Friday, May 31, 2019

Monty Python star John Cleese sparks outrage by saying London is 'not really an English city any more'

Anybody who has been to London lately will tell you that around half the faces in the street are brown, so Cleese is simply telling the truth -- not that truth matters to the Left

John Cleese has sparked an online row by suggesting that London is 'not really an English city'.

The star of Fawlty Towers and Monty Python - who revealed last year he was moving to Nevis in the Caribbean - wrote to his 5.6 million Twitter followers that 'London was not really an English city anymore.'

His comments echo those he made in 2011, when the veteran actor told Australian television that London 'doesn't feel English.'

Cleese - who is no stranger to controversy on social media - has caused a heated debate online with this latest comment, with some people mocking the 79-year-old, while others supported his views.

The Twitter controversies of Monty Python's John Cleese
Today wasn't the first time John Cleese sparked a storm by tweeting something controversial.

In 2016, he said: 'Why do we let half-educated tenement Scots run our English press ? Because their craving for social status makes them obedient retainers?'

In November 2018, as the California wildfires raged, he wrote: 'Invited tonight to a Sacramento restaurant called Lucca, by the owner Erin. 'She said that last night several people came in to eat who were from Paradise, the place that just burned to the ground. She told me that they wanted everything they ordered flambeed. Magnificent...'

In June 2018, he listed the best audiences then followed it up by saying: 'Worst: Lazy, fat, beer-sodden, pseudo-French Belgian b******s in Hasselt.

Latest official statistics reveal the make-up of London’s population

London has the highest percentage of non-UK born residents in the country. It is also made up of the highest proportion of non-white groups in the country. 

In 2018, 36 per cent of people in London were non-UK born residents, while non-British residents were at 22 per cent.

In the local authority of Brent, 52 per cent of people were born outside of the UK, while both Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster, have 49 per cent of their population born elsewhere.

The 2011 census recorded that 2,998,264 people are foreign-born, including 24.5 per cent born in a non-European country, making London the city with the second largest immigrant population, behind New York City, in terms of absolute numbers

According to the Census, 44.9 per cent of Londoners are White British, the lowest proportion in the country. In comparison, the North East of England is 93.6 per cent White British.

Other White people make up 14.9 per cent of London's population.

7.1 per cent of Londoners are African, while 6.6 per cent are Indian. 5 per cent are of Mixed race and 4.2 per cent are Caribbean.  A further 2.7 per cent are Pakistani, 2.7 per cent are Bangladeshi and 1.5 per cent are Chinese. 4.9 per cent are Other Asian, 2.1 per cent are Other Black and 3.4 per cent are from a different Ethnic Group.  

When it comes to language, 77.9 per cent of Londoners speak English as their main language, while 0.6 per cent cannot speak it at all.

48.2 per cent of Londoners are Christian, according to the 2011 Census.

Sherlock star Amanda Abbington tweeted: 'What's happened to John Cleese...?'

TV presenter Rick Edwards wrote: 'Just when you think you can't love John Cleese any more!! It turns out you can't.

But not everyone disagreed with the veteran entertainer.

The official Leave.EU account praised Cleese, writing: 'Bravo to British comedy legend and Brexiteer @JohnCleese for speaking up about the state of London The liberal luvvies on Twitter are in meltdown over his refusal to apologise for telling the truth!'.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has responded to John Cleese after the actor made comments about London

In a statement Mr Khan referred to Cleese's comedy series Fawlty Towers, saying: 'These comments make John Cleese sound like he's in character as Basil Fawlty.

'Londoners know that our diversity is our greatest strength. We are proudly the English capital, a European city and a global hub.'

Since the tweet Mr Cleese has responded to critics online who have questioned his claims about London.

He posted in response to one user on Twitter: 'I suspect I should apologise for my affection for the Englishness of my upbringing, but in some ways I found it calmer, more polite, more humorous, less tabloid, and less money-oriented than the one that is replacing it.'

According to the 2011 Census, 44.9 per cent of London is White British, the lowest figure for a single region in the country.

North East England has the highest percentage of White British people in England, with 93.6 per cent.

The highest percentage in the UK is Northern Ireland, which has 96 per cent.

Non-white groups made up 40 per cent of London’s population, while it varies from 4.5 per cent to 17 per cent in other English regions.

It is not the first time Mr Cleese has courted controversy online.

In November 2018, the British actor took to Twitter to share a joke he'd heard while dining out at a restaurant in Sacremento, California.

He wrote: 'Invited tonight to a Sacramento restaurant called Lucca, by the owner Erin.

'She said that last night several people came in to eat who were from Paradise, the place that just burned to the ground.

'She told me that they wanted everything they ordered flambeed. Magnificent...'

At the time he posted the joke California was besieged by wild fires, with the death toll currently at 50, with hundreds of animals also thought to have perished and thousands left homeless.

In another remark on Twitter made by the actor in June 2018, he listed the best audiences then followed it up by saying: 'Worst: Lazy, fat, beer-sodden, pseudo-French Belgian b******s in Hasselt.

But after an online backlash he added: 'An apology to the citizens of Hasselt. It was quite wrong of me to describe them as pseudo-French. They are, of course, pseudo-Dutch.'

How did London vote in the 2016 EU referendum?

Comedian Cleese said London voted 'strongly' to remain in the EU.

But how does the vote break down?

Across all the 33 London boroughs 59.9 per cent (2.26 million) voted to Remain in the EU and while 40.1 per cent voted to stay (1.5 million).

In some areas, such as Lambeth, proportion of the vote for Remain was higher than 70 per cent.

His latest comments echo his comments made on Australian television on 2011 that London 'is not longer an English city.'

He said at the time:  'I'm not sure what's going on in Britain. Let me say this, I don't know what's going on in London because London is no longer an English city and that's how they got the Olympics. 'They said 'we're the most cosmopolitan city on Earth' but it doesn't feel English.

'I had a Californian friend come over two months ago, walk down the King's Road and say to me 'well, where are all the English people?'.

'I love having different cultures around but when the parent culture kind of dissipates you're left thinking 'well, what's going on?''


We must have the right to blaspheme against Islam

The Saatchi Gallery’s covering up of two ‘Islamophobic’ paintings is an outrage.

Thou shalt not insult Islam. Bizarrely, terrifyingly, this has become the creed of 21st-century Britain. Consider the Saatchi Gallery’s decision to cover up two paintings after Muslim visitors complained they were offensive.

In a blow to the ideal of artistic freedom, the supposedly edgy gallery in west London draped grey sheets over two new paintings that infuse verses from the shahada, one of the five pillars of Islam, with images of naked women and the US flag. The Saatchi is behaving like Saudi Arabia, hiding from public view artworks that blaspheme against Islam. Perhaps the artist responsible will now get 50 lashes for effrontery to the religion of peace.

The works are by the pseudonymous artist SKU. The aim of the paintings was to explore how individuals become subjected to ‘wider cultural, economic, moral and political forces’. But visitors were denied the ability to judge how successfully the paintings did this because they were covered up by Islam-respecting modesty sheets in response to complaints that they were ‘blasphemous’. The Saatchi Gallery said it respected ‘the sincerity of the complaints made against these works’. SKU proposed a ‘compromise’, in the words of the Guardian, with the visitors who called for the paintings to be taken down – SKU said they shouldn’t be taken down but they should be covered with sheets. Way to defend artistic freedom! This is the ‘respectful solution’, said SKU.

This wasn’t a compromise. It was a capitulation. It was a caving-in to the censorious cries of people who clearly think that public space, even artistic spaces, should be cleansed of any images that offend their religious convictions. There is no significant difference between the intolerant desire of certain visitors to have the paintings taken off the walls and the spineless decision of the artist and the gallery to cover them up instead: in both cases, actual artworks would be hidden from public view, defaced with censorious cloth, on the basis that they offend religious sensibilities. It is positively pre-modern.

It is also ironic. And riddled with double standards too. For the Saatchi art crowd has long presented itself as dangerous and sensational and willing to offend against orthodoxies. Charles Saatchi himself – the wealthy co-founder of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi who set up the Saatchi Gallery to display his immense art collection – has made a name for himself as a shower of supposedly offensive art. He famously sponsored the Young British Artists of the 1990s, who were rarely out of the headlines for their shocking works. At Sensation, the 1997 exhibition of his collection at the Royal Academy of Art in London, a painting of Myra Hindley by Marcus Harvey caused a huge storm. Some members of the Royal Academy resigned in protest at its inclusion and the painting was vandalised by visitors twice. Yet the Saatchi crew didn’t cover it up.

Even more strikingly, the Saatchi collection then included ‘The Holy Virgin Mary’ by Chris Ofili, which is an Africanised painting of the mother of Christ that rests on two big slabs of elephant dung. It caused a storm in London in 1997 and even more so when it was displayed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1999. Rudy Giuliani, then New York mayor, threatened to shut down the museum over the ‘offensive’ Ofili work. Christian organisations said the painting should be removed because it is ‘offensive to religious viewers’. The museum refused to remove it. Saatchi’s people didn’t suggest covering it up. Nor did they talk up ‘the sincerity of the complaints’. Which raises a big and awkward question: why is it okay for the edgy art world to ‘insult’ a Christian icon but not to ‘blaspheme’ against Islam?

This is where we get to the heart of the problem: Islam, uniquely among religions, is being forcefieled from criticism, ridicule and even artistic depiction in 21st-century Britain. The Saudi-style covering-up of SKU’s two paintings follows the shushing or shelving of other works of art or entertainment deemed to be offensive to Islam. Various theatres, including the Barbican and the Royal Court Theatre, have rewritten or cancelled works that might offend Muslims. Or witness the fire-and-brimstone condemnation that rains down on anyone who criticises or jokes about certain Islamic practices, whether it’s the wearing of the niqab (Boris Johnson) or the 72 virgins thing (Louis Smith).

Student unions agitate for the banning of speakers who criticise Islam too harshly (whom they of course brand ‘Islamophobic’). Charlie Hebdo continues to be shamed by British leftists as a publication that ‘punches down’ because it dares to publish cartoons that mock Muhammad or take the piss out of Islamic beliefs. Even the Metropolitan Police recently decreed that it is ‘Islamophobic’ to describe Islam in any of the following ways: as a ‘static’ belief system, as ‘other’, as ‘irrational’, ‘sexist’ or ‘aggressive’, or as a ‘political ideology’. Apparently anyone who holds these entirely legitimate views of Islam is guilty of an act of ‘phobia’ – which in essence means blasphemy.

Everyone from the police to the commentariat to the political class now treats criticism of Islam as tantamount to a speechcrime. Consider the All Party Parliamentary Group’s recent embrace of a definition of Islamophobia as any prejudice against ‘expressions of Muslimness’, which could include dislike of basically any Islamic practice. It is little wonder people feel they have the right to walk into a gallery and say ‘Take down this blasphemous work’. After all, they live in a country in which the powers-that-be have reintroduced blasphemy laws by the backdoor in order to protect one religion in particular – Islam – from harsh criticism.

This is really worrying stuff. It is bad for artistic freedom, bad for public discussion, and bad for freedom of thought. The right to blaspheme is a hard-won liberty. We should have the freedom to mock all gods, prophets, beliefs and ideas. The right of the individual to blaspheme against religion should always override religious people’s sensitivities. The worst thing is this: censorship inflames intolerance. When we say Islam must never be insulted, we play directly into the hands of Islamists who believe that anybody who does insult their religion deserves to be punished. We license their bigotry. We strengthen their belief that criticism of Islam is immoral and thus deserving of some kind of blowback. Hiding those two paintings behind sheets was an incredibly bad, illiberal and destructive thing to do.


The British Left has turned against the working class

Trade unionist and vocal Brexit supporter Paul Embery has been asked to cease using social media by his union, the Fire Brigades Union, after making comments which described Britain’s pro-Remain middle classes as ‘rootless’ and ‘cosmopolitan’. He was accused of referencing an anti-Semitic trope by prominent figures on the left, including Labour MPs Clive Lewis, Paul Sweeney and Alex Sobel. Embery was also attacked for speaking in favour of Brexit at the recent March to Leave in Parliament Square. Around the same time, many on the left were viciously denouncing RMT trade unionist Eddie Dempsey for his Brexit stance.

These rows seem to encapsulate a sharp divide within the Labour Party: between working-class, pro-Leave trade unionists and many of the party’s liberal, metropolitan, pro-Remain activists. spiked caught up with an unrepentant Paul Embery to talk about his remarks, the trade-union movement, and the future of Labour.

spiked: What were you trying to get across with your comments about a ‘rootless’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ middle class?

Paul Embery: It all started with a tweet from Gary Lineker. He said that he found it ‘baffling’ that people could see any benefit in ending freedom of movement post-Brexit. I then responded by asking, does he share his house keys with everyone on the street, or does he only ever enter other people’s homes when invited? That then stimulated a bit of online discussion. Mike Harding, the folk singer, who I remember watching on TV when I was a kid, came back and said ‘a nation is not a home’. This struck me as something that he and others might believe, but millions of ordinary people don’t.

This really captures the divide in our society, as I tweeted, between ‘a rootless, cosmopolitan, bohemian middle class’ and a ‘rooted, communitarian, patriotic working class’. In my view, it was very clear that this was aimed at a particular set of middle-class liberals and how they view the idea of a nation, in comparison with working-class people, who do see their nation as a home. I thought this was a pretty straightforward point to make, even if people disagreed with it.

Some of my opponents then pointed out that Stalin had once referred to Jewish intellectuals as ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ back in the 1940s. You would have to be something of an expert on communist history to know that. I didn’t know that. Lots of politically active and knowledgeable people have got in contact with me to say they didn’t know it. I’ve even had Jewish people contact me to say they didn’t know it. Whatever Stalin might have said, the discussion itself had nothing to do with Jews or Jewishness, and so it was clearly not an attack on Jewish people in any way, shape or form.

It was Twitter at its pitchfork-wielding worst – a classic example of people going out of their way to be offended by something that wasn’t offensive. The people attacking me were looking to take a free kick over things they disagree with me over anyway, whether it’s Brexit, my Blue Labour politics or my stance on free movement. And I have no desire to apologise. First, because I’ve done nothing wrong. Second, because an apology is never enough for these self-appointed censors. They will always demand more. You should only apologise if you are at fault for something, not because someone has decided to take offence at an innocent use of words. These scarlet-faced witch-finders are a threat to free speech, and they need to be faced down remorselessly.

spiked: You were also attacked for speaking at the March to Leave. Why was that?

Embery: The March to Leave was a cross-party rally, with speakers from left and right, that attracted thousands of people, many of them ordinary working-class people, even some trade unionists. It was a pro-democracy rally. My view is that the principle of democracy is under threat. If you look at the way the establishment has tried to obstruct the biggest democratic mandate in our history, then you cannot but come to the conclusion that democracy itself is under pressure in a way we haven’t seen before.

I don’t by any stretch agree with all of the people speaking at the rally. But I wanted to take the opportunity, as someone from the left and the trade-union movement, to speak to thousands of ordinary working-class voters, many of whom had never been on a demo before, to talk about defending democracy and Brexit from a left perspective. If that meant breathing the same air as people I disagree with on some issues, then that was something I was willing to do.

Interestingly, the People’s Vote campaign had a rally earlier this week and people from the Labour movement shared the stage with right-wing Tories. With Vince Cable… a collaborator with the Tory government who helped to push through austerity. It was telling that the same people who attacked me for speaking at the March to Leave were silent about this.

The working-class people at the pro-democracy March to Leave should be the target audience for the trade-union movement. Sadly, the left and the trade-union movement are siding with the establishment against the majority, when those people used their Leave vote to hit back at the establishment. The left has to start asking itself some serious questions as to why so many working-class people feel alienated from them. But it’s not hard to work out the answer.

spiked: How has this distance come about?

Embery: There is a chasm between the leadership of the trade-union movement and working-class people. The trade unions have effectively retreated to their public-sector comfort zone. They have very little influence in the private sector. Once upon a time, the unions were very strong in the car industry, manufacturing and heavy industry; they are almost absent now.

Of course, that’s partly down to de-industrialisation. But there has also been a political shift within the leadership of the unions. It’s more London-centric. It’s much more a part of that liberal, middle-class club that is obsessed with identity politics but less interested in the bread-and-butter issues, like pay, that affect millions of union members up and down the country.

We live in a time when unions are needed more than ever. We have zero-hours contracts, the gig economy, transient employment, sweatshop warehouses with the kind of abuses you would get in the Victorian days. But the trade unions are just not there. I think the leadership of the trade-union movement – as exemplified in the Brexit debate – is in a completely different place to ordinary working-class people.

spiked: Have there been similar trends in the Labour Party?

Embery: The Labour Party now is increasingly a bourgeois, metropolitan, liberal party. It is obsessed with students and youth. It’s very London-centric – removed almost completely from parts of this country, such as the northern industrial heartlands, where the Labour Party was once a strong presence.

Over the past 30 years, Labour has shed the pretence of being an avowedly working-class party and has become this middle-class liberal party. It thought that because working-class people wouldn’t have anywhere else to go, that they would always keep those voters on board. But I think recently – and Brexit has contributed to this – those voters no longer feel the tribal loyalty to Labour that they once did.

In the 2017 election, we saw a swing from Labour to the Tories in some of those old, working-class heartlands. We lost seats like Mansfield, Walsall North, Stoke-on-Trent South and Derbyshire North East – an old mining constituency. The polling since the election has shown that the Tories won more support among C2DEs, the occupational working class. These are really scary statistics for a party that claims to be on the side of the working class. But Labour is not asking itself why so many people feel no sense of belonging within the party. Some people feel that Labour doesn’t even want their vote anymore. Whether it is Gillian Duffy or the white-van man in Rochester with the England flag, who Emily Thornberry thought was some sort of museum piece, unless we start making those people welcome in the party or treat them as people we are proud to represent rather than as embarrassing elderly relatives, then we’re not going to win them back.


Seeing sexism everywhere

The Council of Europe’s new definition of sexism is deeply concerning.

The Council of Europe has decided to redefine the word ‘sexism’. The CoE has a decade-old definition, but the council decided to update it in response ‘to the #MeToo and other recent movements that have heightened awareness of persistent sexism in society’. Worryingly, the new definition looks set to impact on freedom of speech, with its promise to police both public and private attitudes in search of the problem of sexism.

The original meaning of ‘sexism’ as defined by the CoE was as follows: ‘Sexism is linked to power in that those with power are typically treated with favour and those without power are typically discriminated against. Sexism is also related to stereotypes since discriminatory actions or attitudes are frequently based on false beliefs or generalisations about gender, and on considering gender as relevant where it is not.’

The new definition shifts the parameters in a striking way. It points to the possibility of total surveillance as part of the crusade against sexism. It describes sexism as: ‘Any act, gesture, visual representation, spoken or written words, practice or behaviour based upon the idea that a person or a group of persons is inferior because of their sex, which occurs in the public or private sphere.’

The most concerning aspect of the new definition is the hint at some kind of monitoring of what is said and done not only in the public sphere, but in the private sphere too. The reason given for this new wide-ranging approach is that ‘online sexism is rampant throughout Europe, with women disproportionately affected – especially young women and girls, women journalists, politicians, public figures and women’s human-rights defenders’.

This is a problematic development. The threat of sexism and its impact is being ramped up. Worse, the council suggests some kind of punishment for those who fail to adhere to its preferred way of speaking about or engaging with women. It proposes institutionalising ‘legal and policy frameworks, measures and best practices that address sexism, sexist behaviour, gender stereotyping and sexist hate speech, in particular in public spaces, the internet and media, the workplace, the public sector, the justice, education, sport and cultural sectors, and in the private sphere, including tools for reporting sexist behaviour, as well as disciplinary processes and sanctions.’

One of the main problems with feminism in 2019 is its moving of the goalposts in relation to the issue of sexism. So much behaviour and speech is now collapsed under the title of ‘sexism’. For example, last month German adverts for cycle helmets were condemned as sexist by politicians because they featured a glimpse of naked female bodies. This was despite the fact that the same adverts featured men in an even more extreme state of undress.

And we have the creep of sexism charges into the private sphere. In 2017, it was revealed that ex Brexit secretary David Davis, in a private conversation, expressed disdain at the idea of kissing Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbot. He was branded sexist by several MPs and made to apologise.

When more and more public images, forms of speech and private comments are redefined as ‘sexist’, and when the Council of Europe proposes some kind of sanctions against those who do or say any of these things, the possibility of a new kind of authoritarianism becomes very real.

One theme that runs through the council’s recommendations, and through feminism more broadly today, is a view of women as being constantly under threat. It does seem ironic that in the efforts, ostensibly at least, to bring about equality between the sexes, officials effectively argue that one sex, the female one, needs to have the world sanitised on its behalf just in case its members ever encounter a questionable idea or statement. The eager search for sexism everywhere looks like an attempt to keep feminism relevant. And it is proof of today’s insatiable desire to produce victims and villains.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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