Sir Keir Kneeler: speech in full

‘Conference, I look about me and ask the same thing you do: What am I doing here?

Never underestimate the challenges this party faces but also its successes: once we looked down at the Liberal Democrats as weirdoes but now we have bested them in that.

What I want to say to you is this: short sentences. Just a few words. Not even a verb.

I’ll start by some unconvincing populism by cheering the football results: Arsenal 3 – 1 Tottenham – and I know how you all hate Spurs fans.

We all have failings. I have a confession to make: after 14 years of marriage, I still don’t know what a woman is.

Now fill in random personal details here to make me sound human, with unnatural emphasis in places to sound angry.  It might be as interesting as your cousin’s slide-show last Christmas, but we have a long time slot to fill in and nothing to say. Then sound humble. Was I meant to say that out loud?

We will not always see eye-to-eye. I know I stand here as leader looking out over a different party:  I’m not a raging, hate-filled communist like most of you; I don’t beat up journalists in corridors like most of you; I don’t hate Jews like most of you. Even so, there are things that we in this movement share – we all agree our policies should target ordinary working people, and I am ready to pull the trigger.

We have all enjoyed the lettuce, gherkin, bacon and tomato sandwiches at lunch, the only sort we agreed.

I have worked in public service for most of my life. Baroness Scotland appointed me as DPP, and although I never prosecuted her, as head of the Crown Prosecution Service I learned the significance of those three those three words that appeared on my desk: ‘Complete’ emphasises that we must finish what we set out to do; ‘Utter’ shows the need to pursue things to the furthermost; ‘Pillock’ is me.

If we are who we say we are, we believe the government is magic, so we can blame Boris for everything from the weather to Tottenham’s fluke goal. If our party believes any principle, it is that the Tories are to blame. When we get power in our hands, we will ensure, as many of you have affirmed, there will be everything in the state, nothing outside the state, and nothing against the state – that is the Labour way.

So far I have not laid down any actual policy nor any practical way to achieve anything Conference has demanded. Let us keep it that way.  My watchwords will be Work, Care, Equality, Security – all values which we have done our utmost to extinguish.

I think of these values as my heirloom. The word ‘loom’, from which that idea comes, is another word for ‘tool’; and that is what I am.

 

An interview with Greta

Meeting Greta Thunberg in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow was a fascinating experience. We discussed the project over meatballs and I was impressed by her single-minded approach – she would not be deviated by a millimetre.

Her English, by the way, is pretty good for a foreigner. A learned professor I read observed that Swedish and English are barely different from each other after a few sound changes (I don’t know if he had made a lifelong study of Germanic linguistics, or he had just been watching dodgy films.) The scheme she laid out though could be followed by both of us.

It all seemed too complicated to my unfamiliar eyes, but the way Greta laid it all out made it look achievable for the first time. All the pieces I would be tempted to gloss over, she grasped the significance of each one and ensured the pieces joined in exact alignment. ‘Every dowel to its hole’ as they say in Swedish apparently (which is enough to get you cancelled on the whackiest of  campuses, or the Guardian).

The complex became drawn together into a logical whole, a thing almost of beauty. She spoke the minimum to get it all together and would not be distracted even for a moment. I could not ask about her family, art, food, music, her school friends – we were here for a reason, as she made very clear, and she would not speak of anything else until she was done.

(I asked later as diplomatically as I could why she was not yet back in school. She has a withering scowl. Little girls can be like that.)

By the time she had finished I was all admiration. She might not know much about science or geography, but I sincerely admire her, because that was the neatest flat-pack chest of drawers I have ever seen built. No wonder they want he at the conference, with all those ‘Ingolf’ chairs they will need built.

Books

MP: vital importance of my Bill

One MP chosen in the Private Members ballot explained the vital importance of his Bill introduced last week.

The MP, whose name we have already forgotten says the Virtue (Signalling) Bill 2021 will ensure that the government must “give property priority to getting my name in the local paper”. The unnamed MP says that he (or she; we forget) sees in the Bill a vital opportunity to put on a serious face in the newspaper, and may lead even to two minutes on the regional news.

Taking to us earlier, the MP explained that the subject of the Bill is one of vital interest to a key demographic amongst swing voters in the constituency without hurting anyone else, and by demanding that the Government must take action to do something it is already doing, it will ensure he (or she) takes the credit for the success of the campaign.

“There are”, he (or she) said, “people in my constituency for which this subject is a concern and they both need to see that I am on the case and I am on their side thinking about it, whatever I said to them that morning in the library last Saturday when I was tired. They say the subject of the Bill is impossible: but what I always say about the ‘impossible’ is that it is the only thing worth going for. If there is a danger that the Government will agree then I will not get all the air time I deserve, but if it is actually so impossible that they refuse, then I can be seen to hold their feet to the flame, on page 5 of the local free paper.”

This MP is not the only Member who was fortunate in the private members’ ballot: twenty MPs won the time to speak in the House of Commons on their chosen subject. Each one has been practising his serious face for the news. Each one will be hoping, against experience that their Bill will get through and be chosen to appear on the news for two minutes just before the weather. Rivalry is intense.

America loses its Virgin Islands

The United States Virgin Islands are to be sold, after 104 years, to pay for the Biden COVID relief package. Joe Biden conceded that it was a wrench but they were offered hard cash, and that is hard to come by these days.

A spokesman for the State Department acknowledged the sale, saying that no one had wanted to keep the islands – they were a drain on the US Treasury for no return and there are plenty of better beach resorts along the Gulf Coast anyhow.

The Virgin Islands were bought from Denmark in 1917 to prevent the Germans getting hold of them during the Great War, amid fears that the Kaiser would erect giant sausage factories within reach of the American mainland and assault American nostrils with the smell of industrial cabbage pickling vats. The Americans only intended to hold the islands until the war was over and they could be flogged back to the British Empire, but they got forgotten during a drinking bout at Versailles.

In the meantime, the neighbouring British Virgin Islands have become one of the most successful territories in the world, while the American islands have withered. Various attempts to dump them have failed: at the last vote, most of the electorate stayed on the beach collecting welfare cheques.

The State Department were unable to say who had bought the islands: they thought it was the British government, which is what they wanted, but thinking back on that ‘phone call they were not sure any more. The man on the ‘phone was talking gibberish so they assumed it was Boris Johnson, but it might have been some other man called Boris. It could have been one of the corporations over in the BVI, but that’s fine.

Joe Biden said of the deal “This is an opportunity for America to go forward in its main goals, to get rid of past mistakes, and, well anyway, I, erm..”

The US Treasury expressed concern that the price has been paid in US dollars, as those will be practically worthless in a couple of years when the COVID relief package has fed through and hyper-inflation cuts the price of a dollar to a cent.

Putin: we’re coming for you

You will not escape our scrutiny. we have our eyes on Russia no less than does the Skibbereen Eagle itself. Your cold brutality opposes every British value, which are the only values any decent man or woman should have. the dignity of every individual, the rule of law making freedom an everyday instinct and reality. We will not leave you a free pass nor let your practices become the way we oppose the destruction of society.

Western society is being destroyed: we see how it is going and from whom, just as you do, and we oppose it just as you do, but you are not us and we will not swap a woke tyranny for a Putin one.

Its a powerful world stage for you: I do not know if you influenced last year’s election in America, but your patsy got into the White House anyway; there has not been a weaker more submissive, pointless president since Medvedev. You may want to use this situation to impose yourself more strongly upon the world, but you have to get through us first.

Look us in the eye, Vladimir Vladimirovich. What do you have? You may have a large (or largely drunken) army, you may have agents and useful idiots everywhere, absolute control over a country 5,000 miles long, some of it even inhabited, guns, bombs and novichok – but we have keyboards, and we’re not afraid to use them.

We are British, something you can never be, so be jealous, and afraid.

Here on this site we are united: we have you, Putin, in our sights and will pursue you relentlessly. (Unless you’ve got a job going that pays well – preferably working from home – will learn basic Russian if required – all reasonable offers considered.)

See also

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