Congratulations on your quite brilliant “Now That’s What We Call Bullshit” front page (TNE #272). The best and funniest for some time, and an excellent counterpoint to the harrowing Mafia front page of #271.
You have correctly called out the liar-in-chief once again.
I think this time the country is in step with you.
Faith in Johnson is evaporating and the Allegra Stratton video seems to me as devastating as the Liam Byrne “There is no money left” letter, which the Tories were still weaponising at the 2015 general election, five years later.
The danger, however, is that the Tory Party does the electorate’s work for them and that Johnson is ousted and replaced by a “clean skin” like Sunak or Truss, who is then able to win a general election.
Labour’s poll lead seems to be based on the government’s unpopularity rather than their own programme; the case must now be made by them relentlessly that Johnson is merely the symptom of a Conservative disease that has caused untold damage to this country since they returned to power in 2010.
We simply cannot afford to have a fourth terrible Tory prime minister in a row.
Would it not be hilarious if a few glasses of wine plus cheese and nibbles finally finishes the premiership of Boris Johnson? Especially after we have suffered months of unfulfilled promises, sleaze allegations, u-turns, incompetence, and a woeful waste of public money!
In many ways it reminds me of the demise of gangster Al Capone, brought down by tax evasion.
For those who believe that an Xmas get-together was warranted for people leading the country, may I remind them that millions of people went through unprecedented challenges, emotionally, physically and financially. People suffered loss, pain and disruption to their lives.
To believe that Number 10 deserved some kind of exemption because they led the country is simply another sordid example of privilege and arrogance.
I don’t want to be rude to my numerous English friends, but looking from France, I can’t help wondering if 10 Downing Street, has not become 10 Drowning Street.
Judging from his photo opportunities, Boris Johnson appears a man of many parts – England footballer, Nissan assembly-line worker, fishmonger, immunologist, British Gas engineer, tank commander and now drugs squad officer.
Any chance he’s got a prime minister costume anywhere in his wardrobe, do you think?
Ed Lewis Potter’s Bar,
Truss and a lack of trust
I am nonplussed at talk in the media that Liz Truss might be a suitable candidate to replace Boris Johnson. As if Tory members would ever vote for a photo-opportunity-loving blonde who changed their mind on Brexit and makes everyone laugh with daft speeches at the party conference!
As Liz Truss issues warnings to Russia (yes, it’s hard to believe that is an actual thing), one can only assume Putin is agog that things could get more ridiculous than when Gavin Williamson told Russia to “shut up and go away” after the novichok poisoning.
As women and equalities secretary in 2019, Truss was accused of treating the role as a ‘side hustle’ so, perfectly fitted to this government but not to the role of foreign secretary when things get serious.
There has been much radioactive water under the bridge since Salisbury. And this is where our clown prime minister’s corruption and lack of credibility matters – on the international stage.
When it comes to carrying weight in international interaction, integrity is everything. And this government has none.
Irish question over US tariffs
The phrase “why isn’t this being reported in the mainstream media?” normally makes my skin crawl. But unless I’ve missed it, there hasn’t been much on the big channels or in the national newspapers about the absurdity of us sending Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was married to a descendant of the British official blamed by many Irish people for denying relief to the country during the Great Famine, to the USA to ask an Irish-American president to remove steel tariffs.
So bravo Bonnie Greer for her excellent column on the subject (“Sending a Trevelyan to woo O’Biden must be a bad joke”, TNE #272). I note that since Anne-Marie’s visit, the EU have had their steel tariffs removed while ours remain in place.
Just a coincidence, obviously.
More women of letters
Good to read Charlie Connelly’s article “Book Tokenism?” in TNE #271 on how women writers are starting to get deserved recognition. I can’t help noting, however, consistent male predominance on the TNE letters page… Josie Howard
Elephant in Labour’s room
I wish I was as confident as Peter Kellner that “Labour’s mission is possible” (TNE #272).
I’m afraid that it is not as easy as “Starmer needs to turn Brexit into an argument about jobs and prosperity. Given the damage it’s doing to industrial areas, this is a battle he should be able to win.”
The Conservatives will remind Leave voters about Starmer’s opposition to Brexit and support for a People’s Vote. This should bring many who are currently revulsed by Johnson back onside.
The way forward for Starmer is in an anti-Tory agreement with the Lib Dems and Greens that would unite the Remain/Rejoin vote. But this is one more nettle that he refuses to grasp.
Wild about nature’s call
A beautiful and timely piece on rewilding by Simon Barnes (“Where the wild things are”, TNE #272). Thank you.
Simon is absolutely right to conclude that unless we change our ways, these efforts will come to nothing. The relative failure of COP26 (not even Allegra Stratton was grinning at the end of it) shows how far we have to go.
Corby faces a pressing issue
James Ball states that “around a quarter of the population of Corby was born in EU nations” (“High-pay warehouse party that can’t last”. TNE #272). I would have thought that the proportion would be considerably higher, given that anyone born locally under the age of 50 would automatically have had the privilege of the EU citizenship which has now been denied to us.
Touched by Hand of God
Excellent article about the new Paolo Sorrentino film Hand Of God (“Naples: A Love Story”, TNE #272). We were on holiday in the city last year; in the backstreets the Maradona iconography is still going strong.
There’s a walking tour of the (decidedly mixed) street art featuring him, and one bar has an actual shrine. It’s impossible to think of a foreign player in English football who has become so inextricably linked with one club and one city.
There was an error in my letter on EU free movement in TNE #272. The three-month rule does not mean that “migrants to one country must find a job within that period”.
In fact, with free movement, you can look for work for up to six months. However, to stay more than three months you have to be able to support yourself and you may need health insurance.
Bourne End, Bucks
Don’t tar Elgar
Alastair Campbell is pretty much spot on about Eton (Diary, TNE #271). But he’s a little unfair to at least two composers.
Arne (I was surprised to learn) did attend Eton, but he was hardly from the most privileged background. Elgar came from a modest background and went to school near Worcester (not to Eton).
The words to Land of Hope and Glory (by the Etonian A.C. Benson) were added to a tune he’d already written, and whether or not he approved, he is said to have wished he’d used the tune in a more substantial work than the Pomp and Circumstance march.
As for Jerusalem, the words (by William Blake) are famously capable of adoption by all shades of opinion from hard right to idealistic left, and while its composer, Parry, was certainly born into privilege and went to Eton, he was not a right-wing nationalist, but a feminist (the tune was composed for the campaign for women to have the vote), with liberal and internationalist views.
Skipping a Volbeat
I was delighted to see the article about Volbeat (“Danish Witch Craft”, TNE #271) as they are one of my favourite bands. However Anders Kjøholm has not been a member of Volbeat since 2015; the bassist is now Kaspar Boye Larsen.
There was also no mention of lead guitarist Rob Caggiano, who has been with the band since 2013.
Getting our just desserts
Re: Peter Trudgill’s column and the headline “Pavlovian Proof Is In The Pudding”, TNE #271.
There is no proof, Pavlovian or otherwise, in any pudding, however well laced with spirits. It would be meaningless to say so.
The old proverb is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating, which sets a mark for those with culinary aspirations. However, I do not blame Peter Trudgill, who is an accurate writer, but your headline writer, who tried a riff on the old proverb but, by getting it wrong, got himself into the soup. No pudding for him.
New balls, please…
I don’t follow football anymore – too commercial – though I appreciate the deep relationship many European countries have with the game. TNE reflects this history well with Rob Hughes’ columns.
I’d like to see TNE focus more on other European sports. There’s cycling obviously, basketball, motorsports, tennis, golf, handball and winter sports. And no doubt lesser-known sports (such as curling and hurling), coverage of which would enhance the paper.
My favourite sport, cricket, has some European interest (the Netherlands particularly). I would love to read a piece looking at European cricket as an antidote to seeing England fail again in an Ashes series.
The system is dishonoured
Given all the scandals relating to the present honours system, is it not time for the Labour party (led, ironically, by a knight!) to put its abandonment on the manifesto? What need do we have for knights, earls and dukes in the 21st century?
The system, like the public schools and Oxbridge, supports the inequalities that virtually define the country.
Let’s get rid of it and have only one award – call it the Queen’s Medal for Public Service – handed out to everyone who serves their entire career in the public services.
No more honours for people who buy them, or who get them simply for doing a job for which they are already well-rewarded.
Not waving, but drowning
I know The New European no longer publishes regular poems, but I thought you might like the following, titled Flags And Photos:
Some of us choose golden stars to festoon our social media.
Others display allegiances via their page on Wikipedia
But if you’re a British minister, you do not have this choice.
You’re forced to plonk a Union Jack behind you when you voice the official line on the BBC, that patriotic tosh, with frame-loads of photos of the Queen our screens are now awash.
And woe-betide you if you grin when observing this charade.
If you’re a presenter on TV, better keep a straight facade.