Sunday, 28 June 2009

France, the Burqa and hypocrisy - for the Huffington Post

Another cross-post - I'm sorry my loves, these will stop soon when I'm home from my holidays. But I think you'll like this one; it should at least annoy Divine, Mark and our other friendly neighborhood Tories enough to keep them happy:

In which I talk about sartorial control, my own experience of wearing Hijab, and what might REALLY liberate French women. Of course, I'm not unaware that as a middle class whitegirl who wore the veil in public for two weeks I'm getting more of a platform here than thousands of Muslim writers who've worn it all their lives. But I hope the points I make are valid, and not disrespectful. Please do comment - the debate's getting really interesting.

Friday, 26 June 2009

RIP Jacko

Good grief, Michael Jackson's dead. The BBC just confirmed it. Only 50 years old. He was an unique, brilliant freak. Rest in peace.

(I'm still in America, still writing like a mad thing on Secret Important Projects, still on loan to the Huffington Post [new article up soon], still feeling guilty about not blogging enough. Normal service will be resumed as soon as I get home. I miss being able to roll a cigarette without being stared at like I'm smoking dope on the street!)

Friday, 19 June 2009

Britain's Got Fascists: for the Huffington Post

I know that a) this is a cheat post and b)I'm supposed to be on holiday, not working my tiny butt off trying to get articles down for big online magazines, but here it is: on differences in attitudes to migration in London and New York, for the Huffington Post.

Any contributions to the debate, here or at the HuffPo, would be greatly appreciated. If I get lots of comments they might let me write for them again...

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A holiday, a holiday, the first one of the year...

Chaps, I'm in New York City. It's very exciting indeed. There's a whole different tube system to navigate and I can't smoke anywhere, but the queer bookshops stay open until midnight and as soon as I stepped out of the airport a gentleman informed me that I should shake it like a milkshake. Which may even not have been rude.

Oh, and contrary to what I've been told, you CAN get a decent cup of tea here.

Whilst I'm here I'll be working on various writing projects and visiting long-lost family members from th Russian/Jewish branch. My bag is so full of random bits of heirloomified tat that there's barely room for my knickers, and I'm going to have to wash them every day or two in the grotty little sink in the grotty little hostel where I'm staying. I love travelling.

In short: Gone fishin', back soon. If anybody has any tips for where to get pleasantly lost in this massive strange place, please share them!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

More on those stupid white men.

Dear white, straight guys: it’s not about you.

No, really, listen up. I have been stunned this week by the cybersquall that has erupted over Rowenna Davis’ Guardian article, entitled – although not by her – ‘Stupid White Heterosexual Male’. The article was well written, reasonable, and managed to make points about equality without getting personal, which is unsurprising, as Rowenna Davis is at the tender age of 24 one of the finest and most ethical journalists I’ve ever had the privilege to meet. But the piece got almost as many negative comments as Charlie Brooker’s denouncement of the BNP in the same paper got supportive ones – all because Davis had the temerity to suggest that perhaps white, heterosexual males might not actually need their own anti-discrimination officer at Oxford University of all places (45% private school students, almost entirely white and with a tenacious male bias in finals marks), especially not when Andrew Lowe’s policies included ‘to replace St Anne's college crèche with a finishing school, ban women from the library and save money by getting female students to serve food in halls instead of kitchen staff.’

So, does the suggestion that white, heterosexual males might still be enjoying unfair advantages in today’s society gives you the strange sensation that a tight knot of anger is squeezing your normally normal-sized brain into a smaller, gassier space? Does the idea that white males might be a minority panic you, and the notion that they might still be an advantaged minority panic you even more? Do you worry that you’ll be the victim of ‘reverse discrimination’ at work, at school or in any other arena of power?

Then I have a message for you: your privilege is showing.

Take it from a lilywhite daughter of the Sussex middle classes: it is a great horror to discover that you yourself are part of the overclass and yet to feel that you are not enjoying any special privileges because of it. The nature of privilege, of course, is that it is taken for granted: whoever you are, whatever race, class, gender, you, like me, do not notice your own privilege 99% of the time you spend enjoying it. But actually yes, it does hurt. It hurts, in this culture, to feel powerless, and with the current cornucopia of crises most of us are feeling pretty powerless right now; it hurts even more to be powerless and at the same time be told that you are lucky, yes, LUCKY, to have the privilege of being white, male, straight, able-bodied and/or middle class. What’s felt but too often unsaid is: how can you call white males be privileged when we don’t feel very privileged?

To which the only decent answer is: did you expect to?

There is a difference between being privileged and being powerful. That, in fact, is why we have two different words for the concepts. Not everyone who is privileged is powerful, and certainly not everyone who is powerful is in every way privileged - look at the most powerful family in the world, who can’t even take their dog for a walk in the garden without an op-ed in the New York Times. Just because privilege is often a precursor to power does not mean that ALL privilege engenders power. This is where the politics of white male resentment begin: with white men complaining that they feel underprivileged, like a marginalised group, when what they actually mean is that they feel powerless.

Well, guess what. So do I. So does your Asian-British neighbor. Most of us feel pretty damn powerless. Things are bad. There’s a recession, kids are killing each other in the streets, nobody’s certain of having enough money to put food on the table tomorrow. It may surprise you to know that the rest of us aren’t sitting here imagining that white heterosexual males are living in some kind of utopia. We know you aren’t. We’ve met you. It may also surprise you to know that we don’t want to strip this mythical dominion from you and leave you naked: we just want to be where you are, with the same opportunities, the same freedom from fear, the same right to be judged as a person and not a demographic, however limited those freedoms, opportunities and rights currently are. Make sense?

You may feel powerless, but equality agitators aren’t the reason for your lack of power. We aren’t the problem here. We took nothing from you – well, actually, we took one thing, and one thing only, and we're still in the process of taking it: the right of people who are white, or male, or rich, or straight, in any combination, to gain preferment over and to expect to enjoy a better and safer life than people who are not. And yes, the fact that we stepped up and demanded that right back slightly decreases the average white man's chance at a top job, decreases the average white man’s automatic right to status and power and respect, if suddenly he is competing against not only his own race, class and gender but all the others as well in a capitalist world where status and respect are finite. In short, we’ve taken nothing you actually needed.

Now, you may think that you NEEDED those things, those free passes to the top, that unspoken advantage over women and minorities, to get the good things in life. But trust me, you didn’t. I have met a great deal of white men and loved some of them very deeply: white men have the same potential as everyone else to prove themselves without the advantage of unfair selection which currently – still! – is weighted in their favour in almost every sector of work and citizenship. Trust me. You don’t NEED your privilege. Not half as much as we all need a fairer world.

Reducing unfair advantage is not the same as prejudice. Just because something inconveniences you doesn't mean it's about you. Look at the tube strike. For those not in London, most people who are were extremely put out this week by the fact that the underground trains weren’t running, because a significant number of train drivers were striking for better working conditions and to defend the jobs of their fellow workers. But, and this is crucial, the tube strikers this week did not strike because they hate commuters, because they personally and collectively really hate all those jammy non-car-owning bastards who travel on the tube and think it's high time they got their comeuppance. They went on strike to protect the jobs and working conditions of themselves and their fellow workers -and why shouldn't they? (cuntsarestillrunningtheworld has a fantastic in-depth analysis which you should all read). Yes, it's an inconvenience to the rest of us, but it’s temporary, and anything but personal – in fact, in the long run, more drivers on our tubes actually means a faster, safer journey to work for all of us.

And that’s the problem, really. We are so desperate, so very, very desperate to be noticed, to contextualise ourselves at the centre of any story. Actually, what's most frustrating about the tube strike is that it was totally out of our control, manifestly messed things up just a little bit for everyone, and was – to add insult to injury! – almost certainly also the right thing to do.

It hurts. I know, I know it hurts, it hurts to realise that you have privilege and you never even realised it; it hurts to know that you are privileged and to still feel powerless; it hurts even more to realise that there’s no easy minority to turn and blame for all your problems. How do you think it feels, as a lady and a lifelong feminist, to realise that actually the individual blokes in the street and in my kitchen are NOT the source of all my problems, that if they went away I’d still be earning too little to pay my rent? I get it. Really, I get it. But getting it doesn’t mean I can excuse it in myself or in others. Because it’s not enough not to be stupid. Unless we actively and at every turn avoid turning on each other, avoid condemning the struggles of minority groups for equal rights to work and citizenship and quality of life, unless we stop whining that it’s not fair and then actively join that struggle as allies – unless we do that, we become part of the problem.

No, really. You might not think that you personally, sitting behind your computer, reading this rant and getting pissy, are part of the problem -but you are. The people who attacked Rowenna Davis’ on-the-money article with such bile and vitriol are part of the problem, even though many of those are the very same hands-up-harries who were the first to condemn the BNP.

Because there is a heartbeat’s space between the blind stupid rage of otherwise sensible people who felt hard done by reading that article and the creeping influence of right-wing policymakers in parliament. There is a heartbeat’s space between the growing tide of otherwise non-idiotic white male resentment in this country and the breathtakingly idiotic racist, homophobic and misogynistic logic with which we have just sent two far-right representatives to the European Parliament. And if you are not prepared to step up, own your privilege and be part of the solution, then, my darlings, you are going to become part of the problem.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Perfect slaves?

There's been a rash of horrible articles recently, along with some great ones, about dieting, body image, self-harm and eating disorders. I can't look away from this stuff, especially not when I'm physically ill and my own body is just not behaving. Five years after I was hospitalised for anorexia as a 17-year-old, I still have to keep an eye on the way I'm eating: when my appetite goes, as it has now as a result of the deathflu, I can't just sip milkshakes and grumble like a normal overgrown student; instead, I have to battle it out between the little voice which wants to take the opportunity to avoid food for a few days, to lose some of that hated flab from my hips and tummy, and the other voice that doesn't trust me to eat properly on any day. On days like these, forcing a sandwich that I can't taste into my gland-swollen face, the whole tricky business of actually giving a damn about myself is hard enough already without being bombarded on all sides by images of thinnness, 'beauty' and trauma.

I've written about this many times before. This article at The F Word in 2007 and this article for the Guardian in March this year explain just what depresses me so much about the constant saturation of news and comment about women's weight and body image in the information market over the past few years, particularly its pretence at 'concern' for our 'wellbeing'. Come off it. If mainstream media outlets really wanted us to feel better about ourselves they would commission fewer young female journalists to starve themselves as part of 'professional investigations into the mindset of thin'. Liz Jones' latest Daily Fail offering is as horrendous as it is heartbreaking, and makes me want to throw up in so many more ways than one.

I've just been watching Meera Syal's documentary about self-harm, in which she asks, amongst other things, why Asian women in particular are so very high-acheiving and yet so desperately unhappy - being the group statistically most likely both to graduate with high honours and to deliberately hurt their bodies. And now I can't stop thinking, about femininity, perfectionism, and what it is to be young and a woman today.

Perfectionism just doesn't cover it. Most women I know who are around my age are, to some extent, perfectionists. Why would we not be? We're told from the word dot that perfection is the only thing we can and should expect from ourselves, and that if we don't have the perfect body, the perfect face, the perfect hairdo, perfect exam results, a perfect job, a perfect boyfriend, perfect clothes, perfect friends and the perfect family - heaven forfend that we're gay, disAbled, tall, short, overweight, less than bright, non-white, poor or in any way average - then we've failed, utterly and totally failed, and we are worthless as human beings and as women. Furthermore, we are reminded at every stage that we are in constant competition with every other young man and woman in our peer group for a finite set of life's prizes. Perfectionism is no longer an infrequent personality trait: it is an universal standard for living.

Me, I'm susceptible. I'm frightened of failure; more frightened of personal and professional failure than I can possibly explain or even understand. Part of this is because I've already had, for my own twisted understanding of the term, to accept failure on a physical level: I chose to recover from anorexia, and to live, and in order to be functional I now need to eat. I weigh almost nine stone; I have fat on my upper arms and the beginnings of cellulite on my bottom; I have d-cup breasts, which I despise, and a tummy which no amount of sit-ups will flatten. People tell me that's not failure: but look around. Look at the news; look at any magazine or billboard you care to glance at. Thin is part of our lexicon for modern living. I'm not, and will never again be, thin: I have failed as a person, on one level at least.

If you think that's stupid, you're right. If you think that that's a trivial and appalling thing for someone as clever and as lucky as me to waste time worrying about, then you're right. But I'm not unusual in being subsceptible to perfectionism and control-freakery: I just happen, in the past, to have been dangerously more successful at it than most. Actually, this is something that most young women understand. The will to push yourself and the impetus to damage yourself are very close cousins, and they are deeply, politically enmeshed in the culture we have created for ourselves.

Poor Liz Jones. What's so upsetting is that she knows perfectly well what her own illness means, for her and for so many other women, anorexic, bulimic, dieting or merely obsessing over the size of their thighs like good little consumers:

Making us think about what we ate today and what we will eat tomorrow is a great way of ensuring women don’t have the energy to succeed. We don’t need ‘gender pay audits’ – to be announced tomorrow in the Equalities Bill – to find out why on earth women are paid less than men. (Liz Jones, Daily Mail, April 2009)

Young women today are brought up knowing exactly how much they stand to lose every second of every day; we are raised in panic and competition; no wonder we attempt to violently and cruelly control our messy selves, to inch ourselves into small, safe worlds of pain.

Yes, it's fucking political. I'm sorry, but it's fucking political, and it IS relevant, and it is urgent. I'm not just talking here about girls like me who are crazy enough to take the hurt and the horror right the way down. I'm talking about everyone: we all, to some extent, have to fight the urge to hurt ourselves, to work ourselves into the ground, to force ourselves towards perfection. Right now I've been an invalid for almost three days and I'm practically clawing at my bedroom walls with worry at the work I haven't done, the bits of my house I haven't cleaned, the inches I might be putting on that seem somehow to symbolise all the rest of it, all of that awful wanting, needing, longing. How sweet it would be to never be hungry again: never to have to hunger for life, for love, for achievement, for happiness, for the hundred little daily human longings that are too brief and too quickly grieved to even be named.

My whole life, all I've ever wanted has been for someone to tell me that I'm fine just the way I am. By the time people started saying it, it was already much too late: and besides, didn't every advert, every exam score, every magazine and tv show and book and film and friend and teacher prove them wrong? Nothing about us, as young women, is 'fine just the way it is'. Nothing about us can just be let be, to grow naturally and imperfectly into its whole self.

I make tea obsessively and drink it compulsively. Along with the cigarettes, it's the one little addiction I allow myself: imperfection, creeping in round the edges, staining my teeth, soiling my health and reminding me how gloriously unfinished and fragile and wild we are as humans. Perfection as anathema is awfully hard to hang onto, especially for women. I might still be a little feverish. But I'm trying my hardest to reject perfection. Not just to accept that I can't have it: to actively reject it, to refuse it, to stand and say that I will not serve. I refuse to serve a vanishing feminine mythos that keeps us all, one way or another, in chains. So I will: I will refuse to serve. Ask me how many calories there are in a mars bar and you can bet your life I'll pretend not to know.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Reasons To Be Cheerful!

I've done it again. Despite forcing myself to spend at least a part of each day doing this 'relaxing' thing (in practice, mostly analysing the cackhanded post-human theorising of lots and lots of Battlestar Galactica and wanting to be as cool as Starbuck) I've worked my normally robust immune system down to the shell and am now holed up in bed shivering, feeling sorry for myself and drifting in and out of fever dreams in which a giant robot with the head of Nick Griffin chases me through central Brighton.

This morning, I was in Westminster to do an interview. The mood in parliament has ceased to be panic-stricken and is now subdued, depressed. The Election Results That Must Not Be Named and string of resignations have left the place stunned, and even the infamously costly tropical trees in the foyer look like they're expecting a chainsaw at any moment. So I've decided to remind myself and everyone patient enough to have read this far that not everything is utter pants. There are, in fact, some reasons to be cheerful.

1. Firstly and most importantly: justice, of a kind, for the Saro-Wiwa claimants against Shell. The oil company has agreed to pay millions of dollars of compensation to the families of nine environmental protestors executed by Nigerian troops in 1995, which dreadfully cynical anti-business Penny Red readers might interpret as a sign that there was sufficient evidence to prove that Shell had arranged for those men and women to be murdered and many others injured and mutilated. The case has been ongoing for over fourteen years, and many did not expect it to make it to the courts in New York, such were the obstacles thrown in its way. And although no verdict was reached, this really is a stunningly important precedent for international business law, reminding corporate giants that it's just not okay to shit all over people's lives because they happen to be poor and live somewhere rural. One year ago I sat in on a meeting in which Baroness Shruti Vadera scorned the idea of any international corporate justice system; today that noble goal just got a whole lot more achievable.

2. Yes, almost a million people voted for the BNP, and yes, that does make me bloody ashamed to be British. But it was only a tiny increase on their proportion of the vote in 2004, and look, look, right: today Nick Griffin got egged by anti-fascists outside the Commons, where, if you'll recall, he still doesn't actually have a seat. The racist scumbag was forced to abandon a press conference after the brave lads and lasses from Unite Against Fascism turned up with hearts full of hope and hands full of poultry produce. Nice one.

3.No, really. Watch the video. The BBC newsreader is loving it. Especially when he fumbles delicately over describing the 'er, thickset, I think, is the word...that escort Nick Griffin wherever he goes. Yes, gosh, there are an awful lot of cameras here now, and you can see the eggs...' Gods bless Auntie Beeb.

4. Not everybody has slammed their laptop shut in disgust, and the blogosphere is doing us proud in these dark days. Great new initiatives include the Asian Women's Carnival, the second round of which is up today and makes for fascinating reading. Compass, too, are doing sterling work drawing our attention back to the important stuff: read Salma Yaqoob's cross-post to the Guardian on the New Left, and Carola Becker's clarion call to remind us why welfare reform is still a crucial campaigning topic - even if the Labour party are by now so ashamed of the plans that they've forced them off the schedule for the party conference in September.

5. Look. We live in a world where a sickly neonate leftist hack can pop across the road to the corner shop and buy a magical painkiller that simultaneously gets rid of the horrid aches and pains and stops her falling asleep; where said poorly journalista can munch on said painkiller in front of a high-speed internet portal allowing her access to more current information than she could ever possibly digest at the click of a button; where fresh tomato soup, soothing episodic science fiction and fan heaters can be had even on a startup writer's measly half-salary. We are living in the future. That really makes me happy.

6. No, look, isn't the future great? A hundred years ago I might have died of this flu. Now I'm enjoying a lovely half-day off work, work which incidentally I'm allowed to do because here and now young women are allowed to earn a wage, contribute to the world of media and citizenship, have some control over their reproductive capacity, enjoy sex, travel and education, and generally have options that aren't marriage, church and early death in childbirth. The future is stunningly fantastic. Also, they make computers the size of paperbacks. Apologies, I tend to get a little techno-utopian when I'm feverish.

That's as much as I can think of for now. Please comment and add your own reasons to be cheerful. Tell me about what you last enjoyed eating. Post funny pictures of cats who can't spell. Youtube yourself singing the shitty English lyrics to The Internationale whilst tearing up BNP pamphlets. Anything.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Habits of deference: a brief hymn to Dworkin

I stayed up until 3am this morning reading Intercourse, Andrea Dworkin's finest book. It's two years since I first skimmed it, and I hadn't appreciated before just what a shockingly good writer she is. What a stunningly brilliant and underappreciated thinker.

At the moment, I've got a book in the works. A book about feminism, and misandry, and politics and terror and power and hope. It's all very tentative at the moment, and I'm probably much too young and stupid to make a decent go of it. But the following passage, from Dworkin's 1995 preface to Intercourse, has filled my head with a clear dark fire:

Can a man let in a challenge not just to his dominance but to his cognition? And, specifically, am I saying that I know more than men about fucking? Yes, I am. Not just different: more and better, deeper and wider, the way anyone used knows the user.
Intercourse does not narrate my experience to measure it against Norman Mailer's or D.H Lawrence's. The first-person is embedded in the way the book is built. I use Tolstoy, Kobo Abe, James Baldwin, Tenessee Williams, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Flaubert not as authorities but as examples: I use them; I cut and slice into them in order to exhibit them; but the authority behind the book - behind each and every choice - is mine. In formal terms, then, Intercourse is arrogant, cold and remorseless. You, the reader, will not be looking at me, the girl; you will be looking at them. In Intercourse I created an imaginative and intellectual environment in which you can see them. The very fact that I usurp their place - make them my characters - lessens the unexamined authority that goes not with their art but with their gender. I love the literature these men created; but I will not live my life as if they are real and I am not. Nor will I tolerate the continuing assumption that they know more about women than we know about ourselves. And I do not believe that they know more about intercourse. Habits of deference can be broken, and it is up to writers break them. Submission can be refused; and I refuse it.

I am haunted by the lilting, assertive cadence of Dworkin's prose. What poetry in dialectic. And I am angered, deeply angered, by the assumptions that continue to be made about Dworkin's work - assumptions that I used to make myself not so long ago.

Yes, she has some ideas about men and about sex that I cannot agree with - although nowhere does she say or imply that 'all men are rapists'. But so did Malcolm X, and in just the same way it is absolutely vital that Dworkin's ideas remain in the public domain. The way she has been dismissed as a hag, as 'ugly' - and therefore irrelevant - as an uncomplicated misandrist, as other than the great and deeply challenging author she is, is truly disgusting. I believe that Andrea Dworkin understood a great deal, and if I can embark on this project with half the bravery and clarity of her writing I will be truly proud of myself. I'm going to keep a copy of her book by my bed as long as the project continues. I will attempt with every line to throw out my old habits of deference, to refuse submission, to advocate its further refusal. I don't think that's too much to shoot for.

Friday, 5 June 2009

He'll be back.

I was in the pub when we got the news about Purnell, and had already had a cider or two. Proceeded to get roaringly drunk with some gorgeous redheaded goths and indulge in pleasant fantasies involving Purnell never ever coming back.

This morning I've got a headache and the distinct impression of having been beaten up with a giant smelly flannel and I'm just not sure that this means very much. Apart from wee Jamie getting a shoo-into the pathetic disintegration of this government. Thanks Jamie. Of course, yours is already being talked about as 'the biggest knifing yet'. Could that be because the former Home Secretary has a pair of tits, I wonder?

Oww, god. My head. No, seriously, this is why I don't drink anymore. I lose both my sense of perspective and my dinner. I'm going to work behind a huge pair of sunglasses. If anyone has any cheerier perspectives on this whole debacle, please do share them.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

No Tears for Blears

Guys, before you read this, I feel obliged to insist that however pissed off we are at our politicians, it's still hugely important to vote tomorrow. Meanwhile, though, is anyone else completely sodding disgusted with the filibustering going on down on the Westminster farm today?

In case you’ve been living in a bag eating candles, Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith have just resigned, leaving us without two quite important cabinet ministers, with Blears giving a statement timed to do maximum damage to Brown just before Question Time today. 'Rebel' Labourites are calling for his resignation and they just might get it. Guardianistas are rubbing their hands and cackling armchair anarchy into their cappucinos whilst the government crumbles around them. Brilliant. Thanks, Hazel, that's absolutely what we needed to get us back to what's important in politics, like that grassroots unrest you keep talking about despite the fact that you wouldn't know community organisation if it jumped out of your tiny designer handbag and hit you on the head.

I'm not about to disagree with anyone who believes that Brown should be gone, and soon. Far from it. But this isn't a measured process of leadership challenge, it's not even a response to public pressure: it's a playground pile-on born of panic over the woeful expenses fiasco, and it is STUPID. It's stupid, it's so stupid and so childish and so far from what politics should be about that it even makes bits of Blair's government look good by comparison.

To explain what I mean, let's take by means of comparison another Labour resignation speech by another shamelessly goblinesque gingerite: Robin Cook. Here is the text of the speech; even as a 16-year-old with no faith in mainstream politics I remember being roused. The idea that politicians of principle could challenge their government so nobly and with such knife-twisting decorum, in protest at a military offensive which the people of Britain and the world were desperate to halt in its tracks, was exciting. It was magnificent.

It was magnificent and they went ahead and invaded Iraq anyway. They didn't listen to parliament, they didn't listen to two million people on the streets of London, they didn't listen to international opinion. They went ahead and did it anyway, to the cost of many thousands of Iraqi lives, hundreds of British lives, billions of pounds poured into the defence budget and a permanent soiling of this Labour party in government.

Labour 'rebellion' from the backbenches actually used to mean something, before it was stained with futility and disillusionment. Now, as Nick Clegg (the only person talking any sense today) declared at Question Time, 'The country doesn't have a government; it has a void'.

I'm not impressed by this 'rebellion'. I'm more impressed by the weary loyalty of Alan Johnson as he - please gods - prepares for potential leadership than I am by Blears' smirking, scruffy attempt to play rebel-without-a-cabinet-portfolio, even if she does have that very shiny motorbike. I don't think it's responsible to knock over the cabinet from within, not unless your prime minister has just declared martial law. Which Brown, for all his shambling clampdowns on Habeas Corpus, hasn't.

What depresses me is that this 'rebellion' is not a matter of principle for any of the ministers and MPs involved. It's a cowardly, schoolyard attempt to kick an unpopular prime minister when he's finally down, just like the weedier gang-running kids who yell 'we never liked him anyway!' when their school bully is dethroned, and it's come far, far too late. It's not about the politics: it's about their own jobs, a sorry attempt to cool down public and press indignation at an expenses scandal in which they are all culpable by attacking the man who, for better or worse, they chose to lead them (313 Labour MPs nominated Brown over the fantastic John McDonnell, with only 29 nominations, in 2007). I am disgusted with all of them. And what's worst of all is that they're probably doing the right thing, for the party and for the country - finally.

Sod this. I've already sent in my postal vote. I voted Lib Dem in Haringey, because they're the only party I have any respect for at all right now, since the turncoat bloody anti-science backstabbing technophobitch Greens came out against stem cell research. To hell with all of them and their terrible lying faces. I'm going to get mashed on some cheap cider and read Jean Rhys. Bye.