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Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Modest Counter-Proposal

As many of you will already tragically be aware, on Tuesday up-and-coming arsepimple Alec Shelbrooke used his privileged position as a Tory MP and his rather more commonplace position as a cunt to launch what may be the most unpleasant Conservative attack yet on vulnerable people. Specifically, Mr. Shelbrooke would like to see all benefits provided on prepaid "welfare cashcards" the use of which would then be limited to "essential" items such as food, clothing and travel, with "non-essential, desirable or damaging items" (NEDDs - geddit?) prohibited. Dirty benefit scroungers would then be unable to levy their largesse on such gaudy baubles as alcohol, cigarrettes and Sky TV, the latter of which I agree is both unnecessary and damaging. Shelbrooke also argues that this would prevent benefit claimants spending their money in betting shops, though anyone who thinks only allowing people to purchase food will prevent gambling has clearly never bought a kebab.

It almost goes without saying that this idea is not only unfair but unworkable, the only sure-fire result being the creation of a black market where welfare cards are loaned out to people with ready cash in exchange for a commission. Leaving aside, for a moment, the fact that the plan is both cruel and fuckwitted, I'd like to make a counter-proposal: the Tory MP's Cashcard.

To take one example, Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke received £65,738 in wages this year, plus a further £38,666 in expenses for a total of £104,404 of taxpayer's money, around four times what the average British family earns. Currently this sum is paid directly into Shelbrooke's bank account where it can be spent on all manner of unnecessary things like illegal fox hunts and secret donations to UKIP. I propose that, instead, Tory MPs should only be able to spend their money on the following undesirable and hopefully very damaging items:


  • Special brew
  • Battered saveloys
  • 10-decks of Sovereign
  • Dangerous dogs (untrained)
  • McDonalds
  • The wrong gang colours for the local area (clothing)
  • Piggy-backs from skinheads (transport)
  • Payday loans
  • White lightning
  • The Guardian
  • Heroin
Limiting Tory spending to the above items will not only help increase the stigma and indignity associated with being a Tory MP, but it will also help reduce the cost to the taxpayer as more and more Conservatives take their rightful place as horribly bloated corpses, overfed on saveloys and McDonalds, reeking of cheap booze and slightly more expensive heroin. As an added bonus to the treasury, footage of Britain's small army of overpriviledged bellends vomiting themselves to death as skinheads kick the remains of a battered saveloy out of their uselessly chubby fingers can be made into a primetime BBC 2 reality TV show, and serialised around the world. The money raised could then be used to pay for the NHS and/or a bouncy castle. Possibly a bouncy NHS.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Has the general election already begun?

Many fellow tweeps have been pleasantly apoplectic today over a new Tory ad decrying Britain's ravaging horde of grasping dole scroungers (many of whom live it up on as much as £10 a day) which has apparently being floated in order to keep the furnaces of middle england hatred quietly smouldering until the next election (warning: link leads to the Conservative party website, which some readers should find distressing). The online ad, which will haunt the waking hours of residents in sixty of the UK's most marginal constituencies, links to a push poll that invites respondents to ponder whether benefits should rise faster than wages (i.e. in line with inflation) and whether people should be able to claim more than the average family earns in benefits (note: they can't). While many fine members of the commentariat have expressed inexplicable shock that an online poll on the Conservative party website is not scientifically rigorous, the real story lurks beneath the surface like a geeky political Kraken. To wit:

Why are the Conservatives running election ads 30 months ahead of the next general election? 

Perhaps most plausibly, it may be that the Tories are starting to lose the argument on welfare and benefits and, consequently, are shitting their expensively tailored pants. Facetious bullshit about scroungers has so far been a political fig leaf for the cuts in general, giving cover to many far less popular policies like closing hospitals and killing disabled people. The full gamit of wankers, from Osborner to IDS, have nimbly pivoted the discussion away from the effects of austerity onto the pressing need to make the lives of Britain's most vulnerable people as difficult as possible. However, many of the myths around benefits are now eroding, perhaps in part because the Labour party have decided to act slightly less like blubbering pisswillows and actually call the Conservatives out on their slippery little lies. Personally, I don't give a shit about whether poor people are fiddling the system, and I'd actively encourage them to avoid working which, as anyone who'se ever really done any of it can attest, is shit. Still, as well as the right's ideological argument against welfare being a stinking moral abyss, it helps that the facts behind the bollocks are now being exposed as non-existent, particularly when it comes to such well-worn tropes as "families in which no one has every worked". As a result the once formidable Conservative polling lead in this area is rapidly evaporating, with one survey already showing that over two thirds of people oppose the current round of benefit cuts. If public attitudes continue to develop in this direction the Conservative party, which has bet the farm on the electorate being composed of mean, ignorant bastards, will be left wanking into the wind come polling day. With this in mind, perhaps it makes sense for the Conservatives to try and shore up support on one of their key issues before their battleship is completely sunk, and it's certainly been an effective advertising spend, what with useful idiots like me crowing about the campaign to many who'd otherwise never have heard about it. That said, it's unusual for a political party to spend money on advertising at all this far out from an election, particularly on negative ads like this, which are usually reserved for the fag end of a desperate campaign. 

The other possibility is that the general election is closer than we think. The coalition, which has long been dysfunctional, now seems perpetually on the brink of all-out divorce. There are any number of catalysts that could thrust what's left of this unholy alliance back into the pit from whence it came, with both the Lib Dem left and the Tory right potentially having something to gain from such a fissure. There's even the possibility that the gently brewing palace coup within the conservative party will finally come to the boil and Cameron will be deposed and replaced by one of his (somehow even less pleasant) chums. Any of these events could readily lead to a vote of no confidence in the government - one which some members of the Conservative ranks might choose not to oppose, particularly if doing otherwise meant limping onwards in minority government for two years. The Tories may decide that, despite their current standing in the polls, it's better to strike before Labour have all their ducks in a row and before the economy slurps back into recession. Though far fetched, the Conservatives could even, hypothetically, call a motion of no confidence in themselves, thus triggering an early election (though it's hard to imagine a party succesfully campaigning on a "Vote for us! We don't believe in ourselves at all!" platform). So these ads may be hedging against, or even planning for, an early election. 

Whatever the case, it seems the Tories are fighting a rearguard action - the ad is set to run in the sixty most marginal Tory held seats, which Labour would only need 25 of to become the largest party. If the Conservatives thought they had a serious chance of winning the next general election, they'd be doing more than trying to cling on to what they've already got.

P.S. If you encounter any of these ads on google or anywhere else besides the Conservative website, be sure to click on them. Doing so will cost the Conservative party money which would otherwise be spent on evil.

P.P.S Am now hearing that the Tory ad campaign was launched in response to a Labour leafletting campaign in the same marginals. Curiouser and curiouser. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Scheme For Full Unemployment - How The Tories Cook The Job Numbers

Today I'm going to do something I've not done before: praise the Tories. You see, as an anarchist, I yearn for a world where work is a thing of the past and, it would seem, the Conservative government (along with their sub-Robin-quality Lib Dem sidekicks) are well on their way to achieving it. Likewise, and if only for their sheer gumption, I must praise them for their success in convincing the public that they're doing precisely the opposite.

Today saw the release of the quarterly Labour Force Survey which aims to track what, if anything, Britain's 63 million inhabitants are up to at the moment. The headline stats, which various Tory twat-trumps have been gleefully bellowing all day, are that employment is up by 40,000 (or around 0.1%) and unemployment is down by 82,000 (or 0.2%). However, these are just the raw stats, raw in the same way chicken is raw, so swallowing them is not advised without at least acknowledging the following caveats. First of all it's important to note that this quarter's changes are all within the margin of error (which you can calculate for yourself here if you, as I, are an insufferable bellend) and occurred during a period which included Olympics, an event which might have been expected to produce more than a few extra jobs. Secondly, employment did not keep pace with population growth, likely to be in the region of 100-120,000 over the last few months. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the employment statistics issued by the government are, and have been for some time, a steaming crock of bollocks flavoured bullshit.

The Tories are cooking the books in three main ways. The first, and potentially largest, is through the Work Programme/Workfare. These government initiatives respectively force jobseekers to take mandatory training courses and work for nothing in return for the government not taking away your  Jobseeker's Allowance, a quantity of money which the government describes as "the minimum amount you need to live on". Despite the fact that in order to be on one of these programmes you must be jobless and claiming JSA, these people are not classified as "unemployed". In some cases (when a person is doing a workfare placement, "practical" training or work experience) they are simply described as "employees" and lumped in with the other 29 million employed bods. In other cases (hypothetically when a person is training on the work programme, though it's unclear) they're described as being in "government supported employment or training" which, bizarrely, still counts as a variety of employment, but is counted separately. The government admits to 171,000 of these latter beings (a rise of 19,000 in just the last three months). If these unemployed people were counted as unemployed, the official jobless rate would rise from 7.8% to 8.3%, close to the highest rate recorded under this government and higher than any recorded under the last one (though, to be fair, Labour employed the same statistical trick, albeit to a lesser extent).

However, we've yet to chew through the most fecal chunk of the bullshit sandwich: there are almost a million people missing from the official stats. According to the DWP, around 65,000 people a month have been referred to the work programme since its inception midway through last year, meaning an estimated 1.5 million people have been referred to it so far. Though a pitiful number of these people actually found jobs, around half of the people made to join the work programme when it began were forced into destitution within a year, most of them for at least three months, meaning they'd likely be classed as "economically inactive" (though still, strangely, not "unemployed" which is clearly what they are). The rest are still on the work programme, meaning that potentially hundreds of thousands of people are being counted as "employed" without actually having jobs.

The second way the government's been fiddling harder than a rooftop Topol is by slowly growing, both by accident and by design, the number of people classified as "economically inactive". People unversed in labour statistics might reasonably think everyone is either employed or unemployed. Well, they fucking well aren't. Just over nine million people in this country apparently don't have a job and aren't looking for one either. They may have recently won the lottery or married into a wealthy dynasty, meaning they never need to work again. Perhaps just as often, these people have been kicked off benefits and/or given up on looking for work entirely and are instead spending their days alternately sobbing and angrily shaking their fists at the sky. Either way, there are 900,000 more of them now than when the current cohort of clustercunts came to power, with 60,000 more joining the ranks of the forsaken in the last 3 months alone. The government likely sees these people (who, by definition, can't claim Jobseeker's) as successes, workshy wannabe parasites whose greedy grasping has been thwarted by the coalition's brave and noble war on poor people. Handily for them, the exclusion of these 900,000 poor sods from the official stats also shaves 3.5% off unemployment.

The ranks of the economically inactive have likely been swelled by the government's relentless barrage of unemployment-shaming. The lazy, factphobic way members of the coalition throw around perjorative words like "scrounger" and meaningless phrases like "alarm clock Britain" has probably encouraged those who can to avoid benefits and rely on help from friends and relatives where possible (this is also evident in the growing ranks of the self-employed-but-out-of-work who, again, are counted as fucking employed for some reason).

However, it may also have depressed unemployment in another, previously unreported way. As I mentioned earlier, our employment figures are gathered through the Labour Force Survey which is, as the quick amongst you will already have accepted, a survey. This means someone from the LFS has to call someone up (or, with the majority of first interviews, go round their house) and ask them lots and lots questions about who they are and how they live their lives. In an age where shirkers and skivers are routinely described like the particularly unloved lovechildren of a drunken tryst between Beelzebub and Hitler, survey respondents may be disinclined to put up their hands and mark themselves out as the benefit swilling dolepigs that they, in all actuality, aren't. This is then exacerbated by a couple of factors. First of all, at the beginning of 2011 the government stopped using face to face interviews (which people, dolepig or otherwise, are more likely to respond to) to get in touch with people. As a result, the full response rate dropped to around 50%. Secondly, the LFS is a kind of cohort study (meaning it studies the same sample of individuals over a period of time) with a couple of odd quirks. People who initially respond to the survey will be contacted again every three months for the next year, with 20% of burnt-out, cynical respondents being replaced with pouting, wide-eyed newbies every quarter. Unsurprisingly, not everyone can make it through all five gruelling questionnaires, and a substantial number disappear each time a new wave of contact is made. The surprising bit is what the LFS does when these people decide the don't want to respond to that quarter's survey: they assume everything is fine and fill in the gap with the previous quarter's data (a process called "imputation").

Why, exactly, you'd do this seems beyond me, unless it's a process specifically designed to under-record those who've recently become redundant and aren't feeling too chipper about it. That said, it's the way the survey's been conducted since long before the Tories began cynically tub-thumping about the evils of Britain's poor. However, the coalition's shameless barrage of shame does seem to be having an effect - the proportion of data imputed has increased by 13% since they came to power (full, nightmarishly boring methodology reports for the LFS can be found here).

A lot of the above could be dismissed as par for the course or, at least, as a problem with the (internationally recognised) Labour Force Survey rather than with the coalition. Still, the policies of David Cameron and his gaggle of cock-anused fuck-wranglers seem specifically designed to exploit weaknesses in how we collect the data (in the same way Thatcher's government did everything they could to move people off Jobseekers and onto other benefits). In doing so, they have created a truly Kafkaesque sitution - one where the jobless work and the workless are employed.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Work Programme: Why it's worse than you think

Being a strange and lonely soul, I've spent the morning pouring over the DWP's reluctantly released figures revealing the catastrophic failure of its work programme. The headline numbers are that, of the 878,000 people referred to the Work Programme so far, around 31,000 have found gainful employment for at least 3 or (in around two thirds of cases) 6 months. This works out at a success rate of about 3.5%, missing even the government's startlingly low minimum target of 5.5%. Even this eye-bogglingly shit accomplishment isn't all it seems, however, as I'll attempt to demonstrate using the system of arithmetic developed by the Greeks around 300 BC.

The first thing to note is that though 31,000 worked for at least 3 months, only 23,000 of them still had those jobs by July of this year (see page 5). Secondly, just because a person has worked for 3 or 6 months does not mean they've done so continuously - the Work Programme providers (such as notorious shitcunts A4E) get paid even if the work is made up of patchy week long temp jobs and zero-hour contracts. Speaking of those payments, buried in the data is a fact the DWP clearly don't want to make a song and dance about - the work programme has so far cost around £400 million. That's £12,883 per job. Assuming, generously, that those placements lasted six months on average, the government could have just spent the money we used finding 31,000 people jobs in Tescos and Poundland to employ 37,000 nurses.

How have we joylessly spunked such an unberable sum up the wall, you may ask, particularly in times of such bleak austerity? The answer comes largely in the £400-£600 payment the cavalcade of limited liability bastards get for taking on new "clients". These payments, made before the corporate fuckpots have actually done anything, exemplify the something for nothing culture Iain Duncan Smith regularly works himself up into a cross-eyed lather about, and account for about £335m of the money we've so far rammed round the fiscal u-bend. The sliver of cash which doesn't go directly into shareholders' pockets goes on mandatory courses which (according to one friend) teach you that it's better to look in the local paper for a job than ask a psychic, amongst other vital life lessons. This may explain why people seem to do a better job of finding an, er, job, if they aren't on the programme at all.

There are further incentives for these cocktoed wankmuffins, however, and every time an employment "outcome" is achieved (i.e. someone has stayed in a job for a set amount of time) another fat cheque is written. The amount offered differs between different groups, and bizarrely the government have decided to give companies less cash for finding work for young people (amongst whom the unemployment rate is 18.9%) and much less for people trying to find work while receiving incapacity benefit.

I can only assume this latter provision is part of the Tories' well established, multi-pronged strategy to fuck the ill, a strategy which today's data sadly shows to be working. Of the 15,210 people forced off incapacity benefit and referred to the work programme, just 160 of them have found jobs. That's a "success" rate of 1.05%. If you'd like to check this for yourself the numbers are on pages 4 and 13 here - the relevant columns are JSA ex-IB and ESA ex-IB.

The government will try to dress up this colossally expensive, inconceivably mismanaged cocktastrophe with reference to one final (fudged) figure: 56% of those referred to the work programme have come off benefits. Thankfully, this is not the case. While 56% of those referred to the work programme have had a break in benefits (maybe for just one or two weeks), we have thankfully not seen nearly 500,000 people hurled, starving, into the streets quite yet. If we had, we'd have seen a huge spike in violent crime, even bigger surges in suicides and homelessness than we've experienced already, and a huge strain put on charity and health resources. It is illustrative, though, that the government clearly sees making people destitute as a good thing. So when the government bandies about their fake 56% figure today, remember the Dickensian nightmare they're actually aspiring to.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The BNP and UKIP - A Spot The Difference Game

Twitter and assorted, credulous media tosspots have been aghast today at the news that Rotherham council has reservations about letting racists foster immigrant children. While there are obviously a number of problems with this policy - most obviously that we shouldn't be letting racists foster anyone (Rotherham council were apparently quite happy to place British born children with the couple) - the twatosphere has chosen to focus on a completely upside down set of facts, in much the same way you might use a knife and fork to shove your dinner up your arse.

Putting aside the problems people have raised about councils acting like "thought police", the most egregious part of this fuckwitted debate - if you have the temerity to label it that - is the spectacle of people falling over themselves to point out that UKIP is not a racist party. This splurge of fucknippled fabulism culminated in the prime-minister - who, as always, desperately needs to rim the airtight little arseholes of eurosceptics both in and out of his party - retracting one of the few true statements he's ever made - a sentence uttered some six years ago, back when he was pretending to be anything other than a morally bankrupt shill for all that is cancerous, vapid and venal in our society.

The cry has gone up, now, clearly, that UKIP are a mainstream political party. They're no some weird, loony fringe any more. They're the respectable face of the far right, and they should be treated with respect, because the far right is respectable now. They're not like... you know... *them*. The ones with all the racism and the tendency to get sued by Unilever.

Which would be fine, except UKIP are exactly fucking like the BNP, save for the fact their leader is slightly more eloquent and slightly less likely to provoke a vomiting fit using only his smile. Oh, and their acolytes are more likely to watch cricket than football, so it's all good, old fashioned, Jeremy Clarkson on the village green, Nan's been on the sherry, traditional British racism. Not like the BNP, who are scurrilous thugs with nothing British about them.

To illustrate just how indistinguishable the two parties are, I've created a fun "spot the difference" quiz! Yes, that's how boring my Saturday has been. For each round I want you to guess whether the statements written came from UKIP or the BNP - or, in at least one case, both! When you're done, write your answers down on the back of a postcard and wait for me to collect them.

Round 1. 

Each of the following is a statement from either UKIP leader Nigel Farage or Nick Griffin leader of The BNP. But which is which? Try and guess the correct answer to find out, or just cheat! The choice is up to it's your choice, so choice wisely.

1.) “Let’s put British people first. Only [PARTY NAME] is brave enough to say that.”
2.) "We've given them unlimited rights of free movement into this country and now we've given them total freedom to use our benefits system, our health system, our schools."
3.) "Sending aid to rioting ingrates while our own people die is stinking, elite hypocrisy." 
4.) "“We are going to get Britain out of Europe and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights,”
5.) "We want our country back. We will not be conned again."

Round 2.


In this round you'll be reading excerpts and policies from the UKIP and BNP manifestos. Using only your brain, try to sort out which is the racist party and which is the really, really racist party!

6.) "The first responsibility of the British government is to its own citizens, not those who would like to settle here."
7.) Which party wanted to apply "Britishness tests" to assess immigrants' suitability? 
8.) Which party would institute an immediate, 5 year freeze on all immigration? 
9.) Which party "loves Europe but hates the EU"? 
10.) Which party would require health checks for all those wishing to live in Britain to check them for "communicable diseases"?
11.) Which party advocates immediate withdrawal from the EU? 
12.) Which party seeks to "end the active promotion of the doctrine of multiculturalism" by local and national government?
13.) Which party would seek to deport immigrants, including those given permanent leave to remain, if they are found guilty of a crime?

Round 3.

The final round. Congratulations on making it this far without dying! BUT YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE IS YET TO COME! The following all come from campaign literature. So pin the bigotry on the party and win yourself a smug feeling of self-satisfaction!

14.) "The British Fishing and farming industries have been destroyed to allow Spanish fishing vessels and French farmers to benefit instead." 
15.) "We, the undersigned, demand a referendum on British membership of the European Union."
16.) (Next to a photograph of a sad looking Native American wearing a headdress) "He used to ignore immigration. Now he lives on a reservation." 
17.) "Only [Party Name] is against unlimited immigration."
18.) "Surely, no believer can vote Labour and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ." 


Now you've got your answers, let's see if they're the right answers or the wrong answers, then tell us how many of the answers you answered corresponded with the real answers in the comments section. Here are the answers:

Answers:
11.) Both UKIP and The BNP. Give yourself one point for each!
13.) Both UKIP and The BNP
18.) BNP

Edit:

I'd like to point out, for the record, and in response to a couple of tweets that I've gotten about this, that obviously Cameron, Miliband, Brown, Blair etc etc etc are all terrible, racist wanksprockets too. I didn't mean to offend anyone by excluding them. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

David Cameron, Smeg Head

Ever felt like David Cameron reminded you of someone unbearably naff, but couldn't work out exactly who?

Well he right dishonourable @creepytennis has finally put his finger on it - Rimmer from cult 90s sci-fi series Red Dwarf

No sooner had this blinding epiphany hit us than @ArthurCS furnished us with a suitable graphic accompaniment. Enjoy.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Cabinet of the Damned

By now an entire thunderstorm of electrons have probably been wasted by bloggers picking apart David Cameron's latest - and first - cabinet reshuffle. I'm sure many of them have correctly mentioned the unseemly lurch to the right that this unsightly new jumble of cocks represents, but just as striking as the right-wing what of it all is the what-the-fuck why of Cameron's new cabinet.

The last six months have seen the wheels come off the coalition, along with the brakes, the chassis and a significant part of the windshield. Since the omnishambles of the budget, the government hasn't managed a single week without some kind of scandal or fuck-up, from jerry-can-gate and Jeremy Hunt lying to parliament, right up to the recent parliamentary defeat over lords reform, which brought Lib Dems and Tories to the brink of open warfare. In short, the events of the last six months revealed this government to be made up of even more brashly incompetent, slitheringly venal pricks than even the most cynical of us had suspected, clownishly fumbling the dagger of power even as they tried to thrust it into each other's backs.

All of which left Cameron with two incompatible problems. First of all, the country is angry that their Faustian pact with cuts has not brought about the promised paradise of economic growth, and our rulers' constant ineptitude has left many with the impression that they couldn't run a bath let alone an economy. Secondly, even the government is discontent with itself - the Tory right (or Tory "mainstream" as the boggle-eyed, bulge-walleted extremists call themselves) always felt having to get elected at all was an imposition, and sharing power with mere mortals an outrage. The Lib Dems, for their part, seem aghast that their blood-soaked backstreet deal with Beelzebub somehow left them shortchanged. Faced with a choice between appeasing an angry country and an angry coalition, David Cameron has chosen to do the latter, and in doing so all but conceded that a Tory majority is impossible at the next election.

Let's not forget how this coalition came to be. The Tories did not fail to secure a majority, as many in the cornerstone group (a faction within the Conservatives populated by its most judderingly offensive pricks) would have it, because they neglected to focus on a "core vote" (read: mind-laceratingly right wing) strategy. That was the strategy they pursued in 2005, and it led them to defeat. As wince-inducingly insincere as it was, Cameron was tactically correct in 2010 to champion many policies which the majority in his party see as namby-pamby bullshit. It's easy to forget now, as we lurch towards the mid-point of this government's term, that the prime-minister spent much of his time in opposition courting greens, gays, and people who don't despise the NHS. The coalition came about because people (rightly) didn't trust the weaselly little sod, not because he failed to honestly articulate his true roadmap to disaster.

Now, in place of a faux-progressive Big Society conservatism, we have a cabinet that gloatingly shits on the very idea of centrism. Maria Miller, a woman who voted against gay couples adopting and a woman's right to choose is promoted from obscurity to the equalities department. Jeremy Hunt, who openly hates the NHS, is moved to health. Owen Peterson, who denies climate change, encourages fracking and believes banning fox hunting is akin to Nazism becomes the environment minister. All in all, it's clear that Cameron now sees the biggest threat to his tenure at number 10 coming not from the electorate, but from extremist elements within his own party.

Which, of course, makes him more dangerous than ever. One of the good things about elections is they force politicians to at the very least acknowledge that there is a urine problem while they piss all over their bedraggled subjects. Without even this to constrain them, this band of sociopaths is likely to spend the next two and a half years drowning us in their micturitions.

I don't want to end on an entirely bleak note, so I'll instead leave you with the sole dry spot in this ghastly vomitarium. There was little (though not quite nothing) for lib dems to feel appeased about in today's clumsy shakeup, making it not entirely unlikely they'll decide to scupper what's left of the project before too long. Equally, Cameron's obsequiousness to the right of his party are likely to be viewed as weakness by its beneficiaries, and the jackbooted little fuckbuckets may decide to thrust the knife in before too long. While all I can promise out of this potential melee is chaos, there are few outcomes that would be much worse than we have now.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Day 8 - Tossers, Tolerance & Tactical Cowardice

Please read this disclaimer before embarking. You can also read the original prison blogs here.


As the sun sets on my eighth day of incarceration my cell has become a bunker, both guarding from and storing me for an expected retribution. Every time a screw walks by I find the small of my back seizing up and my fist clenching tightly round my pen. Today wasn't supposed to be like this. I had a whole missive prepared for you lot about how hard it is to get a phone call round here. I can feel your anguish at missing that one. Events, however, have pre-empted my hard hitting expose and left me instead with the possibility of just getting hit, hard.

With Splinter gone and the TV resultingly off I am no longer constantly awoken by the dread incantions of Hubba-Hubba, merciless overlord of the Hoob people and coming curator of mankind's demise. I miss him, though expect I shall feel differently when I'm toiling in the kryptonite mines with all the other tiddlypeeps. Today began instead with an induction aimed at preparing me for prison life which, ironically, came a day after my resettlement that was aimed at getting me ready for life back out in the big wide world. The induction consisted primarily of a basic literacy and numeracy test (which contained a mistake) and a chance to wander round outside my cell for a bit, during which time I discovered I really should be doing much, much more of this sort of thing.

Officially, the Wandsworth E Wing schedule, which I found pinned to a noticeboard, looks like this:

7:45-8:15 Exercise

8:30-9:00 “Free Flow” movement for morning workers and those doing training (so prisoners can get from one wing to another)

9:00-11:45 Association time (prisoners out of their cells, mingling, fondu)

11:45-12:00 Workers etc return

12-13:00 PM Lunch

15:00-16:30 Association time

16:45-18:00 Dinner

18:00-19:30 Association

Maths fans in the audience will have worked out that prisoners should get 6 hours and 15 minutes out of their cells a day, not including meals (which, whether by incompetence or design, are collected at the canteen and eaten in our cells). The most time I've gotten out of my cell in a day so far is an hour, assuming the exercise yard isn't rained off and association isn't cancelled due to a lockdown. Like it was today.

Today's lockdown wasn't the product of prisoner misbehaviour, at least not misbheaviour by any prisoners who are actually here. Rather it's you lot outside, with your halfbricks, molotovs and utter contempt for Dixons who condemned me to missing my 30 minute afternoon wander. That and the fact this place already seizes to a claustrophobic halt if anything as unpredictable as Sunday happens, let alone the biggest riots in a generation.

Perhaps it was my ubercarceration that caused me to act more than a little unstably at dinner time today as I strolled down to the hot plate and found one of the guards mincing limpwristedly at the head of the dinner queue. Or perhaps I'm just going crazy. Either way my remaining few days in here now threaten to be rather more interesting than I'd hoped. 

A little background: prison is the most racist and homophobic place I've been since university, where I accidentally sat down at a Conservative Future social. Whilst I was more than happy to argue the respective merits of Martin Luther King and Hitler with the rahs of Royal Holloway, I've thus far decided that Wandsworth might be a good place to employ a policy of tactical cowardice in a calculated bid to keep all my teeth. In other words, and with a few exceptions, I've turned a shamefully blind eye to all manner of depressingly casual bigotry from otherwise nice people. Nicer than I'd have expected, anyway.

A major target of prisoners' prejudice during my stay here has been a guy who we'll call Snarf. To my untrained eye, Snarf seems to be suffering from some mental health issues. I say this partly because he's constantly talking to himself, and partly because his preferred method of ambulation around the prison is a pronounced mince, something my own staying-alive-strategy would counsel against. It's this, and the associated inference of ZOMGGAYNESS, which is causing consternation amongst the prison's close-knit community of likeminded bigots.

I've so far responded to my fellow inmates' intolerance with vacant smiles, non-committal grunts and silent wails of inner despair but, this evening, with the stalwart courage of a moth confronting a bang out of order flame, I finally said something.

Perhaps it helped that tonight's perpetrator of prejudice was one of the screws instead of a prisoner. I certainly felt more comfortable arguing the toss with a confirmed tosser than I would have with someone who dwells on my side of metal doors, though whether it was actually any safer is debatable. In fact, looking back, I'm not sure I considered safety at all. Either way, before I knew it, I'd squared up to the mock-flouncing fucker (who we'll call officer W133, HMP Wandsworth, E Wing) and demanded to know, in my most earnestly annoying inquisitive voice, whether he was being homophobic. He replied to my question with one of his own, like we were playing some kind of GCSE drama game. To wit: “do you have a fucking problem with that, mate?”. It's my custom, when I get out of my depth, to keep on swimming in the hope of eventually reaching the other side, so I replied that, yes, actually, I did have a problem with it, particularly as homophobic behaviour was contrary to the “standard compact” between prisoners and staff, so could realistically be expected to get the cock in question fired. It was at this point that officer W133 got right up in my grill, took out a notebook, told me I was “bang out of order” and demanded to know my cell number. I'm surprised he didn't put a note in my homework diary while he was at it.

As the adrenaline faded I began to get the creeping feeling that fucking off officer W133 might not have been the best idea I'd ever had, particularly considering that the conversation had ended with the Wandsworth equivalent of “I know where you live!”. My growing sense of worry was helped on its way by a lag who accosted me a few moments later, shaking his head and warning me that I'd picked the wrong screw to mess with.

Once this state of affairs was quickly confirmed by the uh-ohs and you-fucking-whats of other inmates, my adrenaline was back up and I was soon in full on panic mode. I went back to my cell and spent the next several hours making a list of all the bad things W133 could possibly do to me, a list which ranges from stealing my canteen ration to kicking my fucking head in. It's surprising how many ways there are for someone who runs your house to hurt you, and how few ways there are to reliably respond. For now I've opted for starting a paper trail so that, if something does happen, I'll at least have some evidence I can use to implicate the evil fuck. Sadly my paper trail largely resides in the “confidential”complaint form, which goes in a envelope on the front of which I had to write my name and cell number, thereby somewhat defeating confidentiality's purpose.

I don't know if anything will happen. I might be incredibly paranoid or not nearly paranoid enough. The worst thing W133 could do, besides beating me up (or getting someone else to do it), would be confiscating these notes before I can get them to the outside world. That's what really tightens my grip every time I hear footsteps by the door.

So, if you're reading this, ends day 8.


You can read day 7 of the prison blogs here or day 9 here

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Why Pussy Riot would have been jailed in Britain


Unless you've been living under a particularly wi-fi resistant rock for the last six months, you've probably heard about Pussy Riot, the trio of Russian punk protesters who pissed off a literal patriarch and were sentenced to (the statutory minimum of) two years for hooliganism yesterday. If you've not heard of them, that last sentence may be of some use.

Commentators from across (almost) the entire western political spectrum have been rightly outraged at this draconian sentencing and lack of due process, with some talking heads going as far as to suggest this is the return of the good old fashioned Stalinist show trial. While it's great to see so many people, particularly on the right, finally take the side of protesters, it's hard not to detect a scent of xenophobia, or even propoganda, wafting from these proud mouthed denunciations of all things Putin, particularly when you remember there is nothing uniquely Russian about locking up protesters. In fact, what Pussy Riot's protest would have been an imprisonable offence right here in the UK. They might even have gotten more time for it.

First, let's take a quick look at what Pussy Riot actually did (if you're familiar with the case, feel free to skip this paragraph. In fact, even if you aren't, do whatever the hell you want. I'm not the boss of you): on February 11th this year, during the run up to the Russian presidential election, members of Pussy Riot and unknown others disrupted a Russian Orthodox service by running in front of the altar and singing an anti-Putin hymn, kicking and punching the air and brandishing instruments. They were dressed in brightly coloured balaclavas, short skirts and neon tights, an ensemble which mightily offended the presiding judge. The song they sang satirised both the church and Putin, and contained lewd and blasphemous lyrics. I strongly approve of this behaviour.

Pussy Riot were found guilty of (roughly translated) “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in Russia. Coincidentally, seven years is the maximum you can expect in prison under the UK Racial andReligious Hatred Act of 2006. Could the act have been used to prosecute Pussy Riot had they played their gig in, say, Westminster Abbey? Probably not, partly because (in theory) section 29J of the act exempts “expressions of dislike and ridicule” (though it's hard to know how the difference between dislike and hatred would be assessed in practice) and partly because Britain just don't give as much of a shit about religion as Russia does. Indeed, if Pussy Riot were to storm your average C of E service, I imagine most of the parishioners would be glad of the distraction.

Let's assume, though, that Pussy Riot's hypothetical UK stunt did cause Daily Mail-esque public outrage (if you're having a hard time imagining that, pretend they said bad things about Tom Daley instead of Vladimir Putin) and also that section 29J works in practice. What crimes would Pussy Riot have committed?

A renegade legal system (of which ours is frequently one) could try them on at least two charges: Aggravated Trespass and Violent Disorder. There would also almost certainly be potential for an offence under section five of the public order act, but that doesn't carry a custodial sentence, so I'll leave it to one side for now. If you can think of any other charges an out-of-control judiciary could try them for, let me know in the comments section.

If Pussy Riot had acted in the UK, securing an aggravated trespass conviction would be fairly straightforward. For a start, AT is pretty easy to commit – you just have to be trespassing somewhere (which PR were) and attempting to disrupt alawful activity (again, yeah, pretty much). It is not a defence to say that your actions were part of a protest or otherwise politically motivated – indeed, as members of UK Uncut discovered last year,prosecutors can argue that a political context actually makes things worse. Aggravated Trespass admittedly only carries a three month sentence rather than one of two years, but conviction would be a near certainty: just like in Russia, the case would be heard, decided and sentenced by a single judge acting without a jury. As has happened in a number of sensitive political cases in the UK, a compliant, anti-protester judge can usually be found (in my case, the judge's name was Daphne Wickham, who is notorious for sending activists down and letting coppers off, and plies her dirty trade at Westminster Magistrate's court). The potential for corruption in this judge-no-jury set up should be obvious to all.

If the crown felt like slicing off a slightly more succulent pound of flesh, they could always opt for a Violent Disorder charge. “Don't be silly!” I hear you cry through my computer screen in a way that's frankly creepy “Pussy Riot weren't violent!”. Indeed they weren't, dear readers, but for a violent disorder prosecution to be successful no violence need be inflicted. Therelevant statute reads:

Where 3 or more persons who are present together use or threaten unlawful violence and the conduct of them (taken together) is such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety, each of the persons using or threatening unlawful violence is guilty of violent disorder.


“But they didn't threaten violence either!” come your ethereal voices once more as the edge of my laptop glows a ghastly red. Didn't they? Those punching and kicking motions certainly SEEMED violent to me, and would doubtless do so to a sufficiently imaginative prosecutor. In fact, now I think of it, couldn't those instruments of theirs be used as weapons (as one pro-Putin blog bizarrely claims)? If this seems fanciful, consider that playing with a beach ball was described as “intimidating” at the UK Uncut trial by prosecution lawyers, who reportedly kept a straight face the entire time.

Lest you think I'm yanking your collective shin, consider further that the state wouldn't need to provide any witnesses to attest they'd felt threatened by Pussy Riot's hypothetical onslaught of music. Yes, their actions need to be likely to cause a person of “reasonable firmness” to fear for their safety, but, in the words of the law:

No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or be likely to be, present at the scene.


So you and your three friends could kick the shit out of the empty air in a deserted street and, with a sufficiently motivated prosecution, be found guilty of violent disorder. Indeed in practice, such broad wording of the law means that its interpretation is entirely subjective, a situation which results in (to take one example) a man being sentenced to a year in prison for throwing an empty plastic bottle at the Israeli embassy.

So would Pussy Riot have faced jail in England? Probably. If the British public felt the same way as the Russian public do about Pussy Riot, then I think they'd be doing a long stretch. Which is one thing people always forget about the legal system – that it's not only subjective but subject to public opinion. We create the conditions judges judge in –whether those conditions are the mindless, knee-jerk cauldron of public disgust and misunderstanding that informed the UK riot sentences or, well, good ones.

In other words the state can only commit the crimes the public allow it to. So don't. 


You can help Free Pussy Riot here*. 

Day 9 - New Digs Old Tricks

I spent the night listening to helicopters buzz overhead and the morning on lockdown. You lot really are cross, aren't you?. I know my incarceration must be a shock to you, but don't you think burning down England might be a slight overreaction?

Rocksteady and I spent the morning safely tucked away in our cocoon of stone, an experience that is rapidly becoming as tedious as it is predictable. To mix things up it was exercise rather than Association which went missing today leaving both my legs horribly unstretched. Even more disastrously for my (mental) health, my supply of burn has finally run dry and I've been reduced to constructing fags out of the butts in the ashtray like some kind of teenager. Luckily I should only be subject to this juvenile indignity for 24 hours or so - my canteen ration's due tomorrow.

By mid afternoon the reason for our lock down became clear. From my cell window I was afforded a fairly unique view: easily a hundred prison guards and senior level cops (I saw at least 2 Chief Inspector lapels) squeeze themselves into the chapel either for a top brass pow-wow or, just as likely, to beg god for a way out of this clusterfuck. They shuffled back out an hour later, gravel faced and chain smoking.

The belly of the prison's belly rumbles as it wolfs down more inmates, and the latest mouthful of rioters has pushed me further along its digestive tract. A guard came this afternoon and told me to pack up my stuff. I had my choice of wings, so I chose B, where Charlie Gilmour, a man whose own ludicrous crimes I stand in bewildered awe of, is said to reside. Sadly upon getting here I discovered that the Pink Floyd scion and scourge of the royalty had been moved to a less shit prison. Good news for him, I suppose.

A new wing means a new cell mate who, for the purposes of obfuscation and at his own request, we shall call Ben 10. Ben 10 has told me many new and exciting things, mostly about how diabolically awful the mismanagement of this place is. The waiting list to see a doctor stands at 3 months, the waiting list for a dentist at 5. As he regales me with tales of the cons and cock-ups that characterize life here, the telly happens to roll round to the news. As if to back him up, a report has been released today calling conditions here "unsafe and demeaning". We grin through gritted teeth as the reporter informs us that some prisoners in Wandsworth can be locked up for as much as 22 hours a day. The least I've had so far's been 23.

Ben 10 is able to tell me a little more about how jobs work inside. The best ones, he informs me, are in the DHL centre, where the canteen packs come in. It pays better than anything else inside, and there's a £5 bonus if nothing gets nicked. The second best is as a cleaner - you get a £20 bonus for any "biochem" clean ups (piss, shit, vomit, blood) you have to do, and a tidy racket has emerged between clean up workers and prisoners willing to engage in a bit of dirty not-actually protesting. The split the cash.

I'm on the top floor in B Wing and the heat is oppressive and both Ben 10 and I sit around with our shirts off (we aren't allowed the windows open, lest we "escape" by squeezing through the 6 inch gaps in the bars and fall the 5 stories to our deaths in the exercise yard).  The whole place feels increasingly like a tinderbox, and we discuss what to do if/when it all finally sparks. We agree the best thing to do is to keep well out of it, shut the door and try and live off Ben 10's incredible stockpile of porridge, noodles and tea that's been a year in the making. It is, at least, a cosier vision of a prison riot than the one I had back on E Wing.

So ends day 9.


You can find day 8 of the prison blogs here or you can even go back to the start 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Disclaimer


A year ago on Wednesday, I walked out of prison and into my new life as a cynical social worker with a heart of gold just trying to keep kids off the pie-ing streets. I've been pretty successful – not one of the youths involved in my programme has gone on to pie mutli-billionaire wankstain Rupert Murdoch (in an unrelated statistic, gang related pie-ings are up 478,000%).

Prison was both the most boring and the most fascinating thing I've ever done. While I was there, I kept (not terribly) sane by writing about my experiences and trying, surreptitiously, to get those accounts published online. After around a week, I eventually succeeded, and was able to post seven days worth of what could only ironically be described as coverage from inside the big house.

Then I was released. I had originallyintended to continue straight on with the blogs, writing up notes from my time inside and getting the whole weird, ghastly business out in the open. Then time did that thing it does where it passes and, try as you might to gain purchase, your fingers slip through it like a waterfall of custard. A mixture of laziness, business, poorliness and weirdness delayed the project till I just started feeling guilty about the whole thing, delaying it further in a seemingly endless spiral of self-flagellating bullshit. “The prison blogs will continue next week!” my posts would cry with the best of intentions and the least of ability. “I'm actually working on the second half right now!” I'd confide with people in the pub, the lies slipping out awkwardly through my forced grin.

One of the more salient problems I had with picking my pen back up was that there was an honesty to theoriginal week's worth of blogs, written in the cramped confines of my cell, that could not be recaptured now I was back in thewild. I should have, wish I had, written everything up properly while I was inside, ready to type when I got out. Instead, I left prison with a carrier bag full of messy notes, half finished scribblings and barely legible missives. It's these that I've tried to transform into a second week's worth of blogs.

With some days I was lucky and I'd already begun embryonic or even foetal attempts at an account which then only needed a bit of spit and polish to complete. For other days I've had to piece together a narrative from spidery little jots that saythings like “13:32 – tuna attack at Friday prayers”.

In short, what I'm trying to say is that this second week's worth of stories, while accurate and honest, were produced under different conditions to the first seven. In some cases this is bad – I can't help but feel I've lost somevisceral truth that came from writing in the very moment – but in others I think it's an improvement - in my account of what happened on day 8, for example, which I would not have felt safe publishing all the information while I was still inside. Likewise the internet has afforded me use of a thesaurus and spellchecker, which I've used liberally and without regret. 

I hope you find these blogs enjoyable and enlightening, perhaps enough so to offer me a lucrative record deal or a high-power blow job. Perhaps they will even inspire youto visit prison yourself.  

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Post Pie Post Post Script Post

To celebrate/commiserate a year since I chucked a pie in Rupert Murdoch's face I recently wrote a lurid tabloid expose about the ins and outs of my flan flinging adventures. I realised today there was one interesting detail I left out of the narrative. Until a couple of minutes before I actually did the fucking thing, my accomplices and I had planned to send out a press release. At the last minute, though, for reasons I think probably had more to do with adrenaline than common sense, I told them not to, reasoning that sending an email might somehow implicate them more than, say, being sat next to me just before I did it.

So, here for the first time, is the press release the hastily named "Cake Bloc" would have sent out to newspapers around the world (the XXXs indicate information we didn't quite have yet):


For Immediate Release

At XXX today activists acting on behalf of Cake Bloc successfully pied media mogul, oligarch and billionaire Rupert Murdoch.

Tyrone Winstable, a spokesman for Cake Bloc, said “No matter what they believe, men like Rupert Murdoch do not have the right to trample on those less powerful than themselves, whether by hacking the phones of murder victims or misleading millions of voters on a daily basis. Sadly, as the last few weeks have shown, we cannot trust the Government, the police or the press to hold big business to account, so we decided to take matters into our own hands. Long after the mess has been cleaned from Murdoch’s face, we will still be cleaning up the mess he has made of our democracy.

Murdoch has ruthlessly thrown his subordinates to the dogs while protecting his own position, even going as far as to sack hundreds of blameless secretaries, journalists, security guards and cleaners from the tainted News of the World. He clearly has no care or compassion for anyone but himself. This action will hopefully remind him that we are all human and that those who refuse to treat others with dignity and respect have no right to it themselves.

News International’s rags have humiliated innocent people time again for no other motive than profit. We are glad Murdoch has had a taste of his own medicine.

We call on people of all races, faiths colours and creeds to unite in throwing stuff at Rupert Murdoch.”

Rupert Murdoch has been involved in corruption scandals around the world, and his media-empire has been ruthlessly right wing in its sympathies from its very inception. Cake Bloc is opposed to the unchecked power of big business and governments across the globe.

One activist was arrested after today’s action and is being held in XXX XXX. We ask sympathizers and well-wishers to join us outside the station for a solidarity demo in support of our incarcerated comrade.

For more information, why not hack our phones?

END





Saturday, 28 July 2012

Cycleogical Warfare

Last night saw the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, an event which I and many thousands of others have spent the last seven years looking forward to with pre-emptive contempt. Despite this, and as part of my long running partnership with hypocrisy (Hypocrisy- For Lazy Ideologues Everywhere), I sat down with my parents to watch the much vaunted opening ceremony and, in a gloriously modern have cake/eat cake moment, simultaneously rip the shit out of it on Twitter.

It's a sign that the ceremony excelled beyond complete wank that my carefully readied arsenal of cynicism still lay largely unspent by the time the flame was finally lit. Indeed the entire event was so pleasant it even pissed off backbench Tory MPs and Toby Young, who also provided us with a chilling vision of just how shit it could have been.

However, for my fellow anarcho Twitterati and I, the social media platform provided us with an odd juxtaposition between the pomp of the ceremony and the increasingly weird and horrific stories of police brutality coming from the monthly Critical Mass event. As Isambard Kingdom Brunel sang about building Jerusalem here (planning permission pending), I was hearing the first reports that police had punched a man off his bike in order to make sure David Beckham wasn't late to the stadium. A little while later, as The Queen and James Bond parachuted out of a helicopter, someone forwarded me a video of a disabled man, who had reportedly been pepper sprayed, being beaten up by police. Finally, as hundreds of blue-lit, bewinged bikers washed into the Olympic stadium in a celebration of I'm-not-really-sure, hundreds of people who'd been celebrating actual bike riding were being arrested, loaded onto specially commandeered London buses and shipped around the capital.

Now I'd be the first to criticise the cops if I felt they'd gone too far, but on this occasion, I think Her Majesty's constabulary should be applauded for their calm and measured - nah, just kidding. This was obviously the instinctively fuckbrained powergasm of a police force that is so far out of control it isn't even in the same building. Despite what many people have reported, Critical Mass isn't a protest - it's a celebration of bike riding - one that last night met with one of the most heavy handed police responses in years, all because the people involved decided that an international celebration of sporting excellence was no reason not to go cycling.

The full details of the indignities and the injustice suffered at the hands of the cock-nippled, fuckburgling twatbastards who arrested Critical Mass have yet to come to light (there are reports that one group was held on a bus overnight without food in Croydon while others were taken to special Olympic detention centres. Those released have been given olympic bail conditions), but one thing is clear: the police let the whole country down. I'm not a patriot, let alone a nationalist, but when tens of millions of pounds have been spent on a spectacle designed to showcase the best of Britain, and that event is hijacked by a handful of violent, jumped-up thugs, then maybe it's time to cut down the tree that keeps growing bad apples. In this case, that must include the resignation of everyone involved in last night's debacle, from Gold Command on down to the people who drove the buses. Whether criminal proceedings then follow is a matter for the IPCC/an angry mob.

You may think this is hyperbole, but I'm sure those celebrating the games will agree that what happened last night is a national disgrace, and has gone a long way to ruining the hard work many thousands of people put into what should have been a joyous occasion. What's worse still is that this event will be widely reported in Russia, China, Iran and any other country we seek to lecture on human rights, reducing our standing as a nation and our ability to get things done. Even if you don't care about the olympic fucking games, or Britain's ability to throw its slender weight around on the world stage, you may still care about justice, fairness and democracy. Either way, with that in mind, a few heads rolling at the Met should be the very least we demand.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Pie Me A River

It's a year to the day since I threw a plate of shaving foam at a man universally reviled as a twat, resulting in me, too, being universally reviled as a twat, presumably due to the transitive property of being a twat. I realise that during those 365 days the only thing I've penned about what I now ominously refer to as "The Incident" is a terribly written and wildly inaccurate piece for the Guardian. This is partly because the bewildering torrent of opprobrium I received rather convinced me that I should never open my big, stupid mouth again and partly because I felt the whole thing was a bit overexposed anyway. As time passed, though, the waterfall of dickheads slowed to a trickle and, more importantly, I stopped caring about them. Sometime around the point where a man said, earnestly, that if he'd been in the Select Committee that day he would have "bummed me to death", I achieved what Buddhists refer to as "not giving a fuck any more". So this, as briefly as I can make it, is the true and largely untold story of that day and all of the weird shit that came rolling downhill after it.

On the morning of piegate I woke up in a squat somewhere in South London. I was running late, by which I mean I was running late for getting there 4 hours early, which I'd been told by my parliamentary contact I'd need to do if I were to have any chance of getting inside. Lest you think having a contact inside parliament made this operation in any way high tech or well thought out, here are the list of materials I used to fulfill my nonsense:

  • 1 packet of plastic plates, stolen from Waitrose

  • 1 can of shaving foam borrowed (permanently as it would turn out) from a housemate

  • 1 suit, obtained from one of the "free shops" that dot london squats

  • 1 bus fare, which I did not have


Did I mention I was broke? Not the kind of broke where you don't have much money. The kind of broke where you don't have any money. So I skipped the bus to parliament.

The question everyone always asks me is how I got inside the building. The disappointing answer is that I walked in, using my normal human feet, which I grew myself. A lady searched my bag and I tried not to stare nervously at the machine gun toting stacks of uniformed beef that littered the lobby. Then, despite the fact that half the contents of my bag wouldn't have been allowed on an aeroplane, it was handed back to me and I was ushered towards the committee room, where I excused myself for a pie-making toilet break.

Then, a stroke of luck: I was given a seat in the middle of the back row of the room, the worst possible place from which to launch my shenanigans. You see, by this point, I was glad of an excuse to abort the whole thing. Shit had not yet gotten real, but the prospect of rather real shit was dropping from the sky like an existentially unchallenged atomic shitbomb. So I silently, and with the now broken promise I would never tell anyone, thanked my lucky stars that I couldn't pull it off after all. I sat back and watched the enquiry.

Then, one by one, the people next to me got up and left. A creeping sense of horror and excitement gripped me, along with the distinct sensation that the universe was trolling me, or at least setting me up to troll everyone else.

I was left with a clear path, a pie in my bag and a list of spent excuses. When people talk to me about The Incident, they invariably ask why I did it. There are lots of possible answers to this question: I did it because Murdoch's a cunt, I did it for catharsis, I did it for fame, fortune and flan flinging, I did it because I thought it was funny,I did it because I was having a manic episode, I did it to impress my girlfriend. In the moment, though, when I decided to fuck my courage to the fucking place and go for it, my main motivation was the knowledge that, if I didn't do it, I'd forever wonder what would have happened if I had.

My accomplices (more on them later) caused a distraction and I went for the face like some kind of foam-handed baboon. A moment after the pie was thrown, a woman named Wendi Deng grabbed me by the arm and lunged at me. I instinctively stepped back, at which point she lost her footing and knocked over one of Murdoch's lawyers on the way down. On the way back up, the lady in question managed to grab what remained of the pie and lob it back at me. Sadly, the fast growing trend did not develop into a fully blown parliamentary pie-fight, petering out after just two rounds.

At the time, I was pretty convinced she'd missed me with her fist, connecting only with a splatter of foam which, in any case, I felt was just desserts under the circumstances. It was only when I got out of jail and I read numerous weirdly racist news reports of the almighty, killer blow Ms Deng had delivered to my curiously unharmed forehead that I began to wonder if I'd been mistaken. I found a small scratch on my nose the next day and wondered if this had been the work of her now fabled tiger's claw. I'm still not sure what really happened - even the video doesn't make it much clearer. What does make me angry, though, is that Deng's attention seeking stunt distracted from what was supposed to be a serious guerilla pie attack.

I walked over to the cops and, like any self-respecting scourge of the state, told them I would come quietly and wasn't in any way resisting their unamorous advances. Worryingly, they didn't read me my rights - because I'd been arrested inside the mother of parliaments, they told me, I had no right to silence and they could keep me indefinitely. Indefinitely, as in forever.

I was led downstairs and through a courtyard where a gaggle of hungry journalists ran backwards in front of me, partly for my amusement but mainly to ask insightful questions like "why did you do that?". I informed them that, much like Murdoch, I couldn't comment on an ongoing police investigation.
The investigation onwent in a little antechamber beneath parliament which resembled a dungeon only in that it was underground and I was being held in it against my will. The cops reiterated my rightsless status and told me that I'd better tell them exactly how I did it or I'd never get out.

While farcical, this threat still presented a bit of a problem. Not only did I not want to spend the rest of my life living in the same house as John Bercow, I also didn't want to incriminate my friends who, as far as I was aware, had escaped custody. I spent a while stonewalling and arguing points of law which it was clear neither side understood, occasionally demanding to see the statute that allowed them to do this and being pointed to several incomprehensible passages in green leather bound tomes, one of which I'm fairly certain referred to the Law of The Sea. Eventually, though, my refusal to answer questions becomes more suspicious than a convincing lie would have been, so I span one. Despite a few near misses and a horrible Columbo-esque "just one more thing" moment where they asked me about my missing bag, the plan worked - mainly because my compadres were doing an excellent "what a fucking wanker. I can't believe he did that" routine upstairs. My friends escaped and I was shipped off to Charing Cross police station where one of the officers took the unusual step of advising me not to talk to the cops. This, by the way, is good advice. Unless the circumstances are exceptional and bizzarre, talking to the police will only get you into more trouble. In fact, even if they are exceptional and bizzarre, a shut mouth won't incriminate you.

Looking back at my night's stay at The Metropolitan, there were a few clues my actions might not be being universally celebrated: the distinct note of nervousness in my girlfriend's voice as she told me I was trending on Twitter, the fact a baying mob of journalists had shown up at my parents house (one of them actually forced his way in and had to be ejected by a family friend) and, most tellingly, the fact that my lawyer brought a selection of "positive" news clippings to show me. At the time these were presented as representative - part of a plan hatched by my friends to just not tell me that the internet had gone certifiably batshit and that politicians and media were all but considering bringing back hanging. This was all a well meaning attempt to stop me from freaking out. What my friends didn't realise is that I'd already freaked all the way out around the time I chucked a messy plastic plate in the face of the world's most powerful bloke inside the House of Commons. After that, there was no more out to freak. This policy of drip feeding me positive information continued after I'd gotten out, so I didn't realize the true scale of the catastrofuck before me until the morning, when people woke up, logged on Twitter and started calling me a shitbollocking cockcunt.

The abuse was monumental, terrifying, bewildering and weird. It also had the presumably desired effect of hurting my ickle feelings. I'm a terrible one for always trying to see other people's point of view, and when their point of view is that you are an unmitigated bellend, it can be hard to reconcile them with a positive mental attitude. I'd made the mistake of not going to bed after I got out of jail - I was too high on adrenaline and WTF to sleep in any case - and so spent a day talking to various angry journalists and twitterati whilst doped up on caffeine and supernoodles. The only pleasant part of the whole day was responding to an interview request from Sky News by informing them that nothing would give me greater pleasure than telling them to go fuck themselves.

I went to bed at 3 PM, got up at 7. For the next few days I don't think I got a longer unbroken stretch of sleep. It was like that episode of Battlestar Galactica where the Cylons show up every 33 minutes, but with journalists. And some Cylons too, by the end. I think. I really wasn't getting enough sleep.

I shaved (dry, my foam was in custody) my beard and put on a hoody before leaving the house. I assumed that anyone who saw me would A.) recognise and B.) kill me. It proved that neither was the case - the handful of assorteds who did twig who I was were oddly pleasant. Where was the lynch mob I'd been promised? They were on the internet. I often wonder now, when I meet people who want to shake my hand, whether they're the same people who shook a virtual fist at me back then, and simply find it harder to be dicks in person.

I quit comedy for a while as the radioactive limelight was giving me some kind of personality cancer and, in any case, I'd just done a gag so bad I would soon go to prison for it. I spent some time considering my next move legally, postulating at one point that the funniest two words I could ever say would be "not guilty". Until the date of my plea hearing I was only charged with a Section 5 public order offence, which isn't imprisonable, the ever merciful Mr. Murdoch having dropped the assault and criminal damage charges. In the end, I decided it would be better to plead guilty as the stakes (a fine) were pretty low, and dragging out the media circus any longer would have been a selfish and obnoxious decision considering that it wasn't just me, but my friends and family, who'd have to sit through the bullshit parade.

Then something odd happened. On the morning of my plea hearing, the CPS reinstated the charge of assault. This happened about 20 minutes before I was due to plead, meaning I didn't get to assess the evidence against me or apply my sleep deprived and scrambled brain cells to the task of working out how I should respond. Looking back I should known it was an attempt to inflate the repercussions of a minor offence so I could be put in jail, but assurances were made that the assault, if it were one, was so minor in nature that the law precluded me from landing in prison. With so little time to make a decision, I instead made a mistake: I pled guilty. I strongly recommend you never do this.

The normal rules governing when the sentencing should take place were thrown out and it was instead deliberately scheduled to coincide with a period when I was supposed to be in Devon acting as primary carer for my nine year old son. In retrospect I should have just mugged it off, not turned up and let them put out an arrest warrant. But the smidgeon of faith I had left in the system misguided me: I believed the reassurances that prison was out of the question, and walked blindly into a pretty obvious trap. I got sent down.

So boo fucking hoo, poor little pie boy wound up in jail because he did two stupid things in the space of two weeks. Still, while I think the process that got me there wasn't exactly in keeping with the rule of law, it would be churlish and orgasmically dull for me to sit here and whine about it, particularly as prison was the most interesting and educational place I've ever been (if you don't count all the daytime TV).

Speaking of TV, once I finally escaped from prison (the trick is to wait until they open the doors and "free" you) and we'd had a big pie fight in the road, I got a call from ITV asking me to come on something called "That Sunday Night Show". My appearance on it is only notable because I think I may be the first person in history to be told by Shaun Ryder to sort his life out. I also pissed off Frank Skinner and drank some free wine. Showbiz.

Once the dust had settled (and most of it now has) I was left with a life that no longer resembled my own. I remember an evening spent playing a phone app called Akinator, which tries to guess who you're thinking of, and finding that it was unable to work out who I was, even though I was in its database. This was hardly surprising as my public image was of a News International shill and company director's son who'd punched an eighty year old man before being eaten by a tiger.

At some point, though, I realised I'm not what other people think about me, or even the things I've done, I'm just me. There's a parallel universe out there where I meekly packed up my pie and walked away from the whole thing. Despite the best of intentions I'll always wonder what that me is doing, but, for good or bad, I suspect his path wasn't quite as scenic.


Nb: This post was originally written July the 19th, 2012, but I got distracted by other events so have only been able to post it now. So sorry about that or something.