Posts Tagged ‘Angela Rayner’

Liz Truss Co-Author of a Report Which Demanded Savage Cuts and a £10 Charge to See the Doctor

August 19, 2022

This is another piece from the Mirror which reveals precisely what a prize right-wing scumbag Liz Truss is. According to the article, ‘Liz Truss report demanded vast cuts and £10 fee to see GP – ‘true colours’ in full’ by the paper’s political editor Dan Bloom, the Tory leadership contender was the joint author of a 2009 report published by the think tank, Reform, calling for massive cuts to public spending. This included cutting pensioners’ benefits, doctors’ pay by ten per cent, and imposing a £10 charge for seeing the doctor.

The article begins:

‘Liz Truss is accused of showing her “true colours” in a paper that called for vast spending cuts and a £10 fee to see your GP.

The runaway favourite to be Prime Minister was one of seven people who wrote a 44-page slash-and-burn policy document for the 2009 Budget.

The ‘Back to Black’ paper for the Reform think tank recommended cutting £28bn in a year by introducing “user charges for GPs” and whittling 10% off doctors’ pay.

It also demanded ministers “remove pensioner gimmicks” to save £3.2bn, force civil servants onto a four-day week with a 20% pay cut, and hike the pension age at the last moment.

And it called for major military projects to be axed – including the Royal Navy’s planned aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Despite her being Deputy Director of Reform at the time, Ms Truss’ campaign bizarrely claimed: “Co-authoring a document does not mean that someone supports every proposal put forward.”

Despite saying it shouldn’t be in 2009, a Truss ally insisted the likely Prime Minister does believe in an NHS free at the point of use – and she’ll not cut GPs’ pay or defence spending as PM.

Ahead of tonight’s Tory hustings in Manchester, an ally argued: “The purpose of a think tank is to put forward bold, radical ideas in the hope the government will pick up one or two.”

A campaign spokesman added of the document written 13 years ago: “This is a nearly two decade old document written against the backdrop of Labour bankrupting the economy.”

But Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Liz Truss’s track record shows her true colours. She is out of touch and out of step with the public.’

The article can be read at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/liz-truss-report-demanded-vast-27781979

Ah, we’re back to the old ‘high spending Labour’ refrain, in which Labour is accused of bankrupting the economy and that savage cuts to public spending, meaning primarily the NHS and the welfare state, are needed. Do I believe that somehow, in the past thirteen years, she’s had some kind of conversion to Nye Bevan’s vision of an NHS that provides everyone with care, free at the point of use?

No. Because she’s a liar in a party of liars.

Remember the last election when an independent fact checking organisation found that while Labour had made no untrue statements, the number of lies the Tories told was off the scale in the thousands?

And the Tories don’t believe in the NHS. Not since Maggie Thatcher wanted to privatise it, but was only prevented by a massive cabinet revolt. Since then they’ve privatised everything they could, starting with the ancillary services and progressing to the medical services, as these have been contracted out to private medical companies and hospitals. And the other year various Tory scumbags were demanding an expansion of the list of services for which fees could be charged.

If she doesn’t believe in these cuts now, it’s only because that they’re a political liability. It looks to me very much that she strongly believed in them when Cameron was in power and Gideon, sorry, George Osborne was chancellor.

You cannot trust her with the NHS.

You cannot trust her to look after the elderly.

And you cannot trust her on defence.

Get her out, and her foul party with her.

Angela Rayner Has Forgotten the Shooting of Charles Menezes

February 21, 2022

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, managed to kick up a storm of protest last week. I haven’t read any more than the headlines, but I gather she said that when it came to terrorists, the police should shoot first and ask questions second. I have absolutely no sympathy for any terrorists, regardless of their colour, religion or political cause. But this is an extremely dangerous attitude as it has already resulted in the death of a completely innocent man in the turmoil following 9/11 and 7/7.

Charles Menezes was a Brazilian student studying over here in London. His only crime was that he lived in the same block of flats as a suspected Islamist terrorist. The house was being watched by an armed police team. Unfortunately, only one of them knew what the real terrorist suspect looked like, and he’d gone off to relieve himself. The others saw Menezes leave the house and, thinking he might be the suspect, shouted to him to stop. I think there was some kind of issue with their uniform, as it appears that Menezes didn’t recognise that they were police. In Brazil apparently one of the tactics used by armed robbers is to disguise themselves as policemen, and it may have been that Menezes thought that something like that was happening to him. He ran away and the police gave chase. Reaching the railway station, he jumped over the barriers and got on the train. So did the coppers, who then shot him in the head.

It was a horrific killing of an entirely innocent chap through massive police incompetence and a ‘shoot first’ policy. The government and police were worried that if terrorists were given any warning by the cops, they’d set off their suicide belts. And so it was official policy to shoot first and ask questions later. In the inquiry that followed,, this policy was abandoned. But Rayner’s statement suggests she would drag us back to it, and so cause potentially cause more innocent people to be shot by mistake.

And possibly not just by mistake. Way back in the 1980s there was scandal of the shooting of an IRA terrorist group in Gibraltar. As revealed in the World In Action documentary, ‘Death on the Rock’, the terrorists were needlessly killed. They had been tracked by the British army all the way down through Spain and could have been rounded up without bloodshed at any time. But it looks like the British government wanted to send a message to the IRA and so set up what was, in effect, a death squad to exterminate them. The programme caused such a scandal and enraged Thatcher to such an extent that she withdrew London Weekend Television’s broadcasting licence, and gave it instead to Carlton. This wasn’t the only instance of lawlessness by the British army in Northern Ireland. Rory Cormac has a number of other examples in his book, Disrupt and Deny, about the underhand, covert operations and real conspiracies by the British state. Some of these were so controversial and repugnant that many Conservatives were also opposed to them.

I’m very much aware that the terrorist threat is very real. But we need sensible policies regarding the armed response to it in order to prevent the deaths of innocents, like Mr Menezes, and our government and security forces behaving like Fascist death squads.

But Rayner, it seems, forgot all that in an attempt to appear tough and ruthless to appeal to all those Thatcherite Tories Starmer thinks will flood into Labour now that he’s ditched that awkward thing, socialism.

Right-Wing YouTubers Ignore Serious Issues at Labour Conference to Concentrate on Race and Personalities

September 28, 2021

I’ve said several times that as the failure of Thatcherite free market capitalism increases, the Tories will try to divert attention away from it by concentrating instead on issues of race and immigration. And this is has happened in the shape of the right-wing YouTubers Alex Belfield and Sargon of Gasbag and the Lotus Eaters. For example, the privatisation of the utilities ain’t working. This is why Jeremy Corbyn in his brilliant 2019 manifesto argued for their renationalisation. Just over 50 per cent of the British public agree with the renationalisation of the electricity companies with only 14 per cent opposing. Keir Starmer is one of those, as he tied himself up in knots on the Andrew Marr show this Sunday denying that he had ever said he was in favour of nationalisation while he very much had talked in favour of common ownership in his campaign to become party leader. Mike in his piece about it asked what common ownership meant if not nationalisation. Well, there are other forms of social ownership, such as municipalisation. When Blair dropped the commitment to nationalisation – Clause IV – from the Labour constitution back in the 1990s, his apologists stated that it didn’t mean that other forms of common ownership would be ruled out and specifically pointed to municipalisation. On the other hand, people have said that despite these arguments, it was very clear what the removal of Clause IV meant: the end of Labour as a socialist party and a commitment to private enterprise. Conference challenged that as well when they voted overwhelmingly for return of the electricity companies to state ownership.

This is clearly an embarrassment to Starmer, especially as the motion was passed not just by the traditional Labour left, Corbyn’s supporters, but also by members of the party’s right. Which means that people across the party have woken up and realised that the private ownership of the electricity sector isn’t working.

So, how are popular right-wing YouTubers like Belfield, who makes much of having 300,000 supporters, and the Lotus Eaters responding to this decision? Well, from what I can see, they ain’t. Instead Belfield and the Lotus Eaters are making much of the statement by one of the hosts at the Conference yesterday that too many white men were putting their hand up, and that this didn’t represent the diversity of the people in the hall. Belfield and the Lotus Eaters both extensively discuss and criticise diversity and racial issues. Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, is an avowed anti-feminist. You’ll remember that he gained notoriety a year or so ago over a tweet he sent to Jess Philips telling her that he ‘wouldn’t even rape her.’ I think this is quite deliberate. They seem to be trying to appeal to the same constituency as UKIP, of which Sargon was briefly a member and which he helped to destroy. When he joined, everyone who didn’t have such strong views about race or migration immediately denounced his recruitment and left. Academic studies of UKIP, such as for example the book, Revolt on the Right, have found that the party’s core supporters were socially conservative older White men of 50 +, who felt left behind by Blair’s multicultural Britain. At the same time, the core supporters of the Republicans and especially Trump in America were supposed to be angry White men. Which explains why Belfield and the Lotus Eaters have seized on the statement by a conference host which sought to minimise them.

When not exploiting the call for fewer questions from White men, Belfield has been playing up personalities. Keith Vaz has returned, and this has been criticised by Belfield after reports of bullying by him. Belfield also attacked him for supposedly looking the other way when Asian workers in Leeds were being paid starvation wages by their Asian employers, a situation also ignore by Black Lives Matter. It’s a fair point, although the local Labour MP has pointed out that she repeatedly tried to get something done about it but was ignored by the local council. He also repeated the criticisms of Angela Rayner for calling the Tories ‘scum’. Well, it is unparliamentary language, but Nye Bevan, the Labour politico who set up the NHS and welfare state, famously called the Tories ‘vermin’. He was angry about the real poverty and suffering their policies had caused, and to which we’re returning thanks to Cameron’s, Tweezer’s and Johnson’s determination to drag us all back to the Victorian age. And then there’s Claudia Webbe, who stands accused of using misogynistic language against someone and threatening to attack them with acid. This is serious stuff, but it’s a distraction from the serious point that a majority of the party at Conference has decided that electricity privatisation is a failure. This is a direct assault on Maggie, and so can’t be tolerated.

The fact that Belfield and the Lotus Eaters aren’t arguing against electricity nationalisation, which they would have done at one time, shows that part of the Tory media realises very well that it isn’t working. They still support it, but have no arguments for keeping it in private hands.

So all they can do is make personal attacks and hope people will ignore the rest.

Johnson Insults Low Paid Workers by Telling Them to Rise through their Own Efforts

August 29, 2021

This comment from the incompetent, libidinous, blustering, greedy clown infesting No. 10 clearly demonstrates the absolute contempt he and his fellow Tories really have for working people. Yesterday Mike put up a piece from a Mirror report, in which Johnson told low paid British workers claiming benefits to make ends meet that they will have to see their wages rise through their own efforts. This is his ‘strong preference’, which he thinks is shared by the vast majority of people in this country. He’s not going to pass legislation to raise wages and doesn’t want them to claim benefits, which is money raised through taxing other people. This is at a time when those on Universal Credit are facing a cut of £1,000 per year. Of course, this is rich coming from the man who got Tory donors to pay for his new wallpaper, a nanny and whined that he couldn’t live off his £150,000 a year salary, as the good peeps on Twitter, including Angela Rayner, reminded us all. And this grasping attitude is shared by his cabinet, as Daniela Nadj pointed out. Rishi Sunak is building a new swimming pool in his garden and Dominic Raab spends £40,000 on a holiday. But for the rest of us, there’s 2,000 food banks and hundreds of baby banks.

Well, this is a typical Tory attitude and it goes back centuries. Way back in the 19th century one of the leading politicians of the day – and it might have been a Liberal rather than a Tory – told a meeting at one of the northern industrial towns that the means of prospering was within their grasp. It’s the old nonsense that if you work hard and have talent, you’ll get on. If you don’t, it’s your own fault. This particular speech was made at time when industrial workers could have a working day going up to 18 hours in poorly ventilated, dangerous factories, and families could be crammed into overcrowded basements.

And when Cameron was in power he declared that he was going to make work pay, not by actually raising wages, but by cutting benefits. Because working people didn’t want to see the closed curtains of their unemployed neighbours. As for the comments about taxation, that sounds like a populist move, but it’s really about not taxing the rich fairly for their share, just like he doesn’t want to damage their profits by making them pay a real living wage.

This is all about protecting and enriching the bloated elite even further by playing on the petty jealous and resentment within certain sections of the working class. All the while supported by the underlying message that we somehow live in a fair society in which full of opportunities to get on. Which is why there are so many graduates now working in burger bars or signing on.

For further information, see:

Starmer Takes Full Responsibility for Defeat by Sacking People Who Had Nothing To Do With It

May 9, 2021

Well, there have been some successes for Labour in the recent elections. I’m very glad Labour has entered a sixth term in power in Wales, and that Jo Anderson, Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan were elected mayors of Liverpool, Manchester and London respectively, and that down here in Bristol, south Gloucestershire and north Somerset, Dan Norris has been elected the metro mayor. But generally, Labour have suffered an humiliating defeat in the local council elections. Keir Starmer said that he was going to take responsibility for the defeat. And so he’s done what he previously done so many times – gone back on his word. If he was truly going to take responsibility, he should have tendered his resignation and walked. But he didn’t. He’s hung on to power, and started blaming and sacking other people instead.

The first of these is Angela Rayner, who has been sacked from her position as the party’s chair. He has decided that she was responsible for the loss of Hartlepool despite the fact that she had nothing to do with it. It was really the fault of his personal private secretary, Jenny Chapman, who, as Mike has posted over at Vox Political, decided on the candidate and chose the date of May 6th. But Chapman remains in place. Others who are lined up for the chop apparently include Lisa Nandy and Anneliese Dodds. This also reminds me of the incident a few weeks ago when Starmer blamed somebody else for a Labour loss. Apparently they failed to communicate his ‘vision’ properly. This would have been impossible. Starmer doesn’t have a vision. As Zelo Street has pointed out, Starmer has constantly evaded. He’s also defiantly agreed with BoJob on various issues and, as leader of the opposition, has spectacularly failed to oppose. People are heartily sick of him. The polls show that the reason the good folk of Hartlepool didn’t vote Labour was him.

And then there are the ‘charmless nurks’, as Norman Stanley Fletcher, the Sartre of Slade prison would say, that Starmer supposedly no wants in his cabinet. Wes Streeting, the bagman between him and the Board of Deputies, a thoroughly poisonous character; the Chuckle Sisters Rachel Reeves and Jessica Philips, who are so left-wing and progressive that they went to a party celebrating 100 years or so of the Spectator, and Hilary ‘Bomber’ Benn. Benn is the man, who wanted us to bomb Syria, as if Britain wasn’t already responsible for enough carnage and bloodshed in the Middle East. He’s been in Private Eye several times as head of the Commonwealth Development Corporation. This used to be the public body that put British aid money into needed projects in the Developing World. Under Benn it’s been privatised, and now only gives money that will provide a profit for shareholders. It’s yet more western capitalist exploitation of the Third World. None of these bozos should be anywhere near power in the Labour party. They’re Thatcherites, who if given shadow cabinet posts, will lead Labour into yet more electoral defeat.

Already the Net has been filled with peeps giving their views on what Starmer should do next. The mad right-wing radio host, Alex Belfield, posted a video stating that Starmer was immensely rich, with millions of acres of land, and out of touch with working people. If Starmer really wants power, he declared, he should drop the ‘woke’ nonsense and talk about things ordinary people are interested in, like roads, buses and so on. And he should talk to Nigel Farage about connecting with ordinary people.

Belfield speaks to the constituency that backed UKIP – the White working class, who feel that Labour has abandoned them in favour of ethnic minorities. But part of Labour’s problem is that Starmer doesn’t appeal to Blacks and Asians. He drove them away with his tepid, opportunistic support of Black Lives Matter and his defence of the party bureaucrats credibly accused of bullying and racially abusing Diane Abbott and other non-White Labour MPs and officials. He’s also right in that Starmer is rich and doesn’t appeal to the working class. He’s a Blairite, which means he’s going for the middle class, swing or Tory vote. But there have been Labour politicos from privileged backgrounds, who have worked for the ordinary man and woman, and were respected for it. Tony Benn was a lord, and Jeremy Corbyn I think comes from a very middle class background. As did Clement Attlee. Being ‘woke’ – having a feminist, anti-racist stance with policies to combat discrimination against and promote women, ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ peeps needn’t be an electoral liability if they are couple with policies that also benefit the White working class. Like getting decent wages, defending workers’ rights, reversing the privatisation of the health service and strengthening the welfare state that so that it does provide properly for the poor, the old, the disabled, the sick and the unemployed. These are policies that benefit all working people, regardless of their colour, sex or sexuality.

It’s when these policies are abandoned in favour of the middle class with only the pro-minority policies retained to mark the party as left-wing or liberal, that the working class feels abandoned. Blair and Brown did this, and so helped the rise of UKIP and now the kind of working class discontent that is favouring the Tories.

And it’ll only get worse if Starmer turns fully to Blairism.

The only way to restore the party’s fortunes is to return to the popular policies of Jeremy Corbyn, and for Starmer to resign.

See: #Starmergeddon as panicking Labour leader lashes out in night of swivel-eyed lunacy | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Zelo Street: Keir Starmer – No Vision, No Votes (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Zelo Street: Keir Starmer IS UNRAVELLING (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Hurrah! Labour’s Dan Norris Elected as West of England Metro Mayor

May 9, 2021

Another great result for Labour. I’ve just caught the local news for the Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire region on the Beeb. Dan Norris, the Labour candidate for the west of England metro mayor, has been re-elected. He got 125,000 odd votes. The Tories came second with 85,000 or so votes. The metro mayor presides over the greater Bristol region, including parts of north Somerset and south Gloucestershire. I’d heard that he’d been re-elected yesterday, but this confirms it. Apparently the Conservatives have been claiming that they were defeated because there was a larger turnout for the election in Bristol, while voters in northern Somerset and south Gloucestershire stayed away. Perhaps people in north Somerset were put off voting Tory by the bad vibes coming from Jacob Rees Mogg in BANES.

This is a great result amongst the general dismal news for Labour, which is largely due to Starmer’s dismal leadership. It isn’t Angela Rayner, who should go, but him.

Bristol South Labour Party’s Motion on the Suspension of Three Local Labour Activists

February 19, 2021

As well as a motion of solidarity in support of the Indian farmers, Bristol South Labour Party also passed a motion on the suspension of three local Labour activists. This has caused great concern among local Labour politicos, activists and party members throughout Bristol, and I believe a letter expressing these concerns has been sent to the national party bureaucracy. As I understand it, the motion does not give an opinion on whether the suspended peeps are innocent or guilty, but merely calls for them to have a quick and fair trial.

Following the experience of Mike and the other great people, who’ve fallen foul of Labour’s suspension process, I had absolutely no problem supporting this motion, which was passed. However, I really don’t see it having any effect. The concept of natural justice is foreign to the Blairites controlling the NEC and the party bureaucracy, who are using accusations of anti-Semitism and other wrongdoing to purge the party of Corbyn’s supporters and others on the left. Mike and the very many others accused and summarily found guilty were tried in kangaroo courts which had already decided on a guilty verdict well ahead of the trial. And as Mike found, there is no possibility of getting redress against these gross derelictions of justice by arguing that they are against Labour party rules, because the national Labour party changes those rules as and when it choose and finds convenient. This absolute contempt for fairness as well as the leadership’s continuing campaign to purge the party of socialists and opponents of neoliberalism as well as supporters of Palestinian rights are the reason people are leaving the party in droves and the membership has plummeted.

I would like the three people, who’ve been suspended, get a fair trial. But I’m afraid I have no confidence of this with Starmer and Rayner in the party leadership. I strongly believe that there will only be fair, just trials again when these two are gone, the party bureaucracy purged of Blairite conspirators and saboteurs and party democracy restored with a corresponding respectful attitude to its rank and file members and activists.

Scared Alex Belfield Mockingly Rants about Diane Abbott Leading the Labour Party

January 3, 2021

Yesterday right-wing YouTuber and internet radio host Alex Belfield put up a video expressing his surprise and horror over a discussion on Twitter about the Labour party. The peeps there were saying that Keir Starmer had finally had enough of leading the party and was about to stand down. Ready to take over from him was Diane Abbott. The rest of the video was just Belfield doing a very unfunny impression of the veteran Black MP making some kind of acceptance speech for the leadership. Abbott is one of the most vilified MPs in parliament. She receives half of all the misogynistic letters received by female parliamentarians. Belfield appears to be one of the people, who has a singular dislike of her. He’s been presenting her as thick as ever since she made a stupid maths mistake talking to one of the presenters of Talk Radio about Labour party policy and how it would be funded a year or so ago. He’s also played up the fact that Abbott has been extremely critical of the police, who I think she feels are racist, but had to call them for help when she was threatened by her privately educated, drug addict son.

I can’t say that Abbott is my favourite MP, and while I can see her being many things, stupid is not one of them. Plenty of Tories have been caught out being unable to do basic Maths as well, but Belfield and the Tories are obviously determined to push the idea of Abbott being massively thick in the hope that it will colour public perception of her. This says to me that they’re afraid, desperately afraid of her. Belfield put up a video a month ago ranting against Abbott’s nomination as MP of the year. I think he may have been one of the right-wingers, who was outraged at a similar vote by a sizable number of the British public in favour of Jeremy Corbyn for the same award a year or so ago.

Last week the Groan published an article from one of the leaders of Operation Black Vote arguing that the Tories were trying to set the working class against Blacks. This is absolutely correct. Belfield constantly harps on about how White working class boys are the most disadvantaged group in the UK. He has a personal chip on his should about this, as he is also constantly talking about how he is a working class lad without a degree from a pit community, in contrast to the ‘woke’ leftie snowflakes at the BBC, who are over-promoting Black performers and drag queens. I’ve no doubt that Belfield is right that about the disadvantaged condition of working class White boys. But he is definitely using it as a weapon for party political purposes by placing them in opposition of Blacks. Part of the reason White British youths are disadvantaged is due not to affirmative action programmes for Blacks and other minorities, although these have played their part, but to Tory policies that have devastated working class White communities. This included the closure of the mines which supported villages like Belfield’s. The Tories have absolutely no interest in helping the working class, whether White, Black, Asian or whatever. They’re only interested in using their underprivileged condition to generate hatred against the Labour party and programmes designed to improve the situation of Blacks in the UK.

As for Starmer giving it all up and deciding to pack it as leader of the Labour party, oh! If only! He’s been a disaster as leader. He has no policies, no real opposition to the Tories and, I would argue, no morals. He’s a typical Blairite. His only real opposition is not to neoliberalism and the Conservatives – he seems to be following Blair’s example of adopting Tory policies while trying to present Labour as better able to carry them out – but to the real socialists in his own party. He and Rayner have been doing everything they can to carry on the witch hunt against true Labour centrists – the peeps who want a return to proper Labour policies and values – by smearing and expelling them as anti-Semites. He has done everything he seemingly can to protect the plotters and intriguers, who conspired to sabotage Labour’s chances at last year’s elections and in 2017. These individuals were also guilty of real racism towards BAME MPs and activists. But no action has been taken against them, to the disgust of the party’s Black members and supporters. His leadership is also becoming a personal autocracy, as he and the new head of the NEC impose rules silencing local parties from voicing their criticisms of his leadership. Local leaders and officials have been suspended for breaking these rules.

I and many, many other Labour members and supporters would be delighted if Starmer went. And while I have problems with Abbott – I think she does go too far in her accusations of racism – I would certainly rather have her as leader of the Labour party.

And that, I think, is what’s behind Belfield’s constant mocking and pillorying of the MP. He’s afraid. Afraid that others like me would also prefer to have her as leader of the Labour party. White peeps from working class families. The same people he and the Tories are trying to turn against Blacks.

As far as I know, Starmer isn’t planning to retire from the leadership anytime soon. But I’d be highly delighted if he did. He has done nothing for the working class. And the Tories aren’t going to do anything for them either, except make them poorer and even more desperate. Only the Labour left is going to do this, and that includes Diane Abbott. I don’t think she’d be popular with the general public, as Tory propaganda has probably gone too far.

But I think intellectually she’s more than a match for right-wing loudmouths, and has and will do more for working class peeps than he and the Tories ever will.

Silver Monoliths and the Great UFO Ball Invasion

December 30, 2020

I hope everyone’s having a great Christmas, despite the outbreak of an even more virulent strain of the Coronavirus, the consequent lockdown and Boris’ farcical deal with the EU. I haven’t posted anything over the past few days partly because I wanted to enjoy Christmas, and didn’t feel like dealing with all the misery Johnson’s coterie of thugs and entitled bandits and looters, and partly because I simply don’t find much of the news that’s surfaced over the past few days at all inspiring. I was intending only to publish odd, cheerful or uplifting stuff over the holiday period for a change, more in keeping with Christmas as the season of peace and goodwill. Well, that’s gone out the window, as I do intend to blog about serious issues. But for now here’s something far less grim than the faces and policies of BoJob, Gove, Priti Patel, Starmer and Rayner.

Among the serious news there have been reports over the last few weeks of a mysterious silver monolith appearing around the world. It first appeared in America, then disappeared, only to re-emerge in Britain, on the Isle of Wight or somewhere. It disappeared again and then moved to somewhere else in the globe. It’s a pity that some of the urban folklore magazines of the 1990s aren’t still around, as this is the kind of event they loved. Small press magazines like Dear Mr Thoms/ Letter to Ambrose Merton, Folklore Frontiers and the academic Contemporary Legend used to follow similar stories. Like the stolen garden gnomes that went around the world, sending their former owners postcards from whichever new location they turned up in. This is somewhat like that. But it most closely resembles a British UFO hoax from the early 1980s which was covered, I believed, by that venerable journal of the weird, the Fortean Times. I’ve forgotten quite when it all happened, but sometime in the early 1980s or perhaps the late ’70s, a number of silver spheres appeared around Britain making beeping noises. They were designed to appear like alien objects from a UFO. The silver monolith also looks to me like it’s intended to resemble the alien monoliths from Kubrick and Clarke’s classic SF film, 2001, but with the difference that theirs was pitch black. As far as I know, no-one has claimed responsibility for the supposedly alien spheres, although I think it was suggested they were the work of students. I think it’s highly unlikely that either spheres or the recent monolith are the work of aliens. However, latter did appear at the same time as an unexplained signal was received from Proxima Centauri. This is the nearest star to ours, at about four light years away. Scientists were excited about it because Proxima Centauri is believed to have two planets. One is a Jupiter-sized gas giant, but the other is a rocky planet like Earth. So there have been videos on YouTube asking whether what was picked up was another ‘WOW signal’, like the burst of radio noise from Eta Carinae in the 1970s that astonished radio astronomers. It was so close to what they expected a signal from an alien civilisation to be like, that someone wrote ‘Wow’ next to the printout of it. It’s been a matter of debate since whether it really did come from aliens or was natural. The signal was never repeated, like the recent signal from Proxima Centauri, so I think most scientists believe it’s almost certainly natural. I think the Proxima signal will probably prove natural too. But you never know, and we live in hope.

As for hoaxes and stunts like the silver monolith and beeping spheres, while they aren’t remotely the real UFO landing people hope for, they do no harm and keep people amused. And in these grim times, we definitely need everything we can get to keep our spirits up.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

December 24, 2020

Well, it’s Christmas Eve, and I just wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May you all have a very happy and peaceful holiday season, whatever your religious beliefs. And I hope you’re still able to keep in touch with family and friends despite the lockdown restrictions. The toast ‘Absent friends’ will be particularly resonant this year.

And most of all, may those spirits of Christmas truly grotty – Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Gove, Starmer, Rayner and all the other horrors be far from your thoughts and those you love.

Have a great time!