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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

193. HELP. / Ayuda. / .مساعدة / Pomoc. / Aiuto. / Aidez-moi. / Hilfe. / Помогите. / Βοήθεια. / Hjälp. / 帮帮我. /مدد. /cuideachadh. /Hjelp. / Padeti.

Within hours of the Brexit result the man who thrust us into this stinking pile of manure resigned. Then the Leave crusaders began pedalling backwards on their referendum campaign statements so hard and so fast they could have powered the national grid for a week.

And that old hippy Corbyn, ‘leader’ of the Labour party, who did nothing significant to fight for the Remain campaign is now prepared to fight – for himself…

The unholy alliance of LEDs (Little England-Duuuuhs championed by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove) and the bigots and racists (headed by the Enoch Powel-loving Nigel Farage) have left decent people in the crap. And the most startling thing of all is that even they didn’t really think the voters were going to follow them. There is NO PLAN.

Let’s say that again


Boris, continuing his Eton fantasy that this is all a jolly game, thinks he can now claim we don’t actually have to leave the EU and we can still have free trade. Trump was described as a ‘man-baby’ but our Boris is ‘bad clown-baby’.

I do not blame the people who voted out of fear. Both sides, aided by the Dodo media (see last week’s blog, below) were shameless in their use of that old weapon but…

If Brits thought being ruled by the ‘C’ graders was tough, chew on this, its now the turn of the fuckwits, fantasists, fascists and fruitcakes.

The leave campaign even begged Cameron to stay so they could sort out what to do. It’s like someone diving off the high board into an empty pool and, as they plummet down, asking someone to start running the tap.

It’s not so much that the lunatics have taken over the asylum but that the bullies and the morons have overrun the school – by shouting a lot.

My Polish neighbours are bemused, my brother’s Italian girlfriend is disgusted, my young Irish friend who is in Scotland doing her PhD was tearful and upset on Friday morning and my Lecturer friend who lives in the NE – one of the areas that voted heavily to leave – was tearful also.

This result is the triumph of spite over forward thinking and decency. Xenophobia beat compassion, bigotry triumphed over humanity. Gargoyle Gove, Boorish Johnson and Fascist Farage have cast a shadow over a generation.

SO – Help.

I don’t want to live in a country where Farage is regarded as acceptable.

I cannot go to the US as it seems legal to shoot black people there.

My o-level French isn’t up to a move to France.

Australia is too hot and the spiders are too big and they treat refugees like shit.

Ireland is misogynistic and still living in the 1950s with regards to women’s rights and health.

Turkey is busy shooting migrants.

No one in their right minds or with any moral backbone would set foot in Qatar or Saudi Arabia (see blog 183. Is Saudi Arabia the World’s Moral Cesspit?)

China is polluted and now poisoning its children with toxic athletic tracks (I kid you not)

My Polish neighbours are lovely but if I moved to Poland I’m not sure I could live on potatoes, cabbage and sausages. Or at least if I ate that no one would be able to live with me…

I can’t speak German and I don’t like sauerkraut or beer or lederhosen…

When is that mission to Mars going to be ready?
Someone please HELP
I need a breather and to think of something to say other than ‘oh god help…’

So no blog next week (Tuesday 5th July) but why not scan the archives and check out some of this year’s popular blogs -

167. Donald Trump & Katy Hopkins scientifically explained.
174. Zero Hours is not a contract – it’s a con trap.
181. Bigot Baiting – Why do Brits Bite?
184. Boris Johnson racially insulted President Obama. Why is that ok?

You know by now I don’t do social media. If you are a modern person feel free to pass this round.

Back Tuesday 12th July

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

192. New Improved Hatred…

…and the Dodo media.

The world seems old and tired but one thing that appears renewed and full of energy is hatred.

As one of the last Nazis, Reinhold Hanning, was convicted in Germany, the horrors of a divided Europe awash with xenophobia, racism and right wing aggression, seem to be a groggy memory. If nothing else, it’s worth remembering that this 94-year-old was/is an ordinary man – a retired dairy farmer. He was 18 when he volunteered to join the SS where he worked herding other human beings into gas chambers.

As the far right ascend again and bigotry and hatred are unleashed on a global scale, where is the strong calm leadership to challenge the fear and intolerance? In the UK, mainstream politicians – in an effort to crisis manage the rise of the right – have tried to appease the bigots and the racists rather than challenge them.

As the vicious right with their bad hair and barely hidden inadequacies whip up homophobic hatred, twisted nationalism, racism (just replace Muslims with Jews and you get the picture) are we really destined to repeat repeat repeat?

Make no bones about it, we are having a referendum because of a failure of leadership in Britain. (See last week’s blog immediately below). Cameron states that he has a set view on remaining in Europe. Well – that should have been in the Tory election manifesto in 2015. He seems to think that being in government is like running a permanent political version of X-Factor

In the US Dump is ratcheting up the ignorant bullish aggression. Here in the UK Farage and the Ukippers are feeding and fuelling the fears of the ignorant and levering themselves up in the backs of the most vulnerable. With his Enoch Powel poster (Farage was a big EP fan at school) Farage pedals the lie that your worst enemy is someone with even less than you. The truth is, those who legally ‘steal’ state assets, strip companies and keep uncountable wealth for themselves are the ones who actually affect our ability to provide for everyone and create a stable world where people don’t have to become refugees.

And – shamefully, on Europe’s borders, human rights organisations report more shootings and indiscriminate killings by Turkish guards of refugees fleeing violence in Syria. Turkey has its 30 pieces of silver and the price is keeping refugees contained in hellish conditions.

As the Dodo media simply parrot the squawking of the extremes and the fear-mongers on either side, it is no wonder the country is gripped by anxiety.

Years ago when I practiced law there were solicitors who were known for simply passing on the whining of their clients in costly correspondence, waiting for the solicitor on the other side to do the same before asking their client what they thought and then repeating the process. They never did anything that could be classed as ‘legal’ work or gave ‘advice’. We called them post-box lawyers. They made a lot of money as their cases tended to run on the longest. Similarly, the Dodo media. No journalism involved – just passing the megaphone from one side to the other. Honking the message. During this referendum the Dodo media have shown themselves as never before, fat with resources, stupid, incongruous, morally flightless and in terms of usefulness - extinct.

Like washing up liquid, there are ‘new, improved’ types of hatred. When I was a city councillor in Newcastle in the late 80s/early 90s I received anonymous racist hate mail. OK. I was the first black woman elected to that city council. No mystery there. But until the appalling, senseless death of the young mother and MP in Yorkshire, I had no idea that the British fascist group Britain First reserved a specific hatred for white left wing activists.
Who thinks this shit up?

It is time for the good people to stand up. (see blog 152 Could the Nice People Speak Up Please) It is time to stop pandering and placating and appeasing the Farages of this world. We need sensible leadership. We need leadership full stop. Many of us feel that Europe is on the edge of a precipice it should never have been pushed to.

To misquote The Matrix

“(We) have been down there…
(We) know that way
(We) know exactly where it ends
(We) don’t want to be there.”

Remember to vote on Thursday.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

191. EU Referendum – Vote Option 3 (and save your sanity).

Vote option 3. with me. 
I’ll be protesting about being dragged into irrelevant Tory Party tantrums. I’ll be voting against the Prime Minister Dave’s Diversion. Counter-intuitively that means voting for the government’s position. 

Last week I posted a piece entitled War – What is it? In checking my stats for that blog I settled on what seem to be the agreed WW1 casualty figures (killed 17m+ and wounded 20m+). Estimates of WW2 fatalities vary but it is believed to be over 60m, 3% of the 1940 global population. So if you want around 100million human reasons not to break up the EU there they are. And if you think that kind of aggression cannot break out at the drop of a hat – look at the European cup. Those hooligans have votes and they’d love a Storm Trooper or a Black Shirt uniform.

But let’s, for argument’s sake, say that breaking from the 28 strong union of European countries is sensible (!) This is so not the time. In case PM Cameron and the, I’m-alright-Jack politicians haven’t noticed, the world is in trouble.

As for placating the bigots – they are ALWAYS going to be bigoted. In or out they will want their scapegoats. That’s what they do. And it’s much easier to blame a Polish plumber for economic woes than the real culprits such as Russian, Arab and Chinese oligarchs buying up London, weak political leadership and British businessmen squirrelling away loot in tax havens.

Do we need the kinds of EU working regulations that are so sneered at by avaricious tycoons? Well, if you have been paying attention to the nasty greedy scumbags, asset-stripping British businesses (see blog 185. Does Sir Philip Green kick disabled orphan kittens in his spare time?) we do. If you have been appalled by UK companies running sweatshops and keeping the majority of their workers on zero hours contracts like the boss of Sports Direct (see blog 174. Zero Hours) then we do.

Both sides are scaremongering. Both sides are grubbing in the gutter. Call it what you will – fiddling while Rome burns, bickering while children drown, squabbling while people starve – the British EU referendum is a monumental waste of time, money and human resources.

In some ways this post is a timely conflation of many of the topics covered recently. Small men making big war, the divisions of humanity, the cost of not seeing the whole picture and the ever increasing prevalence of a corrosive attitude that money is more important than people.

Add to that, potential US president Dump thinks that an horrific LGBT hate crime, with over 100 casualties, represents nothing more than an opportunity for more mad rhetoric and the ground under your feet starts to tilt. We need cohesion and sanity on this side of the Atlantic.

Disentangling from the EU and negotiating individual trade and travel agreements with 27 other countries (the Brexit argument) is crazy. Its like leaving the party that everyone else is at then hovering outside the back door and hoping to catch people’s attention. Then you attempt to persuade them to come to another party with you. JUST YOU. And you try and do the same with every other guest. Why would they? They have a couple dozen other people to party with at a bigger, better party.

I’m no fan of European politics. But then I am no fan of national politics in 2016 either.

The rest of Europe may secretly be glad to see the back of us when they observe the disparity in how Britain treats the very wealthy and the very poor (Britain is one of the most unequal countries in the EU). When they see how we’ve failed spectacularly to get to grips with contemporary energy needs, failed to support British industry and so on. When they look at the messes we made in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya. They may just wave politely the way you do when a cranky, vindictive, attention-seeking, unpopular relative finally leaves.

What I will be voting for is not Remain or Brexit. I will be voting for the 3rd option which is NOT TO BE SO BLOODY STUPID. I will vote Status Quo which, yes, involves holding my nose and putting a cross in the Remain box.
It seems pedantic but voting is important. Never more so as the veneer of democracy looks so cracked and worn. 

If there were a 3rd box labelled WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE I would vote for that. If there were a 3rd box marked PEOPLE MATTER LET’s GET REAL I would vote for that. If there were a 3rd box saying LET’s PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED (and by the way here is the £150 - 200 Million cost of the referendum, back in the treasury), I would vote for that. But there isn’t.
I want not to have wasted the time and the money and the column inches in the lazy newspaper articles and so-called political discussions on this ridiculous irrelevant sideshow.

By voting to stay in Europe I will be voting for this privileged country not to be so self-indulgent while people are sleeping in fields and the planet is dying and children are being abused on an industrial scale and even in this country increasing numbers of families are relying on foodbanks.

I will be voting with embarrassment and shame that my government is willing to stage this hedonistic distraction when we could have used that energy and resource to help many people in this country and the rest of the world to move forward in dignity together.

I am disgusted that the only question that seems to be debated is, what we called in the old days, ‘hip-pocket-politics’ i.e what is best for ME ME ME. It used to be a shameful position to take. Now it is the only position.

The British EU Referendum has really shown just how sadly lacking the world’s oldest democracy is, how mediocre our leaders. With adults in highly responsible, lucrative positions bickering like spoilt 8-year-olds. All the more reason I don’t want to be left entirely at their mercy.

I will be voting to get this over with and get on with what matters.
I will be voting for common sense.
I will be voting to not have the next two decades blighted by more of what we’ve had for the last couple of months.
I will be voting for Britain not to be economically hobbled for years to come (even the Brexit campaign accept that would happen).
I will be voting not to have the rest of Europe so disgusted with us that no one wants to party with the party poopers.

This post may be especially useful to you if appearing to vote with Cameron makes you want to puke. It will be psychologically soothing for you to vote this way if the sight of Blair oiling his way into the campaign makes you want to run screaming down the street with your arse on fire.

I’ll be voting to get on with what matters. In other words, I will be voting Status Quo - the 3rd alternative. I WILL be voting.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

190. War. What is it?

In ancient times, war was what aggressive leaders did to increase and maintain power. Since the world got civilised, war is what weak men do when they have more power than they know what to do with.

There is a moving audio recording (made in 1966) of the World War I memories of veteran Frank Austen. He recounts how, after the unofficial 1916 Christmas day truce, there was no move by the soldiers who’d exchanged gifts and got drunk together, to recommence shooting. A fresh battalion of guards were sent by army command, to re-start the killing. According to Frank Austen, soldiers on both sides, did not know why they were fighting.
Add to that the way veterans can so instantly be forgotten after wars and you have a grubby Golgotha. (Check out blog 162 in the archives Remembrance Day v Political Amnesia)

The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson is an iconic poem from 1854 which deals with – in Tennyson’s view – the ‘glorious’ deaths of cavalrymen in the Crimean war after a military blunder turned the soldiers into cannon fodder. Two chilling lines in the second stanza go like this -

Theirs not to reason why
Theirs but to do and die

proving that little changed in the 60 years leading up to World War I.

We know Iraq-Apocalypse-Now was Bush and Blair’s holy crusade/oil grab//testosterone fest but who knew why we were fighting in Afghanistan? Was it just that Russia had a go and it was our turn?

If you or I disagree we might have a row, we may even fall out permanently and cease to have contact. Drunk blokes have a punch up.
The contemporary elite don’t do that. Far too grubby. If they fall out they throw Joe Ordinary into the fray. Kaiser Wilhelm II (credited with starting WWI) was cousin to King Edward VII and held a senior position in the British military. It took 38 million casualties to sort out that elite pissing contest!

In the modern world, when the pampered rulers disagree they don’t go punch each other. They rally or conscript the lower orders and send them off to kill each other. We call that WAR.

What is war good for? According to Edwin Starr “absolutely nothing” (Edwin Starr 1970 )

But that statement requires qualification. Obviously war is no good for innocent civilians nor is it good for the young men and women who fight and die or are injured. But war is not bad for those at the top of the pile.

War creates fear. Fear allows for those who start the wars to exert more control over ordinary people. The more control you have the more you can work on instilling fear. And round we go.

War is expensive and where HUGE sums of money change hands there is always profit to be made. If you raze a country to the ground in the modern world, you get to hand out contracts for the re-build.

War is very distracting. If you go to war – especially if you do it with minimum inconvenience to yourself – i.e. in someone else’s country – you can divert the populous from corruption, criminal incompetence, the state of the economy, the state of public services etc. Just hitch your wagon to that old plough horse Patriotism. Dare anyone criticise you just mow them down with the iron shod hooves of xenophobia and jingoism.

And war creates anxiety (great for the suppliers of anti-depressants) And anxiety stops people thinking straight and helps keep control in the hands of the bullies.

War is clearly good for creepy right wing men with bad hair. Just look at the rise and rise of (in this country) Farage and Boris Johnson. In the US – I almost cannot bear to type the name – Trump.

War is good for breeding terrorism which gives the warmongers even more excuse to control the populous and spend more money on – war.

The only thing war is not good for is us. You and me. War is bad for humanity.

There is a Latin phrase that Frank Austen may have been familiar with in 1914 as it was used to cajole young men to take up arms - ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori’ (it is sweet and right to die for your country)

In his famous war poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, written towards the end of WWI, shortly before he was killed in action, Wilfred Owen uses the phrase in an excoriating last stanza

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory
The old lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Interesting facts –

In a weakened, traumatised and highly mobilised global population – the Flu pandemic immediately following WW1 killed more people than the war itself.

As we approach the centenary of The Battle of the Somme (start date July 1st 1916) it is worth noting that more British soldiers were killed in that battle than the combined numbers in the Crimean, Boer and Korean wars (57,000+)
NB. In the next Tuesday blog I promise I'll put up an EU Referendum post that may help those who've been appalled by the gutter level debate so far.

Thank you for reading