Falsehoods told by anti-trans campaigners

Trans rights matter to anyone who takes human rights seriously, to anyone who knows that they are not free if anyone is unfree, to anyone who knows they flourish better as more are enabled to flourish. But trans rights affect only a tiny minority of people personally: there are very few trans people, between 0.1 and 1% of the population.

Trans rights also affect transphobes. If a woman feels unable to use public toilets because there might be a trans woman in there, then she is a transphobe. Society should take care of people who feel phobias, but not alter the world so that they will not face the thing they fear. Transphobes have a disproportionate view of the effect of trans people on them, and pay us disproportionate, fearful attention.

If anyone is scared seeing a trans woman in a women’s service, my heart goes out to them. They are not served at all by the anti-trans campaigners, and that trans woman is as unlikely to be dangerous as any other woman.

Anti-trans campaigners use falsehoods to pretend that trans rights harm others, or that others are affected, or that trans rights are more important than they are. They may convince themselves of these things- either because they are transphobes, or because they are radicalised by social media echo chambers, or because they make a profit from the billions of dollars available for anti-trans campaigning, or because they use culture war to distract from rightwing economic failure. So it is useful to know the kind of falsehoods they tell themselves and others.

I say “falsehood” rather than lie, because many may be deluded, not taking sufficient care to check whether what they say is true.

One falsehood is around what AMAB (Assigned male at birth) people might be seen in women’s services. Almost all will be entitled under law to be there, that is, to have a claim for discrimination under the Equality Act if excluded. They are referred to in the Act as “transsexual persons”, which means, those who have decided to transition from one sex to the other.

Some other groups might be there. There are trans women, transsexual in ordinary language but not in the meaning of the Act, who are considering transitioning but have not yet made a committed decision to do so, or who have decided they cannot at the moment. Transition, with the level of hatred and prejudice against trans people, is terrifying. These women may be among the most vulnerable trans women.

It is highly unlikely they will be cross-dressers, people who have no desire or intention to transition. Most cross-dressers do it in private, or underneath men’s clothes. However if they are cross-dressers, they are probably as harmless as women.

Anti-trans campaigners say they may be “predators”, violent men “self-id”ing as trans in order to enter women’s spaces. This is highly unlikely. When violent men go in women’s services, all they need do is push the door open.

A violent man would be very stupid to try to get a gender recognition certificate in order to enter women’s spaces. He would have demonstrated that he had planned his offence, increasing the penalties.

Some trans women are violent. And some cis women are violent: if you would not judge all cis women by Myra Hindley and Rose West, do not judge all trans women by violent trans women. We are not “all alike”, and the belief that we are is a strong indicator of prejudice against us, as it is with any minority group.

Anti-trans campaigners claim that being trans is caused by sexual perversion. This is not true. The main suggestion how is repeatedly proved wrong, and no more likely than that bad parenting or sexual abuse in childhood can make someone gay. However, even if something had turned someone trans, they are trans now.

Anti-trans campaigners tell falsehoods about the Equality Act, which allows trans women into women’s services from the moment they decide to transition. They even falsely claim to be in favour of trans rights while working against us.

The anti-trans campaigners attempt gaslighting when they don’t mention the word “trans”. They have various phraseology for this- “sex-based rights”, “single sex services” (which, unfortunately for them, in the Equality Act means including trans women) and the repeated suggestion that sex is different from gender. Arguably it is, but that is of no use at all in deciding the moral question of whether trans women should be allowed to use women’s services.

Some factual issues shade over into linguistic ones. Trans women prefer to be called “trans women”. Calling us “male bodied biological men” is an attempt to claim that our differences from men, and similarities to women, do not matter. Biology does not make us men, and it is politer to describe us with the words we choose. On that principle I no longer use the word “terf”.

The truth is that because there are so few trans women few people will notice much difference if trans women were kicked out of the women’s services we have been in for years. They rarely see us in real life anyway. So their main falsehood is that trans rights matter to you, unless you are trans, or in favour of human rights.

No, there is no such thing as “trans ideology” saying sex does not matter. All we need is that people accept trans people exist and are worthy of respect as human beings. This is not science denying: it is accepting the evidence of your own eyes. We exist. Of course sex matters, and allowing trans people to transition does not affect that. The term “gender identity” helps people understand what trans people are, unless they are deliberately failing to, but it is no part of an ideology and we could stop using it tomorrow.

Anti-trans campaigners go into all sorts of detail about all sorts of different issues. The detail is a way for them to distract themselves from their real lives. They can spend endless hours memorising details and honing their phraseology in their echo-chambers, rather than go into the real world and meet some trans people.

I shared this post, and people commented that it does not mention asexuals, or intersex people. This is a post about falsehoods told by anti-trans campaigners about trans people, and it does not mention lots of things. While some intersex people express as nonbinary, there is not such a campaign against intersex people as there is against trans people, though those intersex people assigned to one gender at birth and later changing to another suffer the same opposition as trans people do.

I did not mention sports, and immediately there started a huge thread on sports, with lots of detail. I am not qualified to comment on the effects of “a male puberty,” testosterone suppression or oestrogen on trans women. I have the anecdotal evidence from trans women that we experience a loss of strength and athleticism on transition, which echoes my own experience, and I was never strong or athletic.

Separate from moral issues of fairness, the facts that matter are that there is little research on how testosterone suppression and oestrogen affect athleticism; that no man would pretend to be trans in order to compete against women when that involves reduced testosterone levels; that all athletes have natural advantages as well as the results of hard work and training; and that some cis women are taller and stronger than some trans women.

I have not here particularly addressed the moral issue, but that issue is simply stated: the rights and needs of trans people have the same importance as anyone else’s, and fairness means fairness to trans women as well as to cis women.

Trump says

Headline in NYT begins, “Trump says”. It is their seventh trending article. It is a mess.

Mr Trump says something which is doubtful. This is not news- in public he lies more than he tells the truth. He says what would serve his interests for others to believe, even if it is blatantly ridiculous, because enough people will take up the lie- three million fraudulent votes! Obama Kenyan!

Starting with Trump’s statement muddies the waters. The full headline is Trump says intelligence officials delayed briefing on Russian hacking. Did Russian interference affect the US election? That’s a question for historians. What do we know about it now? What are the latest developments? Journalists tackle that. But this is not a new development, only a tweet. Trump tweets, and NYT expatiates, and millions read breathlessly, again irritated by the horror that is their unpresidented-elect. It is unclear whether Trump is receiving the President’s daily intelligence briefing, the article says, but we knew that: he claimed not to need it. Details mount in confusion, one topic or another, about how dreadful Trump is- but mostly a feeling rather than clear evidence, sorted in a rational way. And his supporters do not care. No-one will be swayed by this article.

Donald Trump is racist, and NYT had a long careful article documenting evidence of that. Now, “Racist” is not just a slur people can throw at him, or a feeling they have about him, because we can cite particular incidents. A useful op-ed or feature might categorise evidence of Trump’s lying, its purpose and effects; but this one is not that. We don’t know. National intelligence declined to comment, Administration officials disputed it. There will be a full intelligence report, expected on Friday, on Russia’s interference. That would let people know its extent; but it will be secret, as it would reveal how the intelligence services find their information. So Mr Obama will know the extent of the interference, and even Mr Trump might, if he keeps a rigid wall in his mind between his understanding of reality and the fantasies he spins for others, but not the public, unless someone sitting on his bed who weighs 400 lbs hacks it.

Has Mr Trump a mandate? Did his vote in swing states increase because of actions by a foreign power? What should patriotic Americans think of a president in office by such means? Americans decided to obsess over the Podesta emails, and Americans decided which way to vote- we could not know the result of the election in an alternative universe without the hacking. Did trumped-up scandals about Democrats outweigh in people’s minds the scandal of Mr Trump refusing to release his tax returns, and his lie that he could not because of an IRS audit? Were people influenced by scandals, character, or even policies or issues? Is Cambridge Analytica more responsible, and more dangerous?

Mr Trump is squirting ink, pretending he has a mandate. Well, he would. He seems to think Russian interference makes his mandate less persuasive, so he denies the interference, but his understanding is not necessarily true.

The Russian hacking is so important that daily articles are worthwhile, explaining any developments; but undue attention to Trump’s tweets about anything merely increases his malign influence.

I couldn’t immediately find an article analysing, classifying, enumerating Trump’s lies, proving him a liar. The Jackson Sun, part of the USA Today network, calls him a “black liar” but only fact checks some statements about his charitable foundation. Boingboing reports the Wall Street Journal editor’s refusal to call his clear falsehoods lies, as that ascribes a moral intent to him. Boingboing calls the WSJ editor an “asshole” but does not discuss it. Marion Schneider in Stock News USA says Everyone is hoping for the best and hope that Trump will be a good president in spite of his lying nature. The country and its citizens are relying on him to do his best. Residual respect for the office, and possibly libel laws, hold publications back. The Chicago Tribune and the Daily Freeman have letters calling him a liar. HuffPo has one of those non-story non-articles– Someone said something in a television interview! The headline Carl Bernstein: Donald Trump’s Disdain For Facts Worse Than Nixon was enough to get me to click, and my regret was almost instantaneous. HuffPo’s “reporter” prissily terms Trump’s lies “factually incorrect assertions”. People who make as many factually incorrect assertions as Trump are either fools or knaves, and those who love America and its people should not assume Mr Trump is stupid.

A similar non-article in Good Magazine led me to a facebook post and then this Washington Post “blog post”, which should have been first on Google News. Was Trump lying? The standard that [the WSJ editor] adopts — that there must be a provable intent to mislead — seems woefully inadequate to informing readers about what Trump is really up to here. Sure, it’s possible that Trump continued to believe these things after they were debunked. We cannot prove otherwise. But so what? If we accept that it’s possible to prove something to be false — which Baker does, judging by his own comments — then we presumably also accept that this can be adequately proved to Trump. And so, Trump is telling a falsehood even though it has been demonstrated to him to be a falsehood.

If we don’t call that “lying,” or if we don’t squarely and prominently label these claims as “false,” don’t we risk enabling Trump’s apparent efforts to obliterate the possibility of agreement on shared reality? Even here, there is a rhetorical question rather than a statement. Have the courage of your convictions. The evidence is there. Trump is a liar.


Fake news

You may have seen this graphic. I was looking for a reputable conservative news source, to see the other side’s perspective. I am interested in Mr Trump’s cabinet nominations- how much damage can he do, and how do his supporters see them? I was glad to see The Hill was “reputable” from a conservative viewpoint, so I went there.


The Left worries about Scott Pruitt heading the Environmental Protection Agency. We need to prevent global warming. The Hill publishes an article by Benjamin Zycher, the John G. Searle scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, who says Scott Pruitt is precisely the right person to clean the EPA up. Commenters say things like Roll Train, Drain the Swamp or Drill, baby, drill, as well as longer, mostly derisive comments.

Zycher testified before the Senate Finance Committee that the EPA analysis of the costs of carbon emission was “the most dishonest exercise in political arithmetic” I had ever seen produced by the federal bureaucracy. The EPA benefit/cost analyses… literally are bogus. In the article he gives one example to back that up.

The EPA has published estimates of the effects of its greenhouse-gas efficiency rule for medium- and heavy trucks:

The results of the analysis, summarized in Table VII-37, demonstrate that relative to the reference case, by 2100 … global mean temperature is estimated to be reduced by 0.0026 to 0.0065 °C, and sea-level rise is projected to be reduced by approximately 0.023 to 0.057 cm.

The EPA then states that “the projected reductions in atmospheric CO2, global mean temperature, sea level rise, and ocean pH are meaningful in the context of this action.” And so we arrive at the benefit/cost conclusion, given in all seriousness:

[We] estimate that the proposed standards would result in net economic benefits exceeding $100 billion, making this a highly beneficial rule. 

Can anyone believe that a temperature effect by 2100 measured in ten-thousandths of a degree, or sea-level effects measured in thousandths of a centimeter, could yield over $100 billion in net economic benefits?

How is that possible?

23 to 57 thousandths of a centimetre, or in other words hundredths of a centimetre. That detail shows shallow dismissiveness, a bias. But it is worse: I looked at the Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles; Phase 2 Proposed Rule Document. It is very long, and there is no contents page, but CTRL-F finds Zycher’s quotes. The savings are not stated to arise from a temperature effect or sea-level effect, but from three ratios of cost effectiveness:

  1. Total costs per gallon of fuel conserved.
  2. Technology costs per ton of GHG emissions reduced.
  3. Technology costs minus fuel savings per ton of GHG emissions reduced.

The saving arises from projected reduction in the use of fuel of 75bn gallons. That is a cost of $1.33 per gallon saved.

There are conservative arguments that these matters should be left to manufacturers rather than government. The upfront cost of technology will be passed on to buyers of trucks. However, $1.33 per gallon sounds good to me. Zycher has not bothered with the arguments, but with a deliberate distortion. My quote is five paragraphs before his, so he will have seen it. Experts might dispute the EPA’s statistics or calculations but I only needed a few clicks and a few minutes to refute Zycher’s statement.

There are free marketeer arguments as well: regulation of trucks in the US is a “non-tariff barrier” making it harder for foreign manufacturers to export to the US; but inhibiting free trade might please those commenters.

This is not fake news of the “Pope endorses Trump” variety. Older language will suffice- Zycher is lying. That is wrong.

Has Mr Pruitt denied anthropogenic climate change? Greenpeace’s evidence is sparse, but he wrote, Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. CO2 in the atmosphere has increased because of human action. This warms the planet. This is not disputed except by science-deniers and obfuscators.

Interest has moved on, by now. Most commenting ended three days ago. Chris Stone, a horrible man who trashes Environmentalist arguments- “Try to keep up.” “Are you always this stupid”. “Scurry off, hug your tree and then go to your cry room, moron”- said the EPA Falsely Tied Hydraulic Fracturing to Ground Water Impacts, citing this press release from climate denier Senator Jim Imhofe. Does fracking pollute groundwater? A study by Acton Mickelson Environmental, Inc. in Wyoming found that there is gas in the drinking water, but that The potential contribution of gas seepage along gas wells versus natural upward migration of gas is undefined and would be difficult to quantify– the gas might have been in the water, even without fracking- and total dissolved solids exceed drinking water standards or comparison values in almost all the samples. It is not as clear as Senator Imhofe’s press release implies. There should be Continued evaluation of surface pits for potential contribution to water-quality issues.

What non-experts can do is limited. I am satisfied that Zycher is lying. I don’t think Stone has reason to be satisfied the EPA’s connection of fracking to ground water impact was false, let alone deliberately so, and if false it could be only one mistake, so that most EPA activity is still in good faith and reliable.

I have not shown that Imhofe is wrong, or that the Wyoming report admits fracking pollutes ground water. I have made selective quotes from the executive briefing. I disbelieve Imhofe because of his climate denialism. He lies about one reason why fossil fuels should not be extracted, so I cannot trust him on another alleged reason. I see from the Wyoming report that the gas, and the fracturing, is much deeper than the deepest well, and it might seem reasonable that something so deep might not affect water hundreds of feet above, but I really don’t know. If it were my drinking water, I would want to be certain it was safe.

We need to be careful of what we believe, and hold sites like The Hill to account for disseminating falsehoods. One deliberately deceptive article does not mean The Hill is never reliable, but it cannot be taken for granted.

Benjamin Zycher attacking the EPA.
The Proposed Rule document.


Here’s Donny on hairspray.

Well, yes CFCs can affect the ozone layer. Gas can leave his apartment, or he would suffocate. It then circulates through the atmosphere and catalyses a reaction, breaking down the O3, causing a 4% reduction worldwide since the 1970s as well as the holes at the poles. That lets solar UV light reach the surface of the planet, causing skin cancer, cataracts, and damage to crops. The gases we used to replace CFCs mitigate the effect.

Reducing CO2 is complex, but replacing CFCs with HFCs was comparatively simple. The treaties are old, and more or less observed. So why deny that reasonable precautions are necessary? Because if you feel you have enough problems, you focus on the most pressing. If someone tells you you can’t use spray cans any more, and you can’t think of an alternative, they are loading more problems on you, and you don’t want to deal with that one. So you say, that does not make sense to me. And they explain catalysis and you don’t want to listen. How reassuring to be told that you don’t have to, that your own instincts- my deodorant can’t damage the atmosphere- are sound.

Donald gives false hope. He reassures. Those people telling you what to do, they’re fools, right? You don’t want to listen to them? You don’t need to! Go with your gut instincts, and don’t let experts tell you what to do!

Saving the planet is a group activity. Countries need to work together. People need to do more, to stop buying certain things, to sort their rubbish out. If you can’t afford petrol, you don’t want to be told that the price needs to go up to reduce CO2.

Warming the planet in thirty or seventy years is overwhelming and distant at the same time. There needs to be group action for the good of all. But the Right does not like group action, it wants everyone to work for themselves, and the market to make wealth gush up to the wealthy- to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance. So oil companies will continue to profit from extraction of hydrocarbons. And voters go along with this. It feels like freedom. Very little benefit comes from one person recycling their milk cartons anyway.

As for me, I like to work on one problem at a time, and if others tell me I should be working on something else, I resent it. Denial is comforting. If a problem is too great, well, maybe it will never happen. We go on as before. If a problem is insoluble, well, I’ve got to die of something.

Working together is ennobling and empowering. In Britain we have great love for the NHS, the symbol of our society working together for the good of all, and the extreme Right used that to get us to vote for them, against immigration, even as they tear it down.

Time to Leave

Truly we are in the clutches of our enemies. Here is run of the mill hypocrite, liar and cheat Charles (right) “Charlie” Elphicke, MP for Dover:

Thank you for your email… I was very disappointed at the outcome [of the referendum]. I had made the case to remain because I was concerned that the pound would collapse, the stock market would crash and the French would seek to return the border to Dover [not hard to predict, really.] …However, the people of Dover & Deal, as well as the people of Britain as a whole, did not agree. They decided that they wanted to leave the Europe an Union. The turnout was incredibly high. [For a decision of this magnitude?] The result was close, but clear. [One vote is “clear” if you want it so, but 3.78% is not clear.] While I did not want this, it is now my duty to roll up my sleeves and make it work…I cannot agree that…MPs should seek to subvert the expressed will of the people and vote this down in Parliament. We serve the people and we must respect the will of the people. [Tell that to all the Tories- I have spoken to some- who want to bring back the Birch, as well as hanging.]

I am sorry to send you a response I know you will find to be disappointing.

All the Tories from Cameron and May down are saying the same- “We must respect the Will of the People”. It is a disaster. It harms the people- harms our environment, making fracking easy and beaches dirty, preventing employees from enforcing any rights they retain, reducing net migration by the only means available, which was tanking the economy. The Tories’ paymasters, the very rich, will profit from our misery, and our misery will make us vote for anger and hatred and deceit, rather than hope and worthwhile change.

If Labour oppose leaving the EU, angry voters will vote Tory or UKIP so that they can harm themselves in the way they chose, incited by the lies of Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre, thereby harming their interests. Labour will lose working class voters who voted Leave.

The Liberal Democrats may regain some ground by being the largest party supporting Remain. I think the Greens should too. We won’t be the vanguard of the working classes- our niche is nice, handwringing middle-class folk like myself- so we can speak up for the truth, while politics gets dirtier, and hope a few people listen.

During the campaign, David Cameron said he would invoke Article 50 immediately if he “lost” the referendum. Immediately after, he said that would be for his successor. They do not care, their lies are so blatant. Now, mouthing certainty of invoking it, they will find more reasons to delay, causing more uncertainty, market turbulence, and gains for the wealthiest. We need to invoke Article 50 now.

Bruegel, the triumph of death, detail

Vote Remain!

I’m voting Remain- for French, German and Polish friends; for co-operation across borders; for faith in the future, trust and hope; for the good of my country. I’m voting remain for co-operation not confrontation, for trust rather than fear, for patriotism rather than narrow, “Ourselves Alone” Nationalism.

Greener in 3

I wanted to write a positive post, giving reasons for not reasons against voting Leave, and I am so angry with the leave campaign that I won’t. Little Farridge posing in front of a poster of refugees marked “Breaking Point” which was exactly the same as images from a Nazi propaganda film inveighing against lesser races overwhelming us is only part of it. The whole Right-wing Leave campaign is a lie, from beginning to end, seeking to foment dissatisfaction with lies and hinted promises which they know could never be kept even if they wanted to, getting people to vote against their own interests. “Take back control” is the false slogan, when Farridge, Gove and the rest mean “Give us control” for their own hard-right, anti-union, anti-environment, anti-99% purposes.

There is grassroots dissatisfaction in this country, but it is misinformed. Liars are encouraging anger to prevent proper thought, then channelling it for their own purposes.

I have just had a leaflet this morning. It is sober white, its only illustration a simple 1″ square line drawing of a ballot box, marked Information about the Referendum on 23 July 2016.

The UK and the European Union:


Oh, OK, I thought. I started reading: On 23 June, there will be a vote to decide whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union, or leave and

take back control.

Those three little words. The first hint that this is a partisan publication. When will we have the first lie, I wondered. I did not need to wait long:

The UK joined the European Union in 1973. Back then, it was known as the Common Market. But over the past 43 years, the EU has taken control over more and more areas which don’t have anything to do with trade- such as our borders

Free movement of labour is integral to trade. Looking after refugees is a matter for separate human rights treaties.

our public services

Yes, TTIP could damage the principle of the National Health Service- but the Tories are doing all they can to privatise it before TTIP is even in force.

and whether prisoners have the right to vote.

Again European Convention on Human Rights, separate from the EU. I am glad prisoners are given the right to vote, because it is part of having a stake in society. Wanting to vote shows some faith in community and rehabilitation. Letting them vote shows some trust, to which they may respond.

The EU costs us £350 million a week. That’s enough to build a new NHS hospital every week of the year.

Leave do not care that what they say is transparent falsehood- they want their dupes to parrot it, and get angry when contradicted. And then, a nasty little end-note- at once appearing judicious and even-handed while attacking the conservative, risk-averse inertia which favours Vote Remain:

There are risks in voting either way. Experts, politicians and businesses are divided. [Economists are divided like geneticists are divided on Young Earth Creationism]. People have to weigh up the risks and potential benefits of each course of action for themselves.

eureferendumfacts.org is a lying façade for Leave propaganda.

I recognise that there are honest Conservatives who believe what they are saying and believe their policies are for the good of the country and all its people. The right-wing Leave campaign are not that. They are fraudsters and cheats, seeking to deceive us.


Robert Icke’s adaptation of the Oresteia at the Almeida theatre is about perception, lying, pretense, waking up, and purpose. You know the story, but this post contains major spoilers about the execution. It is the best night I have had at the theatre for years, and is worth a plane flight from New York if you have the dosh.

Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia. His wife murders him, and their son Orestes avenges his father by murdering his mother. The first thing Klytemnestra says to her husband after he murders their child is, “I still love you”.

At the start, it is absolutely clear that Klytemnestra and Agamemnon have two daughters, one of whom he sacrifices in order to get a fair wind to Troy. At the end, it is absolutely clear that he only ever had one daughter, whom he killed. That is the point of it. We do not know anything, because we do not see clearly, or because we delude ourselves. At the start of the play, Agamemnon is busily lying to the world and himself- he tells the television cameras that his cause is just and there will be an easy victory, and he talks about his happy family dinners together, while his elder daughter bitches at him.

Agamemnon’s advisers tell him that he must sacrifice Iphigenia. He will win the people’s loyalty by showing what he is prepared to pay, is one argument. He gives in. Klytemnestra argues, begs, pleads, and physically attacks him in an attempt to stop him. Then he poisons their daughter, all the while assuring her how brave she is being.

The world changes. The stage goes dark, there is a great wind and a harsh cry of brass. I found this electrifying, and beautiful at the time, and now think it is Reality bursting in: the lies have led to Murder, and cannot be sustained any more.

The first thing Klytemnestra says to her husband after is, “I still love you”. She says it so sincerely and mournfully that it might be true. I loved her in that moment, and was rooting for her from then on. She has woken up. Perhaps she is lying consciously now: she needs to lull him, so she may humiliate, dominate, crush, destroy then murder him. Perhaps she tells the truth: she still loves, though she hates. She has her sense of purpose, and carries it out, clear eyed. Now, I see her as a monster: she forms her purpose to kill, and carries it out without remorse; and I still love her.

I loved the dark, viscous pool of blood seeping from Agamemnon as he lay dead. It was beautiful.

Beside this, Orestes’ murder of his mother is weak, cowardly and in a strange way innocent. He knows that he should avenge his father. That is what everyone expects- except that it is still wrong to kill his mother. After he kills her, she appears to still be alive, and they have a loving scene together: he cannot admit to himself what he has done. Then the lights go out and the brass screams again: humankind cannot bear very much reality, but this reality must break through. He is a weakling, hardly conscious of what he wants or what he does behind the self-image he must preserve. The child is the price.

Orestes challenges my verdict. You’re trying to simplify me. To pack me down into one easy diagnosis. A judgment. He’s this one thing. Finished. It is, and is not, legitimate to do that.

Collier, Clytemnestra after the murder

Tom Pursglove, liar

Gilray, the French Savants

Dear Tom Pursglove,

I am very sorry to think that my Conservative MP is a liar, but it seems the only possible explanation of the facts.

Before the election, your boyish excitement that the A45 from Stanwick to Thrapston might be dualled was initially quite attractive in its naïvety. It is hardly the equivalent of building the M1- it is a distance of about six miles, and cars enabled to pass the lorries on the road might conceivably get to Thrapston a minute quicker. Still you were excited, and you sent me and others cards through the post announcing it. I am perturbed that you imagine it was your campaigning rather than that of Mr Sawford, the sitting Labour MP, that made this possible: it is tantamount to accusing the Tory Secretary of State for Transport of corruption, giving gifts to Conservatives for narrow party advantage rather than the public good.

However then it emerged that there is no funding for the project; that it will not commence until 2020, possibly not until 2026; and that it might not start at all, because of possible environmental concerns. Mr Sawford announced this, and it would have been graceful of you to apologise for what could still, then, charitably have been called a mistake.

Instead of that, you posted this rubbish on your website, headed “Transport Minister refutes Labour A45 Scare Story”. This is a serious allegation, that the Labour MP is spreading falsehoods to scare voters. However, in the article you admitted that The proposals to improve the A45 between Thrapston and Stanwick will be developed by Highways England during the first Road Period, which runs from 2015/16 to 2019/20, but may not enter construction until the next Road Period as the environmental sensitivities of the site are recognised by the Department for Transport. It is important that we get this right. In other words Mr Sawford had been correct, and you had not.

However when I emailed you to point this out, you replied, I am sorry that you do not believe what I have said on this – time will prove who is right and who is wrong.

This perplexed me. Could you really not perceive the difference between “We now have the dualling of the A45” and that the A45 might be dualled, but probably not for ten years and perhaps never?

Were you just blustering? No-one will care, you thought. Never explain, never apologise may be the motto of the Alpha Male, but I was brought up to believe that Conservatives were gentlemen, who behaved in an honourable way.

Perhaps you did not see the difference, and did not understand what Mr Sawford was saying. But that would mean you are a fool.

When I described this to Eileen, a prosperous, middle aged married lady, the kind of person with a stake in the country that you might imagine to be a natural Tory voter, she was surprised that it so perturbed me. She said it is just the way politicians speak- divorced from reality, concerned only about image, saying what they imagine would make us like them if only we believed it. This contempt for the political class is a serious threat to our democracy. It may be too late for politicians to restore our faith in you, but surely you see that telling the truth is a necessary condition for that.

However it is possible that you are our enemy, deliberately seeking to weaken democracy by inflaming that contempt and inciting hatred for benefit claimants and immigrants, to benefit your wealthy paymasters.

A change from Hogarth: Gilray. If only “Light expelling darkness” were true!

Gilray, Light expelling Darkness

Added: after you were elected with the support of just 30% of your constituents who could vote, and your government was elected with a majority on 25% of the electorate, I despair. In November 2018 the Minister confirmed that the environmental study before dualling of the A45 had not been started.

Pursglove does not think Britain should reduce CO2 emissions. If, he says, “If”, FFS, “there’s a genuine belief that this is causing a global problem you need to look at countries like China who need to do a lot more to address this.” He opposes electricity generation by on-shore wind turbines, yet supports fracking. He is contemptible.

Lies, damned lies and Conservatives

So, will the A45 become dual carriageway between Stanwick and Thrapston, or not? Yes, say the Tories. No, says Labour.

I use the Nene Valley News, delivered by my local council, to put muddy shoes on, when I come in from walking across the fields. Once, its front page headline concerned a man who had lost his dog then got fined for walking it in the park without a lead. On 6th December, its headline was,

Tom Pursglove and Peter Bone MP’s Joint Listening Campaign succeeds

It reported that “Under this Conservative Government, we now have the dualling of the A45”.

Around the same time I got a card through my door, trumpeting “TOM PURSGLOVE [prospective parliamentary candidate] LISTENED- CAMPAIGNED- DELIVERED: A45 DUALLING AND CHOWNS MILL ROUNDABOUT IMPROVEMENTS ON THEIR WAY”.

I do not like Mr Pursglove. I have had many letters from him asking what issues I consider important. One option was “Benefits- making work pay”. Perhaps he does not understand that you make work pay by introducing the living wage and banning zero hours contracts, not by benefit cuts and sanctions starving people into zero hours contracts. Anyway, by claiming responsibility for the illusory road improvements, Pursglove necessarily admits responsibility for the evisceration of the Children’s Centre services.

Oddly enough, the Labour MP Andy Sawford had reported in his email newsletter that the A45 would not be dualled. I glanced through it and deleted it, but when I got Pursglove’s card I emailed him to check. He confirms that no money has been allocated for dualling, and if the work is to be done at all it will be considered in the “next roads period”, 2021-26. This answer to a Parliamentary Written Question confirms that. Sawford had worked with the Tory council to lobby for dualling.

My local council- 35 Conservative, 3 Independent, 2 Labour- has spent my council tax on Tory propaganda which is not true. I am displeased at this. I looked at photos of various people with the Roads Minister posing in front of a map, but found them too revolting, so here is some Hogarth.

Hogarth, Soliciting votes detailHogarth, Soliciting votes


Scriptural and Statistical arguments for Slavery

Am I not a man and a brotherLet me introduce you to Dr. Thornton Stringfellow, D.D., and his work Scriptural and Statistical views in favor of Slavery, the fourth edition of 1856, made available by the University of North Carolina. After explaining how liberal American slave laws are, granting ownership only of the labour, not the person, of the slave, which is no more than indentured servants owe, Dr Stringfellow shows how the letter of the Apostle Peter clearly condemns the Abolitionist cause:

“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busy-body in other men’s matters.” Our citizens have been murdered–our property has been stolen, (if the receiver is as bad as the thief,)–our lives have been put in jeopardy–our characters traduced– and attempts made to force political slavery upon us in the place of domestic, by strangers who have no right to meddle with our matters. Instead of meditating generous things to our slaves, as a return for gospel subordination, we have to put on our armor to suppress a rebellious spirit, engendered by “false doctrine,” propagated by men “of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth,” who teach them that the gain of freedom to the slave, is the only proof of godliness in the master. From such, Paul says we must withdraw ourselves; and if we fail to do it, and to rebuke them with all the authority which “the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ” confer, we shall be wanting in duty to them, to ourselves, and to the world.

TStrange Fruithat is, the slave-owners are the victims, and the true Christians, here.

Dr Stringfellow also finds Answers in Genesis: 9:25: Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan [alleged ancestor of Africans] shall be his servant.

Then there are his statistical arguments. New England was colonised by Puritans, and the old Slave states of the South by Cavaliers, with a, well, cavalier attitude to faith; yet with similar population numbers, the South had almost twice as many churches! Further, the New England churches, which seat far fewer worshippers, cost much more. The Doctor questions the expenditure: Does it exhibit the evidence of humility, and a desire to glorify God, by a provision that shall enable all the people to hear the gospel? or does it exhibit the evidence of pride, that seeks to glorify the wealthy contributors, who occupy these costly temples to the exclusion of the humble poor? We must all draw our own conclusions.

No, Doctor, we must not. State plainly what you wish to say.

Everyone despises Dr Stringfellow now, and his  arguments are easily ridiculed. I loathe him: his victimhood was still spilling blood a hundred years later, and he has no Christian love for anyone outside his interest. So my exercise is to find something to admire in him. He has a wide knowledge of Scripture, and a careful way of layering point upon point: exemplary Evangelical argument. If you wanted to believe him, you could find him persuasive. He is standing up for his despised, suffering people: I hear his pain and hurt.

Human kind cannot bear very much reality.