Fighting Nazis in the 21st century

In the US right now there’s a load of actual real Nazis meeting and marching in Charlottesville with actual real life armed militia marching with them. It is by any stretch of the imagination an ostentatious display by white supremacists that’s resulted in one anti-Nazi protester being killed so far. I say ‘so far’ because I’m astonished more people haven’t been killed.

Terms like ‘alt-right’ are essentially meaningless. They’re Nazis. Call them that. Groups like the National Vanguard are just Nazis and here’s where we have to stop agonising about how to deal with them. We don’t tolerate them. We fight them, and we don’t sit around like some of the ‘radical’ left agonising about whether violence is wrong or how much guilt we should have for the situaton getting here. We know Donald Trump encourages these people and has made it easier for them to grow in his short time so far as president and we know good people have died while the far-right grow and become empowered, and this is what we’ve got to remember: Trump has empowered them, just as Brexit & it’s cheerleaders like Nigel Farage have over here.

At this point people should read Umberto Eco’s essay titled Ur-Fascism, because we’re living in the age where it has finally become real again and not something of Eco’s childhood. What we’re seeing in the US and UK is Eco’s Ur-Fascism, and that scares me that we’ve let it get to a point where we need to fight not just a bunch of National Front arseholes, but vast swathes of the country who are turning to a form of fascism that is endorsed by those in power.

Back in the early 90’s the NF tried to make one last push to start the race war they were wanting. Groups like the Anti Nazi League stopped them because black, white, whatever race, religion, background united to fight them; often literally. I myself carry scars from those fights back in the days when I lived in Nottingham and we’d have to stand our ground against them. We beat them. Sadly the job now is harder and it won’t help if people aren’t prepared to perhaps get their hands a bit dirty because I look at pictures like the one below and think the young folk surrounded by actual armed Nazis are among the bravest people I’ve seen.

Those people standing in the middle of a crowd are amazing.That’s who we need to be in the days.months and years to come because sitting in Byres Road cafes worrying about the structrual problems of racism isn’t going to stop the prick with a Union Jack tattooed on his arm from beating up Asian shopkeepers. Let’s be blunt, we’re in a fight and the time for polite discussion is gone.

And the problem is the same over here in the UK. We know Neo Nazis pose a larger threat than Islamists because this is what the authorities tells us, but it barely gets reported outwith of the odd mention. If we don’t actually stop this by fighting the Nazis where we can, and making an argument for a multicultural, progressive society (and those on the left leaping on the Brexit bandwagon to get Labour into power aren’t helping one bit) we’re fucked. So lets take it back to basics, unite, argue, fight and win together and remember, punching Nazis is good for the soul.

Brexit is an act of self-harm imposed on us by arseholes

A Yougov poll released today is quite simply proof that people have lost their tiny little minds.

So imagine you’re a 20-something in a tenuous employment situation and you come home and tell mum and dad your job has been moved to say, Frankfurt, because of Brexit. Your folks will turn round and tell your that it’s worth it which is by any stretch of the imagination, fucking insane yet we’re at the ”we’ve got to do this and fuck the young‘ phase of something that’s going to hurt bad, and worse, with free movement of EU citizens ending soon we’re going to lose hundreds of thousands of skilled workers which for some is a good thing as they’ve ‘flooded’ the market in the UK ‘wholesale’.

You may think that rhetoric from the Tories and UKIP (and you’d be totally right) but this is increasingly what we’re hearing from Labour who’ve given up on any sort of solidarity with workers regardless of birthplace and now seem to be moving into an extremism worthy of the SWP as  as phrases like ‘scab labour’ is used to define immigrant workers in articles posted, and then quickly deleted from Labour sites.as Labour firmly set foot in the fantasy that is Brexit with the idea that Corbyn can pick and choose what he wants (just likes May and Farage say) and (just like May and Farage have been told) that such things as having the benefits of the single market without accepting the four freedoms is impossible, but hey, here’s a Guardian article pushing that bullshit for the faithful. And oh the Labour and Tory position puts the Northern Irish peace process at risk but hey, we’re in a world now where excruciating damage is a good thing…

With things falling apart and the Scottish Independence movement tearing itself apart as to who can look the most cool and ideologically pure in that annoyingly middle class way certain Glasgow University students like to posture, it seems that a front against the lunacy of Brexit within the UK is currently invisible.

So I look to the Irish who with simple clarity have made it clear they want none of the UK’s infectious rage-fuleled idiocy and where they stand. If I were you I’d scour the family tree and see if you can grab yourself an Irish passport because we’re on a sinking ship being cheered on by people who think the economic and social equivalent of cutting your legs off is a good thing.

The covuluted position of Owen Jones and the English left in regards Brexit

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has spoken again on Brexit and although he’s talking bollocks in regards the EU changing it’s line on freedom of movement, he’s right when he says that Labour’s somewhat pro-Brexit line under Jeremy Corbyn could well come back and bite it hard. Up pops Owen Jones to Tweet this…

Now Corbyn’s position is a ”jobs first Brexit” and we can get ‘the same access to the Single Market” we get now. This is bullshit. Corbyn knows this is bullshit because we can see the EU’s red lines and realise very quickly the idea the UK can pick and choose what it wants. I recommend this excellent piece from Byline to see exactly the state of play and once you digest it realise that Corbyn’s position on Brexit is as shaky as Farage, Johnson and Theresa May because the EU have made this point clear:

Cherry-picking of the Single Market and a sector-by-sector participation in the Single Market has been excluded by the European Council guidelines. The Union has also stressed that its four freedoms (people, goods, services and capital) will remain indivisible.

No ‘jobs first Brexit’ is coming. We can’t get what we want regarding Single Market access. We will not get anything like we have now. This isn’t going to happen because we can read the EU’s position in black and white so Theresa May knows this and so does Jeremy Corbyn. They’ll stick to their lines because they’re trying to win votes but both positions will end up with the most vulnerable picking up the cheque for either person’s plan.

Now, you’d expect a journalist like Owen Jones to not just know this, but tell his followers and readers this but he doesn’t. Now this is either because he doesn’t know the EU’s position (which makes him just a wee bit crap at this journalism malarky) or he does know and is holding back this information because it’ll hurt Labour’s chances of being elected and Corbyn becoming PM which is dangerously failing to hold power to account as he puts part first. See, it won’t be the well off that pays for Brexit; it’ll be the poor, the vulnerable, the disabled, the weakest in society. The people who can’t leave, or ride out the next 10-20 years as the UK rewrites itself in either a Tory or Labour image.

Jones knows Corbyn’s massive renationalisation plans can’t work with EU membership, but there’s no chance of Labour being a ‘party of social justice’ when people are being laid off in droves because we’ve left the EU and we’ve got austerity that makes what we have now seem like good times. You can’t have a ‘kinder, gentler politics’ either when your entire position revolves around accepting that people’s fear and xenophobic hatred of immigrants is more important than jobs or social justice, but when the party you support comes first, anything goes. Even if it involves you turning your personal politics til this point all over the place in order to support your party’s damaging position.

I despise Blair. He should be in prison, but he does raise some good point but Jones is so locked in the bizarre hubris Labour have been in since they lost another election that suddenly he adopts a position that I’m sure he’d have attacked a few months ago had say, Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson adopted it.

To be clear then. There is no ‘soft’, ‘hard’, ‘jobs first’ or even a ‘red, white and blue’ Brexit. There’s only going to be one that hurts and we’re now trying to see if we have a government, or a potential party of government, fighting to make that pain as negligible as possible but the Tory and Labour position is to wheel out the line ‘the will of the people’ because both are too shit scared or ideologically driven (or both) to present the idea that Brexit is insanely damaging and the UK deserves a say in what type of Brexit we’ll get come spring 2019. But no, both Labour and Tory are not being honest here and neither are people like Owen Jones who is putting party ahead of what is going to help the most vulnerable.

And this is the thing that annoys me about the English left. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the left has, more or less, united to fight Brexit and try as much as possible to protect devolution. In England, folk like Owen are willing to sell our rights, jobs and futures out if it means his party wins votes and frankly, I’m done with the cynicism of some on the left in England. We need to make the case for immigration, integration and something better than what we have not for the sake of whatever party we support, but because it’ll be for the good of all of us.

But nah, blind support seems to win the day here and that’s terrifying.

Oh, Jeremy Corbyn?

Having now returned from Glastonbury I’m working through writing a blog about my fun in the sun, but in hitting the part where I talk about Jeremy Corbyn addressing the huge crowd at the Pyramid Stage on the Saturday, I discovered it was taking a life of it’s own.

That wee speck on the stage in the distance is Corbyn. This is from the disabled platform from the top of the field and gives you a size of the scale of the crowd which was simply huge for an afternoon audience. For a wee while there seemed a sense of hope from many in that crowd as Corbyn represents a ‘newer, gentler’ politics and tens of thousands chanted Corbyn’s name.

At this point I felt a wee shudder of depression as I’d seen this sort of adulation before with the SNP and voiced concern with that back in November 2014. Although like Sturgeon and Salmond, I admire much of Corbyn’s personal politics (except on Scotland and Brexit but more on those in a sec) the idea of the leader as that of a personality cult isn’t good for politics and one of the reasons I’ve shied away from supporting the SNP, though I did vote for them in June because of an excellent local candidate. In fact Ian Dunt makes many good points about the problems with the cult of Corbyn here.

I look at people chanting ‘Oh JEREMY CORBYN’ and see people not in control of their critical faculties. That’s a dangerous thing for a politician to see because it means it doesn’t just feed their ego it means they think they can do things purely for the benefit of their vocal support and this brings me to Brexit. Corbyn is a Brexiter. We know this and last night there was a vote in the Commons that ensured that Jeremy Corbyn is willing to sacrifice jobs for votes because his position of leaving the EU’s single market means jobs will be lost and a form of austerity imposed because Corbyn needs Labour voters in the North of England to remain loyal so it means he’s putting restricting immigration ahead of jobs. A shufty at social media sees Corbynites tying themselves in knots trying to defend Corbyn’s ”jobs first Brexit’ which would see him ‘having the same access to the single market and customs union we have now’. Sounds fine but it’s just a big a load of shite as when Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove said we’d have this last year.

However because Corbyn is a pretty decent bloke and seems to have a soul he can’t be pushing an ideology that’s going to damage so many people’s lives who were chanting his name last weekend in a field in Somerset? Well, yes, because as an old acolyte of Tony Benn he’s always despised the EU and the only way he’ll be able to renationalise on the scale he wants is out the EU. If that means a decade at least of people struggling then because Marxist theory sees the struggle as a noble goal in itself the ends will justify the means.So Corbyn was vague about Brexit during the election campaign and gave politician answers on the times he was pushed because he knows his plans are as damaging as the Tory plans. Sure the end result may well be a better place but the getting there will have hurt and hurt badly.

Then there’s Corbyn’s words and actions about Scotland. I find it extraordinary that south of the border Corbyn comes over a pretty decent bloke, but the minute he passes Gretna he turns into a giant cock. He talks of an ‘unnecessary’ second independence referendum but his position on Brexit leaves us with no choice because Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy would wreck Scotland. I’m not saying independence would be easy, it wouldn’t, but the position with the two major Westminster parties is losing free movement, the single market and customs union. The argument now is in the shape of the world after the 1st April 2019 as to whether we’re fucked and the government won’t care (Tories) or we’re fucked and the government will be a wee bit sad about it (Labour).

In a representative democracy 48% of the UK electorate are not being represented, the people of Scotland are being told they don’t have a choice and everyone is trying hard to pretend this might not unleash hell in Northern Ireland. The only voices being heard are those of the Brexiters and their opportunist lapdogs like Ruth Davidson, the rest of us are open eyed in horror as now uncritical Corbyn supporters jump into bed with the Brexiters to defend Corbyn because all critical thinking is gone and this is what their echo chamber tells them to do.

So was I inspired listening to Corbyn last week? No. Am I concerned by him? In relation to how his policies would hurt Scotland; you can be damn right I am. Do I think he offers a chance to people in England? Possibly, but unless you all stop the football chants, stop celebrating the fact he lost another election but boosted his position in the party (people are not having better lives because Labour won Kensington) and tell me how things can get better when his Brexit policy puts everything at risk I will carry on treating Corbyn with a critical eye because frankly, many on the left need to do just that otherwise we’re rubber stamping a different sort of austerity

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.

Does the SNP and the Independence movement’s ”Scottishness” frighten people in the rest of the UK?

I was following a Twitter conversation the other day and it hit an interesting point.

I’ll explain what I mean but it does involve a bit of a read to get there so be warned…

Barring Labour supporters outside of Scotland angry they’ll never ‘win Scotland back’, there’s a chunk of people in England (and much of this is anecdotal on my part but it supports what others have found) who do look at the SNP (and Plaid Cymru in Wales) as something alien.

I spent 28 years living in England. Until the advent of the internet I could only pick up what was going on in Scotland via visits or more normally, though second, third, fourth, etc hand reports. Upon visiting Scotland in 1999 I was amazed there was any serious support for the SNP as although by this time my eyes were opened to the shitshow that was Tony Blair’s Labour, I’d shuffled over to nominally voting for the Lib Dems. The SNP for me, were ‘Tartan Tories’. Independence was a joke and barring the odd shining star like Margo McDonald the SNP were as much a threat as the Tories or Labour.

At this point I was a nominal supporter for the Union. True, I wanted full devolution, even a form of federalism, but independence seemed divisive as I truly felt the people of the UK worked better together. I had seen the slow destruction of Scotland continue on visits home (the sight of seeing the blue towers of Ravenscraig gone still shock me) but I was seeing the Tory destruction of parts of London, the Midlands and the South West. I thought the only way to fight the Tories was finding a UK alternative to them yet I never really included the SNP as part of that because I saw them as a ”Other’. They didn’t want solidarity, and the idea that cultural identity was as important as beating the Tories meant that had I lived in Scotland at the time, I’d be against the SNP.

For years I’d lived in England and never (bar one time in Staines with a drunken arsehole) had any xenophobic abuse. Yeah, there was banter with mates, but that was what mates do when they’re having a drunken session and it was both ways, not to mention it wasn’t serious. It wasn’t real, actual, xenophobic abuse. Around 2009 I had UKIP supporters in Bristol speak of Scots as a second-class race essentially. Then their bottom-feeders, the English Democrats, produced an election broadcast which was so xenophobic towards Scots that I complained to Ofcom. Everything changed & I blame a lot of that on UKIP. I no longer felt there was a level of equality in the UK, and my eyes were opened that for a section of people in England they clung onto a form of imperialism where Scotland was the property of an Empire. What I found equally extraordinary is that this wasn’t now coming from the right, but friends of mine who I knew were lefties were pushing a similar line.

Then the Scottish independence referendum campaign happened and the concept of even a Scottish identity in the UK was challenged. You didn’t accept a version of the UK where you plead fealty to the UK and suppress any lingering cultural identity of your own. For some on the left in England especially, multiculturalism didn’t extend to people from the UK as your identity as a Scot threatened the UK identity. That was the default as after all, as I’ve said, if you live in England you’re not exposed to the daily routine of Scottish politics and life. Sure, the advent of the internet meant it was easier to catch up with what was going on but you never experienced it first hand.

Last November I returned to Scotland to mainly recuperate from a stroke and deal with cancer. I saw the day-to-day life of Scotland. I saw ‘Scotishness’ first hand and some reactions were initially that some of it felt parochial however this was a relic of my thinking that the default situation for these islands is the UK. The SNP’s inability to conform to the default position and thinking of many in England antagonises people, in the same way some people are antagonised by Muslims wearing veils or speaking Polish in the street. It’s a failure to accept there’s other cultures in the UK and a reluctance to accept that Unionism (because this is what I’m really talking about) naturally involves crushing other cultures to be assimilated like some red, white and blue Borg.

So the SNP could be a right wing party that supported independence and promoted a Scottish identity separate from a Unionist one. They’d be equally despised by some. It’s the independence that rankles them because it challenges their own default identity. Their centre-left platform isn’t that much different from Tony Blair’s early days when he dabbled with social democracy but because they propose that there’s alternatives in these islands to Unionism (and everything that comes with it) they rile people up to the point of blind hatred. I’ve come to see independence as a political solution and a natural state for all countries to have, so although I won’t vote SNP (except in the general election as I think they’re the only way we’ll fight off the Tories in a Westminster election) I don’t see them as scary bogeymen any more.

And that’s where we are in this election campaign. Identity and culture will play a massive part of this election not just in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but across the UK as a whole because this is where we are thanks to Brexit. Corbyn’s Labour haven’t realised this, but Theresa May has hence why she’s called this election when a default position for many is a form of uber-Unionism that sees the UK as the centre of the world.That position may not be popular when the realities of Brexit kick in, so in Scotland I think we get what’s at stake here. Back in England any attempt to fight this solely on policies without dealing with Brexit (and everything that comes with it) hands the Tories an advantage. In this election identity is all, and it’s a straight fight between a hard/far right Unionist one and one Yes supporters offer. Make your choice.

A word about the snap General Election

After writing this I thought things couldn’t get weirder or more scary. Then Theresa May calls a snap general election on the 8th of June and the arse falls out of any idea we might be hitting a phase of relative sanity.

Using the line The country is coming together but Westminster is not May obviously sees a chance based upon current polls to have the sort of majority that we’ve not seen since the Tony Blair years. May is essentially going to have to scrap the Fixed Terms Parliaments Act to hold this snap election which may well provide some more interesting snippets as although the Tories are putting on a united front, there’s a lot of Tories out there (Hi David Mundell!!) sitting on paper-thin majorities in areas that thanks to Brexit may well be facing unemployment in June.The Act was designed to stop PM’s doing just what May is doing which is hold an election when the polls are favourable.

Problem is polls can be read wrong. Take the Scottish independence referendum. David Cameron happily let the Scottish Government hold a referendum in 2014 the polls showed only around 20% support for independence. That changed over the campaign as more people became informed of the issues, so May’s taking a risk but this is a risk which if it pays off means she personally has an eye-watering majority (if the polls are accurate around 100) not to mention she intends to change the makeup of the Lords, while Brexit hands her the sort of power no Prime Minister should have.

So this is about Theresa May grabbing power. See all that bumf about ‘division’? That’s about creating a state where the opposition is muted and ineffective where it needs to be in Westminster. There’s also the matter of the Tory election fraud scandal which menaces the Tories and taints their 2015 victory, though as Michael Crick points out, this means the hard decisions are now in the hands of the CPS.

The question you have to ask yourself is what sort of future you want for yourself and for others? This is a general election where the future of the UK itself is up for grabs. If you want a future where Tory Prime Ministers have the sort of power where they can sail through whatever they want unopposed though Westminster then look to see where your vote belongs.In Scotland that means voting for the SNP, a party I reluctantly will give my vote to in June (I find their economic policies to be far too conservative) because their social policies are good and they’ll beat not just the Tories, but a hopeless broken Labour Party who’ve run up the white flag on Brexit.

Elsewhere in the UK its down to you to make the choice. I hope Corbyn’s smart and takes the offer of a progressive alliance Ed Milliband refused in 2015 but I fear the Labour Ultras won’t do that. I hope I’m proven wrong. Whatever you do make the right choice because we have a choice and if that choice is Tory (or UKIP) then we’re heading down the same path as Turkey, America, Russia and possibly France in having a hard authoritarian leader who stamps over human rights. Do we really want to be on the dark side in the years ahead?