Jacob Rees-Mogg – instructions on social distancing for returning MPs (non Latin version)

“Senatores grata patria!”

As Leader of the House of Commons, it has fallen to oneself to smooth our return to Mother Parliament and one is resolved to ensure that as we do so, things are kept as straightforward as possible.

The last three months have been intolerable and tedious for us all.  Trapped in our manor houses, unable to show off our knowledge of obscure historical precedents or debate even the most inconsequential of bills, many of us have been obliged to do little more than field tiresome correspondence from ‘constituents’ and affect an interest in their concerns.

For one’s own part, being cooped up in a pokey 18 bedroom country pile has very much tested the mettle. At times the tapestries in the East Wing felt as if they were closing in and it was almost impossible to ostentatiously catch up on the life of Livius Andronicus, as one’s concentration was frequently distracted by the sound of one’s children laughing merrily in distant out-buildings.

As with so many other ordinary people across the country, this ghastly pestilence has brought considerable personal tragedy to the Rees-Mogg household. For almost three weeks Cook was unable to get goose fat and we were obliged to furlough the under valet as one simply didn’t need the usual quantity of starched collars. Worse still, in March two shipments of Chateaux Margaux ’86 were delayed and on one desperate Sunday afternoon, we came perilously close to running out of sherry.

But we are through it now and with life returning to normal it is time for Westminster to lead the way forward before the hoi polloi start getting ideas.

Of course one does not wish, in so doing, to put the lives of one’s honourable friends at risk and so it is imperative that everyone is up to speed on the new guidelines.

Contrary to what you may think, one has long been an enormous fan of social distancing as one has been practising it for most of one’s life. The only difference is that these new measures apply to us all, regardless of our standing in the social hierarchy. Yes, even you Mr Blackford!

Officially we are being advised to remain (ghastly word) “two metres” apart but frankly one does not wish to sully the oldest and greatest parliament in the world with Napoleonic metrification. So MPs are politely requested to maintain a distance of six feet, five and three quarters of an inch from each other at all times.

Debates will continue as normal, but Labour and other opposition MPs fearful for their health and the risk of tipping us all into collective lassitude, are welcome to stay away.

The new system for voting is so simple that even members of the Liberal Democrats will be able to grasp it.

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How the queuing system will look

MPs will form an orderly queue of 60 chains from Westminster Hall, to the statue of Cromwell on the south side of Parliament Square. When everyone is assembled I shall blow my whistle thrice to get your attention and then eight times more to signal that it is time to move. Thence members will form in two lines, one quarter of a furlong apart and proceed at a speed of two knots towards the tellers. It is imperative that as you do so you maintain straight backs and a distance of 78 and a quarter inches from each other. If one has socialist inclinations – or a beard – I would request that you increase that measure to eight yards.

I have arranged for members of the household cavalry to position themselves two chains apart and beat a solemn marching pace on their drums as we proceed to our constitutional duty.

Having voted, MPs are asked to hop on their left leg to the nearest washroom wherein to cleanse their hands while singing all six verses of ‘God Save the Queen’ including the one about decapitating the Scots.

I have been repeatedly asked if the hopping and singing is really necessary, to which the answer is “Yes”.

One is very much looking forward to seeing you all during the new parliamentary term. If you have any questions do please pop them in one’s pigeon hole and I shall endeavour to deign to read them, but only if they have been correctly punctuated and written on vellum.

In the meantime I am your most trusted,

Jacob Rees-Mogg

(as told to Otto English)

Who is Otto English?

The exclusive that really is not very interesting.

Back in 2011 my mate Paul and I were chatting on the phone and he said: “You know you really ought to go on twitter. You’d love it because it’s right up your street. All that bollocks you make up and ranting you do – it’s the perfect place – twitter.”

It was true that for about a decade – indeed ever since I’d gone online I’d been making up stuff and posting it on the internet. And it was mostly bollocks, a minor diversion from my serious writing and full-time job. My background was in theatre and a bit of TV and I was churning out yet another play in 2011 that was never to see much of the light of day.

I’d always enjoyed a bit of pranking on the side and did it to fill in the time in between everything else. Among other sins, I’d created a Henry Rootish American student who wrote emails to the BNP trying to open a French bank account and I’d become a popular figure on an American poetry website, posting earnest doggerel under a fictitious name. I found it entertaining and useful to make this stuff up and I liked Peter Cook and Joe Orton’s work in that vein and this seemed to be in that tradition.

So I followed Paul’s advice and opened a twitter account – in the name of a famous person. And after a bit I realised that people really thought I was this famous person – which freaked me out – but being an irresponsible individual I decided to up the ante. I ‘killed off’ the account in a live tweeted dalek attack on a croquet lawn and turned it into Jacob Rees-Mogg. Back then Mogg was not hugely well known and this played right into my hands. My job involved a lot of moving about and a lot of time on buses and trains and it became a joy to ‘create’ this character. Jacob himself was initially unamused and threatened to do something (but never did).

Mogg was perfect satirical material in 2011. Like Cameron he was an Old Etonian, but unlike Cameron he wasn’t hiding it. I could ridicule this return of the old guard by using its own weapons against it.

I was also writing bits of TV satire and it became a bit of a calling card.

But then things began to get out of control. After writing a blog on Rees-Mogg’s behalf, arguing that there should be tax relief on Mansions I was gobsmacked to see the real Mogg turn up on Newsnight discussing that very subject. Private Eye later reported that this was because someone had read my piece, which literally contained the phrase ‘A Modest Proposal’ and taken it to be the real McCoy.

After tweeting the word ‘floccinauccinihilipilification’ I was taken aback when the real Mogg, some weeks later, deployed that very word in the House of Commons. It was apparent – bizarrely – that the target of my mockery was not only reading my tweets but apparently plagiarising my satire for his own ends.

One day I got contacted by the BBC Broadcasting House programme asking me if I would be prepared to meet the real Rees-Mogg on air. I was very wary of doing that, preferring my anonymity and also aware that if I did it I may subsequently struggle to take the piss. We had also met briefly, several times, a few years previously and I was worried that he might recognise me. Anyway after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and quite a bit of flattery I agreed – on one condition – that I do it under a pseudonym.

“Well what would you like to be called?” The nice man at the BBC asked.

I was reading the book “Alone in Berlin” at the time and the central character in that story is Otto Quangel. That character spends a lot of time spreading information in secret and anonymously – so I said ‘Otto’ – and then ‘English’.

My real name is Andrew Scott and I’d like to say it was a clever and well thought out juxtaposition playing on the idiosyncrasies of my own name – but that would be a lie – it was spontaneous. And it stuck.

I opened a twitter account in that name and started to tweet as myself and express my own opinions and even do a bit of blogging. After a bit, I had a few thousand followers, after a bit more I found people offering me stuff and asking me to write articles. If I had planned any of it or given it the amount of thought I gave the many unproduced plays, pitches and film scripts I wrote in my twenties and thirties I suspect none of it would have happened this way.

Since 2016 and Brexit I have plugged away and written (far too many) tweets and articles and as my profile has grown inevitably some people have begun to ask who ‘Otto English’ is. For the most part I have enjoyed my anonymity and comforted myself that many of my heroes from Eric Morecambe, to George Orwell and David Bowie used pseudonyms to write or perform. (And I am not comparing myself to any of those people – you should hear me sing.)

In further mitigation – in the meantime another problem has arisen – namely ‘the other Andrew Scott’. That brilliant actor has taken all the SEOs and as there is some crossover between the two of us – in that I still occasionally dabble in theatre and the arts – it has seemed sensible to stick with Otto rather than get confused with Moriarty.

But you can’t go about the place calling other people out when you yourself are not being transparent. More and more I’ve felt hypocritical attacking the likes of Tommy Robinson for hiding behind pseudonyms when I myself am using one. In recent months it has also led to some people trying to use it as a stick against me – despite my real name being prominently displayed at the bottom of my Politico articles.

So in short my name is Andrew Scott, hello. I live in London. I am a fairly boring person who hasn’t had to struggle much in life. I’ve worked in TV and theatre and education – and I now (finally) make a precarious living by writing things – so please send me work and failing that fine wine. You can call me Andrew, Otto, or even ‘wanker’ if you prefer.

Oh – and thank you Paul – you were right and remind me to buy you a pint sometime.

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Don’t ask me to smile.

David Cameron – How I Destroyed Britain – as told to Otto English: part one of our exclusive serialisation

Early life

Before I could do anything, I had, like common people everywhere – to be born. In my case it was on the 9th of October 1966. On that cold morning, as my mother cradled me in her arms, nobody could have predicted that I would grow up to become one of the top five Prime Ministers of the 21st century.

After dismissing the names Quinton, Euripedes and Aubyn – my parents decided to call me Dave.

My early childhood was typical of most boys in the early 1970s. I played with Action Men, I watched Starsky and Hutch on the television – and at the weekends we’d chase foxes across the fields on horseback whilst my father shouted ‘Tally Ho!”

At the age of 13 I was sent away to Eton. Much nonsense is written about that establishment but it’s a perfectly ordinary place really. Certainly no different from any of the other major public schools founded in the 1440s by King Henry VI with fees in excess of £40,000 pa. Indeed in many ways it was far more meritocratic than the secondary moderns where my parents’ staff sent their children. Everyone was obliged to wear the same tailored uniform and starched collars and we all had to carry our own top hats; we played soccer football like other ordinary boys and there was even a black child there. Although none of us ever bothered to learn his name.

We were all sports crazy back then and it was on the playing fields of Eton that my lifelong love of the Arsenals was formed. I have followed that team’s progress ever since.

It was not always a smooth ride. In the months prior to my O’levels I was caught smoking cannabis while listening to the musical stylings of The Shadows on my Sony walkman – behind the tuck shop. After a bit of fuss and an apology to the beak I was gated. My other chums were not so lucky and one or two were even expelled. Although I deeply regret events – it did at least teach me a valuable lesson. Namely that no matter what you do wrong, if you keep your head down, give an insincere apology and stay quiet long enough – people might forget all about the mess you have made.

Brasenose Days

From Eton I went to Oxford and it was here that I became a member of the Bullingdon Club. My membership of that notorious dining society has been much criticised. In my defence being part of a gang of very rich boys, who smashed up places, laughed at poor people and then threw money at the carnage – before walking off into the sunset – was wonderful training for my later political career.

In between my studies I still had time to watch my team ‘The Aston Villas’ playing soccer and sometimes I found myself smoking marijuana once more. While I do not condone the use of drugs I do not entirely regret it – not least because it has managed to fill out some of the 750 pages of this book. Marijuana intensifies experience and I confess that when ‘high’ I could discover things in the lyrics of ‘The Bananarama’ or ‘Chicago’ that most ordinary people might miss.

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It looked nothing like this

Career

Having left ‘college’, the time had come to find gainful employment. I was determined to make my own way in the world and so my father rang up some old school chums and asked them to give me a job. As luck would have it, I was immediately offered a position at Conservative Party HQ. Within five years I had become special adviser to Chancellor Mr Norman Lamont and was his key aide when Black Wednesday forced us out of the ERM. Mr Lamont is now considered to be one of the worst post-war Chancellors and a man who single-handedly destroyed the economy – but that is quite unfair. It was not all his own work by any means and it’s important to stress that I played a significant part in that legacy.

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Norman Lamont – the greatest Chancellor Britain had between 1990 and 1993

Soon I was part of the famed Notting Hill Sect (surely set?). In between the endless rounds of cocktails, lunches at Kensington Place and society balls I still had time to get in touch with my ‘common side’. Sometimes I would go to the soccer stadium to watch my team The West Hammers play the beautiful game. Once when we were very squiffy on sherry, we ordered a take-away pizza! And on a hair-raising occasion I rode on the Underground Tube between Lancaster Gate and Queensway – just like other ordinary people.

Around this time I was also to meet Samantha, who was later to become my wife. These were hedonistic times, but having bonded over our mutual love of Elton John’s greatest hits and the film ‘Sliding Doors’ we decided to settle down and buy some more stocks and shares.

But I felt frustrated and worried about my country and its place in the world. Britain – so long in the grip of happiness, economic prosperity and progress needed someone to really fuck things up. My destiny was calling and I decided that it was time to become a Conservative MP.

Satirical content…… Part two next week

The Man Who Didn’t Shoot Hitler

In the late afternoon of the 28th September 1918, in the final weeks of WW1, Private Henry Tandey of the Yorkshire Regiment had an encounter which might otherwise have changed the course of human history.

This was the end-game of four years of poisonous, vicious warfare that had slaughtered millions, upended the lives of many more and laid waste to thousands of square miles of Europe. In August, the Allies had begun the 100 Days Offensive – a massive assault that aimed to punch a hole through German defences and end the stalemate. By the 27th of September Tandey’s unit had reached the Hindenberg line and seized the strategically important village of Marcoing that straddled the Canal du Nord.

But the following morning as the Yorkshire Regiment were securing their positions, the Prussian Guard launched a counter attack.

Soon, Tandey found himself in the midst of a major engagement that was to define his life. During a day of close quarters combat and despite being seriously wounded in the head, he personally led an attack on an enemy machine gun post, secured one of the vital bridges across the canal and commanded a bayonet charge that forced the enemy back – turning the course of the battle.

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Captured German Soldiers cambrai 1918

His gallantry under fire was to win him an immediate Victoria Cross, but it was a separate event late in the afternoon, that secured Henry Tandey’s place in posterity; for as he rounded a corner on the outskirts of Marcoing, he came face to face with a wounded and disorientated Austrian born corporal by the name of Adolf Hitler.

Now of course in October 1918 nobody had yet heard of Adolf Hitler. That afternoon, he was just another man, in battlefield grey, fleeing across the Canal du Nord in fear for his life. But in that moment, all of that was to follow – spun on the decision of a 27 year old boiler engineer, from Leamington Spa.

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Blue plaque commemorating Private Tandey

Tandey raised his rifle, took aim – and paused. He had killed a lot of men that day and maybe all the death he had witnessed and meted out stopped him pulling the trigger once more.

Whatever his motive, Tandey lowered his gun and gestured to the corporal to flee.

Hitler mouthed ‘thank you’ and ran.

“That man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again,” the indebted veteran was to recall in September 1938, as he pointed Tandey out to Neville Chamberlain in a painting that hung in his study in the Berghof in the Bavarian Alps – “providence saved me.”

The art-work was a copy of a piece by Italian artist Fortunino Matania depicting British soldiers at the Menin crossroads in 1914. In the bottom right hand corner Tandey can be seen carrying a wounded comrade on his back.  The original still hangs in the Green Howard’s museum in Richmond, North Yorkshire and the tale of how the print came to be on the wall of Hitler’s Bavarian retreat is serendipitous.

At some point in the 1930s a postcard of it was sent to a member of Hitler’s Staff, Dr Otto Schwend, by a British soldier he had befriended at the end of the war. Schwend had shown it to his leader who immediately recognised Tandey as the man who had chosen not to kill him in 1918.

So a copy was commissioned and hung in pride of place as a reminder that Hitler’s life had once been spared – by the most highly decorated soldier in the British army no less.

“When you return home, please convey my thanks to Mr Tandey!” Hitler begged of the British Prime Minister. And Chamberlain was as good as his word. Having flapped the Munich agreement in front of the cameras and declared “Peace in Our Time” the British Prime Minister phoned Tandey to pass on the thanks of the most hated man in the world for sparing his life in the late summer of 1918. Unfortunately Tandey was out – and his nephew took the call.

It’s a great story. It has inspired books, newspaper articles and a whole industry of alternative history. Michael Morpurgo’s novel ‘An Eagle in the Snow’ is based on the event. The History Channel made a documentary about it. There are plays, articles, biopics and a thousand ‘what if’ threads on the internet dedicated to it.

There’s just one problem. It never happened.

The two men never met.

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Henry Tandey VC

For while Tandey was fighting at Marcoing, Hitler most definitely was not; nor was he anywhere near. German state archives reveal that on the 27th of September 1918 his unit, the 16th Bavarian Reserve regiment, was 50 miles north  – and Hitler himself was on leave.

Hitler had seen the postcard, had claimed to recognise Tandey, had commissioned the painting – but the encounter itself was entirely fabricated. And the person who made up the story was most probably Hitler himself.

So why did he do that?

In the spring of 1943, the U.S. Office of Strategic Studies, fore-runner of the CIA, commissioned psychoanalyst Walter Langer, to create a ‘psychological profile’ of the German leader. With a team of researchers, over a period of eight months, Langer threw himself into the task. He studied everything Hitler had written along with every available interview the Nazi leader had ever given. In the resulting ground-breaking summary, Langer concluded that from 1924 onwards:  “It became clearer that he (Hitler) was thinking of himself as the Messiah and that it was he who was destined to lead Germany to glory.”

The Nazi leader believed he had been sent to the German people to deliver them from the humiliation of Versailles and lead them on to their destiny. Nazism was a cult and cults need doctrine, prophesy and creed. The events in Marcoing created a perfect narrative. Hitler bewildered, broken and beaten, like Germany itself – had faced down the greatest warrior in the British army and been delivered from the battlefield to save his people and lead them to greatness.

The painting was a ‘momento vivere’ and Henry Tandey VC was the angel of deliverance.

Truth played second fiddle to the propaganda – and quite quickly, the same story came to suit the British too.

Approached by the Coventry Herald in 1939, Tandey was at first wary and dismissive of the story – quoted as saying: “According to them, I’ve met Hitler. Maybe they’re right, but I can’t remember him.” A year later however and having been bombed out of his own home, Tandey had miraculously come to recall the events of September 1918 saying:

“When I saw all the people and women and children he had killed and wounded I was sorry to God I let him go.”

Tandey’s earlier caution had gone – and with good reason. The bombing of Coventry in November 1940 had claimed 600 lives and destroyed thousands of homes. It didn’t matter that Tandey was now recalling something that had never happened. The story arc of an honest British Tommy showing mercy to the German dictator, only to be repaid by having his home town reduced to rubble – neatly demonstrated the contrast between the two sides. This ‘happy breed’ of straightforward British folk – played by the rules, believed in fair-play – showed honour in the field of battle and spared the lives of wounded men. The German ‘volk’ had returned the favour, by murdering innocent civilians in their homes.

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By embracing Hitler’s lie, Henry Tandey unwittingly turned Nazi propaganda into a parallel reality and one that would unfortunately come to eclipse his own heroic deeds. It didn’t matter that the story had been concocted by one of the most diabolical individuals of the 20th century, to serve his agenda. It had value of its own. Indeed, it resonated so strongly that it persists to this day.

Take a 2014 episode of BBC local magazine show Inside Out broadcast in the Midlands. An item on the life of Tandey focusing solely on his fictitious ‘encounter’ includes a historian, David Johnson, roundly debunking the myth. But despite that the piece concludes with the journalist saying:

“True or not it’s a fantastic story and one that people are happy to continue debating.”

Really? Debate something that didn’t happen.

An encounter that never happened and a phone call that was never made have become an alternative truth.

Tandey’s fate might seem almost trivial in the wider context of the slaughter of the 20th century – but it neatly illustrates a wider crisis facing us in the 21st – and one that becomes ever more prevalent in the digital and mass information era.

The advent of the web opened up the potential for a brave new meritocratic age of information. For the first time in history, most people have a device in their pockets capable of accessing resources that could match those of the world’s great libraries. This still has the potential to be the most democratising moment in the modern age. Here is a chance for anyone with a smart-phone to fact-check, enquire, improve and to make the world a more transparent place.

And yet, for the most part, people have instead chosen to use this incredible tool to share pictures of cats or their private parts. Why waste half a day reading up on the life of a long dead Private in the Yorkshire regiment when you can like a video of a man falling over? Why bother to check how much nations pay to the European Union when you can swipe left or right on somebody’s face?

Instead of embracing truth many continue to fall back on the comforts of prejudice and fake news. This has left societies prey to the curse of populist politics and the mendacious interest groups that increasingly run merry. For whether it be ‘taking back control’ or ‘making America Great again’ or the perpetuation of the dangerous lie that individuals who share geographical spits of land have a shared past, shared values or a common destiny.

If we are going to progress towards a better future and avoid a repeat of the horrors of the two terrible wars we must first be liberated from the false narratives of our past – and present.

Nigel, You Have A Problem: A Brexit Party activist speaks out – in her own words.

In the last months I’ve been writing a series of articles for Byline Times about the Brexit Party. Last week I filed two pieces about the selection process for potential MPs and questions around the fee that has to be paid for the online application. Since then a number of registered supporters and activists have approached me with concerns. This email from a woman I have called Anna sums up how many are feeling and I reproduce it here with her permission in full (although I have made two small changes to protect her identity). If this email is indicative of wider feeling among Brexit Party activists who have been fobbed off by Farage, Tice and their cronies – the party has a major problem.

Hi Otto,

I am another qualified and experienced potential candidate who was summarily rejected by Tice’s mass email. I’m a professional, intelligent woman with a strong connection to a key Brexit Party target constituency, but I didn’t get an interview.

I became concerned a couple of weeks ago when I heard that interviews were due to conclude so I started to chase up my application – all my emails were acknowledged by the general enquiries team who told me they had passed them on to the Candidate team who then completely ignored me.

When I found your bylinetimes pieces (5th and 10th July), they made a lot of sense so I highlighted them to a Brexit Party Contact and a mate of Nigel I’d met on the campaign trail. Neither were interested (but Nigel’s crony got an interview…). I then sent a further email to the Candidate selection team, requesting specific reasons why I had not been interviewed given the strength of my case – this time I didn’t even get an acknowledgement.

All the elements of a contract seem to be present in the Brexit Party open offer to candidates (offer, acceptance and £100 consideration) so we should get what we paid for or they risk breaching contract. However, I’ve just checked my Statutory Credit Report and no checks have been made, I sincerely doubt whether my application received more than a cursory glance.

Are you aware that all applicants were strongly advised to help campaign in Peterborough, the inducement being that it would greatly help our chances of being selected? Yet no record was ever taken other than the general sign-in. Everyone I met in Peterborough was an applicant, keen to improve their chances and all at our own expense.

Farage emailed us all on the 8th July with the same fake promise if we went to Brecon for the by-election, despite selection having more or less concluded.

When the 650 are revealed, I expect they will consist of rich, mostly male businessmen, minor celebrities and lots of ex-UKIP cronies of Nigel – with the odd working class stereotype thrown in. If 50% aren’t female (as I expect) it won’t be due to a lack of suitable applicants… These people will be allocated constituencies where they have tenuous connections and they will expect to be adored. I doubt my fellow Northerners will be duped for too long. So much for changing politics for good!

I’m still a dedicated Leaver but I won’t be helping the Brexit Party again. I hope that fellow rejectees who believe they’ve been misled will use all that energy, passion and intellect to expose the elitism and cronyism at the heart of Nigel’s organisation.

I do hope you won’t mind me remaining anonymous for the moment and I sincerely thank you for your expose. Could you please acknowledge receipt and do keep up the good work!

Warm regards,

Anna P.

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Tommy Robinson – My Struggle – the prison diaries

I’m a dead man walking. Except I am not actually walking. I am in a van. So I am a dead man being driven. But it’s all the same thing at the end of the day.

They take me into the prison and I am led to an interview room. There’s a woman and a man and you can tell immediately that neither of them is patriots. I ask them if they know the words to God Save the Queen but they just ignore me and start asking a load of questions. I ain’t playing their game. I give my name, age and number. I ain’t got no actual number so I give them my shoe size. I’ve read the Genevieve Contention and I know my rights.

“I am seeking Aslan in the first country I land in.” I shout and they look at me like the Muppets they are.

“The Lion from the C.S Lewis books?” The woman pipes up after she’s stopped laughing. She won’t be laughing when the fucking Muslams has taken over and forced her to wear full hijab. And anyway what’s she doing here? It’s late and here she is in a Prison surrounded by men. That’s not right. She should be home cooking her husband’s tea and looking after her kids.

“I demand to be taken to the United States under the protection of Donal Trump!” I say. That’s what Katie Hopkins told me to do and she has got an A level. They don’t know how to respond. Not one of them has read the British Constipation. I’ve got these twats over the barrel.

“But you are in a prison Mr Yaxley Lennon!” They say and start laughing again like a bunch of hyenas. “You are serving a prison term for breaking the law. Why would we take you to the United States.”

“Because I’m a journalism!” I shout over their noise….“you ever seen the BBC outside of the courts? I was journalising and I been stitched up by the establishment for exposing the paediatrics. If I was an Aslan seeker from Africa you’d be doing what I demand. And then give me a council home and a holiday in Spain and 5 g.”

“But Mr Yaxley Lennon!” That woman starts again – and I’m not having that. I’m not letting her finish. With that attitude she’ll be living under Sharia law.

“Zip it woman!” I say “You call me a racist. Tell me one thing I ever said that was racist! One thing. Go on. One thing.”

She stares at me blankly.

“I didn’t call you a racist.” She says. Typical. They’ve never got an answer for that one.

I am led to my cell. Banged up for journalisation is bad enough – but the state of where I am expected to sleep. The fellas in Colditz got better than this.

“What’s this?” I demand – pointing at the TV.

“It’s a TV.” The clown who has brought me up says.

“I can see that chum.” I says “but it’s not a flat screen is it. It’s not even HD ready. Take it away.”

That fucking showed ‘em.

I sleep badly. Only two pillows and neither of them is goose down.

In the morning I’m brought a bowl of cereal, some hot coffee and bacon in a bun. I get what they are doing – I got their number. I demand to see the Governor.

That same woman from last night turns up.

“I said I wanted to see the Guvnor.” I say.

“I am the Guvnor.” She shoots back.

So I pick up the bacon and wave it in her face.

“What’s this?” I ask.

“A piece of bacon?” She asks innocently.

“Yeah and what is its year in provence?” I ask – “how can you tell me that it ain’t halal?” She’s not smiling any more. That’s got her. “I know what you is doing!” I shout. “Trying to convert me on the quiet. Well it ain’t working. Take it away. Take it all away. And bring me some proper fucking pillows.”

They leave and I am alone in my cell without a pillow. Tomorrow I will write to President Donal Trump and ask him for Aslan. Then they’ll know who’s the boss round here. Then they’ll see.

As told to Kelvin Patterson – satire

A brief history of politicians and their hobbies – or Boris Johnson and the “Dead Cat”

Filing your ‘hobbies and interests’ on a CV or job application can prove a massive headache. Sure – there’s a small group of weirdos who have interesting extra-curricular lives and here is their moment to shine. But for the rest of us – the ‘what do you do in your free time’ bit on a resume poses a quandary. Are ‘swimming’ and ‘music’ technically ‘hobbies’ or should you just come clean and write ‘liking cats on social media’ and ‘getting really inappropriately drunk’ instead.

When going for those high profile gigs, like Prime Minister or party leader politicians face much the same dilemma – but with the attendant jeopardy that almost anything you say as a politician can be used to make you look like an idiot. Claiming to like ‘fell walking’ or ‘spending time with family’ might sound like a safe bet but it also risks making you seem irredeemably dull. Tell the truth about that out of control collection of Doris Day memorabilia on the other hand and you’ll likely be dust at the ballot box.

Boris Johnson doesn’t have a Doris Day habit – as far as we know – but he does like to make models of buses – out of wine boxes

After a disastrous few days of campaigning, dogged by negative headlines, Johnson gave a brief interview to Talk Radio’s Ross Kempsell at his campaign headquarters on Tuesday. Having set out his manifesto which amounted to something about the Northern Powerhouse and something else about ‘positive energy’ and Brexit – the subject turned to his leisure activities:

“What do you do to switch off?” Kempsell asked.

“Well – I like to paint. I make things.” Johnson responded and warming to his theme added: “I have a thing where I make models … I make buses…… I get old wooden crates ……and I paint passengers enjoying themselves – on the wonderful bus.”

Initially it seemed so ridiculous that many wondered if he was simply making it up. But it quickly transpired that Johnson had been trotting out this line about making stuff out of packaging for years. In 2011, during his ‘cheese-period’ he told the Metro newspaper:

“You get Brie and Camembert in these lovely wooden boxes. Now it might sound cretinous and I’m not a very good painter but I enjoy it and find it therapeutic.”

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Boris has a long and enduring love affair with buses

What leaders do in their spare time is oddly fascinating. Jeremy Corbyn is a keen ‘operculist’ i.e. he has a fascination with old manhole covers. Jeremy is a specialist in that he has a particular love of drain-covers and in an interview on Lorraine some years ago became animated on the topic in a way that I’ve never witnessed him discussing anything else.

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For Corbyn it’s drains

Angela Merkel bakes – and can apparently make an amazing plum cake. Jeremy Hunt lists ‘Latin American music’ and ‘dancing’ as his hobbies – suggesting that his personality really comes alive in those private moments. Nigel Farage – leader of the Brexit party is a keen angler and likes to land a big whopper whenever he can. Former PM David Cameron is ‘soccer mad’ and so keen on the game that while in office he kept forgetting which team he supported. Tony Blair – one time front man of university rock band Ugly Rumours spent his time at Downing Street picking out tunes on his electric guitar.

The bigger the dictator the more incongruous their hobbies appear.

Saddam Hussein whiled away the moments between invading his neighbours, plotting to destroy the West and murdering his people writing romantic fiction. Hitler, like Churchill, loved to paint but he was also a big fan of Walt Disney’s Pinocchio and it is claimed doodled sketches of the little marionette on scraps of paper. Stalin liked drawing naked men. Idi Amin was a Tom and Jerry super-fan.

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Idi Amin was obsessed with Tom and Jerry

Boris’s revelation story certainly places him in the weirder echelons of political hobby-crafting and the last 24 hours on twitter has been dominated with chatter about his bus building exploits. So much so that the real meat of his interview – in which he sought to set out his agenda if elected as PM was completely ignored. So here it is:

Boris: Number one, Ross, we need to be increasing our spending on education around the country and lifting up the per capita spend. Number two, we want to have a big program of transport infrastructure. And I’m looking at all sorts of things we can do to help Andy Street in the West Midlands, Northern Powerhouse Rail, there’s all sorts of things we can do to help with our roads. We need to be putting some money into the police and on Brexit. We will of course be pushing our plan into action. So we are getting ready to come out on October the 31st.

Its bollocks, isn’t it? Proper drivel. And perhaps as the likes of myself have set out to write about Boris’s ‘busses built from boxes’ story we have all once again fallen for Johnson’s favourite trick – the so called ‘dead cat strategy.’

If you throw a ‘dead cat’ on a table everyone will be so busy talking about the animal and the event that they will be distracted from the substance of everything else that is going on around it. Perhaps sensing that he had delivered yet another lacklustre, ill-briefed and ill-prepared interview – Johnson came out with his elaborate story to divert attention from his unsuitability to be the next PM.

If only he loved fell walking instead.

The Brexit Party Manifesto (sort of)

The Brexit party is leading the polls in the upcoming EU elections – but they don’t have a manifesto. So we’ve written one for them:

Brexit:

Leaving the EU is the easiest thing in the world. We simply leave and go on to WTO rules. Remoaning naysayers like Nick Clegg insist that a ‘great power’ like the UK can’t do that because we will wreck the economy, make ourselves an international pariah and be forced to live off tinned spam. To which we say “Yum!” And anyway – we won’t be eating spam. You will.

brexit spam
Yummy

WTO rules:

East Timor, Somalia and Western Sahara all trade solely under WTO rules and do absolutely fine. Nobody questions their ability to export sandalwood, hides and second hand AK47s into emerging markets. While Britain is obliged to engage with the EU, the biggest market in the world, on the most favourable terms of any country on Earth, Somalia is enjoying robust trade with Djibouti and parts of war torn Eritrea. Enough is enough frankly. We are leaving and we are going to take a slice of that trade with Djibouti whether Angela Merkel likes it or not.

Fishing:

The UK fishing industry contributes less GDP to our economy than Harrods and employs fewer people than Poundsaver so it is quite right that we sacrifice every other industry in the UK to ensure that a few fishermen can drive stocks to extinction. The reason is simple. Nigel likes fishing. It’s his hobby and moreover his favourite book as a child was ‘the ladybird book of fishermen’. Then there’s Jane Mummery, one of our prospective MEPs. Jane is managing director of Lowestoft fishing auctions and more fish means more business for her. Why should the UK have an automotive and aeronautical sector when Jane can’t make more money?

fisherman
Nigel’s favourite book

Sex education in schools:

A life sized inflatable of Ann Widdecombe, looking angry, to be placed in every classroom with a balloon coming out of her mouth saying “Stop that revolting nonsense right now!”

The NHS:

As our MEP candidate Annunziata Rees-Mogg puts it: “Nobody I know uses the NHS. If we can afford private healthcare on top of the school fees, servants’ wages, repairs on the roofs of our stately homes and all those skiing trips and safaris – then why can’t ordinary people who send their children to secondary moderns?”

5G network and superfast broadband:

Nigel doesn’t use the internet – he says: “Let’s shut this wasteful project down and return to the penny post instead.”

Immigration:

Immigration will be limited to the many foreign born girlfriends and wives of our leaders and financial backers. Evidence if ever it were needed that immigrants take on the very nastiest jobs that nobody else is prepared to do.

Defence:

The greatest risk facing this country comes not from Russia or an expansionist China – but the threat posed by the Belgian navy. They’ve been quiet far too long and as Richard Tice says: “those mussel guzzling ersatz Frenchmen are probably up to something”. For every ship the Belgian navy builds we intend to build two. The rest of it will be plagiarized from the letters page of Richard Tice’s favourite comic.

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Defence policy

Homelessness:

Annunziata again: “Homelessness is a choice. If one has left university and can’t afford rents in Mayfair one should jolly well go home and slum it in one’s parents’ spare wing!”

Foreign Policy

Britain’s historic role has been to suck up to the United States of America. Why should we be leading the EU when we can be told what to do by Donald Trump? ‘The Donald’ as Nigel affectionately calls him – has promised us that we can have whatever trade deal America decides to give us, on terms dictated by them, at any time they so choose. If that’s not enough to get Nigel a job on the Fox Network then we really don’t know what is.

We want your suggestions:

Please add any further ideas in the comments below.

OBVIOUSLY SATIRE. No threatening emails please.

Hate Britain – how Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ conspired to ruin the lives of a young family.

In 2012, fearing the rise of UKIP and wishing to satiate the hunger of an increasingly rabid right wing press the Tory government implemented a ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy. The aim was to stem the flow of migrants into the UK by making it hard to come here, stay here or even wish to be here – while feeding off the festering tide of bigotry then taking grip in Britain – even as we prepared for the Olympics.

Home Secretary Theresa May, Britain’s most famous church goer, even boasted that she would ‘deport first and hear appeals later’ – while her department introduced a new and stringent set of rules on family migration into the UK.

As ‘Go Home’ vans toured the regions – ordinary lives were torn apart.

Among the many people affected were Andy and Molly Russell. Andy a TEFL teacher had met Molly (born Lili Shao) while working in China. Having married and had two children the couple had settled near Bath and were building a life together, even as the regulations were brought in. TEFL is a massive sector in the UK – employing thousands of mostly young graduates and adding around £1.6 billion to the UK economy (more than fishing). The benefits of a TEFL teacher’s life include the possibility of travel and potentially stimulating work – but nobody ever got rich in the profession and Andy was struggling to bring in the £18,600 which was now required if his wife was to be allowed to stay in Britain.

It was not to be.

Eventually Molly was obliged to leave the UK, Andy and her two small children, Dylan then aged 5 and Devon then 3 – and return to China.

The family spent the next year communicating via Skype and Molly became known as ‘computer Mummy’. For a year she was separated from both her husband and her two kids as Andy worked frantically to secure enough money to allow her to return. Eventually the hurdles were cleared and she was able to come back. That was in 2013.

The Russells now have three children – having had Charlie in the intervening years.

Last week, after over five years in limbo and having spent thousands of pounds on visas and paperwork, Molly’s application for indefinite leave was turned down. Despite providing evidence he had earned a salary significantly above the threshold every year since 2013…. despite proof from HMRC that national insurance and tax had been paid… despite bank statements, letters from employers, and independent verification from an accredited accountant – the Home Office turned them down. Their conclusion that Andy’s earnings were £100 below the £18,600 threshold is hotly contested by the Russells – but what hope is there for one family against the might of a faceless bureaucracy.

Now the Russells and their 3 children face more anxiety and uncertainty and the very real risk of separation.

The stress of this has naturally overwhelmed them both and taken a huge mental toll. They are obliged to begin the whole procedure over again and face more years of mental and financial torture.

Since tweeting about this at the weekend I have received emails and DMs from many other people in similar circumstances. It seems that despite her protestations of Christian faith – to fall in love and yet fall below a financial threshold in Theresa May’s Britain is to render yourself unworthy of living here. Your life and the lives of your children and loved ones are of no value – and you must be split up – returned to square one on the snakes and ladders of the immigration process.

Andy has said in a series of FB messages that he doesn’t seek publicity – or want it – all the Russells want is what anyone with young children – or indeed any of us want. The chance to live our lives. Security, a roof over our heads and the chance to get on with raising our kids – but in Brexit Britain that’s clearly a demand too far.

I have written many times before about how this otherwise great country seems intent on turning itself into a vile, mean spirited and horrid little place. The long term project to replace Great Britain with Hate Britain seems to be winning out – and Molly, Andy, Devon, Dylan and Charlie are but five of its sacrificial victims.

There’s a go fund me here.

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