“Filing cabinets for the poor”

My husband comes from Scotland, and we used to drive up every few months to see his parents and, as we rolled down towards his home town, we’d go past numerous tower blocks 30 or maybe 40 stories high, glowering down from the nearby hills. The phrase ‘filing cabinets for the poor’ always sprung to mind – I thought it was a quote from Jamie Reed, but I’ve had a look for it on-line and all you get is search results for office furniture, but it’s a powerful turn of phrase and tragically appropriate this week.

My nana lived in a small block on the 17th floor when I was a kid, it had a long balcony with brilliant views of the admittedly shittier parts of Manchester. But it also had big windows, a proper bathroom and a fitted kitchen. Nana loved it, it was on a busy bus route into the city and there was a row of shops nearby and space for kids to play.  I remember sliding in my socks on the the shiny lino, high on wax polish fumes, outside her flat, and the delirious adventure of sending a bag of rubbish down the shute.

The years passed, Nana stayed but her neighbours changed. The lifts weren’t reliable and it became hell for families with small kids. The shops closed and the local friendliness that I remembered dripped away and was replaced with hostility, unhappiness and mistrust; most likely because the only people who would live there were people who didn’t have any more options: the death spiral of the area had begun. The play areas ended up filled with rubbish and broken glass. I’m trying to think who would have been in charge of the government at the time, and I’d like to think that it was Thatcher’s Tories, but it was most likely the city council that deprived the area of much needed maintenance money. Saving money on housing the poor isn’t – regrettably – a new invention or the sole territory of the Tories

This week tower blocks and poor public housing standards are in the news because of an horrendous London fire with its frightening amount of likely deaths. But virtually every left wing commenter – like me – could have told you that this was simply the shitty end to a sequence of everyday tragedies. From Thatcher’s ‘Rght to buy” that removed social housing, from Blair’s inability to be the Labour leader we should have had (he didn’t replace the lost houses, even with a mandate that could’ve covered the country in council properties) to the current incumbents who cut services that impact the poor even as they hand more money to the rich. Housing is now viewed as an investment for those who can afford to buy, landlords get rich on those who can’t and the safety net designed to keep folk off the streets – clearly doesn’t work. Housing the poor means poor housing all over again.

From shoddy terraces, grim Scottish tenements, tower blocks that melt after a gas explosion (Ronan point 1968), council housing estates that stretch to the horizons with nary a shop to be seen, to tower blocks gift wrapped in flammable plastic for future private investors, we don’t seem to have learnt anything. We have continued to vote for parties that put profit over people, we have looked the other way while our brothers and sisters have ended up on the streets, we have disregarded the corners of our cities that offer their residents grim housing and not much else, while we watched ‘reality’ TV. We need to understand the lessons that are being offered at Grenfell Tower and while we mourn for the victims we should be saying ‘never again’.

Modern Britain

Modern Britain is a shitty place: you work all day, hardly see your partner, your kids or your home and you still might not have enough money to afford your rent, bills and food, never mind a holiday. The city streets are becoming de facto campsites for the homeless, Brexit gave bigots a great chance to air their racist views (I know, I know, not all Brexiters are racist, but I’d like to bet that most racists voted Brexit), the younger generation are being stuffed by the old, but they don’t have the energy to protest – instead they swallow anti-depressants and scarcely make a living in the gig economy.

Meanwhile in my little town and in the big city nearby, glossy mansions pop up and luxury flats are in development, shiny German cars (free from road tax despite their polluting diesel engines) pack the streets and swanky eateries are rammed. It’s like living in the 80’s again – but without the angry popular music and ranting right-on comedians.

The other differences are stark: back in the 1980’s my husband and I bought a house together: it was far cheaper than renting even with high interest rates, you could get a 100% mortgage and there was plenty of starter homes to buy. We shared the mortgage: but the bank manager wouldn’t let us borrow more than 3 times our joint income so it was manageable.

Nowadays I look in housing estate windows near us and I don’t see anything that a trainee nurse and a recent graduate just starting out in IT could afford to buy. And in any case how could they find the 10-20% deposit that banks now insist on? If you’re paying rent, buying food, keeping warm and getting to work, there’s not much left over to save. Especially now wages are permanently stagnant – and inflation is on the up again.

Todays young people have been royally screwed: student loans was the start of it, but their benefit entitlement is always in the cross hairs of governments wanting to move money from the poor to the rich – which pretty much describes any Tory incumbency.

And then along came Brexit, where old farts reminisced about a golden age without fancy foreign food and fancy dark-skinned foreigners and put a cross in the leave box. Which was a mighty fuck you to those under 30. There’s an argument that 70 or 80 year olds shouldn’t have been allowed to vote: they are involving themselves in a decision that might come to bitter fruition when they are good and dead.

I wonder how these older Tory voting, cheering-for-Brexit, property hoarding oldsters square their selfish “I’m all right Jack” attitude with the realities they see around them? Don’t they have grandchildren or children that struggle by without the gilt-edged pensions that they enjoy (but they voted away for everyone else), don’t they wonder why the kids they know and love can’t afford a home, barely afford a roof, can’t get on the property ladder (while they hug themselves in glee as their house price goes up)? Don’t they feel a whisper of guilt as they use the bus for free to get them home from the pub lunch, slightly tiddly,  while a 17 year old counts out change to get to the Job Centre? Don’t they have any insight into why the local library is closed, the streets are full of dog shit, the parks are filthy and the high street is full of shops that are a whisker away from closing?

Nothing to do with them of course. They just exercised their democratic right to vote and used it to to protect their interests – and bugger everybody else. Vote Tory for a selfish, bigoted, uncaring, myopic, grasping Britain.

 

John Fucking Harris – what does he know?

I wrote this email to John Harris after his latest piece of twaddle for the Guardian.
Who can rescue the Labour Party from irrelevance – a good question and one for which I suspect that you are unqualified to answer. I don’t know why you think you have some special insight into the future of the Labour party? Was it writing about Britpop? Was it growing up in a professional middle class household in affluent south Manchester? Was it being rejected by Oxbridge that did it or was it being involved in left wing politics when you were a teenager? Is it living in Hay on Wye (well known hot bed of Trot politics).

I come from a working class background (Dad was an lift engineer, mum worked at Sainsbury’s),lived in north Manchester, failed my 11plus, but nonetheless was the first kid in my family to go to University, came out with a good degree to find that Thatcher had removed all the jobs from the north so I went into nursing, did that until I couldn’t bear it any more, became a mum, then a travel writer of all things, local Labour councillor for a while and now run a small shop on a failing highstreet in the North. All the while I’ve been Labour, member or supporter. I reluctantly voted for Blair’s Labour even though I thought he was (frankly) a dick and his policy direction was the antithesis of everything I believed in (but he wasn’t Tory, I’ll give him that, not quite anyway) I voted Blairite Labour even though there politics were not mine, I stayed loyal even though I disagreed with the direction we were going in – even when the policy made me sick (Iraq – oh god Iraq) -I still voted Labour.
While I was a councillor the coalition started attacking local government and of course the Tories are now intent on removing Labour councils from the face of the country. Trying to do the best for your voters with a diminishing sum of money from central government was tricky but might have been less so if we had ever seen somebody from the PLP occasionally stand up and speak out on our behalf – they didn’t. In fact I had to unfriend Ivan Lewis from by Facebook page (he was then Shadow Northern Ireland secretary so presumably didn’t have much on) because we got into a row after I told him that he was as useful to Bury as a chocolate teapot (I’m paraphrasing). I met quite a few members of the PLP – very few of them garnered my respect because very few of them appeared to realise that radical policy, change, hope, a better future were essential for electoral success. I saw Ed Miliband and liked him –  but of course he was obliged to toe the PLP line and modify the tiny spark of radicalism that got him elected – I wasn’t surprised at all when he lost.
The Labour party – or rather the PLP – appears to believe that Blair held the only winning formula and it goes like this – oppose a deeply unpopular government, promise vague change, roll back from that over the years, stuff a bit of money at the poor (but don’t change anything that makes them poor) repeat until your electoral lead disappears. If you don’t have an optimistic alternative to the Tories (and the anti-Corbyn PLP don’t have appear to have the slightest clue) then people will vote Tory because the UK is naturally small ‘c’ conservative. (The Brexiteers knew this and boy, did they make the most of it)
Meanwhile I voted for Corbyn thinking he couldn’t possibly win, but knowing that I couldn’t vote in a leader who was another PLP certified dead-eyed clone of Tony Blair. I voted for a shift to the left, a chink of light and and change from ’same shit, different day’. When Corbyn won I was delighted. I knew that the PLP would struggle to get behind him, but I thought of all those years when I had supported Blair despite my misgivings, canvassed for Brown and Miliband despite my doubts and thought that eventually the PLP would shit – or get off the pot. Just like we had during the years when Blair and Brown had wilfully abandoned socialist policies to keep the capitalists happy.
I didn’t for one moment consider the possibility that they would put themselves and their petty arguments before party unity, jeopardise the future of Labour and continue to insist that the only way to win was to, well, invent a new messiah, turn the clock back to 1997 and stab their twice elected leader repeatedly in the back and in public.
I think that the Labour leadership now embraces policy I can get behind and the membership agree, and you are wrong in pretty much everything you say. No-one listens to people like me though – because I just vote Labour, am a Labour member, have been a Labour councillor and will vote for a Corbyn-led Labour again. I didn’t write for the NME, and cheer on Britpop – so what the hell do I know about Labour and its future?

too many deaths

As is usual on these occasions I will start out by stating my sympathies for the victims and families of the London attack – I can’t imagine the pain of loss.

Again we have seen a angry man, consumed by hatred, justified by his beliefs and encouraged by the notion that its okay to kill, maim or die for some cause or other. In this case its a criminal from Essex with a substantial history of violent offences. He’s attracting a lot of attention at home because the UK doesn’t usually witness this sort of event, he’s getting a lot of notice abroad because he converted to Islam a few years ago and his new name is Khalid. Inevitably his crimes are therefore being reported as terrorism and getting a lot more media attentioninternationally than they probably warrant .

But really he’s just another angry killer: a wee bit older than your usual terrorist (who tend to be in their middle to late 20’s)  but for all that, still just a man with a grudge. This is not to minimise the effect this will have on his victims, which will be terrible, but we should keep our reaction to the perpetrator sober and realistic. Each year around 500 people are killed in homicides in the UK.

Meanwhile, we have thousands of  people employed to go to war to kill  under orders, sit in the cinema and you will see plenty of violence, much of it presented for your enjoyment, and TV and literature loves a murderer. The US has a love of guns and violence – so much so that the NRA (National Rifle Association) is possibly more powerful than the president and using weapons to ‘defend’ yourself is enshrined in law. Worldwide ISIS and various other terrorist organisations (some loosely adherent to a bastardised version of Islam) commit violent crimes which they justify as some sort of fight against the West. In the recent past, violent men and a few  women have killed countless people because of their love of country, a hatred for their country’s current government, because they wish that they had a different government, because there is too many socialists or capitalists, too many Jews, too many blacks or just because they wanted a brief moment of fame.

We have experts that parade onto television at times like these to tell us what has gone wrong and how we can fix it – some people think that violent oppression of one sort of another is the answer, others that violent intervention abroad will do the trick.

Over time violence and death are indeed becoming less frequent in global terms, but you know what has fixed it? Prosperity, trade and civilisation – meaning increased respect for women and children and other races and for those who follow different sexual paths too. Better education and more cash to spend will protect your loved ones better than any amount of guns in a hall cupboard.  Ask the US – so many guns, so many deaths.

What has never worked? The glorification and justification of violence. Its about time we stopped viewing violence as entertainment, stopped believing that violent intervention was ever justified by governments or those opposed to them, and that violent oppression was ever going to be justified by your god, your ideology or your boss.

And the news should report soberly and minimally about these incidents because somebody somewhere is getting a kick out of seeing the attention this madman garnered and wondering if they could be the next martyr to the cause of minimally justified violence.

flossy

I’m so fed up of politics – aren’t you?  I know I’ll vote Labour at the next election because I couldn’t vote for anybody else, I’d be sick in the polling booth at the merest thought of voting Tory or LibDem. So let’s move on to a much less controversial arena – sexual politics.

Big knickers/pants are so comfortable. They sit on your natural waistline, keep your rude bits covered and well, they’re pants and we all wear pants.

But women are encouraged by clothes shops to choose from a range of pant styles (as are men of course but I’ll engage with that shortly). They can surely opt for big knickers but they are also offered a choice of alternatives which range from slightly smaller than waist high, down to bits of string that presumably floss your nethers. As a woman I have tried most of them at times and I can safely say that big knickers are the ones that work.

As mentioned, men are offered a choice too, but for the most part their’s are variations on a theme of maximum coverage and comfort. I just had a quick look at M&S and the very smallest man’s pants are effectively the equivalent of the mid-level ladies.

Funny that – or is it. In fashion history, women have frequently (some might argue invariably) been obliged to wear clothes that are uncomfortable, unpractical, revealing or the equivalent of human curtaining.  Men’s clothing has usually been primarily comfortable and practical with occasional excursions into exuberant colour and cut. Women have been corseted, had their feet broken and bound, worn lead based makeup that slowly poisoned them, tottered on high heels, been publicly shamed for short skirts, lampooned for leather trousers and men have occasionally been obliged to shave.

Why don’t women wear comfy stylish clothes over big knickers like men do? In the UK at least, women can wear whatever they like, but frequently they choose to wear things that are either uncomfortable, impractical or mandated by men. If you feel obliged to wear self-flossing thongs and heels, or a burka, can you seriously tell me that feminism is no longer necessary?

Bye-bye elections

Just before the recent set of by-elections, my dear one and I were chatting in the car about politics: we predicted a win for the Tories in Copeland and that Labour would hang on to Stoke, but with a low turnout. I don’t think we have unusual powers of prediction, just that in the current climate that seemed a likely outcome. I greeted the papers announcement that the Copeland result was a ‘shock’ with bafflement. Really? I thought that political editors were supposed to be experts in the field… and they were ‘shocked’. My cat could’ve seen that one coming.

I guess that if you’ve been bothered to follow my blog, you won’t be at all surprised to hear that I don’t hold Corbyn responsible for this debacle. And that’s not because I’m a Corbynista, or the occupier of a bubble that echos my views back to me. I am not blaming Jeremy Corbyn because there are so many other candidates for blame that I am surprised we are settling on one.

First up every single member of the PLP who have taken time out from their busy schedules to inform any passing stranger that their party sucks, their leader sucks and that we need a change of management at the top.

Second of all, any supposed ‘liberal’ journalist who took them seriously and reported these views in a national paper – without a corrective.

….and that’s it, because these two groups have become mutually reinforcing, and the conversation between them is so exclusive that sane and supportive voices never seem to get a look in.

For the past months I’ve followed PMQ’s via the Guardian, who have reluctantly agreed that – after a shaky start – Mr. Corbyn has found his feet. For a short while the party kept their arguments to themselves and things were looking better. Unity is always a better look than chaos – just look at the Tories. They have politicians of every stripe (from more or less libertarian to woman hating fascists) in their camp but they also have little or no public dispute.

And a change of leader now would be calamitous: you can’t have leadership campaigns every year without the public detecting a problem, you can’t make policy if you don’t know what agenda you should be following, and you can’t oppose the Tories if you spend your time opposing your fellow PLP members.

I don’t think that Jeremy Corbyn is the ideal leader, but he’s got an electoral mandate, policies that I can get behind and the strength to tough out a hateful campaign of invective against him. I think that the Labour party will lose heavily in the 2020 GE – and when it does I suspect that Corbyn will resign, but the loss won’t be his fault if significant members of the PLP (with the support of the liberal press) continue to brief against their elected leader.

We won’t win an election with a PLP that cannot respect a membership mandate and a real need for political change. And frankly if we can’t offer a coherent and radical alternative to Tory policy – politics of hate, oppression, selfishness and greed – then we don’t deserve to win anyway.

post-smart

Twice last year I woke up with a sinking feeling: surely people wouldn’t be that dumb? Twice I was sorely disappointed in my fellow men.

At the weekend I was in a shop looking at the sad rows of sale items: a woman asked the assistant – have you got this in a 12? Yep, said the shop assistant, we’ve got heaps of the most popular sizes all hidden in the back just in case. Actually she didn’t say that because as most people know, sales are all about selling off the stuff that people didn’t really like/couldn’t fit into, cheaply.

Onto the supermarket where there were free recipe leaflets for healthy eating available. A customer pulled aside an assistant and asked if it was ok to take them. The assistant said, no, you dope, ‘free leaflets’ means you have to pay for them in Tescolanguage. She didn’t, of course. She smiled and said ‘of course’, brightly, between gritted teeth.

Now it’s possible that we have a post-truth society, but my feeling is that it’s actually a post-smart. Folks get their news from dumbed-down articles in the Sun, are spoon fed fact-free prejudice from the Mail and others, and listen to fellow dumb-asses on carefully selected Facebook pages (not selected by them, of course, but by a dead hand of technology). If they ever hear a dissenting viewpoint, its dismissed as “propaganda”. Ho ho ho, my sides. And as for evidence or facts, research or statistics well their news sources don’t have too much truck with that kinda thing.

But why? Why do people prefer smartened up opinion to evidence? Because it reflects their fears and worries more accurately. Politics is complicated and the reasons for the  current ‘state’ of our nation go back decades and decades. If you think about wages for example, these are low because of several factors: lack of unions, the economic crash of 2008 (when workers settled for lower wages instead of losing a job), the instability of the job market, the de-skilling of the workplace, economic pressures in the global market place (cheap workforces in outsourcing regions etc) and so on and so on. Employers choosing cheaper workers from abroad is indeed a factor and it probably does drive down domestic t&c’s and wages – but it’s much easier to point a finger at ‘them’ taking ‘our’ jobs and victimising fellow sufferers of a low-wage culture, than attempting to understand the complete political picture (and if you did, who would represent your position in parliament….yes, that). And of course, previously respected newspapers are happy to help you make the simplistic leap.

People are increasingly being herded into opinion groups like sheep: fed on an entertainment diet that keeps them docile and advertising that maintains their aspirations (but keeps them buying rather than thinking). No-one is rewarded for being smart. Smart doesn’t get you anywhere; smart and working class – still immense barriers to your ability to move up the ladders, smart and black, no chance, smart and a woman, well, maybe. Dumb and monied, dumb and part of the establishment, dumb and inherited your company and status. Welcome to the presidency Mr. Trump.

Identity politics my ass

According to Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today the real problem in the world is that the left concentrates too hard on looking after minorities while blaming white middle aged, middle class men (and some women) for well, everything. And, ergo  Trump and Brexit are those poor snowflakes fighting back.

Well, I am confused because of course Simon Jenkins is a white elderly privileged man and he doesn’t seem to have had/be having any difficulty in finding fora for his views or indeed supporters for them. Here he is on the pages of a national newspaper (being paid handsomely I’ve no doubt) being all ‘marginalised’ with a mere 300o comments telling him that he is quite right and how they are all marginalised too.

I am a white working class woman – with a degree so don’t feel too sorry for me, but I don’t look around a see a world organised for my benefit. Most MP’s are still men, Presidents are still men, heads of corporations are mostly men, we still see sport on the TV mostly played by men, films are usually made by men, starring men with women as decorative additions who exist to talk about men. Notable literature is frequently the preserve of men (booker prize male winners outnumber the women 2:1) , TV news anchors in the UK are more frequently men than women, bishops are largely men etc etc. If you are non-white and/or disabled and working class you can often look in vain for people that are like you in certain fields (the judiciary for example). It is often possible to work the system better if you are gay AND upperclass (e.g. Stephen Fry and Sandi Toksvig) or Asian AND male (Sadiq Khan) or even working class, male and grammar school educated (Alan Bennett, Melvyn Bragg) but in general white, male, middle aged, middle or better income blokes seem to be doing ok.

In schools there has been concern that working class white males are left behind: girls do better in school, college and uni. But if your kids are white and male stop worrying, all the progress those girls are making is successfully undone as soon as they fancy taking on kids and a job – boom – males back on top as they don’t have career breaks to look after the blighters. Male jobs seem to pay better too in the private sector where the rates of pay can be kept under wraps.

White British males seems to feel aggrieved that they are targeted for criticism for violence and criminality, but the prison population is largely in the business of incarcerating men and of those only around 1 tenth are of non-UK origin, and white males outnumber non-white by three quarters. Murderers, rapists, burglars, car-jackers, drug dealers and childkillers are mostly white men. Next time you see an article about a child abuse ring that concentrates on the Asian ethnicity of the perps – remember that they are the exception rather than the rule! Of course women can be violent and cruel too, so can disabled people, so can gay and non-white people. But if you think that white men are being unfairly ‘got at’ for societies ills, think again.

By the way if you think that I’m a man-hating lesbian and that this is simply an outpouring of unjustified misandrist bile – I am a happily, straight married woman with male kids and I love them all dearly. I simply feel that to characterise the new world as being organised for anyone’s benefit other than straight white, middle income (or more) men is to be misinformed by a media largely dominated by well-off white males, while becoming so inured to life’s realities than you no longer see it anymore.

And Simon Jenkin’s assertion that this is the real reason that the left aren’t in power – well that is nonsense. Its been part of the civilizing process of the Western World to care about the rights and well-being of people who are not white, male and well off and that progress has not gone ‘to far’ – it’s simply begun to impinge on some of the privileges that the Great White Male enjoyed.

Modern politics is where it is because if you can blame someone on your street for your misfortune (real or imagined) it’s a damn sight easier than working out the economic and political facts of life. Blaming the enemies within is a much easier tactic than dealing with how to fairly share the obvious wealth that is sloshing around the upper echelons of society. You must have seen a toddler redirect a parents ire by quickly pointing to the dog or his sibling as the possible perpetrator – well that, my friends, is Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell and every internet warrior with a grudge. Politics isn’t getting less fair to white men, its getting more simplistic and accepting of the prejudices of white males. And I don’t know why or how that has happened.

If I had to guess I say that the main stream media has now got an echo chamber attached to it: the internet. And it’s a place that has long been dominated by male geeks. Its a place where men can go and complain to men about how the world is mean to them. And then it can watch happily while the MSM reports it as news. How does the left combat this and get people talking about real world problems of inequality, hate and poverty? No idea, but I suspect that someone is going to suggest that we should be ‘listening’ to white men – and not to poor white and black women.

 

To Milo

I don’t know whether you’re aware of Milo Yiannopoulos? He’s one of the chief spokespeople for the ‘alt-right’ (or right wing, Nazi, white suprematist, bigoted xenophobes, fascist sympathisers, but yeah, they’re preferring alt-right these days).  He writes and speaks nonsense for Breitbart amongst others including this piece of well, shite, for want of a better descriptor.

He includes an email address with his ‘writings’ so I thought it would be fun to send this

“Dear Milo

You have courageously added your (business email) address and I imagine this means that you are happy to answer queries on your posts? I mean it would be pointless to publish a contact email and then simply click on the trash button. Cowardly too – and I know you’re not like that.
My issue is this: I think that your satirical pieces are becoming a trifle too broad – I caught your article about feminism, washing machines and the pill recently. I know I’m a bit late to the game with this one, but I have been a wee bit tardy keeping up with essential reading recently. Now I realise that this piece was meant to wind up Feminists and what not, exposing them as ‘humourless’ and ‘prone to victimhood’, but really it just came off as a heavy handed and school-boyish. I mean, it was like you’d written the article to make fun of Breitbart instead, and it’s contributors and readers. Kinda like saying – look how dumb and asinine they are and see how these ‘silly men’ will fall for it and comment underneath with lots of ‘yay, go Milo’.
I mean, I know that you’re a clever and subtle social commentator: I know that you’ve be given the task of infiltrating the right to ensure that no-one ever takes them seriously. I find it extraordinary that anyone would ever take your views on anything seriously – that’s not kind of the point of you is it? You’re there just to prove that it’s impossible to be an intellectual and right wing, a Trump supporter and smart, well-educated and yet so ignorant.
But that Feminism article is in danger of blowing your cover – it’s too broad, too damn silly and self-congratulatory. Let’s face it, even some of the dumb-asses in the Breitbart ‘pen’ are going to see through that, and god knows, they’re really not very bright.
Milo, my friend. No-one is as big a shit-head as you’re pretending to be. NO-ONE. That smug, silly smile you adopt on TV, your views, your support of some of the stupidest men on the planet, Jeez Milo, they’re gonna know and when they find out that you’ve been taking the piss all this time – they are gonna kick your ass.
Wise up, row the dumb back a bit, moderate your stupidity a little, maybe throw in the odd wise comment, and you can keep on hiding your true liberal identity for years to come – and make sure that the right goes back into the toilet bowl of history – where it belongs.
You are a true hero of the left.”

Bummer

Well if we thought that the fall out from Brexit was a bit shit, that is nothing compared to the morning after the Trump before.

Here we are with a English synonym for fart heading up the world’s favourite democracy, after a campaign in which he showered anyone who wasn’t white and male with shit, and generally made the world simultaneously laugh at the US for their stupidity, and shiver inside if there was a chance he’d win.

Well, win he did. I’ve just had a look at a couple of NYT headlines and it’s apparent that  something went badly wrong (again) with polling because no-one saw that coming. My theory about modern polling is that instead of being a descriptor of how people are feeling in the moment, people are looking to polling as a sort of political weather forecast: so if the political weather is moving rightwards they have the confidence to go out with their political umbrella and vote the crap out of whichever wackjob they fancy…. safe in the knowledge, gleaned from the polls, that they won’t be alone.

Trumps supporters were clearly pissed off with the establishment in the US (just as those who voted for Brexit were largely putting a cross next to ‘fuck you’ on the ballot). Clinton was most likely perceived as a ‘same shit, different day’ candidate and, dear god, a woman to boot. The racism, misogyny, childishness and idiocy of their chosen candidate was not viewed as a problem – indeed it was likely that the more folk were told that they were dumb to pick him, the more likely they were to pick Trump. Nobody likes to be told that they are dumb.

Now there are a few things that we could learn from this (and Brexit). One: that a lot of normal people are not enjoying the benefits of our modern democracies. Their wages have stagnated, often their jobs are insecure, local shops are stuffed with cheap stuff from overseas (which is most likely where the few remaining jobs are heading) and life is not likely to get better for their kids. Two: that when governments, presidents, MP’s, Eurocrats and politicians of every stripe get into power nothing changes  – life stays exactly the same despite promises to the contrary. Three: that the press/media are more than happy to help identify who is to blame in this situation – but they themselves largely comprise members of the establishment or capitalists, who are (let’s face it) unlikely to put themselves forward as the ‘evil ones’. SO.. Five: When the world has a problem with capitalism it had been known to lurch rightwards and seek enemies within.

We could take all this on board and try to change the life chances of the majority, we could share around the benefits of capitalism more equally, we could reign in the powers of the rightwing ideologues who head up the press and media, we could make democracy do what its supposed to do (i.e. represent the people and work for them).

But the chances are that we won’t. Many people in the establishment will take this as confirmation that the voters are indeed as thick as pigshit, and that that if they want to be Trumped (which they clearly do) they are going to be Trumped good and hard. All those turkeys who voted for Christmas are going to find out what happens next (clue – it involves being stuffed and carved). It will give comfort to the racists (that the majority appear to agree with them), hope to misogynists (tremble if you are a woman) and fuel to nationalist paranoia. This is unlikely to end well.

The only consolation to liberals and lefties this morning is that compared to the US, the UK isn’t quite as bad. Yet.