Monday, 12 June 2017

That election...

So the SNP took a drubbing, but started from an artificial high. In 2015, they went from 6 to 57 MP's, off the back of a betrayal by unionist parties who promised so much to get a No vote, then delivered approximately fuck all.
Last week, they held on to more than half of those MP's, with a normalisation of representation, differences around Brexit and hysterical unionist screechings about independence - those last two at the forefront of the media in Scotland.
Meanwhile Ruthy and Kez, who between them only barely scraped together half as many seats as the SNP, are still trying to dictate terms.
That mindset among Unionist politicians hasn't changed (it's got a lot worse), and it demonstrates why a unionist Brexit is going to be a massive shit show. The arrogance gets our hackles up, what's it going to do with a bunch of flinty-eyed EU negotiators?
Am I pissed off? Yes. A lot of decent, honest hardworking MP's - who spoke more often, attended more debates and claimed less in expenses than their predecessors - have gone, only to be replaced by place-men not beholden to their Scottish constituents, but to the party whip in London.
For any international readers (you never know), the Scottish Conservatives won 13 out of 59 Scottish seats, the SNP won 35. The Conservatives increased their seat count but still came a poor second. I'm only mentioning it because currently, the UK press are doing 'a Nuttall' and making it seem as if Ruth Davidson's benighted Conservatives won everything from the Boer War to Blankety fucking Blank.
And now it looks as if - even after over-playing for weeks any tenuous links Corbyn had with the IRA - in a tour d' force of hypocrisy, the Tories will now seek some sort of deal with the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) of Northern Ireland. There are a number of problems with this not limited to the DUP's beyond childish grasp of evolution and, you know - reality. It's also the rampant homophobia and opposition to women's rights...
But also because - as I understand it - according to the Good Friday Agreement, the British Government (so the Conservative & Unionist Party) is the final arbiter of disputes at Stormont... And if the Tories are in some sort of unwritten coalition with the DUP (which does have links with loyalist terror groups) - it does rather fly in the face of fairness and, well, the entire premise of the Good Friday Agreement.
Hats off to Corbyn for giving May a stiff figurative twat upside the head, she needed it more than most, the horrible old autocrat that she is. 
Personally, from her days as Home Secretary, I've always thought Theresa May was a fetishist when it came to looking - but not really being - in control. She seems to think being 'strong and stable' means coming to a decision then assuming a dead glassy-eyed look and repeating insipid vacuous mantras if circumstances change and she turns out to be wrong. 
During the election campaign, did anyone ever hear her answer a question or admit she got something wrong? Its just not within her programming to do so, Theresa May lives in a world where compromise is weakness and contrition doesn't exist because she can do no wrong.
We are now all of us on a collision course with a long a varied list of things that'll be sideswiped, crushed and tossed over the roof - be that our relationship with the EU or Northern Ireland's relationship with the Republic of Ireland.
UK politics over the past 20-odd years has broken 'British' society - such as it was. And now that broken society is turning on itself. I don't agree with Corbyn when it comes to the union (although I think he'd talk honestly if it came to it), but his increased vote does gladden the heart, will it be enough to reverse our course though?
The UK is in a dive with a bumbling idiot at the controls - a bumbling idiot who is so catastrophically inhibited, she isn't capable of being aware of her shortcomings let alone anything else. I'm beginning to worry how many people she'll take out before we replace her at the helm.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Its all in the tone...

Got to say, I'm not as invested in the current political pantomime as I was in the 2014 referendum and subsequent performances - but one of the points marking the parties out in 2017 is demeanour.

Over here you have the increasingly demanding barks coming from the Tories and UKIP, while over there you have the soporific - almost hypnotically reasonable - tones of, well; parties who are not  the Tories.

Watching the leaders debates (if you can be arsed that is), what I've seen in support of Team Theresa; at best - are those who think the impoverished are a threat so want to yank the ladder up behind them. And at worst, those who seem hell bent on knowing if the elected PM would incinerate millions in nuclear conflagration.

If I lived in England, I'd vote Labour*. Okay, some of their economic policies might be a bit outre, but does anyone think May's policies (which are already biting hard, and not just in terms of personal wealth) would be any better? Of course, you have to take manifesto funding with a pinch of salt, but at least Labour tried. All the Conservatives do is remind us there's no such thing as a magic money tree... Except when it comes to dropping bombs or buying submarines to carry bombs, or destabilising middle eastern states, you know - that sort of thing.

Of course, we know there is such a thing as a money tree - 2008 wasn't that long ago. However, that particular genus of topiary can only be plucked by the UK's finance sector (especially when it benefits the spouses and business interests of certain public servants). The name of the tree may-as-well only be in Latin - its called Quantitative Easing. Its an evergreen variety, it sprouts cash all year round (half a trillion smacks so far) - just not for the people who really need it.

The Conservatives are all about 'strong and stable', which seems to translate into overly-entitled and demanding, while pretty much all the other parties take a more conciliatory tone, which the Conservatives (and associated media incubi) like to translate into weak and chaotic (as opposed to nuclear obliteration - which wouldn't be chaotic at all right enough...)

This election boils down to tone. Are you the kind of person who goes through life with a burning sense of entitlement? Do you feel the world owes you tribute and should bend and bow to your wishes - even if you don't really have the clout to back your expectations up - and it hurts others? Or do you feel that - in the absence of gunboats - sitting down to reach a mutually beneficial compromise would be more wise?

I think this is the difference between Yes and No voters too. Independence supporters always understood and were comfortable with compromise. Where-as unionists (especially the die hard types) still think they should just have it all by rights. They're fish swimming in a pond so murky, they no longer have a sense of scale (ha ha) of it or themselves.

Tory Britain is already the Veruca Salt of the international community, its actually a wee bit embarrassing. 

Nobody wants to be a bad egg right?

* I live in Scotland, the only way to vote is SNP - until such times as those other parties start working for us and not the party whip at Westminster.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Boo! (The Death of Community)

I haven't posted anything here for a while, and while I've still been writing elsewhere (mostly intemperate rants on Facebook about people eating apples or crisps noisily within earshot), I approach this with some trepidation. 

Life is complicated, its almost impossible to distill it's many intricacies into bite size chunks  - and exactly the same is true about politics and this upcoming election.

Which is sort of what this post is about.

We have unionist parties standing in Scotland on the message: 'No to a divisive second indyref', which is fine, if a little one dimensional. Dugdale, Davidson & Rennie (its almost impossible not to fall into a rant about Ruth Davidson - she's worse than apples and crisps), are still trying to fob us off with simplistic chants about the complexities around Scotland's place in the United Kingdom, and indeed out of it if we so desired.

Personally? My view hasn't changed, if anything - it's sharpened. It seems to me, if you live and vote in Scotland the choice is thus; you can vote for a party that will actually oppose the Tory agenda or you can vote for a party that says it will but will mostly abstain. Its what Labour did up till now and there's no reason to suppose they'll change. Sure, the SNP will never be able to outvote the Tories at Westminster, but neither will Labour in their current form and probably wouldn't even if they could - at least with the SNP, you can sleep at night.

The real reason I'm writing this though, is because while in our Scout Group's committee meeting last night, (I know, bear with me), something became a lot clearer. I mean, I knew it was happening, but I suppose with this new example - it threw into stark relief the language and tone Conservatives like Ruth Davidson and others deploy on a daily basis and the changes it continues to make to our society.

In Scouts across the UK, we have something like 50,000 kids on waiting lists, ignore for now that they're probably mostly middle class and not-exactly-struggling, because that isn't the point. Last night's meeting was held in the pub, its what normally happens. Once the business is taken care of, it becomes a social event. I made a passing comment about scout summer camp, I said if leaders from other sections wanted to come along, then they should. Summer camp used to be as much a social occasion for leaders as it was a week away for the kids.

But it occurred to me, that's not not how it works anymore. We don't recruit leaders, we hold parents to ransom. The only way we can get new 'volunteers', is if a section will close when no one steps forward - what a way to run a community organisation. We no longer get folk interested in outdoor pursuits, we get parents who've been threatened with a Chinese burn if they don't step up.

While many parents are eager to get their kids into Scouts at age six, they no longer think its their responsibility to support a community group they're so keen to take advantage of. And do you know what the most prevalent excuse is? Its that they're paying for it.

Even Scouts - one of the most well known voluntary organisations - is heading for a corporate model. What ever you think of leaders and volunteers in Scouts, will any voluntary youth organisation (for example) survive the death of community endeavour?

Because this is the direction of travel. People are being encouraged to pull the ladder up behind them, those who are less well off are having ever more paths to betterment (ha!) closed to them - and all to protect the welfare and wealth of those who are already okay.

We're told that to be on the left is soft. We've become convinced that being community minded is somehow weak and unnecessary. Its all happened in a strange asymmetric way too - while being convinced we must protect our lot by leaving the less fortunate behind (don't worry, the Tories will see they're alright), we've decided we must also shut ourselves in and not engage with our communities.

A lot of the parents putting their sprogs on waiting lists today will be my age, my earliest political recollection was of Thatcher going to war in the Falklands (which at the time, I was positive was in Fife...) These folks and their kids are growing up into a new normal - where its okay to deprive disabled people of essential equipment and money, that its normal for some families to rely on food banks to feed their kids and that for a few paltry quid, a victim of rape must fill out a form to apply for a non-consensual conception exemption...

I've got to say, this is not normal - its disgusting.

But, all the kids I see are growing up into a society where this is all ordinary. They might all be a bit middle class, but they're decent kids who have no choice but to grow up in the context of the world that surrounds them. 

So for your kids sake, or other people's kids if you have none of your own... This is only going to get worse, we're only going to get more hard-bitten. Trickle down economics - I think we've ascertained - is so much arse gravy. The gap between the richest and poorest continues to grow. The sick, poor and disabled are being systematically killed off  to satisfy a political dogma.

I'm not going to say who you should vote for, but I will suggest you don't vote Tory, because by any measure, they are fucking horrible - and the day will come when the Scottish Parliament won't be able to assuage the worst assaults on decency coming from them. Already, we're being told -  even with almost double the votes of any other party - the party of Government in Scotland does not have a mandate to deliver on its manifesto - and never will... The cutting away of the lifeboats is being set up in advance...

We can rationalise all sorts of things away in order to reach a compromise about how we vote. But can we rationalise away mutual care and a sense of community? It seems to me, you never quite know when you might find yourself on the wrong end of circumstances, but if you do (and think about all that is going to change over the next couple of years), whether you like it or not, the goodwill of your neighbours will be the only thing keeping you and yours in the neighbourhood you're used to, and in getting you all back to where you want to be.

Equally, you might think the Tories have got it right, in which case - and I say this in my mildest tones - we'll have to agree to disagree.