When I finished this piece, it was clear what it represented - he serious trouble the UK now finds itself in and the hope of so many good people that it can be turned around.
There is something very strange about sitting in the middle of historic times as they unfold around us and to see them and what they foretell.
I wonder what intellectuals thought as they saw Adolf Hitler handed power in a bid to control him, not that I consider myself an intellectual.
In the UK, and US, we are watching two so-called beacons of democracy slide into fascism and there seems to be little we can do to stop it. At least in the States, the Democrats are putting up something of a resistance but what about the UK? Who is standing up to the Tories? Who is capable of stopping them? Certainly not Keir Starmer, it seems, who shows all the usefulness of a blow-heater when you’re trying to put out a house fire.
Rampant corruption that isn’t even hidden. Billions in public money handed out to firms with no experience but plenty of Tory ties. That should be enough for any opposition leader to shred any government but Starmer and Labour are impotent, losing in all the polls and all-but silent in the arena of public opinion.
Sitting pride of place on top of the country’s shitpie is the world’s highest death rate from Covid. Over 100,000 people have died and January saw an average of over 1,000 a day do just. Shrugs. Isn’t that what it feels like? Another thousand, ah well, we did the best we could. Whatya gonna do?
Where is the media highlighting this in such a fashion that it cannot be ignored? Who is really holding the government to account apart from Piers fucking Morgan on breakfast TV? They’re both-sidesing this as usual. ‘And now, let’s hear what the virus has to say about the possibility borders might be closed. Mr. Covid, do you think it’s a fair proposition in light of the damage you are causing or do you feel it goes too far?’
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has made a Tory donor Director General of the BBC and Paul Dacre, former Daily Mail tormentor in chief, is about to be made head of Ofcom with the remit of ‘reforming the BBC’.
It's a strange post to give a man who detests the institution and what the BBC represents. Dacre has spent a large part of his life trying to get rid of the BBC. Now, he’s being handed the matches and petrol as Johnson holds open the door to Broadcasting House.
Everything you hate about the Daily Mail is because of Paul Dacre. This is a man who was about to run a hit piece on Stephen Lawrence after the youngster was murdered until he found out that Lawrence’s dad had once done some decorating for him. Then he started a campaign for justice. For him, it is all very much personal.
Dacre spearheaded the Mail’s EU misinformation campaign and is one of those most responsible for the Leave campaign winning. If you aren’t white, middle-class, straight and Christian then you’re not really British in Dacre’s eyes. If you are, then Dacre has a very strict set of moral guidelines of his own making that he expects you to follow, otherwise, he’s coming after you, too.
“Mr Dacre’s 26-year tenure as editor of the Daily Mail (much of that period spent as editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers – the publisher also responsible for the MailOnline and Mail on Sunday) was characterised by repeated and severe standards breaches – many of them resulting in complaints, legal action, and often irreparable damage to individuals’ lives and reputations,” writes the Hacking Inquiry. “It is difficult to imagine a person less qualified for the role of chairing the UK’s broadcast media regulator Ofcom than Paul Dacre.”
It's also difficult to disagree.
With no effective Fourth Estate to put the truth in front of the people, the public can only go on what they are fed. Most people don’t have the time to do extensive research into every subject that matters. That’s why we have experts who, if things were functioning as they should, would then have their message disseminated by journalists so informed decisions could be made. The majority of the media today, however, are about shaping opinion rather than helping people come to their own conclusions. Shape them and you own them.
It's fascism 101.
And it’s here.
It is no conspiracy of grand design but it is inevitable, following on from millions of small decisions made over decades. Freeing the markets, slashing news budgets, embracing capitalism, slashing the welfare state, demonising immigrants, joining Facebook, turning on trans people…the list goes on.
With Covid now here for the longhaul (we long ago missed our window to rid ourselves of it completely and the idea that we can now eradicate it is as fanciful as getting rid of flu) our lives for the near future are set to be ones of rolling lockdowns, a media system that shifts even more to the right, and growing tensions.
They say it took 100 years for society to settle itself after the printing press arrived, pulling humans from the Dark Ages.
Social media has been this century’s great leap forward. It has given a voice to untold millions of people who thought they were suffering alone. But it has also exploited the dangers inherent in human weakness and played on our faulty logic and dodgy brains to usher us to this point.
“Whenever a new information technology comes along, and this includes the printing press, among the very first groups to be ‘loud’ in it are the people who were silenced in the earlier system, which means radical voices,” says historian, Ada Palmer. “In the print revolution, that meant radical heresies, radical Christian splinter groups, radical egalitarian groups, critics of the government.
“The Protestant Reformation is only one of many symptoms of print enabling these voices to be heard.”
The internet is the printing press on steroids. It's no surprise we are where we are.
We are, after all, only human and history seems to be our only guiding light in these dark days.