5 Greatest Situationist Pranks of all time – can you spot the fake?

Comedian Simon Brodkin caused controversy and momentary havoc at the Conservative party conference this week when he interrupted the Prime Minister mid cough to hand her a P45. The jury is out on how amusing this was but situationist pranks by their nature do not have to be funny. The Situationist International movement was more about surrealism cocking a snoop at capitalism, faith and the conventions of polite society, than practical jokers having larks. It’s a fascinating movement and the  Wikipedia page makes for a genuinely good read.

I’m no purist in these matters. I would hold that at the right time and in the right moment, situationsim, like love – can happen anywhere.

There are those who make a distinction between hoaxes, cons, pranks and tomfoolery but really, any of the above done well, could be considered a work of art.

Here, in no particular order are five personal favourites. One of them itself – is a fraud. Can you spot it?

1: The Dreadnought Hoax:

In February 1910, the Commander of HMS Dreadnought, then moored in Portland Harbour, received a telegram from the Foreign Office, informing him that an Abyssinian Prince and his entourage were on their way to review The Fleet. Later that day, the elaborately dressed dignitaries descended from a train which had been chartered for them in London and were duly treated to a full display by the Royal Navy’s finest ships. Claiming not to speak any English, they had brought a translator with them – who proceeded to decipher their gibberish before the ‘Prince’ attempted to bestow honours upon the senior officers. In fact this exotic bunch were a group of writers and artists, including a young Virginia Woolf and lead by inveterate hoaxer Horace Cole. Their motive doesn’t matter. The bar for subsequent pranksters had been set very high indeed.

dreadnought hoax

2: The Man who sold Nelson:

In 1923 an American millionaire visiting London was whiling away a leisurely morning in Trafalgar Square admiring the 170 foot high column and the lions at its base when he was approached by the “official square guide.” After a little factual introduction and background on the late lamented Admiral the guide went on to explain that at some point in the near future it would all have to be pulled down, as the risk of falling masonry posed a threat to passers-by. Britain, he explained, was broke as a result of the Great War and could not afford to meet the upkeep of her national monuments any longer. Indeed, the guide went on, the government was thinking of selling things off to pay for the cost of war. The American was flabbergasted but at the same time thrilled. This column was just the thing to ornament his garden in Iowa.

“How much?”

“Six thousand pounds.”

A cheque was given, made out to “cash” and an official receipt received and it was only, days later, when the American contacted a bemused building firm owner in the hope that he might help in the dismantling of Nelson’s Column it that the swindle was revealed. Arthur Furguson, the genius behind this con was later to sell both Big Ben and The Eiffel Tower – but this was his masterpiece.

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3: The Spaghetti harvest

In 1957 Panorama  broadcast a three minute item about the booming spaghetti harvest. This short straight faced April Fool remains the high water mark of broadcast tom-foolery and with the advent of google – would now be impossible to replicate

4: The Notre Dame Affair

On Easter Sunday, 1950, mid-way through a live broadcast of mass, the French viewing public were stunned, when a Dominican monk climbed into the pulpit of Paris’s most famous cathedral and began to deliver an extraordinary faux sermon. The friar denounced the Catholic Church for its ‘funereal morality’ before declaring that God was dead with the immortal line:

“Nous clamons la mort du Christ-Dieu pour qu’enfin vive l’Homme”

(We proclaim the death of the Christ-god, so that Man may live at last.)

The monk – Michel Mourre – actually a member of the avant-garde Lettrist movement was arrested along with his co-conspirators but the Police and authorities did not wish to inflame the situation and after briefly being committed to an asylum – he was let go.

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5: The ‘James’ Ossuary

In 2002 The Discovery Channel and the Biblical Archaeology Society co-hosted a press conference in Washington in which they made an explosive statement. A collector had come forward with a 1st century ‘ossuary’ – a stone coffin used for keeping bones in accordance with Jewish custom of that period.

It was one of several that had been found in the Silwan area in the Kidron Valley in Israel and it had a quite remarkable inscription on the side that had far reaching historical and religious implications. For this simple stone tub claimed once to have held the bones of:

“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

The delicate state of the ossuary seemed to confirm its date. Scholars concurred that the mention of a brother would be quite possible “if” that sibling was a significant person. Here was apparent “concrete” proof for the existence of Jesus Christ.

The problem is that you can’t (in the words of Spinal Tap) dust for stone.

When doubts were raised over the authenticity of the antiquity, Oded Golan, the entrepreneur who had come forward with the artefact protested his innocence, insisting he had acquired the tomb in good faith. He was put on trial and after years eventually acquitted. Arguments continue to rage over the legitimacy of the ‘relic.’ Thousands of words have been written and documentaries made but ask yourself this – if it is real….. isn’t it just a little bit too good to be true?

Prank? Hoax? Crime? Perhaps we will never know – but perhaps someone somewhere is reading this – and smiling.

Did you spot the fraud?

The Book of Brexit – the humiliation of St Theresa

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And at that time there was great uncertainty across the land – and there was talk of a new teacher who would deliver the children from the yoke. And a man, whose name was Nigel, came out of the wilderness and began to preach and gathered crowds and made a lot of empty promises while talking in riddles that did not make sense.

He was not that Light but was sent to bear witness to that Light. And people said: “What is this light you speak of?” And he said: “Lo – it is the Kingdom of Brexit and it is more a shade of dark blue – though there are those who argue that it is black.”

And after a while later he said: “I shall leave you now and go to see if I might get a job with the Fox network – but there standeth among you a woman, not a leadsom, who will deliver it instead and grant you the Kingdom while I shout abuse from the other side of the lake.”

And he was taken away, but his spirit remained, on LBC and occasionally BBC question time.

And the people were afraid and wondered at what they had done and then – as foretold by Nigel a woman appeared – Theresa, the daughter of Hubert and she began to preach among the people of Albion in a dry and flat voice.

And once when they were all gathered at their devices, she told her disciples “Brexit means Brexit” and the crowd asked of her “but what does that mean?” And she repeated again “Brexit means Brexit” but her followers remained none the wiser and so asked a third time: “But seriously what does it mean?” And she remained silent and did underwhelm them.

And Theresa did endeavour to deliver this thing which nobody really understood, least of all herself and the Faragsees began to murmur among themselves that this “woman will not deliver.”

Now among the disciples closest to her was a man, Boris the Shifty and he doubted her words and looked down on her as ‘not really being our sort of chap’ while publicly saying he did not and saw an opportunity to filleth the inches of his column and the wages of his sin and the night before the party conference she turned to him and said:

“Before this week is over you will have betrayed me 30 times.”

And he did look at her with pity in his eyes and say: “You clearly underestimate my aptitude for disloyalty.”

And he did go to the Faragees and plot but really it was not necessary for her fate had been written from the beginning by her startling ineptitude.

The day of her humiliation dawned with much expectation – and she was taken to a place they called The Manchester Central Conference centre – which means the place of the skull – and she was taunted and mocked by a man with a P45 and as the guards led him away she spluttered and said:

“Blessed are the childless women….” Before starting to cough really badly and again she started saying something about “the British Dream….” and how “places for 3 and 4 year olds have doubled under this government.” But her voice ran dry and she cried out for water which was given and the social media did mock her and she did cry out a fourth time in desperation: “in the 1970s it was scientists in Oxford who invented lithium batteries that make mobile telephones work.”

And the crowd did shake their heads.

And wonder.

And when her humiliation was finished, they cut her down from the podium and took her away and at that moment the great opinion in the Temple split in two and the Earth opened and the people were even more afraid and wished that none of this crap had happened in the first place.

boris foreign

The Defenestrator – David Davis J’Accuse

David Davis is brought before our frankly terrifying judge

David Davis, you come before us charged with incompetence, cowardice and dereliction of duty.

Before I pass judgement let me review the facts of this case.

Stand up straight man and wipe that ridiculous leer off your face.

We are told today that you wish to quit as Brexit Secretary in 2019, long before anything is finalised, leaving Doris Johnson to steer the nation on to the iceberg instead. We are told that you see the role of Brexit Secretary as your last big job – much as an ill-mannered ruffian might refer a recent turd that refuses to flush. You’ve certainly helped create an awful mess and a terrible stink and I suspect all the water on Earth won’t remedy that nor swill it away.

There is nothing to smirk about at all. Straighten your tie.

Never shy of mentioning the fact that you were “in the SAS” I see that that you were never actually a full time soldier. You joined the Territorial Army in order to pay your way through university, much as you were later to become Brexit Secretary in order to pay your way through lunch.

From university you went to Tate and Lyle – where you worked for 17 years and developed a habit for sugar (6 spoonfuls a cup) while selling obesity and rotten teeth to the nation. While there you lobbied the firm to bung cash Neil Hamilton’s way – supporting him in his libel case against the BBC.

Tate and Lyle incidentally is one of the very few big businesses to be benefitting from Brexit, but we are all very satisfied that your former role there has nothing to do with your later deeply held ideological opposition to the European Union. Very satisfied indeed.

And then in 1988 you began your itinerant “political journey” in much the same way that a man leaving a nightclub at 3 a.m. might begin his.

No you might not break for lunch.

As a whip in John Major’s government in 1992 you became known as an enforcer, facing down 70 potentially rebellious MPs to push through THE MAASTRICHT TREATY which cemented the foundations of the EU and our place within it. Yes. The Maastricht Treaty that created the European Union. That thing. Without your “soft touch” in the corridors of Westminster the UK might never have ratified the treaty.

Happily for you, the public seemingly have the collective memory of a decapitated goldfish that has been put through a blender. You have flourished in an environment where soundbites and stupidity rather than ‘integrity’ or ‘ability’ create political careers. As with all the other Brexiteers you have been little more than a professional heckler for most of your political life. A Shadow Secretary of State. A Shadow Home Secretary. A Shadow of a Statesman.

When you were finally offered the chance to enter the government and actually ‘do things’ by David Cameron, you turned him down – preferring instead to shout jeers from the touchline and discover your inner populist right wing Farage. Now – having won your Brexit victory – you are left standing with it – like a pissed monkey with a primed torpedo – unsure of what to do next.

You, Davis, have led this country into this mess. You, Davis, have been charged with leading us through the most treacherous and potentially chaotic period in our post-war history and yet in all those decades of sneering you appear never to have bothered to have read up on the EU or our relationship with it.

Over the last few years you have claimed that the EU Commission passes laws. It doesn’t.

You have claimed that the UK can broker individual deals with the EU. It can’t.

You have said that post Brexit – the UK will be able to secure free trade deals “ten times the size of the EU” – or in real terms ‘nearly twice the size of the actual global economy’ – or in plain English “bollocks.”

Not understanding the labyrinthine scale of the EU and our relationship with it may be understandable (if you weren’t the Brexit Secretary). Not understanding basic mathematics is not.

As this nightmare has coasted from one catastrophe to another you have made your country look ridiculous. You are laughed at on the continent – ridiculed as unprepared, ill-informed and out of your depth. The only foreign words you seem to understand are ‘non’ and ‘dejeuner’. Rather than bothering with your brief, you have another pint.

If you adjudged that Brexit would be a success you would want to remain and take the glory and yet as the slow curse of this idiocy kicks in you have clearly had a moment of clarity. Like all politicans you have perhaps wondered how history might judge you and having realised that it ‘doesn’t look good’ done what no real SAS man would – run away.

Your political legacy has demonstrated only that a man gifted with little apparent talent, skill, intelligence, wit, charm or ability can rise to the very top of power and British politics. I’m not sure if that is our shame or yours.

Either way – TAKE HIM AWAY GIRLS.

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Exclusive: “Rees-Mogg” talks chlorinated chicken, Moggmentum, Vince Cable and misery

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“Jacob Rees-Mogg” answers our questionnaire:

__1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Lunch surrounded by one’s family. Sunday lunch is a quintessential part of any Englishman’s weekly routine and one of the many benefits of Brexit is that we will soon, once again, have chlorinated chicken firmly back on the menu. It is perfectly safe of course. Indeed, as anyone with a General Certificate in Chemistry could tell you it is not only safe, but adds a dulcet “swimming pool” aroma to one’s meal. Since the EU banned it, one has been obliged to add one’s own chlorine at meal times.

 __2.__On what occasions do you lie?

One never lies. One reclines.

__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

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__4.__What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Ever since the EU Referendum last year, one section of our country has been mired in chumpery. A cottage industry has grown out of misery and doom-mongery – as liberal types busy themselves in newspaper columns and wireless interviews, accusing the government of being directionless, or pointing to the crashing pound and spiralling inflation and saying it was all a beastly idea to leave the EU. Balderdash of course for on the contrary, the Brexit negotiations have been trotting along very happily indeed. Our position is clear.  We want everything we have already, along with all the other things that we don’t have and we don’t want to pay a penny for it.

__5.__What is your greatest extravagance?

One lives a very frugal life. The upkeep of the Bentley is one’s gift to future generations and thus not so much an extravagance, more a public duty. I suppose one could have one or two fewer homes and a smaller number of servants, but good staff are very hard to come by and take years of training so I see their employ as a long term investment.  One does not want to be accused of overindulgence however and so last year when we took a rare family holiday to California I did ensure that the children and nanny flew in business class. It is essential that one’s offspring meet ordinary people now and then.

__7.__What is your current state of mind?

I am thrilled at the prospect of us leaving the EU. As the Chinese economy continues to boom, the sweat factories of South East Asia will need to move somewhere else and once rid of all that silly health and safety legislation I can envisage a bright future for Britain making cheap plastic toys for global markets. Brexit will undoubtedly have short term consequences on our imports and as we rely on the EU for so much of our food there will perhaps be a period of readjustment. This could be a very good thing. It is my hope that a system of rationing could be introduced – to make sure that the working man has a healthier diet. This in turn could resolve our current “obesity epidemic.” If one looks at photographs of chaps during the Blitz very few of them are “fat.” There is a good reason for that. There was no food.

__8.__What is your ambition?

One is very flattered to be touted about as the “Prime Minister in waiting” but it is all simply a bit of fun. That said, if the nation were to demand it of one it would be very bad manners to refuse. One is not measuring the curtains just yet however as that is the job of a qualified seamstress.

__9.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Tolerance. One of the great comforts of a Catholic upbringing is that one can merrily go about the place condemning other life-styles without having to sign up to the preposterous notion of “political correctness.” Take abortion for example. One frequently meets tiresome characters who say things along the lines of “but the Bible doesn’t mention abortion” or “where in the good book does it say that one should persecute homosexuals?” People are entitled to think whatsoever they might like of course, but in both cases they are entirely missing the point. Church is much like one’s school, in that while the rules and traditions might make no sense whatsoever, they exist, have done so for many years and should thus be respected and preserved that they might be passed on to the next generation.

__10.__Which living person do you most despise?

“Vince” Cable who is undoubtedly the most dangerous man in the world at the moment. One should be very wary indeed of the sort of chap who goes on caravanning holidays and has an “en suite” in his “loft extension.”

__12.__What qualities do you most like in a man?

A well-made suit and a natural aversion to kedgeree.

__13.__What is the quality you most like in a woman?

A propensity for silence.

__14.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Do you have any lopado­temacho­selacho­galeo­kranio­leipsano­drim­hypo­trimmato­silphio­parao­melito­katakechy­meno­kichl­epi­kossypho­phatto­perister­alektryon­opte­kephallio­kigklo­peleio­lagoio­siraio­baphe­tragano­pterygon on the menu?” They rarely do.

 __15.__What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Continentals might fall in love; Englishmen have stout socks and long underwear to prevent against that sort of thing.

__16.__When and where were you happiest?

Happiness is terribly déclassé.

__17.__What is your most treasured possession?

Nanny.

__18.__What do you most value in your friends?

Fortitude. Many good chums suffered terrible hardships after the economic crash in 2008. In some cases they had to let good staff go, or close up entire wings of their homes during the winter months. There is much talk of the squeezed middle classes, but this is a dreadful calumny against the travails of the squeezed upper classes. One has heard distressing tales of children being sent to second eleven public schools, or being obliged to drink non-vintage wine.  One good friend was obliged to budget for his annual holiday in Bali – by “saving up.” We haven’t spoken since, lest the whole ghastly experience embarrass him.

__23.__What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

One has never known misery. Sadness perhaps. Of course like all children I was a little home sick when I first got sent to prep school aged six. The building seemed very unprepossessing. It was gothic and smelt a little ripe and obviously one wants to be seen to fit in, make a good impression and get on with things; but one felt a little trepidation – perhaps. One had heard the most ghastly things about being beaten or “flushed” by the older children and one was naturally a little apprehensive. In all the flurry of arriving and departing I missed my parents and didn’t have the opportunity to shake their hands good-bye. Which was a pity – but one just got on with things.

__24.__What is your favourite occupation?

“Flushed” was when one was grabbed by the other children and held above a lavatory, while they brayed like hyenas and pushed one’s head into the bowl.

__25.__What is your most marked characteristic?

Of course one was not alone in being on the receiving end of these sorts of hi-jinks.

__26__Who are your favourite writers?

Keats was a great comfort. The other boys would try to make fun of one and so I would regularly go and hide somewhere and read Keats.

__27__Who is your hero of fiction?

One night, long after I had drifted off to sleep, a group of the chaps woke me by pulling me from my bed. Lamp-posting I believe they called it. Despite my protestations they managed to get hold of my glasses, which I had hidden beneath my pillow and threw them from one to another – until the ring-leader – who now heads a major EU think tank – decided to dispense with them through the window. I found them the following morning – lost among the petunias at the bottom of the building.

__28.__Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I remember feeling rather alone. Father was terribly busy though and one didn’t want to

__29.__Who are your heroes in real life?

Bother him – one was expected to soldier on. To just get on with it. And so one did. One just got on with it. And put everything else – to the back of one’s mind.

 

(As told to Otto English – satire)

Hot Pin: 5 thrillingly “EU” things about the UKIP Conference

 

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As UKIP gathers for what surely must be their last death throes (er I mean conference) in Torquay, one might be forgiven for thinking that this limping wreck of a party has chosen, in the dimming light of its autumn years, to celebrate the contribution the European Union has made to Great Britain.

1:            An EU funded Venue

The party has chosen (once again) to host its conference at a venue generously built with funds given to it by …….the European Union. The Riviera Centre in Torquay was built in the 1980s with the help of a £3 million EU grant

2:            German Keynote Speakers

UKIP continues to seek closer ties with other European political movements and the resurgence of the far right in Germany has obviously set their hearts aflutter, in much the same way that their political forebears, the BUF, swooned over that moustachioed lance corporal from Linz. A senior member of the AFD  is on their way to Torquay and will address the conference.

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3:            An immigrant leader?

Anne Marie Waters, current favourite to become UKIP leader, is an interesting fish in many ways but she’s not one that could be caught in British waters, on account of her “not being British”. The sometime Pegida leader and chum of pint-sized Tommy Robinson is  an EU immigrant. Born in the Republic of Ireland, educated in the Republic of Ireland, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland – she’s as British as the Blarney Stone.

UPDATE – The party has instead elected the relatively unknown former army officer Henry Bolton. Henry too is an immigrant, having been born and raised in Kenya. Thrillingly Henry has married not one but two European emigres. His first wife was Danish, his second Tatiana is Russian. Clearly UKIP’s concerns about immigrants do not stretch to their leaders, the leadership runners up, the leaders wives, ex wives or girlfriends. Very reassuring.

4:            A European Party – funded by the EU

Perhaps the greatest irony about UKIP is that the party would never have existed without the EU. It is a product of European politics, bankrolled almost entirely by Europe. The party may have 7 AMs at the Welsh Assembly (out of 60) but this is hardly going to be a springboard to forming the next government. Despite losing both Helmer (who resigned over misuse of funds) and Janice Atkinson (who resigned over misuse of receipts) UKIP MEPs still make up the largest single group in terms of British representation. Without the funding it receives from the EU parliament UKIP would (and will) go the way of Monty Python’s Norwegian blue.  Sadly things haven’t gone well recently with the “failing EU project” starting to ask  horrid questions   like “where has all the money we gave you gone” and even nastier things like “we aren’t going to give you any more.”

5:            As the delegates make their way to the sea-front to soak up the last rays of the dying sun they might be tempted to dip their toes in the sea, or dig their feet in the sand. If  so, they can paddle safe in the knowledge that this regenerated strip of sand has been made habitable by EU laws which forced Britain’s government in the 1980s to stop pumping shit onto our coastlines.

There’s an obvious joke to make at this point, but you won’t find it here.

 

Owen Jones: Proust’s questionnaire (as told to Otto English)

__1.__What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sitting in my favourite chair with a nice cup of mint tea reading Tony Benn’s collected diaries. I don’t drink proper tea, on account of it being theft.

__2.__What is your greatest fear?

That one day centrist Dads will wrestle power and the means of production from the oppressed working man. And woman.

__3.__What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My Mum says I don’t take enough care of my shoes, so probably that.

__4.__What is the trait you most deplore in others?

That the MSM and those who work for it have systematically ignored Jeremy Corbyn’s quiet revolution. Just one example: In Brighton last week I spoke at a Momentum fringe event on the challenges facing a radical left government, particularly with regard to sustainable energy provision in the Midlands and it didn’t make any of the tabloids or broadsheets. Not mentioned at all on Sky or The BBC 10 O’clock News. And worst of all – nobody turned up. Now you have to ask yourself why that is. I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy – but it is something like a conspiracy don’t you think?

__5.__Which living person do you most admire?

Jeremy Corbyn’s partner. Don’t know how she stays so composed. If I were her, I’d just be squealing with excitement every morning at the prospect of another day in his life. I’d keep dropping plates.

__6.__What is your greatest extravagance?

A slice of mild cheddar, a high baked water biscuit and a teaspoon of bespoke piccalilli.

__7.__What is your current state of mind?

Rage at the injustices of our age. I’m a fighter. Have been all my life. Not a physical fighter because I’m a pacifist. And a feminist. Once I back a cause I will certainly travel somewhere to talk about it. It’s important to believe in things. And then turn up.

__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Consistency. Being consistent, doesn’t always make you right. Take the EU. I said back in 2015 that we should leave given that it was the historic position of the left. But then when the official Labour position was declared to be “Remain” I changed my mind and campaigned tirelessly via my twitter feed to protect the rights of migrant workers and the disenfranchised working class. Now I think we should leave because that is what party policy is and I will fight for that cause until such time as it is changed.

__9.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Jeremy is absolutely right.

__10.__Which living person do you most admire?

Jeremy.

__11.__If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Jeremy.

__12.__ What or who is the greatest love of your life

Don’t make me say it again.

__13.__What is your earliest memory?

When I was about 10, my friend’s Mum took us to watch The Lion King at The Odeon in Manchester. As this tale of undeserved privilege and feudal royalty unfolded, a sense of injustice began to burn in me. Why should the other animals bow down before him and his father – simply because one of Simba’s ancestors had stolen the land and imposed an undemocratic hierarchical autocracy on them all? When the hyenas and wildebeest rose up against the imperial power of King Mufasa and crushed him under their hooves I got up on my chair and cheered them on wildly – until an usherette intervened and asked us all to leave the cinema. I went straight home and read The Communist Manifesto from cover to cover. I’ve been a Socialist ever since.

__14.__What is your most treasured possession?

A signed photograph of Hector Hughes. MP for Aberdeen North from 1945 to 1970. Wrote the Ghanaian national anthem.  My second greatest political hero.

__15.__ What is something very few people know about you?

I run a small tortoise sanctuary in the garden of my flat. Kids locally don’t know me as “Owen Jones the socialist thinker and writer on big important things” but “Mr Tortoise.” People have been bringing me their unwanted terrapins for several years now. Tortoises can live for well over 100 years, so as I often point out to my friends that: “these incredible creatures will still be with us, long after Jeremy has established a bright new socialist utopia in the United Kingdom.”

Very comforting animals – tortoises.

(as told to Otto English – satire)

How to stop Brexit: Remain needs a Carswell and a second referendum

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One of the great flaws with democracy is that in chasing votes, mainstream political parties inevitably propagate the dual myths of “The People” and their phantasmagoric partner “Will.” When you hear politicians talk about “The People” it’s easy to imagine them (us?) as a quasi-mystical, forever intrigued, Greek Chorus –  wandering about the place conjuring up exciting ideas. In reality of course “The People” are more likely best represented by ‘Dave and Jude’ down the pub, who while away their lives sharing cat pictures on Facebook.

Thatcher famously said that there was “no such thing as society” – and was rightly condemned for it. If she’d said there was no such thing as “The People” I for one might well have been inclined to agree with her. Individuals may share beliefs, languages and identities with others in the same geographical proximity, but to suggest that there is some homogenous group of 65 million diverse homo-sapiens, with a divine collective “will” that can be served – to the happiness and benefit of all – is a pile of bollocks, heaped on bollocks, atop bollock peak. With an enormous bollock topping.

The Brexit referendum took the toxic combination of “the People” and their “Will” and mixed it, in much the same way that oxygen mixes with aluminium powder. Now the aluminium oxide has spoken, the kitchen has burnt down and those of us who said it would happen are expected to ‘accept it’ and ‘move on’ and help clear up the mess.

Despite what Mr Farage might tell you, “The people” who did vote for Brexit did so for a Bassett’s Allsorts of reasons and blue passports were way down that list. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation did research into this last year and found that groups vulnerable to poverty, or those who felt left behind or with low educational achievements were most likely to have voted Brexit. I for one have enormous sympathy with those who feel forgotten, but their woes have little to do with the EU and a lot more to do with the failings of successive British governments in Westminster. Leaving Europe won’t improve their life chances and opportunities – if anything it might make them a lot worse.

There were other groups of course. The Labour Lexiteers (very much The Angus Steakhouse Folk Band of the Leave scene) and that big mad bunch of Faragists who see Brexit as a vote for nostalgia; a whimsical return to the Britain of the good old days, when you could beat your children with a belt, fly spitfires, shoot Germans and make ‘Paki’ jokes on TV without being labelled a racist.

No ‘one group’ won the referendum by themselves with a single collective ‘will’ for the simple reason that that ‘will’ is a myth and many didn’t even know what they were voting for. The vote to leave the EU was more a perfect storm of bad moods coming together than rational collective political thought.

So how to stop it?

The good news is that many of the methods that were deployed to lead us into the current Brexit nightmare can be used to fight back against it. Chief among those is the referendum option. To misquote Billy Joel: “we might all know the people thing is only make believe but now it’s time to fight the fire with fire.”

As Brexshitshambles continues, it seems that “the People” (yes them – see what I’m doing here) are keen to have one. And remember folks “the People” are what it is all about. In the last week alone we have seen a new petition calling for a referendum on the outcome of negotiations reach over the 100k threshold.

Meanwhile, research published by GQRR demonstrates that just over 50% of voters (a majority, get over it) back a second referendum with that figure rising to 70% among Labour voters. Corbyn might wish to put Brexit on the back-burner but for how much longer can he ignore his own support base?

Some argue that a second referendum is too risky and that we should simply attempt to stop Brexit through parliamentary process. That I am afraid is a fantasy. It would lead to decades of accusations of betrayal and anyway, despite the majority of MP’s broadly disagreeing with Brexit, both big parties have committed to it. Labour picked up votes at the last election specifically from the Remainers  – but that doesn’t seem to have registered with the pro Brexit Jezza either, who insists it’s all his own fabulous success story, as he helps push the country back to 1972.

Referendums might be the undemocratic tools of demagogues and tyrants, yes, but there is really no alternative. The final battle must be fought. The dragon must be slain.

While May and Corbyn might oppose a 2nd referendum, voices outside of Westminster, including Sadiq Khan, have started to raise the possibility and the consensus is building. Consensus is one thing, momentum is another. What is required now is for some of the key Remain players at Westminster to step up and show a bit of backbone. Remain needs trouble-makers, headline grabbers and MPs willing to desert their parties. May and Corbyn need to be hit where it hurts. Remain needs not one Carswell but several from across the political divide. There is no need to set up a new party or to defect to the Lib Dems; given the current fine balance in the Commons just one Remain MP resigning the whip from either major party and declaring themselves a Remain Independent would fire a warning shot across the bows. Two would focus the mind. Five would send shockwaves through the “Brexit establishment.”

Of course there is a real risk that having got a second referendum, “the people” will speak again and vote once again to leave the EU. If that is the case then so be it. I think at that point the pro-EU camp would be obliged to lay down the banners and withdraw from the battlefield. But one thing is certain, if you care about this country and its future, that final battle must be fought.

“The things we do not need to talk about!” A sneak preview of Corbyn’s Labour Conference speech – (featuring Owen Jones)

Pin Prick offers a sneak peak of how the Labour leader’s speech might come across on Wednesday.

Image result for corbyn conference

RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE

JC:    Thank you. Thank you.

You know people come up to me all the time and say: “Jeremy, what happened? The Tories, the so-called mainstream media and the pollsters all predicted you would lose the last election and yet you pulled off the greatest landslide in post-war history? How did they get it so wrong and you get it so right?” And I say to these people – “Owen, this is the new kind of politics! A politics of the many not the few. A politics that is very different to the intolerant Blair years, for the simple reason that Momentum won’t tolerate those people joining us any more.”

RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE

At the last election the British people sent out a very clear message. They said they’d had enough of austerity politics and the failing Tory government. The people spoke and what they said they wanted was for myself and the Labour Party to lead the country forward with Theresa May and the Conservative party at the helm.

I for one am humbled by the responsibility they have placed in my hands.

RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE

Conference, earlier this week rumours were flying around, that we were not going to discuss ‘something’; that we were indeed scared of ‘it’. Let me here and now address that thing, plainly and honestly, while not mentioning it explicitly in any way. The simple truth of the matter is that while there are issues, they can be compartmentalised into the things we need to talk about and the things we do not need to talk about. The things we need to talk about include ‘should I be a giant hologram?’  and ‘Oh! Look over there!” The things we don’t need to talk about include that thing we don’t need to talk about. And Ken Livingstone’s views about Hitler.

But still the voices of discontent rage. “Talk about the other thing!” they say, “the thing you aren’t talking about!” Well I am. I am doing that now. And in fact I am not sure how I could be making it much clearer. Our policy on it could not be more different from the Tories if we tried, in that our version of “it” will have a nice picture of a rose at the top – while theirs will not.

As Owen put it to me last night: “Why are Blairites so obsessed with discussing this thing we have no need of discussing? If you ask me, all the problems with modern Britain can be put down to centrist Dads on twitter. The country spoke in June 2016. Everyone should move on. And stop talking about it.”

I think he’s quite right.

Don’t you?

 

RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE