Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Magic Number: 37

Regular readers of this blog will have worked out by now that I’m essentially a rationalist. I approach the world using logic and reason, checking of facts (as far as it’s practicable), updating my views in the light of new information. I’ve no time for superstition, religious or otherwise, in forming my views of the world around me. Or so I say.

So, just for a change, let’s put that all to one side for the moment. Let’s talk about magic. Or, more specifically, magic numbers, and one magic number in particular.

Magic Numbers in History

Over the whole of recorded history, and probably before, numbers have held mystical powers for people. The most mystical number to the Pythagoreans was the number 10. Pythagoras (580 – 500 BCE) himself thought numbers had souls and magic powers.

The most magical numbers in religion are three, four, seven, ten and twelve.

In Christianity, we have the Holy Trinity, Jesus rising after three days, the latter borrowed from pagan moon-worshippers. (Have you ever wondered why Easter wanders all over the calendar: the phases of the moon are the answer.) We have four Gospels and four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The creation myth (also in Islam and Judaism) famously uses the number seven: hence the days of the week. Then we have the Ten Commandments and Twelve Apostles.

The hajj in Islam requires pilgrims to walk seven times around the Kabaa (a pre-existing pagan ritual adopted by early Muslims). And there are many examples in other faiths. In fairy tales, we have three wishes and seven dwarves, to name just a couple of examples. An interesting overview is available on the Mystical Numbers website.

number 37 repeated
It’s magic!

But I want to concentrate on a different number from all these. There’s a spoiler alert already in the title: it’s the number thirty seven.

2010 General Election

Most people know by now that, in 2010, David Cameron won a small majority of 12 in the Commons on 37% of the votes cast. Ever since the 1950s, winning parties in UK general elections have never commanded more than 50% of the vote. I think the lowest figure for majority rule was by Tony Blair’s New Labour in 2005. An attempt at a fairer electoral system, a favourite of the Lib Dems was, of course, scuppered by Cameron and co during the coalition government 2010-15.

EU Referendum

The magic number 37 crops up again in the EU referendum result. This can be summarized as follows:

37% Leave
34% Remain
29% Did not vote

One of the key requirements of government in a democracy is to defend minorities from “the tyranny of the majority”. May’s government seems to be doing a piss poor job of this right now, against the hysteria of the usual media suspects in particular.

UK Economy

As my earlier blog post Two Gamblers and a Pint of Lager explained, our magic number makes its appearance in one stark view of how lopsided the UK economy is. In round terms, the UK has:

1% of the world’s population
2.5% of the world’s income
37% of the world’s financial transactions.

Financial institutions around the world trade sums equal to the entire global annual output every 14 working days. In the UK, we trade our annual output every day and a quarter! I explained in my post The City: Paragon or Parasite? that this kind of trading is “socially useless”. (The then chairman of the Financial Services Authority used this phrase in 2009.) It’s a major source of financial instability and will inevitably lead to another large 2007-8 style crash one day. It leaves the UK uniquely vulnerable of the western democracies to an economic shock such as Britain leaving the EU or Donald Trump as President of the USA.

US Elections

Talking of which, I did analyse the US election result to see if our magic number 37 dropped out of the voting statistics. Sadly, it didn’t. But I did learn that the voters of America split as follows:

42% did not vote
28% voted for Clinton
27% voted for Trump
3% voted for other candidates

Hillary Clinton leads Trump by 2 million votes in the count. In the whole history of US presidential elections, five winning US Presidents have lost the popular vote, Trump by the third largest margin ever. (There were larger margins in 1824 and 1876.) Perhaps more shocking is that fact that Trump is not unusual in becoming President-elect with the endorsement of only about a quarter of voters.

So, no 37 here. But hang on… the share of the American voters who did not vote for Trump is (almost) exactly double the share of British voters (37%) who voted to leave the EU. Or, if you add the percentage of the UKIP vote in 2015 (10) to the percentage of Americans who supported Trump in 2016 (27), you get, yes, (hurrah!) our magic number 37.  Phew!

OK, the more observant of you (which is, of course, all of you!) will have spotted what I’ve just done here. I’ve scratched around and selected some arbitrary “facts” from a greater whole until I’ve got the answer I want.* Which is basically what evangelical religious apologists do when they’re trying to “prove” the will of God or Allah behind some natural phenomenon. Tsunamis, for example, being God’s wrath – that sort of thing.

And Finally

But here’s just one thing more I’ve remembered. What’s the body temperature of a normal, healthy human being? Why, yes! It’s 37 degrees! Spooky, or what? (What, probably…)

*and mixed “percentage of votes” with “percentage of electorate”.

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Match Fit Britain

Chancellor Philip Hammond recently spoke about making Britain’s economy “match fit” in preparation for the shock of leaving the EU in the near future. In the spirit of the recent decision of the American people and of Donald Trump’s suggestion for UK ambassador to the US, here are some predictions.

Trade Negotiations

bull in a china shop

The former popular figure of John Bull is to be revived. He will be responsible for trade negotiations with the People’s Republic of China, with the view to making our trade deficit with them even larger. To ease negotiations, Mr Bull’s office will be located in adapted retail premises in Beijing.

Christmas

turkeyRetailers were pleased when, in a recent poll, 37% of turkeys voted for Christmas, thereby ensuring their annual mass slaughter. The French Government has made an offer to take any of our turkeys wishing to escape this fate, in exchange for the remaining child refugees in Calais. The European Parliament voted to suspend – by the neck – any turkeys found within the EU “before Christmas”. A spokesbird for the turkeys complained: “We’re damned if we do and dinde if we don’t”.

Church of England

empty churchFollowing a recent decision by the C of E to remove the requirement for all churches to hold a weekly service, a further innovation will be introduced to make better use of these much underused buildings, especially in rural areas. British zoos will be required to transfer any lions they hold and relocate them to a convenient church. This will provide the lions with more space to roam around. A Church spokesman said he expected this to reduce the need to hold services in these little-used buildings almost completely.

Monarchy

charles windsor cartoonIn a shock move no one expected, the present Head of State is to be replaced by a Mr Charles Windsor, a 68 year-old pensioner and serial violator of the “no political interference by royalty” convention. As a result, all Government Ministries are to be amalgamated into a single Ministry of Black Spiders. All current civil servants will be made redundant and, in their place, a small group of keepers will be appointed to look after the arachnids. In addition, a secondee from the British Homeopathic Association will be deployed to formulate all Government policy based upon interpreting the shapes of the spiders’ webs.

As a result, the redundant Mr Liam Fox will be put in charge of the chicken run, egged on by a Mr Adam Werritty. One other deposed Minister said that this announcement had “certainly ruffled a few feathers” in Westminster.

Utilities

jack and jillIn a move designed to save millions of pounds, the entire water supply network – pipes, pumps, reservoirs and all – will be closed down. It will be replaced by a promising new enterprise consisting of two small children and a bucket. The boy and girl said in a statement: “Any help from the British public to find a hill with a well on top would be much appreciated”. Share prices in water companies took a tumble on the release of this announcement.

Prisons

dickesian jailFollowing recent staff unrest about prison overcrowding, new incentives are to be introduced to instil a more positive attitude from warders. Staff will be encouraged to profit from prisoners by selling them a variety of services and to charge rent at “affordable” (i.e. unaffordable) rates. Free prison meals are to be abolished to help in this enterprise. A City analyst said: “I’d put my money on Class A drugs. The prison warders and the City could really make a killing in this exciting new market.”

Education

old school classroomIn a bold initiative to raise standards further, new minimum standards of attainment will be adopted for school pupils. Entitlement for continuing state funded education will be dependent on achieving at least 2 good passes in A levels at the age of seven. Successful students will then complete the remaining years of education learning the history of Triumphs of the British Empire and in declension of irregular Latin verbs. They will be known as “Class A”. A City analyst forecast promising joint enterprises with the prison service.

Children who fail to meet this standard will be required to fill the empty pews in our little-used churches, developing their athletic prowess by avoiding getting eaten by the lions. A spokeswoman for Sport England enthused: “This presents a great opportunity for Team GB 2024. Although we do expect that, in those Olympic Games, we will field a bigger squad for the Paralympics than the main Olympic Games. I’m proud to be part of another world-beating initiative for Team GB!”

Meanwhile, the Conflict of Interest policy for School Governors is to be revised. In future, all Governors who do not profit personally from decisions at Governing Body meetings will be dismissed, for showing a lack of the new British entrepreneurial spirit. School rooms where Governors hold their meetings must be adapted to include a revolving door affording easy access to local and regional companies in whom they have an interest. An Education Department press statement said: “This change has been made following studies of Best Practice in the Ministry of Defence and in new policy initiatives in the White House”.

Child Protection

donald trump shockedIn a related area, the screening of jobseekers working with children and vulnerable adults, known as DBS checks, will be changed. The checks will be replaced by a short practical exam, known informally as the “grope test”. Candidates will be required to show dexterity and physical strength in sexually assaulting women and children. Oral examinations, including verbal abuse, will be necessary for the most sensitive appointments.

The focus of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will be repositioned to examine case studies to be used as role models and for training candidates lacking in these key skills.

Administration of Justice

scales of justiceIn a shake-up in the magistracy, the Ministry of Justice has announced the closure of all its Advisory Committees across the country. These are the bodies that interview and select candidates to be appointed as magistrates. In future, released prisoners serving a minimum of five years in gaol will be automatically placed on a shortlist for the magistracy. A simple written exam will be used to sift from the shortlist. Marks will be awarded for wrong answers. Bonus marks will be added for evidence of cheating. In the event that too many candidates reach the required standards, priority will be given to convicted fraudsters, sex offenders and child abusers. A Justice Ministry spokesperson said: “It takes a thief to catch a thief”.

Health

anthrax cellsIn a controversial move, NHS England has announced the resignation of its Chief Executive. He is to be replaced by a vial of anthrax. Under its new leadership, the NHS is planning a series of “breakout initiatives” right across the health service: hospitals, GP surgeries and drop-in centres (to be renamed “drop dead” centres). The vial announced: “This is doubly-good news for the NHS. We expect to eliminate all waiting lists and the massive budget overspends by NHS Trusts in a matter of weeks.” He added “will the last person standing please turn out the lights, pull up the drawbridge and close the door. Thank you.” The Prime Minister commented: “This is really excellent news. It will certainly trump our other recent policy announcements. Under my government, Britain is at last taking back control of our borders. By turning Britain into a toxic wasteland, uninhabitable for 10,000 years, I confidently expect that immigration will immediately fall to zero”.

UKIP protested that 10,000 years is far too short a time for this to be an effective deterrent against our “invasion by foreigners”. The Daily Mail agreed: “These selfish, so-called ‘death tourists’ should continue to go to Switzerland where they belong”, it said.

No one from the Labour Party was available for comment.

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King of America

The American War of Independence in the late 18th century was fought to free the American people from the yoke of English government, under a mad King of America, George III. Nearly 200 years later came another known as The King: Elvis Presley. Elvis’s life, I believe, can used as a metaphor for the USA itself.

Elvis’s Life: The Story of the USA

Elvis was born on the wrong side of the tracks and was brought up in a poor neighbourhood. He was exposed to musical influences reflecting the ethnic diversity of the USA: country, gospel and R&B. The young Elvis recorded songs at the legendary Sun studios in 1954-5 that blended these styles with a freshness and energy that was truly revolutionary to mainstream (white) audiences. It was he that brought the raw energy of rock’n’roll to a wider public. (Yes, I know Bill Haley was the first to have a rock’n’roll chart hit. But Haley brought a less threatening, more country orientated style with cleaned up lyrics. Check out the real deal by listening to the original version of Shake, Rattle and Roll by Big Joe Turner, in all its gruesomely – to modern ears – glorious misogyny.)

Elvis Presley at Sun Studios
Elvis at Sun Studios

The young Elvis can be seen as a metaphor for a relatively young country with all the energy and expectation you would expect from the diverse range of people who moved there to forge a new life.

Later Years

A year or two later, there now enters the villain of the story, Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker. He saw the commercial potential of the young Elvis and soon changed him from a raw, threatening teenage idol into a mainstream entertainer. This transformation, reinforced by Presley’s conscription, gradually sapped the energy and the excitement of his performances. Parker can easily be seen as a metaphor for American corporate capitalism at its worst. Parker’s approach reduces real talent to a commodity to be exploited and a predictable, standardised product. Fans become consumers.

This process reaches a nadir with the Las Vegas concerts. An overweight Presley in lurid, tasteless costumes badly performed old hits and family-friendly numbers. It was cruel caricature of the streak of lightning from his early days. His poor diet and consumption of prodigious quantities of prescription drugs led to a major health deterioration and early death at the age of only 42 years. This sorry tale has its counterpart in the story of the USA. Over-consumption, obesity and a profit-driven health system – recently rated as the worst value for money in the world by a UN agency. And, not surprisingly, a shorter life expectancy that other western countries, including the UK.

The USA, with its fine, inspiring written constitution started full of promise and energy. It welcomed the “tired, poor and huddled masses” to build something to be proud off. Slowly, starting with the robber barons of the late 19th century, it all started to go wrong. The steady, cancerous corruption of public and political life through the overarching power of the dollar and of corporate lobbying got us to the sorry state we’re in today. Americans are taught from an early age to be consumers, not citizens. Hence the obesity, the rip-off healthcare and poor health outcomes.  The parallels with Presley’s life are striking.

The Comeback Show 1968

After the early promise, for Elvis it was mostly downhill all the way. One bright exception to this trend was a US TV show in 1968, the Comeback Special. The show included edited extracts from 2 semi-improvised live sessions. Elvis was joined by his old supporting musicians from the original Sun Records days. Appearing his most relaxed for years, they joked and reminisced and jammed their way through his back catalogue and some rock’n’roll classics.

Elvis comeback special
Comeback Special

The show ended with a song written by Walter Earl Brown for the occasion, If I Can Dream. It speaks of hope for the oppressed and brotherly love. Playing the pantomime villain role, Parker didn’t want to use it, but Elvis disagreed. I remember at the time immediately and instinctively liking the song. But for nearly fifty years since, I have put it in the category of “guilty pleasure”. The lyrics are a bit cheesy and the arrangement almost too perfect, too polished.

In the wake of the recent awful news events, I was reminded of the song and played it again. I also found out that the lyrics include quotations from speeches by the third King of America in our tale: civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King. The TV show was recorded two months after King’s assassination and Presley wanted something appropriate to conclude the show.

Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King

I now find that those erstwhile clunky lyrics speak to me about what I’m trying to say. My previous guilt has gone and I’m an “out and proud” lover of the song. Right now we need a political leader, or leaders, to articulate the thoughts captured in the song and to find a way of making them happen.

In the meantime, if you don’t know the song or haven’t heard it for a while, check it out. Use it as balm for the soul or to reignite your energies. Elvis belts out those words with force and a passion we’d thought had been lost in the lean years. So, give it a play, and whatever you do, play it very LOUD!

Out there in the dark, there’s a beckoning candle…

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Master of Ambivalence

So, farewell, Leonard Cohen. The sad, sad news of his death rounds off a truly dreadful week in an awful year. I confess to shedding the odd tear when I heard the news on the radio this morning. The loss of such a gentle and humane person seemed an apt, if tragic, metaphor for a wider sense of loss this week.

There are those who see Cohen’s music as simply mournful or gloomy. I disagree. His songs, at their finest, explore the whole complexity of human relationships in an empathic, insightful way. Many are the times I’ve listened to one of his songs to help me think through my emotions in response to some difficult life event.

Leonard Cohen
The Master

For me, the true genius of the man is the way he explores the contrasting and often contradictory emotions we feel as we go through life. Darkness is contrasted with light, joy with sadness, despair with hope. His friend Bob Dylan – he and Cohen both wrote songs of their time at the Chelsea Hotel, New York – makes my point with these words from My Back Pages: “Lies that life is black and white spoke from my skull, I dreamed”. Cohen explored the complexities of relationships: between lovers, friends, enemies; between men and women and nations.

This ambivalence was apparent from the very start. “It’s time to laugh and cry, and cry and laugh about it all again” (So Long, Marianne). “It looks like freedom but it feels like death… It’s something in between, I guess” (Closing Time). In perhaps his most famous, or most covered, song Hallelujah, it’s not a cry of unalloyed joy or triumph, but a “cold and broken Hallelujah”. But amongst the contrast and contradiction, Cohen was also an optimist. “There is a crack, a crack in everything… that’s how the light gets in” (Anthem). And also a wonderfully dry sense of humour: “I was born like this; I had no choice. I was born with the gift of a golden voice” (Tower of Song) was a wry take on his deep, gravelly delivery.

O2 Concert 2008

My wife and I saw Leonard Cohen at the O2 Arena in 2008. His humility and modesty was touching. At the age of 74, he seemed genuinely surprised, delighted and moved by the rapturous reception he got from the audience. We saw him just a few days after the world got the joyful news that Barak Obama has won the USA Presidential election, after eight long, awful years of George W Bush.  He sang the song Democracy, whose chorus includes the line “Democracy is coming to the USA”. With one voice, the whole audience erupted in an orgasmic roar of joy and delight. (For those who have never been there, the O2 auditorium is huge and packed to capacity that night. So that roar was LOUD!!) It was a moment I shall never forget. Those were days of hope and expectation. What a difference eight years make!

O2 arena interior
O2 Arena

Perhaps to show his gratitude to the audience, Cohen performed seven – yes seven – encores that evening. It’s the best live concert I’ve ever seen. Thank you, Leonard. I’m glad I was there.

A Toast to Humanity

What has always struck me about Leonard Cohen is the sheer humanity of the man. It’s something we’re sorely in need of, right now. When I was checking on the exact lyric of the Dylan song quoted above, my eyes were caught by the previous line: “Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth, ‘rip down all hate’, I screamed”. Yes, Bob, that’s a good place to end.

So a toast to Leonard Cohen, Master of Ambivalence, 1934-2016, and all he stood for. The man is gone, but the songs will sustain us. Thank you, and rest in peace.

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The Real 9/11

Make a note of today’s date. It’s Wednesday 9th September 2016. 9/11/2016.

On 11th September 2001, 11/9/2001, a tragic and historically significant event took place in America. We are still coming to terms with understanding the full consequences of that evil act. For reasons best known to themselves, the Americans call this event 9/11. (Call it one of my foibles: I find the illogical, semi-arse-about-face way Americans write dates truly irritating.)

9/11/2016 marks the day when the world learned the terrifyingly shocking news that the 45th President of the United States will be Donald J Trump. It is, of course, far too soon how any future historians would compare the significance of these two events.

The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum

Peter Weiss’ 1963 play Marat/Sade imagines events around the time of the French Revolution in the late 18th century. Part of the storyline involves the lunatics taking over the asylum, with unexpected consequences. As Wikipedia states “They, as people who came out of the revolution no better than they went in, are not entirely pleased with the course of events as they occurred.” Sounds familiar?

Lunatics from Marat / Sade
Marat / Sade lunatics

It appears that the leader of the most powerful country on the planet will shortly be led by a man not fit to run a whelk stall. His erratic character and extreme narcissism reveals an angry, illogical, incoherent approach to issues. It’s not apparent that Trump has ever done anything unless it serves his own warped ideas for self-aggrandisement.

Domestically, things could get very unpleasant, very quickly. Given the rise in hate crime and random attacks on foreigners and ethnic minorities which has taken place here since 23rd June, I hate to think what a gun-toting US version of this might look like.

Foreign relations are entering wholly uncharted territory. With the probable exception of Vladimir Putin, all of the leaders of the other major countries think a Trump victory is a disaster. I’m sure they all think Trump is a complete twat – and they’re right. But he’s also a complete twat with control over the biggest economy and by far the biggest military machine on earth. That combination will test – possibly to destruction – the very concept of international diplomacy. And future generations will not thank the Americans for Trump’s climate change denial.

Planet of the Apes?

It takes very little imagination to plot a worst case scenario which leads to a Planet of the Apes conclusion. The original 1968 film depicts a world once ruled by human beings, but where the apes are now in charge.

Planet of the Apes clip
Here once was civilisation…

Many around the world may take some kind of de haut en bas comfort from the fact that the Americans, and not they, got us into this situation. The English (and Welsh) sacrificed this moral high ground by our own act of needless self-destruction 5 months ago. Just after the referendum, a friend was emailed by a long-standing friend from Italy. His Italian friend simply could not understand what the Brits had done. “I thought we [the Italians] were the crazies!” he wrote. Well, join the club.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world can only watch helplessly and hope and – for those of us who don’t pray – hope some more that things don’t turn out too badly after all.

9/11 One and 9/11 Two

The religious fanatics who committed the original 9/11 crime did not pose an existential threat to the USA. It is too big and powerful for such a threat to come from outside the country. The only possible threat to the very existence of the USA would be for some cancerous corrosion of its very soul and ethical standards. Right now, this feels like the real deal.

Welcome to the real 9/11.

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May’s UK: The Nasty Country

Back in 2002, as Chair of the Tory Party, Theresa May warned that many branded them as the Nasty Party. Well, here we are, fourteen years later, and May is PM. And what’s happening? Not only has she reinforced the Tories as the Nasty Party, but she’s overseeing a rapid descent of the UK into the Nasty Country.

Nasty Party Revisited

It started again under David Cameron’s leadership. We had a constant demonising of the victims of the 2008 collapse of free market economics – the poor, immigrants and disabled. George Osborne as Chancellor picked on those on benefits to suffer the harshest public spending cuts. This was because he cynically calculated it would be electorally popular.

May herself, as Home Secretary, lied that immigrants do not benefit the economy, despite the fact that every academic study into this has proven the opposite. Last year, Britain stood aloof from its fellow EU countries and opted out of the agreement to share asylum seekers amongst EU member states. Then, Britain has dragged its heels on taking unaccompanied migrant children under the terms of the Dubs amendment. More recently still, President Hollande of France criticised Britain for not taking its fair share of the children in the Calais “jungle” camp. May dismissed his statement that we had a “moral duty” to do so.

In the past few days, under May’s leadership, Home Secretary Amber Rudd dismissed contemptuously demands from victims and their families for an inquiry into the scandalous, violent behaviour of South Yorkshire Police at Orgreave during the miners’ strike in 1984. This was after May herself had led the families to believe there would be such an enquiry. Justice denied for another group of victims of arbitrary violence by the state.

David Davies, Liam Fox, Boris Johnson
Do you trust these men?

Last, and by no means least, May appointed the most divisive trio of Ministers to oversee Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Her instinct for secrecy, so often apparent during her six years as Home Secretary, has been all too evident in her handling of so-called “Brexit” so far. Her desire to use the mediaeval relic of the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50 without giving parliament a say has been thrown out by the High Court – and rightly so. Her desire to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court shows her dictatorial instincts. Her failure to slap down the most despicable attack of the High Court judges by the right wing press speaks volumes.

May’s acceptance speech on becoming Prime Minister in July spoke of her desire to be a “one nation” leader of a government that “works for all”. Her actions since have blown that assertion to pieces as the hypocrisy which some of us always suspected.

So, what’s the wider impact of all this?

Nasty Country

Politicians set the tone, particularly those in power. Others, often more extreme, see this as an excuse to speak and behave in ways that are very nasty indeed. The huge rise in hate crime we have seen after 23rd June was blamed by the UN on British politicians. Long-resident workers from other EU countries and minority ethnic UK-born citizens are getting more fearful of increasing abuse. Leaders from the world of art and culture, such as Martin Roth of the V&A, are leaving the country. Farmers are worried about finding enough seasonal fruit and veg pickers.

But above all, the really worrying trend is the rise in the bile and hatred coming from the usual suspects in the press. Specifically, I’m referring to the Daily Mail, Sun, Daily Express and Daily Telegraph. These are all owned by offshore, foreign or foreign-born residents or, in one case, by a man who is a pornographer and UKIP donor.

Two recent events have shown this vile quartet at their nastiest. The first was the eventual arrival of a tiny number of child migrants from Calais. Rather than welcoming them, these rags attacked them by claiming they were not children. In breach of press standards rules about showing the faces of vulnerable children, these were splashed all over their front pages unpixellated. Comedian Mark Steel was spot on in his piece in the Independent that we didn’t get the cute, cuddly ones with teddy bears we thought we’d ordered. Gary Lineker’s resignation from Match of the Day was demanded by the Sun when his tweet demonstrated some basic humanity and compassion for the Jungle children. (Two for the price of one with that one: the Sun, Mail and their ilk never pass up on a chance for a pop at the BBC.)

Enemies of the people
The real enemies

But, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, this week, the despicable four (Mail, Sun, Express, Telegraph) launched a savage personal attack on the High Court judges (as mentioned above). The Mail led the pack with its headline “Enemies of the People”. This piece was wrong on just about everything. Not only were there the usual misrepresentation of facts, but it was tantamount to an incitement to overthrow the rule of law. I’d known for nearly half a century that the Mail was the lowest form of journalistic life. But this was a new low, even by their miserable standards. The constant hatred-inspired stream of distortions, misrepresentations and downright lies acts as a cancer on the body politic of the UK.

Theresa May’s silence on the attacks on the High Court judges speaks volumes. Tory MP Stephen Phillips has just quit because he’s now ashamed to call himself a Conservative. Conservative former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has expressed alarm. The Bar Council is up in arms. Today’s Observer explains:

Observer article
Today’s Observer page one

Nasty Woman

May is presiding over the most disgraceful period for the UK I can remember. Nasty Party? That’s not the half of it. May’s style of premiership is fast turning us into the Nasty Country. Britain right now needs a leader with the skills and capability to heal the divisions and calm the anger in the country. We’ve seen enough already to know that Theresa May is not that person.

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