Thursday, 8 April 2010

Kiss My Pencil

Pat Mills. Genius. Responsible for some of the greatest strips in the history of British comics (and Sex Warrior too), and also a guy with spot-on political views. Never better than in his landmark series Slaine, (basically a smarter version of the Conan meme)* in which the Pagans were the good guys, God was a woman, and - best of all - the baddies came from Tory Island. No accident, that: Slaine, like most of the other 2000AD classics, was written during the last period when this country was unfortunate enough to be saddled with a Conservative government. Mills was doing his patriotic duty to turn the geeks of the nation against the party then in government by linking them with a race of demons who oppressed the Celtic people and drank the tears of women. Some people might refer to this as allegory, but, as someone who grew up under the handbag of Thatcherite domination I feel it incumbent on me to remind younger folks reading this blog that this portrayal was in fact a matter of stark factual truth.

Winston Churchill famously said that if a man isn't a liberal before the age of thirty he had no heart, but that if he wasn't a conservative after the age of thirty he had no head. Sherry-sodden old buggers with a Churchill-fetish are fond of quoting that line, though they leave out the fact that Winston was probably all fucked-up on drugs when he said it. But like a lot of cliches it contains a kernel of truth: becoming a Tory is - unless you're some kind of freakish mutant - something that happens to you when you reach a certain age. It might not be thirty. It might not be forty. It might not even be fifty or sixty. But there comes a point in your life when it can happen. It doesn't mean that you've morphed from being a naieve innocent to being a hard-headed political realist, though. It means you've given up.

It's hard work, being good. It takes effort to commit yourself to trying to be a better person, not abusing your privilege and putting in the hours and time to defend the disadvantaged and create a world in which people are treated with equal respect regardless of skin colour, religion, sexuality, gender identity, or disability. Sometimes you want to give in to the hatred, to the fear, to the moral cowardice that tells you it's their fault: the asylum seekers, the Muslims, the gays. That it's people like you; normal people, not freaks, who are the real victims, and that it's about time you stopped fannying around with diversity initiatives and equality legislation and got down to the business of taking care of your own and fuck you, buddy. Sometimes you see the front cover of the Daily Mail and its icy talons of fear reach deep into your heart and you don't have the will to keep fighting it. You give in. And that's when you turn Tory.

The mainstream media are almost falling over themselves to tell us the Tories have changed, that it's all compassionate Conservatism and time for change and Dave's about to have a baby and SamCam - isn't she lovely? But this past week we've seen signs that the Tories aren't actualy as nice as all that. There's Chris Grayling, the Tory Shadow Home Secretary who chased the dragon of Mail-reader votes by supporting homophobic B&B owners. Here's Anastasia Beaumont-Bott, the lesbian former Tory activist so disgusted by the party's homophobia she's telling the media she now plans to vote Labour. Who's this? It's Wirral Tory councillor Denis Knowles, who made comments on his Facebook page about 'limp-wristed' Labour activists (and, for a bonus point, also described them as 'definitely not local' - regional xenophobia and anti-gay bigotry in one tight little package? You stay classy, Councillor Knowles.)

Here's another Tory councillor, Eddie Wake, who reckons rape prevention campaigns are something to joke about - even if his 'jokes' leave a woman in tears. And here's Michael Kaminski, Call-me-Dave's ally in the European Reformists and Conservatives group in the European Parliament - a man who refuses to apologise for an anti-Semitic pogrom, uses slogans like 'Poland for the Poles', tells foreign workers to go home and calls his opponents 'faggots.' Lest you think that Mr Kaminski is one bad apple spoiling an otherwise respectable coalition, vada Valdemar Tomasevski, another 'Reformist Conservative' who voted for a homophobic hate law in Lithuania. Here's the evidence that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote against a woman's right to choose.

I could go on, but by now you get the point. Forget all the crap about the superfecundity of Samantha, or how Dave is so much more presentable than dour old Gordon. Forget all the business leaders supporting Tory economic plans - those businessmen are backing Dave because they know he's their gateway to a golden age of ripping off the little guy. If David Cameron announced plans to lower the age of consent to three, paedophiles would write letters to papers supporting him. If you're a captain of industry, a Russian oligarch or a member of the landed aristocracy, David Cameron's tax plans will benefit you. But few of us are. Lots of us are gay, though. Lots of us are members of ethnic minorities. Lots of us are disabled, and a hell of a lot of us are women. And even if you aren't, I'm pretty sure you know people who are. Your mum, for a start.

David Cameron: the man who hates your mum. Keep that in mind, when you go into the voting booth on May 6th. And count yourself lucky. Slaine had to swing a massive great axe to get rid of the misogynist slimebags from Tory Island: all you have to wield is a stubby little pencil. Use it wisely.

* Admittedly, Slaine did occassionally get a bit 'never again the BURNING TIMES!' on occassion, but it was still great and chock full of fantastic sword-wielding muscle-chicks so it still rules, okay?

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