Poverty, Pronouns And The Pathetic Nihilism Of Picard: A Star Trek Story – Part One

Part Two of this analysis piece can be found here.

‘Star Trek: Picard’ is a story about how a modern, technologically advanced civilisation can succumb to hatred and bigotry.

Well, that’s not entirely true, as we never see the descent of that civilisation. ‘Star Trek: Picard’ is actually a story about a modern, technologically advanced civilisation that has succumbed to hatred and bigotry.

Well, okay, that’s not precisely accurate either, as we don’t actually explore that civilisation or its various societies. So, really, ‘Star Trek: Picard’ is a story about…

… An arrogant, straight, cisgendered old white man who berates others for their intolerance as he lives in an opulent mansion surrounded by huge swathes of land, cared for by unpaid full-time servants.

There’s also some stuff to do with conspiracies and robots and the Borg.

This is a bit of a deep-dive, so please settle in.


‘Star Trek: Picard’, or “PIC” from now on, opens with Jean Luc Picard dreaming about Data as he sleeps in a gorgeously furnished bedroom in his French mansion. Outside, automated hover-fertilisers glide over his family vines, whilst people in workclothes carrying farm tools wander around doing their duties.

A little later, Picard sits in a luxurious study in front of TV cameras as he answers questions in an interview for ‘FNN’ (presumably ‘Federation News Network’). The interviewer chooses her words carefully to imply that Romulan lives are not equivalent to Federation lives, and states that, as historical enemies, Picard’s decision to try to save the Romulans from their exploding star was controversial. She further explains that, as the rescue armada was assembled, rogue “synthetics” attacked and destroyed the fleet. This led to Picard leaving Starfleet, outraged that it was “no longer Starfleet”, after giving up on the Romulan rescue effort.

Later, Picard has more dreams of Data, wanders around his expansive estate with his pet dog as his two Romulan house servants cook and clean for him and more vinyard works go about their work. Picard orders his decaffeinated Earl Grey tea from replicators in the kitchen and falls asleep on his enormous antique wooden bureau. By all indications, he has spent the last fourteen years since the synthetic attack and the supernova in quiet rest.

In Episode 2, ‘Maps And Legends’, Picard again resting in his mansion and drinking tea when he is informed that he has a brain disease by his long time friend and doctor, Bever- sorry, Moritz Benayoun, who was apparently on the Stargazer with Picard many years ago. Whilst the disease is not yet identified, there is nontheless no apparent doubt as to what will happen to Picard.

Throughout all of this, Picard has also met a young woman who is also an android, has been attacked twice by highly skilled assassins, been caught in a devastating explosion, found out that Data had a daughter (aforementioned young woman), been insulted by the commander of Starfleet, and learned about a super-super-duper-super-secret Romulan cabal which has existed for “thousands upon thousands of years” and which has the sole purpose of hating artificial lifeforms.


Picard then gets a taxi to the Arizona desert (which is apparently more efficient than simply beaming there with the prolific transporter technology) to see his old friend and colleague Raffi. Raffi was a Lieutenant-Commander working under Picard prior to the Romulan supernova. After the synthetic attack, Picard resigned in protest at Starfleet’s apathy, and Raffi was discharged along with him, presumably out of spite.

Raffi lives in a trailer in the desert and hefts a pump-action phaser rifle at any visitors to her run-down “hovel”, as she describes it. She explains how humiliating her life is, especially compared to Picard’s château, and bemoans the unfairness of how differently their lives have turned out.

Just to tie this bit off, I would like to point out that Earth is a technological utopia, with limitless power generation, advanced education which teaches children warp theory in high school, and the ability to convert energy into any form of matter in an instant. Transporter technology permits transit across enormous distances in an instant, and holoprograms exist which possess their own intelligence and ability to solve complex problems, even serving as doctors.

Through Raffi, Picard acquires the services of Rios, an independent captain of his own vessel. He lives on his ship alone, with advanced “Emergency Holoprograms” (all modeled after himself) who act as his crew. He can replicate whisky seemingly anywhere within the ship, and gets free medical attention from his Emergency Medical Holoprogram. Rios insists that he is expensive to hire, he makes clear that he is finished with Starfleet, the same as Picard and Raffi.

A short while later, Raffi appears on Rios’ ship, and states that she is tagging along to reach somewhere called “Freecloud”. This means she is now able to enjoy the luxuries of Rios’ ship whilst she is aboard, such as replicated foodstuffs, elaborate holodecks, and skilled, free labour from the Emergency Holoprograms.

We also spend some time away from Picard aboard a ruined Borg cube, in what I can only describe as the most vapid television I have witnessed in some time, as a Romulan spy and another of Data’s android daughters flirt and sleep with each other, and also some other stuff related to a “prophecy” gets talked about. It’s exceptionally slow and dull.


In the opening teaser of Episode 2, ‘Maps And Legends’, we get to see a brief segment of the lives of Starfleet workers on Mars, as they make snide remarks about their robot colleagues and complain about the food they have just replicated, which they call “brown, sticky shit.” They do a lot of complaining about their food, in fact, referring to “space pineapples again” and bemoaning the downgrading of their replicators.

Just to tie this bit off, I would like to point out that Mars is an historic part of the Federation, in the same system as Earth, and has functioned as Starfleet’s main shipyards for at least several decades. Starfleet’s finest engineers and designers spend their time at the shipyards, advancing starship technology further with every new draft. And that replicators capable of recreating any foodstuff from pure energy have been standard equipment on every Starfleet ship for decades. Riker was even able to replicate (dead) Gagh, and other Klingon delicacies, waaaay back in Season 2 of TNG, exactly twenty years before the synths on Mars went rogue.

In Episode 4, ‘Absolute Candour’, Picard travels to a Romulan refugee village, one which he had previously visited before the Mars attack. Whilst there, he witnesses the poverty in which the refugees live, such as a former senator reduced to a brawling drunk in a run-down bar. Picard disdainfully casts aside a xenophobic “Romulans Only” sign hanging outside the bar, before making a point of sitting down and demanding service from the impoverished Romulans around him.

Just to tie this bit off, I would like to point out that the planet the Romulans are barely surviving on, Vashti, is entirely surrounded by a powerful defence network capable of destroying any unauthorised ship which approaches the settlement.

A lot of criticism has already been leveled at PIC, such as the use of swearing (about which I don’t personally give a shit) or the generally poor quality of dialogue:

  • Pro tip for future reference…”
  • “What do you mean, ‘Synths have attacked Mars’?”


I could be nitpicky about a scientist on the show stating that there are “more than 3 billion stars in our Galaxy” when there are in fact over a 100 billion, but that is not what I want to write about.

What I actually want to write about is the themes of the show, and how poorly understood those themes seem to be by the show’s own writers.

The problem is that the writers do not demonstrate an understanding what poverty is, or why it exists, or the connection between inequality and bigotry.

Patrick Stewart, a life-long left-winger and supporter of the British Labour Party, is on record as stating that PIC is a response to both Trump and Brexit, and that this is some sort of attempt to address two separate issues that seem inextricably linked by their specific populism: the rise and seeming political invulnerability of Trump, who has created concentration camps on U.S. soil, and the Brexit movement, which is seeing Britain sabotage its own economic future for the sake of limiting immigration.

Both issues are anti-immigration. Whilst Brexit lacked an iconic catchphrase, were Britain not an island it might certainly have been “Build that wall!” And this ties into the issue at the centre of PIC’s narrative – the rehoming of refugee Romulans. Just as Britons and Americans voted in line with their apprehensions about immigration, so too the Federation seems to have ruled in line with accepting Romulans across its own border.


The parallels run deeper. ‘FNN’, the news agency interviewing Picard in the first episode whilst making implications about the value of Romulan lives, is a clear equivalent of Fox News, the private news agency in America which has presented so many right-wing, nationalistic and xenophobic talking points. Picard’s reference in that same interview to the Dunkirk rescue effort alludes to Britain’s former role in supporting its European neighbours, and the stark contrast with Britain’s now-prevailing anti-European national sentiment.

But there’s a few fairly significant pieces of the puzzle still missing.

Fox News was founded by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes in October 1996 – almost exactly five years before the World Trader Center attack on September 11, 2001. And whilst Fox News was well-funded by billionaire investors from the get-go, it is doubtless that the first major attack on the American mainland by a foreign power would have heavily increased interest in the kind of nationalistic, isolationist opinions that were being pushed by Fox News’ array of presenters and guests at the time.

Fox News was owned by News Corporation, also a Murdoch company, which owned UK-based newspapers The Times, The Sun and now-extinct The News Of The World. Murdoch himself has exercised editorial control over The Sun and The News Of The World since he took ownership of them in 1969 (yes, more than fifty years ago), and whilst he did not have similar editorial freedom with The Times, he nontheless had a lot of influence over the publication. Murdoch also founded Sky News in 1989, a British news channel which is nowhere near as outwardly biased as Fox News, but which certainly leans right on the political spectrum.

Most people reading this will already understand the role that Fox News has played in modern US politics. Fox News supported President Bush during his two terms from 2001 to 2009, was incredibly critical of President Obama during his two terms from 2009 to 2017, and has been a staunch defender of President Trump so far through his first term. Most political historians recognise the key significance of Fox News on the American public psyche – not merely because of the commentary it provides, but because of its massive reach, being voted the “most trusted” news network in America on multiple occasions, reaching 90 million households and being the top-rated cable network as late as 2019.

To understand the significance of The Sun in the UK is perhaps a little harder, but here’s some anecdotal evidence: following the Sun’s abhorrent coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989, a popular movement grew in my home city of Liverpool to boycott the Sun newspaper, a boycott which has persisted ever since. A possible consequence? In the 2016 referendum, Liverpool was one of the more staunchly pro-European regions, and in 2019, Liverpool constituencies were some of the best-performing for the left-wing Labour Party, which faced disaster across the rest of the UK.

The point being, our consumption of media plays a huge role in how our societies progress.

Another point being, these are operations that have been ongoing for decades – since before I was born, in some cases. And the consequences of these media operations are proportional to their duration. Fox News did not immediately change the landscape of politics in 1996. But 24 years later, it has certainly had its part to play in one of the most dramatic and controversial periods of U.S. political history.

Nothing happens in isolation. The World Trade Center attacks certainly did a lot to shift American foreign policy, but even events as evil as that can have different effects on public opinion based on the media response. Had Fox News and other outlets focused less on the role of Islamicism in those attacks, and more on the role of prior White House administrations in arming and empowering the very same militant groups that committed those atrocities, the political landscape over the following years might have been quite different.

There’s another element to all of this.


It’s very easy for someone like me – an employed, middle class, educated white dude – to view the recent shift towards bigotry as the fault of a biased media and the people stupid enough to believe in it.

I’m lucky enough that most of my friends are not poor. Not many are wealthy by British standards, but most are not struggling to put food on the table. Most of my friends are white and middle class, just like me, and benefitted from a university education, just as I did. Most of these friends do not read the Sun or watch Sky News. Most of these friends are anti-Brexit, anti-Tory, diehard Leftists, which makes me proud.

A lot of people in the UK, and in the US, are not so fortunate. Many have been made redundant within the last five years, or struggled to find an adequate job to begin with. Many have come from much poorer backgrounds, without middle class families to support them through rough times. Many are living in poverty as a result of these factors.

By poverty, I mean simply “a lack of access to the services, products and amenities that are considered necessary for a healthy, happy life.” I mean the ability to travel around the country, to buy food, afford shelter, and power, and healthcare and, in recent times, an internet connection – which is now absolutely a necessary part of our social infrastrucutre.

In our world, poverty is caused by a lack of wealth, which itself is caused by a lack of income. A lack of income means a lack of a job for most people. This is why governments will often use welfare programs, or social security, to provide a supplementary or replacement income to those who cannot work or who have lost their jobs, to try and prevent them from becoming impoverished.

You need income in our modern world because we have what is called “scarcity“. Food has to be grown, building materials have to be manufactured, clothes have to be sewn by exploited sweatshop workers and movies have to be made by overworked CGI artists who will be laid off after production is finished. Because all of these things are “scarce”, i.e. finite, and require effort to create, they have a value. That value is paid for with money, which you earn by having an income, which you get by having a job.


Even if goods and materials and food are all plentiful and therefore cheap, land is not. We have finite usable land, and by “usable” I mean land that is solid enough to build on, close to existing infrastructure, accessible, temperate enough to live in, and not already in use for some other purpose. This means that even if you have everything you need to build a house and live in it sustainably forever, you need somewhere to build it to begin with. Sadly, our society is not yet technologically advanced enough to create “land” elsewhere, such as in the ocean, or in space.

And if you think I’m overexplaining all of this, there’s a reason for that.

Right-wing media organisations such as those owned by Rupert Murdoch do not automatically convince people of their messages. They will exploit inherent human weaknesses, such as fear following a terrorist attack, or that inherent crumb of intolerance that we all possess, and which some of us do a better job of keeping under control.

A big weakness is financial anxiety. The closer you are to being in poverty, the easier it is to feel like a victim. And the more you feel like a victim, the more you need something or someone to blame.

The reality is that a lot of jobs are lost as a result of decisions that were made years before. The wrong CEO was chosen, or new and more efficient technologies were introduced, or the market began to shift and the company never adjusted to meet new demands. Sometimes a company decides to relocate to a more cost-efficient location, and those employees who can’t move with it are left behind.

But losing your job is often a very sudden and immediate thing. One month, you’re working and earning a comfortable wage, and the next, you’re being shown your limited options and a redundancy package if you’re lucky. Even though the causes of you losing your job are gradual and long-term, the act itself is rapid and surprising.


And this is just the binary of having or not having a job. I’ve not even touched upon the concept of situations where employment is high, and everyone has a job, but salaries have risen more slowly than inflation. It’s incredibly difficult to explain to someone who is working forty hours a week that the reason they still feel poor is because of nebulous macroeconomic issues that they have no ability to affect.

Which is all a roundabout way of saying that, when you’re talking to someone who is trying to understand why they’ve worked hard all their life but still can’t afford basic necessities, simple answers will be more readily accepted. Something like, “Well, it never used to be this bad, before they let all those immigrants in…” is just an easier concept to grapple with than “Well, you see, in the lead-up to the 1929 Wall Street Crash, speculative markets overvalued stock prices, which led to…”

Indeed, it is especially hard to convince someone of the real, highly complex and long-term causes of their poverty when they see so many people around them protected from that same poverty. If the system in which we live is malfunctioning, then surely it must be malfunctioning for everybody? And if so, how can there still be people going on expensive holidays, buying sports cars, living in fancy homes?


When faced with that contradiction, you’re more vulnerable to a simple answer that is quickly delivered, and that simple answer will often conveniently shift the blame from the people who are actually responsible.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is an aristocratic millionaire who makes money from investments in companies that lay people off and underpay their workers to drive profits. He is benefitting from your redundancy, but he is telling you that your poverty is the fault of EU immigration laws.

Donald Trump has spent his entire life breaking agreements with contractors and refusing to pay them agreed sums, and he deliberately emlpoys the cheapest staff he can find in his various enterprises. But he is telling you that the reason your boss had to fire you is because of Mexicans.

Fox News was founded by a literal billionaire who also owned The News Of The World, until that British paper was forced to close down after it was found to be illegally hacking into childrens’ mobile phones. And yet these media outlets will claim to care deeply about your rights and your security as they share opinion pieces on the threats posed by immigration.

Pulling these issues together, what we’re left with is that the kind of societies that will elect Trump, the kind of societies that will vote for Brexit, are socieities that are suffering from inequality, from a visible gap between the rich and the poor, and often with no good or comprehensible reason being presented.

In fact, every major shift on a national political compass, typically from progressive to conservative, in modern history has followed increases in wealth inequality.

As a really good example, consider the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which saw the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini. You may be familiar with the contrast of pre-revolution Iran and its more progressive attitudes towards women, as highlighted in this BBC article displaying images of the state as it once was.

What you may not realise is that (and I am condensing A LOT of Iranian political history here) the precursor to the Iranian Revolution and the rise of conservative Islamism in Iran was not some hatred-driven religious movement that sprang from nowhere, but was in fact massively increased wealth inequality under an unelected monarch:

“The White Revolution’s economic “trickle-down” strategy also did not work as intended. In theory, oil money funneled to the elite was supposed to be used to create jobs and factories, eventually distributing the money, but instead the wealth tended to get stuck at the top and concentrated in the hands of the very few.”

That monach was Shah Mohammad Pahlavi, an unlected aristocrat who was restored to power by a combined UK- and US-backed coup d’état which arose from the loss of British control over Iranian oil.

(By the way, Shah Pahlavi had already been installed as a replacement for his father by a joint UK-Soviet invasion during the Second World War in order to secure oil supplies for the Soviet Army. Thanks to the scarcity of oil, Iran has essentially never been allowed to choose its own destiny, and it’s little wonder they’re pursuing the most extreme means to secure their own autonomy.)

Iran did not suddenly swing to hardline conservative Islamism for no reason. The people of Iran were the victims of wealth inequality, and just as has happened in Russia, France, China, Germany, Korea, the United Kingdom AND the United States, they chose revolution. And as a result, their political compasses shifted, either Left or Right, Democratic or Authoritarian.

The Nazis didn’t rise to power because everybody in Germany was a white supremacist. They rose to power because they offered a simple, wrong answer to Germany’s wealth inequality. Trump wasn’t elected because half of America idolises him, he was elected because he offered a simple, wrong answer to America’s wealth inequality. And Brexit did not happen because the UK hates the EU, it happened because rich white men offered a simple, wrong answer to Britain’s wealth inequality.

So, how does this tie in to ‘Star Trek: Picard’?

Well, let’s start off by repeating that Brexit didn’t happen because “everybody is a little bit racist.” Trump was not elected because “we naturally evolved to be untrusting of foreigners.”

Both Trump and the architects of Brexit preyed upon a poor working class that was getting poorer. Trump wasn’t wrong to target his rhetoric at coal mining communities where the mines have shut down – but he was wrong to pretend that those lost mining jobs would ever come back. Boris Johnson was not wrong to use possible economic prosperity as a carrot to dangle in front of impoverished towns in Northern England, but he was wrong to suggest that Brexit would ever result in a greater income for the people in those towns.

MAGA-hat-wearers and Brexiters alike were predominantly people who have been on the harder end of increasing wealth disparity in the US and the UK. The great irony is that they allowed themselves to believe in millionaires living lives of privilege – millionaires who were smart enough to provide a simple answer to the economic issues of the day. “There are too many immigrants,” has a brutal simplicity to it that does not require an understanding of inflation, or industrialisation, or marginal tax rates. And it’s an answer that fits neatly on the front page of The Sun, or in a rolling text box on Fox News.

Which is what brings us back to PIC, and a couple of big questions:

  1. In a world where any kind of material or food can be spontaneously created out of freely-available energy, and there is a well-established ability to construct habitats in space, how can there be any scarcity, and hence poverty and economic inequality?
  2. If there is no poverty, and hence no financial anxiety, how is a Trumpian, Brexity anti-immigration platform able to gain traction?

We see Jean Luc Picard ordering a decaffeinated Earl Grey tea from a replicator in the well-equipped kitchen in his French mansion whilst his live-in, full-time servants prepare food. Outside, in fields that stretch out to the horizon, automated farm equipment floats by farm workers who tend vines used to make wine. To the best of our knowledge based on events portrayed in the series so far, this has been the status quo for Jean Luc Picard for the last fourteen years, since he resigned from Starfleet.


We see Rios aboard his ship, a roomy vessel with its own holodeck, bedrooms, presumably other living amenities. His every need is tended to by an apparent army of Emergency Holoprograms. Whisky is replicated out of thin air directly in front of him. He smokes cigars.

We see Raffi, sitting on the porch of her trailer in the Arizona desert, a small wind turbine on the roof. She grows her own “snakeleaf” which she inhales from a vaporiser. She keeps a pump-action rifle on hand; presumably the area in which she lives is dangerous enough to warrant it. She chastises Picard for his privileged lifestyle in his château, and calls her own home a “hovel”, which would be too “humiliating” to show to him.

We see a group of Starfleet workers on Mars, on the day of the synthetic attack. They swear and joke and complain about their jobs, their robotic colleagues, their awful food the selection of which they apparently have no say in.


We see a township of Romulan refugees, angry at the Federation and at Picard for abandoning them, for leaving them on a dusty planet for fourteen years. We watch Picard angrily tear down their “Romulans Only”, pointedly step on it, only to smirk at the onlooking Romulans, enter their bar and demand service.

How can all of these things be simultaneously be true?

How can the same society provide one old man with tracts of land and a mansion to live in with freely-replicating tea, whilst depriving a younger woman of any amenities and condemn her to live in a hovel in the desert with a drug addiction?

How can the same society force a woman to live in a hovel in the desert, while a man of the same age lives on an advanced spaceship with freely-replicating whisky and holograms to provide for his every need?

How can the same society provide unlimited replication of foodstuffs for two men who once worked for Starfleet, but deny those same freedoms to people currently working for Starfleet?


The writers of PIC have clearly demonstrated that wealth inequality exists, so they at least have gotten that part right. But they have failed to explain how that wealth inequality could ever arise when people like Raffi could seemingly just move out of their hovels and live on a spaceship, as she chooses to do at the end of Episode 3.

The Mars workers complain about the food they are provided in their office, but if it’s so bad, could they not replicate their own food at home and bring it with them? Or are we to believe that these workers are denied access to the same food recipes as Picard and Rios? If so, why? The food is replicated according to a computer program, it does not exist in any form before it is made by the replicator.

Where today’s wealth inequality is caused by a scarcity of materials, a limited supply of the goods we need to survive, in ‘Star Trek: Picard’, they have demonstrated a complete lack of scarcity. What social mechanism is it that allows Picard himself to run automated fertiliser machines over his acres upon acres of luxury crop fields, whilst simultaneously denying the Mars workers any variety in their lunch? I can get more variety in my lunch routines from a cafe that runs off of three ovens and two cooks, and yet an advanced replicator, a device which turns stored energy into any kind of matter, somehow has limits imposed upon it for some members of society, but not all.

In such a scenario, where wealth inequality exists despite the prevalence of technology capable of solving it, I think even I would start feeling a little Trumpian. If I’m watching Picard being interviewed on FNN from his own personal vinyard whilst I put up with yet another portion of brown, sticky protein for lunch in my trailer in the desert, when I know that the means to solve my problems exist but are being denied to me, then I would absolutely be feeling like a victim and be looking for someone, or some group of people, to blame.


But PIC is not addressing these systemic issues. In fact the lead character, Jean Luc Picard himself, seems oblivious to the economic problems facing the Federation, and only addresses the moral concerns of bigotry and hatred.

If Picard were truly bothered by the rise of isolationism in Starfleet and the wider Federation, you might think that someone as demonstrably intelligent as him would seek to understand the root cause of the issue. And to do so, all he really needs to do is walk through his own vinyard.

Jean Luc Picard lives his life wanting for nothing. We do not even see him working on his own vines, because he has enormous robots and a staff of workers to do that for him. He’s elderly, but he has two full-time live-in Romulan carers who take care of him. And yet he considers himself better than the rest of Starfleet because He Is Not A Racist.

Which raises a question: does it actually matter if Picard is a racist? Would it make any difference if he was? He castigates the Federation for turning its back on the Romulans, and yet Picard himself has turned his back on billions of Federation citizens by enjoying the enormous privilege in which he lives.


I think this was crytallised for me by his interactions on Vashti with the Romulan refugees who live there. Fourteen years ago, he was visiting them and making promises to bring Starfleet to the aid of the Romulans, whose sun was about to explode. He then learns that the Synths have attacked Mars, at which point he rushes back to Earth to lobby for a renewed rescue effort.

After Picard resigned from Starfleet, he never returned to Vashti, nor did he make any other attempts to rescue more Romulans. The refugees there, apparently with no means of leaving for a better home, fell into poverty, living in a dusty town made up of worn-down huts and drinking their woes away.

This is addressed in the episode. Picard says of himself “I made the perfect the enemy of the good.” He acknowledges that his inability to save every Romulan led to him abandoning all Romulans, and sees his flaws in doing so.

Except that a couple of scenes later, we see him walking back through the Romulan town. He sees the “Romulans Only” sign, angrily tears it down, triumphantly steps on it, and enters the bar. He demands service from the waiter. Clearly, he disapproves of the Romulans’ xenophobia, and he is here to show them the error of their ways. A Romulan senator chastises Picard, and then attempts to fight him. Picard refuses, the Senator is beheaded as he attempts to kill Picard by a dark-haired Legolas, and Picard escapes with this katana-wielding elf-Romulan to safety aboard Rios’ advanced starship.

Here’s an interesting point: the first time we see Picard this episode, he is being shown around a perfect holographic recreation of his study in Château Picard by Rios’ Emergency Hospitality Holoprogram. Even when travelling, Picard still gets to enjoy the luxury of his beautiful French mansion in exacting detail. Picard even comments on how realistic it all is.


And this is where we get to that description of Picard as a “an arrogant, straight, cisgendered old white man who berates others for their intolerance.”

Yes, xenophobia is wrong. Any kind of intolerance is wrong. Absolutely.

But what did Picard expect, exactly? What did he think the result would be when a group of people were taken from their home by aliens in a bid to “save them”, only for those same aliens to then abandon the rest of the Romulan civilisation and leave these refugees here to starve, separated from their culture, their families and from the basic amenities that they had previously enjoyed?

Moreover, how fucking arrogant and distasteful is it for Picard to leave these people for fourteen years, FOURTEEN YEARS, never to return, never to bring help, never to do anything but watch the vines grow on his enormous estate, drink tea and be grumpy about the rise of isolationism? And for him to still be framed as the “enlightened hero” of the story by the writers?

Admiral Clancy calls Picard out for his arrogance in thinking he can return to Starfleet and request a ship out of the blue to go and save a random woman who may, or may not, be the daughter of Data. But what about the coldhearted misanthropy of Picard spending fourteen years doing nothing about the apparent inequality within the Federation? Why is it that Jean Luc Picard, enlightened humanitarian, allows himself to live like a king whilst people like Raffi live in poverty just a transporter beam away?


Maybe the story is meant to be about how Picard has succumbed to nihilism and apathy. But if so, why does he care about the Romulans being xenophobic at all? Why does he chastise Legulus The Sword Elf for unnecessarily taking a life, even when that person was about to kill Picard? Why does he shout at the Fox News interviewer about Starfleet having lost its way, when he himself has done nothing, nothing, to address the issues that may have actually led to Starfleet losing its way?

If we accept that a post-scarcity society such as the Federation is still somehow beset with wealth inequality, if we accept that there is somehow enough room for Picard’s vinyards but not enough room for Romulan refugees, if we accept that there is somehow no restriction on how much decaffeinated Earl Grey Picard can replicate but workers on Mars have to make do with flavourless protein, then we MUST accept that Picard himself is a heartless, hypocritical capitalist who refuses to help those in need.

If there is wealth inequality in the Federation, then Picard must be activiely complicit with it. If there is no wealth inequality in the Federation, then how on Earth did billions of people become nationalistic and isolationist?

If PIC is truly about the shift of the US and the UK towards right-wing political beliefs, then why is it not exploring the causes of such changes? Why is is oblivious to the actual root cause of these issues? If PIC is simply about pointing out that anti-immigration platforms and nationalism are bad, then it’s not actually doing anything to help its audience understand those issues, and neither is it shining a light on the causes to allow us to take action against them.

In fact, PIC seems to revel in the artificial inequality of its universe. It uses that inequality to create “edgy” and “dramatic” characters, but so far has failed to address the inequality itself.

And if the show is not going to critically assess the causes of rising right-wing ideology, or the societal, systemic failures at the very heart of it, then the show and its creators are guilty of the same hypocrisy as the protagonist. Clouding the narrative about why people turn to xenophobia and nationalism is harmful, even if the text of the story is critical of those ideologies in their own right.


Wine does not feed the masses. And the hero of your anti-Brexit story cannot be a Jacob Rees-Mogg-like millionaire, living the life of a wealthy aristocrat and looking down on “backwards foreigners” who have the audacity to feel resentment towards a nation that abandoned them.

Because the fact is, Trump rose to power because of the backing of other wealthy white men, who used instruments like Fox News to drive a wedge into America’s wealth divide, whilst other wealthy white Americans wrung their hands about how awful Trump was, and yet did nothing to solve the inequality that led to his election.

And Brexit came to be because of the backing of those same wealthy white men, who used instruments like The Sun to drive a wedge into Britain’s wealth divide, whilst other wealthy white Britons wrung their hands about how awful Brexit was, and yet did nothing to solve the inequality that led to it.

And so now, the hero of ‘Star Trek: Picard’ is a wealthy white man, who wrings his hands and gives speeches about how awful isolationism is, how awful it is to turn our backs upon another community, and all the while he has done nothing but benefit from the inequality that has led to it.

Which puts the writers in a tricky spot. Because now, PIC will have to end with Picard acknowledging his privilege, abandoning his vinyard and chastising the Federation for allowing its people to needlessly live in poverty. Otherwise, life-long Labour member Patrick Stewart will be playing the role of one of those anti-Brexit Tory MPs, or anti-Trump Republicans, who decry the fall of decency within modern politics, but continue to vote for policies that ultimately lead to it.

This is already a long article, and I have a lot more to write, so this is Part One. There is a Part Two, where I address some of the other issues with the show, specifically social issues, as well as problems with the characterisation and overall narrative laziness on display so far.

A Very British Dictatorship

On Saturday 7th September, thousands of people gathered in London, the capital city of Great Britain.

Most were tourists and sightseers, or shop workers and customers. A few were drivers, or security guards, or servers and diners, or police and hospital workers.

A tiny percentage were protestors.

There may have been as many as two thousand protestors in total. Maybe more, maybe less.

Of these protestors, a good 90% were protesting against the current government.

Prime Minister Johnson’s decision to prorogue, i.e. suspend, the British Parliament for over a month during a critical phase in Britain’s history was unprecedented. It was widely condemned as anti-democratic, particularly by members of Johnson’s own cabinet barely three months earlier, when Johnson’s now-Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested prorogue as a means to force through a No-Deal Brexit.

What followed the prorogue announcement was a lot of behind-closed-doors maneouvring and scheming by politicians on both sides of the debate, as well as mass protests across the country. Pretty much every major city in the United Kingdom (and some outside of it) played host to anti-Prorogue, pro-democracy, #StopTheCoup demonstrations.

The protestors who attended were not universally anti-Brexit. Many were in favour of Britain leaving the EU, but they, as did so many of Johnson’s own party, found this manner of politics, of shutting down a representative democracy, completely unacceptable. And so they took to the streets.

Many protests were immediate, taking place on the evening of the announcement on the 28th of August. They continued over the following days, culminating in the largest protest on Saturday 31st August, in London, outside Downing Street, the home of the Prime Minister.

The protest on the 31st August saw thousands and thousands of pro-democracy protestors fill the roadway of Whitehall outside of Downing Street, carrying placards and chanting and singing and declaring, in one voice, their opposition to Prime Minister Johnson’s plans. A stage and sound system was erected at short notice, and speakers took turns to tell their stories and make themselves heard.

Pro-Democracy protests on Saturday 31st August. Photo taken from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/06/world/europe/brexit-politicians-voters-johnson.html.

The heart of London, one of the world’s major financial hubs, birthplace of Parliamentary democracy, common law and Kiefer Sutherland, echoed with the unified chants of “Stop the coup!” and “You shut down our Parliament, we shut down your streets!” and “Boris! You liar! Get back on your zipwire!”

The atmosphere was simultaneously electric, joyous, familial, and fierce.

It was also safe.

Police presence was minimal. Police arrived in numbers from around 4pm onwards, as protestors peacefully yet defiantly occupied Trafalgar Square roundabout and shut down traffic. However, interactions with officers remained cordial. Three arrests were made, to chants of “Boo!” from the crowd.

I spoke to the first person to be arrested, a woman I’ll call Rebecca for the sake of her privacy. She was an education professional. She had joined the protest despite her moderate views on Brexit – having been willing to accept leaving the EU with a deal. What brought her onto the streets that day was her outrage and disgust at the use of a lengthy suspension of Parliament to shut down the democratic process.

On the Trafalgar Square roundabout, Rebecca stood in the roadway, blocking the passage of traffic along with hundreds of other protestors.

“If you shut down our Parliament, we shut down your streets.”

The police moved in and asked the protestors to clear the roadway. Rebecca refused, but instead sat down.

A female police officer approached Rebecca and told her that if she did not move, she would be arrested. Rebecca informed the police officer that she understood, but that her place was on that roundabout, in an act of civil disobedience, fighting for her democracy.

The police officer told Rebecca that Prime Minister Johnson was not going to change his mind if Rebecca was arrested. That an arrest record would have lasting repercussions on Rebecca’s life and on her career. The police officer told Rebecca that she could either choose to remain and be arrested, or to leave freely without consequence.

Rebecca asked if she could think about it.

The police officer gave Rebecca a few minutes to consider her situation. When the police officer returned, Rebecca informed her “I’m sorry, but I need to stay here.”

She was then arrested, and released a few hours later without charge.

There was no violence. No threats. No blood fell on the pavements of Whitehall.

On Saturday 7th September, thousands of people gathered in in London, the capital city of Great Britain.

A tiny percentage were protestors.

There may have been as many as two thousand protestors in total. Maybe more, maybe less.

Of these protestors, a good 90% were protesting against the current government.

A bad 10% were protesting against the other 90%.

The pro-democracy, anti-prorogue protests were scheduled for 2.30pm on Saturday. By 11.30am, Whitehall was dominated by a heavy police presence. Over a dozen police vans and probably more than 200 police officers were present well before noon. This was in stark contrast to the previous week, where police presence was barely visible except around the gate to Downing Street, and eventually towards the end of the day.

Police vans on Whitehall at 11.30am, three hours before the pro-Democracy protests.

In the run-up to the anti-prorogue demonstration, at around 2pm, opposing pro-Brexit, anti-EU protestors were gathered at the exits to tube stations, shouting and screaming at those they identified as being on their way to the anti-prorogue rally. The targets of their aggression included individuals, groups, and families with children. They typically had half-empty glasses of beer in their hands, though according to one police officer, the beer was mostly for show. These were not drunk hooligans.

Turnout for the anti-prorogue demonstration outside Downing Street was low. As the clock neared 2.30pm, pro-Brexit agitators had already infiltrated the pro-democracy crowd. Some had attempted to disrupt proceedings already, others lingered until later.

At 2.35pm, it was announced that the start of the protest was being pushed back to 3.00pm, due to blockages at both end of the road preventing protestors from reaching the gathering point. These blockages were caused by pro-Brexit agitators disturbing the peace, continuing their harassment of pro-democracy protestors and causing the police to intervene, slowing down entry onto Whitehall. Many pro-democracy protestors were turned away and went home in the face of pro-Brexit aggression and intimidation.

At around 2.45pm, pro-Brexit antagonists began hurrying down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square. They chanted “Tommy Robinson” as they went – referencing the far-right founder of the racist organisation the English Defence League. Robinson is also a former member of the fascist British National Party.

These antagonists headed straight down Whitehall towards the pro-Democracy protest, but were intercepted and blocked by a line of police, as can be seen in the video above. They clashed with police for a few moments as, outside Downing Street, pro-Democracy protestors relaxed to the sound of ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’.

After a short span of time, the Tommy Robinson supporters Brexited from their clash with the Metropolitan Police as more officers reinforced the police line. Not long after, speakers at the pro-Democracy rally began their speeches. As can be seen in the video above, pro-Brexit antagonists already in place near the rally began their attempts to agitate the crowd. Police intervened, but not before one Tommy Robinson fan got a literal bloody nose.

Police set up a loose line around the pro-Democracy rally as they opened up Whitehall to traffic, to serve as a barrier between pro-Brexit agitators on the sidelines and the rally in the middle of the road. One antagonist was already inside the crowd and attempted to disrupt proceedings, and was pulled out by police before matters escalated (and before anyone else was hurt).

Speeches continued. Pro-Brexit thugs lingered around the rally talking on their phones, presumably relaying information to other thugs at either end of Whitehall.

The pro-Democracy rally continued undisrupted. Speakers including Diane Abbott, Owen Jones and other prominent pro-Remain voices addressed the crowd passionately. And yes, my language is biased, because I believed in what they were saying. Topics ranged from immigrant rights, anti-racism and anti-hatred, to condemnation of the Tory party and mockery of Boris Johnson, whose short term as Prime Minister had just been marked by successive failures in the Parliament he was about to suspend.

One of the speakers was to be Anna Soubry MP, a Tory rebel who had left her party earlier in 2019 in protest at the Tories’ dedication to Brexit. She did not speak, in the end, or appear at all, and it later emerged that she had cancelled her appearance at the last minute due to threats and intimidation from the same pro-Brexit aggressors who were attempting to shut down the pro-Democracy rally.

It was also made clear that these aggressors were part of the “Democratic Football Lads Alliance” or DFLA – a hard-right, Islamophobic, racist, intolerant splinter gang from the equally appalling Football Lads Alliance (FLA), themselves an offshoot of Tommy Robinson’s English Defence League (EDL), with connections to the militant fascist group Combat 18 and the British National Party.

It’s worth taking that in for a moment. A Member of Parliament and critic of the government was silenced, intentionally, by far-right supporters of that same government.

The same supporters who harassed families on their way to a peaceful rally and who hurled railings at police and who made death threats at pro-Democracy protestors. The same supporters who surrounded and outnumbered small groups of peaceful demonstrators and screamed in the faces of men and women alike.

Even if there is no provable connection between the Tory Party, Boris Johnson, or Dominic Cummings to the DFLA, these thugs were clearly acting to suppress criticism of Johnson and his cabal. And if there is one characteristic of a dictatorship, it is of far-right street gangs intimidating, harassing and silencing opposing political movements.

A few speeches later, further down Whitehall, police officers were hurriedly armouring up. They were pulling on full body armour, legs, arms and torso, and doing so as quickly as they could manage. They then began running down towards Parliament Square, where another group of pro-Brexit, Tommy Robinson-supporting DFLA gang members had broken through the police cordon around their own protest and were now trying to reach the pro-Democracy rally.

They ran as fast as their pasty white legs would carry them, but were again blocked by police a few yards past the Cenotaph – a poignant monument to the cost of hatred and antagonism between European states.

The police formed two lines, one facing down towards Parliament Square, and the other facing the opposite direction, and between these lines the racist assailants were trapped. A handful of DFLA racists attempted to sideline the police and darted down the pavement behind the stone barriers that line the footpath, but were foiled by the heavily-barriered and policed entrance to Downing Street which stood in their way. They sheepishly returned to between the police lines.

Police allowed passage back towards Parliament Square – many tourists and bystanders were also caught between the two lines – but refused access towards Downing Street and the pro-Democracy rally, which, to the best of my knowledge, continued. The pro-Brexit aggressors quickly lost interest as the police further reinforced their lines with more heavily-armoured officers, and they realised that voicing their intolerance mattered less to them than did a few baton-shaped dents in their skulls.

This is where I met Rebecca – sandwiched between the police and surrounded by confused tourists and impotent racists. After her experience last Saturday, Rebecca’s husband had made her promise not to get arrested today, and in a bid to avoid both another another arrest and harassment by bigots, we exited together through the police line towards Parliament Square.

We turned off towards St. James’ Park and then looped back around to Trafalgar Square and the top of Whitehall. Here, the police had formed another line blocking access back down towards Downing Street, and were holding at bay more DFLA gang members.

As Rebecca and I looked on, and debated parting ways and heading home, Max and Nicola, two friends I had met at the previous Saturday’s protest, emerged from the police line, with their friend James in tow. We embraced and reminisced for a moment. I admired Max’s red London Bus body placard and Nicola’s “Dicktator” sign, both decrying Johnson’s anti democratic actions.

The five of us talked quietly with one another, with the police line 40 or 50 yards away, and no other unoccupied police in sight.

With hindsight, this turned out to be an act of negligence on our part.

As we chatted, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded and outnumbered by 8 or 9 DFLA bullies. The circled us and began chanting “Nazi Scum”, along with homophobic and sexist slurs. They screamed in Nicola’s face, berated James continuously and drew attention from other gang members as they did so.

We remained calm. James and Nicola particularly bore the brunt of the harassment, and remained composed despite it all.

One thug came up close behind me and muttered in my ear “I’d move along if I were you, or you’ll end up cut with a stanley knife.”

Another nodded towards my phone as I recorded the incident and said “You know, that won’t protect you.”

Eventually, two police officers intervened and broke the group up. The DFLA attempted to paint us as the instigators, but were broadly ignored.

Nicola and Max headed back towards the police line, followed and harassed and threatened further by the DFLA, and were permitted down Whitehall back towards the pro-Democracy rally. James remained where he was as he spoke with the police. Rebecca made her way back to the tube station as quickly as she could.

Before I left, one DFLA gang member took a photo of me, and said “I’ll bet my network is faster than your network at finding out who you are.”

I left a few moments later.

What struck me later was that at no point did I feel scared during the incident. Uncertain, absolutely, but fear and anxiety didn’t set in until a few minutes later. Immediately, I was more concerned that my phone would run out of battery. As I sat in a Pret to get a drink and recharge my phone, adrenaline faded and fear took a stronger hold.

Max told me that he and Nicola remained with the pro-Democracy rally as they marched up towards Leicester Square. The march was harassed by pro-Brexiters along the way, attempting to circumvent the police escort and start more fights, and spread more terror. The march eventually disbanded, and police advised the protestors to return home in groups to stay safe.


I was shaken after the incident. I was hit with anxiety and depression. It wasn’t even the threats that were made which upset me. I broke into tears a few times on Sunday as I processed what had happened, and what affected me most was the sheer unfiltered aggression that the DFLA had displayed towards us.

These were not drunkards trying to compensate for their insecurities, and neither were they cornered victims lashing out. They saw that we were vulnerable, saw an opportunity to hurt us, and they took it, for no reason other than the fact that they know nothing but violence. And in the naivety of an extremely sheltered life, I had never really come face-to-face with that kind of bankruptcy of compassion. TV and movies had taught me that villains had complexity and depth – Saturday taught me that there are people, many, many people, who are terrifyingly incapable of anything but hatred, and that disturbed me more than any of the violence I saw that day.

And our experience was not even the most extreme encounter of that day. Many people were hurt, others were terrified into retreat and hiding.

At the end of it all, the headlines all seemed to paint it as though there was violence from both sides. There seemed almost deliberate vagueness on behalf of the media over who was the source of the violence.

But we knew. We were there. We watched as the pro-Brexit cowards inflicted their hatred and their intolerance wherever they could. At parents and children, at police and civilians, at politicians and protestors.

What really hit home was the fact that this collection of white, middle-aged men – and they were all white, middle-aged men – were acting in the interests of other, much wealthier white middle-aged men in government.

The disruption caused by the racists in London that day served only the interests of the Prime Minister, who was in the middle of his attempts to shut down Parliament and circumvent Democracy.

In so many ways, this mirrored aspects of the rise of fascism in Western history, with Brownshirts silencing critics of Hitler’s Nazis, the Squadristi suppressing Mussolini’s socialist opponents, and Moseley’s Blackshirts violently turning on anti-Fascists at the 1934 Olympia rally.

But that is not the picture the media paints.

Neither Prime Minister Johnson nor any of his cabinet have, to the best of my knowledge, condemned the far-right fearmongers on Saturday. If they do, it seems likely it will be a Trumpian “very fine people on both sides.” Although that may just be my cynicism creeping in.

It’s difficult to be sure exactly why Saturday 7th September was so much more violent and disruptive than Saturday 31st August, there are some events which are linked:

  • Prime Minister Johnson’s government refused to rule out breaking the law themselves to force a no-deal Brexit.
  • Prime Minister Johnson defied police impartiality conventions and gave a widely-broadcast political speech in front of a wall of police officers. (The speech was supposed to be about police recruitment.)
Johnson giving a political speech in front of police recruits, taken from https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/news/106331/boris-johnson-under-fire-using-police

Symbolism is everything. Johnson, in effect, made two dramatic statements:

  • “I am willing to break the law, and the police are on my side.”
  • “The police are on my side, and by extension, on the side of everyone who is politically aligned with me.”

It is unquestionable that these implied statements serve to embolden violent, far-right antagonists who are aligned with Johnson’s public record of racism, misogyny and his determination to force through a no-deal Brexit.

And even if there is no tenable connection between the far-right DFLA and the Conservative Party, they were nonetheless acting in Johnson’s interests by silencing his opposition, deterring opposing protestors and even opposition Members of Parliament.

As I write, the government is broadly announcing its increased funding to the police.

As I write, the Conservative Party twitter feed is full of posts characterising all opposition parties and MPs as “enemies of the people”.

As I write, footage is being shared of Dominic Raab declaring the government’s intent to “test the limits”, i.e. ignore, a law enacted by this Parliament to prevent a No-Deal Brexit.

When Ministers and Prime Ministers proudly announce their intent to break the law, use the police as a political tool, paint their opposition as traitors and allow fascists to bully their opponents into silence…

Well, there’s a word for that.

The word is “Authoritarianism.”

And Authorianism means dictatorship. A system of governance where a posh blonde toff speaks, and the rest of us must obey out of fear.

This may all sound dramatic after just one bad Saturday afternoon in London. But we have an election looming, an election in which turnout will be pivotal, and where the winners will be decided likely by just a handful of contested Parliamentary seats.

And those contested seats could be swung by the kind of localised intimidation and harassment around polling stations that we saw outside Downing Street.

If the DFLA and other far-right groups are willing to suppress critics of the government on behalf of the government, would they not also be willing to suppress the vote in favour of the same government?

I am genuinely concerned that, no matter how many defeats Johnson suffers on the green benches of the Commons, no matter how many legal battles his government loses in the British courts, he will nonetheless do as well as he needs to and retain power past the next election.

And if he does, then he suddenly has a mandate for all of the proroguing, the manipulation of the democratic process, and the silencing of his opposition.

Worse would be a Tory coalition with the Brexit party, and the barefaced racism of Nigel Farage and his benighted followers.

Sadly, I can think of nothing more cynically British than an Etonian dictator, propped up by a lager-swilling Eurosceptic, their will enforced by violent football hooligans.

I Am A Hypocrite And My Cowardice Is Killing My Country

It’s 9:25 in the evening I have just walked back into my flat in Birmingham. At 8:15 this morning I left my flat to get the 8:30 train to London.

I took three placards, and a rucksack full of bottled water, painkillers and a change of clothes.

I took all of that stuff because I had no idea what was going to happen, or what I might get involved in.

And I still managed to disappoint myself.


I met a friend at London Euston, and we walked together to Green Park, where we met another three friends. We then all walked to Whiteall to join a crowd of thousands of others at the entrance to Downing Street, on which sits No. 10 Downing Street, the home and office of the Prime Minister, Alexander ‘Boris’ de Pfeffel Johnson.

Together, we chanted and sand our protests against Prime Minister Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament for more than a month in the lead-up to the Brexit departure date of 31st October.

Our chants weren’t always in sync, nor were they always very loud or very polite, but we chanted and sang our anger through the air, above the barrier railings and through the metal gate which kept us out of sight of the door to No. 10.

A few of my friends left a little after 1pm. Others joined later and stayed for an hour or two. Soon, they had all left, and I remained in the crowd, with a placard in each hand. I led a few chants, joined in many more, sang along to songs like “No one voted for Boris” to the tune of ‘Seven Nation Army’.

Pretty heroic, eh?

I followed the crowd as we started marching down Whitehall, to outside Westminster Palace, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament. We out-chanted an embarrassingly small (less than twenty?) pro-Brexit counter-protest. We danced and swayed and chanted some more to the improvised drumming of a musical protest group.

Tourists, mostly unconcerned with the dwindling numbers of protestors.

We felt powerful.

I felt powerful.

I felt like I was part of something, something huge and vital and full of furious passion. I felt like we might make a difference, My knees shook with nerves as I led a hundred people in a chant of “When I say ‘Boris’, you say ‘Liar'” but it was exhilirating and intoxicating, especially because everybody had a go at chant leading, at hitting the rhythm of call-and-response. My voice was already hoarse, but I did what I could to keep up, still holding those placards high.

So heroic, right?

By 4pm, that gathering petered out and dispersed. I sat down for the first time in six hours to eat a Boots Meal-Deal wrap, the first food I’d had all day. I took a couple of touristy photos, then got back on my feet and wandered down to the other end of Whitehall.

So goddamn heroic. It’s okay to feel attracted to me right now because of my heroism. You’re only human.

Whitehall was mostly empty by this point. There were a few protestors still standing, but most were wandering home.

At Trafalgar Square, something else was happening. Maybe a couple of hundred protestors were in the roadway of the roundabout, defying the orders of surrounding police to move. I watched for a moment. I was shattered, so I just watched.

Then, as the police started closing in, so did I.

So, so fucking heroic.


Helicopters over Nelson’s Column, as police vans gradually close in from the side, putting the squeeze quite literally on the illegal protest.

I stood with the protestors, held my placards high, and joined in the chant. Stood in the roadway, high-visibility police on all sides, telling us to move or else be arrested. I watched as a middle-aged woman was pulled out of the crowd by eight arresting police officers. I was jostled as the police closed in futher, putting pressure on the protestors to clear the road.

Uuunnng, so, just, so, huh, so heroic.

So anyway, I made a decision that I didn’t want to be arrested and quietly moved back when I was able, to watch from a less criminal distance. I handed my placards over to people who were planning to capitulate a little less than I was, and then I stood and chatted with some other protestors, and chanted a little from the sidelines, as maybe thirty or forty more committed invididuals sat down in the entrance to Whitechapel as the police lined up and looked on.

After around an hour, I handed my remaining drinking water and wandered down Northumberland Avenue looking for a tube station, couldn’t find one, chilled on one of the Golden Jubilee Bridges for a few minutes and gave my parents a ring.

I’m not trying to be macho when I say this, but I genuinely wasn’t worried about violence. I didn’t fear being arrested in the physical capacity. I wasn’t looking forwards to handcuffs, but the police were calm and polite, the protestors were loud but peaceful, and I never felt any kind of fear response.

It’s simply that I calmly, rationally decided that getting arrested would pose too much of a threat to my job, since a criminal record would likely see me fired from the financial institution that currently employs me.

Taken from Sky News. This was a small police presence compared to later on.

So I left. I left the actual protesting, the civil disobedience, to people who either had less to lose than I had, or who cared enough to lose more than I was willing to sacrifice.

Because I’m not a hero. I’m an arsehole, and a hypocrite, and my cowardice is destroying my own country.

On the way to Downing Street and outside of it, my friends and I chatted about how the really wasn’t going to change things, most likely. We discussed that, by turning up, staying for a bit, then going home and leaving the place exactly as we found it, we were essentially giving permission to the Government to ignore us.

And they will ignore us.

This is Sam. Sam is a writer. He led a lot of chants whilst dressed as a London bus. He and his friends stayed behind after I left. He and his friends are better than I am.

I knew, and have said before, that peaceful, obedient protest in the legally-prescribed protesting areas is not going to force any kind of change. It will not end Parliament’s suspension, it will not force a General Election, and it won’t even force Prime Minister to pass comment on the protest itself.

“Mr Johnson, what are your thoughts on the protest outside today?”

“Well, it’s a shame they’re upset.”

“Thank you, Prime Minister.”

I knew this. I knew this, and I knew that I had been saying for years that nobody in this country will fight for change whilst their wi-fi still works and they can still eat crisps and whilst they can still watch the football.

I knew this, and yet at crunch time, I still decided to rationalise and excuse and justify my political cowardice. “Well, I’ve got a job I need to keep. And I’m tired, and self-care is important. And I need to get back to post on social media and write a blog post talking about how important protesting is.”

And I wasn’t even that scared. I just didn’t want the hassle, or the inconvenience of having to notify my workplace about an arrest record.

One of the last things I saw before I left. Here, you can see that the police vans have completely closed in, and officers are lining the border between the “legal” protest area on Whitechapel and the Trafalgar Square roundabout.

I walked back from the bridge to Trafalgar Square again. Took some photos of the police presence. Explained to two Australian tourists why the protest was occurring. Explained that it had been bigger a few hours ago, even if it was less than a hundred people now. Took some video as the police moved in, the 6pm cutoff for protesting in Whitechapel having come and gone. Then I entered the Charing Cross tube station with my tail between my legs and my dick receeding back inside my body and I headed back to Euston.

Parliament will still be suspended in a week.

Democracy is still going to fail.

But hey, at least my job is safe.

I’m such a hero.

This is what the arseholes want. They want us angry and frustrated, but distracted, and cautious.

Did you go out today? Did you protest? Did you get some neat selfies of yourself and your friends? Did you get a few “likes” and “loves” when you posted them online?

This post of mine got so many reacts. Like, at least 30. I’m such a hero. Hey guys, I totally took part in an illegal protest for exactly as long as it was convenient, shower me with praise, please!

Did you have a nice day out, being all political and whatnot?

Great. Good. Glad you had a nice time. I did too. I got to see Big Ben covered in scaffolding.

Did you get back in time for Derek’s birthday meal at Nando’s? Weren’t too late, I hope, to join him and his twenty mates who spent the afternoon watching the Villa game?

Hey, the new ‘Dark Crystal’ show is out, you should probably watch that. And you still have the last season of ‘Orange Is The New Black’ to finish off. Shall we get a pizza in? I’m soooo tired after spending an hour outside the council building today, I don’t feel like cooking.

Hey, and I guess one of you had to stay in, to look after the kids or whatever.

Seriously, it’s fine, you need to look after yourself, I get it. Radical self-care and all that. Super important. Me too, that’s why I left the protest. Got to look after yourself.

Here’s the twist, though. Radical self-care is great because day-to-day concerns should never be more important than your health.

And I hate to be the angry voice in the room, but Johnson shutting down Parliament is not a fucking day-to-day concern.

The last few protestors, sitting down and refusing to move along.

You think your health is important? Correct, it is, and your health will get an awful lot fucking worse when we run out of medicine post-No-Deal Brexit. And it will get worse again when the bastards sell off the NHS to American healthcare companies and you can’t afford medical insurance that you’ve never had to pay before.

Yeah, your job is important, your salary is vital to you getting the next consumer product you really like. You can think back fondly to the days of having a salary after the economy nose-dives and we become a tax haven for the ultra wealthy.

Fighting for democracy is not a nice day out with a few friends. And it’s not a damn selfie. It’s whole-hearted and determined and it requires more from us than a stroll into the city centre and an “angry” react.

A bronze lion at the base of Nelson’s Column, devouring a devious, lying Prime Minister. Maybe this will be enough to save Parliament.

What We Need To Do

There were fewer protestors in London today than there were at the Aston Villa / Crystal Palace game. On the train home, I heard multiple conversations about a bad referee decision, and none about the fucking shutting down of our Parliament.

Johnson and his cabal of disaster-capitalists can ignore a few thousand people calling him names in the legal protest areas.

They cannot ignore hundreds of thousands clogging up the entire road network.

We don’t need to kick in windows and tear down bus stops and tip over parked cars to make our voices heard, we just need to get enough of us together often enough to have a material impact.

And right now, there aren’t enough of us.

Here’s how we get more.

Tell people in person, people that you work with or socialise with, how important the suspension of Parliament is to you. Don’t play into Johnson’s hands by “not discussing politics” out of politeness.

Tell them how important the suspension of Parliament is, and explain why. Explain in simple terms. Don’t talk about Brexit, don’t talk about the Tories, don’t talk about anything except this:

Shutting down Parliament takes away our right to vote.

Why? Because when we vote in elections, we vote for MPs to represent us. If Johnson can make our MPs completely powerless, then we’re not voting, we’re just drawing a cross on a meaningless piece of paper.

If the 2016 Brexit Referendum comes up, don’t talk about “non-binding results” or “Cambridge Analytica”. Talk about the fact that a single referendum can’t be used to shut down other forms of democracy, no matter the result.

Talk about the fact that even if we voted to leave the EU, we never voted to shut down Parliament. We never voted to lose our representation.

Ask your friends and colleagues if they think voting is important. If they do, find a way to convince them that shutting down Parliament is the same as taking away their vote. If the referendum is important to them, make them understand that they may never get another referendum on any subject because, with the ability to suspend Parliament, governments no longer need to worry about being held accountable for anything.

If they say that Johnson’s following through on his promises, point them to his Wikipedia page, point out all the times he’s been sacked for lying, been caught out on his lies. Ask them if they really think he’s suddenly started telling the truth.

And don’t play into his hand by portraying him as a clown. Don’t call him “Bojo”, don’t call him an idiot, or a fool. These things make him harmless, and approachable, and he knows this. Johnson is a smart, calculating and manipulative operator. We all ought to be a lot more scared of him than we are.

The same goes with Rees-Mogg, and the rest of them. Destroy their image. Break the glass. Scrape away the veneer. The current cabinet is a scary bunch of liars motivated solely by self-interest. Rees-Mogg is not a dorky public schoolboy in a top hat – he is a shrewd investor who has made millions off of Brexit already.

Don’t allow the current government to seem harmless, or bumbling, or stupid. They are determined, and intelligent, and motivated.

And whilst you’re doing all this, do it with kindess. Don’t put your colleagues and friends on the defensive. Don’t make this about political issues beyond the matter of our democratic rights. Don’t force them to account for their action, or lack of action – just give them reasons to care, as though you’re doing them a favour. Give them reasons to doubt their own apathy, to talk to their partners about it, spread the doubt a little further.

And don’t engage with detractors. If a rowdy white male football fan tries to stick is oafish oar in, ignore it. Just move on. Don’t argue, because you won’t win, because he’s not trying to win an argument – he’s trying to derail it. Brexiteers want us to get bogged down in statistics, voter turnouts, vote shares. They want technical terms like “prorogue” and “non-binding” and fucking “backstop” to be sticking points. They want us continually explaining these things over, and over, and over.


Stick to the message.

Suspending Parliament takes away our right to vote.

Be friendly. Be nice. Be helpful.

Stick to the message.

Be passionate, but not outraged.

Stick to the message.

The next step is to talk about the positive experiences you’ve had protesting. Talk about the festival-like atmosphere, the feeling of power, of conviction. Be honest. Relate how you really felt, and the reasons you would want to go back again.

Talk about feeling part of something. Of making a difference. And talk about how easy you found it, if you found it easy. If your experience at a protest was in any way rewarding, relay how rewarding it was.

Because we may not win people over solely with our cause. We may need to appeal to their ego, too.

The Next Steps

I thought I had done enough when I walked away today. But I will never have done enough until the suspension of Parliament is cancelled. Because if it goes ahead, and if it lasts, then I clearly could not have done “enough”. By, like, definition.

So there will be more protests, and marches. I will need to make more placards. I will need to keep working on my message, refining it. I’ll need to keep writing, and I’ll need to keep making sacrifices. For now, just sacrifices of my free time, my energy, and my money.

Will I have the courage to risk arrest? To fully engage in civil disobedience? Even revolt?

I hope so. But right now, I’m a coward and a hypocrite, trying to convince you to be better than me. To realise that every day we decide to rationalise away our uncertainty and our dislike of inconvenience, we hand over a little more power to Johnson and his cabal.

They don’t fear a militant oppostion. They fear a militarised one. Not militarised with weapons, but with unity, determination and coordination. They’ve never had to face anything like that before, so let’s make it an appealling prospect to as many people as possible.

If you end up being “that person in the office who’s always talking about politics,” well, a few social connections is honestly a fairly small price to pay for liberty. Hell, my career is a small price to pay for liberty. The protestors in Hong Kong are showing us exactly what they’re willing to pay for liberty, and honestly, they’re putting us to shame.

Make it normal to be political. Make it normal to be proactive. Make people feel like they can make a difference.

And if someone says they feel ashamed for not doing more, don’t rush to correct them. Just tell them “Yeah, it would have been good if you had been there.”

Because we are genuinely running out of time.

Proroguing Parliament


The suspension of Parliament in September 2019 is not a matter of party politics.

Many of Boris Johnson’s current Tory cabinet were vocally opposed to the suspension of Parliament when it was proposed by Dominic Raab in June 2019 as a means to force a No-Deal Brexit.


This is not a matter of Labour vs. Conservative or of Left Wing vs. Right Wing.

This is a matter of democracy (rule of the many) vs. oligarchy (rule of the few).

This tweet has since been deleted.

As citizens of a democratic state, the people of the United Kingdom have a fundamental right to a functioning Parliament of representative MPs.

Boris Johnson’s government is attempting to take that fundamental right away.

If Johnson succeeds, then Britain will be forced through a No-Deal Brexit without any Parliamentary oversight.

If Johnson succeeds, then he will have established a precedent by which a Prime Minister can suspend Parliament at will to shut down the democratic process of the United Kingdom during times of national crisis, when Parliament oversight is at its most vital.

Boris Johnson claims that the parliamentary suspension is because the current session has gone on for too long, and that he wants to “bring forward a new bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit.”

This is a lie. We know it is a lie because Dominic Raab suggested suspending Parliament specifically to exclude MPs from legislating against Brexit.


Boris Johnson has been sacked by newspapers for lying in his articles.


Boris Johnson used the “Brexit Bus” to lie to the public, and later lied to the public again about his involvement in the original lie, as well as manipulating search engine algorithms to cover his tracks.


Boris Johnson has not suddenly started telling the truth. He has not suddenly ended his career-long trend of lying to suit his own agenda just in time to suspend Parliament for legitimate reasons.

Boris Johnson is using Parliament’s own rules to do all of this. These rules have been used in the past. These rules must be changed. The fact that Boris Johnson can do this does not excuse him from blame for actually doing it.

Arguments that “this is how British government works” are made in bad faith. This should not be how any democracy works. Our system of government must be changed

The suspension of Parliament is being done for dishonest reasons, to deliver a disastrous outcome based on a dishonest referendum campaign.

The suspension of Parliament costs the British People their democratic rights and serves only the agenda of a few wealthy British oligarchs.

Anyone who claims that the suspension of Parliament is anything other than an attempt to shut down democracy is promoting a false narrative.

Any member of the media who does not immediately call out such claims as the lies they are is effectively collaborating with an anti-democratic regime.

The Good News

You can fight the anti-democratic agenda by getting out and joining some protests and marches.


If you can’t physically join a protest, share the details of the protests on social media. If you hear people complaining about the suspension of Parliament, encourage them to go to protests themselves. Share articles which call out Johnson and his government on their lies. Write your own posts explaining how you feel, and why.

If you’re going to a protest, be sensible:

  • Take plenty of drinking water.
  • Take suntan lotion.
  • Take a snack.
  • Wear shoes you can comfortably stand around in all day.
  • Bring chalk, so you can make non-permanent graffiti.
  • Make sure you know your message. Practice explaining what you believe in, whilst you’re on the way to the protest.
  • Take photos showing how many people are attending the protest with you. Share those photos on social media. Make everyone see how much opposition there is to the plans of Johnson’s government.

We need to make our presence known, and we need to make our convictions irrefutable. We need to drown out the government’s lies with our combined voices.

We need to force them to abandon their selfish agenda and, for once, put the people first.

Three Facts

These are some facts I’m going to be repeating a lot over the next few days. Or weeks.

Or months.

I’m putting them here as a handy reference, both for myself and for anyone else who may find them useful.

1 – The Tories Talked About Suspending Parliament To Force Brexit Months Ago


The suspension of Parliament in September 2019 is not about ending the current session because it has “gone on for too long.”

Dominic Raab suggested suspending Parliament in order to force through Brexit in early June 2019:

The Tory leadership contender Dominic Raab has said the possibility of sidelining parliament to force through Brexit should not be ruled out, as to do so would weaken the UK’s negotiating position in Brussels.

“I think it’s wrong to rule out any tool to make sure that we leave by the end of October,” Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, as the Conservative party reels from its disastrous results in the European election, in which Eurosceptic voters flocked to the Brexit party.

Any claims that the suspension of Parliament serves any other purpose are untrue.

2 – A No-Deal Brexit Will Harm The NHS, Despite Johnson’s Pledges To Support The Health Service


Boris Johnson has pledged to support the NHS, but by forcing through a No-Deal Brexit and removing the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK, he is putting at risk 9.5% of the NHS’s doctors.

9.5% of doctors and 6.4% of nurses are EU nationals

Nationals of other EU countries make up 9.5% of doctors in England’s hospital and community health services. They also make up 6.4% of all nurses and 5.7% of scientific, therapeutic and technical staff. The percentage of doctors and nurses with EU nationality grew between 2009 and 2016. Since 2016, the percentage of EU nurses has fallen.

A No-Deal Brexit will make the already-understaffed NHS unsupportable, despite Johnson’s claims that he wishes to support it. As the NHS struggles more and more to provide adequate levels of service, it becomes easier to characterise it as being unfit for purpose.

3 – There Is Still Hope


I’m really tired. I wanted to spend my free time after work this week making plans for a new Improv show I’m putting together. I wanted to play Kerbal Space Program, and finally finish my massively complex mission to Duna. I wanted to finish Season 2 of ‘Mindhunter’ and whinge some more on Twitter about Rey’s flip-phone lightsaber in the new Star Wars trailer. I wanted to finish another couple of chapters of the trash sci-fi book I’m writing.

Instead, I’m writing letters to my MP. I’m sharing links to organised protest events on Reddit. I’m trying to get as many of my friends as possible onto a train down to London at the weekend. I’m trying to work out how I’m going to make a placard and what to put on it. I’m trying to figure out how I can do all this, and take part in a possible general strike, whilst also keeping the full-time job I need to maintain my vegan cheese addiction.

And I’m barely making 1% of the effort that other people have been making for months to try and end the horrible political mess we’re currently in.

There is still hope that we can stop Johnson’s government from abusing its power, deminishing our democracy and dragging us through a disastrous No-Deal Brexit. We might be able to make a difference.

But sadly, we’re going to have to put ourselves through hell for the next few weeks. We’re all going to have to spend a lot of our free time feeling miserable and tired and angry.

We’re going to have to learn the talking points, we’re going to have stand around for hours in a lot of protests, and we’re going to have to sacrifice a lot of our free time. We may have to make ourselves vulnerable to arrest, to attack from Brexiteers, to abuse and denigration.

We have to make our voices heard. We now have to affect the change that we want for ourselves. We have to support each other, and be strong for one another, and fight twice as hard for every person who is unable to join us.

We have to be resolute and fearless.

I will be at local Midlands protests over the next few days. I will be joining the Downing Street protest on Saturday. I will be doing whatever I can, whilst hopefully not losing my job or getting arrested, to defend our democracy and defeat the ambitions of a few wealthy men in London.

And if we succeed, I may do some of the stuff I actually wanted to do.

Dominic Raab: Britain’s Champion Of Democracy

The Tory leadership contender Dominic Raab has said the possibility of sidelining parliament to force through Brexit should not be ruled out, as to do so would weaken the UK’s negotiating position in Brussels.

“I think it’s wrong to rule out any tool to make sure that we leave by the end of October,” Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, as the Conservative party reels from its disastrous results in the European election, in which Eurosceptic voters flocked to the Brexit party.

Brexit: suspending parliament should not be ruled out, says Dominic Raab – theguardian.com

Dominic Raab is the champion of democracy in modern-day Britain.

Specifically, he has just been appointed as Foreign Secretary in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new cabinet. This means it is his duty to act as Britain’s chief diplomat, negotiating with foreign powers and, theoretically, bringing the good word of democracy to those states which are yet to fully adopt it. The foreign secretary must represent the United Kingdom and its ideals, such as parliamentary sovereignty and a principled belief in representative democracy.

He sits in the cabinet alongside notable and well-respected politicians such as:

In the passage quoted at the beginning of this article, Raab, in his role as a candidate for leadership of the Tory party, discusses the proroguing of parliament in order to prevent British MPs from taking any action to block a “No-Deal” Brexit.

Put another way, Raab suggested that Britain’s democratic government should be temporarily suspended, so that Britain would automatically leave the EU on October 31st, regardless of the effects that this would have on the country.

Given that one of the key arguments in favour of Brexit was because “[Britain’s] laws should be made by people we can elect and kick out – that’s more democratic”, it may seem hypocritical for a Leave campaigner and lead Brexiteer to suggest crippling the British parliament. And that’s because it is hypocritical.


In 2017, during the UK General Election, the Conservative Party secured 42% of the votes cast, and 317 parliamentary seats. This meant they were unable to form a government. As such, the leader of the Tories, Theresa May, bribed the Irish DUP party with £1 billion of public money to form a government with them. The DUP held 0.9% of the votes cast.

Which means the Conservative Party was able to seize control of the Government with just 43% of the popular vote – and it only cost them £1 billion of public funds to do so.

When Theresa May resigned in 2019, her successor was chosen from among Tory Party MPs. First the Tory MPs themselves – all 312 of them – voted to narrow the selection down to just two candidates – Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

This was followed by a vote of the Tory Party as a whole. Here, the winner of the two candidates was decided by a vote of 138,809 Tory Party members, i.e. 0.3% of the country’s general electorate, or 1 out of every 330 people eligible to vote in a general election.

Boris Johnson won with 66% of that vote, or 92,153 votes.

Nearly 46 million people are eligible to vote in the UK, of a population of over 66 million.

Which means that Raab, an elected MP holding an unelected ministerial position, appointed by an undemocratically-selected Prime Minister of an undemocratic government which bought its way into power, wished to further restrict the role of democracy in British politics by suspending a body of elected lawmakers.

To Dominic Raab, democracy is useful only to the barest extent that it puts him in a position of power, and is seemingly disposable at any point thereafter.

And this is the Foreign Secretary who is expected to represent Britain overseas, championing our way of life.

It is worth stating, and re-stating, that the proroguing of Parliament is unlikely to ever occur. But the issue is less the likelihood of it occurring, and rather the fact that it is seen as a legitimate option by members of our current government, possibly including the Prime Minister himself.

Shortly after Mr Raab’s comments, I wrote to my MP, Shabana Mahmood, to raise my concerns. You can read this letter, and her response, here.

Given more recent developments, it seems important that we all put pressure on our parliamentary representatives to take a stronger stand against the kind of anti-democratic sentiment which seems to prevalent within the current government.

As matters stand currently, the Boris Johnson-led government is set to remain in power until May of 2022 – nearly three years of rule by a Prime Minister and cabinet who hold power due to a history bribery, lies and a broken electoral system.

This is the same government which, by all indicators, is intending to force the UK to leave the EU with no departure deal in place, and in just three months, on the 31st of October.

This is a government made up primarily of wealthy politicians of privileged backgrounds, at least one of whom has demonstrably already profited personally from the results of the Brexit referendum. It seems unlikely that Rees-Mogg is alone in having financial interests in a departure from the EU.

Should the best possible legal outcome prevail, and a successful vote of No Confidence in the current government force a General Election, the country would still be vulnerable to the same kind of back-room deals that saw the Tory Party retain power in the 2017 election, and we would then be in a worse position than we are now.

Once again, I’m writing about British politics and telling tales of doom and gloom, with no real suggestions to offer as to what to do. It feels like an impossible situation, where our right to vote seems meaningless, where our connection as private citizens to our own government seems non-existent.

We are staring down the barrel of a No Deal EU departure, and we have virtually no legal means to affect this course of action. We are being led by Prime Minister and a government who hold the population in contempt, who are flagrantly placing their own interests ahead of the interests of the country, and we had no say in their appointment.

This piece opened with a critique of Dominic Raab, but he is merely symptomatic of the disease. His appointment as foreign secretary is a result of a deeper, darker plague for which the cures are quickly eroding. By any objective measure, our system of government has failed us, and has been failing us for some time, and it seems there is still scope for matters to worsen.

At What Point Does A Democracy Stop Being Democratic?

Democracy is mob rule.

Ultimately, it is the process of governing by consent of the majority of eligible citizens. Or, more simply, it is doing what most people agree should be done.

A long time ago, we did this without constitutions or parliaments. We elected leaders and determined our own futures by literal brute force. We would march out into fields, in groups, and hit each other with clubs, spears and axes. The winning side, the side with the most fighters left standing, would get to choose what happened next, and the losing side would have to concede the point. Or just be dead.

This method had its issues: it would put at a disadvantage anyone who could not physically fight as effectively; it would put at an advantage those who happened across advances in technology over their competitors; and it would result in huge losses of life on a periodic basis, which rather put a damper on humanity’s prosperity.

So we took the weapons out of everybody’s hands and we replaced them with little tiny biro pens and paper covered in names and boxes and we called the new process “an election”, and this was generally seen as being a better way of doing things. We were still governing by mob rule, but this new mob left fewer people dead and dying.

Every time we deviated from using elections, we ended up with really bad stuff, like secret police, famines, concentration camps, and Volkswagen. We still had bad stuff even when we kept using elections, but as a rule the countries that used elections generally had a greater number of happier, richer people, and that seemed like a pretty decent endorsement.

Story Time.

In 2015, an election was held in the United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland. That’s a bit long, though, so we’ll just call it “Britain” for now.

In this election, the people of Britain decided not to hit each other with weapons (something that most of them hadn’t done in quite a while) and instead they drew a big cross in a box on a piece of paper, as was the tradition of the time.

There’s lots of technical stuff to this election, but essentially, each person who had the right to vote was allowed to vote for one of a few options. They could vote for Blue Dave, Red Ed, Yellow Nicola or Orange Nick.


There were some other people and different colours, but they didn’t get many votes. In fact, Yellow Nicola and Orange Nick didn’t get many votes either, so we’ll just ignore them for the time being.

The election was mostly between Blue Dave and Red Ed, and they got most of the votes between them – 67% of all the votes, in fact. Blue Dave got 37%, and Red Ed got 30%.

Now, Blue Dave’s share of the votes was 37% of all the people who votes cast, but all the votes cast was only 66% of the votes that could be cast. And all the votes that could be cast wasn’t equal to all the people in the country.

Actually, let’s just throw some actual numbers in, to make things clear:

  • There were 65 million people in Britain in 2015
  • Nearly 45 million of those were eligible to vote
  • Nearly 30 million of those actually voted
  • Just over 11 million of those voted for Blue Dave
  • And just over 9 million voted for Red Ed

Because 11 million, or 37% of the voters, voted for Blue Dave, this meant that Blue Dave got to have 330 of the seats in Parliament. Now, this is a big deal, because there are only 650 seats in Parliament, and whoever has the most gets to be in charge. Blue Dave had 330 out of 650, which means he had 50.7% of the seats, which meant Blue Dave was in charge, even though he only had 37% of the vote.

He needed 326 votes for a majority of 1. Which means he only had a majority of 5. Remember that number. Remember the number 5. It’s the same as the number of teeth you would have if you didn’t have any teeth in your mouth but you were holding 5 teeth in your hand that you won at a run-down fairground stall.

Red Ed, with 30% of the votes cast, got 232 seats in Parliament, or 36%. This meant that Red Ed was not in charge, but he still had a bigger percentage of seats than he did a percentage of the vote. Just as Blue Dave did.

Now, a few people didn’t like this, because even though between them Blue Dave and Red Ed only had 67% of the vote between them, they had 86% of the seats in Parliament. And remember, Britain picked who was in charge based on how many seats in Parliament they had. What was worse was the Yellow Nicola (remember her?) only got 4.7% of the vote, not even enough to talk about on its own, but she got 8.7% of the seats – nearly double her share of the vote.

So a few people moaned, but most people agreed that this was still a very sensible system and were happy to accept the result, because this was how Britain had always done it, and it also kept lots of the creepy, weird outsiders like Purple Nigel on the outside, and stopped them from getting in. Because Purple Nigel is like a vampire – once you invite him in, he gets to bite your neck and waft his cape at you, and he won’t leave even if you ask him.

So most people were happy to accept the result, except for Blue Dave. This might seem ironic, because it seems like Blue Dave did the best out of everybody. But do you remember that number 5? The number I asked you to remember before? I hope you remember, because I asked you to. It was an easy number to remember.

Well, that number, 5, is less than the number 20. And the number 20 was similar to the number of people in something called the “European Research Group.”

The European Research Group was a group of MPs (Members of Parliament, AKA “seats”) who only cared about one thing. They didn’t care about roads, or schools, or ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, or anything else that anybody cared about. They just cared about Europe, AKA “The European Union”. Britain was part of the European Union, and the European Research Group didn’t want Britain to be part of the European Union anymore.

Now, you might be wondering, “Why did the European Research Group call themselves the European Research Group if they didn’t want to research Europe, they just wanted to leave it? Why wouldn’t they call themselves the ‘We Want Britain To Leave The European Union Group’?” And the answer to that is a complete mystery, nobody will ever know, and we just have to accept that. You might think that it’s similar to the National Socialists calling themselves National Socialists when they’re not actually Socialists, or that it’s similar to the Democratic People’s Republic Of North Korea, which isn’t democratic, or a republic, and which doesn’t belong to its people, but I don’t have a counter-argument to either of those points, so maybe you’re right.

Anyway, the European Research Group, or ERG, were on Blue Dave’s team, which you think would be good for Blue Dave. Of the 330 seats he won, around 20 of them were controlled by the ERG. But they were on his side, so that’s good, right?

Except that the ERG only cared about one thing, didn’t they? They only cared about Britain leaving the European Union.

This was bad for Blue Dave, as it meant that he had to keep them happy. Because remember that number 5 – he only had a 5-seat majority, which meant if just six MPs went against him, he would no longer be in charge. And the ERG included around 20 MPs, and that’s more than 5. So if the ERG got fed up of Blue Dave, they could stop him from being in charge, and that would be bad for Blue Dave.

Blue Dave knew that he’d probably have to keep the ERG happy to be in charge before the election in 2015, so he made a promise to everyone that he would have a different election afterwards in which everyone eligible to vote in Britain would get to vote on whether Britain stayed in the European Union, which the ERG didn’t want, or get to leave the European Union, which the ERG did want.

Because the ERG had never gotten this close to having a vote on Britain leaving the European Union, they were happy about Blue Dave’s promise. Because they were happy, Blue Dave was more likely to stay in charge because he had the ERG’s 20 seats, and all he had to do was to have a vote on Britain leaving the European Union.

In 2016, Blue Dave held an election (AKA a “referendum”) on Britain leaving the European Union.

The ERG were happy about this.

The ERG were even happier when everyone voted for Britain to leave the European Union (AKA “the EU”).


Okay, not everybody:

  • 46.5 million people were eligible to vote
  • Of those, 33.5 million actually voted
  • Of those, 17.4 million voted to leave.
  • That means that of the people who voted, 51.9% of them voted to leave,
  • which means that of the people who could vote, just over 37% of them voted to leave.

However, most people agreed that this was still a very sensible system and were happy to accept the result, because this was how Britain had always done it, and it also kept lots of the creepy, weird outsiders like Purple Nigel from whinging. Because Purple Nigel is like a really petulant child, and once he doesn’t get what he wants he whinges and whinges and whinges about it.

(In fact, he whinges so much that he whinged about losing the referendum before he’d even lost it, and was already asking for a second referendum to replace the first referendum because otherwise he wouldn’t be getting what he wanted.)

So most people were happy to accept the result, except for Blue Dave. This might seem ironic, because it seems like Blue Dave did the best out of everybody – he had made the ERG happy, and now he could stay in charge. But it turns out that Blue Dave didn’t actually want Britain to leave the EU, and in fact he asked everybody to vote against Britain leaving the EU because he thought it was a silly idea, and he only really held an election on it because he wanted to keep the ERG happy so he could stay in charge.

So anyway, Blue Dave then said he didn’t want to be in charge anymore, so he left. One day, he just walked out onto the street, told everybody he was leaving, and then he left, humming a jaunty little tune as he went.

Nobody knows what happened to Blue Dave after that. To this day, we don’t know where he went. Some say that he locked himself in a tower and refused to see anyone ever again. Others say that he wanders the wilderness, hooded and cloaked, lending aid to travellers in need. A few think that one day he will return, as he was but more powerful, as Dave The White, and that he will come back to us at the turning of the tide to undo evil once and for all.

But we will probably never know.

Note – As an aside, you might charitably compare Blue Dave’s act of self-sacrifice to that of Tibetan monks who self-immolate or of suffragettes who threw themselves under racehorses, and you’d basically be right, except that they sacrificed themselves for the sake of liberation from oppression, whereas Blue Dave did it for the sake of his own personal prosperity, and whereas the others had to deal with being on fire or being trampled by horses, Dave had to deal with moving house, and that’s a complete hassle, I’m sure you’ll all agree.

Blue Theresa was now in charge of Britain. She took over from Blue Dave, after bravely battling and winning against such deadly opponents as Squidgy Mike, Mother Andrea, Foxy Liam and some others, all of whom realised that they had no chance against Blue Theresa and so gave in straight away and let her take over.

Blue Theresa would have had to fight against Blonde Boris, but even though he really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really wanted Britain to leave the EU, and told everyone to vote for Britain to leave the EU, when he had chance to lead Britain in leaving the EU he suddenly remembered that he had a haircut booked that Wednesday, and he’d already cancelled on his hairdresser twice and didn’t want to mess them around, so he’d have to let Theresa handle the EU departure for now. Also he needed time to take Squidgy Mike’s knife out of his back and put a plaster on. Squidgy Mike left his knife in Blonde Boris’s back completely by accident – Squidgy Mike is such a silly man!

This means that Blue Theresa got to be in charge of Britain without any vote at all! She didn’t have to go through an election like Blue Dave did – she just got to take over, and now she was going to represent Britain and all the people in it as she spoke with the EU and tried to agree with them how Britain was going to leave the EU.

However, Blue Theresa still had the same problem as Blue Dave – the ERG. The ERG still made up around 20 seats in Parliament, and Blue Theresa still had the same margin as Blue Dave – just 5 seats. And even though the ERG were now happy that they’d not only had a referendum on leaving the EU, but that they’d also won that referendum, they could be made very unhappy again if Blue Theresa didn’t do a good enough job of actually making Britain leave the EU – she had to be very careful to do it as soon as possible and without making a mess of Britain along the way.

Luckily for Blue Theresa, a solution to her ERG problem presented itself. A solution which smelled of jam. And socialism.

When Red Ed lost the election to Blue Dave back in 2015, Red Ed’s friends decided they didn’t like him anymore and said they wanted a new friend. One who could eat bacon sandwiches properly.

So Red Ed’s friends picked Red Jez as their new friend, and Red Jez would never eat a bacon sandwich badly because Red Jez didn’t eat bacon sandwiches at all.

Red Jez was a bit like Eminem, in that a lot of young people quite liked him and a lot of older people were scared of him but pretended they liked him so that they would look cool.

In 2017, somebody told Blue Theresa that she was more popular than Red Jez, and for some reason she believed the person who told her. So, in 2017, Blue Theresa surprised everyone by announcing another election! She announced another election because she expected to do really well and get lots of seats and then she wouldn’t have to worry about the ERG anymore and she could just do what she wanted.

Sadly, Blue Theresa was a bit wrong.

In the election in 2017, Red Jez did really well! He won lots of seats! Sadly for Red Jez, he didn’t win enough seats to be in charge.

Sadly for Blue Theresa, she didn’t win enough seats to be in charge either.


Oh no! Now Blue Theresa wouldn’t be in charge anymore! She lost the election!

But she had one cunning trick up her sleeve.

Although neither Red Jez nor Blue Theresa won the election, nobody else did, either, and this meant that, following a very sensible system which was how Britain had always done it, Blue Theresa was allowed to form a “coalition”.

A coalition is just a team. Like the Avengers. On his own, Iron Man gets beaten by Thanos. But with Starlord and Dr. Strange and Spiderman helping, they can all get beaten by Thanos, together.

Now, normally, when two grown-ups want something from each other, one will give the other a lot of money. This is called a bribe, and it’s usually very naughty.

In 2017, after she failed to win the election, Blue Theresa gave a lot of money (a billion pounds! Which is a very, very big number!) to her good friend Arlene, so that Arlene would give Blue Theresa what Blue Theresa wanted, which was seats in Parliament. This wasn’t a bribe, as the money wasn’t Blue Theresa’s: it actually belonged to Britain, and Arlene wouldn’t get to spend the money herself, so this definitely wasn’t a bribe.

After accepting all of that money, Arlene promised to give Blue Theresa all of Arlene’s 10 seats in Parliament. Which meant Blue Theresa was back in charge!

To show you some numbers:

  • 47 million people were eligible to vote in 2017
  • Of those, just over 32 million people actually voted
  • Of those, nearly 14 million people voted for Blue Theresa
  • And 300 thousand voted for Arlene
  • Blue Theresa won 317 seats, and Arlene won 10
  • Which means Blue Theresa won 49% of seats with 42% of the vote
  • And Arlene won nearly 2% of seats with 0.9% of the vote
  • Meanwhile, Orange Tim won 12 seats with over 7% of the vote
  • And Yellow Nicola won 35 seats with just 3% of the vote
  • Oh, and Red Jez won 262 seats with 40% of the vote

This means that Blue Theresa got to be in charge with a majority of 2 seats and 43% of the vote, and most people agreed that this was still a very sensible system and were happy to accept the result, because this was how Britain had always done it, and it also kept lots of the funny, wacky vegetarians like Red Jez from being in charge. Because Red Jez is like sex with a long-term partner – he used to be loud and exciting, but now he’s quiet and gentle so that the kids don’t wake up.

But now Blue Theresa was in an even worse position, because now she was even more scared of the ERG, and now she had to be scared of Arlene, too. She still had to worry about Red Jez, and she had to worry about Blonde Boris, and Squidgy Mike, and Silly Jake And His Big Silly Top Hat.

Now, in 2019, lots of Blue Theresa’s friends are getting fed up of Blue Theresa. Britain still hasn’t left the EU, and poor Blue Theresa can’t pass a single law about Britain leaving the EU, and now Red Jez and Blonde Boris and Silly Jake all making fun of poor Blue Theresa. Now Blue Theresa is blue not just because she’s a Tory, but also because she’s very sad.

Now, Blue Theresa’s friends might say “Goodbye!” to Blue Theresa and instead pick a new friend to be in charge of Britain. Maybe even Squidgy Mike!

Now, Squidgy Mike is a very silly man. Almost as silly as Silly Jake And His Big Silly Top Hat (who may also be picked to be in charge!). Squidgy Mike is so silly that even his friends think he’s silly, and they all call him nasty words like “plonker” and “a turtle on a stick” and “a complete fucking back-stabbing traitor” (that one came from Blonde Boris).

What really matters is that all of Blue Theresa’s friends get to replace her just as they like, and they don’t have to hold an election for everyone else to vote. They get to pick who is in charge of Britain just as they please.

And most people will probably agree that this is still a very sensible system and will be happy to accept the result, because this was how Britain has always done it.

Story time’s over.

I wrote this incredibly poor breakdown of British leadership politics as a cathartic exercise to help handle my own frustration and, honestly, depression.

It seems so baffling that Theresa May and the Tory party were quite literally voted out of power in 2017 and yet were allowed to quite literally buy their way back in.

It seems equally maddening that the Tory party now gets to play leadership games without any public vote over who will lead the country in the final stages of Brexit.

Britain is supposed to be a representative democracy. We are not supposed to directly elect outcomes and laws ourselves, but rather we should be voting for political representatives who will themselves vote for our interests.

That the Prime Minister, our chief diplomat to the EU, our representative and our de facto head of state, cannot be chosen by the electorate is a travesty.

What’s worse is that the ruling party (which, it should be noted, holds both legislative and executive authority due to a lack of separation of powers) can hold onto power with barely 43% of the popular vote.

When we look across the Atlantic, at another English-speaking “democracy”, we see that a President can be elected despite gaining only 46% of the popular vote, more than 2% less than his opposition, and that he can also have full oversight of prosecutorial investigations into his own criminal activities, benefiting all the while from protection by a single member of the Senate from the same party.

At what point do these democracies cease being democratic? At what point do votes become meaningless?

At what point does writing crosses in boxes on paper stop being a better system that fighting each other with clubs and axes?

Everything that I’ve referenced so far has been legal. I have not mentioned a single criminal activity in this entire article. The systems designed to give the people freedom and representation and the ability to determine their own future seem wholly disconnected from the wishes of the people those systems are intended to serve.

It seems like the system isn’t working. It seems as though the democratic machine is broken, and needs to be fixed, or replaced.

As an addendum, I’m a hypocrite. I am the worst hypocrite. On Saturday the 23rd March I could have gone down to London and joined the march to protest Article 50, and I didn’t. The sad truth is that I didn’t know anyone in my town who was going, and I was too scared to go alone.

The sadder truth is that I honestly didn’t think it was going to make a difference. I just didn’t believe that a polite march in the streets where everyone carries witty signs and leaves the city exactly as they found it at the end of the day would give Theresa May and her cabinet of reprobates any reason to take notice.

At this point, I don’t know what would give them reason to take notice.

I just know that I’m fed up of the leadership of this country being determined by barely a dozen members of the Tory party.

I also know that I don’t want to vote in another election where the party that lost power can spend public money to keep its power. If I got fired from my job, I couldn’t give my bosses their own money and force them to keep me on. If I refused to leave, they’d simply remove me from the office by physical force.