The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Sheep Wars!

Edwin Starr sang, 'War - what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.'

He was totally wrong. It is nothing more than left wing lies.

Sheep.

As any fool knows, war solves all manner of problems and can usually be legitimised - after a fashion. Wars are great. They create jobs. They trim the population and when they're over all the corporations get to rebuild the world, creating more jobs and more wealth. Win win. Honestly, who gives a damn about people dying when we can all bask in a glorious post-war future?

I'm not a historian and I know people who will put me right, but my guess is business discovered the magic of war probably after the Second World War and therefore a 'Third World War' is likely to be a little bit different from any that have gone on before, because of the sophistication of business. I say this because I think we're experiencing the preamble. I think the people who actually run the world are feeling a little uneasy because it feels a little like someone has opened Pandora's Box and no one really knows how to close it.

Sheep.

If the world is as uneasy about everything as the press want us to believe, it suggests that no one really knows what is going to happen next week let alone in a year or two. Depending on what you read and where you read it, we're heading for a USA/Russia pact to put an economic squeeze on China. Or it's going to be a USA/China deal to further isolate Russia. Then there's the Middle East - the Saudis have been exposed; Syria is a scrap in the playground compared to Yemen and while the whole of ancient Arabia is also uneasy, Israel is worryingly quiet. Then there's the Far East - there's some seriously worrying shit happening in Australia's backyard and the rest of the world would be stupid to ignore it.

A political map of the world might suggest that there's a nice even split between left, right and centre, but to steal a line from communism critics, some political parties are more equal than others. Which is why any future war can't be political-alliance driven and probably explains why immigration and the freedom of movement of people has become the paramount issue for a lot of people; it isn't about politics it's about control. So for the Powers That Be to start a war they'd have to ensure it is a religious one, even if it isn't the given reason, and that can be the cause of border disputes or acts of aggression due to or because of indigenous ethnics.

Politics is changing so fast politicians are struggling to keep up with it. This is largely down to people accepting they have no control over some things, but could have massive control over other things, which might give them some control over the first thing... Racism is no longer a political thing despite being the biggest and hottest of political potatoes. Racism unites rich and poor with a common (mis)belief and if this happens it allows the government of the time to do things that the poor would otherwise find heinous or even oppose. This was how National Socialism swept to power in a certain country at some point in our history - not the only reason, but a deciding factor and without it perhaps we wouldn't have seen a WW2 quite the way we did.

Sheep.

We have a deep suspicion of Muslims, foreigners and well, anyone really, apart from people we like. Philanthropic people (whether it's their money or their time they give away) are actually few and far between. There isn't that many 'decent' people out there. Recently I watched a US drama series where the main character was arguing against the gentrification of his neighbourhood; as with any well-made TV show, the case was eloquently made, probably with more heart and soul than any real politician and when the question was put to the vote he was the only person opposing it. People care about their communities only after they care about themselves and most will put themselves first, by a long chalk. We have been taught, since the early 1980s, to not 'love thy neighbour' but to consider having to shop him or her at some point to ensure our own lives continue as unmolested as possible.

Ironically, being a 'hand-wringing liberal' is a bad thing now and you kind of realise at this point the world is heading for something not so good...

Sheep.

I'm sure if I had unlimited power I'd be a power mad megalomaniac; perhaps it comes with the job. But I'd rather live in a world where the majority is happy most of the time rather than one where the minority is blissfully happy and the rest of us are left searching, in vain, for the next bit of good fortune. Surely if everyone was happy it would be better than the opposite?

Sheep. Led to believe they have an idyllic existence before one day being driven away to the abattoir to have their throats slit. Actually, they have it a bit better than us...

Is Labour Worth Saving?

One of the other horrible things about 2016 that has largely gone unnoticed has been the lurch to the right by The Guardian's political and editorial staff. It still sometimes feels like a newspaper that is fighting unfairness, but the ruthless and relentless way it has pursued the Labour Party last year, specifically Jeremy Corbyn, has been both disgraceful and has probably cost them a fifth of their readers. So it was no surprise when they almost gleefully focused on the Tory's 16 point lead in pre-Christmas opinion polls, despite the Conservatives being a bunch of headless chickens and how Labour is trailing in every single demographic apart from communist allotment botherers.

We all know opinion polls have margins for errors, but even with the worst one built in Labour is still looking as electable as Nigel 'Bye-election King' Farage, yet still I held onto the belief that polls are not at all reliable and polling companies are usually sponsored by someone with political interest or skewered by the fact that the same bunch of people are polled all the time. Look at the Brexit vote and how everyone who thought they knew were flummoxed by one single factor - no one bothered to ask the man in the street. Or probably more relevant, no one listened when the man in the street spoke.

As people who read this regularly will know, I was not surprised by the EU vote based on my own experiences talking to people while out walking my dogs. Dog walkers are literally all types of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, with myriad beliefs, but these hardy souls have one thing in common - their dogs, therefore before long your dogs' friendships turn into human ones, albeit in the most fleeting of ways. Many of the people I meet regularly stand and chat, chew the fat, while the dogs check each other and the surrounds out, I have no idea what their lives are outside of the field we stand in. Conversations rarely turn to politics, it's like an unwritten law that you don't venture into areas of controversy because... well, you just don't.

During the run up to the EU vote I was pretty much floored by the anti-EU sentiment I heard all over and with a wee bit of hindsight, I am, at times, quite astonished that Remain got 48%.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, I did something a little bit unusual with a group of my fellow dog walkers. During a lull in the conversation, I asked them all a question, but I was careful to preface it with enough sensible wording as not to get anyone's back up or turn the conversation defensive. Spurred on by a Guardian headline that suggested Paul Nuttall - the new UKIP fuhrer - was more of a threat to Labour than anything else and coupled with my own blog suggesting that 'The Cult of Jeremy Corbyn' is never going to win anything, I asked my friends this: "I'd be interested in your opinion on something: this isn't about politics, so don't panic; but I read something in the paper this morning that made me realise I really don't know what I think about Jeremy Corbyn and I'd be interested to know what others think about him as a person. Not whether he's electable or anything to do with his politics, just what you think of him."

No one stormed off in a huff or reacted like I'd asked them about their underwear. The replies were disjointed and bitty, because more than one person was often speaking, but I'll break down (and roughly paraphrase) their answers:
J (a former catering manager now a teacher, mid 40s) said: Well, I wouldn't vote for him. He seems like a nice man, but do nice men have a place in politics?
D (a retired widow, 68) said: I think he gets a rough ride in the papers and on TV. He seems like a very decent man. He does seem a bit out of his depth.
T (a retired plasterer, also 68) said: I like him. I've voted Labour all my life, but I don't think he's the right looking man for the job. I'd vote for him but I don't think he'll win.
F (housewife, 50) said: Me and [her husband] have never voted Labour. I've never really paid any attention to him. What I have seen suggests he's being bullied a lot and that makes him look weak.
J2 (housewife, early 40s) said nothing but wrinkled her nose.
J2's mum (retired, late 60s) said: I think he looks shifty, I don't trust him.

Now, a broader generalisation: I'd say J was a Tory voter; D probably Labour but most likely doesn't bother, T is most definitely Labour (he admits it) while F is very blue. I would have thought that J2 and her mum would have been typical Labour voters, however, given the reactions I think they're people who probably don't vote because they have a mistrust of politics (this is borne out by some comments they have made that border on general ignorance), however UKIP probably tempts them.

Over the last few weeks, my friend - A - who is a Momentum member and jokingly refers to himself as 'An Activist', has expressed some deep worries about the Labour Party's complete inactivity in the 'real world'; I argued it's being covert, I might have been deluding myself...

Now the pointless and divisive leadership election is behind us and the Tories are blindly sleepwalking us into some kind of oblivion of our own making, where the hell is the opposition? Despite PMQs just being the modern day equivalent of Punch and Judy, but lacking any real punch or sausages, there are no positive sounds emanating from Labour HQ and personally I believe that's because, like the Tories, they haven't got a clue what to do, so they're just sitting reasonably quietly waiting for the next massive cock-up to surface and hoping that something, eventually, will damage the Tory vote.

I believed for a long time that they were playing the political equivalent of 'give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves', especially given that we're only 18 months into this administration and Treeza isn't showing any signs of calling or forcing another General Election. And, in a reasonable world I think that's not a bad game to play, but I like to think I understand politics (or did, once) and waiting for the right moment to strike and then relentlessly hammering on seems like an interesting weapon. Except... It doesn't appear to be happening. Labour, or specifically the PLP, appears to be a bunch of people thrown together, who are not particularly keen on each other and are grudgingly participating in something they're not really enjoying. Even if the press wasn't preternaturally predisposed to destroying the party anyway, they'd be well within their rights to be questioning where the opposition is.

Hello Labour! Tories slicing and dicing the country up and what are you doing?

I have, on several occasions, since Jeremy Corbyn's first election success, called myself a naive altruist more than a rabid leftie. I have been blinkered by my own refusal to accept everything that is wrong about this new Labour by continually putting forward all of the positives that Jezza's kind of politics could bring. The indications now are that he's neither the messiah nor a very naughty boy.

Last month I told you why Corbyn couldn't be elected. I'm now doubting, especially given the peculiar rise of the right in recent months, that the socialism being advocated by Corbyn and his followers isn't actually that popular amongst most of the voters. Yes, there's lots in their plans that will benefit the country and help bring poor people out of poverty quicker and lots of great ideas on how to make the country money, but as the EU referendum showed: economics isn't the big reason to motivate people to vote. It might once have been, but the media and casual, off-the-cuff public opinion has moved politics into a kind of 'us and them' territory and Corbyn's Labour doesn't even get within a million miles of the isolationism that is growing in rural England.

Tories sway with public opinion like a tree with dodgy foundations - hence why they resemble UKIP more than UKIP at the moment and their rhetoric always makes great use of framing specific words even if they don't mean what they're saying. At the moment they're not as vague as Labour, but you'd need a micrometer to measure it.

History might suggest the worst legacy of Tony Blair was actually the Spin Doctor, because once the Tories worked it out and then threw money at it they became the emperors of spin. The exception to the rule being Scotland, where pragmatism has always meant more than words.

As I said in November, Corbynistas can point at social media, the internet, mobile messaging and whatever and say they're winning that particular market over; but I'm not actually seeing any evidence of this, with one exception - how well Labour's vote has held up in council bye-elections and some of the parliamentary ones. This suggests, especially the way the press has routinely ignored them, that on the ground Labour are actually doing better than we're being told, but you only have to look at my social media news feeds to see that my bubble of like-minded souls are 99% posting 'look what the bloody Tories have done this time' stuff and very little positive opposition stuff.

Preaching to the converted about how crap it is has no discernible effect on the people who might be persuaded to vote Labour (or at the very least not vote Tory) unless they see the message; there's no point in telling people where to look, they need the message force fed to them, which only the Tories seem capable of achieving.

I've said this before but 90% of my news feeds in June were convinced the vote would be remain. 95% of the people I met on the street were voting leave. I don't need to do the maths to highlight that my bubble lost to the real world by about 4%. The main thing that needs to be understood about this vote was, when you boil it all down, it actually wasn't about party politics but about people politics. A proportion of the population basically stated that they didn't like what was on offer. The Tories saw this and Cameron was ushered out faster than the norovirus, and Treeza was seen as the unifying face by the public.

Labour - never as united as the Tories - tried the same thing and it blew up in their faces so badly that I think it's harsh to blame Corbyn for everything; it's his MPs that need to seriously look at themselves but Mr Average won't see it that way. Probably, the wisest move would have been for Corbyn to try and find his logical successor and step aside while endorsing the man best suited to carry on the work he started. Fresh faces at the ballot box does generate some interest in an apathetic populace.

If my straw poll is any indication of how Corbyn's Labour will fair at the next election (given it should be a way off still) then I wonder if he's aware that outside of his massive bubble of support there's a population who either don't care about him or don't really think he's up for the job? If the Labour Party really does care about the country and its people it needs to reinvent itself for the 21st century and start looking at the issues that the people on the street are talking about.

If Marmite subjects like immigration cannot be swept under the carpet, then perhaps it is time the debate was had to really find out just how tolerant our society is at the moment and whether it's worth trying to save?

Friday, 16 December 2016

The um... Kingdom of England (oh, and Wales)

Bloody current affairs... it's just so surreal at the moment it's difficult to ignore...

People who know me know that it is my intention to move to Scotland in 2017. It has been a longstanding ambition and the EU vote acted more as a kick up the arse than any actual reason to get out of 'little' England.

Not that Scotland is exempt from the EU vote, but because they simply seem to be a more tolerant society and that will, if nothing else, soften the coming blows. However, while chewing the political fat with a friend recently, we kind of came up with half a half-baked idea that I want to share with you before moving onto the more ... honest... nature of this blog.
  • Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU.
  • Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have benefited more than anywhere else (apart from Cornwall) from EU money - these places wouldn't be so much better off without the EU's money and help.
Experts (pft, what do they know?) believe that to keep the right wing quiet and to ensure no Polish workers go to Ireland so they can nip over the border and start stealing British jobs, there has to be a hard border between the countries. An even harder border than existed during 'The Troubles' and some people believe this could single-handedly cause massive destabilisation in all of Ireland. A price that most of (this newly united) Northern Ireland do not want to pay - even less than wanting to leave their European benefactors.

Now, the idea of Northern Ireland campaigning for independence is not likely to happen, but the idea of Northern Ireland being independent from Westminster and autonomous, yet still part of the Commonwealth and a player in a more 'loose-knit' United Kingdom, might just float in Proddy strongholds.

But why stop there? How about an economic union with an independent Scotland and the Irish Republic, that would mean Northern Ireland, like Scotland could remain in the EU with almost as much sway as the old Britain headed by the English had and a lot more respect from the other nations because, well, quite simply, they're not English.

Of course, if Northern Ireland could remain part of the sovereignty but also as a semi-independent state it would negate the need for borders, however it might require closer checks when travelling from Northern Ireland to England and I can think of quite a few Scots who would love the idea of a hard border between England and Scotland. Hopefully not because there would be an influx of disgruntled English people wanting to escape the hell that is coming.

The reason I like this idea is because it allows sections of the British to remain part of what they, in the majority, believe in; would lessen the impact that Brexit-geddon will bring to many in England and Wales and would make these countries arguably greater than the Britain they'd leave, because there would be a kind of Gaelic unity that us English struggle to identify with (because it's culturally different, innit?).

The other reason I like this idea is because I've recently become a traitor to the cause. I no longer have any faith that the Labour Party or specifically Jeremy Corbyn can turn the fortunes of the party around, especially in the face of the growing right wing tide sweeping up even reasonable people in this country and the fact that basic left wing politics just doesn't appeal to a large percentage of a growing isolationist and intolerant society. The only way Labour can appeal to people who've left them or would normally vote for them is if they broke with some of their fundamental core beliefs and under Corbyn and propelled by Momentum that simply isn't going to happen.

I heard this rumour that the Northampton South MP, David Macintosh, would not be sacked by the Tories because they feared a bye-election. I also heard the Labour Party also didn't want a bye-election for exactly the same reason. That reason was because the Tories would probably increase their majority, despite all the corruption and scandal. This was Labour's reason as well - from up top. Now, before you start telling me how foolish I am, consider this - the Tories are actually quite comfortable with an ineffectual old man leading the toothless Reds because they can basically ride roughshod over most things they want to and there's bugger all opposition. Regain a seat currently held by arguably one of the most corrupt politicians of modern times with a greater majority, regardless of boundary changes, it is going to trigger more ructions among the people on the other side of the chamber and eventually if Labour's slide into oblivion becomes too obvious Jeremy will eventually either fall on his sword or another massively damaging leader election happens again, throwing up the possibility that someone who might change things - for the perceived good - might appear and disrupt everything.

I can't help but notice how little Labour appears to be doing about everything. Not even my social media is buzzing - hell, it's not even murmuring inaudibly, so the theory that Jeremy and his team were all over the internet, cutting out the press, seems to be more hope than hit. PMQs is still an hour of backslapping and obfuscation at best and lies and slander at worst and Corbyn could beat Treeza in a wrestling match, with rabid wolverines, and the press would still call it a draw with the Tories regaining the moral high ground even if it is of a subterranean nature.

He doesn't stand a chance. I don't care that Labour are going to try and rebrand him in the New Year, it's too little far too late. Even if he was given a fair platform and some objectivity from the media he'd still probably struggle because NOTHING IS HAPPENING and a lot of that nothing is affecting potential supporters. His message just might not appeal to more than a bunch of internet bubbles.

But, I wanted Corbyn politics to work because I fear for the entire socialist movement in England and that people like me might end up being labelled 'dissidents' or 'subversives' because we don't subscribe the common right wing beliefs, meaning that 'liberal' speech might even be suppressed, probably by those who would have posted it, for fear of reprisals from who-knows-where.

There has been talk recently of a Progressive Socialist Alliance of Centre-Left and Left wing parties - an idea that seems like it has been born out of one of the Tories key issues not to vote for Labour at the last election. In a Britain that is to become divorced from the rest of Europe there is more need for the countries within it to work together in the interests of 'the Kingdom'. The Tories do not speak for Scotland and only have versions of themselves in Northern Ireland. In Wales, despite a waning support for Labour, the Tories are still unpopular in many areas and in England there are socialist heartlands, and more importantly, areas of the country which would have 'socialist' MPs if the centre and left parties worked with each other to stop the rise of the right.

But for this to happen Labour would need to do a deal with other parties and as we saw from Richmond, they'd rather lose their deposit and credibility than be seen working with someone with ultimately the same goal as them.
Labour would need to sit down with the SNP and forge an alliance that would mean Labour gives up Scotland, but works in a democratic partnership with Scotland to allow SNP MPs to vote along side them for the greater good. The Tories suggested this would mean the downfall of the UK if that happened at the last election, for many keeping Scotland happy is now the key to keeping the United bit with the Kingdom part.

It would also mean working with Plaid Cymru, the Liberals and to a much lesser extent the DUP, to ensure that someone other than a right wing candidate wins. It doesn't take you long to work out, looking at 30 marginal seats won by the Tories at the last two elections you can see that had an alliance been in place and the Liberals endorsed a Labour candidate and didn't stand against them and vice versa, those 30 seats wouldn't have been won by a Tory. Yes, it's simplistic and general, but convince the public that it's the best way and fairest way forward for Britain and it might just work.

But Labour still retains illusions of grandeur and the divisions within the party run so deep the entire concept is anathema to them from the top to the lowliest backbencher, because it would mean some of them possibly losing seats or would rest control to a coalition of similarly ideological but deeply different bedfellows. The problem is Britain has clung to it's left, middle and centre model for so long that change is happening and it's leaving politicians behind. How else can you explain the popularity of UKIP amongst a certain demographic and one which UKIP is exploiting to the glee of the Tory party?

If nothing else, a progressive coalition of Labour, SNP, Liberal and Green would at least have similar hymn sheets and could stem the tide of anti-tolerance, bigotry and hate that is becoming more public, by making a government that is both prosperous and tolerant of difference and diversity.

Still, however crazy the political landscape has become in the last 12 months, something that might actually be of benefit to more people in this country than ever before would not get house room and it might take the Tories to achieve complete breakdown of the country's economic and social stability to bring about a change for the benefit of both the country and the many.

Monday, 5 December 2016

No Soft Option

Having recently discovered that facts are irrelevant, I don't see the point in banging on relentlessly about this, that or the other. Take the EU exit for instance - no one knows what is going to happen; very few people really believe that the UK is going to get a better deal and the hard reality is that the other 27 EU countries are going to force limitations on what we want. They weren't that ecstatic we wanted out after all...

The truth is if we're coming out of the EU it has to be a HARD one, realistically there is no soft option. It will cost too much money and pretty much leave us in the same situation we were in except without any voice. The hard option will also cost us but it will be front loaded - costs will rise, some goods will no longer be available or no longer at prices the average person can afford and no one really knows how it will affect unemployment - it could go down. One thing is certain, the people who voted to leave because they believed it would be the best thing will be hurt either economically or emotionally.

The thing is Treeza and co., are all too aware that regardless of how you spin it, her party, UKIP and the right wing press have forced her into believing that the EU referendum was actually about migration and if that isn't addressed, then regardless of what the 48% wanted, there will be factions within the country who will deal with immigration in their own 'unique' ways. It might happen even if we close our borders, but the reality, at this moment in time, is that it will cost us a lot of money whatever way we choose and people will still want to blame migrant workers and the EU for it. Honestly, if the Tory's can - 7 years on - still blame Labour for the country's ills (never addressing the fact that in those 7 years they've made it actually worse) and get away with it, then if you're foreign then you'll pretty much take the flak for every hike in inflation, rise in unemployment, redundancy or failure to obtain a job.

The sad thing is regardless of the truth people will always blame the easiest thing. Migrants, for instance, don't steal peoples jobs. I'd like a Brexiteer to explain to me how migrants steal jobs? There is obviously not identity theft going on, so are these migrants infiltrating factories, working harder and offering to work harder for much less money? Even if this was the case, it would not be them stealing jobs, it would be employers preventing the indigenous from getting these jobs by a mixture of fraud and bad practice. There is no other way of looking at it. If you hear someone say, 'bloody foreigners stole my job,' you need to ask them how exactly their job was stolen and whose fault it was, really?

How about the country is full, there's no more room... Well, it isn't. That is about as facile a comment as a bunch of people with no authority promising you - the people - that £350million will go to the NHS if we pull out of Europe. Yes, we have a rise in homelessness, but is that because of migrants? Are you stealing peoples houses? Moving in surreptitiously at night, moving out a British person's belongings and acquiring their house by some medieval EU law? No, the truth is the government has made life so difficult for genuine strugglers that they face a Christmas with little or nothing. Because of the way our renting system is now you'd be lucky to get a stable at an affordable price. More affordable houses need to be built and while the government looks to the house sales market to keep the economy at least marginally 'balanced' there's unlikely to be any nice cheap homes for any of the disenfranchised to move into.

Of course, we can say without fear of contradiction that migrants are responsible for the strain on public services. I mean, it was obviously E|U migrants who slashed the public sector budgets and they've obviously been forcing the government to not build new hospitals or schools, or make public transport better, because it makes perfect sense that EUs will come here and destroy our services so they can access them easier...

Blaming migrants for the woes of the world is just blind refusal to blame the government - of which many people voted for. If by some UKIP fluke of nature and all migrants who have moved here since 2000 were deported, would we see a vast improvement in our lives? Would the government invest all that lost tax revenue back into ailing services, or, would they more likely award fat contracts to private companies making 'consolidation' their main aim.

The blame for migrants and the way they are seen is mainly at the feet of the right wing press, who seem so intent on stirring up hate it would seem their only intention is to cause some kind of civil race war within the country, presumably so they can then sit on their high horse and say they told us so. The Tories have to take a lot of the blame - they have it in their power to end hostility to migrants almost immediately, by gagging their pit bulls in the press and showing the stats that prove the migrant crisis isn't a crisis at all, just something blown out of proportion by the Mail, which has a history of essentially being neo-Nazi.

Obviously, Treeza won't do something as calamitous as admitting their incompetence is the main reason for the lack of things, nor will she rein in her media allies, so we have a situation where racism, or at least xenophobia, is allowed to escalate to the point where there are twats openly being arseholes all over the country and using freedom of speech to perpetuate their hate, while failing to see the irony in being called out by the fair people who they themselves have repeatedly abused.

Recently, a friend of mine commented on the Guardian's CiF section lambasting trolls as being worthless and hopeless antagonists who must have sad lives if the only pleasure they get is out of being nasty in a comments section. His comment was 'moderated' and deleted, despite having no bad language in it, but possibly being disrespectful to the people who do nothing but be disrespectful. His follow up comment complaining that the Guardian seemed keen to delete a message that was essentially criticising the Guardian for having double standards was also deleted. On the same page there were several attacks on 'hand wringing liberals' that went unmoderated. When a newspaper as (and I use this term loosely) moderate as the Guardian starts censoring people complaining about the lack of censorship from hate groups then you have to start wondering where we're going as a race.

The parallels to the 1930s are there for all to see and it's much faster because of social media and the new and different ways we have of communicating with each other. It isn't just migrants facing daily abuse; Pinko-liberals are getting it too. The left wing is now as much a target for the papers as migrants and presumably because some left wingers are pro-EU and believe in the freedom of movement. How long before those who advocate this are considered enemies of the people?

So the hard truth is a hard Brexit. Yes, all of us Pinko-liberals who voted remain will suffer the consequences, but they'll be no different than those who voted Leave. This won't be a Tory party pandering to those who voted for them and ignoring those who will never vote for them, this will be a real true moment of 'we're all in it together - whether we like it or not'. Apart from the cost, there's the social implications of a soft option - this is a generalisation but one with some basis in fact; quite simply Leave voters are more likely to cause problems than Remain voters and as I keep saying Treeza doesn't want to call a GE for a number of reasons, both legal and because if people don't vote for Labour and want to vote out the Tories, who does that leave?

As much as I'd like to think there could be a second referendum, I'm also acutely aware that should that vote be 53-47 in favour of staying after all, then there would be much more of a fight from the 47% than there has been by the current 48% of remainers. The sad truth is Brexiteers want you to accept a result they would never have accepted had it been a mirror result.

I also discount the claim that only 28% of the actual population voted for Leave. 72% of the people who could vote voted and frankly we have absolutely no way of knowing if that 28% would have swayed it towards Remain. I met an awful lot of people who had made their minds up they weren't voting because they thought they'd already lost. I think the country voted for Brexit because being out of Europe was some rainbow-shitting unicorn to solve all of our woes and the Leave campaign did a fantastic job of making the Remain camp out to be a bunch of scaremongering liars.

Quite simply, as I jokingly said two years ago, we need to exit and quick and then sit back and watch everything fall apart. However, I no longer believe that people who voted Remain should then rub it into the faces of those who voted Leave, because wars have been started for less.

Look at the options: decide against the vote and go back to the EU and renegotiate our membership - which isn't going to happen, but even if it did we've caused far too much disruption to expect anything in return. Or leave, jump off the cliff, and face the consequences and see if we have politicians and businessmen with the guile and acumen to sort it out and make the best of what will undeniably be a bad lot - for a few years at least.

The soft option angers too many and that's where Treeza is a bit of a populist and has angered some of her own MPs by being a bit UKIP-lite, presumably based on the combined readership of the right wing press. Hard Brexit might end up being a Pyrrhic victory for the Tories because, let's be honest about this, they've not really shown any evidence that they're any better with an economy than Labour, in fact now that they're borrowing more money than ever before they'd be hard pressed to accuse Labour of doing the same, especially as Labour might have borrowed too much but there is some actual evidence to suggest it was spent on infrastructure rather than feathering Richard Branson's pension fund.

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.