The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Monday, 28 November 2016

The BBC Post Brexit

A typical Monday on the BBC in 2020...

6am - Sieg Heil Britain

Now that Naga has been deported, Dan 'Anodyne' Walker and Louise 'Ditzy' Minchon discuss non-inflammatory issues of the day. Includes Michael Gove discussing how to best use other peoples' discarded food and Bureaucracy News with that lanky Geordie girl. 

9am - The Jacob Rees Mogg Show

Replacing Victoria Derbyshire (who was deemed too radical), JRM hosts a series of debates and pressing issues, such as 'Nannies - should we all have them?' and 'What to do if someone with a turban gets into your First Class carriage?' Includes the weather misrepresented by Nigel Farage and where to buy the cheapest lobsters and truffles with Lucy Worsley.

11am - Dissidents Under the Hammer

This week the team (sans Dion Dublin who is now employed by Nigerian TV) go to the barren wastelands of the North East and execute any well-meaning hand-wringing liberal who thinks prejudice is wrong. Lucy Alexander whips up a storm in her bondage gear as she and William Hague (Dion's replacement) torture some misguided food bank volunteers.

12pm - Immigrant in the Attic

Paul Martin and a team of undercover former SAS members perform dawn raids on houses believed to have illegals in their loft. This week the team visit Jeremy Corbyn and make an astounding discovery on his allotment.

12.30pm - Escape From the Country

The team 'help' illegal immigrants, economic migrants and asylum seekers return to their own countries. Witness the highly emotional reunions with people they hoped they'd never see again.

1pm - The Good News

Presented by Ian Duncan Smith.

1.30pm - The Regional Good News

1.35pm - Bad Neighbours

Soap: Bob and Mavis are horrified that their neighbours displayed a 'Vote Labour' poster in their window and have been seen conversing with Poles, even buying things from their shop. Two local boys are accused of killing Mrs Mangold - who they laughingly called Mrs Mango - but despite all the evidence, the local police think it's actually a left wing conspiracy designed to bring the neighbourhood down.

2pm - Ready, Steady, Shop Your Friend

Jeremy Kyle invites people onto his show to tell the world about the insidious things they think their friends (who aren't sharing their lives on Facebook) are up to. If the claims are proved right, they get a chance to play for the £8 jackpot and determine what punishment fits the crime.

2.45pm - Money for Hard Graft

More tales of hardworking British folk trying to make a living despite immigrants trying to steal their jobs. Narrated by Michael Portillo.

3.30pm - Boris'll Fix It

Boris Johnson makes millionaires' dreams come true in a multitude of ways. This week a young Conservative gets his wish to see Noel Edmonds deep fried and UKIP's Paul Nuttall teaches young racists how to be extremely vile but use Freedom of Speech as an excuse.

4pm - The Great British Show

How Great is it to be British? The Hairy Bikers and whatever ubiquitous celeb is popular this week travel round the sleepy villages and expensive homesteads of little England and completely ignore the despair raging all around them. This week they meet a man who has 400 gold bars in his cellar and a woman who sticks pins in Asians at bus stops.

5.15pm - Pointless

Because its a National Treasure and Xander is related to the queen. 

6pm - The Main Good News

Presented by Fiona Bruce, but not the lesbian with huge tits or that Alagiah bloke. Huw Edwards is a wee bit iffy too.

6.30pm - Regional Xenophobia

Presented by Stewart White; local issues trivialised and compared to a sunny round of golf.

7pm - The One Britain Show

Matt Baker and his clone discuss dull boring things with C list celebrities and Tory MPs promoting their interests. Alex Jones was never allowed back after her baby (too old and Welsh) and Anita Rani is currently in an internment camp outside Bradford.

7.30pm - Eastenders

The Square continues to be overrun by Yuppies, Hipsters and property developers, while Ian Beale and the dodgy (possibly gay) pub landlord lay the foundations for a race war in Albert Square. Dot is told that only experts think smoking is bad for you.

8pm - Where Do You Think You Come From?

Uncovering the truth about some people you thought you liked but now know they have some kind of Bulgarian ancestry.

8.30pm - Junior Doctor Who

The Doctor and his assistant discover that even with all the time in the world, they can't do anything to save the NHS, so they go for a beer instead and sit and look at memes on the internet.

9pm - Have I Got Fake News For You

The long running comedy series now hosted by Paul Dacre with team captains Richard Littlejohn and Lord Beaverbrook. Guests chosen from the comments section of the Mail.

9.30pm - Universally Challenged

A documentary about the Barclay Brothers and what it's like to not pay any tax, live on an island and manipulate the country while probably being a bit creepily incestuous. Presented by Fern Cotton.

10pm - Even More Great News

Time to drop into the Good News room to see how wonderful everything is now a tin of beans is £1.

10.30pm - Anything But Question Time

The dry, lifeless corpse of David Dimbleby sits silently as extreme right wing commentators explain why ethnic cleansing is the way forward.

11.30pm - The Michael McIntyre Show

Yes. It will get that bad.

3-6am - The Wee Hours with Katie Hopkins & Louise Mensch

The two newest National Treasures have fun with stupid people throughout the small hours. Includes tips on electoral fraud, how to subvert truth and decency, and the favourite feature - Jingoism around the World.

Rinse and repeat.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Closer to Home

What do delivery men, generic white van drivers and most bin men have in common?

All the employees doing these jobs can end up earning as little as £4 an hour.

How does that work?

Well, all are on short term or zero hours contracts; all of them are either minimum wage or close to it and all of them have a limited amount of time to perform their tasks or they are penalised. Yes, you read that correctly; if bin men don't collect the right amount of bins in a day - regardless of conditions - they have to continue working - for no pay - until the job is done. If one of those delivery drivers who have to do as many as 180 drops in a day don't finish they have to finish meaning the money they are paid could be slashed in half - and if they have to pay their own fuel charges, some might work for as little as £2 an hour.

So if you get annoyed about ungracious bin men, or the twat in the white van narrowly missing a group of schoolkids because he's speeding down a residential road, you now know why.

More importantly, we have to put to one side the prejudices we are now seeing and feeling every day and remember it's the employers who are making people slapdash, inconsiderate or dangerous, not the people who do the job and at some point someone is going to kill some kids or plough into a nursery and other people - say the government - are going to have to look at the causes of it rather than just blaming a fatigued worker or whatever circumstances brought them to where they endangered people.

Yet everything has to bow down to them forces of commerce. The government can bleat all they want about drones almost hitting jet planes, but there's no one in the Tory party standing up suggesting the things should be banned; I mean, companies make money from these things. The government wouldn't ban fireworks because despite the damage and injury they cause, it would be prohibitive for business. I wonder how long before morally reprehensible things start going on sale or allowing general access to, because, you know, legitimate people can make money from these things...

Northampton Borough Council tied themselves into a deal with a waste disposal company - allegedly there were links between the company and a couple of Tory councillors - who couldn't deliver, so not only were the company not punished for negating on the deal, they were allowed to renegotiate the deal with scant regard for its own workers - ending up with bin men on zero hours, minimum wage, running along the road because they can't even take a break without losing money. Now you might think this is okay and the council are probably only employing the feckless and foreign, but what is being proposed, so that council tax bills are not increased, is that gangs of local residents clean up the streets after the bin men, because there isn't enough money to send refuse workers to clean up the mess left, because they have to move so fast they can't go back and pick up rubbish they have dropped.

Street light and bins are the two most visible items you pay your council tax for yet both have been made into semi-commercial concerns with the expectation to join the Big Society and do your bit. 52% of your council tax now goes on administration, including paying twats to come up with ideas to make you end up paying more, whether fiscally or with your free time. NBC recently laid off workers involved in anti-social behaviour, helping tenants in their homes and general support work; the man who it appears is paid purely to see what can be cut from the budget is paid £105,000 a year.

Just think about that next time you see litter on the streets, and the expectation is that you pick it up.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Road to War

We know from history that nationalism [read: jingoism] rises in cycles and usually ends in conflict. Once it was an easier model because minorities were just that - in the minority - so creating a common [read: beatable] threat. Throughout history - modern and ancient - there have been crusades, cleansing and genocide all in the name of a god or a cause [read: money].

Quatermass and the Pit was originally a TV series and then made into a movie with Andrew Keir as the eponymous scientist. It told of a strange craft found under a tube station in London, but eventually it veered off into a quite existential idea that half of humanity was gifted genes from Martians, while the other half weren't; so when an extraterrestrial invasion starts, half of the world is crazy and the other reasonable, understanding and non-violent. It's a bit of a SF classic and the author, Nigel Kneale, was responsible for a lot of prescient SF in the 1960s.

Could it be something as simple as genetics. Are some of us predisposed to being gits, while some of us are just pinko liberals and the rest sit somewhere between the two. You know, the people who campaign for cancer, MS, missing dogs and Library closures, but will repost some thinly-disguised racist BS, while not having a moment of cognitive realisation.

I'm most certainly not an angel because I place intolerance, right-wing extremism and hate in a prejudicial category much like some people put blacks, Asians, the disabled, the unemployed and gay people in and I have been known to attack these weak-minded, racists in much the same way they might have insulted someone else who's inside their own personal hate bubbles. The irony is these people can't see it. They cannot see that what is happening to them is what they do all the time to people who already feel they have to work harder than most to stand still. That's when backlashes start.

The cause is quite simple. Over the last 20 years, a good friend of mine (who has been active on line since the invention of the Internet) and I have talked about the changing face of the net. We've been quite prophetic at times in our casual email discussions and regularly, my Kent-based friend, has sworn that he's quitting the net because it has become like an unwelcome addiction (and many other reasons). The success story here is that when I first met this person, he was pretty much a Tory voter with a deep mistrust of Labour. I'm of the opinion that he's now pretty much as left wing as I have ever been and without wishing to insult millions of people, that's because he did more than just read his news feeds and social media. He did things like investigate claims, debunk myths and through his work, he discovered that we really do persecute the disenfranchised. He also discovered that he was a decent and fair man who could easily beat himself up about someone else's misfortune. I wouldn't call him a hand-wringing leftie like I'd probably call myself, at times, but he's one of the more decent human beings I have known.

He was the first person to signpost to me how the Internet is a very dangerous thing. Back in the late 90s when we first met, he was using a pseudonym and had arrived at my Yahoo Group with the intention of 'kicking off' about my then boss's rather lackadaisical way of responding to correspondence. He was, according to him, an angry young man, but within months he'd become one of my generals, policing the group and ensuring that in those pre-Facebook days, things continued to 'happen'. Over the years, he witnessed life through the fish-eye lens of over 500 comic fans, made many real friends and discovered a world that wasn't quite as he thought it was. The early days of the internet allowed people to be honest with each other in environments that didn't need falsifying. Yet, even by the turn of the millennium opportunists, scammers, spammers and infiltrators were on the rise. There wasn't much difference between a 'troll' and his original role of 'agent provocateur'.

Yahoo groups, noticeboards, such as Delphi and Usenet had 'moderators' who kept things clean and then kept things tight and then allowed their small kingdoms to create megalomaniacs who began their own agendas and yet maintained control because it was easier not to challenge what some people either liked or had no desire to argue against. So when Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the rest all appeared there was already a huge number of people who felt they could say and do anything they wanted while sitting behind a monitor or a fake moniker.

I'm a member of a Facebook group created in 2010 with a closed profile. It is a hidden group and cannot be searched through the Facebook database and fizzled out to maybe one post a year by the time I write this. It is innocuous and bothers no one, but because of its nature it could be used for all manner of incitement, subversion and mobilisation - no one else would know; it's secret, but it could have 200,000 members and be plotting the downfall of society. In many ways Facebook is the epitome of Internet freedom done commercially; it's more insidious than the Dark Web, more accessible and sits hidden in full view of the rest of the world. Some of the hate that pours out through Facebook is amplified beyond reason in hidden groups because I know people who have purposefully infiltrated some of these sites (for research). I also know people who are on these sites, through choice. It isn't just Facebook - anywhere with a populated comments section is full to the brim with people trying to be reasonable in the face of blatant ignorance, lies and hate. If you spent an hour on some of the BBC political pages' comments section you'd need to steam clean your brain afterwards.

A simple solution would be to simply turn off the Internet or stop people from being allowed to comment, thus discriminating against everyone, but we'd have more time for other trivial pursuits. Once upon a time when you said to a troll on a noticeboard that I bet he wouldn't be such a c*nt if he was standing in front of you. Now? Not so sure...

The biggest question I have, often asked recently, is what the people who could legislate against things such as this or refuse to comment on it feel, ultimately, the world will gain from the allowance of intolerance, hate and discrimination to become the norm? What does Paul Dacre (E-i-C of the Daily Mail) see in two or three years time as a result of indoctrinating the middle class to believe that all their problems lay at the feet of anyone who isn't like them? Do they want isolationism? Are they that deluded they believe we can return to 1950s booming Britain again, with all the trimmings [read: rationing]? Or do they see war as the ultimate goal? I've said it before, it solves a multitude of problems - in the short term - and some people are guaranteed to walk away from it with loads of cash, even if there's bugger all to spend it on other than surviving.

A lot of my 'disguised' optimism in the last blog is still there, the problem is the world's mood isn't loosening, the polarisation hasn't finished and the divides are becoming too broad to cross or bridge the gap. To some it would appear the world needs to crash and burn to be able to build a new order and that is a price worth paying, for generations.

Is this the pinnacle of Thatcher's 'me-me-me' ideology? The drive to 'self' over 'community' has yielded a world where some people really don't care what happens to others, or even themselves, as long as some misguided idea eventually comes to pass. When network news channels give time to ultra right wing people who make Nazis look subtle and the amount of hateful comments begins to outweigh the comments of reason, we have to start worrying about our safety - really. I realised the other day that I speak more when I'm out, but not solely out of politeness, so I can assure people that I'm not foreign. I've heard so much casual and overt racism in the last year I'd rather not try and alter these idiots perceptions. We've discovered that 'feelings' dictate now and 'facts' are just statistics given by people with a vested interest in what you don't want, so trying to appeal to any shred of humanity some people might have lurking somewhere inside is like trying to find the 10p you drunkenly lost on a pebble beach.

Oddly enough, some of the people I know who voted Leave on June 23 are gobsmacked about Donald Trump. A friend echoed what I've heard, the wishful thinking that Trump will be assassinated before long. I'd opt for indicted, but the fact that more people have said 'he'll be killed' than I would have possibly believed suggests to me that we're not actually becoming more civilised at all. If someone says it to you, just remind them who the new VP is going to be and the fact he thinks you can cure gays by electrocuting them.

If war is what some people [read: The Establishment] want, how exactly do they want it? Civil or nuclear? Wipe a few million out or a few billion? If there was only a billion people left on Earth in 2050 there would be a lot more money for the rich and powerful and just enough slave labour to keep them happy.

There are 6 weeks of 2016 left. That's plenty of time for some more surreal and stranger-than-fiction events. Strap yourself in; we're on the home straight.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Still, mustn't grumble, eh?

2016

Wow. Just wow.

It's been surreal. So much death, despair and other bad stuff beginning with the letter D and probably ending in Destruction.

The thing is... I knew in my heart of hearts that Leave would win. The reason I knew this (but clearly refused to acknowledge it as anything other than an irrational fear) was because, where I live, Northampton has always appeared to be a multi-cultural place with a lot of progressive thinking people and all I heard until June 23 was ignorance, racism and jingoism. I said recently that I'd met 1 person in 10 who was going to vote Remain, but the reality is it was closer to 1-30 and something was telling me to listen to this and that there was nothing I could do about it.

I'd been convinced Trump didn't stand a chance, but in the last few months that confidence was waning as it became clear that this man appealed to people who didn't vote, like Leave appealed to apathetic Brits. Clinton didn't have the ability to mobilise her supporters the way Trump organised his 'movement' and history was writ large by people, who experts believe are going to be the demographic least likely to benefit from this man's presidency.

Sounds all too familiar.

Yet, while I sit and gawp at my social media feeds full of horror, disbelief and insults, I can't feel that surprised by the US presidential election result. I just wish I'd had £100 on Trump this time last year.

While my social media is full of shock and awe I'm seeing one thing clearly - rational thinkers are in decline. What my social media has been devoid of has been anything remotely positive - a bit like Brexit but with added apocalypse warnings.

I'm sure that I'm not the only person who feels this way, but if I'm not we're all being deliberately quiet - a Third View is probably unwelcome in the polarised world of hate and reason, but almost from the point where I realised that Donald Trump had won I started to think: there's nothing we can do, so all we can do is resurrect hope.

I don't really feel all that hopeful, but what's the alternative? To sit and perpetuate disdain and negativity, much like I accuse the right wing of doing? Perhaps Brexit and Trump are the best things to happen to the Western World in decades; perhaps they'll shake up the neo-liberalism reality of haves and many have nots. I can't help thinking it is an unlikely scenario, yet oddly I think Trump will have a less traumatic effect on the Americans than Brexit will on the UK. I actually think little will change in the USA because Presidents don't really wield that much power when you think about it. Yes, they might be the most powerful people in the world but that's only figuratively; repeated presidents have failed to achieve their greatest ambitions because of the complicated structure of US government. In reality, Obama was a dead duck president from the moment he started talking about radical reforms and helping minorities, because the Republican-led House and Senate stymied his every move and so many deals had to be cut to get even the least radical ideas through.

Trump was elected as a Republican, but there's a lot of republicans out there who can't stand him; are either far left or right of whatever his actual politics are and then there's the Democrats, reduced to fighting over scraps but maybe in interesting bargaining positions. Trump will probably not heal the divides within the GOP, but if poor people don't see things happening and their senators and politicians are constantly opposing the man they voted for then the power of the people might manifest in curious ways. Personally, I think Trump is a mixture of canny and barking mad - all the best psychopaths are - I'm not convinced he'll be as right wing as people believe and I think he might represent a new breed of 'politician' - the Nationalist social democrat.

The idea of rampant Nationalism mixed with a slightly twisted version of socialism isn't that much of anathema, in many ways people don't link politics and racism in the same way. We've seen xenophobia and suspicion of foreigners in much greater numbers in urban places, in ageing ghettos and in the idyllic countryside. Incidents of racism in areas with more migrants tends to be higher, but you could say if you had a block of flats full to the brim with burglars will there be more burglaries? Many of these places would never consider voting Tory, yet wouldn't piss on a smouldering Bulgarian. Racism and politics are not exclusive and racism isn't just a right wing thing.

The sad thing about some of the comments I've seen over the last six months from Leave voters who would never call themselves racist are those who genuinely believe they aren't intolerant yet then say the country is full, or the foreigners are stretching our infrastructure to the limit, because it's easy to do that than look at the cause of why it is like that. I said in the last blog that humans simply don't like each other very much and that is reflected by the extra dislike we tend to show for people not like us. Amelioration obviously isn't working and humanity is a long way away from living peacefully and harmoniously together; if people can hate each other over something as simple as a leylandii then religion, avarice, and colour is a shoo-in.

What Trump and Brexit has done has shown, in possibly a slightly stupid, ill-educated way, that politicians have stopped being audible to almost 50% of the population of the world. People no longer vote because, to quote the most famous quote - it only encourages them. Or, it doesn't matter who you vote for the government gets in. People no longer see politicians working in their interests and this is compounded periodically by scandal, expenses, corruption or downright nastiness. Heck, even if you have the smallest of skeletons in your cupboard and talk only about fairness and peace you're just as likely, if not more, to be pilloried by the establishment and its lackeys.

What a world?

Me and many like me have had secret dreams of a world political takeover where fairness and equality replaces the current regime and there have been moments, albeit fleeting, where this seemed almost possible. It now seems that democracy is a bit broken in its current form and instead of the left exploiting it, the right have managed to reinvent themselves and steal it. It is a little like turkeys voting for Christmas and the millions who voted hoping for a significant change in their lives will, when they have finished blaming everyone else, will start looking at the people and politicians they were expecting to make a change - for the good - in their lives and demanding answers.

The problem is, unless the political system is examined, scrutinised and a fairer alternative put in place; one that makes people believe their vote is worth casting, less and less will actually vote and more and more 'mandates' will be based on ridiculously small percentages of the actual voting population. The reality of the UK is that only about 27% of the actual physical population voted for Brexit. In the USA the turnout was not much higher than 50% of which Trump actually got less votes than Clinton, so his potentially momentous term of office is a mandate from about 24% of all Americans. Politicians - at present - like low turnouts because they have a better chance of winning.

There's also one other thing that politicians need to do; they need to be more accessible rather than just plain slimy and creepy. They shouldn't have to be whiter than white but they should have the interests of the people at heart and be spared lobbyists, bribes and ways to corrupt the system for their own benefits. Politicians should only have one job and should, while they are in elected office, forsake any outside interests while allowing them to be open to scrutiny by an independent body to ensure they are working as MPs and not on securing the futures of just their families and friends. There should be fixed terms for MPs and the idea of becoming a career politician should be outlawed.

Extremism doesn't just exist on the right. I have formed some very extremist views in the last six months, one of which is unbelievably undemocratic and yet I'd argue for why I think it would be a good thing. I don't believe we should allow old people the vote and I do believe we should allow anyone over the age of 14 to be allowed to vote. The reason is simple and callous - old people don't particularly vote for what is the nation's interest; the key issues for very elderly voters is what's in it for them and there's a good chance many will die during a 5-year government. 14-17 year olds will spend as little as 20% but as much as 99% of their young lives being unable to have a say in a country that will have a say over them. If you turn 18 a week after an election, you'll be 23 by the time you get the chance to vote and you'll have no say in how those five years will affect you, politically. One vote might not mean much but a couple of million would.

I accept that we're not going to see a political Logan's Run scenario, but I would like to see the voting age dramatically reduced and more proactive education in schools about politics, how it affects everyone and what to expect if the world doesn't end up being lovely and fluffy with 6 bedroom mansions and a model wife/husband. Because at the moment we're creating a politically ignorant underclass of society that isn't emotionally mature enough to understand their significance.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The End of the Age of Reason

I'm stuck for crazier and more sensational headlines/titles. The world continues to baffle me in ways that even Hollywood (or Eastenders) would baulk at or categorise as 'comedy' or simply 'unreal'.

Earlier this week, while out with a Tory-supporting Remain voter friend, I realised that over the last few years his politics have softened and his anti-Labour position, while not gone, was not as determined as it had been. He's a clever bloke and he doesn't need people like me to point out inequalities and unfairness in the world, he sees it himself, either through social media - where he has 'friends' who are extreme left (me for starters) and so far right their ignorance is scary (no names mentioned to protect the ignorant - although I wonder why...) so I expect that while he probably would never trust Labour with his vote, he's probably also feeling like he can't trust the Tories either.

Sanity. A wee bit of sanity.

Standing in a field, with the dogs and one of my clique of dog-walking chums, I heard, first hand, something that made my heart sink. "If I'd have known it would have caused this much trouble I would have voted Remain." The sentiment is the important thing here, because I think we're all now acutely aware that if the vote had been Remain by 52-48% we'd have Farage, Gove and co., queuing up to start legal proceedings, asking for another referendum, possibly even attacking (verbally or physically) the 'smug' Remainers. The vote needed to be 70-30 either way before defeat would have been conceded and I fear even then, the lunatic minority in the Leave camp would have started targeting foreigners with more gusto and intent than they have already been doing. The fact that a 68-year-old man, who probably doesn't read as diverse stuff as I do can draw the conclusion from just 'authorised' news services that he probably did the wrong thing suggests to me that some people have shaken off that 'feelings' thing and are now beginning to understand 'reality'.

A wee bit more sanity?

I'd be optimistic about it if it wasn't for the wilful ignorance and idiocy I'm witnessing from certain corners of the country. Take the high court ruling about parliament being responsible for the triggering of Article 50. Despite it being spelled out clearly that this was by no means a block on Brexit and was actually exactly what the campaigners to Leave wanted - our own parliament exercising their sovereign right as elected representatives of the people and making decisions as a country and not as part of some EU bloc. Yet to hear some of the rabid right wing Brexiteers talk you have to wonder how on Earth they ever got to a position to be invited to offer their ludicrously alarmist, ignorant and wrong (as in factually) opinions. The media (well, the blue topped press and Murdoch) seem keen to drive a wedge through every shred of decency left in the country by essentially promoting hate and prejudice at every opportunity (so much for the Leveson thing, eh?) while gleefully ignoring facts and just, well, making shit up.

If it was restricted to the UK I'd naturally be worried, but the fact that its happening all over the world is really fucking scary. I said a year ago that the world in 2015 was a safer place than it had been probably forever - poverty down; famine down; wars down and yet why do my friends think the world has suddenly become terrifying? It isn't just the media; we forget that only a small percentage of the population actually read a daily newspaper and that news bulletins tend to be the lowest watched programs, unless someone famous dies. It could be word of mouth (as discussed many times before); but the truth is it might just be that we no longer know how to trust anyone else because there are so many loonies out there. Loonies able to run for president, lead a political party based on laziness and lies, become unelected PMs or promote hate with impunity. I no longer feel that safe.

I'd blame social media, again, but that is just a vessel; a way of articulating frustration, anger and ignorance that already existed, even if it was just a humanitarian story about helping a refugee that broke the back of their reasoning and allowed them to show the world how their subconscious had just become their reality. One thing I've learned in my 50-odd years on this planet is racism, prejudice and hate are not a British or American (a white privileged) thing. The problem is we hate each other; humans can't live without each other but equally under the right circumstances they can't live with each other either. I know that's a terribly cynical generalisation, but, come on, for every nice person you meet there's at least two people out there you wouldn't piss on if they were on fire, because you know whatever you do for them they'll find a way to blame you for their own predicament or make you wonder why you bothered.

The problem is ignorance, prejudice and a lack of compassion hides inside people in their own houses. You have no idea what goes on in other peoples lives, we only base things on our own lives, so we don't know what is said or believed or peddled inside even the most respectable members of society. I mean, if it's okay for Donald Trump to be openly offensive what are people really like when they see something on TV that tugs at their primordial hate.

How about this for a conspiracy theory? It came to me while making a cup of coffee and watching BBC News. Could this be the reason why some corners of politics and the media are doing what they're doing.

warmonger

 (ˈwɔːˌmʌŋɡə)
n
person who fosters warlike ideas or advocates war
ˈwarˌmongering n

We all know that war is a major economic force. War through the arms trade is unbelievably lucrative and there have been many accusations and conspiracy theories bandied around to suggest that arms dealers and manufacturers create unrest in unstable countries just to make more money. We know that there are a number of people on this planet who have no problem sending others to die, or killing in the name of cash. After Colombine, sales of guns in the USA actually went up. Put the fear of God into people and they reach for a weapon; add them to the people who willingly carry weapons as a way of life and suddenly you have a situation that becomes difficult to police.

There are people out there who have vested interests in arms manufacturers; the UK government have hosted arms dealers, conventions and sales jamborees. We sell arms to some of the most despicable regimes in the world, but the press don't talk about that and as long as Britain is making money a huge percentage of the population couldn't give a toss. As long as they can be preoccupied by trivial celebrity rubbish and buying every fake gold lined lie fed to them by post-expert blokes, then we can continue doing shady and dodgy deals, in the Nation's interest.

The press appears to be stoking fires that have been suppressed, ignored or simply only remained in people instinctively. History tells us that divisions and prejudice are usually the reason for wars and peace on earth equals severely diminished profits. I said to a friend six months ago, at the start of when real life became a surreality TV show, that it was like some were angling for a war. They solve a lot of problems, you see. Sometimes it's like humanity is simply a flu virus and wars are limited, but quite effective, vaccines.

Friday, 21 October 2016

The Matrix is Broken... The Matrix is Broken...

Recently I watched one of my right on and new age friends rage with unrestrained passion about something that he didn't agree with at an event he was involved in. It made me want to use his own words and assure him that 'everything happens for a reason and perhaps he needs to embrace this set back and look for the positives in it', but I couldn't help think that it would be seen as antagonistic rather than anything else - and to be fair there would have been an element of antagonism in there, but only after a fashion.

The thing is it made me realise that even the most non-judgemental of us are exactly the opposite of what we hold as a solid human trait. Prejudices appear all the time and it isn't just the ignorant or the rich who do this. I recently made friends with a man who seemed extremely decent; his job, wife and lifestyle suggested the last thing he is was an ignorant xenophobe with obvious BNP/EDL leanings - even seemingly intelligent people can exhibit levels of fuckwittedness that beggar belief.

I've met wilfully ignorant people in the last few weeks; people who smoke while pregnant; people who work zero hour contracts and have the urine extracted from them by their employers; people who still believe the NHS will be £350billion a second better off now we're out of the EU, because they haven't taken any notice of a newspaper or a news program since the day after the referendum. I've met a school teacher who voted Leave, who told me she did it because she wanted her country back, that the country was getting to the point where there wasn't enough room and it would be nice to have the majority of kids in her class where English was the first language... A teacher... You have to start wondering about whether humanity has just subconsciously developed an absurdist self-destruct gene?

Having a wife who earns a little too much money has meant that my periods of unemployment in recent years has garnered me the absolute minimum I should be entitled to, yet someone I've known best part of my life and hasn't been remotely interested in getting a job - since 1992 - gets so much support, even now - in the wake of IDS and his purges - that it actually made me feel anger towards him (my friend that is, I've felt anger towards IDS since about 1999). After years of contributing to the economy and paying my NI, I was entitled to essentially fuck all. Had I been 'a feckless workshy wanker' I could have got just about everything I needed - like free prescriptions, bus fares or other frivolous things people with money take for granted. The sad thing is I'm not a particularly nice person but I felt slightly ashamed of myself for feeling angry towards my friend's 'life choice'.

It also should be noted that my friend with the unemployment fixation is also damaged goods and probably now falls into the category of 'people never likely to be able to do a real job again, ever'. Whether he arrived at this situation through nurture or nature isn't for debate (I know the answer to this specific question, though), but one thing is clear 50% of the blame, at least, has to be placed at the feet of the governments of the late 1970s and early 1980s, because they didn't do enough to change attitudes, or invest enough in education (because what sense is there investing in our future?) and it only got worse in the 80s and 90s.

After spending over 15 years working with the disenfranchised and becoming a good socialist as a result, I know the difference between the disenfranchised and those who play the system because they don't want to work or contribute - the people who think it is okay to live off of everyone else without contributing anything other than more actual cost to the taxpayer. Yes, you can argue, it isn't their fault they're in whatever predicament they're in - more the fault of successive governments doing little or nothing for the most isolated and alienated in already poor communities, while simultaneously finding something unrelated to blame - but I'm also not that left wing where I won't call a feckless wanker a feckless wanker.

Take the argument that migrant workers put too much strain on our services. The blame for this appeared to be placed firmly at the feet of the EU despite the fact that 62% of our migrants come from outside of the EU and never once, during the EU debate, did any party - Corbyn's included - point out that the strains on hospitals, schools and public services was actually the fault of the government for not investing in expanding it all when the need grew. I mean it doesn't take an idiot to realise that even if they hooked private business into the building of these things, they would all have been patronised, would have employed more people and would have injected money back into the economy. That isn't socialism, that's common sense that could have been exploited however the Tories wanted and still been beneficial to the majority of people.

I have suggested before that I'm beginning to think that politicians are mainly all idiots, or have finally decided that we're all idiots, because all politics seems to be choreographed now; even Corbyn really appears to be quite toothless because no one - apart from the lovely Mairhi Black (who is 21) - seems to asking the pertinent questions or making any salient points. Take the decision to overrule the No Fracking decision by Lancashire Council - whatever way you feel about fracking, when you consider the overall costs compared to, say, putting up an offshore wind farm, you have to wonder if our politicians are also brainless psychopaths too. Am I the only person who questions his (or her) own sanity at comments, actions or interviews given by politicians. I mean, is Priti Patel even real?

I recently spent a few hours talking to the owner of a small private hire company and he told me some astounding facts about taxis. 54% of all taxis booked are by girls/women aged between 14 and 40. But even more incredible is that upwards of 60% of all taxis are booked/hailed by people on benefits. As someone who has, at times, viewed £10 as an important third of my shopping bill, to be in a position where walking or catching a bus doesn't even feature in someone's thinking, despite having nothing makes me begin to wonder if the Tories are right and that some people exploit the system. Or perhaps kids in poor schools need more education as to how to prioritise their money better when they leave education and go straight into a career on welfare. Ironically, we've allowed TV, the media and commercialism/advertising to brainwash the young into thinking that having an iPhone is more important than eating healthily and we've seen, throughout the last few decades, common sense levels in most individuals drop to the point where (almost) statistically more than half of the people here are twats. We've all been persuaded to spend all of the money we haven't got on cheap shit that won't last while simultaneously blaming Johnny Foreigner for stealing someone else's job...

The unswerving power of commercialism has placed many of our citizens in a position where they view essentials as trivial and trivia as essential and urban ghettos and isolated areas of deprivation are as a result of no government ever addressing - in my life time, at least - the problems in any long-term way. Mix commercialism with a bit of prejudice and you create a dependent with the belief of entitlement. That's the fault of governments since the 1960s who didn't acknowledge prevention was better, and cost less, than cure. Governments never really see or understand the problem until it is too late to fix. And then you need to acknowledge that to fix just some of society's ills - the ones who wield power fancy supporting - it would cost far more money than is available and we all know money is an exclusive privilege of the rich.

***

Over the last few days we've seen the right-leaning media ratchet up the hate and racism against migrants, or in fact anyone not from the UK. I fail to see what the ultimate aim is, unless Murdock, Beaverbrook and the rest actually want the UK to become a xenophobic, isolated island with no trade deals and vilified by the rest of the world.

What good are these 'rags' doing? What possible positive outcomes can we hope to get when facts are ignored in favour of jingoistic hate and bile? With at least 52% of the country's voters prone to believe sensationalist bullshit and lies you have to start wondering if there's a crazy agenda being set out by the media. Because it has to be crazy - Jeremy Corbyn is a fair politician but is treated and talked about like he was a former Nazi death camp guard, while the Tories and their supporters get nastier and the only places these are covered are in blogs, news sites (not affiliated to money) and Twitter - thus having little or no credence to the 52% because it wasn't seen on the BBC or read in the Sun or Daily Mail.

We're in the depths of a self-fulfilling prophecy; I'm not sure what the prophecy is, just that it appears to involve hate and ultimately violence.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Crazy crazy world

Honestly, you couldn't make it up.

If, say 15 years ago, you were told that the UK would elect a Tory government despite more than 50% of the country being pissed off with poverty and misery, and would also vote to come out of the EU based on a mixture of feelings, misplaced patriotism and idiocy and then we might witness the election of a President of the USA who, frankly, is crazier than batshit daiquiris, you'd probably think I was describing a new Armando Iannucci political comedy, because I'd think all of that and I'm a) writing this and b) living it too.

We live in a Post-fact, post-expert, post-logical world where people simply don't give a fuck about facts - especially those who voted for Leave. Experts are just there to scare us. Logic is there to confuse us and Facts are there to be ignored and derided because Feelings and Pride are far more important to the future of everyone.

The problem is we're talking about a majority of people now. You know and I know that it isn't really a true majority, but it's big enough and ugly enough to dictate the country's rhetoric. The sad truth is a large percentage of the 52% voted as a protest to the shit they've been suffering for years without really understanding that the referendum had nothing to do with what has been happening to them and no one made a big enough issue out of the fact that it was the EU that stopped the worst off and most disenfranchised among us from being marginalised even more. If you weighed up the difference between what Westminster and Brussels has given to the people of South Wales you would have thought they would have voted 99% to remain, instead of 61% of them opting for the exit button. What's worse is these people think that our government is going to save them... That's how stupid people are now. 

There are people in Sunderland facing economic oblivion as their largest employer scales back and considers moving elsewhere who actually feel happy and proud that they've helped precipitate their own downfall. I'm amazed Cameron quit; the referendum gave a warped legitimacy to everything him and Gideon were doing; the fact that Treeza May is actually attempting to reverse some of their less humane achievements almost smacks of the same level of crazy.

I loved a short statement made by *Yasmin Ali - "Tonight I went to a Tory Party meeting on Brexit. More specifically, I went to a Tory meeting on what happens after Brexit to bring the nation together again.   So what did I learn? If I distil it down, it is that they have no idea. No idea how to leave the EU. No idea what happens now. All they know is that they are so loved up with their vote that all these tedious questions are nothing but Party pooping nonsense."

Doesn't this just about sum up the feeling of the Brexiteers across the country? The same people who claim quite self-righteously that if they'd lost they wouldn't be making such a big issue about it... Yeah, right and if my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle...

It isn't just us; there's this Rodrigo Duterte fellow in the Philippines who is basically advocating and promoting a criminal-cleansing spree, allowing his citizens to kill anyone they suspect is a drug dealer or taker or friend of either. The weird thing about Duterte is despite caterwauls of horror and disgust from the rest of the world, he's a bloody popular bloodthirsty tyrant among his own people - the right wing/Libertarian supporting Philippinos think 'Digong' is top banana and his popularity has grown as the graves of the criminals have filled up.

Hungary has been trying to out-Farage Nigel by having a referendum that I'm still not entirely sure about. I could check this but that takes the fun out of it, but apparently they've just had a referendum to reject the EU's migrant policy, which kind of doesn't make any sense because as part of the EU they've already caused ructions by putting a bloody great fence around their country and restricting movement (you know, the thing 52% of our population would get massive erections about if offered the chance). The fact that not enough Hungarians actually voted to make it officially recognisable is, hopefully, a testament to nice Hungarians, because, according to my Romanian neighbour, 'Most peoples from Hungaria are shit.'

I'm sure Hillary Clinton isn't all the things she's being accused of, because if she is then the USA has finally succumbed to Total Dumb by having two unbelievably crooked and dislikable people vying for the job of Chief Button Pusher. I know it's more about how much money you can throw at it than politics, but if the USA wants to be treated with the respect it deserves it should really take a good hard long look at itself. Sometimes the idea of the Yellowstone Caldera Extinction Event seems like a damned fine idea.

Oh and while this isn't strictly politics, you have to wonder what kind of world we're now living in if fear, scaremongering and worst case scenarios are touted as news... At least four tabloids in the last week have picked up on the 'Britain is headed for an apocalyptic winter' news story. This incredible prophecy of doom first appeared in the Daily Express - the paper that essentially talks about three things: the weather, Princess Diana and the evil Labour party. The Express actually just rehashed a story written last October, with a slight edit to suggest they were a hair's width from being totally right about saying 2015 would be the worst winter since the opening sequence of The Empire Strikes Back. The truth was last winter was one of the mildest on record. The Express would have been more accurate had they said 'Pretty bog standard winter with some cold days and some mild days, lots of wind and a cold spring', because this is essentially what six of the last 10 years have been. Of the other four we had two colder than average winters and two warmer than average winters and warm springs (both of these years my apricot tree fruited).

The thing is as the Met Office says on a regular basis - anything over a week and you get into chaos theory and frankly you can only base long range forecasts on trends and computer models, therefore the Met Office has said what I said in the paragraph above - 2016/17: an average winter with colder spells and milder ones. Yet this is the sixth time in seven years the Express has told us we're all going to freeze to death.

Why?

What does scaring the shit out of Brexit-voting pensioners achieve? Do governments just say to newspapers that parts of the economy need stimulating so make up some shite that'll get pensioners in Bournemouth bulk buying bog paper from the local Asda, or is that just a crazy conspiracy theory too far?

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (left-ish UK Muslim journalist)