‘The Despard conspiracy’

I wasn’t greatly enthused by first sight of the current issue of The Times Literary Supplement. The cover seemed to promise all things feminist and African. Within, though, are two reviews of history books. Both have, if looked at properly, Irish implications. We’ll perhaps come to the second later.

The first (page 26) is a review by Professor Marianne Elliott. If that name doesn’t ring bells, it should. She is one of those scholars who created at Liverpool University the highly-influential Institute of Irish Studies. Here she is taking large lumps out of Peter Linebaugh’s Red Round Globe Hot Burning — A Tale at the Crossroads of Commons and Closure, of Love and Terror, of Race and Class, and of Kate and Ned Despard. That ponderous title alone suggests something OTT, more Mills and Boon than product of a respectable academic press. The book seems to be account of the lives of

Edward Marcus Despard and his Jamaican wife Catherine, daughter of a freed slave. Despard was a minor member of the Anglo-Irish gentry, whose career in the British army had takeneito Jamaica, Nicaragua and, in 1786, to British Honduras, as its military superintendent. In Central America he took up the cause of the indigenous people and fell foul of the Baymen, or loggers. Recalled to England in 1790, he became involved with the English and Irish “underground”, was twice arrested, and executed inLondon in 1803 for his part in the so-called Despard Conspiracy (allegedly to overthrow the British government).​

On the basis of this review I shall not be rushing to buy the book.

And yet … ‘the Despard Conspiracy’. I had an echo lodged in a disused braincell, but I needed a refresher.

The Oxford Companion to Irish History is no great help:

Despard, Col. Edward Marcus (1751-1803), born in Queen’s County, a naval hero executed 21 February 1803 for an alleged revolutionary conspiracy in London. His activities, long dismissed as a wild personal venture, are now seen as part of the clandestine plotting still kept up, despite defeat in the insurrection of 1798, by the United Irishmen and their radical allies in Great Britain, with possible links to Robert Emmett’s venture later the same year.​

It is unsigned. That, to me, feels little more than a place-marker, waiting to be amplified by developing scholarship. Which may explain why, although I must have heard of the ‘Despard Conspiracy’, I wasn’t up to speed.

The DNB doesn’t quite concur with Professor Elliott:

In June 1786 Despard took up an appointment as superintendent of Honduras. Though he handled relations with the Spanish authorities well he was notably less adept as a civilian governor. His unswerving support for settlers displaced from territories recently ceded to Spain (many of whom he knew from San Juan and the Black River) led him into repeated conflict with the established British settler community, who complained repeatedly to London of his ‘visible Spirit of Self-importance and uncontrollable Domination’ (TNA: PRO, CO 123/6, 21 Feb 1788). Events culminated in his annulment (June 1789) of the colony’s police and magistracy; Despard ruled by direct decree until, suspended on half pay, he was ordered to return to Britain, where he arrived in May 1790, accompanied by his African–Caribbean wife, Catherine, and their son James.​

What comes before and after that DNB snippet is interesting.

There is a link to his older brother, John Despard, another of the colonial administrators who sprang from the lower echelons of the Ascendancy class, and rose through army connections. Much of John’s service had been in the American campaigns, and he was duly rewarded with O/C the Cape Breton colony. Time and circumstances put him running the reception committee for 25,000 Scots evicted by the Highland Clearances.

Caribbean daring-do

From the DNB we find Edward Marcus as an engineer with Nelson, capturing Fort San Juan (1779) from the Spanish (annepisode plundered by CS Forester for Hornblower) , running the occupation of Roatan and the Honduran island (1781), at the defence of Jamaica against the Franco-Spanish assault (1782). Then something of interest:

Despard headed an expedition of Jamaican settlers, assisted by British artillery, to recapture Spanish-occupied Black River territory in south-western Jamaica. For this he received royal commendation and was made a colonel of provincials.​
​In June 1786 Despard took up an appointment as superintendent of Honduras.

As if someone higher up has spotted Despard ‘deals well with the locals’.

Back in Britain, after the Honduran problem:

Despard had to wait until October 1791 to learn that, while complaints against him were dismissed, he was not to be reinstated as superintendent of Honduras. In pursuit of compensation he grew increasingly irascible, while the combination of enforced idleness and grievance against authority led him to both the London Corresponding Society and the overtly revolutionary United Irishmen (UI). He quickly became an intimate of the leading United Irishman and French secret agent William Duckett and in 1797 was reported to be co-ordinator of a proposed rising in London planned to coincide with one in Ireland and a French landing there. In 1798 Despard was pivotal in negotiations between the United Irishmen and a broader conspiratorial group, the United Britons, to foment simultaneous English and Irish risings to assist a French invasion. When O’Connor and O’Coighley, the principal leaders of the conspiracy, were apprehended in February, while hiring a boat to take them to France, habeas corpus was suspended and further arrests followed. Despard’s was predictably among them.​
​Despard seems to have been aware that the revolutionary threat had been contained by the government when, in June 1799, he petitioned for his release in return for voluntary transportation. Among political prisoners at this time he seems to have received the harshest treatment—’more like a common vagabond than a gentleman or State Prisoner’, complained his wife, Catherine (TNA: PRO, HO 42/43)—and Sir Francis Burdett made Despard’s case the centre of a campaign against the ‘English Bastille’.​

Alas! At that single bound our hero was not yet free.

He retreated to the family stamping ground at Camross, seemingly convinced to stay out of politicking. But, get this:

… in February 1802 he returned to London at the behest of the UI leader William Dowdall. After the collapse of the Irish rising of 1798 the United Irishmen had reconstituted itself as a small, centralized military body. Though Britain was now at peace with France food shortages and industrial unrest created a climate in which talk of revolution flourished. Despard now concentrated on enlisting the support of militant Irish labourers and guardsmen stationed in Windsor and London but intelligence sources also show him to have been in contact with Irish and French emissaries during the summer. Disaffected guardsmen tried to force the issue with a rising on 6 September but Despard restrained them, arguing that such action could be effective only if it coincided with an Irish rising and a French invasion; but then, on 16 November, Despard was arrested at the Oakly Arms, Lambeth, apparently planning a coup d’état to coincide with the opening of parliament later that month.​

Much of that sounds remarkably familiar. In the subsequent trial, the prosecution pulled its punches, reluctant to reveal the sources of intelligence, and particularly protective of any evidence against:

a significant number of London Jacobins in the conspiracy, of whom the motley dozen soldiers and workmen tried with Despard were far from typical.​

Instead Despard was depicted as:

a psychotic maverick who had enticed a small band of unfortunates into supporting a futile plot.​

That was when synapses closed; and I realised where Despard had appeared in my past reading. He gets incidental references in EP Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class.

The rest of Despard’s story follows a predictable pattern:

… the only incriminating evidence found at his arrest was a printed card calling for ‘the independence of Great Britain and Ireland. An equalization of Civil, Political, and Religious Rights; [and] an ample Provision for the families of the Heroes who shall fall in the contest’. An oath of allegiance to the United Britons was appended. Identical cards circulated in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Such points led Edward Thompson to argue, in The Making of the English Working Class (1963), that Despard was the leader of a nationwide revolutionary conspiracy […] His arrest was simply an opportunist move by a government acting on fragmentary evidence.​

As far as I can see, that is how the notion of an overarching plot, led by Despard, remained current. Though Marianne Elliott (I now see) made an earlier effort at resurrecting Despard’s memory in her Partners in revolution: the United Irishmen and France.

Despard’s defence was circumspect, wishing perhaps not to incriminate others but also aware that the prosecution case was uneven. He enjoyed wide popularity and Nelson himself gave evidence as to his good character: ‘no man could have shewn more zealous attachment to his Sovereign and his Country’. Though finding him guilty the jury recommended mercy ‘on account of his former services’. The government, however, was not inclined to clemency. Whatever the truth of the conspiracy an exemplary verdict had been secured and punishment was enacted accordingly. On 21 February 1803, having taken leave of his wife and refusing all religious consolation, Despard was drawn on a hurdle to the Surrey county gaol, Newington, where, before a crowd reportedly of 20,000, he delivered from the scaffold a speech that was loudly cheered. Along with six co-conspirators he was hanged and his corpse decapitated, whereupon the executioner held up the head, declaring: ‘This is the head of a traitor’. His widow received the remains, which on 1 March were buried in the churchyard by St Paul’s Cathedral.​
In my humble opinion Edward Despard is another victim of the nationalist struggle:
  • Is there any Irish memorial of him, or to him?
  • Perhaps I should take time out to trace any genealogical link between him and Charlotte Despard ((1844-1939, née French), the pacifist, socialist, suffragette, and Irish nationalist, sister of Sir John French, through her husband, Maximilian Carden Despard (1839–1890).

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Plodding along: Great Journeys #1

This was prompted by Alphonse , on politics.ie, posting Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s map.  It is ‘son of Codding abouton the same channel:

humphreygilbertmap.jpg

The hero of this hour ought to be David Ingram. But let me start with the begetter of that map (and a chance for rude raspberries all round) …

(Sir) Humphrey Gilbert
After Eton and Oxford, Humph was at a loose-end. Fortunately his aunt was Katherine ‘Kat’ Ashley, the Princess Elizabeth’s governess at Hatfield. The family connection brought Gilbert into the household. That would be around 1554-5. In 1558 the Princess Elizabeth ascended the throne, and Kat Ashby became First Lady of the Bedchamber. Gilbert was again twiddling his fingers, so did what every idling toff does, and buzzed off to the Inns of Court to become a lawyer.

That achieved, Gilbert took to a bit of soldiering, with the Newhaven expedition (1562-3), to assist the Huguenots of France. He received a good reference from the commanding officer, the earl of Warwick.

More significantly, in 1562 Gilbert was at Le Havre with:

  • Richard Eden (translator of several Spanish writings on naval voyages) and
  • Thomas ‘the Lusty’ Stukley (a double-, if not triple-agent, who had served in France, and had come up with a plan to plant Florida).
Through these associates, Gilbert met with:
All of which set Gilbert to musing, if the Frogs could do it, why not the bold and doughty English.
Around this time the Muscovy Company (which had ambitions for a North-East passage to the Far East), was running into problems. The Russians were none too happy about a one-sided arrangement (which looked like frustrating a land route to the Far East), and Stephen Borough‘s attempts to find a way around the Artic route had run into the ice.
The alternative was to find  a North-West Passage. This appealed to Humphrey Gilbert (that Cartier connection), so he started drafting his proposal in Discourse of a Discoverie for a New Passage to Cataia (though this wouldn’t be published for another decade).

The Irish business

A bit of ‘time out’ is necessary here.

The revolt of Shane O’Neill was giving Lord Deputy Sir Henry Sidney severe conniptions, so our Humphrey was off to aid and assist.

Once O’Neill had been assassinated, Gilbert put his mind to plantations, particularly a plan with Sir Warham St Leger to settle Munster. Gilbert then found himself colonel, and military governor of Munster, suppressing the rising of James fitz Maurice Fitzgerald. This is where Gilbert earns his rightful place in the recital of MOPEry. Thomas Churchyard’s A general rehearsall of warres recorded, approvingly, Gilbert’s way of winning hearts and minds:

His manner was that the heads of all those (of what sort soever they were) which were killed in the day, should be cut off from their bodies, and brought to the place where he encamped at night, and should there be laid on the ground, by each side of the way leading to his own tent, so that none could come unto his tent for any cause, but commonly he must pass through a lane of heads, which he used ad terrorem, the dead feeling nothing the more pains thereby, and yet did it bring great terror to the people, when they saw the heads of their dead fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolk and friends, lie on the ground before their faces, as they came to speak with the said colonel.​

The Lord Deputy knighted Gilbert for that service. A beneficial marriage to a landed Kentish heiress, Anne Ager, or Aucher ensued.

Colonisation
Allow me to get back on track, by leaping a few years.

By 1577-78 Gilbert was using his Court friends to launch schemes to annoy the King of Spayne. He aimed to destroy the Spanish and Portuguese fishing fleets working the Newfoundland Banks, and he received Letters Patent to search out and possess remote heathen and barbarous landes.

His first attempt, setting out in November 1578 came adrift. He fell out with his co-mate, Henry Knollys (another dodgy bloke), who promptly tried to get advantage. The result was Gilbert back in port with a bedraggled expedition within months. Gilbert was then instructed to use his ships to patrol the Munster coast: he ‘forgot’ to pay his sailors, who upped-and-offed with two of his vessels, making another hole in Anne Ager’s marriage portion.

By late 1582 Gilbert had put together a speculative proposition for a second effort. On 11 June 1583 his five ships (one of which was The Golden Hind) left Plymouth, Gilbert waved his Letters Patent at the Spanish and Portuguese fishing fleets, and reached St John’s on 3 August. Gilbert then claimed the harbour and two hundred leagues in all directions for Queen Elizabeth.

Three weeks later Gilbert with three ships headed south (there is some evidence that Gilbert had always set his eyes on the Caribbean). One of his ships was wrecked, and the remaining two crews had had enough, and decided to return home. On 9 September Gilbert was caught in an Atlantic storm, and was lost at sea. End of that story.

The amazing Ingram
The above account, however rudimentary, suggests several attractions for the Newfoundland venture:

  • English settlements in the New World were a fashionable topic in Elizabethan England. The all-purpose Dr John Dee was a particular propagandist;
  • the Newfoundland Banks, and the cod, were a very promising resource;
  • it was off the beaten track for the Spanish, so less chance of small English ships being caught by a massive Hispanic galleon (see below for that eventuality);
  • the French were already on the spot, and poking a rough stick at that lot was ever good english practice;
  • St John’s (latitude 47°33′) is close to a rhumb line from the west of Britain (Bristol is 51°45′). Until John Harrison had his chronometers working (and that’s two centuries after Gilbert & co.), longitude was problematic.

There was one more factor, which brings me back to the extraordinary story of Barking-boy David Ingram.  Were his traveller’s tale not verified by others, this could be another wild fantasy. There’s a far more detailed essay, by Charlton Ogburn, here.

Ingram had been with John Hawkins and Francis Drake in scourging the Spanish trade in the Caribbean. Hawkins took his six vessels to revictual at San Juan de Ulúa (think Veracruz). Alas! The annual flotilla, thirteen great ships, dropped in soon after, with the new Viceroy of Mexico, Don Martín Enríquez de Almanza, on board. Despite initial negotiations, Martín suddenly broke any agreement, and a one-sided battle ensued. Only two of Hawkins’s ships escaped.

Heavily overburdened, Hawkins unloaded the excess ‘self-loading freight’ on the Texas coast. This group aimed to head north. Ingram and two companions, named as Brown and Twyde, apparently hiked all the way to Cape Breton. Which, if true, would be the earliest exploration of the Atlantic coast.

That’s all in 1568. Only in 1582 was Ingram was interrogated by Sir Francis Walsingham (Elizabeth’s ‘M’) and Sir George Peckham (that’s the Gilbert link). Much of Ingram’s story, which was published in 1583, stretches the imagination, and Ogburn’s essay treats it as Walsingham’s propaganda. John Toohey for The Public Domain Review was able to find parallels, and is far more positive than the sceptical Ogburn. Hakluyt included Ingam’s tale in his first edition (1589), but not the second (1598) — which might be taken as dismissive.

Challenge
I’ll stake a claim to David Ingram as ‘Impossible Journey #1’.

I welcome others to suggest stories that beat it. But I have a couple already in mind.

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Oh, for a lottery wind-fall

There’s an art auction to the Royal Dublin Society next Monday.

Two items leap out:

a nice Jack Yeats:

That’s “Spring Tide, Schull Harbour’. Probably some five-figures worth: currently a bit below €40k.

I spent several school holidays at Schull in my early ‘teens. I reckon I may have swum off that very spot, if not certainly from very close by (I remember the slimy kelp, and may bear scars from the abrasive barnacles).

a superb Paul Henry:

Evening in Achill. Can anything be more redolent, more Paul Henry, more railway poster? And yours — as of now — for no more €120k

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Yesterday’s lunch: the Durham Ox, Crayke

The Lady-in-my-Life, #2 Daughter and I lunched in this cosy corner of the Bar at the Durham Ox:

Ignore the candle: this was lunch. Do note the carved panel, with the fox-and-geese fable.

Check out the number 40 timetable for a perfect illustration of how Tory austerity has denuded rural areas of any kind of public transport. As a consequence here we have an excellent village pub, in a delightful setting, with no access except for motorists. Breaks one’s heart.

That said, the view from the car-park, southwards across the Vale of York, is worth the trip in itself:

 

  • Ordnance Survey Landranger map 100: Malton & Pickering.
  • Grid Reference: SE 56205 70514

 

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I Kidd you not

Of all the ornaments to Rupert Murdoch’s (slightly) more up-market tabloid, Patrick Kidd has to be one of the more polished.

He did the daily Parliamentary Sketch with aplomb and wit, until elbowed aside to provide space for the repetitive gybes and tropes of Quentin Letts-Not. Kidd is an enthusiast for the works of the Wonderful Wodehouse, as here:

As darkness started to engulf Europe near the end of 1938, PG Wodehouse not only lightened the gloom with his best comic novel but showed how Britain could get through the next few years. “Never let a pal down” is the code by which Bertie Wooster lives and, while he may be mentally negligible, his optimism, honour and decency (coupled with having an awfully clever sidekick to get him out of scrapes) epitomised the British spirit.

Neville Chamberlain was in Munich having a chinwag with Hitler when this tale of cow creamers, policemen’s helmets and leather notebooks was serialised in a British newspaper. It reintroduced some of Wodehouse’s finest characters: the newt-fancying Gussie Fink-Nottle, the formidable Aunt Dahlia, and that droopy, soupy specimen Madeline Bassett, with her most extraordinary views on stars and rabbits. Above all it gave us the vile Roderick Spode, commander of The Black Shorts and a brilliant send-up of all fascist dictators.

Beat that, Quentin Least.

Yesterday Kidd returned to his happy hunting ground: the follies of the Kippers, with this peroration:

Mr Batten beamed indulgently at his juvenile comrades acting like toddlers smearing excrement up the wall in a cry for attention, I thought of Ukip leaders past — Henry Bolton, who said he could strangle a badger with his bare hands and ended up living in a hotel with a model half his age; His Excellency Sir Paul Nuttall PhD, the Ashes-winning Nobel laureate and CV fabricator; Diane James, who wrote “under duress” as she signed her leadership form and lasted a fortnight; and Mr Farage, a shy, modest man who always refused to do any broadcasts after more than five pints — and regretted the demise of a party of dignity and professionalism.

For a few moments, reading Kidd’s piece, I sensed the spirits of Plum Wodehouse and Heil Spode! still walking amongst us. One for joy: one for sorrow.

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Revision aid: why ‘Good Friday’?

The road to Calvary Catu-rātis:

Catterick, still a garrison town (though even that is not what it once was), appears on Claudius Ptolomy‘s map of AD150. Not as a military post (which it already was) but as a marker between climatic zones.

Redfellow Hovel is just off the modern A19 road. Once upon  time: Dere Street. I had always assumed the line of this continuation of the Great North Road, on from its coaching-days terminus in York, followed that of the Roman road from Eboracum to Catterick and points north:

The British History website (from which I ripped that map, above) corrects me:

Road 5, from the N.W., enters the city at a point 275 ft. S. of Shipton Road (N.G. 588533). Its course from the lane at the back of the Homestead Gardens to Water End (N.G. 58955315 to N.G. 59135291) was formerly marked by a parish boundary, now obsolete (see 60 ins. O.S. (1853), Sheet 4) but the laying out of the Gardens has obliterated both road and boundary. Opposite the entrance to the Gardens in Water End the road was exposed in 1893 in a sewer trench at a depth of 1½ ft. (O.S., Object Namebook, Sheet 174 N.W. plan 6, 137); it was 24 ft. wide. S.E. of Water End the road was marked by another parish boundary, now also obsolete and represented by the boundary between the grounds of Clifton Croft and the back gardens of houses in Westminster Road; this continued the original alignment for 175 ft., then, after a slight change of direction at the N. end of the outbuildings of Clifton Croft (N.G. 59145288), it marked the road for another 690 ft. to N.G. 593527. Some 770 ft. further S.E. on the same alignment the road was found in 1954 in a position 26 ft. N.E. of St. Peter’s School Swimming Baths (N.G. 59455256); it was composed of cobbles and clay and approximately 25 ft. wide (YPSR (1954), 13–8). Prolongation of the line would pass through the gateway of St. Mary’s Abbey; according to a 13th-century document quoted by T. Widdrington (Analecta Eboracensia (ed. C. Caine, 1897), 121–2), the abbey grounds included the site of an ancient street. The road was clearly designed to pass in front of the fortress, to the S.W. gate and the river crossing before it.

I still take the short-cut through the grounds of St Mary’s Abbey, across the outline of the abbey chancel, and across  the (now) York Museum Gardens, and so into Lyndal and Coney Street.

Usually the A19, coming into York, is a static car-park, particularly so when the bourgeoisie are delivering or collecting their spawn from the two prestigious private schools either side of Redfellow Hovel.

This morning we headed out, and — mirabile dictu! — the road was clear. This prompted the thought that the godless English respect (by non-observance, and staying at home) only two main Christian occasions: Christmas Day and Good Friday. The first because there’s little ‘news’ (outside the Murdoch press). The second because it’s a sombre sort of Sunday — and, until recently, it was Sunday opening hours at the pubs (noon to 2:30pm and 7pm to 10:30pm).

But why is this Friday ‘Good’?

It seems to have been ‘Good Friday’ since the time of Edward I Longshanks.

Around 1300 we have a version of St John’s Gospel:

A-morewe, ase on þe guode friday, ase he deide on þe rode.

However, the OED predates that with a Dutch Goede Vrijdag from around 1240.

But still no clue about the day’s ‘goodness’.

Friday is, in superstition, on balance a ‘bad’ day, not only because of the Crucifixion, but because it was also supposed to be the day Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise. The Hatton Manuscript in the Bodleian has this, from the 11th century (my Wessex dialect of Saxon being … err … a bit rusty, in modern English:

If he be born on Friday or its night, he shall be accursed of all men, silly, and crafty, and loathsomevto all men, and shall ever be thinking evil in his heart, and shall be a thief and a great coward, and shall not live longermthan to mid age.

‘God’s Friday’?

I’ll hard many sermons, preached today, will offer that as an ‘expalnation’. It is as likely be followed bty a frolic on the German Karfreitag, with a derivation from the High German for wail, sorrow or lamentation. Since many German Lander retain laws banning entertainments and sports on Karfreitag — and enforce them —  I see that point. My study of philology in many decades past, but I do not instantly see why the different ‘O’ sounds in God and good could easily be confounded.

Bottom line

I suggest there is an easier explanation for ‘Good Friday’. It’s an extreme form of litotes (‘a rhetorical understatement in which a negative is substituted for a positive’) or meiosis (‘lessening’). This involves the use of euphemism for a harsh truth.

So, I’ll correct my opening statement. Just after breakfast time this morning, the A19 road through Clifton and Bootham was clear of traffic. This afternoon, the Lady in my Life informs me, the centre of York is solid with bodies. The Brigantes (the tribe that inhabit these parts in Roman days) are indulging in their modern religious observance of retail therapy.

Then, and only then …

… did I reach down my Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1970 edition. Nothing on ‘Good Friday’, but there’s this:

Goodman’s Croft.
The name given in Scotland to a strip of land or corner of a field left untilled in the belief that unless such a place were left, the Devil (called Goodman as a propitiatory gesture) would spoil the crop.

Sure enough, that’s there in the OED, with a citation from 1650:

It was demandit if ther wer..heir..any plot of land unlabored, dedicat to the dewill, called the gudman‘s croft.

As for ‘goodman’, after a long listing of usages for, among others, ‘landlord’, the OED has:

7. Scottish. euphemistic.
The devil. In later use frequently in the auld goodman. Now archaic and hist.

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A slime-mould rejuvenates …

Today, to the massed adoration  of a tight circle of fiends — sorry, ‘friends’, the egregious Nigel Farage is relaunching as the ‘leader’ of the Brexit Party.

His previous success was based on his Leave.EU campaign — financed by Arron Banks, based on lies and misrepresentation, involving gross manipulation over the rules of campaign financing. No: we still don’t know where the multimillions came from. We can be sure, though, they were crooked.

And then there’s the small matter of Farage’s involvement in one of the great market frauds of all time: the hedge-fundies ramp. It’s all described, in detail, by a Bloomberg investigation.

Essentially, it come down to:

  • double-dealing by polling companies, telling the public enough to deceive, but having a wholly-different set of findings for their shadowy contractors;
  • Farage used as a stooge for the con trick.

In short, the hedge-fundies spent as much as a $1 million on ‘Operation Pomegranate’. A detailed poll was commissioned from YouGove. On the night of the #Brexit vote, Farage had knowledge of this YouGov exit poll . This indicated the ‘Leave’ win. Even so, Farage twice (just to make sure) went on TV to announce a ‘Remain’ win. That drove the pound sterling above $1.50 for the first time in months. The hedgies ‘shorted’ sterling, and made their killing.

If a reprobate did that in a betting shop, it would likely be a criminal offence (compare and consider what Paul Newman, and Robert Redford did to Robert Shaw in The Sting). In the casino that is ‘the financial markets’, that’s all fair-and-dandy.

We do not know what Farage’s financial resources amount to — as a former currency trader, he ought to be well-heeled, and have intimate knowledge of such shenanigans. Estimates of his wealth range upwards from £4 million, into many multiples thereof. That kind of stash doesn’t arrive just by serially fiddling EU expenses.

Today’s launch of his new vehicle didn’t go to any detailed plan. Nobody had bothered to register ‘The Brexit Party’  for a website. So the Remainers did it for them. Oh, jolly japes.

Any political operation needs and deserves a memorable logo. So, where did we see this one before?

Hillary Clinton’s effort from 2015-16 was variously described as ‘unoriginal’, ‘clunky’:

the reviews of her campaign’s new logo design—a patriotic blue, red and white “H” with an arrow pointing right at the center—were uniformly negative. Why is the arrow red (the Republican color in the US), some asked, and why is it pointing toward the right? Were voters going to interpret it as an imminent shift towards more conservative positions? Others plainly stated that the logo didn’t say anything at all.

Farage’s lot even managed to hint the ‘H’ there. But black-and-blue? That’s really cruisin’ for a bruisin’ …

 

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