Friday, 24 November 2017

Money for nothing

The budget always brings out the worst in people. What’s in it for me, they ask, or, quite frequently, what’s in it for the poor and downtrodden, for the halt and lame, for the children? And behind all of this confusion of greed and envy, virtue-signalling demands for playing fields to be levelled, successful enterprise to be punished and equality to be magically brought about, is a basic incomprehension about the whole purpose of the budget. The budget is not about you, or me. It is about the economy as a whole and how the government is going to pretend to not be shitting themselves.

Nor is the budget a recipe for a bright new future because the budget, as always, is how to make the government’s annual national income of twenty pounds stretch to cover the demands to spend ‘twenty pounds ought and six’. Result, as Mr Micawber famously declared, misery. And while people bang on about the nebulous notion of ‘fairness’ they are quite unheeding of the fact that one man’s idea of fairness is another man’s example of greed. I worry about the fragile state of the western world today in which everything is about how much we think we need and so little is about how we earn it.

In the book ‘Mistakes were made (but not by me)’ the authors discuss the way we all believe the blame lies elsewhere. It seems to be an innate human trait to demand that others rectify the perceived wrongs and that we are blameless and pure of heart. And the perception of fairness may be much to blame. See? It’s not my fault; it’s fairness that’s wrong. And maybe, actually, it is. Here cometh the first lesson; no matter what your definition of fairness, the world is not fair, unless you are an economic absolutist in which case everything is fair.

Is it fair that a fictional nurse ‘had to’ use a foodbank? Well, yes... and no. It may be a shame that she fell on hard times, but is it not wonderful that charity still exists? Did she starve? No. Did she dine on the finest of fare? No, but does she deserve to? Does anybody? What is a fair wage? And having established such a thing would it be fair that somebody who is the very best in a field where talent is scarce should be paid more than somebody whose job could be done by an unskilled child willing to work for pocket money?

These are the questions that are never addressed when demands for a ‘living wage’ and price controls and tax cuts for me and tax hikes for ‘them others’ are paraded in front of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Last night on The Twitter an interlocutor tried to simultaneously convince me that, A) He understood how basic supply/demand economics functions, and that, B) Employers had a duty to pay ‘fair’ wages. It’s always the fault of the other guy isn’t it? What, I asked, if paying higher wages made the business unviable?

The response was an unthinking suggestion that businesses ought to be founded on a detailed analysis of what was a fair wage, then work backwards to arrive at a business model, presumably to then seek funding. It completely ignored the reality that we are all – except for those tiny minorities with certain psychopathies – social animals and the notion of ripping off customers and exploiting workers is absent from how we want to function. Most business owners would happily pay the best wages and sell the best quality at the lowest price. If only reality would let them.

Look at them Yo-yos...

So, when John mad-dog McDonnell and his notional master, Mr Micawbyn say they will raise wages, freeze prices, borrow at minus interests rates to drive investment in wondrous new infrastructure projects to make us all rich beyond the dreams of creosote[sic], just remember the wise words of their literary predecessor: “Annual income one pound, annual expenditure three-hundred trillion pounds, result; Venezuela.”

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

I blame the Lizards

Mugabe is deposed but stays in place by the simple expedient of refusing to acknowledge the not-a-military-coup by the military who put him under house arrest and took over the national broadcaster. A few short months ago, Jeremy Corbyn became, ‘literally’, Prime Minister by losing a general election. The Russians elected Trump and brought about Brexit, even though they [actually] literally did neither. And Angela Merkel is not really German Chancellor even though The Guardian reported she had won a fourth term as Bundestag Boss back in September.

The world as we know it is out of kilter, out of whack. What’s up is down, what’s left is right and every piece of ‘fake news’ is as unbelievable as the next... except that some fake news is real news; if only we could work out which is which. And with no hint of irony Rochester and Strood Labour’s new Women’s Officer is a man. Yes, it’s a man in a dress, but, still... Boys can be girls and girls can be boys who like boys who like girls who like... oh, who cares? But we have to care. Twitter, the free speech platform is looking as if it intends to de-platform those whose activities – even outside Twitter – are deemed unacceptable. But who decides what is unacceptable?

Oh yes; control the media, control the message, control the message and you know where that ends up. I thought sites like Twitter, social media in general, were forces for good; if you don’t like what is being said you don’t have to listen to it but to silence the dissenting voice, to disallow anybody else to make u their own minds is just sinister. Last week, during my suspension, I picked up a troll who declared it his mission to ‘denounce’ my parody account. (Really no need; the parody is clear from the bio) Why? Because he didn’t like it and decided that others must not see it. It’s everywhere and it’s all the fault of Brexit apparently.

How’s that going, by the way? Oh yes, still about the money. No trade talks until ‘progress’ is made on the so-called divorce bill. This translates as pay-to-talk, with no guarantees of any return for that investment, a stipulation we must reject out of hand. Especially as Barnier has let slip that even if we do strike a trade deal we will continue to be effectively under German EU rule long after. It appears that now it’s the EU who want to have their cake and eat it, reserving to invoke a no-deal option even post-deal.

It's the illizardatti, obviously

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The supposed kinder, gentler, politics of the left continues to engage in bullying; witness the harassment of Paperchase by bien pensants who have likely never even read the Daily Mail, but know what it is in it because, well, everybody knows, innit? Bear in mind that among these usual suspects are people who believe in chemtrail conspiracies, Tories selling off the NHS to ‘their rich friends’, bizarre plots to keep poor people poor and the royal family being 7-ft lizard overlords from space. I started out by stating the world was out of whack. On consideration it is just the same as always... only more so.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Beyond Brexit

Hush, listen, whisper who dares, an internet parody's setting the snares. Some of you followers on Twitter may have wondered where I’ve been or the last week. Well, here’s the story. [Link] In the meantime I have been amusing myself as Len McCluskey, a parody account I created back in 2013 and occasionally use to view conversations involving people who have blocked me. Sometimes I can’t help myself and feel driven to respond, but this last week Len has been reaping a rich harvest, as so many seem to need to believe that a prominent figure really is talking personally to them.

It’s frankly worrying how many people are ready to engage with somebody they either strongly disagree with or desperately want to be accepted by. Len has been busily confounding lots of them who, even when repeatedly told ‘*never trust a parody’ persist in trying to push their point. One punter even seemed convinced that when ‘Len’ tweeted “*Nunquam enim confidunt parodiam” he was suggesting that the punter himself was a parody and carried on for several tweets without grasping the reality. Anyway, I’ll let Len take up the story:

‘Ey, watch out lar, hiya comrades; it’s Big Len McCluskey ‘ere, leader of Untie, the union and future master of the not-so-free wairld. It’s been an 'oot, this week, stepping in for Battsby, but I ‘aven’t been wasting time. No, I’ve been using the platform to clarify our position on Brexit among other things. See people think the Labour Party does what I tell them, but this isn’t always true. Not always. And Brexit is one of those grey areas which needs a bit of attention; so are you paying attention?

Right. See, the official position of the Labour Party is and always has been for Remain. When I say ‘is and always has been’ I mean this, of course, in the socialist sense of ‘whatever fits the narrative today’. Traditionally, Labour has held the moral high ground but Blair and Mandelson and that ‘New Labour’ stinkpile queered the pitch with all their ‘relaxed about people getting filthy rich’ malarkey. Now, this won’t do; Labour and the trades union movement must undo all this ridiculous aspiration and tell the people, once more, what they need to believe in. And, of course, this is Brexit; it always has been.

But we’re not there yet. The bloody referendum made the proletariat believe that their voice mattered, that their vote mattered! Since when has anybody given a fig for votes? Here in Untie we don’t even let people vote, for heaven’s sake; ridiculous idea! Let people vote and before you know it they’ll expect you to respect what they voted for. And where does that end? No this needs to be nipped in the bud. And I have been playing my part; oh yes.

With the unambiguous Twitter bio: “Untie General Secretary, leading trade unionist in Britain and Ireland. Fighting for austerity and cuts in our communities. Doesn't know the meaning of parody.” I have been reaching out to the community. Somehow I seem to have enraged a number on both sides who seem unclear what I stand for. Well, I try to make it obvious that what I stand for is the opposite of what they do, thus pleasing everybody engaging with me, if not necessarily within that particular conversation at that particular time. It all evens out in the end, if you look carefully enough.

But it isn’t exactly rocket science; if you are upset by ‘me’ saying Unite are for Brexit, then hop onto a conversation where I hint that Unite is for Remain. It astounds me that folk can’t grasp that this is how politics works now. Nobody knows, with the exception of the Limp Dems and the Greens [spits] where any party really stands on Brexit and this is because they don’t know either. On balance, if pushed, I came down on the side of Brexit for the following reason, which far too many people accepted without criticism. Are you ready?

Happy Socialist Workers, doing a traditional dance.

So, this is now the official Untie position. We want to increase the power of the workers. We believe in fair and equitable socialism. We believe in the people of Great Britain; one nation, one leader, one people – power to the people. We intend to hold mass rallies throughout the country to build this movement. Who will join me in establishing a new Socialist Workers Party? One that will work on a truly national level? And if anybody can come up with a snappier title than National Socialist British Worker’s Party that would be really helpful, thank you. 

Coda: I have now acquired a little camp follower of my own. He was fooled by the Len parody and he just can't let it go. I'm sure Twitter has rules about harassment and pestering, but it's fine. He has made it his mission to inform everybody who responds to me that I am not me, as it were. The poor wee laddie will eventually tire and weep himself to sleep. If you see hi, tell him I said Hi! 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Bleak House

The interminable wrangling over Brexit continues as Theresa May’s beleaguered government weathers gaffes and embarrassments and tries to push its EU Withdrawal Bill through the depressingly confrontational House of Commons. Knocking on for eighteen months after the referendum, the result of which, the electorate were promised, would be executed by HMG, no progress has really been made. Half of ruling party don’t want Brexit to happen at all and the opposition will do anything to frustrate it, even if they actually want to leave the EU themselves. Never has the phrase ‘playing politics’ seemed so apt. Nor, ‘cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face’.

But all the talk of deals and divorce bills, of compromise, offer and counter offer is nothing more than a soap opera. And like the characters of a soap opera they are doomed to repeat the mistakes cast in stone by their creators; captive to their character and in thrall to the script. For make no mistake there is a narrative here and it is relentless in driving the storyline around and around in relentless circles of despair and helplessness; yet there is a purpose behind it all – the survival of the EU.

There is no deal to be had, this much must be apparent to any impartial observer, but look at the jobs created in not achieving an agreement. Armies of lawyers, lobbyists, experts and advisors, all working to one end – stalemate. A state of inertia suits everybody except the majority and if we have learned anything these past few years, the will of the majority is irrelevant in the mutant form of democracy we practise today. Referendums have been held in a handful of EU member states and their outcomes overturned or simply ignored.

This is now the way of the west and it reminds me of nothing so much as the miserable and cynical case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce, so eloquently derided by Charles Dickens in his excoriation of the Court of Chancery. And like other bullshit industries built on the inflated constructs of grievance, self-esteem, gender identity, race, religious sensitivities, etc... we are drowning in the salty crocodile tears of self-pity and indulgence and up this particularly shitty creek nobody has paddles; we are just bobbing around on a maelstrom of misery, imagining we are helpless to do otherwise.

The EU negotiations summed up...

The EU gives us nothing that we couldn’t have as an independent nation, but it can never admit this. It is a self-justifying money pit, creating ever more inventive ways of wasting talent and resources which could be better put to productive use in the national inerest. Our leaders need to wake up, sniff the caffeine, breath the fresh air of freedom and crack on with getting us off the merry-go-round. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – the mission to bring down Animal Farm begins with Brexit.

Monday, 13 November 2017

The Ballad of Reading Twitter from Gaol

It’s a cold and lonely place, Twitter jail. Here in Worldwide Scrubs, the prisoner of conscience scrawls five bar gates on the walls with his own blood, counting the days, the weeks, to his release. Okay, it’s just the one week but for what? I responded to a race-baiter by calling him a soppy cunt... and then I did it again. But hey, he is a soppy cunt; you know, one of those Lee Jasper types, who believes that blacks can’t be racist and whites can’t help it.

Not a famous person, I should clarify - I know that dropping the C-bomb on the blue-tick brigade is an instant slap on the wrist – no, this was just an ordinary Joe. But Twitter determined that I broke their rules on ‘hateful conduct’. By which rule “You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.

Well, I did none of those things and neither was it purely gratuitous; the man was being a cunt about it and I told him so. If Twitter has an objection to the use of a particular word why don’t they just prevent you from using it at all? It may not be everybody’s go-to profanity but have you heard what is considered acceptable in wider public discourse today? Especially among the young... who are, we are constantly told, the future. Chaucer would be rubbish at Twitter.

But of course, banning words is the start of a slippery slope, so Twitter doesn’t do that; it bans people instead. Like the precious university children no-platforming speakers with whom they think they might disagree, social media has a poor record on freedom of expression. It’s fine to bray “Tory scum” and wish death on whoever is beyond the pale today, but call out the hypocrisy of their selective Voltairisms and banished you must be. First they came for the truth-sayers, etc.

Here rots Battsby, wan and pale,
All alone in Twitter Jail.

So, here I am, victim of my own proclivity for wading in when I see blatant cuntery on my timeline. Is this spell on the naughty step going to change my ways? Not a lot; maybe I will avoid ‘picturising’ quite so many idiots, maybe I will lay off the ‘C’ word. (See, I’m already doing it.) But more likely, as many before have done, I will scale back my prolific tweeting a tad, disillusioned by the restrictions placed on my opinions and stick to posting pictures of kittens. Watch this space... 

(In the meantime, my parody account, @Untie4len is active and flogging this blog!)