Sunday, 19 March 2017

When using the C-word is more than justified...

Spring is on the way. Andy's Kona outside Tatsfield village
The C-word. You know the one I mean, it rhymes with 'hunt' and most women find it terribly offensive. Well, there are times when its usage is justified – and widely welcomed by the general public. There are certainly occasions when, rather than vilify the person who has uttered the word, the world sits up and pats the user on the back or sticks up a thumb in agreement. Now is one of those times.

"I may have run the country," said former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on Friday. "But I've never run a paper."

George Osborne
Well, that's as maybe, but in many ways, it was an odd thing to say. He could quite easily have commented, "I may have run the country, but I've never taken anybody's tonsils out." Can you imagine the horror of being wheeled into the operating theatre and seeing Osborne, gloving up, and saying, "I may have run the country, but I've never been a heart surgeon."

The news that Osborne had been appointed editor of the London Evening Standard came as a big shock to Andy. I broke the news to him at the Tatsfield Village bus stop after pouring the tea and munching on a BelVita. He couldn't believe it. 

"Osborne Osborne?"
"The very same," said I.

Reaching for my iphone, I found the BBC website and showed him what I regarded as a rather offensive news story.

"It's true," I said, but he still had that flabbergasted look.

Osborne has been appointed editor of the London Evening Standard, a UK free sheet that can be found on many a London railway station in the late afternoon and early evening. It is read by weary commuters on their way home from work and while I don't 'commute' into London, whenever I'm there I occasionally find myself bringing home a copy. Not any more!

There are so many things wrong with Osborne being editor of a newspaper. First, he is MP for Tatton in Cheshire and some Conservatives argue – or rather question – whether he could represent his constituents effectively while editing a daily newspaper on top of various other jobs he's doing, including being an adviser to Blackrock, supposedly the world's biggest investment fund, for which he is getting a cool £650,000 for just one day's work a month. [Insert expletive here].

In addition he's getting the best part of  million pounds for various speaking engagements and let's not forget his £75,000 MP's salary. 'Two Jags Prescott' has nothing on 'Loadsajobs Osborne.'

Once again, I find myself thinking that this is why we have Trump in the White House and Brexit in the UK; and I don't blame those who voted for either of them. People have had enough of the hypocrisy, enough of the unfairness and enough of the double standards. Don't forget that it was George Osborne who had the audacity to tell us 'we're all in it together' as he set about his austerity politics alongside his partner in crime, David Cameron, the man who put his party before the interests of the country.

Osborne earning well over a million pounds per annum brings other people's hardships into sharp focus. A report in this Saturday's Guardian explains how girls from low-income families in the UK are struggling to afford sanitary protection. It's hard to believe that a charity that provides sanitary products to women in Kenya has agreed to do the same for girls in Leeds where Freedom4Girls reported that local schools are worried about truancy when that time of the month comes round. [Cut to Osborne with his collection of high-paid jobs and privileged lifestyle and remember him telling you to cut your cloth accordingly and that 'we're all in this together', 'this' being the financial crisis that was brought about by the banks].

It is argued that Osborne will use his new role to attack the government, which some MPs describe as 'blatantly disloyal' according to a front page report in the Guardian, while other MPs have said that Osborne is gunning for the role of Mayor of London. What? He can fit that in as well?

I feel sorry for the journalists (if there were any) who applied for the job and found they had lost out to George Osborne. I can only guess what they were saying on Friday afternoon. [Insert expletive here].

With the current row about Russia's possible involvement in Western politics – and in particular its supposed role in the US presidential elections – it should come as no shock that they were involved in the Osborne deal. The London Evening Standard is co-owned by the former KGB officer Alexander Lebedev who has been quoted as saying that Osborne will be good for the newspaper. 

Silly haircut one: Michael Fabricant
Anybody with an ounce of intelligence knows that the UK media predominantly leans to the right – the Daily Telegraph is known as the 'Torygraph' and then we have white van man's bible, the Sun and Murdoch's other newspaper, the Times. On the left wing side there's the Guardian and the Daily Mirror. But to have a Tory running a newspaper as editor while he's still an MP! Why even bother reading it? I was going to say 'why bother buying it?' but it's a free sheet so all you can do in protest is not pick it up – play with your smartphone on the train home instead.

Andy says he doesn't buy newspapers anymore for the simple reason that they don't tell the truth. He's right: they only tell 'the truth' in the way they want you to believe it, with a party political slant. Arguably, you're safer with television and radio and, perhaps, using the Internet to get a range of views on whatever the subject might be. But now, of course, the London Evening Standard has gone one better. Not content with simply accepting that the public know there is a right wing bias in the press, they've decided to come right out with it and appoint Osborne, a Tory MP, as the editor. So, if you want to be fed Tory propaganda, more so than you were already, read the London Evening Standard. I won't be picking it up the next time I'm in town.

Silly haircut two: Donald Trump
The ride to Tatsfield village was characterised by grey skies and the sound of Andy and I ranting. As we wove our merry way around the quiet country lanes that constitute 'the slow way to the Tatsfield village bus stop' we unleashed our venom on Sturgeon – odd, isn't it, that the current and former leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) are both named after fish. Once again that whole 'blind faith in ideology' argument raised it's ugly head as I suggested that the SNP was like UKIP, a one-trick pony. UKIP existed to take the UK out of Europe (and is now floundering) while the SNP is designed for taking Scotland out of the Union.

Personally I don't think the majority of Scots want to leave the UK – they said so in the last referendum – and, as I've said many times before, nationalism is a dangerous thing. It's odd that Scotland wants to move away from Westminster and be governed by Brussels instead. Fortunately, May has laid down the law. She wants to deal with Brexit before saying yes to another Scottish independence referendum and who can blame her?

And then there's last week's elections in the Netherlands. Thank God Geert 'silly haircut' Wilders didn't win. He looks like a cyber Nazi from the future.

Check out those haircuts!
Silly haircut three: Geert Wilders
In fact, talking of haircuts, is it just me or does a silly haircut come as standard these days for so-called 'populist' politicians? Just take a look at the haircuts of three high profile 'politicians', all involved in 'populist' politics – albeit the wrong kind of populism in my opinion. What's populist about fascism? Boris Johnson (he who led the UK out of Europe); Geert Wilders in the Netherlands; and, of course, 'the Donald'. What have they in common? Stupid, stupid haircuts!

I don't know whether Michael Fabricant would describe himself as a populist politician, but his haircut bothers me and it should bother you too.

Silly haircut four: Boris Johnson.
After parting at Warlingham green, Andy and I rode our separate ways to our respective homes and I found myself experiencing many different emotions. The Osborne story had left me feeling peeved, miffed, angry, powerless and, above all, disillusioned with the people who are supposed to be leading the way in the world. Instead, they are exhibiting nothing but their own greed and ignorance and deserve everything they get. In short, they're a bunch of hunts, I thought, as I rode along the 269 towards the pond and free-wheeled down Church Way with my hands off the handlebars – just for the sheer fucky-offyness of it. I'd say we need some kind of revolution, but I'm beginning to think we've already had one.

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