding a 'thanks'. And then he'd do it again and again and again. It's my theory that these 'I'm so great' tweeting sessions were done whilst he was on the toilet pushing out pound after pound of red meat.

I found it funny that a man, so clearly damaged in some way, could broadcast his narcissism to the world. Who are these freaks who tweet him? I thought. There can't be that many. He must be retweeting every single compliment. Well, it turns out his twitter fans represented a tiny proportion of a much larger group of Americans who were not only prepared to throw praise at a giant sweaty baby but were also willing to campaign for him to be the custodian of the greatest nuclear arsenal the world has ever seen.

Americans eh?! Ha! Aren't they crazy?! The more I think about it, the more I reckon the despair of the last few weeks has not been down to sorrow at leaving the European Union but has been serious grief over the loss of a great British pastime - looking down on Americans. Yesterday saw Boris 'I didn't fuck a pig at Oxford but I'll probably do it on television one day' Johnson's first joint press conference as Foreign Secretary. You've probably seen it. Essentially, a series of American journalists ask him 'Aren't you a bit of a cunt?' and we witness his realisation that the 'mumble, mumble, big word, tousle hair' defence looks silly when you're standing next to a grown up like John Kerry.

Since the Blair/Clinton era we have moaned about slick politicians spouting soundbites. Well, not anymore. A chant... What do we want? Less slick politicians! Who shall we replace them with? Transparently hideous and incompetent people! I give it three months before Rylan is Home Secretary.

A few months ago Trump said that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose voters. There's someone in Britain who could do that too. There is literally nothing that the cult of Jeremy Corbyn would not forgive him. Corbyn could join ISIS this morning and by lunchtime there'd be 600 memes hailing his diplomacy.

Are you back on Corbyn mate? Yeah, sorry. If 95% of my time these days is spent thinking about news, 95% of that time is spent thinking about Corbyn. In six months time when I eventually die from too much news, Corbyn's beardy face will be the last thing I think of.

Here's reason number 214 I hate the cult of Corbyn - there's this idea that he's returning the Labour Party to its roots, bringing back old Labour, virtuous Labour. Corbyn fucking hated old Labour. Corbyn didn't just vote against Blair and Brown at virtually every opportunity, he hated Kinnock too. Next time someone calls the MPs who started the 'coup' to get rid of him 'disloyal' ask them about when he was part of the leadership challenge to Neil Kinnock in 1988. Plotter! Oh yeah, but Kinnock wasn't TRUE Labour was he? Then who was? Clement Attlee? Well, it was Clement Attlee who introduced the atom bomb to Britain so you can be sure that Corbyn would have been trying to get rid of him. Since Corbyn has been an MP he has consistently voted against every Labour leader. So maybe, just maybe, it is not his 'disloyal' Labour MPs who are in the wrong party - it's him.

I am now the man who brings every conversation onto his pet subject. I'm like your Uncle who doesn't go an hour without mentioning how speed bumps are destroying the country. Look out for a future post in which I question why 2016's socialist workers movement seems to have far more former boarding school pupils than manual workers.

Look at me. You are witnessing an actor destroy his career with a series of unasked for rants about his industry's favourite ever politician.

I need to finish this on some kind of positive note. The other day I caught me self thinking the old 'why would anyone want to bring a child into a world so awful?' thought. But then I thought about what the world was like when I was born in 1980; Britain had just had the 'winter of discontent' and the three day week and was starting a decade of Thatcher, half of Europe was enslaved, Apartheid was in full swing, Pol Pot was still in business, nuclear war seemed inevitable and Jim Davidson was on the TV.  And yet, somehow, my 36 years have been relatively lovely. There's always a thousand reasons why the world is going to shit. But if you are reading this then the chances are that you, like me, live somewhere where the weather is sunny today and if you want to you can, like me, go for a little walk and treat yourself to a 99 ice cream.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Some observations about being an insomniac.

Television in the middle of the night features a frightening amount of adverts for online casinos. I presume they've identified their target market as people watching the Eden channel at 3.30am. Here's how an online casino advert goes... a man (usually a man) alone in a mundane flat opens up his laptop and inexplicably doesn't go to Pornhub. Instead he goes through to Sky Vegas or whatever and suddenly everything is amazing - he's wearing sunglassses, he's dressed like James Bond, he's travelling down the Las Vegas strip in a convertible, he steps into a casino, lights, lights, glamorous flashing lights, an attractive available looking woman in a red low cut dress is standing behind a roulette wheel, a deep voice over says something like 'Do something with your life! Be a man!'. Is there anywhere in advertising in which the lifestyle displayed is so different to the reality? Anyone signing up for a casino website at 3.30am is either pissed or so depressed that their only other option to brighten up their evening is to call into Talksport. How the fuck is this allowed? The only explanation is that those in charge of regulating gambling advertising are all asleep at 3.30am. Sky Vegas have handed the authorities the tape of a responsible commercial but play something monumentally immoral when nobody but the vulnerable is looking.

I know you're not supposed to watch television when you're trying to get to sleep, by the way. The advice seems to be not to do anything that might stimulate you. Well what the tit are you supposed to do then? Stare into the darkness and contemplate your own inadequacies? My entire life is spent avoiding that exact thing. My current method is to watch nature documentaries. I find them relaxing. David Attenborough's voice is the closest I've ever come to finding whatever drug it was that Michael Jackson's doctor was giving him. The problem is it doesn't send me into a deep sleep, just enough that I can't quite keep my eyes open. So I drift in and out of a light slumber and every so often awake to the sound of bison head butting or the sight of an intensely ugly fish.

Here's the main thing about being an insomniac - it's boring. Every week or so I'll go through a night in which I don't even achieve an Attenborough induced flitting in and out of consciousness. Just hours and hours of nothing, of analysing the morality of casino adverts, of returning to and from the bathroom just for something to do. On these nights there's always the belief that sleep may just be round the corner, so best not to ward it off by doing anything interesting. And so you bury yourself alive in tedium, trying not to rerun arguments you had in 2002.

Then you do the following day on no sleep whatsoever. People ask how you are and you reply 'tired'. But it doesn't feel like an earnest kind of tired. You're not tired because you've been taking care of a new born baby or up late working on a vaccine or recently back from LA after some interesting meetings with NBC. You're tired because just before bed it occurred to you that you're not sure if you ever went to a Shed Seven gig or not and now you can't stop thinking about it.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

How can we be sure Peter Mandelson doesn't shoot dogs?

Not many people read this blog. Not traditionally anyway. Until this week, my average post would get 100 readers or so. That was until I started writing about POLITICS. Suddenly, my readership has increased ten fold - seventeen fold to be exact. Who knew?  Lying dormant for all this time has been an audience, the size of an average Barnet FC home gate, who wake up every day thinking 'I wonder what the guy who played David Hasselhoff's manager thinks about the news'.

This leaves me in a quandary. Sure, writing about politics is fun (that's why all the teens are doin' it) but it's also stressful. Putting forth an opinion will inevitably lead to some people disagreeing with you. I found myself in an argument on Facebook about my Corbyn post yesterday. Has anyone ever, in the history of the internet, won an argument? If they have, I've not witnessed it. Once a debate has escalated to a certain level it never ends with 'actually, do you know what @BarbaraG1993? You were right and I was wrong'.

But my people want that sweet sweet politics talk from me. I could write about Chilcot which comes out in a couple of hours. That would be an ambitious topic. Here's a prediction; whatever Chilcot says, it will not change a single person's opinion about anything. Britain is split into three camps - those who think Blair is a war criminal, those who think he isn't and those who watch Geordie Shore. No one will be moving camps today. What you'll get is a lot of people screaming 'Whitewash! Whitewash! This report did not confirm my long held immovable view and therefore it is a Whitewash!'.

Here's a problem which is getting ever worse. For the most part, everyone only reads things they already agree with. Today I guarantee they'll be an article titled 'Why Chilcot is a whitewash and we should be outraged'. The content of the piece will not matter. It'll still get thousands of shares. You could fill it with carrot soup recipes and people would still go 'Well, this looks like it confirms my views - share!'.

Exploiting this culture is a website called The Canary. If you've not noticed it, it's the pro-Corbyn news blog your little sister's new boyfriend keeps posting on his Facebook feed with articles titled things like 'Charlotte Church Reads The Junior Doctors Contract - And It's Not Good!' and 'How Can We Be Sure Peter Mandelson Doesn't Shoot Dogs?'. The Canary's tagline is 'Fresh, Fearless Independent Journalism'. Its twitter bio is 'Free. Fair. Fearless'. These sound awfully like Fox News's tagline - 'Fair and Balanced' and it is essentially a left wing, British, low budget version of that. The Canary constantly complains about bias in the 'mainstream media', using the popular new irritating acronym MSM. Ironically, it has never published an article which didn't support its own particular leftie agenda.

There's nothing wrong with bias of course. The Guardian is heavily inclined in one direction and The Telegraph in another. They do at least have some degree of variety of opinion though. The rise of websites like The Canary and the right wing alternative Breitbart is fucking scary. Is this what we want to do? Pick a side in our early twenties (or at the age of eleven if you're a geek like me) and then block out anything that might not tally with our team's views? Just seek out things that support our argument not challenge it while piss poor websites pick up the clicks?

A few years ago I noticed that my twitter feed was invariably only giving me one side of the argument on most news stories. So I made a conscious effort to, in addition to all the lefty comics and journalists, follow a load of right of centre commentators and politicians. It hasn't radically changed my opinion on much but it has at least given me an insight into the other side of the debate. Now let me just step up onto my self righteous horse for this - I recommend doing as I did.

Perhaps you agree with everything I've said. In fact, maybe you already had all these opinions before reading and this post has just confirmed them for you. In which case, you know what to do - share!

Happy Chilcot Day everyone!

Monday, 4 July 2016

An ill advised post about Jeremy Corbyn.

Note to the reader: I want you to know that throughout the process of writing this post, my inner monologue has been a loud and relentless 'WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!!!!' Right now, I'm still in the bunker of obsessively watching the news and I needed to get some shit off my chest...

After five years or so of writing about absolutely nothing, I'm going to write my second blog post about politics in a week. This may be unwise. I mean, the first time I just wrote down the word 'politics' I spelled it 'polotics', realised that looked wrong and changed it - that would suggest I'm not entirely an expert. Having said that, being an expert is now seen as a disadvantage in the world of politics - we now live in a post-expert Britain. When people spoke of taking power back from the 'elites' it is now becoming ever clearer that a more specific definition of the vague term 'elite' is 'people who know what the fuck they are doing'. Well, thank God we got rid of them.

I don't think I'll bother writing about Boris and Gove and the rest of the cast of - lets see if I can make a comparison no one else has made of late - GAME OF THRONES. Ha ha ha ha ha. Seriously, I do not watch Game of Thrones except when out of the corner of my eye I see some medieval boobs. All I know is that it is now appropriate to say that absolutely everything is 'like Game of Thrones'. 'I missed the last train' - 'Ooh, it's like Game of Thrones'. 'Ham and cheese panini please' - 'Ooh, it's like Game of Thrones'. 'My wife has taken up badminton' - 'Ooh, it's like Game of Thrones'. It seems you could spend the next six months, exclusively saying that sentence and be considered a fascinating wit.

I'm going to talk about Labour. That's the lot that are consuming my thoughts without interruption. The Tories are the Tories. They are not my team. As a Newcastle fan I've never been one to give much of a shit about what Sunderland are up to. It is the drama in the Labour Party that is bothering me in a visceral way - honestly, it's like Game of Thrones.

A confession - I have hated Jeremy Corbyn almost from the moment I had heard of him. I realise that that admission will make the aim of this post - persuading Corbyn fans to give up on him - almost certainly futile. You see, I am from the (slowly moves behind bullet proof glass) Blairite wing of the party. When I say Blairite, I mean it by its new meaning. Blairite used to mean someone who preferred Tony Blair to Gordon Brown. Now it would seem that Blairite means anyone who doesn't think Bargain Hunt is rigged by Zionist plotters.

Damn it. I'm not being persuasive am I? Ok. Here goes... in my new ill advised, self appointed role as political commentator I am going to attempt to debunk each of the pro Corbyn arguments. Coming from a world - the craft beer supping, liberal arts degree having, most left wing opinion in the room always wins the argument world - this makes me a HERO. To be fair, you'd be right to point out that I've waited until Corbyn is as weak as my backhand to put my head above the parapet.

Oddly, I think this is the easiest argument to counter. The purpose of the Labour Party is to be in power and enact policies - not campaign for them. If the party doesn't hold a serious chance of being in government then it is essentially a pressure group. Brian May is a good campaigner for the rights of badgers - he is not a future Prime Minister.

Cos he is mate. But he won four out of four by-elections and increased the Labour majority in three of them! The opposition always win by-elections... always. He did nearly as well as Ed Miliband in the council elections! Ed Miliband went on to lose the general election. The youth! The youth! He's engaging the youth! He is. To a degree. Mainly the bookish, indie, own an acoustic guitar youth - I'd have been a Corbyn fan at 19, I'm sure of it. But the youth don't win you elections. Where were all the youth in the referendum? Sadly, they didn't vote and there are no signs of that changing. The simple fact is that Corbyn has the lowest ratings of any opposition leader in history.

This is the argument I find most irritating. For thirty years Corbyn has voted against every war and every non military cut. That is EASY. Especially when you've got pretty much the safest Labour seat outside of Billy Bragg's living room. War is wrong! Cuts are bad! There are two conclusions any thirteen year old can come to. Corbyn's life is not a demonstration of someone stubbornly sticking to his principles, but an example of someone who has never bothered to think, never bothered to listen to the arguments against his dogma. Of course war is wrong and cuts are bad but are they on every single occasion? If that's the case then we might as well all give up on this politics lark and just go about implementing the utopia.

Yes. There. Was. You know when Corbyn and co got upset about the Tories cutting the Educational Maintenance Grant and working tax credits - those were things that Labour managed to bring about BY BEING IN POWER. This whole 'there's no difference' thing is about to be severely tested by 10/15 years of majority Tory rule.

I accept that a large part of the 'mainstream media' (anyone other than The Canary?) is against him. I would argue that is is for legitimate reasons, because it's the media's job to report but also scrutinise and most of them happen to think he's shit. But let's say that the establishment is against him, 'terrified' of him. It doesn't change the fact that the objective of the Labour Party is to be in power. You're not going to do that with the media so against you. Yes, it's unfair but as my dad used to say when he beat me senseless with a stick for two hours a night - 'life's not fair'. When at the press conference for your party's review into anti-Semitism, a Jewish MP leaves the room crying and you then apologise to the man who abused her - it's fair to say you're not good at handling the media. It also suggests you might not be the 'kind and decent man' we keep hearing about.

That's the hardest argument to counter because it's true. It has to be said though, that many of the people making it have also just signed a petition to overthrow the democratic referendum result. Corbyn does have a large group of passionate, core supporters - but then so do Maroon 5. Corbyn could spend the rest of his life speaking to groups of avid fans who ALREADY AGREE WITH EVERYTHING HE SAYS. The question is, is he persuading people? Is he even bothering to try and persuade people? I would suggest not. The Labour Party is about more than one man. Whatever you think its policies should be - lets get someone who's actually good at, you know, politics.