After the end of World War 1, as countries across the globe took stock of the calamity that had befallen them, nation after nation made a commitment to honour the dream that so many serving soldiers, sailors and airmen had given their lives for.
As the reasons for the conflict became clearer to ordinary people the phrase ‘Lest we forget’ came to signify not only the millions of lives cut short but also the motivations and political ambitions of those who brought them to war in the first place. Nationalistic pride, a belief in our own mythical, almost mystical superiority and contempt for ‘Johnny foreigner’ bred an arrogance that was at once both isolationist and entitled.
Coupled with the unbridled political ambition of a few key players both in and out of government, the stage was (is) set for a conflict of gargantuan, of epic proportions.
Such was the situation in the run up to August 1914.
Almost 370 years ago, in 1653, Oliver Cromwell dissolved the Long parliament – a corrupt cabal of wealthy, self-serving villains who, – far from working for the good of the people chose only to further their own interests. The MPs of the time dishonoured the lofty ideals of parliamentary democracy with their greed and their utter contempt for the needs of those whom they were elected to serve.
This is what he said…
“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; you are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; you are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
“Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? You have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
“You sordid prostitutes ,have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? You are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, get yourselves gone! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
This is Linton on Ouse. It’s a beautiful, even idyllic little village just North of York on the site of the once magnificent Galtres forest – a royal hunting forest established by the Normans that once covered over 100,000 acres and contained as many as 60 villages, the main settlement being Easingwold a few miles North East of here.
The modern village is part of the Parish of Newton-on-Ouse. It’s enclosed by the River Ouse to the West and on the Eastern side, the River Kyle. There’s a feeling of tradition here, of hushed reverence for the past with all its pomp and sterile conservatism. And it’s that attitude of tradition, of adherence to someone else’s rules that makes the current drama unfolding here in the Vale of York so ironic.
Among the mansions, the cottages, the barges and the blossom… right in the centre of Linton lies a RAF base. Or at least it used to. The base has been empty since 2020 when the MoD decommissioned it. Now it stands quiet and barren, complete with runways, offices and, crucially… around 150 on site houses.
What do you do with 150 houses on a disused air base? Well, if your name’s Priti Patel you commandeer them to house immigrants. 500 to start with, beginning sometime in June but potentially rising to 1,500 middle Eastern immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. Here, in the heart of this quaint Yorkshire village with its population of less than 1,000 souls, miles from anywhere with a public transport service that absolutely no-one in their right mind would describe as adequate.
Personally I don’t care if the NIMBYs get a taste of the reality of life, of mixing with and having to get along with people who aren’t just as privileged as they are. I really couldn’t care less if people too myopic to see that people are simply people end up staying indoors rather than meet folks who might broaden their horizons. Society might just be better off for their absence anyway.
I am concerned that newly arrived immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers deserve more than to be dumped out of sight where they can be prevented from acclimatizing themselves to their new surroundings and from where they will find it difficult to access advice and assistance related to their particular needs as newcomers to a strange country.
I’m also more than a little perturbed that so many of their first English neighbours will be this contemptuous of these desperate and often traumatized individuals.
Somebody sent me a poem today. He meant it kindly, I’m sure. He just hadn’t noticed the dog-whistles that it contained, the straw man arguments and the false equivocations that make him, and others think their freedom of expression really is at risk from those of us on the left.
On one level it’s an impassioned plea for fairness and freedom of speech. But below it there’s a very sinister incitement for more right-wing violence whilst claiming “it’s not a poem of hate”. Yeah, right!
Hurrah! Once again we’ll be able to buy beer in pints, to ride bikes with frames and wheels measured in inches, we can get bathroom scales with stones and pounds and glory of glories, stop all that complicated working out in units of ten. We can go back to 12 inches a foot, 3 feet per yard and 4 ounces a quarter with four quarters making a pound or 16 ounces because multiples of 4 are so much easier to work out than multiples of 10, aren’t they?
We can drive miles like never before and confidently insist that everyone else in the world adapt to our measures because, when it comes to trade, they need us more than we need them. Now, where have we heard that before?
But just in case Johnny foreigner finds our system of measurement a bit too complicated for his inferior, non-British little foreigner brain, I’ve devised an easy to use intermediate system to help them get their heads around it. It’s a system intended to bridge the gap between Imperial and metric measures. I call it the Breckshit system.
Measurement of distance begins with the Boris. That’s equivalent to 2.5 cm or one imperial inch. It’s the basic unit of measurement because, along with zero, it’s the same in every system. It’s imperative that Brits and foreigners understand the imperial and metric equivalents of the Boris so that they can work out what the rest of the measurements equal in the shops or on the harbour side as the convoys of foreign traders sail into our ports desperate to convert all their filthy, foreign measurements into proper, British Breckshit.
A spine is roughly equivalent to 30 Borises or two and a half feet. That’s the distance between Boris’ arse ‘ole and his privileged little neck. Not to be confused with the spineless. That equals minus two and a half feet and is modelled on Michael Gove’s chinless anatomy but as a negative. So 1 spine plus 1 spineless equals zero or on++1 supermarket shelf. That’s also the same in each system.
An imperial yard is equivalent to 36 Borises or 90 centimetres. In the new Breckshit system it’ll be known as a Nigel because, unlike the metre +, it doesn’t quite measure up to European standards. The remainder, 4 Borises or 10 centimetres will be known as a ‘Gobby little bastard’ in honour of Mr. Farage’s strategy of over-compensating for his obvious failings in the European parliament.
A Breckshit goolie will be the same as an Imperial foot or 30 centimetres. This is in honour of most right-thinking Brits to connect their own foot with the goolies of the nearest conservative MP. If your nearest tory MP is female the equivalent Breckshit term will be the Patel. Everyone wants to kick her in the Goolies. Or if you’re not sure what sex they are you can use the descriptor ‘Lower then vermin’ instead.
Actually, strike that last one. There are no trans people in the tory party. They are unable to survive in such a Gammon-rich atmosphere. Tory bigotry is far too stifling.
The traditional pound, made up of 16 ounces cannot be used as a standard measure, like the inch to bridge systems. That’s because, thanks to Brexit, the pound keeps shrinking. But the ounce holds good so we’ll use that.
In the Breckshit system 1 ounce is known as a lying, cheating son of a bitch. In the Breckshit system 4 ounces becomes a deceit, 8 ounces is a ‘rip off’ and a seemingly unlimited supply of lying, cheating sons of bitches is a ‘government bench’. 300 or more lying sons of bitches will be known as a tax haven or a Rees-Mogg.
Goods and services rejected by Europe will be known as a Farage after our Nige’s failed attempt to gain German citizenship after the referendum win. Good accepted into Europe will be known as a government recommendation to mark the advice given to British firms who wanted to avoid going under. Goods accepted into the Far East will be known as a Dyson for similar reasons.
Any reduction in quantity or quality will be known as a Truss under the Breckshit system in recognition of the fact that our Liz (heroically) managed to negotiate worse deals with foreign governments than those we used to have when we were members of the EU.
One year ago today the UK went into lockdown. Yes, it was late. No, it wasn’t strict enough and didn’t last long enough. Absolutely we should’ve closed borders more quickly and deliberately encouraging ‘one last bash’ before the pubs and bars went silent certainly helped boost the infection rate. But forget all that for now. The government may never truly learn those lessons anyway, even though most of us have.
On that day, March 23rd 2020, way fewer than 1% of our current total had died because of Covid-19. We locked down with less than 1,000 deaths because we knew what was coming. We’d seen the devastation in parts of Italy and Spain and the government didn’t want to see the same thing happen here… allegedly. Whatever your views on the Brexiteer government’s intent (and there are many) most of the people took the lockdown seriously and the infection rate began to fall.
Since then advice has changed periodically. Advisors have come and gone. Alternative science groups have formed and court cases have been launched to hear cases relating to tory party profiteering, dodgy govt. deals and betrayals of both key workers and the vulnerable among us. But for now let’s forget all that too. I want to talk to you about something just as serious but far more current. Covid 19 deniers, anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. On the whole they’re the same people and they’re bloody dangerous.
In writing this post I’ve had a bit of a dilemma in tone. You see I’m a great advocate of human rights – including the right of people to avoid putting anything in their bodies that they don’t agree to. This should lead me to support anti-vax rights and choices. And indeed, it does. I do support anyone’s right to make an informed decision to refuse to accept vaccination. I know several people who have perfectly viable and sound reasons for refusing the vaccine, even religious reasons. Personally I consider religion irrational too but still support peoples’ right to follow and abide by it.
And then there are others whose decision is not informed or rational. They refuse based upon nonsense conspiracy theories involving technically impossible microchips and one world conspiracies led by George Soros and Bill Gates. This is where my support for anti-vaxxers tends to fall down a bit. If someone is fooled into acting against their own best interests, should we still support that decision and their right to make it.
And still I think the answer is ‘Yes’ – but with a heavy heart. The issue of rights and autonomy is too serious, too precious to give up, even in the face of imminent tragedy, but respecting someone’s right to choose doesn’t mean I have to respect their choice or even the person themselves. Enough is enough.
So here’s my take on this whole conspiracy theory driven debate…
There is no global conspiracy to stick microchips capable of technologically impossible ‘sneakaboutery’ in your bloodstream.
Refusing the vaccine and encouraging others to refuse too makes it harder to achieve herd immunity. This undoubtedly will mean more deaths later.
Refusing to wear a mask is an attack on others. Your personal risk is unchanged by mask-wearing. It’s to contain your breath, especially your coughs and sneezes. Your refusal puts the lives of others at risk because you believe that Covid is a hoax. Well… I believe that you are a fool to believe that. I believe that you are a dangerous fool who risks the lives of others, including my 83 year old mother.
So, even though you have my support for your anti-vax decision, I continue to disagree with you.
You have my sympathies for having been duped by Covid conspiracy theories.
You have my contempt for risking the lives of vulnerable others.
You may never have my forgiveness if your intellectually lazy refusal to research actual facts leads to the death of any of my friends or relatives.
This may be of limited interest but it does have a political angle. There’s a 10 part video doing the rounds called ‘Fall of the Cabal‘. It’s a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream but it’s dangerous in so far as it’s gaining populist traction for reasons that, quite frankly are beyond me. Anyway – I’ve been discussing it online in a Facebook group and as a result I’ve debunked the first part. If you’re interested the PDF of my rebuttal is here.
We’ll be back just as soon as people see what they voted for. Once they realise that the Gov’t objection to the ‘level playing field’ and the European Court of Justice was that they protected our rights. Once we lose working peoples’ rights and Brits come to understand the impact of losing Erasmus and free-movement rights.
UNESCO, the ‘United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’ has observed November 29th as the International day of solidarity with the Palestinian people since 1978. There’s a good reason for that. This is the date when, in 1947 the partition plan (Resolution 181) was passed. The plan was to partition Palestine and in so doing create both a Jewish and a Palestinian state.
By 1979 it had become clear that Palestinian people have not been able to secure basic rights as a nation state ever since. Ongoing occupation and annexing of land by Israeli settlers has robbed many Palestinians of their homes and forced them to flee to makeshift and yet cruelly permanent camps.
Some remain there for decades. Some have lived their entire lives in the camps, robbed off their land by Israeli ‘settlers’, beaten and abused by the Israeli occupation forces and treated as though human rights just didn’t apply.
So today, on UNESCO’S International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People I, like many others will be watching to see what our British politicians have to say to mark the occasion. Both our main political parties claim to oppose oppression and the mistreatment of entire populations. How will they acknowledge this day of solidarity in the face of what has been described an ongoing land grab of monumental proportions in direct contravention of resolution 181? The land claimed by Israeli settlers, often with the aid of Israeli military forces goes far beyond the borders drawn up in the original partition. You can download the original document here.
Will our illustrious leaders comment upon the absolute disregard for the rights of those denied both sovereignty and statehood?
And if they, our elected representatives on the world stage do not, I think we must all ask ourselves one very important question…