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.

Brexit Breakdown-The hopelessness of the left in England

Here’s something few people are saying after Brexit. A large chunk of left wing people mainly in England voted to leave (Lexit it was called probably by some Hipster arsehole in media in London) because they thought it’d deliver Jeremy Corbyn into Number Ten. It didn’t. It never could have and anyone that thought that was, and is, an idiot. I get why people voted for racist reasons, or for misplaced ideas of sovereignty or to just protest and get their voice heard. I don’t like most of them but I get why people voted to leave apart from one group, and that’s those mainly on the left in England who voted to leave.

Now I know there was people of the left who did the same in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but for what seems to be different (and possibly just as daft) reasons as expecting Corbyn to march into power. For years the left in England has been looking for someone to hang a hook on and that was Corbyn, but although I think some of Corbyn’s ideas are good to fine, he’s not the answer especially when his party is still abstaining on crucial votes and may do so still on things like Trident but he’s not really the problem. The problem here lies in some of his supporters.

Brexit Strategy is a short documentary film by Elizabeth Mizon filmed in Bristol. It’s infuriating to say the least at times, but there’s a good example of what I mean when the obviously well-educated, well-off economist near the start tells us as to why she voted to leave based upon the wish of Corbyn ushering a new era of egalitarian politics.The look on her face suggests she’s realised all too late that she made a mistake and was, at best, naive, at worst a bloody idiot.

As for the film it’s a snippet as the problems of the left in England, or at least the part of the left that’s dominated by a clear and sharp middle class voice. Unlike the left in Scotland that has a mix of voices from all classes, or a fluid left in Wales where Plaid Cymru move into the space vacated by Labour in working class communities, there’s not been a left movement of late in England that has done the same. Instead the middle class has dominated speaking often abstractly of working class communities they sneer at like Emily Thornberry.

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I’m also a Bristol resident and I’ve had conversations with Labour supporting, leftish friends who on the whole wouldn’t go down a street like that to chap doors and speak to people. The problem is that part of the reason so many working class areas in England voted to leave isn’t just so their voices weren’t being heard, but that many are fed up having middle class left wingers speak for them. There’s a clear detachment with many on the left in England with the most vulnerable and that’s one of the many reasons why so many working class areas voted to leave. They were excluded and failed from the progressive politics middle class academics wanted by voting to leave, so they’ve been twice shafted.

The EU Referendum was a mess, but the English left could have looked at Scotland’s independence referendum and learned from where we went right, and more importantly, wrong and adapt that to create an argument to stay in the EU. They could have followed the example of the Radical Independence Campaign and instead of having conversations in leafy parts of Bristol like Redland or Clifton, or talking to vaguely stoned students in Stokes Croft, they got their hands dirty speaking to people in places like Hartcliffe or Knowle. It’s all very fine and well to talk of coming together now, but why did it have to take something as fucking awful as Brexit for people on the left in England to even start considering it?

It is sadly too late for England. Unlike Scotland, Northern Ireland or poor wee Gibraltar they didn’t vote to stay, and there’s no hope of turning back as the Tories cluster round Teresa May, one of the scariest prospects in a field of scary prospects for the next Prime Minister. The English left has for years had the chance to come together or at least put up a fight. It’s not. For years large chunks of the left turned a blind eye or played down what Tony Blair and Labour were doing for 13 years with things like PFI to doom future generations to debt. Now that’s not everyone, some on the English left tried, but too many looked at Brexit wrongly and naively. Now it is a gory mess that’s blown up over all our faces and they’ve helped it happen based upon nothing more than a strong wish. I hope those people get to live with themselves in the years to come.

Brexit Breakdown-Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, what is going on with Labour here?

The UK has voted to leave the EU, the UK itself hangs by a thread as Scotland and Northern Ireland mull over all plans to keep them in the EU, the Tories are stabbing each other in the back but it seems now that Andrea Ledsom is emerging as the serious candidate to challenge Teresa May which should scare us all even more as EU nationals being repatriated is something on the agenda, financial markets may have recovered some of their losses but they’re in a holding pattern waiting to see what happens and meanwhile, the Labour Party, still the official opposition, are ripping themselves apart over the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

I used to be a Labour member and supporter. Being a good socialist in Glasgow that was almost burned into my DNA, and once I’d moved to England that carried on as I helped Greville Janner get elected in Leicester. Yeah, sorry about that. In 1997 I helped get Patricia Hewitt get elected. Yeah, sorry about that too.  In 1997 I did what I could to get Tony Blair’s Labour get elected. Listen, I’m really bloody sorry about that.

What I’m saying is I was part of the Labour machine. I understood it and even in 1997 I had doubts about Blair, but we had to get rid of the Tories as it couldn’t get worse. It did. By the end of 1998 I was washing my hands of Labour. By the time of the Iraq War I hated Labour. When the Scottish Independence Referendum came round and Labour acted hand-in-glove with the Tories and used the suffering both they and the Tories had imposed upon people to scare pensioners and the working class to vote to stay while laughing about it, I despised Labour as much as the Tories.

Yet when Jeremy Corbyn became leader I was hopeful he’d sort Labour out. Sure, I’d still not vote for them personally but I’d be glad to see an actual leftish Labour Party take on the Tories rather than one that helped us get where we are right now in the most fucked up mess I’ve ever seen in my life. But for those Blairite MP’s who clung onto power bitterly and refused to speak to the SNP or Lib Dems in 2010 to form an alliance to keep the Tories out, instead choosing to leave office and let a bunch of psychopaths gain power, are now the same leading the charge against Corbyn.

As for Corbyn I don’t think he’s the answer for Labour. He’s weak, advised by some terrible people like Seumas Milne and Neil Findlay, not to mention he’s just as abstaining, just as distant to people in the North of England as the hopeless Ed Milliband was. Corbyn’s main problem is being a London MP, a resident and MP of Islington, and whose support is centred in London and the larger English cities, he appears distant and of another class to people with little or nothing who Labour gave up trying to represent. I’ve said to Labour supporting friends John McDonnell is a better choice, even if he’s also rooted to a rigid 20th century form of socialism not to mention Labour’s own support for the Union, a structure by itself helps create inequality.

But if the answer is Angela Eagle, then fuck knows how bad the question must be. Replacing a poor leader but one with hundreds of thousands of supporters at a grassroots level, with one with virtually no grassroots support, the support of Iraq War supporting MP’s and a craven London based media (I’m looking mainly at The Guardian here) is political suicide, especially when the UK is as we speak essentially broken probably forever. Right now the Tories are vulnerable and open for real attack so the official opposition tears itself apart because they’re more interested in having power for the shits and giggles rather than using that power for us all to have better lives. The Tories are allowed to have their ceremonial appointment of the next Prime Minister and the official opposition aren’t functional either as that, or a political party anymore.

So well done Labour. You’ve helped make this week even worse.

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Mark Thomas talking about PFI in 1999

With the state of schools built under PFI by the Labour/Lib Dem coalition in Holyrood in the early days of that parliament being a big news story now, it’s worth looking back at what was said about PFI back in the day.

PFI is a fairly complex method of funding started under John Major’s Tories in the 90’s and enthusiastically seized upon by Tony Blair’s Labour and especially Gordon Brown who pushed PFI to help build new infrastructure. Now to be fair, the UK needed that because the Tories had let that crumble. The problem with PFI is it’s essentially privatisation, and not just that it leaves us with crumbling sub-standard buildings that endanger lives, not to mention it means it costs us all more money in the long run.

But it’s worth having a look at this. It’s an episode of the Mark Thomas Comedy Product from 1999 where he deals with the subject of PFI, explains what it is and looking back it today 17 years later looks horrendously prophetic in it’s predictions of doom in regards the NHS in particular.

Give this half an hour of your time. It’ll make you as angry as it did me in 1999, and it’ll make you hate Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Labour then even more than you may do now.