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Scrolling down FB I saw this on a friend’s post: “Stop comparing it to the rise of Hitler. We are in a different age. Social media, tv and information is readily available. We are not going to wake up one morning and want to ethnically cleanse the earth.”

Neither did the Germans, of course.

They wanted to restore order to their country in the aftermath of a huge economic shock. They wanted to right the wrongs they felt were done to them after the end of the First World War. They wanted motorways and Volkswagens and huge Olympic ceremonies, and to be respected in the world again. They wanted to take their country back from the liberals and put on a show of strength. They wanted to take back control. They wanted to make Germany great again.

And, in order to do it, they were willing to overlook some anti-semitism. And then some more. And then some more.

Of course there were virulent antisemites in the party, but there were also those who liked most of the package of what Nazism offered, and ignored those bits they didn’t like. I’m rereading Victor Klemperer’s diaries and he tells a story about how they are having friends over to dinner who say, knowing Klemperer is Jewish, they’ve joined the Nazis. They are educated, employed academics, personal friends with Jews who feel “Everything has gone wrong. Now we have to try this.”

That’s why it’s important to keep our eyes open now.

When politicians offer strength, and confidence and religious bars to citizenship and ends to freedoms of movement and religion and the media is full of hateful rhetoric for religious or racial or marginalised groups, and when hate crimes rise and there are fascists on the verge of being elected across the world, when the nationalists and nativists and far-right are on the march, let’s be careful.

Even if we really, really want that Volkswagen.

At the end of June, I wrote a passive-aggressive poem about Southern Rail and put it on the internet. Then BBC South made a video of it, which got more than 2 million views and it’s been on Radio 4’s You And Yours, and all sorts of local news programmes. People keep coming here looking for it, and I’ve just realised that they won’t find it if they do.

In case you haven’t heard it, here’s The Ballad Of Southern Rail


 

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This all feels a little redundant now.

I was going to say this felt like a pretty simple choice between principles and practicalities.

I was going to say that the principle of less-opaque government, closer and more responsive to the people it serves was a good one, and an important one.

I was going to say that when a decision will have a material impact on your quality of life, it’s entirely valid to choose to vote based on that rather than on principle.

I was going to ask how the people who boasted of watching Suffragette with their daughters were going to explain the fact that they were trying to make sure that the votes the Pankhursts fought for meant less and less.

I was going to ask the warriors for freedom from the tyranny of the state how they could justify leaving the only organisation that guarantees the free movement of people and things across state borders,without state interference.

I was going to point out that small businesses producing ebooks and digital products – the sort of low-overhead businesses of innovation we should be encouraging – were being killed by the VATMOSS rules, which lowered the VAT threshold to, effectively, zero for anyone selling  a PDF of their self-published novel within the EU.

I was going to point out that a couple of weeks of Brexit speculation had wiped more off the FTSE than years of EU membership would have cost.

I was going to cast a disparaging side-eye over intelligent people who claimed there was no difference in how democratic the EU is compared to how democratic the United Kingdom is.

I was going to cast a disparaging side-eye over people complaining about a ‘democratic deficit’ who have never once complained about the House of Lords or a monarch who vetoes bills she doesn’t like before they even get to the House of Commons.

I was going to point out that you’re not reclaiming your sovereignty when you intend on giving it straight to an actual sovereign.

I was going to explain that a bigger constituency means that your vote is worth less (something the same people I’d have explained it to seemed to understand when the Tories were planning on ditching 50 MPs and making each constituency bigger).

I was going to explain that I’d never really found any compelling argument that Britain was the ideal-sized unit in which democracy should reside.

I was going to bemoan the fact that the RemaIN side seemed dull and technocratic and seemed to accept the EU as a necessary evil rather than making a positive, European case for a more-hopeful future.

I was going to bemoan the fact that the Brexit camp had the inescapable whiff of a mid-life crisis, its rhetoric a tubby husband who resents having to go to work all day whilst living with a wife who’s gone off him and children who barely notice him. A man who, holding his stomach in in the mirror, remembers when he had a full head of hair and there was that girl at that party and once he spent a whole weekend smoking weed and listening to Derek and Clive and he’s sure he could have all that again. A man who believes that moving out and finding himself a flat and making a new start and really having a proper conversation with the girl in the sandwich shop will sort his life out once and for all.

I was going to make the case that no one has mentioned the fact that British foreign policy was, for hundreds of years, the maintenance of a balance of power in Europe. We meddled, we made alliances, we got involved in wars, just to make sure that the French and the Germans never made an alliance of which we weren’t part. We recognised – Wellington recognised, Churchill recognised, every statesman for centuries recognised –  that a united Europe, with Britain on the outside is the most grave threat to its existence. And we are preparing to give up our foremost foreign policy aim for no distinguishable benefit. Not only that, we’re doing it because we’re afraid there will be more integration, a common foreign policy, a common defense policy, the very situation we could both prevent and ameliorate the worst effects of if we were in the EU. To give away a United States of Europe of which the UK isn’t a part seems foolish, short-sighted and potentially suicidal.

I was going to point out that Tony Benn and Bob Crow all made solid, left-wing arguments for leaving the EU.

I was going to point out that they were both dead, and instead we had Farage and Johnson and Gove.

I was going to say that pointing to all the good things the EU has done for us which we wouldn’t have had otherwise is implicitly mistrustful of democracy and your fellow citizens. It is a failure of the left that they have not made the case compellingly enough that the people of Britain haven’t demanded them at the ballot box.

I was going to say that pointing to the pressure on public services and blaming it on immigration was simply a canard, and a dangerous one. The provision of infrastructure is the job of government and if there aren’t enough hospitals or schools it’s not the fault of the people in the hospitals or schools, it’s the fault of a government that prioritises reducing inheritance tax over building schools, and building HS2 over building hospitals.

I was going to say that the example of the Lisbon Treaty, whipped up to avoid referendums on a new constitution after France and Ireland rejected a new constitution, but consisting of most of the same things a new constitution would,  showed how resistant it was to reform.

I was going to say that given the structure of Article 50, which will make the two-year negotiation process as difficult as possible for any country that wants to leave, and before the conclusion of which no trade agreements can be negotiated, reforming the EU from within and exacting concessions from within (Thatcher’s rebate, Major’s EU opt-out, Blair’s Schengen exemption, Cameron’s rejection of “ever-closer union”) is much more likely to succeed than attempting an amicable separation.

I was going to note the irony of being suddenly lectured by those who had previously been fiscal conservatives on a trade deficit being a good thing because “they want to sell things to us.”

I was going to say that this wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as evidenced by the fact that – for many people – it’s the second time in their life they’re getting to make this decision.

I was going to say that question is not “Is the EU in its current form a good organisation?” but “Do you – right now and under these circumstances, on a fixed timetable – think Britain should invoke Article 50 and start the process of leaving the EU?”

I was going to say that you have to vote for the campaign you get, not the one you wish you’d had, and a vote for something carries an implicit approval of its campaign.

I was going to point out that the Vote Leave posters had finally shoved me firmly into the RemaIN camp. The nudges and winks and sly undertones of arguments and posters about Turks were appealing to the worst in human nature, a campaign of undisguised race-baiting and division, and one in which I – in good conscience – could not reward with my vote.

I was going to point out that saying you wanted to leave the EU because we didn’t want “our noses rubbed in diversity”, the fact that the background for the Vote Leave website’s header is MIGRATION in tabloid type, and the outright lies told about the proportion of migration that is from within the EU (more than half is from outside) was turning this from a campaign about the way in which we’re governed into a nasty, septic flirtation with nationalism.

And then yesterday happened.

So I think we have to face up to what the practical implications of a Brexit vote are.

Very simply, if we vote to leave, that will have immediate, practical consequences, and to pretend they will not happen or do not matter is to wash our hands one too many times in my view.

Simply, a victory for the Leave campaign with strengthen the in-party positions of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

Both Johnson and Farage are in the middle on an inter-party struggle for power.

Farage is desperate to keep control of the party, away from the more libertarian positions of the Carswells. He is unashamed about stoking racial tensions to cement his position (he doesn’t like hearing foreign languages on the train, he doesn’t want his nose rubbed in diversity, and he doesn’t want Romanians moving in next door), to the point where he will happily stand in front of a poster that recreates Nazi propaganda to stoke fear about refugees. He’s had to fight off challenges from within the party (and demoted Suzanne Evans because he disagreed with her), but a vote for Leave will cement his position atop the UKIP dunghill for the foreseeable future.

(Here’s a quick reminder: UKIP Welsh Assembly Member Neil Hamilton walked around the Reichstag giving Hitler salutes when he visited as an MP and also gave speeches to Italian neo-fascists in the late 1960s.)

Whether or not Boris “grinning piccaninnies with watermelon smiles” Johnson would make it to the party membership vote for party leader we don’t know, but we do know that his position has been immensely strengthened with them by his visible leadership of the Leave campaign.

We also know that he doesn’t mean what he says. His own great-grandfather was Turkish and he made a very effective documentary about Turkey’s role in developing the idea of civilisation and why it should be allowed into the EU.

Now he rails against the swarthy Turk, beefing over here with his hairy forearms to do unmentionable things to our green sward. And being a venal and empty spouter of whatever’s convenient isn’t perhaps the worst thing in the world, except that in this case he’s deliberately stoking the most dangerous of tensions (without any belief in their truth)  for political gain.

And, of course, on day after the referendum, Donald Trump will arrive in Britain. If we’ve voted to leave he will claim it as a great personal victory: “It was always my opinion. I have some great opinions. Let me tell you, opinion-wise I’m a very wise man. I know all the opinions. Huge opinions.”

This referendum has been characterised, on the whole, by the things we don’t know: the economic effect of leaving, how EU citizens living here now would be affected, what the process would be.

But we do know this:

A vote to leave will have the immediate, practical effect of putting two of Britain’s political parties, and a great round of coverage on American television networks, into the hands of men who are unafraid to flirt with fascism, nationalism, and racism.

So I’m voting to remain. And I hope you will, too.

 

 

Made a quick reponse to George Osborne’s saying that Syrian airstrikes meant Brtiain had got its mojo back. It’s bound to be taken down by all reputable sharing sites soon (Facebook has already rejected it) because I don’t properly understand the concept of fair use.

See it while you can!

Syrian Mojo from Nathaniel Tapley on Vimeo.

legacy technology

Bert signed up on his birthday. He was sick and tired of the looks people gave him, the whispered comments, the shopkeeper’s glare.

So he signed up as soon as he could.

And they marched a lot, and they scrubbed a lot, and there was shouting and six months later he found himself shipping out for France.

For a few weeks, they were behind the lines, billetted in a chateau, but soon enough the message came, as the days lengthened.

And then it was trench rations, and billy cans, and snobbing boots and waiting.

And then, one morning, there was no more waiting to be done. And the order came. And over they went.

And a few minutes later, Bert was staring at the sky and thinking.

He could see a lot of mud, splashes of mangled barbed wire with what he hoped was cloth hanging off. There were people, too, or bits of people, groans and the sound of mud bubbles being blown.

And Bert thought of his mum, as he try to hold his insides inside. Stuck in a crater, leaking from his middle, he thought of his mum and his sisters and of his uncles. And the shopkeeper. And all the hands he hadn’t held. And he hoped they’d remember.

He hoped they’d think of him in time to come. Hoped they’d remember him, laughing, brave, remember what he’d given. He hoped they’d take a moment every now and then to think of him.

He hoped, most of all, that they’d remember him by having a self-aggrandising oaf get photos of himself taken while playing tug-of-war, so that he could become prime minister one day.

Yes, he hoped that most of all.

And then Bert died.

http://www.standard.co.uk/…/boris-johnson-takes-a-tumble-at…

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If you live in or around London, or work there, or know anyone who does, your social media will have been drenched in anger at the Tube strike this morning, along with the occasional voice popping up with: “I was saying Boo-urns.”

Anyway, many people’s first instinct is to blame the strikers (even if they couched in terms of support for nurses / teachers / anyone except tube drivers), so I thought I’d explain why mine isn’t.

To begin, I must declare an interest: I intend to use the Night Tube. I’d rather the person in control of the metal drunk-ferry burrowing its way through subterranean London at peak suicide time felt well-rested and recompensed and able to concentrate on getting me home without being dead.

They’re actually fighting for your pay and conditions

Wait, what? No they’re not? I don’t earn that much.

In a country where more people are employed with better pay and conditions it puts EVERYONE in a better position to negotiate with their employer. The problem with this strike is that rail unions are pretty much the only ones that have been doing their job for the last 30 years.

When unions don’t fight for pay and conditions, they are pushed down, because there are lots of people wanting them pushed down. And if they’re pushed down in one industry, they will be pushed down in another.

Don’t believe me?

The main argument you’ll hear against the Tube drivers is that other people in other industries don’t earn that much. Because their pay hasn’t risen in line with inflation since the seventies, whereas the RMT has made sure Tube drivers’ has.

The low pay of others is used as a stick to lower the pay of everyone else.

However, in a world where everyone has decent pay and conditions is much more difficult for employers to make people accept painful changes in working conditions because there are lots of other places they can go. Well-paid work that offers good benefits is contagious, it gives you options. It gives you the chance to say “Sod this. I’m going to be a train driver.”

It’s part of the fight for a better world

I know, I know, it’s terribly unfashionable to want a better world nowadays, and even more gross and decrepit to actually try and do something about it. I’m old. Deal with it.

Which is what many people are telling the strikers:

tubestrike

If the real world sucks, we shouldn’t get over it. We should fight it. That’s what you do when something sucks. That’s what you’re meant to do.

That’s what being a decent human being is. Not getting over the things that suck, and not getting over the things that suck for other people as well as for yourself.

I’m tired of the hideously unproductive people of Nepal coming whining to me every time one of their mountains falls on their heads. Welcome to life in the Himalayas. It sucks. Get over it.

If we get over it every time something sucks then things will just continue to suck and then begin to suck more and more as the people who are making it suck see us getting over it every time something sucks.

(Incidentally, that “good luck” comment pretty much shows why, if every union fought like this everyone would get paid more. Because you wouldn’t need luck. Those jobs would be available.)

What is a strike?

I appreciate that none of this will convince people who fundamentally think that certain people shouldn’t be entitled to be consulted when their working hours are changed drastically overnight.

But it is an important part of a free market that when someone wants to renegotiate a contract, by, say, making you now essentially nocturnal for a significant part of your life, that you should have a say in whether that’s an acceptable amendment to your contract.

Because that’s the way contracts work.

You don’t get to change them and at the same time expect the other party to continue working as they did before. It’s a process of negotiation, and as a working person one of your negotiating tools is your right not to work.

It’s your key tool. Your right to say, “Nope, I’m not doing that. It doesn’t pay enough, it’s too dangerous, it will ruin my home life. I’m not doing that for that.”

And if an employer can come up with an offer you are willing to work for, then that’s just dandy.

It’s fundamental to human dignity, to the idea of control over your own life to be able to decide what is worth you doing for what money. To enter into a contract as an equal.

“Would you do this for this much?”

“Yep!”

Or:

“Would you do this for this much?”

“Nope!”

That’s the way free markets are meant to work. It’s the way life is meant to work. It’s about having the ability to dispense with the one asset you really have – your time on this planet – in the way you decide will be most beneficial for you and your family.

And every assault on pay, or conditions, for anyone in any industry narrows the options for us all. It means there are fewer jobs that you would find worth doing for what they pay, you have fewer options.

That’s why I support today’s strike, and that’s why I support every strike.

The good thing about UKIP is they’ll talk about the things no other politician will talk about. They’re not afraid to discuss the elephant in the room. Finally, they’ve got the politicians talking about immigration.

In 2002, when David Blunkett called for the Sangatte refugee camp to be closed because of people trying to cross the Channel, we just weren’t talking about immigration.
In 2003, when David Blunkett said our school were being “swamped” with immigrants, we just weren’t talking about immigration.
In 2004, when Jack Straw said he felt uncomfortable when recent immigrants wore the veil to constituency surgeries, we just weren’t talking about immigration.
In 2005, when the Conservative Party had a general election poster that said “It’s not racist to want a cap on immigration”, we just weren’t talking about immigration.
In 2006, when John Reid said the immigration service was not “fit for purpose” we just weren’t talking about immigration.
In 2008, when Jacqui Smith said that immigrants would have to pass a citizenship test before being allowed to stay, we just weren’t talking about immigration.
In 2009, when Gordon Brown promised “British jobs for British people” we just weren’t talking about immigration.
In 2010, when David Cameron campaigned on the basis of an upper limit to immigration, we just weren’t talking about immigration.
From 2011 to 2015, when Nigel Farage appeared on Question Time 13 times, we just weren’t talking about immigration.

Now – FINALLY – we can at last start talking about immigration. Thanks, UKIP…

Hey, everyone! Remember back in the old days, when I used to write a #bbcqt fact sheet for UsVsTh3m every week?

Well, unfortunately, UsVsTh3m is dead, and its corpse is currently passing painfully through the digestive tracts of vultures and parasites, so that can’t happen any more.

Unless…

Unless…

I just do one of my own! So here it is. Your new and improved Question Time Fact Sheet. Keep it to hand as the horror begins…

Cross Mary Creagh

Cross Mary Creagh

Mary Creagh (Lab, MP for Wakefield, Shadow Secretary for International Development)

  • She’s a Labour leadership candidate supported by an MP with perhaps the best name in the whole House of Commons, Thangam Debbonaire. (Source)
  • From 2007-9 she was Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe. (Source)
  • As a councillor she started the longest-ever investigation by the Standards Board. A tribunal called her an “inventive witness, lacking in balanced judgement and one who was prepared to make assumptions about the honesty and integrity of others without any proper basis.” (Source)
  • Her children are called Clement and Beatrice, either after Clement Attlee and Beatrice Webb, or Clement Freud and Princess Beatrice. We’ll just never know. (Source)
  • Is a keen cyclist. (Source)

In summary: Unknown quantity, who perhaps deserves to remain such.

What to shout at the telly: “I preferred Ronnie and Reggie,” “velocipede wanker,” “Mary Crain’t, more like.”

Completely Norman Lamb

Completely Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb (Lib Dem, MP for North Norfolk)

  • Is a candidate for the Lib Dem leaderhsip, who wants to legalise cannabis. (Source)
  • Worked as a parliamentary researcher for Greville Janner in the early 1980s. Yes, THAT Greville Janner… (Source)
  • In January 2015 announced £497,000 from the Coatal Communities Fund for his constituency. 80% of the grants from the fund set up by Danny Alexander went to Tory or Lib Dem constituencies. (Source)
  • Was PPS to both Charles Kennedy and Nick Clegg. (Source)
  • He invested £10,000 in the career of Tinchy Strider and claimed he and his wife were “living the grime scene.” (Source)

In summary: Lembit’s sensible twin, cut from his shoulder at birth.

What to shout at the telly: “Fucking quisling Lib Dem bastard,” “Smiling herb-goon,” “North Norfolk Digiturd.”

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It’s only Justine Bleedin’ Greening

Justine Greening (Con, MP for Putney, Secretary of State for International Development)

  • Was an accountant with PriceWaterhouse Cooper, Glaxo SmithKline and Centrica before entering parliament. (Source)
  • Was found to be the MP who is 9th best value-for-money according to the unbiased bods at the Adam Smith Institute in 2009. In 2012. The Adam Smith Institute was later paid £37 million by Greening’s department, the DfID to “promote the free market in the third world”. Coincidentally. (Source)
  • Failed to vote on Syria because she was too busy chatting to notice the division bell, Or did she? (Source: Wikipedia)
  • Is currently the boss of Grant Shapps, who has been alleged to be Westminster-based Wikipedia editor Contribsx. Contribsx is the editor who added the information above about Greening missing a vote because she was too busy chatting to Wikipedia. (Source)
  • Opposes a third runway at Heathrow. (Source)

In summary: The daughter of whom Rick Wakeman is most proud.

What to shout at the telly: “Broken Toby jug, full to the brim with mouse corpses,” “Lispy, brittle-eyed gauleiter,” “Scowl owl.”

kirbynormal (1)

Jill Kirby (writer, Conservative blogger)

  • She was Director of the Centre for Policy Studies 2007-2011 (Source)
  • She blogs for Conservative Home (Source)
  • Wants to “introduce proper welfare sanctions to end the incentives to fecklessness” (Source)
  • Doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page (Citation Needed)

In summary: Like an Eastern European ersatz Melanie Phillips for when their factories couldn’t shurn out enough actual Melanie Phillipses.

What to shout at the telly: “Venomous hell twig,” “the creeping hand of death,” “jill Dando’s ghost.”

susie-boniface

Susie Boniface (journalist, Fleet Street Fox)

  • Gatecrashed Katie Price’s wedding to Alex Reid. (Source)
  • Won the London Press Club award for Blog Of The Year in 2013. (Source)
  • Was accused by Sarah Ditum of “hysterical misogyny.” (Source)
  • Until 2006 was married to a Sun journalist. (Source)

In summary: Human word-user.

What to shout at the telly: “At least someone’s still getting paid by The Mirror!” (Or maybe that will just be me…)

I’ve just read all 700 pages of Tony Blair’s autobiography, A Journey. It was quite a transformative experience for me, because I opened it convinced that he was amoral, venal and unprincipled, and one of the worst people we had ever had as Prime Minister, but I came out of it knowing that that’s untrue. He is, in fact, one of the worst people we’ve ever had as a person. He’s just awful.

Here, so that you have to spend none of the few hours you have on this fleeting rock reading it, are the top lessons you can learn from Tony Blair’s A Journey

25. Tony Blair hates democracy – He doesn’t even let you get past the introduction before he really feels that he has to be clear about how terrible democracy is. It really hinders leaders who are just trying to lead, you see.

The challenge of modern democracy is efficacy. Not accountability, transparency or whether it is honest or not, but whether it works to deliver effective change in times that need radical change.

That’s an elected leader saying it’s more important to get things done than to tell the people what you are going to get done, letting them know how it is done, that you don’t lie to them about it, or even that they have an opportunity to get rid of you if they don’t like what you are doing. You know, like in a democracy.

Fortunately, most governments have some sense of checks and balances to stop those who wield executive power abusing it. Unfortunately, Tony finds that really annoying:

Checks and balances are there for very good reasons in most constitutional democracies; but in the modern world they often lead not to consensus for change but to sclerosis or minimal change.

Well, surely he likes people voting, though, right? You know, like vesting more powers in the elected European Parliament, rather than in the not-directly-elected European Council.

So the notion of a steady evolution towards a reduced Council and an enhanced Parliament is based on a fundamental diversion from democratic accountability.

By making it more democratically accountable.

And this is just the Introduction.

24. Telling Lies To Get Elected Is Fine

I voted Labour in 1983. I didn’t really think a Labour victory was the best thing for the country, and I was a Labout candidate.

23. If You Can’t Play Sport (Say, Because You Only Have One Functioning Eye), You Will Be A Terrible Prime Minister.

It was, of course, a monumental risk as it always is when a political leader plays sport in public. No one expects you to be brilliant, but you can’t afford to be absolutely rubbish, otherwise you are plainly not fit to run a nation.

22. It’s Helpful If You Can Get The Right People To Die

Throughout the book, there’s a theme of people dying at times that prove convenient for Tony Blair. John Smith, Princess Diana, R0bin Cook, Mo Mowlam, Sergio Vieira de Mello. Not that I’m suggesting that he arranged their deaths, that would be ridiculous. After all, none of them were Iraqi civilians. But he certainly made use of them all.

However, the first example we get of this theme is the most Blair one. The murder of toddler James Bulger, which he describes like this:

[A]t the time, politically, there was a big impact on my standing, which rose still further.

Thank goodness for that murdered child!

21. Tony Blair May Be Schizophrenic

[O]thers would mutter about it being ‘a score draw’, or some such bull****.

Let’s examine what just happened. A man wrote a sentence, and then censored his own words.

Rather than choosing a diffferent word, or being confident that, as a grownup, he can use the words he wants in his own fucking book, he is using a word, then implying that it’s the sort of word he doesn’t think should be used. As if there’s someone else living inside his skull, crossing bits out as he writes them.

He’s  a man with strong enough convictions to use a word, but not strong enough ones to be seen using it.

20. If You Can Combine Satan With Sport, Do It

I was aware we were playing with Faust’s companion, but with him onside, it was just too easy to score.

19. The Irish Peace Process Required Diamond-Shaped Tables

When the DUP insisted on rectangular tables to indicate that they were sitting opposite enemies, and Sinn Fein wanted round tables to suggest that they were now all on side with each other, the situation was only resolved when someone found a diamond-shaped table.

The Irish peace process was also Blair’s finest hour. On reading the book it becaomes clear that only someone so completely free of principles, who has no attachment to values or tradition of any kind, could have steered the Northern Ireland peace process to a successful conclusion.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that – just as the Second World War demanded someone as racist, vicious, and batshit insane as Winston Churchill – the peace process could only have been guided by someone egotistical enough the be unable to empathise with all sides equally, and unprincipled enough to let nothing stand in their way.

Although you get the feeling that after 9/11, his answer would have been to bomb Ireland with depleted uranium until they took responsibility for the table situation.

18. Nelson Mandela was ‘fly as hell’

[N]ot because he’s a saint, because he isn’t. Or rather he is, but not in the sense that he can’t be fly as hell when the occasion demands. I bet Ghandi was the same.

I’ll take that bet.

17. George Orwell Lives

[I]ndecision is also decision. Inaction is also action.

16. Efficiency In Childbirth Is Achievable

There are times with that woman when I am in awe. She kept working until the last minute. Gave birth on time and to order. Got out that night. And she was forty-five. It was pretty impressive.

15. There’s Nothing You Can’t Legislate

[T]he world had changed and required a different system for enforcing good conduct in the absence of the pressure of tradition and family.

And that system is on-the-spot fines administered by policemen.

14. Anti-Social Behaviour Is Relative

When describing his attitude to law and order, Blair concentrates on the fact that one night he saw a man weeing in a doorway. When he asked him to stop, the man didn’t, and that – to Tony Blair – is symbolic of everything that was wrong with the world. By letting the door-splashers get away, we let the people who shit in hedgerows get away, the people who ejaculate into ornamental fountains get away, and that is the beginning of the end.

Blair believes that every small instance of anti-social behaviour should be immediately punishable by the police without having to go through the process of gathering and presenting evidence. Summary justice, administered against low-level offenders against common decency is the only way forward. Except in one instance,

When his own underage son is arrested for being drunk and disorderly in Leicester Square.

OK, he was drunk and shouldn’t have been, but this all seemed a little excessive – it’s not as if he was a proper criminal or anything.

13. He Doesn’t Care Who Thinks He’s Greedy

Before the famous picture of Blair and Brown together in the 2005 general election was taken with them both holding ice creams, Blair had to go and buy the ice creams. Kate Garvey told him not to get a flake because it would make him look greedy. He got a flake because Fuck That Noise.

12. He Was In Touch With The People

I should have realised that for your ordinary motorist, the rising cost of filling the car was a big, not an insignificant one (after all, the children’s nanny, Jackie, had been complaining about it for weeks.

11. Lying To The Media Doesn’t Count

It seems almost pathetic now when you look back on it. Because a wrong statement had been made to the media, they were able to turn it into a full-blown scandal.

That’s a ‘wrong statement’. Which is – somehow – different to a ‘lie’.

10. Decisions Made In The Heat Of The Moment Are Always Right

The emotional impact is replaced by a sentiment which, because it is more calm, seems more rational. But paradoxically it can be less rational, because the calm is not the product of a changed analysis, but of the effluxion of time.

Yes, it’s the moment when you forget your anger and fear that you start making stupid, irrational decisions because of the effluxion of time.

Which is news to those of us who thought that the effluxion of time was only responsible for the travails of Marty McFly.

9. Playing Into The Hands Of Terrorists Is Exactly What They Don’t Expect. And Therefore Exactly What You Should Do

It was, in a very real sense, a declaration of war. It was calculated to draw us into conflict.

Ha! That showed them! Wait, what?

8. There Are Different Ways Of Not Having WMDs

I shan’t quote this, because it goes on – and ON – but it turns out there are two ways you can not have WMDs. You can not have WMDs strategically – which is what our UN resolutions meant Saddam sould have done – or you can not have WMDs tactically – which is what he had actually done. The distinction is the difference between someone who is complying with a resolution by stopping WMD programmes and someone who is appearing to comply by stopping WMD programmes.

7. Fear Is Not The Same As Terror

And a little bit of fear about what America might do was no bad thing.

I’m sure we have a word for those who try to achieve their political ends by instilling fear – or ‘terror’ – in others. Now, what was it again…

6. War War Can’t Wait For Jaw Jaw

[T]hey had close on 250,000 troops in the region and they couldn’t simply wait until a diplomatic dance, which they had fair evidence for thinking would be interminable, was played out.

5. Protestors Are Hypocritical Bastards

When was there a single protest in any Western nation about such evil [the insurgency in Iraq]? Where was the moral indignation?

Stupid protestors, only protesting about the things their government was doing, rather than just milling around London in a state of permanent outrage.

4. Freedom Of Information Is A Terrible Idea

Blair often separates things he doesn’t like to think of being subsets of other things. So ‘party members’ don’t count in his mind as ‘voters’, and ‘journalists’ aren’t ‘people’. He doesn’t like the fact that the FOI Act is used by journalists and not people. And it’s not used to ‘bestow’ knowledge’ or to satisfy the ‘curious’. Instead “[i]t’s used as a weapon.”

Which, again, should be very separate things.

3. Tony Blair Likes A Good Shit

I am very typically British. I like to have time and comfort in the loo… I couldn’t live in a culture that doesn’t respect it.

2. Tony Blair Is A Typical Lad. Zoo Wouldn’t Have Folded On his Watch

As we sat down to dinner with the Queen, the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi hit on a great line of banter.

Do fuck off.

1. My Marginalia Will Never Be Published

Whilst reading, I often fill the margins of my books up with notes, memoranda, and cross-references. In my mind these will be a treasure trove for whoever looks through my estate and decides they are so full of wisdom and learning that they should be published for all the world to read.

In reality, on reading them back, they consist of things like. “No,” “Twat,” “I refuse,” and “I bet he had a stiffy when he wrote that.”

If you don’t know them, I’m not telling you.

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