A word about the snap General Election

After writing this I thought things couldn’t get weirder or more scary. Then Theresa May calls a snap general election on the 8th of June and the arse falls out of any idea we might be hitting a phase of relative sanity.

Using the line The country is coming together but Westminster is not May obviously sees a chance based upon current polls to have the sort of majority that we’ve not seen since the Tony Blair years. May is essentially going to have to scrap the Fixed Terms Parliaments Act to hold this snap election which may well provide some more interesting snippets as although the Tories are putting on a united front, there’s a lot of Tories out there (Hi David Mundell!!) sitting on paper-thin majorities in areas that thanks to Brexit may well be facing unemployment in June.The Act was designed to stop PM’s doing just what May is doing which is hold an election when the polls are favourable.

Problem is polls can be read wrong. Take the Scottish independence referendum. David Cameron happily let the Scottish Government hold a referendum in 2014 the polls showed only around 20% support for independence. That changed over the campaign as more people became informed of the issues, so May’s taking a risk but this is a risk which if it pays off means she personally has an eye-watering majority (if the polls are accurate around 100) not to mention she intends to change the makeup of the Lords, while Brexit hands her the sort of power no Prime Minister should have.

So this is about Theresa May grabbing power. See all that bumf about ‘division’? That’s about creating a state where the opposition is muted and ineffective where it needs to be in Westminster. There’s also the matter of the Tory election fraud scandal which menaces the Tories and taints their 2015 victory, though as Michael Crick points out, this means the hard decisions are now in the hands of the CPS.

The question you have to ask yourself is what sort of future you want for yourself and for others? This is a general election where the future of the UK itself is up for grabs. If you want a future where Tory Prime Ministers have the sort of power where they can sail through whatever they want unopposed though Westminster then look to see where your vote belongs.In Scotland that means voting for the SNP, a party I reluctantly will give my vote to in June (I find their economic policies to be far too conservative) because their social policies are good and they’ll beat not just the Tories, but a hopeless broken Labour Party who’ve run up the white flag on Brexit.

Elsewhere in the UK its down to you to make the choice. I hope Corbyn’s smart and takes the offer of a progressive alliance Ed Milliband refused in 2015 but I fear the Labour Ultras won’t do that. I hope I’m proven wrong. Whatever you do make the right choice because we have a choice and if that choice is Tory (or UKIP) then we’re heading down the same path as Turkey, America, Russia and possibly France in having a hard authoritarian leader who stamps over human rights. Do we really want to be on the dark side in the years ahead?

Götterdämmerung

In Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Götterdämmerung, is the final act. It means ‘Twilight of the Gods’. That’s relevant because on Saturday morning I went through to Edinburgh and the news-stands were full of papers heaving with the threat of war, in particular the nuclear kind, or the realisation one gets at 8am in the morning when your brain processes the reality of what’s going on which is something like this train of thought; ‘ohmyfuckinggodtheresaloonintheWhitehousewhomightactuallyfuckingdoit!’ . Or to put it more succinctly…

So what the fuck is going on? Is Donald Trump mad enough to actually use nuclear weapons and will North Korea be mad enough to push a madman far enough to do it? Will Putin step in and what about the wave of far right authoritarians in Europe from Erdoğan in Turkey through to Le Pen in France and Farage and May here in the UK?  Where does Brexit fit into what’s going on? Is there a grassy knoll I can hide behind?

It does feel like it’s either a massive series of unconnected events which makes me a paranoid conspiracy theorist (which means I should move into a basement somewhere and live in my own filth) or there’s a load of stuff going on and various people/groups are taking advantage of what is a breakdown of the old social and economic order which has placed us in a time of chaos. So a twilight of the old ways as it were. Whatever is going on one thing is clear; we’re living in a future dystopia that if this had been written about in the 90’s would have been dismissed as bollocks. Trump in the Whitehouse? Aye, right. UKIP a powerful force? Oh fuck off. The far right on the rise across Europe? Oh fuck…

As future dystopias go this is more the 1984 type than the Threads type, but it doesn’t seem it’ll take much to push it towards that which as someone who lived through the 1980’s scares the crap out of me. See, we went to sleep with nightmares of nuclear wars which bled into every aspect of 80’s culture from film to comics to music which at times was positively Wagnerian in its scope.

We’re never going to grasp what’s going on because everything is just too huge and our minds aren’t built to process the scale of it in the same way that we can never see the entirely of a fractal shape or all of our life at once. We can only pick and choose what it is we want to see and how we want to interpret it, but either consciously or unconsciously we dismiss the scale of what we’re looking at. The reason I’m probably more scared now than I was in the 80’s is there’s too many wild cards out there and there’s a lunatic in the Whitehouse, the Kremlin, North Korea and smaller (but no less worrying) lunatics across the world, including our own Theresa May, who are driven by ideology, faith and an uncritical way of thinking. Reagan and Gorbachev look like giants compared to these people who seem to be intent on taking us down a path where we end up in caves drinking our own urine as it’s the least radioactive liquid available.

This is an unstable time where we’re governed/ruled by unstable people influenced by populist, hard/far right religious views from all the faiths you’d like to imagine.If this is the twilight of an age then lets make it the end of these people rather than us or democracy. We have to ensure things like Brexit, and people like Trump and Putin don’t walk us into the end unchallenged. We’re in a fight and it won’t be nice, easy or simple and it will involve many on the left, especially the liberal-left pulling themselves out of their echo chambers too. Because the stakes here are massive and quite frankly I’m not keen in spending my remaining decades on this planet living in fear of what may happen if one of these lunatics goes that step too far that takes us beyond the twilight and into the night.

Do Marvel have a diversity problem?

Marvel vice-president David Gabriel recently said that Marvel Comics are suffering a sales slump due to the fact they now publish a diverse line of comics featuring people of all sexes, races and ages. As this Vox piece says, the truth is somewhat more complex but that was lost in the outrage from all sides when this story broke into the mainstream from the comics ghetto.

What do we mean by ‘diversity’ though? Well, this is the Marvel Universe in the 1970’s into the 1980’s.

Here’s a poster of the Avengers in the 90’s.

To put it bluntly the Marvel Universe is a white one.  Sure there’s the odd green skinned hero and blue mutant but black characters, or anyone non-white, are thin on the ground. In short it doesn’t reflect the world of today and that’s a problem if you want to pitch to as wide an audience as Marvel did in the 60’s.

The Marvel Universe today is better. There’s Ms Marvel, Moon Girl and a load of other characters that expands what the Marvel superhero universe is and many of these characters are in decent to good books, but for people like Gabriel the sales figures are what’s important and they don’t add up.Which brings me to the point that this isn’t an issue for comics as a medium, but the superhero genre which may have had over the last decade undreamed of exposure, but that’s never translated to sales.

This Cracked article touches on some of the reasons why this is the case. Some of it will be painful reading as the point that Marvel can say ”we have an <insert minority here> character! Why are you moaning!?’ is going to resonate. For years Marvel did this with the Black Panther before they actually started creating other black characters but even then that was mainly to cash in on the 1970’s Blaxploitation craze.For me though the issue is accessibility. There’s no point coming up with say, a Muslim Ms Marvel if you’re rebooting the series with a new number one every other year, and your entire superhero universe has a massive crossover event once a year. People may have more disposable income in 2017 but people have limits.

If you want to have read all of 2016’s Civil War II with all the crossovers then with titles priced at $2.99 to $3.99 (or for the UK, somewhere between £2.00 and £3.50) then you’re paying hundreds to keep up with an event where to be blunt, most of the series is shite. You may pick up a few issues but finances and tedium dictate that you bin the rest so you leave only the hardcore fans to carry on. Which is another point as if Marvel pander only to the core fan (as DC Comics are doing) then they’ll never grow and develop to take advantage of the fact their films are making billions having been seen by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

So the hard facts are that Marvel are the creators of their own problems. Yes, it’s a tough market but making it harder for readers doesn’t help so it isn’t a case that Marvel has a diversity problem which causes them sales, it has a problem with making easily accessible comics for all ages. Until it gets to grips with that and at the same time it stops pandering to a decreasing, ageing core then it won’t be picking up the readers it could, and indeed, should.

UKIP voters fight for the right to bum dogs

In a YouGov poll a quarter of UKIP voters support the idea of having sex with a dog. I’ll let you digest that for a second.

SNP and Lib Dems are the least inclined to look at an Alsation and think ‘hmm, sexy’. UKIP voters are the most likely to look at a pug and think ‘I want that slobbering on my hard Brexit’. Tory voters are only slightly less turned on by a Great Dane than a UKIP voter while overall a quarter of voters would like to lay into a Labrador which is terrifying. Next time you go to vote, have a look at everyone else there as a quarter of them would like to indulge in bestiality.

I guess they’ve gone to the dogs…

Theresa May fights the War on Easter

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has taken her time out of her busy trip selling arms to Saudi Arabia to comment on the frankly astonishing story that the National Trust have axed the word ”Easter” from their annual egg hunt. Disgraceful you may say. ”Islamisation” you may drool. It’d certainly at least be odd.

If it was real of course. It isn’t.

eastermay

 

On Cadbury’s website the word ‘Easter’ is everywhere. The campaign people are being offended by is just part of a larger campaign and anyone spending more than a second looking into this would find this out.

Now Theresa May could have said ‘no comment’. She could have laughed it off. She could have said ”I’ll look into it” and find out the truth. No, she said;

“I’m not just a vicar’s daughter, I’m a member of the National Trust as well,” she told ITV during a visit to Amman, Jordan. “I think the stance they have taken is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know what they are thinking about frankly.”

This is the Prime Minister getting outraged about a non-story in a country where human rights abuse are insanely numerous. This frankly is insane. She’s in a country where if you tried to celebrate Easter you’d be imprisoned or worse and she’s jumped blindly onto a argument generated by far right commentators who’d get offended at anything.

Consider this; if May jumps blindly into this fairly trivial piece of bullshit, imagine what else she blindly jumps into without thinking?

Do the middle class hate the poor?

Being signed off work recovering from a stroke and cancer means long periods of staring at the internet for some enlightenment to pass the hours of unrelentless tedium. The other day I came across an article on Cracked which in amongst the clickbait often prints some superb stuff. This one was entitled ”5 reasons why the middle class doesn’t understand poverty”. It used to be called ‘5 ways the middle class are taught to despise the poor” which was a tad harsh, but then again truth often is.

It’s a fascinating read as this is an American perspective yet it is as much relevant to the UK as it is across the Atlantic so take point 5;

We’re Constantly Told That “Money Can’t Buy Happiness”

If you’re poor you’re told that money isn’t the cure for all your problems. It isn’t, but if you’re sitting on a tenner for a fortnight it’ll certainly make a lot of your problems go away, and then you’ll be happier. As we live in a capitalist society this is what we have to do, and if you’re middle class you maybe aspire to climb the social ladder but you really don’t want to be poor. There’s a sense of entitlement in being middle class for some, and if you end up poor you may well end up saying it wasn’t meant to be like that.

Yet if you’re middle class you get to define what poverty is to you.You get called ‘‘JAMS’‘ by political party leaders You’re still listened to. If you’re poor, I mean, really poor, you won’t be heard and most politicians couldn’t care less about you. Sure, Nigel Farage says he cares for the common man but this is someone who at first opportunity took his chance to sit in front of Donald Trump in a golden throne and weld himself to his anal sphincter. After all people like Farage didn’t get where he is today by doing ”menial” work!

Which brings me to the next point…

We’re Taught To Associate Low-Paying Jobs With Failure

Look how many times you hear people sneer about ‘shelf stackers”? I’ve done it. You’ve done it. I looked up a job at Tesco’s here in Glasgow and looked at the hours. They suck. You do a job like this, you lose control. Your life is in the hands of the company you work for. No cheap last minute holidays in Paris or New York. No sneaky weekends in the country. You have to work, and anyhow, you won’t be able to afford to do anything anymore glamorous than a bottle or seven of WKD at your local neon clad bar.

If you’re in a job that doesn’t pay well and just about keeps food in your stomach and a roof over your head you’re struggling. But you’re in a ‘menial’ job. You stack shelves!! You pack lorries!! Can’t you do something productive like being a ‘content provider’?

Fact is we need supermarket shelves stacked. We need lorries to be packed. These aren’t ‘menial’ jobs but vitally important and in fact, there’s a very good argument that jobs like ‘content providers’ are in themselves, not just needless, but actually menial but if your family has bought you an education you take things for granted.

There Are Always Certain Things We Take For Granted

I once worked with a girl who had never paid for her own bills in her life. Her dad paid for everything. She took everything for granted and never worried about say, deciding whether to eat or pay that bill sitting on the bed that needed to be paid a month ago.

Then again the problem is that in 2017 communities are no longer as mixed as they once were. Or as Cracked says.

We Don’t Witness Poverty, So We Don’t Understand It

I recently moved back to Glasgow from Bristol to recuperate from illness. I went to a part of the city for physio back in January and was shocked by the level of poverty I saw. I’d been so long away from this level of poverty that I’d forgotten that it existed, and in fact, my own personal definition of poverty was redefined.

See the class structure used to be like this.

Now it’s more like this.

Unless you see the bottom end of the chain you’ve no idea what it’s like. You want to be near the top and you don’t want to take too much shit as after all, that’s for further down the line to do.

It’s harsh but unless we understand poverty we can’t fight it. It becomes then an abstract concept that can be shifted depending upon whoever’s single definition of poverty is. It’s why government redefine the meaning of poverty as after all, if people are born near the bottom it’s in the interests of the traditional left (Labour) to keep them there (with maybe some tinkering at the edges to make it look as if they care) in order to keep promising the world. If you’re the traditional right (Tory) then you don’t give a fuck.

So we have the sight of politicians arguing whether people are poor because they’re ”just about managing” while millions aren’t managing but for many of us we’re the victims which brings me to Cracked’s last point.

We’re Taught To See Ourselves As The Victims

We all do this. Empathy is hard. Understanding is hard. It takes time, energy and selflessness to understand and empathise with people. Remember the EU referendum last year? Remember all those people with pretty decent lives moaning about how the ‘EU was crushing them’ who are now probably moaning about not getting as much for their Sterling when they go for their overseas holiday? Yup, they thought themselves as victims because it’s easy.  If you’re brought up with a sense of entitlement and in effect, your own echo chamber within your own class you can imagine going up but down? Nah. You’re the one being penalised because you’ve got two cars, or having to cut holidays per year to two is terrible and politicians see that, sense votes and swim in for the kill.

Do the middle class as a mass hate the poor? No, they don’t. Many can empathise and many do understand, but a large section do and worse, people who have climbed up the centipede have pulled things up behind them so they hate what they’ve left behind. With Brexit coming up many people may well find themselves slipping down the chain as things implode, but the fact is in the days, weeks and months ahead people are going to have to do some serious soul searching to work out what to do and that will mean attitudes will have to change. If they don’t then most of us will be at the end of a human centipede being fed the shit from those wealthy enough to ride out what’s coming.

Pick your own Brexit meme

Someone once said there isn’t a Wile E.Coyote gif that doesn’t represent Brexit perfectly.

This seems to be the case.

After all, it’s clear the likes of Theresa May and David Davis are out of their depth.

And that we’re facing ignoble failure as the EU makes it clear the Brexiters plans have obvious barriers.

It really is remarkable that virtually every single Wile E. Coyote gif sums Brexit up for the pitiful failure it is.

But we’re on the road to hell now and the drivers are imperialistic, Unionist xenophobes with delusions of greatness.

Still, this is only the start. It’s going to get much worse.

Good luck everyone!