Donald and growing up


Last week the script writers and producers were at work at the White House. The star of the show was to be a former reality TV show presenter and star. The intended audience, from whom approval was sought was the American populace. And the stage? Ah, this is where the audacity of the producers knew no bounds. The stage was to be the world. There was to be self choreography, all liberals and left of centre political supporters would take to the streets to join in a communal act of protest with a global dimension. And the American President would present himself to the people as the one who can stand firm against the un-American Liberal elites of the world. And it worked.

The stage was set, in utmost secrecy, so when the new President, Donald Trump was photographed signing the executive order “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES” this was a surprise to everyone except the President’s inner circle. With that, the drama unfolded. Slowly at first and then it gathered momentum. Protests spontaneously arose across the globe. Great TV. Especially at home in the USA. The Donald for his home audience was tough and fearless, a man of his word. A man who stands up to liberal thinking across the globe and puts America’s interests first. And now he can begin to “drain the swamp” with his public approval. Like Putin, Trump does not have to deliver on the economy, but instead both can rely on populism – doing what the people want.

So, should we take all this lying down and give up the protests? Should we just accept that Trump will meet the Queen? The answer to these questions is YES. This is not capitulation, but a call to a different kind of resistance. Donald trump feeds on publicity. Deny him the publicity. To be quite honest, the internal affairs of the United States are nothing to do with us. What is of concern is how our citizens are treated, and in the age of trade, whether the US does anything to affect our trade. Remember, the tyrants of the world, Robert Mugabe, Sadam Hussein, Vladamir Putin, Gadaffi, Adolf Hitler… All these have exploited a popular mandate. Plato wrote that Democracy eventually degrades into tyranny. For Plato, this was inevitable. But it does not have to be this way. Smarter opposition is required. We need to resell the values of liberalism to an audience who are tired of “Political Correctness”. Trump’s core constituency, like the core constituency of the Brexit vote, are those who find themselves ever more excluded and unvalued and who see their national identity eroded. To oppose Donald Trump and to prevent his administration descending into tyranny, his core constituency needs to be addressed and listened to. These people need a hand up not a hand out. Protests and petitions may make us feel good but do nothing to address the core concerns of Trump’s supporters.




Je Suis Charlie

So this week, after the terrible slaughter, apparently sanctioned by Al Qaeda, the stories in the press are still focused on the events in France.

Charlie Hebdo is back in production, with a record print run and cartoon of Mohammed on the cover.

The depiction of Muhammad is forbidden in Islam apparently – although this could change.

The original prohibition was to prevent idolatry, and to stop the prophet turning into a deified being.

Has this worked? Mohammad is a creature, just like us. The ban on images has had the opposite effect to what was intended. Muhammad is now a semi divine being and no longer human.


And now, prepare to be offended. Pictures of Mohammed, bare faced.

Prepare for the worst – riots in Karachi, bombings in London, extensive media speculation and the BBC will not show these images.

Or maybe not – for what is really offensive about these images?


Muhammad in Medina

"Muhammad 6". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –


Muhammad and the Angel Gabriel c. 1425



And this is my favourite

depiction of Muhammad receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. From the manuscript Jami' al-tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, 1307, Ilkhanate period.



And now for something more serious.

The mindless bullies of Islam will not like this one for they are the targets, and their pride will be pricked.

But out of respect for the Prophet, the face has been blanked out


The text is

Prophet: I am the prophet, arsehole

Jihadist: Die Infidel








White van man (or woman) and the Labour Party

I must admit I was totally at a loss when the White Van Man story broke during the Rochester bye-election. A photo of Dan Ware's family home got the political classes all a-twitter. Just what was so wrong about the picture tweeted by a Labour shadow minister Emily Thornberry? A house, a white van and a collection of England flags. And the message? Hmmm. That was the problem. The message is what people read into the picture. Labour is sneering at… whom? Ok, for a public figure, the tweet was misguided. It was a picture of a family home that was readily identified by the wider press, not really fair on the family. It was the picture of the home of a serious England football supporter.

Personally, I think that only people who should be hanging their heads in shame are those who run the Football Association for their incompetence. Mr Ware and all of us are consistently let down by the lack-lustre performance of England's football team. Come on, we have world class athletes because of world-class organisation. And the Football Association? Just as well they were not running the 2012 Olympic Games. We would still be waiting for the venues to be finished. And as for winning medals… If we as a nation are capable of fielding a world class athletics team, ought we not be capable of fielding a world class football team?

But that is enough of football. The story of Dan Ware and his white van has some serious lessons for all the political parties, especially the Labour Party. There is no evidence that Mr Ware is a political animal. It is extremely unlikely, that however much the political parties begged and pleaded and sucked up to Mr Ware, he would have voted at all in this bye-election. Mr Ware, like a sizeable proportion of the population, does not belong to the voting classes, and it is the voting classes who matter in any election.

And just who are the voting classes? Some people have their favourite teams, just like Mr Ware, and they will vote consistently for their team. Switching allegiances to another team seldom happens. If your team disappoints, you just don't vote. But why the allegiance in the first place? Perhaps it is something to do with class, a great British preoccupation. It is more to do with people like me, and people who share my dreams and aspirations, and people who understand my fears. And then there is the consumerist aspect. I vote for the candidate/party who will do the most for me and my family, a secondary factor may well be who will do the best for my country. And also there is ideology. A shared vision, a shared vision – I vote for the party/candidate who shares my beliefs. Complex. All political parties are out to get your vote, and are determined to show that they are people like you and me.

For too long the Labour party has not looked at what s really happening out there in the constituencies. If a voter votes for a party who is "most like me", then it is even more so for membership of political parties. Imagine Mr Ware turning up at a constituency party meeting. Mr Ware is self-employed, with several business ventures. He is not anti-capitalist, he does not have great allegiance to the collective power of the trade unionists, and he is English working class of working age. All of which sort of excludes him from membership of the Labour party, and the Conservative party. Lib Dems? No. UKIP perhaps? A young party, with no clearly defined membership profile? If Mr Ware decided to join a political party, this is probably the party he would join.

This is the problem for the Labour Party, the roots of which are an alliance of the interests of the working classes in a bygone age and those who bought into an ideology which promoted a more equal and just society. The key is the bygone age. The lives of working class people has changed dramatically over the last few decades. Industry is not what it used to be. Employment is more fragmented. Collectivism only exists in a few places. And so the Labour Party has become the domain of public servants, health workers and some trade unionists. White Van man, the self employed tradesman does not fit into this picture at all.

Both Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher understood a fundamental truth of our democracy, that people have aspirations, that people want autonomy and the tools to be able to support themselves and their families. Unless the Labour Party looks again at the legacy of Tony Blair and his Mondeo Man, the Labour party will replace the Lib Dems as the rump third party in our democracy.

A letter to Scotland

Dear people of Scotland

This week you will decide your future and my future, and the future of everyone in the United Kingdom.

I am English and I am proud to be English, even though my father was descended from those brave Scots who had had carved a life for themselves in British Guiana. My grandfather was a Cunningham and my grandmother a Cameron, and there is a roll call of other Scottish names in my family tree. Even though I am English, I prefer the Union Flag for the England needs Scotland (and Wales and Northern Ireland)

Whichever way you vote will bring in a new United Kingdom. The resilience and determination of both peoples from Scotland and England will ensure that we will prosper even if not together, but separation will come at a terrible cost for both our countries for the foreseeable future. Do not underestimate the hurt that you will do to Anglo-Scottish relations. Do not be lulled into thinking that the only opposition to sharing the pound, currency of the United Kingdom, exists in only in the “Westminster clique”. Most English people believe that currency union must go hand in hand with political union, and the English have a great distrust of anything that seems like foreign domination.

What if you vote No on Thursday? September 19th will be day 1 of United Kingdom Mark II, that you (and the other UK nations) will help shape. The changes will be seismic and we need you to help with this. Together we can build a better country for all the people in the United Kingdom. Team GB in action. The UK needs DevoMax for Scotland and also for Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as devolving power to the English regions. We have all suffered from the decline of our heavy industries. Vote No and make the United Kingdom a better place for all of the people.

Margaret Hawkes (nee Cunningham)

Should Scotland be an independent country?


Maybe, before this referendum became a reality, I would have said YES, Scotland should be independent. From an English perspective, why do we need the Scots, with their whining and the massive chip on their shoulder about being hard done by? Hey the act of union joined two countries, Scotland was not the only country to lose its identity; England too lost something. We lost the English parliament, our nationality; we had to share everything, including our currency. What loyalty should we have to a country which gives free university education to Scottish students, and to other members of the European Union but not to those from England?

The Act of Union forged one country that was able to bestride the world like a colossus, one country that formed the British Empire and created the wealth of the nation that is now to be divided. Only together could this have happened. England, Wales and Scotland; augmented by Ireland in a later Act of Union. Now the heady days of Empire are a fading memory. But the wealth generated from the age of Empire still sustains the United Kingdom although the spread of wealth is somewhat uneven. Resources are unevenly distributed throughout the UK. Scotland has oil; the South East of England has the powerhouse of London. Our heavy industry, shipbuilding, steel making, coal mining all belong to a bygone age, along with textiles and other manufacturing. Their demise has left heavy scars all over the UK, not just in Scotland. The challenge to the government of the UK is to ensure that prosperity is evenly distributed.

Would England be better off without Scotland? Maybe England would be better off if she shed Wales and Northern Ireland as well as Scotland, and stood once again, after many hundreds of years on her own. A proud nation, a nation with a world class capital. Maybe. But England would be poorer, for the wealth of England comes not from being England, but from being part of a union. Would Wales and Northern Ireland benefit from the breaking up of the Union? If Mr Salmond can argue that small countries can have more vibrant and successful economies than larger countries, then surely this must hold for Wales and Northern Ireland. Small is beautiful, so smaller must be even more beautiful.

The fundamental question that should be asked is not about the independence of Scotland, but rather can the financial instruments of the United Kingdom be separated out into their component parts? If this cannot be done, then whatever the vote is on September 18th, Scotland could never be fully independent of the United Kingdom.

Should the United Kingdom be destroyed so Scotland can have its independence? If there is anything that Team GB in the 2012 Olympics has taught us, is it not that as the United Kingdom, we are a nation that can still bestride the world like a Colossus.

We have a shared history, may we still have a shared future.