Cameron Referendum Banner

Cameron Referendum Banner

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Britain's Racist Election - Channel 4:

I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of Channel 4's broadcasting output at the best of times, largely because, for the most part, it seems to be little more than a national broadcaster that has chosen to dedicate itself to the transmission of some of the most puerile and questionable content ever devised, that undoubtedly appeals to those youngsters, progressives and minorities for which the station was principally designed. If there's a subject for these particular groups of viewers to get agitated about, to become outraged about, or to be offended by, then no doubt Channel 4 will do a program about it at some point in time. It is hardly a surprise therefore that Channel 4 never has been and probably never will be a major British broadcaster, simply because it's not trying to appeal to the mainstream public, but rather a very narrow minority clientele.
However, what has become highly noticeable in recent weeks and especially as we head towards a general election, possibly one of the closest in recent years, is just how fast and loose Channel 4 is prepared to play, not only with the letter of the law governing elections, but also with the spirit of the law relating to them. Not so long ago Channel 4 broadcast what has generally become known as a "mockumentary" called UKIP: The first hundred days, which speculated about how a future UKIP government might behave were it to gain the levers of executive power in the UK. Rather predictably perhaps, given its core audience, Channel 4 saw such an event as being entirely disastrous for the country, with rioting in the streets, forced repatriations of immigrants taking place; and the country going to hell in a handcart. But then, why wouldn't they paint such a catastrophic outcome? After all, the progressively lunatic left-wingers who make up the core of Channel 4's audience are hardly likely to worry about accuracy, impartiality or balance, when it comes to attacking UKIP and its supporters, so in a sense the program makers were already pushing against an open door in that particular respect!
Unfortunately for both the "mockumentary" makers and for Channel 4 themselves, the only tangible thing that did come out from the broadcast of UKIP: The first hundred days, was a widespread public realisation that the "mockumentary" itself was not only ill-conceived, badly made and just generally rubbish, but also that lots of non-aligned viewers saw it for what it actually was, an attempt at blatant anti-UKIP propaganda by Channel 4 and the program makers. Rather than hurting the UKIP brand, it was thought to have made more people question why a national broadcaster had even bothered to spend time and money in such a cack-handed attempt to try and discredit them, if they were as bad, or as malign as the national media would have us all believe?
Clearly though, even having tried and abysmally failed to damage the UKIP brand through the broadcasting of the program, Channel 4 seem to be as determined as ever to try and influence the forthcoming general election through the use of its broadcasting licence. Their most recent politically inspired transmission Britain's Racist Election, which was broadcast by Channel 4 on Sunday 15th March 2015, retold the story of the 1964 General Election campaign in Smethwick, a parliamentary contest that was known to be dominated by the issues of race relations, failing community relationships, economic stagnation and housing shortages. (Any of this sound familiar to you?)
In what one can only assume was an indirect and wholly misrepresentative dig at the UKIP brand for a second time prior to the general election in May 2015, the main thrust of the program appeared to be to remind viewers of the damaging effects of rampant racism, the implied benefits of the various Race Relations and Equality Acts that have been passed over the past fifty years; and the apparently indisputable truth on the part of the program makers, that racism is an entirely white phenomena against which even current generations must guard. As a point of interest, it can have hardly escaped any viewer's notice that the program began by highlighting the part of a speech given by the late Enoch Powell, purportedly warning his audience that proposed Race Relations legislation would almost inevitably hand the "whip hand to the Black man". Heady stuff indeed; and proof positive that racists exist in every sphere of society, even amongst the most educated and the most elevated! Unfortunately, what the clip didn't make clear, for obvious reasons no doubt, was that Enoch Powell was actually recalling a remark made to him by an unidentified constituent; and the statement was not in fact his own opinion, but that of the concerned third party, who just happened to be a white British voter.
However, back to the point at hand. The fact that a publicly elected representative, in this case, a Mr Peter Griffiths, who was standing under the Conservative banner, won 47.6% of the popular vote, ostensibly in response to a sudden and highly unpopular influx of immigrants from overseas, caused outrage amongst the progressive political classes of the day, to the extent that the new MP was subsequently described as a parliamentary "leper" by the then Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.
Wilson was thought to have accused Griffiths of being a parliamentary leper largely because of the sometimes intolerant and discriminatory tone of the election campaign in Smethwick, most of which was heavily influenced by mass migration from overseas, declining industries in the Midlands and extremely limited access to public housing stocks. According to some Labour sources at the time Peter Griffiths was thought to have been complicit in parts of the discriminatory campaign that saw electioneering slogans such as "Want a n*****r as a neighbour, then go ahead and vote for Labour". Although both Griffiths and the Conservative Party denied any direct involvement with the publication of such racial sentiments, even in his maiden speech in the House of Commons, Griffiths publicly reasserted his concerns over the plight of local industries, the obvious shortage of social housing and the added pressures that the sudden inundation of nearly 5000 migrants from overseas had had on the existing largely white community, in terms of jobs, wages, working practices and the availability of good quality social housing.
Using arguments that pretty much echo public concerns nowadays, regarding mass migration into the country and the disastrous effects it could have on already struggling communities, Griffiths sought to highlight the suppression of wages (the race to the bottom), the undermining of work practices and the increasing scarcity of suitable social housing as major factors in the public resentment that ultimately lead to his election to parliament. Indeed, it was also mentioned by one of the areas earliest migrant workers, when talking to the program makers, that at the time jobs were extremely tenuous and typically he and his fellow migrants were paid much less than their white counterparts and were prepared to work longer and harder in order to find and keep any meaningful employment. In other words, as much as they do today, some British employers of the time were wilfully and ruthlessly exploiting their new migrant labour force, at a direct cost to the existent and generally more expensive to employ white workforce. And whilst one would have expected the government of the day to prevent such obvious exploitation, both for black and white worker alike, they chose not to do so, yet claimed complete innocence when the almost inevitable conflict between the two opposing worker communities finally did arise in later years.
For the makers of the program the most damning indictment of Peter Griffiths, the white community of Smethwick and the country as a whole supposedly, was the sight of a few dozen drunken racists talking about establishing a branch of the Ku Klux Klan in the town; and using some of the most archaic and pejorative language that one can imagine to describe the newly arrived overseas migrants. Whilst generally unpleasant to listen to, the fact that the producers then decided to feature the appearance of American Civil Rights leader Malcolm X on the streets of Smethwick, who was there at the invitation of the BBC, simply helped to illustrate that intolerance doesn't have a colour, but is endemic to all communities, whether they are white, black, red or brown.
The very idea that the hostile white community of Smethwick would or should take any lessons on racial tolerance from the highly inflammatory Malcolm X, who was heard to suggest that the local migrants shouldn't wait for the local white fascists to start building gas ovens, before they took action, probably tells you everything you need to know about both the underlying intentions of the program's producers and the radical views of the now long since dead Black Supremacy leader, who even during his own lifetime espoused the separation of the black and white races in America, and vehemently rejected the very concept of racial integration (or multiculturalism).
Just quite how frightened the migrant community of Smethwick would have been at the prospect of some drunken white louts masquerading around the streets of their town in nightshirts and dunces hats, whilst carrying burning torches is unclear. However, one does wonder just how much fear existed amongst the indigenous British working community, who were not only faced with the real prospect of their jobs and local housing stocks having to be shared with a newly arrived foreign community, but who also believed that they were being deliberately undercut by the new arrivals, who were often prepared to work cheaper and longer than those who had lived there for generations. In truth of course, neither the migrant community, nor the indigenous community were the chief architects of this socio-economic experiment, which we now commonly refer to as multiculturalism. That dubious credit is owed to both successive British governments, of all stripes; and to the generations of greedy, grasping British employers who not only exploited our own native workforce, but were then content to exploit the cheaper foreign workers that government so kindly provided them with. So, where in the early 2000's Tony Blair purposefully flooded Britain's cities and towns with hundreds of thousands of cheap Eastern European migrants to satisfy the needs of the UK's slave wage employers, he in his turn was only really copying an earlier model first introduced by the Labour government of Harold Wilson; and that the Conservative administration of David Cameron is continuing to pursue right through to the present day.
After all, it cannot be any sort of coincidence that the Smethwick general election campaign occurred in the immediate aftermath of an immigration surge that most Briton's weren't asked about, didn't ask for, or weren't even warned about. They were simply presented with it, whether they liked it or not, much the same as is happening today. The unpleasant and misinformed pejoratives aside, what was so wrong with the people of Smethwick being fearful and angry about the sudden arrival of 5000 complete strangers in their midst, strangers who were prepared to undercut them, outwork them and who would want to take their own fair share of the limited public resources that their community had to offer? The use of racist language to describe the newcomers may have appeared unpleasant by today's "liberal" standards, but Britain in the 1960's was a very different country to the one we all live in today; and being offended by language that was probably fairly common some 50-60 years ago is a pretty pointless response to something that has long since been uttered.
As for the attempt to link this particular program to the UKIP brand? I mention it only by virtue of its timing (prior to May's general election), its content (elections and racism) and by linking Channel 4's previous output of anti-UKIP propaganda to this specific program. Ultimately of course, all 45 million of us have one vote to cast in May; and those who choose to believe that UKIP are an inherently racist party, are unlikely to believe anything to the contrary, but hey, that's the nature of democracy! As a UKIP supporter, I don't consider myself to be a racist (even though I would be bound to say that anyway, wouldn't I?), but then again I don't believe the horse-shit we're regularly fed about multiculturalism and the global village! I treat as I find, and I don't give a monkeys whether you're black, white, red or brown, if you treat me with civility then I'll treat you with the same sort of respect.
As for Channel 4's Britain's Racist Election? In my opinion, if anyone involved in that making of that program actually believes that racists like those shown in the program don't exist any more, then they probably need to get out more. The language might have changed, as various laws have been introduced to forcibly modify people's public behaviour, but all that has ensured is that such deeply held racist attitudes become much more subtle and far more secretive and just how do the authorities go about changing them then? 

Thursday 12 March 2015

Discrimination - Blame Successive Governments:

Whenever I hear the howls of outrage from any of the mainstream parties in response to pretty much anything that UKIP leader Nigel Farage says nowadays, you can probably take it for granted that Mr Farage has had the temerity to confront another one of the innumerable and often wholly unnecessary social and legal guidelines that have been laid down by the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties over the years.
Today, the cause of the mainstream parties public angst appears to have been in response to Mr Farage's announcement, via a soon to be screened television program, that were he in a position to do so, he would repeal some of the UK's work related racial discrimination legislation, much of which seems to have been around since the mid 1960's and that have been regularly amended and updated right through to 2010.
Perhaps rather predictably both Labour and the Conservative coalition have reacted with shock and horror to the prospect of their beloved and highly prized legislative measures being threatened with extinction, with Downing Street expressing its "deep concern" whilst noting that "Nigel Farage is wrong and desperate for attention. The laws are there to protect people from racial discrimination".
For their part, Labour's Shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan, stated "Mr Farage's comments were one of the most shocking things I have ever heard from a mainstream politician" before going on to remind people "of the huge progress that has been made in tackling inequality and discrimination in this country, partly due to Labour's anti-discrimination laws, although things are still far from perfect". The Shadow Justice Secretary was also careful to tell people, yet again, that as the son of immigrants "When my parents first moved to London, they frequently saw signs saying No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish; and that what UKIP are suggesting would take us back to those days"
Another minor public figure who voiced their anger over Mr Farage's comments was Humza Yousaf, a Scottish government minister (apparently) who tweeted "If it talks like a racist, develops policy like a racist and wants to discriminate like a racist, chances are it is a racist party. @UKIP". Meanwhile, Yvette Cooper, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary also took to Twitter to comment "Farage on @BBCr4today opposes race equality law; he wld actually make it legal to discriminate on colour of skin. Appalling, even for him!"
What is particularly interesting about this current row over something that Nigel Farage has said, is that it completely overlooks the basic fact that discrimination of all types, gender, racial, ethnic and religious, continues to exist and thrive in our country, irrespective of any laws that people like David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Miliband, Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson, Humza Yousaf, Yvette Cooper, in fact name your politician, might choose to pass through parliament. I have said it before on this blog and I'll say it again "YOU CANNOT EVER LEGISLATE FOR PEOPLE'S PERSONAL PREJUDICES!
Like it or not individuals are still denied employment and accommodation because of their ethnicity, race, religion or gender; and anyone who claims otherwise is an out and out FOOL! Similarly, anyone who believes that discrimination doesn't exist in the Asian, Black or White communities is a liar, or is just seriously deluded. Is anyone really going to suggest that racial discrimination didn't play some part in the industrialised sexual abuse of white girls in Rotherham, Rochdale or Oxfordshire? Does anyone really believe that thousands of Black youngsters are not routinely denied employment or training opportunities just because they happen to be the wrong colour for the employer? Just how many employers would offer a job to a female candidate who arrived for an interview dressed from head to toe in traditional Islamic attire? So, if the existing anti-discrimination laws work so well, are so successful, then why do individual acts of discrimination occur every single day of the week, along the full length and breadth of our country?
The truth is that individual people do still discriminate against others, whether because they're Black, Irish or even Dog owners. They discriminate against people over jobs, over accommodation, over their individual treatment, over their forms of dress, or even how they're treated as human beings, as has been seen in the recent child sexual exploitation cases, where white girls were generally regarded as "trash" by the perpetrators, to be used and abused by male members of a minority ethnic community. So just what good did the anti-discrimination laws do those thousands of girls who were ruthlessly abused over several years? In fact, what good did any of our parliamentary legislation do them, while they were being raped, trafficked and assaulted? The answer for Sadiq Khan, Yvette Cooper and Humza Yousaf is, they did nothing at all.
Does anyone really imagine that a prejudiced person is going to be so explicit as to tell a Black, Asian or White applicant "F*ck off I don't like your colour", or that they're going to tell a female candidate "You can sod off, because I don't want women in my business"? Just because our society is supposedly governed by anti-discrimination legislation, it doesn't mean that the discrimination has gone away, or has been defeated, it simply means that those who are minded to discriminate against others have become much more subtle and secretive about their personal prejudices and how on earth would you ever prove that in a court of law?
I find it particularly ironic that the Labour Party, those paragons of equality; and home to the likes of Sadiq Khan and Yvette Cooper, who have had much to say about Mr Farage's remarks, seem to have no problem with discrimination, when it suits them or their party. After all, isn't this the same Labour Party that regularly uses Women-only short lists for potential parliamentary seats, ensuring that electoral candidates are not nominated on their innate abilities, but on the fact they happen to have a vagina, rather than a penis?
While nobody doubts that women represent half of the electorate and are more than equal to men when it comes to running the country, there is a certain irony in the fact that the Labour Party need to deliberately manipulate their internal party processes and purposefully discriminate against men, in order to somehow prove that much talked about female equality. So you have the Labour Party who opposes discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, ethnicity and colour, apparently discriminately choosing candidates purely on the grounds of their religion, gender, ethnicity and colour? You really couldn't make this stuff up!
Just as an aside, but still related to both Labour and the Conservative coalition. It is worth remembering perhaps that much of the resentment, fear and irrationality about foreigners in Britain has generally resulted from large scale inundations of immigrants to the country, orchestrated by politicians over the heads and without the permission of the native population. Whether it was the large scale Irish migration of the 19th century, the pre-Second World War invasion of refugees from Europe, the post World War II inundation from the Caribbean, or the tsunami encouraged by the Labour government of Tony Blair. Each and every time our country has been subject to a massive foreign inundation, or flood, of migrants, intolerance and underlying racism will inevitably follow, not because the British people hate them as people, but because they fear them and the unwarranted changes that they will bring. And the British governments, ALL governments, both Labour and Conservative, who are directly responsible for these unwanted invasions into our country, do little or nothing to mitigate the damage that these inundations cause to our country, save for introducing even more statutory measures to help suppress through law the British people's underlying and genuine concerns. 
Back to the point, in truth of course, the point that Nigel Farage was trying to make, before the matter was maliciously hijacked as an electioneering gimmick by the three mainstream parties, was that there is nothing wrong with a British employer deliberately choosing a British worker over a foreign one, much the same as former Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, called for "British jobs for British workers". Perhaps recognising the true state of the UK's work related anti-discrimination laws; in that they are possibly some of the most ineffective and unenforceable legislation ever devised, Farage was reported to have said that he personally might be minded to sweep some of them from the statute book, given that most UK employers are already bogged down by mountains of unwieldy and often unnecessary employment regulations, which bring their own costs but very little by way of benefit for companies. 
Would that make a significant difference to our society, to how people are treated as a result of their ethnicity, religion, colour or gender, when it came to their applying for a job, or finding somewhere to live? For myself, I'm not sure that it would, simply because those who hold racist views or attitudes are unlikely to allow statutory regulations to get in the way of their own intolerance. A landlord or landlady who doesn't want to rent a room or a property to a Black person, an Irish person, or indeed a dog doesn't have to be so brazen as to advertise the fact by posting a notice in their front window, or by telling the would-be applicant "No, I don't want your kind here!" Instead, all they would do would be to offer some plausible excuse to the enquirer, as to why the couldn't have the accommodation; and challenge them to prove that any form of discrimination had taken place.
Likewise, it would be hard to imagine an inherently racist or sexist employer being so blunt as to inform a Black, Asian or Female candidate that they hadn't got the job they'd applied for, simply because they were Black, Asian or Female. Indeed, it's much more likely that such an employer would discount any such candidates upon receipt of their CV and how would any candidate really know if their rejection was as the result of racial or sexual discrimination either way? Of course having the various Race Relations and Equality Acts in law simply serves to act as a "comfort blanket" for our legislators, allowing them to believe that we now live in a far more equitable, multicultural and enlightened society as a result of having such statutory obligations in place. One suspects though that the reality is very different; and despite what Nigel Farage may or may not say on the matter, if the likes of Sadiq Khan, Yvette Cooper and other elected representatives truly believe that they've somehow solved the problem of the underlying racism, homophobia, sexism and general discrimination that exists within our society, then they're probably even more deluded than I imagined.
As a footnote to this, it should be deeply disconcerting for any right-minded British democrat that this particular story is being so ardently pursued by the BBC, who have not only released excerpts of the interview weeks before its planned release; and during a general election campaign, but who have also chosen to ask the most unexpected commentators to offer their views on the subject during various newscasts and programs. Quite why a spokesman from the Muslim Council of Britain was asked to offer comment on Mr Farage's remarks, along with edited sound-bites from Ed Miliband and David Cameron is a complete mystery, as to my knowledge the MCB has no publicly elected officials and only represents a minority ethnic constituency within the country as a whole. "Mountains out of molehills" comes to mind with regard to the BBC's discriminatory coverage of the affair, which given the corporations requirement to offer balance and impartiality to all political groups must seriously bring into question its suitability to continue to act as the nation's principal broadcaster. 

Wednesday 11 March 2015

A Pandering Parliament Is A Pitiful Thing:

As a life-long smoker, I fully recognise what a truly unhealthy habit it is and certainly wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy, let alone to someone that I actually cared about. But then again, I'm not sure that anyone with a modicum of commonsense would actually start smoking, purely on the recommendation of somebody else, or indeed because they happened to like the pretty colours of the various cigarette brand packets, which seems to be the basic tenet of the argument being put forward by the various health lobbyists who have the British parliament's "ear" at present.
Never having been a huge fan of this wholly unrepresentative chamber, which simply serves to promote the narrow ideological interests of the three main parties, along with the various lobbyists, focus groups and financial backers who support them, today's vote on the issue of plain cigarette packaging is simply the latest measure, which illustrates the utter contempt our elected representatives have for the people of this country. Not only will the new changes to the rules governing cigarette packaging be devoid of any parliamentary discussion, but they're also being introduced on the most questionable levels of evidence, much of which will never be heard by the British public, who should after all be the final arbiters of such matters.
If the Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat parties were so certain of the evidence pertaining to cigarette packaging, that young people were attracted to and encouraged by bright colours to take up smoking, then why hasn't that policy formed one of their manifesto promises, rather than underhandedly using parliamentary procedure to sneak the measures into law? Could it be that there is no conclusive evidence that potential smokers are being encouraged to take up the habit because of the attractive and colourful packaging? Might it be that they don't want people to know that the only people who will be celebrating these new rules will be the smugglers and counterfeiters who will doubtless benefit from the changes? Do they not realise that the grotty and unpleasant images will count for nothing, if new and existing smokers simply buy themselves a tobacco tin, or a cigarette case? Are they trying to hide the fact that an average smokers contributes in excess of £40 per week in additional taxes to the UK Exchequer, some or all of which could be lost to the UK's tax authorities; and handed instead to criminal gangs, or foreign manufacturers?
Of course, if you choose to believe the anti-smoking propaganda in the media, then you won't have heard that Australia's plain cigarette packaging campaign has been an absolute disaster from the outset. You also won't have heard or read that cigarette smuggling has increased, that counterfeiting has increased, or that entire towns and villages in China have been given over to producing traditionally branded cigarettes especially for the Australian market? As with most products, consumers can choose to vote with their wallets; and while tens of millions of Australian dollars are going out of the country to the criminal gangs and cigarette makers in China, the Australian Health Service is still having to pick up the financial tab for the tens of thousands of smokers who will suffer from the effects of their daily habit.
Not content with having directly caused the closure of 10,000 public houses since the smoking ban was first introduced in 2007, along with the tens of thousands of bar jobs associated with them, the demonisation of the nation's smokers continues apace. Virtually every enclosed commercial space; and if some had their way, even publicly owned open ground, would be turned into no-go areas for those who choose to waste their own money and risk their own personal health. But even these draconian measures aren't enough for the fervent anti-smoking activists, who would have politicians believe that we're not mature enough, or indeed intelligent enough, to make an informed decision about our own health and that we need them to decide for us what we put into our bodies, regardless of how we feel about it. Isn't it a pity though that they're not so zealous when it comes to the millions of Britons who regularly poison their bodies each week through the consumption of alcohol, or the 4000 people a year who end up dying from cirrhosis of the liver. Where are the graphic images to deter them, or the plain packaged beer bottles? Where is the campaign that advocates graphic warning images be put on hamburgers, pizzas or any of the other junk food that we Britons consume by the ton? There are more people consuming crap food in the UK than there are smokers, so where are the parliamentary statutory instruments to regulate them, or indeed the taxes to discourage people from eating too many McDonalds, Burger Kings, etc?
According to official figures some 15,000 people a year die from alcohol related diseases, whilst 10% of the annual death rate in the UK is thought to be attributable to obesity, which equates to around 50,000 deaths per year, with obesity costing the NHS some £2.5 billion per year. So, let's ask the question again. Where are the graphic images, the higher taxes, the public information films, the advertising bans, the social stigmatisation of those who drink too much, eat too much, as it is for those who choose to, or have the individual temerity to smoke cigarettes in public?
That isn't to say that smoking isn't dangerous and harmful, it is. It's a crap habit that no-one in their right mind would willingly adopt and kudos to those millions of smokers who have managed to successfully kick the habit and are leading far healthier lives as a result of it. However, in my forty years of smoking I have yet to meet a single person who took up the habit principally because they were attracted by the bright and engaging packaging that the fags were actually wrapped in and for anyone to suggest that that might be the reason why a youngster starts smoking is absolutely risible. It not only insults people's intelligence, but also overlooks the most common reasons why kids do start to smoke in the first place, their home environment and peer pressure. Most reliable studies tend to suggest that a child brought up by a smoker, or who is the younger sibling of a smoker, is far more likely to become a smoker themselves. Equally, young teens who are surrounded by smokers (their immediate peers) are far more likely to try smoking themselves, even if they don't go on to become regular smokers in their later lives. The last thing that would influence their decision though would be the actual packaging, as one would imagine that accessibility and affordability are far more important factors for any youngster that wants to adopt the habit, not the F*CKING colour of the pack, as has been suggested by some, as yet unknown "expert".
Unfortunately, the fact that our know nothing politicians are so keen to grasp this latest theory, without any sort of credible evidence, or indeed meaningful and informed debate in the country at large, will simply ensure that it will almost certainly result in very little change in the numbers of youngsters taking up the habit. Instead, all it will do will be to increase the amount of illegal tobacco products being brought into the country for sale on the black market, reduce the amount of revenue being delivered to the national exchequer, cause other taxes to rise in order to make up the resulting fiscal shortfall and drive thousands of newsagents and small corner shops out of business entirely. Not bad for a policy that was supposed to offer a positive outcome.
Even though I smoke myself, I recognise the need to buy legally obtainable tobacco, if only to put something back into the NHS by way of the 77% tax that I pay on every pack I purchase. However, given that the mainstream political parties seem bound and determined to not only demonise me for being a smoker, but now want to purposefully offend and annoy me by imposing a draconian measure that is not only unnecessary but also rather pointless, then I have to question why I should even bother trying to do the right thing as far as my tobacco purchases are concerned. I may as well just give the criminals and smugglers my money instead and f*ck the idea of trying to do the right thing as far as the country's concerned.
But then, isn't that what happens when you get a pitiful parliament pandering to the wishes of their resident lobbyists, focus groups and financial supporters, they simply end up making themselves even more irrelevant to the lives of ordinary people, especially those of us who are intelligent enough to work out just what's good for us, what's not; and just where useless politicians fall into that personal calculation.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Maybe We Need To Break The System, To Fix It?

If you ever needed conclusive evidence that our political system is utterly broken and corrupt, then look no further than the suggestion made today (Saturday 7th March 2015) by Conservative Peer, Kenneth Baker, that the Labour and Conservative parties should consider entering into a Grand Coalition, in order to prevent the Scottish National Party from having any meaningful influence at Westminster after May's General Election.
Now, although I'm no fan of the SNP, if they did manage to win most of the 59 parliamentary seats in Scotland, at a direct cost to the Scottish Labour Party, then that's democracy in action isn't it?, where 10% of the UK population hand 10% of the nation's constituency seats to the SNP, so what's wrong with that? How on earth can anyone claim to be preserving the political, social, cultural and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom by deliberately committing themselves and their parties to some sort of grubby backroom deal, which will almost inevitably cause even greater nationalist rancour and resentment north of the border? Scottish Labour are already said to be suffering the repercussions of siding with the Lib Dems and the Conservatives during the recent Scottish Independence referendum campaign, so just how would it seem to the Scottish electorate if Labour were then seen to be entering into some sort of unholy alliance with the Conservative Party, simply to stymie the aspirations of Scotland's duly elected parliamentary representatives? Does Lord Baker really believe that such an underhanded and duplicitous strategy would settle the Scottish independence question once and for all? Really?
That stupid suggestion aside, we've also been treated to the spectacle of possibly the worst Conservative Prime Minister......ever, trying to avoid the planned series of TV debates, which only five years ago he was such an enthusiastic supporter of. And, it's important to be clear here, David Cameron's objections to the TV debates has absolutely nothing to do with timing, or the general election campaign per se, but has everything to do with electoral advantage on his part. He and his team of advisers, most notably the Australian election guru, Lynton Crosby, have calculated that Mr Cameron has little to gain and much to lose by participating in such debates; generally because the Prime Minister isn't very good at them, something that he proved in 2010, when he failed to outshine the worst possible Labour Premier of the modern age, Gordon Brown.
Although David Cameron might be in his element, playing to the sympathetic Conservative gallery in the House of Commons, or to a specially invited audience in some or other factory, in reality he lacks both the wit and the intelligence to be an inspirational public speaker. So for him to be forced to compete on equal terms with far more eloquent orators, in a time and place not of his choosing, has obviously presented him with a dilemma that he and his advisers have been desperate to escape from, with the result that he has simply made himself appear frightened, dishonest and arrogant to increasingly large swathes of the British public. Quite why Mr Cameron believes that his not accountable or answerable to the British people for the actions of his government over the past five years is unclear, but the very idea that he alone should be able to dictate what questions are asked, when and by whom would be an intolerable situation, given that he is after all, nothing more than an elected political representative, bought and paid for by the British taxpayer, nothing more, nothing less.
But then, doesn't that sort of sum up the problem with our current political system? That we have an entire class of political representatives, who because of personal beliefs, party allegiances and lack of proper public accountability, think that they can do, say or behave as they like, irrespective of what we, their paymasters, want or expect them to do on our behalf. Until we enforce true private and public accountability on our elected representatives, as they do in most other forms of commercial enterprise, where employees can be sacked for not doing their jobs properly, or for serious misconduct, then we can have little hope that our current parliamentary system will improve anytime soon. For any legislator to openly suggest that the system should be deliberately manipulated to deny influence to a third party, or indeed for a Prime Minister to purposefully refuse to put himself up for public scrutiny seem to be symptomatic of a political system that is not only broken, but fundamentally flawed beyond repair.
If indeed that is the case, then perhaps it's time that voters made the decision, to throw away our current political model and start again? Maybe we all need to be adopting a mantra of "anyone other than Liberal, Labour or Conservative" when it comes to electing our political representatives, as only by breaking the power of the three legacy parties, can we hope to rebuild our trust in the political classes, by forcing them to do what WE want, rather than what THEY want. Isn't it about time we began to DEMAND what sort of country we want, rather than relying on the sort of country they're prepared to OFFER us?
Wouldn't it be better to have a country that is truly representative of its inhabitants, by introducing some form of PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION, rather than having the continuous traditional stitch-up between Labour and Conservative parties? Shouldn't the country be run for the benefit of ALL of us, rather than the 30-40% who happen to vote for ONE particular party? The fact that most modern democracies and innumerable regional assemblies, including our own, are run on the basis of proportional representation, should tell us that the almost archaic FPTP system that we still employ in our national elections is one of the reasons why our country continues to FAIL, because it's a fundamentally flawed concept, designed purely to maintain the political duopoly enjoyed by Labour and the Conservatives, which as a result neither is minded to change.
If we want real CHANGE, then it is up to each and everyone of us to ENACT change, through the BALLOT BOX; and if that means each of us voting for a GREEN, ENGLISH DEMOCRAT, INDEPENDENCE FROM EUROPE, UKIP, RESPECT, NHA, SNP or an INDEPENDENT candidate at the general election, rather than for any of the three legacy parties, then that's the thing to do, as to do otherwise is simply to maintain the current, broken, inherently corrupt system that continues to hold our country back. If enough British voters choose to break away from the tired old two or three party model; and voted for ANYONE OTHER THAN LIBERAL, LABOUR or CONSERVATIVE parties, then the three legacy parties would have no choice but to refashion themselves and rebuild the political system, if they ever wanted to get themselves re-elected to office again, but while we keep voting for them like sheep, then there is no incentive for them to change; and as a result they won't.
It's worth considering that very few of us that actually vote, get what we want from whoever is elected to office, because often election turnouts are low and most choices are the result of voters having to compromise on some or all of their desires. It's also increasingly common for voters to cast their ballot in an attempt to keep someone out, rather than choosing to get someone in, which is probably an even greater indictment of our current political system. One only has to look at the present general election campaign, where more time is being spent by the right wing press rubbishing and attacking Ed Miliband, than is being spent telling us what a brilliantly competent job is being done by David Cameron, which he isn't by the way. It's a bit like voters being given a choice of poisons to ingest, which one will kill you quicker and less painfully! Roll up, roll up, pick your poison here! Labour's poison will make you linger, but the Conservative poison will kill you straight away. Roll up, roll up, get your poison here! The truth be told, given the dire state of politics in this country, were it a real offer of poison, I'd probably be happy to take it!