For my overseas readers

I have just seen a wonderful Facebook post penned by a man named Benjamin Blaine which is a remarkably accurate summary of what actually has been going on over here.

“So, let me get this straight…the leader of the opposition campaigned to stay but secretly wanted to leave, so his party held a non-binding vote to shame him into resigning so someone else could lead the campaign to ignore the result of the non-binding referendum which many people now think was just angry people trying to shame politicians into seeing they’d all done nothing to help them.

Meanwhile, the man who campaigned to leave because he hoped losing would help him win the leadership of his party, accidentally won and ruined any chance of leading because the man who thought he couldn’t lose, did – but resigned before doing the actual thing the vote had been about. The man who’d always thought he’d lead next, campaigned so badly that everyone thought he was lying when he said the economy would crash – and he was, but it did, but he’s not resigned, but, like the man who lost and the man who won, also can’t now become leader. Which means the woman who quietly campaigned to stay but always said she wanted to leave is likely to become leader instead.

Which means she now holds the same view as the leader of the opposition but for opposite reasons, but her party’s view of this view is the opposite of the opposition’s. And the opposition aren’t yet opposing anything because the leader isn’t listening to his party, who aren’t listening to the country, who aren’t listening to experts or possibly paying that much attention at all. However, none of their opponents actually want to be the one to do the thing that the vote was about, so there’s not yet anything actually on the table to oppose anyway. And if no-one ever does do the thing that most people asked them to do, it will be undemocratic and if anyone ever does do it, it will be awful.

Clear?”

If it weren’t so bloody serious this would all be hilarious high farce. A cross between the best bits of Allo Allo and Benny Hill running round avoiding women in bikinis to a jolly saxophone riff.

A neater summary:

  • Our politicians don’t actually give a shit about anything other than themselves and their own careers. This position has cross-party support.
  • Everyone knows that, so voted “Leave” because it was a way of exposing what a bunch of gits they really are (and boy, is that working), whether they wanted to remain in the EU or not.
  • The problem now is that the politicians have understood just how pissed off everyone is that they have been ignored for 30 years BUT in order to rectify that, those politicians have to…do a bunch more ignoring by doing the right thing and not ratifying the decision to leave the EU.
  • …which is a crock of shit because a bucket-load of people that voted “Leave” didn’t actually want to, or didn’t understand what any of it was about to start with, so actually staying in the EU is the thing that would actually be paying attention to what we want for a change.

Clear?

Most of all this stems from large numbers of people thinking one thing and saying/doing another. I volunteer to be the man to implement a possible solution that would fix this mess.

  • Dress all the major players (Johnson, Cameron, Farage, Corbyn and even the sensible ones like Lucas and Sturgeon) in short trousers and caps (the only downside to that is the unfortunate resemblance of Nicola Sturgeon to that woman from The Krankies).
  • Put them in a room. Live TV cameras. Lock the door. Key in my pocket, and no-one is leaving until they say sorry.
  • Wait 24 hours until they realise I really mean it that no-one is leaving until they say sorry.
  • Get everyone to explain calmly to the nation (except Farage) that actually what they REALLY think is that leaving the EU is a shit idea and anyone that said otherwise was lying and all those promises were bollocks. (Yes, the case that leaving the EU will screw our country is so fucking overwhelming, factually, I do not seriously believe ANY of these intelligent people believe otherwise).
  • Get all the others to publicly state that Farage is a fascist, nobody actually likes him or believes that anything he says is worth wiping their arse with.
  • Say sorry, again, for good measure.
  • Enough? Or should I ask them all to do 100 lines “I must not be a self-serving careerist twat” for good measure? Your call, readers, your call.
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When terror lives next door

Alright. That “victory” speech of Nigel Farage.

“This war was won without a single bullet being fired”

The obvious reaction to that has already been widely covered. Shots were fired, the ones that killed Jo Cox. He kind of apologised for that one.

Look again. Farage won his “war” without violence. However, implicit in his statement was the idea that if he and his supporters had not “wonpeacefully, then bullets may have been required. He was already on record in an interview saying that if the UK borders were not closed to migrants then “violence would be the next logical step”. That was widely shared in the context of the murder of Jo Cox, as being some kind of endorsement of the idea people that might use violence as a legitimate measure within the context of the referendum campaign. I want to take it back out of that context and suggest it was a veiled threat. “If we don’t get what we demand – there will likely be violence.”

This has a name. Terrorism. The implied threat of violence in the event of defeat, or opposition. Fascism/terrorism. Same difference.

We have a standard response to terrorist threats in the West. Don’t give in. Don’t say “OK if you are planning to hurt people then you can have what you want”. There is a real possibility that UK parliament can and will refuse to ratify Brexit, for complex constitutional reasons. A frequent response to this idea is

“My God there would be riots”

Probably, yes. People might get hurt. One acquaintance of mine went so far as to muse that “people would be killed”. Possibly. So are we saying that our Members of Parliament should refuse to act in accordance with their conscience because some people have threatened to punch them, or others, if they don’t do what they have been told to? Really? What then? What if UKIP then demand the forcible repatriation of existing immigrants or “violence would be the next logical step?” What do you do then? I would much rather draw a line here and now and prevent all of the unnecessary shit-storm that would ensue from the economic meltdown triggered by an actual Brexit, involving a dawning realisation on “Leave” voters that they were duped and all those things they were promised were not in fact real. That’s just another set of potential riots.

I read today that a series of anti-Brexit marches and demonstrations planned in our major cities have been cancelled because of “fears for the safety of the participants”. It was not clear from the report I read what exactly was meant by this.

If it was concerns about health and safety; well, much of the health and safety law that protects us might well be brushed away by a post-Brexit government without the “interference” of Brussels. At a time when so many of the protections we enjoy as a result of our membership of the EU are on the brink of being washed away, I would suggest that worrying about health and safety now is at the very least deeply ironic.

If it is out of fear that fascists might show up and inflict violence on the demonstrators, I would suggest that is a terrible reason to choose not to publicly oppose fascism. They have already fire-bombed a halal butchers in my home town, so hey, cancel the demonstrations because they might fire-bomb us?

There is a psychology of blame at play here. The idea that protesting, opposing, doing the right thing, might lead to violence and murder somehow makes the opposer responsible for that violence. If we had kept quiet than there would have been no violence, so the opposition – even peaceful opposition – is the cause of it? Wrong. Let us be clear where the violence emanates from. From the heel of jackboots. Do not let them guilt-trip you into believing that if you oppose them, the mayhem is all your fault.

We have had peace for seventy years. We have not had to deal with this in living memory. Do not write them off as a deranged minority, because minorities have a habit of getting bigger if you leave them be.

All it takes for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing. On the street. On the bus. In the pub. In your workplace. Do not keep silent.

 

Please write for us?

A curious email today. Some “Zeitgeist” type website has asked me to write for them. Sort of. I checked them out and see they have numerous content categories  – News, Business, Entertainment, Lifestyle, Sport, blah blah blah. I’m not sure where I would fit in as it seemed to lack a section for…

“48 year old male divorcees in personal meltdown with an insanely manipulable weakness for brunettes in heels and black stockings”

There is a “Voices” page though. Maybe they think I’m one of those. Disembodied.

I worry on several counts. One, they may have been misled by my recent political thrashing fits, unaware that my usual content is obscure poetic rambling. Two, I worry that it is all a cynical ploy to flatter my ego while they rake in some kind of advertising revenue in response to their freely provided content. Three, they seem a bit confused about my identity. They like “EdgeOfTheBellCurve” but the email was addressed:

“Dear Algebra”

Don’t get me wrong. I would love to be called Algebra. Changing my name to “Algebra Jones” would be brilliant. It is gender nonspecific, so if in the future I should ever wake up and want a sex change I would already have a name to suit. One less thing to worry about.

Yes, this question has troubled me. What might I call myself if  were female? The obvious choices (“Paula” or “Pauline”) leave me absolutely stone cold. Would not do at all. Something like “Delores Raven” would be vastly superior, and I would adopt the dress of the Femme Fatale, or maybe more of a Sally Bowles type. Including green nail varnish. I’m sure this thorny question keeps most other people awake at night too.

Last Word

Recently my blog has been overtly (and uncharacteristically) political. I’m even starting to bore myself. But I have one last comment to make in the interests of trying to articulate the sense of my feelings here.

I am asked to unite. To band together with the leave voters to take us forward in this mess. To respect democracy, the majority decision to leave.

There is a problem with that, isn’t there? Yes, I believe in unity. Yes, I believe in working with those whose opinions may differ from mine for the common good, to find and work with and within our common ground.

It is that belief, in fact, that meant I was so passionate about my Remain vote. To be part of a European Union that, whatever its faults, had that common striving of purpose as its central tenet and aim. Now I feel that I am being asked by those who have told Europe to fuck off – who have rejected the very concept of co-operation itself – to co-operate with them for no reason other than we are all British, so we have to pull together now for the sake of our British-ness.

Sorry. You have shown scant regard for anyone else in Europe. Scant regard for the Pole, for the Muslim, for those now being subject to public displays of hate. You want me to ignore that and respond to your winks and nudges of how we all need to rally round for Britain.

I do not feel brotherhood with you because we were by fate born on the same island. You are appealing for me to respect you, when you have shown so little respect for almost everyone else who isn’t white and Anglo-Saxon. I don’t give a damn about you just because of your nationality.

I respect those with whom I feel a common sense of principle. Wherever they were born. And right now – that isn’t you. I find your appeal to me to bury our differences and work with you just because we are both British hypocritical, given your abject refusal to work with other people that differ from you in such meaningless arbitrary ways. The difference between you and me is deep-rooted and fundamental in a way that birthright and skin tone are not.

Predictions

OK.

I keep trying to point out how much of a disaster the referendum result is.

People keep saying what they said to me before. Predictions. You are just making predictions. Nobody knows.

I just want to point out that there is a qualitative difference between a prediction, and something that has already happened. A difference between a prediction and a pre-ordained consequence of a decision.

Let’s start with the latter. I do not “predict” that leaving the EU will end freedom of movement for British Citizens in the EU, OK? That particular freedom was a benefit of EU membership. Outside the EU, we lose it. You would be amazed how many people in response to that kind of assertion say “Oh you’re just making predictions”. That betrays a complete lack of understanding what you were voting for, what the EU is, how it works.

Second, yeah I made some predictions that were just predictions. You got me. Like the meltdown of financial markets globally. The resignation of our Prime Minister. The total confusion in the resulting void. The in-fighting on the left.

These are no longer predictions, even if you want to continue referring to them as such. They are already happening, or have happened. How many more weeks are going to pass before you notice this? For how long can you pretend that these consequences are not reality? Or do you just have too much stubborn in you to say “sorry, you were right”.

Oh that was my other prediction. That a “Leave” result would strengthen the hand of far right parties not just here, but across Europe (fascist leaders across Europe have already been queuing up to say a huge huge “THANKYOU” to Britain by the way). That such a result would legitimise and embolden all racists and cause an outbreak of brazen prejudice and hate. And stop saying I’m calling you a racist. I’m not. I never did. I said if you vote Leave you will help racists achieve and push their agenda, which is not the same thing.

How is that prediction going? For my non-UK readers, check out this stuff that is happening around Britain right now.

Hate Crime Album

 

 

No prophecy at all, just sadness

I have re-blogged this because my response to it is too long to sit in a comments section.

It is easy to confuse politeness and kindness. I do not believe they are the same thing.

It’s true that the English are the masters of politeness. The art of not saying anything too controversial, keeping the peace. That comes at a heavy price, in my opinion.

The trouble with avoiding anything controversial in order to avoid, god forbid, open disagreement is it usually involves not showing who you really are, largely because you want to be accepted and liked. Because you just want to get along with everyone.

If someone accepts/likes/gets along with you because you have carefully avoided letting them see what you really are – someone who they might actually dislike – then what value is in that? Whatever positive social strokes you might be getting from it are fundamentally a lie. I would rather be avoided by people that dislike me for who I am than accepted by people to whom I have projected a false version of me. Not everyone in the world will like me. I’m cool with that. Hanging on to excessive politeness breeds superficiality in our relationships.

It also breeds passive aggressive behaviour, the art of distancing and avoidance without actually saying as much. People are not daft and such rejection/dislike is often thinly veiled at the best of times, so you can wind up trapped in a never-never land of pretending to give a damn with someone when really, you don’t.

My second wife hated confrontation. She would go along with stuff when she actually hated it. All to keep the peace. The net overall effect was an ever-growing pool of resentment and unresolved issues that eventually hit breaking point. All for the sake of politeness, of avoiding conflict. If I am in conflict with someone, I want to know, not have them pretend it’s all OK. That way lies madness.

A lot of her friends/acquaintances through work, this being West Yorkshire, were casual racists. I had to smile and nod in their houses while listening to odious remarks. OK, the fact that I found those remarks odious is my personal opinion but – it was my personal opinion. She found them odious too but never said a dickie bird either, excusing people on the grounds “oh that’s what people round here are like”. Refusing to challenge things does not get you anywhere. It allows things to fester and potentially multiply. It is politeness that keeps quiet when your colleague is being bullied, or discriminated against. God forbid you should make a stand or take a side, set yourself against the bully who you would rather not have a confrontation with.

Confrontation and kindness are not mutually exclusive. I can fundamentally and openly disagree with someone on everything from politics to religion via sex, and still, if that person is having to deal with shit, or themselves being abused or having their rights trodden on, exhibit compassion and kindness to them on the grounds of their humanity regardless of whatever differences we might have.

The English are bad at agreeing to differ, so just bury it all away. Also, what the recent referendum has highlighted is that people struggle to tell the difference between fact and opinion.

Abraham Lincoln refused to be polite about slavery. William Wilberforce refused to be polite about the exploitation of child labour. The Pankhursts refused to be polite about the exclusion of women from democracy. Elizabeth Fry refused to be polite about the treatment of prisoners. Martin Luther King refused to be polite about American prejudice and racism. Sometimes, politeness is not a virtue.

La Tour Abolie

Yesterday I watched David Cameron outside 10 Downing Street, being calm and dignified in the face of overwhelming political defeat. This was something my generation grew up with and took as read – that an Englishman would be generous in victory and gracious in defeat. That was ‘only cricket’. I can’t say I’m a fan of Westminster, politicians, the establishment or the political élite but he managed that particularly sad situation just as you – or we, in earlier times – might have expected an Englishman to do.

So whatever happened to the rest of us?

Last night I watched a young, white woman drown out an elderly academic during what was supposed to be an interesting political discussion on the results of the Referendum. He was an old, white man, she shouted, and that was why he felt entitled to talk over her and steal her air time. I…

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