Voters don’t trust Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten and MPs don’t either … Who will succeed the Queen of Australia? … How Israel stole Singapore’s IT military secrets … Fascism first raised its flag in England in 1901, before Hitler was heard of …. Great Crashing Bores … Festival of Dangerous Ideas
Divided polls – divided nation
This week’s News Poll showed a slight clawback by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition and a consequent fall in the popularity rating of Bill Shorten’s Labor Opposition. Having given Labor a significant surge in the last poll, the current figures were an adjustment. In two-party preferred voting, Turnbull’s Coalition rose from 45 to 48 while Labor fell from 55 to 52.
As preferred prime minister, Turnbull is bristling on 43 to Shorten’s 29. Three weeks ago Turnbull’s lead was 40 in front of Shorten on 33. Voters appear to have pulled back after realising the consequences of their growing preference – Shorten may become prime minister. This was a step too far for most of the country’s swinging voters. While they don’t like Turnbull and his motley crew, they are equally unimpressed by Shorten and his cronies.
That’s the state of play – an electorally divided nation – with little confidence in any of the major parties or their leaders. Turnbull is threatened by his demented right-wing conservatives while Shorten is on a leash (or is it a noose?) from his so-called “left”, Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek.
It was different in the West Australian state election on March 11 where the Liberal Party’s long incumbency, arrogance, insensitivity and scandalous pork barrelling during the mining boom produced a backlash. WA voters rewarded a guardedly reformist Labor leader (now premier) Mark McGowan with 41 seats in the 59-seat parliament, including a record 15 female MPs in the new Lower House and seven in the Legislative Council.
Ex-premier Colin Barnett, the man they once nicknamed “The Emperor”, is now an emperor with no clothes hiding on the backbench until he resigns. But first he has to organise some lucrative directorships (with mining houses and developers) to supplement his lifetime, index-linked premier’s pension.
Royal warfare ignited
Exclusive gentlemen’s clubs in Mayfair, St James and Covent Garden are consumed by private discussion over the health of the 90-year-old Queen of Australia, Britain and the Commonwealth.
Elizabeth II has turned down an invitation to attend the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year and she has stopped attending official openings, lunches, dinners and other royal duties. She no longer attends race meetings and bets from Buckingham Palace using her secret William Hill telephone account to receive very favourable SP odds.
The first question is: will she abdicate or will she die in office? Most believe she wants to die in office because she witnessed the massive propaganda generated for the royal family by the funerals for her grandmother, grandfather, mother and father. She wants the same global publicity for the next generation of Windsors in a county (and century) that is increasingly republican-minded.
But who will take over the franchise? Her eldest son Prince Charles and his divorcee wife Camilla Parker-Bowles or her grandson William Windsor and his wife Catherine Middleton from Reading? Divisions are deepening. The queen favours tradition and the coronation of Charles but the potential successors want Camilla to become queen. Elizabeth, aka “Brenda” will hear none of it. She would never allow philandering Phil the Greek become king and she expects her son to treat the former Mrs Parker-Bowles the same way. One should regard being the Duchess of Cornwall as quite enough, she argues.
An aggressive group in the royal household are determined to keep Charles and Camilla at bay; their preference is to leap a generation and enthrone William and Kate and bring oomph to the otherwise clapped out tradition of hereditary rule.
The queen, who was originally enamoured by the camera-friendly Kate, now sees her as a born-again version of Princess Diana and doesn’t want her anywhere near the throne.
The queen has decided not to express any preference over her successor. She has decided to leave it to the privy councillors, hereditary peers and politicians to sort it out. That guarantees a stuff-up of historic proportions and the best opportunity to press the case for a British and Commonwealth Republic.
About 20 years ago I arranged to meet a Singaporean army officer who had studied at university in Australia. Since then he had returned on many occasions to complete training courses at defence academies in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. We shared many similar interests, including history, books and cricket. Although wary of politics, we occasionally talked about that too.
On this occasion, our topic of conversation turned to Israel and a recent agreement between Tel Aviv and Singapore to exchange research and training.
A few years later I asked him how the arrangement was working. He gloomily replied that the Israeli officers sent to Singapore had subversively used their superior IT skills to break into military, university and cutting-edge defence companies to steal computer files and transfer them to Israel. The Singaporeans had been hacked of all their military data and it was now in hands of an oddball state which was inextricably linked to Washington, the Pentagon and the CIA.
“So what have you done about it?” I asked. After an embarrassed prevarication, he told me that the Singaporeans had returned fire – and downloaded a monumental amount of IT data from the Israeli army and Mossad. “What have you done with it?” I continued.
I was left with the distinct impression that the top secret information was sent to Beijing. So there you have it: Israel steals secrets from its allies and gives them to the US; Israel’s allies steal data from Tel Aviv and give it to China (and possibly France, Japan, Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well).
So everyone is on the same level playing field because everyone is betraying everyone else.
When fascism invaded UK
The flag of British fascism was first raised in 1901 long before Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy), General Franco (Spain) or Antonio Salazar (Portugal) had been heard of.
In that year, when the Commonwealth of Australia came into existence, Captain William Stanley Shaw founded the first modern fascist movement called the British Brothers’ League. Its founding objective has a familiar ring: “The closing of all our ports to the immigration of thousands of alien paupers” who were “taking the bread out of English mouths”. It preached a violently anti-Semitic message declaring that London’s East End was “rapidly becoming the dustbin of Europe”. In today’s fascist literature the word “Jew” is replaced by Moslem and the Jewish conspiracy is now the Islamic conspiracy although the aims remain the same – world domination of peace-loving white Christians.
Membership of the BBL was open to “all natural-born Englishmen” and the organisation was built along military lines with companies and battalions all controlled by an executive committee and the League Commandant.
The league received pages of coverage in London’s lively press and spread fear and loathing among the political class at Westminster. The immediate result was the formation of the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration in 1902 to defuse the League’s growing influence, particularly in the northern cities of Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Reading in Berkshire.
Two peers, Lord Hereford and Lord Rothschild, headed the seven-man commission, which reported to King Edward VII in 1903. The commission opposed an outright ban on the entry of immigrants but argued they should be vetted and allowed to settle in many parts of the country rather than in ethnic and religious clusters.
During the build-up to World War One in 1914 when labour, skilled and unskilled, was at a premium in coal mines, docks, iron and steel works, and manufacturing plants, the frenzied fascism of the BBL abated.
It arose again in the 1920s and 1930s in line with the sweeping power grab by the Nazis and Fascists on mainland Europe. It held brief but unstable sway when Tory-turned-Labour MP Sir Oswald Mosley formed by British Union of Fascists and tried to use Brown Shirt and Black Shirt mob rule to barge into power. It failed and Mosley and his wife, Diana Mitford, who were married in Germany in 1936 with the Führer as a guest of honour, both went to jail.
But who supported fascism?
Seventy years ago journalist Frederic Mullally wrote about the cross-class appeal of British fascism: “The workers were promised work; the middle classes were promised protection from the Bolshevik workers; the capitalists were promised better and more stable profits; the trade unionists were promised freedom from capitalist exploitation; the landlords were promised economic security; the small farmers were promised more land and guaranteed prices; the aristocratic families (many of which were closely associated with the BUF) were promised a proper respect for their traditional status; the nation was promised deliverance from decadent feudalism.
“Above all, everyone was promised – Action! ‘Britain First’ was the watchword. Aliens were to be put in their place – or kicked out of the country. Our effete parliamentary system would be overthrown and a businesslike, fascist parliament would take over.”
Who were Britain’s recruits to fascism? “They flocked to him in their thousands,” wrote Mullally. “The frustrated, embittered little anti-Semites, the soured intellectuals of the Right, the renegade left-wing misfits, the flag-waving middle class matrons, the feather-headed, hamfisted types of university and private school morons, the political Catholics, the ex-NCOs and officers of the detention camp calibre – they rushed to do the black shirt, the sport the fascist ‘flash’, to swagger across the British scene.” (Fascism Inside England by Frederic Mullally, Claud Morris Books 1946).
None of its early success was possible without very large subsidies from British industrialists, overseas patrons and Fleet Street press barons like the Hitlerite Lord Rothermere.
Today the fascist demagogy would have a different name: we would call it pure, crude populism, promising everything to everybody.
Great Crashing Bores*
I’m the first to admit that I thought George Dubya was the worst American President in my lifetime. What a goose. He couldn’t string two words together. He led the Western world into war with Iraq and we are still there; it’s costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars per year. I used to call him an ignorant warmonger who was a looney on climate change and gay marriage rights. Having said that, I now admit I was too judgemental. In the past few weeks he’s condemned his Republican successor Donald Trump and shown inspirational leadership. He is genuinely devoted to world peace, press freedom and democracy. I think he should stand for president again: I’d vote for him if I was a Yank.
Festival of Dangerous Ideas*
Coming to Australia for the first time is Ismaelia, the LGBTI survivor from Africa. Hear about Ismaelia’s 1000-mile journey by foot, donkey and camel to reach Manhattan and secure a modelling contract with Calvin Klein and a health and beauty programme on Fox News. Learn about Islam’s torturous protocols: genital mutilation, body piercing, tattoos, gender transitioning and teenage brides. Ismaelia, who now calls himself Robo Boy, will discuss his life’s journey and the lessons he’s learnt along the way. Tickets for $1,000 are running out fast. Lecture sponsored by the North Carolina White Ayran Society and Darlinghurst One Nation.
* GCB and FDI are works of satirical fiction.