Category: politics

heywoood, always up to no goood

There’s a bit more on the war of Coulson’s Clearance here, from Robert Peston, who I seem to remember attracted attention back in 2011 as being oddly pro-Murdoch.

I know the answer to why Coulson was not given top level security vetting in 2010.

What happened was that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood had decided that too many special advisers had access to the highest level of security clearance and wanted to reduce their number.

So he made a policy decision, without pressure from David Cameron, not to get Coulson cleared for access to such material. At the same time, Mr Cameron’s chief of staff Ed Llewellyn was given the most vigorous degree of vetting, because of his foreign policy role.

Sir Jeremy simply felt it was inappropriate for large numbers of SPADs – as special advisers are known at Westminster – to have access to this material.

He subsequently decided Coulson was a good egg and could have access to this top secret sensitive material, even though he had not been cleared. So if anyone is going to be embarrassed by the failure to vet Coulson, and Labour’s investigation into this, it will be Britain’s top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood

We already knew, since July 2011, that there was a degree of pushback on vetting Coulson and others, supposedly for cost reasons. But I think the first 3 paragraphs here are probably accurate, although the tone Peston gives them is tendentious. I know the reason – closing out the story much?

Taken literally, Heywood didn’t think Coulson should have access to anything sensitive. Neither did he think other special advisers should have such access. This doesn’t, of course, reflect positively on Coulson.

Also, it sounds as if the civil service as personified by Heywood wanted to roll back the integration of the No.10 press operation with the political/operational staff. No.10 is where the wiring for the intelligence community, the civil service policy machinery, certain bits of MOD, and the prime minister’s media support come together. Revoking the spin doctors’ access to secrets would dramatically reduce their power, and increase that of the institutions.

The last paragraph must be read in parallel with the rest of the news. We know that Coulson was eventually put forward for his clearance, and we can reason that it happened in the autumn of 2010. Clearly, Heywood didn’t somehow neglect to have him investigated, because after all it happened. We also know that Coulson did indeed get access to high-level secrets – whether from the possibly accidental “strap one” mention or his own words.

So an exception was made for him. Some media actors will want to blame Heywood for granting it. Others will ask who requested it. The process requires that the department that employs you acts as “sponsor” and presumably pays the bill. Coulson’s sponsoring department would be…you guessed it. The Prime Minister’s Office is a thing these days, with a domain name and all. It sits in the Cabinet Office administratively, Francis Maude’s ministry.

Since the Tories’ re-org of the civil service, the roles of cabinet secretary and head of the civil service have been split up, and the new one of the No.10 permanent secretary added. Heywood has emerged as first among equals from this position. Therefore, I give you three options – Heywood, Cameron, or Maude. But Cameron is the customer for the communications director. It’s his interests that are served.

Interestingly, we learn from this that it wasn’t only Blair who gave such access to his press secretary; counting back from Coulson, doesn’t the statement that the last four No.10 press secretaries had it take us into the Major years?

#crimsontide is coming for your mobile bill

This piece from Tom Watson is excellent. I can’t think of more than one other pol who understands mobile networks as well, and the other one knows more about fixed. Perhaps Watson is just well advised, but then picking good advice is a very important skill. On this strength, he’s the second best mobile analyst in the Northern Soul community.

He doesn’t, though, link to the news story that kicked the whole thing off. It’s here, at the FT. Apparently, David Cameron has:

has ordered ministers to improve mobile phone coverage across the countryside after becoming frustrated about the lack of reception in the often core Conservative-voting territories.

Ordered, eh? I thought he believed that free markets work. Presumably the Ministry of Medium Machine Building will be assigned to implement this decisive contribution to socialism. Maybe Cameron will show up at work to provide me with on-site guidance, like the North Koreans do.

The motivation is purely personal:

“We were requested to meet Maria Miller after complaints from David Cameron and Owen Paterson that calls were dropping,” said one. “Apparently this was an issue that grabbed the attention of the cabinet.”

Imagine the crimson tide that must have flowed. It’s also crassly cynical:

Mobile groups were asked to examine the costs of coverage to villages in Shropshire, Dorset and Norfolk – all with almost exclusively Conservative MPs – although work then focused on just using Shropshire as a pilot area.

Cameron’s solution, as Watson and the FT both say, is to impose a national roaming requirement on the networks. So if your phone doesn’t find Vodafone, it picks the next strongest signal, like it does under international roaming. This sounds nice, but it’s not as clever as all that. First of all, it doesn’t help you if there is no coverage from any network.

Between the 5 or 4 UK networks, depending on whether you still count Orange and T-Mobile as independent entities, there are actually only two-and-a-half sets of so-called passive infrastructure like land, towers, power and such. Vodafone and O2 share theirs under Project Cornerstone, T-Mobile and 3UK under Mobile Broadband Network Ltd, and EE’s 4G network is mostly parallel to MBNL, but also includes some original Orange sites outside it. There is also some complexity regarding how deep the sharing goes, but this is beside the point.

As a result of this, you’re less likely to find places where only one operator has coverage. Rather, you’re likely to get a dichotomy between places where both broad alliances are present, and none are.

Secondly, roaming in the mobile world implies compensation between carriers. If this is not regulated, it will be agonisingly expensive, because it’s intrinsically like a cartel. There’s no point unless everyone does it, which means there is no meaningful competition. The EU’s toughest women have spent a decade grinding this back cent by cent in the international domain. Watson notices this, which puts him way beyond most people.

Thirdly, if you can push traffic onto the competition and make a turn on the roaming, you’ll do it, so this gets rid of an incentive to build out more infrastructure. By now you’re probably wondering why we bothered to build four networks. The answer is that it would probably have been a good idea to share, but doing so requires the government to structure the market so that somebody will still bother to build out across the country. Back in the late 80s, infrastructure sharing wasn’t ideologically fashionable to say the least, and the successful example of fixed-line unbundling didn’t exist. It’s also true, though, that nobody then had any idea how this was going to turn out.

So here’s your problem: just throwing the switch on national roaming is rather like having infrastructure sharing, but without a population-coverage requirement, and also rather like unregulated international roaming. But there’s worse!

OK, who do you think will carry the most inbound roaming traffic? Obviously, the network with the most rural coverage. This won’t be the same as the one with the most base stations, because if you have spectrum in the original 900MHz GSM band, or even lower, in the 800MHz ex-TV band when that becomes available or even the 600s when they get auctioned, you automatically get a huge coverage boost from the fundamental principles of radio theory. You pay for this with a capacity/coverage tradeoff, though, so it might not please the countryside that much.

But it will make smaller operators subsidise bigger ones. This is a fundamental reality of a telecoms termination fee regime, where the network originating a call pays the network where it ends up. As a result, termination has monopolistic effects and is always regulated. OFCOM and the Euro-regulators have spent most of the last decade grinding it back. And now, we have a policy initiative that looks a lot like unregulated termination, with the downsides of roaming and of network sharing chucked in.

The worst of it, though, is the grisly contrast with the utter shambles of Cameron’s Broadband Delivery UK policy, which has so far failed to give a single contract to anyone other than BT and has also failed to deploy any end-user fibre. At the same time, community broadband projects that get public funding aren’t allowed to provide mobile operators with backhaul – i.e. the connectivity from the base station to somewhere civilised.

The market for very high speed leased lines, which is what you need, is officially unregulated even though in 85% of the UK there is a BT monopoly and in the rest, the only competitor is Vodafone, which can’t be expected to help its mobile competitors. You can follow this at BT whistleblower Broken Telephone‘s fine blog – I particularly like the bit where BT got central government money to overbuild a network the Welsh built with Welsh Assembly funds.

There are good things you can do with national roaming. Certain niche MVNO offerings and Machine-to-Machine applications can benefit. This guy used to sell Manx SIM cards to people who worried about per-operator black spots, but I think OFCOM made him stop for some reason. T-Mobile Netherlands used to do the same thing, but in tens of thousands, for machines. But this is niche stuff. Update: Revk points out that under the new EU rules, foreigners would get free roaming while UK residents would pay. I’d forgotten his mob offers you the option of switching to if you’re out of footprint.

Oh, and Tom Watson should be back in the shadow cabinet.


To follow up some points from this bit of ‘kipperology, the Grauniad recently interviewed Alan Sked. Of course he does his shtick about how there were no nutters or extremists in the gang when he was around, no sir. He also makes some reasonable points about UKIP being a sorry mess and there being a sound Keynesian critique of the EU.

But then he comes out with this turd:

Between 1980 and 1990, he was convenor of European studies at the LSE and chaired its European Research Seminar. “I would meet all these European politicians and bureaucrats who came over, and the cumulative effect was that I realised it was time to get out. We had an Italian senator and MEP once. I said, ‘How many mafiosi do you have in the European parliament?’ He said, ‘Oh, we only have about 12.’ I spent 10 years meeting these loonies.”

What gets me is that apparently that was all the LSE’s head of European Studies could think of to ask an Italian, and in the 1980s to boot, when for a while at least it looked like they could teach us a thing or three about how to run an economy. Hur hur. Mafia. Spaghetti. Roberto Baggio’s hair. Hur hur. I mean, what did the Senator make of Sked?

Such Farage. Much Godfrey. So UKIP.

earthquake prediction mastered at last

Pollsters suggested Labour must get 300 to 500 seats. Labour promised to get 150 seats. Labour got 300 to 500 seats. Suddenly the same polling says Labour must get 490 seats. Link two says the Tories briefed that they must get 500 seats. Could the figure of 490 be an effort to avoid quoting No.10?

Either way, the fascinating thing about the local elections was how everyone knew UKIP had won, and it was an earthquake, and it was a crisis for doomed Ed, long before any results were in. Everyone used the word “earthquake”. In the event, much of the earthquake was down to the chance that some Essex councils counted faster than some (much bigger) London ones. But news is news. ‘Kippers have the news nature. Therefore they are news.

We will now see something similar happening as the European Union finds some way in which Jean-Claude Juncker has to come out of this particular event with a new official car.

Quantifying UKIP Group Three

Really important data point in the light of this post:

2010 Tory voters, 84% (84%!) over 40? That’s Group Three for you, the grumpy protectionists. And they make up 49 per cent of the party’s electorate. As a rough guess, I’d identify the 7% of the total who voted UKIP in 2010 as the total of Groups One and Two. 49:7, some ratio. Here’s your answer as to why UKIP voters don’t put the EU at the top of their priorities, and do support the NHS and the BBC, etc: they’re normal. Normal. They’re your dad. They’re arguably more representative of the nation than some clown who wants charter hospitals and Tesco elections with a view to a future career with an American thinktank. They are damning evidence of the creepy weirdness of the Coalition. That will be why trying to order people not to vote for supposed “fascists” isn’t working.

This also has the consequence that if the ‘kippers want to be an enduring political force, building up Lib-Dem style local authority bases supporting MPs, their platform will just have to evolve and get normal, as will the personalities. Successful local government is dependent, above all, on being as normal as fuck, getting your head down, and grafting hard. This is going to be difficult, because the EU-obsessives, Powellite screamers, and glibertarians have nowhere else to go that gives them any hope of real influence at all. Therefore they will fight for survival. Similarly, the 49 per centers and ex-Tory careerists can’t have their own independent party or their own careers in it if they don’t get their way, so they will fight. Popcorn!

Pick a Tory. G’wan

These two David Hencke pieces on the election for chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee are interesting in the light of this post.

We have, on the one side, hilariously rightwing Tory Julian Lewis. We have, on the other, a pick between Rory Stewart and Keith Simpson. Interestingly, even John McDonnell (and most of the rest of the Labour Party) supported Lewis. Hencke argues that Downing Street wanted Simpson, or failing that Stewart. This sounds surprising; everyone has the impression that Stewart is exciting and therefore opposed to the government (you can see how this would come about, but it’s still only an aesthetic reaction).

But it makes much more sense if you think about what the HoCDC is going to be doing for the next few years. After Afghanistan, the military is expected to be in “roll up that map…” mode for the foreseeable future, while a whole variety of big equipment and infrastructure projects are in the pipeline. In so far as the HoCDC scrutinises operations, it will therefore only be able to do any damage to past governments.

Instead, it should be getting its teeth into the projects that will define the terms of the future. This requires a different skill-set and mind-set. I can well imagine Rory Stewart’s committee getting sidetracked into re-fighting Iraq and pursuing individual complaints and leaving the DESiders of Defence Equipment & Support well alone, which is how prime ministers like it and therefore how DES got that way.

One fascinating fact: We have a new chair of defence who has tabled only one question on defence to the government in the last year. He’ll have to ask a lot more now to make an impact.

If you were to make a decision on that basis you’d probably end up picking the SNP’s Angus Robertson, aka Mr Quantity.

Interestingly, Tom Watson, John Denham, and Malcolm Rifkind were supporting Crispin Blunt as a less pungent alternative to Lewis. Blunt, of course, is out of sympathy with the Tories, but has also been a surprisingly important gatekeeper in the lobbying system.

Not two UKIPs, three UKIPs.

As the day goes on, the initial UKIP-fest is wearing off a bit as more local election results come in. It’s still a good excuse to discuss this article in the Torygraph by Stephen Bush, someone who apparently “works on Benedict Brogan’s must-read e-mail”. Presumably, when he gets promoted, another intern will proudly announce that they write Stephen Bush’s must-read blog.

Bush makes the intelligent point that most political parties are rather different to the group of people they represent, and that this is especially true of UKIP. He goes on to say that there are two UKIPs, one made up of libertarians who are awesome and one made up of racists, who aren’t. I think we can refine this a bit. I think you can identify three. Specifically, I think there are three generations within UKIP, which exist for historical reasons.

Group one are the original class of 2001. These people were either UKIP charter members, were inherited from the Referendum party, or were drawn in from the right flank of the Tories directly. Ideologically, we can split them into two subgroups. The first of these are the Euro-obsessives, the ones who, like the party’s founder Alan Sked, care intensely about the European Union and the abstract concept of sovereignty. These people signed up for the ostensible purpose of UKIP, British withdrawal from the EU.

Sked has recently quit the party, protesting that it’s been taken over by racists who don’t really care about the EU, but he protests too much. He protests too much because of the other subgroup, the old-school extreme right. Whatever Sked says now, the early party was full of really appalling extremists like holocaust-denier Alistair McConnachie and Alistair Harper, editor of a “Nordicist journal”, plus endless variations on the themes of BNP or NF entryism, 1970s paramilitary fantasy, Ulster loyalism, and racism. Searchlight did a fine job annotating the 2001 list of candidates, their first nation-wide campaign, but the document is now only available in bits, some of which I link to.

Gordon Ferguson, who threatened to hang the whole Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat parties because he didn’t get enough media training, is probably a good example. Tim Fenton‘s comments point out, tellingly, that his patch has an active and extreme Orange lodge. These people should remind us most of all of the remarkably intense extreme-right response to the first Blair government – the conspiracy theory about Blair abolishing the death penalty for fear he would be hanged for being in the European Union is absolutely classic.

Group two emerged around 2004 and the spike in media interest generated by Robert Kilroy-Silk’s involvement with the party. Again, we can identify two subgroups here. The first of these are the libertarian entryists. American-style Internet libertarianism was fashionable, although no more popular than it ever has been, and a lot of them joined UKIP thinking that they could take over and direct it to their purposes. A similar motive was the idea that anti-EU sentiment is uniquely popular, so dousing libertarianism in it would make it popular. Hence we get Tim Worstall and Marta Andreesen as candidates. The second subgroup, the ex-Tory careerists, was motivated by the Tory party’s disarray under Iain Duncan Smith, and felt that the Tories had no future and also that it would be easier to make a career in a smaller party, for want of competition. (Although these two are both a bit late, tantric loverman Dr Earth and Bradistani kidnapper are exhibits A and B, as both of them are failed Tories. Winston McKenzie, of UKIP carnival fame, is another.)

Group three is 2010 and after, and is by far the biggest group. It is motivated by long-term economic crisis, by the Tories being in a coalition, and by those kids on your lawn. It doesn’t have much at all in common with groups one or two – famously, it doesn’t care about Europe and it agrees strongly with left-wing ideas on the economy. Libertarianism, abstract notions of sovereignty, or deranged putschist fantasies are much beside the point. I caricature them as grumpy protectionists.

So, basically, we have a ramshackle coalition of the grumpy. The biggest single group in it would like to vent intestinal gas, and wants its NHS and its BBC and its institutions in general. The second-biggest group either wants to sell all of those, or doesn’t care as long as they get to be an MEP. The smallest group is either obsessed by the EU, or else by Alan Clark diary fantasies, and has the most seniority in the party’s organisation, but also the least professionalism. UKIP is very different, in this sense, to something like the FN, which has a strong ideological and hierarchical armature under the plaster curves of Marianne (probably something like this).

It’s no surprise that Nigel Farage basically makes up policy on the spur of the moment; it’s the only way to respond to the movement’s utterly protean un-structure. I suspect that group three will get most of their way; there are more of them, they tend to turn up, and they are less flaky and risky than the glibertarians, eurofanatics, or pseudofascists.

Update: Important polling data has emerged regarding this post. Check it out.

The politics of control, or what Labour can learn from the ‘kippers

What links all these items?

I’m going to focus on railway privatisation here because it’s the obvious bell wether; the last, most ambitious, most complex, and least popular of the privatisations, and the most marginal one, the one that unequivocally failed, that has been substantially rolled back but still won’t die.

It has been true, as long as there has been a privatised railway, that any British politician could do better in the polls by attacking it and by promising to reverse the privatisation. (It’s also true that as long as there was a nationalised railway, we whined about it, and indeed we whined about the railways ever since there’s been a railway.) There is even a simple policy option available to make it happen: stop issuing franchises and just let them all revert. Yet no-one with any power has been willing to take the step of making this option available on the ballot. The political system’s role as a mechanism for limiting the agenda has rarely been more clear.

Even though the Department for Transport has progressively retaken control of much of the railway, and the infrastructure has been effectively renationalised, actually ending the private train operating companies would be what is termed an opting decision, one heavily laden with emotional content and that is thought to transform the decision-making entity (that’s us) itself. It would be to say that the choices of the 1980s are subject to the decisions of democracy, that in the UKIP billboard’s words, we have taken back control of our country.


(from Destroyed UKIP Billboards, and found in Leeds. Where else?)

This is, after all, why it was allowed to persist. Taking it off the agenda was a decision that set the limits of debate. Potentially powerful people were defined as those who believed nothing could be done; crazies as those who believed something could.

Politicians in Britain can broadly be divided into the ones who wish to shrink the offer, as they say, and maintain the principle that your basic interests – things like housing, wages, work, and infrastructure – are outside your or their control, and those who promise to return them to your control. It is no accident that the two most successful political projects of recent times, the current version of UKIP and the current version of the SNP, both speak to this.

Nobody believes for a moment, for example, that Pfizer won’t shut down the AstraZeneca R&D operation and transfer the patents home. They did it with all their other acquisitions. Nobody believes that any assurances given will be honoured. This Daily Hell story is intensely reminiscent of Iraq, the sheer range of people who have every right to be listened to queuing up to warn the prime minister, to the extent that you just know he’s going to do it anyway. And the best the Tories can offer is that Ed Miliband didn’t waste his valuable time listening to more worthless assurances.

Not so long ago, Rory Stewart MP was quoted as saying that nobody has any power.

In a way, he says, ordinary Afghans are far more powerful than British citizens, because at least they feel they can have a role in one of the country’s 20,000 villages. “But in our situation we’re all powerless. I mean, we pretend we’re run by people. We’re not run by anybody. The secret of modern Britain is there is no power anywhere.” Some commentators, he says, think we’re run by an oligarchy. “But we’re not. I mean, nobody can see power in Britain. The politicians think journalists have power. The journalists know they don’t have any. Then they think the bankers have power. The bankers know they don’t have any. None of them have any power.”

I think this is probably the most profound statement on British politics of the last ten or even twenty years. AVPS wonders why UKIP is so resilient to its own pratfalls. There’s your answer; we know that its voters don’t care much about the EU, and don’t agree with the policies the Kilroy-Silk era libertarians came up with. But they vote for them because they at least give the impression of control. It is of course no surprise that assorted “populisms” sprouted across the EU, an institution that explicitly promises to reduce national control over the economy.

This is also why efforts to dose left-wing politics with Euroscepticism have failed. It’s not, specifically, Europe that attracts people to UKIP, so you can’t simply install it like a software package.


I recently read William Langewiesche’s Aloft (Penguin Modern Classics), his collected essays on flight.

One of these, justly regarded as a classic, deals with the loss of Valujet 592 near Miami in 1996, an accident which bears a strong resemblance, in his telling, to the parallel experience of rail privatisation in the UK. Deregulation permitted much of the business of running an airline to be reduced to contracts, in the “firm as nexus of contracts” model so beloved of business schools, and put out to tender. This resulted in ignorance, embitterment, ugliness, and failure. Go read the book.

But it struck me that a lot of Langewiesche’s work has a distinct message about the necessity of politics in the broadest sense. In American Ground he, among much else, says that the United States has the trick of drawing strength from argument, and a lot of his writing makes the case again and again for thrashing things out, for the danger of pensée unique and the more subtle danger of the consensus that substitutes for thought and conceals important prejudices and assumptions.

This requires, among other things, a degree of egalitarianism. You can’t have a useful argument with a steamroller that will simply crush you. It also requires a certain respect for the anomalous, the specific, the subculture, the historical quirk.

Another of the essays in Aloft is on air traffic control as a profession; Langewiesche makes the interesting point that the system has a lot of inefficient historical quirks and redundancies, which seem to be ripe for disruption and in need of modernising reform and you get the picture already, but which contribute in subtle ways to its resilience and its ability to recover from crises, which happen all the time.

His account of this recovery reminded me strongly of the Internet and especially of the NANOG mailing list, an institution which emerged, interestingly, around the same time as the US ATC system in its modern form, and which outsiders always want to clean up and straighten out.

He also discusses the notion of the “normal accident”, and makes a great point: couldn’t the idea that some things are just too complex and system-inherent accidents are inevitable be used as an excuse for big business to get out of its responsibilities? (Interestingly, the guy who invented it seems never to have thought of it that way.)

This is of course what happened with much of the broader social critique of planning, technocracy, modernism, and the like; although the critics hoped for anarchy or at least liberty, what they got when their ideas were implemented was neo-liberalism.

In the end, it strikes me that the meta-narrative here is that the institutions of anti-planning aren’t necessarily stable at the next level of abstraction up. They need constant policy inputs to function without ending up in one pathological mode or the other.

If you think that, you will probably end up in some sort of “varieties of capitalism” position. And you know? You can see market socialism from there with a good pair of binoculars. The rarity of this position explains why some of his readers probably find him conservative.

12 links on Bob Crow, and how to get the look

1: Houses have got stupid expensive. You may have noticed

Here’s a great chart from James Plunkett of the Resolution Foundation, making the point that it will take you your life to save for a deposit. Note that the curve takes off like a homesick angel in the mid-90s, when prices start back up again, but also, when wages…didn’t, much.

2: What if we counted them in wages, not prices?

If you want to measure prices a few years ago in today’s money, you usually scale up or down by the inflation rate in the meantime. This assumes that wages keep up with inflation. A big part of the problem is that although general inflation hasn’t been very bad, wages suck, so housing has got much more expensive in terms of hours of work. And, y’know, the CPI and RPI-X inflation measures don’t count housing costs. Because reasons.

Fortunately someone else did the sum. Shelter.

Shelter analysed house prices and earnings across England for the period between 1997 and 2012 and found that while the average price of a home had increased more than threefold, from £75,762 to £253,816, average wages had gone up by much less, from £16,500 to £25,932.

Had earnings risen at the same rate as house prices, the average salary would have been £55,296, or £29,000 more than it was.

Or to put it another way, you’ve sucked up a £29k pay cut in terms of house. NICE decade, indeed.

3: And who did this to us? The rich.

3: Meet the one guy who knew what the hell was going on


Here’s the late Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, wearing the shit out of a Fred Perry. We’ll get to that later.

4: RMT members just…didn’t have to go through with that

It’s like he had some sort of “plan” or “strategy”. Let’s call it a plategy? Or a splan?

5: One of the ways he did this was by dressing *sharp*


Note the panels of different cloths, leather, and tweed on the hat. Also, the jacket, and the knows-just-where-the-camera-is projection. Here’s the whole outfit:


6: I mean it.


Contrast with the backdrop. And another polo. The message: Look where I am. I have every right to be here.

7: I really mean it.


Again, the combination of the backdrop – the books – with Crow and what was obviously a favourite. Look where I am; I have every right to be here.

8: No, I really mean it


Prince of Wales check.

9: He’s not taking RT seriously…


Is he now. Same jacket, deployed less formally.

10. A more haute touch


Kitsuné does a very similar jacket to this one.

11. Why Boris Johnson fails

What we’ve seen in the last 10 items is a story about successful political resistance articulated through the visual language of being a serious Millwall fan. It’s a cliché that the genuinely posh and the working class understand each other in a way the squeaky-bum exam passers never will. Although Boris Johnson managed to be in this photo:


he never even tried to play a theme that has resonated in Britain since the times when Winston Churchill stood on a double-ticket with a Socialist candidate in Rochdale. Clown.

12: Bob Crow scared all the right people

Yes, you, clown, the person who takes the tube every day but can’t get on a bus without delaying everyone around you, as RMT industrial action amply demonstrated. Yes, you, Johnson. Yes, you, Tony. And indeed you, Gordon – Bob Crow eventually won the Tube PFI war, although it took years.

Of course, he had advantages, having his foot on London’s neck. But everyone thought that was true of Arthur Scargill.