This must be what war is like, when the world suddenly flips into something so alien that your mind does somersaults all the time, trying to catch up. At night, you sleep and wake and sleep again, and every time you wake you think this can’t be happening in this country, this can’t be true. And then you wake, as daylight finally streams through the curtains, and you switch on the news and you realise, with yet another punch to your stomach, that it is.
Politics, society, culture and life
When Christina left The Independent, everyone said she should write a blog. At first, she wrote, sporadically, about whatever popped into her head. Her blog On the death of journalism – and my Indy career, for example, went viral, and ended up in Index on Censorship and mentioned on the front page of Press Gazette. But Brexit has now taken over the country formerly known as the United Kingdom. It also appears to have taken over her blog.
We haven’t got locusts. I suppose we should be grateful that we haven’t got locusts, or at least that we haven’t got them yet. But we have got pestilence, in the shape of what may soon be a global pandemic, and we have got floods. And we have Boris Johnson as our Prime Minister. Thousands […]
Friendships turned sour. Relationships turned sour. Our country turned sour, and still is. The Labour Party, which had elected as its leader a man who seemed to want to turn the country into Venezuela, decided to copy the country and tear itself apart. Racism? We can do that! Division? Bring it on. Xenophobia and protectionism from a bunch of bullying old dinosaurs? My name’s Len. How can I help?
If Northern, male, working-class voters are the path to the 10 years plus he wants, then sure, he’ll throw whatever cash at them he can. He’ll do whatever it takes. He’ll abolish the BBC and Foxify the United Kingdom, or whatever’s left of it once Ireland has been reunited and Scotland has voted for independence. He’ll castrate, or at least politicise, the courts. Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.
Optimistic. Positive. Bring the country together. No more dither and delay. These were the words of the Health Secretary this morning, discussing the looming election, the first in December for nearly 100 years. When I say these were his words, what I mean, of course, is that these were the words that came out of […]
Like a drunk with a kitchen knife. That was one response to the text sent to The Spectator last night. The person who sent the text likes to be known as “Downing Street”, or sometimes “No 10”. He likes to have a code name, like a James Bond villain. In fact, the text was very […]
I was due to see a man called Attila, who would do something called a “sinus-lifting bone graft” and a “bone augmentation”, before screwing some “abutments” into newly drilled holes. It didn’t sound nice. It sounded even less nice when Attila the Hun-garian told me he had bad news. I know, I wanted to say. Our political situation is now almost as bad as yours!
Our Prime Minister lied to the Queen. He lies all the time, of course, so there’s nothing all that surprising in this, but what is a bit unusual is that at 10.30 this morning the Scottish Court of Session, which is the Supreme Court of Scotland, actually ruled that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom lied to the Queen.
The new, improved report, which Michael Gove is planning to release under pressure from the opposition, will be much nicer. All the scary bits are going to be toned down. It will, apparently, be “soft soap”. Practically a bubble bath. “Me time”, with a nice glass of chardonnay and some Classic FM.
Oh. My. God. The headline I have seen has just made me gasp out loud.
We are, of course, all used to surreally shocking headlines. Trump wants to buy Greenland. Bolsonaro turns down more than £16m of aid because he would rather see the “world’s lungs” burn. Our Government has told another porky pie. *Stretches*. *Yawns*. Time for another coffee. Almost time to start thinking about lunch.
In the new “do or die” regime, it’s one strike and you’re out. Turncoats, on the other hand, are welcome. Amber Rudd and Matt Hancock had always been clear that a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster. But they didn’t mean it! Oh no. Cabinet job, you said? Where do I sign? Yup, blood is absolutely fine.
Sure, it was a shame for the people whose jobs and businesses would be destroyed, but he would just look in them in the eye and tell them it was “necessary” so that the world could see that British politicians did what “the people” wanted. You can’t make an omelette etc.
But the Tory party in 2019 doesn’t seem to give a flying unicorn about preserving wealth. The man who will probably be our next Prime Minister’s current policy in relation to business is, in his own words, to “fuck” it. And it’s a policy programme he seems to be following very well.
While Theresa May tries to hang on long enough to “deliver” Brexit, any kind of Brexit, half her party are parading their wives, fancy new suits and egos in front of the press, hoping to take her seat when the music stops. Their narcissism is literally breath-taking. Many of these people barely know what a customs union is and they still think they can lead us out of this quagmire to a city on the hill where the streets are paved with gold.
About half those men and women want to flush the country down a giant toilet. The other half don’t want to, but aren’t prepared to do anything at all to take the toilet away. The leaders of both the main parties think “the people” voted to be flushed down that toilet, but can’t find a way to pull the chain. At the moment, their parties are “in talks”, but they can’t agree about the colour of the chain.
MPs are still opposed to everything and in favour of nothing. Most know Brexit isn’t a problem that can be solved to anyone’s satisfaction, since it was a blank slate for people’s fantasies, and fantasies don’t correspond all that well with the reality of unpicking 44 years of legislation.
It was the withdrawal agreement without the “political declaration”. Which mean that voting for it would have been like standing at the altar and pledging to love, honour and obey a man in a gorilla suit, while having no idea at all which man you’d see once the suit came off.
Faced with a line-up that included a man whose idea of diversity and inclusion is to talk about “picaninnies” and “watermelon smiles” and a woman who didn’t know that journalists record interviews, Theresa May felt like a gift from on high. Solid. Stalwart. A safe pair of hands. She was not going to miss her slot on the flower-arranging roster at church. She was not going to rock any boats.
Here you go! OK, so it’s not quite a unicorn. It is, in fact, both a unicorn and not a unicorn. It’s a Schrodinger’s unicorn. Now you see it, now you don’t. Will that do?
It’s Lent. Time to give things up, as we wait, hope and pray for our glorious Promised Land. On the radio, there are helpful lists of suggestions. Unchlorinated chicken. A few more car companies. A few more thousand jobs. Cancer tests. Cancer treatments. Yup, this is the country formerly known as the United Kingdom on 7th […]
I never promised you a rose garden. For those a little bit depressed by last week’s newsletter, please remember that I never promised to cheer you up. But now I am, in fact, remembering a rose garden. I’m remembering two youngish men, walking together in a rose garden, in almost matching suits. They could have […]
You have probably noticed that our country has gone mad. You are probably used to switching on the news and thinking that the Government of our country has been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by robots who have been programmed by a drunk.
“The country,” said Theresa May on the steps of Downing Street last week, “is coming together, but Westminster is not.” She was saying that this was the reason she had decided to have an election. She said it with such authority that you would almost think she hadn’t got it the wrong way round.
On Saturday I went to Chartwell. I saw the desk, and books, and clothes, and letters of the greatest leader of the twentieth century. I saw the uniforms, and robes, and velvet onesie of a big, big man who led our country through the biggest war in history, and who won that war and showed us that Britain was great. If that man had seen what had happened to our country in the past ten days, I think he would have hung his giant head in shame.