The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Monday, 27 March 2017

Past Caring

The wife and I were discussing 'social bubbles' the other day. I was surprised that she was taking an interest in one of my pet subjects but I soon realised that we were reading off the same hymn sheet, except she made a very salient point which was essentially the more 'social' you are the more likely you're going to become 'blind' to more and more of the real/outside world.

Actually 'blind' is the wrong word; intolerant is the real word but 'harsh' might be an even description. I've mentioned before that I'm growing more and more of the opinion that what we see on the news, hear on the radio and read in newspapers don't reflect what is going on every day on and around our streets. We are all told how the people feel about things and yet see polar opposite 'loonies' on social media. We get the press telling us how it is and because they set the agenda it can sometimes be frighteningly accurate; but try spending time within a 'socially classless environment' and transpose that against things like opinion polls and (if you could give a shit) you'd see that opinion polls are probably designed to sway your opinion rather than show you a fair representation of what people actually think. And what people actually think would require much soap in the mouth...

I realised about 6 weeks ago that I didn't have to try and instigate discussions with my fellow dog walkers about politics because eventually they would start it and however crude a stick to measure things by I'm more inclined to think my dozen or so dog walking chums represent pretty much a huge cross section of 'society'.

There is everything from a trendy 40-something teacher to a retired painter and decorator to a midwife to a 'retired' nurse who has just gone back to work at 68, to a prison chef to a retired plumber to a woman none of us have any idea about to a disabled 20-something - it is a cross section of opinions and needs and only one of them has admitted to voting remain and that was, quietly, to me because I've made no secret of it. I do get the feeling that this is perhaps an underlying black mark against me in the eyes of some of them; like they're getting into practice to start blaming me when they can't blame the EU or all those foreigners for the shit we're hurtling towards.

The point is this group of people have all, at some point in recent weeks, started a conversation about how shit everything is. From inflation to local council injustice, people are beginning to complain to each other again.

There are three people I know who are all in their 80s and one of them, a fascinating woman (called Pat) who could walk for Britain, said to me she can't remember a time since she's been alive where everyone was so unhappy and downtrodden despite having pretty much everything they need, if they so choose. She said to me (and I howled with agreeing laughter), "Someone on the wireless said it was like the country wants to return to the 1950s, I've done the 1950s and trust me, it was shit."

I was quite surprised that Comic Relief raised so much money for charity because I've been out and about far more in the last few weeks than I have in recent years and I saw nothing that remotely looked like fundraising or charity stunts (in fact the only bit of fundraising I've seen was related to CAFOD and was the day after Comic Relief, which was probably bad timing). The wife said she didn't see anything and nothing was done in her office for the first time she can remember and on my dog walk on Friday I saw many people and the only person talking about Comic Relief was complaining because they had to ferry their kids about for some fundraising thing which more than half of the girls involved had already pulled out of.

One of the more ... conservative of the dog walkers was complaining about inflation the other day and part of me was itching to point out that the inflation might have happened anyhow but it was more likely to be linked to the impending Brexit than any other factors, even if some people try to justify the not-so slow erosion of our economy on puerile excuses like 'Sterling was overpriced and needed reassessing,' or 'Inflation means people will be better off in the long run' - which I have seen and heard an actual politician say. Apparently inflation drives wages up, which seems to be the latest insane 'logic' except it does drive wages up, but only at about a fifth of the rate of inflation - look at history, there are zero examples of it being anything other than this.

This is neither here nor there, the thing is if my circle of dog walking friends is reflective of the country as a whole then nobody is happy. Take 10 of us: 3 retired but 1 back in part time work; 5 in work, two of which part time; 2 unemployed - the youngest and me - isn't that pretty much a reflection of the country (except there aren't any foreigners, but that might be a dog/cultural thing)? The 22-year-old has still got some exuberance but you can see the frustration that she's never going to have the things she wants beginning to encroach on her eyes; she's still amazingly elastic and bouncy but you see the sad realisation that despite being a good person the country probably isn't going to reward her or even help her become something better and despite not being a parent, it still sickens me that Tories especially should show such scant regard for education when it is probably the most important thing in the world now - kids need to be taught, the truth, as much as possible to prepare them to be more than just blank automatons, because we are heading that way.

This brings us round to the incident in London last week; it has, to my amazement, been a topic of conversation for the people standing in the sunny corners of the old cow field and everyone of them, apart from the social media-attached 22 year old couldn't give a shit. They were not interested in it; turned the TV over and watched rubbish they would never watch to avoid facing more bad news. They don't care if it was done by a Muslim, a Pole, a psycho Millwall fan, Santa Claus or some celebrity from TOWIE - they DON'T CARE. Turn it off. Leave us alone. Life is shit we don't want to see it on the screens all the time.

No one cares, really. They might put on a different face at work or home, but in the classless environment of the cow field they speak their minds. When they say they're fed up with it, they mean all the incessant fearmongering and bad news; they're not fed up with the event but they want the event to be at the head of the news before moving quickly onto the cuddly kitten story or the football results. The impression I'm getting more and more of is People are Cared Out. The more people start to care less the tighter they become embroiled in their own even tighter circles of social media friends. I've met people in their 20s who honestly believe that because they emoticon on social media about social things they're contributing to its improvement. Really.

Our governments don't see education as being in their long term interests; jeez, the last thing any self-serving politician wants is a population that thinks for itself. What am I on for even thinking such a thing?

I'm sure the majority of the charity that comes in now comes from people who can't afford it or companies and corporations who want the association. The Tories probably look at charity and wonder if the only way to balance the books after Brexit is to end all public services and hope that charities fill the void then that is where we are headed. I once said there were things the private sector simply couldn't be allowed to do or wouldn't because there's no money to be made from it, but I'm no longer sure that our current government couldn't sell the air you are breathing back to you, especially if they think they can squeeze just a little bit more from you.

But 'we' voted them in, 'we' are allowing them to steer us into the future and 'we' will almost definitely vote them in again in 2020 because the people that really run the country want that and the more people grow to hate politicians the fewer people will vote making government's 'mandates' as solid as a house made of blancmange. Democracy is probably dead now, anyhow.

This is where we are. It's a bit shit whatever way you look at it.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

How Did we Get Here?

When Liz Truss, the Justice Secretary, failed to condemn daily newspapers for castigating high court judges applying the law that the aforementioned daily newspapers fought such a hard Leave campaign for, it suggests, yet again, that we have politicians who either don't know the rules and laws of politics or are wilfully ignoring them for political purpose. This alone suggests that the UK is no longer being run by politicians, diplomats and multi-tasking bureaucrats, but by largely incompetent, selfish, self-serving individuals and this means that the two most powerful English speaking countries in the world are run by idiots who shout bullshit louder than the common sense and have glamoured ignorant people, not interested or disillusioned with politics.

How else would you explain the slightly surreal state of the world at the moment?

Honestly, the ill-informed really need to start paying attention and not be distracted by issues for which they get emotionally charged about. It isn't the Romanians/Poles fault you a) haven't got a job b) can't get a hospital appointment c) face an uncertain future, or d) are a feckless racist wanker (whose time is running out because once you get your own way you need to deal with it or be found out). It is the fault of successive governments making money from the freedom of movement across the EU. The introduction of a minimum wage and workplace pensions pretty much put paid to unscrupulous employers giving jobs to Europeans because £4 an hour is still four times what they'd get in Budapest or Wroclaw. But why allow facts to get in the way of being xenophobic?

Look, being pissed off that Treeza May wasn't elected is as helpful as hoping that Trump gets impeached/assassinated/goes mad - what do you get if that happens? The same asylum, just different lunatics.

Maybe it's time to ban people who want to go into politics from going into politics; in the long run it will be in the majority's interest. Passionate politics fans tend to be either Right or Left and at the moment we probably need a few decades of Firmly In The Middle and our experience, albeit brief and unpleasant, of that didn't work out well for anyone.

So, with Labour being steered towards another meltdown as Brexit activation date approaches (to take the focus away from the government) and then two years of inflation-fuelled anxiety, fear and probable increased recriminations as some things, not all, go utterly Pete Tong, and the Lib Dems thinking that becoming the Third Party again will have any lasting impact highly delusional, we've got to hope the Tory's own deep-set fissures can either make the coming hurt less painful or offer us a painless way out.

Maybe we'll get cyanide pills or no death duties and a state paid funeral if you save governments money by killing yourself?

When we reach a point in the UK's history when a party responsible for more heartache and pain than Thatcher's 1980s version is 17 points ahead in the polls because their opposition, all of their opposition, are more of a laughing stock than they are... Isn't it time someone with some authority looked at the entire thing and came up with a better and fairer way of having MPs, a parliament and government that is in place to serve the people as an entirety rather than as a select few?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Inflate NOW!

So... the price of food is going up and not just because Spain has had a harsh winter. (There be irony in that statement beyond the pale) Food inflation is expected to reach 3% next month, compared to the 1.6% of this month and the -0.8% of the previous month. Your food is now going to go up in price.

Rewind to the autumn of 1971. My mum is working in a greengrocer's, in a shopping precinct, in Daventry and the price of spuds has just gone up from essentially 2d a pound (at Christmas 1970) to 3p a pound in the September of 71. The reasons for this huge rise in price was two-fold: a poor summer and autumn meant much of the crop was lost and the hangover of decimalisation; although decimalisation did seem to be a perfect opportunity of rising the price of some things by 100% without anyone really noticing. For some strange reason, despite only being 9 and not really showing any great affinity to maths or economics, something my mum said, over dinner one night, has stuck with me for 45 years. Mum was only 38 then and hearing her talk about 'old women' seemed strange to someone who thought all adults were 'old'.

She said something along the lines of this: "Two old women were in the shop today complaining about the price of potatoes. One of them said the price would go down soon, especially if we had a decent summer next year. I said to them, surely they were old enough to realise that prices never really go down." I suppose it was my first example of my rarely cynical mother being highly cynical and that is why it stayed with me, that and the fact that she was dead right - prices never really go down. You could argue that up until February food prices had been steadily declining over the space of the last year or so and, in real terms, have dropped remarkably since 1971. You only have to watch that fabulous Further Back in Time for Dinner and see how much more better off we are now, with our courgetti and our smoothies than we were with a bruised and warty apple or a gnarly spud covered in cow shit.

To say that all of the costs around food production have dropped, either through technology or cheap labour is almost a crass example of proving that food prices have come down, but it is a fact. The cost of your dinner isn't just what you paid for at the shop; it's the fuel used to prepare or store it, it's the energy used to propel it across the world or country; the packaging, the labour, the taxes... I know, you don't want to know or understand this, but it is a FACT. Unless you grow your own food, on your own land, using as little outside influences as possible, you might be able to grow a pound of potatoes for about 3p - in real terms.

I read something last week that both infuriated me and caused me bemusement, disbelief and amusement in equal measure. An alleged Remain voter saying that now inflation was 1.6% it was cheaper to buy food than it was because the underlying pay increases are 2%, so we're all better off. What was worse was when EVERY CONCEIVABLE point was made to prove to her that her statement was ignorant, insulting and plain wrong was met with an obstinacy I've rarely seen before; this person made the 'I voted Leave because of bent bananas' woman seem like a brain surgeon.

The argument is not going to be repeated here, not in full anyhow, but after everyone pointed out everything from inflation being monthly and wage rises being annual, to most people don't get wage rises (only the rich get them and they're usually massive ones which make the poor seem like they get one after averages come in) and haven't - in real terms - for seven years, so any increase is going to cost them, whether it is 0.001% or 50%, the person arguing her side concluded that [leaving the EU] really is a good thing in the long run because it will force people to shop at cheaper shops, thus forcing supermarkets to drop their prices while simultaneously ensuring their British staff get paid a fair amount of money... This person actually exists - she inhabits a discussion on inflation on The Guardian site and rides a rainbow-shitting unicorn through the golden streets of Moss Side... It's people like this that make fair-minded socialists like me understand why Neo-Nazism has become so popular...

The feeling seems to be that leaving the EU is now definitely going to increase food prices until our ministers can negotiate a deal with the EU and other countries to be able to import all of food for either exactly the same rates or less than we're currently paying as part of one of the largest economic blocs in the world - which is a statement almost as bizarre as the one in the paragraph above. The harsh reality is that supermarkets operate on a profit and loss basis, except without the loss bit. In general food prices are driven down by giving the producer of said food less money for it - outside of special offers, etc. You hear horror stories of major supermarkets holding fruit and vegetable growers to ransom and this is the model you can expect, this is why agriculture likes foreign workers, because they'll do it well for little fuss and seasonally. When people claim that leaving the EU will force employers to pay more for British staff, what actual reality are these people living in and has the rainbow-shitting unicorn done a whoopsie in your mouth?

Imagine this scenario. Employer A: I can employ 100 EU migrant workers (possibly for less than minimum wage), they want the job, will work hard and I make maximum profit, in a short window of time, from the supermarket.

Employer B: I can't employ 100 unemployed Brits, so the DWP has forced them to work for me. They don't want the job and do not do it satisfactorily for the National minimum wage and I am in danger of it not being harvested before it starts to rot in the fields and the supermarkets are demanding product, for less money, than I have to give them.

I mean we all know that once we start deporting all the people who clean the shit up in our already governmentally-ransacked NHS, it'll be down to us feckless Brits to find someone who will actually willingly do that kind of work. And how many people rely on immigrants to wipe their demented parents' arses, or bring them food in a care home, or treat them with a damned sight more respect than some questionably dodgy Brit who resents waiting on some old twat? Imagine a workforce that doesn't want to do it picking your strawberries or wiping your poor old mum's private parts?

Of course, there are the imbeciles who will argue that it's what we did in the 50s or 60s, but I have to point out to them that a lot of water has gone under the bridge since those halcyon days and I don't want my cheese rationed in 2017 or eat bread made partly with saw dust or have an outside toilet. Do I need to give you a very long list of what wasn't better than today in the 1950s or will you think I'm lying because I wasn't there? Maybe I'm doing it to deliberately screw up the post-Brexit economy; because all of those Brexiteers will need someone to blame when a loaf of bread is £2.50 because of wheat prices and once you get used to paying £2.50 for it, what's the point in bringing the price down? I mean, prices rarely really come down.

Watching our government, the trending signs from the economy and the fact that Conservatives like Ken Clarke and Michael bleedin' Hesseltine defending poor people with more vigour than you could imagine was possible surely must make you realise that the precipice is hurtling towards us, our guides are blind and retarded and we have a dead duck as an umbrella.

But, it's a price worth paying, isn't it? Having all this sovereignty and control back? The fact that Brexiteers are now rebelling against the sovereignty and control they originally asked for - presumably because they disagree with it - suggests a lot of misery and death has to happen before these pillocks of society realise what they have done.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

A Fait Accompli

I like Jeremy Corbyn. I was a supporter and in a small way I still am. There's little out there on the political landscape that appeals and a man of principles is better than a greed driven self-motivated egotist - which is an apt description for most career politicians. I have also made it quite public that I no longer think he's the right man for the job and while I vehemently will deny this decision has anything to do with the press, I know in my heart that the reason for my volte face is because of the press...

I've had a long running 'argument' with some good friends about Corbyn's 'elect-ability' and I have essentially stuck to my belief that their beliefs are tainted by the media. My friends argue that the media has nothing to do with their beliefs. My argument was always that even if they avoided the news, the TV, the internet, their opinions will be forged in some way by word of mouth, overheard views and opinions or discussions in the pub and the purveying message given by the media has been relentless - Jeremy Corbyn in unelectable. Labour is in disarray.

In many ways it isn't wrong. Labour is in disarray because they can't remain united in the way the Tories can - because most are not driven by greed - and it would appear that as many as half of them would rather put themselves before their constituents and the man elected as their leader. Labour wouldn't have had half the problems it has had if they'd tried to seem united. As it stands, the press don't have to make up news to make Labour look bad; they can do that all by themselves.

I recently wrote a blog about my fellow dog walkers and their opinions of the Labour leader - as a cross section of opinion taken in a moment in time - and it was the thing that actually made me realise that it doesn't matter what he does, he's onto a hiding to nothing. What he represents isn't what the money in the country represents, so they must destroy him to preserve their own comfort. it's obvious, but it's also obvious there is no viable alternative place to get unbiased news and opinion that is going to be taken as seriously as a BBC or an ITN or a Sky or a Daily Mail, Express, Star, Telegraph or Sun. You know this; everyone knows this. You believe Paul Dacre when he says all migrants are scum because the Daily Mail is the country's favourite newspaper and has been around since forever. The Canary is a Russian-backed pro-left wing website that has been around for three years and can't be trusted. This is about basic human instinct and understanding and while familiarity breeds contempt it also legitimises things.

But if you, like my friends, don't have anything to do with any of these media outlets, then where do your opinions come from? If my friends could list all the alternative news sites they've been to compared to all the BBCs and news feeds they happen to stumble across while actively NOT being influenced by the media, then perhaps they're right; but, you see, my change of heart about Corbyn was based on the press - not what they had to say but what they weren't saying and how the alternative voice wasn't even being allowed to be heard. It's what I was trying to suggest to my friends that influenced them too (but people don't like being 'talked down to' even by friends).

Look, if you shout FIRE enough, people will believe there's a fire, even if the people are far down the street and they're just picking up the news of the fire from neighbours, etc. The media can change your opinion of something by deliberately ignoring it - take the civil war in Syria against the one in Yemen. I'd bet most people weren't even aware there's a far worse atrocity being committed in the Middle East than Assad's little ideological civil war. The Saudi's are committing genocide, but we've got a lot of money tied up with the Saudi's, so the nightmare that is Yemen is barely touched on. If that can happen, then not talking about any of the successes Corbyn had (and he's had a few if you look for them) means people don't know about them and he just looks totally ineffectual, because there's no coverage of him.

Do you think if he stood up and called out the press it would do any good? It would just be spun into something even more detrimental.And I supported his policy of ignoring the press as much as he could be allowed to; the problem is Corbyn bashing never stopped being front page news; the right wing media didn't get bored of it and their readers - mostly right wing or worse still Blairites - lap it up.

The people who should be looked at with the utmost scrutiny, who have allowed the Labour Party to be decimated for their own interests are the Labour MPs who put themselves forward as more important than the people they represent. MPs prepared to sacrifice ten years of your life rather than actually adopt some socialist views and think about the future beyond their own pathetic lives. That is who is to blame here, not the 'ineffectual' Corbyn and not really the right wing media - because they're right wing...

So now we have a leader who obstinately refuses to do the right thing - probably because he's scared out of his mind at Labour being run by another version of Blair and the re-transformation back into the Socialist Conservative Party - and no realistic chance of winning another election unless they change their politics to reflect the mood of the nation. The Tory's might seem like UKIP lite at the moment, but considering how unpopular they supposedly are, they're beating Labour in by-elections and that might be down to the fact that things such as immigration have to be addressed seriously and discussed, not swept under the carpet because they believe it has no place in politics.

I've been saying for a long time that politics has changed; the priorities are 21st century now and part of that is the rise of intolerance and self-interest. You can bet your life that the Tories will do very little about 21st century issues, but they'll make sure the debate is seen and people will think these things are being addressed, even if they aren't. Brexit makes scrutiny of immigration difficult to circumvent, but this is the Tory party, they are in power and have no obvious opposition; if they can't conjure up the illusion of change better than anyone else then we're all buggered. Labour needs to return to the slick feel of Blair without the bad taste; they need to be seen as being progressive and addressing issues that have slowly driven a wedge between them and disparate voters - they can't do that with Corbyn because too many people have been influenced, whether directly or indirectly, to believe he's no good. History will probably suggest he was much better than we think, but that is little comfort to people desperate for labour to fight for them.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Nothing is Coincidental

Has the irony sunk home yet? I'm presuming that it is so obvious that no one is linking it to anything because they figure everyone will see it? I mean, this time it's bad weather, but once we're no longer beholden to Spain, Holland and Greece for our supplies of salads and summer vegetables during the most barren months of winter, don't you think that vegetable rationing and the need to import fruit and veg from even further afield, contributing to pollution by having those of us who like a bit of lettuce during the winter getting it from Malaysia rather than Spain, could end up being what supermarkets are more likely to be like post Brexit?

NPower's massive price hike on electricity is also something you should be paying attention to, especially as we're no longer able to use only our own gas and oil now it is running low. Do you honestly think when EON or NPower or one of the other of the Big 6 energy suppliers say that their increasing price rises are down to Brexit and the higher cost of buying fuel the majority of people will be happy about it because we have control again? Some might, but frankly they can as proud as a priapic pig between now and when they freeze to death for all I care. This is what they wanted, this is what they'll probably get.

Now, I desperately want Brexit to succeed, from a personal position (but I'd love to see it fail from an anthropological standpoint) because in this case I don't mind being proved wrong. In fact, I desperately want all those Leave twats to be able to remind me of the fact every day, because, frankly, if it makes life better than it is I will happily accept it, even if that sounds a tad hypercritical. The thing is when David Davis stands up in Parliament and tells us all to 'be a bit optimistic, for heaven's sake' I want to, but a) we've just quit an excellent club that 50% of the population simply didn't understand and were never properly educated about and b) THE TORIES!!!

The thing is I think many of you will probably think that there will be shortages of things, and price rises and the need to return to more seasonal produce even if it means pissing off the worthlessly selfish consumers. I expect the government is already viewing the extra food needed to be supplied by our own farmers as a good enough reason not to subsidise any of them and now that our fishermen can strip mine our waters for anything that can be eaten, the price of food will drop until there's nothing left. Then what if people can't get stuff? Can you imagine the red pepper becoming a luxury item? Some Del-Boy taking a boat over to Holland to score consignments of Dutch salad vegetables.

I think we also expect energy bills to increase, and with the introduction of a number of 'measures' to ensure our path out of the EU is not as fraught as it could be, I expect we'll feel both 'safer' and more 'encompassed' by the time 2019 comes around. Maybe a little thinner, which obviously will be good for all those obese people.

Anyone who seriously thinks that life will be cheaper, variety will be greater and happiness will be so much easier to find than it is now, please tell me how this is going to be achieved. I don't want soundbites or optimistic bollocks, I'd like some actual evidence that what 52% of the people voted for wasn't a one way path to oblivion.

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?