The low-key lunacy of Britain’s new ruling class

The new Labour government is full of people who believe the craziest things.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

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If you had told me a few years ago that one day Britain would have a secretary of state who thinks violent male paedos should be housed in women’s prisons, I’d have thought you mad. And yet here we are. Meet Lisa Nandy, Britain’s new secretary of state for culture, media and sport. She was asked at a Labour leadership hustings in 2020 if male criminals who identify as female, like Christopher Worton, should be banged up with men or women. ‘I believe fundamentally in people’s right to self-ID’, she said. ‘Trans women are women and trans men are men and should be accommodated in the prison of their choosing.’ Shorter version: put Worton in with the ladies.

And who is this Christopher Worton that Ms Nandy was specifically asked about? He’s a paedophile who started identifying as ‘Zoe Lynes’ shortly after his conviction for rape. He raped two girls, aged 13 and 15, five times. Yet Nandy said that a) he’s a woman (‘trans women are women’) and b) he should be in the women’s clink, even though he’s an obvious danger to women. If you heard a crank on a stepladder say that at Speakers’ Corner, you’d film it for social-media clickbait. Yet this was from a woman who was then running to lead the Labour Party and who’s now in charge of culture across the whole of the UK.

Maybe she’s changed her mind. After all, people in her party flip-flop a lot on the trans question. Including party leader and new PM, Keir Starmer, who went from saying 99.9 per cent of women don’t have a penis (which means one in 1,000 do!) to agreeing with Tony Blair that ‘a woman is with a vagina and a man is with a penis’. Yet even if Nandy has come to her senses, we’re within our rights to ask how it was possible that such a senior politician subscribed to an utterly lunatic ideology as recently as four years ago. How one of our new rulers fell so hard for fashionable hocus pocus. What if it becomes all the chattering-class rage to demand the destruction of art made by ‘problematic’ people – might our new culture overlord go along with that frenzy, too?

I don’t mean to pick on Nandy. Because the truth is they’re all mad. Our new government is stuffed with people who believe the craziest shit. Sticking with the bizarrely thorny issue of what is a woman, Anneliese Dodds, the new women and equalities minister, fumbles on that, too. Asked on International Women’s Day in 2022 how she would define a woman, Ms Dodds said, ‘Well, I have to say that there are different definitions’. There are? Pushed, she said it ‘depend[s] what the context is’. JK Rowling quipped that maybe under a Labour government International Women’s Day will become ‘We Who Must Not Be Named Day’. Let’s see.

Angela Rayner, our new deputy prime minister, was once asked about Isla Bryson, the male rapist who identifies as female and who was briefly housed in a women’s prison under Nicola Sturgeon’s unmourned woke tyranny north of the border. In transitioning, said Rayner, Bryson is doing what ‘they believe is right for them’, ‘and that’s fine, we respect that’. You respect a rapist’s claim that he has magically morphed into a woman? I’m going out on a limb here, but the words ‘right’, ‘fine’ and ‘respect’ surely don’t belong in any sentence that includes ‘Isla Bryson’. Bridget Phillipson, our new education secretary, recently said that people with penises can become ‘women’ and if they have a gender-recognition certificate they should use the female toilets. One shudders to think what will become of science teaching under her rule.

Starmer’s mad ramblings on sex are well known. It is ‘not right’ to say only women have a cervix, he once said. We’re hearing a lot of talk about Sir Keir being the first human-rights lawyer and first son of a toolmaker to occupy Downing Street. I’m far more intrigued by the fact that he is surely the first-ever PM who cannot differentiate between the male and female of the species. Or at least he wasn’t able to do so just a couple of years ago.

I’m old enough to remember when the tabloid press was full of shock-horror coverage of the ‘loony left’. People like Linda Bellos, the eccentric Labour leader of Lambeth Council in London in the late 1980s. Yet these days, Bellos is a paragon of common sense, frequently questioning the idea that blokes can become lesbians, while the ‘sensibles’ of the Labour Party leadership are out there giving respect to rapists who ‘become women’, suggesting putting male paedos in women’s prisons and positing that there are tens of thousands of women around with a penis in their skirts. The moderates are the loonies now.

One of the worst loony moderates, as I think we should call them, is David Lammy, the new foreign secretary. Let’s leave to one side his old sneering at gender-critical women, who he branded ‘dinosaurs’ hell-bent on ‘hoarding rights’ for themselves. More striking is his complete inability to temper his thinking. He’s a moderate who is unable to moderate his speech. He once suggested that the pro-Brexit European Research Group of Tory MPs are worse than Nazis. It was historical illiteracy on steroids. He called Donald Trump a ‘neo-Nazi-sympathising sociopath’. He channels Rick from The Young Ones, who also loved calling people fascists, more than he does Lord Hurd or Ernest Bevin or any of the cool-minded foreign secretaries of old.

I was pleased to see people revisiting Lammy’s maddest gaffe after he was made foreign secretary. It was in 2013. A new pope was being elected. The BBC tweeted from the Vatican: ‘Will the smoke be black or white?’ A fuming Lammy responded: ‘This tweet from the BBC is crass and unnecessary. Do we really need silly innuendo about the race of the next pope?’ What can you even say? Let’s just hope he’s better briefed before his first official visit to the Holy See. Of course it was an honest, if demented, error on Lammy’s part. But it was revealing, too. It suggests our new foreign secretary sees racism everywhere, even where it clearly doesn’t exist. It was an early sign of the sixth-form-style politics of our new ruling class who call Tories ‘Nazis’ and rapists ‘women’.

But it is Lammy’s agitation with democracy that should concern us most. This is a man who devoted himself, with uncommon passion, to overthrowing the 2016 vote for Brexit, the largest act of democracy in the history of this nation. ‘We can stop this madness’, he said in the days after the referendum. We must ‘bring this nightmare to an end’, he insisted. That ‘nightmare’ was ordinary people freely and fairly choosing to withdraw the UK from the EU. With superb, Victorian-level snobbery, Lammy said we cannot ‘usher in rule by plebiscite which unleashes the “wisdom” of resentment and prejudice reminiscent of 1930s Europe’. Again with the Rick-style wailing about the fash.

For good or ill, one of the jobs of Britain’s foreign secretary is to put pressure on less-than-democratic nations to give their people a say. Yet what is Lammy going to do when a CCP tyrant from China or one of the ruthless rulers of Egypt says they can’t have democracy because the ‘wisdom’ of the people is a myth and really they’re a bunch of backward plebs who cannot be trusted to make big decisions for the nation? I mean, he said the exact same about us. That the man in charge of our diplomacy throws around the word fascism like confetti, doesn’t know how popes are elected and once set himself square against the democratic wishes of the British people is outright terrifying.

And it wasn’t just Lammy. Starmer, as shadow Brexit secretary under Jeremy Corbyn, spearheaded the campaign for a ‘second referendum’. A ‘second referendum’ was the big dream of the loony moderates. It sounded moderate – let’s just have another vote! – but really it was a cry to void the votes of millions of people and make the idiot plebs think again. The people who pose as sensible were proposing to carry out the most savage assault on the franchise in the hundred years of its existence. And there’s Starmer in his victory speech promising to steer Britain into ‘calmer waters’, having for years sought to drive us into the turbulent sea of vote-shredding, of dictatorship by another name.

No wonder anti-democratic voices in the media class are thrilled by the storming to power of the loony moderates. They have blood in their nostrils now. ‘Keir Starmer ruled out rejoining the EU. Now he must think again’, says a headline in the Observer. ‘The UK’s Brexit dream is dead’, crows Politico. They spy an opportunity to drown democracy once and for all in Starmer’s ‘calmer waters’. Future historians will surely marvel that ours was an era in which women who believed in biological sex were denounced as bigots and people who believed in upholding a democratic vote were called Nazis, while politicians who said you can have a cock and be a lesbian and who itched to rip up the plebs’ dumb ballots were lauded as moderate. They’re anything but. They’re crazy. And now they’re in charge. Heaven help us.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics Politics UK


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