How the Sausage is Made
Sometimes, when you watch films that have been uploaded online to sites such as YouTube, the commercial breaks from twenty, thirty, or forty years ago remain intact, and you find yourself gazing open-mouthed at things everyone involved would certainly rather forget: racism, sexism, salad cream, velour, and occasionally something worse than all four put together in a sandwich. An example, you say? In the late eighties, the recently-knighted Member of Parliament for Rochdale, Sir Cyril Smith, appeared in a credit card advertisement attempting to touch his toes while the voiceover assured viewers that “Access is more flexible.”
At the time, Cyril Smith was known mainly for being very fat. Now, he is known mainly for being a very fat child molester. I cannot recall whether I thought his lopsided leer particularly sinister when I first saw it (on television, thank the lord, I never met the man), but I defy anyone to look at him now without shuddering.
No one will now remember Cyril Smith as a harmless, jolly old man, but the British public are silently enjoined to perform a similar feat of forgiveness and forgetfulness every day, as the media forcibly reintroduces us to politics as usual. Now it is the conference season. Keir Starmer has made a wooden speech. Liz Truss has made a woodener speech. All this is terribly important, and doubtless very absorbing if you can forget for a while the minor detail that these people are murderers.
In 2020, the British political system broke down completely, and perhaps irretrievably. Faced with a medical emergency, the government cynically jettisoned the plan that had been worked out by distinguished scientists years in advance to cope with just such an occasion, and instead embarked on a program of measures to enrich themselves and their donors, and increase their powers, all at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country. The Opposition, instead of opposing, did nothing but call for more extreme and murderous conduct, while the media stirred up panic and barked at any dissenters like a pack of junkyard dogs.
Two of the worst offenders in the government, Johnson and Hancock, have been ousted from their positions, but the current Prime Minister and her entire Cabinet are all implicated to some degree. First, we were asked to take an interest in a leadership election in which all the candidates had connived at crimes against humanity. Some, clearly, were worse than others. Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat were probably the least guilty. Even they, however, had generally voted with the government as it created carnage, either approving of its homicidal policies or lacking the courage to speak out.
A few Conservative Members had such courage, most of them knights of the shires who had given up hope of further preferment: Sir Charles Walker, Sir Desmond Swayne, Sir Graham Brady. Even they were a little late, as were Julia Hartley Brewer and most of the other journalists who eventually adopted sensible positions. The public resistance came mainly from a small, motley, and unlikely band: Tonia Buxton, a celebrity chef, Neil Oliver, an archeologist, James Delingpole, the TV critic of the Spectator. Meanwhile, the entire Cabinet, the BBC, the Times, the Guardian, the medical and scientific establishment, and all of mainstream culture served up the same pabulum to the masses every day: hands, face, space; clap for our NHS; don’t kill granny; be like Captain Tom; my mask protects you, your mask protects me.
Life cannot be lived without much charity; Nelsonian blindness is often a practical necessity. However, there is a degree of awfulness beyond which one can no longer turn a blind eye. Once you understand that your breakfast sausage is made from the scraps of offal scraped from between the cleats of the workers’ boots as they exit the slaughterhouse, you may lose your appetite. When you know that the grinning old gargoyle squeezing the waist of the young girl on Top of the Pops is a paedophile and a predator, you may not care to watch any longer. The soap opera of politics; who’s in and who’s out, how much the Prime Minister’s shoes cost and where she bought them, how many of the Cabinet live in Greenwich and which bars they frequent, none of this seems very compelling when one considers the crimes they have committed against the people they claimed to serve.
In 2020, Britain, along with many other countries, embraced fascism with a fervor that would have seemed impossible in 2019. This is not a comfortable fact, but it must be faced if we are to progress into a future in which fascism has no part. It must be acknowledged, clearly and openly, that the government and the media behaved corruptly, and must never act in this way again. The issues of the pandemic and the actions allegedly taken as a response to the pandemic must definitively be separated. Even now, someone who points out that the government were thieves and murderers is likely to be called a “covid denier.” This is absurd. There was a pandemic, and there was a plan to deal with the pandemic, which the government did not use. What they did: murdering the elderly in care homes, driving people into suicide and self-harm by putting them under house arrest, and stealing huge sums of public money to pay their cronies for non-existent or substandard goods and services, only ever made matters worse.
All the propaganda, the hysteria, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, was directed towards a simple objective: distracting your attention from the blindingly obvious. No one in the world has ever said to him or herself: “Gosh, I think I might be coming down with something nasty. I have a hacking cough and my head feels like a cannonball. What I need, clearly, is some fascism. I think I shall invite Matt Hancock to stand by my sickbed and hector me, while Chris Whitty struts up and down singing the Horst Wessel song.”
The horrifying fascism which overtook Britain in 2020 was not a response to the pandemic, except in the sense that the pandemic presented the fascists with a golden opportunity. Fascism does not cure the flu, or any other ailment. What happened, in social and financial terms, during the pandemic? The answer should now be obvious. The middle classes were fine: they sat in their gardens and enjoyed furlough, while virtue-signaling on social media. The rich became much richer. The working classes died and were impoverished. Does this pattern sound familiar? Perhaps it is because, with the exception of a holiday for the middle classes, it is the same thing that happened during the implementation of Brexit, and it is happening again during the energy crisis, and again because of the most recent budget (which was not a budget, apparently, because budgets attract scrutiny).
In Britain today, politics means fascism and kleptocracy, and the word “politician” is synonymous with “criminal”. This state of affairs will continue until there is some form of reckoning with what has happened, and at least some of the guilty are punished. We have all seen how the sausage is made, and cannot unsee it. If sausage-making is to continue at all, they must be made differently in the future.