A word about the People’s Vote March

As I write this the People’s Vote march is snaking its very crowded way round London’s streets.

On the whole I support the march and with massive bloody caveats, support the aim of a second vote but here in Scotland I feel we’re being ignored, or at least patronised by a big chunk of the People’s Vote. This is something I’ve said before, and nothing has changed my mind that for a chunk on the ‘progressive’ left in England, Scotland is only useful for votes because deep down they know that realistically England will vote to leave the EU again in a second vote.

The problems are many. Kev McKenna goes through some of them in this article at The Herald, this paragraph being especially damning.

Yet, like their manufactured concerns for the future of Ireland I’ve rarely heard any of the metropolitan elites previously profess to be overly-vexed by the challenges faced by working-class communities in England’s north-west or north-east. Where were they when the fishing fleets on Humberside disappeared, sacrificed to enable the US to spy on Soviet submarines from the Icelandic coast? And beyond some hand-wringing and anti-Thatcher sloganising what did they actually do when the mines all shut and the car factories fell silent? Each time I see Gordon Brown wade into Brexit on his white charger I can still hear him say: “British jobs for British workers”. You also contributed to this, big man.

I rarely heard any concern for Northern Ireland prior to June 2016, and as McKenna says, while traditional working class jobs and communities were being ripped apart many of these folk sat on their hands, and yeah, Gordon Brown massively contributed to where we are today.

But the problem is that there were aspects of the English left that did raise their hands in protest, but today they’re as likely to be supportive of Brexit for vague, outdated ideology which is why there’s no Jeremy Corbyn or any of the Labour leadership near the march today. From here it looks as if the left and right have a common cause (and both rely on some level on nostalgia tinged with xenophobia about ‘foreigners’) to win the Brexit fight so they can install their rose-tinted vision of Albion.

Meanwhile in Scotland although you’ll find plenty like me who support today’s march and would appreciate some reciprocal support  for a second independence referendum, with the caveat that any second EU vote would need all countries of the UK to support it, or if the result mirrors last time  then that triggers a second Scottish referendum and a border poll in Ireland.

It is hard however not to see the march as anything but positive when it shows the weight of support against the what should be now, clearly obvious far-right coup of the UK. When you’ve got various Brexiters, right and left, talking up a ‘civil war’ and wanking on boringly about taking the fight to the streets, they should remember the tens of thousands who are out on the streets now so even though I don’t think it’ll change anything politically it does help in reminding the elites fighting tooth and nail for Brexit there’s a large number of people who will oppose it.

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How a Douglas Adams quote explains modern society

Confused, puzzled and angered by things like Brexit, the ongoing nightmare of Donald Trump, the various strains of nostalgia politics and the rise of gammon-faced people from the right and left, and just generally everything?

Well, the late, great Douglas Adams has a quote from the Salmon of Doubt that explains everything!

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

So there you go, the modern world explained!

 

 

Where we all stand with Brexit

In the light of Theresa May realising that the position of the EU that they’ve been making perfectly clear since June 2016 and the cold, stark reality of her arrogance and failure hitting like a brick, mixed with Jeremy Corbyn’s complete failure to act as an opposition as Labour becoming a self-ingesting arse added to UKIP not even bothered to pretend they’re not a far right party and the far right as a whole waiting for Brexit Day like a five-year old waits for Father Christmas, the situation is, well, fucked.

We now face a ‘no deal’, which bluntly means if you’re poor, sick or vulnerable and can’t afford or don’t have a contingency plan then you’re going to suffer in a way that makes the last decade of austerity seem like a nice holiday.

Myself, I need a cocktail of drugs to live. If there is a lengthy disruption in the drug supply so I don’t get what I need for say, a month I’m likely to drop into a coma, assuming I’ve not had a stroke or worse in the meantime. If you’re a diabetic then after a month of no drugs you’re likely to be dead. At least we’ll avoid the food shortages or worse, the cheap disease ridden imports of meat we’re likely to get with a no deal Brexit so I’d look into vegetarianism assuming we get enough people to pick crops seeing as most immigrants that would have done that have left the UK because of the racism that’s openly flowing since June 2016.

Meanwhile psychopaths wait for the right time in Ireland, Gibraltar faces complete destruction of its economy and Scotland cannot bide its time much long for a second independence referendum. All because people in England, and specifically the Tory Party are bigoted cunts.

So we’re fucked. There may be a way out with Andy Wrightman’s court action that makes clear the ECJ can rule whether Article 50 can be revoked, but seeing as neither the leader of the Tories or Labour have shown any political will to push this avenue should tell us how fruitful that’ll be at a UK level. But here’s the thing. At some point all of this will find some form of resolution and those who caused it, or those who enabled it, and those who failed to do anything to stop it are going to be held culpable at least by history and all those lives decimated and destroyed will weigh upon them.

Til then we’re fucked.

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.

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.

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.