Only Tories Allowed


Reflecting on the anti-Corbyn media maelstrom of the last few weeks, I think we’ve reached a stage where the only party allowed to win general elections is the Conservative Party.

Now, obviously, when I say ‘allowed’, I don’t mean that I think the assembled lizards of the Illuminati High Council decide which government we get. It’s not quite that rigged. And as Corbyn’s victory has shown, the establishment isn’t as all-powerful as it and we often think.

But I reckon the only political force the corporate-financial elite won’t do everything in its power to squash are the Tories. Because the Tories are the corporate-financial elite. Cameron, Osborne and friends are just its parliamentary wing, in the same way that the colossally influential, criminally impartial news media is its public mouthpiece. Continue reading “Only Tories Allowed”

GE2015 and Beyond: Anarch-ish

Super Mario's sister joins anti-government protests outside Downing Street
Super Mario’s sister joins anti-government protests outside Downing Street

This week, the liberal papers are full of chipper editorials all called something like ‘reasons to be cheerful’ that try and pick some positives out of Thursday’s electoral cataclysm. But there aren’t any.

Yes, Nick Clegg’s gone. Nigel Farage didn’t get in. Esther McVey, Danny Alexander, Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy and Mark Reckless all lost. Caroline Lucas kept her seat. Aside from Katy Clark, the one really regrettable casualty of the SNP surge, Labour’s few remaining left-wingers were re-elected, often with increased support.

And the Tories might have a parliamentary majority, but it’s one of the smallest in history. Bigger leads have dwindled to nothing in the past, as MPs died or stood down. Rebellious Tory backbenchers could make Cameron’s life a misery, as they did to John Major in the early ‘90s.

But that’s all pitiful up against the tsunami of human misery a Tory majority government will go on to unleash – “five more years of pure evil”, as Ken Livingstone aptly put it.

Continue reading “GE2015 and Beyond: Anarch-ish”

London Isn’t Very Equal (Part Three) – Canary Wharf

The oligarch's den
The oligarch’s den

Click here for Part One.

… and here for Part Two.

Our unexpectedly politicised amble around the capital had been equal parts fascinating and grim, but it was time to go. The rubbery sandwiches on the coach back to Somerset weren’t going to eat themselves.

Despite our rampaging cynicism, The Bemolution is a sucker for a poetic conclusion. And of all the places we could’ve ended our London adventure, a climactically big square surrounded by international banks seemed especially apt considering everything we’d seen, thought and talked about along the way.

It was completely by accident. We thought we’d try and squeeze in a last rendezvous with a third friend – sassy and savage-witted writer type from home, spent two maddening years bombarding the capital with fruitless job applications, finally got hired and is now doing quite well – before making a mad dash across London to catch the last escape pod out of Hammersmith Bus Station. Travelling to meet her in Greenwich, our witless provincial brain almost overloaded trying to work out where the Jubilee Line met the DLR – you have to physically leave one station at Canary Wharf and walk to another, it took us an embarrassingly long time to realise. And as we glided ethereally up the escalator and emerged from the glass Teletubby dome of the station entrance, it suddenly hit us that Canary Wharf was that Canary Wharf. Continue reading “London Isn’t Very Equal (Part Three) – Canary Wharf”

London Isn’t Very Equal (Part Two) – To Tower Hamlets

London remains scandalously unequal
London remains scandalously unequal

Click here for Part One

From London and its most gentrified and fake, we go the city at its poorest and most raw.

Leaving gentrified Bermondsey, we went to visit another friend. We knew Compadre #2 from school days in Somerset, when she was a warm, caring, alternative type who wrote and sang her own songs. She still is warm, caring and alternative, thankfully, but has chucked in the guitar and the lashings of emo-standard black eyeliner for a job in a small music promotions company.

It’s laughable to look back on now – especially given where we’d just come from – but at school we called her ‘posh’. She lived in a slightly nicer part of town and her dad had a reasonably well-paid job. In truth, they were just about middle class, and probably didn’t bring in a whole lot more than the average household income.

Now she lives in Tower Hamlets, one of the most glaringly unequal parts of the country, let alone London. It’s hugely deprived – 42% of its children are impoverished, the highest proportion anywhere in Britain, and its richest inhabitants live about 11 years longer than its poorest ones. But it’s just a few minutes east of the oligarch’s den itself, the City, and the gleaming phalluses of the bank buildings dominate the horizon. A relatively small number of super-rich residents pull the borough’s average income up to £58,000 a year – the second-highest in the country – and its proximity to the biggest financial hub outside Wall Street gives it an economy worth £68bn. Its house prices have gone up a mind-bending 43% since last year. Continue reading “London Isn’t Very Equal (Part Two) – To Tower Hamlets”

Why Does Cheryl Cole Exist?

Our Cheryl
Our Cheryl

Observations on music, why people like what they like and one of pap pop’s loveliest, most endearingly dimpled investment opportunities

Why does Cheryl Cole exist? Cheryl Cole the Novocastrian living organism-turned-Popstars: The Rivals auditionee obviously exists because Mr and Mrs Tweedy decided to jiggily get with it sometime in late 1982, possibly to numb the pain of Thatcherism’s continued political predominance. Accounting for her existence as a cultural phenomenon, though, is a lot more difficult.

Cheryl Cole is the reigning British champion of Why The Hell Are You So Famous. She’s probably a very nice person. Nothing apart from that time when she battered a nightclub toilet attendant in a dispute over a lollipop suggests otherwise. But she has no discernible talent whatsoever.

Despite this, in the prevailing state of organised insanity we call a society, our Cheryl’s still managed to rake in multimillion pound record deals with Polydor and Universal, a £500,000 sponsorship deal with L’Oreal Paris, a similar-sized contract to help flog Coke Zero and a £14m personal fortune. Her debut solo record, 2009’s 3 Words, quickly went platinum, then shifted over a million units. Her autobiography sold 300,000 copies, bringing in more than £2.5m. And as a judge on ITV’s The X Factor, she was rapidly elevated to Nation’s Sweetheart status, as millions understandably warmed to her inoffensive, unpretentious, compassionate on-screen persona and, yes, physical gorgeousness. Continue reading “Why Does Cheryl Cole Exist?”

Oh dear: Growth, Mr Osborne and the ‘UK economy’s’ lovely recovery (Part Two)

Spot the 'recovery'
Spot the ‘recovery’

Read Part One here.

The strange thing about neoliberalism – privatisations, deregulation, ‘the market always knows best’, tax cuts for the riches, implacable hostility to government intervention in the economy and the redistribution of wealth – is that despite the general, all-consuming obsession with economic growth, it’s not the best way of bringing it about.

Its fervid disciples will claim it is until the cows come home to find the dairy’s been closed and they’ve all been made redundant. It’s a way of growing the economy, certainly – very far from the best. But it’s definitely the most reliable way of growing the economy in a manner that benefits the richest people the most – in the same way that austerity isn’t the best and only way out of the financial crisis, just the one that inconveniences the rich and powerful the least, leaving them very well placed to consolidate their hold over politics and economics in the ensuing chaos. Continue reading “Oh dear: Growth, Mr Osborne and the ‘UK economy’s’ lovely recovery (Part Two)”

Oh dear: Growth, Mr Osborne and the ‘UK economy’s’ lovely recovery

Doing very nicely thank you very much
The City: doing very nicely thank you very much

The ‘UK recovery’ isn’t really the UK’s at all – it’s the richest 10%’s, and represents the revival of the kind of grossly unequal, unstable and ecologically catastrophic economy that got us in this mess in the first place.

George Obsorne was on the telly talking about growth, and he looked very pleased with himself. Not a last-minute hormonal spurt making him finally tall enough to ride the log flume at Alton Towers, not the sudden, much-delayed maturation of his long-lost empathy glands making him go home and rethink his life – growth of the dry, dead-behind-the-eyes economic variety.

The Office of National Statistics has reported that the UK economy grew by 0.8% over the last three months. Compared to the sluggish expansion we’ve seen in the six years since the financial crisis, that’s relatively fast. More significantly, it’s taken us above where we were in 2008 – for the first time, the UK economy is now bigger than it was before the financial crash knocked it off its steady upward trajectory. Continue reading “Oh dear: Growth, Mr Osborne and the ‘UK economy’s’ lovely recovery”