If you only see one comedy mind-reading horror seance musical this Hallowe’en make it THIS ONE…

Sir Ian’s back from conference. And he’s brought knob gags.

I neeed a DOP for a thing in the next week or two. They need to be awesome at shallow depth of fieldy things, good with single-point perspective, able to work with children, and willing to work for free for a day.

I know. Anyway, if anyone knows anyone, please do send them my way on Twitter or the old Facebook…

I’m friends with all sorts on Twitter. Some are members of that puzzling faction who believe that the real problem with the country isn’t deep and abiding police corruption, but protestors and people wandering around un-tased.

During an argument this morning about this example of assault by police officers (for which even the Commissioner of the Met apologised), one of them opined “Never trust a lawyer unless they’re instructed by you” to which I responded “And never trust a police officer unless you are one.” In the eyes of this individual, one of those statements was reasonable comment, the other was bigotry. See if you can guess which was which…

So, here are just some of the reasons that spring to mind that I consider statements made by the police to be not especially worthy of trust.

(I should probably point out off the bat that I was brought up in the era of Brass Tacks, where high-profile miscarriages of justice were exposed weekly in prime time. Lots of my early memories of the news are of Irish men referred to by a city and a number being let out of prisons they should not have been in.)

Ian Tomlinson – Although this is often glossed over as the work of ‘one bad apple’, it wasn’t that bad apple who briefed the press that officers were pelted as they tried to help Tomlinson. Which was a lie. The IPCC told the media that Ian Tomlinson’s family had known him to be in poor health and worried about him. Which was a lie. The IPCC claimed that there was “nothing in the story” that he had been assaulted by a police officer. Which was a lie. PC Harwood, of course, lied about being pushed to the ground and losing his helmet and baton. He also said Tomlinson was ‘inviting a physical confrontation’ when video evidence showed him walking away. Freddy Patel, the coroner, said Tomlinson died of natural causes. He was later struck off for “a catalogue of dishonesty and incompetence” dating back a decade. And the incident was only ever admitted because video evidence emerged that contradicted police accounts. If you want a good reason why people don’t trust the police, start here.

Police ‘Injuries’ At The Kingsnorth Power Station Protests - Remember the Kingsnorth Power Station protests? You should, because no less than 70 officers were injured trying to police the protests there. 70! That’s the kind of violence the police say they have to deal with at protests. Except that those injuries included: “being stung on finger by possible wasp” and “officer succumbed to sun and heat” and “officer injured sitting in car.” In fact, there were only 12 injuries, and only 4 of those came as a result of contact with other human beings instead of possible wasps or definite mosquitoes. In the apology he was forced to give to Parliament, Police Minister Vernon Coaker said:

I was informed that 70 police officers were hurt and naturally assumed that they had been hurt in direct contact as a result of the protest. That clearly wasn’t the case and I apologise if that caused anybody to be misled.

Hillsborough - Now, although the IPCC investigation is still on ongoing, and we don’t know the extent of South Yorkshire Police’s lies in this case, what we DO KNOW is: statements were altered (“Some 116 of the 164 statements identified for substantive amendment were amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to SYP.”), and the extent of that is only now becoming clear. The Taylor Report, the initial investigation from 1989, was unsatisfied with police evidence. As Lord Justice Taylor said at the time: “In all some 65 police officers gave oral evidence at the Inquiry. Sadly I must report that for the most part the quality of their evidence was in inverse proportion to their rank.”

Mark Duggan – Remember when we all knew that Mark Duggan had shot at police? And we knew because that’s what the IPCC had ‘verbally led journalists to believe’? Yes, quite.

Daniel Morgan - The case is too long and convoluted to reprise in detail here, let’s leave it at the fact that in 2011, Scotland Yard conceded that for 24 years Daniel Morgan’s killer had been shielded by police corruption.

Jean Charles de Menezes – Oddly, the reasons I distrust the police here have nothing to do with their shooting the wrong person. It’s with the way they handled information afterwards. They “deliberately withheld” the information that de Menezes was not one of the 21st July suspects from their initial press release, officers changed their evidence, lied about having shouted a warning (to the satisfaction of 8 jurors, 2 believed them), and – let’s be generous - added to the confusion over the video evidence, making statements that were contradicted by those who operated the CCTV. Which leads us to:

Andy Hayman – There are lots of things to dislike about the Met officer turned Murdoch columnist, including his reluctance to investigate allegations against The News Of The World at the same time as having champagne suppers with News International, and, well, let’s let him speak for himself:

Forest Gate – In 2006, another Hayman operation involved arresting 2 brothers on terrorism charges, shooting one in the process. Now, although we don’t know that it was the police who briefed the media that one of the brothers who shot the other, we do know that the CPS suggested that there was child porn on the computers seized, although there wasn’t.

Plebgate – This tawdry incident suggests that there is no event too trivial for the police to break rules to deal with it. Whatever the truth of the incident at the gate, the very best that can be said about it, even giving all involved the benefit of some quite serious doubts, is that a senior police officer leaked Scotland Yard’s restricted report to the CPS (the CPS was unhappy with the ‘quality and quantity’ of the evidence provided by that report). Believe me, no one wanted the police to be telling the truth here more than me. I make my living mocking politicans, but as the story has developed, and the key witness for the police’s version of events turns out NOT TO HAVE EVEN BEEN PRESENT, the whole thing becomes much more shabby.

And, of course, we haven’t had a report from Operation Elveden yet.

This is just a small taster, cobbled together quickly, of why I fundamentally mistrust the statements of the police. It’s why I think policing needs to be better. It’s why I don’t have problems believing that much of the police urgently needs reform, and it’s why I won’t be browbeaten by apologists for corruption.

The other day we had a competition to name this owl:

Image

And now we have a winner. After entries like: Ian Jenkins, Sheila, Geoffrey, and Timothy Owlifant, the best name has been judged (by my children) to be…

POOT!

And the winner is James Henry! And here is your poem, written by Poot.

There should be a round of applause and that when we

Rejoice and delight in the work of James Henry.

If I were a tape, let me never rewind

To the time ‘ere I was James The Azure Feline-d.

I tried all the names on but none of them suited

Until I was utterly, thoroughly Pooted.

 

I was bored the other afternoon and made an owl. Here it is:

Doctor Hoo? Sheila? Ian Jenkins?Then the good people of Twitter decided that it needed a name. So a competition ensued.

Entries currently include: Timothy Owlifant, Ozymandias, Cuthbert, Mr Crumpgrumble, Barney, Student (Stu for short), Sheila, Barney, Hoot, Simon, Barry, Geoffrey, and Ian Jenkins.

The winner will get a poem written for them by the owl. Put your entry in the comments below.

(Extra points will be added for gender-non-specificity or anything that makes me laugh out loud.)

 

Hitler-460x276Rejoice, radicals! The Royal Episiotomy has been performed with averted eyes, the Royal Meconium is working its way through the a line of bowels that dates back to William the Conqueror / William Of Orange / King David!

And radicals should rejoice, for, as this blog post shows, monarchy is one of the things that saves us from fascism!

Except, of course, it isn’t. In fact, I’m going to argue that having a monarchy (or having a large landed aristocracy, of which a monarchy is a normal part) makes a country much MORE prone to fascism. Right. Here we go.

First, it’s pretty clear David Boyle is stretching any evidence he can find to fit his thesis. His argument is that when monarchies go, ‘very rapidly’ fascist dictatorships arrive, as they did in the last century in Germany, France, and Spain.

We’ll give him Germany, for the sake of generosity.

I’m not sure what he means by suggesting that France became a fascist dictatorship, because it quite famously got rid of its monarch in 1789. More than a century before fascism existed. If he’s referring to Petain’s regime, it’s a bit odd to suggest that fascists ‘very rapidly’ replace monarchies when there’s a 150-year gap between the two.  In fact, one might suggest that being invaded by fascists is a much quicker way of making a country fascist than losing a monarchy seems to be.

In the case of Spain, the fall of the monarchy led to the rise, of course, of an anti-Fascist government. It was, among others, monarchists who helped overthrow the elected government and install a fascist dictator. It’s worth remembering that Franco ruled as Regent To The King Of Spain. Far from being a bulwark against fascism, monarchy was the only justification for it. Franco didn’t need to have elections because Franco was ruling in the king’s stead.

And let’s not forget Italy. If only Italy had had some sort of monarchy to stop the fascists coming to power. Some sort of monarch like Victor Emmanuel III. Whom they did have.

Or Albania! Let’s not forget how having a monarchy stopped (didn’t stop) their country falling into the hands of fascists.

Still, they’re all foreign countries. What about Britain?

We probably shouldn’t constantly need reminding of the royal family’s flirtations with Nazism, nor the fascination it held for a significant part of Britain’s aristocracy.

(For the next bit, I’ll put some footnotes in. Footnotes = fun!)

THINGS TO REMEMBER:

1) During the 1930s the Queen Mother used to give Cabinet members copies of Mein Kampf, describing its “obvious sincerity” in the inscription she wrote for the Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax. When she was reading it, she described it to her mother as “very soap-box, but very interesting”. (1)

2) Her husband, George VI thought he could probably sort out the whole war nonsense if he just wrote a personal letter to Hitler. After Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement appeasing Hitler in 1938, both the King and Queen brought him out onto the balcony of Buckingham palace to thank him, something which is of debatable constitutionality. (2)

3) The Duke of Windsor, as Edward VIII became after he abdicated, gave interviews during the Second World War that were so defeatist that Winston Churchill threatened to court martial him. In 1940, he said:

In the past 10 years Germany has totally reorganised the order of its society … Countries which were unwilling to accept such a reorganisation of society and its concomitant sacrifices should direct their policies accordingly.

In fact, listing the incidents in which the Duke of Windsor expressed sympathy with the Nazis, or hatred for ‘natives’ or ‘Central European Jews’ would take too long. Let’s just say that he asked the Nazis to look after his holiday homes, which they did, he was probably going to be reinstated as king if Hitler won (which sort of undermines Boyle’s whole thesis), and up until the 1960s he held that the Second World War was caused by “Roosevelt and the Jews”. (3)

philipfuneralL060306_450x3104) Not that he was the only royal to think like this. Prince Philip (who, let’s not forget, had brothers in law in the SS and SA) explains the thinking of the time: “I can understand people latching on to something or somebody who appeared to be appealing to their patriotism and trying to get things going. You can understand how attractive it was.” In the same interview he goes on to say that there were, within his family, “inhibitions about the Jews” because people were “jealous of their success.”

Let that sink in, for a few minutes. That’s a prince by dint of birth, whose sisters married Princes of Hesse, and who married the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom being jealous of other people’s success.

Put in that context his constant ‘politically incorrect slips’ or ‘actual racist comments’ don’t seem quite so harmless (as if an unelected consort to a head of state, one of the richest and most powerful men in the world could ever be harmless while mocking the people he meets). His desire to come back as a virus and ‘do something about the overpopulation problem’ seems less eccentric. And his grandson dressing up as a Nazi becomes less of a joke. (4)

These are what Boyle calls “forces for inclusion and tolerance”.

In terms of the wider aristocracy, however, the royals aren’t uniquely fascist. In fact, even when they’re leaking information to Ribbentrop (Duchess of Windsor) they’re barely fascist compared to lots of the aristocracy. Let’s not forget that, as late as the 1970s, Lord Lucan, Lord Aspinall and James Goldsmith were ‘imagining’ a coup and someone was funding Peter Wright and other MI5 agents to imagine it in slightly more concrete terms. (5)

In 1972 Lucan bought Mein Kampf and a biography of Turkish dictator Kemal Ataturk in one trip to Hatchards, and the Countess of Lucan said: “He did have very right-wing views, some might describe them as fascist. I didn’t know he was indulging in extremist reading matter in 1972, although I knew he listened to recordings of Hitler’s speeches at Nuremburg Rallies.”

Just a general tip, if you don’t know if your spouse is getting heavily into extremist reading matter, if he listens to the Nuremburg Rallies for fun, THAT’S A CLUE!

The playful flirtation of the British right wing – and particularly its aristocratic arm – with fascism, from Alan Clarke’s fairly naked espousal of pro-fascist views to Neil Hamilton’s speaking to neo-fascist student groups in Italy in the 1960s and giving Nazi salutes at the Reichstag (6) is always striking.

Far from being a bulwark against fascism, a monarchy, the monarchy, our monarchy, has been its biggest asset.

1) Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, William Shawcross (2012)

2) Munich, 1938, David Faber (2009)

3) A lot of this is from The Duke Of Windsor’s War, Michael Bloch (1982) “Roosevelt and the Jews” is from Sebba, Anne, “Wallis Simpson, ‘that Woman’, After The Abdication”, New York Times (2011)

4) Most here is from Levy, Andrew, “Prince Philip Pictured At Nazi Funeral”, The Daily Mail (2006)

5) Martin Bright, “Desperate Lucan Dreamt Of Fascist Coup”, The Guardian (2005)

6) Sweeney, John, Purple Homicide (1997)

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I’m writing to you because I’ve been given your name by a mutual friend / saw your stuff and really loved it. I’m currently looking for someone to heat and light my house, and was wondering if you’d be interested in doing it?

Unfortunately, there is no pay at this time, but it’s a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor as in the future I hope to be heating and lighting ever-bigger houses. It’s also a great chance to showcase your work to the sorts of demi-celebrities I spend much of my life with. 

You’d be boiling the tea for Darren Strange who was in Parents on Sky1. You’d be powering the phone calls I make to all sorts of household name comedians, all of whom would be exposed to your work that way. You’d be powering tweets that are occasionally retweeted by Josie Long and Mark Thomas!

While I understand the remuneration might not be quite what you’re hoping for, I hope you’ll be excited by the opportunity to be a part of the incredible project that is my household. It’s going to be huge!

I can also offer you drinks if you’re ever in town, and tickets to an exclusive viewing of the work you do in our house next time you come to check the meter.

I know you’ll be as excited by this as I am!

Thanks,

Nathaniel Tapley

Sir Ian cannot stand by and let his friends be maligned any longer…

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