NEWS: A bigot is a labelled a bigot

April 29, 2010

Calling a mouthy old bigot, a bigot, is apparently some great evil now. The only issue I take with Gordon Brown calling Gillian Duffy a bigot, is that he didn’t say it to her face. He wimped out. He was all smiles and treating her like a wonderful woman. He pandered to the bigot, for electioneering purposes. And then, behind her back, called her what she is; a bigot. He should have had the balls to say it to her face. She is a bigot.

Sky, with it’s agenda, went on to say “She didn’t say anything remotely bigoted, and in fact was asking about the economy.” Sky omitted to show Ms Duffy at her most bigoted, because it might have hurt their chances at some glorious Labour attacking.

Gillian Duffy, said:

all these Eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?

Geography lessons might have worked to her advantage here. At that point, Gordon should have said “From Eastern Europe, you daft old bigot” but he didn’t. The Right winged press have had a field day. The Daily Mail support Gillian for bringing up immigration. I expect I can count on their support when I ask the Prime Minister where “all these blacks, asians and queers are flocking from“. I’d hope they’d call me a bigot, because, it is bigoted, and absolutely pathetic.
She should be demonised. Not Gordon Brown.

I keep up-to-date with a blog by an Eastern European lady, who wrote a brilliant argument as to why Gillian Duffy’s comments, are quite obviously bigoted. Elmyra writes:

“The slow, sad realisation that the political culture in the UK is such that no politician has any choice but to grovel to the bigots. Because standing up and explaining to them instead that immigrants make a massive contribution to the economy, let alone that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of nationality, citizenship or contribution, would be political suicide.
And finally a profound sense of isolation, hurt, and being alone. Tears and huge heaving sobs. I’ve not cried like that in about five years.
That’s how Gillian Duffy has made me feel today. What did I ever do to her?”

That is why Gillian Duffy is a bigot.
Gordon Brown was right.

The English Renaissance

April 29, 2010

The European Renaissance was a breeding ground for absolutely magnificent Italian painters and sculptors. Carravagio, an early Rembrandt, is a particular favourite of mine, his macabre use of shadowing is stunning. Bernini’s sculptors in the centre of Rome, define the city for me. But the likes of Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Donatello and Botticelli are synonymous with fantastic art work. Especially when you view them up close. Standing in the centre of the Sistine Chapel and gazing at Michelangelo’s handy work, is simply incredible.

So one wonders, why were there no great English Renaissance artists? Why did we miss out? I honestly cannot name one great English Renaissance artist up until the Hellenism of the Eighteenth Century; but even then, our artists were nothing in comparison to our Poets who invoked Antiquity when speaking of paradise. Lord Byron and John Keats among those.

Oscar Wilde wrote of this particular brand of English Renaissance as:

“of the vision of Homer as of the vision of Dante, of Keats and William Morris as of Chaucer and Theocritus. It lies at the base of all noble, realistic and romantic work as opposed to the colourless and empty abstractions of our own eighteenth-century poets anti of the classical dramatists of France, or of the vague spiritualities of the German sentimental school”

He shows here that 18th Century Romanticism, and Hellenism of the pre-Raphaelites were essentially the English catching up to the methodology of the Italian Renaissance artists two centuries previous. The essence, being a passionate romantic humanism. You can see this very essence, in the works of Millais and Rossetti. Works that take their inspiration from Antiquity, and Renaissance Europe. If you go to Tate Britain, you will see “Ecce Ancilla Domini” by Rossetti. You could be forgiven for thinking it was created in Ancient Greece or Quattrocentro Italy, or Renaissance Florence; it was produced in 19th Century England. And whilst these works certainly take inspiration from the Italian Renaissance (despite the Pre-Raphaelite’s apparent disdain for Renaissance artistry), they still have a wonderful individual quality of their own, that separate them into something entirely new, yet I can never quite figure out what that quality is. It is simply there. The Pre-Raphaelites represented a lost idea of spirituality, in an age of enlightenment. We can safely say, that England gained it’s Renaissance, two or three centuries after the rest of Europe.

But that still begs the question, why wasn’t England producing any art of any worth during the 15th, 16th, and 17th Centuries. I’d suggest, it was all because of Religion.

The Italian Renaissance artists of the 15th-17th Centuries, were all Roman Catholic. They followed the Catholic tradition to it’s very fundamentals. And whilst the art itself may have presented Holy figures as mere mortals, the grandeur of those Holy figures, was supremely Catholic; colourful and striking, romantic backdrops and visions of the Divine with human emotion and imperfections. The artists were commissioned by Popes and grand Catholic nobles like the Medici. Renaissance art in Italy, was Catholicism on canvas.

England, around that same time, had spent the 1530s breaking with Rome, and separating ourselves entirely, from the Continent. Catholicism became a dangerous practice. Even the Catholic Queen of England, was lucky to have survived it. Queen Catherine just so happened to be a close relative of the powerful Holy Roman Emperor, who was a staunch Catholic. She had his support. If it wasn’t for that relationship, she would have been almost certainly executed during the English Henrician reformation. Catholicism was dangerous in England in the 16th Century. Catholic extravagance, including it’s art, were not appreciated in England. The Reformers considered them to be the same sort of anti-Bible sentiment, as idol worship. The Pope, the great art work commissioner, was considered an anti-Christ, in the eyes of the English reformers. And so, by that logic, i’d argue that any attempt at such elaborate and extravagant art works used for the eminence of the Catholic Church, would have been utterly obscene, to the English Court.

The Court painter, the man behind the great portraits of Thomas More and Jane Seymore, was Hans Holbein, a man who followed the writings of Luther, and Erasmus. Holbein was a humanist, and gradually became very anti-Catholic. Perfect for the Tudor Court.

Catholicism, whilst it has been rather violent, and has a history of very unchristian-like viciousness, has undoubtedly produced some of history’s most beautiful works of art. One wonders what great works of art may have been produced throughout England, had the break from Rome not happened, and had Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon produced a son and heir in the first place.

Three Lions

April 25, 2010

I’m not a big sports fan in comparison to a lot of people. My family are a family of cricket lovers. My dad used to coach Leicestershire, he and David Gower were the closest of friends growing up, and I used to play as a kid. But I really don’t enjoy cricket at all any more. It bores me a little. The Ashes has me hooked, but apart from that, it’s a little bit awful.

My relationship with football is a little odd. Of all sports, it is my favourite. It is the greatest game on Earth. Soccer AM is a must watch every saturday morning, and I do tentatively follow the basics of what is going on across England and Europe, every week. I don’t follow everything as closely as possible though. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert. I follow it all, my own way. I cannot tell you who the centre back for Barcelona is, nor who West Ham are hosting at Upton Park this weekend, but I do keep a close eye on my team – Leicester City, I keep a close eye on internationals across the World, and I keep a close eye on England.

England, in the World Cup or the Euros, always strikes up a sense of Patriotism across the Country. Even among those who aren’t football fans in the slightest. One of my earliest memories, is watching my mum (who does not like football) being unable to watch the 1990 World Cup Semi final, because the intensity of the penalty shoot out had her hid behind a cushion, and angrily yelling at Pearce a few seconds later.

The World Cup this year, is held in South Africa. Games will be played, whilst I am in Australia, which means getting up at around 3-4am every morning to watch (which I will be doing, without fail). England have, what should be a pretty easy group. USA, Slovenia, and Algeria. Every four years, we say “this is the best chance we’ve had in years” and we always blow it. So whilst I remain optimistic in a sense that I secretly hope 2010 is the new 1966, in reality, if I had to bet now, my money would be on Spain. Ten out of ten in qualifiers and current holders of the European Cup, suggests that Spain, are a little bit brilliant. Argentina (if we invade Argentina, and make it a British colony before the World Cup begins, can we technically put Messi in the England side? That would be nice) I think could prove to be a problem for Spain, as could Brazil. But i’m still putting my bet on a Spanish win.

Either way.
It’s about time an England open top bus rode through Trafalgar Square with eleven players, and a trophy on show.
Shades of ’66 please.

Never be tired of England

April 23, 2010

Happy St Georges Day.
Did you know that King George III never formally acknowledge the independence of the USA? Therefore, we still own it. Nor did we agree to the full independence of Australia (The Australia Act of 1986, I choose to ignore). Therefore, we still own that too. And when I get there in July, I will proclaim myself Governor of Australia for Her Majesty The Queen. We’ll forget this silly “independence” thing in no time.

The Daily Mail in it’s quest to tarnish Nick Clegg as some great evil, had this to say earlier this week:

“His wife is Spanish, his mother Dutch, his father half-Russian and his spin doctor German. Is there ANYTHING British about Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg?”

It’s amazing isn’t it?
Nick Clegg, the posh English intelligent Lib Dem leader, is apparently an evil foreigner, despite the fact, that he was born….. in Berkshire.
Given that the husband of the Queen is a relative of the Russian tsars, I hope the Daily Mail will soon begin an anti-monarchy quest.

Today is St Georges day.
It is beautiful outside.
I have sat in my garden with a book and a drink sat by me, for most of it.
The reasons I do not fly the St Georges cross flag is something I dislike about the way it has been manipulated. St Georges cross and the Union Jack have been hijacked by the far right in recent years, to show that they aren’t too keen on muslims. It is used by those who keep claiming muslims are out to destroy England, rape your children, punch your grandmother in the face, and ban Christmas. It is from those who use the phrase “it’s political correctness gone mad” to cloak their inherent stupidity and ignorance. “You know, you can’t even smear shit into a a pakistani man’s face in the shape of the cross of St George whilst telling him to fuck off out the Country any more, without the politically correct bias liberal media telling you it’s racist. It’s political correctness gone mad!!!” I don’t want to associate myself with that type of person. Anyone who associates England with “the white race” is disgusting, in my view.

But I do love this country. In fact, I absolutely adore this country. I do not appreciate the far right telling me that I hate this country, simply because I am not a nazi. I do not believe in a singular concept of “Englishness”. My views on Englishness, are pretty post-modern in that respect. I love this country, for my own reasons, which I will now list.

I love the English summer time. I love traditional English seaside holidays. I love the sound of English amusement arcades on the seafront. I love Tudor history. I love being in the city centre for Diwali celebrations. I love the English countryside. I love standing in the sea on the English south coast despite it being freezing. I love the scent of England in the early summer mornings. I love English Christmas, the food, Morcambe and Wise, and bucks fizz. I love red post boxes. I love the majority of the people who are always polite, friendly, and tolerant. I love that I am the grandson of a World War II navy veteran. I love eccentric Brits. I love Camden. I love not understanding a word the speaker says over the tannoy at a local Tesco. I love Newstead Abbey. I love Bradgate Park. I love feeding ducks. I love those little green or red or blue or yellow arm bands the local swimming pools give you, to let you know when your time in the water is up. I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles. I love how we cannot go a day without at least one cup of tea. I love Brit pop! I love getting into bed, under a huge new duvet on a freezing winter’s night. I love wearing an England football shirt throughout the World Cup and Euros every couple of years. I love reading the papers before the World Cup that tell me that Wayne Rooney is at his peak. I love not understanding why our clocks go forward and backward every now and again. I love trilby hats. I love speakers corner. I love hearing the sound of an ice cream van. I love that we are part of Europe. I love Devon and Cornwall. I love our charity days like Red Nose day and Children in need. I love the National Health Service. I love that we are a country that still cares for it’s sick and injured. I love that we are a nation of compassion and acceptance rather than distrust, dogmatic individualism and miserable hatred. I love great British comedians like the Pythons, and Spike Milligan and comedies like Blackadder and Only Fools. I love our sense of humour. I love our sarcasm. I love talking to random people on the park when i’m taking the dog for a run. I love our political music like The Clash and The Jam. I love London. I love bike rides around England. I love black cabs. I love that on one long road just outside of Brighton there is a church, a mosque, a synagogue and a gay bar a little further down, and no problems arise. I love that we have minimum wage. I love the BBC. I love how overly excited our papers get when Wimbledon begins. I love our poets like Wordsworth and Byron. I love that Darwin was English. I love traditional English breakfasts. I love that we do not care what our leaders’ religious beliefs are. I love random games of football on the park. I love our regional colloquialisms. I love the words of Shakespeare and Milton.

I highlighted “I love how we are a mash of cultural differences and historical struggles” because I think it raises an important point. We have never been a single culture, that is now being “eroded“. You cannot erode something that is not static. We have always been a mash of cultures constantly updating and changing. There have been times when those in control or those sporting racist and xenophobic views have tried to impose uniformity, but Britain is great because we have always rejected uniformity in that sense. I will give you an example.

For the majority of English history, since the year 0, this country has been Catholic. Our history, is Catholicism.
Before the 1530s, England was a Catholic nation. The Catholic church was a predominant feature of every community within England. It’s Latin mass, it’s imagery and it’s elaborate dressings along with it’s rituals and rites were what defined England. We weren’t really a nation state at all. We were a vassal of Rome, in all honesty. Given that our own King could not divorce without the permission of the Pope, suggests that ultimately, control lay with Rome. The English people liked it that way. That was England. That was our culture.

During the Reformation Parliaments of the 1530s, the preambles to the statutes written by Thomas Cromwell, try to rewrite this culture, to suit their own needs. The break from Rome and establishment of an English Church would have been massive. Within the space of three years during the 1530s, the entire English system of power, law, and the basis of community had changed beyond recognition. The Henrician church and the Roman Catholic Church were vastly different systems of control and belief.

According to historian Sir William Holdsworth:

“The preamble to the Statute of Appeals is remarkable.. because it manufactures history upon an unprecedented scale.”

Anyone who happened to disagree with the King’s god-given right above the Pope, to be “Supreme Head of the Church in England“, was swiftly and quite horrifically dealt with. It did not bother Henry or Cromwell or Cranmer or any of the other reformers within Court, that the vast majority of the English public, did not believe the King had power above that of the Pope. English culture, for over a millenium, put the Pope as their true ruler, and no one else. Catholicism, (which by the way, was brought to us by immigrants – the Romans, after Claudius invasion of the Country) was so ingrained in the minds of the public, that people like Thomas More were willing to die for their opposition to Cromwell’s reform, rather than betray their beliefs.

The preamble by Cromwell, to the Act of Supremacy of 1534 intriguingly tries to force opinion again, rewrites history, imposes the Act as objective truth (so much so that the accompanying Treason Act made it punishable by death to say the King was not Supreme head of the Church, or talk about the Pope being Head before him), and one wonders whether Cromwell would have gone this far, had the Pope granted Henry his divorce from Catherine in the first place:

“Albeit the king’s Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their convocations.”

I cannot express just how momentous a change this Reformation Parliament truly was. We were now completely cut off from the Church in Rome, and therefore, cut off from Europe in it’s entirety. Propaganda from the government of Henry made it an offence to be Catholic.

A little over fifteen years later, after Henry had backtracked a little, adding more confusion to what it meant to be English; his son Edward was a child, and only allowed to read books by Protestant writers. He grew up anti-Catholic. When the Duke of Northumberland became the defacto King whilst Edward was still too young, the first thing he did, was rid the council of anyone who still held even slightly Catholic views. After Edward died, Mary then tried to revert back to Catholicism and rejoin the jurisdiction of Rome. Elizabeth, after Mary, settled the dispute, and created a settlement that held mainly Protestant beliefs, but incorporated Catholic beliefs too, although the authority of the Pope was still denied.

The point of this, is that we have never been one single minded Nation. We have always been a mesh of different beliefs and forced uniformity. Catholics viewed Protestants with suspicion in the same way that those racists who claim to be pro-British now view Islam. Irrational fear. There is nothing English about it. We have always updated, and we have always been in a constant state of change, there is no single identity. English culture is created by it’s people, and it is changed and updated with every passing generation. The people can be Catholic, Pagan, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Sikh, Black, White, Asian, Gay, Straight, fat or thin. It doesn’t matter. That is what makes Britain great, and it is the one thing I love most about this country.

The 2nd debate.

April 22, 2010

Sky News, Murdoch run, turning more to the Right wing every time I watch, started the debate today, with Andrew Boulton (who is a kind of Bill O’Reilly-lite) as host, pointing to the first member of the audience with a question. Can you guess what a right wing TV station that has to be impartial, and knowing that the only party to be massively Euro-skeptic are the Conservative Party, would use as it’s first question? Well, to summarise, it was, unsurprisingly…

“ARRRRGH!!! EUROPE, BRUSSELS! EVIL ARRRGGH!!! What will you do about this?”

Quite obviously, Cameron and Brown lost. Clegg won again. Last week, which was an obvious Clegg win, saw Sky News immediately after the debate (remember, Sky is owned by Murdoch, who also owns The Sun, who are unapologetically Tory. He also owns right winged Fox News in America) said Cameron won. They put him massively ahead of the other two. Despite the entire Country saying otherwise. Tonight, the Sun poll, immediately after the debate, put Cameron on top again. According to the Sun and Sky, Cameron has won both debates. Really? In fact, last week, Sky said 45% of people polled said Cameron won and only 23% said Clegg won. I don’t think 45% of Conservative HQ would have said that Cameron won. What utter nonsense. The reporters kept saying “Clegg didn’t win, he didn’t win did he? CLEGG DIDN’T WIN!!!” Kate Burley wont let it go. Everyone she interviews, she tells them that Clegg didn’t win. He did win by the way. It’s like utter fear among Tory supporters, not less after todays Tory supporting newspapers, all leading with largely pointless smear stories against Nick Clegg. It’s just utter fear among the Tories. They are getting dirty.

I must concede that Nick Clegg is a far better speaker, and offers something different (as far as difference between three businessmen can actually go) to the other two. Yes we need to lead in Europe, not sit and complain like the kicking screaming child of Europe. Yes, Trident is a relic from the Cold War. The Liberal Democrats do appear to be the new Progressives.

David Cameron, whose face makes me want to punch my TV every time I see him, said that he did not want to give power away from Westminster to Brussels without asking the British public if that’s what we want first. Clearly this doesn’t extend to giving away British Nationalised tax payer funded industries like Gas and electric, to men in business suits whose only interest isn’t keeping you warm through the cold winter, but instead making shareholders richer. Did Thatcher give us a referendum on that? Of course not. Power was taken from the British public, and given to faceless businessmen. As Clegg pointed out, the private system of gas and electric, since being taken away from the public, has lead to some old people travelling around on buses, because they’re warmer than staying at home in a cold house they cannot afford to heat. How is that a better system? why is that right, yet socialised gas and electric was some big evil?

Brown looked weak, and got angry every so often. His attempts to suggest he didn’t authorise a leaflet campaign full of lies about the Conservatives, was pitiful. Of course he knew. And if he didn’t, he should have known. Cameron was right to demand that they be recalled.

The Tories position on Europe worries me. But then, i’m pro-European. Cameron in 2007 and again in 2009 stated his plan, as a “top priority” to opt out of the EU Social Charter, if he becomes Prime Minister. This is less surprising then Sky pointing to the first question of the debate being about how evil Europe is. The Conservatives are after all, socially retarded.
The EU Charter says:

1 Everyone shall have the opportunity to earn his living in an occupation freely entered upon.
2 All workers have the right to just conditions of work.
3 All workers have the right to safe and healthy working conditions.
4 All workers have the right to a fair remuneration sufficient for a decent standard of living for themselves and their families.
5 All workers and employers have the right to freedom of association in national or international organisations for the protection of their economic and social interests.
6 All workers and employers have the right to bargain collectively.
7 Children and young persons have the right to a special protection against the physical and moral hazards to which they are exposed.
8 Employed women, in case of maternity, have the right to a special protection.
9 Everyone has the right to appropriate facilities for vocational guidance with a view to helping him choose an occupation suited to his personal aptitude and interests.
10 Everyone has the right to appropriate facilities for vocational training.
11 Everyone has the right to benefit from any measures enabling him to enjoy the highest possible standard of health attainable.
12 All workers and their dependents have the right to social security.
13 Anyone without adequate resources has the right to social and medical assistance.
14 Everyone has the right to benefit from social welfare services.
15 Disabled persons have the right to independence, social integration and participation in the life of the community.
16 The family as a fundamental unit of society has the right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection to ensure its full development.
17 Children and young persons have the right to appropriate social, legal and economic protection.
18 The nationals of any one of the Parties have the right to engage in any gainful occupation in the territory of any one of the others on a footing of equality with the nationals of the latter, subject to restrictions based on cogent economic or social reasons.
19 Migrant workers who are nationals of a Party and their families have the right to protection and assistance in the territory of any other Party.
20 All workers have the right to equal opportunities and equal treatment in matters of employment and occupation without discrimination on the grounds of sex.
21 Workers have the right to be informed and to be consulted within the undertaking.
22 Workers have the right to take part in the determination and improvement of the working conditions and working environment in the undertaking.
23 Every elderly person has the right to social protection.
24 All workers have the right to protection in cases of termination of employment.
25 All workers have the right to protection of their claims in the event of the insolvency of their employer.
26 All workers have the right to dignity at work.
27 All persons with family responsibilities and who are engaged or wish to engage in employment have a right to do so without being subject to discrimination and as far as possible without conflict between their employment and family responsibilities.
28 Workers’ representatives in undertakings have the right to protection against acts prejudicial to them and should be afforded appropriate facilities to carry out their functions.
29 All workers have the right to be informed and consulted in collective redundancy procedures.
30 Everyone has the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion.
31 Everyone has the right to housing.

I wonder what it is that Cameron would like to take away from workers. We know the Conservatives do not particularly like workers rights. Perhaps they wish to take away your right to protection against poverty and social exclusion? Perhaps he doesn’t want you to have the right to dignity at work? Or that old people don’t have a right to social protection? Perhaps young people shouldn’t have any form of social security? Perhaps he doesn’t like the idea that an employer cannot sack a woman just for being pregnant? Or perhaps he doesn’t like the idea of paid maternity leave? Or perhaps the right for workers to bargain collectively? Or perhaps all of the above? They’d like that.

Cameron then decided to blame Brown for spreading fear about the Tories and their economic stance. This comes a day after he was on TV telling us all if we don’t vote Tory, England will be bankrupt, and sink, and if his Euro MEPs are to be believed, infected with AIDs by the evil gays.

Is this change? Regressive change. This regressive, socially retarded change was symbolised this week, when the Tories spoke constantly about how they were the “change Britain needed“, and then wheeled out Kenneth Clarke. The Thatcherite. I didn’t even know he was still alive.

Clegg 2-0-0

The Goldman case

April 21, 2010

So I’m trying to follow this whole Goldman Sachs business. As far as I can tell, between all the specialist language and marketing business jargon and bullshit, what appears to have happened is that Goldman had created horrendous subprime mortgages, given to customers they knew could not afford it. They then, along with Hedgefund Paulson and Co decided which mortgages to package up, packaged these mortgages up and sold them on to investors, without disclosing just how toxic the packages were. The moment the packages were sold on, Goldman Sachs bankers then bet against them on the markets, and made a fortune when the whole system eventually failed miserably and investors lost close to $2billion.

They, in effect, created a financial crises for their own massive gain. Goldman Sachs have said they have done nothing wrong. How is that not wrong? Is it not the equivalent of a football manager actively encouraging people to buy tickets for a game, paying his goal keeper to play shit, therefore losing the match, but in the meantime betting that his team will lose the match, thereby making a fortune? Beneath the deceitful business language that Goldman may employ to try to get out of this, aren’t they simply trying to cover up a massive fraud?

After committing such a huge fraud, and causing widespread misery and despair, Goldman has said that their own profits have soared by 91% and plan to pay bonuses for the past three months, to the tune of £3.5billion. The UK Government are still giving government work to Goldman, effectively using tax payers money to enrich a fraudulent firm. We paid the firm £5,000,000 to consult the government on how to deal with Northern Rock, a bank that failed, because of the subprime crises, which seems to have been caused deliberately, by people working for firms like Goldman Sachs.

Goldman said they had done no wrong and that doing what they did, was:

“normal market practice”

Fraud, is normal market practice. What kind of awful defence is that?

The Goldman Sachs website today has this as it’s statement in regard to the case brought against it:

“We are disappointed that the SEC would bring this action related to a single transaction in the face of an extensive record”

In essence, they are wondering why they are being punished for one fraud, when they’ve been good otherwise. As if to say “Oh it was only once! It wont happen again!!” I might go and steal a car, and use that as my defence when I get arrested.

The hedgefund (Paulson and Co) who actually bet against the packages, hoping that mortgage holders would default, and whom also with the help of Goldman, picked which mortgage packages to bet against, are not under any sort of investigation. How is that possible? Is this Capitalism? The head of the hedgefund, John Paulson, reportedly made $2billion in 2008 and $2.4billion in 2009, from betting against subprime mortgages, that he helped to package. After doing this, and causing the entire system to crash, Paulson (who is worth $12billion) said:

“Paulson and Co is not the subject of this complaint, made no misrepresentations and is not the subject of any charges.”

Well, they should be the subject of charges. Paulson himself should be thrown in prison. Which he wont be. Because the system favours rich men in suits, whilst the system spends millions trying to catch people claiming £5 an extra a week in Welfare benefits. The system, is weighted the wrong side. Paulson in 2009 wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, titled rather ironically “The public deserves a better deal”. Yes the public does deserve a better deal. He’s absolutely right. The entire system needs to change. And it would be a far better deal for tax payers, if they paid for his prison cell, rather than his career in fraudulent gambling.

The 500 year old conspiracy

April 19, 2010

England in 1549 was a pretty bleak picture. Even in comparison to earlier times. Edward VI was the king, and was only twelve years old. He obviously couldn’t rule the entire Country at twelve, so a de facto leader named Edward Seymour (The King’s uncle) was named the Protector Lord Somerset. He became hugely unpopular at Court for his ridiculously expensive war against Scotland, which had proved successful but costly. Inflation at record highs, and his mismanagement of religious affairs. He was also considered a friend of the poor, which in 1549 (much like today actually) the ruling classes do not like.

By July 1549, the peasantry in Norfolk were becoming agitated by what they perceived as their land being enclosed by the richer members of the community. And so, they took up arms and started to destroy enclosures including that of Robert Kett. Kett, oddly, then joins the rebels, destroys his enclosure, and becomes the leader of the rebels.

By July 11th, the rebels numbered close to 15,000 men and were growing daily. They entered Norwich on 22nd July and assumed control of the city. And so the Protector in London responded.

And this is where the story gets a little bit odd.

Firstly, William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton was sent by the Protector Somerset, with less than 2000 men to attempt to quell the rebellion. He promptly failed. The Protector then sent John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, with 14,000 men. Eventually, Warwick succeeded and defeated the rebels. Kett was hung until half dead, his stomach was opened up whilst still alive, and his entrails burnt in front of him. He was then beheaded. The Tudor period was nothing if not gory.

That’s the official – if somewhat rushed – version of the story. But it seems to go a little deeper than that. And it all centres around John Dudley, Earl of Warwick.

For those of you who have seen the film “Elizabeth“, John Dudley is the father of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who seemingly has a bit of crush on Elizabeth and vice versa. Little is known about Robert’s father.

Chris Skidmore in his book “Edward VI: The Lost King of England” briefly touches upon, but does not expand too much, on quite a vast conspiracy. He suggests the idea that John Dudley may have actually had more to do with the rebellion than the official story suggests.

Dudley was no friend of the Protector, and when Somerset’s government finally fell……. Dudley was proclaimed the Duke of Northumberland, and the new Protector in 1550. However, before all of that, on the 12th July 1549, as the rebellion was gaining force, Dudley was at home having written to the Protector that he was “ill” and so he stayed at home. His home, happened to be right next to the heartland of the rebellion. When he finally rode out to face the rebellion with his men, he offered the rebels a full pardon. Kett, oddly then rides out of the city to meet with Dudley, but is held back by his own men.
If we go back further, to 1543, we see that Kett himself had purchased land directly from Dudley. The two had met on several occasions in fact. Dudley was in the area on July 12th having “phone in ill”, and Kett had wanted to meet Dudley as the rebels and the kings forces sat in wait for battle. Why? What did Kett want to know? He’d got a pardon if he wanted it. What did he need to talk about? Perhaps…. what to do next?

Another figure enters the fray. Sir Richard Southwell was a keeper of the Howard lands in Norfolk at the time. He was a very close friend of Dudley. Southwell’s will, written in 1564, leaves £40 (which was a large sum of money in those days) to Richard Kett…. the son of Robert. When Kett was in the Tower of London in August 1549, no one came to visit him, except Sir Richard Southwell. Not only that, but during the time of the rebellion, Southwell’s deputy-baliff, was the brother of Robert Kett. Southwell’s implication in the rebellion is even further suggested by a man named Sir Edmund Knyvett, who wrote:

… of such money as Robert Kett principle leader of the rebellion had from Sir Richard Southwell then having charge of the king’s treasure sent down by him for the surpressing of the said rebels and tried out by the said earl upon examination of diverse the said rebels t be conveyed in particular sums amongst diverse persons which was by the said earl gathered together and delivered over to this accomptant….£497 15s

…. which, according to Skidmore, means that Southwell was funding the rebellion from day one, out of the King’s treasury.
Southwell then broke into the office of William Cecil who held this disposition, and stole it. He was effectively off the hook.

It goes without saying, that Dudley benefited the most from pulling the strings of both the rebels and the Protector. He seems to have played both sides off against one another beautifully, and used it all to his own benefit having secured his place as Protector less than half a year later. After Norfolk, Dudley found himself with a huge army of men, and linked up with another leader named Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, and forced Somerset from power. The whole rebellion fiasco ended with the Council supremely unhappy with Somerset’s leadership. Was this Dudley’s intention? Did he know a rebellion would fail, did he instigate it, and then destroy it to make both himself look like a saviour and the Protector look weak? Did he plan it, knowing by the end of the rebellion, he would be left with thousands of troops? If so Dudley has quickly became my favourite character in Tudor history, surpassing Thomas Cromwell as the most devious.

There are no biographies of which I can find at least, of John Dudley, except that of Loades. Loades’ book costs £95 on amazon and I simply don’t have that kind of money. I would like to investigate Skidmore’s allegations in depth, because it appears fascinating, and it is a largely unexplored direction to take with regard to Kett’s rebellion. It intrigues me to know that a man who had relatively no power in Council, was pulling the strings behind the scenes and in fact had quite immense power. It would make for an interesting research project. It makes me wonder what else Dudley was involved in, throughout his career.

We often focus on the Monarchs themselves throughout history, yet the most impressive and intriguing characters are the players behind the scenes. Thomas More, Francis Walsingham, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Seymour, and John Dudley all do not have all that much written about them, and yet they play pivotal roles in the development of the Tudor state during the 16th Century. Fascinating to contemplate.