When’s it OK to use the ‘F’ word?

Here in theFarage gun laws Middle, you are confident that you are equidistant from the hard right and the loony left.

These are descriptions that are impossible to quantify but freely bandied about by the loony left and the hard right respectively. And it’s also been a traditionally knee jerk response of the ‘Socialist Worker’ classes to fire off the word ‘fascist’ willy nilly. Sometimes they came close to being nearly accurate (Clause 28). Too often it was fired off at the likes of any Conservative who served under Margaret Thatcher. Whilst some hung out with fascists (Margaret Thatcher), it begged the question “So if X is a fascist because they oppose for example, the minimum wage, what word describes “fascism or fascist” when you truly need it?

But today, when you are in the Middle with regard to politics, but still feeling Militant, what combination of beliefs in a person would make it legitimate to say the word ‘fascism’?

Would it be fierce nationalism, in conjunction with a desire to sever all links to collaborative friendly neighbouring nations?  Once these principles have been achieved, ramming home the desire that everyone involved should remove themselves from this international collaborative unit so that it collapses, starts to build a picture of a person who not merely doesn’t want his own country to have to share regulations with others, but detests the idea of international collaboration altogether.

Factor in also that this person believes we should all have easier access to firearms and it starts to seem reasonable even for middlingly-situated voters to use the ‘F’ word.

Yes, Nigel Farage is a fucking idiot.


Hope in The Middle

For threads of post-Brexit hope – cling here.

Unlikely to appear in any pro-Brexit paper or Murdoch channel anytime soon, is this story of a pro-EU demo. If it is reported, it is likely to be branded ‘hard-left’ and ‘well organised’, as if being well organised was a character flaw.



But the gratifying truth from a Militant Middle perspective is the absence of Socialist Worker banners. Renowned for hijacking every going cause and planting their banner wavers in front of the camera in order to generate the impression of good organisation, they appear to have been left out of this party, or at least left their placards at home. Jon Snow observed that everyone present seemed to be 18+, with very few older people in the crowd.

It is neither right nor left wing, and is attended by millenials, who will inherit the mess and possibly amend the situation in ten, twenty, maybe more years time. All the best!


It almost all started yesterday


Stressed Eric

For the stricken angry voter who occupies the Middle, it almost all started yesterday. Labour began one of its periodic spells of Labourcide while the Conservatives began one of its routine periods of ALL BEING UNIFIED despite everyone knowing they hate each other. They are truly the John and Mary of politics – murderous to each other but keen to present a front.


Labour by contrast are like my vague memory of an interview with Alexei Sayle talking about his early years as a Communist, where he said that they hated Thatcher and they hated the fascists, “…but most of all, we hated each other”.

George Osborne re-began his life as Chancellor by being STATESMANLIKE, a role for which he trained since the age of 11 and which he sometimes does convincingly, at least in his mind for a short while. He loves saying about the post-financial crash years that he “…fixed the roof…” even though money lost or wasted usually needs drains fixing.

One thing which definitely did not start, was the process of the leaving the EU. It can leave us all feeling a bit stressed.



For the Militant Middle, it all starts Monday

27th June

On Monday, everything has to start.

For “Remainers”, there is a danger of slipping into the sort of nostalgia that has blighted Britain since back then when everything that is ‘traditional’ began, whenever that was. The English have been too adept at looking backwards to traditional pub ‘fayre’, and traditional Christmas with a tree, introduced as a concept to our island by Prince Albert, a 100% German. When we won the war, when we had an empire, when we won the World Cup, it all has to go and Remainers, take note. Nostalgia will strangle you and hold you back, so no dreaming of the days when we just breezed over to Europe sans permit, and no pining for the 43 years up to Thursday June 23rd 2016. IT IS OVER.

  • If you are a Remainer, it’s time to start thinking forward properly. “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Go-Between). How will your internationalist, progressive views apply now to where you live?
  • June 27th is when the Tories should visibly start choosing a leader, and not shuffle about secretly until October.
  • Britain must start leaving now, because otherwise the EU will organise it for us and we’ll feel and probably be, kicked out.

It’s not an extreme position to take, but it is an angry one. It’s the Militant Middle.

The Militant Middle

Post-Brexit, you know you are in the Militant Middle when:


  • You hope that the Brexit dream of a Britain stuffed with dozens of generously overstaffed new hospitals comes true, but somehow you doubt it.
  • You know that if you deliberately ran over Nigel Farage, you’d still offer him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but only after you’ve munched some garlic.
  • You are sad that David Cameron is resigning because he supported your cause even though you never liked him or his mates, and you haven’t forgiven him for being a Bullingdon Boy.
  • You are glad David Cameron is resigning because… (see above after “…your cause even though…”).
  • You want Jeremy Corbyn to resign because of his flaccid efforts to support Remain, resulting in overwhelming support for Brexit by the ‘traditional’ Labour voters
  • You’d like to be a liberal but they appear to have vanished.

By the way I have just republished an item about UKIP that I wrote last year. The answer to the headline is “No”.

More from the Militant Middle soon. Please follow.

Can UKIP survive its freaky Friday and retain any credibility?

Oscar Wilde, Lady Bracknell – please excuse my paraphrasing, but “…to lose one prospective MP may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.” So how are we supposed to rate UKIP’s feat of losing three parliamentary candidates, all in one freaky Friday? A suicide attempt, an aggressive cancer or natural selection at a slightly alarming rate? Should Nigel Farage be pitied for having such reckless mavericks in his midst which he has been unable to properly vet, or blame him for his poor attempts at party management? Did David Cameron turn out to be right in referring to UKIP’s “Swivel-eyed loons”? Moreover, is UKIP damaged in the eyes of its potential supporters?
For UKIP detractors, cause for celebration never seems so far away. The councillor who can’t cope with “negroes” and Nigel Farage’s intention to scrap race discrimination laws sees UKIP struggling to conceal that charge which detractors most keenly believe the party is all about – the big “R”. Racism can be the only conclusion when an elected official has a problem with people on the grounds of race. The charge of racism is also almost impossible to avoid when UKIP’s leader talks about scrapping race relation laws. If these were trivial laws, they could be quietly forgotten, but so can major ones if time renders them irrelevant. It is after all still illegal to be drunk in charge of a cow but given the importance of race and employment laws, to propose their abolition when their effectiveness is relatively recent, is to open the doors to discrimination no matter much it is claimed that race was not the issue whipped up as a result of such remarks. It seems the more UKIP tries to clarify that its stance on immigration is all about practical considerations concerning housing and employment, the more it fails to conceal the attitudes it promotes and the type of person it inevitably attracts.
Even if we concentrate only on the events of March 20th 2015, the ‘racism’ spectre hovers over once again with the prospective candidate for Westmorland & Lonsdale Jonathan Stanley, citing “racism and bullying”. For UKIP, this triple whammy Friday covers all bases of the public’s perception of politicians – corruption, racism and bad conduct. So can it stand the hits it has taken?
For many, the way an organisation responds to a crisis is an indicator of its capabilities. In Westmorland, a replacement candidate was appointed within five hours and was able to talk up his credentials as a local, no-nonsense businessman who is “…sick of the posh boys”, presumably having not yet met his party’s first two MPs nor the pupils of the public school he visited the same day. But this last point resonates well with a lot of the electorate. It is one thing to be ‘posh’ but have man-of-the-people appeal – ie: in touch. It is another to be ‘posh’ and revel in it and only hang with your own kind, à la Cameron, Osborne and Boris. So at least in Westmorland & Lonsdale, UKIP has probably not diminished its chances, and quite possibly increased them. How the replacement candidates shape up in Folkestone & Hythe, as well as Scunthorpe remains to be seen.
To its supporters, UKIP may now look rather like all the other parties, which long term, could actually work in its favour. The likelihood of a political party that is untainted by human frailty is at the very least, a fantasy, so serious followers who buy the stance on the EU and immigration and the need to say the unsayable on race issues, may feel that the party, which is perhaps a bit beyond infancy now but still in a state of reckless youth, is now maturing. And UKIP, if it has any real wisdom, will have anticipated that their surge over the last couple of years would never go completely unchecked, and that though it stands at 15% in the polls at the time of writing, it may have realistically anticipated that it would level out at around 12%, or at least somewhere over 10%.
With under seven weeks until the election UKIP could still ride out this latest storm, but ought to make sustained attempts now to maintain party discipline if it is to sustain its appeal and not become the 21st century’s Referendum Party. And UKIP’s opponents should not pop the champagne corks just yet. As other parties struggle to nail down what it is they stand for and what their potential voters want, UKIP remain, despite glitches, stubbornly focused on both identity and aims. Though their manifesto on education, the economy and the NHS are far from clear, they have got this far simply on the perceptions of being pro-British and anti-establishment. Others would trade several principles for this kind of clarity.



Difficult times politically.

Even in victory, the Conservatives are forced to remember that their majority is only twelve, and they will tread a minefield as they try to appease their own right wingers whilst trying not to embolden the Scottish Nationalists until they are so autonomous that they have de facto independence. However, the Tories won the election outright in spectacular fashion and for the time being, the focus is on the vacancies in the opposition parties’ hot seats. So where does non-conservatism go from here? History suggests that in the short term at least, it’s usually into turmoil.

In the UK, we live in a liberal democracy, which is a hard fact, and awkward for some to admit. However despite this the party with its defining name is redundant. Since the 1990s, having been through their own agonies and mergers, the Liberal Democrats have been perceived as Labour-lite or Tory-lite – acceptable to supporters of either where pragmatism was needed. Now they are simply “–less”. Leaderless, directionless, possibly even pointless. With their collapse, and the failure of the Labour Party to take on conservatism or the Scottish version of centre-left democracy, Britain has very little left in opposition to conservatism and the precedents do not offer much to be optimistic about. Time is the enemy and a quick fix looks unlikely.

An insider’s perspective of leftism comes from the comic Alexei Sayle, who once made this observation of Communism:

“…as in all cults, what’s central to the Communist Party is the belief system and the elimination of nuance. From there you’re very slowly led down the road to fanaticism and mass murder.” He also noted that when he was a young party member, despite hating the System and Thatcher, most of all communists hated each other. It seems that for the last 35 years, the left in general has indulged in factionalism, and even when they coalesced around New Labour, it was for some begrudgingly. Since stepping down as PM, Tony Blair is persona non grata amongst many in the Labour party, despite three election victories. Back in 1980-81, the party was riven by disputes leading to the breakaway of four key members to form the Social Democrats, because they thought Labour was now too left-leaning. Michael Foot as leader presided over an even more catastrophic defeat in 1983 than in 2015, following the publication of its manifesto, which was dubbed from within as “the longest suicide note in history”. When Neil Kinnock became leader later in 1983, the in-fighting continued. Two election defeats, and lots of internal wrangling may sound familiar. If not today, it will soon. Kinnock’s era saw the expulsion of the Militant wing of the Labour Party, but his defeat in 1992 when Labour was expected to overturn a fractious Conservative Party, lead to more anguish and recriminations.

Embed from Getty Images

Usually the debate for Labour is whether it should head leftwards or rightwards. Nudging to the right, under Kinnock, Smith then Blair proved successful eventually, suggesting that the UK’s voters wanted a party with the appearance of moderation and coherence to run things, rather than an operation at loggerheads with itself and presenting radicalism. This does not fully explain the 1992 result, as the Tories appeared to be universally unpopular before the election and again within weeks of winning. The media lined up against Kinnock but Labour’s own strategy of pre-emptive celebration and presumption of power made them look arrogant, and somehow Kinnock, having evolved from a firebrand CND member to a business embracing wannabe PM, was never fully convincing to the electorate.

In 2015, what are the options? History suggests that heading leftwards is not the answer, but there will be a significant body of thought that wants a clear ideological divide from the Tories. In 1980, and even in 1992, the global capitalism we now live with was not so entrenched as a way of life, so to make demands for workers rights, to be anti-bosses and perpetuate an image of the noble working man had not yet lost all currency. In 2015 to propose a political system of high regulation and taxation for business will be unlikely to gain a footing, even with the general, employed public. Defeat in 2010 empowered the left of the party. Defeat in 2015 will do the same for the right. Unlike conservatism, leftism gets caught up in indignation and the principle of principles. Any apparent sacrifice of such a point heads easily towards “…the elimination of nuance” and loses sight of the possibility that there can be a principled position that is a broad church of opinion appealing to the mainstream. Tony Blair once reminded his party “Power without principle is barren but principle without power is futile”. It seemed to work for him and the party for a while.

British conservatism is far less likely to wrangle interminably in public, offering reassurance to the public that they can keep their house in order and present themselves as more competent. Michael Portillo once demanded “clear, blue water” between Labour and the Tories, when the Tories were heading for the drain anyway, but the political right appear more at ease and more likely to be supported in any rightward lurches they may have to make. Theresa May once went public on the need to soften the Tories’ image as “the nasty party”. Apart from this, Conservatives are better at towing the line. Even in the mid-Nineties during their hopelessly inept spell in government, when John Major challenged his critics to “Put up or shut up”, they were unwilling to do any more laundering in public, so they shut up. In opposition and seemingly out of power forever, they remained relatively coherent.

It is painful for many to admit, but without adopting Tory policies, Labour and the Lib Dems could do well to adopt Tory habits. Failure to do so could mean that in UK politics for a whole generation, there is very little left.