What has Doctor Who in common with conspiracy theories, Russia and hats?

Ever since 2001 and 911, the conspiracy theory has entered political debate so with Russia strongly suspected of poisoning the Skripal’s in Sailisbury, tinfoil hats are being passed out left, right and centre.

On the subject of hats, we have #hatgate in which some of the more rabid supporters of Jeremy Corbyn are saying the BBC are making Corbyn seem ‘more Russian‘ by digitally altering the Lenin cap he wears which is so called thanks to Lenin adopting it as I assume he hung around with a load of Greek fishermen. Meanwhile, various Tory figures are avoiding discussing the rather large sums of money many of them have been given by various Russian oligarchs. Then there’s the frantic cry and rush to war from much of the UK media who seem to forget that a war between the UK and Russia wouldn’t even last as long as the career of an X Factor winner. We also have people on the left leaping instinctively to defend Russia even though Russia is now a hyper-capitalist tyranny, while some on the right leap to the defence of some on the left. All the time Putin and the Russians are simply taking the piss and watch this further destabilise the UK, while Putin gets to send a message to his dissidents that you can’t ever escape.

So it would be hilarious if it weren’t so serious but then wading into this quagmire of insanity comes former Doctor Who actor John Levene who played Sergeant Benton of UNIT during mainly the Jon Pertwee era who is on the case in Salisbury in this, well, quite unique video that touches international crime and feeding the ducks.

In this era of fake news and hats, who best to get to the root of the problem but a retired actor? It sort of sums up how we appear to be living in a world where nothing at all makes any sense and we’re so desperate for simple answers that we’ll throw our hat on anything that fits our own personal bias’s.


Mhairi Black’s speech about misogyny

Mhari Black is an SNP MP who since being elected in 2015 (and even prior to that when she was still best known as one of the voices in the Scottish independence movement) has been subject to some of the most appalling abuse attacking her based upon her gender, sexuality, accent, politics, everything really. The other day in Westminster she made a speech in a debate about classing misogyny as a hate crime.

Have a listen (and if you’re interested as to who the MP accused of sexual abuse is, there’s some possible names here) and it is very sweary….

Snowmageddon and Brexit

As Brexit slowly shambles towards us like a drunk with his cock hanging out, the realities of this colossal act of self-mutilation becomes clear. The last few days many of us in the UK have endured dreadful weather with the snow,ice and gales disrupting the supply chain so most supermarkets look like this.

Now eventually things will return to normal and we’ll be fine. The supply chain will be restored and we’ll be able to avoid the hellish dilemma of whether to buy powdered or soy milk. What Brexit threatens is the possibility of this happening regularly as it is quite clear Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Brexiters on the right, and on the left, have an unrealistic vision of how systems built up over decades seem robust but are in fact, astonishing fragile as this week has shown.

With Brexit a year away maybe it is an idea to stock up on bread and milk now just in case we end up with permanent food shortages?

15 years ago we protested against the Iraq War…

Back in February 2003 people from all over the UK marched to protest the then proposed invasion of Iraq. About a million or two of us took to the streets in London on a cold later winter afternoon to march through the city to hear a number of speeches in Hyde Park and to show that we, as the people of this country, won’t stand for what was proposed being done in our name.

It was an amazing day. As the Channel 4 report says, there was a mix of people, and as a painfully ill Mo Molam pointed out, the war was indeed used as a recruitment tool plus as we know, from the war came ISIS not to mention an almost permanent state of war in Middle Eastern countries and radicalisation of the likes we’ve never seen.

Yet that march and those like it across the UK and the world, should have sparked a Golden Age of political involvement. Indeed it did have political consequences in that it helped along such divergent political events like the election of Barrack Obama to the Scottish independence movement as people tried shrugging off the old order to try to create a new, and better one. The facts are that for all our marching, speeches and protests it was for nothing. Tony Blair got his war thanks to enough Labour MP’s as well as Tory support, and we’re still there 15 years later.

As for the glorious mixture of people on those Stop The War marches, they’re all gone after the SWP & their ilk managed to take a broad, vibrant coalition from all political viewpoints and change it into one that served them. On that day 15 years ago in London I met people from Labour, Tory, Lib Dems, Greens and across the board. There were kids who knew exactly why they were there articulating themselves brilliantly and the general feeling of change was for many, lost.

But we marched to hear speeches and to be honest, most of us only heard these speeches on the TV news later because it took so long to get from Paddington to Hyde Park, and also because the sound was crap so you’d hear Tariq Ali through crackle while hoping the wind changed direction. The fact is most people wanted to hear George Galloway’s speech even though people like myself knew him to be a hypocrite at best, he could articulate what many of us thought that day. Thing is looking back, none of the speakers had much to lose. Galloway, Tony Benn and Tariq Ali were the main speakers and they were doing what was expected of them. Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t a big name back then and once he made his speech remained with Labour on their back benches rather than quit as many did. These folk didn’t put their entire career on the line as then Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy did.

The media savaged Kennedy. People in has party who wanted to go to war gunned for him after this. He stuck to his guns, voted against the war and in the 2005 election managed to grab a huge amount of support from people who saw Tory and Labour as two sides of the same coin. Kennedy’s actions were essential because there was an argument for invading Iraq along the lines of intervention in the Balkans in the 90’s. I sat with mates in the pub who were agonising over what to support because they knew (as we all did) that Saddam was a monster.  It was Kennedy’s rational argument for the law and decency that swung so many people to the cause. His subsequent treatment by his party and untimely death left a hole in UK politics that’s been replaced by people unfit to call themselves ‘liberals’.

I digress slightly…

Even if I’d had some sort of future knowledge o events I’d still have marched in 2003. It needed to be done and a line needed to be drawn. It didn’t work, but we needed to try because if we hadn’t tried we’d have failed everything, and everyone. The aftershocks of this can still be felt today with things like Brexit where people voted to leave to have their voice heard to the general distrust, even hatred, of mainstream politicians.

But still, for one cold day in February 2003 we felt the world was going to change for the positive. If only it had.

Shoot to kill

There’s been yet another mass shooting in the US. Yet again people are asking for ‘prayers’ even though by now people should realise either god doesn’t exist or s/he is an utter fucking bastard. People there are having the same old debate about gun control/mental health and of course the usual suspects are saying ‘now is not the time’.

My only answer to this is this Tweet below from a girl who attended the school and who has lost friends in the mass shooting.

What will happen is some outrage for another week, maybe less, til the next mass shooting and the cycle goes on and on and on and on while this becomes normalised in a society that fetishes the gun.

Will it ever change? I don’t think so, or at least it won’t until one of these mass shootings gets close to someone in a position of power and seeing as a mass shooting happens in America once every 2.5 days then chances are that’ll happen eventually and even then they’ll still be asking for thoughts and prayers.

I despair as there’s solutions there from an actual healthcare system that’s a service not a business to gun control, but nothing will be done and in a few days we’ll have moved on before we’re outraged again and somewhere in America multiple coffins that are too small for adults will be ordered again…

How fans look like pricks part 2149: Marvel V DC

Marvel’s Black Panther film is coming out in a few weeks. It looks like it’ll manage to straddle the boundary between Marvel’s house style and something actually different for a superhero film.

Not content with just enjoying/ignoring the film, a group of DC fans are planning to ‘sabotage’ the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score. This raises a couple of points. Firstly using Rotten Tomatoes as a guide is pretty pointless as it rates critics who’ve an understanding and knowledge of film alongside Some Bloke who has a blog and is super-excited about the new Transformers film and likes all those old films from the 90’s.

As an aggregate of opinion it rates all opinion as equally valid when it isn’t. There lies the flaw so remember it when some arsehole quotes the site as some sort of empirical truth.

Secondly the ‘Marvel V DC’ thing got tired back in the 60’s. Truth is there’s always been a happy rivalry and remember, if DC hadn’t brought back its superheroes in the late 50’s to early 60’s then Marvel wouldn’t have thought of venturing away from western, romance and monster comics to do them themselves. Over the years creators have flitted from one company to the other all the time, plus there’s been cross-company collaborations on and off for the last 40 years.

I’m looking forward to Ryan Coogler’s film, but frankly reading of fans scheming to fix opinion is just another sad example of how fans can take their fanaticism too far to the point where they can’t enjoy things for what they are. Instead they have to ‘win’ and fight false wrongs.  It is a nonsense way to spend your existence on this planet but this won’t sadly be the last time a group of fans act like dicks because they don’t have anything better to do in life.

Scrapping the OBFA plays into the hands of sectarian bigots

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 (OBFA) was an act designed to deal with the very real problem of sectarianism in Scottish football. It has always been an act born out of knee-jerk politics and has been flawed since the start, but as the only piece of legislation that specifically targets sectarianism. It sent out a message that as a society, Scotland was done with supporting sectarianism or looking the other way to let things happen.

This week the first step to repeal the act in a private members bill from Labour MSP James Kelly was passed to repeal it. Now as said the act is flawed; it curtailed political expression as well as crack down on the offensive bigotry we see so often in Scottish football but nobody in favour of repeal has suggested an alternative. Actually, that isn’t true; the standard line is ‘education’ along with ‘use existing laws correctly’ but the problem with this is we know fine well this isn’t going to work because hate crimes need specific punitive legislation to deal with it.

Now the argument against it ranges from the hard left argument that it now gives the working class a voice which is astonishingly offensive as it assumes the working class are a mass of barely literate bigots who can only find release by chanting hate at each other. Then there’s the illiberal argument which is true but all hate crime legislation is illiberal so do we allow complete free speech which means anti-Semitism, racism, and all the stuff we don’t want in society to pass unchallenged. So do we single out hate speech or do we tell vulnerable minorities to deal with it as to crack down on it is illiberal? Then there’s the folk who are political opportunists and of course, the people who want the act gone so they can throw out vile bigotry at football matches unchallenged.

And this is the problem. When the act was passed an informed discussion never really happened, and now, on the verge of repeal, an informed discussion isn’t happening even though the majority of the public supports the act, and is clearly tired of sectarianism.

I’ll tell you what happens in the future. The act is repealed. An ‘incident’ will happen. Someone, or a few people, will be abused, hurt, even worse. Scotland’s politicians and media will demand ‘something’ must be done and nothing will end up getting done because Scotland’s politicians and media (on the whole) want to prolong the life of sectarianism, and don’t even expect the SFA or the clubs themselves to do anything serious because they don’t want to lose support. So we have a section of the left arguing themselves into a corner over this while a section of the left are drooling with the prospect of social division.

What would I do? I’m no expert but I’d engage an open debate on what sectarianism is. Define it. Engage with people and point out to them what they do causes offense and harm to people. Show them the effects of their bigotry. Give them support to change but if they don’t and carry on then have a punitive law to crack down on them. I’d give the SFA a kick up the arse so they work towards making Scotland better. I’d not glibly sit back and let things go unchallenged as Labour, Tories and a chunk of the establishment would like.

Most of all I find it repulsive that with everything going on right now, there’s a number of people who put as their number one priority fighting for the chance for people to chant about being up to their knees in ‘fenian blood’. When the worse does happen I don’t want to see these people demand ‘action’, I want to see them accepting responsibility for what they’ve done and maybe, just maybe, actually suggest a way to make things better.