Conservative


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


BBC’s Stephen Sackur accuses Tories of spreading propaganda about Jeremy Corbyn, and of being unaccountable and undemocratic | Politics and Insights

A coup d’état is an anachronistic and violent method of political engineering that happens only in one-party fascist, totalitarian and despotic states, it’s not an event you would expect to see used as a threat in a so-called first world liberal democracy. Regardless of how far-fetched the threats may seem, that a general feels it’s okay to threaten a coup or “mutiny” against a future left-wing government using the mainstream right-wing press as a mouthpiece is a cause for some concern.

Source: BBC’s Stephen Sackur accuses Tories of spreading propaganda about Jeremy Corbyn, and of being unaccountable and undemocratic | Politics and Insights


Kettled- Rain and Bullets 4

kETTLED-CVR-200Kettled is published on October 2nd. Pre-order your copy now.

The Tories are in Manchester, and thousands have turned out to protest their presence.

In the midst of the peaceful protest, a small group of hired troublemakers are planning to cause trouble. They want to start a riot, to distract from the demo’s message, and usher in new laws.

Irwin has been working with an MI5 agent to track them down before they can do any damage. But now, she has been stabbed, and he is trapped in a big crowd being held on a square by Police. Just the right place to start a fight.

With the reluctant help of Kay Wood, Irwin must track down the troublemakers before it’s too late, and find out who stabbed the MI5 agent.


Why Are Labour So Scared, When Their Opponents Seem Permanently Terrified? – TheCritique Archives

Now, the 1980’s generation who served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet was not exactly the epitome of political talent, but the Labour Party of the time would have seen today’s successors to Norman Tebbitt, Nigel Lawson, Geoffrey Howe et al as dream opponents by contrast. Yes, the modern Tory Party is as mediocre as it has ever been, not only intellectually, but also in terms of moral fibre. With the odd exception here and there, today’s Tories are neither intelligent, nor ethical, nor courageous. Defeating them therefore, for anyone with a half-decent brain, really should just be a matter of holding one’s nerve.

For what it is worth, I do think there are some half-decent minds in the higher echelons of the current Labour Party. I would probably not accuse the likes of Harriet Harman, their fill-in leader, or Andrew Burnham, their present ‘pin-up boy’, of being dim-witted. But I do seriously question their nerve. We need only examine their public behaviour during the run-up to the forthcoming leadership contest to see their shortcomings.

Source: Why Are Labour So Scared, When Their Opponents Seem Permanently Terrified? | TheCritique Archives


Tory press cheers on £3bn cuts… but ignores anti-austerity IMF report

Today’s right-wing newspapers commit sins both of commission and omission. What they do and don’t say about economics today is very revealing. First, the omission. As Left Foot Forward reported yesterday, along with the Guardian, the Economist and others, the International Monetary Fund has published a report arguing that focus on cutting national debt rather than investment can do more harm than good. It said a bit of debt won’t actually hurt your economy, and will naturally be swallowed up by investment-led growth. Predictably, since this strikes to the root of the Tory government’s rationale for its economic policies over the past five years, (and for the five to come), the paper has been ignored by today’s right-wing print newspapers.

I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you, that most of the press in the UK is so obviously biased. Did the supposedly leftwing BBC mention this? I bet it didn’t.

Source: Tory press cheers on £3bn cuts… but ignores anti-austerity IMF report | Left Foot Forward


The government is reading your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Tell them what you think.

The Government is extending its market research spend to track trends on social media and get feedback from it faster.

Some people see this as spying and worry about its effects on free speech, eg- The government is about to start spying on your Facebook and Twitter feeds a lot more | Vox Political

I’m not so paranoid (about this particular announcement, anyway). I save my worries for the Snoopers’ Charter and other measures the Tories want to bring in. This sounds more like paying someone to see what’s trending, so they can have a better idea of what’s likely to become a talking point.

Vocal opposition makes a difference. Even this government will change (or, at least, water down) policies if it realises they are hated. So, the more people declaring their anger at stupid policies, the better. The paranoid types who see this as a reason to clam up in the feeds are going to have the opposite effect to the one they want.


Theresa May’s plan to censor TV shows condemned by Tory cabinet colleague | World news | The Guardian

Former culture secretary Sajid Javid told prime minister he was unable to support home secretary’s proposals as they infringed freedom of speech

It’s not just that the plan would give censorship powers to the Government, it’s that “extremism” is such a vaguely defined thing. Based on past experience, any speech that runs counter to the Government’s chosen narrative can be labelled extreme.

Source: Theresa May’s plan to censor TV shows condemned by Tory cabinet colleague | World news | The Guardian


The arguments against the Human Rights Act are coming. They will be false | Keir Starmer | Comment is free | The Guardian

the HRA has heralded a new approach to the protection of the most vulnerable in our society, including child victims of trafficking, women subject to domestic and sexual violence, those with disabilities and victims of crime. After many years of struggling to be heard, these individuals now have not only a voice, but a right to be protected. The Tory plans to repeal the HRA, together with the restricted access to our courts already brought about by the restriction on judicial review introduced by Gove’s predecessor, Chris Grayling, will silence the vulnerable and leave great swaths of executive action unchecked and unaccountable.

Maybe someone should print up Human Rights Act lies bingo cards to check all anti-HRA statements against.

Source: The arguments against the Human Rights Act are coming. They will be false | Keir Starmer | Comment is free | The Guardian


11 reasons the poor are worried that Iain Duncan Smith is back in charge of benefits cuts

I reckon “Reasons this government are shit and dangerous” could become a daily feature. Some repeats in this article, but it also gives a bunch of pointers for bad decisions that are likely to come our way in the next few years.

Source: 11 reasons the poor are worried that Iain Duncan Smith is back in charge of benefits cuts – General Election 2015 – UK Politics – The Independent


And so it begins

A couple of years ago, I noted how the coalition government seemed to be rolling appalling ideas out the door on a regular basis, as if to overwhelm and confound attempts to hold them to account. Well, the new Conservative government has got straight down to continuing the policy.

Within hours of the result, it was announced that payments to help disabled people in work are likely going to be cut.

There are plans to bring in the “Snoopers’ Charter”, so that we can all be spied on by the security services.

And, yesterday, Michael Gove, one of the most hated people in UK politics, was made Justice Secretary, where he will be working to scrap the Human Rights Act and bring in a “British Bill of Rights”. Previous blather about a British Bill of Rights have suggested that you forfeit rights if you don’t uphold certain responsibilities. Given the last government’s form, one of those responsibilities could be not being poor or disabled.

As other people have done, I’m going to list the rights and freedoms set out in the Human Rights Act below, and ask- which ones to the Tories want to do away with?

Right to life

Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment

Right to liberty and security

Freedom from slavery and forced labour

Right to a fair trial

No punishment without law

Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence

Freedom of thought, belief and religion

Freedom of expression

Freedom of assembly and association

Right to marry and start a family

Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms

Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property

Right to education

Right to participate in free elections

The Snoopers’ Charter and removal of benefits from vulnerable people act against two of those rights, for a start. There are bound to be others.

Unlike 2013, I’m better prepared to argue and campaign against the coming disasters of another five years of the Tories. One of the ways I’m going to do this is by not dwelling too much on all the idiotic ideas they come out with. I’ll report on them here, so that more people know about them, but mostly I’ll concentrate on positive alternatives and actions. I’m a member of the local Green Party, and I’ll be campaigning with them on issues, as well as trying to find ways for folks to help themselves.

And I’m going to keep on writing. I’m going to entertain and inform in ways that are going to make them want to remove the freedom of expression from whatever mess Gove comes up with.


The austerity delusion | Paul Krugman | Business | The Guardian

A long read, with economics related stuff in it, but worth working through.

Short, angry version- austerity is bullshit and held back economic recovery. The Conservatives are either economically illiterate or only imposed it because of pressure from big business and their rich friends. And Labour are a bunch of pathetic cowards because they’ve been bullied into promising to stick with a failed policy.

Source: The austerity delusion | Paul Krugman | Business | The Guardian