Kiss me Corbyn… This would not play well at Borgen

151012 REFUGEES

Press TV

In a week when vast crowds of desperate families opted for risking a watery grave on the high seas instead of being blown to pieces at home, UK media boiled over with sucking indignation. About Kings and Queens and men in tights. Yes, really.

Newly minted darling-of-the-people, republican Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn side-stepped the opportunity to kneel before the British Queen and kiss her hand while being initiated into something called the Privy Council.

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Jeremy Corbyn MP

Apparently, in order to gain access to the nuclear button and other such intriguing instruments of state, Corbyn needs to become a member of the Privy Council, or PC as it is commonly called, which is ironic, considering that it must rank among the least PC bodies on the planet.

In the process, Corbyn needs to swear an oath to the Queen, and to validate the oath he must kneel before her and kiss her hand. No no, you’re not mistaken, this is the year 2015. But this is also Great Britain, although the ‘Great’ evaporated some time ago and what is left of Britain still seems to prefer the year 1915.

House of Lords

House of Lords

So what is this Privy Council? Well, if you judge the 800+ strong, unelected House of Lords to be the pinnacle of undemocratic government institutions, you clearly have yet to encounter Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, currently comprising some 600 equally unelected members. Such lack of democratic legitimacy, however, does not prevent this body of… whoevers – from advising the monarch on all things governmental. Exactly why Her Maj needs such advice is unclear, as she has no influence over, well, anything. In theory, at least.

Steve Bell, The Guardian

Steve Bell, The Guardian

Now, Corbyn is a republican (a view for which he incidentally can still be incarcerated for life in Blighty). Be that as it may, he is hardly likely to subject himself to such public humiliation, and he would, in any event, be a hypocrite to do so. Such shenanigans have absolutely no place in a modern society. What is shocking is not Corbyn’s attitude but that no one has sought to question this risible ritual until now.

Steve Bell The Guardian

Steve Bell The Guardian

British blood pressure had already been pumped up royally by Jeremy not lending his vocal chords to the national anthem during a recent Remembrance Day ceremony. It seems that no one, except for Corbyn, has cottoned on to the fact that “God Save the Queen” is not a ‘national anthem’ at all. It is a ‘royal anthem’. Why one should wish to sing about saving one particular person, however royal, while honouring the war sacrifices of millions of citizens, dead or alive, is a mystery. In fact, it is quite offensive.

Denmark is a monarchy, so what does Borgen do?

151012 FOLKETINGET AABNING1As luck would have it, the week in question also saw Danish Parliamentary activity aflutter as Borgen returned from the summer recess. The opening of the Danish Folketing took place on Tuesday 6 October 2015 amid much jolly backslapping and an overflow of flowers and flags. Borgen’s answer to Dennis Skinner and veteran member of the House Bertel Haarder had even composed a rap to mark the occasion.

151012 MARGRETHE FOLKETINGETThere was, however, not a glimmer of fancy dress. Or men in tights, for that matter. Queen Margrethe arrived, sporting a red hat, what else? Mode of transport: a vintage Rolls adorned with a couple of fluttering flags. A few half hearted bows and genuflections welcomed her and, together with the rest of her family, she took her seat upstairs, next to the public gallery, settling down to listen to Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen deliver his programme for the forthcoming year.

Now, despite general acceptance of the Danish royals, the country does have its fair share of vocal dissenters – it’s a free country. There are 12 parties in the Folketing, two of which, Enhedslisten and Socialistisk Folkeparti are confirmed republicans. As custom requires Members of Parliament to stand up when the Queen enters, the republicans simply enter after the Queen. Job sorted. Not everyone appreciates this approach, but all accept the right to do as each sees fit.

151012 DER ER ET YNDIGT LAND LABELAs for a national anthem, all Scandinavian monarchies have two anthems: a national anthem and a royal anthem. The national anthems all vax lyrical about the country and its people: “Der Er Et Yndigt Land” (“There Is A Lovely Land” – Denmark), “Ja Vi Elsker Dette Landet” (“Yes We Do Love This Country” – Norway) and “Du Gamla Du Fria” (“You Are Old You Are Free” – Sweden). In fact, so patriotic are the Danes that the first verse of “Der Er Et Yndigt Land” was sewn in to every item of athletes’ clothing for the London 2012 Olympics.

The royal anthems, on the other hand, either recount heroic acts by a dead king “Kong Christian Stod Ved Højen Mast I Røg Og Damp” “King Christian Stood by a Tall Mast in Smoke and Steam” (Denmark), or run along the usual lines of ‘long life’ ‘honour’ that sort of thing. Swedes sing “Kungssången” (“The King’s Song”) and Norway’s “Kongesangen” (“The King’s Song”) is a variation of God Save The Queen. Clearly no Eurovision winners there. They are all reserved mainly for royal births, marriages and deaths or visits by other royals.

So, as a republican, Corbyn is perfectly correct to decline to save the Queen, whom he is presumably hell bent on putting out to grass anyway. Besides, it is complete nonsense for a people to sing about a Queen, when they’re really celebrating themselves and the country they have all crafted with their own bare hands and fought for in their own blood, sweat and tears.

151012 REFUGEES1If the order of the day is to save someone, instead of singing about saving the Queen, our full attention should be on saving the desperate boat people in the Mediterranean. The Queen is more than capable of looking after herself.

Of course, the reason for all the flush-faced fury is that Jeremy Corbyn’s sucker punch has well and truly winded the entire British establishment, politicians to the left and right alike, the serried ranks of the armed forces and the jabbering journos of the media, who thought they could carry on blithely phoning it in.

Brits in their hundreds of thousands are, however, now massing behind change. They expect Corbyn to stick firmly to his guns and refuse to play the pointless, demeaning games that are helping to keep the elite in power and the people ‘in their place’.

The people just jumped the fence. They are in the building.

151012 KNEELING KISS

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark – What on earth is Borgen doing?

150830 SOMETHING IS ROTTENSomething is rotten in the state of Denmark“. Thus spake Hamlet’s mate Marcellus, back in the year 1600. It could just as easily have been half an hour ago.

For Borgen’s freshly minted right wing government is busy cribbing British Prime Minister David Cameron’s reactionary austerity politics for use in their spanking new raft of policy proposals. All the while, the Brits are equally busy arguing about exactly how many thousands of sick and disabled compatriots have died less than three weeks after being declared ‘Fit For Work’ by Iain Duncan Smith’s Stasi – the Department for Work and Pensions.

It would appear that Borgen’s new Statsminister Lars Løkke Rasmussen is hell bent on steering the happiest, most equal and well functioning nation on the planet headlong in the direction of the most miserable, most unequal and dysfunctional country in Europe. From inhabitants to immigrants, asylum seekers to average citizens, everyone’s in the firing line. Confused? You should be. Continue reading

Corbyn, Sturgeon and a guy called Nigel… Borgen would love them all

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Jeremy Corbyn

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Nicola Sturgeon

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Caroline Lucas

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Nigel Farage

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Leanne Wood

Q: What do Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Nigel Farage and Leanne Wood all have in common?

A: WYSIWYG

Agree with them or not, no one could doubt that they all speak their own words or that they all passionately believe in what they say. And they do say what they believe in. Very loudly.

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For every other politician it’s business as usual: ‘We can’t think of anything original to say, so let’s instead demolish what everyone else says.’ Continue reading

Probing The Establishment Danishly. A ‘What Would Borgen Do’ experiment

A true testament to human kindness dropped through my letterbox. I hadn’t ordered anything off the internet so I was excited at the thought that someone might be sending me a surprise pressie.

150610 HITTEGODSKONTOR SIGNThe first clue that this was something entirely different lay in the Danish postmark “Hittegodskontoret, 2720 Vanløse” Lost Property Office (or Found Goods Office, as they say in Denmark and which makes much more sense, when you think about it). Continue reading

Is disability a handicap? What does Borgen think?

In William Beveridge’s welfare state that is Great Britain, welfare has taken a hammering over the past five years. And if David Cameron gets his way in the general election on May 7, a further eye watering 12 billion pounds worth of welfare cuts are likely to come down the pike over the next five years.

Economists and think tanks alike are shuffling their feet uneasily at the prospect, so is it time to ask the question: “is Great Britain still a welfare state at all, or has it transmogrified into something worryingly different?Continue reading

Happy New Year Borgen – Literally

150131 HAPPY NEW YEARThe Season To Be Jolly over, say hello to The Season To Be Happy. “Happy New Year!!!” We squeal dementedly at anyone, every day, all month. But, be honest, thinking back over the years, how often did it really turn out that way?

To Borgen, where it does turn out exactly that way. Every year. Or at least for as long as anyone’s been counting that sort of stuff. Linguistic quirk: The Danes don’t actually say ‘Happy New Year’, they say Godt Nytår – Good New-year, so a slightly less Jazz Hands augmented outpouring.

So what’s their secret? The magic ingredient? The weather is cold and wet, it’s dark for much of the year, there’s no great imperial past, little pomp – even less circumstance. Could it be the Lego?  Or a daily Danish ?(which they, by the way, call Vienna Bread)?

Just for a laugh, let’s spell our way through some likely determinants of Borgen’s happiness phenomenon: Continue reading

Return of the Jihadi. What Does Borgen Do?

141201 WAREurope – we have a problem. 2,000 of our young men and women, radicalised by atrocities further south, are travelling to join the shockingness in pursuit of victory of some sort. Oh wait, that’s old news. Eighty year old news, to be exact, and the conflict was the Spanish Civil War. Back then, we bestowed our young idealists with a heady endowment of such romance that forty years on, ABBA would feel compelled to write a song about them.

What a difference a century makes. Ok, nearly a century. Fast forward to 2014 and various informed sources suggest that 2000 Britons have again travelled south, this time to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq. But that’s where the similarities end. No romance attached to this lot and no one should hold their breath for a new Swedish song on the subject.

141202 RUN HIDE TELLNevertheless, the Scandis are hitting the Jihadi headlines, albeit for an entirely different reason. While a shrill, increasingly hysterical British debate centres on banning the travellers from ever again setting foot on British soil, whipping away passports from those who do turn up at home or, failing that, locking them up and throwing away the key, Borgen sends in a bunch of mentors for a chat and moral support. Continue reading