Four years after Scotland fucked up

Four years ago the people of Scotland voted to remain part of the UK based upon a multitude of false promises, and in doing so Scotland lost all power it once had as no longer could it stand on its own but then the UK held the EU referendum where England and Wales voted to leave, while Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar voted to remain and now the Union stands ready to rip itself apart from its contradictions.

Barring the diehards, nobody pretended in 2014 things would be honey and unicorns upon independence, but the ability to shape Scotland’s future would be in the people of Scotland’s hands as opposed to whatever Tory or Labour PM who would see Scotland as votes and/or resources to exploit when they need to.Few expected a Tory victory in the 2015 General Election which meant few expected an EU referendum in 2016 and nobody expected us to be in the fucking disaster we’re in right now with Brexit looming and jobs, even lives at stake.

In short Scotland fucked up in 2014.

Some things were good. A creation of a genuine socially aware, progressive left wing grassroots movement which wasn’t hijacked by SWP types/snobbish lefties more interested in their own advancement/wankers was fantastic. Discovering the flaws in the media being another highlight. In fact much of the referendum campaign was artfully pinched by Corbyn’s Labour A Tory Party we can’t get rid of tha

But the last four years has been grim. A Tory Party we can’t get rid of and an official opposition too busy with cleansing itself to bother fighting the Tories, and of course Brexit which Corbyn clearly wants anyhow. So we’re left with Theresa May; a totally useless PM who sadly is the last thing standing against the far right of her party gaining control and power. Scotland lies in the middle of this all because four years ago it fucked up.

There is a mandate for a second independence referendum, and Nicola Sturgeon has been wise not to use it when it could have been easy to do so, but at some point this parliament it’ll need to be used and indeed, it could not just give Scotland a route out of the UK, but an end to Brexit itself in the aftermath.

What we have to do next is ensure we don’t fuck up ever again because the fact is Scotland votes to stay in the Union again and independence is over for generations.

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Ruth Davidson and mental health

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has a book out soon and has been sitting with London-based hacks for a publicity push that involves an interview with the Sunday Times where she states she never wants to be an MP at Westminster, or take a peerage or become Prime Minister in order to preserve her mental health; of which she discusses in the interview as having problems with 20 years ago.

All of this should be good as after all mental health is an issue all of us struggle with, and the more people speak out the better, but in Davidson’s case it smacks of a carefully planned release of information which benefits Davidson. With pundits (mainly in England) speaking of how brave she is to speak out then it shows it’s worked but here in Scotland there’s an air of suspicion because Ruth Davidson hasn’t got where she is today from pushing policies or being the ‘centrist’ politician the likes of Ian Dunt thinks she is.

Davidson won acclaim for her part in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 where she managed to be questioned by the police about allegations of election fraud, and in the 2015 election lied about ‘burly men’ scaring away voters. She’s also happy to surround herself with extreme far right types, and barely twitches when these people are found out after being elected. It should be also be made clear she’s built up a healthy following from exploiting elements of sectarianism and Unionism and this worked in 2017’s election where she managed to run a campaign based on no policies at all except ‘no to a second referendum’ with Tory campaign leaflets hiding the Tory name under Ruth Davidson’s.

Davidson is a fantastic media construct but unlike recent examples like Nigel Farage or Jacob Rees Mogg, she’s carefully cultivated this herself along with a media in Scotland totally unfit for purpose. Yet some have questioned her, and when pushed on the few occasions she has been, comes over as brittle, angry and totally without substance. Indeed one of her names here in Scotland is ‘Rape Clause Ruth’ due to her open support for the dreadful ‘rape clause‘, and Westminster Tory policies.

And this brings me back to her comments about mental health. She defends policies which drive people to killing themselves. She supports her party imposing economic ruin upon people that drives them to kill themselves. She’s shown no remorse, no compassion and no sense that she empathises with ordinary people, and she’s teamed up with Michael Gove to create a thinktank to push Tory ideas to younger people under the disguise of being a ‘centrist’ and London-based commentators still trip over themselves to praise her and not ask why she’s revealing all this now, let alone push her on her policies or why she’s never available for interview so she can be asked about the ‘dark money‘ allegations hanging over her.

Make no mistake that if a third of what rattles in Davidson’s cupboard were assigned to Nicola Sturgeon or even Jeremy Corbyn, there would be UK wide media coverage and massively sensationalist reporting.  Davidson escapes this and now with this revelation, ensures that few journalists will push her assuming they would anyhow which is a shame as the question I have for Davidson is if she’s so intent on helping people’s mental health then why does she support policies that damages people’s mental health so badly?

But that question will never be asked. She’s carefully positioning herself for the next post-Brexit phase and if you think Davidson doesn’t want to be PM then I suggest looking back at Davidson’s history and see a tirade of lies and manipulation aimed at one thing; the advancement of Ruth Davidson and the Tory ideology.

Comicsgate supporters have no idea what they’re talking about

I’ve spoken about Comicsgate before, but it is one of things that isn’t going away so a bit like a fungal infection we’re going to have to deal with it, and one of the ways it seems we’re going to have to do it is by breaking things down as simply as possible as it is clear Comicsgaters have no idea what the fuck they’re on about.

If that sounds obvious then let me explain. The main goals of Comicsate that the creator Jamal Igle collated are as follows..

1. Hire people based on merit. Pay your dues and you eventually get your own title, Noone jumps the line because of race sex whatever

2. Retain people based on sales

3. Don’t attack the customers. in a word professionalism

4. Minimize politics in stories.

Sounds nearly reasonable til you look below the surface or have any sort of knowledge of the history of the American comic book industry because 1/ is nonsense as people have been hired because of past glories, or who they know for decades but they were white men, but it does seem to be only women or non-white people who they have issues with and the idea that  say, women have jumped the gun is utter bollocks is you’re aware of your history.

2/ is complex. I’ve seen Comicsgaters argue that ‘Person X’ shouldn’t be in comics because their titles doesn’t sell, but the fact is they may have a small print-run but all of it sells to the direct market rather than having overstocks sit with the publisher. Something like say, X-Men Gold, will have large amounts left over. Also if you have someone who’s been writing a title for years and it sells well, but as a publisher you feel the title needs a bit of a shake-up then sales don’t enter into it. Nobody, and I mean nobody in comics is safe from this. Again, there’s plenty of examples of this in history.

3/ is simple. The customer isn’t always right and frankly, if you’re being a wanker online to a creator then you’ll get it back. Customers should be listened to but any business needs to gain new customers, and if old ones don’t like it, then fuck off. It really isn’t even as brutal as that, but this is complex and can’t be reduced to simplistics.

4/ is bullshit. It can be argued the creation of the American superhero is in itself a political act as Superman was created by two Jewish-American immigrants to give a voice to the American working class, including America’s growing immigrant population. Superman was their protector in his early years before he became a propaganda figure in WW2.

And while watching one of the many threads on Twitter about this, I spotted this post.

I pointed something out which got a reaction…

Ethan van Sciver has indeed went right to the end-user and managed to get half a million bucks off them for this.

Now if people want to give their money to this is fine, but don’t think this is new. It isn’t. People like Dave Sim or the Pini’s were re-writing how the industry worked back in the 1970’s, and self-publishing was hardly a new concept then. The rise of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter ensures that any creator can go direct to an audience and raise the capital needed to publish their work, so Van Sciver isn’t changing the world, regardless what his followers think.

No, the fact is Comicsgaters are being taken advantage of. They don’t have the knowledge of the history of comics, or indeed, how the industry works. They’re also seemingly universally youngish having been brought up on a diet on 90’s Image Comics, or your pretty stands Marvel/DC superhero fare. They don’t want ‘change’ because their voices have always been listened to & the idea they’re not the focus of attention means Van Sciver and others on the far right, sorry ”alt-right”, have zoomed in to fill people’s heads with nonsense. Essentially they’ve weaponised ignorance and that’s dangerous potentially as Comicsgate (like Gamergate before it) does have a large number of people involved in it and those at the top of the foodchain are perfectly aware they’ve got young, malleable, alienated men and boys to use as footsoldiers in this culture war they’re desperate to start.

Comicsgate isn’t going away but neither is it going to change the industry. What we have to do is ensure it doesn’t grow to suck up more people and we can do that by educating people. If people don’t want to listen then we have a problem but we have to fight the ignorance of Comicsgate.

A quick word from Scotland for the Brexit People’s Vote

At the weekend there was a People’s Vote rally in Edinburgh that had speakers from the liberal left based in England. Sure, the likes of Dr. Tanja Bueltmann were there, but mainly it was people like Rory Bremner, Gavin Esler and Menzies Campbell who spoke to  around 1k people about the need for a second Brexit vote. The line ”love the UK, love the EU’ was pitched. This sparked independence supporters to refute this on everyone’s favourite online Thunderdome, Twitter.

The jist is that people saw a movement which til now has focused, rightly, on drumming up support for a second referendum in England but had totally forgotten Scotland existed because Scotland voted 62% to Remain and Edinburgh the remain vote was 74%. So to many people it just looked like a bunch of folk who were in the area for the festival turning up to make a few speeches then vanish back down south.without engaging what’s happened in Scotland since the EU referendum because it hasn’t went down the same path as England.

On Saturday in Dundee, somewhere between 12k and 16k people marched through the city in support of independence, and of Scotland independent within the EU. The People’s Vote has ignored the fact for two years the people of Scotland have been fighting to not just stay in the EU, but to preserve devolution itself which is at risk from Brexit. So to have folk swan in and out telling people in Scotland what they should do reminds too many people of the independence referendum in 2014 when folk based in England swept in to tell people what to do, including telling people a Yes vote would be the best way to lose EU membership so vote No said people like, Gavin Esler and Rory Bremner.

We know how that turned out.

Scotland is treated as an afterthought by the main Westminster parties. Theresa May swans in and out of Scotland giving the air of someone who’d rather be at her own funerals, while Jeremy Corbyn swans up for a few days to put us bloody Jocks back in their place because that’s been Labour’s job.All the time the message is ‘be more like the rest of the UK, just conform to what England does’ and that’s what drives people insane as this has never worked. The UK’s political system was for years held together by bits of string & chewing gum but all its horrible flaws are now exposed, but Esler, etc don’t propose a People’s Vote which will result in this being rectified. They just want Scotland’s vote and when they get them (because polls now show support for the EU to be around 70%) they’ll walk away.

It is the idea that for two years Scotland has sat around doing nothing but here’s Rory Bremner here to put us right. The same man who wrote this now quite pitiful piece in the Telegraph four years ago (there’s also an exceptionally cruel line about Charles Kennedy’s alcoholism) that said basically Scotland should vote No because it might, possibly, perhaps get a better deal and hey, Kirsty Wark made it big so it shows Scotland is doing well!!

It is bullshit.

When pushed as to why they won’t support at least the principle of a second independence referendum, the likes of Esler, Bremner, etc say ‘ah well, you voted No in 2014. Shut up and support this’ which is at best, tone deaf.

So to hell with Bremner and those like him. The English liberal left has never been there to show solidarity with Scotland having chosen to show their solidarity by standing back when the Tories decimated Scottish industry and brought in the likes of the Poll Tax. But Brexit is important to fight however a second UK wide vote will give Scotland whatever England votes for, so independence is important as if Scotland wins it, then all cards are in the air, including Brexit. The problem is that too many pushing for a People’s Vote are also those most in favour of a return to the status quo and that ship sailed.

Want to help? Understand Scotland’s politics and history. Understand what Scotland has done to speak up for immigrants and protect them as much as possible. Perhaps put feelers out to Indy groups; see if you can work together but don’t assume the argument in Scotland is the same as England. It isn’t just as it isn’t the same in Gibraltar or Northern Ireland. Even Wales is starting to shift slightly away but don’t assume things can go back to normal as that (whatever it was) is no longer on the table. Want allies? Then speak to folk and understand the situation rather than preach.

The ball is in the court of the People’s Vote. We have a large organised grassroots campaign in Scotland that can attract tens of thousands in areas that weren’t big on supporting independence four years ago. It has been built up with zero support from the media, or the liberal left in England but it’s the sort of activist base political parties and movements would die for. Why not make bridges to help fight Brexit but the People’s Vote need to give a hell of a lot, and ensure they don’t do anything as cack-handed as the weekend in Scotland again.

Airbnb’s disability problem

The other day I decided to sort out accommodation for going to Edinburgh for next year’s Comic Con, and Dublin in August for the Worldcon. The latter is a priority as Dublin will fill up and I’ve already bought a membership, so with the former all I need is a bed as I’ll be working the con, while at the latter I’ll need something a bit more as although I’ll be spending most of my time at the con but also going round Dublin. Looking to save some money I popped onto Airbnb where I found two homes who were free and made provisional bookings as I had a few things to sort out before confirming.

A day or two later I logged back on to book, and pay for, both rooms but I dropped both a quite line to mention I’m disabled and would the rooms be secure as I’d be leaving my meds (well, most of them) in the room when I’m out. Over the course of yesterday I got two replies which both went along the same lines that they were ‘really sorry’ but the rooms ‘were actually booked’ for the times I wanted them. Sensing something wrong this morning I checked to see if the hosts had marked the dates as booked. Nope, in fact both are still advertising as available. I then got a mate to enquire about the same dates; no issues.

A shufty through the internet sees folk with similar problems, and in June 2017 a study found AirBnb hosts were more likely to cancel disabled guests than able bodied ones. As a company AirBnb have to comply with equality laws but hosts are pretty much allowed to run a free hand because already written equality legislation didn’t anticipate the sharing economy. Sure AirBnb have bought a ‘disabled AirBnb’ company in reaction it seems to the study last year, So to put it bluntly, hosts can do what the fuck they want; AirBnb have the thinnest veneer of giving a fuck because trying to complain about this to them is pointless.

There is a problem with new tech companies like Uber (where they have a mass of issues) and AirBnb but there’s a particular issue with these companies treating everyone the same because they don’t. Now what this effectively means is the disabled are excluded from the sharing economy, and worse, the sharing economy feels like it doesn’t need to abide with the laws and practises of society.

So don’t want my money? Fine, I’ll spend it elsewhere though the likes of AirBnb won’t care as they’re making so much money but perhaps its down to us to now have a conversation about how these companies run themselves and how we drag them to play by the same rules other companies have to?

A quick word about Boris Johnson

If you think Boris Johnson wasn’t making a carefully staged comment in regards the burka to appeal to a certain demographic then I have a bridge to sell you. Boris Johnson was making a very well prepared comment to act as a dogwhistle not just for out and out racists (as Johnson enjoys a support there already) but from people who are ordinary voters.They may not be EDL, or Stephen Yaxley-Lennon worshipping mouthbreathers but people like old women sitting in a waiting room or just people like the one’s you and I live and work with.

Ever since Michael Howard’s Conservatives were rightly trounced after their horribly racist campaign in 2005, mainstream politicians from the right, and the left, have struggled with how to deal with immigration or just be plain outright in their beliefs, or just jumped on board the UKIPisation of UK (or to be specific, English) politics.

Brexit was always an opportunity for the hard right as well as the far right,to enable themselves and beliefs openly among as large a number of people that they’ve ever had access to in the UK, and people lapped up the racist bullshit. At the head of that campaign were a number of people but Johnson was one of the leaders pushing for Brexit at that point for his own goal which is to become Prime Minister. He still clearly wants that job, but now we’re two years down the line from the EU referendum there’s a lot that was once considered abhorrent becoming normalised as specifically England is gripped by a anti-immigrant hatred, though thanks mainly to Ruth Davidson and her Tories, we’ve got our own issues here in Scotland.

Johnson is positioning himself to be the strong maverick Trump-like leader who’ll do the job Theresa May can’t, and if you think that won’t get votes may I point out polls that show the issues Johnson is dogwhistling about have some support, and that’s from people willing to admit their bigotry. Right now there’s just a few steps away from the UK being run by the likes of Johnson with a far right support in the shape of Steve Bannon backed of course by Putin who has a thing for puppets like Johnson.

I said over two years ago Johnson was out to become a real life Adam Susan. I think by next spring we’ll see Johnson as PM, or at least on the cusp of becoming PM and he knows exactly what he needs to do to get there. So when you think he ‘mispoke’ think again. He wants power and he doesn’t care if that means turning the UK into a dystopia to get it, and worse, stay in power.  This is why Brexit needs to be opposed because once that happens the gloves are off…

How Brexit will kill you

I’d written out a big old blog about how Brexit will affect those of us who need prescription drugs to have a better quality of life, or to just live in my case.Then this article by Ash Soni, the president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society popped up in the Guardian.

The jist is simple enough. Over the last 45 years we’ve built up links across the EU so drugs are not manufactured in the UK in the numbers they were, but here’s Soni to explain.

Let’s take a look at how medicines get from the factory to our local pharmacy. This is, by its nature, an international business. The active ingredients needed are often manufactured in India and the far east. These are then transported to manufacturing plants that turn them into the tablets and liquids that come in prescribed form. Many of the factories that supply the UK are elsewhere in Europe. From there, they are sent to wholesalers here who then distribute them to pharmacies and hospitals to be dispensed to patients. The entire process has to be carefully managed to ensure that everything happens in a timely way – particularly for medicines with short shelf lives, such as lifesaving EpiPens needed for those with severe allergies; or those with special requirements, such as insulin, which needs to be kept at between 2C and 8C at all times.

The goods that benefit from free movement across Europe include medicines. The pharmaceutical supply industry has adapted itself to these arrangements. So any big, sudden change, whether it’s leaving the customs union and single market, or negotiations breaking down resulting in no deal, has the potential to create major problems. Delays at ports, increased costs and legal or regulatory differences are among the issues.

It’s one of those things the Brexiters, and the Lexiters, dismiss. ”How did we cope before the EU?’. Well, the answer is we coped within the limits we had then which means 45 years ago when we joined the EU (Or the EEC as it was then) the life expectancy of a man was 69 and a woman 71 compared to 79 and 82 now. In short, the development of new drugs and a general raising of standards of living not to mention the fact there’s not been a Europe-wide conflict since 1945 means we’re living longer, and thnings that used to kill us are now treatable.

Break down the finely-tuned supply chain, or even delay the drug supply for a day or longer will lead to ill people suffering, even dying. In my case I take eight pills a day to keep me alive. To take just one, thyroxine, there are two companies with the license to import it into the UK where it is branded accordingly. In liquid form it can be stockpiled up to 32 weeks, in tablet form 28 weeks.  Not bad you may think but millions of people take it to help with conditions like an underactive thyroid to people like me who had their thyroid removed because of cancer. Pharmacies only hold stock for a week at a time, sometimes less in smaller branches and right now nobody is stockpiling or starting up manufacturing of the drug in the UK. To quote Soni again;

So what are the solutions? There is some manufacturing capacity in the UK but not nearly enough to meet the entire country’s demand for medicine. Trying to increase capacity can be done but would take a considerable amount of time, as any new facility needs to be approved for producing high-quality, safe medicines. Some, such as those that produce insulin, have very particular specifications. As a result, “just making more medicines here” cannot be the solution.

There is some discussion about stockpiling, but the immediate question is how could such vast quantities of drugs be stored in the appropriate environments (remember that some, for example, need to be kept cold)?

Then there is the issue of paying for the medicines. A stockpile lasting three months equates to around £4.5bn, which is an incredible amount of money. At the moment pharmacies don’t get paid until the medicines are dispensed. How could they afford to buy the amounts required? That’s before you even get to the question of shelf lives, which for some medicines are short.

The UK could leave the EU with no deal in March 2019. Overnight we become a sole nation with no infrastructure to deal with this, so if you’re a diabetic you’ll be one of the first to feel the shortages which will hit and hit hard.

All of this was warned about when the EU referendum was taking place. All of it is avoidable but the Tories, helped by a supine opposition, rushed into invoking Article 50 with no plan and the last bit of control the UK had went so we’ve been on a course for no deal for nearly two years and only now are people taking it seriously because it may hit them. For Brexiters and Lexiters there is no reasoning with them. For them it is now a matter of faith. Indeed some Brexiters are looking forward to this self-imposed immolation because the prize is so close for them that vast numbers of people suffering needlessly and dying is worth it.

And this is only one way Brexit could kill you. I’ve not discussed how food standards, and health and safety legislation being dropped leaves the population open to the sort of thing that’s common in the US, which is where Brexiters are looking to provide us with food. So I ask, I even implore you to contact your MP and if they’re not already against Brexit then push them. Make it clear you hold them culpable for anything that’s coming because I hold every Brexiter/Lexiter responsible however we’re entering the time where we cannot turn back so do what you can and prepare yourselves.