Re: “An elite that thinks it’s above the law is in for a rude awakening” by Paul Mason (TNE #275). Something seems to have gone wrong. I was assured, 100%, that Brexit would “give the Westminster elite a good kicking”.
It seems to me that since the BoJo landslide to supposedly deliver that kicking, the Westminster elite have been flying high.
Nepotistic Covid deals, breaking the lockdown rules, corrupt funding for fancy furnishings, riding roughshod over the rights and protections of the British public. Not to mention inflation and tax hikes.
Brexit would appear to have given the Westminster elite full licence to give the British Public a good kicking… surely not what the people voted for?
A brilliant piece of writing from Paul Mason. It is so true and so sad. I am ashamed of England and the Tories. I’m just glad I am not starting out in life.
The front page of TNE #275 (“The Corruption Virus”) exposed Johnson’s flaws for all to see.
Many prime ministers have had a motto, such as Alec Douglas-Hume’s “True to the end” or Arthur Balfour’s “Virtue reaches to heaven”. An appropriate one for Johnson, drawing on that front page, might be a line from the American satirist, Dorothy Parker’s poem The Flaw in Paganism. It is: “Drink and dance and laugh and lie”.
Any other suggestions?
As our classically educated prime minister knows full well, the Greek word for Apology, Apologia (απολογία), can mean “a formal (written) defence (my italics) of one’s opinions or conduct.” So, ‘sorry not sorry’ then?
Boris Johnson has apologised not for his actions, but for how he knows we are looking at him. It’s gaslighting. “I am sorry you are mad at this perfectly acceptable thing I did that looked wrong to you…”
“The Wannsee Conference: Mankind’s most evil 90 minutes” (TNE #275) was a marvellously reflective article. There is so much I could say about it but I’m preferring to think about what Geraldine Schwartz had to say about the aftermath of the Holocaust and how it took till the 1970s before it became a topic of debate and interest.
My own study began when an enlightened history teacher at school gave me Into the Darkness by Gitta Sereny, I was 14.
It’s lazy to see ‘the Germans’ as all compliant in what happened. In a different time, we have been told in recent years that Brexit was “the will of the people” and that the vote was a resounding ‘Leave’ affirmation, when we know it was not. In the same way, probably half the German population disliked the Nazis but were powerless.
My mother’s family came from Baden-Wuerttemberg, a part of Germany in which Hitler never got more than about 15% of the vote. They were an artisan family, working on the land or in factories, and however much they detested what the Nazis were doing, they could do little else than get on with their lives.
My mother came to England in 1932, and on visits home was appalled by what she saw. She hoped that at some stage she could return to her homeland but the war came. What can ‘ordinary’ people do, particularly if threatened with, say, family retribution?
Visited the Wannsee villa a few years ago on a cold, snowy Berlin winter day. A peaceful residential area on the outskirts of the city, with a pretty lake and sailing boats. Surreal to think such evil deeds were plotted there.
Most Germans, living under a brutal dictatorship and being bombed by the Allies, could not be expected to know about the Final Solution anymore than say the British, also being bombed by the Luftwaffe, could be expected to worry about how POWs and citizens of Axis countries were being treated in the internment camps. That some Germans did hide Jews, at great risk to their own safety, is to be commended.
Alastair Campbell (Diary, TNE #275) is hardly an independent witness when commenting on Tony Blair.
His attempt to divide those who signed the petition to remove Blair’s knighthood into two camps reflecting the right and the left is disingenuous. I belong to neither camp but although I have been a life-long Labour Party supporter I enthusiastically signed the petition, as did members of my family and colleagues.
Campbell chooses to play down the significant opposition (nearly 1.2 million signatures and rising) to Blair’s knighthood by belittling the issues at stake. The Iraq war was not an issue that doesn’t matter.
It did then and does now, given the lies that were told over the existence of WMD, and the many thousands of lives lost on all sides because of Blair and Bush’s arrogance and misconceived fantasies concerning the so-called supremacy of liberal democracy.
And, for what it’s worth, much of the progressive domestic agenda pursued by New Labour was largely thanks to Gordon Brown, not Blair.
Richmond, North Yorkshire
Re: “Tim Davie’s mission to make the BBC’s top stars reveal their earnings” (Mandrake, TNE #275). The government wants the talent to leave so they can defund, kill services and make people think there’s no longer a point in the BBC.
The BBC is the only international soft power clout the UK has after the humiliation of Brexit but Tories will never understand public services or anything they can’t scrape a few quid out of for their mates.
Davie, a card-carrying Tory, was put there to kill the BBC from the inside.
We saw who Tim Davie was in 2010, when as BBC director of audio and music he tried to kill off 6 Music. A dodgy second-hand car salesman. Marginally brighter than Nadine Dorries.
Pound of flesh
So Will Self (Multicultural Man, TNE #275) prides himself on not being one of those self-righteous vegetarians who makes all carnivores feel like murderers. Oh dear, not those old cliches! And he even “buys and cooks meat for those members of his family who indulge”. What self-satisfaction!
After having been a vegetarian for 45 years since I was 43, I thought I had heard the end of the myth that vegetarians think they are “holier than thou” and would really rather eat meat. Apparently not.
Re: “Rees-Mogg hits all the wrong notes” (Sunlit Uplands, TNE #275). The new rules about touring in EU countries also have a knock-on effect for stage crew/riggers and lighting/ sound technicians.
Touring companies now prefer European crews and haulage companies because of the extra cost and red tape. Brexit has had a devastating impact on our industry.
Touring trouble? JRM simply sends his chauffeur to pick up the string quartet from Tunbridge Wells in his Rolls Royce. Doesn’t everyone do the same?
Re: “The High-Speed train not arriving at Platform One” (TNE #275). In response to Suna Erdem’s article, had the 1913 plan to link Bradford’s two stations not been stopped by the First World War, the city would now have a single station to rival Leeds. Maybe the cycleway through Cleckheaton would still be Bradford’s mainline to Wakefield, Barnsley and Sheffield.
Both HS2 East and NPR would duplicate existing rail lines and not improve local services. Bradford’s rail services would be fragmented across three separate railway stations. All at a time when European cities are planning to bring together fragmented services at central hub stations.
Now is the time to flesh out the IRP to include a link line across Bradford and maybe a fast line to Huddersfield. Bradford to Huddersfield, 10 miles as the crow flies, takes 36 minutes via Halifax. Huddersfield to Manchester, twice the distance, is currently six minutes quicker and due for further improvement as part of the Transpennine upgrade.
Tanit Koch (Germansplaining, TNE #275) suggests readers submit their ideas of cultural German influences in Britain. As regards language, I often use Dummkopf! if I’ve done something silly; also Schmalz for syrupy or over-sentimental. Then, of course, there’s zeitgeist.
But one area that introduced me to German cultural influence in Britain was the pipe organ. For 150 years or more British organ builders have chosen German names for many stops.
A typical specification may include some of the following: Gedeckt (or Gedackt) meaning ‘covered’; Geigen (violin-like); Nachthorn (night horn); Posaune (trombone); a whole range of flute sounds, e.g. Spitzflöte (pointed flute), Waldflöte (wood flute) and, for Mozart fans, Zauberflöte (magic flute).
French, Italian and Latin names are also used, to a lesser extent, but German predominates. Browsing a typical range of organ specifications in English churches can be an object lesson in how to be European-minded.
Here’s my list: Schadenfreude, Wanderlust, Kaputt and Lager (word origin from Germany, but not used there in connection with beer.) And my personal favourite Christmas Eve, German style: Heilige Abend.
Kartoffelsalat and knockwurst sound much better than “potato salad” and “sausage”. My daughters use Uber too much, but that’s another story…
Coining it in
Re: David Murray’s letter concerning 50p coins with the slogan “Diversity Built Britain” (Letters, TNE #274). These seem to me to be in quite common circulation.
Somewhat rarer are the “Brexit” coins bearing the words “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations” in an ornate italic script, and dated January 31, 2020.
Perhaps there was insufficient room to include the following disclaimer, in small print: “T & Cs apply; offer not applicable in Scotland, Northern Ireland or ROI.”
I have read The New European from issue #1 and it has gone from strength to strength. The quality of your journalism is outstanding. Given the state of the country and most of its media, the existence of TNE is vital: you are a ray of light in an otherwise dark world.