At first glance, the story of an obscure Tory councillor creating an online petition demanding that anyone who still supports membership of the European Union be charged with treason smacks of a crude attempt at humour and is obviously a very weak joke. A second glance would confirm the hoax as the petition is in the name of a councillor Christian Holliday who represents the Burpham ward in the delightful town of Guildford. If a councillor Cruella de Winterval representing nearby Effingham had demanded the re-introduction of thumbscrews and the rack into the criminal justice system, the joke would not have been more obvious. However, a third glance reveals the treason petition story to be true and a bizarre invention called Christian Holliday actually exists and wishes to “amend the Treason Felony Act to make supporting UK membership of the EU a crime.”
It seems that the petition has been taken down and a Guildford councillor has been suspended by the local Tory party. No doubt the councillor will complain of censorship, an attack on free speech and a liberal elite conspiring to bring about the end of democracy but will then slide deservedly back into obscurity where he will not cause too much damage. That a councillor, let alone a Tory councillor, should prove to be a complete and utter idiot is not unexpected news but, as a symptom of the collective emotional breakdown currently debilitating the nation, the thought that this kind of nonsense could ever be considered as even remotely appropriate is much more troublesome. (more…)
In those far-off heady days during the European referendum campaign, some of us hoped that the deranged musings of idiots, borderline fascists, actual racists, scaremongers and various prophets of doom would end once the British people had made their historic decision. The preposterous and obviously false claims and counter-claims from both sides cheapened the debate to the state of pointless and partisan bickering and made for a contest between an unbelievably duplicitous Remain campaign and an unbelievably duplicitous Leave campaign. Sadly, the return to common sense and the status quo of generally harmless whopping great lies has, to evoke the civil rights credentials of Prime Minister Theresa May, been a long time coming. Instead, the ravings of some very strange people which were once instantly dismissed as just a part of the comedic warp and weft of society are now being accepted as potentially valid, possibly true and even something less than a complete insult to basic humanity. (more…)
As the sublimely wonderful Stevie Wonder so eloquently pointed out, if you believe in things that you don`t understand; you suffer – superstition ain`t the way. It is a distinct possibility that what separates religion from superstition is the comparative definition of faith and idiocy but when politics, the economy and policies ranging from health, education and immigration seem to be pulled from magic hats by black cats and chimney sweeps, tarot readings and the most transparent of crystal balls now pass for governance.
The French, during what became known as la belle époque between the Franco Prussian War and the First World War, invented a delightful compromise between religion and superstition by creating a new and lucrative career. Realising that 13 sitting down to dinner would result in terrible bad luck because that was the number taking part in the last supper, professional dinner party guests could be employed to make up the 14. Known as “Quatorzièmes”, these witty raconteurs could expect free food and drink in exchange for some outrageous banter the more scandalous and questionable the better. Inadvertently, the early “Quatorzièmes” paved the way for 21st century politicians and professional controversialist to make money and expect free food and drink by spreading outrageous, scandalous and questionable banter. (more…)
Samuel Johnson`s assertion that patriotism is this last refuge of a scoundrel only works if the scoundrel is clever enough to manipulate prejudice and ignorance to manufacture a state of false patriotism and, therefore, extreme international danger. Boris Johnson`s assertion that any hope of a negotiated ceasefire in Syria has “run out of road” meaning that “more kinetic options” – including military intervention – need to be considered, look and sound like the posturing of a scoundrel. Doctor Johnson went on to say that “prejudice does not have reasonable grounds, so you cannot deny them with rational arguments.” Mark Twain, however, hit the nail on the head when he described a patriot as “the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.” (more…)
In an incredibly uncertain world populated by tyrants, dictators, ne`er do wells and various other foreigners, it took a mere 90 days for the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to present himself at the House of Commons in order to perform his new front bench role. Given that his almost Cistercian vow of silence following his appointment is entirely out of character, Boris Johnson did not need to be dragged kicking and screaming to front a much needed parliamentary debate concerning the ongoing crimes against humanity being committed across Syria and in particular in Aleppo. (more…)