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Save us from brave boys who insult the spirit of those who really did the fighting.

Posted on April 15, 2019

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The march of the Little Englanders is off again. Don’t call them racists. They’re not racists, they just want their country back. Or to make it great again. Or to fight someone on the beaches. Or something. They’re just ordinary people who want to bring some solid common sense to it all. Whatever the ‘it’ is.

Nigel Farage (always pronounce it to rhyme with ‘garage’ – it’s very deflating, and probably more fittingly English too) tells us that from now on it’ll be ‘no more Mr Nice Guy’.  You’re probably ahead of me here, but I think Nige may have a weirdly distorted idea of how millions of us have seen him so far. But he’s definitely not a racist because he won’t have anything to do with Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who calls himself Tommy Robinson. Oh, no; that political bromance now flourishes with Gerard Batten, leader of UKIP, who believes that ‘Tommy’ will provide expert guidance on grooming gangs and terrorism. Possibly using knowledge gleaned from his recent stay in one of Her Majesty’s hotels.

So, to be clear: Nigel isn’t a racist, even though he didn’t like people speaking foreign on his train home and gurned in front of a poster of brown people fleeing from danger. Gerard isn’t a racist, even though he called Mohammed a paedophile and Islam a religion of bloodshed. Stephen isn’t a racist even though he founded the EDL in the forlorn hope of building the next neo-Nazi street movement. Thank goodness we’ve sorted that out.

Even though they’re obviously not racists, these chaps love a touch of bulldog spirit. Oh, they’re fighters are these brave boys. Except, of course, that they’re not. ‘Tommy’ likes the odd pose with boys in military fatigues and the occasional scrap in a car park, but has yet to don his country’s colours in the heat of battle. Nige and Gerry didn’t even need to undergo the tedious indignity of National Service, but none of this stops any of them from shamelessly invoking the bravery of working people who really did face gunfire and death in all of our names.

Of all the acts of political impudence that we’ve had to endure in the last three years, the appropriation of genuine sacrifice and courage by a new generation of armchair generals is the most repellent. In this we can include the Johnsons, the Rees Moggs (and, crikey, now we’ve found out there are more of the buggers) and the latest poster boy, Mark Francois – although he smelt napalm in the morning in a part-time stint in the Territorial Army in the 80s. These are the no-nonsense Caesars we need. Come on chaps, over the parapet. Off you go. We’re bulldogs, you know.

Whatever happens as the brain-addling saga of Brexit stumbles toward a purgatorial vortex, this lot will slide through unaffected. An extra 10 or 20 quid on the weekly shop? How will they know? Costs for small businesses through the roof? Oh dear. NHS staff shortages? No problem for them with their private provision and income acquired through bloodlines or crowdfunding.

Circumstances have now afforded the Little Englanders a platform from which to spew their bile and narcissism. Their one ‘strategy’ to fix our economic woes is to blame people who don’t look or sound like them. We’d have more money for the NHS if we didn’t give it to ‘them’. And plenty of houses and schools. And jobs: they’ve taken all the jobs. We’ve given away everything that belongs to us.

If it’s a simple answer you’re after and you’ve lost faith in every politician from your dedicated parish councillor to the country’s head of state and, like thousands of us of late, you simply can’t stomach the news any more, it’s hardly surprising that right-wing websites are hugging themselves with glee at the idea of many of us wanting a strong-man saviour. Someone to cut through the nonsense and get things done. The problem is that these would-be emperors are stark naked (and, no- don’t picture it – it’s metaphorical).

When it comes to the real problems of the day, they’re stilled into silence or bluster off into ignorance. Climate change? It either doesn’t exist or we’ll cope. Educating our young people to cope with the physical and emotional challenges posed by Artificial Intelligence? Let’s just stick to the kings and queens of England. Building sustainable housing that people can afford? What? While there’s money to be made from the loan market and private rents?

If we’ve had one thing confirmed in the last few years it’s that if a self-regarding blusterer who doesn’t go out to work every day tells you that he’s (and I’ve been deliberately gender specific throughout this post) the only one who can see through it all and has the obvious answer, he’s a liar.

But I guess you knew that anyway.

Either that, or you haven’t been paying attention.

 

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