Meet Mortimer Mouse

Mortimer Mouse comes from a distinguished family of literary rodents which includes Terence Ratagain and Mousehole Proust. He lives in South-East London with Richard Heller, the distinguished man of letters, and kafkaa, the poetic cockroach, cousin of the famous archy.

Mortimer Mouse has gained a global public for his uplifting homilies and has supplied them to distinguished clients under his business name of Don O’Vanewera. His personal favourites were collected in his book Keep Squeaking Through. But from now on he is writing only for [the Daily Planet.]

Richard Heller writes: In a long literary career, nothing has given me more pride than being the landlord of Mortimer Mouse. We were both at a low ebb when I first saw him in my front room three years ago. He was actually selling The Big Issue. It made me realize how shabby my flat had become that not even a mouse would choose to live there. But inspired by Mortimer’s daily thoughts, we both rose from our respective ebbs and started to go with the flow. We have transformed our home: once bleak and lonely, it is now filled with London’s most fashionable rodents at Mortimer’s regular salons.

The elegant simplicity of Mortimer’s work leads many to assume that it is effortless. But I have been privileged to see the Master – or rather, the Mouseter – at work day after day, night after night. The frenzied creativity followed by the hours of toilsome cutting and polishing of each gem often leave him limper than a politician’s excuses.

Shirley Temple was rightly fêted by Franklin Roosevelt at the White House for her role in lifting the American economy during the Great Depression. If Britain bounces back from Covid, Boris Johnson will give a similar invitation to Mortimer Mouse for restoring optimism to the business cycle.

Motivational Maxims by Mortimer Mouse

Life is just the bread in your sandwich of dreams.

Lies are like lilies. The sweeter they smell, the faster they wither. But the truth is a cactus.

When the milk of life goes sour, be patient. Before you know, it will be cheese.

Your life is a long flowing river. Don’t let it be dammed, or be damned.

When life becomes a joke, try to beat it to the punchline.

A thing worth doing is worth failing at.

To you it’s a bog but to a bug it’s an infinity pool.

Might is not always right, but might have been is always wrong.

When you can’t see the wood for the trees, would you rather be in a desert?

Without rain there would be no rainbows.

Without the blues there would be no bluebirds.

Happy places need no visas. Your mind can just walk right in.

Your past is nothing more than the first rushes of an unfinished movie. Edit it and insist on director’s cut.

Somewhere in this world, a nightingale is singing to an elephant in a moonlit stream and a child is reunited with a lost puppy.

Why expect the worst and get bad news twice over?

There is no lockdown tougher than a mind’s.

Have you taken your vitamins today?

Vitamin A-ce it!

Vitamin B1 with the universe.

Vitamin B2 others as you wish them to you.

Vitamin B12 noon not 12 midnight.

Vitamin C-elebration!

Vitamin D-ependable.

Vitamin E-asygoing.

Richard Heller

18. May 2021 by rkh
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Napoleon’s Faithful Soldier: The Story Of Louvel (part 2)

Berri’s carriage approaches. Scenes from Louvel’s past flash before him. The image of his wife and child give way to that of Napoleon with him at Borodino. Louvel rushes forward with his saddler’s awl…

Back in the prison cell Louvel completes the last page of his autobiography with a matter-of-fact sentence: “In the evening I mortally wounded the Duc de Berri. I thus ended the Bourbon dynasty and was therefore able to be of service to His Majesty the Emperor.”

In his quarters, the governor of the prison is discussing Louvel with the priest assigned to him. The priest tells him he is certain that Louvel acted alone, not as part of a conspiracy. He shows no remorse nor willingness to make confession and asks only for writing materials. He is proud of killing the Duc de Berri and has no fear of his impending execution. The priest repeats Louvel’s motive for his crime.

The governor continues his questions. “Does the prisoner Louvel still maintain the illusion that he served in the infantry under Bonaparte?”


“You have shown him the papers showing that he was repeatedly rejected for military service for weak eyesight? You have shown him his receipts from his trade as a saddle-maker?”

“Indeed, but he talks only of his military career. Inquiries have been made of all the details he has given me and in his papers. They are completely accurate, even to the names of sergeants and corporals, except that he himself was present at none of the engagements.”

“Does he still refuse to see his wife and son?”

“He insists that they are dead, victims of privation.”

“He has seen the petitions from his wife against his desertion?”

“He still insists that she and his son are dead.”

In the prison cell Louvel stands at attention before his image of Napoleon. He murmurs over and over “I did serve you.”

He is still murmuring this as the guillotine descends.

Some months later, in autumn, the bells are ringing. The widowed Duchesse de Berri, already pregnant again when Louvel killed her husband, has given birth to a boy.

18. May 2021 by rkh
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Napoleon’s Faithful Soldier: the story of Louis Pierre Louvel (part 1)

Paris 1820. Five years after Waterloo. Napoleon is dying on St Helena. The Bourbon dynasty is restored to the French throne, reactionaries determined to obliterate Napoleon’s memory. Officially he is referred to as Bonaparte, sometimes as the Monster.

A prison cell. A male prisoner in solitary confinement, under heavy guard, obviously guilty of a serious crime. He is thin and fevered and has recent bruises and scars on his face. He wears the shabby remains of a military uniform. He paces his cell constantly. He has a military bearing and his pacing has the stamp of the drill square.

Two guards discuss the prisoner. They reveal that he is indifferent to his approaching execution. He shows no sign of remorse or wish to confess and insists that he committed his crime for Napoleon. The guard instantly corrects himself: “for Bonaparte, the Monster.” The prisoner’s only constant demand is for paper and ink.

Alone, the prisoner is writing in his cell. He already has a big stack of papers. The top sheet reads “For my son, Napoleon Louvel. In memory.” The manuscript continues “Although my son will never read these words, for his sake I have decided to set down some account of my life. This was worthless and insignificant in every respect until at the last I was able to execute an action for His Majesty the Emperor.”

The prisoner Louvel’s story is told in retrospect, through his written autobiography. It begins with him as a teenage boy in the provinces. He is an apprentice saddle-maker. He detests this occupation and longs for a better life. One day his drudgery is interrupted by bugles, drums and fifes. It is a detachment of the French Revolutionary Army of Italy, commanded by the young General Buonaparte (still with his Corsican-Italian spelling.) The boy Louvel is entranced. He runs after the detachment, keeping pace with it for many miles. Eventually he enlists in the infantry.

Louvel’s military career takes him through every major campaign of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic army. His own record is unspectacular: it takes him until 1812 before he is at last commissioned as a lieutenant, during the retreat from Moscow. But the diary reveals his intense commitment to the army and to Napoleon in particular. The army gives him comradeship, purpose, total fulfilment. He carries with him everywhere an icon of Napoleon leading the Army of Italy, on a cheap mass-produced image of Epinal. He has managed to smuggle the image into his prison cell and gazes at it in the thin moonlight which penetrates his window.

Louvel’s army career is narrated in a curious style. He gives a very accurate and detailed account of each campaign, with the units, commanders and manœuvres involved. There is a minute account of Napoleon’s movements and appearance in each battle. However, Louvel’s own movements are somewhat sketchy: he makes himself an anonymous member of his unit. However, his comrades are described most carefully. A few episodes in battle are told in detail, but even in these Louvel almost seems to suggest that he was an observer not a participant: Pierre Bezukhov at Borodino, Fabrizio at Waterloo… However, one constant theme is his pride at being part of the Napoleonic army. His characteristic phrase is “I had the honour on that day to be serving in the 10th regiment… I was fortunate enough to be close to the Hussars…”

From time to time Louvel goes back to his home village. He records its prosperity, thanks to Napoleon. The saddle-maker in particular has an enormous order book. He offers Louvel a job in his former trade, but Louvel scornfully refuses. There can be no peace for him until Napoleon’s enemies are destroyed.

Louvel meets a vivacious cantinière. She takes a liking to this dark, intense soldier. They settle in Louvel’s home village. His army pay and the small property which comes to him through the Napoleonic Code enable them to live cheerfully, if modestly. Their son is born within a week of Napoleon’s, the King of Rome. Of course Louvel’s son is named Napoleon in honour of the architect of his life and happiness.

1812. Louvel has hardly got to know his son when he is recalled to the Grande Armée. At the battle of Borodino occurs the greatest event of his life. His company is paraded for inspection by a dumpy colonel of hussars, at least so it appears from his uniform. However, an electric current runs through the company: it is Napoleon. Amazingly, the Emperor reaches out and tweaks Louvel’s ear. Louvel describes the incident in minute detail, but is tormented by doubt: was it the right ear or the left? He paces his cell, trying to remember his position relative to Napoleon…

Louvel survives the retreat from Moscow, although his fingers suffer permanently from frostbite. He is stoic in the face of incredible hardship. His faith in Napoleon never wavers. As the remains of the army re-cross the Niemen he is made a lieutenant.

1814. Napoleon’s first abdication. Louvel learns the news while serving with his regiment. His world falls apart. A fellow officer looks forward to peace. Louvel strikes him.

The new Bourbon régime halves the pay of the army. Louvel’s family is destitute. They spend a bitter winter and spring. Then Napoleon returns from Elba. Louvel serves at Waterloo, only to taste the bitterness of final defeat and Napoleon’s exile to St Helena.

The second Bourbon restoration is even worse for Louvel than the first. While he is still with his regiment, trudging slowly back from Waterloo an outbreak of reactionary White terror breaks out in his home village. His family are driven from their home. He returns to a looted empty house. From friends he learns that his wife and son have made for a nearby town. Desperately, he marches there at the double and inquires after a woman and a little boy. No news of them, and the same at the next town. Finally, he discovers them – dead. The official cause he ignores. He blames the Bourbon terror for their deaths by starvation.

Louvel walks to Paris in search of justice and work. There he catches a glimpse of the Royal family. He is filled with loathing for the replacements for Napoleon and the destroyers of his life and family. He resolves at once to annihilate the Bourbon dynasty. The task is easier than it might appear, for the dynasty is unlikely to reproduce itself. We see its members through Louvel’s eyes. The King, a grotesquely obese widower. His brother and heir, the Comte d’Artois, another elderly widower. His two sons are the Duc d’Angouleme, highly religious, long-married to his embittered cousin, childless and rumoured impotent, and his younger brother, the Duc de Berri.

Louvel’s hatred focuses on this Bourbon. About the same age as himself, the Duc de Berri swaggers and affects a military bearing, and tries to fraternize with soldiers and veterans. Louvel despises him all the more, since Berri has never been a soldier and returned to France only with the armies of its enemies. Although unmarried, Berri is the only Bourbon likely to father an heir and continue the dynasty.

Louvel finds employment in Paris in his old trade of saddlery. He lives in poverty. He spends any spare time and money in cafés and taverns frequented by veterans of the Grande Armée, reliving old battles and campaigns. From time to time he hears rumours of a Bonapartist conspiracy but nothing is ever done. He decides that he himself must accomplish some individual act for Napoleon. His thoughts turn to wiping out the Royal family, source and symbol of France’s misfortune and his own. He studies bombs and infernal machines and poisons but despairs at his chance of using them.

One day he goes to a familiar tavern. A noisy celebration is in progress. A rich man in an elaborate uniform is standing round after round of drinks to soldiers and veterans. It is the Duc de Berri. Louvel refuses to accept a drink from him. An acquaintance remarks that Berri is about to be married and continues casually “I suppose that will mean an heir to the throne, after all none of the others can.” At this, Louvel stands up, tense and shaking. He stares at Berri for a long time before striding out of the tavern.

Over the next few days Louvel devours every newspaper story about Berri and his marriage and tries to follow Berri’s public appearances. He has a great stroke of fortune: he obtains a job, still as a saddle-maker, in the Royal Household. Of course he sees almost nothing of the Royal family but he picks up gossip and learns more about Berri’s habits and personality.
One morning Louvel is working alone at his job. He is interrupted by a man staggering into the stables dead drunk. It is the Duc de Berri after an all-night party. They are alone. Louvel has his saddler’s awl in his hand, sharp and deadly. He raises his hand

17. May 2021 by rkh
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Peter Mandelson planned Labour’s masterly election campaign of 2010. Here is an excerpt from a long email to party supporters explaining its central message. (My comments as recipient at the time).

‘In all this we should remember the power of a clear, consistent, disciplined message from being on your side, whose side? standing up for hardworking families and the public’s deep fear of cuts in vital public services. Of course they hate the idea of waste and inefficiency. This is not a clear message at all but deeply confused. Are “you” and “hardworking families” and “the public” three different sets of people? And who are “they?” And we should not shy away from explaining what we are doing to make savings.’

In same email, he praised Gordon Brown’s granite-like resilience, although the one thing granite cannot do is to bounce back into shape. He said that the Tories had underlined Labour’s central plank, a difficult subterranean task. He also claimed in the same sentence that the economy was on the road to recovery but that the Tories would pull the rug from under it.

15. February 2021 by rkh
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A Plea For All Unknown Successors Of P G Wodehouse

Letter to Four Communications, organizers of the Bollinger Everyman PG Wodehouse Award

Thank you for informing me that this year’s P G Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction is not open to self-published books.

This letter is a plea for this policy to be reconsidered. I would be most grateful if you could share it with any relevant colleagues. I am not making the plea on my own account. Whatever its result, I shall not submit my novel The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers. I make it for writers of comic fiction in general, especially those as yet unknown.

The present policy makes an unwarranted assumption that a self-published book is incapable of inspiring the same spontaneous laughter as P G Wodehouse. There are many reasons today why fine comic writers may feel compelled to bear the costs and risks of publishing their own work. The most obvious is lack of opportunity. The young P G W was able to flex his comic muscles in many different outlets, not only in books and magazines but also in the theatre. Nothing like them is available to his modern counterparts, in terms of number or variety. For any unknown writer, it has grown harder and harder to find publishers (or agents) who are even willing to look at unsolicited submissions.

I had a special motive for self-publishing my novel. Apart from raising English comic prose to heights not attempted, let alone achieved, since the Master, I wanted it to play a role in the overthrow of Donald Trump. It had to be published on my timetable not another publisher’s schedule, while it still might influence the American election. I have been gratified to hear from American readers that some of its material did indeed help Joe Biden to gain small majorities in key states.

Even without the special Trump factor, impatience might have driven me to publish it myself. Compared to the Master’s heyday, it now takes an interminable time to get rejected. The planet Neptune completes a good section of its orbit in the time between submission of one’s manuscript and response. As a writer of advancing years, with no guarantee of the Master’s productive longevity, I wanted to get my book out while I still had the health and strength to meet the anticipated global demand for sequels.

The present prize policy is inevitably biased towards established writers. That is not to say that they are undeserving. But it would mean much more to an unknown one. The discovery of a new P G Wodehouse would make the prize far more valuable to literature. It would also generate a much bigger media story for the benefit of its sponsor, Bollinger, to whom I am copying this letter.

I therefore urge you again to give some sort of a chance for a self-published comic novel to win this award. If the judges fear being swamped with self-published tomes, you might invite such authors to submit a short synopsis of their work and an extract or extracts of maximum length, and see if the judges want to call in any of them for a full reading.

I hope it would not be too late to do this in the current year. If not, perhaps it could be considered for the next one. I intend to write a tragic novel this year, so would not expect to submit anything myself in 2022, unless, like the death of Little Nell, it should prove irresistibly comic on completion.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Heller

Xerus Publishing

08. February 2021 by rkh
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An Alternative Inauguration Speech

The speech I offered Joe Biden.

“My fellow Americans. I am now your President. I thank all those who voted for me or against me. I thank the officials and volunteers who in conditions of unprecedented difficulty gave them the means to do so. They are truly the army of American democracy. They allowed us again to shine our values to the world. It is my solemn duty to govern for all Americans, and this I will fulfil. To those who voted for me I will keep my promises, to those who voted against me I will try to give you also a better life. I will respect your right to disagree with me, asking only that you do this with respect for truth and the law and the rights of others. That is the American way. We now have huge tasks to achieve in a short space. Let us all get to work. God bless America, God protect our troops.”

That would have been 112 words shorter than the Gettysburg address and set up nicely his blizzard of executive orders. Within those and the associated briefing he might have included one cute American wildlife species whose habitat would be saved.

21. January 2021 by rkh
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Richard Heller CV

Richard Heller is an author, journalist, screenwriter and book editor. He has published fiction and non-fiction, journalism, drama and poetry ever since.

He worked for many years for senior figures in British politics. He also reported and analysed six American Presidential elections.

From 1987 to 1993 he was on the political and feature staff of The Mail On Sunday newspaper: his roles included responsibility for its political diary and for its use of opinion polls. He was also its main non-fiction book reviewer. He was regularly called on to write “explainer” pieces on complex subjects. Turning freelance in 1993, he continued to serve the newspaper as a humorous and satirical columnist, a role he also fulfilled at The Times.

For over twenty years he was associated with various senior Labour Members of Parliament. From 1981 to 1983 he was chief of staff for Rt Hon Rt Hon Denis Healey MP and helped him to retain the Deputy Leadership of the Labour party in 1981 – an event which saved it from extinction. He also assisted him to create and present Labour’s international policies. From 1985 to 1987 he was chief of staff for Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman MP, then Shadow Home Secretary, helping him to create and present radical Labour policies on crime and law and order.

He also worked in the movie business, in England as a story analyst for Sir Richard Attenborough, and in Hollywood in a wide variety of projects including writing dialogue for a forthcoming motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls.

In 1996 he was the runner-up in BBC Television’s Mastermind, an erudite quiz show, answering questions on President Harry Truman, British Politics Between The Wars, and Sir Gary Sobers. He was again a finalist in the 2008 series, answering questions on WC Fields, The Bonaparte dynasty and the Rodgers and Hart Songbook.

From 1971 to 1981 he had a successful career in the UK home civil service.

Born in New York, he spent his early life in the United States and then Mexico, before moving as a six-year-old with his family to London. He was educated in England at Repton School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained a second-class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He also wrote a great deal of comic drama and revue and composed many song lyrics.

He has played cricket for many different teams in over twenty countries for over sixty years, and continues to do so, although now in the twilight of a career which never really had a dawn, as a slow-medium bowler who moves the ball both ways off the bat. He also enjoys playing the piano badly.

By Richard Heller


High Impact Speeches 2002 – still in use worldwide as a manual for writing and delivering speeches

White On Green 2016 (with Peter Oborne) – a celebration of the drama of Pakistan cricket. Runner-up MCC/Cricket Society Book of the Year. Contributor and editor for Peter Oborne on Wounded Tiger 2014, a full history of Pakistan cricket: Wisden Book of the Year 2015.


A Tale Of Ten Wickets 1995, republished 2007 and 2014 – series of stories about members of a weekend team playing a cricket match. Sequel The Network published in 2008, initially as online serial. The same characters recur over a decade later, but this is principally a coming-of-age novel about a young cricketer. He is having a bleak life at the start, but he keeps true to his faith in cricket and it makes all his dreams come true.

The Prisoner Of Rubato Towers
2020 – an increasingly crazed account of a writer’s life in lockdown London, shared with a literary mouse, a poetic cockroach and a bridge-playing goldfish, with surprising intimate glimpses of famous people.


The Importance Of Not Being Earnest 2014 – comic fantasy about the literary genius Luke Upward. Forgotten today, but his belles-lettres were once the dernier cri of the avant-garde of the nouvelle vague.

Children’s Book

Membear Of Parliament 2007 – story of the first teddy bear to become a British MP


The Speculator: romantic comedy, set in London in the 1980s, based on his own novel. Optioned.

Love In A Spin: short comedy, about a man who falls in love at first sight with a launderette lady, and whose life becomes an obsessive quest for laundry. Filmed by young director, shown at festival at Exeter University,

Your Very Own Ricky Rubato: romantic comedy, set in present-day USA. Optioned.

Second Innings drama set in Pakistan, combining stories of movie-making and cricket, due to be made in Pakistan in 2019/2020 before Covid.

Slackerzzz (in progress). Two young slackers are tired of the constant nagging by their families to get off their couches and find a job or an education. They decide to set up a business hiring out slackers for jobs for which they are ideal (such as, obviously, testing couches.) It thrives, and they end up working far harder than if they had taken a conventional job. But in the happy ending: as joint CEOs of the giant Slackerzz Corporation they run the business strategically from their original couches, while hiring others to deal with the “numbers and all that boring stuff.”

Stage play

Waiting For Gordo – bleak existential drama of backbench life in the Labour Party, commissioned by BBC Radio Four, performed at Labour Party Conference 2005.

204 The School House Pages Walk
London SE1 4HG

Telephone +44 (0)7796 174752

18. January 2021 by rkh
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seasons greetings from kafkaa the poetic cockroach cousin to the famous archy

twas the night before christmas and in the big house
the last creature stirring was mortimer mouse
devising some uplifting sentiments new
to fill up his masterpiece keep squeaking through
the book that will soon be the talk of the town
when published next year some time by little brown

his secret reason for keeping awake
was trusting that santa claus wasnt a fake
a message to santa hed sent up the flue
asking for camembert and danish blue
he knew well that santa faced billions of pleas
but hoped he could drop in some small bits of cheese

for hours poor mortimer paced in the dark
as even the foxes slept on in the park
screechless at last in the moons pallid light
their usual sex orgy stilled for this night
one thought beat on mortimers soul like a drum
had he been too naughty for santa to come

at last he could hear a faint noise on the roof
he tried to believe that it might be a hoof
he pinned back his ears and strained to hear more
but just then a note was pushed under his door
it said owing to factors beyond my control
i cannot deliver now to your mousehole
the new rule of six is in force for this year
and ive had to furlough four of my deer
ive no bloody dancer and no bloody vixen
and no takeout donner and no bloody blitzen
with four missing reindeer i havent the speed
to visit each household and drop what they need
if you give me a name i will certainly labour
to leave your request with a suitable neighbour
the same message appeared under millions of doors
all signed yours regretfully mister s claus

poor mortimer sniffled but did not repine
he took up his pen and wrote a new line
of uplifting thought for his uplifting book
he stiffened his sinews and told himself look
things could be much worse when the times are like these
if santa cant visit ill make my own cheese

and this is what mortimer wrote with a smile
the queen might well take certain tips from his style

the sky may be dark but it still is the sky
and its waiting there for you if you choose to fly
so soar like an eagle and dont be a grouse

signed yours very truly
mortimer mouse

24. December 2020 by rkh
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American democracy: the biggest loser in the election

full version of article published in the Yorkshire Post (England) November 5. 2020

As I write these lines, it appears that a clear majority of the American people have chosen Joe Biden as their next President. That does not mean that they will get him. His hopes of an unequivocal majority in the Electoral College have disappeared. Even if he ekes one out from the big swing states yet to declare, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Donald Trump will now have the opportunity to carry out his intention of refusing to accept the result.

He has signalled this for a long time, by spurious claims that the Democrats have used postal ballots and early voting for large-scale fraud. Voter fraud is virtually unknown in modern American elections: only a handful of cases have been prosecuted in the last 20 years from an electorate of over 200 million. Trump and his supporters have prepared a barrage of lawsuits to object to unfavourable declarations of results in counties and states, and are ready to appeal them to his newly-packed Supreme Court. Some of his extreme supporters have also threatened force to prevent a “stolen election” (stolen from him, of course, not by him.)

These lawsuits will be the climax of two decades of “voter suppression” by the Republican party, and would follow no fewer than forty Republican lawsuits before the election which were all designed to make it harder to vote. The party has become more and more ingenious in denying entire groups of likely opponents, particularly ethnic minority people, the means to vote conveniently or safely or even at all. Some of the means used to achieve this might embarrass election officials in Belarus. In Florida one elderly black lady found that she had been disqualified in this election for an offence she had committed 43 years ago.

Trump’s lawsuits would plunge his country into a dark chasm of uncertainty, leave them without an effective government as the Covid pandemic continues to rage and give another battering to the American economy and the world’s. The election result would then be determined by provisions of baffling uncertainty which have not been used since the nineteenth century. The Twelfth Amendment to the constitution might come into play. The President would be chosen by the House of Representatives – but not the full body, controlled by the Democrats, instead by one representative from each state delegation. Small Republican states are over-represented in the House, and the Twelfth Amendment would allow 26 people to vote for Trump and set aside the 70 million or so who voted for Biden.

Worse still, Trump’s Supreme Court judges might do their duty by their patron and order the acceptance in the Electoral College of delegations committed to Trump rather than Biden in the disputed states. That would reduce Trump’s electorate from 26 to six.

Either of these nightmare scenarios is likely to plunge the United States into protracted civil strife – which Trump and his vigilante supporters would relish and foment. Resistance to Trump clinging to power could take many forms, lawful or not, and already some communities and whole states have “war-gamed” actual secession from the United States. One idea for non-violent resistance could prove especially popular: a tax rebellion. These have a long history since the American Revolution itself. Democrat voters unfairly robbed of their vote would pay no Federal tax at all (“no taxation without representation”) while others in the majority deprived through Trump’s manoeuvres would cap their contribution to $750 – what he paid in his last year before becoming President.

Even without the nightmare scenarios and their aftermath, Trump has already trashed American democracy by his spurious attacks on its processes, reliance on methods which deny basic rights to likely opponents, and flirtation with violent groups.

This is a loss not just to the United States but to all the democracies in the world, which are facing unprecedented challenges from tyrannical régimes and extremist non-state actors. Free and fair elections, in which the losers accept the will of the majority, are an immense political and ideological bulwark against these enemies. Trump has no right to devalue that asset and allow them to claim that democracy is a sham. A Trump second term would give new opportunities for subversion, lawbreaking and even murder overseas by his supporter, Vladimir Putin. Worse still, it would encourage China to attack democracy wherever it stands in its way, in Hong Kong or Taiwan or anywhere else. Both Russian and Chinese state media have openly mocked the election.

America when it really was great (before Trump) was memorably described as “a shining city on a hill”. Trump is turning it into a stinking sewer in a hole. Biden may not have been an ideal candidate (although he was always the Democrat whom Trump most wanted to eliminate as a challenger). If he does become President he may not be a very effective one, particularly since the Democrats seem to have failed to take control of the Senate. But Biden is at least aware of his responsibilities to democracy itself. The world would see a Presidency that respects the rights of opponents and governs with a sense of responsibility towards them as well to its supporters.

I was born in the United States and have family and friends there. I have lived and worked there and reported or analysed six of its elections. If Donald Trump obtains a second term of office after his conduct in this campaign I do not expect to see again in my lifetime the American democracy I believe in.

05. November 2020 by rkh
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A message to Donald Trump from the Beatles

Four years that you’ve been lying
But soon you will be crying and crying
For you (oo-who? You-oo-hoo!)
Four years that you’ve been cheating
But now you’re gonna take a beating
Poor you (oo-who? You-oo-hoo!)
You thought you were a great big man
You’re just a worm
You face the sack
Not coming back
No, no, no, not a second term.

You know you’ve been a failure
And now there’s nobody to fix it and bail ya
Poor you (oo-who? You-oo-hoo!)
You thought you were a great big man
But now you squirm
You face the sack
Not coming back
No, no, no, not a second term.

03. November 2020 by rkh
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