The Sociology of Grovelling

The English press seem to be falling over-themselves in a bid to see who can publish the most vile, weird and reactionary article as we hurtle towards Brexit oblivion and a clear ‘exercise in self-humiliation’.

Yesterday the Times decided to advertise its Rod Liddle article with this quote:


Today the Spectator managed to mark the announcement of Prince Harry marrying Meghan Markle with this:

Another Royal Fairy Tale

The state broadcaster announced on the lunchtime bulletin:

“The world looks on as London sets to become host to another Royal fairy tale”.

It’s not clear whether the Fairy Tale is one in which the Princess gets eaten by the Wolf-Paparazzi or lives happily ever after with Dopey and Grumpy. But it’s certainly a German tradition.

It’s no coincidence that the twin strands of Brexit humiliation: virulent racism and a gloriously proud ignorance should collide with the Bread and Circuses of another royal wedding.

As the broadcasters seemed to find moron after exultant moron on the streets of Britain almost at will the question hangs in the air, not just of the enduring potency of the Royalist fiesta to offset peoples daily experience of a low-wage economy in the context of rip-off privatised Britain, but the whether they can carry it off again?

As David Jamieson wrote:

“Soon #Harry and #MeghanMarkle will start planning a bigger party than you could ever even imagine. There will be food and drink you could never afford for yourself or family. You are paying for it. You are not invited.”

Whatever the likely response to the Windsor’s version of I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here (almost inevitably cringing crippling deference and a blinding fawning media coverage) the picture today, now, wasn’t quite so pretty.

The Spectator’s thinly-veiled racism (Meghan Markle is ‘mixed race’ as the barely post-apartheid language of the papers noted) was apparent.

They tried valiantly to frame it like this: “Meghan Markle is unsuitable as Prince Harry’s wife for the same reason that Wallis Simpson was unsuitable: she’s divorced and Harry’s grandmother is supreme governor of the CofE.”

But nobody was really buying it.

What the Spectator was getting at, but couldn’t quite articulate beyond its half-repressed shame, was not some early 20C hypocrisy about divorce – christ half the royal family’s divorced – was something else: she’s half-black, and worse, the others half’s Irish-catholic.

Now no doubt the spin-cycle will actually make this a great virtue: she’s so modern! So capable! She’s a feminist! It’s all so progressive, and yes, sob, his mother would have approved.

But old habits die hard. The Daily Mail only earlier this month was salivating over her “pert posterior and honed figure”.

Whilst the supposed ‘quality press’ is embarrassing itself over celebrity feudalism, other sectors offer little resistance to the mass ignorance about Irish politics.

Jeremy Warner, the Associate Editor of the Daily Telegraph has written:

“The point is that the Irish border is about so much more than economics and trade. It’s hundreds years of history; Ireland has poisoned UK politics and brought down governments for centuries, and may well do so again.”

This is deep denial and deeply racist and quite stupid.

The comment is challenged by someone who writes: “Didn’t Britain invade Ireland, not the other way round ?” To which @snochie helpfully adds: “No. England did.”

But it’s not unusual.

If you feel the echo of 2014 this year with a combination of supremacy and supreme historical ignorance to Celtic nations belting out of the orifices of the British political media elite, you’d be right.

Nor is the self-delusion contained to the far-right of the Tory Brexiteers.

Labour’s Kate Hoey wins outright  (in a very competitive group) the award for exceptionally awful analysis. Here’s some of her hot-takes:

“The Republicans are being helped by Leo Varadkar, who seems to have very quickly forgotten his liberal views. The hypocrisy of all shades of Nationalism who “fought” the British Empire and now so cringingly want to be part of an enlarged, anti-democratic EU empire is astounding.”

I’m not sure what the inverted commas are doing in this sentence but I’m pretty sure there’s no EU equivalent of the Black and Tans (bendy bananas aside – obviously!).

She continues (apparently unedited): “The EU bureaucrats pontificate piously about the border as if they know what they are talking about. ”

Yea Kate, go for it!

What’s Europe ever known of political violence [memo to Kate: the entire European project is predicated on the post-war settlement you complete halfwit].

She continues: “The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the land border.”

Well you’ve got about a week.

It’s exceptionally unlikely that anyone will restrain this torrent of abuse against Ireland in time for some thinking, or some, say, diplomacy.

This isn’t Britannia Unleashed, this is Britannia Unhinged.

As another ‘Royal Fairy Tale’ takes grip it remains to be seen if a deeply unpopular minority government, working on borrowed time from shady DUP votes can endure through farce.

It is not a matter any more of what RW Johnson called: “the whole Ukanian notion of ‘class’, which here denotes a sort of lumpish, self-encapsulating and self-perpetuating corporatism: knowing-one’s-place erected into social theory and a servile national identity. Less a nation of shopkeepers than of butlers – the most that can be said of a true patriot in Ukania is that he is ‘a loyal servant of the Crown’.”

We are in a different, post-deferential world. Instead Feudalism is recreated as Celebrity Romp. This is the world where Bono, Meaghan and Harry are re-presented as radicals, saviours even.

The question is more today, in sickly weirdo 2017, whether an English political elite can sustain a Blame Game on the Irish at the same time as mounting a Made In Chelsea street party in the crumbling ashes of a broken country. The Mirror today reported on the dystopia of British working life “Timed toilet breaks, impossible targets and workers falling asleep on feet: Brutal life working in Amazon warehouse”.

This is all connected.

As Kate Hoey said this morning on Radio 4:

“At end of the day we won’t put up the border. They’ll have to pay for it” echoing the Princess-to-be’s President-in-waiting (for impeachment).

The idea that this most dysfunctional ruling family can combine with this country’s most dysfunctional government in Britain’s worst crisis since the war and succeed is unlikely.

God Save the Queen and God Save America.

The option remains: Scottish citizens or British subjects.



Comments (29)

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  1. SleepingDog says:

    Methinks that it was Henry VIII’s celebrity lifestyle (and fashion masochism) that set him jousting along the path to tyranny, or at least according to the Independent:

    Not that a brain injury would prove any disqualification for monarchy.

    Of course, the dysfunctionality of royal families is so sensitive that only after 300 years do we finally get to see the ‘private’ papers (like letters between King and Prime Minister) of the Georgians, after they’ve been carefully prepared by tame, vetted historians.

  2. Iain Patterson says:

    Brilliant analysis Mike!

  3. David McCann says:

    Just brilliant Mike.
    Thanks for that, although I think you should have entitled it ‘Britannia Unhinged.’

    1. Thanks David – the title is from a Tom Nairn chapter – I can’t remember which book its from (!)

      1. Welsh Sion says:

        Here you go, Mr Editor. I’ve read and enjoyed previous editions. Anyone like to fill me in regarding the latest edition?

  4. Wiliie says:

    This excellent summary incapsulates exactly how pervasively rotten British culture still is in 2017.

    But the system is designed that way, and it is not so long ago that many of the Scottish subjects fawned over Royalty. Indeed, some still do.

    Mind you when a half darkie half Irish mick as you put it fawn over Royalty, well what can one say.

  5. Willie says:

    What seems to have been missed out Mike, on this otherwise excellent piece is the shock horror that this Royal is breaking with tradition and not marrying a first, second or third cousin.

    Moreover, with the this young woman’s specific ethnicity, as the Spectator has alluded too, the break with tradition becomes even worse.

    As a loyal subject, it has put me right off my cornflakes this morning, and I’m sure most of the loyal Bella C readers will join with me to deplore the Royal family breaking from the tradition they were inbred into.

  6. Rob Ross says:

    Spot on!

  7. Patsy Millar says:

    Excellent article; I only wish readers of the Spectator et al would ever read something like this but, alas, I haven’t seen any pigs in the sky recently.

  8. T. Roz says:

    Good job.

  9. Josef Ó Luain says:

    You’ve never lost it, Mike!

  10. Frank says:

    Brilliant piece of writing. A reminder of why I read Bella.

  11. Jean Martin says:

    Thanks Mike. I was laughing and crying all at the same time……more please.

  12. J Galt says:

    Utterly brilliant, not a word out of place!

  13. Gordon smith says:

    It is interesting that under this Hard “no border solution before trade deal” stance, and continual abuse from UK politicians and Press, EU reps and politicians are very uncharacteristically quite. Are they simply getting on with other non Brexit business, knowing the polite but emphatic “Fuc* **ff” they will issue in a week time.

  14. John O'Dowd says:

    Brilliant analysis, superbly presented from beginning to end.

    Oh God how we blew it (and we know who ‘we’ are) in September ’14.

    Pantomime season only slightly early this year

    1. Thanks John. Only one way out.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        “Only one way out”

        That’ll be via a majority of Scotland’s MP’s. Thay coud dae it noo, richt noo.

  15. Kenny Smith says:

    Simply “Scottish Citizens” please!!

  16. John Mooney says:

    “Bread and Circuses”the UK ruritainian society stumbles on with its usual sycophantic acolytes,both Labour and Tory with Ruth the “Mooth”the Scottish cheerleader in chief,Sic a Parcel of Rogues’ in a Nation!

  17. Dek says:

    You have to laugh . What an embarrassment this United Kingdom is . Harry should have a registry office wedding and the money saved should be donated to those most in need.
    PS thanks for a very entertaining piece

  18. Jo says:

    Just one thing Mike. Meghan’s background was “amended” yesterday when the palace announced that her parents are protestant, she is protestant – not catholic. All sections of the media had claimed otherwise as you have here. All very odd. In any case it now appears she is to be baptised into the C of E and confirmed before the wedding!

    1. Good point, written before I realise that was part of the ritual

  19. thom cross says:

    Mike with characteristic vigour, has touched on three absolutely vital political themes that reflect the ongoing subservient condition of Scotland. I urge him to expand his thoughts into a book length study around:
    1. The oppressive nature of crude British nationalism under the rule of high-Tory imperialism and its impact across Scottish society.
    2: The increasingly offensive class oppression inflicted upon working people (see Mike’s example). Working people have less rights, less union power,lower real wages, under the crude capitalism operating under Tory-class rule.
    3: The residual (resentments) impact on a post-colonial, post EU Britain and the consequent backlash on migrants, refugees, near slave-labour in certain sectors, and the fight against racism, producing economic, social and cultural intolerance towards the “other”.

    1. It’s a good idea. I have two book project in the pipeline. Will add to the list.

  20. Brian McGowan says:

    Yes, Like everyone here has said… what I’ve been thinking but unable to articulate in this eloquent, hard hitting manner. Thanks.

  21. Timbo says:

    Britannia Unhinged sums it up neatly.

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