Slugger O’Toole…You Couldn’t Make It Up

I note that Mick Fealty begins one of his posts with

“Say what you like about Brian Feeney”, the nationalist minded journalist.

I think Mr Fealty is being ironic. I was tempted to reply “can I say what I like about Eoghan Harris?”

But I probably can’t.

Say what you like about Mick Fealty but he is consistent. Or maybe he is not consistent.

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Line Of Duty

So 8pm on Sunday night and in an hour, I will be tuning into Line of Duty (season 6 episode 6). The writing, the acting and the drama itself are brilliant. And the fact that five of the six series have used Belfast as a location helps.

Maybe it is a feature of LockDown giving us all a sense of virtual community. But the cliffhangers and the Twitter feeds speculating what happens next week gives it all a sense of occasion.

But it all covers up a plot that is too unrealistic that suspension of belief is more required than in any drama I can remember.

There have been six series of six or seven episodes beginning in 2010.

The plot is an ongoing battle between AC12 (the Anti Corruption unit) at the fictional Central Police …the first series was made on location in Birmingham….and an OCG (Organised Criminal Gang) which has infiltrated the police.

Personally I find it difficult to think that so many senior police officers do not seem to know each other and that a police service this corrupt would not be disbanded. The number of police officers good and bad, killed in six series is a multiple of how many police officers have actually been killed…in the line of duty.

The theme is that the each season, the finale leads to more questions and so the next season has a link to the past season. A character, half forgotten from series 2 shows up in series 5 and so on. So a viewer needs to be attentive.

The three good guys or seemingly good guys are Supt Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure), DI Steve Arnott (Martin Compson). Hastings and Arnott have both come under suspicion as being a mole for the OCG.

But it is Supt Ted Hastings “like the battle” who is most enigmatic.

In part, there are two story-lines. One seems like criminal activity in the midlands of England and the other that runs alongside is related to Ted’s past in the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

That is Edward Gerard Hastings, who was born to a Protestant father and Catholic mother and who joined the RUC. As he said in series one, this was unusual for a Catholic. Memorably he claimed he was injured in a bomb explosion…in which a fellow Catholic officer was killed…..seemingly set up by a fellow officer.

In series five it emerged that Ted had a Catholic lover who fed him information from the IRA and she was subsequently killed as a “tout”. He moved to England.

In private conversation with a suspect…a retired senior officer and later convicted of child abuse, Arnott notices that Ted shakes hands with the suspect. It is a masonic handshake, unusual for a Catholic. But is Ted merely using it to gain trust?

The officer who cost Hastings his savings and his marriage and who attempted to bribe him is ex-RUC.

In this (sixth and probably final) series, there are hints at corruption in broader society. When Ted angrily denounces the new Chief Constable “we appoint proven liars to highest positions”, is he referencing Boris Johnson? The death in custody (years before the first series) of black student “Christopher Stephens” is a reference to the institutionalised racism in the cases of Stephen Lawrence and Christopher Adler.

And surely the doctored photographs of fictional police paedophiles with Jimmy Savile is a nod in the direction of VIP paedophile rings. And maybe the fictional “Sands” Childrens Home is a reference to Belfast’s very own Kincora.

To some extent, the “Ted-isms”…….Hastings used Belfast phrases. “I didnt come up the Lagan in a bubble”, “sucking diesel”, “cooking with gas” underscores the Norn Iron dimension to all of this.

As Ted himself might say, he is “the big lad in the big picture”.

Of course all Line of Duty fans have theories as it is believed Jed Mercurio plants little nuggets. The main OCG man the unseen, undiscovered “H” is it Hastings, is there a clue in the pattern of the kitchen tiles in Steph Corbetts house in Liverpool ….or is there a clue in “dont believe the race claim”…….as “race claim” is a near anagram of “Carmichael” without the H….a police character.

But last weeks episode (oops it is 8.58pm…lucky I am recording the programme) provided evidence of the Norn Iron link. Ted looks at a photograph of a group of RUC sergeants. Is the man who set Ted up one of them?

And a retired Central police detective living in Spain ….we saw his photograph last week will be played by our own, our very own Jimmy Nesbitt.

So is “H” the OCG chief an ex RUC man.

Surely not. I hope the DUP ask questions in the House of Commons and write to the BBC.

On a personal note, I have a lot of time for Adrian Dunbar. He wrote a movie “Hear My Song” some twenty five years ago, in which my fathers cousin, A Dublin-based actor had a part. And I saw him at the Fermanagh-Armagh GAA Ulster Final about ten years ago.

But Irish actors……their success, Dunbar, Nesbitt, Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea and southerners like Colm Meaney, Gabriel Byrne…………in a way they are following a path that older actors, J G Devlin, Lily Begley, Joe Tomelty, Harry Towb……….David Kelly, Noel Purcell and many others made for them.

In the 1950s and 1960s Irish actors were confined to “Oirish parts” …my father knew Jimmy Devlin and Lily Begley……….and ultimately it was The Troubles that gave young Irish actors to play the routine “gunman” type parts and led to better things.

I hope I am right. I hope it was the RUC. Or the Freemasons.

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Chooky Embra RIP

Sympathy to Mrs Elizabeth Windsor on the death of her hubby.

Thoughts and Prayers with Nicholas Witchell (BBC Royal Correspondent) at this difficult time.

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Lady GaGa & Moore Holmes

Several years ago I saw Lady Gaga on TV. She had a telephone on her head.

One of the great pleasures in getting old is that I do not have to keep up with pop culture references. I resolved several years ago that I would never listen to any music by Lady Gaga or ever take her under my notice. I was disappointed to see her at President Biden’s Inaugaration in January. She did not have a telephone on her head.

Moore Holmes? Well Mr Holmes is the Lady Gaga of loyalist politics.

I have seen the name twice in the last week. And there were references to him on the Slugger O’Toole message board today. I was none the wiser because the references were from people I have blocked on Slugger O’Toole.

So earlier today, I resolved that (just like Lady Gaga), I did not want to know anything about him.

So now that he is the next best hope for Loyalism, I was not exactly surprised to see him interviewed on UTV News tonight. Luckily I was able to press the “mute button” before I heard anything that Mr Holmes had to say.

It is always interesting when one of the commentators/commenters from Norn Iron social media or blogging gets into the mainstream. Chris Donnelly, David McCann, Sarah Creighton, Alan Meban, Mick Fealty….a conveyor belt of talent with no end in sight.

For the record, Mr Holmes was not wearing a telephone on his head.

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That’s Another Storey (sic)

The news that the Crown Prosecution Service will not be prosecuting anyone over the Bobby Storey funeral last June will shock nobody. To be clear, nobody will be shocked cos that’s how Norn Iron works.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-56581056

In strict legalistic terms, the statement issued by CPS is probably correct.

They cite two reasons for inaction. One is more credible than the other.

1…the restrictions had been changed so many times up to June that people would have been confused about what the numbers should be

.Let us be honest…that is bollox. By no stretch of the imagination could hundreds of people attending a funeral have been regarded as within the law or the spirit of the law.

2…the organisers had been in prior contact with the Police Service of Norn Iron and had maybe got the impression that the funeral was “approved”. And hence, the chances of conviction would have been negligible.

Well “chances of conviction” is the great “get out of jail card” (literally) that the CPS always uses. “”Guilty as hell but we can do nothing about it” is maybe a less well known legal term but we get the drift.

About two thirds of people who read this Blog live outside Norn Iron and might want to ask who was Bobby Storey. My own answer is the mantra that has sustained me for fifty odd years “Whatever you say, say nothin'”.

Or I can direct you to a blog post about an Easter Rising commemoration event that I posted about on 3rd February 2015, at which Mr Storey was a keynote speaker.

There is a curious protocol about uber republicans. They tend to self identify as “ex-prisoners”. It is a curious code that says something but implies something else.

Bobby Storey was an ex-prisoner. He was an ex-prisoner on several occasions. He liked being an ex-prisoner so much that he actually escaped from prison.

Understandably he is a folk hero in uber-republican circles.

The people who attended Bobby Storey’s funeral are uber republicans and would say that they are “ex prisoners”. Some might be more fulsome and say “ex political prisoners”.

To people who support uber republicans this is all we need to know. To people who are curious, a follow up question is legitimate. I know ex-prisoners who were totally innocent (we had a very flawed judicial system). I know others who were internees who were never convicted of any crime.

But let us be honest, some were atcually convicted of serious crimes. Of course many will say that these were political crimes which were committed during the Conflict…it was, they would say, a War. And they were Prisoners of War.

The Good Friday Agreement had a proviso that such prisoners got out of prison. Most of us accepted this when we got to vote for the Agreement in 1998.

Most believe it was the right thing to do.

Storey’s death and funeral could not be expected to pass without a show of respect or a show of strength from his old friends and comrades.

We all get that. It would always have been a show of respect and a show of strength.

But in June last year, we were in the midst of the Covid pandemic. Restrictions .legally enforceable were placed on numbers and behaviour at funerals. These were agreed by the Stormont Executive and therefore agreed by uber-Republicans, Michelle O’Neill (joint First Minister), Conor Murphy (Minister for Finance) and Deirdre Hargey (Minister for Communities)…all members of Sinn Féin.

So the people breaking the law at the funeral had actually agreed to the very laws they had imposed. Of course the Storey funeral would in normal circumstances been regarded as an insult by unionists. In the year of Covid19, Sinn Féin managed to turn it into a slap in the face for everyone in Norn Iron.

And Sinn Féin got away with it…because they CAN. Adverse publicity (including shameful pandering by Belfast City Council at Storey’s cremation) would last a few days, weeks, months but be a memory in May 2022, when the next Assembly Elections are held.

Uber Republicans are really a coalition of (usually younger) Sinn Féin members who have grown into adulthood after the Troubles ended. They are often referred to as “clean skins”. The other part of the coalition is (usually older) men and women who are ex-prisoners with a whiff of cordite.

Importantly for Sinn Féin’s coalition, the “clean skins” with their degrees in Politics have to pay a certain amount of homage to the “cordite faction”, educated at the University of Long Kesh.

On a personal level, I am offended by the arrogance of it all. In May last year, I lost a cousin in North Antrim and I could not attend her funeral. Just two days later, a close family friend died locally. She had fought a brave battle against Cancer. Only fifteen people were allowed inside the Church. My immediate family followed the funeral service in our cars in the car park.

And in January this year, I lost a cousin (81) to Covid. And my family and I stood on the roadside as the hearse began its 22 mile journey to a funeral service in a small village.

So am I angry? Of course I am.

What will I do about it? Nothing. Next year I will give SDLP my first preference vote and give Sinn Féin my second preference. Just like I intended to do before Covid19.

Like I said Sinn Féin got away with it……because they CAN.

Political consequences? Well SDLP are leading a vote of censure. It is of course “playing politics” but sometimes “playing politics” is the right thing to do. The alternative would be just going along with the arrogance.

Reasonable people might think that Arlene Foster might call on Michelle O’Neill to resign or whatever. But that is pointless as Sinn Féin could simply withdraw from the Executive and it would collapse. If O’Neill resigns…..Foster would be sacking herself.

But Arlene Foster has called on the Chief Constable to resign. Apparently…yet again, PSNI have “lost the confidence of the unionist community”. DUP are simply going thru the motions.

Nothing will happen. The CPS is “reviewing” its decision but it is all nonsense.

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SDLP Youth…47 Years Ago (My Part in Their Success)

Best wishes to SDLP Youth who are holding their annual conference today.

It is a little known fact that in early 1974, Paddy Devlin drove my friend Mary and me to a SDLP meeting at the Dunowen Inn, in Dungannon.

We made a presentation on forming a SDLP Youth Section. We made the presentation to the Organisation sub-Committee who included Murtagh Dynan from North Belfast and John Turnley from North Antrim. John was later murdered by loyalists.

Frankly in 1974, SDLP were not very interested in a Youth movement. Dan McAreavey, then the Deputy General Secretary gave me some space in the first issue of the “Social Democrat”, the short-lived party newspaper.

We did have one meeting, attended by maybe ten or twelve people. One of the attendees was Alban Magennis, later to be first nationalist/republican mayor of Belfast.

We also got a letter from a 16 year old girl in South Down. But I did not even have the manners to reply cos ….well I was 21 and mature and well 16 year olds.

I often agonised if I had discouraged her from a career in politics. But actually she went on to be SDLP Leader (hooray). I could add she left the party and became a member of the “House of Lords”. But we will gloss over that.

The point is that attempts to form SDLP Youth in 1974 failed miserably. You won’t find a copy of the first issue of “Social Democrat” in SDLP Headquarters and you wont even find a reference to the 1974 attempt in SDLP Youth’s wikipedia entry.

I edited the wikipedia entry once to include 1974 but my edit was deleted.

The thing I find most strange about SDLP is that it has made some wonderful history but is very careless about its own history. I am not bothered by lack of reference to myself but I actually DO care that the first wave of SDLP people from the 1970s are often forgotten, even by senior figures in the party.

Few acknowledge the contribution of Desmond Gillespie, Vincent McCloskey, Hugh News, Paddy O’Hanlon, John O’Hagan, Paddy O’Donoghue, Hugh Logue, Michael Canavan and many many others.

It was heartbreaking to attend a tribute to Paddy Devlin …maybe two years ago in St Marys University on Falls Road. Sitting there listening to Seamus Lynch, Republican Clubs/Workers Party boast that thanks to Devlin and Gerry Fitt, he knew more about what was going on in SDLP than its members did.

Sheesh after 40 odd years, the Truth came out. At the time I was the Secretary of the Falls Branch of SDLP. If I felt quiet anger at this, it was sadly a cause of great amusement to senior (modern) SDLP figures there.

It is good SDLP recognises that in the 21st century, “youth politics” is so important. The neglect in the 1970s meant that the 1980s and 1990s, few promising young people came thru the ranks and SDLP was stigmatised as “a party for old men”.

Of course the 21st century brought Colum Eastwood, Daniel McCrossan, Cara Hunter and others into the Assembly and there is a second wave in councils. And a third wave working their way thru constituency offices, local branches, the Youth SEction and the Womens Section, Disability Section and LGBT Section.

A Youth Section in Politics is a bit like a Youth Team in Sport.

A successful minor Camogie team is often (but not always) an indicator that there will be a good senior team in a few years. A good GAA football team that wins an all Ireland minor title will often have players who pick up the Sam Maguire in a few years.

About ten years ago, I started blogging and attended a few SDLP Youth events. To some extent they were students influenced by Conall McDevitt. Some were really outstanding. Seamus de Faoite and Malachy Quinn are among those who made it into council chambers i Belfast and Mid Ulster.

But others did not make it. That is the nature of Youth Politics and Youth Sport. There is a high rate of attrition. The SDLP lost some good younger thru the connexion to Fianna Fáil. THere is always a high risk of disilulusionment and of course, it is perfectly feasible to serve outside politics…the legal profession, journalism, public relations, whatever. There are also too many young talented people who were treated very badly by SDLP.

SDLP will need people who hold SDLP values in broader “civic society”.

The worst day for SDLP Youth was the annual (senior) SDLP Conference where they succeeded in taking about half the positions on the Part Executive. They over-reached themselves.

But that is the whole nature of Youth Politics. You get to make mistakes. And the more mistakes you make, the more you learn.

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Germany 1945…Reconciliation?

A few months ago I watched a three part BBC documentary called “Berlin 1945”.

It was difficult to watch. The year 1945 in Berlin…archive footage and quotes from the diaries of ordinary Berliners.

By January 1945, the Nazis have already lost the war and the Red Army are moving closer to Berlin. Refugees are telling harrowing stories of Soviet atrocities.

Of course the Germans had already committed atrocities in Poland and the Soviet Union. The war on the Eastern Front was brutal.

By April and May of 1945, the Berliners knew the full truth. Horror was delivered often disproportionately to women.

There was a fatalism.

Unprotected women, often very young raped and humiliated. Their possessions plundered. Many considered a “Russian on your belly as better than an American (bomb) on your head”. Probably one of the saddest things I have ever heard.

Harrowing stories of gang rape. Rape is often a weapon of war. And the aftermath of rape is always trauma and often disease and often abortion or pregnancy.

Of course the Russians did this on an industrial scale. While individual soldiers in the western armies may not have committed many rapes, they knew the fortunes and spoils of war. Exploitation of the vulnerable. Many of the men who landed on the beaches in Normandy reached western Germany.

Cigarettes, candy bars, stockings, canned food became currency of the conquerers. The human body. became the currency of the conquered.

It is easy to think in terms of the Russians being “savages”. A woman in Berlin, ironically a socialist, writes in her diary of her relief at the first night an Uzbek was not in her bed sheets. And easy to think that the Americans, British and French were somehow better.

The footage of ordinary Berliners forced to work for the Allies. The meagre rations. Odinary Germans brought to the concentration camps to look on the horror that they had supported or been passive about or did not know is horrifying. Prim and proper middle class Germans carrying dead Jewish and other bodies to mass graves.

Did the Germans deserve it? Well they had not all been at Nazi rallies. They had not all been anti-semetic. De-Nazification dismantled the mindset.

The rapes, the exploitation, the cruelty was the punishment of an entire Nation. Victors Justice. Is it too cynical to say the biggest war crime is Defeat.

Arguably, it was short-lived. The leading Nazis were executed. Germany was divided. And the Berlin Airlift was the first step in rehabilitating the (good) Western Germans.

Reconciliation? Well…maybe. But the Reconciliation process began in the horror of Berlin in April and May of 1945. I make the point that Reconciliation begins in Victory and Defeat.

I was born in 1952 and into a world of (good) German Federal Republic and (bad) German Democratic Republic. I became aware of the two Germanys around 1961. I saw the BBC News as the Berlin Wall was being built. I saw President Kennedy deliver that “I Am a Berliner” speech in 1963.

The good guys….Adenauer, Brandt, Kohl, Schmidt in the West. The bad guy …Ulbricht in the East.

But I was born in BELFAST in 1952. I had no skin in the fight in 1939-45. No relatives.

But if I had been born in BERLIN in 1952.

Yes if I had been born in 1952 in Berlin, my mother may have been an ordinary German hausfrau who may not have suffered under the Russians but would surely have known some women who did. My father (hopefully a social democrat) might well have been captured at the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944 and repatriated to Germany a few years later.

But what of the others. Maybe my cousin Anna had been raped in 1945. Maybe we did not talk about Auntie Helga who brought shame on the family post-war.

Maybe Uncle Siegfried who was a fervent Nazi died on the Eastern Front. Maybe cousin Bernhardt, was only 16 when he died in street fighting. And so on.

But it seems……..Collective Guilt, Collective Shame, Collective Grief, Collective Amnesia.

Do crimes committed by German Nazis such as the Holocaust trump crimes committed on the German people (the bombing of Dresden for example). Most people outside Germany would say there is a difference in scale, a difference in nature. But I suspect people within Germany might say that there is no difference. And hard not to think that a German boy born in 1952 would not take it all personally.

Maybe…not taking things personally is a requirement of Reconciliation.

We are all familiar with overly apologetic Germans…usually young people distancing themselves from their nations and indeed family history. Harry Enfield has parodied this.

I am Irish so we know a thing or two about Defeat.

I would have been a native Gael in the 16th century during the Tudor Conquest.

I would have been a Catholic in the 1640s when Oliver Cromwell came invading. Defeat.

In the 17th century I would have been a Jacobite during the Hanoverian usurpation. Defeat.

In 1798. I would have been a peasant on Vinegar Hill. Defeat.

In the 19th century, I would have been a Famine victim and a nationalist. Defeat

In 1916, I would have been a Republican at the General Post Office. Defeat? For Nordies…yes.

Well of course I was none of those things but in terms of History that is who I am.

But I was actually alive in Norn Iron from from 1952 to date. Conflict ends in settlement . But of course in 1998, we had the Good Friday Agreement……a settlement without an end to a conflict.

Two things. First I do not feel a need to apologise for defeats in Tudor times, Cromwellian times, or in British Empire terms. Nor do I feel apologetic for something I did 1969-1998. Bad things certainly in my name but to quote Sister Michael (Derry Girls), “the only thing you need to know about the whole Civil War thing is that we are the goodies.

The German “reconciliation” was based on defeat and humiliation.

Simply put academic conflict resolutionists cannot succeed in their “reconciliation” projects, without attributing victory and defeat to the combatants. And our Good FRiday Agreement is based on the mantra that we all won and we all lost…that we are all equally to blame for our nightmare…a mathematical concept of 50-50 which is far removed from analysis.

We bought into the doctrine of Creative Ambiguity in 1998. We voted to accept that.

In 2021, we are grateful for the peace…but it was all founded on Lies.

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Flegger Of The Day…#1 Kwasi Kwarteng

Have you noticed that a lot of members of the British Conservative Party are now appearing on TV News with a great big British flag behind them?

At one level, this overt flag waving is not really a British thing except of course at a “Royal” Wedding or an English Defence League Rally. Patriotism is not necessarily the last refuge of the Scoundrel. And no doubt Mr Kwarteng wants to demonstrate that he is a patriot rather than a scoundrel.

Mr Kwarteng is Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Strategy.

Fundamentally it is not easy to criticise a politician with a Flag, especially a very big flag.

It is a bit like saying “You can’t hit me, I am wearing glasses” or “You can’t hit me, I have a baby in my arms”.

Mr Kwarteng is of course standing up (sitting down actually) for Britain.

We had this in Norn Iron in 2012/2013. The Great Fleg Protest. It is hard to imagine a DUP Minister trying to get on TV with a “fleg”. They lost that battle. So odd that the Tory Party is now posturing to the right of the DUP.

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“I Am Woman…Hear Me Roar”

It is a strange week. It started with International Womans Day and ended with Mothers Day (and a disgraceful police approach to women staging a vigil for a murdered woman).

I suppose it typifies the feel good aspiration of respect for women (Monday) and the stark reality that merely being a woman can be dangerous (Saturday).

I am clearly no expert on Feminism. It is hard in 2021 to see that Feminism circa 1972 was part of the whole counter-culture experience. Although I appear as a rather timid figure, if I ever saw or heard anything that was “counter culture”, I threw myself in.

Now it seems that it just a beginning. It seems the bar was so low.

Was it really the case that in 1973, SDLP a party of progressive ideas and (in 2021) including very capable women like Dolores Kelly, Nichola Mallon, Sinead McLaughlin, Sinead Bradley and others waiting in the wings did not even have a female candidate in the first election in which I canvassed?

It seems now easy to dismiss the progress. For example, there was still a time in the 1970s when “Mrs” and “Miss” were still in common usage. Hard to believe that people though “Ms” (in my recollection originally “Mz”) was so controversial. Hard to believe we had “Chairmen” and women had to struggle to be called “Chairwoman” or simply “Chair”. And of course easy to dismiss it all as women burning their bras…an easy target for comedians who were relics from the 1940s and 1950s

Maybe I over-estimate its influence. But one song from that era had a profound effect on me. Pause for a musical interlude. Helen Reddy sings “I Am Woman”. This version features the lyrics and Id like you to read them.

A little known fact is that the song was co-written by Helen Reddy and Robert Burton. So it was a collaboration between a woman and a man.

And I think that is the thing about “rights”. In the 1960s, it would have been very difficult for Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and Jesse Jackson without the full hearted support of the young white “freedom riders” who journeyed at great personal risk into Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia and the rest of Dixieland.

Of course Feminism did/does move on.

I was born into a family with a mother (obviously) now dead and later I had a sister. Two grandmothers who both died before I was 9 years old. And of course my aunties are all dead and most of my female cousins.

But I have a new family …a wife, two daughters in law, a surving granddaughter, neices, sisrtrs in law and my sister is still alive.

But that is the point that I am making. Every man………every MAN has at least one female relative. And the older we get, we are more acutely aware that some of the women we have known for years or worked alongside have had very bad experiences of abusive men

Ten years ago I was at a Slugger O’Toole event at Duncairn Gardens in Belfast. During a discussion on womens rights, I mentioned that it was an issue that should concern men. I was quickly put in my place by some 21st century feminists. Basically ………mind your own business.

Back home with my wife, she was very re-assuring. She got what I was saying.

Which brings me to the tragic murder of Sara Everard and the disgusting Metropolitan Police reaction to the vigil in support of her and to highlight that the streets are unsafe for women.

As has been pointed out many times since Saturday, the police reaction to a peaceful vigil by mostly women is in sharp contrast to the week before when the police in Glasgow and Belfast just handed the streets over to celebrating (sectarian) football fans.

It is not a good look for the police…passive in the face of mobs and agressive in the face of a peaceful vigil.

Simply put, the police backed down in the face of men.

So how would a reasonable man react if his wife, girlfriend, daughter, sister was being attacked by police. Well of course, any form of violence would be wrong but the mere presence of men might have made police think twice.

Will I change my behaviour because of what I saw last weekend?

I am tempted to say that a totally right-on “woke” person like myself has no reason to change. But actually I think all men (even the good guys) need to change.

If I stay at a distance from a lone woman, I am not signalling that I am to be feared. I am signalling that “I get it” and if enough men do this, it is a powerful signal of support.

A minority of men are a threat. The majority are a potential ally. A resource.

Human Rights are rights for us all. Equal pay for women has made my wife better off but the real point is that it has been a benefit to us all. Likewise Maternity Benefit and Leave benefits men as well as women.

Yes, some men dont get it.

But the key line that Helen Reddy sings ….”a long long way to go before I make my brother understand”.

Most of us WANT to understand.

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Piers Pressure

It is hard to believe that Piers Morgan resigned from Good Morning Britain without knowing that he would have another job lined up. There are a couple of likely TV channels and plenty of right wing potential hosts (step forward Andrew Neil) who are now too out of place on mainstream News.

So Britain seems ripe for a Fox Lite News channel. Based around Populism and toxic “I dont belieeeve it” and a glib catchphrase like “Cancel Culture” or “Political Correctness gone maaaad”, Piers will not be out of a job for long. He will be back, more toxic than ever.

Now the most high profile “victim” (as he and his supporters would say) of Cancel Culture, it is hard for any normal person to feel sorry for him.

Frankly he had it coming.

A word about Cancel Cuture. I am 68 years old. People might assume that because of my age, I am on the “wrong side of History”. But while I was born on the wrong side of History, I have always endeavoured to be on the right side of History.

So I have no problem with unsavoury attitudes of the Past being “canceled”.

A word about Populism. It is not a political philosophy. It is a mish-mash of attitudes. Saloon bar conversations.

Piers Morgan does populism well. He is a “why oh why oh why” journalist appealing to the most toxic of people.

He has an unenviable record of controversy except of course he revels in controversy.

How Did He Get Away With It? #1…..financial journalists on his paper were guilty of tipping their own shares. Piers made some money.

How Did He Get away With It#2….His newspaper used fake photographs during the war in Iraq. Piers got away with it.

How Did He Get Away With It #3…Giving evidence from Los Angeles via video link to the Leveson Inquiry, Piers Morgan had a loss of memory that Leveson found unconvincing.

How Did He Get Away With It #4…Used his reporters to doorstep Ian Hislop and offer money to Hislop’s neighbours to get some dirt

How Did He Get Away With It #5…conducting a vendetta against people like Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant who were innocent victims of phone hacking.

So really…….how does he get away with it?

Well to speak generally of populists, their opinions are not rooted in Ideology. It is as populist to pander to any passing whim and in terms of right wing populists tirades against against “political correctness gone maaaaaaaad” . And the relatively new insult against decent-minded people. We are “woke”.

Nobody………Shaun Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Piers Morgan included ….will die in poverty because they pandered to racists, homophobes, sexists and the worst elements in society.

So no tears for Piers Morgan. He will survive and prosper.

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