BUSHELL ON THE BLOG
June 14. This blog is still on life support but I will be back with some book news shortly.
June 13. I’m chatting to Stax soul legend Steve Cropper in today’s Sunday Express, and talking TV with the great Neville Staple.
June 8. It started with Benny Hill and has now reached its zenith with the Queen. The cancer of cancel culture, which has been gnawing away at the very fabric of Britain since the 1980s, arrived at its logical conclusion this week when graduate students of Magdalen College, Oxford, removed a 1952 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from a common room. The picture’s crime? It “represents recent colonial history” and was therefore too distressing for the over-educated middle-class berks to abide. This latest eruption of juvenile indignation at least took the spotlight away from Ollie Robertson who has been suspended from duty as England pace bowler for the ‘offence’ of tweeting dumb teenage jokes when he was a dumb teenager nearly a decade ago. Who didn’t say or do anything daft when they were a teenager? When I was 18, I used to stand on a street corner in Woolwich selling the Socialist Worker…
The great irony is that, in the name of liberalism, the strongly illiberal forces of ‘progress’ are driving us down the rabbit hole into an Orwellian world where historic thoughtcrime can wreck careers, and where many adults practice double-think, censoring their own views rather than risk the fury of the mob. Or their own children…
Cancel culture has its roots in the no-platform movement of the 70s and 80s. Initially far-Left students targeted the extreme Right, but rapidly broadened to include conservative thinkers such as Roger Scruton and John Vincent and even some social democrats. Cecil Rhodes and Sir Winston Churchill – the man who took on real Nazis – were recent targets. This year a Scottish student was banned from her own campus just for saying the words “Rule Britannia”.
Marxists are of course the driving force behind the cancellers and statue-topplers, which is perhaps why there have been no calls so far to remove Karl Marx from Highgate cemetery. Yet there could be. Marx described Mexicans as “lazy”, made anti-Semitic remarks and had a son with his maid; Engels used the n-word in a disparaging way while revolutionary pin-up Che Guevara once wrote “the negro is indolent and lazy”. WRP leader Gerry Healy was a bigger abuser than Weinstein. Let he who is without sin, etc.
Besides, who hasn’t got colonial history? Empires have existed in every millennium; everywhere from Ghana to Japan. The Moghuls, from what’s now Uzbekistan, colonised most of south Asia in the 16th century. Perhaps someone should remind Matthew Katzman – the privileged son of a wealthy US lawyer and the prime mover behind the Queen’s portrait row – that his own country’s imperial mistakes dwarf Britain’s…and that our Queen happily presides over a multi-racial Commonwealth. The war on yesterday is simply a way of building for revolutionary change tomorrow. The sort that historically ends so well for everyone…maybe Katzman could take a look at the plight of the Uighurs in China. The best way, and yes, the old-fashioned British way, to counter beliefs you don’t share is to argue against them through the medium of vigorous, civilised debate. Freedom of speech includes the right to say the wrong thing and change your mind. At its worst cancel culture leads to tyranny and at its best timidity. It’s time to stop beating ourselves up and celebrate instead the greatest diversity of them all – opinion.
This blog is closed for a while. See you on the other side.
May 16. I’m chatting to gobby comic Kerry Godliman in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with Denise Van Outen.
May 15. Today I’m squirming in the interview chair under the withering gaze of author Colin Edmonds for his Behind The Scenes podcast. Ozzy, Neville Staple, Freddie Starr and Rod Hull are just some of the names cropping up along the way.
May 14. This week’s album reviews: Paul Weller, Gary Moore live, Natalie Bergman and Michael Ball – in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
A great gag in today’s Ally Ross column. Passing on the news that Davina McCall calls her Jack and Danny “Kevin”, Ally asks simply, “Spacey or Bacon?”
Prince Harry has told a US podcast that his royal life was “a mixture between The Truman Show and being in a zoo”. The Truman Show starred Jim Carrey as a man who is oblivious to the fact his entire life is a TV show. Lucky Harry has escaped that living hell and is now able to share every aspect of his life, along with every aspect of his past, and every ounce of random, self-pitying whining with absolutely no one at all… except for several million global Netflix viewers, an army of podcast listeners, a platoon of lightweight TV interviewers and umpteen magazine tie-ins.
May 13. I’m 66 today – yes, the third ‘6’ is silent. I’m also officially a pensioner, with a crocked knee and an arthritic wrist to prove it. 66 is clickety-click in bingo; it’s also exactly how I walk up the stairs.
May 11. I was sorry to hear about the death of John Kay, one of the great news reporters and a genuinely lovely man – hard-working, but always positive and helpful. He also had eclectic tastes in music – we had many conversations about Captain Beefheart back in the day (especially the classic sixties albums). John’s list of “belters” – news scoops – was probably second to none, but sadly his exposé of how poorly equipped British troops were being “sent to their death” against roadside bombs in the Iraq War led to him being arrested and charged with ‘making corrupt payments to a public official’ during Operation Elveden. Even though the story was true and very much in the public interest, he was put through hell. John was acquitted six years ago but never fully got over the ordeal, largely because gutless News Corporation management hung his source out to dry.
May 9. I’m chatting to Joe Pasquale, madcap comedian magician turned serious actor, in today’s Sunday Express Review.
May 8. The boy done well. Boris gets away with a lot through sheer force of personality. Voters like him. They also know the Tories stand for aspiration. Blair knew how important that was but today’s Labour Party just don’t get it. Working class voters want their children to have a decent education, jobs and housing. They don’t want them to have the same life they had; they want them to have a shot at a better one. Boris talks the talk, but can he deliver? I’d like to think so, but I suspect the government’s free-spending, big state approach will end in tears.
If you’re in Central London today, look out for the Rolling Thunder protestors led by Johnny Mercer. The old soldiers are taking to the streets again to protest against the shameful witch-hunt being waged against our ex-servicemen. Toot your support.
May 7. This week’s albums reviews: Van Morrison, Rag n’ Bone Man, Royal Blood and the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones, in today’s Daily Mirror and Daily Express.
Labour just lost Hartlepool to the Tories. The seat had been solidly red for half a century. Will it ever be again? Back in 1935, George Dangerfield published a book called The Strange Death Of Liberal England. We’re now living through the less strange death of Labour Britain. The party I once belonged to have made themselves unelectable. They patronise the working class and actively dislike England – their leaders recoil from patriotism like Dracula from a clove of garlic. They can’t represent the moderate majority when they speak the language of militant minorities – the statue-demolishers, “trans-rights” extremists, and the urban liberal elite. And it’s their own fault. When Emily Thornberry mocked the English flag, when Sir Keir took the knee, when Labour kept schtum on grooming gangs, when they back trendy teachers more obsessed with woke virtue-signalling than actually teaching children basic literacy, they are dumping on the views of the people they claim to represent. How the hell did they think that crap was going to play? They are the architects of their own demise.
May 5. Good to see the collapse of the trial of two British paras, Soldier A and Soldier C yesterday. The judge threw out the case. But why was it ever allowed to come to court? The Tories keep promising to stop the malicious prosecutions of our veterans and yet the shameful pursuit of these old men goes on. The blame can be laid on the 1998 peace process, when, on the brink of victory and under pressure from the Yanks, the Blair government capitulated. Terrorists got amnesty, British troops did not. It’s what happens when you lose a war.
May 2. My chat with Rag ’n’ Bone Man Rory Graham is in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with Pete Cunnah from D:Ream.