The Result

So, things did not go As Planned. For anybody, judging by the resignations and frantic back-pedalling. And you know what? Some people are quite upset about that – with good reason.

Ian Hislop gets applauded

Many people have given their opinion on this, and they are broadly split into three camps: Those who voted Remain are reminding people that the referendum was not legally binding, that the margin of victory was far from decisive, that two months ago one of the key figures of the Leave campaign said that if the result was this close in favour of Remain it would be “unfinished business”, that with a turnout of 72% just under two-fifths of the country voted for Brexit, that about a million Leave voters have said they would vote the other way if they had the chance again, that all the predictions of economic disaster are coming true, that within 24 hours of the result senior figures of the Leave campaign had admitted they were lying about their campaign promises or that they couldn’t actually do anything towards keeping their promises, that hate crime incidences have sky-rocketed since the result, and that all the senior figures of the Leave campaign raced to wash their hands of their involvement in the whole thing. The second camp consists of those who voted Leave for considered reasons, who made an informed choice, and are maybe not entirely happy with the outcome but in their opinion it is better than Remaining, who are mainly trying to broker peace and get things back to what passes for normal. And then there’s the third camp, which consists of the ignorant, the xenophobic, the nostalgic and the just plain stupid. These people are the ones who are saying, “put up and shut up,” or, “that’s democracy, live with it,” and are completely ignoring the political and economic clusterfuck because it can’t be summed up in a tabloid headline or a soundbite from Sky News. And there is a significant hard-core minority of them who seem to believe that half the country agree completely with their extremist views.

To the second camp, I have this to say: Fair enough. You considered the facts, you made you choice, and you’re being practical. I do not agree with your choice and I do not like it, but since it’s your choice that you made after hearing arguments from both sides and engaging your brain, there’s not a lot I can do except work with you to try and make sure the future of this country isn’t entirely doom-laden. Of course, if I find out that you didn’t engage your brain, then what I have to say to you will change to: Fuckwit.

To the first and third camps, I have this to say: Democracy doesn’t end with a vote – it starts with one.

Even if there were a general election tomorrow and the winner was a coalition of a de-Blairited Labour, the Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP, I would not stop my political activism. There’s quite a few things I disagree with from all those parties, some of which affect me personally. Despite being a lot more engaged with normal people than the Tories, there are just some issues that have to take priority for the good of the country, and that means that some of the things I care about will have to go on the back burner for a while. It will be my (and everybody else who feels the same way) job – duty even – to make sure that those issues are brought forward and acted upon.

I will keep on doing what I can to remind people (especially the political class) that leaving the EU is not what the country wants – it might be what a loud and obnoxious proportion of the population wants, but it is nowhere near what a majority of people want, nor what the country as a whole needs. Just because a handful of tax-dodging right-wing sociopaths control the majority of the mainstream media, and there’s enough people who believe everything they read without thinking about it because thinking is too much effort, doesn’t mean that we should capitulate to their demands, especially if the results of those demands will cripple the country’s economy (GBP shot to all-time low and stockmarkets plummeted after the result), workforce (26% of NHS medical staff are not UK-born, and 60% of immigrants already have a job lined up when they arrive), scientific endeavour (most scientific funding in this country comes from the EU), infrastructure (most of the money for road repairs and natural disaster response comes from the EU, especially in regions like Yorkshire, Wales, Cornwall, etc), and equality (the two remaining contenders for the Tory leadership race have both stated their intentions to shit all over human rights and social mobility).

In the past, it was the domain of Tory MPs to say that, “we know best,” and that the public have elected them for the next five years so we don’t need to bother our empty heads about how the country is run. That may have been true 150 years ago when most people couldn’t read and information was handed down on a need-to-know basis from on-high, but it certainly isn’t true today. Nowadays everyone can read, and information is freely available to everyone – and the channels where it actually is free are a whole lot more reputable and less biased than the channels where you have to pay. Protests, petitions, strikes, artworks of all kinds – these things exist and they do help change politicians’ minds. They need to be used, here and now and on this subject. Because since the referendum, the troglodytes who voted out of prejudice and ignorance have been saying, “we know best,” and that no-one else needs to bother about how the country is doing because the Decision Has Been Made.

No. Not in my name. That is not my country. My country is not one of ignorance, prejudice and hatred. My country is not one where everyone mindlessly does what those with more perceived authority tell them to do, or thinks what those with the loudest voices tell them to think.

My country is a country where people think and act for themselves; a country where people are accepted for their talents and abilities, not their birth or their money; a country where our elected representatives work with us and for us, not where they assume they are untouchable and all-knowing simply because they won a popularity contest; a country where people take responsibility for themselves, for their actions, and for the environment in which they live, not where people can get away with fucking things up then taking the money and running.

Democracy starts with a vote.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The EU Referendum

I am seeing a lot of very stupid people out there, almost all of them on the Leave side. No matter how reasoned the argument, no matter how reputable the sources, most people on the Leave side simply do not want to believe the facts they are being presented with. It doesn’t matter to them that nine out of ten experts/sources in pretty much every field agree, if it happens to disagree with them then it must be a lie and/or part of a conspiracy by Authority to hoodwink the rest of the population (not them, of course, they are among the few people to be able to see through it all) into blindly following The Powers That Be like mindless sheep.

The irony is staggering.

Here’s all this evidence – we went and researched it, we took information from multiple sources, we have actively analysed it and presented our interpretation of it – and now someone is saying that it’s all lies by the Remain campaign to try and get you to vote In, and you’re going to fall for it because you’re such a mindless sheep.

Okay then, you say, where’s the evidence to back up your position?

Oh, they say, I don’t need evidence, I just know, you have to trust me. Or they point you towards the official Leave propaganda, or a conspiracy theory site, or a rag of a newspaper with a known and obvious bias. You’re citing the Daily Mail as proof that Argument-X is false? Jesus fucking H Christ! The job of a Daily Mail journalist is to stir up hate and xenophobia so they can sell newspapers!

There’s a rumour going around that the EU is intending to build its’ own army, so therefore we should leave. What? What the actual fuck? If the EU is building its’ own army (for which I have not seen one single shred of reputable evidence), how is leaving going to make us safer? As part of the EU, our armed forces would be part of this hypothetical EU army, and we would not be subject to attack by it if someone in Brussels goes all Napoleon and decides that now’s a good time to declare war. On the other hand, if we leave the EU then the UK’s armed forces would be separate from the hypothetical EU army, vastly outnumbered by it, and we would probably be the first target of an attack if someone decides they need a convenient war to unify the continent. After all, the UK has just pissed off pretty much everybody else in Europe by leaving the EU after calling them all unfair control freaks, so that puts us at the top of the list for revenge and forcible inclusion in a new European Superstate. Did it never cross the tiny minds of the Leave supporters that out of the EU we would have no influence on how the EU develops, but as part of it we can influence and change it?

By now, someone will probably be saying that the current UK government has done fuck all to curb the excesses and corruption of the EU. That’s true. What is also true is that we can get a new government in four years, but if we leave the EU it is forever. We won’t be able to go back to them in five years and say, “sorry we changed out minds, we’d like to re-join the club.” They’ll tell us to sod off; why do you think, that after laying so much of the groundwork for the EEC in the immediate post-WW2 years that the UK didn’t join? Because France kept vetoing our membership until DeGaulle died and we were allowed to join in the early 70s. Leaving will piss everyone off and France and Germany will say, “we managed without you before the 70s, we can manage without you again.” The EEC that we joined evolved into the EC, then into the EU. The world changed, and we changed with it. If we leave, we’ll be going back to how the world was in the late 1960s, but the rest of the world will be in the 2010s.

Perhaps one of the most important reasons to stay in the EU is that access to the EU’s court system provides another layer of checks on the government’s power, particularly in the area of Human Rights. And that’s the cue for Brexiters to say something like, “oh yeah, since the EU’s done such a bang-up job of protecting British Citizens’ human rights for the last six years, what with the government trying to kill all the poor people and the disabled through sanctions.” And to that, the response is, “have you told them?” The Human Rights Act, which allows the European Courts of Justice to intervene in UK legal matters concerning the humane and ethical treatment of people, is not a magical document that automatically brings down the wrath of international judges on the heads of government ministers who try and pass illegal laws. There has to be a process, where those affected by said laws first appeal against them through the legal system of this country, and only when all possible avenues of appeal in the UK have been exhausted, only then does the EU get involved. Now here’s the thing – in this category, somewhere above 80% of court decisions go against the government at the first tier; There have been at least a dozen studies, some of them commissioned by the DWP themselves, that state that government policy is doing more harm than good; Hundreds of thousands of petition signatures have been made, calling on the government to scrap their unfair and illegal policies. The court system of this country is working, and sooner or later the government will change their policies. Intervention by the ECoJ citing the ECHR will merely tip the balance heavily towards “sooner”, but the most important piece of information here is to note that the ECoJ cannot take action until a case comes to their attention and/or they are officially notified that there is a problem. Unfortunately, the mechanism for doing so is costly, complicated, and needs government intervention.

Then there are the people who want to take us out of the EU in an attempt to get the current government out of power. Well, that ain’t gonna happen. The most likely thing would be for David Cameron to resign, Boris Johnson to be elected leader of the Tory party (and hence PM), and he builds a cabinet around the core members of the Leave campaign. Now, I will be among the first to accuse Cameron, May, Osborne, Hunt, Javid and so on of doing their absolute best to cripple and/or destroy the NHS, the education system, British industry, the welfare state, and civil liberties. However, despite their ideology-based destruction of everything that doesn’t make them personally richer, I trust them with all those things a lot more than I would trust Johnson, Gove, Duncan-Smith, Farage and Patel with them. While Cameron and co are compulsive liars with no relevant qualifications or understanding of the things they are in charge of, and they are borderline sociopathic ideologues following a corrupt and broken system, Johnson et al are even more so. Farage in particular is rabidly hard right, Johnson doesn’t have two braincells to rub together, and Duncan-Smith and Gove have proved during their time in the cabinet that they have no understanding of the portfolios they were managing, nor sympathy for the people affected by their insane, unfair, sociopathic and illegal policies.

Please, stop thinking only in the short term and about your own selfish, uneducated and prejudiced desires. Think about the long-term, and what’s good for the whole country. The key figures of the Leave campaign couldn’t care less about the average citizen, beyond the fact that they might be gullible enough to vote for their side – every senior person on the Leave campaign, and their bank-rollers, are rich enough to not be affected in any way whatsoever by the economic hit the country will take if we leave the EU. Not so the vast majority of the population of this country. On multiple occasions, senior figures on the Leave campaign have said they cannot guarantee peoples’ jobs, that job losses and a slower economy are an acceptable price to pay for leaving the EU. That’s because they don’t care – they are millionaires, they have lucrative jobs, they are part of the Establishment, and they will not suffer in the slightest upon Britain leaving the EU; almost certainly, they have already arranged matters so that they will be even more enriched in case of Brexit.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEiR10Q3HoE&feature=youtu.be

Posted in Economics, Politics, Power | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sorting Algorithm of Housework

My flat really needs a hoover. But I hate hoovering. What else can I do?

I could clean the bog.

Washing up! Is there any washing up? A tiny amount, there’d be no point until after I’ve cooked dinner this evening. What else is there to do?

I could clean the bog.

Place is getting a bit messy, could do with tidying up. Meh, I can still see over 90% of the floor. Anything else?

I could clean the bog.

Laundry? No, the basket’s not full, there’s not enough for a full load. Give it a few more days. Owt else?

I could clean the bog.

I’m out of bread. But it’s a ten minute walk to the shops, and it’s just one loaf of bread. There must be something else?

I could clean the bog.

I could sew up the holes in my jacket pocket and sleeve. Or I could fix the door. Or I could assemble that bookcase I got from Ikea over a year ago. The jacket can wait until it’s warm enough to wear the lighter one, and the door still works, and it’s not like there are books lying on the floor. Is there anything else that needs doing?

I could clean the bog.

I should probably clean the bog, yeah.

Posted in Brian | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Have Sword & Sorcery: Will Travel™ Free Book Offer

GOOD NEWS – BUY 3 GET 1 FREE!

Go to Lulu.com, buy four print copies of my books, and the cheapest will be free. Just use coupon code TRGE15

EBooks also available, but there’s no discount on them (they’re much cheaper anyway).

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tonight’s Movie

Willow

“Aeric, let me out and gimme a sword – I’ll win this war for you!”

 

Posted in Movie | Tagged | Leave a comment

Last Night’s Movie

Stardust

“Why would I kill my sister when these two cretins are still alive?”

Also, March’s View

Posted in Movie, The View | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The People-leaving-their-country-of-origin Crisis

Otherwise known as the “refugee crisis”. Definitely not the “migrant crisis”, because the only crisis involving migrants is one waiting to happen. You want to stop all immigration and deport all migrants already here? Fine – just be prepared to strip the NHS, the fire service, the bus companies, the post office, and the Small Trades Union of half their staff.

Let’s be clear here: A refugee is someone who flees a country because to stay is to risk serious bodily/mental harm and/or death. A migrant is someone who elects to move to live and/or work in another country because they prefer the economic/atmospheric/social conditions. Migrants are not only plumbers, carpenters, doctors, nurses, postmen, bus drivers, cleaners, social workers, sportsmen, electricians, journalists, lawyers, and so on, they are also pensioners who move to a different country to enjoy their retirement. I would bet a large amount of money that most of the 1million British citizens living in Spain (a number which, in itself, is nearly half the total number of British citizens living in Europe) are retired people. But for some reason, whenever a British citizen moves abroad to live and/or work, they are called an ex-pat(riate), not a migrant. When non-British citizens try and move to Britain they are always called (im)migrants, not ex-pats of their country of origin. Incidentally, 2.2million British citizens have emigrated to countries in Europe, 2.3milion non-British EU citizens have immigrated to Britain, and 2.5million non-EU citizens have immigrated to Britain.

So, why all this fuss about people scrambling to get away from places where they face a daily risk of being killed/maimed/traumatised? It’s mainly because most of them want to come and live here. But why the fuck would they want to? Britain is a piss-poor place to live right now, for natives, let alone foreigners! I mean, the government is a bunch of economically illiterate regressive authoritarian right-wing ideologues engaged in a war against the poor, the sick, the disabled, anyone who disagrees with them, and anyone who can’t afford to give them or their party £50,000 from spare change. There’s no jobs, the few that exist don’t pay enough to live on, you can’t afford to buy a place to live without an income that’s closer to six figures than four, and the weather’s shit.

So why do people from Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria all head across the Mediterranean, through Greece, the Balkans, Austria, Germany, France, and to try and end up in Britain?

It can’t be because of the money they can get on benefits, because in the UK the amount of money you get when unemployed (the replacement rate, if you want to google it) is only 19% of the average wage – compared to ~65% in Portugal and Spain, ~55% in Ukraine, ~50% in Russia, Tunisia, Finland, France and Bulgaria, ~40% in Austria and Belgium, ~35% in Germany, Greece and Egypt, and ~22% in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.

It’s not because English is the world’s language – English is the world’s third most-spoken language. Spanish is second, and the number of English and Spanish speakers together do not outnumber Mandarin Chinese speakers. Hindi is fourth, Bengali fifth, then Portuguese, then Russian, then Japanese, and that’s still only about a third of the world’s population. One-sixth of the world speaks German, Javanese, Wu Chinese, Telugu, Vietnamese, Marathi, French, Korean, Tamil, Panjabi, Italian, Urdu, Yue Chinese, Egyptian Arabic, Turkish, Min Nan Chinese, and Gujarati. The other 50% of the world’s population speak lots of something elses.

It can’t be because they’re assured a warm welcome – just look at all the hate-filled bile and vitriol that gets spewed out by the mainstream press (which, incidentally, is massively dominated by right-wing capitalists who make more money by stirring up hate).

It’s not because they can get a better life – as mentioned earlier, there are very few jobs available, and none of them that a refugee could get pay enough to live on. So they would have to rely on state benefits, and be labelled scroungers as well as all the xenophobic epithets promoted by the press. Plus there’s the daily threat of being attacked just for being recognised as a refugee, and the strain of living in a country where they don’t speak the language too well or know the customs. But before all that, there’s the humiliating time when the government assess whether they are allowed to stay in the country, which can last several months, where they are housed in low-maintenance barracks, which often means unsanitary conditions, not being allowed out past the barbed wire fence surrounding the complex, while day after day people working for a company who have a contract where they get paid by the number of people they can refuse entry to, come and talk to them and ask them questions that they can’t answer.

It’s certainly not because of the weather.

Well okay, why do they leave in the first place? And why don’t they go somewhere closer to them? Well, lets see: If you were living in a country with a civil war going on, with a bunch of religious fanatics running around the place killing anyone they thought disagreed with them and raping anyone that does, and half a dozen other countries bombing bits of your country because there might be someone from one of the sides in the civil war or one of the religious fanatics in the area – wouldn’t you want to leave?

Some people might ask why they don’t stay and fight for what’s theirs? Okay then: You are a random ordinary citizen living in Syria. You have a spouse and two children. No one in your family is particularly religious or political, you don’t know anyone who is – or at least, no one you could trust enough to tell them that you want to do something to stop [faction]. You have never been in the army or police, you have no access to a gun, and you have maybe $10,000 saved up. The people who might be coming to kill you today or tomorrow are very religious, very political, or both, and act with a level of energy and commitment comparable to their belief in their cause. They are armed with assault rifles and grenades, and they can call on either rocket artillery or an airstrike for support if they don’t like the odds. They have an organisation behind them, which provides them with backup, training, information and communications, and funding in the $x,000,000 range. What do you do? Do you start another side in the civil war, and watch your family be raped and butchered before someone cuts your head off? Do you try and join one of the existing sides, or the religious fanatics, and hope they don’t do the same because you didn’t volunteer earlier? Or do you and your family pick up what you can carry, and get the fuck outta Dodge?

I’d almost certainly go for option C.

So why do the refugees all try and come to Britain, several thousand mile away, instead of heading somewhere closer that’s politically stable, like Israel, Egypt or Saudi Arabia? Well, for one, Israel and Egypt far from stable. In case you hadn’t noticed, Israel is a fascist apartheid regime in contravention of international law, whose brutal repression of the Palestinians whose territory they are illegally occupying occasionally prompts terrorist action. Egypt is a bit more stable, but is just as repressive and brutal when it comes to dissent and criticism of the rulers – three journalists were recently jailed for long sentences because they dared to do a unbiased piece on a  major political party. As for Saudi Arabia, it is a brutally strict fundamentalist theocracy, where women are second-class citizens, where alcohol is pretty much outlawed, where you get whipped for criticising the government, and executed for criticising the government’s religion (which just happens to be the variant of the religion that the religious nutcases in the war-torn country you just left practice).

And that’s why refugees come to Britain: It might be a shitty place, with almost everything stacked against foreigners, and they’ll be treated abysmally, but at least their death won’t be a matter of public policy.

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment