Be in no doubt, what we witnessed yesterday . . . was nothing less than an attempted coup.’ No, not this week’s violent invasion of the Capitol Building in Washington.
That sentence was the introduction to this column on May 12, 2010, as Gordon Brown clung to office in a last-ditch attempt to stop David Cameron becoming Prime Minister.
So before we get too self-righteous over the outrageous attempts by Donald Trump and his supporters to overturn democracy in America, let’s not kid ourselves that it could never happen here.
Be in no doubt, what we witnessed yesterday . . . was nothing less than an attempted coup.’ No, not this week’s violent invasion of the Capitol Building in Washington
In May 2010, five days after Britain resoundingly rejected Labour at the ballot box, I wrote: ‘Gordon Brown is trying to steal the outcome of last week’s General Election, which he lost by a margin of two million votes and 60 seats.’
Brown simply refused to accept the result. In a desperate attempt to stop the Tories forming a government he offered the Lib Dems a deal which would involve him remaining Prime Minister until the Labour conference that autumn. After which, of course, there was nothing to stop him standing again.
Labour’s very own Proud Boys, Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, were given free rein on the airwaves to claim the Tories had actually lost the election and what the people had really voted for was a ‘progressive alliance’ between parties of the Left. The BBC was only too happy to perpetuate this scandalous perversion of the truth.
Yes, David Cameron’s party had fallen a whisker short of an overall majority. But the Tories had won 306 seats to Labour’s 258 — and even with Lib Dem support Brown still wouldn’t have been able to command a majority.
In the event, Brown had to be dragged out of Downing Street, clinging on by what was left of his fingernails, when Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems declined to play ball and opted to go into coalition with the Tories.
For three-and-a-half unrelenting years, the losing Remain side refused to accept the result and moved heaven and earth to overturn it, even alleging Russian interference
For the previous couple of years, I’d been warning that regardless of the eventual result of the election, Brown would refuse to resign.
(And don’t forget, in 2017, Jeremy Corbyn claimed victory despite trailing the Tories by 56 seats.)
So Trump’s recent behaviour, however predictable and anti-democratic, is not exactly without precedent on this side of the pond. There are other similarities, too.
Even if Brown’s attempt to subvert democracy failed, it was merely the warm-up act for what was to come after the 2016 EU referendum.
For three-and-a-half unrelenting years, the losing Remain side refused to accept the result and moved heaven and earth to overturn it, even alleging Russian interference. They went to court repeatedly to try to Stop Brexit.
Pro-EU demonstrators set up permanent camp outside Parliament. If they didn’t actually invade the building itself, it was only because they didn’t have to.
The Palace of Westminster had already been occupied by MPs and unelected peers determined to prevent the UK leaving the EU, aided and abetted by a partisan Speaker who held the British people in utter contempt. And if that wasn’t another attempted coup, I don’t know what is.
The Washington Establishment behaved just as badly in refusing to accept the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency. It, too, has tried every means available to remove him, up to and including impeachment.
But none of the hostility he has faced over the past four years justifies his reckless encouragement of the mob which invaded Capitol Hill this week.
Nor is there any justification for pretending that somehow the political process is any cleaner or more principled on this side of the Atlantic. Many of those now condemning events in America have been complicit in attempts to subvert democracy in Britain for more than a decade.
It’s not as if we haven’t seen politically motivated violence on the streets of Westminster, either. A few months ago Black Lives Matter agitators ran amok in Whitehall and got to within a few yards of the Prime Minister’s front door.
Yet instead of meeting force with force, the police ran away. And the Establishment has bent over backwards — or, rather, bent the knee — to appease BLM ever since.
Those home-grown hand-wringers who are now grieving over the ‘desecration’ of the Capitol in Washington weren’t so bothered about the wanton desecration of the Cenotaph or Churchill’s statue and others.
This has been an unedifying few years for politics both here and in America. We have no grounds for sneering.
Back in 2010, when Gordon Brown refused to go quietly, I wheeled out this column’s resident U.S. television journalists Chad Hanging and Brit Limey to explain the fall-out from the election to their confused viewers.
London correspondent Brit reported correctly that there had been chaos at some polling stations and more than 20 police investigations were taking place into voting irregularities, including fraudulent postal votes.
A bemused Chad, back in the studio, observed: ‘And these are the guys who told us we didn’t know how to run an election . . ?’
So less of the gloating from our own political class. They haven’t got a leg to stand on. It’s already happened here, in spades.
Many of those now condemning events in America have been complicit in attempts to subvert democracy in Britain for more than a decade
As police get tougher than ever during the latest lockdown, West Midlands Plod are advertising for a new ‘assistant director of fairness and belonging’.
The post pays £74,000 a year, three times the average wage of a police constable. This from a force that is always pleading poverty and has axed 2,000 frontline officers and closed dozen of police stations in recent years.
The successful candidate will have to ‘deliver a first-class diversity and inclusion function’, whatever that means.
I don’t know whether to file this story under Mind How You Go or Nice Work If You Can Get It.
Meanwhile, presumably in the interests of ‘fairness and belonging’, the West Midlands Police Commissioner is demanding more Covid-related powers.
Elsewhere, the Old Bill are already throwing their weight around — stopping cars to ask drivers where they are going and demanding to know if their passengers are from the same family.
We’ve had four blokes fined £200 each for driving to McDonald’s for a Big Breakfast, and shoppers turned back on their way to a local supermarket.
Derbyshire Police, last seen sending up drones to spy on dog walkers in the Peak District, have declared war on families out sledging, in breach of Tier 4 rules.
How long before they fit machine guns to their drones and introduce a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy?
A friend of mine who has had coronavirus responded to the NHS appeal for volunteers to donate plasma.
The blood of those who have recovered from the virus contains antibodies which can help others infected with Covid-19.
He was asked a series of questions over the phone to establish his suitability. After the usual drill — age, sex, ethnicity, etc — the lady on the other end said: ‘I hope you don’t mind, but I have to ask if you’ve had sex with another man during the past 30 days?’
My friend paused and said: ‘Could you hang on while I consult my diary?’
They both laughed and she apologised again. Not to worry, he reassured her, you’re only doing your job.
Then she said: ‘Just one more question. Are you undergoing gender reassignment treatment?’
There’s no answer to that, as Eric Morecambe used to say. But there are, admittedly, good reasons why these questions are asked of potential donors.
Still, my friend was taken aback somewhat. Gender reassignment surgery? You can’t even get a haircut right now.
Some regiments do ’ave ’em
The Army is telling potential recruits: ‘It’s all right to fail.’ The slogan is the latest in a series of adverts aimed at sensitive millennials, including one which told would-be soldiers that it’s fine to cry. Pity this ad wasn’t around in Frank Spencer’s day. After flunking every job he had, including an abortive career in the RAF, Frank sought help from a psychiatrist and was thrilled when the shrink told him he was a failure.
These days Frank’s ineptitude would qualify him for a place on a fast-track officer training scheme at Sandhurst.
Brexit has backfired on the French, whose President Macron gloated that Britain would suffer from leaving the EU. The 19 Paris branches of Marks & Sparks have run out of UK-made snacks such as sandwiches, turkey curry tortillas and edamame bean salad. Doesn’t get much more British than that, does it? Apparently, Parisienne foodies are distraught.
Oh dear, how sad, quelle dommage. Let them eat cake.