Even Corbyn opposes Corbyn

Is there anyone left supporting Corbyn and McDonnell?

I feel sorry for Jon Ashworth: he is only saying what I have been saying, what many have been saying and hearing on the doorstep, so actually we are at one on this – although obviously for Corbyn’s ally t0 be opposing him is, well, no, it is not unusual.

It should not be controversial to say that most of the general public hate Jeremy Corbyn. It should not be controversial to say that putting state security in the hands of a declared enemy of the nation, a friend of those who try to destroy it, is a fatal mistake, or putting command of the armed forces in the hands of those who have been in the pay of the governments of Russia and Iran is disastrous. It should not be controversial to say that putting the Treasury in the care of one who wants to abolish money is madness. It should not be controversial to remind the public that no Marxist who has obtained power has ever willingly given it up again.

There are gaps in the line-up. Where have some of the big names gone? Where is Emily Thornberry in this campaign, or Keir Starmer? Are they staying back to give them freedom to manoeuvre against the Momentum gang? Or are they being kept away because they are not Momentum? In Starmer’s case it may just be because he is so unpopular with the public. That might be the case with Thornberry too. It is quite a feat to be more unpopular even than Jeremy Corbyn.

A day to go and Labour in meltdown and still the Conservative lead cannot grow to what it should be. From their performance and obvious impracticality, Labour should be declined into minor protest party, but somehow they cling on out of emotion beyond logic. That is a lesson that nothing can be taken for granted, and even if Boris soars to a famous victory, which is not assured, he will have to work like stink and perform like a hero to win next time round.

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Letterboxes, endless letterboxes

They fill my dreams now.  I wake sweating with my head full of letterboxes. Horizonal, vertical, hidden round the side. Tiny Victorian-style ones, scarcely big enough to post a matchbox, letterboxes at the bottom of the door that send the bag over your head when you bend down.  Letterboxes with slathering, hungry dogs behind them, that eat your leaflet or your fingers. Forget the fingers – we spent money printing that leaflet just to feed your mut. Double-sprung flaps with fur that mangle everything pushed through them – maybe the householder thinks the Royal Mail scrumples their post before they deliver it – but I assure you sir or madam, it is your armour-plated letterbox.

A minute or two I spent trying to find the thing.  I need a strap-on wrist torch or maybe luminous gloves.  Maybe it is aesthetically neat to have the flap the same colour as the wood and placed in an amusing position. Like that one round the side of the porch, behind the giant, stone flowerpot or the one five feet to the right of the door, above the pond. Yes, luminous gloves, and the knuckleduster for when I knock on a door with no bell nor knocker.  (I really did not mean to break the glass.)

An aspiring couple here, with a smart new front porch they are so proud of; with the doorbell and letterbox left unreachable on the door inside – who builds these things?

Back to a quieter street, ex-council houses with standard-form, cheap aluminium, single-flap letter boxes – bliss – ah, who is that angry man just appeared in a dressing gown?  ‘No sir, I did not knock on your door at eleven at night:  I just dropped a leaflet through – that’s just a loud, mail-flap-cum-doorknocker you have”. (Can I pretend to be the LibDem canvasser at this stage? Run.)

Have I just broken that one?  It was broken anyway, but I’ll try to replace the flat on the cracked hinge if I can.  The householder won’t notice as fast as a postman or deliverer will I suppose. Yow!  The spring is broken and sticking though like a needle.  He must wonder why all his post has blood on it.  At least it keeps the companies that make tetanus jabs in business. Youch! The neighbour’s letterbox is the same. A local builder is a psycho.

‘I know, but have a leaflet anyway. Yes, I saw “No junkmail” but it is not – this is an election communication, which is the living, breathing embodiment of participatory democracy – except not actually living, nor breathing, nor in a body, but still…’

Ornate Christmas decorations brighten the mood – nailed down over the letterbox.  No cards this year, then?

That cat is looking reproachful.

I don’t want to climb over the wall or trample his flower bed, but he has parked his obese car in the whole gap, and covered the flanks with a full compost bin. We need his vote too, as an aspiring householder. Oh, now the letterbox has fallen off: he used a cheap builder. He’s no worse than the neighbour though – another double-flat, iron-sprung box with fur – the letterbox equivalent of chainmail – and by the time I have jammed the leaflet though (we made them specially tough this time) it is confetti, and the flaps are jammed open in the fur (which, I have to observe, makes it worse than useless as a draft excluder). I might as well feed the leaflet into a dog, like next door.

I rather like the retro look of those Victorian vertical, black enamelled ones with the doorknocker in front: completely impractical for receiving post, but they look good.  You’ll just wonder why you never get letters for your family any more. The Victorians of course did not have A4 envelopes and the postmen maybe had nimbler fingers, in summer at least, and they would not have found that six-pound all-electric Christmas wreath tied on the knocker in front of the flap. I find myself walking slowly; my “wet concrete in the dark” gait, and still I cannot see the trip-hazards ankle-twisters – all to find more letterboxes, letterboxes that will haunt me for months until it starts again for May.

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Further leak of US-UK trade talks

The authentic text of the further UK-US trade negotiation has been released through reliable, authenticated sources:

To the Amerikanski Ambassador, fraternal greetings, Comrade.

We acknowledge your requests and regrettably can agree only first proposals, and concede:

  • All drugs for National Health Service will be bought from American pharmaceutical companies at price plus;
  • Drug patents will be increased from 20 years to 200 years.
  • We will or five years send 1% of our maidens to Trump dacha.
  • All dissidents against policy will be sent to Guantanamo gulag.
  • In return, no US tariffs on Monty Python or tea or samovar.

We share vodka soon. Am looking forward to face to face meetings in London after Rozhdestvo Khristovo.

Счастливого пути!

Politics makes screaming madness

A man screamed in the street. A few in their own doorways babbled like bedlam and faster as rage took away their senses. Something is seriously wrong in this election.

Mostly, the reaction of those I have accosted on the street or greeted on the doorstep is pleasant and positive. The rosette can look like a declaration of war, but this year it is greeted kindly, mostly. Firmly, unthinkingly Labour households will tell you so firmly, but some of those are Backing Boris.  Then there is the screaming madness.

There is something about Boris: they love him or they hate everything about him. For the latter, nothing Boris Johnson has ever said or done can be anything but evil.  No deprecation is too crude. When by the street stall a lady tried to correct a misunderstanding, a man screamed at her. It was not even a directed shout of argument but a scream I have heard in psychiatric wards; a high, internal scream to drown out the world outside and keep it away.

On the doorstep I never heard anything so chilling, but the same scream was happening.  Impersonalised, the Conservative Party I was assured has never done anything good for anyone (and this from someone who has done very well from the thriving free commerce of society), and he went as if to stop me polluting any neighbours with my deluded contrary ideas.

Others at the name of Boris swelled up with rage and would not be corrected on any point of their slander, but that gets beyond the 30-seconds-only on the doorstep. Boris, I was told, was a liar and a fool and an extremist (but I barely repeat every imprecation against this devil they describe) and Brexit and abomination, and that Boris must at once be locked up or thrown in a loony bin. No contradiction is permitted, and is greeted with higher rage and physical aggression.

(To be told that an erudite, overly liberal and frightening intelligent gentleman is an idiot and an extremist is laughable. To be told he should be locked in a mental hospital by a man with wild eyes and practically foaming at the lips is telling.)

Talk loud and talk quickly to stop any alternative idea creeping in. Whatever you do, do not let anyone cause you to think. Calm, simple certainty is all that keeps you sane and must not be polluted with any hint of contradiction. Scream to drown it out – they are just trying to confuse you.

The world is complicated, and politicians want you to make a binary red-blue vote. Political ideas trying to simplify the world just defy reality, but that they must try to do.  If you can handle the multi-dimensional, inter-relational complexity of the world, you will do well. Many cannot, and it makes them scream.

Granted that socialism is one giant conspiracy theory, convincing its acolytes that all the ills of their world are the fault of others – but we also know that many of those who have fallen into this error do so with good motives and they can do positive things and provide an important alternative perspective. We know that in the debate of membership or otherwise of the European Union, there were good and bad arguments on both sides, and even the Remainer side highlighted real issues which have to be addressed. Decisions must be based on the complexities of reality or they are based on fantasy.

For some however, that is too much. A complex world leaves us all at sea when we need solid ground to cling to. They make rules and rationalise ideas to the simplest axioms. On those axioms is established certainty, which is rest from any other thought. All who disagree must then of necessity be fools or liars or frauds, driven by corrupt motives.

It is very attractive to adopt that attitude. It is just wrong though: truth and priorities are not right-wrong, black-white, on-off. Reality is complicated, too complicated for the mind to grasp. There is no certainty, no rest, no solid ground, The lilies of the field toil not neither do they spin, but man must eat and must work to eat; there is no rest and simplicity.

This world does not resolve into simple rules as if created by mathematicians, the way the Greek philosophers thought and any rules you make are yours alone, to suppress your own mental turmoil. Therefore stop screaming, open your ears, and explore different ideas. You might even find it liberating.

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The fine art of pop-up journalism

A scandal as newsworthy as “Dog bites postman”: the local newspapers have set their face against those delightfully, unintentionally humorous pop-up newspapers distributed by political parties at election time. The party papers, in case none has come your way, pretend to be local newspapers but consist only of plugs for their candidates. They are not exactly subtle. They may appear real to the bored and gullible, which is what all political campaigning does.

Most of them are from the Liberal Democrats, whose novel interpretation of the notions of truth and honesty in campaigning have long been a fascination for students of politics and psychiatrists. We have all loved those ‘Labour’ leaflets that, when opened out say “Labour … cannot win here”.  (I mainly see those in seats where the Liberals trail a poor third.)

The LibDem fake newspapers have been joined by the other parties too though. They all give as good as they can get.  Some Conservative newspapers even carry on throughout the year and provide a more useful village newsletter than the commercial papers do.

Maybe a few people are taken in.  That is not the point though: these newspapers work at a subliminal level – they only need to hook you for a moment to embed the impression of their headline in your mind, and if you then realise to your horror that you are reading a political leaflet, nevertheless in that opening minute you have read it as news and it makes an impression.

I need to get hold of some more examples – they are exactly what I should be using.

The local papers, the genuine locals, are discontented.  They voice fears that these pop-up party pretend papers will sap trust in the integrity of the local newspapers.

Who are they trying to fool? The local papers have done that very convincingly all by themselves.  The political news is simply reprinting the political parties’ press-releases: all those pictures of a councillor standing by a new sapling or a hole in the road are no different from the pop-ups. There is no integrity nor that vaunted neutrality in journalism; that is a phrase thrown around to encourage customers, but there is no integrity in journalism beyond the appearance needed to bring in the widest range of paying customer.

I have sympathy with the newspapers as they have a hard task trying to persuade people to buyer a wad of folding paper when on-line splash stories and antisocial media dominate the attention of their key market.  An irony is that they pay journalists to produce news content as a chassis to feed the adverts to their customers, which is where the real business lies, but oftentimes the newspaper is only bought for the adverts anyway.

The local newspapers long ago blazed a trail in the bringing the news. Now the young apprentice has copied the master’s work, and may excel him.

Maybe the pop-up party paper is the way forward for local journalism. There is motivation for it, and their village citizen-journalists are closer to the ground than those in the town on the other side of the tracks. 

I do not see the pop-up papers in our villages though, not even from the Liberal Democrats: they are good at press-releases, so that the local commercial newspaper looks like their LibDem paper already.

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