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We’ve just witnessed a seismic event in our national history; I’m fairly certain of that. The Grenfell Tower disaster will be talked about for weeks, and written about for decades. The working classes, who have generally been patronised, written off and demonised by the media and establishment since Thatcher’s day, have a voice again, but only in the aftermath of a delirious nightmare come true.

 

You cannot listen to any of the residents’ stories without welling up with grief or fury at the injustice of this catastrophe. Mothers throwing children from high-rise windows; frantic narrow escapes involving vaulting over piles of corpses; trapped people screaming in desperation as death enveloped them. This must have been as close to a manifestation of Hell as the human mind could conceive.

 

Safe in my family postwar council home, I got up and watched the news footage in genuine astonishment. My first thought, other than horror at the people caught in the nightmare, was the intensity and scale of the inferno. How could a modern building be so consumed so quickly? Even my modest knowledge of fire prevention told me that fires do not spread like that unless there is an accelerant involved; certainly not if there are sprinklers or fire retardant material on every floor. The reports confirm the first response team arrived a mere six minutes after the alarm was raised, and yet the building was absolutely engulfed from the fourth to top floors as it was still being battled, and took hours to bring under control.

 

People disparaging any mention of political decisions (and ideologies) in the context of this horror are disrespecting every victim of this utterly avoidable tragedy. A few things swirled around my mind when the wretched scene had sunk in; was this another case of neglect from private companies cutting corners on safety in tower blocks not meant for affluent residents? Subsequent reports heavily imply that recent refurbishment seemed to concentrate more on making the outside of the building more pleasing to the eye of the wealthy denizens across the way, than ensuring every floor had basic fire prevention and safety measures implemented. It was also revealed that a resident group’s previous warnings were ignored. Perhaps some zealous ministers will think twice about using their favoured “bonfire of red tape” idiom from now on, for this is ‘deregulation culture’ writ large.

 

The disgusting irony of that phrase in this context also brings to mind former London Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to close numerous London fire stations, as well as telling a critic of this policy to “get stuffed” in his own trademark infantile manner. Boris himself is of course renowned for blowing over £320k on water cannons that were later declared illegal and had to be sold unused; the notion that water jets should be used to protect citizens from the worst effects of devastating conflagrations apparently less desirable than using them to potentially blind protestors to the corpulent gibbon.

 

Neoliberalism should have been laid to rest in 2008, when the inevitable culmination of its ideology in the finance sector saw it bring the world economy to its knees. But then Cameron and his coalition of chaos decided to apply defibrillation, and its zombie version rose to begin cannibalising the few aspects of the system that could be seen as remotely positive. Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the snap election has cast a shadow over its immediate future, but this disaster should be the last rites for this sickening cult of individualism, corporate greed and abdication of state responsibility to its people.

 

So, after endless rehashing of 1983’s “longest suicide note in history” in the press, we now have the “stupidest manifesto in history” from the press’s darlings. I have only ever been alive during the ‘neoliberal’ period, but in all that time, the Conservative manifesto 2017 is definitely the most dimwitted piece of rubbish ever presented by one of the two parties capable of forming a government, and must surely finally dispel that nonsensical myth that the Tories are always the slickest political operators.

 

Everywhere we look in the manifesto there are notions that sound like they were pitched at closing time in the Dog & Duck, and never reflected on again. Whether it’s taking away lunches from poor school kids or regurgitating failed policies on immigration and deficit reduction again and again like that arrogant idiot on the school football team who has the first touch of a tractor yet still insists the team wouldn’t lose every week if they just got the ball to him more, its delusional ineptitude is only matched by its malice. On what planet did the Conservatives think it would be sensible to sanction the state snatching people’s homes to pay for private care? Technically of course, they don’t actually have to give away the whole home, they get to keep £100k of the equity. Which is relatively fine if you live in Rochdale, not so good if you live in Dagenham. And who regulates the care home fees? Isn’t this just another ‘name your price’ outsourcing racket that the Conservatives seem to be so fond of? And that’s before we start getting into the rumours that banks are already creating new ‘financial products’ for this new ‘investment opportunity’. We truly have reached ‘peak Capitalism’, when businesses are scavenging for assets on corpses that haven’t died yet.

 

Not only is this social care policy cruel, but it targets the Conservatives’ core demograph of voters: the elderly with property. One thing never changes with Tory policies: there are no progressive scales, it’s just an arbitrary figure plucked out of their backsides and applied across the board, in rich and poor areas, to rich and poor people. It also throws up injustice when you realise that those who may have had life relatively easy and squandered their money will be cared for free of charge, while those who slogged away and sacrificed to own their home, will be deprived of it should nature’s unforgiving lottery deem their senescence to be more profound.

 

Of course, this hamfisted policy also demonstrates the cognitive dissonance within the Tory party. They are so obsessed with privatising everything not nailed down and deregulating their precious markets, they cannot fathom a scenario where care is actually state-provided rather than run as a private income stream, and we all contribute a little more to ameliorate nature’s random selection of genetic misfortune. Sounds a little like the NHS principles, which will explain the Tories’ desperation to sell that off before they’re booted out of office.

 

Back to the immigration pledge, which has been derided by anti-Tory groups, pro-Tory groups, cabinet ministers, big business, small business…in fact it’s easier to list those supporting the pledge: UKIP. Even someone with limited knowledge of macroeconomics would realise that a country so dependant on immigrants for so long is not going to be able to change this without radical reform of their economic structure. Companies that could pluck fully-trained EU nationals at a few weeks notice are not going to be too happy being told that they are going to be charged a large amount for each foreign worker, or train a British worker so they can do the job in 3 months time.

 

“Ensure foreign ownership of companies controlling important infrastructure does not undermine British security or essential services” – How about by not flogging off this infrastructure in the first place? If they acknowledge that there is a risk to British security, then the Tory party are admitting that their policies have threatened national security!

Of course it’s also worth mentioning one of the most utterly thoughtless policies floated: to allow up to a year’s unpaid leave caring for a loved one. Apparently no considerations of how many people could afford to take a year without pay (particularly since they are classified as employed so are not entitled to benefits), nor how many businesses could afford to keep a position open but unfilled for an entire year. I haven’t seen any confirmation of what condition loved ones have to be in before this would be permitted, nor how close a relative they would have to be.

It’s just line after line of uncosted nonsense that would be laughed out of a student politics debate, and this is where we’ve come. Where the governing party is so far ahead in ‘the polls’ that they think they can afford to offer up any old shit and have the turkeys trampling each other to get to the Christmas oven.

Sometimes I do wonder whether I’m in some kind of paranoid coma fantasy that I can’t wake up from.

 

If you’d have explained that a party that had been in power for seven years as the majority in parliament had overseen anaemic growth across the economy and a ballooning national debt, and their message was essentially: “Blame everyone else, we’re the only option. We haven’t fixed it yet, but give us another term and we’ll try to fix it by then”; then explained that they were on course for a landslide General Election victory on the back of insulting and antagonising officials of an organisation we are about to leave and desperately need a good deal out of, I’d have scoffed.

 

Even with our appalling anti-intellectual media, surely our population could not be cheerleading the biggest act of economic suicide in a generation, and getting excited at the prospect of the organisation we need a good deal from telling us to fuck off, because we don’t really need those bloody foreigners telling us what to do and we’re going to resurrect the Empire, only with less bloodshed and slavery. The famed magical money tree of the Commonwealth only needs its ripe fruits plucked by the mighty hands of Blighty, and there will be peace and prosperity for all. No more immigration; and shiny unicorns for all in this Brave New Britannia. Nothing can go wrong as long as we TRUST THERESA MAY; the tabloid loudhalers screech at us.

 

Theresa May, who has done a remarkable volte-face from “Brexit isn’t a good idea” to “Brexit is the only idea to make Britain great again”, also has a husband who seems to have done remarkably well financially out of her Brexit decisions thus far, and has misled parliament on the misfire of our nuclear defence system, but our eager media is far too busy splashing headline over headline on whether Corbyn would ever find a reason to (get America’s permission to) use said anachronism. It’s got to the point where it sounds like when you were at school and used to wind each other up with hypothetical scenarios. “What if a dragon was at Buckingham Palace and about to eat the Queen; would you use Trident then?”; “What if Putin annexed Surrey and drew a hammer and sickle on the Union Jack at Westminster? Then surely you’d use Trident, right?”

 

I had to pinch myself when I heard the Prime Minister talking about launching a FIRST STRIKE nuclear attack as if it was some kind of computer game. On what planet is a nation’s leader boasting of unleashing an unprovoked holocaust across the world a positive thing that we should nod to and respect? This is brinkmanship for the braindead. Listen to what she’s saying, it’s Kim Jong-Un-esque. She would wipe out millions of civilians and poison the earth for generations, and presumably the target nation would also be nuclear-armed (Russia is normally the go-to bogeyman), so she is basically telling us all that she would happily sign all of our death warrants on a whim. HOORAY! ALL HAIL OUR GLORIOUS LEADER WHO WILL BLESS AND KEEP US FOR EVERMORE.

 

We mock America for Trump, but we are well down the road to our own Trump. Right now it is an inevitability. Trump became possible because American partisan politics became more and more debased and devoid of intellectual rigour that the dumbasses became orators. Suddenly, battles for policies and visions became battle to defame and whip up hysteria. A baseless and racist slur became an actual mainstream campaign to call into question Barack Obama’s citizenship credentials. Evangelicals would throw God into everything: all emotion and no logic. The ‘Tea Party’ movement formed from a bunch of slow-witted malcontents to an actual influential pressure group with arms in government.

 

How does this reflect the UK’s situation? It’s the ad-hominem trash talking and the general infantilisation of political discourse. We don’t hear reasoned critiques of policies any more: it’s just character smears, implied negative associations, false narratives and ‘Back to the 1970s’ tropes. The fact that Corbyn’s proposed manifesto is hugely popular, but many people won’t consider voting for him, based on the media onslaught and constantly repeated narrative of ‘weak leadership’ and erroneous ‘hard-left’ labels thrown around like particularly sticky mud.

 

How gullible are we to vote back in a party whose leader doesn’t respect her ‘people’ enough to actually meet and talk to them? Who refuses to debate with Corbyn unless it’s in a sanitised House of Commons where the toffs bray along to her rubbish and scripted jibes are practically auto-cued for her. Who repeats two phrases endlessly like a malfunctioning child’s toy? Where is the vision? Where are the ideas? If we fall for this shit and return the Tories to office, we will have our own Trump eventually, because the population are responding to demagoguery with relish. If Farage joined the Tories and became leader, he would be PM at the first time of asking, I have no doubt.

 

I’m not sure how we go about resetting this ignorance of expert opinion, academic backing or actual policy justifications when all the money (and the voting system) is on the side of those who will hold practically untrammelled power for the foreseeable future. When we get our British Trump, will any right-leaning voters realise things have gone too far? Probably not, as no parallels in history are ever reviewed. We are Great Britain, free to make our own mess way in the world again, and you’d better not provoke us, because we have strong and stable fingers on the holocaust button whenever Dacre gives the word.

So the trigger has been fired on Article 50, with the barrel being pointed at our collective feet, and the staggering lack of scrutiny from our ‘free press’ gets ever more embarrassing.

 

Michael Howard, ex-Tory leader, comes out sounding more than a little over-excited and senile, when he implies that Spain should beware a ‘Falklands’ response to any suggestion of claiming Gibraltar; Liam Fox is pictured smirking and talking of shared values with a Philippines regime that has legalised vigilante murder; while Theresa May shows true leadership by criticising not either of these imbeciles but the National Trust, for allegedly removing the word ‘Easter’ from an Easter egg hunt event while she gets on her way to grovel to the head-chopping Saudi regime.

 

The Sun clearly felt a stirring in their loins at the mention of bombing Johnny Foreigner (and why wouldn’t they? It’s an excuse to throw 1970s Spanish stereotype slurs around, and nobody at the Sun will be doing the fighting), it’s telling that the majority of the media printed variations of jingoistic sentiment, rather than questioning the wisdom of threatening a fellow NATO member while still in negotiations with said nation critical to our own country’s economic future. Taking gunboat diplomacy to a pen fight, as it were.

 

I’ve noticed today that most of the media seem to make a lot of the gutsy symbolism in May not wearing a headscarf around Saudi dignitaries, as if each of their thawbs had a shimmering machete lurking beneath, ready to wield at any time in case of emergency apostates, heretics or homosexuals in the vicinity. What an appalling excuse for journalism, masquerading as ‘holding the powerful to account’.

 

Every day it becomes more clear the cost of not implementing the Leveson recommendations in full. Our awful press smears and derides the opposition more than the government about to lead us off an economic cliff, and provides a brass band as accompaniment to our imminent collective plunge.

So, ‘fake news’ is now practically a fully fledged moral panic.

 

As we tend to do in the modern West, the lazy term has now been claimed and recontextualised depending on who is using it.

 

‘Fake news’ to the BBC is any blogger or independent media which does not agree with the mainstream consensus.

 

‘Fake news’ to the government is anything which threatens their agenda, regardless of truth.

 

‘Fake news’ to Donald Trump is anything critical of him or his statements.

 

‘Fake news’ to me, and I hope most others, is a nonsensical lengthening of the conveniently short and punchy synonym: LIES.

 

Just like I don’t consider terrorism worse because someone of Arabian heritage rather than a white nationalist committed it; like I don’t consider theft worse because a drug addict committed it rather than an investment banker defrauding seven figure sums; LIES are LIES regardless of their messenger.

 

Fiction; fabrication; falsehoods, fake news; plenty of alliteration but not enough clarity. They’re lies.

 

Donald Trump is a pathological liar, possibly even convincing himself that his lies are truth. Theresa May is a skilled liar, honed by the party that perfected the art. “There is no crisis in the NHS”, she says; with one statement implying that the BMA, junior doctors, nurses, NHS staff, independent media, clinicians and medical experts are all engaged in some labyrinthine scaremongering conspiracy.

 

Rupert Murdoch, Paul Dacre and Richard Desmond’s newspapers consistently headline stories which are demonstrably lies, and yet are only required to print retractions the size of the cheapest version of classified ads. So long as the lies only aim at individuals or organisations that can’t sue them for libel, they’ll continue to do it with impunity.

 

Why do power structures lie? Well, we know that power structures seek to either reinforce the status quo, or take more for the elites. The liars seek to confuse, bewilder, divide and distract opposition to their agendas.

 

The curious part of this whole charade is that it’s almost certain that a lot of these ‘fake news’ blogs are actually funded by the extreme right who already have tentacles in government. After all, if the opposition make headway with their factual arguments against you, the best method of attack is to seek to discredit by implying that you can’t tell fake news from truth, so best just not question the elites. Just look at Alex Jones: the prototype conspiratorial idiot paid to consistently discredit serious opposition by implying they’re all raving maniacs.

 

If we’re going to really tackle the ‘scourge’ of ‘fake news’, we need to do what we should have done a long time ago: equip children with the ability to critically think and examine news sources objectively. But of course that would lead to a population harder to govern. So, call me a cynic, but I have a feeling this “war against fake news” will simply be a front for crushing dissent from any non-mainstream institution. You have been warned.

Clown. Imbecile. Cretin. Bigot. Dimwit. Demagogue. Dictator.

And now President.

We joked about nobody dumber than Bush possibly getting into the White House, and we tempted fate. The US has imploded in parody.

America has today finally reaped what it has sown for the last thirty years, with news as entertainment, fiction as truth and reality television as dystopian reality.

The years since 9/11 spent ramping up racist rhetoric, moronic conspiracy theories and vacuous nationalist libertarian slogans as ideology have seen some very loud Frankenchickens coming home to roost and shitting all over everything. The Tea Party nutjobs, pro-life simpletons and God-bothering hypocrites have taken the wheel, drunk and without insurance.

All we can do now is try and stay on the grass verges and hope they run out of gas before doing too much damage.

I’ll leave these thoughts with a paraphrased comment I read under an article earlier today:

“So long, America, it’s been fun. We await the rise of the next Evil Empire.”

Whenever I see an American comment (referring to Donald Trump) “We can’t have an incompetent, reactionary moron in the White House”, I always wonder why they’ve neglected to add ‘again’. Is there some form of collective amnesia, driven by the media, in relation to George W. Bush’s disastrous reign as President?

As the last millennium drew to a close, it’s fair to say that most ordinary people in the US and UK felt great hopefulness about a future where the Cold War had ended, the old right-wing parties had been ejected from office, their economies were booming, and the advent of the internet was growing apace.

Of course, little did non-seasoned politicos realise the seeds of destruction were being planted in the US by the so-called “centre-left” Democrats, what with their Alan Greenspans and their repealing of Glass-Steagal. On the surface though, the West seemed more optimistic than at any time since the ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ was ended by the Oil Shock and the ‘New Right’ of Reagan and Thatcher. Perhaps the ‘Third Way’, espoused by messrs Blair and Clinton, really was the correct remedy for the sicknesses of globalisation.

Then, in 2000, it happened. The genial, managerial style of Bill Clinton was replaced, controversially, by the braindead ‘aw shucks’, God-fearing, gun-totin’ jingoism of Dubya. From illegal wars to enormous national debt increases, it’s hard to hypothesise just how his eight-year tenure could have gone worse.

The swathes of destruction wrought by his merry band of chickenhawk Neocon cronies across the Middle East saw that terrorism was added to labour, goods and capital on the list of free movements in the ‘free market’. (Note how the modern version of ‘free’ tends to cost a hell of a lot of money, and involve restriction of personal liberties – another modern perversion of the English language as business jargon infiltrated the political classes.) The ‘War on Terror’, Patriot Act and expansion of Guantanamo Bay traded privacy and humanity for speculated security. We all got used to being spied on, after being metaphorically waterboarded by images of terrorists at every airport, of bombs in every backpack, of jihad on every street with a non-white face in. They hated us and our ‘freedom’, we were told. You’re either with us or the terrorists, the chimp screeched.

But, if we flash forward to the present, upcoming US election, with the two most derided and unpopular major candidates in living memory standing, we see that this was directly caused by ‘Citizens United’, another Dubya abomination of allowing the Koch brothers and Goldman Sachs to effectively select the President themselves through unlimited bankrolling. Donald Trump is the result of both Citizens United and the nurturing of crackpot Tea Party extremists infiltrating all levels of the Republican Party, while Hillary would not be where she is without Citizens United, who allowed her to see off the strong challenge of Bernie Sanders.

It sums up Bush’s legacy that his reign was book-ended by 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown; the two most profoundly catastrophic and traumatic events in recent history, which ensured that the heady optimism of 1999 was paranoid fear by 2008.

So don’t talk about Trump as if you don’t know how his presidency would turn out. We already have an idea what happens when you put a braindead, greedy buffoon in the White House, and its nauseating legacy will stretch out for decades.