Category Archives: Soapboxing

Losing faith in humanity

It’s bad enough Trump and his supporters making America a worse place, and Islamic State on the other side bringing misery to their own people, but right here in the UK, things seem to go from bad to worse — and it seems to be 100% down to the stubborn right-wingers refusing to acknowledge they might be wrong.

You’ve probably heard about the tragic tower block fire in Kensington today — it hasn’t affected me personally, but it was still a little jarring because I was at the Westway leisure centre in Latimer Road only yesterday, and probably looked at the tower without realising it would be a blackened ruin 24 hours later.  There’s been stirling work by the emergency services, but special commendation should go to the Muslim residents, who were awake in the middle of the night due to Ramadan, and thus coherent enough to realise the danger and start waking and evacuating the other residents.

And yet, they’re still being portrayed as the bad guys: not only were Britain First (a bunch of thugs no better than Hitler’s Brownshirts) harassing them in the street (and then pretending they themselves were the victims, despite video evidence proving them to be liars), but someone actually responded to a Facebook post I saw by saying that if so many Muslims hadn’t come to this country, people wouldn’t be crowded into accommodation like this, and so the fire wouldn’t have happened!  How’s that for a contrived accusation?

(Yes, I know, Facebook, serious business, whatever…)

Evidence is mounting that it’s the Tories who are most responsible for this disaster: in Parliament they voted down a Labour-proposed bill that would have forced landlords to ensure accommodation is safe and habitable (entirely unrelated, of course, to the fact that many Tory MPs are landlords), they’ve been cutting back on fire services much as they’ve been doing with police services, the man who was their housing minister until being kicked out at last week’s election was apparently sitting on a report about fire safety in blocks of flats like this, and if the latest bit of evidence is to be believed, the local council — which, again, was Tory until last week’s election — seemed to be less concerned with residents expressing worry about fire safety than they were concerned with making the tower block look acceptable to the rich people living nearby with what may have been a flammable variety of cladding.

The Tories themselves, of course, seem entirely oblivious to the problems they cause in this country, and don’t seem to grasp that people aren’t happy with austerity, with spying on us, with the poor and disabled being treated like parasites and criminals while the 1% get tax breaks.  Theresa May, who was either scared or contemptuous of public debate in the run-up to the election, is so out of touch that not only did she bring back the aforementioned housing minister (Gavin Barwell) as her chief of staff, and not only is she desperately trying to side with the DUP (who?  Exactly!) just to get an overall majority, but while cutting benefits to the lowest in society, she seems to think that Tory MPs who lost their seats last week need financial assistance due to her error in judgment!

(One expects it’ll come from the taxpayer, not her own pocket…)

In this election, the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn experienced a resurgence in popularity, and this was despite the tabloid press trying their best to do him down at literally every opportunity — and even though his manifesto was costed, and contained no “magic money trees”.  You’d almost think Murdoch et al. were trying to curry favour with the Tories, whom they assumed would get back in, and yet Corbyn’s remained calm and relatively dignified throughout (indeed, taking part in actual debates), even with that idiot on Question Time saying he’d ruined the country’s future by denying the Tories a clear majority!

Yet there are still those who think he should resign because he didn’t win outright, much as previous Labour leaders have stepped down despite apparently leading their parties to lesser election defeats.  Unfortunately, “female best friend’s” husband subscribes to this view — and that the DUP aren’t as bad as people make out (being more pro-terrorism than Corbyn ever was, and anti-gay marriage) — something I only know, again, thanks to Facebook.  It bugs me: surely he can’t be completely wrong about something this important, if he’s married to my dear friend?  Then again, I argued with him before about non-traditional marriage, so maybe his crowd don’t want to hear my opinion, no matter how measured and non-insulting.

Oh, and as I’ve been writing this, another old schoolfriend (the former-RAF man) “reacted” to a Facebook article posted by a vehement anti-Labour group, about Corbyn “politicising” the tower fire.  I know the anti-Tory groups on Facebook are also full of vitriol and bad language, and that disturbs me too (not in terms of being offended, but being concerned that they’re not thinking it through properly) — but at least they’re criticising a political party who have been in power for seven years, rather than the opposition, and thus have justification for their anger.

Maybe the problem’s that people only want to hear things that agree with their views, especially in Facebook groups… but then again, I’ve never seen any intelligent, logical defence of the Trump administration on George Takei’s wall, only incoherent “hurr durr libtard snowflakes, he’s making America great again!”-style comments — and, frequently, idiotic statements that intolerance of intolerance is somehow hypocritical, e.g. if you criticise people for being homophobic, you’re no better than them.  In much the same way, I’ve never seen any intelligent criticism of Corbyn, just either ranting or smug sneering.

What I really need to do is avoid Facebook for a while, except for funny pictures and IT helpdesk stories… but don’t worry, I’ll keep being political here, in a calm, reasonable way: how about I finally write the post I’ve been planning for ages, about why I think gay people are perfectly fine, and that there’s no sensible reason to call their attempts to normalise their behaviour “evil” or “Satanic”, or that their mere existence is “anti-Christian”?

(I found that article through Facebook God tonight — how’s that for divine intervention?)

Same old problems

As you’re probably aware, there was another terrorist attack in this country last week, and once again people are saying that Muslims as a whole aren’t to be trusted, because any of them could be “radicalised” and blow innocent people up (whereas when a white non-Muslim does it, they’re just a lone psycho and not somehow indicative of a wider network… y’know, because the IRA were freedom fighters, right?).

Even aside from the resurgent racists, I fear for this country’s future — especially since the media as a whole are trying to do down Jeremy Corbyn, regardless of his actual faults, as though they’re desperate to appear on the side of the Tories, ready for when they inevitably win another 4-5 years in charge of this country.  I myself don’t want to see them win, unless it’s with a vastly reduced majority, or even a hung parliament (a bloody nose to show them they aren’t making life better for the real people of this country, only for the rich elite), because even if I’m financially sound for now, they want to spy on us all the time, and what happens if they declare me a terrorist for holding the wrong opinion, or even at random to boost their statistics?  Which is worse, being killed by a terrorist’s bomb, or being shot dead by a cop who mistakes you for a terrorist (at least, that’s the official story)?

I really don’t need more stress in my life, as I’ve been having a relapse in two aspects, though they’re almost certainly related: “brain fuzz”, which returned after a long break, and “drummer-trucker” being a total see-you-next-Tuesday to me when drunk.  It began two weeks ago, as I helped at my workplace to ensure we’d be resistant to that crypto-malware that crippled (cryppled?) part of the NHS, and faced a lot of stress; this seemed to cause one individual bout on the Wednesday, but they started in earnest at the weekend, after my dreadful housemate had been away overnight and returned, and I felt compelled to avoid him to the point that I delayed going and getting a drink of water from the kitchen, even though the weather had turned hot…

He’s been getting up at 5 every morning during the working week, ruining my sleep patterns (since he’s in the room next to mine and earplugs don’t help), and coming home around the same time as me, drinking lots of beer in the garden or lounge, making me feel like I have to creep around the house.  One night, when I decided to stop avoiding him and “live dangerously”, he was particularly unpleasant to me for no reason, even complaining about me trying to fix the Internet connection when he’s usually the one to complain about it.  I guess I know now that simply getting on with my life and trying not to rise to his bait doesn’t work — he actually had a go at me for suffering from anxiety, surely a  textbook example of victim-blaming… I responded in reasonable terms when he interrogated me, and yet he acted like I was the one being weird (and that he was the one who had suffered during the five years we’ve lived together in this house) — and fretting over this made it hard for me to sleep that night.

I’m feeling better now (after a relaxing Bank Holiday weekend), but the day after that incident, my dizziness got so bad that I seemed to be having bouts of “brain fuzz” every 15-20 minutes, whereas previously the worst had been once an hour!  It still seems to involve half-coherent memories of music and lyrics, and I’m compiling a list of songs that may or may not be triggering bouts (or at least represent what I’m half-remembering) — but in all probability, it’s just a sense of déjà vu that causes anything I happen to be hearing at the time to seem familiar in a more fundamental way than simply knowing intellectually that I’ve heard it before.  The root cause is almost certainly lack of sleep combined with stress (manifesting as pains in the neck and shoulders, which in turn cause the cerebral weirdness), and that’s what I need to combat.

Fortunately, when that bozo’s sober he just coldly refuses to talk to me entirely, and leaves me alone (a more tolerable variety of rudeness than when he’s drunk) — and his plan to move out has been brought forward to early July, on a date before I return from my holiday in Michigan.  I have to hope he doesn’t take some bizarre revenge on me while I’m out of the country (e.g. putting all my stuff out by the kerb) — and “best mate” reckons he won’t, and that he’s just getting drunk as a celebration of moving out.  The best news is that I won’t have to say goodbye to him, or pretend that I’ll miss him… as far as I’m concerned, he moved out ages ago and was replaced by a drunken douchebag.

It’s sad, but I’ve actually found myself thinking that “bad housemate” at Caledonian Road wasn’t anywhere near as horrible to live with as this guy, even though his presence made me so upset that I considered moving back to Worthing!  But never mind, once “drummer-trucker” has gone, hopefully my stress levels will go right back down, as I’ll no longer be awoken every morning and then feel threatened in my own home by an oblivious bully who thinks he’s the reasonable one.

But oh, what if the Tories win — and become the biggest bullies in the country, trying to make out that they’re doing everything right, and that poor or disabled people who starve somehow brought it on themselves…?

Standing my ground

lc_nf

At least now that UKIP have achieved their aims, there’s no longer any need for them to exist… right?

Well, it looks like Brexit is going ahead after all, even though I reckon the Leave campaign should have needed more than a slender majority (less than 52%) to effect such a monumental change (albeit with a referendum guaranteed every few years).

I am worried about the future now, as it looks like we’ve got a choice now between staying in the EU (and thus ignoring the popular vote), leaving the EU but remaining in the EEA (and thus having to obey the same laws without any influence on them), or getting out entirely (and thus… what?).

I wanted us to stay in the EU, because while it’s massively corrupt and flabby, frankly so are our own government — and at least the EU is pro-human rights, instead of trying to gut the relevant legislation.  I felt there was a chance we could fight the corruption if we stayed, rather than running away from a problem that affects others as well as ourselves… but maybe we can’t, and instead we need to found a second EU, and this time do it right.

But maybe Brexit won’t be so bad, and we’ll have nothing to fear but fear itself.  I’m not going to criticise those who voted Leave for genuine reasons (including some of my friends and relatives), as I believe they had good and noble intentions; whether that builds us a highway to Hell, of course, remains (ahem) to be seen.

However, I am going to have a go at those who think Brexit gives them a mandate for racism.  The scumbags bullying anyone they even suspect of being foreign, yelling “out out out” at Muslim women, vandalising the Polish Cultural Centre, gleefully telling schoolchildren they’ll be deported — these people make me ashamed of my nation and my kinsmen.

It’s brought the National Front and English Defence League out from under their rocks, and just watch this clip from Russell Howard’s show in 2011 to understand why I consider EDL to be scum:

That’s how I view the bigots in this country: shaven-headed toothless* morons who can barely speak intelligibly or come up with a coherent reason for their hatred.  There is nothing good or noble about them, and frankly they are the ones I consider not to be my fellow Englishmen, rather than people with different-coloured skin.  Indeed, I consider them less than human.

(* Presumably toothless from getting in drunken fights, rather than because evil Muslamic tourists stole their teeth out their mouths while they slept, and sold them on to the Tooth Fairy, who’s clearly gay — not that the EDL have any problem with that these days, of course… but once all the forenurz are gone, who’ll be their next target?)

It sucks that we can’t exile them (on the grounds that it’s illegal under international law to leave someone stateless), because they’re the ones we need to get rid of — not Polish plumbers who do a decent job, not Indian doctors who work in our hospitals, not Latvian au pairs or black athletes, THIS LOT.  The accident of their birth in Britain to white native parents means we’re stuck with them, even though they are of no value and contribute nothing (except possibly to the off-licence, and that’s assuming they don’t smash it up later because the owner looked a bit Mid-Eastern).

I know I’ve long stated a desire to leave this country (due to its climate as well as its culture), but it occurred to me the other day that this kind of bigot would welcome me leaving, perhaps declaring me to be “not proper English” and a “traitor” (or drunkenly-slurred words to that effect).  And on that basis, and because I despise bullies and refuse to give in to them:

I’M STAYING PUT IN BRITAIN.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: if I meet an American woman and she asks me to come away with her to southern California, I’ll be Brexiting with only a “may this festering isle sink back into the foetid ocean whence it came” to mark my departure, but until such a miracle occurs, I’m going to do my part to sort this country out, much as I wished we could have stayed in the EU and fixed it.  Maybe it’s futile, and maybe all I can do to contribute is continue to treat “forenurz” like human beings, and vote against the right wing, but every little helps.

I’ll call out the right wing on their incoherent lies, anti-intellectualism and worn-out prejudices, and that includes both our homegrown thugs and those abroad, like Marine le Pen, Islamic State, and the monster Trump, who’s the most dangerous of all (because he’d have access to nukes).  The extreme right wing as an institution needs to die of old age, and it certainly won’t be missed — because what good does it do?

(I miss the BNP… at least when they occupied the extreme right, we knew they’d never get anything done!)

Genital Gestapo?

s02e01_287

Just be thankful I didn’t use a “Family Guy” framegrab of Quagmire’s dad

Sorry, folks, but it’s soapbox time again, as I’m incensed by a worrying trend in bigotry in today’s world (well, principally America, but when they sneeze we catch a cold) — and it’s reached the point that one of my oldest friends seems to agree with it!

No, it’s not Donald Trump’s Islamophobia, since he’s reneging on that anyway and claiming it was “just a suggestion” (presumably in the same way that Tony Blair’s government once dismissed an election pledge they’d failed to fulfil as “just an aspiration”).  However, it involves the same level of prejudice, or possibly brutal dismissal of “collateral damage”, and could end up punishing innocent people while completely ignoring the actual problem that it was trying to resolve… oh, you already guessed from the title that I was talking about the new wave of transphobia in America’s public restrooms?  Well, let’s get on with it then…

Trump’s putative plan to prevent Muslims from coming into the United States “at least until we know what’s going on” is fundamentally stupid, but leaving aside the abhorrent notion that all Muslims are terrorists (or that the ones who aren’t are “no great loss” anyway), the question that needs to be asked is: how do you know who’s a Muslim?  If you judge by people’s declared religion, you’ll only weed out the honest Muslims (because al-Qaeda and Daesh wouldn’t balk at covering up their religion if they’re on their way to martyrdom, would they?), and the only alternative is to ban “anyone who looks a bit Muslim-y”, which would likely include Hindus, Sikhs, and anyone else from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent (possibly even the guy who plays Raj in The Big Bang Theory), even if they’re Christian or aetheist.

(This is, after all, the country that once banned The Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens because they apparently couldn’t tell the difference between one Yusuf Islam and another…)

Similarly, all the thugs who say they want to stand outside the female toilets and knock the teeth out of any “trans” people trying to go in: how do you know?  Do you include anyone you even remotely suspect of being male, such as “butch lezzers” (perhaps thinking that they’re ugly and of no value to society anyway), or do you pull down people’s underwear to check their equipment?  And if the latter, who are you to assume bad faith and say that anyone with a penis who tries to go into the ladies’ is clearly up to no good?  Do you automatically assume anyone biologically male is a rapist of women and girls?  Are you?  If you’re not, why is “he”?

This is the side of the debate that prompts one of my old school friends to keep posting offensive images and “tooth fairy” jokes on Facebook (yes, I know, serious business, whatever).  He’s a decent guy, a family man who served in the armed forces, and so I’m almost afraid to ask him whether he just wants to protect his daughters and doesn’t care if innocent people suffer, or if he thinks trans people are “freaks” anyway, so even if they weren’t going to do anything wrong, they still “deserve” to get beaten up… hey, maybe it’ll make ’em choose to be normal, right?

Anyway, why focus on trans people with male genitalia?  What about people who are physically female going into the men’s room (which, after all, actually has naughty bits on show at the urinals instead of hidden in the stalls)?  Are little boys not worth protecting… or, indeed, would they actually be lucky to get molested by women (as long as they’re hot)?  And if you are worried about them, are you also looking at beating up gay men who have the temerity to walk into the gents’… or have you at least moved on from assuming “all gays are paedos”?

(Frankly, anyone who uses “think of the children!” as an argument in favour of oppression or mob rule has already lost the debate!)

drill_sergeant

Would Trump have men with depression or anxiety put into camps and bullied until they “grow a pair”, a bit like beating people with broken legs until they stand up?

Obviously this issue doesn’t affect me directly because I’m (full disclosure) a heterosexual cisgender male, but it still gets to me that the bigots seem to think all trans people are either straight men wearing drag so they can sneak into the ladies’ and commit rape, or else “wimps making a fuss about nothing” — i.e. that even the genuine trans people should just shut up and live with whatever gender they were born with, like their nonconformity is too much trouble for society to deal with.  As you know, I’ve gone through depression and anxiety; the experience has left me truly sick of the way society tells guys like me to “stop moaning” and “man up”, and I hate to see the same thing, and the threat of even worse, happen to people who have done nothing more than “be different”.

Of course, all this could be resolved by doing away with the dreadful shared toilets most places have, and instead having unisex single rooms with doors that actually go all the way down to the floor — they have these in the Castle, and some restaurants I’ve been in.  There is nothing remotely good or pleasant about most gents’ toilets I’ve been in (I loathe urinals and troughs due to the proximity of other blokes, and so use a stall even for “number one”), and the entire rooms are often filthy and smelly, especially in places that serve alcohol; I’m reliably informed that the ladies’ are also frequently disgusting (so much for the “fairer sex”).  Maybe we should be threatening to beat people up for making a mess, rather than going into the “wrong” room?

It seems the bigots just want someone new to have a go at, now that they’re forbidden to discriminate against women, gays and black people (at least overtly).  I can’t help but wonder if there’s any significance in the recent untimely deaths of both David Bowie and Prince, two excellent musicians whose gender and sexual identities were somewhat fluid: would they have spoken out in favour of tolerance for trans people, and did they thus need to be “put out of the way” lest they ruin the fun…?

(Ooh, have I created a new conspiracy theory?)

The enemies within

They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor.
—2Pac, “Keep Ya Head Up” (Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.)

wtc

This terrible attack in 2001 resulted in mass surveillance of innocent people and anti-Muslim sentiment… plus ca change?

Just when I finally seem to be getting my life together, doing a job I enjoy and feeling happy with how, the world seems to be going to Hell in a handbasket.

Yes, I am of course on about the Islamic State attacking innocent people in Paris last week (not to mention Beirut, Mali, the Russian plane etc. etc.), but I’m more concerned with the inevitable backlash against, er, well, pretty much all brown people, by the looks of it.  I know, I had my own anxiety on the subject earlier this year, but remember that (a) I knew it wasn’t related to terrorism at all, and (b) I came to the conclusion that I’m actually sexist rather than racist, in that I can’t stand most blokes of any ethnicity!

I don’t believe Islamic State represent anyone except themselves.  They’re not making the world a better place, they’re not liberating oppressed peoples or fighting “the man”, they’re just creating chaos and destruction in the hope of turning the other races of the world against Muslims, in order to drive more people into their arms so they can brainwash them into becoming killers — and, of course, get funding, which they certainly don’t spend on feeding the poor.  They have no redeeming qualities and, much like al-Qaeda in 2001, I would see the lot of them burn in Hell — but I fear for the innocent people who will undoubtedly get caught in the crossfire, and their kin in Western countries who seem to get blamed for the actions of this minority.

You may have heard the news that potential US Presidential candidate Donald Trump wants all Muslims to be registered (you know, like convicted sex offenders), though it’s unclear how he’ll differentiate between Muslims who haven’t got ID cards, and people who “look” Islamic but aren’t (such as Hindus, Sikhs, people from Asia who don’t follow any religion…).  Perhaps he’ll tell them they need to carry “not a Muslim” ID cards as well?  And the really depressing thought is that plenty of people in America would vote for him if he became a Presidential candidate, and some of them because of this insanity!

I truly despise the kind of commentators calling for refugees to be sent home (seeing as they were actually fleeing Islamic State, it’s like sending Jews back to Nazi Germany as some idiotic form of retribution for the Blitz), but that sort of brain-dead thug has been around for years anyway.  I remember the feckless EDL member in this clip from Russell Howard’s Good News, who seems to think “Muslamic” is a word, and I’d much rather see him kicked out the country, since he has absolutely no value whatsoever as a human being, and is nothing but an irredeemable parasite in our society.

(Oh, I’d love it if he’s reading this and wants to start a fight — bring it on, you alcoholic bully, I’ll knock out both of your remaining teeth!)

And, of course, there’s the blanket surveillance of everyone’s e-mails and Internet browsing habits, which the UK government was already trying to force through even before the Paris attacks (and indeed, they were already planning to increase funding and employment in the secret service).  Since the Paris attackers were already known, and there was simply no will to stop them, I believe that Big Brother-style spying on the entire populace will do nothing to prevent terrorism… but then, I doubt it’s why they want to bring it in anyway.

Let me put it this way: you don’t find a needle in a haystack by adding more hay; you just have a much, much harder job finding the needle.  And to justify the expense of increasing the amount of hay, you end up having to, shall we say, broaden your definition of a “needle”, or try to work out which pieces of hay might potentially become needles.  To further clarify: I know I am not a terrorist, so if the government spies on me, at best they’re wasting resources (which could mean a real terrorist slips through the net), and at worst they’ll find some other pretext to feel my collar.  Indeed, as a famous Frenchman once noted:

“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.”

 

Of course, with the current government’s determination that the poorest in society should face the brunt of the “austerity” cuts, food banks, unemployment (and sanctions), cutting of local government services (even in Cameron’s own constituency, shock horror!), fuel poverty (with blackouts on the horizon) and homelessness while at the same time mysteriously finding a few extra billions to spend on another war, and continuing to feather their own nests, I wonder if we’re building towards the British equivalent of the French Revolution.  Perhaps this is precisely what Cameron’s cabinet are really afraid of, rather than a bunch of brainwashed faux-Muslims (who would only endanger the peasantry anyway).  I reckon they want us to be afraid — initially of terrorism for as long as it takes for us to allow these new laws to be brought in, and then of them, the future being their smart shoes stamping on our faces forever.

It actually seems like Islamic State and our increasingly-puritanical government are cut from the same cloth: they both want to control and dominate us, taking away anything that gives us pleasure and making us feel worthless, and that they do so entirely for their own ends, not because they think it’ll make our lives better to be micromanaged and punished for the slightest infraction.

So yes, I hate Islamic State… but I also hate the Conservative government.  But which is more likely to kill ordinary people in this country?  There’s only one way to find out…

Harry Hill Fight

Yes, I’d much rather see the Islamic militants fighting our government directly in a battle royal, while the ordinary people of the Middle East and the West get on with our lives peacefully… it’d save having to build a B-Ark in order to send the whole damn lot of them into space!

Four (or five) more years?

The people have spoken.  The b*st*rds.
–Failed California senatorial candidate Dick Tuck*, 1966

chaplin_tgd

This, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Conservative party taking right-wing control of this country. Why? Because it’s Charlie Chaplin in “The Great Dictator”, that’s why!

I’m not so bothered that the Conservatives won an overall majority in Thursday’s election; that was always a risk, and they now have the opportunity to do something almost impossible: impress me by making this a better country, for everyone and not just the elite.  This will not be achieved by punishing poor people for being poor (e.g. having a spare bedroom but not the opportunity to move to a smaller property), and rewarding rich people for being rich with tax breaks.

No, I’m sure the newly-elected Conservatives won’t screw over the real people of this country in favour of their business cronies, and that I wasn’t simply incredibly lucky not to be sanctioned when I was on unemployment and housing benefit, but that the cases of people getting sanctioned for being 5 minutes late to a meeting, or not being able to get out of their wheelchair to walk up some stairs, are a tiny minority of exceptions, and the vast majority of people on benefits are only there temporarily and are treated fairly and with dignity.

I’m sure I was quite mistaken in thinking they really do want to convert this country into the world of 1984, with the vast majority too poor to do anything other than scrabble in the dirt to survive (food banks don’t exist, do they?), no petty Human Rights Act to protect everyone’s freedom of thought, and everyone under observation even if they’ve done nothing wrong (you know, guilt and innocence being a matter of timing, and all that).  The Lib Dems were the bad ones in the coalition, of course, and weren’t holding the Tories back from doing fascist things in this country — perish the thought!

No, what really pees me off is the fact that Mike Freer held onto his seat here in Finchley & Golders Green: we had a chance to get rid of the architect of the botched One Barnet privatisation, and we let it slip.  And while it’s uncertain whether his friend Brian Coleman is back with the local Tory association or not, he seems to have a highly offensive successor, according to the Barnet Eye… do these people even regard anyone else as human?  Apparently they gave away the Sweets Way estate in Hendon to private developers (to replace social housing with expensive flats), so they didn’t even make any money for the borough!

(One imagines, however, that they were not personally unrewarded for their generosity…)

It occurs to me that I’ll be in my forties when the next election takes place (whether I’m 41-going-on-42 or 42-going-on-43 depends on how brave the Tories are in 2019), which suddenly doesn’t seem like such an impossibly long time in the future any more, even if I’ve been through a lot of personal changes since the last election in 2010.  I really want to fix my life by the next election, by getting a proper permanent job, by being able to afford a mortgage on a place out in Surrey, and by finding a wife (or at least amassing a harem), all to ensure I don’t end up living with my mother in Worthing all over again.

Actually, I feel like I’ve got less than four (or possibly five) years to do this in: I want to sort everything out by the time I have a 4 at the start of my age.  I don’t want to let my mother down, but more than that, I don’t want to let myself down, and as it’s clear that our society writes people off above a certain age, I’ve got to hurry up about it.  However, I won’t plot suicide on my 40th birthday if I haven’t fixed everything, similar to what I did on that day I tediously refer to as “Twelve-Twelve“: I’ll write more about this later, but suffice it to say that I won’t change for the sake of changing, settle for a job, home or girlfriend that makes me miserable, or give up the things I enjoy out of some sense of obligation to suffer.

I’m sure nothing the Conservatives do over the next few years will hinder me in my aim to make something of my life, get a decent job and buy a nice home, and indeed will help me every step of the way… otherwise they’d be a bunch of liars only out to line their own pockets at the expense of the peasantry, and we’d never elect people like that to govern our country, would we?

Oh, wait: Conservatives pledge to scrap Human Rights Act.

And: Conservatives pledge to introduce Snooper’s Charter.

We’re doomed, Mr. Mainwaring…

— — — — —

(* All right, uh huh huh huh, but his name’s nowhere near as funny as Dick Pound: with apparently no sense of irony, he wrote this book — and presumably approved the cover as well.  Uh huh huh huh huh huh huh huh etc…)

Why I’ll never vote Conservative in Barnet

notaOnly a few days before a general election here in the UK, and it looks like the real winner will be “none of the above”, as disaffection with disinterested politicians is at an all-time high, and “we’re all in it together” seems to mean they’re all in it together, along with their cronies in big business and the banking sector, and we peasants/proles can starve and/or freeze for all they care.

I’m not going to suggest to any of you which political party you should vote for (except for the obligatory “not UKIP”), but I am going to explain why the Conservatives (Tories) here in Barnet are such a toxic party for anyone who is not a Russian oligarch buying a mansion.  In particular, I’m going to be trash-talking my local Tory candidate here in Finchley & Golders Green, Mike Freer, a man so venomous that even his local party seems to have turned its back on him…

(Okay, apart from a canvasser who came to my door — though he was very understanding when I said I wouldn’t vote for Freer if he was the only candidate!)

Oh, but where to begin with how the Tories have screwed up here?  The usual place is One Barnet, the project of mass-privatisation of council services here in Barnet, which they did their best to conceal from us, culminating in a legal challenge from locals that was shut down on the basis that it wasn’t “in time”, despite the court not being able to agree when exactly the people of Barnet had been informed of it.  However, it seems our elected Conservative councillors weren’t the driving force behind it anyway, and that it was the unelected council officers who were pushing this agenda.  Which means that, at best, our councillors are ineffectual.

As far as the money goes, well, the amount we, the taxpayers of Barnet, are paying Capita and Comensura (who provide agency staff, replacing in-house staff who were made redundant) under One Barnet keeps going up and up, despite the fact that we were told it’d save us money.  When, and whose money?  We have only limited information, as they’re hiding behind commercial confidentiality to avoid revealing too much via Freedom of Information.  There was even a £16m payment for investment in IT that Capita was supposed to front itself, but which the council paid to them, and then lied about, saying it was money they’d brought forward.  All this can be read in the blog of a fellow Barnet resident, Mr Reasonable, who has been keeping tabs on everything as an “armchair auditor”.

The worst thing, however, is what they did to adult social services: Your Choice Barnet, where the “choice” appears to be between “suck it up”, “move away” and “die”.  Making a profit from social care for the vulnerable is pretty unethical at the best of times, but this company couldn’t even get that right, and needed a million-pound bail-out after ONE YEAR.  The attitude among Tory supporters here is that old ladies wanting hot food at consistent times is some kind of “gold-plated service” (rather than an essential part of a daily routine, especially for people with dementia), and that under austerity they should just put up with getting food whenever the overworked and underpaid staff (i.e. the people who actually do the work) are able to turn up, even if it means lunch arrives cold at 4pm.  If they don’t like it, well, they can always leave Barnet, can’t they?  It’s not the council’s fault if these people couldn’t be bothered to be rich and pay for private care in their declining years, like Maggie Thatcher (whose constituency was of course Finchley)… is it?

And yes, social cleansing is their real aim: a young Tory councillor here in Barnet actually stated that he wants to see a latter-day “Highland Clearance”, with all the socially-undesireable people, i.e. anyone on benefits, including the elderly, disabled, jobless and anyone who needs council housing, driven out of the borough.  This has merged with their campaign to sell off any land they can to private developers (including museums and libraries, which of course only poor people use), and culminated in the closure of council estates such as Sweets Way and the forced eviction of the people living there, many with nowhere to go, so that expensive flats can be built instead.  Oh, they claim they did their best to find these people new homes, but somehow places to live in Birmingham and Coventry don’t count for people with local jobs, and their children in local schools.

(Mind you, when one remembers what the metaphor “being sent to Coventry” means to posh people…)

There’s also privatised parking enforcement in Barnet, which seems to ignore the stated aim of parking enforcement — that of maximising compliance and minimising traffic disruption, using fines as a punitive measure — and instead seeks to maximise income through a combination of jobsworthing and outright tricking people into parking wrongly.  They even said it’s not the job of traffic wardens to advise drivers on where they can park legally, which at best leaves the operatives open to accusations of entrapment, and at worst leaves the operatives open to use entrapment, in order to gain money from fines (as the council still seems to consider parking tickets a revenue stream that needs to be preserved).

Another Barnet blogger, Mr. Mustard, frequently cites examples of dodgy parking tickets, and advises readers on how to challenge them successfully where they were unfairly applied (e.g. due to signage being insufficient or confusing).  He also highlighted how Barnet massively ramped up the charge for residents’ parking permits; fortunately they were defeated in court, which is why my drummer housemate (who seldom uses his car) pays £40 annually instead of £100.  The council themselves admitted to this being pure revenue raising, but felt it was allowed on a technicality as they’d put the money into road maintenance (though leader Richard Cornelius did admit it had been “charmlessly” done, which was big of him).

But let’s get to the nub of my gist: Mike Freer, my local MP and the Tory candidate.  This is a man who thinks he’d be better at representing the Jewish community because he isn’t Jewish and thus doesn’t have a “vested interest”, like his Labour opponent Sarah Sackman.  It’s a ludicrous claim, because the one good thing he’s ever done as an MP is to speak out in favour of gay marriage, i.e. on behalf a community of which he is a part, so why is potential bias okay in his case but not hers?  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he also thinks Sackman is “bandwagoning” because she stands up for public libraries, disabled services and children’s nurseries here.  Does he believe that only a political opportunist would oppose cutting services for the vulnerable, in an effort to curry favour and win votes?  What does that say about him?

bwian_coleman

A member of the local Conservative association — or “Tory ass” for short

Perhaps this is why the Barnet Conservatives aren’t using social media much in the run-up to this election: they know they’ll just make things worse.  Oh, except for one Tory, who you may remember me slagging off a couple of years ago… yes, unfortunately Brian Coleman is back in town, and boasting on Twitter about how he’s a member of the local Conservative association here in Finchley, despite the fact that they were supposed to have booted him out (albeit grudgingly, and only on the orders of the central Conservatives) back in 2013 when he was convicted of attacking a nice lady who runs a café in North Finchley.

However, Barnet blog The Barnet Eye has been unable to get a clear answer from the local Tories: initially denying he’d been let back in, they now seem to think his name had “accidentally” been left on their list, and that he’d thus been charged his 2015 membership fee (which they’ve publicly refunded) and sent his card.  Either this didn’t happen in 2014 (since they haven’t refunded two sets of fees), or it happened and no-one knew, and he’s thus remained a member this whole time, only finally being exposed now that he’s crowed about it on social media.  Which suggests he’s screwed himself by not being able to keep his big fat mouth keyboard-typing fingers shut.

As you may recall me saying before, this is the guy who decided that only people with smartphones could park on high streets in Finchley (by getting entirely rid of cash-based parking meters), and then set SO15 (yes, anti-terror police) on the aforementioned nice café owner when she omitted one small detail from a poster she’d made criticising him.  He attacked her when she photographed him parking illegally outside her café, in other words violating the intentions of his own position in the council (one law for them, and all that), and insisted he was innocent until the last minute before his trial, whereupon he changed his plea.

(Oh, and did I mention he’s a personal friend of Mike Freer?  I’m sure that’s got nothing to do with anything, I just thought I’d throw it in here, you know, for completeness…)

All the above explains why I would not cast my vote for the Tories here in Barnet even if they were the only party,  or had a burly thug follow me into the voting booth, a la Tower Hamlets, to make sure I voted the “right” way.  The trouble is, who do I vote for instead?  I recall how badly Labour managed things up to 2010, especially under Gordon “Let’s sell our gold reserves at the lowest possible price” Brown, but what other choice do I have?

I want “anyone but the Tories” here in Barnet, but what chance do the Greens have?  I still want to support them (since they’re pretty much the only political party who wants to expose the secretive and sinister TTIP treaty, which will enable corporations to sue governments if they don’t make “enough” profit), but here in Barnet, would that be a vote wasted?

I’m just glad I don’t live in Bexley, or I’d be arrested just for writing this blog post!