Are your shelves half full or half empty?

As I dandered around my local supermarket this evening I couldn’t help but notice how starkly contrasted an experience it is now compared to this time last year. The sanitiser, the social distancing, the perspex screens and the masks. A year ago, such imagery would have been the work of a dystopian fiction, and to the covid sceptics many of the regulations are the realisations of just exactly that. But it wasn’t these additions to my weekly shop that struck me. As alien as they would have been a year ago, the developments of the pandemic and the supporting science around the efficacy of the masks, the sanitisers and all the precautionary measures makes them fathomable and in some regard welcome. However, a new experience which isn’t so welcome, and which struck me so viscerally this evening, was the sight of so many empty shelves. 

One of the many empty shelves in my local supermarket. Over two weeks until you can cure the headache.

Last week NI Secretary of State, the thoroughly useless Brandon Lewis, insisted that there existed no Irish Sea border despite the glaring fact that there are now new customs posts at Northern Irish ports receiving goods from the UK. In satisfying these custom posts, there is now an increased degree of infamous ‘red tape’ on the flow of goods from UK to NI, which Sam McBride refers to as “fiendishly complicated and expensive” for hauliers and traders to incorporate within their logistics. The result? Hauliers and traders cease exporting, after all, why would they? It’s complicated, it’s expensive and I can’t imagine the loss of the Northern Irish market will entirely cripple their business or else they would surely suffer the red-tape. This logic is played out clearly in the withdrawal of many goods from supermarket shelves which, as I observed tonight, is far more pronounced than is comfortable, and is well documented by various sources within NI. 

It is of course the bearing of privilege for myself, or anyone, to decry the end of the world at the sight of an empty cheese aisle or frozen chips section. But there are very real ramifications of such disruption to the NI supply chain. Panic-buying for one, we now know from lived experience that the threat of limited supply during the early pandemic days induced a period of crazed panic buying at the behest of the toilet-roll lobby. If Brexiteering red-tape restricts the flow of goods from the so-called mainland, panic buying will surely be back in vogue, and it is unfortunately something which will disproportionately affect those in less-well off or deprived socio-economic backgrounds. That’s the thing with Brexit, it will never hurt the rich. After all, they can always up-ship and relocate away from the ensuing pandemonium of the UK aimlessly abandoning the largest trading block and second largest economy in the world (which would of course be to follow in the footsteps of chief Brexiteer Rees-Mogg.)

Ultimately, what we are now finally experiencing is the pain of the Brexit vote. It was all a bit of a laugh for those four years when your United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland passport could still pass through the EU gates at Dublin airport. When it seemed like nothing was really changing and the negotiations would drag out to the point of ad infinitum and eventually disappearThe pain of Leaving was foreseeable, but it hadn’t yet pervaded everyday life. Now it has. Now the pain of the Brexit vote is tangible and we can see the disruption to supply chains with the sight of empty shelves. It’s hitting us here in the old rotten limb of the union. Michael Gove, the Conservative incarnation of a scrotum, has said that things with NI and this ongoing supply chain issue will only get worse before they get better. Thing is, I’m reluctant to believe the “get better” bit, after all VoteLeave, of which he was a part, never mentioned the get worse part? It was all sun-lit uplands and sovereignty? Now I’m staring into an empty supermarket shelf and there are EU customs officials at Larne port imposing rules to which I can no longer (unfortunately) even have a say in?! 

So the pain of Brexit is beginning to infuse our everyday lives in a way that’s more practical than theoretical. And that is the difference. The proposed arguments for Brexit, the control of the borders, the taking back control, the making our own laws and escaping EU red-tape (my god, the irony of the DUP peddling that one) they were all as good as entirely theoretical, they don’t impact our everday or even future lived experience. They exist in the abstract, if they even exist at all as benefits, they are for all intents and Orwellian purposes, doublespeak. The negative effects, the true impact of Brexit? Well, it appears that is more visible now in our everyday lives. Empty supermarket shelves are indisputable. The success of reclaiming a supposedly porous border (on a set of islands), well that’s up for debate. There is of course one benefit to Brexit, which is becoming more apparent if you’re an Irish Nationalist, and that is, all this new red tape between the UK and NI? Eerily emblematic of the same red-tape and conditions which ultimately justified many Brexiteers proposed severance from the European Union. So when the history books are written, under the chapter “Impacts of Brexit”, let it show that it was the DUP, Ian Paisley Jnr, Sammy Wilson and all the rest of the clan, who signed off the conditions which brought NI’s severance from the Union and Irish Reunification that much closer.

The Del Boys of Brexit

Today should be a day of relative happiness amidst the gloom of 2020, but the stark reality is that more fog is descending upon us. Brexit Eve. A day years in the making is now on our doorstep. There is no point in trying to stop it any longer, the jig is up and now, millions of Britons must face the consequences of the lies and bluster of their own government. It is important, however, to remember those that got us here. Those who own this own it forever, and in the uncertain times that lie ahead, it is essential that we remember this, because before long, the Brexiteer scope will dial in on people within itself in order to survive the shower of shit that is inbound to Brittania.

Boris Johnson is the man who presides over the cesspool of w*****s. It is, therefore, very helpful for the PM that he is cut from the same material as they. The original w****r. W****r 1.0. I say that he “presides” over them because he has never truly led anyone other than himself. In fact, within number 10, it is said that he is often treated as the most simple of men who requires instruction. When he is hungry, feed him, when he is sleepy, put him to bed, and when he is randy, the dense etonian must be relieved. Not exactly the most intelligent leader of men, he didn’t even graduate Magna Cum Laude from Balliol College, Oxford. However, without talent does not mean unpopular. Bojo was very popular amongst the general British public. Yes, the man who gets stuck on ziplines, barges young children out of the way in a game of touch rugby, slide tackles Maurizo Gaudino and doesn’t know how many children he has is the true embodiment of the Great British Spirit. This has blinded people to seeing that Johnson is the chief U-turner in the UK. Votes for deals, votes against deals, votes for deals, votes against deals. Promises, renegements, promises, renegements. Blowing in the wind to public opinion without a spine, a political jellyfish waiting to sting so he can move to the next destination. He did it to Cameron and he did it to May, but now, without the EU, there is clearwater ahead of him. Johnson must wade back through his own tribe, stinger at the ready, to survive, for every uninspiring, visionless leader needs a victim to gain appraisal. He undoubtedly will be aware of the submarine coming his way. Rishi Sunak’s propellers are silent, and his next eat out to help out scheme could include a Sunak special of mashed up Jellyfish, taken from British Waters. It is Johnson who is the majority shareholder in the festering mess of Brexit and all things that go awry with it should be attributed to the callous charlatan, but it was not he who struck the match. 

That accolade belongs to one Mr David Cameron. A man whose ego is so big, he has joined an illustrious list alongside the likes of The Grand Canyon, the Amazon Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef as things that can be seen on earth from space. Calling a referendum, running a lousy campaign and then pissing off to write a book all about how hard he tried doens’t exactly scream patriot to me. And for those wondering, the book is about as clear cut as his preference in football teams. Cameron wanted to be the man. The man. Could he put to bed a problem the Tories had for decades? Could he do what Heath, Thatcher, Major, Hague, IDS or Howard couldn’t? No. Of course not. He was just as shit as them but in a nicer suit. He made a boo-boo, did a runner, and has now joined Tony Blair and Major in protesting from the wings with next to no impact.  

Dominic Cummings had an impact. The way he pushed and presented Brexit was, begrudgingly, quite brilliant. He tapped into an anti-immigrant sentiment and strapped wartime rhetoric to the Brexit crusade. The tagline of “project fear” was deployed to denounce any sensible, fact based claims that the remain side came up with, and it proved to be arsenic to the pro-European message. Obama coming over? Project fear. Economy tanking? Project fear. Job losses? Project fear. Outside looking in? Project fear. It worked quite beautifully with working class Britain. Presenting the remain campaign as an elite clique of powerful people working to subvert British sovereignty and the wills of common British people. Project fear, coupled with “take back control” combined together to drown out any semblance of logic with populism. If you were to ask anyone what these two slogans really meant, they wouldn’t have a clue. But the “fuck you” British anger was in place, and it was there to stay. Thank you very much, Mr Cummings. Although his departure from Downing Street was one of the few highlights of 2020, I still worry that he will return soon enough, ready for the next destructive battle he can weigh into with his new balance, skinny jeggings, sex pistols t shirt and “I went to Barnard Caste and all I got was this crummy hat” hat. Dom ain’t gone, he’s only on sabbatical. 

It is hard not to feel a small tinge of sympathy for the Maybot. She is number 4 on this list. She is the type of woman that people on Gogglebox see and go “oh bloody hell I thought we had got rid of her!”, as she eviscerates the front benches of her own party. The front benches that once hamstrung her into resignation and sent her on her way as one of the most ineffective leaders of modern times. She probably has Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy to thank in equal measure for that, so the ERG can’t be entirely at fault. Nonetheless, she was Prime Minister for 3 years and got absolutely nothing done. She was about as useful as a chocolate mug. Anytime a little bit of heat was applied, she melted away and returned with more deals than Noel Edmonds, ratcheting up an outstanding list of government defeats in the Commons. Her weakness allowed Boris to go from strength to strength as he undermined his PM whilst sat a few seats down. She is not exempt from being a Del Boy of Brexit just because her wheeling and dealing was a lot worse than the rest of them.

There are many, many, many others that should be acknowledged here, but I have better things to be doing on New Year’s Eve than increasing my blood pressure writing about them all. We all know who they are anyway. The entire DUP, the Farages, Banks, Dysons, Martins, Ratcliffes, Goves, Bakers, Rees-Moggs, Hannans, Hartley-Brewers, Bridgens, Patels, Raabs, Littlejohns, Leadsoms, Hoeys, Redwoods, Jenkins, Foxes, Dacres and much, much more own this. It is only right that we give them all a true English wartime reward. We will remember them. 

Tell your friend there with you, she’ll have to go.

At the best of times, Northern Ireland isn’t exactly “well served” when it comes to our executive. The two largest parties of the DUP and SF have such staggering levels of incompetence and ignorance entrenched within them, that many of us from here frequently offer the eye roll, throw the arms up in the air, give a “humphhhh” of exasperation before returning to our daily activities. We have grown so immune to the continuous nonsense of OFMdFM to the point that when there is yet another calamitous f**k up, all we can seem to do is offer the eye roll, throw arms in the air, and add the sigh of exasperation. 

Pity those aren’t P45s they’re reading. Source

On the 21st of December, amidst great confusion and anger at what the latest turbulence in the world of COVID-19 could mean for “our wee country”, our First Minister took to twitter to reassure us all. Wrong. Wrong. No. Wrong. Of course Arlene couldn’t bring herself to provide clarity in the madness. Instead, she fanned the flames of division once more with an “on this day, the IRA” post. Because what the people of NI really needed in this time of crisis, is not a coherent message, nor transparency in how the decision-making meetings are coming along, what we all needed was a quick reminder of an event that took place nearly 50 years ago. This must have struck a nerve West Belfast MLA, Órlaithí Flynn, who later in the evening returned the First Minister’s ignorance in kind. You could have been forgiven for thinking that SF’s spokesperson on Mental Health, with a lovely sparkling Christmas tree behind her, was about to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, or to tell us all to look after each other, but alas, you’d have been left disappointed. Flynn’s message was essentially once that said Christmas was for reflecting on the lives of lost loved ones, but save a little extra reflection for those who died serving the IRA. Two tone deaf takes, but they have not been alone in this crusade of ineptitude.

Harry Truman once said that “the buck stops here”, but it appears that the two antagonists in this baron dystopia are much more interested with playing a game of Knick, knock, run when it comes to public responsibility. Foster should have gone after the Renewable Heat Incentive palaver, but so thick is the skin of the Northern Irish public when it comes to scandal, she managed to outstay the story amidst the political disquiet. Perhaps what helped this was not being involved in the running of government for 3 years. After the death of Martin McGuinness, many thought that Michelle O’Neill and Foster would be able to coax some semblance of working relationship back together again. Once again, the optimists found themselves on the receiving end of the “told you so” brigade.  The First Minister and Deputy First Minister’s failure throughout that time led the country to become a laughingstock and the holder of a few unfortunate records. 

However, hope springs eternal, and Julian Smith made more effort at getting the gang back together in 6 months than any other politician had done in 36. And hey presto! By January 2020, everyone was back on board the sister sledge governance bandwagon. It wasn’t going along too badly on the power sharing side of things for quite a bit of 2020. Even with COVID and Brexit, although there were plenty of disagreements, it was relatively clear that Michelle and Arlene were putting the public interest first. Then came the derailing of harmonious governing, and it was going so well.

Julian Smith, sacked for being what an NI Secretary is not supposed to be, useful. Source

Bobby Storey passed away on the 21st of June. His funeral, which took place on the 30th, was the subject of great controversy across the entire island of Ireland. It would be this funeral that would break what little trust existed between the DUP and SF during the pandemic, and since this, the trust has not yet been restored. Michelle O’Neill, like her executive partner Arlene Foster, should not be in the job she currently holds. It is intensely ironic that she can lecture Northern Irish people on “overflowing sinks” when discussing the current lack of a travel ban from GB to NI when she was part of a funeral procession of thousands of people, when the restrictions outlined 30. 

What is becoming increasingly clear, is that it is simply impossible to trust our two leaders unless you wholeheartedly support them. Foster should have gone years ago and O’Neill a few months ago. The seeds of distrust they have sewn have already blossomed into an overarching Venus fly trap ready to swallow up whole the growth in intended for each of their parties. Now is no longer the time to resign as they are both in too deep as far as this public health crisis is concerned. Nevertheless, upon the restoration of equilibrium, whenever that may be, our two leaders should conclude that their façade of leading is drawing to a close. From their point of view, it is unfortunate that their legacies will be COVID, Brexit, a collapsed Stormont, Cash for Ash, and an IRA funeral, but it is entirely right that they are.

Patel and Bradley battle for political embarrassment.

For a party with an 80-seat majority, the Conservatives have racked up an error-stricken list longer than a Meat Loaf classic. However, the lack of judgement shown by MPs and Ministers alike is now growing to be such common practice within this government, that even the average politically minded onlooker can only muster a shrug of the shoulders accompanied by an eye roll. Any government disgrace is now drowned out by monotonous whirlpools of Coronavirus and Brexit and despite the fact that the Tories are being buffeted and barraged by the waves, it is likely that the violent current of Brexit and COVID is also their saviour. It gives their naked incompetence a plate of armour and allows huge stories to be flushed away so that “death by a thousand cuts” will not appear on the Doctor’s post-mortem exam.    

This past week has been no different as the Home Secretary, Priti Patel and the Head of Arselicking, Ben Bradley, dualled to see who this week’s biggest political liability was. A closely fought contest, but on balance, Patel just edged Zippy out due to the serious nature of her offence. Patel, of course, is no stranger to serious offences. In fact, for someone so relatively young she seems to be in a hurry to add to her collection of malpractice. This time, instead of holding off the books meetings with foreign governments, it was revealed that she likes to treat her staff like she does the “g’s” at the end of any word. Badly. The independent report was compellin’, Patel was found to be bullyin’.

Arselick and Bully – Sounds like an up and coming AdultSwim series. Source

Sir Alex Allen did not mince his words when it came to this report, clearly outlining how the Home Secretary has breached ministerial code, “Her approach on occasions has amounted to behaviour that can be described as bullying in terms of the impact felt by individuals”. But naturally, Boris stood by his woman. His young, ethnic minority background Home Secretary. One can question why he decided to fight her corner in this case and draw two conclusions. The first, and most likely, is that Johnson in penniless when it comes to political capital at the moment. He needs key figures around him to stay there and be on their best behaviour during these times of utter chaos within Downing Street. Since Dom’s departure, the Prime Minister has found out that he is actually in charge and will need to have some experienced ministers at the table to remind him of that fact. The second possibility is that he is terrified that if he sacked Patel for bullying, she might turn his schoolbag inside out, shove his head down the toilet or make fart noises any time he sits down in the Commons. A risk BoJo was not willing to take it seems.

 If Patel did make it seem that Johnson had chronic flatulence, there is little doubt who would proudly rise and take the blame, Ben Bradley MP. Poor Ben has been such a good boy all year round. He has voted the way he has been told, appeared on numerous TV programmes when nobody else would and even embarrassed himself to fulfil Lyndon Crosby’s dead cat theory. But when little boys are deprived of attention for too long, they tend to act out. It seems that upon the arrival of Johnson’s 6th, 7th or 8th child this year, that Bradley has been becoming increasingly agitated at the lack of playtime Boris is giving him. This has caused him to go beyond his brief of saying silly things to saying monumentally stupid things. We were treated to 2 real beauties in the last 7 days. His first misstep was claiming that we should have a minister for men because we have a minister for women, the gendered equivalent of “all lives matter”. What Bradley failed to account for, was the fact that the full title of the position is the Minister for Women and Equality, meaning that discrimination against males is also part of their remit. If that stupidity did not catch the PMs eye, then surely a good old quote from Martin Luther King would. Bradley posted an MLK quote, followed by his own hot take on the depth of it, “His point was that skin colour doesn’t matter. We’re equal, Now you want to define people by their physical characteristics?”. Of all the people you would want not to reply to your post on MLK, it would be MLK’s daughter. But Big Ben can’t catch a break at the moment, and after Bernice King put him right, the tweet was promptly deleted. 

All Ben wants is for Boris to ruffle his hair like he did on the campaign trail, tell him he’s a “good lad” and that he truly is the future of the Tory Party. But it seems like Johnson has bigger fish to fry, such as his short-tempered Home Secretary, a change in his advisory team and actually taking charge of governing.    

Democratic U-turn Party

This pandemic has been a right rollercoaster for the NI Executive. No doubt, it’s not been an easy ride for any government or legislature across the world to face such a novel and unprecedented foe. But here in NI, the folks on the hill have of course to add to this test the burden of consociational governance between two diametrically opposed ideologues. Surely, if the omnipresence of the constitutional question was to be overcome, a right old pandemic would do the trick? Well in what seems a lifetime ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, it seemed not, it appeared for a while as though the Executive would play ball, political football that is, with the incoming virus. 

But then, as the severity dawned and words such as “lockdown” began to enter our daily vocabulary, something very strange happened. The Executive harmonised. Michelle O’Neill and Arlene Foster would grace our screens regularly, delivering clear, coherent and broadly unified messages. It was in every sense of the word, and given the extreme political turbulence which has rocked these parties for the past decade, bizarre. Even when the Unionist overlords across the water in the Conservative party began to water down public health messaging in England from the rather self-explanatory ‘Stay at Home’ to the rather enigmatic ‘Stay Alert’, the DUP didn’t follow suit, purporting that NI would have a “nuanced” approach to Covid thus, diverging from the Union and instead opting, sensibly, to distance itself from the lunacy of No.10. While this lull in party politics and the removal of the usual over-politicised Us versus Them’uns was bizarre for this Executive, it was welcome. Oh so welcome. It provided clarity in times that desperately called for it, and more importantly, it provided confidence in the public health message which was resultantly broadly adhered to. 

Executive harmony. Source: Irish News

Then it slowly and painfully went to shit. Mary Lou and Michelle attended a funeral, Sammy forgot his mask on the tube, Poots said the coronavirus kept its toaster in the cupboard and stayed on one side of the peace wall and so on and so on, you can google the rest, it all stems from some bald geeky guy testing his eyesight across the water though. So things returned to normal. There were to be no chuckle-sisters, no enduring friendship that resulted from navigating precarious political waters together. Instead, it was toe to toe once again. Halftime oranges were eaten, the political football resumed. 

My timeline is a bit shady there in regards to how the Executive’s harmony fell apart. But generally speaking, as lockdown lifted and there became more room for political debate once again, that debate was commandeered rather frustratingly along party lines. And last Thursday night, this political shitshow was put on display, bearing for all to see, this calamitous Executive. It wasn’t even the difference of position that was frustrating, the DUP’s insistence on restricting-lifting measures contrasting Sinn Fein’s all-island “until the South say so” approach. What was frustrating, was the last-second eleventh hour, “ohhhh we’ll keep it a surprise” tell-no one decision making. Sam McBride, a Journalist, revealed that he, a Journalist, received a question from a member of the Executive asking if he, a Journalist, knew when or if the Executive were meeting later that day! A Journalist?! The obsolesce baulks at the irrelevance of an Executive that cannot arrange itself but through third party journalists. It wasn’t as if this was a sprung-upon emergency crisis scenario either, god forbid the NI exec has to ever cope with one of them, they had weeks to discuss and monitor the situation and decide the best route forward. It wasn’t like this expiration of restrictions came out of bloody nowhere, those clowns literally decided on that date weeks earlier! 

The secrecy which shrouds the decision making of the DUP and SF is frustrating, but it is also hugely damaging. Leaving local businesses, employers and sole-traders who, it goes without saying, have had a horrendous year so far, in the metaphorical lurch. All for what? So that the parties can play a bit later in Stormont castle, and emerge the victors when they appear at the eleventh hour with a solution for a situation that they cocked-up in the first place. 

But here’s the knife to twist in the wound of the business community. One week on from that Executive debacle and that teetering of uncertainty, the DUP have gracefully snapped on the handbrake and spun on their heels. Where the DUP this time last week, pushed for no extension beyond the 27th, and characteristically of its Paisleyite foundations, shouted Never, Never, Never, to further hospitality restrictions. The Health Minister, Robin Swann, has this evening just announced all-party agreement for a two-week period of “tougher” restrictions starting as of… the 27th. 

Health Minister Robin Swann, who has, by and large, been a refreshing breath of non-partisan governance throughout the pandemic. Source: BBC

So it begs the question, other than damaging the credibility of the Executive by bringing into the public crosshairs the farcical inertia cross-party governance can cause, what on earth was last week all about? The Executive seemed so divided, yet this week so united? How can so much have changed in a week? Wasn’t the health minister suggestive of such a trend necessitating this action, if so, why on earth were the DUP so vocal in their opposition, yet less than a week later so confident in their acquiescence? Ultimately, it appears to be a necessary step and thus welcome step, as Robin Swann has indicated, it is a decision guided by the advice of the medical and scientific community of Northern Ireland, which is the justification supporting the DUP’s newfound stance, which is apparently, completely dislocated from the events of last week. There is a silver-lining to this however, while the actions last week were infuriating and damaging to the business community and confidence in the Executive, this represents a glimmer of Executive harmony that shone through the darkest hours of the pandemic’s lockdown. And at least in that harmony, local businesses are provided with clear direction. As for the two weeks following the 27th everyone now knows where they stand. The proof in the pudding however, lies in the 11th of December, the deadline for expiry of these new restrictions. We shall see if we get a repeat of last-week and the last-ditch eleventh hour catastrophe from the Executive once again. I certainly hope not, but I won’t be holding my breath. 

A bad week for truth in the Tory Party

Rumour has it, Ben Bradley goes to bed wearing his homemade silk Ben Bradley MP pyjamas. Nobody has a higher opinion of the “first blue brick” than the Mansfield MP himself. Today, the Tory Party’s answer to Zippy from Rainbow appeared on the BBC to attack the National Trust for a report that simply told the truth. The report was entitled “Interim Report on the Connections between Colonialism and Properties now in the Care of the National Trust, Including Links with Historic Slavery” and was edited by distinguished people in the know, including Dr Sally-Anne Huxtable and Dr Christo Kefalas. The report was by all accounts accurate, revealing and based off fact. The biggest problem for Ben Bradley was that he did not want to hear those facts.

Two flower pot men. Source: The Independent

The self-proclaimed future of the Conservatives rambled on about how “you can’t just lump people into groups” when discussing the report with his superior intellectual, Dalia Gabriel. When Gabriel simply pointed out that just because the report reveals some interesting but uncomfortable truths, Bradley’s response was to wail the broken record dog-whistle of “b-b-b-b-but this is taxpayer’s money”. Perhaps Mr Bradley believes that any taxpayer funded institution should be used to make all the lovely little Britons feel great about one another in their green and pleasant land. The fly in the ointment being that Britain’s history is anything but pleasant.

And yet, the Boris brigade carries on guffawing teary-eyed at their wonderful past with the lifeless Bradley at the forefront. Roll up, Roll up, time for our daily dose of romanticised imperialism. There are few people like the Tories who are so good at selectively cherry-picking the parts of their history that best suit them. “Commemorating our fallen heroes? Good. Very good. Point out that we were majorly involved in slave trade at some of our prettiest landmarks? F**k off, I’m revoking my membership”. That is British history in a nutshell. Those educated in occupied territories of Britain learn about the good, a little of the bad and none of the ugly, so that when they all age, ears will turn to cloth. The willingness to embrace with open arms the brave wars they fought in but blatantly reject any evidence pointing towards the damage British colonialism caused throughout the entire world is quite an extraordinary phenomenon. It is a wonder that when Bradley was being schooled by Gabriel that he didn’t stick his fingers in his ears and shout “LA LA LA NOT LISTENING YOU BIG MEANIE”.

And it is this attitude that has precipitated Brexit. The ignorance mixed with unsubstantiated pride. Poor old John Major was another in the firing line of facts this week. He merely pointed out the uncomfortable truth in that the UK is doomed to fall into a second-rate country at the expense of a “brutal Brexit”. He was denounced by the gung-ho Brexiteers, who long for the days of their lost empire. But Tories have never dealt with uncomfortable truths. In fact, it is unlikely that they have ever told one.

No More Heroes Anymore

Whatever happened to Leon Trotsky? He got an ice pick, that made his ears burn. Well, Jeremy Corbyn may not have been hunted down and executed by Keir Starmer, but the withdrawal of the whip has certainly plunged a knife deep into the heart of the Corbynista fanatics. This will, of course, cause huge amounts of unhappiness from the far-left swathes of the Labour Party. It includes the juggernaut unions of Momentum and Unite, both of which have condemned the action taken by the Labour Party with Len McCluskey claiming that with it, Labour is “doomed to defeat”.

However, Labour has been in a vicious cycle of doomed defeat for the past decade. The great clunking fist of Gordon Brown missed his chance to win an election when he dwelt on a healthy poll advantage, leaving the door open 2 sneering Etonians to get the keys to numbers 10 & 11. Red Ed was a nice guy, but toothless. It says a lot that in Miliband’s entire career as a politician, his most damning speech came this year. The man was leader of the opposition for over 4 years and he consistently failed to land a blow on the government.

Source: Euro News

All of this dour failure led Labour to elect the biggest manifestation of their own failure as its new messiah, Jeremy Corbyn. “The greatest Prime Minister we never had”. Boo-hoo, my heart breaks for the left-wing academic visionaries. Alan Johnson put it best in 2019 after the exit poll when he said that “Corbyn was a disaster on the doorstep, everyone knew he couldn’t lead the working class out of a paper bag”, even George Osbourne and Ed Balls were chuckling about it in the background because of how true it was. Once you cut through all the wishy washy bulls**t, the facts speak for themselves when one reflects upon Jezza’s time in the sun. He will be remembered for 3 things during this time. Losing to perhaps the weakest PM the UK has seen since the war, sitting on his hands during the Brexit referendum and stifling the remain campaign and then being the man who Boris Johnson defeated on his merry way to an historic 80 seat majority for the Tories. What has this led to? A Brexit that is going to paralyse the UK, potentially (probably) break up the Union and a host of Tory charlatans chuntering from the front benches and voting through some of the most disgraceful policy modern day Britain has ever seen. 

Whatever you cut his premiership, whether you think he was a man who came close to solving Britain’s turmoil, or if you think he’d endanger the UK’s national security, there can be very little doubt that Corbyn’s failure has played a massive part in the disintegration we are now witnessing in the UK.  

There was a great deal of speculation about how Starmer would deal with the Corbynistas when he first took office as leader of the opposition. Some thought he should just cast them aside, a clean break from the abject failure that the Labour Party had become, whilst others believed the best course of action would be to keep them onside. The reasoning behind the latter option being that it would keep the party together. But that begs the question, how together has the Labour Party been in the last 10 years? It hasn’t. It has never been cohesive since the Cameron days and that is what has lead to own goal after own goal. The “keeping them onside” was an illusion, a fantasy, a myth. It was simply not possible.

Starmer opted an approach that was down the middle. A few token front bench gestures were afforded to influential supporters of JC and not much was said about it as the Starmermobile took off. But before the ignition was tuned and car revved up, Starmer made one thing abundantly clear to his passengers. Zero tolerance for anti-Semitism. That was crystal.

When the news broke of Rebecca Long-Bailey’s removal as Education Secretary for retweeting a Maxine Peake article, many reacted with surprise. The die was cast. This was the new Labour leader showing just how serious he was in his claim that his first priority was to tackle anti-Semitism within the party. The faintest whiff of anti-Semitism would be dispelled by Starmer, first things first, get rid of the poison that had plagued the Labour Party for years. 

It is for that very reason that Corbyn has had the whip withdrawn. The EHRC found that the party, under Corbyn, were responsible for unlawful discrimination. As soon as Corbyn rejected the report’s findings, the writing was on the wall for the “greatest PM we never had”, and Jezza’s successor duly delivered the last rights. There was no way that Starmer could retain credibility had he not taken this action. He made a promise to the party and to the Jewish community to rip out anti-Semitism root and stem, removing the whip from Corbyn goes a long way to showing that he means it. No blind eyes, no short cuts.  

Source: BBC

Now, twitter is in a frenzy again, 18-year-old Labour supporters declaring that they “will never vote Labour again” and people showcasing solidarity with Corbyn. But if people can look past the short-term fracture this will cause, it is plainly obvious that there is no better time for it to take place. 

4 years is a long, long time. Starmer and the party as a whole can go about repairing the mess that has been created under a succession of Labour leaders. Despite having an 80 strong majority, the Tories are still incredibly weak in the public eye and these steps could be the first of many from Sir Keir to show the electorate that he is strong. With this strength, they might just have a chance of toppling the Tories, without it, they are indeed doomed to defeat once more. So, so long you Arsenal fan, it’s time we began, to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.

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Marzipan Man to Borissimo’s rescue.

The British Media is one known for its generally right-wing bias, so when the typically conservative paper The Spectator whips up a headline of “WHERE’S BORIS? – A GOVERNMENT AT SEA” then we should acknowledge that maybe the Prime Minister is not doing his job very well. But in fairness to BoJo, how good a job can he seriously be expected to do on an Etonian poverty line salary of 150K a year? What must the other Bullingdon Boys think?!

Reckon those togs made much of a dent in his poverty line salary? Source: Metro

With some high-flying Oxbridge types taking aim at Johnson, it took a man not cut from the same cloth as them to stand up for the PM on the news outlet platforms. Enter, Grant Shapps. The human celery stick, the marzipan man, the Tory Party’s appendix. Nobody is quite sure what he is there for. He just is. Like the mature student in a first year undergrad class, little G had his hand up first when Boris called on HQ to firefight the allegations made by Italy’s la Repubblica that the Prime Minister had taken a long weekend away in Perugia. He is the Transport Minister after all. Naturally, the claims are being denied by number 10, with the press team denouncing the reports as false

It didn’t matter to little G if the reports were true or not, he had his orders and he had to carry them out to the best of his limited abilities. When quizzed on Sky News, Shapps was quick out of the blocks to impress his masters, “Not that I’m aware of, I think it’s mistaken, as far as I am aware”. As shocking as it is, that is probably the best performance the celery stick has given for months. Cummings’s veterinarian plans of having an electric shock device attached to Shapps have had to be put on ice alongside his visions of muzzling Francois, neutering Johnson and lobotomising Grayling. 

It seems to be that the only use the Tories have for Shapps anymore is to send him into no man’s land to be shot at. Make him feel important again. He had his own delusions of grandeur when he thought he could oust Theresa May will a rally round on WhatsApp, but made the fatal mistake of zeroing in on his target only to find that he was holding a water pistol that is leakier than a pissing puppy. It seems that it is the only thing keeping Shapps in the loop. Now, little G, be a good little media droid for a few more years and you’ll be Chancellor before you know it. 

“F**k the law, we won the bleedin’ war dontcha know?!”

Hagrid appeared on everyone’s social media today as he came out in defence of the ever-present clickbait queen, JK Rowling. Yes, Robbie Coltrane now felt compelled to weigh in on the matter of the existential crisis facing this generation’s attitude problem, “They wouldn’t have won the war, would they?”. Coltrane is 70 years old. Meaning he was born in 1950. 5 years after the end of the Second World War. Not so much “you’re a wizard, Harry”, but rather, “you’re a wanker, Robbie”. The sad thing is that Coltrane is not alone in his rose-tinted view that he, in some way unbeknownst to this generation, played a serious part in that war. This is a serious symptom of Brexiteer Britain. There is an inordinate level of self-harm that some British people are willing to administer on themselves in order to cause some of their European counterparts some degree of discomfort. 

However, when the EU had international law on their side of the argument, the Tories were stumped and reverted to type, blaming the EU. The ploy that has worked so well before. Point the finger, puff out the chest and if the lies are exposed then bluster, guffaw and claim that Brussels bureaucracy is still trying to keep its foot on the neck of the Great British Empire. Britannia will rise again like a phoenix. And who are the men that will lead the charge? Their war heroes, of course. A Churchillian Johnson, stay at home wife Rees-Mogg and brave Francois, who although never actually did any fighting, is still misty eyed about his own courageous exploits, “My father Reginald Francois was a D-Day veteran, he never submitted to bullying by any German, neither will his son”. Britain has never been stronger. This one nation Conservative Party will sail into the abyss under the watchful eye of Edward Smith’s protégé, Captain Cummings, with 365 Tory MP limpets clinging on for dear life on the underside. 

Before Brandon threw Boris under a big red bus in a limited and specific way. Probably should’ve held onto Julian Smith. Picture Source: New Statesman

Given that the UK has such a huge standing across the globe, it is only right and proper that they can break international law in a limited way. They won the bleedin’ war, after all. Poor old Brandon Lewis must have got an absolute bollocking for making the fatal mistake of telling the truth. 

So, what next? The papers drummed up nonstories about Tory backbench rebellions. The proof was in the pudding when it came to the vote, only two limpets broke rank. At a time that Kier Starmer has written about how amazing it would be for a little bit of bipartisanship to be demonstrated, it is likely that this latest charade will only serve to deeper the divisions that we have started to grow rather accustomed to.

The Hokey Pokey Draft Agreement

Thrown to the wind for a couple of months due to COVID-19, the Brexit boomerang has come home once again, covered in bird shit, battered beyond belief and in the hands of one of the most incompetent PMs ever. Ah, it brings you back. 

The standard patriotic verbatim was duly rolled out once again, “Britain never has been, and never will be, bullied easily”, wrote Dehenna Davison MP in her best efforts to administer a hefty dose of morphine into the veins of a nation sobering up to the reality that BoJo & Co haven’t a baldy about what is going on. Davison, who is 27, is very keen for the readers of the Sun to know that Britain won the war and won’t lie down for any German. Even if the new bill with the EU breaks international law, it’s the Brussels bullies that are the bad guys. From oven ready to never ready, and still, little Britain is the victim and should break free from their self-imposed shackles. 

Source: ABC News

But we shouldn’t be all that surprised Vote Leave government made up of Raab, Patel, Gove and those of a similar persuasion are quite comfortable when it comes to violating laws. This violation has cost Whitehall another of its most senior civil servants in the shape of Jonathan Jones, adding to the body count that includes Mark Sedwill, Philip Rutnam, Simon McDonald, and Jonny Slater. Perhaps the master plan is to string together such a plethora of cock ups that the cream of the crop in the civil service are forced to escape the burning building of UK administration. Although Jones did not explicitly say why he chose to leave Whitehall, it is plainly obvious that if a senior lawyer operating in the public service jumps ship, that he does not want to be complicit to the government of the day breaking the law.

Bog standard Tory droid, Brandon Lewis, described the international treaty as a “special treaty” when pressed by the slightly more polished Tory droid, Theresa May, today on the floor of the Commons. The former PM put it to the Secretary of State for NI that more changes to the withdrawal agreement could damage their international reputation, the irony of course being that the UK’s reputation currently lies firmly in the gutter.

What comes next is unclear, the changes to the NI protocol have been branded as “unwise” by Simon Coveney and you can forgive the EU if they do not receive this most recent turn of events with a warm embrace. There is no telling what the government that pressed for Brexit, won Brexit, shot down May’s deals, made their own deal, won an election, voted through the deal into legislation and now intends to alter it once more will do next. Failure to “tie these loose ends” will result in another embarrassing U-turn, something that Johnson can’t really afford. One thing is for certain though, that Brexit is back, baby. It’s here to dominate our timelines, threads, newspapers and conversations for the foreseeable future again. Nostalgia is rampant.