Archive for the 'politics' Category

“Successful” Brexit

Just a small rant, because shouting at the radio in the car is not as cathartic as you might think.

I am getting increasingly annoyed by the repeated use of the expression “make a success of Brexit” without the slightest definition of what that success might be. Obviously, for T.May it is already a success. For R.Murdoch it is about increasing personal wealth, power and influence. I cannot imagine what goes on in the rage-driven minds of the Daily Mail editors and writers.

Nobody has defined “success,” but lots of people seem to be able to read the minds of the 38% who voted to quit – the will of the people – without actually saying what it was they saw there.

For me, a successful Brexit will be one where we

  • have free movement & trade within & with Europe,
  • welcome refugees from wars we have helped to start,
  • have no local duplication of civil service and bureaucracy,
  • retain influence on local & world politics,
  • have less racism & division, more unity,
  • keep & extend protection of workers & human rights, and
  • see an end to petty-minded nationalism.

You may be able to see where we would have to be to achieve all those things.

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie

A Champagne Socialist toasts the departure, at last, of Mrs Thatch

Dead, dead, dead.

Tim at work said when he first heard that Mrs Thatcher had died, he thought “Derek will be pleased.”

It’s true. I was. I opened a bottle of champagne and toasted her departure. Amongst the “vitriolic hatred” on Twitter, there were calls to “show some respect for the dead;” that she was “a mother,” or just a “sick old lady” and that we should “think of the family”. (To that last point, if I knew them, obviously I agree my reaction would be different.)

Clearer writers than I have pointed out that if the only people who are allowed to speak are those who admired her, particular those in power or who own newspapers, then the wrongs she did would be swept under the carpet. I refuse to be cowed by “petty” or “lefty” tags.

My younger cousin (although he is old enough to remember her) asked on Facebook what good she did. I could think of nothing, other than the inspiration to my favourite Alexei Sayle joke:

In the olden days, people were named after their jobs – smith, if you made horseshoes; cooper if you made barrels; thatcher if you made people SICK.

And I left it at that for a day, but the praise continued. People forget, or don’t know, or think that because Labour would have been worse then she was good for the country. That’s how we ended up with the horrors of the present Government, but that’s a different argument.

So I wrote this:

A lot of things which changed under Mrs Thatcher would have had to change anyway, this I will concede. The unions were undemocratic, and our industrial base was never going to continue as it was.

Things did not have to change in the callous and unsympathetic way that Mrs Thatcher chose. Germany and Norway managed it without the destruction. Now, without effective unions, we have a “flexible workforce” with zero-hour contracts, multiple part-time jobs, enforced weekend hours and a minimum wage which isn’t enough to live on.

She had more interest in 3000 people on an island half way around the world than the many British communities which were destroyed by her vendetta against the miners; the resulting Falklands War cost many lives and won her the election for her second term. We now import coal.

She sold off council houses and stopped the councils using the money to replace them; now we have a housing crisis.

She started selling off all the utilities, so now the French own the electricity, the water is owned by Middle Eastern and Chinese companies. They dodge tax on their profits, but claim that upgrades and maintenance must be paid for on the bills.

She “liberated” the financial markets and we all know how that ended up. Nobody can afford to buy a house in London as the bonus-driven price inflation spreads out across the country. Successful British companies are bought by multi-nationals, often with loans which they struggle to repay so that production has to be moved overseas or the factory they promised to keep open is closed because it is “unprofitable”.

She made the market “king” – private always better than public – which saw NHS cleaners re-employed by the lowest bidders, paid so little that they didn’t care about the job, and people died from infections in filthy hospitals.

Most of all, she created the me-first, money-is-everything, screw-you-if-you-can’t-afford-it attitude which pervaded the eighties and still drives the politicians of today. The rich own more and the poor own less but David Cameron still insists we are “all in it together” whilst his chancellor cuts the tax rate for the richest 300,000 people.

I’m glad she’s dead, because of what she stood for, because of what she did and because of what is still being done in her name. I wish that Thatcherism had died with her.

Democracy Inaction 2011

As usual, the sit at homes win by a huge majority. Oddly, although still pitiful, this was the highest turnout for several years – apparently because the labour voters bothered to turn up this time.

pie chart showing 56% didn't vote

Electorate: 5264, Ballot Papers Issued: 2343, Spoiled: 18, Votes: 1306, 521, 494.

Nuclear Checklist

Here’s a quick checklist for Western governments concerned over the safety of their nuclear reactors after the media outcry:

  1. Are you expecting the largest earthquake in recorded history?
  2. Do you expect any 10 metre high tsunamis?
  3. Err..
  4. That’s it.

Oh yes – stop basing your policies on the ill-informed jabberings of journalists.

Angry and Sick

I’m not angry at the LibDems (well, not all of them). They’ve been played by the conservatives, and played very effectively. Nobody appears to be blaming the Tories for privatising our universities even though they’ve done it. I am angry at the millionaires who had a free university education now stealing that from my grandchildren. The millionaires and their friends who are giving each other tax cuts, taking ridiculous pensions, awarding dividends and bonuses to their wives who live in tax havens, pretending that Cadbury’s is a Swiss company to save £200 million pounds a year, etc, etc.

I’m angry at the inequity and hypocrisy of it.

They can do it because the free market in financial services, which they created, screwed us all and whilst they are wringing their hands about how the country can’t sustain the debt they insist that it is perfectly fine for all future students to start life with even greater debts. “Because they pay nothing up front,” says the man who never had to save for anything, as if that makes it OK.

They can do it because the stupid press, instead of reporting the destruction of our future, leads with a story about an aged adulterer on a night out in the town who gets a little paint spilled on his armoured car.

I am old enough to have had a free university education. It benefits me, but it also benefits the country – if I earn more I pay more tax, spend more money, create more jobs. What next in this “learn to earn” mentality? What about those people with A levels? Shouldn’t they pay? What about those people who can read and write? What about those sick people, scrounging off us healthy people?

When I first heard what these bastards were doing to university funding, that the coalition government was going to force it through parliament with 5 hours of debate, I actually physically felt it – a sickening fall in my stomach as this country turned into a nastier place.

Google and WiFi Privacy

There are reports of people being outraged that the Google StreetView camera cars accidentally captured snippets of unsecured WiFi traffic as they wandered the land. I don’t really see the point of this – I’m pleased when Google can tell me where I am using this WiFi location information rather than the crappy GPS in my phone.

The outrage must surely be manufactured, but why? Do they seriously think Google is going to start emptying their bank accounts? Just because the Daily Mail is insanely interested in the intimate details of everybody’s life (particularly if you are a famous everybody), doesn’t mean that Google is going to start publishing the contents of any emails they found.

It was bad enough when the NIMBYs complained about the photographing of the outside of their houses from the street as an invasion of their privacy. To those I say “Either grow a hedge or put your clothes on whilst you are gardening.” And look up “private” sometime.

Now, people who are too lazy or stupid to turn on the security in their WiFi are complaining that small fragments of their communications might have been recorded by a passing camera car. It’s the criminals sat in the small van with a laptop that they ought to be worried about. Or the security forces who’ve just been promised £2 billion to store every web site you visit for your own protection against “terrorism”.

Is it just an anti-Google agenda, or is it a distraction from the Government’s far more serious snooping with intent?

I know who I trust: Google, criminals, government, Daily Mail.

A Sane Voice

I awoke this morning to hear the most sensible thing I’ve heard on the Today programme for many a decade. The outgoing president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Ian Gilmore, has endorsed the argument of Stephen Rolles of Transform that drugs should be decriminalised and regulated.

It’s a shame Sir Ian didn’t feel he could stand up before he was “outgoing”. The government (and this is without political bias, all the parties have knee-jerk drugs responses) has reacted predictably, saying it does “not believe this was the right approach”. I really cannot understand why they persist in thinking that prohibition will work, after decades of proof that it just doesn’t. I blame the Daily Mail.

The BBC have given this more prominence.

Maybe there’s life in the Labour Party yet

John Prescott was on Today this morning.

He was talking about the Conservative Plan to increase the inheritance tax limits, a tax change which would benefit approximately 1% of people in the country – the richest, of course – almost all living in Chelsea and Kensington. Mr Prescott said,

“it will be the only tax cut ever proposed where the man making it will know by name everyone who will benefit.”

Genius.

Democracy Inaction 2009

This time, the people of Willingham, Over and Longstanton didn’t vote for a representative on Cambridgeshire County Council.

Despite the political cloud hanging over Shona after her brief tenure as leader of the council, she managed to convince 63% of the electorate to stay at home.
Actual details:

Candidate Party Votes
Charlie Wilson Labour 185
Rob Falla Libdem 888
Shona Johnstone Tory 1485
Lazy Bastards 4448

Tyranny & Messages

“Cannabis is a class B drug”.

The only message it gives me is that politicians are weak, the leaders are completely in hock to the tabloid press, and that the Labour party is getting close to being as bad as the Tories*. The very fact that stupid posh git Cameron agrees with it should be proof enough that it’s the wrong thing to do. Gordon Brown is ignoring the considered opinion of an independent commission (although he inexplicably waited for them to report before ingnoring them), and is doing what he thinks is good for us anyway. Tyrant isn’t a word to bandy around, but this blatant bollocks has got to stop.

*Just shows how long it is since we suffered under Maggie’s jackboot that I can even think that.