Archive for May, 2015

New Unelected Pensions Minister Ros Altmann Wants Us To Work Till We Drop

May 13, 2015

Johnny Void here gives his view on the ominous appointment of yet another banker, Ros Altmann, as Pensions Minister. Altmann was the author of the report arguing that older people should be allowed to rejoin the workforce, if they so wished.

Mr Void wrote a long piece about this at the time, pointing out just how sinister it was. At the moment, this is supposed to be voluntary, but even then, it was qualified by Altmann’s embrace of workfare-type schemes for the elderly.

Altmann tried to justify this assault on allowing senior citizens to retire in peace after a long life working and slaving for their living, on the grounds that a small percentage of old folk wanted to return to work. And, of course, there was the usual Tory refrain of the ‘health benefits’ of working.

As Mr Void pointed out at the time, most people of retirement age actually don’t want to return to work. They want to enjoy a few well-earned years of leisure after a hectic life of work and bringing up the kids, which as most parents will tell you, is hard enough on its own. And as Mr Void pointed out at the time, reforms the parties introduce, telling the public that ‘it’s all voluntary’, have a sinister habit of becoming compulsory.

This has nothing to do with improving the elderly’s well-being, and much to do with cutting the pensions bill, and further depressing the workforce. It’s been pointed out that much of the welfare bill is spent on pensions. The Repugs in America would dearly love to cut that as well. The Week reprinted several articles from American right-wing newspapers, moaning about how senior citizens were ‘selfish’ for allowing others to be squeezed by austerity, while zealously defending their own incomes from the necessary government cuts.

Already, way back under Major and Blair, the parties were talking about raising the retirement age, while economists in the broadsheets were earnestly discussing whether we could continue to afford to give the elderly decent pensions. It’s a Ponzi scheme, they said, supported by the younger population. This works fine when the population is increasing, but now that the population is falling, economies will have to be made. So the elderly will just have to face up to having their pensions cut.

At the same time, the financial sector has looked with extremely covetous eyes on the money the elderly have locked up in their pension funds. Hence the passage of legislation the other week ‘liberating’ it, and allowing the elderly to take it out, to invest elsewhere. Private Eye predicted that this would be another car-crash policy, and that a significant number would lose it through bad investments, or just squander it. More poverty awaits.

Finally, the Tories want to expand the workforce still further. To keep wages depressed, there has to be more workers competing for fewer jobs. Milton Friedman and his fellow Chicago Fascist cheerleaders made this very clear when they stated that the optimum level of unemployment is about 6 per cent. So, new workers have to be found, in order to stop everyone demanding better wages. The active elderly form such a pool of untapped labour.

It looks from this, at least to me, that what the Tories have in mind is the effective destruction of a universal, mandatory retirement age. Those senior citizens, who can work, will be expected to, and suffer the loss of their pensions if they don’t. Pensions themselves will just become another form of invalidity benefit or ESA, and pensioners will be expected to go through the same hoops to show they need them as the younger sick and disabled.

This is the future Mr Void predicted in his earlier article, and I see absolutely no reason to doubt it. I have a feeling that many of those, who voted Tory were older people, who feel threatened by what they consider to be the unreasonable demands of the idle young. This should be a warning to them. After they’ve finished to starving and beating the young and the middle aged into cowed submission, they will do the same to you. And the appointment of Altmann as Minister for Pensions shows this has already started.

the void

swearing-pensionerDavid Cameron has rewarded former banker Ros Altmann for the report she wrote calling on us all to work longer by making her Minister for Pensions despite her never having never won an election in her pampered life.

Altmann, who said last year that “Encouraging and enabling those who want to work longer is an idea whose time has come”, will join comedy toff and another former banker Lord Fraud at the DWP where he will remain in his role as unelected Minister for Welfare Reform.  That’s democracy yah.

Altmann is obessed with making people us work longer, even claiming it will be good for our health.  She should fit right in at the DWP where forced work makes you free and poverty is good for you.  In her report last year, commissioned by the DWP, Altmann even endorsed unpaid workfare style schemes for older workers, suggesting it was…

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Shop Charges Tory Customers Extra

May 12, 2015

This is another excellent little pic I found over on the SlatUKIP Facebook page.

Tory Shop Tax

If you can’t read it, the text says

Important Notice

Please could anyone who voted Conservative please identify themselves on entering my shop as I will be happy to apply a 10 % ‘Tory Tax’ on your plants. I’m sure as someone who has opted to support a party of elitist, self-serving types, that you understand that this is one of the many ‘tough’ decisions that I need to make to ‘balance the books’ under your preferred government.

Don’t be a shy Tory! Oh, and UKIP voters, please shop elsewhere.

Thanks, Matt.

It’s a great piece of satire, skewering all the Tory rhetoric of making ‘tough’ decisions to ‘balance the books’.

It also bears out a piece Tom Pride put up last week, shortly before he decided to take a break from blogging. Most small businessmen don’t vote Tory, as the Thatcherites would like us to believe. They support Labour.

Arkwright has crossed the electoral floor, so to speak, and now sees the threat to the s-s-small businessman as coming from big business, rather than organised Labour and the unions.

And so falls another Thatcherite myth, of Maggie as the workers’ friend, living above her father’s shop. She was never their friend, and the small businessmen in whose interest she claimed to champion, have turned their back on her after being thoroughly betrayed and ground down by her party of the rich and big business.

Blogging and the Tory Victory

May 12, 2015

As you probably noticed, I had a short break from blogging over the past few days. The reason’s simple: the Tory victory left me so bitterly angry and depressed, that quite simply I couldn’t face writing about it. And I was afraid that if I did try to put fingers to keyboard, anything I did write would simply be an angry stream of coarse invective and obscenity against an obscene, exploitative and murderous government that had been returned yet again by a majority of the people of England and Wales.

Bristol was one of the places where the Labour candidates won. It’s a local victory, that has led to three new Labour MPs, all women entering parliament. But this seemed to be little comfort to the broader political picture. There were a few further, minor compensations in that the Lib Dems saw themselves virtually wiped out, reduced to about eight MPs, while the Fuhrage over in Thanet signally failed to get elected.

I was up visiting friends in Cheltenham Friday as the news of the Tories’ victory began to sink in. One of them showed me the tweets he was getting over the mobile from others, equally disgusted with the decision of the British electorate. Many of them were of the type asking if they should now go to Canada, or New Zealand, or Norway and Denmark – anywhere, in short, where the political elites still had some respect for the people in whose name they govern, and have humane, sensible welfare policies and are dead set on dismantling their state health service for personal profit and that of the multinationals.

One person on Twitter simply said that it was the English voting once again out of spite and cruelty towards the poor and unemployed. Another wrote simply ‘England – Burn it down’.

I talked to one of the local small businessmen, who was also depressed and disgusted at the Tory victory. He stated that in the coming years, he’d probably stop giving to overseas aid charities, because there would be real poverty and starvation here in Britain, which equally deserved his money and attention.

It was an opinion shared by one of my friends, who took immediate action. He went out and spent a tenner of his benefit money on food to give to the local food bank, ready for the next influx of the poor and genuinely starving, thrown off benefit to save corporate vultures like Murdoch, Rothermere, Lebedev and the Barclay twins from the indignity of having to pay tax like the ‘little people’.

The Tories definitely will not have it their own way over the next few years. They’ve got a wafer thin majority of about three or five. That’s about the same as Labour had during their minority government in the mid-1970s. My friend pointed out that there are about 23 – 30 bye-elections every parliamentary turn, so this majority could easily vanish. It won’t be easy. Things certainly will get harder, much harder, for the poor, the sick, disabled and unemployed. But he felt that it would prevent them from doing the really horrific stuff, like selling off the health service.

Let’s hope so. In the meantime, let’s keep the pressure up every step of the way. It’s been pointed out that the Tories owe their victory to only 20 per cent of the vote. Which is an argument for proportional representation. We need to fight them constantly if we are ever to keep them from destroying any more lives, and preserve anything of the welfare state.

Priti Patel Appointed Minister Of Death At The DWP

May 12, 2015

Johnny Void presents a chilling summary of the vile career of Priti Patel. Patel has been the post of Employment Minister, to replace the equally disgusting Esther McVile.

As Mr Void points out, Patel was one of the five Tories, who wrote Britannia Unchained, a nasty tract castigating British workers for being too idle. They recommended instead that we should emulate the emerging Asian economies, where workers are paid a pittance, and have few, if any, employment rights.

Mr Void gives a bit more information on her past, which may otherwise have gone unnoticed. Like she’s a supporter of bring back the death penalty. She was also linked to British American Tobacco’s ‘Project Sunrise’, smearing anti-smoking groups as extremists.

She also worked for Diageo, whose charity, Tomorrow’s People, expected their unpaid workers to sleep under bridges during the work they were given for the Queen’s celebrations.

As Mr Void points out, this advocate of lies, exploitation and death is now responsible for benefit sanctions and sickness benefit assessment. Expect the further murder of the poor, the sick and the disabled, all in the name of corporate profit.

the void

priti-deathPriti Patel, staunch supporter of the death penalty, will replace unemployed former Employment Minister Esther Mcvey it has been announced today.  Patel has previously said that she supports the reintroduction of capital punishment as a ‘deterrence’, although she would not say whether she preferred hanging or electrocution.  Wanting to bring back state executions is only half the story of her malevolent past however.

Prior to becoming an MP, she worked as a public relations advisor to British American Tobacco, where she was linked to the sinister ‘Project Sunrise’.  This is believed to be part of the initiative established by cigarette firm Phillip Morris which aimed to create the “dawn of a new day” for the tobacco industry by smearing anti-smoking groups as extremist.

Patel continued supporting the tobacco industry on being elected, voting in favour of ending the smoking ban in 2010 and speaking out against plain cigarette…

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SF Author Bob Shaw and Comics Artist Bryan Talbot on Granada TV 1981

May 11, 2015

I found these two videos featuring the great Science Fiction author Bob Shaw and the comics artist and creator, Bryan Talbot. They’re actually two halves of Granada’s literature programme, Celebrations, broadcast in 1981. The show consists of interviews with Shaw and Talbot discussing their career and work, and then a very short play specially written for the programme By Shaw, and illustrated by Talbot. In between sequences of the play, the actors discuss it and the issues it raises.

The producers clearly didn’t have any money for any special effects whatsoever, only for the costumes and period props used by the actors. Hence the illustrations by Talbot, which stand in for live action effects sequences.

Shaw was an Ulsterman with a background in aeronautical engineering. He describes how his studying at school to go to university was ruined by his discovery of Science Fiction in the form of the American pulp magazines. He states it was as mind-blowing as an LSD trip, with the exception that LSD wears off. And so instead of studying properly at school and paying attention, he was at the back of the class writing his own SF fanzine on carbon paper.

For those too young to know what that is, it’s the mucky stuff we had to use before the invention of computer printers and widespread access to photocopiers. It’s a form of the process you can make transfers and copies by rubbing a pencil over one side of a sheet of paper, pressing it down on another and then drawing on the other side of the first sheet so that the design comes out on the second. It was messy, and if you didn’t watch out, your hands, clothes and anything else in contact with the stuff was left black.

Shaw states that Science Fiction is only the genre that still isn’t accepted as proper literature. It’s sneered at, and when literary writers use it, somehow their work isn’t Science Fiction, but ‘literature’. He gives Orwell’s 1984 as an example. It’s clearly Science Fiction, but not considered as such because of its status as a work of proper literature.

This dates the programme, as the attitude has changed somewhat. The SF author Simon D. Ings had his own column in New Scientist back in the 1990s. I read one of the latest books by M. John Harrison, the author of the Viriconium novels, now regarded as SF/ Fantasy classics, after it was given a good review in the I. Nevertheless, Shaw’s comments on the low status of Science Fiction as literature do retain some truth. Again, back in the 1990s I remember when the literary novel, GUT Symmetries, came out to high literary acclaim. It took its name from the Grand Unified Theory physicists and cosmologists like Stephen Hawking are seeking, which will unify Quantum physics with the normal, relativistic physics of the ‘macro’ world. The plot involved parallel universes. Looking at the brief descriptions in the literary columns, I was struck by how much it resembled other works of genre Science Fiction, particularly that of Lisa Tuttle. Yet Tuttle and the other SF authors exploring similar themes weren’t mentioned.

There was much discussion in the SF fanzines at the time about the way non-genre, respectable literary authors were appropriating themes from Science Fiction. They were applauded by the literary crowd for their ground-breaking new work, while SF was still despised and confined in a kind of literary ghetto. The late Terry Pratchett, speaking one year at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, described how the organisers of the Festival looked at him as if we he was going to give a lecture about mending motorcycles. Despite the eminence, popularity and literary skill shown by Pratchett, he and the genre he wrote in still weren’t quite acceptable in respectable literary company. As well as a very funny writer, Pratchett was a funny and witty speaker, and the fans crowding the room loved it.

Shaw also speaks about how he attempts to ground his SF in scientific reality, but states that nothing dates faster than today’s science. The example he gives is of an episode of the old Flash Gordon film serial, then being shown on British TV. There’s one episode where Flash and Dale Arden have to abandon a stricken spaceship falling out of the sky. As they are about to bail out, Flash shouts out that they must check that they’ve got their anti-gravity belts and ray guns. They do so, and these look suitably futuristic. Then Dale remembers that they’ve forgotten the portable radio. Radios at the time were things the size of small tables, and so when she returns, she’s got something of that size strapped to her back. The writer knew what size portable radios were, but couldn’t imagine them being any smaller. And so his failure of the imagination, his inability to see that one day radios would shrink to a more manageable size, dates the whole show.

As for Bryan Talbot, the show mentions that he began his career as a comics illustrator in the underground commix of the drug counterculture. It shows some of the work he did for the Luther Arkwright comics series. This was set in a multiverse of parallel worlds, and was strongly influenced by the novels of Michael Moorcock.

The play itself, ‘Encounter with a Madman’, is about a time traveller from a sterile and dying Britain, poisoned by chemical and nuclear waste, travelling back to the early 19th century to meet Dalton, the discoverer of the atom. She explains to Dalton that, through his discovery, he will ultimately be responsible for the ‘ecodeath’ that has destroyed Britain and is slowly leading its last survivors to extinction. Dalton himself is torn, unable to decide whether the visitor is a madman, uttering blasphemous nonsense, or just might be telling the truth, no matter how bizarre that is. The gamekeeper, however, shoots her in the belief that she’s a French spy. She arrives back in the poisoned wasteland of nearly two centuries into the future, and dies, clutching a single flower.

Shaw and Talbot aren’t the only famous faces on the programme, as the traveller herself is played by a very young Jenny Éclair, now one of Britain’s top comediennes.

Unfortunately, as the programme was shown on ITV, the videos also contain some of the adverts. They’re mostly instantly forgettable, though they do contain one of the Cinzano Bianco adverts with Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins. They’re now held as comedy classics in their own right. They weren’t much good as adverts, however, as everyone remembered how funny Rossiter and Collins were, and completely forgot what the product was.

Here’s part 1:

And part 2:

I’ve got an idea I read in an interview somewhere that Shaw left Northern Ireland for Britain. He said he did so because in Ireland, you got everything, including books, from the local corner shop. He was just about one of the very few readers of Science Fiction in Ireland at the time, and was sick of people looking at him and asking, ‘What are you reading that rubbish for?’ when he went to pick up the latest SF paperback or mag.

When Politics Is This Broken It’s Time To Get Out In The Fucking Streets – Starting Tomorrow, 3pm Conservative HQ

May 9, 2015

Johnny Void here urges people to join a demonstration against Tory Central Office today, organised by London Black Revs.

He argues that after the re-election yesterday of David Cameron’s Tories, after only 20 per cent of the British public voted for them, leaves mass demonstrations as the only alternative. The first past the post voting system means that the rich will always stay in power, while the Labour party has just seen the Blairites re-emerge, trying to argue that Labour should move further to the Right. That’s definitely the wrong direction, as the victory of the SNP showed that what actually catches votes is a reversal of Tory anti-welfare, privatisation policies.

Mr Void presents the case that the only effective opposition now comes from the victims of austerity – the poor, the disabled, the students, tenants and benefit claimants.

The kind of people, in other words, who formed the Podemos movement in Spain.

I hope that eventually the Labour party is able to muster some kind of resistance to Neo-Liberalism, however, small. But in the meantime I think the country should show that we are not taking Cameron’s putative victory, or his victimisation of the poor, weak and marginalised lying down. He’s in, but we should make him fight every step of the way.

!No Pasaran!

the void

fuck-rich1If yesterday’s election showed anything it is that most people do not want a Tory government.  Just 20% of the public voted Tory – the same proportion of the population the Office for National Statistics estimates have a personal wealth of over £600,000.  The rich are in charge despite what the rest of us want.  As usual.

No matter what might have happened yesterday the rich would still be in charge.  The UK’s electoral system has been designed over hundreds of years to ensure precisely that.  In Scotland the whole country can vote on mass to reject both of the main political parties and it doesn’t make a blind bit of fucking difference.  A million people can vote Green and nearly four million UKIP and nothing will change.  Although the UKIP thing is pretty funny.  Bye Nigel.

Already some in the Labour Party want to lurch even further to the…

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Letter from Tory activist urging Tories to vote Lib Dem

May 7, 2015

Tom has already said that the links between the Lib Dems and the Tories were now so close, the Tories were urging their members to vote tactically Liberal in order to keep Labour out. Here’s a letter that proves it.

As for the contents of the letter, I’m surprised at the writer commending her Liberal MP for ‘putting party before country’ and going into Coalition. As Overburdeneddonkey points out, the truly honourable thing to do is put one’s country before party, recognising that the needs of the nation as a whole comes before the sectional interest of the political party. The writer has therefore cheerfully admitted that the Tories and Lib Dems don’t have the country’s interest at heart, even though she goes on to raise Tory fears about what Miliband and Balls would do if they got in.

The woman writing this clearly has some extreme Right-wing views. She must have, if she’s worried that Miliband and Balls are being held to ransom by the Far Left. Really? Neither can be said to be the darlings of the Far Left. It just shows how hysterical the Tories are, and how far to the Right they’ve moved. The writer herself inadvertently has shown how unfit the Tories are to govern.

Pride's Purge

(not satire – it’s the Tory/Lib Dems!)

As a reminder of just how close to each other the Tory Party and the Liberal Democrats are – here is a letter from a Tory activist urging her local Tories to vote tactically for a Lib Dem candidate:

snootypieceofshit

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Isn’t it about time the Tories and the Lib Dems stopped their pretence of being separate parties and went for a full-on merger?

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PS Did you spot the Freudian typo in the letter: Stephen Williams “put party before country in 2010 by going into coalition” 🙂

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Please feel free to comment.

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ELECTION 2015: Why the Coalition must be defeated

May 7, 2015

This fascinating piece presents the Tories’ planned privatisation of the British government’s share of the Uranium enrichment firm Urenco, as a prime example of the government’s incompetence and folly. Not only is the government selling off a state investment that is massively profitable, but it also has profound security problems. The firm operates top secret nuclear centrifuges, that could be highly dangerous if they got into the wrong hands. The recent deal Obama struck with the Iranians in order to prevent them developing nuclear weapons involved massive cuts in the number of centrifuges that the Iranians were allowed to operate.

This case also shows how the Tories’ privatisations have also hit the working class. It’s not just the cuts to welfare benefits that are harming people, and the general campaign of austerity. It’s also the fact that much of the debt Britain has incurred has been produced by decades of Tory government selling off the national assets.

This is not accident. Tory ideology and personal greed demands that state enterprises be sold off to their friends – and themselves – in the private sector. The lack of revenue also allows them to ‘starve the beast’ – prevent more money going into the welfare state, and so give them an ideological pretext to inflict more cuts.

sturdyblog

20150507-112412.jpg

I could choose a thousand stories to make my argument – from the omnishambles budget to tuition fees, from the poor being forced to use food banks to disabled people dying after being declared “fit”, from badgers “moving the goalposts” to Andy Coulson. A thousand sleazy fuck-ups, probably more, lend themselves to the same narrative. But the polls are open and time is short, so I have chosen just one.

The story I have chosen to make my plea is neither the biggest nor the most dramatic. I have chosen it partly because it has gone largely unreported and partly because it encapsulates all the incompetence, cruelty, ruthlessness and ideologically imposed idiocy of this Coalition.

The government is trying to sell our stake in Urenco. Urenco is a joint venture between the UK, Holland and Germany (effectively – E.On, RWE). Each partner holds a third each giving them collective control…

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Exercise Your Political Rights: VOTE!

May 7, 2015

Today’s polling day, as I’m sure just about every one of my readers is aware. I’ve reblogged a number of memes from Vox Political over the past few days, urging people not to vote the Tories and Lib Dems back in. Mike’s posted another piece over on his site, simply asking people to vote. And he’s produced this graphic for further encouragement.

Vote Meme

Remember – the Tories and Lib Dems have reformed the registration system, just to prevent people from voting. This is how they view democracy, despite all the rhetoric about defending and promoting it through ‘localism’, or some such ideological camouflage. They fear it. Just have tyrants have always feared it.

So defy them. Don’t give in to apathy, or pessimism. Use your franchise.

The Francophone Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, said that the man, who votes, but doesn’t want anyone else to, wishes to be a master. The one, who doesn’t, wishes to be a slave.

The Tories are always keen to get their people to vote, and vote first. Because they do see themselves as the masters.

Mike’s short piece is over at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/05/07/at-long-last-election-day-is-here-vote/. Go there for further electoral encouragement.

But you don’t have to accept the status of slaves.

Nigel Farage Blames The Mail On Sunday For His Supporter’s Violent Attacks On Anti UKIP Activists

May 7, 2015

If you read the news on Hope Not Hate and the SlatUKIP sites, you’ll find that there’s been a spate of thuggish behaviour and violence by the Kippers towards the Labour party and its supporters. In this video put up by the Cat, Farage is challenged by a woman, who has suffered abuse and been spat at by people chanting ‘UKIP! UKIP!’. The Fuhrage’s reply is, ‘Nothing to do with me’. He states that they’re from a journalist working for the Daily Mail.

A likely story. Now the Mail does hate the Kippers with a vengeance, This is nothing to do with their policies and more to do with the threat they pose to the Mail’s beloved Tory party. Now the ethical standards of some of the Journos on the Mail does seem to be appalling low. Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge has suffered harassment from them. A few weeks ago one was caught hanging around the grounds of a local hospital. He was hoping to run a piece on ‘party people’ wasting NHS resources on through injuries incurred while smashed. The hospital authorities weren’t impressed, and showed him the exit pronto. But somehow, I don’t think it’s due to the Mail here. Not this time.

Some of the violence and intimidation has come from the Far Right goons from the EDL and Britain First, who have decided that the Kippers represent their best bet of creating a pure white, Aryan England. Britain First has taken to goose-stepping about the streets as their enforcing, protecting them from attack from the Left. This has meant turning up and abusing and threatening Left-wing demonstrators. There’s a video, which I reblogged over on my site, which shows a group of Nazi thugs threatening Labour canvassers in Kent. The Nazi Kippers revile them with calls of ‘Paedophile appeasers!’

One of the Kipper’s own goons in South Thanet has beaten up a supporter for the Labour candidate, Scobie, because the fellow had the audacity to challenge his master. There’s simply too much evidence of Kipper violence for Fuhrage to shrug this off.

A general is responsible for the actions of his troopers. For all that the Purple Duce claimed his party was no sectarian and non-racist, with a ban on former members of the Far Right joining, the Kippers have done just that. There have been endless scandals where, one after another, Kippers have been outed as former members of the avowedly Nazi parties. They have never to my knowledge clarified or repudiated the weird relationship with Britain First. And even if they haven’t been Nazis themselves, too many of them have Nazi views, and reblogged Nazi propaganda.

If Fuehrer Nige had been serious about his claims to non-racism and being against religious bigotry, such as the Islamophobia which blights so many of his members, then he would have cleaned these members out long ago. Or they would never have been admitted in the first place. But he hasn’t, indicating that his party tacitly tolerates and encourages them. Only when they’re exposed in the press or become a public embarrassment, does the party then decide to expel them.

The goons that assaulted this lady are almost certainly some of Nige’s own. Viscount Rothermere and Paul Dacre are both thugs in their own kind of way, but they’re not responsible for this. The fault is Nige’s own.

Guy Debord's Cat

The Mail on Sunday? Seriously?

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