Football

Sargon of Gasbag on How the Norf Went Tory

A few days ago Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin put up a video, in which he presented his idea of why the north of England and the midlands went Tory. It was based on a cartoon from 4chan’s Pol Board, and so presented a very caricatured view of the north. Sargon is the extreme right-winger, who personally did much to destroy UKIP simply by joining it. This ‘classical liberal’ – meaning libertarian – with his highly reactionary views on feminism and racism was too much even for the Kippers. His home branch of Swindon wanted him deselected when the party chose him as the second of their two MEP candidates for south-west England, and the Gloucestershire branch closed down completely. And according to Sargon, the ‘Norf’ went Tory because Blair turned the Labour party from the party of the working class throughout Britain into the party of the liberal metropolitan elite, and turned its attention away from class issues to supporting Islam, refugees, radical feminism and gay rights. This conflict with the social conservative values of working people, and particularly northern working people. As a result, they voted for Johnson, who had the same values they had.

The strip depicts the northern working class as Norf F.C., a local football team. They have their counterparts and rivals in Sowf F.C., a southern football team, and in the Welsh and Scots. The north is presented as a region of fat skinhead football hooligans, poorly educated, and suffering from scurvy and malnutrition, but who love their families, their communities and their country. In the strip’s view, these communities were traditionally Labour. But this changed with the election of Tony Blair, an Oxford educated lawyer, who took over the party. Under his aegis, it no longer was the party of the working class, but instead had a lower middle class membership. These were over-educated officer workers, who turned it towards Communism with the election of Jeremy Corbyn. They supported racism witchhunts, gay rights and flooding White communities with coloured immigrants, and were pro-EU. They despised natural, healthy patriotism. The result was that when Boris appeared, despite being an Etonian toff they recognised themselves in him. He would do something about Brexit and immigration, and would attack the radical left who support Muslim rape gangs and wanted to chop off their sons’ genitals. And who would also put the ‘bum boys’ in their place. It led to the massive defeat of the Labour party, and in particular ‘Communists’ like owen Jones and Ash Sarkar of Novara media.

I’m not going to show the video here, but if you want to see it for yourself, go to YouTube and search for ‘How the Norf Went Tory’, which is his wretched video’s title.

To Sargon, Corbyn is a friend of Hezbollah and Hamas, and to show how threatening the feminists and LGBTQ section of the Labour party he shows various radical feminists with T-shirts saying ‘White People Are Terrorists’ and a trans-activist with a baseball bat and the tattoo ‘Die Cis Scum’, referring to cis-gendered people – those who identify with their biological gender. The over-educated lower middle class people he sneers at are graduates of gender studies, who work in McDonalds, or have submitted to what he describes as ‘office serfdom’.

It’s very much a simplistic view, but there’s much truth in it as well as great deal of distortion. Let’s go through it.

The UKIP View of the North

Firstly, it represents very much the UKIP view of events. The academic study of UKIP, Revolt on the Right,  found that its members were poorly educated, working class people in the north. They had socially Conservative views, hated the European Union, resented immigration, particularly Black and Asian, and felt abandoned by the traditional parties. He is also right in identifying the change from working class representation to middle class representation with Blair’s leadership. Blair didn’t like the working class. He wanted to get the votes of the swing voters in marginal constituencies. As Sargon’s video acknowledges, he supported the neoliberalism that had devastated the northern economy and which made so many northerners hate the policy’s architect, Maggie Thatcher. Within the party, Blair sidelined working class organisations like the trade unions in favour of courting and recruiting business managers.

The Labour party was keen to represent Blacks and other ethnic minorities, women and gays due to its ideological commitment to equality. This policy became particularly important after Thatcher’s victory in 1979, when it appeared to some that the White working class had abandoned the party. I’ve also seen books published in the ’70s lamenting the right-ward movement within the Labour party due to its membership becoming increasingly middle class, so this trend actually predates Blair somewhat. However, it acquired a new importance under Blair because of the emphasis his administration place on BAME rights, feminism and gay rights. In my view, this was partly as an attempt to preserve some claim to radicalism and progressive values while abandoning socialism and the working class.

Sargon Doesn’t Understand Class and Communism

Sargon also doesn’t understand either what Communism is. He seems to believe in the rantings of the contemporary right that it’s all about identity politics and changing the traditional culture from above. That’s one form of Marxist politics coming from the ideas of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. But traditional, orthodox Marxism emphasised the importance of the working class and the class structure of society. Marx’s theory of Dialectical Materialism held that it was the economic base of society that defined ideology, not the other way around. Once the working class came into power and socialised the economy, the ideologies supported and created by capitalism would disappear. Gramsci’s ideas about changing ideology and culture became fashionable in left-wing circles because it was believed that the working class was actually in decline as society changed. Demographers noted that increasing numbers of people were becoming lower middle class. Hence the movement on the left towards that sector of society, rather than the traditional working class.

Corbyn More Politically Committed to Working Class

Yes, Corbyn also supported anti-racism, feminism and gay rights, but these had been key values of the left since the 1980s. I remember then how the Labour party and leading figures like Michael Foot and Ken Livingstone were vilified as Communists and Trotskyites, and how the party was caricatured as standing for Black lesbians. There were all those stories circulating in the Scum, for example, about how radical teachers in London schools had decided that ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ was racist, and insisted children sing ‘Baa Baa Green Sheep’ instead. Corbyn does come from a privileged background, but his views and the Labour manifesto are far more working class in the sense that they represent a return to traditional socialist economic policies than Blair’s. And certainly far more than Johnson’s and the Tories.

I have to admit that I’m one of the over-educated officer worker types Sargon sneers at. But I never did gender studies, not that I’m sneering at it or those who studied it. My first degree is in history. And I am very sure that most of the legions of graduates now trying to get any kind of paid work have a very wide variety degrees. I also think that many of them also come from the aspirant working class, who went into higher education in order to get on. Also, if you were interested or active in working class politics in the 1980s, you were exposed and took over the anti-racism and anti-sexism campaigns. Ben Elton was notorious as a left-wing comedian in the 1980s, but he defended the working class and ethnic minorities against the Tories.  It was not the case that the White working class was viewed with suspicion as a hotbed of racism, although sections of it, represented by such grotesques as Alf Garnet, certainly were. But it was that section of the working class that the Scum and the Tory party addressed, and so it’s now surprise that they see themselves represented by Boris.

Their belief in Boris is ultimately misplaced, however. Boris will betray them, just like he has betrayed everyone else.

He isn’t going to get Brexit done. He is going to continue with his privatisations, including that of the NHS, and dismantlement of the welfare state. The people in the northern and midlands communities that voted for him are going to find themselves still poor, and probably much poorer, under him.

But the lessons for Labour should be that there should be no return to Blairism. 

David Rosenberg and many other left-wing bloggers have argued from their own personal experience that the way of winning working class voters back to Labour and away from the far-right is through the hard work of knocking on doors and neighbourhood campaigning. This is what Blairism didn’t do. Jones showed in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class that it was Blair that turned away and demonised them, and simply expected them to continue voting Labour as they didn’t have anywhere else to go. And it was the Blairites and Tories, who viewed the White working class as racist and vilified them as such. Although it also has to be said that they also courted them by appealing to their patriotism and their feeling of marginalisation in an increasingly multicultural society. And the fact that Jones took the trouble to attack this refutes Sargon’s attempt to present Jones as a ‘Communist’, who was against their interests.

Yes, you can find the misandrists, and the anti-White racists and extreme gay and trans rights activists in the Labour party. But they’re an unrepresentative minority, who are going to be controversial even in their own small circles. Attempts by the Tories to magnify their influence are deliberately deceptive in order to stop people from believing that the Labour party means to do anything for ordinary working people. Just as Sargon has tried to do in his video.

Winning back the working class from Boris does not mean a return to Blair and attempting to turn the party into the Conservatives 2.0. But it does mean returning to working class activism, representation and continuing to support real policies to benefit the working class, whether Black, White or Brown, Christian, atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or whatever.

And that has to be a return to genuine socialism.

Hypocrite Guido Fawkes Defends Italian Fascists from Jewish Labour MP

The Sage of Crewe at Zelo Street has put up a very revealing piece showing exactly where Guido Fawkes real sympathies like when it comes to the question of anti-Semitism. Staines and his far-right crew were as zealous as the rest of the lamestream media in pushing the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. But this time the mask has slipped. He has sided with a group of Italian football ‘fans’, who made Fascist/Nazi salutes, against the Jewish Labour MP for Warrington North, Charlotte Nicholls. This isn’t the first time Guido’s been responsible for a bit of Jew hatred. The Sage reminds us how, when Ed Miliband was leader of the Labour Party, one of his underlings, Simon Carr, wrote two anti-Semitic pieces about the Labour leader. Which delighted his employer so much, that he and fellow Fawkes’ employees Harry Cole and Alex Wickham that they embraced Carr on camera.

This time, Fawkes has been greatly indignant that Nicholls should be in favour of the Fascists being given a good kicking. Another one of Staines’ minions, Tom Harwood, has written a piece with the delightful title ‘Labour MP Continues to Endorse Kicking Heads In’. Harwood has apparently written

“Festive cheer was somewhat lacking from one Labour MP over Christmas, who took to the BBC to defend her conjecture Italian tourists should have their heads kicked in. Distancing herself from Labour’s pro-EU stance already.

“Back in October, Nichols had originally tweeted that fans of the Italian club S.S. Lazio should ‘get their heads kicked in’ as they performed fascist salutes before a football match in Glasgow”.

They quote Nicholls Tweeting “You shouldn’t be doing Nazi salutes on the streets of Britain if you don’t want your head kicked in”.   Tim follows her in considering that the Italians were making Nazi, rather than Fascist salutes. In fact, at this time there’s precious little difference between the two. The Fascists adopted the raised right arm, calling it the ‘Roman’ salute in order to evoke the memory of the Roman Empire, which they aimed to restore.  They weren’t originally anti-Semitic, but they followed the Nazis in passing anti-Semitic legislation in 1937. They weren’t as harsh as Nazi legislation, and 80 per cent of Italian Jews managed to survive the War. But Fascism was nevertheless still a brutal, racist dictatorship with laws against Jews and Black Africans, and their army committed atrocities in the Balkans, north Africa and Abyssinia. And contemporary Italian neo-Fascists are still racist and anti-immigrant, as well as hostile to democracy, liberalism, socialism, Communism and anarchism.

Nicholls added to her comment “Of course, right wing rag Guido refers to Lazio fans doing Nazi salutes on the streets of Britain as ‘Italian tourists’. My granddad didn’t risk his life in WW2 to beat fascism ‘in the marketplace of ideas’ and as a Jewish person I’d rather drop dead than apologise to Nazis”.

Absolutely. Presumably Guido is horrified by the Jews, socialists, Communists and trade unionists, who beat the living daylights out of Oswald Mosley and his thugs when the British Union of Fascists were marching up and down the country trying to intimidate them. Many British Jews also had family murdered by the Nazi during the Holocaust, and so, like most people in this country generally, they don’t take kindly to displays of real Fascism. I don’t want to encourage violence against anyone, but you really can’t blame Nicholls for feeling that the Lazio fans deserved a beating for their behaviour.

The Sage also reveals in the post that Staines was also a close friend of Tory MP Aidan Burley, the MP for Cannock, who decided not to seek re-election after the Mail on Sunday revealed that he was part of a Nazi-themed stag party in Val Thorens. Staines was so upset about Burley’s participation, that he went out for a consolation drink with him.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/01/guido-fawkes-backing-nazis-not-jews.html

In fact, Staines seems to have always had a certain sympathy for Fascism. He’s a libertarian, and in the 1980s he was a member of a libertarian faction in the Tory party that invited one of the leaders of a real Fascist death squad from El Salvador to be their guest of honour at their annual dinner. The same outfit also, I believe, feted South African pro-Apartheid politicos. And a decade earlier, in 1975 the Libertarians across the Pond devoted a whole edition of their magazine, Reason, to Holocaust denial. I am not accusing Fawkes of denying the Holocaust. I am simply saying that it very much appears to me that Staines’ own politics have always been little short of real Fascism. And it says much about the moral squalor of the lamestream media that Staines is considered somehow respectable, despite his far right background.

But if Staines carries on with articles like this, perhaps that won’t be for long.

Where’s Your Football, Lucy?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/10/2019 - 5:24pm in

President Trump’s order to withdraw American troops who created a buffer zone between Turkey and Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq was a controversial movie seen as a betrayal of a long-time American ally. But there’s a long history of US forces making extravagant promises to local forces, then withdrawing and leaving them to the wolves.

Cartoon: Modern medical ailments

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/09/2019 - 7:50am in

Tags 

Comics, Football

Follow me on Twitter if you want to.

Football Nation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 06/12/2018 - 3:08am in

The NFL repeatedly mistakes itself for a nation state—a sort of parallel America.

When will an Asian Country Win the World Cup?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 15/07/2018 - 6:23pm in

Published in the Nikkei Asian Review 13/7/2018

U.S. President Donald Trump is not alone in thinking that the G7 is past its sell-by date, in terms of structure and effectiveness.  According to Jim O’Neill, the ex- Goldman Sachs economist famed for creating the BRICs acronym, “the Group of Seven has become increasingly irrelevant in a world of new emerging powers.”

If the World Cup tournament is any guide, something similar is happening in the world of football (known to some as “soccer”). The post-Second World War hierarchy is visibly crumbling as new powers emerge — yet the shape of the new dispensation has yet to become clear.

A kind of G7 has long been in existence on Planet Football. Since 1954, just seven teams have won the World Cup. Of these, England, France and Spain have won once each and on home territory. The real superpowers, in order of dominance, are the “G4” of Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina. At least one of them has featured in the semi-finals of every World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1930.

Until now, that is. Four-time winners Italy failed even to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Germany ended up bottom of its group, having been soundly beaten by South Korea. Argentina, despite the presence of Lionel Messi, the world’s best player, failed to make the quarter-finals while Brazil, for so long the proud hegemon of world football, was dumped out by tiny Belgium.

football18d

This has happened because the gap in competitiveness between the best teams and the also-rans has shrunk significantly. Natural talent is still important, but so is the supporting infrastructure of coaching, tactical preparation, quantitative analysis of opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, and diet and fitness management. It is hard to imagine a country without significant economic resources winning the World Cup; Africa has already produced many great players, but not any great teams.

Which brings us to the rising powers of Asia. Traditionally they have been a minor presence in the sport, but they have the resources and know-how to make a much greater splash. Do they have the commitment? Financially, yes. Asian money has flowed into clubs like Inter-Milan,  Birmingham City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion (all controlled by Chinese capital), Leicester City (controlled by Thai capital) and Atletico Madrid and Manchester City (stakes owned by Chinese capital).

shaolin4

The economic value of the Asian football market is attested by the regular summer tours of the region made by the big European clubs. Brand Finance, a U.K.-based business consultancy, notes that the “importance of the Chinese market for football is growing and the trend is reflected in the differences in brand value between those clubs that do well in China and those that are only starting to realize the country’s potential.” An illustration is Real Madrid’s merchandising tie-up with China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba.

What about on-field performance? Japan started its professional “J-League” just 26 years ago and qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 1998. Since then it has competed in six World Cups and in 2018 was the only non-European and non-Latin American country to make it through to the last 16. Its overall ranking in World Cup competitions is ninth.  South Korea has a deserved reputation as a giant-killer; its recent victory over Germany follows on from its elimination of Italy in the 2002 World Cup, in which it placed fourth, the highest position recorded by an Asian country.

football18c

China is many years behind, but becoming a major power in football is now a national strategy, the sporting equivalent of its One Belt One Road cross-border infrastructure investment scheme. President Xi Jinping, apparently a long-time football fan himself, has listed three targets: hosting the World Cup, qualifying for the World Cup and winning the World Cup.

Given that China is currently placed 75th in the world rankings, that last might seem a big ask. Yet teams can move a long way up and down the pecking order over time. Of this year’s semi-finalists, Belgium was ranked 71st in 2007 and war-torn Croatia had a ranking of more than 100 in the early 1990s.

The key point is to create a football culture, in which naturally-gifted athletes gravitate automatically to football. Here, as in many other areas, nobody could accuse China of lacking ambition. The Xi Jinping plan calls for 50,000 schools to have a strong emphasis on football by 2025, a ten-fold increase since 2015. The number of football pitches across the country is set under this plan to grow from under 11,000 to over 70,000 by the end of 2020.

By then 50 million Chinese, including 30 million students, are supposed to be playing regularly. To put that into context, Belgium’s entire population is 11 million and Croatia’s just four million. With that kind of numerical advantage and top-level backing, it would be extraordinary if China did not ultimately become a major force in football.

football18f

Beijing is explicit about its political agenda. As translated on the Wild East Football blog, China’s official 50-point football reform plan opens with this ringing declaration by the General Office of the State Council:

“Football has a great social impact and is loved by the great masses. The development and revitalization of football will improve the physical condition of the Chinese people, enrich cultural life, promote the spirit of patriotism and collectivism, cultivate sports culture, and develop the sports industry.”

There may be a strategic aspect too. For there is one powerful country where the great masses do not love soccer: the U.S. America’s lucrative native sports — basketball, gridiron and baseball — are deeply embedded in the national psyche, but have limited appeal outside its borders. Soccer, by contrast, is the most watched sport in the world. By prioritizing football, China may have found a weakness in American soft power that it can exploit for many decades to come.

shaolin2

Football is played at a high standard in many different climates, from icy Scandinavia to tropical Colombia, and by many different ethnic groups and physical types. Unlike basketball or rugby, there is no premium for height or strength. Indeed, many great players have been, like Lionel Messi, short stocky men with wide hips and a low center of gravity. There are plenty of those in Asia.

So, can an Asian country win the soccer World Cup? That is a trick question because it has happened already. Japan won the Women’s World Cup in 2011 and were runners-up in 2015. The Chinese women’s team were runners-up in 1999 and placed fourth in 1995. The real question is when are the footballing achievements of Asian women going to be matched by Asian men.

football18h

It will take time, no doubt, but given the right amount of financial resources and public support, it would be no surprise if the FIFA World Cup Trophy were to be held aloft by an Asian male by the middle of this century.