Tag Archives: political correctness

A Muslim Mayor,  the Labour Party, anti-Semitism and the future   

Robert Henderson

This Spring Labour Party activists from senior party members down to local  councillors  have been outed as people who are either actively anti-Semitic or who associate themselves uncritically with those who are.

The examples of  anti-Semitism range from crude abuse such as that from Vikki  Kirby  the vice-chairman of a local Labour  branch  “What do you know abt Jews? They’ve got big noses and support Spurs lol” to  senior Labour figures such as the newly elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who has called  moderate Muslims  Uncle Toms and been very ready to share platforms with Muslims who are openly  anti-Semitic .  Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been  identified as attending dubious political meetings  and praising Hamas , an organisation which has embraced terror.   He has also been much criticised for acting very slowly and indecisively against Labour members who have been  outed as anti-Semites  or who have been keeping uncomfortable Muslim company.  Moreover, despite Corbyn’s reluctance to accept there is a problem in his party, it is reported that fifty Labour members have been suspended for alleged anti-Semitism.   Finally, The ex-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has  caused a good deal of politically correct heat by linking Zionists with the Nazis in the 1930s. However, his example genuinely  raises the question  of what is anti-Semitism and  what  is honest criticism of Israel. More on that later.

The most significant event in all this is Sadiq Khan’s  election as London Mayor.  Both before his election and since there has been a huge attempt by those on the genuine Left, including those in  the Labour Party, and Muslims with a public voice to explain away Sadiq Khan’s associations with Muslim extremists.   Most incredible of these have been  the strenuous attempts to portray media and political commentary on  Labour Party members’  undeniable anti-Semitism as a plot to remove Corbyn from the Labour leadership .

But however much Khan and his allies attempt to  call his association with Muslim extremists as simply the consequence of  Khan attending meetings where there is a range of opinion within the speakers, he is damned utterly by his “Uncle Toms” comment.   A Muslim cannot speak of  moderate Muslims  as “Uncle Toms” without at the very least  being willing to use the language of  Muslim extremists in the hope that this will give him “street cred” with Muslim electors . At worst Khan may have been expressing his true feelings and sympathies.  Moreover, it is telling that the  “Uncle Toms” comment was made on Press TV,  an Iranian state English language broadcaster,  where he  probably thought his use of the phrase  would not be picked up by any of the British mainstream media.  (Press TV’s licence to broadcast to the UK was revoked by OfCon in 2014 because the licence holder could not provide assurances that he controlled the station’s output. )

This is all very worrying because  Sadiq Khan now holds a genuinely  powerful  political role  in a major Western capital which contains over a million Muslims.  Indeed, he  is the first Muslim  in a Western country to hold such a position.  Even more worrying is how he came to win such an election.

How has this happened?

To understand what is driving the open  expressions of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party  it is necessary to comprehend the changes which the Labour Party has gone over the past thirty years.  Widespread antisemitism  in the modern  Labour Party is on the face of it astonishing,  truly remarkable behaviour for a party which prides itself on being  rigidly politically correct and  which has many Jews amongst its supporters including some of its biggest donors.  However,   it is  no great surprise to those who know something of the party’s history.

In the past the Labour Party  has been extremely politically incorrect, being staunchly opposed to, amongst other things,  mass immigration and  the employment of women in male dominated jobs. Part of the political incorrectness  within the party was a healthy strain of anti-Semitism. When  Oswald  Mosley  – a man who had served as a minister in a Labour-led government –  left the Labour Party in 1931 to form the New Party (the precursor of the British Union of Fascists) he drew much of his  support from people who were  natural Labour supporters, namely, the white workingclass, people who were trying to find some escape from the miseries of the Great Depression and  joined Moseley after  the Labour Party  failed them.  Most of these people were also comfortable with Mosley’s anti-Semitism .  This is unsurprising because  those who have historically  objected most vociferously  to Jews being in the UK have been  the white working class.  When Jews started to return in numbers to England in the 18th century they sporadically provoked violent  riots, most notably, the violent reaction to an Act to allow the naturalisation of Jews passed in 1753 which was repealed a year later.   As late as 1947 there were anti-Jewish riots in the UK in response to the violence perpetrated by Jews against British servicemen and administrators in Palestine. Of course, anti-Semitism was far from being restricted to the working-class as George Orwell recognised, but it was more openly expressed by the working-class who constituted the large majority of the population in the 1930s.

Labour substitutes minorities for the white working-class

In the 1980s Labour  began  to  forsake its  traditional client base,  the white working class, and replaced it with a motley rainbow coalition  based on race, ethnicity and gender. They did this for three reasons: the  white working class were stubbornly refusing to go along with what became the  politically correct agenda; Thatcher was enticing   the  part of the white working class which was aspirational to vote Tory and  large scale Thatcherite privatisation was seriously undermining the unions which traditionally provided the foot soldiers of the Labour movement.

After  four successive Labour general election losses between 1979 and 1992 the Labour Party found itself in the hands of  Tony Blair following the untimely death of John Smith.  Blair emasculated the  party, ruthlessly removing all its  traditional concerns and values and replacing those  with a devotion to laissez faire economics and  the ideology now called political correctness.  Instead of addressing the wants and needs of the white working class,  Blair produced a party which was devoted to amplifying  and to a large extent creating the grievances  of women, gays and ethnic/racial minorities whilst at the same time  undermining of the economic position of the white working class  through both the continuation of the Thatcherite privatisation agenda that destroyed what was left of trade union power, and the permitting of massive immigration, which reduced opportunity and wages for the poorer members of society.   This was done on the cynical calculation that Labour could attract the votes of  women, gays and ethnic/racial minorities while keeping the votes of the majority  of the  white working class because they had nowhere else to go as the only other party with any realistic hope of forming a government were the Conservatives, a political movement in the grip of Thatcherism   which was  deeply unsympathetic to the white working-class  at worst and indifferent at best.

But not all groups are equal  under the politically correct banner.  Pandering to the  claims of sexism and homophobia  in order to win votes came a distant second to capturing the ethnic/racial minorities. This was not simply because of a hierarchy of importance within the politically correct doctrine, although that played its part. There was also hard headed political calculation. Women and gays do not offer the same sort of group identity  that is found in ethnic minorities,  who  often live in areas where they are  the dominant population group , a situation which allows them to live apart  from  British mainstream society. In such circumstances ethnic voting  becomes not merely possible but  probable.  Such has been  the scale of immigration over the past sixty years that  in  quite a few British constituencies capturing the ethnic minority vote more or less guarantees the election of a candidate.  This tendency is especially strong in London.  There is also growing evidence that postal voting is resulting in large scale fraud  where there is a large population from the Indian subcontinent.

The largest of the minority ethnic groups is that of Muslims who now total three  million plus in Britain and have a strong tendency to vote  en bloc according to what their imams and political leaders  tell them to vote. Consequently, it is no surprise that the Labour Party is  becoming ever more  anti-Semitic and tolerant of anti-Semitism because they want to attract Muslim voters.

Why did Zak Goldsmith lose?

There were serious weaknesses in the campaign run by Goldsmith.  The  Tory leadership barely campaigned for him and Goldsmith, a multimillionaire who inherited his wealth,  was an unappetising candidate for  London  Mayor in  a city which has been  a Labour stronghold for much of the past century.  The London demographics were also unpromising  for there  are over a million Muslims in London  plus  another  million or more of ethnic minorities/immigrants entitled to vote.

But Goldsmith’s failure  is not   being attributed  to any of those possible causes by many if any of  those with a public voice.  Instead,  politicians (including Tory MPs)  and much of the mainstream media attribute it to his tactic of pointing out  Sadiq Khan’s propensity to associate with Muslims who  might reasonably be called extremists and  Khan’s description of moderate Muslims as  Uncle Toms. This it is claimed energised   Muslims  and possibly  white liberals and members of other ethnic minorities to get out and vote for Khan.  The problem with that claim is that only 45% of voters  bothered to vote . Nonetheless, if voters of all stripes were reluctant to vote it is possible that enough people were energised by the Goldsmith attacks to vote Khan to make the difference. In the end Khan took 56.8% of the first and second preference votes ( 1,310,143 votes) and Goldsmith 43.2% (994,614 votes).

It is also  true the Goldsmith campaign  made the crass mistake of trying to enlist  the support of other non-Muslim minorities by playing on what his team fondly imagined were the fears of groups such as Indians and Tamils. Here are a couple of  examples:

‘“The British Indian community makes an extraordinary contribution to London and to Britain. Closer ties between the UK and India have been a priority for me as prime minister. I was pleased to join Zac Goldsmith in welcoming Prime Minister Modi to the UK last year at Wembley Stadium.” Then, under the heading The Risk Of A Corbyn-Khan experiment, Cameron described the policies of “Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate Sadiq Khan” as “dangerous”. If Khan won, Cameron said, “Londoners will become lab rats in a giant political experiment”.’

And

“Under the heading The Tamil Community Has Contributed Massively To London, Goldsmith wrote: “I recognise that far too often Tamil households are targeted for burglary due to families owning gold and valuable family heirlooms.” Under the heading Sadiq Khan Will Put London’s Future And Your Community At Risk, he wrote: “As a government minister, Sadiq Khan did not use his position to speak about Sri Lanka or the concerns of the Tamil community in parliament. His party are beginning to adopt policies that will mean higher taxes on your family and your family’s heirlooms and belongings. We cannot let him experiment with these radical policies.”’

None of this helped Goldsmith but it is difficult to see them having a decisive effect  simply because of the low turnout. The real answer is demographics combined with political correctness which  prevented Goldsmith from becoming Mayor.

The demographics are the major problem. The proportion of the  population of London which describes itself as white British is well below 50%. The 2011 census has the figure at 45% but it will be significantly lower now because of  white flight from London, the continued influx of foreigners both black and white and  the high birth-rate  of the immigrants. It is quite possible that the white British population is now   around 40%.

The 2011 census also had approximately  1.2 million who describe themselves as white but not British.  Thus the  total white population of London in  2011 was approximately 4.9 million and the non-white approximately 3.3 million.  I doubt whether five years of immigration and higher non-white reproduction has resulted in whites being in the minority. However, if things continue as they are with white flight from London, ever growing immigration and  high non-white birth rates, it  will not take that long, perhaps ten years , to find whites a minority in London. As for Muslims,  by 2011 they made up 12.4% of London’ population  with an increase of  35% (405,000)  between 2001 and 2011. As the Muslim proportion of the London  population grows this will attract more and more Muslims to the city. It is unlikely that Muslims will be in the majority  within the next twenty years but in 2036 they could well be the largest ethnic group in the city.

As for  the  whites who do not identify themselves as British, they   are likely to either not vote or to vote for the Labour candidate because Labour are ostensibly more immigrant friendly than the Tories.   As those over 18 who are qualified to vote for the Mayor include  “An Irish citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen, who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK, or a citizen of another European Union country”  this means  that the majority of non-British whites will be qualified to vote and  thus their potential to influence  the election of  the Mayor is substantial.

Last,  there is the question of political correctness.  At no point did Goldsmith or anyone else in his campaign team or  the wider Tory Party  wholeheartedly  attack Khan by straightforwardly   asking   white voters do you want a Muslim  who has by his own words and actions shown sympathy with Muslim extremists to be Mayor?   Instead Goldsmith’s  attacks on Khan  Khan were merged into a general complaint about the Labour Party or the economic policies Khan was likely to pursue.  Goldsmith was desperately trying to remain within a politically correct envelope. To appeal to the white British electorate or  even the white electorate overall was out of the question for  a  mainstream politician in Britain’s presently politically correct circumstances.  This failure to address what Khan represented both now and as a harbinger of the not too distant future was  doubly important because whites in Britain have been bombarded  with politically correct multicultural propaganda  for several generations. This has produced a state of mind whereby  the white population  has tended to come to think that acting against the politically correct view is on race and immigration is not merely dangerous because the expressions of such opinions can lose the person their job or in some cases end up on a criminal charge , but in some ill-defined way is  actually wrong. The white electorate needed Goldsmith to give them permission to go against the constraints of   political correctness.

Conversely, Khan and the Labour Party  side of the argument were  not constrained.   Instead they used political correctness to distract from Khan’s behaviour with regard to extremist and  moderate Muslims. In the Alice in Wonderland world which is that of the politically correct it is Goldsmith who is being called everything up  to and including a racist while Khan incredibly plays the  injured party.

Ken Livingstone, the Nazis   and the  Zionists

Back to Ken  Livingstone.  His treatment after bringing the collaboration between the Nazis and Zionist Jews in the 1930s into the Labour anti-Semitism story  emphasises the hysterical refusal of  the politically correct and self-interested minorities  to take on board facts which conflict with their interpretation of the world.  They routinely do not offer argument or facts merely abuse, very often of the crudest type.

Those unthinkingly screaming anti-Semite, Nazi  and racist at Livingstone on account of his labelling of the Nazis before WW2 as Zionists hand in glove with those Jews who wanted to establish a Jewish state in Israel, are on very treacherous factual ground.   it would be stretching matters  considerably to say the Nazis were Zionists. However, odd bedfellows as the Jewish  Zionists (there have always been Jews who opposed Zionism)  and the Nazis were,  even the oddest of bedfellows may sometimes sleep comfortably together when they have  a  serious shared aim. Here that shared aim was simple: Hitler wanted the Jews out of Germany and the Zionists wanted Jews rushed into  what was then the British Protectorate of Palestine.   To this end  a company (HAAVARA) was set up  in 1933 with the agreement of the Nazis  to enable  the transfer of Jewish property from Nazi Germany to Palestine and hence expedite the immigration of German Jews to Palestine. Although controversial amongst Jews  the Zionist Congress in Lucerne (1935)  supported the plan. Some 60,000 German Jews migrated to  Palestine between 1933–1939 as a result of this Nazi/Jewish collaboration .

This was not the only other Nazi plan to remove  Jews from  Europe. In 1938 a scheme  to establish a Jewish settlement on Madagascar (then under French rule) was mooted. The  Madagascar Plan was never implemented  but survived  until February 1942 as a  project.   By 1942 the Final Solution   had moved from the mass migration of Jews, forced or voluntary,  who were to be settled outside of Europe,  to the  extermination of the Jews.

The problem with the response to Livingstone is that although he over-egged  the extent  of the engagement  between Nazis and Zionists, he was clearly working from a firm historical basis when he claimed the Nazis and Zionists had cooperated in the 1930s.  Had Livingstone been attacked on the grounds that he misinterpreted or misrepresented the motivation for the strange alliance, which he did,  that would have been reasonable. The problem is that  those who attacked Livingstone have simply  denied, directly or by their refusal to address the historical evidence,  that there had been any collaboration between Nazis and Zionists.  Moreover, the  denials of what Livingstone has claimed have been hysterical in tone more often than not. As the evidence of Nazi/Zionist cooperation in the 1930s is clear, this makes the attacks  on Livingstone seem absurd to anyone who bothers to look at the bare facts. The refusal to engage with Livingstone on the facts also distracts from the  larger questions of  the undoubted  and  often  surprisingly crude examples of antisemitism within the Labour Party and  the question of what criticism of Israel is reasonable and what is disguised anti-Semitism.

Where does this leave  Britain?

We have reached the stage whereby  our political elite  is so cowardly or so detached from reality by political correctness  that a  Muslim politician ensconced within  a major British political party cannot be criticised  by a non-Muslim for posing a potential danger , no matter  that the politician calls moderate Muslims Uncle Toms  and  provides evidence that he is content to associate with Muslims who make no bones about hating Britain and the West in general.

This election also showed that a white British mainstream candidate will not make a full-hearted appeal to the white British population for fear of being called a racist.  Instead such a candidate  is likely to make clumsy appeals to  various minorities.

The people being left out of this debate  are the native British. London is the shape of demographic things to come not only for itself but other areas of Britain with large  immigrant populations. Already those describing themselves as white British are a minority in the city. Within twenty years  they may not even be the largest minority. This  is likely to happen because the political elite in Britain have actively connived at mass immigration on and off since the late 1940s and are unlikely to change their habits.

Andrew Neather a Blair speechwriter, wrote in an Evening Standard article in 2009 that  the great increase of immigrants under Blair seemed to be  a deliberate policy to make Britain  more diverse. He wrote of a Downing Street  paper published finalised in 2001:

“…earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.”

“I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date. That seemed to me to be a manoeuvre too far.”

Sadly,  there is no one in Britain with  a public voice to call what is happening by its true name, treason. Until there is the situation will get steadily worse with the major British parties becoming more and more ready to compromise with the demands of larger and larger ethnic minorities.

What should  reasonably count as illegal sexual activity with a minor ?

Robert Henderson

The   conviction of the Sunderland and England footballer Adam Johnson  for six years after he admitted   one charge of  grooming  a 15-year-old girl primarily through  the Internet  and one charge of sexual activity with the girl which consisted of kissing her   “in  a sexual fashion”. . He pleaded  not guilty to  two further charges of  sexual activity with the  girl and  was found guilty of one  charge by a 10-2 verdict of  the jury and innocent of the other.  The case is of general public interest because of  the severe  sentence  and the nature of the charges.

What had Johnson done to get such a heavy punishment? Raped the girl? No. Had sexual intercourse by consent whilst the girl was under age occurred?  No.   The sexual activity Johnson was convicted of was kissing and heavy petting,  including  putting his fingers inside the girl’s vagina. He was found not guilty of allowing the girl to perform fellatio on him. Johnson is appealing against sentence and   conviction

There was also an investigation of  pornography acquired by Johnson  which was described as classified as bestiality, presumably  involving women simulating  sex with an animal.. This matter did not result in any  charges.

Those are the bare facts.  Most people will probably consider Johnson’s behaviour distinctly unsavoury. However,   did it constitute what most people would regard as a crime and if it did would it be reasonable to expect the general public to understand that such behaviour was criminal?

Most  people in Britain  understand that intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 is illegal, but I would very much doubt that they imagine kissing or even penetrating a 15-year old  girl’s vagina with their fingers would be illegal. Indeed, they might  conclude that a man would have done  the latter  rather than attempt intercourse  precisely because he  thought it an act which would be legal.  Yet  section 10 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003  does make such penetration illegal,  viz:

Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity

(1)A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if—

(a)he intentionally causes or incites another person (B) to engage in an activity,

(b)the activity is sexual, and

(c)either—

(i)B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over, or

(ii)B is under 13.

(2)A person guilty of an offence under this section, if the activity caused or incited involved—

(a)penetration of B’s anus or vagina,

(b)penetration of B’s mouth with a person’s penis,

(c)penetration of a person’s anus or vagina with a part of B’s body or by B with anything else, or

(d)penetration of a person’s mouth with B’s penis,

is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

(3)Unless subsection (2) applies, a person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

Ignorance of the law might be a legal dictum in England but there is such a volume of criminal offences today  and the law  so often changes these days that in practice it is simply unreasonable to expect  the ordinary Briton  to know  what is illegal except in the case of  clear cut core offences such as murder, rape and robbery.

Many will say that the age difference between Johnson and the girl  (he was 27 and she 15) make them feel queasy, but had the girl been 16 Johnson would have faced no charges and could legally have had intercourse with the girl.  Indeed, if the girl’s parents consented they could have married.  Thus a matter of months  stood between Johnson and a heavy  prison sentence. His  sentence is less than the average for rape,  which is around 8 years, but is still severe  being at the upper end of the the sentencing guidelines.   He will serve at least half the sentence unless he can persuade the Parole Board to release him early on licence. The part of the sentence he does not serve in prison will be on licence.  As he is a professional footballer that will end his career at any serious level even assuming any club would employ him.

The age of consent is also  contentious.   Even Western countries vary considerably.  In Austria, Germany, Portugal and Italy it is 14, and in France, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Greece it is 15. The position is further complicated by  exemptions  based on age, for example, if both parties are under the age of consent but  close in age,  prosecution will not normally occur if there is consent; if  one of the parties is over the age of consent and one is not  but  the age difference between the two is small, say, the boy 17, the girl 15,   prosecution may well not occur.

Another troubling  thing about the case is the fact that Johnson was effectively given the same status as someone such as  a teacher who is deemed to be in a position of trust.  This is a very odd because Johnson is just a footballer.  His football club may get him to go into schools or  do charity work involving children but that does not mean he is employed to act in loco parentis to any person under the age of 18 he meets.  In this case according to media reports all Johnson has done here is encounter an adoring fan on a casual basis.  Section 22 of the Sexual Offences Act of  2003 states:

(1)The following provisions apply for the purposes of section 21.

(2)Subject to subsection (3), a person looks after persons under 18 if he is regularly involved in caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of such persons.

(3)A person (A) looks after another person (B) on an individual basis if—

(a)A is regularly involved in caring for, training or supervising B, and

(b)in the course of his involvement, A regularly has unsupervised contact with B (whether face to face or by any other means).2003 section 22 states

It is difficult to see how Johnson could have been in a position of trust as defined by the act.

Johnson has not behaved well, but not behaving well is not in itself a crime let alone one deserving four years in prison.  There is no doubt that under the law as it stands  he was liable to conviction on at least one of the sexual activity charges.  Nor can the sentence he was given be judged utterly unreasonable in view of the sentencing guidelines for sexual activity  convictions.   Looked at narrowly Johnson could have no complaints at his treatment even if his designation of  being in a position of trust is more than a little questionable .

The real concern is the state of the law. It  could well capture many people who  are oblivious of its present extremely wide remit and who honestly believe that provided no sexual intercourse occurs with someone under the age of consent, particularly with someone just under the age of consent,  no crime has been committed.   It is probable that hundreds of thousands of men over the age of 16 have kissed a girl under 15  in what the  law terms “sexually” or has engaged in heavy petting.  As for grooming, we already are seeing the police taking an interest in sexting. Do we really want large numbers of young men and women being criminalised,  many of whom would  be classified as children because the UK has signed up to the definition of a child as being  anyone under the age of 18, for behaving as the young  have always behaved, namely, explored their sexuality?

There is a good case for looking again at the age of consent with a view to reducing it to 15 and anything short of sexual intercourse where there is consent should not be a crime. Those who would argue that a girl of 15 would automatically be damaged by sexual experience at that age should reflect on the facts that many girls of that age are already engaging in such experience and that prosecution will rarely be taken against them or their sexual partner if there is not a large age gap.

Film review – The Revenant

Main cast

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass

Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald

Domhnall Gleeson as Andrew Henry

Will Poulter as Jim Bridger,

Forrest Goodluck as Hawk, Glass’s son

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Robert Henderson

The Revenant is a tremendous disappointment . Like so many modern  films it substitutes a catalogue of frequent action for character development and condemns the plot to a distinctly mechanical unfolding of one damn thing after another  as the protagonist Hugh Glass  (DiCaprio) survives the hostility of the environment, Indians, some of the men he works with and most spectacularly an encounter with a grizzly bear.

The  year is 1823. A band  of trappers  by  Captain Andrew Henry  (Domhnall Gleeson) are in what is now the Dakotas and what was then  a still wild and largely unsettled (by whites)  part of the Louisiana Purchase, populated by  Indian tribes who varied from the friendly to the warlike.  Glass is the most experienced trapper and   knows the territory best.  His half Indian son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck)  is also a member of the hunting party.

The trappers  are attacked by a band of Arikara Indians who  are armed with bows and arrows. But this being  the age of  the single shot muzzle loading muskets and pistols the trappers do not have an overwhelming superiority  in weaponry. They  suffer heavy losses and retreat from the fight by  boat down a river.   After making their escape Glass  persuades Henry that the party must come off the river and make their way back to the trading post overland.   This decision does not go down well with some of the remaining trappers including John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy).

Glass is then mauled by a grisly bear which leaves him  unable to walk or speak and seemingly on the verge of death.   After carrying him on a makeshift  stretcher  it becomes apparent that they cannot take him with them. Glass ‘s condition also worsens.  Eventually Andrew Henry  accepts that Glass will die but wants him to have a decent burial so asks for two  men   to remain behind and bury Glass properly. Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter)  agree to undertake the task for  additional pay.  Hawk  also stays.

Bridger leaves Fitzgerald alone with Glass. He persuades Glass  to signal by blinking that he wants Fitzgerald to put him out of his misery. Glass  blinks and Fitzgerald begins to suffocate him. Hawk  catches Fitzgerald in the act  and Fitzgerald kills him in a struggle. Bridger then returns before Fitzgerald can kill Glass. Fitzgerald  lies that he has seen a band of Arikara  Indians nearby and persuades Bridger to flee the scene leaving Glass to die. The pair then head for Fort Kiowa. On their  way Bridger discovers that Fitzgerald not seen any Arikara and gets a bad conscience. When they reach the  fort Fitzgerald lies about Glass dying and being given a decent burial. Bridger doesn’t like it but keeps mum.

As for Glass he does not die and gradually recovers both his mobility and voice. He then engages in  a wildly improbable journey to Fort Kiowa most of which  he conducts at first by crawling, then by  staggering with  the aid of a rough staff.   Most of the  action takes place in a wintery snow filled landscape. Yet not only does Glass survive the cold on land, he has several episodes when he is in what must have been water which was close to freezing . Yet DiCaprio is frequently seen in water which must have been icecold. In one scene he is swept away by the current of a fast flowing river encumbered with a heavy fur poncho-style garment  which is his own real guard against the cold. In real life Glass  would  have  rapidly died from hypothermia.

There is also no consistency in the extent of Glass’ supposed disability following the grizzly mauling. There is one scene which is truly absurd when Glass having been moving slowly with the aid of a staff suddenly regains the full use of his legs and runs.

These types  of wildly  improbable events would not matter in a fantasy such as XMen, but it does matter here. The  Revanent (meaning one who returns and especially one who returns from the dead) is  inspired by the allegedly  true story of Hugh Glass.  Apart from the fact that it is meant to have its roots in reality, the film takes great pains to look authentic, the screen being filled with filthy clothes, unshaven faces with dirty  ill-kemped beards and hair, bad skin and  inexhaustible   amounts of mud, all this set against a bleak background of  birch  forest.  The  absurdity of much of the action is horribly at odds with the  tenor of the film which is  deadly serious.

Then there is the question of historical  veracity.   Much of the important plot elements have no solid basis in fact. There is no evidence that Glass had an Indian wife or a half Indian  son.  Hence there was no son for Fitzgerald to kill. Glass was not helped by an Indian  after being deserted by Fitzgerald and Bridger. Glass did not kill  Fitzgerald let alone that seek him out  because Fitzgerald had either vanished or enlisted in the US army,  which meant he could not be safely killed because it would be treated as murder.   Take away those parts of the story and the story has lost much of its energy.

Some of the invention is also plainly designed to fit into the politically correct envelope.  The invention of an Indian wife and half-Indian son,  the depiction of Glass’ survival as being in part due to the help of an Indian, the running thread of an Arikara  chief attacking  the  trappers not for  the simple booty of the  furs but to trade them for  horses and guns  to enable the recovery of his kidnapped daughter all have no basis even in the tale that the real Hugh Glass told.  It is also true that little is known for certain  of Glass , who was  the only witness to what happened after he was left for dead and who may well have greatly embellished the story.

But even as the story is told in the film there is a curious deadness and inconsequentiality to the tale.  The dreadful truth is  the film is rather boring. The episode with the bear and the attack on the trappers by the Indians are undeniably thrilling, but there is the lack of characters who can engage the audience’s sympathy or even interest.  DiCaprio does his best with the material he is given but the it  is pretty frugal fare, not least by the fact that he is either alone or unable to speak for much of the film.   He is neither villain nor hero  but  a drab, dour unsympathetic  personality in a perilous situation.  That does not make for sympathy and the lack of sympathy means one cannot really care about how if at all  Glass will save himself.

Of the rest of the players  only Tom Hardy makes any real  impact. He is ostensibly the villain but might be seen more as a victim of circumstance  for,  after Glass fails to die of his wounds Fitzgerald and Bridger are left in in an impossible position. They cannot carry  Glass nor is Glass in any fit state to walk.  Their lives are at risk. Fitzgerald behaves badly in one way by pretending that he and Bridger have carried out their task and buried Glass after he has died a natural death, but to leave Glass was not unreasonable. Domhnall Gleeson as Andrew Henry  is sadly y miscast because he is positively wooden and horribly far from being a leader.

This is a film which is too  self-consciously important, the sort of film which one can imagine would-be Oscar winners grasping fondly  in the belief that it had Oscars galore written all over it. It may well be such a film for it has already made its mark at the BAFTAS,  but if it is it will be a triumph of promotion over substance.

 

Politically incorrect film reviews – The Martian

Main cast

Matt Damon as Mark Watney (botanist, engineer)

Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose, NASA spokesperson (Director, Media Relations)

Jeff Daniels as Theodore “Teddy” Sanders, Director of NASA

Michael Peña as Major Rick Martinez, astronaut (pilot)

Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen, astronaut (system operator, reactor technician)

Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson, Hermes flight director

Sebastian Stan as Dr. Chris Beck, astronaut (flight surgeon, EVA specialist)

Aksel Hennie as Dr. Alex Vogel, astronaut (navigator, chemist)

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor, NASA’s Mars mission director

Donald Glover as Rich Purnell, a NASA astrodynamicist

Benedict Wong as Bruce Ng, director of JPL

Director Ridley Scott

Imagine Robinson Crusoe without  a Man Friday  and stranded on another planet  rather than a deserted island  and you have the plot of The  Martian in a nutshell.

Botanist Mark Watney ( Matt Damon)  is part of  the Ares III mission  which has landed on Mars and set up a temporary base there. A dust storm blows up while the crew are out on the surface and Watney is hit by some flying debris. The rest of the crew are sure he is dead, but they also have a major danger  to distract them from searching for him: the dust storm is threatening to blow over the rocket that  will take them back to their orbiting Hermes  spaceship. If the rocket topples over the crew will be stranded on Mars.   Consequently, they make an emergency take off  without Watney, get safely to the Hermes and  head  for Earth.

But Watney is not dead. He has been injured by  the flying debris,  but not mortally. The facility which sheltered the crew on Mars, the Hab, is still functioning  and there is a large Mars rover vehicle intact.  Watney sits down in the Hab and does  exactly what Crusoe does, takes an inventory of what he has then sets about working himself out of the monumental hole he is in.  This he achieves  in a series of   ingenious ways   including, again mimicking  Crusoe , by scavenging equipment  from  wrecks, in this case  from abandoned equipment  left  from previous missions, manned and unmanned, to  Mars.

Most of the film  is taken up with Watney’s efforts  to overcome  one daunting  obstacle to surviving  after another long enough to have any chance of rescue.  He starts from the bleak  point of knowing that NASA  think that he is dead.  Hence his   first need is to establish contact with Earth to let them know he is alive.  He eventually does this  by cleverly  tinkering with equipment  intended for other things until eventually he has an email  link with NASA.

After making contact with NASA,  Watney’s  most pressing problem is  having enough food   to last long enough to keep him alive until Earth can attempt to rescue him. It will take several years to send another spaceship to Mars and Watney  has food for nothing like that long. Luckily he is a botanist so he works out a way of producing water and this,  with the excrement from the astronauts acting as fertiliser, allows him to grow potatoes inside the Hab with sufficient success  to allow him to survive for considerably  longer but not long enough for the next Mars expedition, Aries IV, to arrive and save  him.

While Watney is problem solving on Mars NASA is problem solving on Earth and meeting with disaster. Their attempts to   launch an unmanned rocket with extra supplies to allow Watney to survive until Aires IV can get there  ends in disaster and all looks lost.  But eventually  the Aries III mission ship Hermes ship is re-provisioned a in space and then turned around on its flight to Earth and sent back to Mars to rescue Watney. This is done only with the help of the Chinese (note the glib  internationalism and/or kotowing to the Chinese).

After further adventures including a disaster with the Hab and a long ride across the Martian surface in the Mars Rover the film culminates in a hair raising exercise to rescue Watney. Does he make it? Well, you will need to see the film to discover that.

Damon’s performance as Watney  recaptures  the engaging boyishness of his early films like Goodwill Hunting and Rounders.   He is also decidedly funny. Without him the film would be pretty dull,  for apart from Damon the plot involving the rest of the cast is rather predictable and even those with  the larger parts such as Jeff Daniels as Theodore “Teddy” Sanders,  the Director of NASA and Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis,   the Ares III Mission Commander, are distinctly one-dimensional.  Sean Bean is horribly miscast as Mitch Henderson the Hermes flight director speaking what lines he has with as much verve as a speak-your-weight-machine .

The Martian has been criticised in some quarters for Damon’s role being too comic.  That is a mistake. Whether  or not someone in such a desperate and isolated position  would be able to maintain such an upbeat  persona with the sense of both his utter physical isolation and desperate circumstances  pressing upon him is of course debatable . But that is to miss the point. The same objection could be levelled at Robinson Crusoe.  But in both cases what counts is whether there is a good story to be told and in both cases the answer is yes.   Moreover, the attitude of Watney  is that of those with the  “right stuff”, an epitome of American can do. Nor is he  utterly alone for most of the film. To keep him sane  he has his contact with Earth for most of the time and eventually  the Aries III ship Hermes . He also records his progress on a video blog, something which would provide a sense of purpose.   It is Boy’s Own stuff but none the worse for that. Nor is it  utterly unbelievable. Think of the tone of the diaries kept on Scott’s doomed return from the South Pole or the resolution of the crew on Apollo 13 after an oxygen tank  exploded  two days into the mission and crippled the spacecraft.    Boy’s Own behaviour is found in real life.

The  depiction  of Mars is unnecessarily sloppy.  It  looks convincing as far as the scenery is concerned, but  there are   anomalies. The gravity on Mars is one-third of that on Earth yet when Damon moves around  there is no  indication of this  in his  walk ,which one would expect to be at least mildly bouncing. Nor when Damon moves things does he do so with unexpected ease as one would imagine he should with only one-third Earth gravity.   Then there is the atmospheric pressure which is around  one-hundredth of the on Earth. Would the storm which causes the Aries Mission  crew to leave really have had the energy to hurl debris as violently as it did or threaten to knock the rocket over?  The answer is no because it is the density of atmosphere which provides the “weight” behind a dust storm. On Mars the dust storm would be a  breeze not a hurricane.  As the dust storm plays a significant role in the plot this is not a small thing.

For politically correct casting  fans The Martian provides a feast.  The commander of the Aries II mission is a woman; the Chiwetel Ejiofor is  Vincent Kapoor, NASA’s Mars mission director, Benedict Wong is  Bruce Ng, director of JPL and there  are ethnic minority and female  bodies all over the place in the NASA control room scenes.  Donald Glover as Rich Purnell, a NASA astrodynamicist, s the whizz kid who produces  the maths which allows the  Hermes to turn round and head back to Mars is black.  (The overwhelmingly  white  and male  reality of NASAtoday  can be seen here).

Despite its flaws  the film  is genuinely  entertaining.  You will not leave the cinema feeling you have wasted a couple of hours.

Politically incorrect film reviews – Dear White People broadcasts the wrong message

Main cast

Tyler James Williams as  Lionel Higgins

Tessa Thompson as  Sam White

Kyle Gallner as Kurt Fletcher

Teyonah Parris as Colandrea “Coco” Conners

Brandon Bell as  Troy

Malcolm Barrett as  Helmut West

Dennis Haysbert  as the Dean

Justin Dobies as Gabe

Peter Syvertsen as President Hutchinson

Director: Justin Simien

Dear White People  cannot make up its mind  whether it should be  a comedy  out of the National Lampoon Animal House stable  or a serious drama.  At one moment there are halfway decent jokes such as a college radio  broadcast  announcing  that the minimum  number of black friends a white person must have if they were not to be called racist had been raised from one to two  with white listeners  reacting in panic-stricken fashion and at another ritual  expressions of  PC horror because a blackface party organised by white students is going to be held. This is a shame because the subject  – black students in a white dominated Ivy League university – has considerable possibilities for either form of film.

The film is  set in Winchester, a fictitious Ivy league university where the majority of students are white. The university’s white President Hutchinson (Peter Syvertsen) has decided to place students in  campus  accommodation on a colour-blind basis.  This is met with resistance  in an all-black  residential house  known as Armstrong/Parker.  A film production major and mixed-race  girl Sam White (Tessa Thompson)  unexpectedly wins the election for who is to be head of Armstrong/Parker  beating  Troy (Brandon Bell),  the son of Winchester’s  Dean and uses her position to begin  agitating for  Armstrong/Parker  to remain  all black.

Sam also  has her own college radio station named Dear White People which   unblushingly pushes black stereotypes of whites such as her broadcast requests  “Dear white people … please stop dancing”, “Dear white people please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you? “  When  the black dean  of Winchester (Dennis Haysbert)   tells her that the Dear White People broadcasts are racist  she responds  “ Black people cannot be racist. Racism describes a system of disadvantage based on race “. When challenged by her  boyfriend  Gabe (Justin Dobies ) about how she would feel if someone started  Dear Black People broadcasts,  her  smug black victimhood response is “No need. Mass media for Fox  make it clear what they think of us.”    You get the idea of where she is coming from.  Except you do not get the full picture because  her boyfriend is white and she has a secret liking for Taylor Swift, a distinct no no for a right-on black.

This type of  blurring of character is used frequently  in the film to demonstrate not that  everyone is the same under the skin,  but to offer an excuse for  further wallowing in black victimhood. The black students at Winchester U cannot complain of lack of opportunity or of being treated in a demeaning way, but they can still have a great appetite for  playing the victim.  This means they have to be  inventive. One of the ways is to claim that even privileged  blacks like them are under tremendous strain because  whites expect blacks to both conform to a stereotype  and be experts on black culture,  or at least experts on  what is perceived by both black and white as black culture. Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) as a black gay student  who does not feel very black is the prime example in the film as he admits “I listen to Munford and sons and watch Robert Altman films”  and is told by a white girl on the student newspaper he wants to write for  that “You’re only technically black”.

Simien  is both black and gay and  judged by the screenplay he has produced, so obsessively  concerned about both that the need for basic  dramatic structure is tossed aside.    It is also a problem that he  wrote the screenplay as well as directing. This is always a difficult duality, particularly as the film is his first attempt at feature length direction.  It was also crowdfunded so there was not the usual  studio oversight.  Having a free hand as writer and director may sound fine in theory but it rests a great deal  on the individual who has the free hand.  In this case it is a serious mistake, not least because Simien is  very green as a  director.   This  inexperience shows because he  is  clearly under the impression that cramming in everything about a subject will result in a good film. The problem with this approach is that it destroys any plausible narrative as scenes  streak by without any continuous dramatic coherence holding them together. One can imagine Simiens  whilst directing ticking off one by one the  “what blacks think of whites”  set pieces he has created.

Examples of these set pieces are :

Mixed race light skinned blacks do better in a white world that dark skinned blacks. This is hung on the difference between in treatment of mixed race Sam White  and  authentically black Coco Connors (Teyonah Parris) by a white TV producer  of  TV reality show “Black Face/White Place” following Sam’s story but , rejecting  Coco pitch for a show  “Doing Time at an Ivy League”.

Troy has a white girlfriend which is seen not as integration but simply as a ploy white girls pull when they want to annoy their parents.

There is a good deal that is deliberately  non-PC  in the  film. A  white   hoax invite to the  party which causes outrage  is sent out  with an invocation to  “Liberate Your Inner Negro”, Sam White is described as “like the pissed off child of Spike Lee and Oprah”  and   Sam’s white boyfriend says “ I’m sick of your tragic mulatto bull” . But it has very little effect both because  there are too many “outrage” words and storyline  (even the most committed liberal or black activist can only be outraged so many times) and because of the unconvincing  nature of the outrage  shown.

On top of this jerky narrative there is the crude realisations of both the  characters and the drama such as it is.  The film  is littered with clumsily constructed stereotypes. Troy (Brandon Bell )  is the non-threatening black  who says things such as “I really don’t see the issue. Never ran into any lynch mob.” ; Sam White the threatening black;  Troy’s father ( Dennis Haysbert )the paranoid black parent  desperate for his son not to give whites  a chance to belittle him by  trying to make a career as a comedy writer instead of  being in a  respectable professional  occupation;  Kurt Fletcher ( Kyle Gallner) is the arrogant white boy with a hint of racism.

The comic book nature of the film as it moves swiftly from satirical point to satirical point robs  the actors of any chance for substantial character development. Within those confines  they all make a good fist of things with  Kyle Gallner and Brandon Bell being  especially convincing as the stereotypes they were asked to portray.

What is fascinating about the film is that  it contains  considerable anti-white racism,  but  Simiens seem to be oblivious to it.  The  white characters are allowed only subordinate parts   while the black characters remain centre stage. Black characters  have many jibes against whites while the white characters are allowed only a few token ripostes  but they are very token, for example,    Kyle Gallner  ventures “Sometimes I think that the hardest thing to be in the American workforce is educated white guy”. Consequently, the portrayal of whites in the film is  ultimately derogatory  whereas the blacks who are shown in less than a flattering light are in a different category. They may have prejudices about whites but these  are presented as being a consequence of  white racism both historical and present day.   The message of the film is that blacks may be ostensibly  racist  but the should not be censured or even mildly disapproved of because of the historical legacy, but whites are there to be pantomime villains to be booed at every opportunity.  Most probably this is not  a deliberate propaganda ploy by Simien but simply an unconscious  reproducing what is the default position for politically conscious blacks and white liberals.

There is a sharp  comedy of manners to be made of the relationship between whites and blacks in a privileged situation but this is not it. Ditto a really biting satire on white liberal mores when faced with  racial questions and the comfort blanket of black victimhood.  What the viewer is left to view  is a cinematic and ideological mess which is too soft centred to even provoke outrage.

What can we learn from the  2015 British General Election?

Robert Henderson

  1. With First Past The Post less than 37% of votes cast (and less than 25% of registered voters) can give you a majority in the House of Commons , while nearly four million votes (for Ukip) can get you one seat in the House.
  2. The Conservative performance in terms of Commons seats was better than it looks because the size of UK constituencies varies considerably and  on average it takes substantially more votes to elect  Conservative MPs than it does a Labour MP in England  or MPs  in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Had the boundary changes put forward  in 2013 to produce more equal  sized  constituencies  not been blocked by the LibDems,  this would have favoured the Tories significantly, perhaps giving them another 20 seats.
  3. The reason for the failure of the pollsters to come anywhere near to the election result is simple: they tend to rely on telephone  and online polls.  Both routinely  result in samples which are not representative of the population. Telephone polls are  undermined by  the large number of people who are unwilling to answer questions  and the time of day  when calls are made, for example, if you ring during the day you are likely to get  a different sample than if you ring in the evening.  Online polls rely on (1) people being online and moderately  IT savvy – which excludes many people – and (2) what are in effect focus groups formed of people who put themselves forward  (which will mean they are unrepresentative   of the general  population regardless of the attempt to choose them in the context of their backgrounds ) who are questioned regularly( which precludes even the basic shuffling of the sample pack created every time an entirely  new sample is questioned.)
  4. The exit poll came much closer to the actual result because (1) it was a very large sample (20,000), (2) people were interviewed face to face and (3) the people interviewed had actually voted.  The pollsters need to go back to face to face interviewing and more rigorous selection of polling samples.
  5. The Conservative Party has a formal Commons majority of 12. Sinn Fein have  four  seats and if they follow their normal practice of not taking up those seats the majority would effectively  be 16.  Add in the Speaker of the House who does not  vote except when a vote is tied,  and the majority is effectively 17  (The  Commons has 650 MPs. Deduct the Sinn Fein MPs and the Speaker and a practical majority is 323. The Tories have 331 seats. That leaves 314 opposition MPs.  The practical majority is 17).   Such a majority is just about a working one.
  6. Even a twelve seat majority is functional because though it may look fragile, in practice all opposition MPs will  not vote against the government on many  issues. This can be for  ideological reasons (they broadly  agree with the legislation), they think voting against a Bill would play badly with the public or the simple fact that the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and many opposition English seat MPs have constituencies which are hundreds of miles away from London.  Tory seats tend to be much nearer London than opposition ones. Moreover, if the government wants to play difficult , they can  always refuse to allow pairing of MPs (MPs of different parties agree not to vote, thus cancelling one another’s votes  out) .  That would put a burden on their own MPs,  but much less of a one than that placed on opposition MPs, because, as  already explained,  Tory   MPs  on average have much less distance to travel to and from their constituencies than do opposition MPs.
  7. The size of the Conservative majority will give their backbenchers far more leverage  on the government. This will be healthy because it will re-assert the power of the Commons over the executive .
  8. In the first couple of years much of the major legislation going through will command widespread support amongst Conservative MPs. However, if the Cabinet starts backtracking on their manifesto promises the Tory backbenchers will want to know the reason why  and will rebel if pushed too hard in a direction they do not wish to go. (Cameron  was rash  enough at the first Cabinet meeting  of the new government to promise that the Tory manifesto would be implemented in full – go in at 11.32 am ) .
  9. Because of the small majority, the Conservative government should push through as soon as possible all their most important legislation. This  includes the EU referendum , English votes for English laws, the delayed boundary changes and  the repeal of the Human Rights Act.  The House of Lords can delay passing a Commons Bill for about a year. After that the government can force it through using the Parliament Act.
  10. The government would be well advised to repeal the Fixed term Parliaments Act, not least because the small majority is likely to diminish before the end of the Parliament and even if it does not it will be very difficult for the government party to maintain its discipline for five years. The danger is a repeat of the last years of the Major government  which saw  constant Tory infighting and precious little being done in the last eighteen months or so.
  11. The election told us that both the Tories and Labour are parties devoid of principle. Thatcher hollowed out the Tory Party converting it from a party which stood broadly for the national interest, strong on defence, protectionist where strategic industries such as coal were concerned  , with its  natural paternalism of the past sublimated into an acceptance of the welfare state.  Blair  cut out the central moral purpose of the Labour Party (to protect the poor  and unfortunate) and replaced it with a  toxic hybrid  of Thatcherism with its the  mania for  privatisation both wholesale and piecemeal  and greatly  increased state spending, much of which was spent to no good purpose and whose justification seemed to be no more than the spending of the money for its own sake to show how “caring” NuLabour were.
  12. While the SNP remain strong in Scotland Labour has no realistic chance of achieving an overall majority in the Commons.  It is worth noting that Labour  won  232  seats  in this election compared with compared with 258 in the 2010 Election, a loss of 26 seats.  As Labour lost 40 of their 41 seats in Scotland  and only one seat in Wales this means they gained 13 seats in England. Thus there is some small glimmer of hope for Labour to if not win form a coalition as the leading party in it after  the next General  Election  if the SNP vote collapses and the  Labour vote increases by a few percentage votes in England. However, it is a very slim hope at present.
  13. For the foreseeable future Labour are only  likely to  form a coalition government  with the SNP.
  14. Labour primarily did poorly because they have for long neglected  the white working class (which was the natural bedrock of their support)   and instead pandered to a motley collection of minority interest groups,  most notably racial and ethnic minorities. Because they had split their support they ended up trying to produce a message which would appeal to wildly disparate groups. Their “core vote” strategy, which involved appealing to around a third of voters and then either adding a few more votes to gain a majority  or at worst  to  be the dominant partner in a left of centre coalition, was both contemptible in a democracy because it ignored the interests of the majority and, as it turned out, a  hideous failure.
  15. If the Labour Party had been in a position to form a coalition they would have found themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. If they had been able to form a majority  in  coalition with the SNP that would have finished them as an English party: if  they refused to form such a coalition they would have been ruined in Scotland and damaged  them in Wales on the grounds of having let in the Tories.
  16. SNP political leverage within the House of Commons can only exist while there is no English Parliament. Create an English Parliament and the SNP are emasculated . The popularity of the SNP in Scotland is unlikely to last because there is growing dissatisfaction in Scotland at both its economic mismanagement and its increasingly authoritarian behaviour. Time is the enemy of the SNP as the dark reality of what they have created comes to fruition.
  17. It has been claimed by many political commentators that a Tory government was just what the SNP wanted because it would fan the flames of Scottish nationalism and bogus  victimhood.  If this was the reasoning of the SNP leadership it was extremely stupid because it has rendered their party impotent at Westminster .  The intelligent strategy for Sturgeon to have followed  before the election would have been to say that the SNP  would  not have any formal relationship, whether coalition or a looser agreement , but would  support any legislation which fitted in with SNP policies.   There should have been no ruling out of any agreement with anyone, no demonising of any other Westminster Party, no threatening of England, no  trying to portray the SNP  as forcing left facing  policies on England  as being for England’s good .  Had she done that the Tories might well not have been able to form a government off their own bat.  Instead Sturgeon handed the Tories a victory which, if the Party was run by someone willing to look to England’s interests,  would have left the SNP to twist impotently in the wind .
  18. Wales and Northern Ireland have no serious wish to become independent, not least because they are economic basket cases which are heavily dependent on English taxpayers’ money.
  19. This was a profoundly dishonest election. There was a disturbing lack of debate by the major parties on  important policy areas with   foreign policy, defence, energy ,  food self-sufficiency and  the imbalanced devolution settlement which grossly disadvantages England  being  barely addressed.  Other major issues, for example immigration and the still massive deficit in the UK’s public finances were mentioned often enough,  but  without any proposals being put forward which would plausibly  tackle the problems involved.  Apart from Ukip, parties were either   for open borders (The Greens)  or restricted  to promises to cut benefits for immigrants and operate a points system to ensure only skilled migrants came.( Even if such things could be done, there would not necessarily be a reduction in migrants because no upper limit was put on numbers).    Proposals for increased government spending were either not costed at all or relied on fantasy  money coming  from “efficiency savings”  within public service or absurdly optimistic forecasts of how the British economy would grow.
  20. The housing crisis is the prime toxin in not only the British economy but also British society. The absurd cost of  both renting and buying is reducing large parts of the population (and particularly those under 35 who have never got on the housing ladder)  to a miserable, insecure existence.  All the major parties made promises of building hundreds of thousands of new houses a year  without meaningfully explaining where the money was coming from.  Moreover, much of what   they did promise  – 200,00 to -300,000 new flats and houses a year  – will inevitably  be taken by  immigrants because no major party could say these homes would  be reserved for native Britons because no major party is willing to pull out of the EU. Net immigration is currently running at  around 300,00 a year . If it continues at that level new immigrants will want at least 100,000 homes a year.  This fact went unmentioned by the Tories, Labour and  the LIbDems. To put the cherry on the housing mess, the Tories attempted to bribe, probably successfully, 2.5 million housing association tenants with an extension of the Right-to-Buy to such properties (this gives substantial discounts on the market price of a property).  This will reduce the number  properties which people can actually afford to rent in places such as London even further.
  21. David Cameron sanctioned a number of very  risky manifesto  commitments such as promising English votes for English laws, a referendum on the EU and  the repeal of the Human Rights Act. The most plausible explanation for this is he  did not believe the Tories would win an overall majority and had put these items into the Tory manifesto simply to use as bargaining chips which he could discard  in the event of another coalition with the LIbDems.  If that was Cameron’s  strategy it reinforces the idea of the leading politicians in Britain being complete cynics.  The Tories also recklessly  promised no rise in income tax, national insurance or VAT in the next Parliament.  They will have to live with that millstone around their necks for five years.
  22. Political correctness still has a terrible hold on those permitted a public voice. The most notable example of this was probably when the  Ukip leader Nigel Farage had the courage in one of the leaders’ debates  to raise the question of foreign  HIV sufferers  coming to Britain for very expensive and ongoing treatment on the NHS.  He was howled at by the studio audience and berated by  other politicians taking part as though he had placed himself beyond the Pale.
  23. The fact that Ukip are routinely described as “right-wing” and not infrequently “far right” by both mainstream politicians and the mainstream media nicely demonstrates the dominance of politically correct thinking amongst those given the privilege of a public voice. Apart from their wish to leave the EU, Ukip’s policies  are not radically different from those  espoused by the Tories and Labour over the past twenty-five years.  That applies even to immigration, because neither the Tories nor Labour has ever publicly  advocated an open door policy.
  24. The party for adolescents, the LibDems, will now be able to return to their pre-Thatcher role of being able to all fit into a telephone box at the same time.
  25. The party for the pre-pubescent, the Greens, can be safely left until the next election dreaming up ever more ever more febrile fantasies  of what the electorate wants. They will have some work to put in because they set the bar very high in this election with their plea for  open borders and increased foreign aid.

Politically incorrect film reviews – Selma takes the wrong road to watchability

Robert Henderson

Main cast

David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tom Wilkinson as Lyndon B. Johnson

Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King

Dylan Baker as J. Edgar Hoover

Tim Roth as George Wallace

Director Ava DuVernay

Selma is the latest in an ever lengthening list of  propaganda films in the politically correct interest. It is Alabama 1965. Martin Luther King is already internationally famous after his “I have a dream “ speech   in 1963 and  the award of the Nobel Peace prize in 1964. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is meeting with resistance and black voters  are  finding they still cannot  register to vote because of the application of local electoral regulations  in ways which are comically restrictive.   King goes to the city of Selma with a clutch of supporters from the  Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)  to protest  about this thwarting of the law, but their  attempts to help  blacks  register in the city   fail.  As a consequence  a protest march  from Selma to Montgomery , the Alabama state capital, is planned.  The first march is stopped brutally, the second aborted by King and the third allowed to happen.

That is the skeleton of the film.  There is precious little solid  dramatic flesh put on the skeleton. To be brutally frank Selma   is boring. It is too wordy,  too cluttered with characters,  too  didactic and unremittingly earnest.  These are qualities guaranteed to lose any cinema audience.  The problem is particularly acute when, as here,  there is an large cast.   Disputes and debates between King  and his supporters or between King  and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) are so extended and detailed that anyone not familiar with the story would not know what to make of it  and, in any case, as anyone who has ever been involved with an ideologically driven political group will be only too aware,  of little interest to anyone who has not been captured by the ideology. Reflecting life too exactly  on film is not always the best  way to keep people’s attention.  Propaganda films do not have to be boring, although  they often are. The black director Spike Lee would have made a much less sprawling and vastly  more watchable film whilst keeping the ideological message.

There is also a woeful and wilful  lack of historical context.  This one has at its core  a  vision of wicked Southern good ol’ boys  oppressing  blacks.  White involvement is restricted to racists with a penchant for violence,  a few white sympathisers with the civil rights movement who  appear peripherally,  adorned with looks of sublimely smug  unquestioning  utopian naivety not see on film since the initial sighting of a hippy commune in Easy  Rider and Lyndon Johnson who  is shown as sympathetic to King’s views but not interested enough to risk his political future by wholeheartedly embracing the legislation which King says is necessary .  There is  no attempt to see things from the viewpoint of the whites who opposed integration, unlike, for example, a film such as In the Heat of the Night in which  Rod Steiger’s sheriff  attempts  to explain why whites in the South are as they are because of their circumstances,  for example, their  widely held and not unreasonable fear that a black population which has been suppressed may turn on whites . Instead  Selma just rushes in and  points the finger of moral shame at any white who does not uncritically embrace what King advocates with a complete disregard from the fact that  every human being  morally and sociologically has  to start from the  situation into which they are born.

The concentration of the film on a specific time and place is also  problematic, because King’s  ideological  career was a far more complex  thing than the film can show. It also  removes the embarrassment which would have hung around a straightforward biopic of King, such as  the  plagiarism which gained him a doctorate and  his marginalisation as a civil rights leader which eventually saw him reduced to going to support sewage workers at the time of his assassination.  Mention is made of his gross  womanising, but only in the context of a sex tape recorded by the FBI which was sent to King’s wife  Cora. The fact that some who were close to him said  he had a particular  liking for white women – which could be taken as evidence of racism in King if his motive was to revenge himself on whites by abusing their women –  goes unmentioned .  Indeed, it is rather odd that a man as celebrated as King is in the USA  and with a worldwide reputation should never have had a full blown biopic. Perhaps the answer is that King’s private life was too messy to deal with in a film depicting his entire public  life rather than a short period of it devoted to a specific subject.

More importantly the tight focus in Selma  means that the fifty odd years since Selma  go unexamined.  No honest  person  would deny that the position of blacks in the USA and particularly those in the Old South was demeaning at the beginning of the 1960s,  but is what has  replaced segregation and Jim Crow laws  really that much better for most blacks or, perhaps more pertinently, anywhere near what King hoped would happen? Perhaps  the answer to the first question is a tepid  yes, at least for  blacks who have benefitted from  “positive discrimination”,  but it has to be an unequivocal no to the  latter.   Segregation by choice has replaced segregation by law. Illegitimacy  and crime amongst  blacks has rocketed. A fair case could be made for  the  individual  personal relationship between whites and blacks being worse now that it was fifty years ago.

Tom Wilkinson is very decent  LBJ but  David Oyelowo  does not quite cut it as King. It is not that it is technically a bad performance, it is simply that he does not capture the charisma that King undoubtedly had.  His  portrayal of King keeps a question nagging away at one: why would any one have followed this rather drab character?  The rest of the cast do not really have time to develop their roles, although Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King and Tim Roth as George Wallace have their moments.

The insubstantial quality of the film can be judged by the  meagre  Oscar recognition and  its  popularity with the public by the money it has taken.   The film was nominated for  Best Picture  and best song but for nothing else, which is a rather remarkable thing.  Nor did it win as best picture. A public  fuss was made about Ava DuVernay and  David Oyelowo being left out of Best Director and Best Actor categories,  but only in the context of no black actors and directors being nominated.  Considering the public political correctness the American film business emits,  it is rather difficult to imagine that the tepid response to Selma by the Oscar granting Academy voters was the result of racism.  In fact its nomination as Best Picture despite having no nominations in the directing and acting categories suggests that the opposite happened, Selma was nominated for Best Picture regardless of its mediocrity as a sop to political correctness.

The public also responded in less than passionate fashion. As of 16 April Selma had taken $52,076,908 worldwide which placed it 57th in the top grossing films of the previous 365 days.  Not  bad in purely commercial terms  for a film which cost $20 million to make, but distinctly underwhelming  for a film lauded to the skies by most critics and many public figures.  The truth is that people both in the States and abroad have not been that drawn to it, whether  because of the subject or the indifferent quality of the film.  One  can  take the browbeaten horses of the Western world to the politically correct water but they can’t make many of them drink.

The pernicious nature of a film like this is not that it casts whites as the villain,  but that it gives blacks and excuse for anything that goes wrong in their lives, the prize of an inexhaustible victimhood

See mass migration for what it is – invasion

Robert Henderson

The French writer Jean Raspail’s Camp of the Saints describes a situation not unlike that of the present exodus from North Africa and the Middle East. In Raspail’s book the invasion is by large ships crammed with Third World migrants coming to Europe where the ships are beached and the migrants flood into Europe, a Europe which has lost the will to resist because of decades of politically correct internationalist propaganda. Europe and eventually the entire developed world falls to the invasion of the Third World hordes who are armed only with their misery and the Pavlovian response of  First World populations brainwashed to believe that they collectively are to blame for third world ills and  who  consequently  cannot morally deny the invaders entry to their lands.. This is the scenario which is now being acted out in the Mediterranean, but with, in the main, small boats, rather than large ones carrying the mi grants.

The stark truth is that mass immigration is invasion resulting in the effective colonisation of parts of the invaded country because immigrants from a similar background have a pronounced tendency to congregate in the same area. Any other description of mass immigration is wilfully  dishonest.  It is as reasonable for a people to resist invasion by mass immigration as it is to an invasion by an armed invader.

Anti-immigration parties are on the rise because all over the developed world their elites have ignored the wishes of their people and forced mass immigration on them. In Britain (and many other first world countries) this has been accompanied by the increasingly punitive application of the criminal law to those who protest about mass immigration and its effects.

Nor is it only the developed world. Everywhere mass immigration is abhorred, for example, in South Africa where the government has just had to send in the army to stop attacks on migrants

The promotion of mass immigration is a particularly deep treason, because unlike an invasion by military force the legions of the immigrant army are disparate and cannot be readily expelled. Where mass immigration is deliberately  promoted by a government, as happened under Blair according to ex-No 10 advisor Andrew Neather,   to deliberately change the nature of a  society (in Neather’s words, “to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date”)  it is the most contemptible of treasons.

Mass immigration is a form of theft by the elites who permit it.  It robs  a people of their collective and individual  sense of national security and an enjoyment of a culture and history in which all share. Mundanely it steals from it people, and especially the poor, the  things which are necessary for a decent life:  housing at a decent price, schools which are near to where children live and which do not boast “96 languages are spoken here”, ready access to GPs and hospital treatment and   well paid jobs which have not had their wages suppressed through immigrant labour.  The whole business is made even more repulsive because the elites who inflict this on their people take good care to live in very white,  and in England, very English, worlds whilst incessantly extolling the joy of diversity.    These people know precisely what they are inflicting on others.

The answer to the migrants flooding across the Mediterranean  is very simple, spend money on surveillance methods such as drones and satellites and a substantial fleet of fast manoeuvrable ships which can patrol the Mediterranean  and intercept immigrant laden boats and ships and tow them back from whence they came.  The ideal would be to unload the migrants  and then destroy the ships.

It is also probable  that  the drone and satellite  surveillance would  provide information on where human traffickers are assembling their passengers and where the boats likely to be used to transport them are harboured.  If so, action could be taken by the Western powers to destroy their boats whilst in harbour. Lest there be a wail against Western states interfering with Third World countries, those contemplating such a  complaint should  reflect on the palpable fact that the states from which the migrants are coming are either failed states or  are actively conniving with the traffickers to get migrants from North Africa and the Middle East  into Europe.

If such a scheme t cost a billion  pounds a year it would be cheap at the price.  In fact if it cost ten billion a year it would be cheap. Such a scheme would be undeniably practical.  All that is required is the political will, of elites and the governed in the West,   to cast aside the politically correct mentality  which says people must be allowed to come, must be saved from perils into they have placed themselves,   regardless of the cost to the Western societies who have until now been expected to  take them in.

The times they are a-changing

Robert Henderson

What has changed over the past year?

I sense that political correctness has passed its high point. Like all totalitarian creeds,  it is in reality  failing when it is  seemingly at its most dominant. That is because  all totalitarian creeds become ever more obviously  detached from reality  as they invariably become ever more extreme as the practitioners and enforcers of the ideology compete to show who is the purest ideologue.  It is also catching more and more people who may have thought themselves safe from suffering any penalty from being non-pc in its clutches, for example, the Wigan FC chairman Dave Whelan, not least because of the  growing ubiquity of digital devices available to record  both the spoken and written word, so that even private utterances or writings are vulnerable to hacking, deliberate surreptitious  recording or  in the case of that which is written , the discovery of thoughts by third parties.

There has also  been a considerable change in the past twelve months   in the rhetoric on three vital matters: immigration, withdrawal from the EU and the political representation of England within a  devolved UK.   All have become much more in line with reality, both social and political.  The change in the case of immigration is especially striking.  None of this  has as yet been translated into practical action,  but honest talk about subjects for long treated as beyond the Pale by mainstream politicians and media  is encouraging and is an essential prelude to meaningful action.  The more the rhetoric moves towards reality, the harder will it be for the political elite to control matters.  There is a genuine  possibility of  both an IN/Out EU referendum in 2017 and  English Votes for English Laws after the 2015 General Election.

An EU referendum

Many of those  supposedly in favour of the UJK leaving the EU are fearful  or say they are that a referendum in the near future would be lost and talk of years of preparation of the electorate before a referendum is held. Richard North is a prime proponent of this argument.   It holds no water for two reasons. First,  if Britain remains within the EU we shall become ever more entwined in its coils to the extent that  Britain would l find it very difficult to legally leave the EU.  This process is  already well in hand  as the recent signing up to 35 Justice measures,  including opting in again  to the European Arrest Warrant, demonstrates.  This has happened despite  the profound implications of the  handing of such power to the EU. Why was there no referendum? Because  the European Union 2011  Act, only  makes the holding of a referendum  necessary  on  the granting of entirely   new powers to the EU and/ or extending existing powers if the powers are part of an EU treaty concluded after the Act passing into law in 2011.

This failure to refer very important  transfers of power to a referendum is no accident. There are no new treaties on the horizon for the very simple reason that the Eurofanatics fear they would l lose  any referenda on another treaty and they cannot avoid such referenda because some countries such as France, the Republic of Ireland  and now the UK  require a referendum on a treaty to transfer further powers to Brussels. (The UK  law could be repealed or amended  to restrict the opportunities for a referendum,  but that  is unlikely  because Ed Miliband has committed himself to it).

The second reason not to shy away from a referendum in the near future is simple. Suppose the worst happens and the  referendum is lost . That is not the end of the matter. Rather it is the beginning as the Scottish referendum aftermath has demonstrated.    A referendum would provide opportunities  to put forward the case for coming out  in depth  in the mainstream media over a sustained period and  to energise the electorate. That would provide the platform for future IN/OUT referenda. By its nature nothing is ever permanently settled in a democracy.

English votes for English laws

Even in its  purist form with only English seat MPs voting on English laws this is not a permanent solution, but it is a staging post to an English Parliament.   Once established it will quickly become clear that there will be perpetual dissent over what are English-only laws, squabbles over the continuing existence of the Barnett Formula and the practical difficulty of having a House of Commons where the majorities for UK business and English business might be different, for example, a  UK wide  majority for Labour  or Labour led coalition, either relying for MPs from seats outside of England for their majority and a Tory majority in England.

The Tory and LibDem proposals put forward by William Hague today in publication The Implications of Devolution for England  are messy with two of the  three Tory options  fudging  matters by not restricting the proposal and the voting on of English-only legislation to English-seat MP and  the  LibDem proposal   being a blatant attempt to smuggle in proportional representation by the back door by suggesting that an English Grand Committee be set up with its members selected to represent the proportion of votes each party . They also have a superb recipe for balkanising England by allowing different levels of  representation on demand with differing  powers  if a city,  council or region seek them. Labour have not put any proposals formally forward because they refused to join discussions on fitting England into the devolution mix.  I will deal with the subject in greater depth in a separate essay.

The most dangerous general global threats are plausibly  these in this order

  1. Mass immigration.
  2. Islam – It is a simple fact that serious unrest is found wherever there are large numbers of Muslims.   When I hear Muslims and their liberal supporters proclaiming that Islam is the religion of peace I am reminded irresistibly of the film  Independence Day in which the aliens emerge from their spaceship proclaiming “we come in peace”  before blasting everyone in sight to smithereens.

3 Uncontrolled technology, which leaves the developed world in particular  but increasingly the  world generally,  very vulnerable  to suddenly being left without vital services if computer systems fail naturally or through cyber attacks.  The glitch over the UK air traffic control gives a hint of  how vulnerable we are.

The most dangerous specific  threats to global peace and stability are:

–              The heightened tension between China and the rest of the far East (especially Japan) as a consequence of China’s flexing of territorial ambitions.

–              China’s extraordinary expanding  shadow world empire which consists of both huge investment in the first world and de facto colonial control in the developing world.

–              The growing power of India which threatens Pakistan.

–              The increasing authoritarianism of the EU due to both the natural impetus towards central control and the gross mistake of the Euro.  The Eurofanatics are playing with fire in their attempts to lure border states of Russia into the EU whilst applying seriously damaging sanctions to Russia. It is not in the West’s interest to have a Russia which feels threatened or denied its natural sphere of influence.

–              The ever more successful (at least in the short run)  attempt of post-Soviet Russia to re-establish their suzerainty over the old Soviet Empire.

 

Antibiotic resistance has the potential to be another man-made warming mania

Robert Henderson

A team led by the  economist Jim O’Neill has just published their findings  into a review of   the resistance to antibiotics by bacteria.  The review was ordered by David Cameron.

The research concluded that as things stand the growing inefficacy of antibiotics would result in as many as  ten million extra deaths a year  throughout the world by  2050 and an economic loss  from these deaths of  £64 trillion over the period  (or as much as £128 trillion if additional healthcare costs are added in).

Ominously O’Neill has consulted with Lord Stern, the global warming religionist, and likens the situation with antibiotic resistance to  that of  the manmade  global warming  mania:

“Mr O’Neill said he had consulted closely with Lord Stern, the President of the Royal Academy who carried out a landmark investigation into the threat from climate change for Tony Blair, about parallels between the two threats and possible responses.

“But he added that, despite the vastly higher public profile of climate change in comparison with drug resistance, there is greater consensus about the danger to humanity from the latter.

“It feels to me, from the scientific knowledge, that there is more certainty about this being a problem,” he said.

“Now I’m somebody that is very sympathetic to the climate change case … but, with the kind of debate that goes on and data, it feels to me that there is more certainty about this becoming a problem over a reasonably short time period.

“He added: “In some ways to try and solve is a little bit like climate change, because we are talking about the problem getting a lot bigger in the future than it is today and what we are presuming … that the cost of stopping the problem is significantly lower than the cost of not stopping it.”

He goes on to say that recommendations will be made next year as to what might be done to save us from this doomsday through international agreement on action, action which you can bet will be to reduce the use of antibiotics. It is also likely to result in yet more demands for Aid to the developing world because “  The inquiry’s initial estimates suggest that while the crisis will affect rich and poor countries alike the developing world will bear the brunt.”

O’Neill is correct in likening this threat to the man-made global warming circus, but not for the reason he believes.  Both are problems which are inherently unsolvable through the means of restricting  the use of the agents which produce the  supposed or real damaging effects.

The rule of Occam’s Razor (don’t multiply entities unnecessarily or keep things simple)  is in operation here in it most potent form.  In the cases of both global warming and antibiotic resistance the entities can be reduced to one: the size of the population outside of the First World  in the first case and the fact that bacteria know no geographical boundaries  in the second case.

For the man-made warming  problem the reducing emissions solution  fails because of the  size of the population in the world outside of the First World. There are approximately 7 billion humans alive today. At the most generous estimate only a billion of those live in the First World.  If the six billion people who do not live there raised their  carbon emissions to only half that of the average of  the First World,  the amount of carbon in the atmosphere  would greatly exceed the levels  judged to be dangerous by climate scientists.  Moreover, it is most unlikely that the carbon emission levels of the developing world  would  remain at only half the First World average. Indeed, they may well  end up exceeding the first world average as the developing world  generally uses dirty fossil fuels without regard to emissions.  Nor is there anything the First World can do to prevent  them continuing to behave like this.   Consequently, the only sensible course of action is to watch and see how things develop and devote resources  to ameliorating whatever ill effects may arise if  climate change,  whether natural or man-made,  produces  circumstances which threaten human environments.

The idea that bacterial immunity to antibiotics can be meaningfully prevented by restricting their use is  different from man-made global warming  in that it is an unequivocal fact that it exists.   But  like man-made global warming the remedy of  restricting its use  is a pipe dream  because all countries would have to agree to such a regime and enforce it.

In many countries, including a good number in Europe,  antibiotics do not require a prescription and they can be purchased as easily as a pack of aspirin in Britain. If one country or even a group of first world countries – say, the EU states –  were to restrict antibiotic use  it would make no difference in anything other than the short run  because bacteria know no boundaries.  Eventually, bacteria with immunity would take as hosts those whose countries had restricted the use of antibiotics.

The other fly in the ointment is the widespread use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.  When animal products from such animals  are eaten they will pass on small but significant   amounts of antibiotics. That will over time will build antibiotic resistance.

In both the case of restricting direct antibiotics to humans and in their indirect transmission through animal products , there is zero chance of getting global agreement to restrict their use and to take  serious action to enforce the restriction. Therefore, it is  pointless  to try to restrict their use. Therefore, it is  at best pointless to  discuss such measures and at worst a distraction from what needs to be done.

What should be done? Governments need to initiate a large and perpetual publicly funded  programme of research to firstly constantly search for new antibiotics and secondly to examine new approaches to attacking infections, for example, by discovering ways to destroy bacteria by  irradiation.   If it is left  to Big Pharma  the research they will undertake will be both insufficient in terms of unearthing new antibiotics and in investigating new approaches, viz:

“Drug-resistant bacteria, viruses and other pathogens are on the rise as the discovery of new medicines has failed to keep pace with the evolution of the bugs.

This is partly because the pharmaceutical industry moved out of antibiotic research en masse over the last decade and a half due to tough regulations and poor returns on investment, though the pattern has started to reverse.”

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