Podcast (ep.6): Labour/ Lib Dem Leadership, Gays in Russia & Her Royal Heilness

Jazza is back from Russia! And in this episode he shed some light on the LGBT life in Moscow with the conversations he had with gay and homophobic Russians.

But not before Jazza & Jimmy discuss the Labour and Lib Dem leaderships. Why is Jazza not Tim Farron’s biggest fan? Why doesn’t Jimmy really care that the Telegraph newspaper wants to sabotage Labour? Find out in this week’s podcast.

And finally we talk about THAT Sun front page, with the Queen doing the Nazi salute as a 7 year old girl. Is it fair for them to publish it? Was the pun ‘Her Royal Heilness’ really that terrible?

 

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The Audience is a slavish sop to the Windsors that fails to convince

The British Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, 16 June 2012, Carfax2 edit

Perhaps the nicest thing you can say about the Windsor family is that they are a benign tumour on the fetid carcass of the British state.

That, I repeat, is the nicest thing. If you wish to be more middling in your remarks, you might well say that the monarchy is a stubborn cancer that has resisted removal because, for the time being, the residents of Downing Street have found its existence useful – at least to the office of the prime minister.

But if you thought that a play predicated on the weekly chats between prime minister and monarch would shed light on just why this is so, you will likely be disappointed with The Audience, which is now in a second run at the Apollo Theatre in London, this time with Kristin Scott Thomas (a dame, no less) starring as Lizzie Windsor.

The thrust of the play is that the assorted premiers are a bunch of hapless halfwits whose administrations are in a state of permanent crisis – a believable if cynical thesis. Opposite the ministers is the variously greying embodiment of the British state, increasingly shrewd as the years wear on.

If you believe the various puffs that Buckingham Palace puts out in collusion with the mawkish elements of Fleet Street the latter view is not so strange. Queenie is sometimes shown in the media as akin to a Silicon Valley exec in her work habits, never more than half an hour from cutting another ribbon or entertaining some ghastly foreign despot.

This view has clearly been bought by Peter Morgan, The Audience’s playwright, whose attempt to step behind what the Marxist historian Tom Nairn termed The Enchanted Glass leads him to depict the queen’s life as one of great sacrifice, and the queenship a mantle she was unwilling to take up in her younger years.

No doubt the whole “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown” trope was too tasty for Morgan to resist. But the view that the Windsors genuflect towards their subjects and not the other way round is a hard one to credit.

When the Dutch queen Beatrix resigned in 2013 it prompted much speculation in Fleet Street that Lizzie Windsor might follow. Given her son Charlie’s reputation for being a loon this caused severe alarm, with many royalists suggesting a generation might be skipped in the rather embarrassing circumstances (and thus rather failing to appreciate how “hereditary” works).

Lizzie was unmoved; Indeed The Audience even makes a crack at Pope Benedict XVI’s expense for not leaving his job in a coffin.

No doubt after so many years the chief Windsor would struggle in losing her life’s work. But a less cretinous explanation for her refusal to abdicate is that she rather enjoys her influence over public life. While the monarchy is clearly at Parliament’s pleasure these days (it was, after all, what the Civil War was fought over), the suggestion that the queen might nudge her ministers in certain directions is at the centre of the royalist paradox.

The gambit works like this: When a radical lefty complains the monarchy is a rather undemocratic affair (as Python has it, you don’t vote for kings) they will reply that she has no power anyway. And yet when you suggest replacing the Windsors with an elected president that can be fired, they complain that the job would be politicised – hardly a danger for an empty role.

It is this strand that The Audience picks at, with the final conclusion being that the queen does have some influence over whether the prime minister might do something silly like invade Iraq (which is compared to the Suez crisis despite innumerable problems with the analogy).

That this is discussed so openly and approvingly leads one to conclude that Morgan must believe it to be A Good Thing, showing the old divide between Whig and Tory over the rights of the monarchy is not dead yet. One can only hope the hereditary lottery will disabuse him of this view when Lizzie finally snuffs it.

Header Image – Windsors on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, 16 June 2012, by Carfax2

Podcast (Ep.5): Budget 2015, the Tim Hunt controversy and an alternative Labour leader

George Osborne at a reception following The Royal Wedding, 29 April 2011, by FCO

In this edition of the podcast Jimmy is joined by Right Dishonourable staffer John Servante to tackle the burning issues of the week, plus whatever made us laugh.

Topping the bill is the Tory budget, chancellor George Osborne’s first offering since shedding the pesky Liberal Democrats at the general election back in May. We discuss why the ostensibly radical plans are far more retrogressive than they initially appear.

Next in line is a discussion of scientist Tim Hunt’s controversial remarks on women in science, which last week came to a conclusion as University College London (UCL) ruled that it would not be reinstating Hunt despite a grovelling apology. But is this just another crude censorship of left-field ideas from what should be a curious, open-minded research body?

Lastly in our silly segment we suggest five new candidates for the Labour leadership, responding to the lacklustre crowd that have made it onto the ballot paper. Listen in to find out who made the grade.

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Header Image – George Osborne at royal wedding, April 2011 by Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Podcast (ep. 4): Are You Beach Body Ready Controversy, Third Runway at Heathrow and 4th July – What IS America for?

Beach Body Ready - Ellen Rose

We are joined in this week’s podcast by Ellen Rose (icklenellierose on YouTube and Twitter) who laughs and debates along with Jazza and Jimmy for 45 minutes.

We discuss #ThighGapGate, also known as the Protein World “Are You Beach Body Ready?” controversy, which has been officially declared inoffensive by the Advertising Standards Authority. What kind of message do these adverts send? Should an organisation be able to decide whether something is offensive or not? Or is this just good advertising?

Meanwhile the Davies Commission has come down firmly in favour of the third runway at Heathrow Airport, leaving Gatwick and the dream of a new Thames Estuary Airport out in the cold. But after David Cameron (#DavCam) has said he would categorically not back a third runway at Heathrow, where do the Conservatives go from here?

Finally, we recorded this on the 4th July, Independence Day and the US’s national celebration of getting rid of the monarchy (though they seem rather obsessed with Kate and Wills’ breeding patterns at the moment). We talk about America’s role in the world and who are our favourite picks for the US presidential elections in 2016.

Subscribe to the podcast, leave us as many stars as you feel fit and we’ll see you next week!

Header Image – Beach Body Ready ad by Protein World, photographed by Ellen Rose

Far from being edgy, Jason Manford’s anti-racist spiel just lashes out at the marginal

Jason Manford, Jan 2013, University of Salford Press Office

Every era has its own political boilerplate, statements that can be unthinkingly uttered to win you friends whilst gaining you few enemies that matter.

These are based on the taboos, prejudices and groupthink of the times. If you wish to play to the gallery, after all, you need to know what they like. And once you have that you can soak up the cheap applause:

Right now in our island’s history, it is a bad time to be a racist. Better, perhaps, than when New Labour felt confident enough to “rub the Right’s nose in diversity”, but much worse than the decades following the Second World War, and especially the old days of the Empire which rather shows up the institutional racism we now practice.

Fascism is in similar straits. The fringe left in Britain loudly proclaim their commitment to combating it, but the modesty of this was highlighted by the groups themselves when they confronted some chapter of the far right at Piccadilly Circus in a London demo earlier this year. As the lefties accurately observed at the time: “There are a lot more of us than you.”

Sniping at fringe righties, far from being brave and edgy, is thus the definition of the punching downward that comedians on the Left are supposed to disdain. After all, the front benches of the Commons are not stocked with “closest racists” (in prime minister Call Me Dave’s phrase) but with those that largely hold socially liberal views, especially as regards migration.

True enough, there are some establishment backers of the Kippers and their political kin. But as anybody with a brief acquaintance of these groups could tell you, they are largely made up of white, working-class, middle aged men – in other words those that the Islington intellectuals in Labour used to court, but now treat with disdain and mockery.

There’s no sorrow in the fact that racism is treated with scorn and hostility, nor that fascism or homophobia is given the same reception in most civilised quarters. But there’s no nobility in trashing the ignorant, inarticulate and inept, and nobody should pretend otherwise.

Header Image – Jason Manford, January 2013 by University of Salford Press Office