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.

Why the UK coverage of this election is like this Armando Ianucci sketch

In less than a fortnight we’ll find out who will be the next Prime Minister of the UK but if you watch this election through the prism of the mainly London-based media you’d think it’s a straight fight between Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May. To an extent it is as only those two can become Prime Minister but seeing people talk of Corbyn as the great hope for ending tuition fees or stop the bedroom tax is frankly a tad irrelevant here in Scotland as these don’t apply. Fees were scrapped a decade ago and the Scottish Government mitigates the bedroom tax.

Many of the things Labour want in the UK is already being done or are being worked towards. True there’s more to be done, and the stuff that’s still reserved to Westminster (which is still most things) will still hurt if the Tories get back in, but in Scotland (and indeed, in all the devolved nations) we’re still at the mercy of Westminster.

As much as I wish Corbyn well in England, I don’t feel he, or his party, will work for me or for Scotland as his support for leaving the EU isn’t what Scotland, or indeed Northern Ireland, voted for. So for most of this campaign as I view it on social media is a bit like this sketch from the wonderfully but underrated Armando Ianucci Shows from 2001…

Who to vote for in the 2017 General Election?

Some election thoughts on the cusp of what is going to be a hellish election campaign…

In Scotland it’s simple. Vote SNP, get that second referendum happening and then we go out and win it so we can break free of the Union and hopefully end the ideology of Unionism.I’m not an SNP voter. I’ll be putting the Greens at the top of my preferences for the local elections in a fortnight, but we need to break this cycle we’re in as well as rejoining a more socially democratic Europe than the increasingly far-right British state we’re in.

Wales-Vote for Plaid. Labour have let you down far too often. The Tories will laugh at you if you do and if you vote UKIP then Wales will rue the day you elected a UKIP MP.

Northern Ireland-Vote for the candidate who will beat the Unionist one. If that’s Sinn Fien, Alliance or SDLP, it doesn’t matter. The less Unionists NI return the less Tory enablers there are.

England-Dear god, England, you have issues. Don’t vote Tory but outwith of Brighton and Bristol voting Green won’t work. Voting Lib Dem means voting for Tory enablers as Farron’s rhetoric about creating a ‘soft’ Brexit only makes sense when you realise their unspoken tactic is hoping for a hung parliament and siding with the Tories.

This leaves Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. There’s an expression in NI-”vote til you boak” and I think in England, you’ll be boaking your guts out as Corbyn’s a Brexiter who’s enabled Theresa May throughout this process but you have no other choice. Voting Tory would be a disaster. I fear though the damage Labour constantly inflicts upon itself is too severe and they’ll take a pounding.

The Tories win this election and Theresa May gains the sort of power no Prime Minister should have. This will be the last cry of Unionism/Imperialism and the sort of ultra-British nationalism once thought to be unelectable but normalised through a media crying out for blood and a Westminster elite that have pandered to the worst for too long. We may have an escape route up here but fucks sake, whatever you do next month don’t vote Tory/UKIP/Lib Dem/Unionist or we’re screwed.

Calling Scottish independence supporters ‘racist’ is depressing and pathetic

The last few days has seen some serious ramping up of rhetoric in the debate over Scottish independence with Saddiq Khan’s comments about Scottish independence supporters being racists. As has been pointed out, Labour don’t get to occupy the moral high ground here and yesterday saw a remarkable article published in the Guardian written by Clare Heuchan which stated that there was clear links between Scottish independence and racism who has flounced off Twitter after ‘fearing for her safety’.

Truth is she was exposed online as a Better Together supporter and a very devout British nationalist.

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Now if Heuchan is being abused that’s to be condemned and those who fire racist and sexist abuse need to be prosecuted, but that’s a different thing from the article which she wrote which isn’t objective, plays into Khan’s frankly cowardly rhetoric (and he should know better) and seems to clearly be part of how bad things have got where at least people who supported independence were love-bombed rather than called ‘racists’ for wanting self-determination and a better place to live.

Heuchan is however right to say Scotland has a history of racism. Scots of Irish descent over the centuries have had to deal with that (not that Heuchan even touches on that as you’d expect from someone defending the British state) but as Paul Kavanagh points out here, Scots come from a position of coloniser and colonised. It was not just morally dishonest for the Guardian not to divulge her political intelligences but it makes it clear that the ‘Nats are racist’ angle is being played up now in an attempt to not just alienate potential independence supporters, but in the case independence is actually won it’s an attempt to leave social divisions that future Scottish governments may have to face.

Yet here we are. It is clear a positive case for the Union will not be delivered and people like me will be painted as drooling English-hating racists who want some sort of Rhineland of Northern Europe. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I never used to think Scottish independence viable, or desirable. I thought that although the UK was a corrupt state with a terrible imperial past, the union was the best way to protect the most vulnerable. Upon closer study of what was happening in Scotland while I was still living in Bristol showed me that independence wasn’t about ‘flag-waving nationalists hating the English’ but something else more akin to a movement for self-determination and gaining political power for people in Scotland. The fact it’d land a mortal blow on the British state which, hopefully, change things for people across the UK. Independence for Scotland for me is about a political solution to people’s problems as well as ending something I think is broken and that serves nobody but the few. I remain of the opinion the independence movement is a rich and diverse one.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t bigots and arseholes there who do hate the English. As in any movement there are extremes, but it seems the extremes of the independence movement are generally people likes the Scottish Resistance; a loopy fringe. The extremes of Unionism are the Orange Order, the EDL/SDL, Britain First and every blood and soil nationalist fit to wave a Union Jack. The latter is barely reported in the Scottish or UK media in terms of the abuse they fire out in this argument. People like Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and various other figures in the independence movement (while the Claire Heauchan story broke an SNP councillor has been talking about the abuse her and her children have been receiving) and SNP are regularly abused and threatened with rape and death but there’s a lack in equivocal reporting.

Of course many people outwith Scotland do look past the bullshit and make their own minds up. Here’s and example from Barney Farmer, the writer of The Drunken Bakers in Viz Comic.

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The EU referendum saw an MP murdered by a member of the far right. The Scottish independence referendum saw isolated incidents ranging from the egg thrown at Jim Murphy to far right thugs rioting in George Square on the 19/9/14.

Last November I moved back to Glasgow after 28 years of living in England to recover from a stroke and finish my fight against cancer, so I’m here in Glasgow recuperating for a few months. I’ve fine-tuned my opinions on Scottish independence to the extent where I firmly believe it offers a final last chance to save the people of Scotland from the insanity of Brexit, but at the same time I’m going to pull up any Indy supporters being racist or sexist arseholes. I also don’t have time for those wanting UDI as that isn’t going to convince those reluctant to become independent that we’re democratic and I refuse to believe every Unionist is a flag-waving lunatic spitting out hate as that’s just as bad as what we’re accused of as Indy supporters. I just want a better Scotland for people living here and I don’t care where you’re from or what race or religion you are.

As we get nearer Brexit actually happening the stakes are ramping up. Unionists will be using every single dirty tactic under the sun and those firing out accusations of ‘racist’ while they themselves can’t recognise what they are is a depressing development as it diminishes actual victims of racism, and indeed, skims over the real issues Scotland has to deal with in regards religious bigotry and the racism that sadly lives everywhere.

We’re at a crucial phase in history. Brexit takes the UK down a hard right path where human rights become a thing of the past and the most vulnerable (and for now, that includes people like me) are having their lives threatened by a cruel Tory government and there won’t be a left wing paradise coming from Corbyn’s Labour who seems to glory more in ‘The Struggle‘ than actually wanting things to be done. I want a better world, and for that to happen we have to start small and convince other countries it can be done and for me, the only way to do that in these islands is Scottish independence breaking the British state and not just providing Scotland with self-determination but hopefully people across the UK realise the issue and themselves demand real change rather than a soundbite.

However calling people who believe in a better world ‘racist’ for wanting where they live to be better is a pathetically low, not to mention, cowardly, tactic. It’s a tactic designed to provoke as we’re at the stage where the British state will quite literally do anything to preserve it, which with no campaign actually started as yet is worrying as to how low this will go.Independence supporters need to not take the bait and remain above this, but at the same time we shouldn’t let it pass without comment and this for me is about putting this into my own personal context. I’m not a racist. I want Scottish independence. I find those equating both to be cowards and liars but I want to speak to people either unconvinced, undecided and even Unionists in debate rather than sit there spitting out hate which solves nothing apart from giving these diehard extremists exactly what they want. We need to rise above that and carry on positively or we’ll not get that glimmer of a better Scotland for all of us living here.

Bristol MP thinks popular internet meme ”Get in the Sea” is a threat to kill

This is the Twitter account for Get in the Sea, a humorous account where various people and things who deserve to be told to get in the sea are told so in amusing, often sweary detail. Well, as much detail as you can get in 140 characters. The account has spawned a book which advertises itself as such:

The Sea – cold, wet, and unforgiving.

The perfect place to dump shit products, moronic people, and crap pop culture.

Man buns? Get in the sea.

Glitter beards? In you go.

Cereal cafes? SEA.

And how about manspreading, ant gin, water sommeliers, real people playing Quidditch, dating apps, Bluetooth gloves, and Shoreditch? Then there’s waterproof suits, juicing, early Christmas, dog yoga, Nando’s, drones, and Gregg Wallace? Fuck. It’s never ending.

Something must be done.

Buy this book. Or you know what you can do. . .

It’s a satire on modern life and the phrase ‘get in the sea’ is either one of those phrases you’ll recognise if you use the internet often enough, or is so odd you’d Google before making a leap to condemn, or so you’d like to think.

Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire did a third option which is to leap to assume the phrase really means ‘I will come and drown you. You’d think in the current insane climate Debbonaire or her people would double check that an odd sounding phrase isn’t what it means, but they didn’t. This has meant that a Bristol University student is being investigated for ‘threatening to drown her’, which if you were going to kill someone threatening to drown them would be the most shite way possible to threaten them.

Yeah, I’m going to come round your house, fill up your bath, and then drown you!! Oh what, you’ve only got a shower! Bugger. Fancy meeting at the local swimming baths?

It is, frankly, insane. Yes, throwing around terms like ‘traitors’ is out of line, but telling someone to ‘get in the sea’ isn’t a threat to kill. You may not like it, you may be offended to be told to get in the sea with the likes of hair buns and cereal cafes, but you’re a public figure. Taking the odd bit of flak comes with the territory, especially if you were elected on a platform of helping the most vulnerable in areas like Lawrence Hill, the most deprived ward in Bristol, and all you’re now doing is running around fighting your own leader not to mention a big chunk of your own constituents.MP’s shouldn’t take death threats or the abuse Debbonaire’s taken due to her cancer, but this is neither. This is taking the piss and if you’re an MP and can’t deal with that then perhaps this isn’t the job for you.

I’m one of her constituents for the time being til I’m well enough to move back to Glasgow. I voted and campaigned for the Greens last year who came within 5k or so votes of taking Bristol West. With things like this I wish the Green candidate Darren Hall had won because the people of Bristol West wouldn’t now have an MP involved with this ludicrous overreaction, or be involved in Labour’s even more ludicrous, not to mention undemocratic civil war and the right of the party look to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

Though as you can imagine, she received the ultimate accolade from one particular Twitter account…

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The Chilcot Report: Tony Blair. Liar, warmonger, egomaniac.

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The Chilcot Report came out today. Instead of the meek whitewash that limply smacks the wrists of Tony Blair and the people who took us to war in Iraq in 2003 we got something that damns Tony Blair, his style of government, his spin doctors and his Labour Party of the time. It damns those that supported the Iraq War and vindicates those of us that protested the war that cold Saturday in February in 2003, and who Blair was so dismissive of. It vindicates the likes of Alex Salmond who tried to impeach Blair in 2004. It vindicates Jeremy Corbyn who is now hounded by the same people who cheered this war on and and stood behind Blair. It vindicates Charles Kennedy, the Lib Dem leader who saw the same information as Blair and decided it wasn’t enough to go to war on and was then destroyed firstly by the media and then his own party.

Most of all it vindicates the families of the dead British service people who died for nothing. 250 people died in Iraq two days ago. We have no idea how many Iraqis have died in 13 years because the Americans couldn’t care less, and we didn’t bother trying to count how many people we were slaughtering.

I marched that day in 2003. I remember feeling futile and impotent as Blair went to war regardless. 13 years later we live in a vastly less safe, more uncertain, less trusting world. Blair took advantage of the post 911 months to use that to help George Bush and America reshape the world. Blair didn’t have a plan.We sent men and women into a warzone without proper kit, proper equipment. They were failed.

Blair’s egomania lives on. He’s spent two hours today trying to spread blame. Alistair Campbell is allowed to comment in The Guardian that it was all justified. John McTernan praises Blair as a great leader still, on the day we know for sure he sent young people to their deaths and destabilised a region, fuck, a world, for what exactly? What good has come out of that for anyone apart from the likes of Blair, Campbell and McTernan who’ve made themselves wealthy, comfortable and assured while families weep and grieve.

I have no idea where things go from here. Labour as I see it is over. Corbyn now mas the moral authority to stamp the Blairites out his party. The UK as a nation is over. I’ve no idea how the ripples of this affects America. This however can’t be allowed to slide away, Tony Blair needs to be brought to justice for this as he has blood on his hands and all the spinning in the world won’t change that.