Thursday, 20 April 2017

Give me Brexit and you can have the rest

The basic problem with Labour is that it assumes a lot of things about ordinary people. At the last election it tried to paint the picture that Britain was a nation at breaking point where the vast majority of people were a huddled mass of impoverished people in need of rescue by their betters. This attracted only the votes of the well-to-do condescending middle classes who believed this caricature - and the usual leftist "working class" who want free stuff in abundance.

Since Corbyn it seems to me that those most enthused by him are those who tend to blame their own predicament on the Tories rather than their life choices.

What the left don't seem to be able to grasp is that most people don't want a handout or a depressing pebble dashed hut gifted to them. They have higher expectations and aspirations.

I can't speak for anyone else but I want a liberal and fluid job market so I can opt in and out of work rather than being tied to the same 9-5 year after year. I cannot cope with the ossified structures of what we call work and I need to be able to opt out. What I want is a reasonable degree of contractual protection but nothing so rigid that I am bound to follow the archaic work structures of 1974.

Labour might well be right to be concerned about the so-called gig economy but my problem is not with the concept. It's that when one contract ends the next ones are few and far between. What I need is more market liberalism not less. The best days of my life were when I could pick and choose my employer.

I think it was Thomas Sowell who said something along the lines of "The hypocrisy of the left is shown by their apparent concern for poverty but complete lack of interest in means to solve it".

Whenever I read leftist drivel I read people who think that they represent the masses when in fact they represent nobody but themselves and their own personal inadequacies. The entire ethos is that they are entitled to a home and healthcare and that somebody else should pay for it.

Leftists whine about capitalism yet ordinary people have never been better off. I'm a slacker but I have a place I call home, a car with all mod cons and freedom to do pretty much as I please. Is this because I'm a high flyer? No. There are few people in the world who do less work than me. It's just that capitalism has made good cars affordable and travel within my means. The only thing standing in the way of a better life are the crippling taxes I pay on everything I buy. Petrol especially.

What capitalism has delivered more than anything in the last century is freedom. So now the question is how we create more freedom, more liberty and more opportunity. That is ultimately what the working class want and have always wanted. The left don't seem to understand this. They want to hobble successful people so their lives are as stunted as their own. I won't vote for that and I never will.

The left still have value to add. An unfettered capitalist system is about as depressing as an unfettered socialist system. I never want the UK to be the USA where everything has a price tag and nothing is ever done without pay. Britain has always been about finding the middle way. I will fight the hard right Tory vision as much as I will fight that of the far left. Britain is the best place to live because we instinctively know where that balance is.

And that brings me to the subject of the EU. The EU more than anything is about hyper-liberalisation to the point of abolishing the nation state and democracy along with it. Now we have reached the point where too much is out of our control. It may well even work in your estimation but there will come a time when it doesn't. On that day we will be glad of the economic sacrifice we have made to leave the EU. Some control is better than none.

For a time we had what is labelled as a centrist consensus. That worked for Britain but as it gradually drifted away from democracy, the centre of politics departed from the centre of the soul. That is why I view Brexit as a corrective.

In this it would seem the vast majority backs the Tory government. Were I a leftist I would not be down hearted. This is only temporary. The nation has decided that change is necessary and that we must see it through. Once we have accomplished that change the Tories are as dead as Labour. When that day arrives, for the first time in decades we can have genuine debate about who we are and what we want to be without the dead hand of the EU closing down the options. Give me this one thing and I will listen. Oppose me in this and I will rain fire.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The only power terrorism has is the power we give it

I think one thing that marks this terrorist attack out from all the others in recent times is the comparatively muted response to it. All the opinion pieces have been written many times before, nothing about it surprises us and I will be surprised if it occupies the media window for more than another twenty four hours.

That's not surprising though. As terrorist attacks go this was fairly pedestrian. In order for it to be news it needs to have a lorry, a bomb or a machine gun involved. News wise, this doesn't rate. Ratings wise, Islamic terrorism has jumped the shark.

That is to be expected. 7/7 was pretty epic and there's no topping 9/11. There's nowhere you can really go after that. If that didn't topple the west or start world war three they are wasting their time.

As it happens I'm willing to bet more people died from sexual misadventure than terrorism yesterday. A couple of bodged strangle-wanks and an accidental sex swing beheading just in Soho alone probably tilts the scales.

This is where the IRA knew how to do terrorism. If you attack London, it's all in the game. A liberal society, home to one of the planet's first cities is going to attract a random atrocity or two every now and then. It's only really a policy problem if it's rather frequent.

The IRA learned from the Luftwaffe's Baedeker raids, in that if you want to scare the bejesus out of people you have to go outside London to show people that they can be hit anywhere. Warrington made every crank call something worthy of an emergency response.

The fact of the matter is that Islamists are really shit terrorists. They don't rate. Nothing they want is anything we can give them. The IRA wanted Britain out of Ireland. We could oblige them if we wanted. That's what makes the game worth playing. Islamists on the other hand want us to go back to the dark ages and live like cavemen. It's all stick and no carrot.

Y'see the West is better at this "oppressive patriarchy" shit. Because women want "equality" we have gradually handed over the board rooms and the top government positions to women. Most of the top jobs in HR now go to women and pretty soon the same will apply in science and engineering. Women being more capable and motivated, it'll be us blokes sitting at home watching Jeremy Kyle and doing the ironing while the womenfolk are off proving they are equal. More than happy to let them.

The West has functioned on the bogus notion that there is dignity in work and that if we all work hard we can all succeed and be whatever we want to be. This lie is the only reason the West still has a functioning economy at all. If women want to take it over so they have to punch numbers into spreadsheets all day then that's fine with me. Nothing ISIS has competes with that.

As to terrorism, it's just political campaigning using violence. You have a manifesto and rather than using persuasion you use terror. It only works if you are good at it. And Muslims are not. They need the Hollywood pizazz of 9/11 every other week or it's just not going to fly.

Meanwhile, we don't need terrorism for ourselves. It's not because we have a democracy. It's just that you only need a minority party to commit to something for a few years and then it happens because nobody else really gives a fuck. See Ukip/Brexit. We are mainly governed by people who give a fuck. A very small and self selecting minority. I might even venture that this is a good thing.

In that respect, if I ever go postal and kerb stomp John Redwood or Steve Baker, please don't call it terrorism. It's not violence for political ends. These are just motherfuckers who have it coming because they are shitheads on my radar.

As to actual terrorism, I think the current approach of making a few obligatory rhetorical noises then getting on with our shit is probably the right approach. The more counter terrorism measures we pile on London the more we become the sort of paranoid miserable shit hole that refugees risk life and limb to escape. We should resist that. If that means the occasional dead copper then that's ok too. It's a good pension and you know the risks when you sign up.

This may sound cynical and a touch uncaring, but then that's the whole point. Cynicism is the absolutely correct response. I didn't give a toss about the Paris attacks and I sure as fuck don't care about London. It is that complete lack of concern that defeats terrorism. We responded militarily to 9/11 and look where that got us. Total waste of time. The era of Islamic terrorism on Western soil would have been far shorter lived had we simply treated it as compelling TV then carried on not giving a fuck. The only power terrorism has is the power we give it.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Why are you so willing to be manipulated?

The Telegraph reports that Lily Allen has been targeted by "online trolls" after revealing that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following the stillbirth of her son. Except that, as I understand it, she was targeted for some pretty vile remarks about the contribution of pensioners. The remarks I saw were singularly crass and vacuous. But the Telegraph knows this. So why does it report it in this fashion? Bias? No. Outrage manufacturing.

There is an army or right wing bores who will now spend the rest of the week publicising this foul creature. And that's rather a shame because hitherto now I was asking what is a Lily Allen?

Clearly editors have now worked out that there is a commercial formula to manipulating the outrage of their readers - which effectively makes them complicit in their own manipulation. They keep coming back for more.

I am sure though, through running similar stories the BBC paints Ms Allen as a victim because obviously maintaining "online trolls" as a popular folk demon lends weight to successive attempts to close down debate in the public sphere. It is fodder for its own left wing authoritarian outrage junkies.

Outrage manufacture has now become a multimillion dollar industry worldwide. It ensures both camps are nourished with their own sense of moral superiority. This is why I tuned out the whole Milo thing. I have no idea why the political debate for the entire Western hemisphere must be diverted for the benefit of these nobodies.

This then raises the spectre of "fake news". Tune in to Radio 4 on a weekday afternoon and you will hear academics tugging their forelocks about what to do about "fake news" and how "trusted sources" can "reconnect with their audiences". Except that it seems that "trusted sources" are the lead manufacturers of this verbal material. I hesitate to call it fake news because it simply isn't news. I don't know what Lily Allen does let alone why she has PTSD. Nor do I give a solitary toss.

The people who bang on about this stuff insist it is important because the veracity of news vessels is held in question but I hardly see that it matters since both camps are not actually interested in actual news in the slightest. Nor indeed is the media.

What we are actually looking at here is the entertainment industry, of which Twitter is a component. What we find is a series of exclusive and self-referential bubbles shouting about each other with no actual dialogue.

Worse still, this outrage industry is its own little ecosystem for social commentary. Half the pundits on the blogosphere devote their time to this trivia. Even this post is testament to that exact dynamic. Sooner or later, the entire edifice of media loses concept of what constitutes actual news.

It is interesting that those who complain that democracy has been replaced by technocracy would be the same ones commenting on these such affairs. Half the reason the state has gradually erased public participation is because it can. Who will blow the whistle? Not our media. Thus I find denunciation of fake news a little rich when the public have no appetite for actual news when it is genuine.

If citizens lack the self-discipline to ignore deliberate attempts at manipulation and gratify this trash then ultimately they will get the government they deserve.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Theresa May scares me more than Trump

On the weekend of the Trump inauguration I took the weekend off writing - which is quite unusual for me. As a political animal you might think I would be glued to the media absorbing events as they unfold. But then why bother? We know Trump is to be president and a shindig for his commencement as president is nothing out of the ordinary. Nor are the petulant protests which always follow a Republican victory.

We are told by the great and the good that Trump’s election marks a dangerous turning of events. I don’t deny that an unhinged and functionally illiterate president is not encouraging but it’s hardly unprecedented. The last hundred years has had its share of crooks and idiots in the White House. What’s one more?

More to the point, Britain and Europe has a bigger problem to worry about. Trump is only for four years. Brexit is for keeps. In many respects stupidity doesn’t worry me too much. Stupidity can be predicted and mitigated. While the US Congress is Republican, for the time being, they are not all behind the Trump agenda and the president will not have his own way for very long. If there is anyone who should chill us to the bone it is Theresa May.

Regular readers of this column will know that I am not the biggest fan of the EU. I voted to leave. I think that any temporary economic setback is the price we pay for having given up control to the EU, but my vote to leave the EU most certainly wasn’t an open invitation for the Tories to do as they please.

For those unfamiliar with the Brexit process, Britain leaves the EU by notifying the EU of our intention to leave. Legally that compels the EU to negotiate an exit settlement. The catch though is that there must be an agreement within two years or there is a very real risk of being ejected from the EU with no agreement at all.

Given that the EU governs everything from trade to fishing, air travel, medicines and food safety there was never any realistic prospect of negotiating a settlement in two years. The best we could ever hope for was a framework agreement which would still require a long transition. This would need to be based on existing agreements between the EU and other non-EU countries.

The pragmatic and sensible way to leave the EU would have been to stay in the single market in order to buy us time to take a more careful approach. Theresa May however thinks differently. She believes that all of this can be negotiated from scratch in just two years despite no similar agreement having taken less than eight years.

Now you can argue that Mrs May is at times misinformed or that her policies are horribly illiberal but by no measure can you say that she is a stupid woman. What we are dealing with here is pure political cowardice in refusing to stand up to her lunatic fringe combined with a typically British arrogance assuming that the world will bend to our delusions. Hubris is a far more damaging force than stupidity.

Worse still Mrs May thinks that it is better to have no deal than a bad deal. Superficially this sounds sensible but not when you consider that the UK has been a leading member of the EU for nearly half a century. One does not simply disengage from such an arrangement at the stroke of a pen.

Were she to walk away from the table it would invalidate all of our trade agreements not just with the EU but also the ones we have with outer countries via the EU. Trade would grind to a halt overnight. As much as it would have deep repercussions for the UK it would likely damage the EU as well. Some on May's back benches believe such an approach could even kill the EU – and consider any price a price worth paying to those ends. That though is insanity on stilts. It’s one thing to want to leave the EU. It’s another to want to destroy it.

Whatever Trump may have in mind, the possible consequences of Theresa May’s arrogance would have far more profound and lasting effects. As it happens I believe that Trump will only serve one term and is foolish enough to fall foul of the law in that time leading to his possible impeachment. There are ways and means of dealing with a bad president. There is nothing to stop our prime minister though – and Brexit cannot be undone.

In effect the Tories are frog-marching us toward an accidental scorched earth policy where Britain stands humiliated with only a handful of useless bilateral deals to protect our modesty. What could have been an orderly transition is likely to be a political mess the likes of which we have not seen since the eighties.

There is no doubt that Britain can weather the storm and we can recover - but it will take a lot longer than it should, and the pain we will experience will have been entirely avoidable. It will likely see a decade of political turmoil in which all of our assumptions will be turned upside down.

It would seem that before Britain becomes a "global Britain" we are going to spend a decade or more of navel gazing, out in the wilderness, while we learn what this country really believes. Perhaps though, that is what we really do need? Perhaps that really is the medicine. Maybe this really is the price to pay for having buried our politics deep inside the back rooms of Brussels and withdrawing from the world.

Maybe this is the price we must pay for the hubris of Heath, Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown. Just another chapter in our dismal tradition of having politicians doing as they please. Maybe this time we will do something about it?

If there is anything positive to take from a botched Brexit it is that the revolution will eat its children. By that measure I ought to be salivating at the prospect of the Tories hitting the rocks. Recent events have seen the party created by Blair utterly eradicated – and that's a good thing. For complete renewal the same must happen to the Conservative Party which to a large extent is still run by the same establishment behind Mrs Thatcher. Davis, Redwood, Jenkins, Johnson and May etc were products of the Thatcher government and their supporting cast in this Brexit trainwreck were the up and coming Toryboys of the era.

If there is to be a new economic era and a new politics then as much as leaving the EU is necessary then it also follows that the Tories, the party that did this to us in the first place, must also be destroyed. I suppose any price is worth paying for that outcome. Just an awful pity we must sacrifice a good deal of wealth to make it happen.

That though, I don't suppose, will keep the people of Stoke on Trent or Sunderland awake at night. I can't say I blame them. Maybe dispensing with our garbage is what really secures our future leadership role in the world. Since they handle everything else as badly as they will Brexit, what have we got to lose? Might as well stop worrying and break out the popcorn.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Who will save us from braindead toryboys?

While all the slimy Spectator reading bellends chortle and guffaw at Jeremy Corbyn for his deeply flawed ideas, it becomes rather apparent that Toryboys have no sense of self-awareness. On the same day as Corbyn's remarks we get articles from Brexit Central and Conservative Home saying that we should be prepared to "walk away from the table" if we can't get a good deal from the EU.

Only a flatulent self-absorbed know-nothing Tory could ever moot such a monumentally crass notion. Without membership of the various safety bodies and decentralised agencies (or a transition agreement) all of our certifications and proxy access to EU trade deals vanish overnight. Flights are cancelled, ships are diverted or refused entry into ports and all the secondary sectors grind to a halt by the following day. Without recognition agreements and a customs code we can't export at all.

Nothing in Corbyn's arsenal of retardation even approaches this degree of stupidity. But that's what you get when the narrative is controlled by Tory think tank and policy turds who have never had a real job - and instead spend much of the day telling eachother how wonderful they are on Twitter (when they haven't actually got eachothers dicks in their mouths that is).

We would only "walk away from the table" in such an instance where we were negotiating a trade deal where failure does not alter the status quo. In this instance failure radically changes our standing in Europe and the world. The mentality that suggests we can walk away from the table is one that has yet to comprehend Brexit.

Article 50 talks are not a matter of negotiating a trade deal. We are negotiating an administrative de-merger and a framework for continued cooperation with the EU on over three hundred areas of regulatory and technical cooperation. There is no WTO baseline. We would be looking at a cliff edge requiring a number of emergency measures which could very easily be sabotaged by member states looking to capitalise on the confusion. We would have no formal means of discourse with the EU and all of our enhanced rights would vanish. So, if I sound like a leftist at the moment in my visceral and seething hatred of Tories, you now know why. These people are pondlife.