The Tories want you to die for the economy

This morning’s newspaper front pages are full of Boris Johnson’s plans to slacken up the Covid-19 lockdown so that by the end of May, start of June the UK is going to be open for business. As of yesterday, the UK has the highest death toll in Europe by any way you’d like to measure it, and the infection rate remains high while the death toll has actually risen for the last three days rather than fall which is where we should be right now.

Yet with all this happening all around us the UK papers are all about Monday being a day where freedom will come even though the science hasn’t changed, but what has changed is that newspapers are dying and they need the lockdown lifted so their millionaire owners can continue to make money and keep their influence. Tory backers are also itchy that they too will lose money so the narrative this week has changed from staying at home, and staying safe to the chancellor more or less calling furloughed workers scroungers.

Of course, the media in the UK is failing to hold the UK government to account which means with the highest death rate in Europe it can sail through this with barely a blow landed on it. There was no ‘leak’ to the press but a badly managed release of information which has now been dialled back as the devolved countries have no intention of letting anything slacken up til the end of May at least. Fact is the Tories want us to die for the economy. We’re facing a virus we’re finding more and more about every day but for Johnson and company, this doesn’t matter. It is all about getting us back to work, hope not too many people die and move on while waving flags and invoking a wartime spirit pulled right out of 1960’s war comics.

Basically, we’re at this point.

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And we all know how well that went after that…

Just what is wrong with Scottish journalism?

The other day during the Covid19 daily briefing this question was asked of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. That’s right, Vivienne Aitken of the Daily Record basically asked about Christmas. In April. During a pandemic where we’re discovering new things about Covid19 every week. Where people literally lie dead mourned only from a distance because their very corpse is infectious our media is asking about Christmas being closed, or when the borders whould close or any sort of nonsense that comes pouring from their narrow brains.

This isn’t to say Sturgeon and the Scottish Government won’t have questions to answer. They were painfully slow in acting to put measures in place to combat the virus, choosing instead to follow the UK government and the insane herd immunity idea but they’ve managed things better than their UK counterparts which isn’t exactly setting a high benchmark but this is a time of crisis. Once the lockdown kicked in, the briefings have been clear, much clearer than the UK governments, but they’ve been clogged down with these inane questions which are designed to get a specific headline the next day, not to hold the Scottish government to account.

Now there are some good journalists out there, but on the whole the vast amount of the Scottish media is useless. Since returning to Scotland three years ago I’ve been amazed at how poor it is with such a low level of competence being seen as acceptable that one wonders how on earth some people can live with themselves. They’ve forgotten how to hold power to account instead punching down and sideways, but only occasionally up, then there’s the trend of giving failed politicians a voice when rejected by the public.

Right now all the papers are asking for us to buy them to save them, well frankly, I’d prefer to let some of Scotland’s papers die and rebuild new ones with actual proper journalism, real ethics and a promise to hold everyone in power to account not just their political enemies.

Marvel’s tone deaf entry into UK politics this week is…

IT is 2020. Brexit is happening and the UK is out the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland pontificate about independence and unification respectfully. Things are simply, fucked at best and it is safe to say things are a tad delicate at the moment, so here’s Marvel Comics coming smashing into the room like Lewis Capaldi swigging from a bottle of Buckfast.

Here’s Marvel’s latest super-team, The Union.

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I mean, really??

Then there are the new characters, like Kelpie. the Scottish, McScottish, shortbread, Nessie, och aye the noo member!

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And Snakes, the Northern Irish character probably made of snakes, potatoes and Guinness because that’s all Marvel editors know about Northern Ireland.

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What is a pity is that the hugely talented Paul Grist is writing this, and Union Jack the character that sort of inspired his Jack Staff creation.

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Grist himself has said he’s pointed issues out with editorial to deaf ears, and I do hope Grist makes a success of this but I can’t help thinking this is tomorrow’s 50p comics today because the lack of understanding of UK politics is not going to help drives sales on this side of the Atlantic, while I can’t see folk caring on the other side.

Ah well, they might make a film of it I suppose…

 

 

Today’s Scottish Independence march in Glasgow

Right now in Glasgow there’s thousands of people marching in support of independence in a very wet and very windy day.

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Sadly the wind and rain means it wasn’t a good idea for the likes of me to join but it looks like tens of thousands did. So when the Tories or Unionists say ‘but there’s no demand for independence’ point them to today and the fact on a truly horrible day in Glasgow thousands took to the streets to demand it.

What is also noteable is the lack of support from leftish English based commentators for a huge grassroots rally. Solidarity only counts it seems if they want our votes. Thanks though to those who did come from England, and from the Welsh who came up and people in Scotland will have your back when Wales starts its struggle for independence.

Estimates put the crowd at 80,000. In January. On a day of weather warnings.

Of course there’s a fucking demand for independence which is why Unionists are terrified. Time now for the SNP to stop asking, start demanding and fight for us so we can win independence, make our own future and be free of Tories and Brexit.

The Labour leadership candidates and Scotland

After last month’s hellish failure and capitulation to the Tories in the election, you’d think Labour would have understood and learned from their mistakes but every single candidate has shown little understanding of why they lost with the exception of Kier Starmer who sorts of gets it, but as he was part of the shadow cabinet one may ask why he’s only speaking up now. Some like Rebecca Long-Bailey are doubling down in some futile extension of Corbynism.

Yet when it comes to Scotland all the leadership candidates betray either their ignorance or their own British nationalism, or in some cases both. People like Jess Philips talk eagerly of ‘listening to their heartlands’ but that doesn’t include Scotland as all the candidates are not just against independence, but against a second referendum saying ‘there is no mandate for one’ even though the SNP have won three general elections in a row in Scotland, and there’s been a pro-independence majority of MSP’s in Holyrood for nearly a decade. Holyrood have voted for a second referendum so one has to ask just how democratic Labour want to be because carrying on like this being a slightly less evil version of the Tories will bring electoral oblivion to them in Scotland.

But no, they plug on. Any shimmering hope they might open up their minds and understand why they’re on the trajectory they are is lost in a mix of hubris, ignorance and good old fashioned British nationalism.

Still, maybe when they lose the next Scottish election next year they might decide to change their minds…

What can the SNP do to win Scottish independence?

Apart from the Tories, last week’s big winners in the election were the SNP who yet again, win another Scottish election, and yet again people from all sides of the political debate question whether they have a mandate to push independence when the argument that at the very least, the people of Scotland should have a decision on their own future is own they’ve surely won. The fight (And it is a brawl more than a fight) is to gain that Section 30 order (which enables the result to be official) from the Tories and that isn’t going to happen by playing nice as they have since now.

Frankly, the SNP has people within the party happy to sit where they are happily pricking people along with the promise of independence as long as they maintain power in Scotland. They also seem to be falling into a hole of identity politics endangering their broad socially democratic appeal however considering the fact Scotland won’t vote Tory and the Labour Party face extinction, the SNP face a decade at least remaining in power but the next year or so is crucial. 2021 is the Holyrood election and the Tories and Lib Dems will be putting up a more united Unionist front which could well work in some area, especially in the North East and the Borders.

There is a wild card now. That is the ‘Scottish’ Labour Party. A branch office of London which is trapped in repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again with diminishing returns. Since the weekend several leading figures are not fully coming out in support of independence, but are now supportive of a referendum being held so Scotland can decide to be independent, or part of a UK going rapidly to the right. Labour’s problem is that they’re trapped by a mix of the London leadership and the Scottish branch having no idea what it is. Do they remain trapped in the spiral of socialist nostalgia with an out of date view of working-class politics in Scotland, or do they start to construct a positive view of the future where independence is at the very least an option? Time will tell but the fact is we won’t win independence without convincing a number of Labour supporters it is in the best for Scotland to break free but the fact is that should Labour (on any level) stand with the Tories and Lib Dems in refusing a Section 30 then they may as well give up as a party in Scotland.

But the SNP need to go on the offensive if not granted a Section 30, even to the point of disrupting Westminster (there’s a lot they can do within the rules to do just that) to the point where it can’t run. Worked for Irish MP’s a century ago and it’ll hold the Tories back from imposing their cruelty upon people. Basically, they need to grow a spine and those within the party who aren’t especially bothered about independence need to be told where to go because 2020 isn’t going to be for the faint-hearted or the uncommitted because we all know the reason why the Tories refuse to grant a referendum as they know it can be lost by them. There’s no way Boris Johnson wants to be the last Prime Minister of the UK and it is within our grasp to make him just that if the SNP toughen up, fight and get what’s needed so we can make our own choice, not the UK’s.

 

Why the Tories won the election

The Tories won for a number of reasons.A weak official opposition, the demand for Brexit to be ‘done’, the strange popularity of Boris Johnson, and a load of reasons more which will I’m sure be the subject of books for the months to come. The fact is the Tories learned from Theresa May’s horrendous campaign in 2017, kept the message simple, and ensured the focus was purely on Johnson so other riskier Tories like Jacob Rees-Mogg were sidelined to let Johnson carry out his man of the people act.

Of course the media played a large part but to lay the blame all at the feet of the media misses the point that the Tories ran a good campaign as painful as it is to admit this. Drumming home that single message about Brexit was clear as opposed to Labour’s horrible fudge, or the Lib Dems failure to elect a leader who could reach out to all people on the remain side. People in the north of England wanted Brexit (even though many have no idea what Brexit is outwith of leaving the EU) done and to move on from there. Johnson’s promises also helped, but only a few days after the election those promises are trickling away.

The fact is the Tories offered a road out of Brexit and for people who’ve spent a decade in austerity want to grab whatever they can, even if that means for this election lending the Tories their vote to ‘get Brexit done’. They spoke to working-class voters in a way Labour didn’t, and indeed, couldn’t as Labour for a variety of reasons failed to recognise or deal with keeping their vote firm. Parachuting candidates from London over local candidates seems to have played a part in losing Labour votes, while the Tories seem to have stuck with local candidates who knew the area.

Problem is the Tories needed to do little to push themselves over the line. They created a narrative, stuck to it, sold it and convinced enough people to give them their vote while at the same time Labour and the Lib Dems gifted, even helped enable the Tory victory.

In short there was a perfect storm and the Tories took full advantage of it. The future is no good; a decade in power for them looms as Labour tear themselves apart but the Tories eventual downfall lies in this election. Those same people who lent the Tories their vote won’t do it again if there’s something for them to vote for, while any further austerity or the forthcoming destruction of the NHS lies in the hands of the Tories. They own what’s coming but with no functional official opposition they know they can run riot for a while before the people start turning on them. As long as they milk this form of ethnic English nationalism and Brexit for as long as they can they’ll be unopposed in England and Wales.

Meanwhile in Scotland things are different and developing in a very interesting way. More on this next time.

Why Labour lost this general election

As we all know now, Boris Johnson remains Prime Minister and the Tories have a vastly increased majority which allows them to do whatever they like which should scare anyone. They managed though to only gain 268,836 votes compared to 2017, but Labour lost 2,595,282 compared to 2017 and there’s your problem right away. Labour lost the trust of millions of voters for a large number of reasons. Here in Scotland, Labour have been slowly dying probably since devolution, but the rot started in the 80’s when the ‘Feeble 50’ were sent to Westminster and promptly rolled over for Thatcher’s Tories.

The party expected people to vote Labour. They took votes for granted so when people started moving away from Labour to the SNP, it was because a liberal-left party who promised a change welcomed those votes. They also had the advantage of being untainted by support for the Iraq war, which to this day causes massive division within Labour.

Labour’s problem in Scotland was it didn’t listen. So when Holyrood was lost to them what did they do? Did they question what they’d done wrong? No, they blamed voters, called them ‘nationalists’ while comparing them to UKIP and started electing a series of leaders on a UK and Scottish level who were utterly hopeless. Imagine the mindset that thinks Kezia Dugdale, Jim Murphy or Richard Leonard are going to inspire Scotland, or that Ed Milliband was a PM in waiting?

Then came Jeremy Corbyn. For a moment it seemed Labour had someone who could understand Scotland, while firming up their support down south who by now were getting shaky. Corbyn for a while was a breath of fresh air but by the 2016 EU Referendum it was clear he was unable to lead a party into a national vote. In 2017 they did increase their vote from 2015 but it didn’t matter because they lost, but for many within Labour they treated 2017 as a victory so this weird hubris settled in where people treated 2017 as a victory when the Tories retained power. Voters noticed this.

Back in 2017 I wrote about Corbyn’s appearance at Glastonbury that year and how things were setting itself up for a fall. My closing lines suggest some form of precognition but sadly, I (like many, many, many others) just saw this hubris and saw the writing on the wall.

What we saw in England on Thursday were Labour voters tired of the deadlock over Brexit choosing the Tories who had a strict, clear message of ‘get Brexit done’. Now it’s a nonsense as Brexit will take a decade at the bare minium but Labour’s position on Brexit was a triangulation of Blairesque proportions had it actually worked. The problem was nobody believed it, just as nobody believed the nationalisation plans were workable, or if it was, it wouldn’t be the middle-class support Labour had which would end up paying for it, it’d be the working class. With no socially progressive or socially democratic party to turn to, the hard/far right in the shape of the Brexit Party and Johnson’s Tories to well, get Brexit done.

However voters were clearly fed up of Corbyn, Momentum and the London-based media cheerleaders like Owen Jones speaking at them while not listening.  There’s precious little left-wing journalism in the UK media and much of it fell short, and in fact, help gift the Tories when they least expected it. Chasing away older voters in the hope younger voters would replace them was an insane electoral policy, as was calling potential voters ‘Blairites’ or ‘yellow/red/tartan Tories’. Telling people they weren’t needed to vote Labour if they weren’t a ‘real’ socialist came with a bitter irony as much of the time it came from the sort of people who held the working class in sheer contempt.

Then there was the antisemitism. Corbyn failed to deal with this from the moment he became leader, and while members and MP’s were disciplined for trying to stop Brexit almost instantly, holocaust deniers were allowed to remain and thrive in the party for years before being expelled. Labour were supposed to be a party to set examples but they didn’t so antisemitism festered with members spiraling into conspiracy theories about ‘secretive right-wing groups’ organising the Jews against them. Something no other minority would be accused of.

On top of that were the reams of accusations, and while I do sympathise as Corbyn was at time monstered appallingly, my sympathy fell away. For me it was reading about his opinions regarding the genocide in the Balkans. For others they had their own red lines. I know people in England who refuse to vote Labour til Corbyn and the weird hubristic cult around him are gone. Some are lifelong Labour, even in one case a union official who can’t put what he represents in power. This on top of a shambolic campaign meant a bad night for Labour who seem even now more interested in some political project of purity than beating the Tories or winning elections.

Books are going to be written as to why we’re here and these are just my thoughts, but the fact is that if Labour doesn’t oppose now, then we’re fucked. If Scotland doesn’t become independent (and that involves a fight that I’ll cover in another blog) then with all my health issues I don’t foresee myself being around for the long run. Neither will tens of thousands of people counting on Labour to stop fucking around and just fight rather than act like it’s all a jolly undergraduate game. Some good MP’s are gone, while some on the ground must feel like their party has betrayed them.

First step to this would be Corbyn standing down right away but he remains, and while he does we can’t count on Labour for anything, so this bullshit helps enable the Tories while folk like myself despair at the state of things that’s come. Make no mistake, the Tories will cull any opposition while they can, and they have no intention of living up to their promises which is where their potential downfall lies as that narrative needs to start now. Instead Corbyn supporters spout egotistic self-absorbed guff about Corbyn rather than working out why they failed, and how they can become electable again. Hiding in their safe spaces is just hiding from reality.

And to work out how to become electable they need to accept responsibility like adults. If they don’t then step aside let the adults reshape their party as there’s much good which can be taken from Corbynism, but failing to act now is prolonging the failure.

This blog has grown larger than intended, so next up why people voted Tory, and then what the SNP have to do to help Scotland become independent.

The strange case of Jo Swinson

Chris Iwelumo is a former Scottish striker who faced with a wide open goal fluffed it with a look on his face that shows the point when his entire international career falls apart.iwelumomiss

Watching the video is worse. Far, far worse.

He had it all in his hands and lost it all, so what has this got to do with the leader of the Lib Dems, Jo Swinson? Well, before this election her party was doing well. It was soaking up potential voters thanks to their stance on Brexit, not to mention being a home for those tired of Labour’s tolerance of antisemitism. This election should be an open goal for Swinson and her party. She cannot fail.

Except she is and badly. Part of the problem lies with the policies of the Lib Dems which are close to the Tories, but much of the problem lies with Swinson herself and how she’s the living embodiment of Milngavie. In short, her middle-class brittleness mixed with an almost offensive arrogance when it comes to everything is simply alienating voters.

Things like this really don’t help her either…

Her constituency is in the West of Scotland. Those people who she represents would die if Faslane were attacked, or more likely these days, suffer a fatal accident. To answer such a question with such clarity or without the twinge of an internal moral debate is frankly, fucking scary. But those of us in Scotland who’ve had to put up with Swinson since the 2017 election when an unholy Unionist alliance of Tory/Labour and Lib Dem ensured she won her seat back after losing it in 2015’s drubbing.

This time round there’s no Unionist alliances, or at least not in the number there were in 2017 so her seat is under risk and hopefully she does, but I do feel it’d take a while to sink in. It needn’t be this way but this seems all self-inflicted and what’s worse, I don’t think Swinson has the self-awareness or humility to realise how much of an issue she is to her party let alone to the cause of remaining in the EU.

So she is the striker missing the open goal but without realising she’s missed the net.

Jeremy Corbyn comes to Scotland

Today the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been in Scotland showing once again he knows more about Central America than he does about a country he may potentially be Prime Minister of in a month. There’s several main problems with Corbyn in Scotland; the first being he still doesn’t know what is, and isn’t devolved. Just saying ‘I want to invest £70billon in Scotland’ seems great, but it ignores our democratic deficit as well as ignoring the fact that money would I assume be given to Holyrood, so it isn’t for him to spend.

This is dreadful stuff as by now he should be able to string together more than throwing money at us, while wearing a cheap tartan scarf because you know, Scotland. We’ll like that sort of thing as he pats us on the head…

But it is over the subject of a second Scottish independence referendum that he fails hopelessly. Now remember, there is a triple lock of a democratic demand for it. PRo indy parties won the last Westminster and Holyrood elections, and Holyrood itself has voted for one. Corbyn, etc talks of ‘allowing’ us a referendum, maybe, perhaps, possibly in his second term when he’ll have dragged us out the EU, and the mad auld bastards that surround him will have won. You don’t ‘allow’ an equal, that’s something only a powerful ‘partner’ does.

Corbyn however cannot give a clear answer. One minute it’s not going to happen, next he can’t rule it out. Even a sympathetic Scottish press corps can’t help but despair at Corbyn’s snapping back about failing to maintain a clear position.

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And now Labour are pumping out ‘Tartan Tories’ lines as if the last 45 years never happened, because this is Labour in Scotland. Trapped in the past unable to relate, stuck in ideology, unable to relate. So now we have Corbyn’s comments being rightfully laughed at while all the time the Tories are pissing themselves laughing.

Which is the problem. See, Scotland needs independence because partly we can ensure the Tories never get their claws into Scotland, but because some middle class psuedo socialists within Labour see us as only drones, we’re to be doomed to this thin gruel from a leader supposed to be the resurrection of Labour in Scotland.

That isn’t to say the SNP are a perfect solution (more about that another time) but this is intolerable but tomorrow when Corbyn heads back down south to a more comfortable audience, he’ll forget about Scotland yet again.