politics


Proud Saboteur

So, we’re going to have an election, because Theresa May expects things to get much worse as the Brexit debacle rolls on. She’s terrified that the incompetents she’s put in charge of negotiations will deliver a disaster, taking her down with them (and the rest of the country as well, of course, but she doesn’t really care about most of us).

I listened to her announcement of the election (twice, because I’m some sort of masochist). It was six minutes of blaming everyone else for her party’s failures. And then, on the front page of the Daily Mail this morning, the bile we’ve come to expect from the rag, labelling everyone who doesn’t do exactly what Chairman May demands a saboteur.

If that’s what she, and they, want to call sensible, decent people who have serious and well founded misgivings about this whole farce then I’m going to embrace it. I’m a proud saboteur.

The design’s available on clothes, mugs and stickers from Redbubble

Here’s a mocked up view of what it’ll look like on a T-shirt-

Update Now available in blue as well, ideal for white T-shirts etc.


An email to Jo Johnson

I’m a little late to this one, but here’s the email I just sent to Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

Dear Jo Johnson MP,

I am concerned that the Digital Economy Bill will help copyright trolls threaten ordinary Internet users. The offences in the Bill should be made narrower so they do not include so many new people. Minor copyright infringement should not be punishable by 10 years in prison.

As a writer, I want to be fairly paid for the works I create. I do not want to punish anyone who is inspired by my work, whether they’re telling others about it- and potentially growing my fanbase- or creating fanfic or having fun with my ideas. As it stands, it appears the Bill could punish fans, one of the greatest resources a creator can have, excessively, up to potentially putting them in prison.

I urge you to change the Bill so that it will explicitly exclude low value copyright infringements and only be aimed at persistent and malicious offenders. Don’t punish the fans, go after the genuine pirates.

Sincerely

Ian Pattinson

Go to this page to send your own.


A letter to my MP

I should have sent a letter (well, email, using writetothem.com/) to my MP about Brexit sooner. It was going to be much longer, going on about why we should be running away from any deals or association with Trump, but I felt that might get incoherent, given how appalling his first week and a bit has been.

Dear Rebecca Long-Bailey,

I urge you to vote against the Bill to trigger article 50. Leaving the EU would be disastrous for the country.

A slim majority of voters wanted to leave the EU. I doubt they wanted to destroy the country’s economy to do so, or put us at risk of rushing to do deals with the vile Trump administration. If our relationship with our neighbours must be renegotiated, it must be done by more competent and braver people than our current Government.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Pattinson

There will likely be more letters, and on many diverse subjects, to follow.


Theresa May Doesn’t Know Me

They find your patriotism distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, your views about crime illiberal, your attachment to your job security inconvenient.

They find the fact that more than seventeen million voters decided to leave the European Union simply bewildering.

Because if you’re well off and comfortable, Britain is a different country and these concerns are not your concerns. It’s easy to dismiss them – easy to say that all you want from government is for it to get out of the way.

Now, I am neither comfortable nor well off, but I’m probably one of the people Theresa May thinks she’s attacking here. So let’s clear a few things up.

I fear the xenophobia and immigrant blaming that passes for patriotism in the Tory party and UKIP. My distaste may well be expressed in ways that could be read as sneering, but that’s because stirring up racism to hide your own failings deserves contempt.

If you want to see sneering at true patriotism, just take a look further down the Prime Minister’s speech.

But we will never again – in any future conflict – let those activist, left-wing human rights lawyers harangue and harass the bravest of the brave – the men and women of Britain’s Armed Forces.

I’d say that holding the country and its representatives to the standards we claim to stand for- standards Tories would probably tell you we invented- is the essence of patriotism. This harassment and haranguing is principled people bravely striving to stop torture and murder being done in our name. And for that, they get sneered at by a certain type of well off and comfortable politician who’s confident that they’ll never be punished for putting troops in situations where they could act like monsters.

Let’s have a grown up conversation about immigration. Let’s talk about how the arrival of new people in certain areas has exacerbated existing problems, shown up weaknesses created by cuts and poor provision of services. Or how some of these newcomers have trouble settling in and some communities are actively hostile toward them. Let’s not have that tired old refrain from politicians and commentators of “We’re not allowed to talk about immigration!” when that’s all they ever do, at length, and particularly when they want to get the subject away from the many ways the Government has failed us.

Unless May’s making a play for the ‘bring back hanging’ brigade, I haven’t a clue what she’s talking about on crime.

I worry about my job security too. But I know I’m in more danger from a Brexit and austerity fuelled depression than from being undercut by an immigrant who’ll take less than the minimum wage I’m currently on.

I’m not bewildered that a small majority of people voted for Brexit. I’m disappointed. And I’m simultaneously angry at, and sorry for, all those people who voted out. They’re not going to get what they voted for, and they shafted the rest of us just so they couldn’t get it.

Again, I’m neither well off nor comfortable. And I live in a very different Britain to the one Theresa May sees and wants to appeal to. I can agree with her on one thing. I want her government to get out of the way. The sooner they’re gone, the better.


Brexit Blues

Oh well, that’s us fucked, then.

In the short term, it’s possible I’ll be a tiny bit better off, because the largest single day drop in the value of sterling now makes my few American book sales worth more. Of course, that’s going to be a tiny consolation when the inevitable slash and burn budget does its best to take away what’s left of everything that’s good about this country.

Almost immediately, the Brexiteers were saying that they hadn’t really promised all those things they promised. Which is nice.

Some people who voted Leave are trying to tell the rest of us that they didn’t mean it, really, and they’d take it all back if they only could. It’s hard to be angry at such stupidity.

The section of the Labour Party that lost the last two elections think that this is a great time to get Jeremy Corbyn out of the way, so they can start work on losing the snap election they hope will be called for November.

If anyone wants to set up a Kickstarter or Patreon that will ensure David Cameron doesn’t go a week without getting at least one email or letter that’s just a picture of a pig, I will try to scrape together some money to back it.

And if any Brexiteer wants to sneer and call me a bad loser, I’ll know that, if the tables were turned, they would have spent the day throwing the biggest toddler tantrum ever, whilst claiming that MI5 had stolen the result in some pencil based conspiracy.


A little Sunday morning Photoshop- Nothing of value inside…

Nothing Of Value Inside

Number 10 door from the official 10 Downing Street Flickr account. Used, as far as I can tell, within the rights assigned to the photo. ‘Nothing of value….’ sign photographed by me yesterday*.

*On what used to be Walkabout, on Quay Street. I don’t think I ever went in, but I did photograph racists forming up for a march outside it.

You can share larger versions from Flickr, if you’d like.


Goodbye and fuck you, Iain Duncan Smith

So, there were (more) serious, nasty cuts to disability benefits in the budget on Wednesday, which were hated and attacked by all sorts of people. Lots of Tory politicians, who had previously voted for spiteful cuts, are now running scared, and trying to distance themselves from Osborne’s latest stupid idea.

That they took their time coming out against measures they probably applauded on Wednesday shows up their hypocrisy. There is no reasonable way you can presume their opposition comes from any sort of morality. They’ve seen how unpopular the policy is, and they’re doing what they think will save their careers.

Iain Duncan-Smith has gone one better, and resigned his ministerial position, pretending he’s doing it because he can’t stomach ‘a compromise too far’. More likely, he imagines this stab at Osborne will put him in the good books of the other anti-Europe Tories.

Let’s hope this is the first part of the complete end of his political career, instead.

Work and pension secretary says too much emphasis has been placed on money saving exercises in letter to David Cameron

Source: ‘A compromise too far’: Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation letter in full


Do you really want to be trapped on an island with these people?

So, we’re halfway into the second week of what’s going to be a tedious and depressing EU referendum campaign. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the country has already become bored and irritated by it all.

I’ll come straight out and say that I’ll be voting to stay in. There’s a lot wrong with the EU, and the only way to fix the problems is by staying in and arguing more effectively for reform*. Also, it’s naive to think we won’t be affected by EU policies if we leave. We’ll still have to meet the standards they set if we want to trade with them, and there’ll be a load of new restrictions on travelling, living and working on the continent.

My stance puts me in the unsavoury position of being on the same side as David Cameron, George Osborne and Tony Blair. I’ll live with that. Not least because of the incredibly low quality of so many of the Brexit supporters. A short list, off the top of my head-

Nigel Farage A caricature of the worst stereotypes of England made flesh. The only good thing I can say about Farage is that, whichever way the vote goes, he’s going to be even more irrelevant after June.

Boris Johnson A man who plays the buffoon in the hope that we’ll not notice all his cheap political game playing. And the fact that he is a bit of an incompetent. It’s hard to take seriously any claims that Boris’ stance is for anything other than the chance to be leader of the Tory party and possibly PM.

Michael Gove Gormless, useless little man, who has only got as far as he has by taking advantage of the friendship he has now betrayed with the Prime Minister.

Iain Duncan-Smith Let’s face it, Duncan-Smith wants out of Europe to save his own skin. He’s scared that a European court might one day hold him to account for introducing policies that have driven thousands of the most vulnerable to early deaths and pushed people to suicide.

Nigel Lawson Walnut faced former Chancellor who now makes millions of pounds conjuring up weak arguments for gullible climate change deniers to keep spouting, thus slowing down progress on fixing the greatest imminent threat to everyone’s way of life.

John Redwood Supposedly hyper-intelligent former minister, who was once known as the Vulcan, but now looks more like Dobby the house elf. Redwood’s highly intelligent and deeply considered opinion on matters of climate change and energy policy somehow always sounds like the sort of thing Nigel Lawson’s group has dreamt up for gullible climate change deniers to repeat endlessly.

David Icke Really. David Icke supporting something is the equivalent of having it stamped “100% guaranteed bullshit”.

These are the people who will be running this country if the referendum results in us leaving (well, apart from Icke, he’ll probably say something incoherent about lizards, then disappear back to wherever it is he hides). They are scum, and they’ll be even harder to escape from, because they’ll trash your chances of going to live and work in Europe.

A vote to stay could be the first part of a double whammy. First, do serious damage to the careers of the would-be leavers by rejecting their campaign. This will have a knock-on effect of destabilising, maybe even splitting, the Conservative party**, offering an opportunity for more sensible parties to sweep in and kick them out at the next election.

It might not happen, but I’m an optimist.

*And kicking out all the UKIP MEPs. Really, is there anything less useful than a UKIP MEP? They’ve been elected to something they want the country to leave, and their constant refrain is how terrible the EU is for Britain. They could use their positions to fix those problems, and make things better for thr UK. But then, that would show that the EU is capable of doing good things for Britain, making the case for staying in. So UKIP MEPs must just sit on their hands and make things worse, because it’s the only way they can achieve what they want. They’re actively making things worse for us, under the pretence that they’re working to make things, somehow, better.

**Actually, either result could have this effect. But In is the best for the majority of us.


Oh, look, Trident hunting drones

Last week, the Shadow defence secretary, Emily Thornberry, was criticised- some would say mocked- by the pro-apocalypse wing of the Labour Party after she said that there could soon be sea going drones capable of tracking nuclear submarines. The Trident supporters lined up to smugly report that such devices were impossible.

So imagine my surprise when I read this morning that DARPA has a drone submarine hunter built and ready to undergo sea trials. It’s shocking that the Armageddon apologists could be wrong. I guess they’ve put so much faith in the incredible powers of Trident, that they can’t conceive any of the ways in which the system is flawed or could be compromised.

Drone sub hunter versus not-quite-stealthy-enough sub, the future of the world at stake. I think I have to store that one away as a potential story.


UKIP are racist? Who’d have thought

Labour won the Oldham West and Royton by-election yesterday, with UKIP coming in a distant second. Nigel Farage, who had been claiming their candidate was going to win easily, has gone straight to blaming immigrants

In multiple interviews, he insisted that mass immigration and the increase of ethnic minorities meant democracy had “died” in parts of Britain.

He repeatedly cited a report he claimed to have read in the Guardian last Saturday.

“The northern correspondent of the Guardian wrote last Saturday that she knocked on the doors of a street in Oldham where nobody spoke English, nobody had ever heard of Jeremy Corbyn, but they were all voting Labour,” he told the BBC.

“So there is a very large ethnic vote in this country in our inner cities. They vote Labour indeed and in one of the boxes last night it was 99% Labour and almost the electoral process is now dead in those areas.”

He went on:

“What I’m saying is that mass immigration, the change to our demographics in Britain… is fundamentally changing politics. The system is widely open to fraud and there is an ethnic element to British elections which we’ve never seen before.”

It goes without saying that the Guardian report doesn’t mention streets full of immigrants, or masses of people who don’t know who Corbyn is, but will vote for him anyway.

The race baiting and immigrant blaming started before last night, though. I follow the RSS feed of a Salford UKIP activist’s website. It’s an incoherent and often painful read, which feels like you’re being fed snippets of his stream of thought after a couple of lunch time beers. He posted a variation of Farage’s lament this morning, but, on Monday, he posted this-

UKIPThink

Something to think about
11/30/2015
10:10 pm
Swinton South UKIP
mole45

According to the 2011 census more than 50,000 of the 220,000 population in Oldham are from an ethnic minority. There have been some reports that some Asian voters have lived in the area for more than a decade and do not speak English – but will vote Labour.

It’s worrying to me in a sense that parties could bow to the minority sector to maintain it’s power base no matter what the view of that minority was. The figures are from 2011 i would not be surprised if those figures are inflated dramatically today.

I’ve posted a screen shot from my Netvibes feed, because the original post isn’t there any more. Perhaps he had a think, or maybe someone suggested he remove it. Either way, a UKIP activist on Monday was making the same sort of claim that Farage is today.

I hope the defeat in Oldham is a sign of the great UKIP deflation that’s long overdue.


I’m too old to be an extremist, I’ll settle for being a terrorist sympathiser

If you don’t do and say just what the Government wants you to, then obviously you’re an enemy of freedom.

Apparently, there are ‘experts’ who think that being a teenager looks exactly like being a terrorist.

A leaflet drawn up by an inner-city child safeguarding board warns that “appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policies” is a sign “specific to radicalisation”.

Parents and carers have also been advised by the safeguarding children board in the London Borough of Camden that “showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports and a belief in conspiracy theories” could be a sign that children are being groomed by extremists.

Other apparent hints listed include young people changing friendship groups or styles of dress, secretive behaviour, switching computer screens when adults approach, or glorifying violence.

Meanwhile,

David Cameron has appealed to Conservative MPs to give him an overall parliamentary majority in favour of military action in Syria by warning them against voting alongside “Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers”.

Those sound like the words of a man who isn’t confident he’s going to win the vote on bombing Syria. I do hope he loses, not just because bombing’s so obviously the wrong plan, but also to see him get increasingly petulant and pathetic as the reality of defeat dawned on him.


We are governed by incompetent morons

The deficit has risen. The temptation is to say ‘despite George Osborne’s austerity policies’, but the truth is more that the deficit refuses to go down because of them. George Osborne is an economically illiterate incompetent, but at least the damage he’s doing to the country won’t affect him. Even if austerity was working, it would still be the wrong policy, because its lasting effect will be to destroy everything useful and decent that the Government does.

Still, at least Osborne’s uselessness isn’t driving a drastic increase in suicides, like Iain Duncan-Smith’s is.


George Osborne really wants to take money from the people who can least afford to lose it

George Osborne is said to be plotting cuts to target housing benefit to pay for his climb down on tax credits.

The Chancellor is desperately looking for welfare cuts elsewhere after being forced to rethink the £4.4billion cuts to working tax credits.

Cuts to Housing Benefits will probably put people out of their homes and on the streets, because you can bet private landlords aren’t going to be nice enough to drop their rents in line with any changes.

Osborne is an economically illiterate, ignorant incompetent. At least, that’s the charitable version. If he really understands the damage his party’s policies, and particularly his budgest, are doing then he’s a callous, sadistic little bully.

Source: George Osborne ‘targets housing benefit’ to pay for tax credits retreat – Mirror Online


The UN is investigating UK’s ‘grave violations’ of disabled people’s rights

The United Nations is carrying out an unprecedented inquiry into “systematic and grave violations” of disabled people’s human rights by the UK government, Disability News Service (DNS) can finally confirm.

DNS revealed last August that the UK appeared to have become the first country to face a high-level inquiry by the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD).

The committee said last summer, when approached by DNS, that it was not allowed to say whether the inquiry was underway.

But DNS is now in a position to state definitively that the inquiry is taking place, and has been underway since January 2014.

I wonder what happens when the UN CRPD comes back with a conclusion that the government is a human rights abuser. Does it open the possibility that Iain Duncan Smith, Cameron and others could be prosecuted?

Source: Confirmed! UN is investigating UK’s ‘grave violations’ of disabled people’s rights


Taxpayers’ Alliance: Burn the old

Okay, this is from a fringe meeting, and not (yet) official Tory policy. Alex Wild, of the Taxpayer’s Alliance* thinks the Tories should slash old age payments as soon as possible.

Mr Wild, who is research director of the think tank which campaigns for lower taxes and highlights examples of Government waste, said the cuts should be made “as soon as possible after an election for two reasons”.

“The first of which will sound a little bit morbid – some of the people… won’t be around to vote against you in the next election. So that’s just a practical point, and the other point is they might have forgotten by then.

“He added: “If you did it now, chances are that in 2020 someone who has had their winter fuel cut might be thinking, ‘Oh I can’t remember, was it this government or was it the last one? I’m not quite sure.’

“So on a purely practical basis I would say do it immediately. That might be one of those things I regret saying in later life but that would be my practical advice to the government.”

Ian Duncan Smith would like that idea. He is running a department dedicated to making cuts and introducing policies that speed up the deaths of the people affected.

Source: Taxpayers’ Alliance: Cut pensioner benefits ‘immediately’ – BBC News

In the same way that the Countryside Alliance was only created to campaign to keep hunting with hounds, but pretended to care about more important countryside issues, I think the Tax Payer’s Alliance was created by people who go out of their way to pay the minimum possible tax.


Disrupt

When I’m earning enough (buy my books!) I’m going to donate to causes like Reclaim. Its Disruptive Leaders initiative is playing the long game against the corruption of wealth and patronage that gave us the current bunch of immoral idiots ruining the country. It’ll take a lot of years to have an effect, so it’s good they’ve started already.


80,000 people walking around Manchester

TUC Anti Austerity Demo

Here’s a slideshow of some of the pictures I took at yesterday’s TUC march.

Police estimated 60,000 turned up, the organisers said up to 100,000. The true number’s usually halfway between the two. I was quite near the front, so I got to see Billy Bragg perform before we set off, and got a seat in Castlefield Arena before the Police started claiming it was full up (it was nowhere near full up, don’t know why they’d make such nonsense claims). After getting the word out, several thousand more folk got in.

The event had a positive vibe, overall. Sure, there’s a lot of anger at the disastrous and callous shower currently in Government, but the turnout showed there’s a strong, and growing opposition to their plans to destroy the country for profit. And some of the pig related signs were excellent.

80,000 people marched, and there were only 6 arrests. The Police themselves put out a release saying the event was peaceful. However, most of the media coverage dwelt on those arrests, the one Tory hit by an egg and the journalists hassled by anarchists. Stuff that shouldn’t have happened, sure, but a tiny, unrepresentative part of the march as a whole. The Press have their narrative, and it’s that we’re a bunch of disrespectful yobs, because heaven forbid they show their viewers and readers the validity and wide base of support there is for opposition to austerity. It just shows that the premise for Kettled was valid. (Yes, I did just plug one of my books. :-P)

So, if you were there, tell friends, family and colleagues how much fun it was. Show them photos like these that depict what it was really like. Undermine their belief in the negative spin they’re getting from the papers and TV. We don’t have the media on our side, but we do have the power of word of mouth- from sources more easily trusted than the papers. Spread the word.