The myth of Labour’s radicalism

There’s been a load of discussion in Scotland about commentator and pro-independence left wing activist Cat Boyd’s comments about why she ”voted for Corbyn” due to his socialist credentials and how she preferred him to May.

The problem is that Corbyn doesn’t present a ‘big political change’. Corbyn presents a tweak to the existing system, and with Brexit, backs a policy which will ensure the weakest in society pays for it. I agree with Boyd (who I normally find to be at least an interesting commentator) in that Corbyn is preferable to May, but I disagree with the rest of her reasoning, and I do think she’s provided the establishment she rails against with a useful example to harm the independence movement.

But this is a problem with those who support left wing ideologically pure politics. They’ll see Labour being ‘radical’ but in fact, the ideas Corbyn presented are perfectly reasonable socially democratic ideas. The problem is that as someone who has worked within the system for several decades, Corbyn isn’t proposing changing the system except with Brexit where he, and the Tories, advocate leaving under a cloud (Labour’s vaunted internationalism clearly doesn’t extend to EU citizens) to rewrite the UK in their image. We now have a situation where the Corbyn supporting left now speak like Brexiters they sneered at prior to April, and we’re being dragged off the edge of a cliff for what? The chance that we might, perhaps, possibly, maybe see Corbyn in power and for Scotland to get maybe control of something Labour have spent years fighting to deny Scotland control of?

The fact is the system is broken. The British state is a state with blood on its hands and we’ll never know how much because the state ensures it always covers it’s tracks be it Operation Legacy, or a compliant UK media that paints the British state as an always benevolent one. And here’s another point, were Corbyn truly radical he’d be pushing to tear all this down but instead we’re promised another ‘discussion’ as frankly, all Labour want is your vote and to have the idea of radicalism as it manages your expectations from being of the left, to now supporting ideas that are making the wealthy cream themselves because Brexit will involve swingeing cuts be it May or Corbyn in power. True, it’ll be less painful under Corbyn only if you consider Labour figures and people like Owen Jones putting on their sad faces when they’re talking of job losses and families broken up, but hey, for the many right? We’ve got your vote sucker!

And here’s my problem with anyone wanting independence voting Labour. You’re supporting all this. I agree Corbyn is the lesser worse option for the UK, but you’re still voting for a party that’s spent nearly four years comparing you to Nazis, calling you a virus, filth and worse who only want your vote. They won’t give a fuck about you and we know that Labour are there to keep Scotland in check because that’s their job. How can you reconcile your position as of the ‘radical left’ by voting for a party that fights to keep the systems you’ve been fighting to break??

It’s illogical and while the SNP and Greens aren’t also as radical as they seem, both support ending the British state, which is as radical a policy as you’ll get in the UK in 2017. So if you want to go back to the days of Labour forming a government once a generation, promising jam aplenty, before the Tories come back in then great. Vote Labour. You’ll never, ever get independence and you’ll doom the most vulnerable to perjury when Brexit kicks in hard and any escape route is closed off.I’m all for sticking to principles but having seen fellow left wingers adopt messiah’s so often, I’m used to seeing crushing disappointment when people realise they’ve been had. I’m just now at the point where both personally for myself, and for those generations coming after me and yet to be born that I can’t live with the idea that we were denied self-determination and the end of the British state because of people being attracted by shiny things and rhetoric.

We do need a more inclusive vision for independence that brings people in from all political opinions but voting Labour isn’t going to achieve that. All you’ll do is empower a party that at the core only wants power for power’s sake. That won’t help the working class will it?

The covuluted position of Owen Jones and the English left in regards Brexit

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken again on Brexit and although he’s talking bollocks in regards the EU changing it’s line on freedom of movement, he’s right when he says that Labour’s somewhat pro-Brexit line under Jeremy Corbyn could well come back and bite it hard. Up pops Owen Jones to Tweet this…

Now Corbyn’s position is a ”jobs first Brexit” and we can get ‘the same access to the Single Market” we get now. This is bullshit. Corbyn knows this is bullshit because we can see the EU’s red lines and realise very quickly the idea the UK can pick and choose what it wants. I recommend this excellent piece from Byline to see exactly the state of play and once you digest it realise that Corbyn’s position on Brexit is as shaky as Farage, Johnson and Theresa May because the EU have made this point clear:

Cherry-picking of the Single Market and a sector-by-sector participation in the Single Market has been excluded by the European Council guidelines. The Union has also stressed that its four freedoms (people, goods, services and capital) will remain indivisible.

No ‘jobs first Brexit’ is coming. We can’t get what we want regarding Single Market access. We will not get anything like we have now. This isn’t going to happen because we can read the EU’s position in black and white so Theresa May knows this and so does Jeremy Corbyn. They’ll stick to their lines because they’re trying to win votes but both positions will end up with the most vulnerable picking up the cheque for either person’s plan.

Now, you’d expect a journalist like Owen Jones to not just know this, but tell his followers and readers this but he doesn’t. Now this is either because he doesn’t know the EU’s position (which makes him just a wee bit crap at this journalism malarky) or he does know and is holding back this information because it’ll hurt Labour’s chances of being elected and Corbyn becoming PM which is dangerously failing to hold power to account as he puts part first. See, it won’t be the well off that pays for Brexit; it’ll be the poor, the vulnerable, the disabled, the weakest in society. The people who can’t leave, or ride out the next 10-20 years as the UK rewrites itself in either a Tory or Labour image.

Jones knows Corbyn’s massive renationalisation plans can’t work with EU membership, but there’s no chance of Labour being a ‘party of social justice’ when people are being laid off in droves because we’ve left the EU and we’ve got austerity that makes what we have now seem like good times. You can’t have a ‘kinder, gentler politics’ either when your entire position revolves around accepting that people’s fear and xenophobic hatred of immigrants is more important than jobs or social justice, but when the party you support comes first, anything goes. Even if it involves you turning your personal politics til this point all over the place in order to support your party’s damaging position.

I despise Blair. He should be in prison, but he does raise some good point but Jones is so locked in the bizarre hubris Labour have been in since they lost another election that suddenly he adopts a position that I’m sure he’d have attacked a few months ago had say, Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson adopted it.

To be clear then. There is no ‘soft’, ‘hard’, ‘jobs first’ or even a ‘red, white and blue’ Brexit. There’s only going to be one that hurts and we’re now trying to see if we have a government, or a potential party of government, fighting to make that pain as negligible as possible but the Tory and Labour position is to wheel out the line ‘the will of the people’ because both are too shit scared or ideologically driven (or both) to present the idea that Brexit is insanely damaging and the UK deserves a say in what type of Brexit we’ll get come spring 2019. But no, both Labour and Tory are not being honest here and neither are people like Owen Jones who is putting party ahead of what is going to help the most vulnerable.

And this is the thing that annoys me about the English left. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the left has, more or less, united to fight Brexit and try as much as possible to protect devolution. In England, folk like Owen are willing to sell our rights, jobs and futures out if it means his party wins votes and frankly, I’m done with the cynicism of some on the left in England. We need to make the case for immigration, integration and something better than what we have not for the sake of whatever party we support, but because it’ll be for the good of all of us.

But nah, blind support seems to win the day here and that’s terrifying.

How the UK welfare state tries to break you

There’s an item today about how Universal Credit is leaving people in poverty and debt due to it being so badly ran out that it’s leaving people without money for weeks. The system is designed to put people into debt; that’s the issue.

Today I called the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to tell them I’m signing off as I start work on Monday. Imagine my shock to be told ‘actually, we’re cutting off your Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), sorry, but if you want to appeal or apply for another benefit you can”. Which is utterly bloody useless. I’m starting a new job Monday, and to get the week (they stopped my ESA from the 3rd July) I’m due would involve me taking time off and dealing with a whole world of stress and quite simply, I’d rather go skint for a month than have to spend anymore time speaking to anyone from the DWP. 

However I’m fairly lucky. I’m only going to lose a week, and frankly, I’ll make that up via work or via selling comics, but imagine if you had no savings, you’re seriously ill and suddenly you’re told ‘nope, no more money for you. You can work’? You’ll be driven towards poverty. You’ll have to use food banks. You’ll maybe have to borrow money which means perhaps using a company which your MP is a shareholder of. The entire system designed to keep people going is now designed as a way to mice people for everything and then when it’s had that, strip you of anything else.

See when government says unemployment figures are decreasing what they actually mean that people claiming are decreasing because the system is designed to get people off claiming one way or another. I’m still recovering from a stroke and cancer yet some civil servant has decided without speaking directly to me or my doctors that I’m fit to work.Again, I’m going back to work but on my terms, not because some wee prick has a quota to hit this week but people are right now having to face days, weeks, even months with no income and a system designed to demonise and that at it’s core, hates you.

This system is not sustainable, nor does it do what it was supposed to do. It is a system that quite literally pushes people to the edge and beyond.  All I can say is try not to be sick or unemployed if you can because you won’t have the space to recover, or to do what you need to do before bureaucracy kicks in and you’re heading down the food bank…

Oh, Jeremy Corbyn?

Having now returned from Glastonbury I’m working through writing a blog about my fun in the sun, but in hitting the part where I talk about Jeremy Corbyn addressing the huge crowd at the Pyramid Stage on the Saturday, I discovered it was taking a life of it’s own.

That wee speck on the stage in the distance is Corbyn. This is from the disabled platform from the top of the field and gives you a size of the scale of the crowd which was simply huge for an afternoon audience. For a wee while there seemed a sense of hope from many in that crowd as Corbyn represents a ‘newer, gentler’ politics and tens of thousands chanted Corbyn’s name.

At this point I felt a wee shudder of depression as I’d seen this sort of adulation before with the SNP and voiced concern with that back in November 2014. Although like Sturgeon and Salmond, I admire much of Corbyn’s personal politics (except on Scotland and Brexit but more on those in a sec) the idea of the leader as that of a personality cult isn’t good for politics and one of the reasons I’ve shied away from supporting the SNP, though I did vote for them in June because of an excellent local candidate. In fact Ian Dunt makes many good points about the problems with the cult of Corbyn here.

I look at people chanting ‘Oh JEREMY CORBYN’ and see people not in control of their critical faculties. That’s a dangerous thing for a politician to see because it means it doesn’t just feed their ego it means they think they can do things purely for the benefit of their vocal support and this brings me to Brexit. Corbyn is a Brexiter. We know this and last night there was a vote in the Commons that ensured that Jeremy Corbyn is willing to sacrifice jobs for votes because his position of leaving the EU’s single market means jobs will be lost and a form of austerity imposed because Corbyn needs Labour voters in the North of England to remain loyal so it means he’s putting restricting immigration ahead of jobs. A shufty at social media sees Corbynites tying themselves in knots trying to defend Corbyn’s ”jobs first Brexit’ which would see him ‘having the same access to the single market and customs union we have now’. Sounds fine but it’s just a big a load of shite as when Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove said we’d have this last year.

However because Corbyn is a pretty decent bloke and seems to have a soul he can’t be pushing an ideology that’s going to damage so many people’s lives who were chanting his name last weekend in a field in Somerset? Well, yes, because as an old acolyte of Tony Benn he’s always despised the EU and the only way he’ll be able to renationalise on the scale he wants is out the EU. If that means a decade at least of people struggling then because Marxist theory sees the struggle as a noble goal in itself the ends will justify the means.So Corbyn was vague about Brexit during the election campaign and gave politician answers on the times he was pushed because he knows his plans are as damaging as the Tory plans. Sure the end result may well be a better place but the getting there will have hurt and hurt badly.

Then there’s Corbyn’s words and actions about Scotland. I find it extraordinary that south of the border Corbyn comes over a pretty decent bloke, but the minute he passes Gretna he turns into a giant cock. He talks of an ‘unnecessary’ second independence referendum but his position on Brexit leaves us with no choice because Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy would wreck Scotland. I’m not saying independence would be easy, it wouldn’t, but the position with the two major Westminster parties is losing free movement, the single market and customs union. The argument now is in the shape of the world after the 1st April 2019 as to whether we’re fucked and the government won’t care (Tories) or we’re fucked and the government will be a wee bit sad about it (Labour).

In a representative democracy 48% of the UK electorate are not being represented, the people of Scotland are being told they don’t have a choice and everyone is trying hard to pretend this might not unleash hell in Northern Ireland. The only voices being heard are those of the Brexiters and their opportunist lapdogs like Ruth Davidson, the rest of us are open eyed in horror as now uncritical Corbyn supporters jump into bed with the Brexiters to defend Corbyn because all critical thinking is gone and this is what their echo chamber tells them to do.

So was I inspired listening to Corbyn last week? No. Am I concerned by him? In relation to how his policies would hurt Scotland; you can be damn right I am. Do I think he offers a chance to people in England? Possibly, but unless you all stop the football chants, stop celebrating the fact he lost another election but boosted his position in the party (people are not having better lives because Labour won Kensington) and tell me how things can get better when his Brexit policy puts everything at risk I will carry on treating Corbyn with a critical eye because frankly, many on the left need to do just that otherwise we’re rubber stamping a different sort of austerity

Europe is our playground

Tomorrow the UK and EU will engage in Brexit negotiations which is like trying to negotiate with an accountant about what part of your body needs to be cut off needlessly while Nigel Farage sits laughing and wanking over pictures of Donald Trump in the background. We’re seeing a government with no plan, no clue and in the wake of a disastrous election result and the fallout from Grenfell. For a skilled, strong leader this would be tough. For someone like Theresa May this will be impossible.

Yet the political landscape is that most parties are now talking only of the least shittest outcome or a ‘soft Brexit’ as it’s called. It’ll still hurt, inflict poverty and have austerity for a generation, and that means politicians of most parties are trying to sell it. Here’s journalist J.J patrick pulling up Jeremy Corbyn’s latest Tweet about how a soft Brexit will be a world of soft absorbent puppies and gold coins.

Brexit is going to cost. It’s already cost us an estimated £100 million, and as Patrick says, hard and soft is an irrelevant distinction. If I cut your leg off with a razor sharp blade or an old rusty sword, one might be better and quicker in the short term but both leave you without a leg.

So we face Brexit negotiations starting tomorrow with both main UK wide parties in favour of a massive act of self-harm that will bring upon us crushing and lasting poverty for the most vulnerable yet people on the left and right carry on for ideological reasons. Never has the phrase ‘may you live in interesting times‘ felt like a curse.

Scotland’s sense of ‘we just can’t’ has to be overcome

The other day on Twitter I had an interesting chat in regards a painful part of the Scottish character prompted by this post.

There’s a Scottish character trait that is self-defeating, which is bad, but what’s worse is that trait is made with because we make mythology of glorious failure. From the numerous failed  World Cup campaigns, through to failing life expectancies, Scotland accepts its fate like a condemned man walking down the corridor to the gas chamber. We’ve been inbuilt to accept our fate and to accept failure as ‘well, that’s how it is’.

It’s one of the things that made me leave Scotland in 1988. I couldn’t accept a future where my lot in life is accepted as ‘how it’s supposed to be’ because my ambition was curtailed in a social and cultural way. Things have changed to be fair but that attitude of just accepting what life has given you still persists, and although things like the independence campaign has energised people we still have politicians coming out with lines such as ”Scots are not genetically programmed to make political decisions”.

On coming back to Scotland I see this attitude challenged, mainly with younger people who’ve not had Labour or any other part of the Scottish establishment drill into them their depressing poison but things are still slow moving and this attitude keeps people unthinking, and worse, people in poverty or suffering because they’ve been told all their life to just shut up and suck it up.

Fuck. That. We have to change and we have to do it sooner rather than later.

Ruth Davidson: Soldier of Orange

Last week the general election saw pretty much everyone lose. Theresa May lost her majority and all her hubris she displayed since last June vanished with an appalling campaign. The SNP lost 21 seats thanks partly  to a Corbyn-injected Labour vote and a Tory vote energised by Ruth Davidson’s single minded ‘no more referendums’ campaign. Jeremy Corbyn may have the impetus (for now) but nothing hides the fact he lost and (for now) we’ve a Tory government propped up by the deeply sectarian DUP.

However most political pundits from all sides point to Ruth Davidson as a clear winner. Her campaign in Scotland saved Theresa May’s neck as those 13 Tory MP’s in Scotland were the difference between May cobbling together a government and Jeremy Corbyn cobbling together a government but yet bizarrely many south of the border see Davidson as a calming influence on Theresa May and someone of some integrity yet that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve pointed out before Ruth Davidson’s defence of the ‘rape clause‘, so really, she’s no friend to the left, yet some praise her partly because as Labour loyalists some prefer to see the SNP being given a bloody nose over beating Tories, and here’s where Davidson’s not went through any scrutiny in England. Now some blogs in Scotland have dragged Davidson’s somewhat flexible politics through the coals but her apparent defence of LGBTI rights in the UK (which again she painted as standing up for herself, but as that is a reserved subject for as long as she lives in Scotland she’s perfectly fine) led her to Tweet this.

Davidson has played with religion for a while dragging into the Scottish political spectrum when many thought it was dying but here’s the thing, when Arlene Foster of the DUP says the union is her ‘guiding star’ that is exactly the same position as Ruth Davidson. Her campaign in Scotland was built round one thing; no more referendums. That was it. No other policies and when pushed on policies Davidson folded or showed complicit support as in the rape clause.

Yet again, we were warned about Ruth Davidson and her pandering to the Orange Order who may not have the power in Scotland they once had, but hold an influence in Scotland that seems unbreakable for as long as the union prevails. If you haven’t a clue who the Orange Order are, this wonderful clip from T2: Trainspotting answers everything in a succinct way.

This election was the last stand of a hard, sectarian Unionism and thanks to Ruth Davidson and the DUP, that strain of Unionism has the whip hand over the entire UK, and as for Davidson’s claim last week she’d ensure the DUP preserve rights that’s been shown to be bullshit as women from Northern Ireland are now banned from travelling to England to get a termination.

Davidson fought tooth and nail dabbling with sectarianism to put a dent into the SNP, hurt the idea of independence and also hollow out Labour who insanely worked with the Tories in many Scottish seats to help stop the SNP. So yes, Davidson has won and is the media’s new love but it’s easy to oppose. Now she has to deliver and she’s incapable of doing that. What do voters who don’t want a second referendum think of the fact the SNP have a mandate for one, the Greens still support one and there’s now more independence minded people in Labour? As 2015 was a high point for Nicola Sturgeon, 2017 could well be the same for Ruth Davidson.

I hope so. She’s stirred up some horrendously dark forces and they won’t get back into their box easily now they’re holding a gun at Theresa May’s head.