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.

Don’t vote for the Tories or their enablers

The general election is a week away. You have a choice; vote Tory and get the party of the rape clause, child cap, xenophobia, Unionism, racism and a ‘plan’ that is as full of holes as Swiss Cheese. Vote for UKIP you get the same but with extra racism. Vote Labour or Lib Dem in Scotland and you vote for Tory enablers. That’s right, the Tories and Labour are working in unity in Scotland as this Tweet also shows.

Hence why to beat the Tories in Scotland there’s only the SNP/Greens stand as the opposition. In England things are different. Labour are the only option (unless you live in Bristol and Brighton where you should vote Green) and for all of Corbyn’s betrayal over Brexit and his astonishing crapness in regards the rest of the UK outwith England there’s no other option as otherwise we’ve got Theresa May as Prime Minister.

There will be things needing to be done assuming Corbyn becomes PM. Scotland and Northern Ireland can’t adhere to his vision of Brexit, and his failure to keep his branch parties in line in Wales or Scotland as they do (and I assume will continue to do) the exact opposite of what he intends to do in England means that there’s much to be done. There is however the thought of Theresa May in power for five more years doing what she wants and enacting policies that won’t just kill people, but hurt the economy and state in ways we’ve never seen outwith of wartime.

If I were to recommend what people do it would be to vote SNP/Green in Scotland. Labour/Green in England. Plaid in Wales and Alliance and SDLP in Northern Ireland. I’d give Sinn Fein a shout but they refuse to take their seats in Westminster so frankly, what’s the point unless they do that? So this is where we are. Nicola Sturgeon and many on the left are right; this election shapes the future of the UK and Corbyn isn’t a saviour, far bloody from it but he’s not a sociopath like May and we may just be able to see if he’s sensible and pragmatic enough to work with.

But you vote Tory next week you own what they do next. When that comes on your doorstep and hurts you remember that you were warned.

Why claming benefits aids the economy as well as helping you

There’s a number of people in the media, in the Tory Party and probably sitting right next to you, so here’s a wee point and a lesson in economics for those saying ”how will benefits fund themselves” at the likes of Sturgeon, Corbyn or anyone supporting the welfare state.

This is simple. You have a ‘welfare budget’. You assign those benefits to people. So far so simple, but how do people on benefits help the economy? Well, we know people on benefits spend what they have to survive (try living on 70 quid a week, you can’t save) so the money flows in a circle from government-recipient of benefits-retail outlet (or wherever you need to spend your money)-back to government via VAT or other taxes. People on benefits will spend what they get. putting it directly back into the system, so they’re paying people’s wages, etc just like anyone else is, and seeing as many of the items people on benefits will buy will at the very least have VAT on it, they’re paying taxes. In short, they’re paying their way and are invested in society.

In a universal system it’s a finely tuned machine as it essentially ends up funding itself. Sadly the Tories and Labour don’t believe in a universal system, choosing instead to means test which means the most vulnerable are often not able to access what they’re due which means billions of pounds of benefits lie unclaimed each year with £4.6bn of Housing Benefit lying unclaimed in 2014-15. Creating bureaucracies (which is what the whole purpose of means testing is) scares people off.

So when a Tory, or something of that ilk say the benefits system is broken they’re right but it isn’t because people are scamming the system (government figures of fraud is miniscule) but it’s because the system is now designed to keep you from money that you’re owed as a citizen. Claim every single penny you’re due and be proud of it. It’s your right and unless you’re the sort of bastard that’ll hide it in offshore accounts then you’ll spend it down the shop, or to pay your bills and feed it back into the economy. It is the job of government to make sure the economy is in a healthy state, and it isn’t the fault of people on benefits that the economy is crashing. That’s down to their failure to deal with the deficit, and walking out of Brexit negotiations with ”no deal” would be the sort of peacetime disaster we are not going to be able to deal with but will be the end of the welfare state as the government will mine it for revenue. Remember though, things like pensions are a contract you and I have with the government. They mine that to pay for their failures of managing the economy they are breaking a contract.

The Welfare State is a machine. It works if it’s left to work. It isn’t a system that leaves people luxuriating in a Hogarthian stupor. It is a system that now barely keeps people existing to forcing people to kill themselves due to being sanctioned for what little money they have coming from the state. It should be better, but it isn’t because of successive governments failing to do what they should or/and attacking the system to destroy it.

Don’t Look Back In Anger

It’s been a crap week. My weekend has changed due to the horrors of Manchester meaning security checks at airports means there’s little or no chance of people flying on time or even flying. On top of that Glasgow City Council are being the biggest pricks on the planet and there’s ginger people walking the streets of Glasgow in 30 degree heat frying like a sausage.

But this wee video of the memorial for the dead of the Manchester bombing should empower anyone watching it, unless you’re a cynical far right arsehole doing exactly what the likes of ISIS want us to do which is to hate each other. Still, well done to Manchester. You’re setting a glorious example to us all.

A few brief words about the Manchester bombing

On Monday evening something horrendous happened to dozens of innocent people. The killer has been named and frankly, I’m not going to give him the air of publicity and will hope he rots in whatever hell his faith has for him. In this respect Charlie Brooker’s advice on spree shooters plays out the same here.

Neither am I going to give much time to the hate-filled supporters of ”final solutions” on either side as frankly, the only thing that separates a Hopkins from the people who radicalised the Manchester bomber is that one has a column in a national newspaper to radicalise people and the other uses other means. I’m also not going to say anything about the arseholes talking of ”false flags” or conspiracies where none exist in order to try to bend this to their own politics.

I will however say the reaction from the UK government is disturbing. Raising risk levels is fine, but placing troops on the streets to protect the people who failed to protect us in the first place. I’m scared of politicians and the wrong people, be they Islamic terrorists or Daily Mail columnists taking advantage of this to entrench themselves and draw to them followers who will perpetuate this. Raising the threat level seems fair, but Operation Temperer (the name for what’s going on as we speak) isn’t without precedent but we’ve seen how Labour under Tony Blair whittled away civil liberties and frankly, Theresa May has a poor record in that respect. One way to let terrorism win is let our governments use their attacks to take away, restrict or curtail our freedoms.

We should remember these people died not for terrorists and governments to use as they want. We should remember them for what was lost and the stories coming out of Monday’s atrocity are relentlessly tragic but that isn’t an excuse to militarise policing as frankly all this does is give terrorists an incentive to make the next atrocity bigger to garner a bigger, more disproportionate reaction and we end up repeating the cycle over and over while nothing actually gets solved.

So we’re in a bad time. People aren’t even in the grieving stage yet, and there’s people making political capital from this, but we need to step back, think, help who we can and make things better rather than dig in and make things worse.