Saturday, November 28, 2015

The 9:15 To Raqqa

Our impending Syria war is all over the papers again today, and there's an interesting trend developing.

Type "Syria war" into Google News and you'll quickly get the impression that there's a lively debate over the usefulness of wars in the Middle East.  To read some sources, this debate only even exists at all because of the wildly unpopular and berserk radicalism of the leader of the opposition, but the overwhelming majority of writers and politicians seem to agree: this war will almost certainly end in at least a partial success.

I have no idea quite why this should be the case, since our experience in the last fifteen years has demonstrated quite neatly that our humanitarian wars almost never work, and are in fact greatly more likely to leave the people that we're trying to assist hugely worse off, or dead.

So you'd think that this would be the end of the debate about the usefulness of wars, or at least of humanitarian wars in the Middle East.  It's not like we've only seen this play out once, or anything - we're long past the point where it was controversial, and we can now observe trends and draw hard conclusions.

We can happily concede that of course, it's possible that any particular new war will work - in much the same way that it's possible that I might score a World Cup goal for Scotland - but we can say with a very high degree of confidence that it probably won't work*.  I foolishly expect this to be universally accepted fact, myself. 

I'd also suggest that this should affect our thinking about any new proposal for war.  After all, if trains operated at the same failure rate as our wars, nobody would ever set foot on one.  If politicians and pundits near-unanimously responded to train crashes by announcing faster and more rickety trains, then we'd all assume that those people were dangerously unhinged and unreliable, and we'd never listen to their advice about anything.

The basic conclusion that we can draw is this, though: Our new war will probably be a failure too, and possibly a terrible one.

Now, with this in mind, try that Google search again and see if anything it returns reflects this reality.

There ain't much, is there?

What there is, is plenty of hysterical denunciation for people who point out our dreadful failure rate.  I've picked  McTernan's gloriously deranged Telegraph article as an example, because it's the wackiest, but with most of today's coverage, it's mainly a difference of tone rather than content.

Now, why do we think it is, that the most glaringly obvious fact about our recent military adventures is almost entirely invisible in our discussion of our involvement in this war?  And, can we draw any conclusions about the people who seem to have overlooked it?

*This one is probably the best, although I've never heard of the author, who openly admits that the war probably won't work and backs it anyway.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A New Threat Such As We Have Never Seen

It's a cast-iron rule of warmaking that it necessitates the deployment of vast quantities of bullshit.  Whether we're bombing the Nazis or just flinging missiles about in a vague attempt to kill Al Qaeda's latest Number Three, you can be sure that the rhetoric will be roaring and righteous, and that the condemnations will be crazed and constant.

This being the case, there's little chance of understanding what's going on by measuring the quantity of war bullshit deployed, since war bullshit is infinite and is limited only by the space that's available to squeeze it into.

The thing that we can confidently measure is the quality of the bullshit.  Is it convincing bullshit, or half-true bullshit, or just downright offensively stupid bullshit?

I'd argue that there's a direct link between the level of truly idiotic bullshit, and the necessity and usefulness of the actual war.  That is, the more obviously insulting the bullshit on display is to your intelligence, the less likely it is that there's any need for the UK to get involved in the war at all.

With that in mind, I offer a list of the most common forms of war bullshit.  Tick them off as they appear in the run-up to our latest grand campaign for freedom, then count how many you've spotted and check that figure against the analysis at the foot of this post.

One point each for the following bullshitty arguments:

- There is no time to come up with a war strategy, we must act immediately, before anyone has had a chance to over-think it.

- We must bomb (x) because if we don't, the Americans will be sad and might cry;

- Actions of terrorists from one country mean that it is vital that we drop bombs on different country; 

- Now that we have deliberately put you in a position where you have to either back us, or hand the enemy a propaganda victory, you have no choice but to back us;

- Britain must get involved in this war.  There's no way that the Americans, the French, the Russians, the Australians, the Canadians and others can possibly handle this on their own;

- We must show that we are a big, important country, mainly by blowing shit up with missiles;

- The country that we're going to bomb is in such a terrible predicament that it can't possibly get any worse, despite very convincing and recent evidence to the contrary;

- We are not a warlike people, but we are morally compelled to get involved in an astounding number of, like, wars.

-  A new threat such as we have never seen;

- War can be won with airstrikes, willpower and crossed fingers;

- Fears that UK will lose face if it doesn't start bombing;

- We are morally obligated to help these suffering civilians by dropping bombs on them;

Two points each for the following bullshitty events:

- Government openly hostile to expert opinion that conflicts with its intentions;

- Importance of international law entirely contingent on whether it helps or hinders ability to make war;

- Prime Minister is slick PR man with invincible confidence in his own wisdom, who effortlessly dicks off questions;

- Pundits spitting with fury at anyone who suggests that war might be bad idea;

- Considerations about welfare of civilians in war-zone clearly tacked on as an afterthought;

- War can definitely be won without anyone having to pay more taxes;

- Pundits congratulating selves and each other for courageously agreeing with government, again;

- Public sharply divided over war;

- Neighbouring countries interfering in war-zone and no plan in place to prevent them from doing so;

- Any suggestion that attacking cities with high explosives makes the people who live there hate us more, treated as if it were tantamount to saying "We all deserve to be killed, especially me";

- Loud declarations that we have learned important lessons from previous catastrophic wars, while visibly committing the same or similar errors;

- Major powers making grand proclamations about justice and humanitarianism, while obviously harbouring less-than-secret goals;

- Locals in war-zone hate us, but are willing to pretend that they don't for as long as we're killing their enemies;

- Anti-war politicians being repeatedly asked why they're such lying Jihadist bastards, while success of war is simply taken for granted;

- Entire strategy can fairly be summarised as "Keep killing motherfuckers until either they sit down and behave themselves, or everybody is dead"?


0-6:  Oh dear, it looks like this is it - World War II all over again.  The entire nation is dangerously imperilled and there's no choice but to fight a total war against evil until victory.  See you on the parade ground, everyone.

6-12:  Mmm, starting to look a bit Falklands War-y here.  British lives and British interests threatened, actual fascist junta to fight.  Let's get down the docks and wave Our Boys off with some flags.

12-20:  All getting a bit Afghanistan now, isn't it?  We're killing quite a lot of people for reasons that aren't entirely clear; nobody really knows what we're meant to be doing and it's not obvious that victory is even possible.  Time to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

20-30:  No doubt about it, this is another Libya War.  Soaring rhetoric about freedom and democracy, while actually just spunking missiles about the place with no clear idea what we're achieving, before noisily congratulating ourselves and fucking off to let the locals dodge bullets and barter for their lives with the heavily-armed militias we empowered for the next few decades.

30-42:  The full Iraq War lunacy.  The Americans - cracked, insane and cranked up with invincible levels of patriotic nonsense - are about to half-destroy an entire country, and there's nothing to be gained by trying to dissuade them from it.  If we can't beat 'em, join 'em - time to start waving flags and mouthing idiotic pablums about freedom, while we preside over one of the all-time catastrophic megadeath military fuck-ups.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Non-Conventional Weapons

Okay, so this kind of thing, raised in relation to some students' barney with Germaine Greer, really isn't at all helpful:

Speaking from personal experience, it's incredibly difficult to convince people that the European Convention on Human Rights doesn't e.g. confer entitlements to free trips to Disneyland for terrorists and so on, since Britain's moronic tabloids have been selling the public variations upon that theme for years.

The Court here is not talking about private citizens deciding that they don't like cranky Antipodeans and don't care to hear their views.  It's talking about states taking action to avoid actual pogroms and suchlike - Radio Rwanda-level calls for extermination of minorities, and so on.  Including reference to ECHR here is a bit like shouting about Nuremberg principles after the cops have pulled you over for speeding - it's not that it's just incorrect, it's also a honking great category error.

Anyone invoking the Convention on such spurious grounds is inadvertently doing the same damn thing that the Sun does - helping to convince people that ECHR exists in part to empower thin-skinned twits who don't want to hear opinions that they don't like, at everybody else's expense.  At a time when the government is actively looking for excuses to do away with the Convention rights, this type of thing is utterly counterproductive.

On the wider topic of the article - basically, banning Germaine Greer for her comments about trans women - well, I'll say this:

Any small group of people declaring that only their precise opinions on a particular subject are permissible, and angrily insisting that disagreement is tantamount to outright bigotry and hatemongering, is

a) About to start losing the few friends that it currently has, and is

b) Likely to fragment into even smaller groups of people who really, really don't like each other very much.

I'll also add that loudly accusing public figures of misogyny and hatemongering is quite a silly thing to do, unless you're very certain of your arguments, given the pro-plaintiff biases of Britain's libel laws.  Unless there's a sharp rhetorical cooling-off, I predict that this habit is going to result in some fairly hairy litigation and crushing defeats at some point, and probably sooner rather than later.

On the wider point of whether trans women are women, well, you can include me out of that particular debate - it's a battle that appears to be being fought with nuclear missiles and nothing else.  Nonetheless, let's note that if you ever find yourself accusing Germaine Greer of being a misogynist, you probably need to re-examine your reasoning, because it appears to be fundamentally fucked up in some fashion.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Drive-By Booting

Okay, so this post is a bit of a drive-by, but it's probably worth noting what does and doesn't feature in Jim Murphy's impassioned plea for throbbing British military stiffness and a pounding for ISIS.

It does contain:

- Much back-patting for the author's selfless refusal of lucrative book offers; 

- A frank admission that the 2013 Syria bombing proposals were largely cosmetic, followed by anguished sobs of regret over voting against them;

- A flat declaration that the 2003 Iraq invasion and occupation are so far in the past as to be irrelevant to decisions that we might make today;

- Nudge-nudges about how the author takes the situation much more seriously than other MPs do; 

- Gratuitous scare-quotes around the word "anti-war" in relation to other MPs;

- Open admissions that "military action alone won't work"; 

- Bizarre chin-stroking about Britain's "period of unresolved purpose" between 1956 and 1968, a time in which British soldiers were engaged in Cyprus, Kenya, Borneo and Yemen, amongst other countries*,

- An assertion that "conscientious objection" is unacceptable, and 

- A bit of rah-rah about how the decision to bomb Syria will test our national greatness, or something.

It's quite a sight, to see a once-prominent politician sobbing in regret because he didn't resign over a proposed bombing campaign that even he recognises was mainly a cosmetic gesture, while simultaneously dicking off the catastrophically destructive war that he actually did vote for.

Nonetheless, let's note what doesn't appear in Jim's article:

- A single, solitary claim that fighting ISIS will help anyone, in either Syria or Iraq. 

I'm unsure how to take this, really.  Is it absent-mindedness, or an over-enthusiastic sub-editor, or just rampant vainglory?

Whatever's going on, I think it's worth noting that for Murphy, the question To Bomb, Or Not To Bomb really is all about us, and that the countries we're proposing to bombard don't even rate a moment's consideration.

*Cheers to assorted readers for pointing out some of the sillier arguments in Murphy's piece.  You know who you are.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

On Spite

So, the Question Time Tory voter who was astounded to discover that when her political representatives said that they wanted to cut benefits for the undeserving, they were talking about her.  A minor matter of little interest, but also a major excuse for me to arse on about some of my usual gripes.

- First up, the various finger-waggers are probably correct to say that it's electorally stupid for us to take the piss out of people who are disillusioned with the Tories.  I'd also add that it's bad form to hector members of the public, as opposed to e.g. politicians, celebrities and so on, since the man or woman in the street is just trying to get by the same as the rest of us.  Additionally, since we can't establish exactly why any particular individual chose to vote for the Tories, we probably shouldn't jump to conclusions about this person's motivations.

Thankfully, I'm not a Labour activist and I don't really believe that there's any real prospect of reversing the decades-long project of political dumbing-down.  I'm also an enormous hypocrite, so I feel quite secure in saying to anyone who voted Tory and is now whinging about being much worse off as a result - Get it right up you.

- While we can't divine the souls of individual Tory voters, I think we can broadly assume that a very large number of them were swayed by the central Tory campaign message, which was - Vote for us, and we will fucking kill all the benefit-sucking scroungers and moochers*.  This concept dwarfed any attempt they made to sell Britain on the idea that the Tories would make anyone's life better.

As I said on the morning of the election, spite is one of the great motivators of British politics.  Osborne's speech about people leaving in the dark to work the early shift while their dole-scrounging neighbours sleep on is the archetype, but you'll no doubt have heard similar from friends and work colleagues - the supposedly homeless woman who drives home in a Jag after a hard day's begging; the geezer who is horrified to discover that the Job Centre is a weaponised misery-machine designed to harrass and humiliate him, and is primarily angry about this because he also believes that immigrants and layabouts have access to an entirely separate and more generous benefits system that he does not.

Spite is a horrible thing and the militarised version of it that fills the daily papers, keeps Channel 5 afloat and decides elections, is one of Britain's most regrettable cultural problems.  Spite is a personal failing and it should be recognised as antisocial behaviour, much like spitting in the street, punching people who annoy you or trying to fuck other people's wives and husbands are.

For this reason, I'm not inclined to indulge anyone offering variants upon Boo-hoo-hoo, I thought the Tories would fuck over everyone else, rather than meNote well that the lady in question wasn't upset that the Tories were fucking people over - she was upset that they were also fucking her over.  I am doing guesswork now, but I'm assuming that she doesn't want the Tories to stop fucking everybody else, because everybody else deserves it.

Perhaps I'm being unfair, and she's now concluded that political spite is a huge con aimed at gulling votes out of suckers by vowing to kill the poor.  I doubt it, somehow.

Anyway, this is a learning experience and an opportunity to grind the lesson in, even if I think there's basically zero chance of anyone actually changing their behaviour and becoming less spiteful as a result.

- I'm also not convinced by Chris Dillow's descriptions of the various cognitive biases that lead people to misunderstand the country that they live in.  I think that individually, all of the biases that he describes are demonstrably real, but there's already a word that collectively describes these errors, and that word is spite.

Treating spite as if it were a blameless error, as an honest mistake that can be overcome with a few friendly chats, is probably the wrong response.  Spite is not an error - it's a conscious choice that's maintained with determination, even in the face of countervailing evidence.  If you don't believe that, then feel free to try convincing your grumpy uncle that e.g. they haven't banned Baa-Baa Black Sheep, and see how you get on. 

I think the correct response to blubbing about how the Tories fucked you is We told you so, you utter tit rather than There, there, you sweet little lamb.

- And, to return to one of my recent themes - I am wholly unconcerned by the possibility that a few folk with Twitter accounts might alienate displeased Tory voters, for the simple reason that almost nobody reads our bloody tweets and nobody gives a damn what our opinion is on anything.

There's a good chunk of earnest left-wing Britain that responds to stories like the blubbing Question Time woman by essentially running around the internet ticking people off and ensuring that nobody has any fun at all, ever.

While I recognise their arguments are probably correct and understand their motivations, I repeat - I'm not an activist and I'm not trying to win anybody over, so I'll feel free to act up like a dick as and when I feel like it, without worrying what the upset Tory voters of Britain who aren't paying attention think about it.  There's an upper limit to the number of times that you can ask people to bite their lips in the face of provocation, after all.

*One of most glaring unrecognised issues in British politics is how crime has almost entirely dropped off the radar as an electoral issue.  It used to be absolutely central in election debates, but no longer - it's now been almost entirely replaced with rows about immigration and welfare. 

The lesson that I take from this is that the public basically regards being dirt-poor and benefits-dependent as a crime in itself.  You can probably guess whether I think this belief should be indulged or not.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Don't Do As I Do, Do As I Say

Okay, so the best charge list against Russia's hilarious propaganda campaign for its Syria war goes like this:

- Russia makes up risibly poor and obvious excuses to justify attacking countries;

- In fact, Russia engages in multiple bullshit wars at once and tells major lies about its aims and actions in all of them; 

- It makes fraudulent claims about attacking "terrorists", while actually just attacking the enemies of the governments that it's propping up; 

- It drops dark hints that other states are backing terrorism and insinuates that anyone opposed to its aims is morally suspect;

- That the Russian President has abrogated the right to bomb anything and anyone he pleases without oversight, and that he publicly alludes to bizarre international conspiracies against his nation; 

- That Putin makes nonsensical pronouncements comparing himself to the Allies in World War II, and

- The Russian government has bamboozled the populace into supporting an idiotic war, by propaganda and fearmongering... 

...And that all of this is despicable and utterly unacceptable from a modern, theoretically democratic nation.

Well, shit.  No wonder the Americans are so pissed-off - Bad Vlad is giving away all the tricks of the trade, right out there for the world to see.

Anyway, let's have a few chuckles at some of the more humorous articles bemoaning Russian state propaganda recently.

Oh no!  Russian media is pumping out state propaganda, and most of the populace believes these lies are true!  Why, its TV coverage is all swooshing action infographics and repetition of government press releases!  Russian liberals and left-wingers have been cowed by a barrage of cretinous patriotic rah-rah and accusations of treason!  Domestic opposition to the war barely gets a reasonable hearing!

How could such a thing ever have happened!

And so on and on.  Credit is due to CNN, who at least have the dignity required to acknowledge certain historical resonances, but I'd say that the most pertinent point for UK-based observers of Russia's propaganda wheezes is this:

Putin at least has had to threaten, intimidate, ban and even murder his way through the Russian media class to impose this kind of sanctimonious, nonsensical, belligerent unity upon it.

In Britain, no such campaign has ever been necessary.

An Unparalleled Congeries of Imbecilities

Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose, which is a suspiciously foreign way of saying: Every few years, some ardent left-wing Guardian columnist decides it's time to take "a new approach" to patriotism.

This week, it's earnest sixth-former Owen Jones.  "What is more loving of one’s own country than wanting to rid it of injustice?", he asks.  "What is more patriotic than wanting the majority to have a fairer share of the country’s wealth and success?".

All of which sounds perfectly reasonable, until you remember that "patriotism", in the sense that it's used by the Daily Mail, has little or nothing to do with a love of justice or fairness, and even less to do with  actual love for the people or the nation.  Despite its endless pom-pom-waving for Britain, you'll notice that the Mail has nothing but contempt for most of the people who actually live here.

The kind of patriotism we're talking about is mainly just resentment and cowardice.  It's a blunt refusal to even attempt to see the world as it is.  It's a joyful retreat into an infantile fantasy world where everything bad is somebody else's fault, and all of our problems can be solved by reliance on childish concepts like faith, flags and force. 

If this sounds like it's indistinguishable from Jingoism, well then, that's because it is Jingoism.  This form of patriotism - self-pitying belligerence, worship of a country that doesn't exist and never has existed, aimed at rallying crowds of us to oppose them - is the only kind that counts in politics.  Anything less is inherently suspect.

If you doubt this, consider: we've had an abject lesson right here in Scotland within the last couple of years.  For a large number of Scots, "patriotism" has now come to mean "desiring independence from the UK".  To this part of the populace, the very idea that a person could be any kind of true patriot, and yet have no interest in Scottish independence, is an outright logical impossibility.  It's an absurdity that can no more be true than 2+2=5 can be correct.

I've lived here for 37 years and I have no desire to live anywhere else*.  When I wrote this, I typed up a long ramble about my affection for the people and places I've known my entire life, but then realised - what's the point?  Unless it ends with the words "And thus Scotland should be an independent country", every sentence would be seen as cravenly dishonest, if not actively infuriating, by many Scots.

As it is in the UK, so it is elsewhere.  In Russia, patriotism isn't much more than non-stop, woe-is-us boo-hoo about the rest of the planet's endless disrespect, and dark mutterings that a bit of healthy violence would settle their treachery.  In the US, it means saluting the flag, singing louder and hating anyone who suggests that there's anything wrong with America except for its abundance of traitorous hippies.  In China, the very notion that China isn't the bestest nation ever, or that the Communist Party isn't the most awesome government of all time, is tantamount to treason.

This is why there's really no point in trying to redefine "patriotism", in Britain or anywhere else.  The very attempt suggests that there's something wrong with the idea, which is the same as saying that there's something terribly wrong with the country itself - something wrong with its traditions, its people, its singular contribution to the blah blah of etc. etc.

As well to redefine "Tuesday" or "sausages".  Or maybe better, since nobody's going to kick your head in for re-examining bangers and mash.   

Which is all another way of saying - the Labour Party, the Greens, the Lib Dems, none of these people will ever be accepted as patriots in the way that e.g. David Cameron or Nigel Farage are patriots.  A reasonable discussion of what constitutes patriotism is impossible, because this kind of patriotism is utterly inimical to reason.  It's imperviousness to argument is the very reason for its existence.

Better not to seek acceptance on these terms, when the mere attempt is an admission of guilt.

*Well, I could handle a couple of months of the year living somewhere a bit hotter, but no more than that.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Me & The Government Are Very Sensible

Ah, our sensible centrists - a few twats lob eggs at a protest and it's the Texas Chainsaw Massacre all over again, but bomb a hospital and... well, it's all quite... complicated, isn't it?

Well, as is ever the case, racist UKIP candidates reflect badly upon UKIP, and EDL thugs are a problem for the British far-right, but whenever some prick somewhere is rude to a journalist, the entire left has to get down on its knees to apologise.  Ever thus.

So collectively, we're doing that thing with the noisy denunciations and disassociations that we always do when prodded, as if there's a vague chance that mass disapproval might save us from being held up as if we were all a kind of revenant parade of blackshirts.

And I understand the denunciations, because this kind of aimless aggro is stupid, unpleasant and counterproductive.  And had it not been for these egg-chucking fucks, the headlines tomorrow would've been all about the government's merciless dickishness and their intentional vandalism of the public services on which many of these people rely, right?

Oh, sure.  Maybe on page 12 of the Guardian, they would've been.

No, the sad truth here is that solemn anti-government protests are too boring to attract any kind of serious attention.  So what, a bunch of earnest kids and non-photogenic pensioners and civil servants disagree with the government?  Who cares?

Protests just don't get any positive attention these days, and they haven't had much attention of any type for a long time, unless they're violent or rowdy, or are aimed at an already-despised public figure or nation.  Still though, a few journalists getting hassled and spat at by a couple of crusties isn't so much an insignificant event, as it is actively immaterial.

I know this won't be a popular opinion, but let me lay this on you - the very best that any half-popular popular protest event from the left in the UK can expect, is to be ignored.

If it turns a bit nasty, all the reaction will be about the nastiness.  Note that the actual severity of the nastiness doesn't matter at all - if 95% of today's idiots had stayed away, the remaining 5% would've been more than enough to justify exactly the same response.

Remember, it's not so long ago that protests used to end in real violence and actual injuries, not this boo-hoo-woe-is-us stuff.  When I was a kid, these types of events regularly ended in full-scale riots and fist-fights, with mounted police and baton-charges, rather than a lot of whinging because some fucker with dreads called a reporter "Tory scum", or similar.

But even if a protest is as nice as a game of Pass-The-Parcel at a playgroup picnic, it'll just be ignored.  Any mention of it that does reach the public will only be negative portrayals of the protesters themselves - if they're young, they're daft poseurs; if they're old, they're dinosaurs; if they're posh, they're self-indulgent; if they're not, they're loutish and thick.

If a protest is about an insane bloodcurdling war, then the war is not the issue - the real issue is some fucking berk waving a Hezbollah flag.  If it's about austerity, then tsk tsk!  We already had an election to decide which version of the Thatcherite consensus would rule, thank you, and attempts by protestors to impose their will on the government is fundamentally immoral, if not outright fascistic.  Swish!

These responses are not about enlightening anyone.  They're about circumscribing politically permissible ideas, a police action on the outer edge of acceptable mainstream thought.  That's why nobody in this country who regularly writes political commentary along the lines of "Me and the government are very sensible, and everyone who disagrees with us is a lunatic" will ever go to bed hungry.

There's no way to win here folks, so just stop apologising.  If a few idiots lob eggs at a Tory, then a simple Yes, fuck those guys will suffice.

And on the specific character of complaints today, which have mainly been journalists complaining that some of the protestors called them Tories...  Again, fuck those guys, but this is probably a good point to assess why lots of young left-wing types believe that the press are instinctively lined up against them, if not actually in open collaboration with the government.

My experience of engaging with the press this last few years has mainly been one of being told that e.g. insane destructive wars that achieve nothing are very, very sensible indeed, and that being annoyed about such things is dangerously crazy.

Kids who are new to politics and even tangentially related to the Corbyn campaign have just spent three months watching every paper in the country indulge in a prolonged fit of gibbering hysterics, all of it aimed at portraying the new Labour leader as if he were a threat to the nation on par with Godzilla or the Black Death.

And when these kids open the paper tomorrow, they're not going to find much in the way of reportage about their aims in protesting the Tory Conference, but they're sure as hell going to find that they feature - as a pack of zoomers, extremists, jackbooted thugs and pantomime racists, or as a shower of preening Tarquins and Samanthas.

From this, they're only going to conclude that the press really are instinctively on David Cameron's side, and I have to say - even in my older, less excitable years - I can't really see how anyone would go about convincing them otherwise.