My friend and former colleague, Fran Marr really is an all round good egg. She’s the sort of person you just know would never turn her back if you needed her. Hers is the sort of compassion that never seems to tire and that has the amazing ability to inspire others to help too.
Right now she’s turning her attention to helping Ukranian refugees fleeing the war in their homeland. Have a look at what she’s up to.
While you’re here – click the link below and send a few quid to help out. It needn’t be much and it really is a damn good cause!
My MP, Mark Jenkinson MP is a bit of a smart-arse when it comes to trans rights. I’ve blogged about his anti-trans bigotry before.
As usual, “Jenky” as he’s not so affectionately known here in Workington is going around pretending to know stuff that he really doesn’t have the first clue about. This is quite normal behaviour for him. He uses his spectacular lack of understanding to whip up dog-whistles to inspire his ever-dwindling band of ‘true-believers’ to support him as he attacks minority after minority from travellers to refugees, Asylum-seekers to hungry children.
Recently he had a go at trans people, claiming that science determines that there are only two sexes and absolutely missing the point that gender and sex are different.
“Responding, Mark Jenkinson said he has never said anything transphobic, and rejects the term, choosing to call himself ‘gender critical’.
He said he does not recognise the identities of trans men and trans women, pushing favour of biological sex over gender identity to be the salient factor.”
But hey ho – he isn’t very well educated so we might forgive him for not understanding that gender is a fluid, social construct that changes dramatically from place to place and era to era. What isn’t so forgivable is the way he misprepresents scientific understanding. This video should put him right though.
Fortunately for Jenky there are people like Forrest Valkai in the world. He’s an evolutionary biologist and science educator who really can tell Jenky a thing or two – not that this bigoted and wilfully ignorant MP would listen. He’s far too interested in being right or, as we say in West Cumbria…
This morning’s announcement from Her Majesty’s government, if indeed we can still call it ‘Her Majesty’s’ will shock the country and shake our system of representative democracy and constitutional monarchy to its very core. For centuries now the reigning monarch has been the head of the Church of England, a Protestant organisation respected the world over and fully in-keeping with the character of Anglicanism worldwide as well as the prevailing culture across these fair Isles.
It was the tolerance and fair-mindedness of Anglicanism that brought an end to the religious wars that once so blighted our country. Even in N. Ireland, where the struggle is as much about national identity and exploitation as it is about religion per se, the Anglican church has called for peace, along with its Roman Catholic brethren.
We don’t have separation of church and state in this country as they do in the US. We still have Bishops and Archbishops in the House of Lords making laws for example, but those clergymen tend to act as much in a secular capacity as in a religious one. Such has it been for longer than any of us have been alive. And such, we imagined, it would remain. Until today.
As we know, early in this parliamentary term of office Boris used his overwhelming majority to push through an enabling act allowing him and his ministers the right to make law related both to Brexit and to Covid without reference to parliament and without notice to the populous. We saw this with the many announcements and U-turns regarding lockdowns and negotiations with Europe. One piece of legislation was announced late one evening after most people had gone to bed and resulted in arrests and prosecutions the very next morning as people went about their business completely oblivious to the fact that the law had changed while they slept.
And now they’ve done it again – under cover of the recent explosion in Covid19 infections Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the house and a vociferous Roman Catholic has single-handedly swept away the very basis both of our constitutional monarchy and our traditional political and religious structure. He has done so by claiming that only divine intervention can truly defeat covid and so we need, as a nation, to get right with God.
As of one minute past midnight this morning the official religion of England and Wales is no longer Anglicanism. It is, in fact, Roman Catholicism. The justification for this is ancient. It harks back to a deal made in the 13th century by King John (disparagingly known at the time as John Lackland) who gave this country to the Pope as a Papal serfdom in return for help in raising funds to wage war with France. The deal was struck in 1213 and annual payments of 1,000 marks were made in tribute to the Pope every year until 1290. After that they were irregularly offered until the final tribute was given by Edward III in 1333 in the hope that this would secure Papal favours on the international stage.
It did not and so the tribute was never paid again and although the English parliament eventually ruled the ‘sale’ of UK invalid, the Vatican has never formally relinquished its hold over the nation. Consequently, Brexit or no Brexit, England belongs to the Roman Catholic church and has done for over 800 years. Scotland was never part of the agreement in 1213 and so it remains to be seen how our brothers North of the border will fare.
It may be that the next big building project will involve a restoration not only of monasteries but of Hadrian’s wall as well. We’ll have to wait and see about that. What we do know is that there are few tory voters in Scotland so this particular incarnation of the ‘Conservative and Unionist party’ will have few qualms in letting our Northern neighbours adrift if it suits their short-term goals.
This is the backdrop behind Rees-Mogg’s modern religious coup. Relying upon ancient documents detailing the transfer of ownership from the crown to the Pope he has declared UK a fiefdom once again. This is possible because of recent legislation disempowering our domestic judges who are no longer in a position to overrule or even question the work of government. Further, the Roman Catholic backbench committee, ‘Opus Hominem’ has declared the acquisition of Catholic property during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries unlawful and empowered Rees-Mogg to order a return of all Anglican properties to the English branch of the Roman Catholic church with immediate effect. Any clergyman or lay-congregant maintaining possession of such properties after midnight this morning will be guilty not only of theft but of heresy.
The new law goes further. Since there was no Anglican church in the 14th century, King John’s pact was made from the perspective of Roman Catholicism and as such, only Roman Catholic law can repeal it. At that time, and subsequently, failure to observe the tenets of the Roman church constituted heresy. Even if not originally baptised into Roman Catholicism, anyone professing to be Christian was covered by the Papal inquisition and punishable under its auspices.
This was the basis of the Albigensian crusades against the Cathars of Southern France. They were Christians whose ‘crime’, among other things, was to argue that they didn’t need a Priest to speak with God – they could do so directly. Very much like the Anglican position, as it happens.
Anglicans are Protestants and as such are equally liable to accusations of Heresy from ‘mother church’.
Of course, nobody will be getting burned at the stake or hanged as they did in centuries past but Rees-Mogg has identified his own, modern approach to undermining ecumenical relations in UK. Beginning this Sunday all citizens of England and Wales will be expected to attend Mass and give confession. Those not properly baptised have been given one month to do so after which they too will be expected to take communion in this newly Catholicised state. Those who fail to do so will face imprisonment and sequestration of funds to pay for the repair of church buildings destroyed since the dissolution.
This account of Draconian legislation is, of course, an April Fool’s day joke. But take a look at what’s really going on. Click the link here. These genuine new laws, taken together really will undermine our rights, our citizenship and our democracy. And there’s nothing funny about that.
April or not, the government really is taking us all for fools!
Racists find themselves increasingly isolated by the more reasonable members of society
For racists the group is defined in very simple, easy to recognise terms. If you’re the same colour as ‘us’ then you’re one of ‘us’. If you’re a different colour then you’re ‘them’. Since the problems we face can’t be acknowledged as part of ‘us’ it must come from ‘them’.
It’s no coincidence that racist, xenophobic groups like UKIP and the BNP began to experience electoral success just as the economy crashed (mainly due to the actions of white bankers). Such discrimination is predictable at times of social pressure.
It mirrors the rise in anti-semitism in medieval Europe as the Black Death spread across the continent and the people scapegoated minorities. It mirrors the rise of the Nazis in Germany following the disastrous economic penalties enforced by the treaty of Versailles at the end of World War One. The German people needed someone to blame who was not ‘us’. They chose the highly visible minorities of Jews, Blacks, Communists and Gypsies.
Let’s examine the psychological processes in more detail.
Naomi Shulman once wrote, “Nice people made the best Nazis.” She was writing about the people who weren’t really into politics. These were the people who still exist today. The people who take pride in their stubborn refusal to take any interest in the world beyond their workplaces, their families and their favourite sports or streaming box-sets on Netflix. As Shulman put it…
“they were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbours were dragged away.”
These are my neighbours. They’re the people who close down any serious discussion of the state of our nation with tired old tropes about not talking about religion or politics. Yes they’ll acknowledge, even laugh about scandals like partygate but take no interest in serious attacks on our democracy like Patel’s Police, crime and sentencing bill or Johnson and Rees-Mogg’s attacks on the legal system.
My polite, unassuming, docile, deliberately ignorant neighbours would have been fantastic Nazis. My modern neighbours think that because they can’t see the jackboots kicking in doors in their pleasant, middle or even working class neighbourhoods it’s not happening and never will happen.
They ignore the evidence of racism in our land.
They pour scorn on those who try to highlight the issues by having the audacity to do terrible things like taking a knee before football matches – the bastards!
They make excuses for the government that deliberately put our most vulnerable citizens, those the Nazis described as ‘useless eaters’ in harms way with covid, leading to the highest death rate in all of Europe and the 7th highest in the entire world.
They conveniently ignore the massive corruption that saw billions of pounds of their money squandered on spurious covid contracts for government ministers, for the tories’ friends and for tory party donors.
These are the lovely people who don’t rock the boat, who never stop to think about where our nation is heading, about the implications of abusive policies toward immigrants and refugees, about the motivations of those who tell them blatant lies about the economy and whose pre-election promises remain unfulfilled and even, in many cases actively undermined by this very same government.
These lovely people never bother to look behind the headlines and media pronouncements, never noticing that yesterday’s lies are simply forgotten by the media today once they’ve served their purpose. They don’t notice that Rishi Sunak’s best policies are the same ones the press, and the tories themselves described as naïve, unworkable, even Marxist when first suggested by those the press didn’t support. Remember what the papers did to Jeremy Corbyn.
They confidently repeat the lie of Corbyn’s anti-semitism whilst ignoring the reality that the United Nations agree with him on the issue of Israel’s apartheid regime in Palestine and even published a special report saying so as far back as 2017. Funnily enough very few British newspapers mentioned that report at all.
These lovely people are leading the charge of ignorance as we sleepwalk into neoNazism. Their lives are so full of petty parochial concerns and cheap reality shows that they have no time left to notice what’s going on all around them.
They don’t notice the crippling poverty of their neighbours because they’re alright.
They forget the principles of fairness, of human rights and equality they once held dear and they even support the government policy of further impoverishing the most vulnerable whilst giving vast tax breaks to the already wealthy.
These lovely people who never rock the boat have already found a way to justify to themselves the appalling treatment of those who for one reason or another are not like them. They assume unemployed people are just lazy, that disabled people are all skivers and that Muslims are universally hostile to the British way of life.
They ignore the fact that black Brits are over-represented in our prison system, not because they have committed more crime but because their sentences tend to be harsher then their white counterparts. They disregard the racial profiling that means black people in UK are many times more likely to suffer the indignity of public stop and search because they, like me, another white person have never been stopped and searched themselves.
And yet they’ll gleefully repeat the rhetoric of hatred and division that so threatens our democracy. They’ll dismiss everything that the newspapers tell them to and support whatever the papers demand, even though those same newspapers change their minds on a disturbingly regular basis. These lovely people never stop to wonder what motivated the change of heart from their favourite columnist or even to notice that it has happened.
And when they finally do notice the destruction of their rights, along with the rights of those other people they naively thought were the real targets, they’ll genuinely be surprised and wish that there had been some way of knowing what was going on. They’ll bemoan the ‘fact’ that there was nothing they could have done to prevent it and, just as now, they’ll studiously avoid any risk of awareness of their own responsibility, their own dereliction of their civic duty when they could have prevented it.
The following words come from an anonymous German resident who had just been taken by allied troops to view the carnage at his local concentration camp…
“Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done, (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing).
You remember the occasions in which maybe if you had stood others would have stood too. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.”
They Thought They Were Free (1955)
The Germans 1938-45
University of Chicago Press
These lovely people, the ones who think they’re simply enjoying a quiet life without getting involved in politics will be just as guilty as the likes of Patel and Farage who have brought about these abuses both politically and socially. And they will be just as compromised.
I said earlier on my channel that being wrong feels exactly like being right. It’s only when we take the trouble to learn, to see past our assumptions that we begin to feel the awkward psychological sensation associated with awareness of our own ignorance. And that’s good. Awareness of our own inaccuracy is the first step – often the only step needed to become accurate again.
That’s why it’s so toxic for any of us to bury our heads in the sand. Especially when the ostrich in question is a sitting MP with a penchant for attention-seeking and far-right dog-whistling. A populist MP who still believes that, having fooled his constituents once, he can continue to get away with voting so often against their interests simply by targeting a minority to whip up a bit of hatred against.
Someone like Mark Jenkinson MP, for example…
Mr Jenkinson stated recently: “Trans men aren’t men, and trans women aren’t women, sex is something we cannot change, that is the scientific view, and there is no need to educate myself on any view. It’s not just the view of me and my constituents. All I’ve ever said or done is point out the difference between gender and sex.”
Well… let’s take a brief look at the scientific view, shall we?
The magazine, ‘Nature’ is one of the most respected journals in the scientific literature. Its peer-reviewed articles are a world away from the populist dog-whistles cobbled together by biased hacks in the Daily Mail. ‘Nature’ is a scientific journal with content written by specialist science journalists and peer-reviewed for quality by practicing scientists knowledgeable in their respective fields.
T’Sjoen is an endocrinologist at the very top of his profession. He spoke with ‘Nature’ in April 2019 and made some very interesting points. Points that Mark Jenkinson MP might do well to heed before he goes shouting his mouth off about other peoples’ right to be themselves.
“Saying you’re not informed about this topic is not really valid any more,” he says. “It’s just that you’re lazy.”
The European Network for the Investigation of Gender Incongruence (ENIGI) is the largest study of transgender people in the world. In April 2019 it had a research base of 2,600 transgender individuals who provide regular ‘snapshots’ of both their psychological and their biological states. The study takes account of subjective experiences as well as more objective measurements such as hormonal balance, biological wellness, general health, task-orientated brain activity and general physical and physiological well-being. Many of these metrics have very real correlations with more normative gender-based characteristics and the results are fascinating. I won’t quote the extensive article here but I’d strongly encourage anyone who thinks they understand this topic to follow the links.
One thing Mark and I do have in common is that neither of us really ‘get it’. I don’t pretend for a moment to understand what it means to be uncomfortable with your birth-assigned gender. I’m a man, I’ve always been male, I identify as a male and I feel absolutely comfortable in that regard. I have very real difficulty in understanding how others can find that problematic. I have little doubt that Mark Jenkinson MP can say the same. But here’s where we differ…
Jenkinson, perhaps deliberately, confuses gender with biological sex whilst, ironically enough pretending to rely upon that very difference to inform his spurious, bigoted arguments. I understand that gender is a socially defined construct which is different from biology. And that social definition has always been open to change.
It used to be that women weren’t allowed to vote, they were barred from certain jobs. My own mother really wanted to be a barrister but gender-based prejudices in the mid twentieth century sent her down a different path, first as a housewife and mother and then on to a very successful career as a primary school teacher (traditionally a career acceptable for women). Today nobody would sneer at her ambition to approach the bar because the socially constructed gender rules have changed as society moves on.
Whatever your individual views on gender might be here’s the bottom line for me…
People have a right to be who they are… to live their lives free from bigotry and hostility… to know that they are part of their society and that they have a place. They don’t need everyone to understand their experience. I was very clear with the people I spoke to at Saturday’s little demo that I don’t ‘get it’ but that I support each person’s right to be themselves. Not a single trans person I met objected to that stance of mine.
If, like my bigoted, dog-whistling MP, you have a problem with trans people then I suggest you ask yourself just what it is about you that makes you take such an unhealthy interest in other peoples’ gender preferences. And remember…
Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable about your prejudices is the first and most crucial step toward adopting a healthier, happier and far more reasonable and compassionate perspective for the future.
Don’t allow Mark Jenkinson MP to hijack your humanity just so he can con you into hating ‘them’ and voting for ‘him’. The politics of ‘us and them’ should have no place in a civilised democracy. Nor should bigoted, hate-mongering MPs like Mark Jenkinson! He has a right to his opinion but when he uses his position as MP to foster hatred and prejudice he really oughtn’t to represent the decent people of Workington for a moment longer than the law allows.
“There will be people who will have seen scenes of protests and asked, ‘Why aren’t the government doing something?’ The answer, in many cases, may simply be that we live in a democratic, free society.”
Theresa May, House of commons, July 2021
Today’s the anniversary of a crime. A terrible, heinous, unspeakable act that tore at the very fabric, of the society in which it was committed. An apparently lone criminal, in the most brazen way imaginable broke a law and a tradition that had existed for 55 years among the fine, upstanding citizens of Montgomery, Alabama in the good old US of A.
So what was this unspeakable act, this depraved antisocial behaviour that resonates across the miles and the years? Who was the criminal who on this day, December 1st 1955 set in train a series of events that would shake America – well, part of America to it’s bigoted, racist, ignorant core?
The criminal’s name was Rosa Parks and the act that would forever guarantee her fame was simple. Rosa Parks sat on a bus, on a seat reserved for white people – and that was against the law.
Sometimes it’s necessary to break truly unjust laws. Sometimes our very liberty depends upon it.
This session the UK government is taking the new police, crime, sentencing and courts bill through Parliament. It’s currently nearing the end of its passage through the Lords and is likely to become law very soon as there’s little chance of Boris’ sycophantic back-benchers opposing it. Among other erosions of civil liberties it aims to make anti-government demonstration illegal. Really. They’re going after our right to protest now.
This, yet again, is the stuff of dictatorship. The Nazis did the same thing shortly after gaining control of the Reichstag. It’s a blow both to our individual liberties and to our collective democracy.
When debating the bill at it’s second reading last July former Home Secretary and Prime Minister, Theresa May remarked…
“There will be people who will have seen scenes of protests and asked, ‘Why aren’t the government doing something?’ The answer, in many cases, may simply be that we live in a democratic, free society.”
So my question to you is this…
Do you have as much courage as a little woman from Montgomery Alabama whose lone protest on an Alabama bus ride helped bring down a system that had been tolerated for far too long?
Yesterday a regular commenter on my YouTube channel pointed out that the government had agreed to abide by the ECHR and the Human Rights Act as part of the Brexit deal. This is true but, as a 5 minute google search showed, not without its caveats. Hardly surprising given the frequency with which this government of chancers breaks its international agreements. This country is already in breach, generally as a result of government policy of nearly every one of the 14 convention rights and there are plans to renege upon even more as I speak.
This morning’s article from the BBC news website, underlines the point beautifully…
This is a little nuanced and it will take a bit of explaining but there is a loophole which the government is relying upon to sidestep the convention. The conditions that apply to allow this are…
Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights allows countries to derogate (effectively put to one side) other articles of the convention in times of emergency. This was accepted into the UK legal system by the judicial chamber of the House of Lords in 1966. The conditions that allow this are very limited. They are…
in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation;
only to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation;
any derogations may not be inconsistent with the State’s other obligations underinternational law;
In reforming the Human Rights Act, the British legislation mirroring the ECHR, the government is relying upon article 15 (the right to derogate) to create laws that are incompatible with European human rights. Since the British courts are bound to apply British law all they can do is issue a ‘Declaration of incompatibility’ and give leave to appeal to a higher court. Of course, the only court able to issue a contrary ruling would be the European court in Strasbourg and the route there was long and arduous even before Brexit.
As the BBC article points out…
“The government is pressing ahead with plans to limit how the public can legally challenge official decisions, despite fears it will damage justice.”
This attack on judicial review of government decisions, together with Boris’ enabling act which I described in an earlier video – click the little icon above to watch that one – takes us another step forward in our country’s relentless march toward dictatorship.
To quote again from the BBC article…
Critics call it an attempt to stop scrutiny of bad decisions.
“Judicial review most famously led to the Supreme Court’s judgement that Prime Minister Boris Johnson unlawfully closed down Parliament ahead of Brexit.
Any decision taken by a public body can be challenged in a judicial review before a High Court judge – and the power is used daily to examine whether officials are following the laws set by Parliament governing their work.
Recent examples include a challenge to exam grades being set by algorithms in England – the threat of which contributed to a government U-turn – and the blocking of the release of the so-called “black-cab rapist” John Worboys.”
They’re even providing a way to give wrongdoers a free pass, even when found guilty of existing law, potentially preventing anyone who has been wronged by the government from achieving appropriate legal remedy. This breaches articles 6, 7 and 13 of the ECHR as well as opening the door to breaches of every other part of the Convention in the process.
The result of all this, for the first time in living memory will be a government that is beyond scrutiny, that cannot meaningfully be challenged in court and that has already given itself the power to enact new legislation without reference to parliament or anyone else.
On one occasion they did this at 15 minutes to midnight the day before a new offence came into force, leaving no time for anyone to become familiar with their obligations before committing a brand new crime. This was the law, issued in September 2020, that limited drinkers to groups of 6 but allowed fox-hunters (itself ostensibly illegal in most circumstances) and grouse-shooters to meet in whatever size group they wished. Pub-goers and restaurant patrons faced £100 fines and a criminal record without notice the very next day.
Stephanie Boyce is president of the law society. Her judgement on the new legislation was…
“There is a great deal here that should ring alarm bells for people who come up against the might of the state”
Once again the Johnson regime is dragging our long-standing, traditional and internationally respected democracy over the coals and the outcome will not be pretty.
Now all of these rights are at risk – which of them do you want to lose? Which do you want other people to lose?
Would you like suspected foreign criminals to be deported without conviction in court?
Would you like to go to prison for crimes you were merely suspected of without being found guilty?
If your answers to those questions are different you’re falling for the propaganda.
Home secretary Priti Patel even stands by a system of immigration that would have excluded her own parents who were kicked out of Uganda during Idi Amin’s purges and fled here for their own safety.
She’s also presiding over the mass deportation of EU and other immigrants, many of whom have lived their entire lives, or close to their entire lives here in the UK.
Those granted leave to remain will be forced to do so under new regulations effectively making them second class citizens in the land they have always called home. Swap the word Jew for Muslim and it’s a move that could have been taken straight from Adolf Hitler’s 25 point plan.
This article was sent by a friend who remains anonymous. I’m happy to publish it here. For comment purposes, please feel free to attribute it to me if it’s important to you to have someone to hold responsible for the opinions therein.
NEVER BE ASHAMED.
Isn’t it funny that the words spoken by the Tory press or far right groups to be derogatory towards the Labour Party, or for the people who care, are things like Liberal left , Socialist, hard unions, champagne socialists, snowflakes or Woke, activists or liberal elites? I see them as virtues.
Elite’ used to indicate being accomplished. I see them all as virtues, but for so many they’re now seen as insults.
However if the far right March through a town, it’s the liberal leftists and woke’s of this country that turn up to drive them out.
When a minority group are having their rights taken away, it’s the liberal leftists of this world who stand up for them.
When workers are being mistreated by companies, it’s individual liberal elites and unions who stand and defend them.
When institutions are being attacked and stripped of manpower ( Prisons, Police, NHS, Schools Industries ) its liberal left and unions within that stand up for the fabric of our society.
When the right wing attack the poor or less fortunate with lies, and misinformation it’s the left wing liberal minded people who stand up and call it out.
When greed and hate , and racism is someone’s politics it’s labour who stand up against them.
I am happy to be called a woke, socialist and centre of politics, but that’s me. We may not be perfect for sure, but I believe it’s is far better than those who hate with their gammon red faces, We fight injustice rather than peddle hate and anger at everyone and everything!
They don’t believe in contributing anything towards the greater good in society. But yet, they are happy take paid holidays, workers rights , maternity leave, justice and human rights, NHS and pay rises etc. The very thing that the snowflake Unions and Lefty Labour Party fought for and gave them.
Never be ashamed to fight or care about people or community, you are better than those who are filled with hate.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ‘woke’ in the sense that Mr. Fox would describe it. I’m not about to claim that everyone I disagree with is a racist. Nor would I ever claim that anyone who doesn’t advocate illegal violence or discrimination should be ‘de-platformed’. I really do believe in freedom of speech as anyone who has watched my videos on the subject will know. But that doesn’t mean I agree with Laurence.
I don’t think he’s racist though. I think he’s in exactly the same place I was in myself once upon a time. I’ve never been racist either but for a long time I, like Mr. Fox, believed that white privilege was a myth, a cheap ‘tit for tat’ jibe intended to silence white people, especially white men in the worst kind of passive-aggressive, ad hominem argument.