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The appalling behaviour of politicians must stop

I’m sure Josh Frydenberg thought he was being very funny as he ridiculed Jim Chalmers for suggesting we need a well-being budget. I’m sure he revelled in the laughter and accompanying jeers from the nodding heads behind him. He was no doubt encouraged by the smirking jerk to his right as he delivered his putdown.

“I was thinking yesterday, as the member for Rankin was coming into the chamber fresh from his Ashram deep in the mountains of the Himalayas barefoot in the chamber, robes flowing, incense burning, beads in one hand, wellbeing budget in the other, I thought to myself: ‘What yoga position the member for Rankin would assume … to deliver the first wellbeing budget?”

Unsurprisingly, Australia’s many Hindu citizens were unimpressed. The President of the Universal Society of Hinduism said in a statement it was “heartbreaking” for the hardworking and peaceful Australian Hindu community to watch the religion be “belittled and laughed at” in the parliament.

But that’s what our politicians do constantly. Belittling is their cap in trade. Jeering and catcalling and name-calling is standard practice.

This sort of behaviour is emotional abuse.

“Emotional abuse may include behaviours such as threatening, insulting, shaming, belittling, name-calling, gaslighting and stonewalling, which are done in an attempt to chip away at the victim’s independence and self-esteem so the abuser can gain control in the relationship. “

We see this behaviour every day in our parliament.

Along with the emotional abuse, politicians also fuel racism by their snide remarks and racial/religious profiling. Who could forget Attorney-General George Brandis defending the rights of bigots?

Peter Dutton is a constant offender – laughing about Pacific Islands being inundated, wanting to fast track visas for “white” South Africans, labelling second and third-generation Lebanese Australians as a terrorist threat, telling us that Melbourne is under siege from African gangs, boycotting the Apology and stridently defending Bill Leak’s cartoon about Aboriginal parenting, ridiculing Armani wearing asylum seekers – the list is endless.

Josh Frydenberg only recently spoke about the rise of anti-Semitism in Australia yet he seems to have little problem with his party wanting to prioritise Christian migration. They give lip service to religious freedom but they really mean the freedom to impose their beliefs on others.

We can’t punish our way out of the domestic violence epidemic that grips Australia. We can’t get rid of racism just by laws. We all have a part to play in changing our society by stepping up to say it’s not ok.

It would be great if the leaders of our country, the people who make the laws, took some time to examine the example they are setting with their appalling behaviour.

It’s not ok.

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  1. New England Cocky

    The only way for Australian voters to stop the appalling behaviour of the present crop of self-serving politicians is to organise the opposition to the disgusting individuals they want to remove from Parliament and vote them out of office in 2022.

    Don’t just whinge about the problem ….. organise, mobilise and propagandise to remove them from the Parliament.

  2. Baby Jewels

    “But that’s what our politicians do constantly. Belittling is their cap in trade. Jeering and catcalling and name-calling is standard practice.” That’s what happens when you’re a pampered private schoolboy/girl who thinks they are so superior and entitled that anything/anyone’s fair game and totally hilarious.

  3. Kareen Carberry

    Oh dear! If Josh’s religion was given the same treatment he’d be squealing. They really are a rabble of ego driven know all’s but those they hold in contempt vote for them. Go figure.

  4. Phil Pryor

    Frydenberg, ostentatiously, publically, aggressively at times, is Jewish, and bathes in it for notice, but has the humanity of a diseased penis when it comes to understanding and educated and civilised comprehension. He has done harm to his religion, even if he dreams he is getting a little comeback against someone somewhere for something real or imaginary. And his simian, savage and significantly small minded back bench, a set of shitskulls to ruin our present and future, are not much comfort for even a second. His laughing friends include some who would betray him and his culture at the drop of a pork chop on the B B Q paving.

  5. Jean

    Agree Kareen Carberry! Frydenberg carried on about semitism, but he has double standards – if he wants abuse against his religion stopped – perhaps he could set an example! In fact all the LNP members behind him during his tirade could do the same. I’m not a religious person, but will protect anyone’s right to believe if they have a need. Even Michael Kirby has come out and said the religious freedom bill is not worthy!

  6. Kaye Lee

    There is no workplace, no organisation, no institution, that would allow the sort of behaviour exhibited every day in parliament. It is an absolute disgrace.

  7. Ray Tinkler

    Replying to Kareen Carberry’s comment. I wrote virtually the same on a face book page not long after Frydenberg had his little “comic” turn. A hypocrite of the lowest order. The problem with these rightist twits is they can’t tell the difference between scoring points in a boarding school’s debating society and what should be the serious and considered matter of running a country. If they want to put on a performance to amuse themselves and the halfwittery of their supporters, they should hire a private stage. Then leave town on it. I’ll volunteer to fire the cannon that startles the horses into bolting. Hopefully that other court jester, Christian Porter can be persuaded to get on board as well.

  8. Kerri

    If you question Frydenberg’s citizenship regarding his mother’s status as a Hungarian and Josh’s right to inherited citizenship it’s called anti-semitism!
    If you mock the Hindu faith in parliament it’s just a joke! Right? Ask Dave Sharma?

  9. Kerry

    Jim Chalmers or the next one to cop it needs to go to the HR department equivalent and lodge a formal complaint. As Kaye mentioned in her comment, you cannot do this in any other workplace in the country.

  10. Kaye Lee

    What they do would not be acceptable in high school debates. There’s a difference between a good line and puerile mocking. You also do not interject when someone is speaking in a debate.

    It’s similar to the type of behaviour shown at St Kevin’s – chanting groups egging each other on. We also have a couple of ex-Prime Ministers who are quite happy to give character references to convicted pedophiles.

    They talk about unions using bullying tactics in the workplace. Yet when several of their own female members publicly deplored the bullying in their own party, they were silenced one way or another.

    “I just hope … whatever happens tomorrow that the behaviours that we have seen and the bullying and intimidation that I do not recognise as Liberal in any shape, way or form be brought to account.” said Linda Reynolds before they made her a minister.

    Women who made confidential sexual harassment complaints about Jamie Briggs and Barnaby Joyce were dragged into the public eye. Michaelia Cash made threats to name staffers she implied were having affairs.

    None of this is ok.

  11. Michael Taylor

    We had a Group Manager in our department who knew what to do …

    Jack (not his real name) arrives back at the office after a meeting and notices that one young lass was sitting at her desk weeping.

    “What is the matter with Judy?” he asked.

    “Jenny Trump (not her real name) abused her.”

    “Where’s Jenny now?”

    “She’s at lunch.”

    Jenny had already received a written warning about her bullying behaviour.

    Jack rang the security desk:

    “I want you to cancel Jenny Trump’s security pass and she is not to be allowed in the building. She is dismissed immediately.”

    Now that’s how you do it.

  12. Kaye Lee

    I, along with thousands of others, completed a government survey last year about Question Time conducted by the Procedures Committee.

    I just looked for the result from the committee.

    “This inquiry currently has no Government Response documents.”

    The closest we got to an outcome was two very mild feel good mentions in parliament from the chair and deputy chair which can be seen on this link if interested.

  13. Joe blow

    Why do we have a photo of a female for this article…….?

  14. Aortic

    Question Time is a total and unnecessary expensive farce. How can it be oxymoronically called Questions Without Notice when all have been promulgated well enough beforehand to allow the government to obfuscate and prevaricate, and don’t get me started on Dorothy Dixers. I note a paragraph in the Hon. Peter Slippers submission saying similar. Here’s a thought to save us millions. During Parliament sitting times let’s have only the front rows of both the Government and Opposition physically present. If any input required from back benchers have them present in their electoral offices using video conferencing. Not only save millions but locals might actually get to know their local member better. No question to be known beforehand and no Dixers. Whatever semblance remains in our so called democracy is disappearing before our eyes, and it is beyond time we collectively call for meaningful change to protect what little remains.

  15. Zathras

    The days of clever and meaningful orators have long gone.

    What we have now is a group of schoolyard thugs trying to shout and bully their way toward pleasing their financial sponsors and instead of acting in the best interests of the country all that matters is gaining and keeping power. Except for aspirational targets without plans of how they will be reached our leaders see and care only as far as the next election, while China plans ahead in terms of generations.

    It’s no surprise that they act in this way, considering we are now in the age of twitter and social media flame wars competing for “likes”. Never mind the 24hour news cycle, the latest media grab is like the latest viral YouTube clip and has about the same lifespan for voters with the attention span of a goldfish.

    It’s up to journalists to keep politicians in line by holding them to account, not to encourage their behaviour.

    It’s also typical of Frydenberg to mock Hindus but shelter behind his own religion at every opportunity.

  16. Pingback: The appalling behaviour of politicians must stop #auspol - News Oz

  17. Carole

    Wit and sarcasm have been part of QT as far back as I can recall and was appreciated as it broke the boredom of Dorothy Dixers. But since the time of Julia Gillard becoming PM, standards of acceptable behaviour have been discarded. It is vicious and sexist and worse still, the government can disregard providing any accountability for its actions. Like a yard full of braying donkeys the backbench urges the ministers to more and more puerile comic display. It is not even funny let alone clever. It’s St Kevin’s on steroids. I can’t bear to watch anymore. Now the government not only insults our intelligence, in this latest spray from Frydenberg, he belittles a religious minority of this country and he isn’t even aware of the hurt and disrespect he’s displayed. Just like Angus Taylor , Joshy the Loudmouth says that we have it wrong. That WE have it wrong.
    Well Josh, You and your mates should sit down when you are sober and watch reruns of QT until the pennies drop. As Doug Cameron ‘s mob says
    Oh what a gift the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us.

  18. Kaye Lee


    I can’t watch it anymore either. And I am a political tragic.

  19. Kaye Lee

    “Josh was making a joke at Jim Chalmers’ expense, the shadow treasurer, that was really the focus of his joke. I don’t think anyone with a sense of humour would find that at all offensive,” Mr Sharma (who’s father is Hindu) told SBS Hindi.

    “I apologise if they feel offended but I don’t think they have any cause. Unfortunately in this modern-day and age, people are always waiting to be offended by any number of things, especially if you go online. You always find people going and shouting, but I don’t think anyone should have that cause at all.”

    Well, Mr Sharma, none of the rest of us found it funny. Saying Frydenberg was just trying to belittle Dr Chalmers does not make it any better. And how you can have the gall to suggest that the “shouting” is coming from people online is astonishing. Have a look at yourselves.

  20. Sharon

    After reading all the comments, and of course this article, I feel the need to share what came to mind as I read. Rome in the days of the spectacles at the Coliseum. Paris, people crowding viewing space at Mme Guillotine. North Korean boss with his retinue of notepad holding men who always seem to find his comments amusing and laugh at just the right time to gain approval when the Boss speaks. I am not a `political’ person, but lately I have needed to be informed so I read articles here and elsewhere to gain some knowledge late in my life. And I cannot recall my parents talking about our politicians as people do today……… so either my parents chose to keep silent, or the politicians were very different back then. Whatever it is that has these grown adult mostly men and some women behaving as they do, they are an embarrassment to me. Thank you for your article Kay Lee.

  21. Barry Thompson.

    Whenever chubby chops gets up in QT and says “the reality is” in that stentorian voice, I feel like throwing the remote at the TV.
    Instead, I simply fast forward to the next speaker to avoid the bombast and bullshit that is the Treasurer’s stock in trade.

  22. Hilde Rombout

    We need to call him out on his abusive behaviour. Perhaps in a humorous way, as joshy thinks he is so funny! One reply could be for the Labor Party to come to the Parliament dressed in Hindi gear, the men wearing dhotis and the women saris. Or maybe the gallery should be crowded by people dressed like Hindus, in the similar vein as to what the King of Denmark did when the Jewish people in Denmark were forced to wear a start of David during WW2. He did not put himself apart from the prospective victims. He set the example and ordered everyone in his kingdom to wear the star. And all the real and imagined Hindus should be laughing loudly at joshy and cohorts every time joshy they open their mouths.

  23. Frank Smith

    It is certainly not OK, Kaye Lee.

  24. whatever

    They really have taken the John Hewson “Fightback” idea to epic levels. They, and their loudmouth, lower middle class supporters who somehow believe they are over-taxed are getting PrivateSchool Funding and SportsRorts and God knows what else as though they were the only truly DESERVING folk within cooee.!_(policy)

  25. Terence Mills

    We had an opportunity to reform Question Time and the there was for a moment some optimism that we could address the two areas where this democratic process has become mired in party politics and flim-flam.

    The overwhelming call from submissions was to rein in the corrosive and negative impact of Dorothy Dix questions that have become such a feature of the decline in this parliamentary charade.
    The second overwhelming call was for questions to actually be answered and the need for an impartial Speaker to demand relevance and to insist that the Prime Minister and his team respond to the question actually being asked. Or, at the very minimum, place the question on notice for a response at a later date when they actually have an answer rather than indulging in deceptive nonsense designed to avoid the issue all together.

    It seems that there is no will in our parliament to address this situation and I like others here have stopped listening.

    The fact is that Senate enquiries appear to get closer to what actually goes on and these should be televised and broadcast on the ABC.

  26. Kathryn

    What can we say about the MENTAL CHEWING GUM hiding itself under the “nom douteux” as Parliamentary Question Time?

    If a class load of impudent Grade 3 children started shouting, screaming, ridiculing and bullying others – in the appalling manner the disgraceful LNP do throughout what is ludicrously called “Question Time” – they would be sent to the Principal’s office, with their parents called up to the school with the likely result of their child/ren facing detention!

    If you are depraved enough to want to corrupt, warp and expose gullible, innocent minds to the worst, most abhorrent excesses of degenerate human behaviour, just take a few children on an ill-advised visit to our Parliament House to view Parliament Question Time! That would give a child psychologist enough fuel to keep him/her in business for 20 years!

    Parliamentary Question Time SHOULD provide decent (with the emphasis on “decent”) politicians with the PERFECT opportunity to answer questions honestly, to present their views maturely and to have the intestinal fortitude to meet televised challenges. What better time to show the Australian public that they have their best interests at heart by debating serious political issues intelligently, logically and with credibility and good manners INSTEAD of hiding behind duplicity, hypocrisy and a contemptuous disregard for political process? INSTEAD, we have these offensive, self-entitled, overpaid, non-achieving grubs wasting everybody’s time and using the “show” to “perform” like untrained clowns! INSTEAD we have politicians using “parliamentary privilege” to spew out the most horrendous, vile accusations, character-assassinating slander, racist and misogynistic bile that would see them sued out in the real world!

    NONE of these political clowns have, in reality, undertaken a hard day’s work in their useless political lives as career political parasites and ALL of them with the emotional IQ of a dummy-spitting 2 year old! No wonder the overwhelming majority of Australians now have almost zero trust and a growing contempt for politicians which so-called “profession” is now ranked lower than dodgy used car salesmen and real estate agents! QT has been reduced to a tragic black “comedy” with our so-called elected “leaders” masquerading as Z-rate actors all trying to out-perform each other in being as vindictive, insolent and discourteous as they can be! Viewing QT is now watching a gory episode of “Game of Thrones” minus the gravitas and acting talent!

    Question Time is a BLACK HOLE for political opportunism! Question Time is where nothing – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – is achieved, no policies discussed, no hard questions asked OR answered, a non-stop cycle of non-productive derision, sneering arrogance and a total lack of transparency, zero civility and appalling lack of respect exhibited by the worst government in living memory! QT is now widely regarded as an EPIC waste of time (which is costing the disgruntled, long-suffering and disillusioned taxpayer countless thousands of dollars) with a pack of revolting, nauseating political grubs “playing to the cameras”, tearing down and blaming the Opposition for the devastation and chaos the LNP now find themselves. Sadly, the Opposition are also failing Australians by NOT asking CHALLENGING QUESTIONS, by allowing the LNP to duck, weave and dodge even lightweight questions and, on some occasions, falling into the trap of allowing themselves to be dragged down to the same barbaric gutter level of behaviour as the LNP.

    QT is a PRIME EXAMPLE of WHY the apathetic, complacent QUIET AUSTRALIANS need to rise out of their lounge chairs and DEMAND better behaviour by the elected government who have proved themselves – over and over again – to be nothing more than a born-to-rule pack of totally inept, climate-change-denying idiots, callously inhumane fascists and contemptible BOGANS. Australia and Australians DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS. The LNP comprise the laziest, rudest, most corrupt politicians in our history YET are among the highest paid politicians in the OECD. If they can behave in this disgusting manner IN FRONT of the cameras, just imagine the level of depravity these unconscionable thugs must stoop to behind closed doors. Enough! Kick ’em out! Let’s show the LNP that it is now BEYOND the stage of: Three strikes and you’re out!

  27. DrakeN


    “Australia and Australians DESERVE BETTER THAN THIS.”

    Some do, many do not.

    This is a far from unified country and, generally speaking, a not very clever one.

    The country deserves the government that it elects and far too many people of all walks of life voted for this rabble of emotionally retarded, empathetically voided mob of self-serving grubs to represent them.

    You may move within a circle of decent and kindly people, but you need to see outside of your corral of cohorts: There are lots of nasty, avaricious borderline psychopaths out there and many of them are in positions of power and influence.

    Do remember to count your fingers after the next time one of them, forcibly or otherwise, shakes your hand.

  28. DrakeN

    @ Joe blow

    Does it matter whether the headline picture is of a male or female MP?

    That one does serve to illustrate gender equality in the spitefulness and aggressiveness of the Parliamentary world quite well though.

  29. Carole

    I wonder if any of these were recommendations for reforming Question Time.
    No Preamble. Preambles have become a conduit for avoiding the question and slagging the Opposition.
    Relevance. The answer should be confined to the actual question. Rehashing the performance of previous governments is time wasted.
    Parliamentary language. Personal attacks should result in Member being removed from the chamber.
    Dorothy Dixers. Banned. Questions from the government’s back bench should be questions from constituents submitted to the local member to be answered in QT. The community is not getting value for money when their concerns are never raised and debated.
    The Speaker must be independent. The speaker cannot interpret the rules to suit the government.
    No raised voices. What are the microphones for?
    And on another note, can we dispense with the hypocritical Lord’s Prayer. This is a secular parliament and becoming more unChristian by the day.

  30. David Evans

    Problem is of course, there is no real representatives of the public in either houses of Parliament: There is paid puppets, freeloaders, failed lawyers, failed policemen and women, failed tourism authority spruikers, failed furniture salesmen, failed (and recycled) “church” disciples, failed farmers, failed ‘ministers’ from previous lnp “governments” and all the other failures who would be unemployable in the real World, or in private enterprise. Their only aim and commitment in life is to their own success at the next election, the next photo op and/ or “grants awards”, these clowns fail in every department. Bloody disgrace, the lot of them.

    Screech, screech:…..Where’s the the bird shot when you need it?

  31. Vikingduk

    Can I wade through my absolute disgust for these misbegotten creatures to add to the chorus? More farts in a hurricane? Do we wait? Have we reached nature’s tipping point? Have we enraged this magnificent force sufficiently? What goes around comes around and we f-cking well deserve it. To be so comatose, so ineffective, so powerless in the face of the complete bastardry and greed, the hate and viciousness so lovingly embraced by black hearted,evil, ego tripping slime suckers

    For mine, all we have left is for nature to go hard, because as sure I am that this political class are a pack of cunning stunt artists, nature is not going home. I see a cowardly labor party headed by yesterday’s man, so no hope there, no hope in politics at all. My money is on nature to wack us hard, wack us mercilessly, wack us with total conviction, to give back to us the same treatment we have dealt out to this glorious planet. Once and for all, to wake us the f-ck up.

  32. New England Cocky

    @Michael Taylor: Too many years ago a mate of mine, we’ll call him (another) Jack, was responsible for the front counter of a government department in Canberra.

    A male member of the public came in on business and during the interchange with the delightful young lady on the counter, had a very bad attack of bullying that resulted in the young lady rushing into Jack’s office in tears. Jack went out to attend to the male customer, and received as good blast of abuse for his troubles with the customer departing while shouting all sorts of dire warnings.

    Now Jack was not a violent man, rather he was a quiet, personable large framed good guy, who was concerned about his upset staff member.

    So, calling in a few favours from mates in the Taxation Department, he arranged an urgent application for the customer to attend bankruptcy proceedings the very next week.

    Could not happen to a nicer man.

  33. Kaye Lee

    I had a Jack too.

    I was waitressing at a bowling club for a Christmas party for a large corporation. One of the customers made extremely inappropriate suggestions about what he would like to do to me. I went back to the kitchen and told my boss I would not be serving that table any more. He asked what had happened. He then relayed that to the customer’s boss, a member of the club, and the guy got the sack.

    That was in the 70s. I felt guilty for causing a fuss and for the guy losing his job. It’s hard for women to change that mindset. Which has probably added to our problems. But it was amazing support for the time.

  34. John Boyd

    NYC and Michael Taylor…that is not how you do it. It puts you in the same basket as the people of whom you are so critical. There is a concept called due process lacking in both accounts.

  35. Kaye Lee


    I agree there should be due process but few women want to take on that process – it rarely goes well for them. We have seen, even when politicians are involved, confidentiality means nothing.

    That is not to say there should not be a process to protect people from spurious claims.

    But what I would really like is just to see more and more people saying that’s not ok – for bullying, for domestic violence, for emotional abuse, for workplace intimidation….and for the appalling example set by our supposed leaders.

  36. Michael Taylor

    John, there was due process. There was a lot more to it than what I described in my comment.

  37. paul walter

    Agree with MT and KL.

  38. DrakeN

    John Boyd,

    Generally speaking, “due process” is only available to those in relatively priviledge circumstances.
    The priviledges of money resources, influential associates, religious authority and political influence are essential to “due process”.
    How does a barista on $21.00 an hour take on a CEO at $2,000.00 an hour equivalent, let alone find the time and energy to persue ‘justice’?

  39. Ferkin Wipeout

    We come back to the point often made on most these issues: two-thirds of the electors in every other country with shit governments can say, hand on heart, ‘I didn’t vote for them!’
    But Australians DID vote for shit governments.
    51.4% did.
    So we, uniquely with compulsory voting, bloody well asked for it!
    And polls suggest we are largely unrepentant.

  40. wam

    you are spot on drakeN it is a story of frydenburg, line 1 and 29, chalmers line 1 brandis line 24 dutton line 26 bill leak line 28 all are men so why should women be left out they are equal. As you remember almost 50 women killed a year and 50 men killing why should women avoid scrutiny??
    So a ‘she’ is featured visually illustrating the ‘appalling’ in a story of men.
    Good one michael, drakeN will be on your case on how such men sack women. The lnp want bosses to have that power again by destroying unions and due process
    Kaye remember gough’s supergirls?? Elizabeth Reid and the pisspot GG is right up your alley.

  41. Kaye Lee

    I would have thought the reason for the choice of photo was obvious but apparently not to some.

    “Emotional abuse may include behaviours such as threatening, insulting, shaming, belittling, name-calling, gaslighting and stonewalling”

    That is Michaelia Cash stonewalling about having informed the media in advance about a raid on union headquarters where she was trying to gaslight us regarding ten year old donations. During questioning, she threatened to shame female staffers. I could have used the pic of her tirade of insults belittling Penny Wong regarding the knifing of Julia Gillard – someone should have made her look at it after she knifed Malcolm Turnbull.

    The article is about the example set by the appalling behaviour of our politicians. Cash ticks all the boxes for emotional abuse. She deserves to see how she looks to others.

    I cannot work out what the rest of your comment means wam. And I don’t want to work hard at it.

  42. Lambchop Simnel

    Wam’s stuff always has an esoteric component, K Lee.

  43. wam

    Sorry kaye the super girl elizabeth reid and kerr was a story that I had never heard until yesterday but it fits squarely with your history

  44. Roland Flickett


    I still wonder if Golden Fleece gave her permission to copy their logo…

  45. Kaye Lee

    I should have read the article wam. I just did and yes, I agree it is relevant, interesting, and a story I too had not heard.

    It brings back many memories for me of that era.

    Sorry I am not good at wamspeak. I enjoy cryptic crosswords but prefer my conversations short and to the point. We all communicate in different ways but it does sometimes mean I miss your good points because I am too confused to bother interpreting.

    This was a great quote from the link:

    “He had a strong sense of entitlement. What I’ve since learned is that that sense of entitlement, it’s a mark of misogyny. I just think the man was constantly inebriated. There comes a level of inebriation when you just go after what you want.”

    I’m looking at you Barnaby.

  46. Jack L

    I love Wam speak.

  47. wam

    Yes kaye that was the quote that showed how good she was in the days when joh sent a man to the women’s conference .
    Just how much is changed over the last 50 years?How is your gender thought of now by conservative men, and their subservient women?
    Getting back to the quote we all had real or gammon uncles who were damaged by alcohol every day and came home from the pub looking for a hot dinner and, with church endorsed coercion, a warm dark hole. A culture still to be found the world over wherever god is a man/

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