Three years on it still matters.

This is a follow on from my article on coming out that I wrote back in 2013 – you can read it here. And I’ve written a few other things on LGBT stuff – like this about Grindr, and this about Conchita Wurst.

But back then in 2013 I said that I couldn’t wait for ‘Coming Out’ to be a real choice, and I share the article every #NationalComingOutDay. But over the last few weeks I’ve been reminded more than ever that coming out is still really difficult. And I don’t mean for the first time, or the ‘big’ coming out to your family – but the coming out in the street, or at work, or at the gym.

This has been my year – of changing jobs and starting at a new place of work, getting a boyfriend again, going back to the gym for the first time in ages and generally not spending every living hour in my room.

And each of those decisions and circumstances have been made so much more difficult by being gay.

The trolls on twitter will tell you to get a life, for sure.

Or to man up or let it go and realise there are people worse than you in countries where its not okay to be gay.

But in reality, when it was WMHD yesterday, followed by Coming Out Day today – some of these things couldn’t be more important.

Because so many times this year I’ve wanted to just go home and cry and not go outside again because someone had shouted at me in the street. (I say wanted to, and I mean either and both because I couldn’t go home or because of my ridiculous ability as an adult human not to be able to cry). Or not walk certain ways down the street, or fearful in case my neighbours saw me holding hands with.. shock horror – a boy.

Our LGBT community can sometimes feel pretty lonely – particularly in London. I know there’s a few other gays around where I live, cos I see them holding hands and I do wonder – do they have the same apprehension just walking out the door.

Do they get worried about what bars they go to?

Is this what people normally think about when they walk down the street?

And for a growing amount of people it is. It really is.

For us gays – yeap, we can get married and have children and we can legally walk down the street hand in hand and arm in arm, but are we ‘liberated’. No.

Those Bratavio guys on #XFactor, are ‘disgusting’.

If you just happen to dress a ‘bit too gay’ or risque then oh no, you’re not allowed.

Hell, if you’re trans you have it 1000 times worse.

If you’re wearing a headscarf or Burka I can imagine you get the same side-eye and stares – the same shouts and comments.

The Jew this year who fears wearing a Kippah to a Labour Party meeting might mean getting screamed at about Israel, or worse, shot in a foreign capital.

This year the growing intolerance we are seeing around Britain and the world is scary as hell. It’s everywhere – online, offline, on your street and on the next.

The guys who shouted ‘batty boy’ at me literally 50m from my house.

My mates or the people we all know on social media who got beaten up for daring to go to a gay club.

You try to ignore them, but the Facebook messages that call you a ‘fucking gay boy freak’.

The person who compared me to a pedophile on twitter for daring to criticise Jeremy Corbyn. Like wtf.

The ‘you’re disgusting’ comment that me and my boyfriend got just walking to Tesco to buy some food.

And it’s all the other stuff that comes with it. The fear that the extra-long stare might just turn into a punch, the nervousness about reaching out and holding his hand, the worry of having your public details online so that someone might come find you and make their threat a reality. Where you go on holiday, who you go with, what you might do, the kind of bars you might drink at.

It’s all of that.

So maybe we should stop saying that coming out doesn’t matter. Because I feel like I’ve come out more in the last few months than I ever have in my life.

Bloody hell, if only coming out was one day a year – that would be bliss!

This year, have a think. How many times do you come out on a weekly, daily, monthly, yearly basis? It’s bloody loads.

So let’s stop pretending it “doesn’t matter” – cos it really does.

As I say every coming out day –

Don’t force people to live in or out of the closet.

Don’t define other people’s sexuality or experiences.

Don’t make decisions for others about their life and their sexuality just because you think they are ‘keeping a secret’ –

And don’t say it doesn’t matter just because for you it may now seem a distant memory.

Think of those moments when you’re really afraid – you won’t tell anyone, you won’t let it show, you’ll pretend its not happening but when you want to say the words ‘my boyfriend’ but ‘my partner’ comes out instead.

Or when you think about how you’re walking, not to look ‘too gay’ and ‘give it away’, or when you hold back from laughing because you might be ‘over the top’.

Those are the moments when coming out is really damn hard –

Coming out proper is the most exhilarating thing once it’s over, but then the reality will hit. It’s time we stopped sugar coating it and were there for each other more when it matters.

It’s okay to say it’s not always easy being gay – but it does get better, and it will – but only if we all stick together and challenge intolerance where ever we see it so coming out can be empowering rather than a relief.

Restoring Labour’s reputation on security

A few weeks ago headlines were dominated by the news that yet another young Briton had been killed fighting for ISIS in Syria. Just a few days later, we were warned hundreds of ISIS fighters were being sent all over Europe to rain terror in our cities and on our freedom. Yet, Labour has been utterly silent on the challenges Britain faces when it comes to terrorism.

Under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, Labour’s commitment to security has been put in doubt through a series of unfortunate and worrying associations. More so, its decision not to tackle violent extremism and terrorism head on is harming our ability to be heard and be trusted for good.

The threats we face are real and it’s time Labour joined the frontline – challenging both the government, who has presided over a disastrous and failing strategy when it comes to counter-radicalisation, and those who should have known better but have instead played a game of political rhetoric and have let both our enemy and the government off the hook.

To counter growing extremism and intolerance at home and abroad we must find a voice that enables us to be trusted to take on the fight against terrorism. To do so Labour must root its rhetoric back in reality, expose the failings of the government’s strategy and have a plan of its own to tackle the very real challenges of terrorism and radicalisation.

Challenging a dangerous rhetoric that aided our enemies

Firstly, on the rhetoric, Labour must distance itself from those who have become apologists for ISIS. It should start by making one thing absolutely clear – our common enemy is ISIS; a barbaric and highly effective force that is engaged in a war against us, and everything we stand for, and is using Britain’s young people as its foot soldiers.

The family of one of the 15 year-old schoolgirls who left from the Bethnal Green Academy, an outstanding school, to be killed in Syria said that her death was “the end that they were expecting” to a story where she had somehow managed to get her hands on thousands of pounds and arrive in the middle of a warzone, on the side of ISIS.

She herself became and died an enemy because ISIS are managing to make their warzone seem like an attractive ‘choice’ – a reason to leave Britain. But let’s finally be honest – this was absolutely no choice at all. This is instead dangerous rhetoric that gave credence to the claims of ISIS.

Because for many the blame is on Britain. They claim we assured this fate for our own citizens, by our own actions. They try and compare and contrast the actions and morals of Britain and ISIS. In doing so, they have simply chosen to turn a blind eye to all that ISIS stands for and the true depths of their barbarity and their tactics.

The rhetoric that blames Britain for the rise of ISIS, and therefore for the many people going to Syria, simply lets ISIS off the hook. It is an absolutely shameful tactic to somehow make out that Syria is an attractive prospect for young people compared to a Britain that “has no place for them”.

It is astounding that so many have fallen into this narrative – claiming the role ISIS has planned for our young people is somehow comparable to the lack of opportunities that they have here, or somehow more patriotic. At such a pivotal time such a narrative ensured that in many cases ISIS’ claims about Britain, the West and themselves were simply legitimised. It emboldened an enemy that were using grim tactics to paint their barbarism as noble cause – and regardless of whether you agree with it or not, using a warped interpretation of religion to appeal to people and motivate them to act.

The rhetoric that blames Britain for the rise of ISIS, and therefore for the many people going to Syria, simply lets ISIS off the hook.

Those who used this narrative created their own muddled interpretation of facts and used “retaliation” to make out that there is some form of justice in joining ISIS or attacking troops at bases or police on the streets in Europe, because of the actions of democratic governments. They say it’s not just for Syria – but for past actions and transgressions by Britain and her allies.

But we must remind ourselves of the fragility of their arguments. They claim Britain’s invasion of Iraq was the seed that sowed such hatred against our islands and yet, France and Germany never stepped foot in Basra and yet both have been targeted by a series of home grown terrorists that were radicalised at home and abroad. To put it simply, ISIS and its equivalents were planning on turning our young people into weapons long before our Tornado’s or Eurofighters took off bound for Baghdad or Raqqa.

That narrative and our pathetic response has led to an absolutely desperate reality where young people, growing up in some of the most free and tolerant societies in the world, are closing in and believing that violence and the killing of innocent people in their own societies or fighting for our enemies abroad is a just cause.

Many people in the world face persecution – and many people in Britain feel hard done by, marginalised, cheated or broken by the system. The vast majority however do not, and never would, turn to violence and killing to solve their problems. To even suggest that this is an understandable decision or choice for young people in Britain today is an utterly shameful position to hold when the fate for them is so blindingly obvious.

Instead of doing everything and anything they could to stop this crisis from growing, too many ignored the reality at hand, left their perspective at the door and instead hijacked a debate to pursue an ideological narrative about Britain and to use this crisis for their own political gain.

Those who claim they have the interests of these young people at heart must stop referring to radicalisation in inverted commas as if it doesn’t really exist or pretending they don’t understand the difference between strong political opinions and aiding violent terrorism. Add to that the mixed messages about what would happen to people if they did leave for Syria and what would be the situation if they tried to return. We simply failed to stem the tide immediately and utterly failed to focus on the facts at hand.

Thankfully the tide has started to turn as the grim realities of life in Syria and Iraq have taken centre stage over the past two or more years.

There is absolutely no excuse for allowing the rhetoric that Syria represented a good 'choice' for our young people to go unchecked
There is absolutely no excuse for allowing the rhetoric that Syria represented a good ‘choice’ for our young people to go unchecked

Britain finally entered the conflict and has successfully taken part in an international coalition that has pushed ISIS back and forced Turkey to live up to its responsibilities in securing more of the border. The horrific scenes of British journalists and aid workers being beheaded and gay people being thrown from towers has acted as a reminder of the barbarity of our enemies and successfully put the claims of British antagonism in the Middle East into perspective.

Had this been the narrative from day one – we might have seen the lure of ISIS burn out much earlier.

Many people in the world face persecution – and many people in Britain feel hard done by, marginalised, cheated or broken by the system. The vast majority however do not, and never would, turn to violence and killing to solve their problems.

Exposing the failings of the government to win the fight on terrorism

But the government must also face facts that its own strategy failed.

That strategy, known as CONTEST, has been at the heart of Britain’s response in attempting to fight the use of radicalisation – namely through a de-radicalisation programme known as Channel and the growing ‘Prevent’ strand which has now been in place for some ten years. The full aims of Prevent, or ‘agenda’ as some call it, is to literally “aim to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.”

Whilst we can and should debate whether the figures of those joining our enemies would be smaller or greater had it not been in place – but at its heart, the failings of Prevent and the rest of the strategy has allowed some 200 or more British citizens to die in Syria – far larger than any terrorist incident in Britain or involving British citizens abroad – and has allowed some 600 to leave and later return as a security risk, and a terror-threat level at its peak. When the majority of current attacks around Europe are being committed by known risks – the fact the government has not got a handle on this crisis is shocking.

On that basis alone, the government has questions to answer on the effectiveness of its response.

But even its wider failings are just as stark.

Our communities are becoming more polarised, we are seeing rampant anti-Semitism and Islamophobic attacks in our society and even mainstream political parties are now being accused of one or both of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. In short – the strategy is not doing its job in keeping anybody safe from the extremes of the incitement of violence.

That is a shameful record of a government that says its laws would keep us safe.

But, yet again, Labour’s rhetoric has ensured the government has been able to dig its head into the sand and push on regardless. It should be highly worrying, to all of us who want counter-terrorism to succeed, that the government is being given the opportunity to paint all opponents to the failings of Prevent as opposing counter-terrorism.

It is also not a smear by the government to claim this when the failures of the government’s strategy that its opponents highlight are a long way from the story of the 1000 people who have been radicalised and travelled to Syria.

Labour’s rhetoric has ensured the government has been able to dig its head into the sand and push on regardless.

In fact, their opposition is resolutely focused on just a few case studies where students in higher education in some of the most expensive and privileged universities have been dragged in through the wide net cast by Prevent in trying to assess and identify those at risk from radicalisation.

Opponents of Prevent have made friends in the form of organisations like CAGE and Hizb-ut-Tahir who target the police for heavy-handed tactics in arresting and pursuing actual suspected terrorists such as “breaking down a door” and saying that “young men had been criminalised and their lives tarnished through the broad stroke of ‘terrorism’.” In this case, they were in fact referring to Tarik Hassane and Suhaib Majeed, two young people who had the opportunity of a university education and are now in prison facing some twenty years for plotting to murder soldiers, police officers and innocent civilians in French-style drive by-shootings.

We should stand side-by-side with the government when it is undertaking genuine counter-terrorism operations against known suspects. To stand with organisations who conflate this type of urgent and necessary action with other programmes such as Prevent are serving no purpose in the cause to get the government to consider its failings with the latter.

It is obvious that Labour must not allow itself to be sidelined by debating on the fringes with this ramshackle clan who oppose everything the government has to say, but with no policies of their own.

The Conservatives have been able to define Jeremy Corbyn by his associations
The Conservatives have been able to define Jeremy Corbyn by his associations

Putting forward a credible plan to keep people safe from harm

It is therefore vital that Labour puts forward a credible plan that shows it is serious about security.

A few weeks ago Owen Smith, standing for the Labour Leadership, said that if we are to strengthen the resourcing of counter-radicalisation we have to foster better community relations in Britain and stand up for Britain’s rights by investing in our communities.

He was booed and attacked as a ‘supporter’ of Prevent.

To attack Owen as if he is the enemy for daring to use the word ‘Prevent’ is absolutely damning of those who claim to have the interests of those at risk of radicalisation at heart. In the closing days of this leadership contest, Owen should begin by announcing a five point plan that makes it clear Labour is serious about fighting terrorism and challenging the government on its approach – to make it work.

That challenge to the government should therefore be twofold: firstly to ensure that people cannot become targets for radicalisation by building strong communities with the support they need to counter it; and secondly to hunt down known threats, identify violent extremists who are trying to leave Britain to fight for our enemies and prevent terrorist attacks from happening.

Our strategy should;

  1. Challenge Theresa May to begin negotiations with the EU on security – As the reality of Brexit come clear, Labour should respond to the headlines of home-radicalised and foreign fighters in Britain by making it clear the government must not allow any exit from the EU to impact on Britain’s security. We should challenge the Prime Minister to open negotiations on security as her top issue and guarantee Britain’s place in the European Arrest Warrant and joint-operations with Interpol as a top priority for the government.
  1. Call on the government to immediately account for all fighters who have returned from Syria – Known threats and suspects remain a highly significant proportion of the recent terrorist atrocities we have seen in Europe and around the world either where de-radicalisation or disengagement has failed, such as in Canada, or where the security services have failed to track its citizens that have fought or been trained abroad – such as in France and Germany. Labour should call for action to immediately find and pursue those who have returned from Syria and other ISIS areas and enlist them into Channel, the de-radicalisation programme. The government should be held to account on the percentage of these returners that have been enlisted into the programme.
  1. Deliver more resources to counter-terrorism operations – We should ensure counter-terrorism experts focus on counter-terrorism – by bringing more operatives online to counter the direct threats and activities by our enemies and resource more live counter-radicalisation operations by law-enforcement and the security services under the rest of CONTEST – mainly through Pursue and the multi-fronted Channel project. Existing funding awarded from the Home Office through Prevent should either be discontinued or repurposed for clear counter-terrorism operations within the Home and Foreign offices, such as to cyber-security firms to support the aiding of Pursue.
  1. Go further than the Home Affairs Select Committee recommendations and instead disband and replace Prevent – Combining anti-extremism and counter-terrorism operations under CONTEST has failed to give assurances to communities that they are not under suspicion. Labour should call for Prevent to be disbanded from CONTEST and the funding transferred and then used to develop an extensive citizenship and multi-faith programme as the sole responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government under Sajid Javid. All externally funded projects by the government to foster community relations, inter-faith work or any other aspects of the citizenship programme should be offered directly and solely to vetted partners from DCLG to provide a firewall between counter-terrorism operations and programmes designed to enhance community relations and citizenship within the UK to end the suspicion and conflation of the two. Labour should stress that whilst the benefits of a cohesive and strong community are obvious to counter terrorism itself, they should be different in focus, scope and principle and that they go wider and further than this aim.
  1. Pledge to restore citizenship education in all schools, no matter what their structure – Finally through the Citizenship and Multi-Faith programme under the leadership and funding of DCLG, Labour should force the government to restore a compulsory citizenship curriculum into all levels of education – including free schools and consider placing pastoral responsibilities onto universities, as opposed to the reporting mechanism to law enforcement that was put in place under Prevent, that is designed to allow debate to flourish in a safe environment. A review of existing pastoral and safeguarding guidelines should then take place and on the introduction of the citizenship curriculum the Prevent Duty should be suspended and replaced by these reviewed guidelines.

With race and faith relations hitting an all-time low, our threat level at an all time high and the challenges we see with security and defence starker and more difficult than we have seen since the start of the 21st century – Labour must take its position seriously and move on from standing on the side-lines of political debate with people who have taken their eyes well off the ball of the mission at hand .

Our goal on this agenda should be crystal clear – defeating ISIS, keeping Britain safe from a barbaric common enemy and strengthening our communities to foster freedom and debate is our first priority.

If the government will not act to ensure that happens, we must show that we can and that we will.

Where are you now?

Last night’s ‘Eurovision’s Greatest Hits’ celebration of 60 years of the Eurovision Song Contest portrayed the contest in the only way the BBC knows how to. The camp, the glitz and the glam were all out to mark this special anniversary.

This was the second big anniversary celebration of the contest after a similar affair back in 2005. Back then ‘Congratulations’, produced to mark the 50th anniversary, was also due to be a BBC venture, although it ended up in the hands of DR, the Danish broadcaster, who had proven itself a friend of the EBU, albeit a slightly dysfunctional Eurovision host with both the contest in 2001 and supporting the EBU to launch Junior Eurovision. But despite the different hosts, both anniversary shows were produced in exactly the same way – and both recognised the same songs, the same eras, the same contest. But surely there’s more to wheeling out Fly On The Wings Of Love, Brotherhood of Man and Johnny Logan every ten years? Continue reading “Where are you now?”

Is it because I’m Russell Brand?

Russell Brand, the great leader of the socialist revolution, today decided to surface on the great injustice that blights British society. Brand, for whom being ‘a bit of a dickhead’ has become a job title, decided to impart his latest fable using only words that could be listed on Urban Dictionary under ‘twattery’ and in doing so reaffirmed his position, not as an outsider or someone who has ‘controversial thoughts’, but instead as Britain’s ‘lad-in-chief’ – right at the top of the hypocritical tower of power and privilege that he ‘oh so hates’. But the man doth try, so the theory goes that perhaps we should give him a chance. My question is just how many chances should one man get?

For me, I’d given up quite a long time ago. I suppose it did take a while, and I don’t know which ‘controversy’ pushed me over the edge, but it turned out to be quite obvious that the pumped up testosterone fuelled Mr Brand who lives, in his own words, by the theory that “everyone has their own mantra” was just a bit of a knob. But I’m sorry to have to break the news that ‘being a bit of a knob’ is not a ‘self mantra’ and it certainly isn’t an excuse for the hypocritical mumblings of a, white and rich and straight man being seen as some sort of holy testimony on the evils of capitalism.

‘Being a bit of a knob’ is not a ‘self mantra’

For Brand lectures us on power, on privellege and on the global system hell bent on dragging people like you, like him, down. But the idea that he is some sort of ‘leader’ for the underprivileged and hard done by in Britain is an insult to the very people who make it in this country against the odds. And that is not to dismiss Brand’s upbringing, and I’m not suggesting that he hasn’t had a hard life because of his troubled and difficult childhood – but you have to ask in a system so rigged against the underdog, that he sees himself as, how is that Brand was the one who became such a breakout star? In a system that he says is designed to keep people ‘like him’ down, to shut people like him out, how was it that he rose to the top?

But it’s obvious, isn’t it Russell? Come on, you know how it works.

And you see that’s why I don’t think the British people see themselves in Brand. They don’t buy the act that he is some kind of symptom of the hard-done-by ‘normal’ person. Far from being the voice of Britain’s so called ‘ordinary hard-working people’ – he is a parody of the ‘ideal’; a man who wants fame and fortune and to be ‘something’. The man who gets it all and yet still has nothing; a Christian Grey-cum-Sacha Baron Cohen character.

“I’m a sexy wildman!” he professes.

“It would have been convenient to be gay. Just because of the grooming, the narcissism, stuff like that. But I have this kind of roaring heterosexuality.” He says he suffers from ‘traditional, uncomplicated heterosexuality.’

russell-brand-inside-content

“We should see Russell Brand for who he is; a comedian – a bit of a joke.”

Yet at the same time he’s a Leigh Francis sketch.

The man who talks of ‘roaring heterosexuality’ then refers to performing in Bugsy Malone at school as “a blissful epiphany.”

Who comes out with stuff like “I believe that everything is one thing and time is infinite, time is cyclical, and at one point we’ve all been each other.”

Simply put, he’s the man who just never grew up. But Brand has forgotten that youthful naivety quickly turns into hypocrisy at the age of 39. And that’s why we should see him for who he is; a comedian – or perhaps, more appropriately – a bit of a joke.

But the joke runs thin when Brand turns his efforts to excusing racism.

“When fans take back the clubs that are theirs and run them collectively, aberrant acts such as the Metro racism can be communally condemned from a just position not from the altar of cold profiteering and cunning hypocrisy.”

Condemning racism from a “just position.”

“If you treat fans like they don’t matter, then it isn’t surprising some behave disgracefully.”

Oh, there it is;

I’m not racist, but the Qatari’s own my football club.

Yet all this shouldn’t be surprising.

This is a man who before has said how he likes threesomes with two women because he’s a ‘romantic’ who’s looking for ‘The One’ and he’ll find her ‘more quickly if he auditions two at a time’.

Lad.

The one who makes obscene phone calls about people’s grandkids.

Lad.

People would tell him to wind his neck in when he was making jokes at people and so he’s the guy would respond with “But I was on crack. I didn’t know what was going on”.

Lad.

“People say I’ve crossed the line, I don’t think there is a line.”

Lad.

He said he was glad society was crumbling and that everyone was afraid after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and ‘looks back on it now’ as though he was just “very anarchic”… in a ‘very uneducated way’.

Okay…

But then come the textbook responses.

“It was really no big deal… just a joke.”

“We ought to be concerned that our rights to protest are being continually eroded under the guise of enhancing our safety.”

Ah, that old ‘politically correct’ thing again.

A familiar pattern of the same old excuses that casual, and more dedicated, racists, bigots, homophobes and sexists have turned to, not just for decades but for centuries. The old ‘well my mate says that he doesn’t mind…’ – well that’s nice for you but unfortunately not everyone is your “mate”, mate. I know he thinks of himself as a bit of an intellectual, but he needn’t. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Russell Brand is just a bit of a dickhead; but what’s worse is that he actually intends to be. He’s just your classic wind-up merchant.

“He’s a bad-boy Boris Johnson”

He’s just a bad-boy Boris Johnson; The acceptable face of dickheadism masked by buffoonery.

But it’s destructive and we are struggling to find an answer – and unfortunately a pink bus is not going to solve the crisis of equality that this country still faces.

Amongst others anti-Semitic attacks are now a daily headline and nearly half of British Jews fear their own community.

I still fear walking down the street holding a guys hand.

Young women outperforming men across the board at school and yet still locked out of the boardroom and paid less later in life. And no, not just because they “take time out to have children.”

Figures out just 5 days ago show 32% of Britain’s young black men are unemployed.

And so perhaps when you talk about people feeling “lost with nothing to believe in, and knowing they don’t matter, they dig for meaning by stirring the cadaver of revolting, dead prejudice”, Russell, you should spare a thought for those of us who when faced with oppression on a daily basis like people threatening to break our arms or have us ‘put down’ turn to the principles of equality and respect not hatred and fear.

The person threatened daily and can’t walk down the street after dark for nothing else than being a woman.

The couple worried about moving to a new house just in case the people next door have a “problem” with them being gay.

The guy afraid of starting a new job because his boss might be a casual racist.

The people afraid of going to their place of worship today – just because it’s a synagogue.

Those people aren’t lashing out with words of intolerance.

Yet there you are, Russell, with your statements like “It’s not a surprise to me that I’m becoming successful. It’s a surprise that, given the way I’ve carried on, it’s still happened. But it was always my intention. It’s not an accident.”

That’s your reality?

Because that’s not really an option for the young black kid growing up in London just trying to get on without the suspicion of being a criminal is it?

Oh and by the way, that’s the same person you want to tell not to vote. So that, what, we can hear more of people like you in politics?

And so when you say “I’m aware we’re not here long, so I don’t want to muck around” – we all know and can see loud and clear, that you quite frankly are just another stereotypical white straight lad who’s bored with Britain but who’s made it nonetheless because the system is set up for you.

Four years ago I wrote about how mindless thieves aren’t born opportunistic thugs. That you are born into a culture, a society and surrounded by people who expect things of you; one of those things probably being ‘uncomplicated heterosexuality’ – but I agree with you that people do things because they are angry, feel let down or lost.

I agree that there is no excuse, but there is often a reason.

And four years ago I came to a conclusion that I still stand by today; that you, Russell, are not a symptom of modern Britain – you are the problem with it.

Obsessed with power, sex, money and drugs.

Your casual sexism.

Your pretend bravado that tells young men that to be cool they need to be a twat.

Your theory about how there isn’t a ‘line’ in the sand when it comes to being offensive.

But unfortunately for you Russell, there is; it’s called hate crime and it’s time we started standing up and saying loud and clear that the idea that people across this country are going back indoors, locking themselves in, pulling down the blinds and fearing stepping outside onto their own streets or talking to their own neighbours is not just a step backwards – it is a tragedy.

“If you’re looking for your revolution I wouldn’t be lining up with Brand Britain”

And the greatest lie of all is that it’s their choice, that it’s all made up – that it’s in their heads. Well, it’s not. It’s real and it’s not just a minority – and it’s a real problem, unlike the “loss of masculinity of Britain’s young” or what other headlines the Mail conjures up. Britain has been hiding its diversity for far too long – and so if you’re looking for your revolution I certainly wouldn’t be lining up with Brand Britain.

Ladism is a disease. It’s the idea that you don’t have to grow up, that you don’t have to challenge ideas that you’ve been told and that you don’t have to change your mind, apologise or say sorry. The reliance that luck will give you a good hand. Brand has yet again proven that it’s not a disease that targets the young or that’s new. It doesn’t distinguish between ‘clever’ people and everyone else. It doesn’t matter what education you had, who brought you up, what your parents did or what they believed.

Mr Brand is our sufferer-in-chief, he doesn’t know how to apologise – he only resigns or walks away like the politicians he despises so much. He pretends to be all-thinking and all-talking when in reality it’s just a cover for the obvious that he doesn’t want to admit.

And so whilst women and young black people don’t need me to stand up for them, I can say for certain that they certainly don’t need Russell Brand to keep trivialising the realities of their lives and whilst I’m sure there will be a cure for ladism, in the meantime we should call it out – starting with its chief activist and bell-end – and so whilst I don’t often agree with Bob Geldof, I think it’s fair, just and right to say;

‘Russell Brand – what a cunt.’