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For the Many

For the past few days, my conscience and I have been engaged in a wrestling match.  The infamous poem by Martin Niemoller has been echoing through the chambers of my mind.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

With less than 48 hours to go before the United Kingdom elects a new Prime Minister, we are sitting at a crossroads not seen since the 1930s.  I will leave anti-extremist activist Maajid Nawaz to set the scene:

It is a thought that had occurred to me previously.  In a time when people are struggling why not promise the world?  It allows you to gloss over the murkier details of your own plans.  And that is the saddest of realities that have brought me to this moment.

As I watch many friends and acquaintances fall in the love with the idea of receiving free stuff in lieu of their morals, it hastens me to wonder why.  Countless times I have asked myself whether it is only me that believes that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are anti-Semitic?  Surely the fact that in the twelve years since the Equality and Human Rights Commission was formed, only two political parties have ever been investigated for racism – Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and the BNP. That speaks volumes.  But that’s just a report, right?  Well, what about this collection of 125 anti-semitic examples of elected Labour officials?  But that’s just a few (125) bad apples. Where is the actual evidence?  Well, here it is, in a painstakingly researched article by Sara Gibbs.  But it’s just you, nobody else thinks that.  Aside from John LeCarre, Fay Weldon, Joanna Lumley, William Boyd, Simon Callow, Antony Beevor, Sathnam Sanghera, Janina Ramirez, Trevor Phillips, Jimmy Wales, Suzannah Lipscomb, Tom Holland, Frederick Forsyth, Peter Frankopan, Ghanem Nuseibeh, Dan Snow, Fiyaz Mughal, Tony Parsons, Dan Jones, Maajid Nawaz, Oz Katerji, Nick Hewer, Ed Husain, and Terry Jervis.

So why does it matter to me?  Personally.  It is a question so elemental it should not need to be asked.  It is 2019 and we have reached the point where over half of the Jewish people in the UK, approximately 120,000 human beings, are seriously considering leaving the country, depending on Thursday’s vote.  It would be the largest exodus from our shores since King Edward I’s Edict of Expulsion in 1290.  From a human perspective, it is vile that in the present day so many people would feel unsafe amongst us.  The second reason is that I have lived in a society where anti-Semitism was omnipresent.  I spent a decade in Poland where inexplicable hatred and assignments of blame to Jews was commonplace.  The seething resentment often manifested itself in acts of aggression and sometimes violence for the simple reason that when the governing party was of an anti-Semitic mind, it affected social behaviours as it raised the barrier of common decency which used to prevent people from acting in such repulsive ways.  And finally, and most personally,  I am of Jewish ancestry.  Somewhere down the lines of time, it is possible that my ancestors had to flee.  Perhaps they lived in fear.  Perhaps they too were marginalized, hated, persecuted just for the mere fact of what they believed in.  Had things turned out differently, it could quite easily have been me.

Anti-Semitism does not begin with violence.  It begins with words.  Isolation.  Marginalization.  Gradually the norms of society change, and the gates that keep us safe from the worst of the world disappear.  It can become violence.  It can become assault.  It can become murder.  If some of us do not choose to stand guard at these gates we run the risk of making the very same mistakes that we claim to have learned from.  I am not asking you to vote Conservative.  I am asking you not to vote Labour. A vote for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party is a vote that says that the hatred of the Jewish race is fine by you.

I’ll leave you with a final thought from some people who know a little more than me about anti-Semitism.  Thanks for reading.

 

The Non-Stop Laughter

Those of you with somewhat memorable memories may well recall a recollection about a short story I published entitled ‘The Non-stop Dancer’.  It was originally written during the time of the great referendum and left in a dusty drawer to rot and hopefully be forgotten.  When the last general election rolled around I decided to publish it in the faint hope that the allegory would serve as a warning and would not be missed.  Sadly for the Disunited Kingdom, the stark warning that appeared in its pages has come true.

The ludicrous idea of a man continually dancing for no other reason than a whim before upping and walking away from the monster that he had created, seemed perfectly apt.  When I wrote about a populist MP who was prepared to abandon all beliefs in the face of popular opinion, I was convinced that he would one day be Prime Minister.  Yesterday, I was proven right.

The notion that drove me to write the story was the realisation that populism creates beasts that opportunists look to harness.  In some cases, the beasts grow bigger and stronger.  In others, the beasts eventually crush those that try to ride them.  The danger we are faced with now is the fact that we are in the hands of an opportunist, in an age where we disregard information that does not appeal to our beliefs.  Truth is dead.  Long live the truth.

They were no longer individuals. United in dance, joined in the ecstasy of becoming one, they were a new species, a new organism, a dangerous warning from the power of unity. They danced atop mountains, they danced into a new dimension, they were the heralds of a new dawn, they were the new crusaders, singularly, via the medium of dance, they had created an entirely new reality, a new beginning, it was as if the future had been laid at their feet.

Scott Andrews, The Non-stop Dancer

You can read ‘The Non-stop Dancer’ right here

 

The Upside of Epilepsy

After a year disqualified from driving on account of my habitual falling unconscious and weeing myself, a year spent only being able to buy the amount of shopping I could carry, only being able to walk the dog from my doorstep, only being able to visit people when I was rich enough to be able to afford a train, a year spent spending three times as much time as I needed to travel on a sweaty, pissy, pukey bus, I was delighted to find a letter from the DVLA. There is nothing quite like feeling as if you are getting the keys to your freedom and opening the letter and holding the driving licence in your hands, only to find that it’s not in your name. Thank you, DVLA. Really. Thank you.

Another Year Done

As we reach the end of 2018 and move into another 365 days of mindless stupidity it is worth taking a moment to consider everyone that has lost someone, something and sometimes themselves. Let’s start by being gracious, by appreciating how lucky we are not to have had our lives completely fucked by fate and circumstance. Let us appreciate those that have stood by us through the darkest of days and hardest of times, and let’s buy them a drink, send them a message or pick up the phone and give them a call whilst we still can.

Happy New Year to all the wonderful people I have met on my travels through life. May it bring you all great sex, book and movie deals and some level of peace in this fucked up crazy world we live in. We get one life. Let’s make it count.

Jingle Balls

Merry Christmas and that kind of thing.  I hate the end of every year.  The falsified happiness, the expectation that we celebrate the fact that we are all one year closer to death.  It is collective insanity.  A gazelle never turns around to a chasing tiger and offers it a drink so why should we?

The worst thing about Christmas is the music.  The same songs in every shopping centre, supermarket, taxi, television advert and radio station.  The same sentiments, the same words, the same ideas, the same tunes.  Nothing ever changes at Christmas.  It is a tinselled up groundhog day of misery, eating bad food, showing gratitude for things we do not want and being forced to interact with people we do not actually like.

Therefore I would like to propose to you not to partake in the annual misery competition.  Instead, read something awesome.  The kind folks at Amazon are giving away Mourning Morning eBooks from the 25th of December to the 29th.  Set yourself a reminder.  Get yourself a copy.

Thus all that is left for me to say is Jingle Balls and may the Jesus be with you all.

P.S. There is one Christmas song that is worth listening to.  You can find it below.