Pigs in a trough

Today’s news has been balm to the souls of Labour party members: the monstering of Jeremy Corbyn has been front and centre since he had the temerity to get himself elected but today it’s David Cameron’s turn. One time supporter Lord Ashcroft has done a fine demolition job on the PM and it has been fun to see the allegations aired on the front page of the Daily Mail and elsewhere. Who couldn’t feel a bit gleeful about the jokes (sample – Paddy Ashdowns “David Cameron hogging the front pages”, Guido Fawkes “Pig society” etc etc and there’s more here).

But friends, as tempting as it is to take some joy in all of this (and admittedly, it’s been a real pleasure so far) we should be as appalled by this horrible tabloid behaviour even when its directed at someone we despise. He has young children and a family who will be shocked by the revelations, and we all did dumb things in our youth which we might not want anyone to publish on the front page of the Daily Mail. I grant you, my dirty secrets usually involved drink, vomit and a vile headache rather than a pig, but I didn’t go to Ox-bridge.

The press in this country are shameful: they are beyond the law, taking the piss and controlled by tax-avoiding scum-bags of the worst order. Even those that purport to be a better class of chip-paper like the Guardian have betrayed their readership and revealed themselves as establishment poodles. The treatment of Jeremy Corbyn in the red-tops might be more crass, but is it worse than some of the bile spouted by the likes of Anne Perkins or Martin Kettle?

The nation and its venerated legal system had a chance to clean up the press: Murdoch got off more or less scot free, as did most of his acolytes and press regulation seems to be off the menu for a good while.. although..

…although, maybe now Mr. Ham-eron has experienced life at the sharp end of the British press, maybe he’ll be a wee bit more receptive to reform? Who knows. Oink, oink.

Humanity

We seem to have lost our moral direction in the last few decades: perhaps it was when we were told that there was no such thing as society, maybe it was when governments of both stripes started using the fear of “immigrants” to distract us from homegrown inequality and the tightening of purse strings. Maybe as the years passed we began to forget what happens when you demonise a minority and choose to forget their humanity.

We are now in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, caused to no small degree by misguided interventions overseas: we have bombed when we should have talked, talked when we should have sanctioned and walked away when maybe we should have intervened. We screwed up, and now people are fleeing various war zones, barbaric regimes, poverty and violence. These people scrape together enough cash and give it to criminals who stuff them into boats that are too small, or lorries that are too full. And then they die. If they are lucky enough to survive, they might end up in makeshift camps where they are reviled by politicians, condemned by journalists and feared by racists and xenophobes.

But these refugees are people like you and me: they have been forced to travel far from their homes to seek safety and the hope of prosperity – I don’t think that we would be different in the same circumstances. We always want to do the best we can for our children don’t we? We want them to be happy and safe, fed and warm.

The young men who travel are no less worthy of our understanding: your dad was 21 once, single and trying to make his way in the world. That didn’t make him a potential criminal did it? He hoped to find someone to love, settle down with them and create a home. If violence and war had intervened would you have expected him to give up his dreams,  stay in his shattered home town and wait for death?

But the current Tory government has decided we are full up: David Cameron pledged to keep immigration down: ‘no if’s or but’s’ he said. I guess that he meant it too – even ‘if’ dead children were washing up on beaches and people said ’but it’s a humanitarian crisis’.

Voices are now being raised against his callousness, and in Europe we are seeing valiant efforts to change the cruel narrative: instead of celebrating a new stretch of razor wire, some governments are welcoming refugees. I would like to think that the silent majority in this country are those who believe we should do the right thing, that the bigots in the ‘comment’ section of your on-line newspaper, or the front pages of our right wing press do not reflect the British people. Sign this and write to your MP to remind them that we should not stand by and let other peoples children, sisters, brothers, fathers and mothers die