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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

247. Trump / Thatcher MEGA POLICY is the answer…

… if the question is - How do we prevent political Armageddon or even just Armageddon?

Yes, something occurred to me as I struggled in the swamp of near insanity, paddled in the parallel universe of how-did-this-happen and crawled through the dense dark forest of daily despair that is the current news cycle. Then the clouds opened, the path sprouted flowers… Ok, that’s enough of that nonsense.

Sometimes you get hit by that lightning bolt of inspiration and I did. 

Like many, I watch horrified and fascinated while Trump undoes anything and everything good that Obama achieved – from environmental policies and healthcare to protecting young migrants (see last week’s blog) and on and on. Even his own people now seem to see that Trump is mesmerised with being the anti-Obama president.

Here in the UK, as we flush ourselves down the toilet of self-focus and global ridicule called BREXIT (see my letter in The National yesterday ) I wonder what could bring society back to reason, back to caring, back to functioning.

From the failure in social housing policy, brought to our full attention with the Grenfell tower horror, (see my most recent letter in The Guardian - ) to the crumbling infrastructure evidenced by everything from poor road maintenance and dysfunctional over-priced railways to school standards, the sense of wrong-path-taken has never been stronger.

But, like those tangled cables that wind themselves into an apparently untraceable mess behind your electrical items, it is possible to find where they lead and where they started. Even the triple mountains of personal debt and even the increase in the numbers being mauled by vicious dogs point, in my view, to an identifiable root cause. What is the common denominator here? The answer, I suggest, is incredibly simple. Margaret Thatcher. Even training our young to normalise eye-watering debt – which I trace back to the introduction of tuition fees in 1998 – was a policy of son-of-Thatcher Tony Blair (see my letter in The Independent last week ).

(Actually The G and The I BOTH published two of my letters last week. I think everyone else is too depressed to type.)

Both Thatcher and Blair preferred to spend on war rather than social investment. As the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma states, the trillions spent on war by affluent Western powers in the good times instead of inward investment, plays a much more significant part in their current woes than the ‘globalisation’ so hated by the jingoists.

T’was Thatcher who privatised the railways and essential national utilities and much of British infrastructure. T’was ‘Thatcher, thatcher, milk snatcher’ who handed a state-grab to the rich long before that was even a term. It was she who vilified and maligned the public sector that now struggles with low wages, under-staffing and poor morale. It was she who sold off social housing and allowed a life-enhancing resource for the working class, which had been a jewel in the crown of social policy since the 1950s, to be denigrated and turned into just another ruse for the sharp elbowed and careless to make a fast buck. Thatcher deregulated public transport and yes – she even did away with dog licencing.

So – in this instance – why don’t we take a leaf out of Trump’s book (yes I know he doesn’t read and can barely string a lucid sentence together, I am still being metaphorical). Yes – let us take that leaf. Let us introduce a broad, blunt, brutal, over-arching Trump-esque policy which is simply headed thus
Whatever SHE did let’s undo it and whatever SHE would do – let’s not…

And if you want a break from the political, slightly sick-making seesaw of politics, go to my amazon author page and check out the free-kindle-book grab. This week from 21st – 25th Sept – all bar one of my books should be free in their e-book versions.

Remember – only where books are concerned is there no such thing as greedy…

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

246. Grim parallels show the US & UK as morally rotten, stagnating nations…

Many on this side of the Atlantic looked on aghast as Trump threw sensible environmental policies and then humane policies such as DACA out of the Oval Office window. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protected young people whose parents took them to America without documentation but who have known no other home. The consensus among the sentient is that it is simply because these policies were introduced by President Obama that Trump is obsessed with ditching them. But what is the explanation this side of the pond?

In April 2016 in Britain, The Dubs Amendment offered sanctuary to thousands of migrant children at risk of starvation, exploitation, rape, death. Earlier this year the lifeline was cut. In the heat of Brexit xenophobia, that decision was overturned against the wishes of huge swathes of the British public and there was not so much as a backwards glance from this shoddy government.

But the unpleasant parallels go on. It’s as if Britain and America caught the same moral standards-wasting disease. And it’s virulent. It’s a super bug.

Turds floated to the top of both national cesspits at the same time. We, for example, have a racist foreign secretary (Boris Johnson). America has an idiot for head of Education (Betsy De Vos).

In both countries the current crop of top notch nutters aren’t even pretending that the planet matters. In a fragile island the size of the UK the government OK’d fracking (Kirby Misperton) and OK’d open cast mining in an area of natural beauty (Druridge Bay). The US put oil whore and climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, in charge of the Environment Agency (see blog 220).

Racism is rampant in both countries, ratcheted up by unhinged right-wing bullies with little or no agenda other than their own inadequacies, trouble-making tendencies and a poor knowledge of history. We had the murder of MP Jo Cox by an unstable white supremacist and in the US at the Charlottesville Nazi rally, Heather Heyer was murdered by a fascist.

Blatant and extreme double standards are the order of the day both sides of the Atlantic. In Britain it’s long been the case that those who enjoyed elite education and send their own children to exclusive and expensive schools, are happy to preside over cuts and failure in state education. Those who have private health care forcefully talk about ‘streamlining’ the NHS which is forked-tongue speak for cuts while social care is in crisis and the disabled are losing benefits and rights faster than you can say what happened to the 2012 Olympic legacy. In the US Trump talks about his own spoilt brats - including the one who colluded with Russia – as “kids”. However, the youngsters losing their DACA protection are “young adults” even though, unlike his own oily, criminal, stupid privileged brood, the DACA young people have low levels of criminality and a 90% employment rate.

Fuelled by short-termism and racial intolerance - both countries seem to be missing one thing. Neither, in their obsessive self-regard, seems to have noticed that their country’s credibility – albeit based on (often) brute force and the reputation of history – has gone down the pan.

There is nothing more bizarre than listening to some stupid xenophobic blob banging on about how he/she would be happy to welcome accountants and doctors from other countries. They seem unaware of what intelligent people abroad will have made, over the last few months, of Britain’s show of nastiness, selfishness, meanness, lack of regard for others and unwillingness to play for Team Planet.

It remains to be seen what will happen now that Trump is playing his Republican enablers off against Democratic desperation as he did recently over the budget cap.  Here, Theresa May’s party tolerate her because they know they cannot risk rocking the un-seaworthy boat now. The man with no morals supported by the Christian right, the climate change denier lapping up the attention in Hurricane obliterated Houston, the illiterate idiot, liar, cheat, embezzler is running the land of the brave and home of the free. In the UK, Mrs jolly-hockey-sticks-May competes with the ludicrous its-2000-and what?-Jeremy Corbyn for the title of most deluded out-of-touch political manikin.

Meanwhile here in the UK no one but NO ONE will admit that Brexit is a disaster. Not will be but is. Politicians on all sides bang on about ‘respecting the will of the people’ conveniently papering over the huge cracks and contradictions. The elephant in the room, which is the xenophobia that drove the decision, is just being ignored like a teenager with 2-year-old sextuplets who no one will admit was ever pregnant. They brush aside the ill-informed nature of much of the decision making, the open lies – admitted the day after the referendum. They waffle on about how colossal EU trade will be replaced with ‘other’ trade in ‘other’ parts of the world. I hope they are not thinking of Africa. After Bell Pottinger’s hideous, widely publicised and condemned shenanigans, I cannot see UK firms being welcome there any time this side of the next financial collapse.

But for me – there is another even stranger angle.

As a descendant of Caribbean slaves, I have a strong sense (though it was never taught to me at any of the educational institutions I attended) of the legacy of slavery in this country. The entrenched wealth of many of the elite in the UK is based historically on slavery and the violent plundering of Empire. Things diverge slightly here because in America, slave owners were comfortable with the abomination on their doorsteps. And – long after slavery – they continued to paddle in the sewer of white supremacy which oozed out again at Charlottesville. But make no mistake – while British sensibilities kept slavery at a sanitising distance – many of those who rule and influence what goes on in the UK and live off ingrained wealth so deep and dark it stains like blood – got that affluence through that hideous, pernicious, centuries-long exploitation and slaughter of black and brown people. So – how odd it is – as each country plummets down the world credibility ratings, to see that countries built on exploitation, xenophobia and ingrained elitism – are being brought down by those very things.

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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

245. Why Wildebeest don’t RUN

And why humans won’t save themselves.

You’ve seen the footage, courtesy of wildlife documentaries or British  national treasure David Attenborough. Wildebeest on the African planes with lions pacing, watching, prowling, menacing, shoulders rising and falling as the massive head stays steady. But, not until the lions set their sights on an old or infirm or young and vulnerable creature and begin to attack do the herd run. Sometimes not even then. If the one being singled out is sufficiently isolated the rest move out of harm’s way and continue grazing – sometimes watching just in case. If the lions charge the herd and alarm them then they scatter, stampede, panic, run for their lives and maybe one or two become separated – the lions pick them off and chew them up. The others relax.

That is Nature.

Watching, it often seems strange that the group don’t take evasive action when they know the lions are in the vicinity. However, if you think about it logically, there is a biological imperative that makes real survival sense. If the Wildebeest ran whenever the lions were present they would waste a huge amount of energy and maybe even risk other random injury.

Maybe that was the same for humans back in pre-history when Man was more at the mercy of Nature, wild animals, natural disasters. If you could not accurately predict the danger then, surely, the best thing was to wait. Wait and see. Wait and see if you were the ones who would be affected and if not – don’t waste effort or risk other potential harms.

Unfortunately, this no longer makes sense for humans but we are still behaving like the f’ing stupid Wildebeest.

I know it’s difficult to concentrate on anything when there is a dangerous idiot in the US playing with the idea of nuclear war to divert from his unpaid taxes and dalliances with Russia and here in the UK we have the ongoing chaos of Brexit. But, if the two stupidest spoilt bad-hair brats on the planet engage in nuclear war at least we won’t need to worry about environmental disaster. If their handlers manage to reign them in however, having air to breath and unpolluted water to drink will be a tad more important for the planet than the US and UK just going down the global credibility sewer.

We may not be personally touched by environmental devastation yet unlike many other poorer countries but we are already suffering the effects of less obvious environmental damage like deaths from air pollution. And just like the dumb Wildebeest – if we look on impervious as other smaller, weaker, vulnerable countries are decimated, ripped apart, the bigger, badder dangers grow and will come for us too.

Forget arguments about global warming (if you want to) even in the face of the record-breaking floods devastating India, Nepal, Bangladesh and parts of the United States. Pretend that melting glaciers and the increasing rate of species extinction is something we can ignore. The fact remains we are poisoning ourselves at a rate humans cannot sustain. With chemicals in the air, with plastics in the sea (see blog 194. Beside myself beside the sea) we are poisoning marine life we then eat. We are devastating the seas and forests that provide the AIR WE BREATHE, we are turning larger swathes of the planet into desert with deforestation, creating landslides, sink-holes with over development. I won’t go on. We know all this – and that really is the point.

It’s confusing – because in this analogy we are the Wildebeest but also – sort of – the lions – or we made the lions (!)  But the thing is, while humans – like other animals – can shift themselves when danger is sinking its huge canines into their arses – when it comes to the planet we inhabit, that won’t work.

In this age of short-termism, we need to think of environmental disaster differently - ironically as a huge sea-going tanker (if you are a regular BGOTR reader you will be used, by now, to my metaphors morphing or turning on a hairpin bend). What we are doing to the things essential for life is a catastrophe, a disaster tanker as big as Wales - as folk in the UK like to say when they are trying to imagine anything large! We humans are all on a fragile, rocky outcrop in the path of the disaster tanker’s trajectory with no means of escape. We can see it in the distance. It is about 50 miles out to sea. We are ignoring it. It looms larger – but, like the Wildebeest we will not take action until it is very very close. In fact, even then we will not take action if we think it will get someone else instead of us. The problem is that this gigantic environmental disaster tanker (the size of Wales [not whales]) – will wipe us out – and it is going to take at least 60 miles to stop it.

See also blogs
236. Does Edinburgh Need a Tree Museum
188. Pursuit of Profit is a Terminal Illness
#Save Druridge Bay

R.I.P Kirby Misperton

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

244. A litter of letters…

As promised, I’ll be back blogging next TUESDAY 5th Sept – meanwhile – here is a selection of my letters published in a variety of broadly left-leaning UK newspapers over the past few months -

The National - Aug 23rd 2017
(re; the over-hyped silencing of Big Ben)

I READ with some bemusement about the emotional reactions of some MPs to the silencing of Big Ben for maintenance.
Odd that there is not the same choked-up response to child poverty, the increase in 
homelessness, the drug epidemic in our over-crowded prisons, the failure to improve literacy rates, increasing use of food banks, the looming economic crisis and personal-debt tsunami, rising prices and flatlining wages, poor infrastructure, the increasing dangers caused by problems of NHS staffing levels ...

The Herald Scotland - Aug 23rd 2017
(re: Steve Bannon departure from WH)

STEVE Bannon's departure ("Trump’s chief strategist Bannon out of White House", The Herald, August 19) is not the victory for common sense it is being hailed as in the US. It's not just that this ex-military media-savvy, white nationalist says he will "wage war" for the Trump presidency (by which he means the presidency he created, not Donald Trump as President).

It is not just that Breitbart News was clearly ready, eager and waiting for his return after he'd staked out the White House. It's more like when you find a big dirty spider in your home, you just don't want it to suddenly disappear.

The National - Aug 14th 2017
(re; the media playing with the idea of Jacob Rees-Mogg as Tory leader)

THE summer political madness has clearly deepened to all-consuming national psychosis with amnesia thrown in.
For those playing the “Jacob Rees-Mogg would be fun for leader” tune, may I just say this.
Is this privileged throwback, who has given the world six more mouths to feed and six more drains on the planet’s resources, the same extremely fortunate Etonian who said that aid to disadvantaged countries should stop (Radio 4, February 1 2013)?
The man who makes Downton Abbey look understated said that aid to the poor, hungry, starving, exploited should be a matter of philanthropy. In other words the rich give a few crumbs from the table if they happen to feel like it.
Those living in countries that have, for centuries, subsidised the living standards of the West, and more specifically the highly privileged like Rees-Mogg, are to be abandoned unless some rich toff finds that their tax status will benefit from a bit of charitable giving.
I can only assume that the Rees-Mogg idea is an attempt to divert us from impending nuclear annihilation – with something worse.

The Independent - July 19th 2017
(re; the BBC’s partial gender pay gap mea culpa)

I’ve not had a TV since 1999, thankfully (despite being a finalist in the BBC 2004 national comedy-writing competition). However, other working-class licence payers and people of colour and people not resident in London dutifully pay the licence fee year in, year out.
So as well as informing the UK public that in 2017 only a third of top earners at the BBC are women, would Tony Hall also do a breakdown on how many non-white, non-privileged persons are in the top percentage of wage earners at the British Broadcasting Corporation?
[a shorter version of same letter appeared in The Guardian 20th July]

The Herald - -June 10th 2017
(re; Brexit & the general election)

SO – a reduced Tory government with no negotiating power. A flaky Labour Party leader who – while he dithered over the EU referendum - pulled out the stops for his own election and who will now see no reason to resign. Disgruntled Brexiters who cannot possibly get the core elements they wanted from Brexit – that is, a return to a fantasy 1950s Britain.
I thought the UK was done for on June 23, 2016 when it made itself irrelevant on the global stage for the foreseeable future. I didn’t believe it could get much worse. Since then we’ve openly fawned over Donald Trump, the banks have pretty much bailed out. UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK have their lives on hold.
David Cameron flushed us down the toilet with the ill-considered EU referendum and Theresa May has ensured we flounder around in the sewer for at least the next year and 10 months and then have to accept whatever the EU chucks over its collective shoulder as it heads into the future without us.
What a mess.

The Guardian - 5th February 2017
(re; a T. Helm article on Jeremy Corbyn)

While Toby Helm’s article on Corbyn (Guardian News) and the Labour party soap opera provides insight into how we’ve ended up in the current swamp, it highlights something more important. Many in the political community still don’t get that this battle was lost way before 23 June 2016, and Britain is damaged for decades to come. Now they have passion? Now they can fight?
If the Labour party had put real energy into promoting Remain and shown leadership to a nervous and confused country, we might have been able to turn this tanker around. It’s on the rocks now and the opposition are just oil-slicked seagulls squawking and flapping uselessly.

The Herald - 19th Jan 2017
(re; Theresa May’s Plan for Britain speech earlier that week)

AS a descendant of Caribbean slaves, I found head girl Theresa May’s Empire Mentality speech mesmeric, bizarre, hugely ironic and repulsive all at the same time.
Listening this morning to the braying in Parliament of Brexiters – many of whom will not be around in three to four decades when the chickens really come home to roost was just depressing.

The Guardian - 6th Dec 2016
(re; the much vaunted but unexplained term - British Values)

Dame Louise Casey is the latest establishment figure to bandy about the term “British values” – without stating what the hell she means. She spectacularly fails to understand that many in the Muslim community shrink back to traditions because they are constantly the target of ignorant ivory-tower nonsense like hers.
Can I help? As a black person who – despite being a British citizen – was publicly insulted in the immediate aftermath of the 23 June referendum, I have a view on this.
British values currently seem to involve kneejerk short-termism, bigotry, populist rhetoric and socially-sheltered ignoramuses shooting their mouths off.
In which case, Dame Louise Casey perfectly personifies British values.

The Independent - 7th Oct 2015
(re; Theresa May on tackling extremism)
Apparently Theresa May thinks immigration makes it difficult to create a cohesive society. Funny, I thought it was elitism and massive wealth disparity.


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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

243. Sustenance - Sanitation – Safety - Is this too much to ask in 2017?

Rummage through my blog posts and they bang on about the injustices and madness of the world, using satire, allegory, metaphor, anecdotes, facts, figures, provocation, humour and sometimes just anger to make a point. But one thing is for sure; my sense of frustration comes from an absolute belief that it does not have to be like this. It should not be like this in 2017.

Below is a photo of me with my grandson. I’ve just washed my hair and we are cuddled up on my bed.THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON WHY ANY CHILD ON THE PLANET SHOULD BE WITHOUT CLEAN WATER, FOOD, LOVE & SECURITY.

Many commentators still argue that ‘wealth creators’ need to be free to make unfettered profits and be rewarded by keeping what they make because the economic “trickle down” effect benefits us all in the end. Rubbish. That has never happened in the history of the human race. Often they don’t make money; they exploit the people who do. Many of the world’s current richest oligarchs made their billions by appropriating their country’s natural resources i.e. stealing from their fellow nationals.

And yes – there are exceptional entrepreneurs who try to use their money for good. But, if we live in the hope that enough good people get rich, we will be waiting a long time for things to change on the ground.

As the world spins faster, signs that inequality is the route of human misery have never been more obvious. From people-trafficking and the thousands of watery graves in the Mediterranean to those exploiting children in refugee camps to poverty and starvation in countries rich in natural resources, the evidence is grim. Globally we have de facto slavery, the new growth of sweatshops, even here in the UK e.g. in Leicester and the Cannibal Economy (see blog 208) all around us.

There is no justifiable reason why so many of our fellow humans have to live in fear, insecurity, deprivation, exploitation and degradation. We know the answer. The tiny minority at the top of the pile need to have a lot less so that the overwhelming majority can have enough. It is that simple.

The innate selfishness and greed of many with power and influence, coupled with the inertia of the comfortable folk in supposedly democratic countries, maintains the status quo. Sadly, it is a status quo that increasingly suits a smaller and smaller elite.

There are multitudes of good people out there. Like you, I meet many in my daily life. I even think the good folk are vastly in the majority but for some reason, at present, their voices seem to be drowned out (see blog 152 – Could the nice people speak up please.)

N.B.This blog is taking a break until Tuesday 5th Sept but I shall say prayers for the millions around this supposedly civilised world who still do not have a basic, wholesome living environment; sustenance, sanitation and somewhere safe to rest.

Do check out some of my books for your summer reading. Thank you.

Amanda is available for public speaking / lunch or dinner comedy-entertainment /panel discussions etc. Inquiries to Caro Day -

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

242. ‘British Values’ – no thanks…

British Values was a phrase regularly thrown around by ex Tory PM David Cameron but never clearly defined. If a nation’s values can be extrapolated from the prevailing behaviour and accepted social norms – heaven help us.

28 years to get justice for the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster. 24 hours for a de-facto change in archaic Irish abortion provision to keep Theresa May in power…

Sir Philip Green (see blog 185) got less than a slap on the wrist for robbing thousands of his employees of jobs and pensions while the vicious degradation and vilification of the poor is now a perpetual dull throb in our social background.

Tories cheered in Parliament last week at successfully keeping a 1% cap on public pay while the Queen was awarded an 8% income rise, and a billion pounds was found down the back of the sofa to pay for DUP votes (see last week’s post). Redundancies are piling up; prices in shops are increasing, house prices are falling, personal debt is at titanic proportions. Do we need an inquiry into this strange duality which is an entrenched part of British life?

But here is more inequity…

Disturbingly, when it comes to inquiries, far from bringing those responsible to book – they often just results in further enriching other establishment figures. (Hillsborough may be the exception as there is talk of possible criminal prosecution but only after 3 decades of pressure from the surviving family members).

Bloody Sunday 1972 – cost of Saville inquiry £195m
Hillsborough – cost of inquiry £70m

The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war (illegal invasion) told us nothing new, changed nothing and led to no one being held to account. It cost £13million

Rather tastelessly the ex-judge appointed to head up an inquiry into The Grenfell Tower disaster is infamous for supporting Westminster Council in rehousing a single mother, 50 miles away from home, friends, children’s school etc. etc. Fortunately the decision was overturned unanimously by a higher court. Plus, the council, who many feel badly failed the residents, will be consulted regarding the inquiry’s scope while residents will not.

None of these awful things happen without the combination of gross incompetence and or bad people and or bad circumstances. The subsequent delays and cover ups are entirely due to the willingness of The Establishment to do what is best for themselves.
What makes no sense is the way The Majority – or ‘Ordinary People’ as politicians of all persuasions like to call everyone-who-isn’t-the establishment, are bamboozled. Folk are cajoled into acceptance, anesthetised into not caring. They are led by the nose by people who a. have nothing in common with them b. do not have their best interests at heart.

During the EU referendum, the Leave campaign orchestrated the mob in ranting against Polish plumbers and vulnerable migrants while cold calculating corporate bastards were quietly shipping British jobs overseas by the thousands. British Airways – it was revealed a few weeks ago – sacked their British IT staff and reallocated those jobs abroad. This would not have been in the news if it hadn’t been for the IT crash that led to 72 hours of fiasco and flight mayhem.

Our previously world-standard universities are cutting staff right and left as students, paying through the nose to keep themselves out of the unemployment figures for 3 – 4 years (thanks to private school boy, ex Liberal leader and now, thankfully, ex-MP Clegg) are being taught by staff lower and lower down the food chain in huge groups with almost no one-to-one time as used to be the norm.

As more large companies, making eye watering UK profits, sack staff by the thousands (Tesco last week sacked another 1,200 at their head office) and others de-staff their outlets with self-service tills (see blog 218 Lidl – 0 Barrack Obama – 1) we see clearly that the large corporations making money out of ‘Ordinary British People’ do not care about ordinary British people.

The British public give generously to aid charities, like the ones working in Yemen – meanwhile Saudi Arabia is bombing and brutalising Yemen with British weaponry. Basic help cannot get through for those now suffering cholera. Our racist foreign secretary (and would-be PM?) has no plans to stop the sale of arms to the Saudis.

As America celebrates this 4th of July with Trump preparing to throw 22 million poor Americans off health care provision to give billions of dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest – we, here in the UK, have nothing to feel complacent about.
As other EU countries surge ahead with cheap, clean, green energy, Britain is mired in controversy over a possible future of Chinese-owned nuclear power, fracking and even environmentally devastating open cast coal mining (Druridge Bay).

On a more personal level, I am deeply angered by the growing opportunities chasm between youngsters with connections and position and those without; it is a crevasse growing wider daily. Surely basic equality is the sign of a truly civilised society. Global publishing house Random House just released a coffee table book – retailing at £16.99 - of laughable “Instagram quality” photographs taken by the teenaged son of two British celebrities. According to critics, its fifty shades of shite echoing that other piece of crap, also courtesy of Random House – Fifty Shades of Grey. The young and talented artist who created artwork for the covers of my dragon adventure series (see below) was just a teenager when she produced that work. She subsequently won a place at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art based on her talent and hard work. She is currently waitressing.

I wonder – I mean I really wonder – when the great British public – the soap-opera watching, processed food consuming, Daily Mail / Sun reading, reality TV addicted masses are going to wake up to the fact that the people who pull the strings, some of the people they idolise, the people who take their money or deny them enough to live on, squander their labour, crush their dignity commandeer their time and anything else they can take - the British establishment


Tuesday, 27 June 2017

241. Tory-DUP & the Magic Money Deal

Theresa May’s magic money deal with the Democratic Unionist Party makes Voldemort look like a muggle on this Harry Potter 20th anniversary.

In some tongues BREXIT must actually translate as ABRACADABRA. I mean WOW. Britain is still grey with austerity but Theresa May can find £100,000,000 per DUP vote to keep herself in power because she believes it is her destiny to ride the BREXIT-broomstick.

Here’s miserable old me thinking BREXIT is a big pile of shite dumped by Cameron and lapped up by the racists, xenophobes and neo-imperialists, plunging Britain into even more mad mess but I was wrong wrong wrong. I am so happy.

You could say I am hysterical…

It turns out that because we are committed to BREXIT (even though not one bloody person knows what that entails) and the Article 50 clock has been ticking for some time now, Theresa May is suddenly able to find £1 billion bribe down the back of the Treasury sofa for a DUP shore-up. It’s amazingly amazing. Britain has had austerity shoved down its throat for years and poor people and immigrants have been blamed and vilified by the mass media, but now that the PM needs the 10 Irish Neanderthals to keep her in power -  tadaaaaaaaah.

The DUP are not even in coalition with The Conservative party. They don’t have to fag for May like ex-Liberal leader Clegg (who rightly lost his seat in the general election) did for Cameron. If it were a coalition May might have gifted them Wales and the Outer Hebrides.

And if you argue that this is not magic BREXIT money, I can prove you wrong. If it were not magic BREXIT money then it would have been available to quickly and efficiently help the victims of Grenfell Tower – which – it seems – it was not (see last week’s post).

But the magic, amnesia-inducing and mind bending properties of BREXIT magic stretch much further than even I – a writer of adult fiction and children’s fantasy – could ever have imagined.

The BREXIT-induced general election transformed pumpkin Corbyn into a political princess. Though he did fuck all, to any effect, during the referendum to argue for remaining in the EU or protecting EU citizens’ rights, Corbyn was recently cheered like the lead singer of a fusion folk-rock-punk collective at Glastonbury Festival by all the privileged middle class kids who could afford to go.

We must all sprinkle some BREXIT seeds out of our windows tonight and see if they sprout into magic beanstalks. I might put some in the back of my wardrobe and see if a magical world opens up behind it.

Maybe BREXIT is the new MATRIX and if I take the red BREXIT pill I will instantly know Kung-Fu, how to fly a helicopter and how to make a black, patent leather trench coat look good.

Unfortunately, like other rabbit holes – BREXIT is just a dark, damp dead end.

The list of things that were not considered before we entered this twisted Alice in Wonderland scenario is staggering; the Irish border question – now further complicated by the Government’s indebted position to the DUP. Why were not rights of EU citizens and Brits abroad considered before the referendum; free trade, free movement, the issue of the exit fee and so on and so on and so forth?

 “The mess is so big and so deep and so tall
We cannot clear it up there is no way at all”
                                             (The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss)

SO – while many EU leaders made sad noises when the Leave campaign won, their regret smells fake to me.

They look at our increasingly unpalatable, racist foreign secretary with incredulity.

They heard bumptious David Davis boast about his negotiating prowess right up to day 1. of exit negotiations where he immediately capitulated to the EU position.

They will remember how the British government shamefully reneged on promises to help suffering migrant children fleeing war.

Right now they must wonder who will end up as head of the UK asylum. Will it be the discredited Theresa May who campaigned to remain in the EU but then morphed before our very eyes into a hard Brexiteer and has just made a greasy deal with the DUP to cover her election failings?  Will it be Jeremy Corbyn, darling of the £238-per-ticket 2017 Glastonbury festival who flirted with UKIPs 1950s attitudes to foreign workers and is in favour of squashing free movement of EU citizens but thinks, on that basis, Britain could still be in the free market?

They will look at how the banks have deserted the UK after being bailed out by the public purse.

They will listen to Tory claims that we have economic power to our elbow because the EU could not afford to lose the spending obsession of the Brits – while they and everyone else know that the proportion of that spending based on credit (DEBT) is so vast that the next crash is already looming.

The remaining EU countries will see just how little, in reality, the UK cares about green issues (see blog 236).

Forward looking EU countries already know how UK society is anchored to incompetence and inadequacy and nepotism by the Old boys’ network, the private school privilege which ensures that those who have money get on rather than those who have skill, talent, imagination and drive (see blogs 35, 64, 65, 103, 113, 117, 171, 187, 201++).

Now they will look at the dirty DUP payoff while the rest of the UK is smarting from austerity and know that Britain has collectively lost its marbles and it's democracy.

And, whatever they say in the open, however diplomatic they are or however much they feel the need to publicly state that they regret the UK’s departure – in private – I bet my last bar of chocolate – EU leaders are saying,

Because if I were in continental Europe rather than the UK that is what I would be saying…

Amanda is available for public speaking / lunch or dinner comedy-entertainment /panel discussions etc. Inquiries to Caro Day -

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

240. Grenfell Tower – a village worth of people housed in a chimney

Grenfell Tower was a vertical village filled with a wondrous variety of humanity, multiple skin tones, wide-ranging interests, different religions, diverse cultures and all ages.

But Grenfell Tower was also a village worth of people living in a chimney because, it seems, people who should have cared did not.

Welcome to modern Britain…

I’ve hesitated to write about this unnecessary horror. I do not live in London. My flat is not in a high-rise block. But the causes of this wretched tragedy have their basis in much that I’ve written about on this blog; greed, lack of compassion, the exponentially growing disparity between those with un-spendable wealth and everyone else, political short-termism and incompetence. There are different rules for the rich and powerful and the rest of us, and we have a political system which is more like a warped reality show than a test of competence.

IN the aftermath of this monstrous event, we have collective responsibilities and obligations which I will deal with at the end of this, slightly longer than usual and humour-free post.

The wider context for the Grenfell Tower tragedy is that it was always going to happen – somewhere. I believe it is only the scale of the horror and extent of loss of life and apocalyptic pictures of destruction and mayhem that have taken our collective breath away. The scenes were reminiscent of third world factories where workers die because they are trapped inside sub-standard buildings because profit is all that matters. But this is Britain, one of the most developed countries on the planet and the occupants regularly complained and drew the authority’s attention to potential hazards. They were ignored.

Everywhere you look, cheap architecture is being quickly thrown up to house people who have limited choices due to their socio-economic circumstances. Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher sold off the UK's precious social housing stock of good quality post-war housing that represented Britain’s bequest of the 1939 - 45 horrors; the right of working class people. I remember my Granny’s council house where she raised 5 boys and where I made mud pies and picked apples in the garden. Over the years it was modernised by the council including getting an indoor toilet early in the 1970s. But most of the houses in that street are now privately owned. That social housing, legacy of the war and sacrifice of a nation, has never been replaced.

Equally, Labour councils have put out public services to private tender reducing regulation via the back door and no one did more to introduce the corrosive private sector ideologies into the public sector than Labour, from Tony Blair’s administration right up until it lost power under Gordon Brown.

The current Labour crew were woefully ineffective during last year’s referendum (see last week’s post) Labour failed miserably to make the argument for stability, remaining in a reformed EU and celebrating diversity and free movement of people.

Last week I posted a piece about Britain’s slumping position in Europe but the scenes that unfolded in Grenfell Tower and the subsequent, incomprehensible lack of official support for the victims would not have seemed out of place in a Mumbai or Kenyan slum. And this in one of the richest boroughs in one of the richest cities in one of the richest countries in the world. SHAME SHAME SHAME.

There is no fire authority in the UK that could have dealt with the Grenfell Tower inferno, funnelling flames inside the cheap cladding. But there could easily have been sprinklers, central fire alarms, fire escapes. One commentator from Kensington council said that residents had not ‘wanted’ a sprinkler system as it would have slowed renovations – as if safety issues were akin to the colour of the walls.

Families were, it seems, given inappropriate advice on how to react in the case of a fire. Those who survived appear to be the ones who ignored that advice.

But, I believe, Grenfell Tower has a wider significance. The tragedy is an appalling testament to a country in a mess, where greed, self-interest, short-termism and inequality are out of control.

Some of our immediate responsibilities as a nation are these –
We must force ourselves, without sentimentality or ghoulish voyeurism, to look at the pictures of the lost; the innocent faces of the children, the open expectant faces of the young adults with their promising lives ahead, the lined, experienced faces of the older residents who deserved a better end.

Then we must remind ourselves that this simply did not need to happen. It is the result of greed, incompetence and inequality. One rule for ‘us’ and a different rule for ‘them’.

Also, we cannot just exist in a situation where, when things go horribly wrong, politicians compete to see who can make the loudest call for another costly inquiry. INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS TO BE MANAGED.  Politics has become an ongoing beauty pageant with ‘leaders’ popping like a series of mad jack-in-the-boxes bouncing up and down to the dull beat of opinion polls.

We must remind ourselves every single day that WE CAN AFFORD A DECENT STANDARD OF LIVING FOR EVERYONE never mind what the media barons in their tax exiles tell us and never mind how many stories they spew out about immigrants and the disabled and benefit ‘scroungers’ causing the country’s problems. They are lies peddled by people who, themselves, avoid contributing fairly to society.

We must stop separating ourselves from each other with technology and politicians must stop separating themselves from the people with committees and quangos and barriers to government services. So when I ring my local council I do not want to deal with an automated system. I want to deal with a human being because I am a human being.

It goes without saying there must always be residents on relevant housing committees. It was that way when I was a councillor in the 1980s and chaired my local area housing committee, why has it changed?

We need to stop trying to placate the xenophobes pulling us away from the common good and achievable goal of a decent future for everyone. We need to actively work against the downwards pull of self-interest.

The media must stop feeding the public a diet of celebrity shit and start reporting real news, real issues about real people. If they don’t then we must not fund them by buying their papers, clicking on their websites, tuning in to their programmes.

And, as day 1 of Brexit negotiations concluded yesterday, giving a brief startlingly clear glimpse of just how weak the UK negotiating position really is, we should consider the behaviour of some tabloids. Some of those now making headlines and front pages with the gruesome images of Grenfell Tower were quick to condemn health and safety laws as the scourge of Brussels.

The blackened carcass of Grenfell Tower stands as a disgraceful monument to unnecessary death, wasted futures, unutterable sadness and a failure in the chain of human compassion and kinship which should link us all.

While it may be an eyesore to an affluent borough, perhaps the remains of the tower should be stabilised and stay as a reminder of what happens when greed takes over, when Mammon is god, when one group of human beings is regarded as worth less than another.