UK Politics 2018: Where Lewis Carroll meets Hans Christian Andersen

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
UK Politics 2018: Where Lewis Carroll meets Hans Christian Andersen
Sentence first, investigate afterwards. Outlandish conspiracy theories promoted by those who screech "conspiracy theorist" at those who dare question. Welcome to the back-to-front world of British politics.

It is a world where the neocon establishment has no clothes – but we're not supposed to mention it. To get a proper understanding of British politics in 2018, two writers from the 19th century are essential reading. The first is Lewis Carroll, author of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.' The second is the Danish storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen.

The official UK government narrative on the Skripal case could easily have been penned by Lewis Carroll. For a start, there was the rush to blame – and punish – Russia, even before a proper investigation had begun. That was straight out of the trial of the Knave of Hearts in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The White Rabbit reads out the charge: "The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer's day: The Knave of Hearts, he stole these tarts, and took them quite away."

"Consider your verdict," the King of Hearts, who is acting as the judge, says straightaway to the jury.

The White Rabbit reminds him that witnesses have to be called and the 'trial' continues. It becomes increasingly farcical. Alice notes: "They haven't got much evidence yet." After she testifies, the Queen cries: "Sentence first, verdict afterwards."

"Stuff and nonsense!" Alice replies. "The idea of having the sentence first!"

"Hold your tongue," says the Queen, who is now turning purple. When Alice says she won't, the Queen shouts "Off with her head!" at the top of her voice.

We all laughed at this scene when reading it or watching film versions as children. Who would have thought that, in the second decade of the 21st century, this is how things would be operating in 'modern' Britain.

Britain was a country, we were always told, where there was 'due process,' where the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' always applied. The idea of sentencing before the verdict, or giving the verdict before hearing any evidence – why it'd be totally absurd! But that is exactly what's been happening.

In the 1972 film version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the King and Queen were played by Dennis Price and Flora Robson. In the 2018 Conservative Party remake, the roles have been taken by Boris Johnson and Theresa May. The 'Knave' is Vladimir Putin. Guilty as charged! Let's pass the sentence and kick out Russian diplomats – and urge others to do likewise – before we hear the evidence.

Alice, meanwhile, has been played by anyone who dares to question the absurdity. Like her, we've all been told to hold our tongues. Just remember the opprobrium heaped on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for daring to ask the 'Queen of Hearts' if she had responded to Russian requests to examine samples of the nerve agent allegedly used against the Skripals.

Corbyn was branded a "traitor" and a "Kremlin stooge" just for wanting to follow proper procedure.

It's not just the trial of the Knave of Hearts of which recent events remind us. In Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass,' the Queen talks of believing 'six impossible things before breakfast.'

In Britain today, you could say we're expected to believe six impossible things at breakfast (particularly if you listen to the BBC Radio 4 Today program or read The Times newspaper).

It's not just impossible things in relation to the Skripal case – like being told in The Times that Sergei Skripal was already dead, and then being informed that he is "improving rapidly," having been poisoned by the world's deadliest nerve agent, which is actually not always deadly.

Consider the most recent establishment smears against the anti-war Labour leader Corbyn. He celebrated Passover with a Jewish group.

Remarkably, this was used as evidence that he wasn't taking anti-Semitism seriously.

Yes, that's right. A non-Jew spending Passover with a group of Jews is 'proof' that they're not interested in Jewish issues.

Now, I don't know about you but I can think of quite a few other ways it could be proved that someone wasn't interested in Jewish issues. Spending Passover with Jewish people wouldn't be one of them.

This would have been laughed at in an 1860s Lewis Carroll tale, but – I kid you not – it was the 'narrative' pushed by 'serious' newspapers and inside-the-tent 'commentators' in Britain in 2018.

How we need a Lewis Carroll today to make fun of all this nonsense. Satirists are supposed to mock the powerful; in Britain today, they mock the people who the powerful don't like. Private Eye, for instance, the most famous British satirical publication, regularly attacks foreign policy dissidents like George Galloway.

As in 'Through the Looking Glass,' everything is back to front. The politicians lauded as 'moderates' are actually very extreme. The worst conspiracy theorists are not the ones we're told are conspiracy theorists, but the ones who are doing the accusing. Iraqi WMDs anyone?

The whole dishonest charade is maintained by the same cunning strategy deployed by the fake-weavers in Hans Christian Andersen's classic story 'The Emperor's New Clothes.' 

The weavers – who are actually a pair of swindlers – promise the Emperor they will make him a new set of clothes that will be invisible to those unfit for their positions, or unusually stupid. But they make him no clothes at all and make everyone believe that the clothes are invisible to them. The Emperor parades, totally naked, but everyone is too scared to say that he is wearing no clothes. "Nobody would confess that he couldn't see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool," Andersen wrote.

But one little child hasn't read the script. "But he hasn't got anything on!" he cries. The word gets round – and soon everyone is mouthing the truth.

We're in exactly the same situation in Britain today. Those 'inside the tent' know that the establishment narrative is false, but they'll be regarded as 'unfit for their positions' if they dare say it. So, they have to keep up the pretense – whether it's about Iraq having WMDs that can be assembled and launched with 45 minutes, socialism (an ideology in which intellectuals from Jewish backgrounds such as Karl Marx and Erich Fromm have played an important role in shaping), being inherently 'anti-Semitic,' or Russia, a country that has seen NATO expand right up to its borders, being depicted as a threat to world peace. Meanwhile, those 'outside the tent' are frightened that if they do cry "the Emperor's got no clothes!" they'll be branded a 'useful idiot/Kremlin stooge/Assad apologist/conspiracy theorist/extremist/anti-Semite/crank/flat Earther,' or any number of terms used by imperial 'truth enforcers' to smear dissidents.

The problem for the establishment though is that the official narrative has become so detached from reality, that the charade is increasingly harder to maintain. Like the little child in 'The Emperor's New Clothes,' we must find the courage to voice what we know is the truth, and to call out blatant falsehoods when we see them. And like Alice at the trial of the Knave, we must respond to the "stuff and nonsense" of the political and media elite by declaring forcefully: "Who cares for you? You are nothing but a pack of cards!"
 
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