Godwin’s Law

Following on from yesterday’s post: there has of course been an outcry against Rees-Mogg’s accusations, albeit mainly from ex-civil servants; who, if R-M is right, won’t count. Several have likened  his ‘pre-empting’ the argument in this way – establishing an ‘excuse’ if the Brexiteers don’t get what they want – to the conspiracy theory the Right used to fall back on in 1930s Germany: the ‘stab in the back’ explanation for Germany’s defeat in World War I. (See https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/feb/03/brexit-civil-service-1930s-germany?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=262846&subid=630649&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2.) We’re always being warned against too easily falling back on ‘Hitler’ comparisons (it’s known as ‘Godwin’s Law’), and no-one would want to paint Lord Snooty as a putative Adolf; but both in Britain and in America the comparison with the conditions that contributed to the rise of Fascism between the wars is being made more and more often; and, I would say (as a historian), increasingly convincingly. Of course, there are Fascisms and Fascisms…

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Conspiracy Theories

It has been interesting to see both Donald Trump and our very own Jacob Rees-Mogg peddling almost identical conspiracy theories over the last couple of days: identical, that is, in that they both target the bureaucracies of their respective countries. In Trump’s case it’s the FBI and the Justice Department, who are prejudiced and working against him; in Rees-Mogg’s the Whitehall and Brussels civil servants who are predisposed in favour of the EU. Astonishingly, R-Mogg even accuses them – our ‘neutral’ civil servants – of ‘fiddling’ and ‘rigging’ the evidence. I imagine Trump uses similar language. In both instances it’s the ‘deep’ or ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’ or ‘permanent’ state, plotting against the people.

Little else seems to connect these two men, the suave aristocratic Rees-Mogg and the ‘self-made’ Trump: except that both these persona are pretty ‘fake’, in the lingo of today. It was his father who gave Donald his start, financially, and then bailed him out – twice – when he was bankrupt, which makes him hardly ‘self-made’. Jacob’s father was a mere newspaper editor. Echt aristocrats are supposed to have more distinguished lineages than that. Rees-Mogg is also a Roman Catholic, of a pretty fundamentalist type, which makes him odder still (though not alone) in that company. This is probably why he so deliberately plays up to his ‘Lord Snooty’ image (for those who remember the Dandy), and why in Parliament he is widely known as ‘the Member for the Nineteenth Century’. Both of them are very obvious throw-backs to earlier periods in their respective nations’ histories: heroic capitalism and the world of Wooster and Jeeves. But of course neither aristos nor capitalists can make much of a mark politically in these democratic, or ‘populist’, times without having something else going for them; which is why both men have chosen to do battle with an enemy they believe they share with ‘the people’. Civil servants – in both countries – represent the ‘Establishment’, and so are bound to want to obstruct, in any way they can, the departures from conventional policy that are implied by Brexit, and by just about the whole of Trump’s rag-bag agenda. They are also easily blamed for anything that goes wrong, or can be seen to be doing down the ‘ordinary man – or woman – in the street’. That’s because they’re not usually visible, aren’t allowed to answer back, and are usually highly – often privately – educated, which puts them in the despised ‘elite’ or ‘expert’ class. What better way for someone like Rees-Mogg to disguise his own elitism?

It’s odd that it should be the Far Right that takes this line. Historically it has usually been the Right that dismisses all talk of ‘conspiracy’, associating conspiracy ‘theorists’ with nutters who believe – for example – that the British Royal family is a tribe of alien shape-shifting reptiles; or at the very least with Leftists, over-eager to discover plots on the Right against them. Immediately a Left-winger starts talking about an undercover plot to undermine Labour’s Harold Wilson in the 1960s and ’70s, for example, the cry of ‘conspiracy theory’ will go up from the Right, intended to associate him or her with these supposed paranoiacs. That’s one reason why respectable academic historians tend to keep clear of this territory: even when they think there might be something in it. To get tarred with that brush could be curtains for their professional careers.

That’s not the situation among Joe public, however, who is much more receptive to this kind of thing; which is another reason why Trump and Rees-Mogg are trying it on today. That might be out of desperation: both Trump and the Brexiteers are steering into choppy waters now. Another reason is the ad hominem turn their arguments have taken: arguing not so much from the evidence, as on the (supposed) characteristics and characters of the people and groups who take other views. ‘He would say that, wouldn’t he?’ Well yes, perhaps; but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. When Trump tells his supporters the mainstream press is ‘fake’, they’re unlikely to delve deeper to see whether it really is. When Rees-Mogg tells them the Treasury has a habit of deliberately distorting the facts, the people’s underlying prejudices against a besuited and privileged elite will make that seem so plausible as to preclude the necessity of their looking any further. All this contributes to the scepticism and cynicism which are two of the banes of our public life today.

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My Swedish citizenship should come through soon. In the meantime I’m wondering whether I should bother to hold on to my British nationality any longer. Of course I shall – there are practical reasons for me to keep a foothold in the old country – but I’m finding it more and more difficult to identify with Britain as she is increasingly projecting herself.

It’s a depressing image: ungenerous, unwelcoming, shockingly unequal, stupid, racist, isolationist, selfish, her people constantly spied on, food banks, the poor demonised, the ruling classes corrupt and sexist, her footballers overpaid, her venerable Parliament crumbling to dust, fixated on the one (mainly) ‘good’ bit of her past history (WW2), whitewashing over or even rehabilitating the dubious bits (the Empire), utterly delusional about her prospects as a ‘free’ agent in the wider world now that she has irretrievably lost the attributes that made her an imperial power (her manufacturing industry and trade): all provoked and encouraged by a newspaper press that is possibly the most cynical and amoral in the world, and tolerated by an apathetic, irrational, uninformed and grossly misled electorate. (I’m sorry if that sounds élitist. It is, of course.)

Now I’m sure Britain still has her good qualities as a nation, as a vast number of her individual citizens certainly have; and her proudest achievements, inherited from the past – the BBC, the NHS, cricket, steak and kidney puddings – have not been totally undermined or destroyed just yet. But some days it’s difficult to espy them beyond the putrid smog that seems to be enveloping us (I remember real smogs, in the 1950s and ’60s: it’s just like that), and over my fears of something like the fascism of the 1930s breeding deep within it.

Brexit, the passions it has both revealed and aroused, and the grotesque ‘populist’ leaders it has thrown up, are all part of this. My application for Swedish citizenship was of course triggered by that, as the only way I saw of reclaiming the prized European identity that’s about to be seized from me. But in a way that’s a coward’s way out. Really I should stay and fight for what I believe in, here in the UK. According to the Brexiteer Press, however, that is akin to treason. ‘You lost. Get over it. The people have spoken. One referendum is democratic, but two is not.’ (Eh? There’s a wonderful comment on that here: https://www.facebook.com/1014500498590274/videos/1949502718423376/.*Another good reason for keeping the House of Lords.)

The question is: how far should I go, in my weak and elderly state, to stop the monster that is Brexit? Because I believe Brexit to be essentially unconstitutional, I’m certainly prepared to go extra-parliamentary. In Barthélemy’s day (see last post) they’d have erected barricades. But I can’t really see today’s Remainers blocking Parliament Street with pitchforks and muskets. Nowadays the only barricades in London are put up by the police. Another sign of our national decline?

*Bugger, it won’t come up, and I can’t find it on YouTube. But I seem to have posted it successfully on Facebook. It’s worth hunting out: Lord Lisvane with a brilliant analogy. Very funny. Sounds (and looks) like Gerard Hoffnung.

Later: apparently it’s working for some…

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Emmanuel Barthélemy

Hutchinsons sent me a proof copy of Marc Mulholland’s The Murderer of Warren Street, coming out in May, for a ‘puff’ on the dust cover. It’s about the life and grisly death of one of the French proscrits, or exiles, whom I came across when I was researching my The Refugee Question in Mid-Victorian Politics. It’s outstandingly good, so I sent them the following:

This is far more than a biography of Emmanuel Barthélemy, the mid-19th century French revolutionary, exile, atheist, duellist and murderer, who ended his career in effigy in Madame Tussaud’s Chamber of Horrors, after his public execution in London in 1855. (‘Now I shall know if I’m right’, were his last words as the noose was put around his neck.) His true story is worthy of a sensational novel, and is recounted almost novelistically, but also sympathetically – despite appearances, he was a man of honour – in this superbly-researched book. In addition, The Murderer of Warren Street serves as a brilliant introduction to Barthélemy’s revolutionary times in France and in Britain; featuring some eminent bit-players – Marx and Engels among them – and steeped in the very different cultural milieus of those two nations. It also carries some resonances for our own terrorised age.

I’m hoping I get it for review. If so, you’ll be able to read more about Barthélemy there. – ‘Now I shall know if I’m right’. I’ve always thought that was pretty cool.

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Clever Theresa

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Brexit, it is clearly being pursued now with the utmost inefficiency. The government appears clueless and divided. Could this be deliberate? Many in the government, including Theresa May, didn’t want Brexit in the first place. The mess they’re making of it appears to show them to have been right then. In the meantime, obviously affected by this, public opinion is gradually turning towards favouring a second referendum, on the terms of the disengagement (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/26/britons-favour-second-referendum-brexit-icm-poll). Is this what May was secretly banking on? It’s a clever ruse, if so.

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‘Presidents Club’ goings-on – all over the newspapers today – are at least as much a sign of class and wealth inequality as of endemic sexism. I first observed these kinds of depravity when I was at Cambridge; a predominately male university – women were allowed in, but had their own colleges – with the musty, clubby atmosphere that these present-day degenerates appear to want to replicate in their private dining clubs. Occasions such as those revealed the other night at the Dorchester Hotel were too expensive for me to be able to afford, even if I had been invited (or had wanted to go); but one got to hear of them. Some idea of them can be gathered from the film The Riot Club, directed by the Dane Lone Scherfig (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Riot_Club), and modelled on the real-life Oxford Bullingdon Club, of which Boris and our ex-PM David Cameron, of course, were leading members. Only the rich and powerful participated. Their attitudes to women – ‘totties’, they called them – were similar to the Presidents Clubbers’. I’ve been shocked by the Financial Times‘s revelations; but only because I had assumed that this sort of thing had been dying out slowly over the past fifty years of moderately successful feminism, and then at a quicker rate post-Harvey Weinstein. It just shows what debauchery you can cling on to if you’re well-heeled. It’s another symptom of our present corrosive social inequality.

I think we ought to be told which of the guests got out his dick to show to one of the totties. Shaming is the only answer.

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Boris and the NHS

When he first put it on the side of the Brexit bus, Boris Johnson’s claim that leaving the EU would save Britain £350 million a week that could be spent on the National Health Service was almost universally derided as ‘fake’. Other ministers were quick to disown it as soon as they returned to government. It became, indeed, the main exhibit in the Remainers’ case that the Brexit referendum victory was based on black propaganda and lies, strengthening their argument for a second vote. Boris became a figure of (even more) ridicule.

Which may make it surprising that he has now resurrected his claim, and indeed upped it; admitting last week that ‘There was an error on the side of the bus’ – but in the other direction. In fact, he goes on, ‘we grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control’. (See https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-vote-leaves-350m-week-nhs-pledge-low/.) So, even more money for the NHS. This comes at a moment when public concern over the government’s underfunding of the NHS is at an unprecedented peak, with almost daily press and TV exposés of the difficulties being faced by doctors and nurses (and of course patients) at over-full and understaffed hospitals, and the impression being given that the system is breaking down. On the Left they think this is a deliberate Tory plot: let the NHS fail and people might accept private enterprise’s stepping in.

Except they won’t. The NHS (together with the BBC) is one of Britons’ proudest and most prized institutions, whether that reputation is merited or not (I’ve experienced the Swedish system, so am not all that impressed); so that ‘privatisation’ on the American pattern – and probably benefitting American health companies, as a part of the ‘free trade’ deal Britain would need to negotiate with the USA in order to replace her lost European trade – would be regarded by many as akin to treason. Boris realises this, and so is pushing for greater State support for the NHS; conveniently linking it with the case for Brexit, and with his own personal political ambitions – three birds with one stone! It’s the move of a maverick; but a bold one.

And mavericks seem to be doing well these days, with conventional democratic politics wilting under the impact of late-stage capitalism, leaving gaps for the Trumps and Farages and Johnsons to bluster their ways to the surface. And hopefully for a democratic socialist to creep through sometime. If, that is, we can find one with a similar panache; or if Jeremy and Bernie can persuade voters that their very different kinds of panache are more reliable.

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Trivial Pursuits

Civilized debate stands no chance against the forces now arraigned against it, from the lowest depths of the ‘blogosphere’ to the highest reaches of the US government. ‘Fake news’ is the aspect being highlighted presently, turning President Trump’s neat phrase against himself, but in a way that casts doubt on all sources of evidence, Left- as well as Right-leaning, and indeed – assisted here by some of the wilder ‘post-modernists’ – on the very possibility of objective ‘truth’. I’m reminded of my American radio-show caller-in a few years ago, insisting that the London Blitz was an act of retaliation for the bombing of Dresden (three years later); on the grounds, ultimately, that ‘I’m a free American, and so can believe anything I like’ (https://bernardjporter.com/2016/02/22/btl/). There’s no way that rational argument could penetrate that mind-set. I imagine him sitting in dirty overalls, chewing baccy, and strumming his banjo somewhere in the Appalachians.

But there are other obstacles to civilized debate. One is the sort of stereotype I’ve just shockingly perpetrated in that last sentence: pre-impressions of whole groups of people whom you identify with the opinions you take issue with. Today the most common ones are, on the Left, stupid working-class people – blamed for example for Brexit – or, on the Right, ‘intellectuals’. Identify a Brexiteer as the kind of person who appears on the Jeremy Kyle Show, or a Remainer as a toffee-nosed academic who thinks too much, and you’re half-way there. (‘We’ve had quite enough of experts’: Michael Gove.) As an academic, I’ve had experience of this (‘it’s OK for you in your ivory tower…’). Brexiteers clearly have, too. In their case it – being looked down on, after years of being politically ignored – must stoke their feelings against the Establishment élite. I tend to attribute the ‘Brexit’ vote to this, although by doing so I may well be falling into the same trap. It really is difficult to get beyond these ad hominem (or feminem) generalisations, or to persuade people that you need to, in order to address the substance of their arguments. So very often the debate simply stops there.

Recently – or it may not be so recent, but is new to me – another factor has intruded; which is the reduction of an argument to such a trivial level that it obscures the larger issues. A recent example was the movement in Oxford to boycott or ‘no platform’ an on-going research seminar about the ‘Ethics of Empire’, on the grounds that there is nothing to discuss: imperialism was immoral, so shut up. (See https://bernardjporter.com/2018/01/04/oxford-and-the-ethics-of-empire/.) What is ‘trivial’ about that is the simplistic notion that some issues are finally settled; together with the totally unfounded suspicion that the seminar might turn out to excuse imperialism; and the reluctance to accept that the issue might be more complex – and so worth discussing, for clarity’s sake – than the simple black/white view of it. The efforts of the objectors to stifle that kind of discussion, on grounds of what I imagine will be called ‘political correctness’ – though I hate that term: most ‘political correctness’ is correct – are not only intellectually trivial, but also academically offensive – almost fascist, I would say. And the ‘I’ here is someone who has always regarded himself as an anti-imperialist, and is old enough to have actively protested against the remnants of British imperialism, but is also informed enough to know that ‘it’s not as simple’ – as trivial – as that. ‘Simple’ equals ‘trivial’. It may be as simple as that. (!)

The same is sometimes true of those who are continuously accusing the Labour Party of ‘anti-semitism’, when there is little solid evidence for it. I’ve posted about this before: https://bernardjporter.com/2016/05/02/the-political-and-the-personal/; https://bernardjporter.com/2016/05/04/antisemitism-again/ ; and https://bernardjporter.com/2017/12/19/more-anti-semitism/. Those pieces are mainly about the way criticism of Israel’s current government is so often confused with racism. The most recent ‘trivialisation’ of this anti-Labour charge, however, is the argument that the party’s failure to find this evidence is itself proof of its unwillingness to take the accusation ‘seriously’, which in its turn is evidence of anti-Jewishness. In the words of one critic, it illustrates ‘a deeply prejudiced view of the Jewish people’s concerns about antisemitism’ . (That’s in yesterday’s Observer: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jan/20/jewish-labour-group-accuses-failing-act-antisemitism.) That would cover me. And of course it’s not necessarily true – and is unlikely to be – but is yet another illustration of what I would regard as a ‘trivial’ way of arguing: from pre-formed conclusions rather than on the evidence.

My third example of ‘triviality’ is the ‘Me-Too’ movement, or some of its activists, and is slightly different. Yet again, if one has a criticism of ‘Me-Too’, one feels obliged to start off with a statement of one’s basic feminism, like one does in the other cases (of one’s anti-imperialism and philo-semitism), which immediately sets other feminists’ (or anti-imperialists’ or Zionists’) hackles rising, on the grounds that you are ‘protesting too much’; but the virulence of the current debate makes it necessary to try, at any rate, to pre-empt this kind of response. So: I am a feminist, and believe that in general the Me-Too movement has been a great force for good. But the ‘trivialisation’ in this case comes in the form of its inflating even the mildest form of ‘harrassment’ – touching a woman’s knee is an example, which has subjected many men to undeserved vilification, and even cost a number of them their jobs – to the same level as far more serious forms, from rape down to serial stalking, generally from a position of (male) power; which of course has the potential to diminish the seriousness of those very real crimes as they’re perceived, and to undermine respect for the Me-Too movement as a whole.

I won’t elaborate on this. I tried to in a couple of earlier posts, but was misunderstood so much – I was putting perfectly reasonable arguments – and as a result was subjected to such scurrilous attacks, that I took the posts down, and determined not to return to that topic again. Recently the Toronto professor Jordan Peterson sparked a similar outbreak of vicious trolling over his suggestion that not all pay inequalities by gender were the results of ‘the oppressive patriarchy’: see https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jan/21/no-excuse-for-online-abuse-says-professor-in-tv-misogyny-row. The same has happened to women who have stood out against Me-Too’s perceived extremism (or ‘puritanism’), like Catherine Deneuve and my old friend Germaine Greer – though I understand that Deneuve has already been persuaded to row back. (Here’s Germaine: http://www.newsliveupdates.com/feminist-germaine-greer-slams-the-metoo-campaign/.) This indicates – as was suggested by one of my supporters – that the present atmosphere is unconducive to rational debate.

If so, that’s a terrible shame. If we can’t have rational discussion, what’s in store for us? I hesitate to raise the ‘F’ word (for Fascism), but others have. This ought to be the crucial topic for public debate now, given precedence over, for example, the ins and outs of the imperial, the Jewish and the women questions. Fix the engine before deciding where to drive.

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Maggie’s Safe!

[NOTE: This was the outcome of my 3-day rush to complete the LRB’s latest commission. In the end they didn’t like it – ‘not what we wanted’; which was a mere description of the affair, plus some ‘what if’ speculations. Fair enough, but I wished they’d made that plainer when they asked me to do it. I wrote it this way because the book was very superficial – mere reportage of what happened, from the testimony, quoted at length, of those involved. And I reckoned that any reader could find the facts on Wikipedia. Beyond that, there is no analysis in the book, and no context. I may try again with another version. But no ‘what ifs’. Historians are reluctant to join in that game. In the meantime, here’s the original version.]

One of Margaret Thatcher’s most toxic legacies, along with all the others, was her introduction of the idea of the ‘strong leader’ into British politics. That hadn’t been there before. Prime ministers had brought other qualities to the job, like competence, empathy, diplomacy and good judgment. These sometimes worked (Attlee, Macmillan, Wilson), sometimes not. The only comparable ‘leader’ figure before Thatcher was Churchill (‘Winston’ to her, somewhat over-familiarly), but that was in wartime, and he had always liked, at least in public, to give the credit to his ‘people’, rather than himself. Before him, and between him and Thatcher, it’s difficult to think of a British prime minister who relied so much on his own personal qualities of resolution, courage and sheer bravery as Thatcher did during her long years of dominance. That changed the political climate, certainly on the Right. It’s what Tories and the tabloid press have yearned for in their leaders ever since her. They’re still wedded to the Führerprinzip. (Alan Clark used the ‘F’ word too, in reference to her ‘charisma’.) Theresa May’s pitiful efforts to project herself as ‘strong and stable’, and to continue to do so despite humiliating setbacks, reflects that. She has been through fire, but is still bravely soldiering on. That should be a good start, at least, for a Führerin.

Thatcher’s fire was literal. It happened on 12 October 1984 when an IRA time-delay bomb half-demolished the Grand Hotel in Brighton, where she was staying with most of her Cabinet, who were there for the Conservative Party’s Annual Conference. The assumption was, and is, that the bomb was meant for her, but if so it was placed in the wrong room, and she emerged unscathed. ‘The cry went up, “Maggie’s safe!”’ remembered Jonathan Aitken. ‘Such was the relief that strangers shook hands, and clasped each other’s shoulders.’ But one MP was killed, plus four other Tory high-ups, and 34 seriously injured, among them Norman (now Lord) Tebbit and his wife Margaret.

Lord Tebbit has provided a puff and a Preface to Steve Ramsey’s just-published Something Has Gone Wrong. Dealing with the Brighton Bomb (Biteback Publishing, 2018), which is a journalist’s account – no more – of the event seen through the eyes of its victims, the emergency services, the press and the police, from the moment the bomb went off to the arrest and trial in September 1985 of its main perpetrator, Patrick Magee. Tebbit’s injuries were horrendous. (His wife’s were worse. She still can’t walk.) He comes out of this account much as one might expect: stoical (as a former RAF pilot he had been in life-and-death situations before), with quite an attractive line in black humour (‘Are you allergic to anything?’ ‘Only bombs’), and with the political venom for which he was celebrated preserved intact. On returning to the Cabinet in January he told following reporters that he was looking forward to ‘roughing up the Labour Party before too long.’ So, all back to normal.

Thatcher emerges even better. She is presented here as calm and cool after it all, concerned only for the other guests (including her husband, who was sleeping in a separate room), and determined to carry on as usual afterwards. To someone who suggested they abandon the Conference, she replied ‘No way. We are continuing. They don’t beat us.’ This was the theme of the Conference speech she delivered later the same day: that their presence there, despite the bomb, was a sign ‘that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.’ According to her biographer Charles Moore her original draft of the speech had expressly linked IRA terrorism with Trade Union ‘extremism’, but in the end this was only implied.

For Thatcher, the Brighton bomb was definitely a bonus. It confirmed her ‘Iron Lady’ reputation, already pretty well established by her very personal triumph in the Falklands; and boosted her in the polls. Moore also thinks it strengthened her hand against Arthur Scargill in the ongoing Miners’ strike. One downside could have been that it made her look too unflappable, devoid of human emotion, ‘robotic’, to use the word applied to her present-day successor: something that her great hero ‘Winston’ could never have been accused of. That was how she had got through it all. Ramsey marshals all the evidence he can find to counter this: little cameos of her ‘praying, for some time’ before she went to bed, for example; expressions of concern for injured colleagues; and a general explanation for the impression she gave that ‘she’s quite cold and doesn’t really have any normal human reaction’, again from Charles Moore ‘But that’s not true. She’s a very passionate person. But her passion was very much engaged, in her mind, in doing her job. That’s what she puts her passion into.’ That figures.

Having missed the bomb in the first place, the police and security services seem to have been pretty efficient thereafter, according to Ramsey’s account; which however is entirely made up of the accounts, quoted at length, of the police officers he has interviewed. (This is not a critical or analytical book.) A few people behaved badly, including male hotel guests who didn’t want to give evidence because they had women (‘not their wives’) in bed with them, at least one of whom was a Tory MP – ‘but we promised that we’d keep quiet’. The police’s task was made easier by the fact that there was none of that ‘human rights’ nonsense around then to stop them mildly roughing suspects up, for example; or ‘Health and Safety’ to prevent their rescuing people; and they persevered with their jobs regardless, because ‘we hadn’t been clever enough to invent post-traumatic stress. In those days we just got on with it. It was a different world. We didn’t have all these kinds of pansy type things we have today where everybody’s “Oh-ahh”’. These, of course, were the days before Political Correctness.

They were also the days when memories of the Second World War were still quite sharp in the minds of several of the people involved in the Brighton bombing, automatically triggering responses learned forty-odd years before in the London Blitz; especially the ‘British’ stoicism – ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – and resistance – ‘they won’t beat us’ – right down to the ‘lovely cup of tea’ to restore morale. Thatcher and Co were almost re-living Britain’s Finest Hour. That’s what gave them so great a boost. Didn’t the IRA cotton on to this? They couldn’t win – terrorism is supposed to terrorize, but it certainly didn’t then – any more than one hopes the Islamicists can win today. It was Thatcher who won, personally, or at least survived; bequeathing to us in the process an ideal of strong and resolute personal ‘leadership’ – the ‘smack of firm government’ – that the political Right misses and still yearns for today. Maybe Theresa May could do with something like this (not a bomb, please) to really test her mettle.

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Trump and the British Far Right

Trump’s retweeting of fake ‘Britain First’ propaganda a few weeks ago, quickly slapped down by Theresa May, who was then re-slapped down by Trump, isn’t by itself evidence of a two-way link between him and our own neo-Nazis. But there’s no doubt that the latter love him, as a fellow nationalist and racist, and have started to regard him as their great overseas hero, much as the British Right before the War regarded Hitler, and British communists used to regard either Stalin or Mao. Hence Nigel Farage’s fawning on him; and hence also the incident last week when a group of far-Rightists disrupted a Fabian Society meeting addressed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has had his own spats with the Donald; with the disrupters waving American flags (the wrong way round, as it happens) and shouting for both Brexit and Trump. There’s an account of it here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/13/pro-trump-supporters-crash-fabian-conference-protest-sadiq-khan/. I imagine that Trump is going to fulfil this role for the British far Right for as long as he stays in power, and even afterwards. (Perhaps as the Risen White Christ?)

I’ve not come across the ‘White Pendragons’ before. From their name they ought to be Welsh. But their leader, portrayed in this video accompanied by a parrot, talks like a Londoner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjoYpUnY-Tk. Watch it, if you can bear to.

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