A word about the People’s Vote March

As I write this the People’s Vote march is snaking its very crowded way round London’s streets.

On the whole I support the march and with massive bloody caveats, support the aim of a second vote but here in Scotland I feel we’re being ignored, or at least patronised by a big chunk of the People’s Vote. This is something I’ve said before, and nothing has changed my mind that for a chunk on the ‘progressive’ left in England, Scotland is only useful for votes because deep down they know that realistically England will vote to leave the EU again in a second vote.

The problems are many. Kev McKenna goes through some of them in this article at The Herald, this paragraph being especially damning.

Yet, like their manufactured concerns for the future of Ireland I’ve rarely heard any of the metropolitan elites previously profess to be overly-vexed by the challenges faced by working-class communities in England’s north-west or north-east. Where were they when the fishing fleets on Humberside disappeared, sacrificed to enable the US to spy on Soviet submarines from the Icelandic coast? And beyond some hand-wringing and anti-Thatcher sloganising what did they actually do when the mines all shut and the car factories fell silent? Each time I see Gordon Brown wade into Brexit on his white charger I can still hear him say: “British jobs for British workers”. You also contributed to this, big man.

I rarely heard any concern for Northern Ireland prior to June 2016, and as McKenna says, while traditional working class jobs and communities were being ripped apart many of these folk sat on their hands, and yeah, Gordon Brown massively contributed to where we are today.

But the problem is that there were aspects of the English left that did raise their hands in protest, but today they’re as likely to be supportive of Brexit for vague, outdated ideology which is why there’s no Jeremy Corbyn or any of the Labour leadership near the march today. From here it looks as if the left and right have a common cause (and both rely on some level on nostalgia tinged with xenophobia about ‘foreigners’) to win the Brexit fight so they can install their rose-tinted vision of Albion.

Meanwhile in Scotland although you’ll find plenty like me who support today’s march and would appreciate some reciprocal support  for a second independence referendum, with the caveat that any second EU vote would need all countries of the UK to support it, or if the result mirrors last time  then that triggers a second Scottish referendum and a border poll in Ireland.

It is hard however not to see the march as anything but positive when it shows the weight of support against the what should be now, clearly obvious far-right coup of the UK. When you’ve got various Brexiters, right and left, talking up a ‘civil war’ and wanking on boringly about taking the fight to the streets, they should remember the tens of thousands who are out on the streets now so even though I don’t think it’ll change anything politically it does help in reminding the elites fighting tooth and nail for Brexit there’s a large number of people who will oppose it.

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How a Douglas Adams quote explains modern society

Confused, puzzled and angered by things like Brexit, the ongoing nightmare of Donald Trump, the various strains of nostalgia politics and the rise of gammon-faced people from the right and left, and just generally everything?

Well, the late, great Douglas Adams has a quote from the Salmon of Doubt that explains everything!

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

So there you go, the modern world explained!

 

 

‘The Art of Coorie’ is insulting bullshit

There’s a book called The Art of Coorie by Gabriella Bennett in which the writer tells you how to ‘live life the Scottish way’, and that ‘coorie’ is some long, lost way of life we Scots keep jealously guarded to ourselves. Thanks now to this book and articles like this from the Daily Mail discussing ‘the Scottish wellness trend’ as if it’s an actual real grown-up thing as opposed to taking elements of Scottish life and trying to monertise them to wealthy middle class Southerners who don’t know better but have heavy bank accounts.

In reality there’s no meaning of coorie that has anything to do with ‘wellness’ and the shortbread tin version of Scotland that Bennett, the Mail and all those online who are falling for are actual indulging in a very modern version of colonialism.

Look at this map of Scotland.

The first thing that’s obvious is that there’s not a lot above the central belt, and to the north and east of the country. This never used to be the case til the clearances where vast swathes of Scotland were cleared of people, re-engineered socially and environmentally for the purpose of turning large chunks of these lands into playgrounds for the wealthy elites of the British state then and now in the 21st century.

Today it’s a political issue and one that deeply affects inequality in Scotland as the Green MSP Andy Wrightman makes clear on his blog and it’s Wrightman who has pushed for reform after decades of Labour playing along with the system followed by the SNP’s glacial moves in this regard. Scotland’s most remote areas have hard enough times as it is without the population essentially being priced out by the hordes of middle class sweeping up from London in droves to live a mythical lifestyle.

Indeed, things are bad enough as it is, as it is in parts of the South West in England who have suffered this 21st century version of financial and social cleansing. Bullshit like ‘Coorie’ isn’t going to help, and frankly I don’t want to see my country’s history and country infantilsed for the benefit of the few who can afford to live in once thriving communities now stripped bare.So, land reform is needed and fast before the Highlands are full of Mail and Guardian readers braying loudly at each other about ‘wellness’…

The BBC and Tommy Robinson

Tommy Robinson, or to give him his actual real name, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is what the media call a ‘controversial figure’ as is there’s an actual controversy as to whether or not he’s a far-right bigot being used by other far right-bigots to attract more people to their cause which is an aggressive ethnic nationalism of the type we see in Russia and sweeping across parts of Eastern Europe.In saner times he’d be someone long forgotten about, but we’re not in normal times; we’re in the age where actual real fascists are given the sort of voice they could only dream of.

Now I’m not talking about censoring people;I’m talking of ensuring we don’t give platforms to people with  criminal background who has a violent past and would happily see blood on the streets. We don’t do that to Islamists so why does Yaxley-Lennon get a pass, especially at the BBC?

The other night Lennon was on the BBC’s Newsnight, giving him the sort of exposure he could only dream of. People complained and the BBC said this:

Seems reasonable? Except it isn’t. The BBC have had issues with their producers pushing a right wing agenda, and on Question Time they’ve excluded pro-EU SNP/Plaid/Green/Labour MEP’s completely over the last five years. Centre-left to left wing views have been excluded deliberately, while fascists and demagogues are given free range to spread lies and hatred often unchallenged.

Fact is the BBC has become an unreliable source of information, even part of the problem in that it’s helped nurture an especially British/English form of ethnic nationalism wrapped in the Union Jack and with an unhealthy fetishisation of the armed forces, not to mention a longing of mythic days that never happened. And the BBC are giving these people a platform in the name of fairness while ignoring the larger picture, or just what these people actually do.

So remember this next time you see a Stephen Yaxley-Lennon of one of his ilk being presented on the BBC as something more than the fascist thug he actually is.

Some more words for Boris Johnson

It’s the Tory Party conference this week and the full horror of our potential future is beginning to take form as Boris Johnson further manoeuvres himself towards the position of Tory leader, and Prime Minister.

As Johnson cosies up to fascists and extremists while pushing populist rhetoric which in normal times would be dismissed, but we’re no longer in normal times, we’re on the verge of something very, very awful. With a media that’s built Johnson up as some sort of jolly buffoon rather than a callous sociopath only interested in himself and his vision for the UK which is ripped from the sort of imperial nonsense that would have been rejected from boys comics of the 1920s.

In fact there’s another figure of the 20s and 30s we can draw a comparison with.

But Johnson didn’t appear on the scene spouting racism (well, sort of) and playing the populist ethnic nationalist. It has taken a long, long time for Johnson to get to this stage where I think we’re seeing what he is exposed for all to see and you either are repulsed by it, or his cries to a Britain that never was draws you in.

And this brings me to this Alan Moore quote from V For Vendetta.

“Since mankind’s dawn, a handful of oppressors have accepted the responsibility over our lives that we should have accepted for ourselves. By doing so, they took our power. By doing nothing, we gave it away. We’ve seen where their way leads, through camps and wars, towards the slaughterhouse.”

Johnson terrifies me. He’s surrounded by zealots who unthinkingly drag us ever closer to that dark place that in a way, is the logical end for the British Empire and the idea of British exceptionalism as it finally gives into full fledged fascism. And we walked into it.

There’s only a few months left to even try to stop this. Petition your MP, MSP, AM or whatever your local elected representative is and make sure you do what you can to stop what’s coming. Don’t be guilty of giving it away because we know where that leads.

A quick word for Labour in Scotland

Labour’s leader in Scotland, Richard Leonard. is reminding everyone he still exists by coming out with a new policy of not just opposing a second independence referendum (not unusual and it’s entirely their right) but by the act of having this in the UK manifesto would mean a future Westminster Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would block any second referendum. Of course this comes a few days after Corbyn had said he’d have no problems with a second referendum being held but who expects Westminster politicians to be consistent?

The problem is for Labour is that the Scottish Government has a mandate for a second referendum voted for by the people of Scotland, Holyrood and sitting there waiting to be used once we’re familiar with what Brexit looks like which right now looks like a mess.

So we have a UK Labour leader who will back self-determination anywhere on the planet, except Scotland, and his Scottish team leader blocking not just the will of the Scottish parliament but of the people themselves. Added to Corbyn’s obvious pro-Brexit credentials we have a situation where Labour are fighting on the same ground as The Tories in Scotland, which hasn’t done them any favours in the past but hey, Leonard thinks digging in is a smart idea when polls show Labour in Scotland to be back where they were prior to Corbyn partly because people are tired of them doing shite like this. It also places Labour in a position where they say whatever happens, Scotland is better off under a Tory government, even one as cruel and psychopathic as this one.That won’t wash with former voters, or the younger voter attracted to Corbynism who supports independence and who are now realising that trusting diehard Unionists isn’t a smart idea.

In October we’re told that Nicola Sturgeon will make a statement as to what she’s going to do with this mandate now that Brexit is becoming clearer. The smart money is she’ll be pushing for a Section 30 order (the piece of legislation that makes a second referendum binding) which throws up a can of constitutional worms as the Tories will probably refuse it, so Labour need to be careful as to what side it chooses.

The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire

One of the threads of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 was of breaking the construct that is the UK in order to end, or at least damage, the UK’s vision of an unequal society held together by a network of Old Boy’s Networks, privilege, inequality, and of course, our network of tax havens which enable the wealthy to remain wealthy while pumping out money which should be paid in taxes so services collapse and austerity continues.

Indeed, since the end of the Second World War, the UK has ensured it remains at the centre of global tax evasion. As we prepare for Brexit (which will make things worse or better depending on what side of the divide you lie) here’s a splendid documentary directed and written by Michael Oswald which is fascinating and horrific at the same time as it goes from the end of empire, to the City of London and up to today where the UK’s elite ensure their wealth is secure thanks to a system both main Westminster parties have helped build over the decades.

This isn’t easy watching but it should be essential viewing for you to understand what happens in the UK just under the surface.