Sunday, July 26, 2015

Scrap the leadership election - Have the Blairites gone completely crackers?

In my last article about the Labour Party leadership contest I concluded by noting that every time Labour right-wingers like Tony Blair, John McTernan, Chuka Umunna, David Blunkett and the three other leadership contenders spout their extraordinary anti-Corbyn rhetoric, they're actually helping him by boosting his public profile. 

Just like the way that the bigoted antics of so many Ukipper fruitcakes has kept UKIP firmly in the headlines, the more hyperbolic fuss the Labour right-wingers make about Jeremy Corbyn, the higher his public profile becomes.

Judging by his lunatic assertion that the unelected interim Labour leader Harriet Harman should cancel the leadership contest because the wrong candidate might win, it's pretty safe to assume that the Labour MP John Mann is not a follower of my work, nor smart enough to figure out for himself the self-defeating nature of his ludicrous suggestion.

52,000 people have joined the Labour Party since the General Election in May and the Another Angry Voice Facebook page has been flooded with comments from people stating that they've joined/rejoined the Labour Party in order to back Jeremy Corbyn. However this surge of new members is not being welcomed by the Blairite rump of the Labour Party at all.

After the Scottish independence referendum the SNP gleefully celebrated a huge rise in party membership which made them the third biggest political party in the entire UK; before the General Election the Green Party were delighted with the rise in membership they called "the Green Surge"; after their catastrophic General Election performance the Liberal Democrats took some solace in the surge of new membership; but the Labour Party seem to have a completely different attitude to this big surge in interest in Labour politics: Instead of welcoming and engaging with their new members, people like John Mann openly resent them, and even describe them as "infiltrators"!

Any other party would be delighted to have picked up 52,000 new members and counting in just ten weeks, but the Labour old guard are not. It seems that they'd rather stick with the failed austerity-lite rubbish that ruined their chances in the last election and set about driving all the new members back out of the party, rather than let Labour Party members choose the proper straight-talking left-winger they'd like to see given a chance to prove himself.

Of course the decision to allow anyone who was prepared to pay £3 to become a registered supporter and have a vote in the Labour leadership contest was a very silly idea from the beginning, however once the terms of the leadership contest have been decided, and some 17,000 people have already paid their £3, it would be insanity for the Labour Party top brass to suddenly scrap the contest because they're afraid that Jeremy Corbyn might win.

Just imagine the reaction if John Mann got his wish and the leadership contest were to be abandoned. There would be an awful lot of discontent within the party about the decision, and Corbyn's public profile would get another huge boost as "the man the Labour leadership are so terrified of they scrapped their leadershipelection rather than have him win".

Even if the Labour leadership found some way of ensuring that Corbyn couldn't win the revised leadership contest, what legitimacy would the new leader have when it is obvious to all (including very many Labour Party members) that this other candidate only managed to get the job because the rules were redrawn to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from winning?

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

The Blairite attacks on Jeremy Corbyn
Labour vs the Lib-Dems in the strategic ineptitude stakes
Ukippers say the funniest things
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
How the Lib-Dems were just as compassionless as the Tories
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Saturday, July 25, 2015

How feminism is damaged by crude gender stereotyping and the use of sexist language

I'd like to begin this article with a declaration that I am a male feminist.

I strongly oppose injustice and discrimination and I strongly believe in the empowerment of women. In fact I support the empowerment of all people because I believe that the more politically and economically empowered people there are in a society, the freer and fairer that society is.

In this article I'm going to raise some criticisms of a piece of feminist literature, not because I oppose feminism, but because I think that blatantly sexist material that is dressed up as feminism does an awful lot of damage to the general concept of feminism, and provides opponents of feminism devastating ammunition with which to attack the whole concept of female empowerment.

What is sexism?

Before I get to the image that exemplifies the kind of sexist approach that has infected some kinds of feminist literature, it's worthwhile to briefly explain what I mean by sexism.

It isn't sexist to point out that there are differences between men and women. It isn't sexist to acknowledge that on average men are taller, stronger and faster than women. It isn't sexist to note that on average girls do better than boys at school. It isn't sexist to think that perhaps people with the capacity to actually grow another human being inside themselves and then nurture them from their own breast might have a slightly different understanding of life to those of us who don't.

What is sexist is gender stereotyping. It is sexist to assume that just because a person has a penis, that they're a potential rapist. It is sexist to assume that just because a person has the capacity for childbirth, that somehow they're automatically more caring than someone who hasn't. It is sexist to assume that just because someone has a specific gender, they're ill suited to particular professions. In essence, sexism is judging people by their gender, not by their attributes as a person.

The sexist male abuse wheel image

Sexist and narrow-minded language like this is severely damaging to
feminism. Not only is it possible for women to do all of the things
in the segments to men, at least half of the stuff around the edge is
enjoyed between many millions of consenting adults, meaning
that defining it as "abuse" without a single word about the
importance of consent is alienating to people who like BDSM.
The widely shared* image that really wound me up (on the right) actually contains quite a bit of useful information about abusive relationships. What bothers me so much about it is the way that it assumes that the abuser is male and that the victim is female. 

The English language has a gender neutral third person pronoun ("they") so I really can't understand why the designers of this image felt it necessary to paint the abuser as always being male by using the gender specific "her" to describe the victim, and labelling what is clearly a description of controlling behaviour as being "male privilege" (as if being bossy and controlling is an inherently male thing).

The stated defence of this image is that the majority of abuse that goes on in relationships is perpetrated by males against females. I don't disagree with this assertion at all. Domestic abuse perpetrated by females against their male partners is certainly much rarer than abuse inflicted by males on their female partners. The problem with this assertion isn't that it's inaccurate, it's that it's an absolutely crap defence of the use of sexist language. Just because the majority of abuse is inflicted by men, that doesn't mean that it's not sexist to gender stereotype males as abusers and females as victims.

To give an example of how rubbish this defence is, let's think about another kind of advice wheel style infographic, but this time about how to be a good parent. It's undeniably true that in our society females on average still do far more of the family care work than males, therefore, using the same "logic" as the abuse wheel, it would obviously be "fair" to gender stereotype the parent as a female wouldn't it? Therefore we'd end up with sentences like "she should ensure that her children eat a balanced diet", "she should take care to arrange regular medical checkups for her children", "she should be careful to build a stable emotional environment for the family", "she should ensure that her children's educational needs are met"  ...

I'm pretty sure that any such thing would rightly infuriate a lot of feminists, and also rather a lot of modern men (who take a great deal more responsibility for family issues than the men of their fathers' or grandfathers' generations), but such an image would be backed up by an identical pseudo-logical defence as the one posited by defenders of the blatantly sexist abuse wheel image. 

Anyone who would find offence in an infographic that gender stereotypes the female as the primary carer because it's more often the case, must surely also find offence in an infographic that gender stereotypes the male as the abuser and the female as the victim because it's more often the case. To take offence at one and not the other would clearly be hypocrisy.

Male victims of domestic abuse

It is easy to see how the gender roles could easily be reversed in every single segment of the abuse wheel. It's also easy to understand that there are large numbers of men out there who may have suffered one or many of the types of abuse detailed.

Is it the job of feminists to stand up against all forms of physical and psychological abuse regardless of the gender of the perpetrator, or is the the role of feminism
 to raise awareness of physical and psychological abuse only when the victim is female, and to use sexist gender stereotyping to sweep the existence of male victims under the carpet?

I don't think it takes a great deal of empathy to understand how a male who has suffered physical or emotional abuse might feel when confronted by an image that defines him as the aggressor and his abuser as the victim. Given the extremely negative emotional response this kind of sexist gender stereotyping might trigger, it's obviously possible that an instinctive reaction might be to angrily dismiss the concept of feminism as a load of inaccurate sexist rubbish.

How prudishness alienates people

The crude gender stereotyping in the abuse wheel infographic isn't the only really poor thing about it. If we read the list of words around the edge, it clearly defines a lot of things as "Physical and Sexual Abuse". I'm pretty sure that few people would contest the assertion that things like kicking and punching are abuse, but some of the other stuff is clearly dependent upon the incredibly important concept of consent.

There are many millions of people out there who like a bit of rough and tumble when it comes to sex. Tastes range from hardcore BDSM stuff all the way down to a bit of gentle biting, bottom slapping or hair pulling. The idea that all of this stuff is 
"Physical and Sexual Abuse" is so incredibly prudish it would be laughable if it wasn't giving the concept of feminism such a bad name.

The idea that stuff like biting, slapping, hair pulling, shoving (against a wall), throwing down (onto a bed), grabbing and even choking are automatically 
"Physical and Sexual Abuse" without a single word about the importance of consent is appallingly ill-judged, and frankly offensive to anyone who likes anything even a little bit more kinky than standard vanilla sex.

Damaging gender narratives

In my opinion the worst thing about this image isn't the fact that it could be upsetting or alienating to men who have suffered relationship abuse, or to people of any gender who enjoy a bit of kink with their sex, it's that it creates really damaging gender narratives.

It's my opinion that spreading the gender narrative that it is the female role in society to be the victim is every bit as bad as spreading the gender narrative that it is the male role to be the abuser.

When confronting relationship abuse, a much stronger, and less sexist starting point would surely be to condemn all forms of relationship abuse, instead of defining relationship abuse as something that is only ever inflicted by men on women, as if it's some kind of social norm that males abuse their female partners, rather than abuse being something that can happen both ways, even in a single relationship.

To give an example of what I mean by abuse happening both ways even in a single relationship: It's entirely possible that within a dysfunctional relationship where trust and respect have broken down, that one partner may use their economic advantage to impose their will on the other, while the other partner fights back with abusive language and threats to take the children away. The gender narrative that the male is always the perpetrator and the female is always the victim is not only a damaging thing to accept as a social norm, it's also blatantly inaccurate in a great number of cases.

Perhaps it might be better for feminists to begin by defining what constitutes a good relationship (one built upon a foundation of love, trust, respect, honesty, affection, emotional support ...) and saying that this is the kind of stuff everyone has the right to expect from their partner, no matter what their gender, rather than just picking a load of horrible stuff and building a blatantly sexist gender narrative over the top of it?

Damaging feminism

The use of sexist language, Victorian style prudishness and the propagation of damaging gender narratives are all incredibly harmful to the concept of feminism because for every person who is capable of understanding that one sexist and narrow-minded infographic isn't representative of the whole concept of feminism, there are probably many who wouldn't be.

The feminism I believe in promotes equality and eschews sexism and crude gender stereotyping. A great number of people have less knowledge about the subject of feminism than I do (and I hardly claim to be an expert), and have the warped idea that feminism is a form of female supremacism which has the aim of repressing and subjugating men (the tabloid definition of what feminism is).

In my view the widely shared sexist abuse wheel infographic is only ever going to convince such people that feminism is indeed some kind of sexist vendetta against men, which is incredibly damaging to legitimate feminist philosophy because it inevitably ends up gets tarred with the same brush.

If feminism is to have more success, feminists really need to be careful in their use of language. They have to understand that alienating men through the use of sexist language, alienating people with non-vanilla sexual preferences with unbelievable prudishness and building harmful gender narratives on top of serious issues are all things that do the concept of feminism far more harm than good.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

*Several people have tried to excuse the sexist language in the abuse wheel image that has been widely shared on Facebook by saying it was originally from a women's support group in the USA. My issues are that it's now been shared all over social media with no such context meaning that the vast majority of the millions of people to have seen it have no idea where it came from, and that the origins of the infographic don't even alter the fact that it promotes damaging gender narratives.

Don't read this article
"Your page is going to be taken down" - threats from the extreme-right fringe
We need to talk about cyber-bullying
Richard Dawkins and the far-right extremists
Why I don't speak on behalf of the collective left
Why you might well be more political than you think

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Blairite attacks on Jeremy Corbyn

The rising popularity and public profile of the left-wing Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn is sending the right-wing elements of the Labour Party into panic mode. In the wake of the almost unbelievably inept decision by the three Blairite leadership candidates to abstain from voting against the latest Tory attack on children, vulnerable people and the working poor, leaving Jeremy Corbyn as the only leadership candidate to actually oppose the Tories, right-wingers like John McTernan, Tony Blair and Chuka Umunna waded into the leadership debate to attack him.

Assumptions about the electorate

The first thing to note before I get to the specific comments from McTernan, Blair and Umunna is that their opposition to Jeremy Corbyn is built upon the foundation of a fantasy narrative about what the UK electorate want. Not only is it highly presumptuous to tell the electorate what they do and don't want, the idea that people don't want a left-wing government is also contradicted by a number of indisputable facts, including the fact that a party running on a centre-left anti-austerity platform just annihilated the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats in Scotland (more on that later ...) and the fact that an overwhelming majority of the UK public support the unmistakably left-wing policies of running the NHS, the nation's energy infrastructure, the Royal Mail and the rail network as not-for-profit public sector services (source).

The claim that a Labour Party that offers a genuine alternative to the Tory ideological austerity con would render itself completely unelectable is at best a display of bogus futurology, and at worst a complete denial of indisputable facts.

John McTernan

In order to understand how ludicrous John McTernan's attacks on Jeremy Corbyn were, it's important to understand who the guy actually is. Newsnight presented him as if he was some kind of expert on Labour Party politics, but in reality the guy should be considered an absolute laughing stock. This is a guy who was Chief of Staff to the humiliated Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy. McTernan just played an instrumental role in the most catastrophic electoral collapse in British political history (from 41 Scottish Labour seats to just 1), yet he has the audacity to lecture the Labour Party about how they need to stick to the same Blairite centre-right policies he just failed abysmally with, or they'll be unable to win the 2020 General Election!

Aside from McTernan's complete lack of self-awareness or humility, he also displayed a very nasty streak too, calling certain Labour Party MPs "morons" for having nominated Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership contest. People who go around using mental health based insults to describe anybody they disagree with are odious enough, but to use such language to attack members of their own party is not only vile, it's also hugely divisive. Any genuine member of the Labour Party (whether they support Jeremy Corbyn or not) should be horrified at an absurdly discredited figure like McTernan publicly using such divisive and offensive language against fellow Labour Party members.

What authority does this joker think he has to call people "morons" and opine about what the Labour Party needs to do to win elections when he's just overseen the most humiliating capitulation in the entire history of the Labour Party? I can't actually think of anyone in the Labour Party who is more deserving of insults against their intelligence and mental faculties than McTernan himself.

The fact that McTernan is so lacking in self-awareness isn't the most important thing though, the more important thing is the way that the heavily biased mainstream media have picked up on his anti-Corbyn tirade and reported it as if it was the brilliant advice of some kind of sage and insightful oracle, rather than impotent ranting of the hopelessly discredited laughing stock that he actually is.

Tony Blair

John McTernan is a hopelessly discredited figure saved only by the fact that practically nobody knows who he actually is. Tony Blair on the other hand is widely despised for misleading parliament and the electorate in his desperation to cement his legacy as a war leader through the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Like Jeremy Corbyn I opposed the attack on Iraq at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight very many people who supported it have now come to realise what a catastrophe it turned out to be; how Tony Blair and his minions lied and deceived in order to get the bloodbath that they wanted; and how the destabilisation of Iraq led to a decade of brutal sectarian violence culminating in the rise of ISIS.

The incredible thing is that Blair's legacy of dishonesty and destruction in Iraq is not even the most glaring hole in his credibility. The clearest proof of all that the man has no credibility whatever to talk about the Labour leadership contenst is the desperate rubbish he spouted in a feeble effort to attack and undermine the groundswell of support rising behind Jeremy Corbyn.

The worst part of all in Blair's premeditated attack on Corbyn was his unmistakable assertion that he'd rather see the Tories win in 2020 than a Labour Party running on a left-wing platform. Here's precisely what he said:

"Let me be absolutely clear: I wouldn't want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn't take it." [source]
This assertion that Blair would rather the Tories remain in power than see a left-wing Labour leadership triumph in 2020 tells us all we need to know about the man: Tony Blair is an enemy of the labour movement. He always has been. He usurped the Labour Party in 1994 and used it for his own purposes (to become rich and powerful), and now that there's a groundswell of opinion that the party should be taken back from his Blairite successors, he's saying he'd rather the Tories remained in power for another decade than see that happen.

Chuka Umunna

I've already written an article about Chuka Umunna's petulant wailing from the sidelines, so I'll keep this fairly brief. On the day after Tony Blair's attack on Jeremy Corbyn, Chuka joined the Blairite leadership candidates Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in swearing that he'd never serve in a front bench role were Jeremy Corbyn to win the Labour leadership election.

The Guardian described this terribly divisive posturing as "a potential exodus of talent", which is perhaps one of the most bizarre misuses of the English language I've ever seen. People like Cooper, Kendall and Umunna are not "talent". They are precisely the kind of unprincipled self-serving career politician non-entities that the Labour Party need to sweep aside in order to rebuild their credibility. The fact that a Corbyn shadow cabinet would contain none of these three is actually yet another good reason for Labour Party members and supporters to get out and vote for Corbyn.


It's entirely clear that the Labour Party right-wingers who have queued up to attack Jeremy Corbyn in the mainstream press are pretty damned clueless because they are so keen to adopt the stance that they know more about what the British electorate might want in 2020 than the British public do themselves. However the thing that makes them look so outlandishly stupid is the fact they can't even understand the consequences of their own divisive diatribes.

Before the Labour leadership election the vast majority of people had no idea who any of the four candidates were. Those of a political disposition may have known about Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper from their various roles on the Labour front bench. Political nerds like me knew about Jeremy Corbyn because his name featured so often on the lists of Labour MPs sane enough to rebel against the party when they decided to do lunatic things. Liz Kendall was such an appalling non-entity that even a politics nerd like me knew nothing about her before the leadership election.

It's fair to say that all four of the candidates were suffering from low public profiles when they decided to enter the race to become the next Labour leader. The idiocy of the Blairites lies in the fact that every time they launch an attack on Jeremy Corbyn, they raise his public profile, meaning more people have heard of him and might have a look into what he actually stands for.

What makes these attacks even more self-defeating in Tony Blair's case, is that he's now seen as such an unprincipled figure than a condemnation from Tony Blair serves as a ringing endorsement in many millions of people's ears.

As far as I'm concerned, it would be a good thing if the right-wing elements of the Labour Party kept up their highly divisive attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, because each time they do it they raise his public profile and make it even more likely that he's going to actually win. 

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
Labour vs the Lib-Dems in the strategic ineptitude stakes
If anyone is behaving like a petulant child it's Chuka Umunna
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
Who are the 48 genuine Labour MPs?
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Who are the 48 genuinely left-wing Labour MPs?

On the 20th of July 2015 a significant number of Labour Party MPs rebelled against the absolutely ludicrous stance set by the interim leader Harriet Harman, that Labour should not oppose the brutal welfare cuts being inflicted on vulnerable people, children and the working poor by the Tory government.

Harriet Harman's stance that Labour should avoid opposing the Tories' ideologically driven and economically illiterate austerity agenda because they need to appeal to Tory voters is absolutely crackers. Only 24% of the electorate voted for the Tories, while 34% were too apathetic or too disillusioned to vote at all. Surely it would make more sense for Labour to try to strongly differentiate themselves from the Tories in order to appeal to the huge numbers of people out there who have lost faith in politics because "they're all the same aren't they?" rather than making themselves ever more indistinguishable from the Tories?

Of the four Labour leadership candidates Jeremy Corbyn was the only one to vote against these harsh ideologically driven austerity measures against the poorest and most vulnerable people in society (which are being imposed in order to hand even more tax cuts to corporations and the extremely wealthy). Who knows what the other three candidates must have been thinking when they decided not to oppose legislation that will remove the legal obligation on the UK government to reduce child poverty?. Do they really think that more children growing up in poverty is a price worth paying to go along with Harriet Harman's lunatic prescription of even more of the ridiculous austerity-lite rubbish that lost Labour the last election?

It is no surprise that the left-leaning social democratic parties (SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party) voted against these measures, but it's also worth noting that the Liberal Democrats and the notoriously right-wing DUP also voted against it too.

The fact that Jeremy Corbyn was the only Labour Leadership candidate to defy Harriet Harman's insanity should send an incredibly strong message to Labour Party members and supporters: If you want a Labour Party that is going to stand up and fight against Tory barbarity against the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, then vote for Jeremy Corbyn. However if you want a Labour Party that is going to position itself somewhere to the right of the Liberal Democrats and the DUP(!), then vote for one of the three Blairite candidates.

This is the list of the 48 Labour MPs who voted against (which contains the names of most of the genuinely left-wing Labour MPs). 
  • Diane Abbott
  • Debbie Abrahams
  • David Anderson
  • Richard Burgon
  • Dawn Butler
  • Ann Clwyd
  • Jeremy Corbyn
  • Geraint Davies
  • Peter Dowd
  • Paul Flynn
  • Mary Glindon
  • Roger Godsiff
  • Helen Goodman
  • Margaret Greenwood
  • Louise Haigh
  • Carolyn Harris
  • Sue Hayman
  • Kelvin Hopkins
  • Imran Hussain
  • Gerald Jones
  • Helen Jones
  • Sir Gerald Kaufman
  • Sadiq Khan
  • David Lammy
  • Ian Lavery
  • Clive Lewis
  • Rebecca Long Bailey
  • Andy McDonald
  • John McDonnell
  • Liz McInnes
  • Rob Marris
  • Rachael Maskell
  • Michael Meacher
  • Ian Mearns
  • Madeleine Moon
  • Grahame Morris
  • Kate Osamor
  • Teresa Pearce
  • Marie Rimmer
  • Paula Sherriff
  • Tulip Siddiq
  • Dennis Skinner
  • Cat Smith
  • Jo Stevens
  • Graham Stringer
  • David Winnick
  • Iain Wright
  • Daniel Zeichner
I'm sure that there are many more Labour MPs who really wanted to vote against this barbaric Tory attack on the poor and vulnerable but abstained out of some misguided loyalty to the party hierarchy, but it appears that the only way these other Labour MPs can be freed to vote with their consciences, rather than according to the wishes of the Blairites who still dictate the party line, is the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
Labour vs the Lib-Dems in the strategic ineptitude stakes
The 51 MPs who opposed DRIPA
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
The 34 Labour MPs to oppose Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive workfare legislation
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

The AAV infographic that royalists don't want you to see

On the 18th of July 2015 I cobbled together a quick infographic to explain my reaction to the video of the infant Queen Elizabeth II doing Nazi salutes with her family in the garden. I thought I'd taken a pretty even handed approach to the issue. I'd explained my opposition to inherited privilege but also clearly stated my belief that judging a person by the things their family members taught them to do when they were six or seven years old is totally out of order, reserving my condemnation for the adults in photograph (Edward VIII and the Queen Mother) who were both clearly old enough to know better.

It wasn't one of my best images, nor one of my most popular, but it had been shared almost 1,000 times and attracted many hundreds of comments (ranging from highly supportive to critical to the point of hurling abuse and insults). After I returned from an evening out playing snooker with my brother I was surprised to find that the image had been unilaterally deleted by Facebook, without explanation, meaning that somewhere in the region of 1,000 people had had the item censored from their Facebook walls, and hundreds more had had their comments on the infographic erased without trace.

It was fairly easy to establish what had happened from the gloating private messages I'd received from the royalists who had mass reported the image to Facebook. In my view these people are just as bad as the Nazi sympathisers that they are trying to defend. Instead of attempting to debate the issue, they decided that the best course of action would be to have the subject censored out of existence, without a care for the freedom of speech of all of the people they were erasing the comments of.

Funnily enough I had no intention of writing more about the issue, but the actions of these censorious royalists mean that instead of a simple, and actually quite sympathetic infographic, they've provoked me into writing a whole article about the Nazi tendencies of the English establishment in the 1930s, the truly pathetic apologetics of the royalists, the evils of censorship and the shroud of secrecy that cloaks the royal family from proper scrutiny.

Nazi sympathisers in the English establishment

During Hitler's rise to power, and even up until the outbreak of war, there were a truly shocking number of Nazi sympathisers in the English aristocracy. It is uncontentious to assert that Edward VIII and the Queen Mother were Nazi sympathisers, as were the Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere and a significant swathe of the Tory party (just look into things like the Anglo-German Link and the shockingly anti-Semitic Right Club if you don't believe me). 

I've written more about the subject of establishment Nazi sympathisers in this article contrasting the fates of the war hero Alan Turing and the traitor William Forbes Sempill.

Ridiculous apologetics from royalists

At first royalists didn't know what to say about the images of the Royal family practicing their Nazi salutes. Early efforts to distract people from the subject focused on their outrage that the copy of the short film clip had apparently been taken without the owners' consent, which is about as spurious a defence as I've ever heard. If someone stole a child porn collection from a paedophile and handed it to the police, should the concerned citizen be done for theft while the paedophile is left in peace?

The weird thing is that this technicality about how the archive footage had been obtained was soon replaced by an even more spurious argument about how nobody in 1933 could possibly have understood that Adolf Hitler and the fascist movements in Europe were a bad thing.

Here are a few salient facts:

  • 1922: Benito Mussolini's fascist regime established (some 11 years prior to the royal family filming themselves doing fascist salutes).
  • 1923: Hitler attempts to lead a fascist Coup d'etat against the German state.
  • 1925: Volume one of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic diatribe Mein Kampf is published.
  • 1926: All trade unionism in Italy is outlawed with the exception of a few fascist controlled unions.
  • 1929: Heirich Himmler appointed head of the SS.
  • 1929-1933: Hitler's Brownshirst participate in ever more violent and deadly street battles with opposing political groups.
  • 1930s: Lord Rothermere directs his newspapers (Daily Mail, Daily Mirror) to publish regular pro-fascist propaganda pieces praising Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
  • 1931: The convicted murderer and vehement anti-Semite Micah Von Helldorff is appointed as the head of the Berlin brownshirts.
  • 1932: Oswald Mosley forms the British Union of Fascists, which begins to draw a great deal of support from the aristocratic classes.
  • January 1933: Hitler rises to power and begins banning all other political parties.
  • February 1933: Hitler begins enacting his plan to rearm Germany.
  • March 1933: Dachau concentration camp is opened and Hitler's power over the German state is cemented by the passing of the Enabling Act.
  • April 1933: New laws are introduced to purge Jews and members of left-wing organisations from public occupations in Germany.
  • May 1933: Trade unionism is banned throughout Germany, while the public are encouraged to attend mass book burnings.
  • July 1933: The Daily Mail proprietor Lord Rothermere lavishes praise on Hitler and the Nazi movement in an article entitled "Youth Triumphant".
It is entirely fair to say that people in the 1930s could have no conception of the full scale of the horrors that were to come as a result of the rise of Fascism in Europe, but to pretend that people must have been completely naive of what was happening at the time is an abject fantasy designed to deflect attention away from the fact that during the 1930s large numbers of the English aristocracy and members of the royal family were Nazi sympathisers, despite the growing public knowledge of the totalitarian and anti-Semitic nature of the ideology.

It is interesting to think about why the fascist ideology appealed so strongly to the inherited privilege classes of British society. In my view it makes a great deal of sense that people who had been brought up to believe in their inherent superiority over the common people would be attracted to an ideology based on the concept of an inherently superior master race, and the brutal repression of ordinary working people who might beg to differ.

The royal veil of secrecy

The leaked footage of the royal family doing Nazi salutes has brought new found pressure on the royal family to lift the veil of secrecy over the post-1918 political content in the royal archives, but this isn't the only example of the royal family hiding behind a shroud of secrecy.

Both Labor and the Tories spend years of effort and significant amounts of public money trying to prevent the public from seeing the "black spider memos" sent by Prince Charles to various government ministers, and in 2011 the Tory party introduced new legislation to exempt the taxpayer funded royal family from Freedom of Information requests.

In my view the royal family shouldn't be allowed to hide their interference in our democracy, nor their financial affairs behind a veil of secrecy because they receive £millions per year in taxpayer subsidies. I don't think they should be getting this money at all, but the fact that they can spend it as they please with no public scrutiny is totally outrageous.

The "I don't like what you people are saying so I'm going to have it censored" attitude

Regular readers will know that I maintain an almost unbreakable no-censorship policy on my Facebook page and blog. People are absolutely free to disagree with me, point out where they think I'm wrong, present their opposing opinions, even hurl foul mouthed abuse at me. I don't tend to delete anything unless it's either unlawful (libellous accusations, calls for ethnic genocide, incitement to murder ...) or bullying towards other users of the page.

I let all kinds of wrongheaded and abusive comments stand because I like to let people's words speak for themselves. 
To give an example - One short foul mouthed, bigoted and grammatically flawed tirade from an angry Ukipper is capable of telling people far more about the kind of people that UKIP attracts than the most well-crafted 2,000 word article from a "leftie" like me, so why on earth would I delete such a tirade?

This is the infographic that some royalists hated so much that
they got it deleted from Facebook.
One of the things that makes Britain a fairly decent place to live is that we have freedom of expression (at least for now, until Theresa May abolishes it). Thus I am free to say "I dislike the monarchy and other forms of anti-democratic privilege" and not be thrown in jail for it. It seems that the monarchists who had my infographic deleted have a completely different attitude. They don't give a damn about freedom of speech. They don't give a damn about tolerating other people who might have different beliefs and ideas to their own. They don't give a damn that their successful effort to have the image censored resulted in hundreds of comments being deleted, including many from other royalists.

I have nothing against the royalists who entered into debate in the comments beneath my image. They are just entitled to their opinions as I am entitled to mine. The people I have an issue with is those who have taken actions that resulted in the censorship of thousands of people, simply because they found what I've said offensive. These people are cowards who are afraid of open debate, and would surely be more at home in the very same kinds of fascist dictatorships that they are so keen to obscure the sympathies their beloved royal family had for back in the 1930s.

I'm pretty sure that these people are far too belligerent to fully appreciate the irony of what they've done.

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