Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The rise of the blue-collar patriots

What the Brexit, Trump and Australian revolts share in common.

The political rise of Donald Trump to the office of the US presidency sent shockwaves throughout the Western world, as did the UK’s decision to leave the EU in June 2016. These were political earthquakes in their own right. And the National-Liberal coalition’s surprise victory in the Australian federal election this week has quite rightly been labelled by the country’s prime minister Scott Morrison as ‘a miracle’.

For the opposition Australian Labor Party, this was an ‘unlosable’ election. They were consistently ahead in the polls and were widely expected to end their six years in opposition.

There are striking parallels to be drawn between these seismic political events.

All three events, completely unexpected by the swathe of metropolitan sophisticates in the spheres of politics, media and research, have what I call ‘blue-collar patriots’ at their core.

In Western liberal democracies such as the UK, US and Australia, blue-collar patriots have traditionally pledged their support to established parties of the left. These are patriotic people who have a deep love for nation and family, as well as a strong sense of community. And they are traditional working-class folk who live in industrial and rural regions, which have not fared so well under the rampant market forces of globalisation. Socially conservative, they are disconnected from the generally relaxed attitudes of the metropolitan political classes towards immigration and their celebration of ‘multiculturalism’.

The response of metropolitan ‘progressives’ to these shock results speaks volumes, and highlights a broader crisis of social democracy. The revolts in Britain, America and Australia should have prompted mature calls for a period of serious introspection. Instead, blue-collar patriots who voted for Brexit, Trump and Morrison have been crudely labelled ‘racist’, ‘thick’, ‘xenophobic’ and ‘bigoted’ – depicted as frustrated simpletons who were acting on nothing more than their irrational jingoistic impulses.

In the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election, Democratic Party candidate Hilary Clinton – the epitome of an establishment metropolitan sophisticate – slated supporters of The Donald as a ‘basket of deplorables’. In an act of sheer arrogance and complacency, Clinton was the first Democratic nominee not to visit Wisconsin since 1972 – and became the first one to lose the Midwestern state to the Republicans since Ronald Reagan’s electoral mauling of Walter Mondale in 1984. With his ‘America First’ message of trade protectionism and job creation, Trump breached the Democratic Party’s supposedly impenetrable ‘Midwest firewall’ in spectacular fashion – carrying the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio (as well as Wisconsin) in the process.

The policy agenda of the Australian Labor Party under Bill Shorten’s leadership was ultimately defined by its ‘climate-emergency radicalism’. The Liberal National Party (LNP) of Queensland (where the coalition partners are consolidated into one party), capitalised on Labor’s confused stance on a proposed Adani coal-mining project in Queensland. Feeding into a broader sentiment that Labor was not prioritising the interests of its working-class base, the party suffered disastrous results in the ‘Sunshine State’. This included a huge swing away from Labor in the industrial and agricultural hub of Rockhampton, and the loss of thousands of votes in Mackay in the eastern coastal part of the state. Affectionately known as the ‘sugar capital’ of Australia, Mackay was a longstanding Labor stronghold.

It is also important to note that the nationalist-populist One Nation Party, founded and led by Pauline Hanson, polled 17 per cent in Rockhampton’s electoral division of Capricornia, as well as winning 13 per cent of the popular vote in Mackay’s electoral division of Dawson – with traditional Labor voters shifting to One Nation in large numbers.

Then we have the British Labour Party. After winning back a shedload of working-class voters from UKIP in the 2017 General Election, it is running the risk of being humiliated in its Leave-voting heartlands tomorrow when the UK votes in the European Parliament elections. Labour’s embarrassing fudging of Brexit, along with its putting up of Remainiac MEP candidates like Lord Adonis, reflects a fundamental disregard for many of its own traditional working-class Leave voters across northern England and the provincial Midlands.

Blue-collar patriots are held in contempt by the political establishment and even seen by many within their natural parties as an inconvenience. And so they have no choice but to adopt a more ‘flexible’ approach to elections. Tribal loyalties, which saw traditional working-class voters repeatedly pledge their support to established parties of the left, are fraying. Their tolerance for not only being unheard, but also ridiculed by ‘representatives’ of parties they traditionally supported, is understandably wearing thin.

The British Labour Party can never win a functioning parliamentary majority without the support of its industrial heartlands in northern England and the provincial Midlands. The Democrats cannot regain control of the White House without the industrial Midwest. And to end its spell in opposition, Labor must reconnect with regional Australia and rebuild working-class support in its former Queensland heartlands.

Whether it is the UK, US or Oz, the picture is clear: without cultivating strong support among blue-collar patriots, parties of the left will struggle at the ballot box – an uncomfortable truth for the chattering-class cosmopolitan elites of Islington, Manhattan and Canberra.

Critiquing the inequalities reproduced by market capitalism, and promising a fairer economic model, is not going to be a magic bullet when it comes to restoring strong ties between blue-collar patriots and parties of the left. Their socially conservative nature – patriotic, family-oriented, community-spirited – must be better appreciated, and certainly not subject to the level of abuse and ridicule that has been displayed in recent times.

Post-materialist over-indulgence and an unhealthy obsession with identity politics is costing the political left dear across the West. Blue-collar patriots, who have demonstrated astonishing party loyalty over the generations, have had enough.


In praise of the ‘Skateboard Hero’

Ignacio Echeverría gave his life in the fight against extremism – why aren’t we celebrating him?

This week, we heard the moving story of a man who died fighting neo-fascists on the streets of London, just two years ago. A man who did not run away from murderous intolerant extremists, but who ran towards them to attack them with a makeshift weapon. A man who gave his own life in a short but brave struggle with fanatics. Why isn’t his name more widely known? Why isn’t he being celebrated? Why hasn’t his story gone viral? It’s because the extremism that he bravely confronted is the kind of extremism people just don’t want to talk about – Islamic extremism.

The man’s name was Ignacio Echeverría. He was a Spanish national working in London with HSBC. He had moved to London to be closer to his sister and his nephew. On the evening of 3 June 2017, he was walking along Borough High Street with his friends after a day of skateboarding on the South Bank when he saw the London Bridge terror attack unfolding. There were three bearded men wearing explosive belts (which turned out to be fake) and using knives to stab wildly at passers-by. So even to those, like Echeverría, who happened upon this barbaric scene quite suddenly, it will have been clear what was going on. Echeverría saw one of the terrorists stab a woman repeatedly. He ran over to this bloodbath and used his skateboard to beat the terrorist. This week an eye-witness told the inquiry into the London Bridge attack that you could ‘hear the sound of the skateboard hitting [the terrorist’s head]’. The terrorist stopped stabbing the woman and started stabbing Echeverría. The woman survived. Echeverría died.

This is just one of the stories of heroism and suffering to come out of the London Bridge inquiry this week. Survivors of the attack and the family and friends of the eight people who were killed have been giving evidence about that terrible Saturday night in June 2017, when three radical Islamists drove a van into pedestrians, then leapt out and stabbed people to death.

We’ve heard of Saturday-night revellers throwing chairs at the attackers. We’ve heard of the man, who was out for a drink with friends, who threw pint glasses at the terrorists and yelled at them: ‘You cowards, you cunts, come and get me.’ And we’ve heard horror stories too. Like the woman who pleaded with the terrorists not to stab her. ‘This is for Allah’, one of them said. And then he stabbed her.

And, of course, we’ve heard about the ‘Skateboard Hero’, as Echeverría has come to be known, who used the only thing he had to hand to defend someone he didn’t know in a city that was not his own home. It’s the definition of heroism – a man armed only with a skateboard standing up to Islamic fanatics armed with knives and a murderous contempt for life, liberty and democracy.

But where are the accolades? Why aren’t progressives and anti-fascists wearing t-shirts with Echeverría’s face on them? Will a street be named after him? In two weeks’ time, on the second anniversary of the London Bridge attack and of Echeverría’s brief but valiant struggle with a breed of religious neo-fascism, will antifa hold a vigil for him? It seems unlikely.

There have absolutely, and rightly, been tributes to Echeverría. He was awarded the George Cross, the second highest award in the British honours system, which is given for ‘acts of the greatest heroism’. His parents travelled from Spain to London to accept the award from the queen last year. And in Madrid there has been a skateboard vigil for him: people gathered to hold their skateboards in the air in memory of the Skateboard Hero. But more broadly, online, in political circles and activist circles, among those sections of the political and media classes that spend a great deal of time warning of the rise of extremism and the return of fascism, no serious tribute has been paid to Echeverría – a man who did more in 10 seconds to confront violent extremism than many of these people will do in a lifetime.

The silence of anti-extremists towards this man who gave his life fighting extremists is sadly not surprising. It speaks to an almost pathological reluctance among the chattering classes to discuss, far less confront, the worst, most intolerant and most murderous extremism in the UK right now – Islamic extremism. Today is the sixth anniversary of the butchering of solider Lee Rigby in Woolwich by two Islamist fanatics. It is also the second anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing, in which 22 people at a pop concert were slaughtered by an ISIS-inspired terrorist. In a fortnight it will be the second anniversary of the London Bridge attack that killed eight. That attack took place shortly after the Westminster Bridge attack, which killed five people right outside the Commons – a clear assault not only on life but on our democracy.

Scores of people have been murdered by hateful, intolerant extremists in the space of a few years. And yet here’s the perverse thing: when members of the political and cultural elite wring their hands over rising hatred and extremism in the UK, they aren’t talking about these acts of fanatical, hard-right, religious violence. They are talking about citizens who voted for Brexit. They are talking about MPs receiving mean tweets. They are talking about handfuls of blokes shouting ‘Nazi’ at Anna Soubry outside parliament. This is the extraordinary situation we face in Britain today: observers see extremism absolutely everywhere, in every citizen they disagree with and every opinion they dislike. But they look away when it comes to genuine, bloody extremism, of the kind that massacres people for the ‘crime’ of living in a relatively free, open society in which people enjoy pop concerts and Saturday nights out and democratic rights.

Indeed, if you talk too much about that extremism – that is, about actual extremism – you can expect to be branded ‘Islamophobic’. Not only is the most clear form of violent extremism in 21st-century Britain not openly talked about – discussion of it is actively demonised and silenced, pushed beyond the pale with accusations of racism and ‘phobia’. Apparently, it is the people who are worried about this extremism who are the real extremists. Extraordinary.

Brexit Britain is a hateful place, we’re often told. There has indeed been a rise in hatred, even violent hatred, over the past three years. But it hasn’t come from Brexiteers and ordinary voters – it’s come from nihilistic extremists of an Islamist persuasion, who despise our freedoms and our society. And the people who have stood up to this extremism deserve our thanks and our praise. How about it – a monument to Ignacio Echeverría on Borough High Street, as a thank you for the sacrifice he made in the fight against a neo-fascistic worldview.


'My vegan diet brought on early menopause': She’s a poster girl for the meat-free revolution. But in a shocking confession, cookery author and social media guru VIRPI MIKKONEN admits it ruined her health

Early last year, Virpi Mikkonen was alarmed by the appearance of a rash on her face.

There were other problems: a bout of flu that was hard to shift; crumbling nails; feeling low; and, most worrying, her periods stopped. A blood test revealed her follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels had sky-rocketed to the level at which women hit the menopause. Virpi was 37 and having hot flushes.

‘I thought, what’s wrong with me? I am healthy, I exercise,’ Virpi says. ‘I was really scared.’

At the time, Virpi believed herself to be eating the healthiest of all diets: gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, meat-free, refined sugar-free. And what’s more, she’d built a career inspiring others to eat it, too.

As ‘Vanelja’, Virpi is an award-winning blogger and entrepreneur championing plant-based eating. She has written four cookbooks, which include vegan alternatives for ice cream, pizza and cakes, and has 164,500 followers on Instagram.

Though based in Finland, she writes her blog and best-selling books in English, and this, together with pretty photos of her recipes on Instagram, has earned her a sizeable following among British foodies. Vogue called her ‘social media gold’.

Think of her as the Finnish equivalent of Deliciously Ella, the British food writer and creator of the coconut-and-oat energy ball which costs £1.79 a piece. Virpi’s version: Dreamy Blueberry Thyme cake, a ‘raw cheesecake’ made from dairy-free oat milk.

Yet the ‘clean’ vegan diet that she was promoting as a route to health was making her sick. She sought help from a specialist in Chinese medicine, who diagnosed a ‘yin deficiency’ (health depends on a balance of yin and yang, according to traditional Chinese medicine). She said Virpi should stop eating so much raw food — yet salad, juices and smoothies were the backbone of her diet.

Breakfast, for instance, consisted of a cold-pressed juice of celery, cucumber, fennel and parsley. Lunch was a salad of spinach leaves, watercress, cucumber, fennel and chickpeas with a sprinkle of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.

‘She said everything had to be cooked, warming and earthy,’ Virpi recalls. Even more radical, the specialist said Virpi had to start eating animal products — daily. Virpi hadn’t eaten meat for 15 years, apart from when pregnant with her daughter Alva, now seven.

She admits she was ‘shocked’. But now she’s given up veganism, she feels much better.

‘I felt I had run out of fuel, totally,’ she says. ‘I was empty.’ She is now particularly fond of bone broth, a bone stock she has as a hot drink or adds to stews and soups. She’s also eating eggs, which is a major departure because she used to refer to them as ‘miscarriages of chickens’.

The effects have been dramatic. ‘It’s amazing. I feel energetic, motivated. I’m sleeping better, the hot flushes and aching in my body have stopped.’ Best of all, her periods have returned. She was so relieved she danced round her flat. ‘I thought, OK, now I am back on track.’


One in seven young Australians think men can force sex if a woman changes her mind

One in seven young Australians think a man can force a woman to have sex if she initiated the interaction but then changed her mind, a survey has revealed.

According to the National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) Youth Report, released today, high numbers of Australians aged 16-24 hold disturbing beliefs about sexual consent and abusive relationships.

When asked if a man was "justified" in continuing to have sex with a woman who had taken him into a bedroom and started kissing him before pushing him away, 14 per cent of respondents said yes, with men and women equally likely to hold this view.

The results also showed one in three young men believed "many" women who say they have been raped actually had consensual sex and later had regrets. In reality, false rape accusations are believed to be incredibly uncommon (often cited as two per cent of total allegations, although a 2013 AIFS report found the variety of contexts in which an allegation can be declared "false" means care should be taken when trying to quantify the occurrence).

Lead researcher Dr Anastasia Powell, lecturer in legal studies at RMIT, said the knowledge gaps were "concerning".
"Australian law emphasises active and communicative consent, and consent is something that should be occurring throughout an encounter," she said.

The report is the latest data set to come from NCAS, a national telephone survey conducted by Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS) and VicHealth in 2017 commissioned by the federal government.

While young people's understanding of physical domestic violence had improved since a previous community attitudes survey was undertaken in 2013, large numbers did not recognise emotional abuse and controlling behaviour as forms of domestic violence.

A quarter of the young men surveyed blamed women who had experienced image-based abuse (colloquially known as "revenge porn") for sending the pictures in the first place, while one in five did not think using technology to track their partners' movements, or reading text messages without their knowledge, amounted to domestic violence (over double the number of women who held this view).

Forty-three per cent of young people agreed it was "natural for a man to want to appear in control of his partner in front of his male friends", with men and women equally likely to believe this.
"That's a substantial number of young people who have normalised the idea of male control at a time when they are learning and practicing what a normal relationship should look like," Dr Powell said.

Nicole Juniper, 22, was in a year-long emotionally abusive relationship in her late teens. While she was originally shocked by the survey results, after reflecting on her own experience, she said she was less surprised.

"[It was] my first serious relationship, I couldn't see red flags," she said.

The Moonee Ponds student took months to recognise her ex-partner's behaviour, which included reading her emails without her knowledge and not letting her see male friends, as abusive, and stayed in the relationship once she did.

"I thought he would be in danger without me; he said he would end his life multiple times."

Ms Juniper said there needs to be better education about emotional abuse in schools, to empower young people to speak up when they think their friends could be in an unhealthy situation.
"There's not a lot of understanding around abuse when it isn't physical," she said.

Renee Imbesi, principal program officer for mental wellbeing at VicHealth, said, although failure to recognise emotional abuse as domestic violence occurs in all demographics, it can be a particular problem for young people without much experience in intimate relationships, who might confuse controlling behaviour with care.

"There's the attitude that, 'Oh, they want to know where you are because they love you.'"

Sixty per cent of young people surveyed indicated that they don't know where to go for help in a domestic violence situation.
"[Services] need to start talking about 'control', because a lot of young people aren't calling it domestic violence or abuse," Ms Imbesi said.

From a health policy perspective, Ms Imbesi said the benefits of achieving gender equality in the home are "significant".
"Intimate partner violence is still the leading contributor to women's ill health and disease in women aged 18 to 44, and the majority of that burden of disease is mental health related: anxiety, depression, and also suicide," she said, noting gender norms can also take a toll on men's mental health.
"When you're promoting equal relationships between men and women, you're promoting mental wellbeing."



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


1 comment:

C. S. P. Schofield said...

"the epitome of an establishment metropolitan sophisticate"

Shrillay his only this if the typical metropolitan establishment sophisticate is arrogant, lazy, narcissistic, and criminal. Which is a distinct possibility.