Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Musings of a Misfit - Part 1...

"You and your pals are too weird for me"

I've thought about these words over the last couple of days and deliberately took the time to reflect upon them properly before saying anything meaningful. It is of course sad to lose a friend of any description, but some disagreements drive an irreconcilable wedge between people. I wish him well, and still think at heart he's a good bloke - it would be churlish and pathetic of me to believe anything else.

As I said at the time, shame.

I can't speak for my pals, but we move on...

He's actually right, even if it's for the wrong reasons. Politically, I'm most definitely something of a misfit. One of the reasons for increasing my social media profile and coming back to the blogosphere was to see how what is a distinctly minority view would fare in the public domain. My immediate observation would be to paraphrase Howard Devoto and note that I frequently find myself being "shot by both sides". Disliked (politically, if not personally) by the tribal left and the tribal right in equal measure - so I'm doing something right. Perhaps it was summed up best when I posted something broadly agreement with capping benefits, with the caveat that the Royal Family had their 'handouts' cut to £26,000. Now there's a great way to piss off just about everyone at the same time.

It's not childish exhibitionism, I'm just in a tiny minority who process and analyse things the way that I do. It's been a blessing to meet a few great people over the last few years who display similar thought processes. At the very least, it's nailed one argument in my favour, confirming that I'm not actually insane. I've even found the Libertarian umbrella a tad uncomfortable, increasingly preferring the term 'Instinctive Liberalism' to describe a certain belief system as time has gone on.  Liberalism, in the original meaning of the word, means leaving people the fuck alone, not rewarding or punishing lawful behaviour on some 'moral' basis dictated by whoever is in office at the time. It's about resisting cheap populism, opposing mob rule and vigilantism of any description.

Most of all, Instinctive Liberalism is the antithesis of 'group think', or its more overtly political cousin, tribalism. That's why many Instinctive Liberals (myself included) are deeply suspicious of mass democracy and would like to see further checks (like a written constitution) to limit the damage it can do.

Tribes are the problem and always have been. Electoral politics without checks and balances becomes nothing more than a game of populist bribery. Shithead A turns up on yout doorstep, identifies the tribes he loves, the tribes he loathes, tells you which tribe is going to get more stuff and which other tribe is going to pay for it. Then Shithead B knocks on your door, identifies a different set of favoured and lamented tribes, thereby inviting you to decide (in the roundabout words of Billy Bragg) whose tribe are you on boy, whose tribe are you on? Pressure groups emerge, demanding more 'stuff' by proxy on the doorstep - usually dressed up as some sort of 'equality crusade' it's actually a crude appeal to the effect of give more stuff to me and I'll vote for you.

If all that seems a bit too abstract and not 'real world' enough for you let's have an example, a case study if you will, where both sides of the tribal argument talk a parcel of bollocks. I find the socially conservative obsession with marriage hysterically funny, so let's start with that side of it. "Marriage is the bedrock of society, an important part of raising the next generation and the only socially acceptable family unit, blah, blah" says some sad dinosaur like Crispin Blunt, before asking for sympathy as he 'comes to terms' with his own homosexuality a few years later. Sympathy I have none, you silly old hypocrite, now fuck off and leave me alone to sleep with whoever I want - as long as there aren't animals or kids involved it has precisely fuck all to do with you.

The Socially Conservative analysis (and I appreciate calling it an analysis is a mite generous) is that the mere act of asking for a divorce spawns an outbreak of utter selfishness in men and women who were utterly saintly beforehand. Getting married and staying married to someone, anyone, is automatically good for you, in the same way in which, say, spinach or pasta might be. It's bloody good for society too - it produces more geniuses, more entrepreneurs, more poets and scholars, fewer criminals. It's good for the environment, reduces classroom sizes, combats climate change (if you believe in it, and even if you don't it, er, still does). Fewer people take drugs, more people go to university and 'experiment' with Coca Cola and chocolate instead. Everybody loves each other and is a perfect neighbour. Nobody ever steals, tells lies, or god forbid, sleeps with someone they're not married to.

We all live in a fucking Tory Blue submarine...

Get a Conservative talking about marriage and he (or, highly improbably she) starts turning strangely Utopian. It's like one big hippy movement for the sexually repressed.

So, according to the tribal thesis, I must, must therefore be of the opposing view, that all of society's ills, including marital breakdown, are the result of dire poverty or illness in one way or another. When people behave selfishly or irresponsibly, driving away people who previously loved and cared for them, it will most likely be as a result of a lack of money. However prosperous a society might be, relative poverty is the cause of pretty much all mistakes and misjudgements within it. Poor mere millionaires living amongst billionaires eh - how on earth did they stay together for so long? As for 'marginal issues' that contribute towards family dysfunction, like substance abuse or violence, the answer is straightforward. Every last one of us needs treatment, and the taxpayer should pick up the tab.

Nobody is bad, nobody is stupid, fucks up, does something reckless and doesn't appreciate what they have until it is gone. Everyone is a victim in some form or another - in fact, everyone is diseased. Beating your wife and kids because they're weaker than you is a disease, the fantasy of addiction is a disease, beyond any sense of control or moderation.

Irresponsibility? A disease.

Wife/child beater? Anger management issues.

Bad with money? Shopping/spending addiction.

Infidelity? Sex addiction.

It's not your fault, remember...

This, apparently, is the choice - and I'm actually supposed to 'choose' one of them?

What if I happen to think both of these 'analyses' are incredibly fucking stupid? Who 'represents' me? From where I'm stood, the answer is nobody. Certainly nobody who knocks on my door at election time, and/or has a realistic chance of winning.

For the little it's worth, the reality based on personal experience is that a an awful lot of people get married when they're young because someone, somewhere, thinks that they should. This is the single biggest reason that marriages fail, because two people got married for entirely the wrong reasons to start with. I'm always happier for those who tie the knot later in life, since it's more likely they've reached that conclusion independently, as opposed to it being the result of parental or peer pressure. For that reason alone, I can't possibly go along with the idea that getting married is an inherantly good thing. In fact, it's this sort of societal hand on the shoulder (thankfully on the wane) that results in so many 'bad marriages' in the first place, leaving the rest of us, assuming they have kids, to pick up some of the consequences, and usually most of the bill.

As far as 'selfishness' goes, well some people are just nasty pieces of work, it's as simple as that. Anyone with half a brain will quickly divorce someone who turns violent, or empties the joint bank account to indulge in a weekend away with the boys, or girls for that matter. In reality, people who cannot see beyond the end of their own nose tend not to stay married for too long - i.e. selfishness is a cause of divorce and not a consequence of it as Social Conservatives would have you believe. An awful lot of people who ended up as single parents did so because they wanted the freedom of single life and therefore did not take the responsibility of marriage, and more importantly, parenthood, seriously. You feel sorry for the other half of that relationship who perhaps did, but to suggest that someone who wanted to have their cake and eat it is some sort of 'victim' is utterly ludicrous.

They simply shouldn't have got married or had kids in the first place. End of argument.

Ergo - both sides are wrong. There are a multitude of issues on which such a duopoly of tribal idiocy exists, but it made sense to pick an obvious one to illustrate the point.

In short, marriage and/or divorce does not cause or prevent irresponsible behaviour or nastiness. People make mistakes, do bad or stupid things, from which some learn something and others don't. To suggest that getting and staying married solves everything would be moronic, as is any idea that someone who fucks up is automatically diseased and needs State help.

And therein lies the problem on so many counts - Tory vs Labour. Marriage is wonderful vs Everyone is diseased. Drugs are bad vs Poor addict needs help. Greed is good vs Tax the rich. Racism vs Political Correctness. English Defence League vs Islamic Lunatics. I keep coming up with the same answer - neither. I suspect an increasing number are recognising the island of false dichotomy and bizarre non-sequeters we're living in, but out of habit you'll go and vote for more of the same in May. I'll come onto exactly why that's such a tragic and indeed dangerous move, but hey it's up to you. What I do know is that the current social discourse (forgetting the political discourse, which is even worse) finds precisely no room for the non-tribal amongst us.

So - I can't be bribed, because I'm not 'one of you' or a member of 'the enemy within' but an individual. Would I take to the streets, knowing people like myself are in a minority and try to exert unwarranted influence through violence? Absolutely not, no wannabe 'benevolent dictator' here since such a thing cannot exist. What about running for election? Being at the distinct disadvantage of not being able to bribe the rest of you with someone else's money, there would be more chance of a snowball fight in hell than yours truly scoring even a tenth of the vote. Still, I'd rather be right than be President, as Henry Clay once said. My ex-friend is spot on, politically I'm a complete misfit, there's no logical space in democratic politics for someone who thinks like I do - and anyone possessed of anything resembling morality knows the EDL 'profile by intimidation' route is totally out of bounds. a crossroads, I'm back in 'keyboard warrior' country -  thoughts appreciated.

Take care and I'll catch you soon for Part 2.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The McCann Case - an Analysis...

I promised myself I'd do this one day.

So...if I disappear off the face of the earth in the next 24 hours, at least you'll know why.

Before we start, I'd better direct you to some important sources of information on what I'm about to talk about, to 1) demonstrate I've researched this extensively and 2) invite every last one of you to make up your own minds.

First, a website, the Complete Mystery, which examines some of the unanswered questions that come out of this case.

Then, a banned documentary presented by Goncalo Amaral, the police chief initially responsible for investigating the case. Was he removed for gross incompetence as claimed, or because he was getting too close to the truth? Your call.

The thoughts of expert criminal profiler Pat Brown on the case. She's straight as a die, doesn't pull any punches and doesn't seem to have an agenda either way. She also ran into 'difficulties' getting a book published with her analysis of the situation. the interests of balance, the McCanns' own website.

A good mate of mine does a lot of business with a Portugese company. As a consequence, trips out there are not an infrequent occurrence and, well, nice work if you can get it. I was not shocked a few years ago when he told me that the perception many Portguese have of the McCann case is very, very different from that of most people here in the Uk. There's a degree of angst in some quarters from people who are pissed off about the xenophobia of the British mainstream media, suggesting that their investigation into the case was riddled with dishonesty, comical ineptitude, or a mix of both. This is what has driven the casual acceptance of millions that the Met are best-equipped to find out what actually happened here and, well, take a step back and straight away it stinks to high heaven. Let me explain why.

A few short years ago, Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazillian migrant who (yes, before you shout out) had overstayed his visa was blasted by plain clothed police officers at a London tube station. Now, the conclusion to this case, that no cop had done anything wrong, smells a tad fishy from where I'm stood anyway. It was acknowledged by no fewer than six eyewitnesses that nobody shouted 'POLICE - STOP' or anything similar. As far as de Menezes was concerned, he was being confronted by civilians who happened to be waving firearms around. Tragically, the poor fella lost his life and, let's be honest, it was wholly unnecessary. Surely the officer who fired at him (seven times, no less) should have been facing jail? But there's a bigger point that that in the context of what we're talking about.

Imagine if the Brazilian police had taken it upon themselves to 'investigate' what had occurred, and stomped around London like thugs in uniform as if they owned the place. There would (quite rightly) have been outrage about them interfering in a case under somebody else's jurisdiction. Now, last time I checked, Portugal was 1) a democracy 2) worked on the basis of the rule of law 3) engaged in some sort of due process with anyone suspected of a crime and 4) had signed up to conventions on human rights, against torture and what have you. This is not Iran or North Korea we're dealing with and, unless someone would like to tell me something very, very important that we have all missed, Madeleine McCann was last seen IN PORTUGAL, right? Ergo, it is a PORTUGESE case. What the hell are OUR police doing out there, or having anything to do with it?

Imperial British arrogance, or something more sinister? Your call.

I'll very quickly go over just a few of the multitude of alarm bells, many of which you'll be able to see more of through the sources identified above. There's the 'flunked' polygraph test, in which Kate refuses to answer 48 out of 49 questions. Eddie and Keela, a blood and cadaver dog who between them have 'solved' (i.e. have a track record of NEVER giving a false positive) more than 200 cases. You have the spectre (as seen in the Amral film) of a cadaver dog going batshit insane at a spot behind the sofa of the McCanns' apartment. For the removal of doubt THERE HAD RECENTLY BEEN A CORPSE IN THAT APARTMENT as discovered by part of a dog team with a ridiculous strike rate in this sort of situation. Then we have the blood in the hire car. Go on then, why are traces of Madeleine's blood IN THE BOOT of a car searched several days AFTER she disappeared?

After being named as arguidos, as is required by Portugese law, do Gerry and Kate stick around in an attempt to clear their name? No, they hot foot it back to the Uk, which in case you were unsure, they really weren't supposed to do. No evidence of a forced entry was found, despite it being stated over and over that the apartment was locked. We have the 'sightings' of the Tapas group the McCanns were with, which seem conveniently spread away from each other to act as a 'false lead' to anyone investigating. There are the frosty, often hostile media interviews defined principally by any lack of feeling and emotion and taking the form of a pre-written press release. In one (at 2:35 here) Gerry states that he and Kate "know that we are not responsible for Madeleine's death".

Sorry - her death?

I thought we were looking for a missing person, or at the very least, you don't know she's dead for certain, do you?

All that said, there are two really troubling aspects to the McCann situation which eclipse anything else I might have mentioned. One is the way in which they have essentially become immensely wealthy B-list celebrities as a result of their own admitted act of gross child neglect, thanks to a mass media circus and the 'McCann Fighting Fund', It's worth pointing out that this 'fund' IS NOT ACTUALLY A CHARITY. I'll repeat that, IT IS A PRIVATE COMPANY, NOT A CHARITY. You are not 'making a donation' but instead playing the role of paying customer signing a blank cheque in terms of what you will get for your cash, even if the McCanns still kindly allow you to choose the amount. Perhaps you should ask where the money spent by other 'paying customers' has gone towards the end of 'customer satisfaction' since there is no requirement on the McCanns to explain EXACTLY where all this money goes - because IT IS NOT A CHARITY.

Now...charitable status gives you so many advantages over a mere 'private company' so why would you pass it up were that opportunity readily available?

What we do know is that some of the money was spent on hiring a god awful and highly dodgy 'private investigation' company who proved to be every bit as useless as the guy hired to persuade Sideshow Bob to leave Springfield. You won't be surprised to hear this company came up with the square root of zip...and were later done for an unrelated fraud. A sum in the millions has also been spent silencing hacks (perhaps I'm about to join them) who raise issues such as the ones being mentioned here - as well as the assortment of journalists who break ranks from the mainstream media line, there are the delayed or confiscated books of Amaral and Pat Brown, neither of whom, it should be said, directly accuse them of murder or covering up an accident. They merely have the temerity to question the 'official' version of events and present the spin-off questions in published form.

I look forward to the writ in the post.

One of the other stated aims of the fund's existence was "to support the family". Er...why? We are talking about two people employed as medical professionals - not exactly hard up, and contrast that with (for example) the families of Hillsborough victims, who made the best effort they could to get on with life, get back to work and do what they could in their own time.

Giving up their job and galavanting around the world was never an option for them.

Am I almost alone in finding the celebrity status of these people to be in extremely bad taste? If you believe their story then fine, but even then you have to accept that they are wholly responsible for whatever happened to their own daughter. Certainly not worthy of B-list status or millions of pounds from people almost certainly more in need of the money than they are. Being kind-hearted, they hear a sob story and get their credit cards out without engaging their brains - I don't mean that in a cruel or underhand way and appreciate it's just a part of the inbuilt good nature most people have. But there's something sick and twisted about the taking advantage of that naivety on an industrial scale, as if we're all the subjects of a nasty experiment, regardless of what you believe actually happened. They are 100% to blame here, can anybody take a step back and seriously dispute that?

It's tragic, but every year thousands upon thousands of kids go missing worldwide. My heart goes out to anyone whose child was, the last anyone knew, walking home from school or getting up to mischief with their friends and just vanished into thin air. Perhaps Mum or Dad took their eye off him or her for a few seconds while out shopping or whatever, and the child they loved was cruelly snatched from them. They didn't abandon three kids of single digit years in an apartment in a foreign country so they could get smashed out of their heads and live it large. NO responsible parent would do that, not ever - and I suspect were the McCanns a working class family from a council estate then the perception of them from a great many would be very, very different.

Where are the 'Fighting Funds' for these people?

Where's the media circus and the posters that were up within hours?

And...where are the actual photographs of this holiday prior to the disappearance?

Perhaps most chillingly, we have senior politicians getting personally involved and giving speeches on this, as opposed to any of the other many, many missing child cases where the parents could really do with that sort of exposure. I'm sorry, but what makes them so bloody special? Why is Gordon Brown getting personally involved in 'raising awareness' of a case like this? What the hell is Clarence Mitchell, a former spin doctor for Tony Blair, doing 'working' for the McCanns within days of her disappearance? Apparently, it was to "control what comes out in the media". And...exactly why would you feel the need to do that, Clarence? Surely if any media outlet has information which might jog someone's memory, or link a couple of the pieces of this jigsaw together, they should just print or broadcast it?

"Controlling what comes out in the media" is what the 'Minister of Information' in a dictatorship would do.

Your daughter goes missing and your immediate thought is...."let's hire a guy who used to work in the media department of the government". Yeah, that makes a load of sense...

What exactly is the thought process here? And why on earth is it necessary?

And...what about the effect of this circus on their other kids? Do they ever stop to consider how debilitating it is for them?

I'm not in the business of accusing people of a serious crime without evidence. I have none other than what most of you will have access to if you take the time. There just appear to be too many issues here for the official story to pass 'the smell test' without leaving more quesitons than answers. The sabotage of the initial investigation and the persecution of Amaral, the dodgy 'non-charity fundraising', the unedifying elevation of self-confessed negligent parents to the status of celebrities, the involvement of high-profile people who would not usually have got involved, and had no need to anyway. I hadn't even mentioned the 'Twitter troll' who mysteriously 'committed suicide' a matter of hours later. The first two words that came into my head when I heard about that were Danny Casolaro, who was quite obviously murdered.

My darkest fear is that one day, they'll stick this on some poor innocent who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, that the media will whip up a frenzy and a jury of sheep will give 'the right answer'. I hope I'm wrong.

Was Madeliene abducted? Has there been an accident followed by a cover-up? Are we all the victims of a sick hoax? I don't know, but make up your own minds.

Take care and thanks for reading - catch you soon.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Making Martyrs out of Morons...

Many thanks to all who contributed on what became a lively and at times heated discussion on the Ched Evans case the other night. Special thanks goes to all who profoundly disagreed, without whom such an exchange would not have existed.

We've recently had the rather strange case of Dave Whelan, who the FA were satisfied "is not racist" but then found guilty of "making racist comments", an offence for which he has received a six-week ban from 'all football activity'. Whether that expands to playing Football Manager on his PC I don't know, but it's always struck me as a rather curious term to use. First he's quoted as saying that "yeah, Jews probably chase money more than most people"  in an interview with the Grauniad, and then, while apologising for the initital faux pas to the Jewish Chronicle, he suggests that "calling a Chinese man a chink is nothing" and "when I was younger, we used to call the local Chinese restaurant Chingalings - we weren't being disrespectful".

It's a massive 'head in hands' moment and  the irony of getting yourself in even deeper shit while attempting to issue an apology will not be lost on most of you. Apparently, Whelan employs more than one person as an 'advisor' on business matters and perhaps one of them could have politely 'advised' him to put a sock in it and appear contrite while just saying "sorry, I fucked up" and walking away. It would certainly have saved him a lot of the hassle that followed and I'd love to see a whole transcript of that second interview, just to get an idea of the context in which he thought raising the concept of 'chinks' was a good idea. To paraphrase Jeopardy, what question was 'chinks' the answer to?

Maybe something abour armour, I dunno?

Just rewinding slightly, Whelan had, in the first instance, been defending his appointment of Malky MacKay, who had sent some rather, er, unfortunate correspondence to another Cardiff City employee while he was team manager there.

His utterly moronic hall of shame is as follows:-

On the arrival of South Korean international Kim Bo-Kyung:
"Fkn chinkys. Fk it. There's enough dogs in Cardiff for us all to go around."
On football agent Phil Smith:
"Go on, fat Phil. Nothing like a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers"
On transfer target list:
"Not many white faces amongst that lot but worth considering."
On a player's female agent:
"I hope she's looking after your needs. I bet you'd love a bounce on her falsies."
On an official at another club:
"He's a snake, a gay snake. Not to be trusted"
To members of Cardiff's staff:
A picture entitled 'Black Monopoly' - where every square was a "Go to Jail" square

Oh dear...

I think we can safely conclude from that lot you could stick dynamite in MacKay's ears and do very, very little damage. He may well be missing a chromosome, or has simply been so taken in by the 'muggy bonehead' culture of the sport he's been involved in that he doesn't appreciate his own ridiculousness.

Either way, I'd have no issue with the concept he had just rendered himself unemployable on the basis of utter idiocy.

However, what struck me in the media hysteria that followed was the determination of certain people to contrive a degree of outrage rather than sadness at what MacKay had come out with. No, he wasn't an arsehole, or a man immersed in a dumb and macho soccer culture, but a vicious racist, misogynist and homophobe, an Imperial Wizard in the making. They saw evil intent in every word, even when it was demonstrably the case that his IQ score was probably lower than 46 - the number of games Cardiff would play in a Championship season. From initially thinking he should be put down like a stray dog for his own mercy and then, er, eaten by a Korean, I ended up feeling more than a tad sorry for the poor fella. I mean, "it's not his fault he's a fucking retard" is it?

This current PC craze of finding malicious intent just about everywhere, even when it doesn't exist, has the most unwelcome side-effect of making martyrs of out of morons. I don't want anyone, let alone myself, to feel sorry for an utter knobhead like MacKay or a dinosaur like Whelan, who probably spends half of his time harking back to 'the good old days' when kids walked to school in four miles of snow without shoes, and were beaten to within an inch of their life by their Dad when they got home, just to make sure they didn't misbehave. The other half? Well we know he spends that talking about a broken leg he got in a football match half a century ago, not that he's bitter or anything.

He also claimed, disgustingly and falsely, that the Wolves player 'responsible' had 'done him' deliberately when this is easily disproved by the available video footage. There was an honest attempt to win the ball by two players and, well, shit happens. It was rotten luck for the man, but appeared to be the making of him, and to write that two years after the other player involved had passed away, and so could not defend himself, was a shameful smear on the dead. Then there's the false hope given to fans of Orrell Rugby Union Club, talk of 'sipping champagne in France' followed by the destruction and asset-stripping of that same outfit, leaving them homeless and finished, all to bag Wigan RL (a franchise epitomised by that monumental tosser Maurice Lindsay - another Whelan stooge) a new training ground.

Whelan is clearly a nasty piece of work and, no, I don't like him.

And I didn't even bother to mention the stadium he named after himself...

Take a step back and it's quite apparent that you're dealing with a geriatric muppet who has made no effort to escape the 'deepest, darkest Lancashire' he grew up in during the age of rationing, and an idiot who managed (I'm not quite sure how, but he did) to motivate a bunch of footballers into a monumentally succesful season that saw them promoted from the Championiship. Whelan is clearly banking on that bolt of lightning striking twice. But are they actually bigots? While it's a racing certainty that a bigot will use offensive words to describe people of difference, the mere use of those words does not automatically make one a bigot, does it? It can be based on all sorts of things, sheer stupidity and 'dinosaur syndrome' being amongst the frontrunners in the race. Why is that so hard for some to understand?

Perhaps in that context, they deserve each other?

However, what facts are known point to neither actually having a problem with difference of any sort in real life. Whelan has spent millions of pounds of his own money on non-white and/or foreign players to prop up a team that, let's be honest, would be in the Conference without him, getting turned over by Forest Green while enduring chants of "Springfield Park is falling down". MacKay's Championship-winning squad was a cosmopolitan mix, as most football teams are these days. It's highly unlikely that a 'racist' football manager could motivate and manage players from different environments and cultures to consistent levels of performance over a nine month period. And wouldn't there be stories coming out from ex-players were there anything in the suggestion that MacKay is actually racist?

It just seems to me that people spray words like 'racist' and 'bigot' around a tad too casually these days. If you understand your history you'll know the full connotations of those words and their significance. It strikes me that their use to describe behaviour that is merely stupid as opposed to being driven by ill-intent, cbeapens what should be a strong and (rightly) stigmatising word by definition. Let's be clear - actual bigotry is very, very fucking serious. It has wrecked (and indeed cost) millions of innocent lives. It degrades, it dehumanises, it humiliates and hurts. It really is no light or laughing matter and should not be trivialised by the inclusion of a few moronic text messages and a silly old dinosaur under the same umbrella as apartheid and concentration camps.

Let's just thank the man upstairs (or Richard Dawkins, if you please) there's less of it than there once was.

Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Monday, 5 January 2015

A Defence of Anti-Politics and Keyboard Warriors

The following is a response to this well-written piece that appears here. Much appreciated, Gregg.

There's little to argue with apart from the bit about 'anti-politicians' that I'm going to pick up shortly.

I was wrong about Political Correctness, I know that much, thinking at one point is was little more than a well-intended muddle created by people intent on getting us to be 'a bit nicer' to each other, especially those minorities who to varying degrees got a rough time of it historically. Actually researching it and realising that its origins were Communist East Germany set an alarm bell running right away, and should probably be a source of panic for most of us. Communism? Naziism? Fascism? I'll claim partial credit for arguing with a schoolteacher at an early age that these had far more in common with each other than they did with free and liberal alternatives. Of course I was told I was wrong, that Communism was 'misplaced idealism', a utopian dream gone bad, whereas Naziism is simply evil.

No, both are evil. I'm not going to start 'counting dead people' as it's distasteful, but once you get into the millions you're in 'as bad as each other' country, surely?

This isn't a 'left or right' argument, since such terms simplify the argument and mislead people, but one of more freedom or less. A bigger state with a wishlist or a smaller one which does what it needs to and then leaves individuals well alone.

Islamic states? Organised babarism, and their persecution of minorities is an order of magnitude worse than ANYTHING that has EVER happened in this country, regardless of our own less than unblemished past. The hypocrisy of highly illiberal self-styled 'liberals' would be breathtaking were there not so many sheep around unable to work it out for themselves. These people aren't 'liberal' by any stretch of the imagination and the mutation of that word by half-wits makes the blood of this genuine liberal reach boiling point.

Gay marriage? I can take it or leave it - I just know it was one of the worst public debates I have ever seen. The militant gay mob's childishness knows no limits and actually does a great disservice to those who just want to get on with life and happen to prefer the same sex to the opposite one. Of course, opposing gay marriage does not autmatically make anyone a bigot, but some of the idiots wheeled out to argue against it clearly had a wider problem with same-sex relationships and they were cringeworthy. Perhaps that was a cynical tactic by the mainstream media to turn people in favour? Don't laugh, it happens.

So - much to agree on. I imagine some of my replies bore him sometimes. Sorry.

Anyway, I'll lay out again what Gregg specifically has to say about anti-politics.

But when apportioning blame the 'anti-politicians' must carry a huge burden of guilt. I mean those people who sit on their bums slagging off anybody involved in politics, be they a volunteer leafleter or an MP, just for the fact that they are involved in politics. The advent of the internet has made this problem even worse with the appearance of the keyboard warrior, who has all the answers, usually idiotically simplistic answers, but still sits on his fat arse doing nothing constructive  but slagging off those who actually stick their heads above the parapet and try to change things. The 'anti-politicians' do more than anybody else to drive people away from politics thus leaving political parties in the hands of an ever dwindling band of misfits.

Gregg, you talk a lot of sense but on this occasion you really are spewing an awful load of shite. I'll explain why you're SO wrong about this.

Ok - what's an anti-politician?

An anti-politician (as I understand it) is someone who holds a deep level of cynicism both about politicians in general and the poltiical process.They refuse to participate in politics, vote in elections and tend to encourage others not to do so. Usually, this is driven by a feeling that mainstream politicians and their parties are 'all the same' and that therefore a vote for anyone with a realistic chance of winning is, by definition, utterly wasted. Is this a misplaced view? It's hard to argue with any force of conviction that it is. As Gregg himself acknowledges, the three main parties are all committed to the same basic blueprint, Big government, nanny state, surveillance culture, madly in love with the EU (which is not the same as Europe by the way), state-imposed PC. That analysis is spot on.

So why would any sane rational and genuinely well-meaning person want to join or 'get involved' with any of them?

I was having this argument with someone only on Friday. A nominally democratic closed shop is an inherantly corrupt game that will onlt truly appeal to the misfits that Gregg refers to. He's been trying to buck the trend for three decades of his life and deserves respect for that. I also know that a parliament full of people like him (much as we disagree on certain things) would be a vast improvement on what we have. But then the mainstream parties run themselves in precisely such a way as to stop the likes of Gregg from becoming one of their representatives. They want good, obedient little foot soldiers who can be controlled, often by identifying a personal failing such as greed, a rampant sex drive or penchant for some other vice, and then using it to gather 'dirt' on them.

A half-wit who's still smart enough to know this is the best number they will ever on will fall into line. Look at the expenses scandal, the whole catalogue of corruption for personal gain from politicians of all three major parties when in office. The culture of safe seats, where obedience is rewarded with a 25-year career you know is realistically safe from the consequence of non-performance. Just keep voting with your paymasters, collect the nice pension at the end and off you go.

Gregg, you can't in one breath say "I've finally realised I'm wasting my time" and then castigate others for recognising it perhaps quicker than you did.

Then there are the situations around John Mann, Simon Danczuk and Geoffrey Dickens, which reveal something darker.

Danczuk's brave work exposed the paedophilia of Cyril Smith, who used to 'discipline' what he saw as 'misbehaving' boys in a home for the 'young and troubled' in his constituency. But Cyril is dead, so we can let that one slide. Dickens wasn't so lucky. After threatening to expose a series of politicians on both sides of the House as child abusers, the ex-boxer was subjected to death threats and intimidation against both himself and his family until he was finally cowed into silence. His story became hard currency again a couple of years back amid the whole Jimmy Savile thing, but of course, he's dead now. So we move on. Mann has just recently claimed to have a dossier in which up to 22 MPs are implicated in sexual offences against children, including the North Wales care home scandal which was the subject of a shameful cover-up and then the 'accusation' of Lord McAlpine on national TV.

Will Mann's evidence see the light of day? Don't count on it.

It would not surprise me in the slightest to hear of him 'disappearing' or having a 'heart attack' in the very near future, He's onto something massive, something that will blow public life in this country wide open and pose another series of awkward questions.

There's far too much of this shit for there to be nothing in it - let's be clear. Savile, who let us not forget was officially a DJ from Leeds, gets the run on Stoke Mandeville hospital. He has the right to walk around a care home for vulnerable kids in Jersey as well as Broadmoor, like he owns the place, and is never vetted. He has friends galore in pop music (ok, you could explain that with him being a DJ), showbiz and public life. Savile spends more than one Christmas at Margaret Thatcher's house and, when he dies, he's given a massive fanfare and a near-State funeral. What the fuck is going on here?

Is it the case that a fondness for kids, like a thirst for money, desire for fame, or an inability to keep one's trousers zipped on a more general level, is one of the ways in which political candidates are identified, nurtured and protected? Do political parties (aided by the intelligence services) actively court people with these 'failings' so they can be controlled? Was Savile obtaining and procuring vulnerable people to be devoured by his friends? Who was he looking after? And, most importantly, who was looking after him?

Of course, we also now know that senior Labour politicians were supporters of, and indeed secured funds for, the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE) as recently as the 1980s. Who would want to join the Labour Party knowing that? And who'd want to join the corpse-in-all-but-name that is the Tories, full stop?

We don't have honest politicians because honest people (like Gregg) don't get a look-in.

Anti-poltics is a consequence of rotten politics, not the cause of it as Gregg suggests.

You might ask - what of minor parties? All I can say about them is that the electoral system, propped up by the media, is weighted so heavily in favour of the big two that some sort of breakthrough, even when those main players remain deeply unpopular, borders on impossible. UKIP stand to gain around 15% of the vote in May unless something goes horribly wrong, but could win fewer than ten seats with it. Tribalism has led to a situation in which the overwhelming majority of seats never change hands and the 'marginals' decide which of the two runners in the race get in. No wonder people feel there's no point taking part, especially when running as an Independent is almost always a futile gesture, costing money most of us simply do not have.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure UKIP will be remembered as, at best, a disappointment and indeed, it would not stun me if in fifty years time it came out that they were 'controlled' MI5 opposition. They tick an awful lot of the boxes - shoddy leadership, the removal of peoople (such as Kilroy and Richard North) capable of turning it into an electoral machine with new ideas, the promotion of dopey, obedient idiots to senior positions (too many to name), rampant greed and duplicity, a half-arsed approach to actually winning elections, despite people turning to them by default on account of being so pissed off.

I mean, where have they been for the last two months while the mood music has started? Have they got any policies yet? I don't mean 'vaguely stated aims' but actual boring and mechanical explanations of how they'll achieve them? As a mate of mine pointed out recently, "Fartage doesn't actually want to win, he just quite likes being Nigel Fartage". Touche.

And even if I'm wrong about this, a new party can only truly emerge in one of two circumstances - a) a change in the voting system to proportional representation or b) the death of one or both of the established parties. The first won't be allowed to happen, so this only leaves one choice.

People may vote according to a genuine belief that a party represents them, and there's precious little you can do about that. But if you continue to vote, or god forbid, work as an activist for either the Labour or Tory Party because "you always have", because "Mum and/or Dad always voted that way" or because "I want to keep the other lot out" then STOP DOING IT. For Christ's sake, WAKE UP. Anti-politics is PRECISELY how we solve this problem and create the space for something else to rise into the space left when these two rotten edifices finally pass, never to darken our door again. There is no significant difference between them. None whatsoever.

Gregg, what you're saying here is not just wrong but dangerous, feeding a sense that these organisaitons can be changed. They can't, as they're organised in such a way as to stop anyone who wants to change them for the better from getting close to doing so. You should know that as well as anyone. ONLY by withdrawing votes, support and (perhaps most importantly) money can we kill them off. STOP voting for these people. STOP running around in the rain for someone who you'll never meet and could not give a stuff about you or what you might think. STOP giving them your hard-earned money. THEN they will die and THEN something else (over which you might have more control) can move into the vacuum that emerges. ONLY anti-poltics on a massive scale can bring this about and to see it as part of the problem, not the solution, is just totally misguided.

As far as 'sad keyboard warriors' go, I've leafleted twice, once for a candidate on behalf of one of the major parties who happened to be a mate. He won, but became disenchanted with the whole thing after a year and packed it in, realising it wasn't what he thought it would be. Then there was LPUKE, where although I helped a really good candidate in Stuart Heal, the end result of less than one percent of the vote was of course somewhat galling. In that context, I totally get why the internet appeals to people who want their thoughts to be taken with roughly equal consideration to that of the next guy. It's just about the only place where your view is just as important as that of someone an awful lot smarter than you, even if perhaps it shouldn't be. It's always struck me how the topics of discussion online vary wildly from those driven by the political mainstream.

Anyway, that might be one for another night. Thanks again Gregg and take care.