No matter what François Hollande thinks of him (“You have a serious
problem with your prime minister”, TNE #292) I have been slightly impressed by Boris Johnson’s use of Russian and Ukrainian recently. But I
suggest there is a very important Russian word he needs to learn.
This word is Vranyo and it means a lie that everyone knows is a lie, the person saying it knows we know it is a lie, but they carry on with it anyway.
Boris, Brexit , Trump, Putin and all populism of the last decade is all based on Vranyos. The people who vote for or approve these things know also that
they are based on Vranyos, but they pretend they are the truth in order to justify their beliefs.
I would like to start a campaign to get this word adopted into the English
language, and er … popularised and I hope all TNE readers will join in as I
believe the power of language can change things.
I liked the play on words in your Francois Hollande headline. Johnson has a problem being serious and we have a serious problem in Johnson. The trouble is that only half of the electorate has noticed this, and very few of Johnson’s own MPs.
Re: “Priti Patel’s broken Windrush promises”, (TNE #292). Don’t you realise how busy the Home Office have been recently not issuing visas to Ukrainian refugees, not processing asylum applications, not prosecuting rapists and not carrying out checks on imports. They’re far too busy not doing things to have time to do stuff.
I really enjoyed Bonnie Greer’s article on Tom Cruise (“American hero”, TNE 292). It’s the kind of intelligent film writing you rarely see outside of Sight and Sound magazine.
I am 48 and grew up with Cruise during his mid-late 1980s/early 1990s
heyday. Films like Top Gun and The Color of Money (both 1986), Rain Man (1988) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989) were touchstones of my youth.
Like Bonnie, I also found his performance in Magnolia (1999), as misogynist “motivational preacher” Frank TJ Mackey, unforgettable. He utters some of ’90s cinema’s most memorable lines (“I’m quietly judging you” and “I will drop-kick the f dogs if they come near me”).
It’s worth contrasting Cruise with his contemporary Johnny Depp. In the
early 1990s Depp was a likeable indie heart-throb making finger-on-the-pulse, offbeat pictures like Edward Scissorhands and Cry Baby (both 1990).
While Cruise was Mr Mainstream making bombastic, anachronistic ‘high-concept’ blockbusters like Days of Thunder (also 1990).
I find two things astonishing, 30-odd years later: 1) They are both still dominating the film-related news in 2022; 2) Depp’s life and career is a car crash, while it’s Cruise who now seems appealing and still relevant.
Unlike Bonnie, I’ll probably go and see Top Gun: Maverick.
Enjoyed Bonnie Greer on Tom Cruise. While filming Eyes Wide Shut with
Stanley Kubrick, Cruise was spotted in a couple of restaurants around here
and didn’t mind requests for autographs etc (this was in pre-smartphone/selfie days).
His greatest local moment, though, was turning up at the local Blockbuster late one night and trying to borrow a couple of movies. The lad behind the counter advised him that as he was not a member, he would have to return with a driving licence and two forms of ID with his address on them. Not sure Tom came back.
Does the damage done to the Falkland Islands’ fishing industry (“Destroying
the Falklands”, TNE #292) count as a Brexit bonus? Or maybe as yet another example of treasonous behaviour by those who accepted a marginal vote and then went on to negotiate a deal that they must have known would adversely affect the countries making up the United Kingdom?
Mandrake (TNE #292) reports that Jeremy Hunt is “on manoeuvres” for the Tory leadership. The man who brought the NHS to its knees just before the pandemic! And seems to have got away with it?
I am no fan of the Tories but they need to wipe the slate clean and bring in a new leader such as Tobias Ellwood or Tom Tugendhat, with a completely new Cabinet. Only then will they move forward.
I hope that while Hunt is running for Tory leader, he has time to remember
those seven flats he bought in Southampton. You remember, the ones he left out of his annual tax return due to “an honest mistake”?
Gail Walker’s characterisation of Irish nationalism as “the romantic appeal of
a misty all-Ireland republic festooned with shamrocks” (“Dangerous obsession”, TNE #291) comes straight from the patronising unionist lexicon of ethno-religious superiority on which Northern Ireland was ultimately
founded and which, in unionist eyes, it exists to preserve.
Everyone, except, perhaps, sections of the British media, knows that the
majority of Northern Ireland’s electorate is still pro-union despite Sinn Féin now being the largest single party and thus entitled to nominate the first minister. This is unacceptable to much of the unionist electorate, which increasingly takes its line from Jim Allister’s TUV which believes that devolution is no longer in unionism’s best interests because of Sinn Féin’s
inevitable presence in any executive.
Even if the protocol issue were resolved this obstacle to restoring devolution would remain.
Another unionist difficulty is the developing relationship between the nationalist parties and Alliance based, in part, on shared hostility to Brexit. In the 2019 UK general election, both Sinn Féin and the SDLP withdrew their
candidates in North Down in favour of Alliance which was duly elected. Were Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to resign his Lagan Valley seat at Westminster to become deputy first minister at Stormont the DUP might well lose to Alliance in the ensuing byelection.
Tory Brexiteers will, of course, use the protocol for their own electoral purposes in Britain. However, this time, the ‘orange card’ may well not prove to be the ace of trumps for them.
St Helens, Merseyside
I’m not sure that there really is a big problem of men refusing to read female authors (“Why won’t men read women?”, TNE #291). What you’re seeing is a combination of the general societal woe of people not reading much of anything at all, and the embedded sexism of the literary canon leading to most people, when they do read, reading the work of male
Maggie O’Farrell is one of my favourite authors. But my bookcase probably comprises about 60% men to 40% women. It’s not intentional though. I don’t care what the author’s gender is.
Women, I think in general, tend to write books that have greater focus on human nature, experience and behaviour, whereas men tend to write stories that reflect a wider view, dealing with circumstances and context.
Steve Richards (“Fall of the Johnson empire”, TNE #291) makes the point that ministers struggle to make policy out of slogans. It seems to me that slogans are all Johnson and his crew have ever offered us; slogans that tap into various emotive issues, built around the idea that everyone is out to
do us down.
It reminds me of the classic Carry On Cleo line “infamy, infamy, they’ve all
got it in for me”, except that it is not really very funny! And some of us
bought it, lock, stock and barrel.
The publication of the delayed ‘partygate’ report is nothing but another grey day for UK democracy.
Unlike many I care not a jot whether Sue Gray’s report further muddies the
muddiest of politically polluted waters or tells us what we already know – we
are ruled by a liar whose only consideration is what is best for himself.
What I care about is that another day goes by when public attention is
diverted from real issues such as growing poverty, pollution (and the ongoing and deepening climate crisis) and the – as yet – not fully realised
economic harm of Brexit. Anyway you cook it, it’s a win for Johnson.
Am I alone in not being too upset by the Met’s mind-blowing decision not to serve Boris Johnson with more fines? The polls show voters have made up
their minds about him. Every day he stays in power takes us nearer to the
Tories being out of power for years.
In yet another sign of just how out of touch Johnson is, he’s now claiming that the so-called healthy jobs market and more work are the answer to people’s inability to pay their bills.
If the jobs market was healthy, there would not be the staggering number of
staff shortages in key sectors of the economy. There would not be millions of people in jobs which do not pay them enough to get by. There would be millions more highly-skilled people able to fill highly-skilled jobs – but the
latter do not exist in large numbers and the former is a pipe dream until we have a vocational training system to match those in the EU.
Healthy jobs market? Don’t believe yet another distortion of the truth. Our
economy is severely unbalanced, and the jobs market reflects this.
Six years ago we were knocking on doors, campaigning for Remain. Here’s
a selection of bizarre reasons I was given on the doorstep for voting Leave: “I want to support the NHS”; “I don’t want my grandchildren to be Muslims”;
“Britain for the British”; “You are Nazis”; “I’m safe, I have a pension”.
In contrast, a young man came to the door wearing a work shirt with the
“If we leave, Ford will be gone from Bridgend,” he said. How right he was.
A lovely old gent came to the door, and said, “I was a miner and I’m 90 years old, so I was born in 1926. Do you know what that means?”
I replied, “Yes sir, I understand the significance of 1926 to a mining community and I’m guessing you volunteered or were drafted into the mines during the war”.
“Yes, that’s it. Our history of depression, strikes and war. That’s why we must stay in the EU.”
When I hear people stereotype the elderly as “Brexiters”, I remember how
privileged I was to shake the hand of that 90-year-old gentleman, and I told him so. He had one of the firmest handshakes ever.
Dr Charles Smith
It was World Press Freedom Day earlier this month, but it was disappointing to note the absence of any comment in The New European on the present incarceration of the journalist Julian Assange and his possible extradition to the USA.
Journalists often pride themselves on “speaking truth to power”, but their code on this particular issue seems to be more one of ‘omerta’….