BY PAUL NEWALL
I’ve just rewatched a movie called Network, it’s a dark satire from 1976 where a news anchor-man by the name of Howard Beale gets the news that he is being “retired” due to poor ratings and proceeds to announce on live TV that he’ll blow his brains out on live TV the following Tuesday because he’s run out of bullshit to give to the masses. His outburst is an unexpected ratings bonanza and after initially being sacked, his potential is harnessed by a predatory producer and his insane ravings are made the core of an offbeat news hour. If you haven’t watched it then I can thoroughly recommend this premonition of a proto Alex Jones being unleashed on an unprepared but receptive audience.
Peter Finch plays the angry Beale and if the movie were made today I’m pretty sure the word Gammon would slot into the dialogue. Gammon has re-entered our vernacular – meaning not a cured pig leg steak but a pink faced angry white dude. Since I heard it I’ve often wondered – had it been directed at any other race, then squealing Owen Jones would be ranting on national TV about overt racism but being as it’s about white and angry small c conservatives then well, it’s fair comment … often from Owen Jones.
During his early messianic rants, Beale complains about our lawless streets, crap government and how those in authority don’t give a damn about the little guys who actually make society run by going to work and paying taxes. I suddenly realised that after watching the movie many times, inexplicably I had started to become Howard Beale. And so had many people that I speak to during the course of my day. Everyone is inconsolably pee’d off and the causes are both varied and often commonly held.
In London there is an epidemic of fatal violence and the figurehead of London, Sadiq Khan, has 900 police officers and staff operating a free-standing department policing social media for hurtful words. Many police forces have faced ridicule for posting on social media cautioning users about how insulting language can also be a hate crime, the most recent that I’ve seen being the force that covers Rotherham asking people that have been upset by social media, even if it’s not a criminal post, to contact them anyway. Obviously, they are so efficient that they’ve solved their minor problems with the industrialised pimping of underaged girls and now have the free time to deal with non-crimes.
In the field of public services, waste and corruption are endemic. From time to time we read with amazement about health authorities paying £1000 for £2 skin cream, or £100 an hour for agency nurses. The authority gets put into special measures then the person responsible gets paid off with a six-figure sum only to start a new job the following Monday – occasionally with the same institution. Our society is misfiring on every cylinder and to return to Beale: “I’m as mad as hell , and I’m not going to take this anymore”.
For as long as I can remember there has always been some character or another that we’ve known who was perpetually angry about things. But now, instead of being the odd eccentric, it’s everyone and I truly believe it’s starting to show. Right across the West people aren’t behaving as our lords and masters would expect. Trump, Orban, Brexit, Le Pen… conservative populism is bubbling up and it’s frothingly angry. The authorities and the media are absolutely terrified and the number of articles I read about the rise of the “far right” are legion.
The populists I see aren’t skinheads wearing DR Martins, they are tax-paying workers with kids and a mortgage, they don’t want to storm around town kicking anyone with a dark skin … they want the government to do the job we pay them for. Yet according to the regressives we are all Far Right. This demonization of rational debate is starting to polarise our society and I suspect it’ll turn nasty. But for now the conservative right will just keep growing and delivering the occasional kick to the gonads at the ballot box.
In order to avoid this righteous rightist expansion being hijacked by racists and real fascists I think it’s quite important that they organise under one flag. Currently there are more groups than an X factor heat and there’s always a risk of swivel-eyed loons performing a coup by entryism. If the group is a small one, it’s harder to lose control of your party. If it’s a big one… you’d have to be Ed Miliband to do that. In the case of Labour, it’s a good indicator of how our society has diverged when the social democratic mainstream is under the complete control of Trotskyite revolutionary communists and at some point, it’ll genuinely become a case of us and them.
The time is coming for the Gammon Spring. If it’s not sorted by the ballot box, it may well have to involve civil disobedience. Don’t be too surprised if the chant is, “We’re as mad as hell, and we aren’t going to take it anymore.”
Guest Writer Paul Newall is a child of the 1960’s from a traditional Labour-supporting household. Paul dabbled with Trotskyism in the 1980’s but then “grew up and thanks to having responsibilities I slowly migrated across the political spectrum until instead of hating Maggie Thatcher I admired her for beating my side in the miners strike”.