The Fifth Horseman

Madness in Washington, madness in Westminster, are manifestations of the same “damaged and defective” world disorder. In America and Britain, a moral paralysis is afflicting people with the power to effect a cure.

Trump is a deadly distraction for the British, who loudly denounce him while being blind to their own Brexit faults. They don’t want their country to decline from global power to Trump’s patsy, and ultimately Putin’s, but they are not doing anything to stop it.

Republicans should “defend their country rather than the damaged and defective man who is now its president” James Fallows, The Atlantic

Tory Brexiteers are saying,
“The loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs will be worth it to regain our country’s sovereignty”
Anna Soubry, reporting extremists’ conversations in the House of Commons, 16 July, 2018.

A TRUMP CARD(IGAN)
Punch cartoon depicting Lord Cardigan leading the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, 1854.
Yet another over-privileged nut-case with inherited wealth and delusions of sovereignty leads everyone else into disaster.

Brexit is as damaged and defective as Trump. The links between Trump and British right-wing Brexiteers are now in the public domain, yet still the powerful drug Denial sedates the electorate, duped by a coup d’etat into believing that unnecessary self-harm is a democratic imperative.

The extreme right wing of both countries very skillfully manipulated voters into turning the tool of democracy against themselves by deploying “opaque” and “insidious” advertizing techniques. (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Now the British are spooked by a second Referendum, which would actually be the third, on EU membership.

LINKS TO PETITIONS:
The People’s Vote
Final Say

You hear people say, “You can’t just keep on having votes until you get the result you want. It’s not democratic”.

That’s the very definition of democracy: you carry on voting in peaceful election after election throughout your life in the hope you’ll get the result you want before you die. It keeps us quiet. Our expectation of another chance to vote prevents civil war. Democracy, like State Religion, was adopted because it was convenient, not because it was natural or immutable.

If something is not working, if you see the State is sick, you call for a vote to change it. The British are notoriously bad at complaining. They get bad service and bad government as a result. The Poll Tax that sparked a people’s revolt was only one of the abominations against equality and liberty during the Tories’ eighteen-year reign at the end of the 20th century.

THE TRIUMPH OF POVERTY by Lucas Vorsterman. British Museum. Image: WGA

We’re already in the middle of a bloodless civil war, one with no end in sight, not now the over-privileged, rich, right-wing idealogues dreaming of tax havens and workers without rights have got their populist alliance.

Are you really content to just sit and watch while the world burns?

sof_aacute__by_ekhi_guinea-d756999
Sofa by Ekhi-Guinea

Or, like the majority of MPs, do you put your caste before your country, ideology before humanity, self-interest before national interest?

Or do you want to take action against what you know in your heart is wrong?

Excerpts from Anna Soubry’s speech in the House of Commons, advocating the benefits of frictionless trade and deploring the Prime Minister’s decision to accept the extreme right-wing Tory amendments to the customs bill:

“[Parliamentary Tory Brexiteers have said in private conversations] that the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs will be worth it to regain our country’s sovereignty…

Nobody voted to be poorer.

Nobody voted leave on the basis that somebody with a gold-plated pension and inherited wealth would take their job away from them…

Members on the frontbench and across this place should be shaking their heads with shame – this is the stuff of complete madness

And the only reason that the government has accepted these amendments is because it is frightened of somewhere in the region of 40 members of parliament – the hard, no deal Brexiteers, who should have been seen off a long time ago and should be seen off.

These are people who do not want a responsible Brexit, they want their version of Brexit – they don’t even represent the people who actually voted Leave. The consequences of this are grave…..”

She’s Conservative, blonde and was born in Lincolnshire. Listen to her low-pitched, emphatic voice, see the wagging finger of reproof, and you might think that She, not the legendary Ayesha of Rider Haggard’s late Victorian tales of misogynist imperialist adventure, but the Tories’ own sacred cow, the first great British champion of the European “single market without barriers – visible or invisible”* had been reborn:

ANNA SOUBRY SPEAKING IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

The world has turned upside down so many times, none of us know our arses from our elbows. Right-wing Brexiteer Edward Leigh MP, interrupting Anna Soubry’s speech to insult her, as is the arcane custom of our parliamentary representatives, unintentionally paid her the highest compliment:

“You’re no Margaret Thatcher”

That’s the best news in British politics for a generation.

*Margaret Thatcher, speaking at Lancaster House in 1988.

 

Virgin Huntress

The case that Charles II, the most priapic and charming of English kings, only practised consensual sex with women is supported by his treatment of the teenage Frances Stewart, later Duchess of Richmond, a tall, slim, blue-eyed dark blonde, who turned him down repeatedly, except for kissing in corners, in full view of non-paying voyeurs like Samuel Pepys.

Frances Stuart, later Duchess of Richmond, by Sir Peter Lely, before 1662. Royal Collection. Image: Wikipedia
La Belle Stuart is portrayed in the character of the virginal huntress, Diana.
She looks like a golden sugared plum, a dainty dish to set before the king,
which is how she was treated in reality.

The royal chase lasted four years. Charles II wanted this splendid specimen in his harem. She preferred to elope with a duke than be the king’s whore. Rather than sulk or threaten to destroy her career, as a lesser man or misogynist might have done, the king, once he got over his resentment and was back in his usual good humour, made her famous for ever by using her as the model for Britannia on the national coinage, with her consent.

That is the story, anyway – Pepys’ story, of course. The influence that one man’s gossip has had over English history is unfathomably pernicious. Why trust a diary, anyway? It is not a reliable testament, any more than the average blog; a diary is for re-writing history before anyone else can, score-settling, wish-fulfillment, slavering over sex fantasies with the royal mistresses, confessions of groping women in church, a whitewashing of days to make the diarist sleep better at night.

Whether the Britannia anecdote is true or not, Pepys helped make Frances famous for centuries after her death, and the figure on the coin sexier.


The 1672 copper farthing, showing Britannia, supposedly based on a likeness of Frances Stewart, Duchess of Richmond (1674 – 1702), seated on a rock, holding a spear and an olive branch in either hand. The figure and pose were inspired by Roman coins. Frances was celebrated for her Roman profile, and tall, graceful figure,
so it is plausible that she was the model.

And how do we know who slept with whom? Who cares? What moral lesson do we learn? What archetype are we recognizing or longing for?

Whether or not Frances ever had sex with the King, it suited both of them to perpetuate the charming myth of her virginal resistance. Charles, according to the letters he wrote to his sister Minette, had genuinely deep feelings – “tenderness” – for Frances and was hurt by her behaviour – “as bad as breach of friendship and faith can make it”. Whether their relationship was sexually consummated or not, she was supposed to be his trophy, part of his collection.

After her husband the Duke of Richmond died, in 1672, the King granted the widow an annuity of £1000. He was generous to all his mistresses, even the one that said no. He stayed friends with them. It seems that the “easiest King and best-bred man alive” during cared about women as people, not objects.

Rochester in his Satyr on King Charles II also described the “merry monarch” as so “Restless he rolls about from whore to whore”. We – I mean me – are still charmed by King Charles, contemptuous of Mr Pepys.

They were both predators, in an era of unmitigated sexual harassment, and if either of them touched me, in controlled holographic conditions, I’d tell them to stop – but I’d flirt with one and slap a Court order on the other #metoo. Frances Stewart must have felt the same.