Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Joker to the Right

To commemorate the victims in the first year of the Coalition Government’s cuts, there should be wall-to-wall screening of the scene in ‘Reservoir Dogs’ when Mr. Blonde was about to display his own fondness for cuts. Cue the music:

“Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain't right,
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.”

Much has been already said about those Lib Dem clowns who volunteered themselves as human shields for the Tories. They are not so much left of centre as left behind, on every major policy issue, on every cut inflicted on the vulnerable, their antics merely deflecting attention from the real villains.

And it is the villains we need to focus on – those jokers to the right. Chief amongst them is of course THE JOKER himself: Cameron with his deceptive grin, his superficial charm, and his cold determination to make a mockery of everything a decent society should stand for.

Whereas Thatcher assumed, and the American Right still believes, that the best way for the wealthy elite to trample on the rest is to trumpet their attack on social justice with aggressive verbal onslaught at every turn, Cameron’s more devious and potent strategy is to pour nice words onto everything with a social value as a prelude to his minions slashing it with their sugarcoated butcher knife.

Cameron talks of fairness for everyone – so he lessens the burden for the rich and piles on the pressures for the poor. He pledges his support for the NHS – while he plans to tear it apart and replace it with a profit-orientated service. He says he cares about vulnerable people – but he decimates benefit support for people with disabilities. He claims to value family – yet for families on low income, he hacks away their housing benefit so they cannot even afford to stay at their home and have a stable family life. He praises the work of voluntary organisations – and he cuts their funding so they end up with less capacity to help those in need. He speaks warmly of education for all – in reality he cuts billions of pounds off state schools’ budgets while spending billions more on optional extras for aircraft carriers which may not even have aircrafts to carry.

In many ways, Cameron has perfected the very opposite of the ‘dog whistle’ approach. The Right was accustomed to saying things to stir up the emotions of their supporters even if in practice they did not intend to do anything quite so extreme. But the Joker has shown how by saying things to soothe potential opponents, he could get away with doing even more extreme things than Thatcher ever thought of.

Concerted opposition is what we need to stop the Joker getting away with hurting so many innocent people. His real agenda is to help the rich and powerful – defence contractors, media moguls, private healthcare providers, the wealthy who are not the least bothered about tuition fees, bankers who can keep their bonuses, etc. Until he’s seen for what he really is, the last laugh would be on us.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Royal Family Values: a historical fact sheet

In response to those who are worried that children are not taught enough about family values, monarchical traditions, and, above all, key dates from our history, I have compiled the following fact sheet to be distributed to all schools to help with the education of future generations:

Birth of the English Royal Family’s progenitor, William the Bastard, as he was known in his native France for being the illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy.

William learnt that the Anglo-Saxon chiefs of England had by their custom discussed and agreed that Harold Godwinson should become their next king. So he invaded England, had Harold killed, proclaimed himself king, and seized land across the country to build up his family’s fortunes.

William’s grandchildren, Stephen and Matilda, contested the family will, and ruined the country as they fought for the crown. The throne would eventually go to Matilda’s son, Henry Plantagenet, who would continue the family tradition of speaking in French to the English natives.

Having inherited the crown from Henry II, Richard decided to spend his time fighting relatives on the continent and terrorising infidels in the Middle East, rather than stay with his family in England. For that, he would be revered as ‘Richard the Lionheart’.

John’s grip on the family business slipped when he was forced to sign the Magna Carta as a promise that he would consult the local barons before he took any key decision. He did not keep his promise.

Henry III and the three Edwards who came after him dedicated themselves to crushing the insolent barons, exploiting and then expelling the Jews, defeating the Welsh, challenging the King of France, and invading the Scots.

Family arguments got out of hand. Richard II was ‘removed’ by one of the Lancastrians who proclaimed himself Henry IV, but the usurper’s grandson, Henry VI was in turn eliminated by a Yorkist – Edward IV, who passed on the throne to his beloved son (Edward V) not knowing that his beloved brother would soon ‘take care of’ the 13 year old king and crowned himself Richard III. But Richard III reigned for just over two years before another Lancastrian killed him and became Henry VII.

Henry VIII wanted to divorce and marry as he pleased without interference from the Catholic Church. The Pope would not agree, so Henry set up his own Protestant Church, and transferred Catholic lands and buildings to his family property portfolio.

The family was torn between Catholics and Protestants, and supporters for either side were frequently imprisoned or burnt to death. The Protestant Elizabeth had her Catholic cousin Mary (Queen of Scots) held in custody for 19 years before finally ordering her execution. But she was content to pass the family throne to Mary’s son, James, because he was a Protestant.

James I’s son, Charles I provoked a civil war with Parliament and lost not only his throne, but his head. Yet after Cromwell failed to establish a stable republic, it was family business as usual and Charles II triumphantly returned from exile.

Forgetting that illegitimacy did not stop the first William from taking the throne, Charles II agreed not to pass the crown to any of the children he had with his many mistresses, but to hand it to his brother, James, a devout Catholic. This led Parliament to ask another foreigner called William – a Dutchman who was not only a nephew of James II but married to his daughter, Mary – to bring his troops to England to claim the throne. The invasion was a success and James II fled.

More infusion of foreign blood was added to the ruling family in Britain with the Hanoverian intake from Germany. The four Georges and William IV stopped family rows from escalating to murders and wars, and apart from George III losing the family’s entire American inheritance, they did not do too badly overall.

Under Victoria, the United Kingdom became an empire eclipsing that of the Romans, and British gunboats, opium, colonists moved freely around the world.

Victoria’s great grandson, Edward VIII, put his family under great strain. He befriended the Nazis, for which he was forgiven. But when he dared to suggest that he wanted to marry a divorced woman, he was asked to abdicate the throne in favour of his younger brother, Albert, who became George VI.

George VI’s daughter ascended to the throne as Elizabeth II. She would pass on to her children and grandchildren the important family name, not of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (from her father’s side) or Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (from her husband’s side), but of Windsor.

The Windsor family business diversified into tourism, with a global PR campaign launched through the broadcast of the wedding between Elizabeth II’s grandson, William, and Kate Middleton, to billions of people around the world.