Perhaps it was Domophobia?

Will the Government help fight the culture wars?

Dom, coming up roses!Dom, coming up roses!
What is the UK press up to, what does it do? Not so long ago the press went into meltdown over Dominic Cummings and his trip to the farm in County Durham owned by his father. It was fun while it lasted, for them. They love a witch hunt and here was a great opportunity, it also meshed with the culture wars they are so keen for us to learn about. To the press Cummings is special as he is seen to be more powerful than they are; or that's what they think and these thoughts count for a lot of the aggro. Cummings went to Oxford, privileged eh? No not really Emily Maitlis went to Cambridge and she is, 'one of us'. Reports suggest that while at Oxford Cummings was next to invisible in that he did very few of the things students are noted for. So, no sport and not for him a position in the Oxford Union or nights out with the boys from the Bullingdon Club.He seemed only to study and was seen as a loner, there are even whispers that a senior academic with connections to MI6 was impressed by Cummings.

After graduation he worked in Russia for a few years and is fluent in the language. Back in the UK he began his ever upward journey in politics. Working for Business for Sterling then briefly for the Conservative party he eventually ran a think tank. Next he was involved in working against setting up the North-East Regional Assembly. It was here in this job he lived at his father's County Durham farm. He was in admin at Spectator but not while Boris Johnson was Editor, from 1999 – 2005. Then with Michael Gove for seven years. It was during this long stint that Cummings could see how badly parts of Whitehall carried out their work. The experience was crucial to his development as was trying and failing to modernise the Conservative party when Director of Strategy in 2002. He became so disillusioned with what he saw that he left after eight months. Many people say Cummings has become well known for being outspoken. This has made him a target for Whitehall and the press alike.

We should not forget the political establishment have never forgiven the nation for the Brexit referendum result! Despite the fact it was a democratic decision by the voters and enacted through Parliament in the normal way. However, a new PM gives the press a new opportunity and a new target. This explains the press frenzy directed at Dominic Cummings, a significant part of Vote Leave and a valuable aide to the PM. The journalist Charles Moore says Cummings has upset more than a few in the press corps during his rise and he could do well to try to mend fences. No doubt Moore, polite by nature, sees things this way. However, why should Cummings show consideration to the press? It's been a fashion for a long time now for the aggressive interview, it's what the public want, the press tell themselves. The public seem to disagree but naturally the press know best so the practice continues. Thus the press must put up with Cummings when he gives some back.

It was funny seeing Cummings in the Downing Street Rose Garden. He looked and sounded so out of place but then the whole episode was bizarre. Cummings had smartened up his clothes in so far as he could. He sat on a cheap chair at one of those stacking tables, the sort of furniture popular at schools. After his statement he answered questions but the problem was the press kept asking the same questions. Cummings is not a politician and it showed, he answered the questions. The public could see this but press? No. Cummings won the Rose Garden battle the press failed and it was their fault the match went that way.

We must compare and contrast the way Prof Neil Ferguson is treated by the press. Like Cummings Ferguson had 'issues' with the lockdown. But can we blame either of them? The lockdown was rushed into place and badly framed, it was a disaster from the start. However, Ferguson has been treated with reverence and respect all along. Like Cummings he goes back a long way and in 2001 his work on the Foot and Mouth epidemic was part of the reason the Government went on to order the slaughter of millions of farm animals. At the time and more so now this act has been the subject of severe criticism from equally qualified researchers. But to this day Ferguson and his work continues to have support from the Government and journalists. Not for him a press wolf pack outside his house to make his life a misery. Ferguson fits in with the liberal elite but Cummings is seen as a threat. Ferguson was awarded the OBE very early on and this makes it hard for the Government to back away now. Also there is a parallel here with David Cameron who was given bad advice on Brexit by the Civil Service. Cameron was told his 'deal' with the EU was bound to be accepted by the public. With Ferguson it could be that he tells the Civil Service what they want to hear. Which, again, puts the PM and his Government in a bad position. Even so Ferguson has yet to find himself in the Rose Garden getting a grilling, in fact it would be unthinkable. Ferguson and his OBE, this is important as the Government has been taking his advice for so long it would have to explain what happened and why!

And so to George Floyd. His death led to a worldwide response while back in the US wise people wondered about the cost of all the rioting when placed alongside the counterfeit $20 bill used by Floyd and the reason for his arrest. Clearly the world had gone mad and few of the people protesting in the UK could have named the state or city in the US where he died. In an interview in Spiked, Trevor Phillips, the 'go to' man for equality, race and political comment said of BLM -

We have a situation in which the media can be hoodwinked by small groups of people who happen to be dark skinned, and who claim that they speak for everybody.

Phillips, an amiable man, is half right. Yes it may seem the press was hoodwinked but be fair they love a 'story' that fits their agenda. When Phillips was a child the press, as it was then, tended to stick to the tradition of gathering facts then reporting them. Only later did the press re-purpose itself as a 'force for good' and rename itself to match its new self-appointed role becoming, the media. Phillips will, or should know this, as he has worked for the press for many years. So still there is little attempt, so far, from the press at an explanation as to why the death of Floyd meant so much more. Then in turn why it led to so much more protest world-wide than any other death in police custody in the US. The reaction to all this was bizarre. In fact the reaction annoyed Phillips as well it might because it complicated the main issue, inequality, by adding on subsidiary issues thus clouding what should have been kept clear.

A prime example here was the holding of a minute's silence for Floyd in the House of Commons endorsed by the new Speaker. We may assume this was done to show respect. However, what about the other people who die in police custody? In the US the statistics for these deaths are somewhat opaque. But let's say it's 700 a year that means well over eleven hours hours of respect a year. But then out of respect perhaps we should include those who die in other countries beyond the US? In which case will there be enough hours in the day? This is not practical or even sincere but it is wokery at its worst because there would need to be a weeding out of names. So how and who would decide that?

As implied above by the comments of Phillips, there are those who are hoodwinked and those who do the hoodwinking. But there is more to it than that. We would have to, for the sake of 'diversity', when weeding get the correct balance in the weeders' panel. So who would decide that? Who in-turn would do the weeding and, naturally, do it beyond reproach or criticism. For that would be wrong and could even lead to an injustice which is what the wokery folk are there to stop!

But then time moves on and there was first a stabbing incident in a park in Reading and later more stabbing in Glasgow. The general reaction and press response to these incidents was very different to what we saw with the Cummings or Floyd cases. The three men who died in Reading were all gay but did you see a, Gay Lives Matter banner, was there a riot, were there cases of public disorder? As with the Glasgow case it was if the rules of reporting had changed. Actually things have changed. The public have lost faith in the press much as they have with other institutions like the police.

The falling out with the press has only some of its roots in the Brexit referendum. Long before 2016 the public had grown weary of being taken for granted. The so called flagship outlets had failed to spot this the public taste had changed it had grown up, matured, and moved on. Post Referendum there were three years of rehashed Project Fear. This consolidated public opinion but not in a way the press might have hoped for. The Red Wall came down not only to support Brexit but to give a Metro centric Left and smug cabal a kicking. Furthermore we may wonder if the Government really understands why the Red Wall came down? We hear a great deal about, 'Levelling up', but there's more to life than infrastructure. The culture war aspect of turning the UK around is important to the Midlands and the North, perhaps more so than to the typical Islington resident.

Remember the political elite from David Cameron downwards 'knew' they would win the 2016 Referendum. After all they were the elite they knew what was right. The problem was they failed to convince more than themselves on this. It was this failure that has led on to the recent outburst of wokery and another battle they misunderstand and so could lose. So back to Cummings, his London home is in Islington. He had to endure a press mob outside his home supported by the equally self-righteous locals while the police looked on. The public did not like what they saw. The public were also confused by the treatment of Ferguson who employed a computer model for his research that was old and bug ridden. It was ridiculed by the IT world. Even so Ferguson is rehabilitated and back to being a press favourite as opposed to Cummings who remains a villain.

When taking down a statue always wear a maskWhen taking down a statue always wear a mask
Then we had the BLM riots, the press saw an opportunity here. This was something they could support, it fitted their agenda and it might damage the Government. This time the police, 'took a knee' and looked ridiculous for it. So the troika: the grievance industry, the press and the mob took BLM to its bosom. The mob responded in the usual way while the press did what it has always done in these situations and failed to 'report' but went in for propagandising instead. In this they were helped with ready quotes from the self-appointed of the grievance industry. At times all three appeared indivisible.

But time always rolls on and now there is evidence of assorted celebs backing away from their original position of support for BLM. Some other people, like MPs, who rushed to judgement have another method of dealing with backing the wrong cause. They refuse to communicate. It's both a tradition and etiquette that MPs deal only with constituents. It's also a tradition that party members but not constituents may write to the MPs of their party and expect a reply. But not, it seems, from those MPs who rushed to climb aboard the BLM bandwagon and now regret it. In the case of Conservative MPs this is unforgivable as the BLM website made it clear they were anti-capitalist. This has happened before when we had the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations. For some here was another bandwagon rolling by, it was too good to miss. Thus Andy Street the Conservative Metro Mayor of the West Midlands declared his own climate emergency, there was even a website for us to view with Greta Thunberg type children looking sombre. This was utter hypocrisy. Street is a fanatical supporter of HS2, the 'magic railway'. This was a project, so he said, that was to cure all our ills, yet one that was opposed by Extinction Rebellion on environmental grounds. It also is opposed on economic and value for money terms as well!

But the press only follow certain themes so as to create 'stories'. If it's complicated they leave it alone. In all the years of the great Brexit wait few in the press wrote about the difference between the Single Market and the Customs Union. You may say they thought it too awkward for average Joe but in reality it was too much for them. The press is now stuffed with the Metro Centric liberal elite who can neither think out of the box nor understand what goes on North of Watford. Cummings going to County Durham really spooked them! There is little intellectual about what they do. So for example wokery is ideal, it's binary thus if 'we', that is they, all think and say the same it must be true. There is no need for a debate, the opinions like the science in climate change are settled. In Covid-19 there was herd immunity in the press generally it's herd mentality.

Dissent, so they say, like free speech must be 'managed'. So who will do the managing? The press will and the public expects them to do so! Hence we should be careful about the upcoming culture wars. Most of the press, political Left and liberal elite all chose Remain and lost. The chances are they will make another mess of things with the culture wars. But on the way to a second defeat cause a lot of damage. It would be risky to expect the present government to act on our behalf. While they were not to blame for Covid-19 they were responsible for the outcomes. This is natural, it comes with wanting the power, for make no mistake here an 80 seat majority is real power. So if the Government wanted to fight back in the culture wars it could; but will it?

Perhaps it is too busy building things we don't want and cannot afford to notice there's a problem? Any government that thinks loft insulation is a valuable part of levelling up has a long way to go. Can there be a loft left in the UK for the scammers to insulate!