About the local elections

It’s been local elections in parts of England and Northern Ireland and all the parties are spinning furiously to say they’ve done well. Results say that the Tories have taken a battering, while Labour, failing to capitalise on the worst government in my lifetime, have actually lost seats as voters abandon the party due mainly to Brexit but also it seems because of Corbyn’s leadership. So we have the two main parties led by deeply unpopular people amongst the wider electorate seeing their parties tear themselves apart over Brexit.

The Lib Dems did exceptionally well, as did the Greens, but the real story is the amount of independents winning seats. Local elections tend to through up lots of local independent candidates but this is showing people are tired of all the Westminster parties. In good news it looks as UKIP are over at a local level. However the European elections bring in Farage’s Brexit Party and the weird mess that is Change UK.

So what we learned is the Tories and Labour are fooling themselves but are digging in because for the leadership of either party are so committed to the cause of Brexit now they can’t pull back. Other Remain parties will scoop up votes, as will Farage. Basically the two main parties are back to being picked clean.

As for us in Scotland we have a simple choice in three weeks. Vote SNP or Green, send out a pro EU/Indy message. Time to make another stand at the polls and show we’re not going to be dragged down the road of Brexit by parties more interested in preserving themselves than doing well by all of us.

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A quick word about sectarianism in Scotland

This week saw Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke rightfully despair about the sectarian abuse that comes from some Rangers fans, as well as the wider problem of religious bigotry in the West of Scotland.

This prompted not the widespread soul searching one would hope, but instead people started digging in, including sadly Steven Gerrard who decided instead of condemning what he clearly hears behind him since becoming manager of Rangers, decided to bring up the abuse of Kris Boyd. For the record Boyd sat with Clarke in a press conference to discuss the problem.

There is a feeling rife in Scotland that this ‘is just how it is‘ and that trying to change it would just be too hard, which of course is incredible nonsense. IF certain institutions and people wanted to change they would so we have to deal with the fact some people don’t just enjoy wallowing in this hatred, but they thrive from it. Ruth Davidson for example has helped get where she is today through pandering to Orange tinted bigots, while Labour have been hand in glove with the Orange Order for too long with Jeremy Corbyn being the latest leader happy to turn a blind eye.

Essentially large parts of Scotland’s establishment have strong links to sectarianism, or are themselves, sectarians happy to push that agenda with Murdo Fraser of the Tories being the most blatant example. As for the media, many wring their hands in faux outrage, but are only happy to cash in on sectarianism for clicks like the Daily Record is. Then there’s people like James Kelly MSP, who fought to get the ‘football act’ repealed which as flawed a bit of legislation as it was, it happened to be the only bit of legislation passed which targeted this specific problem. Kelly promised after the repeal that he and Labour would present ideas around the idea that education and other approaches would work. Over a year on we see there’s no educating some people and we still await Kelly,not to mention the Scottish media establishment’s ideas of ‘other approaches’ but Kelly wrings his hands in faux outrage while still celebrating his victory to let bigots realise there’s no punitive outcome for singing about ‘bathing in fenian blood’ or  IRA terrorists every week.

The SNP don’t get off the hook either. If they’d tightened up the law and made it more focused, while backing it up with some much needed reforms that Scotland desperately needs, they might not have presented people like Kelly and Fraser such an open goal. They’re now stuck in an impasse where they’re too scared to bring something into power, so we now have this situation where everyone (bar the extremists) want something to be done, but nobody is actually doing anything.

Fans of Rangers, and of Celtic, need to step up but the ongoing failure that is the SFA, fails the game at the most basic of levels has allowed this to fester for generations. Want it to stop? Next game where there’s something being chanted, the game after is played behind closed doors.. Still happens after that? Take away points. Fining clubs and slapping their wrists is pointless but nothing that will stop clubs quietly letting this carry on will happen and the Scottish establishment will wring their hands saying ‘och, it’s awful’ next time it happens, and the next time and the next time.

It is a fucking shame on all of us in the country to claim we’re tolerant, and different to the rest of the UK when we let this happen and we do let it happen because it isn’t challenged enough. If Scotland wants to live up to the potential we have, this archaic fucking monstrosity that blights us all has to go and if it means breaking down old institutions then fine. Nothing lasts forever and generations to come deserve better.

We’ve now had two years of Brexit

Two years ago the UK, well, England mainly, voted to leave the EU and the world went mad.The vote was won with no plan, no idea of how to leave and with experts promising total collapse if we just up and leave with no deal, but hardline Brexiters from the right and the left on the morning after the vote demanded Article 50 (the procedure that kicks into motion the UK leaving the EU)invoked and the UK leaves with nothing more planned than the fact we’re leaving. Two years later this is sort of the situation we’re still in. Both the right and left of Brexit want to leave ASAP to bring about some sort of nirvana based upon their own political ideology so both push the line about ‘respecting the result’ because to veer off course now would mean they don’t get what they want.

Problem is ‘respecting the result’ means buying into the fact the referendum was built on racist lies and possible (probable?) criminality and corruption. This Bloomberg article reveals part of the problem, while the work of journalists like James Patrick and Carol Cadwalladr are exposing what is a massive perversion of democracy, not to mention people’s real concerns about being stuck in eternal austerity which has lasted a decade with no end to come.

Tens of thousands marched the streets of London at the weekend just gone protesting Brexit but with the Tories locked in a death spiral trying to put off the day when the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg gets his cold hands on the PM job, and Labour stuck in a nostalgia trip there is no way a political end to Brexit can be found. Anyhow, it’s far too late. As soon as Article 50 was invoked the UK lost any control on what will happen, apart from the ‘no deal’ option where the UK walks and carnage happens overnight. Business is making that clear with a series of warnings falling on arrogantly deaf ears. Basically the type of country you want to live in is at stake and frankly, the extremists have all the Trump cards.

We’re heading towards reality with a sickening thud. When the smoke clears and things calm down we might not like the look of where we are, what we’ve done and the irreparable damage done to people’s lives. So, I’ll be blunt. Be prepared for next year as if we do drop out with no deal and off that edge, or even just take what we’re given because we gave away any power in March 2017, we could face something people in this country haven’t faced since the early to mid 1970’s. I hope I’m wrong but unless something major happens we’re fucked.

Ruth Davidson: Soldier of Orange

Last week the general election saw pretty much everyone lose. Theresa May lost her majority and all her hubris she displayed since last June vanished with an appalling campaign. The SNP lost 21 seats thanks partly  to a Corbyn-injected Labour vote and a Tory vote energised by Ruth Davidson’s single minded ‘no more referendums’ campaign. Jeremy Corbyn may have the impetus (for now) but nothing hides the fact he lost and (for now) we’ve a Tory government propped up by the deeply sectarian DUP.

However most political pundits from all sides point to Ruth Davidson as a clear winner. Her campaign in Scotland saved Theresa May’s neck as those 13 Tory MP’s in Scotland were the difference between May cobbling together a government and Jeremy Corbyn cobbling together a government but yet bizarrely many south of the border see Davidson as a calming influence on Theresa May and someone of some integrity yet that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve pointed out before Ruth Davidson’s defence of the ‘rape clause‘, so really, she’s no friend to the left, yet some praise her partly because as Labour loyalists some prefer to see the SNP being given a bloody nose over beating Tories, and here’s where Davidson’s not went through any scrutiny in England. Now some blogs in Scotland have dragged Davidson’s somewhat flexible politics through the coals but her apparent defence of LGBTI rights in the UK (which again she painted as standing up for herself, but as that is a reserved subject for as long as she lives in Scotland she’s perfectly fine) led her to Tweet this.

Davidson has played with religion for a while dragging into the Scottish political spectrum when many thought it was dying but here’s the thing, when Arlene Foster of the DUP says the union is her ‘guiding star’ that is exactly the same position as Ruth Davidson. Her campaign in Scotland was built round one thing; no more referendums. That was it. No other policies and when pushed on policies Davidson folded or showed complicit support as in the rape clause.

Yet again, we were warned about Ruth Davidson and her pandering to the Orange Order who may not have the power in Scotland they once had, but hold an influence in Scotland that seems unbreakable for as long as the union prevails. If you haven’t a clue who the Orange Order are, this wonderful clip from T2: Trainspotting answers everything in a succinct way.

This election was the last stand of a hard, sectarian Unionism and thanks to Ruth Davidson and the DUP, that strain of Unionism has the whip hand over the entire UK, and as for Davidson’s claim last week she’d ensure the DUP preserve rights that’s been shown to be bullshit as women from Northern Ireland are now banned from travelling to England to get a termination.

Davidson fought tooth and nail dabbling with sectarianism to put a dent into the SNP, hurt the idea of independence and also hollow out Labour who insanely worked with the Tories in many Scottish seats to help stop the SNP. So yes, Davidson has won and is the media’s new love but it’s easy to oppose. Now she has to deliver and she’s incapable of doing that. What do voters who don’t want a second referendum think of the fact the SNP have a mandate for one, the Greens still support one and there’s now more independence minded people in Labour? As 2015 was a high point for Nicola Sturgeon, 2017 could well be the same for Ruth Davidson.

I hope so. She’s stirred up some horrendously dark forces and they won’t get back into their box easily now they’re holding a gun at Theresa May’s head.

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.

The Tory manifesto was launched today

Theresa May launched the Tory general election manifesto today. Essentially if you’re vulnerable, sick, an immigrant, or not stupidly wealthy then this is the vision of the future the Tories are laying out for you after they’re done at the end of the next parliament.

That’s for plebs like you or I. The likes of Iain Duncan Smith will be dining on the finest wines and meats while your children starve at school.

The Tories are dangerous. This manifesto is dangerous. It needs to be fought. Think about the future when you cast your vote next month.