|Notes from a Disgruntled Anarchist
Stoking the Pudding
By Penny Rimbaud
In all probability you’ll have recently heard from the Home
Office: a Saatchi- style glossy leaflet in socialist-trendy red
and black, the front cover of which says, ‘Drug Dealing’,
and the back, ‘Fly Tipping’.
On the inside it states the obvious, ‘don’t want it
on your doorstep? It’s your call’, then it gives a list
of anti-social behaviourisms which somehow give a clearer picture
of New Labour’s Britain than might any academic treatise on
the subject. There’s the obvious, ‘litter, vandalism
and graffiti’ (unless of course it’s a valuable Banksy),
but then there’s the more telling, ‘groups hanging around’,
‘aggressive begging’ and ‘rowdy behaviour’,
all of which sounds pretty much like an average day in Parliament.
Well, of course I don’t want it on my doorstep, but neither
do I want nasty government propaganda on my doormat. I find it repugnant
that social ‘problems’ are increasingly being met with
force rather than reason. Even worse is the fact that we, the general
public, are expected to add weight to that force. We’re fast
becoming a snitch society, dependent not on good old-fashioned common
decency, but on the alarming growth of a police state in which we’re
all being asked to wear the sheriff’s badge whilst twitching
the lace curtains. Heritage Britain? No, let’s get real, this
is Bootcamp Britain, and we’re being told to tie the laces
both on ourselves and each other.
Just recently I’ve been thinking about New Labour’s
uncomfortable combination of socialism and capitalism: a populist
government combining all the worst elements of left and right, where
morality is replaced with policing and personal responsibility with
central authority. National Socialism? Well, it’s certainly
worth a moment’s thought and, with the introduction of the
draconian Terrorist Bill, it’s perhaps worthy of more than
that. In its appalling success, Nazi ideology depended upon a sweet
and sour mixture of banal sentimentality and wickedly imprecise
terminology. New Labour’s ordering of rhetorical law to counter
rhetorical threats to law and order stinks of Nazi logic: those
who the Third Reich opposed were seen as ‘a foreign body in
human society’, a fine piece of double speak comparable to
Blair’s recent classic, “look, we have free speech in
this country, but don’t abuse it”. Surely, the whole
point of free speech is that you can’t abuse it?
However, for the benefit of those who consider the erosion of human
rights to be a worthwhile price to pay for ‘safe’ streets,
the Home Office have set up the ‘Together’ phone line
so that ‘whatever’s bothering you can be dealt with’.
Thanks, guys, so how about this one? I’ve got the name and
address of one helluva player in the ASBO stakes: he’s a proven
liar, he has shown himself to be in no way averse to outright theft,
he advocates and implements acts of extreme violence and, to cap
it all, he appears to have more than slight leanings towards fundamentalism.
Public enemy number one? Right. He’s your smiling, suited,
but never booted P.M. of the day, The Right Honourable, Mr Tony
Blair. Together’s number is 020 8356 3030, give them a ring
and let’s get the bugger locked up before he does any more
damage to Britain’s long-standing traditions of civil liberties
and free speech. Like the leaflet says, ‘you don’t have
to tolerate it - it’s your call.’
Okay, so these are troubled times. There’s moral outrage
over the Islamic Fundamentalist reaction to the Mohammed cartoon.
It really does test our liberal sensibilities, doesn’t it?
Bomb the Danish press offices? Shocking? Well maybe it’s time
to spare yet another thought for the Middle East where for centuries
Christian Fundamentalists have been doing all in their considerable
power to raze Islam to the ground. Before being advised to watch
his language, George Bush was honest (read naïve) enough to
call his illegal invasion of Iraq a ‘crusade’, whereas
Tony Blair, while admitting that he was wrong about Saddam Hussein’s
WMDs, assured us that he ‘felt’ he was right about unleashing
his own on the innocent citizens of Baghdad. So how come the pair
of them are so upset when the Saracens resort to just about the
only retaliation available to them. This is, after all, war, and,
as Donald Rumsfeld was so keen to point out, ‘in times of
conflict, shit happens’. But hey, guys, not on my doorstep.
introducing the new Terrorist Bill, Blair had the audacity to state
that he found it offensive watching scenes of people glorifying
acts of terrorism that slaughtered totally innocent people. He clearly
hasn’t been watching his own jingoistic pronouncements on
TV regarding American and British actions in Iraq. Victorious, happy
and glorious? Well he certainly likes to think so.
For all that, cartoons or not, I hadn’t noticed that Britain’s
track record on religious tolerance was that great. A good few years
back I faced charges of Criminal Blasphemy for daring to write a
poem which suggested that Christ wasn’t the innocent celibate
that the cross-faced, cross-wearing Laura Ashley brigade like us
to think. I’m not clear what the punishment would have been
had I been found guilty (perhaps existential crucifixion?) but,
as it happened, the then Director of Public Prosecutions dropped
the charges, giving harsh warnings not to do it again, which needless
to say I took no notice of. A few years later, the same DPP dropped
his trousers and got done for kerb crawling. Upright citizen? Well,
in one respect I guess he probably was, but then I never got to
see him in his pin stripes.
Now you don’t need to look much further than Dickens to know
that it’s always been to run-down areas like East London that
the wealthy have sneaked off for their illicit pleasures. Most of
the clients entertained by a dominatrix friend in her Hackney dungeon
are as well-suited as they are wadded, and most have distinctly
Home County accents: none of them would be seen dead in Hackney
for any other reason than dodgy sex (except perhaps to feed a bad
coke habit). Ironically, it’s exactly the type of clients
who enjoy having their bottoms spanked who would have been responsible
for the production of the Home Office leaflet; not on their doorstep?
Dead right, but in their case we’re talking gravel drive.
Anti-social behaviour? Well, if they stopped sticking more than
their noses into poverty’s pudding, maybe we’d see a
few genuine social changes. And while we’re about it, it seems
absurd that under Blair’s ‘respect laws’ a teenage
kid stands to be fined eighty quid for using the ‘F’
word while, for half that amount, ‘respectable’ citizens
feel free to actually ‘do it’ in Hackney’s back
streets. Now what kind of cock-up is that? Yes, you’re right
– a cheap one.
As an afterthought, you’ll no doubt have noted that the lads
in Whitehall are going to legalise brothels, but maybe you haven’t
considered the significance. So where are a huge percentage of London’s
brothels located? Yes, that’s right, East London. And have
you wondered where all those manly Olympic tourists might get their
rocks off in between ogling bouts of athletic heroism and gymnastic
cavorting? Call me cynical if you like, but it seems to me that
the Home Office might just be cashing in on activities which in
other contexts they like to refer to as anti-social, and which in
any context I would refer to as straightforward pimping.