One event the wikipedia entry on Earls Court somehow fails to mention happened on Sunday, 16th July 1939. Oswald Mosley harangued some 30,000 black-shirted fascists in what must count as Britain’s biggest indoor political huddle. When Mosley raised his arm to invite the fascist salutes of of adoring legions, a voice called out: “Yes, Oswald, you may leave the room!” — to be promptly set upon by unkindly, booted guardians-of-the-piece.
Whatever delights the horrid old hanger has offered since, for many of a certain age — a bit older than my aged self — that taints the spot. Even my visits to the Great British Beer Festival there didn’t wash away the taste. Then again, I was there for the 2001 Eagles concert; and that was less than uplifting.
So, despite the well-meant furore over Boris Johnson’s stitch-up to redevelop the site, and turn it into another barren waste of Qatari-owned flats, I’ll not greatly miss it. That Art-Deco façade deserved better, just possibly.
It’s all a long, long way and while since the Earl’s Court area was “Kangaroo Valley”, bed-sit land for passing (and soon passed-out) Australasian youths — with fag-shop accommodation ads infamously: “No blacks, no dogs, no Irish”, posted alongside assorted fly-blown “models”. At least Boris Johnson’s gift to the developers, and a new Asian ownership may lead to an upgrade in tart cards.
A chilling surprise
Cooking that gross of words, I went looking for a Youtube or similar illustration for Mosley. I was presented instead with this:
Thank you, DuckDuckGo, for that useful reminder of the workings of our surveillance and suspicious society.
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones
We do indeed live in a connected world.
Out of Oswald Mosley’s gang sprang several post-war rightist groups, of varying unsavouriness. Similarly Archibald Ramsay’s secret Right Club (the subversive, aristocratic, anti-semitic, pro-fascist “patriotic society” of 1939) never really went away. His Red Book (which turned up, in code, after his death) supposedly itemised his Tory sympathisers.
It doesn’t do to scratch too hard at the MI5/MI6 nexus — types like Peter “Spycatcher” Wright and Chapman Pincher, his fellow-travelling journalist mouthpiece — to realise how weirdos festered in our securocrat demimonde.
Then there was the phenomenon that was Enoch Powell. It is difficult to credit that such a sophisticated intellect was ignorant of the consequences of his “Rivers of Blood” speech (20 April 1968) — equally difficult that it was entirely divorced from the 8 May 1968 gathering of Cecil King and Hugh Cudlipp of IPC (the newspaper operation), Lord Mountbatten of Burma and Sir Solly Zuckerman, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser. Discussion point: a plot to overthow the elected Labour Government with a self-appointed cabal. Zukerman, to his eternal credit, told the others they were into “treason”, and walked out. Later that year, the Times editorial, written by its editor William Rees-Mogg (father of the even more effete Jacob), pressed for a “coalition” administration, with an agenda not too dissimilar to that of the loony King & co.
Yet, when Ted Heath sacked Powell from the Tory Front Bench, a thousand London dockers and meat-porters marched on Westminster to demand his restoration, and repatriation of “coloured” immigrants.
How far is all that from the UKIP phenomenon?
Well, none too far, should we believe the Daily Mail (which knows something about fascist tendencies):
Channel Four News broadcast comments from teachers at Dulwich College that the teenage Farage was a ‘fascist’ and a ‘racist’ when a pupil at the private London school in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
A letter from 1981 claims Mr Farage, now 49, was even heard ‘shouting Hitler Youth songs’. The claims did not prevent him being appointed as a prefect at the school.
The Ukip leader last night played down the significance of the claims, which he said were made by left-wing teachers who disliked his views. He denied singing Nazi songs.
Classic stuff, eh? With additional persecution-mania to boot (left-wing teachers at a fee-paying public school? — see also what’s next).
Then came the Telegraph‘s not-quite-earth-shattering revelations:
Few politicians had dared to praise [Enoch Powell] in public until 2008, when Mr Farage, who at the time had been leader of UK Independence Party for two years, named him as his political hero, saying: “While his language may seem out of date now, the principles remain good and true.”
Mr Farage added: “I would never say that Powell was racist in any way at all. Had we listened to him, we would have much better race relations now than we have got.” Then, in January this year, Mr Farage was read parts of the “Rivers of Blood” speech on Sky News’s Murnaghan programme and said he agreed with the “basic principle” of Mr Powell’s words.
Mr Farage has only ever admitted to two meetings with Powell, who died in 1998. In his autobiography, Fighting Bull, Mr Farage described how on meeting Powell as a teenager at Dulwich College, the MP “dazzled me for once into an awestruck silence”.
We have, by this stage made some direct connections:
The knee-twitch bone connected to the <sigh> bone,
The shoulder bone connected to the raised-arm bone,
The brass-neck bone connected to the brain-dead bone.
Which brings us back to small-town persecution-mania. And Mr David Coburn MEP. Who, is a very interesting MEP, indeed.
Obviously he so thoroughly impressed the UKIP selection team that they overlooked his Bexley background, to see in him an ideal nominee to head their Scottish Euro-parliamentary list (a proud Scotsman too proud to live and vote in Scotland). They overlooked, too, his Leeds University law degree (failed) — Kipper selection panels are very generous in interpreting CVs, as with Mrs Boulter. They overlooked a homophobic gayness about him [single-sex marriage is just for some queen who wants to dress up in a bridal frock and in a big moustache and dance up the aisle to the Village People].
However, Coburn — to the greater delight of all sensate beings — has excelled himself:
A parody Twitter account depicting Ukip’s members as characters in Trumpton, the setting of the 1960s children’s programme of the same name, has been denounced by one of the party’s MEPs.
David Coburn did not see the funny side of @Trumpton_UKIP, which has fictionalised the small town’s politics since September.
On the parody account, the town of Trumpton has come up against the influx of migration with a roll-call of firemen “Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grudzinski . . . wait! what!???” and opposed CHS2, a high-speed train connecting the town with nearby Chigley, promising “vote #ukip Get Steam Trains!”
Mr Coburn has instructed his followers to report the account to the social media site’s regulators. The MEP has also announced plans to take legal action for a breach of copyright.
As of the time of writing Mr Coburn has 9,155 Twitter followers. Trumpton_Ukip has 21 thousand.