Lez Miserable: "Is a lesbian coup about to hit Britain?"

Welcome to the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain.

The Lesbian Apocalypse is upon us. According, that is, to the President of the Center for Marriage Policy, David R Usher. The CMP is an American right-wing Christian group and one of the many voices against marriage equality in the US. Usher has warned us, in his column for Renew America, that if same-sex marriage is legalised in all fifty states, the men of the US will be doomed to enslavement by Machiavellian lesbian sex-maniacs. These women will, according to Usher, underhandedly get pregnant by men and, in doing so, entrap them economically. Sounds like the plot of a porn film written by a heavily armed survivalist from the safety of his bunker, right? But what if Usher has a point? What if Valerie Solanas’s man-hating SCUM Manifesto was actually a Nostradamic prediction of a new world order? And since same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK this year, is a lesbian coup about to hit Britain?

Cat flaps are being installed in the Houses of Parliament. Burly women in hardhats are replacing Big Ben with a mildly nauseating, yonic art instillation. The rainbow flag flies atop Buckingham Palace, which has been converted into a giant performance poetry and “knit your feelings” venue. Led by Jane Hill, an army of lesbian journalists have seized control of the media. The streets run with soy milk and gin. The sound of atrocious Tracy Chapman covers has become grasshopper-like background noise. Welcome to the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain; the Big Mother state.

So, what’s on the political agenda in the SRGB? I think I can safely say that lesbians are a bunch of lefties. Granted, conservative gay women are a thing. I met one once. It was strange. But let’s say the lesbian takeover happens tomorrow. Military intervention in Syria? Yeah, right. Nationalisation of pretty much everything? You’d better believe it. Hell, we’d nationalise cake. And state produced Ms Kipling fondant fancies would be more than exceedingly good. It would be nice if we could retain a democratic system, but hey, we’re trying to install a matriarchy here and could really do without the likes of Cameron and Clegg manning shit up. So, apologies to all you ballot fanatics out there, I’m afraid we’re talking one-party state. Don’t you worry though, lesbians know how to party.

The Sapphic State would be policed by formidable, Amazonian types who would arrest anyone found selling overheated lattes (bad coffee is offensive to lesbians), dancing non-ironically to Robin Thicke, or watching the kind of lesbian porn where women with long nails jab at one another’s fannies with cucumbers. These dissidents would be sent to Group Therapy. This is where you’re forced to sit in a “trust circle” with other enemies of lesbianism and, fuelled only by herbal tea and sesame snaps, talk about your feelings until you pray for death.  

Now, hetero folk – fortunately for you, being straight will be legal in the SRGB. In fact, we have no problem at all with your bizarre sexual practices. Sure, a lot of us would rather you kept it between the sheets. But the SRGB won’t discriminate, except against cat-haters, perhaps (they’ll be sent to re-education centres where they watch hilarious YouTube cat videos until they crack). You know what though? We’ll even let straight people get married. What’s more, the state will provide support groups for those struggling with their love of the opposite sex. There are going to be a lot of support groups in the SRGB. You’re absolutely right, David R Usher, the lesbians are coming for you.


In the Sapphic Republic of Great Britain, the streets will be paved with rainbow. Photo: Getty

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

Photo: Getty
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Michael Carrick is the “Geordie Pirlo” that England misunderstood

The Manchester United legend’s retirement announcement should leave Three Lions fans wondering what if?

That it came in the months leading up to a World Cup arguably added an exclamation point to the announcement of Michael Carrick’s impending retirement. The Manchester United midfielder, who is expected to take up a coaching role with the club afterwards, will hang up his boots at the end of the season. And United boss Jose Mourinho’s keenness to keep Carrick at Old Trafford in some capacity only serves to emphasise how highly he rates the 36-year-old.

But Carrick’s curtain call in May will be caveated by one striking anomaly on an otherwise imperious CV: his international career. Although at club level Carrick has excelled – winning every top tier honour a player based in England possibly can – he looks set to retire with just 34 caps for his country, and just one of those was earned at a major tournament.

This, in part, is down to the quality of competition he has faced. Indeed, much of the conversation around England’s midfield in the early to mid-noughties centred on finding a system that could accommodate both box-to-box dynamos Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.

As time went on, however, focus shifted towards trequartistas, advanced playmakers and those with more mobile, harrying playing styles. And the likes of Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Jordan Henderson and Dele Alli were brought into the frame more frequently than Carrick, whose deep-lying capabilities were not utilised to their full potential. That nearly 65 per cent of Carrick’s England caps have come in friendlies shows how undervalued he was. 

In fairness, Carrick does not embody similar characteristics to many of his England midfield contemporaries, including a laudable lack of ego. He is not blessed with lung-busting pace, nor is he enough of a ball-winner to shield a back four solo. Yet his passing and distribution satisfy world-class criteria, with a range only matched, as far as England internationals go, by his former United team-mate Paul Scholes, who was also misused when playing for his country.

Rather, the player Carrick resembles most isn’t English at all; it’s Andrea Pirlo, minus the free-kicks. When comparisons between the mild-mannered Geordie and Italian football’s coolest customer first emerged, they were dismissed in some quarters as hyperbole. Yet watching Carrick confirm his retirement plans this week, perfectly bearded and reflecting on a trophy-laden 12-year spell at one of world football’s grandest institutions, the parallels have become harder to deny.

Michael Carrick at a press event ahead of Manchester United's Champions League game this week. Photo: Getty.

Where other players would have been shown the door much sooner, both Pirlo and Carrick’s efficient style of play – built on patience, possession and precision – gifted them twilights as impressive as many others’ peaks. That at 36, Carrick is still playing for a team in the top two of the top division in English football, rather than in lower-league or moneyed foreign obscurity, speaks volumes. At the same age, Pirlo started for Juventus in the Champions League final of 2015.

It is ill health, not a decline in ability, which is finally bringing Carrick’s career to a close. After saying he “felt strange” during the second-half of United’s 4-1 win over Burton Albion earlier this season, he had a cardiac ablation procedure to treat an irregular heart rhythm. He has since been limited to just three more appearances this term, of which United won two. 

And just how key to United’s success Carrick has been since his £18m signing from Tottenham in 2006 cannot be overstated. He was United’s sole signing that summer, yielding only modest excitement, and there were some Red Devils fans displeased with then manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to assign Carrick the number 16 jersey previously worn by departed captain Roy Keane. Less than a year later, though, United won their first league title in four years. The following season, United won the league and Champions League double, with Carrick playing 49 times across all competitions.

Failing to regularly deploy Carrick in his favoured role – one that is nominally defensive in its position at the base of midfield, but also creative in providing through-balls to the players ahead – must be considered one of the most criminal oversights of successive England managers’ tenures. Unfortunately, Carrick’s heart condition means that current boss Gareth Southgate is unlikely to be able to make amends this summer.

By pressing space, rather than players, Carrick compensates for his lack of speed by marking passing channels and intercepting. He is forever watching the game around him and his unwillingness to commit passes prematurely and lose possession is as valuable an asset as when he does spot an opening.

Ultimately, while Carrick can have few regrets about his illustrious career, England fans and management alike can have plenty. Via West Ham, Spurs and United, the Wallsend-born émigré has earned his billing as one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation, but he’d never let on.

Rohan Banerjee is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman. He co-hosts the No Country For Brown Men podcast.