Debate or bust 2

Thanks, Gisela Stuart. Yes, it is hard to plan your resources for necessary services like the NHS when you don’t have full control of your budget. That was our argument for Scottish independence and against the Barnett formula.
And to reiterate and nobbishly quote myself:

Everyone knows how much money we chuck across the water to Brussels and quite frankly, for what we get, it’s hideous.
Actually, I didn’t know so I googled. Apparently, the UK public expenditure is more than five times bigger than the EU budget. So the budget can’t be that ridiculous. Only 6% of the EU budget is spent on admin, 94% (yes I did that sum by myself) goes back to the member states. (Same source) The graphic on the BBC shows that the UK contributes between 0.6-0.7% of our GNI to the EU budget.
En plus, ‘the UK government estimates that the single market brings in between GBP 31 billion and GBP 92 billion a year into the UK economy – or between 5 and 15 times the UK net contribution to the EU budget.’ Now, I’m not only struck by how similar the abbreviation GNI is to ginbut also how not like a waste this seems.

According to the European Commission website, ‘In practice, 80 % of the EU budget is managed by national or regional governments.’ So if the national governments mismanage that…then they’re just shite. The bulk funding for the EU budget comes from  a standard percentage of each member state’s GNI which is transferred to the EU. This presumably means if you have a lean year and your  juniper crop fails Gross National Income is lower, you pay less. That’s how percentages work, right?
The European Commission website also states, ‘There is no direct EU tax. EU countries remain in control of their taxes.’ Good-oh. Glad we cleared that up.

Workers’ Rights

What has the EU ever done for us?

Remain: The EU guarantees equal pay for men and women, paid maternity leave, paid holidays…
Leave: Andrea Leadsom lists all the rights we’ve achieved within the UK, like the UK sex discrimination act, legislature against FGM, etc.
So…we do have control. No need to take it back, then. Jolly good.

Boris’ Hair: It’s because of the EU that literally zillions of murderers and terrorists are on London’s streets, just ambling around Camden and buying falafel, and we can’t deport them back to where they came from.
Unfortunately, arrests connected to terrorism are up, but ‘the proportion of terror suspects who are British has risen sharply to 79% of those arrested this year [2015], compared with 56% in 2001 when the statistics were first collected.’ Shit, where are we going to send them back to? You mean we can’t blame this one on foreigners? #catastrophe
We can either try to make our borders totally impassable (then we’ll be stuck on an island with Tories AND terrorists, fuck), or we could look at social inequality, education and alienation and maybe try to solve some of the issues we have in society. Because we’re obviously going wrong somewhere if more British people than before want us all to die.

It’s cringeworthy to hear Andrea Leadsom say ‘this great United Kingdom of ours’, as if almost 50% of Scottish residents don’t want to leave it, and then claim that it’s the definition of democracy that the people have the power to sack a government they don’t like. Sorry, which is exactly what can’t happen in Scotland, which, despite being ruled by a centre-left party in Holyrood, is still stuck with the Tories overall. Also, ‘democratically elected’, she should come with subtitles to remind everyone that for the Tories, a majority is 36%. Yeah, well done them.

Sovereignty 

Right, Leadsom again. ‘60% of our rules and regulations are made by people who we don’t even know their names.’
I have two suggestions here: one being don’t be so shit at your job as an MP campaigning against overreaching EU influence that you have no idea who is supposed to be wielding all this influence. And two, google. Like I just did.

Turns out there’s a lot of red tape in the EU. Their wikipedia page is huge. But there’s this super useful bit that explains which parts of the admittedly huge EU straggly wool ball of chaos actually make laws: the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. The European Parliament is directly elected (democratic, tick) and the council of Europe is made up of 28 national ministers, one per state and the Presidency ROTATES. I’d still call that pretty democratic, and yeah, maybe we get outvoted sometimes? When everyone else doesn’t agree with you, that’s how it goes. Perhaps they think we are so United Kingdom Fantastic that we should have more than one vote?

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I don’t know what to do. The UK, the EU, my skin, all these things are not perfect and probably never will be. I don’t hold out any hope of the UK outside of the EU reforming, not with our outdated and unrepresentative voting system and a government that thought it unnecessary to adhere to the Human Rights Act.
George Monbiot points out that we should be more worried about the clash between corporate power and the government:

“If you are concerned about arbitrary power, and the ability of special interests to capture and co-opt the apparatus of the state, the UK is in an even worse position outside the EU than it is within. Though the EU’s directives are compromised and under threat, they are a lot better than nothing. Without them we can kiss goodbye to the protection of our wildlife, our health, our conditions of employment and, one day perhaps, our fundamental rights. Without a formal constitution, with our antiquated voting arrangements and a corrupt and corrupting party funding system, nothing here is safe.”

I’m not happy, but I’m in. And with Orlando and the brutal murder of Labour MP Jo Cox and senseless acts happening all over the world all the more frequently, I want a community to help each other analyse, sort out and prevent such things ever happening again. I don’t think we can do that alone.

 

 

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Debate or bust

According to everyone ever everywhere, it’s going to be a HUGE CATASTROPHE if we [insert voting habits here]. I actually quite agree, but only because I think everything is already a HUGE CATASTROPHE and am worried that no one has noticed. When you think about it, it almost doesn’t matter because the fossil fuels are running out and in 50 years, we’ll be burning underfunded care homes to keep warm anyway, and living in disused hospitals decimated by the conservatives because of the housing shortage the immigrants we didn’t let in definitely caused.

Debacle Debate 1.

I don’t want to talk about the first debate because Farage was in it and the oily nationalism of someone who thinks we can close our borders and everything will be better makes me feel the same desolate certainty that the gods hate you as when your biscuit falls into your tea mid-dunk. It was an hour of Farage talking over Julie Etchingham and her apologising and British people wanting something they may or may not be able to spell. “Yeah but if we stay, is we still sovereign though?”
No, astonishingly we can’t override all those other nations we agreed to work in a team with because there’s no ‘massive wanker’ in t-e-a-m.

Debate 2

Participants for Remain: Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Eagle and Amber Rudd
Leave: Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom and Gisela Stuart

I think my favourite element of this debate was the frequent use of the word ‘whopper’ and the bit about leprechauns, which certainly livened everything up. My problem with the 350 million per week scandal is not that a politician put a mega lie on his bus (did anyone seriously think any figures mentioned were not going to be displayed to advantage with rebates/other statistics left out?), because that’s frankly not a surprise, I’m more surprised BJ has a bus actually, but rather the fact that people seem to believe the Tories intend to invest that money into the NHS. I teach English and I know when Boris uses a conditional like ‘we could use some of that money for the NHS’, he’s expressing a hypothetical ability, not something he’s actually intending on doing. Clever. Perhaps inside his head he’s holding hands with that leprechaun, dancing a jig on his whopper bus in the nude, singing, ‘but I won’t but I won’t but I won’tywon’tywon’t’, who can tell?
I mean, they can tell us that’s what they’re going to do…but if they don’t, what can we do about it? Vote them out? Unlikely, with first past the post, where stuff like this happened in 2015:

‘Labour saw their vote share increase while their number of seats collapsed. The Conservatives won an overall majority on a minority of the vote, and the Liberal Democrats lost nearly all their seats – despite winning 8% of the vote.’

The attitudes of both sides became a little clearer for me. Nicola Sturgeon expressed my understanding of the EU – a group of independent countries agreeing to work together to guarantee freedom of movement, so people have the choice to work where their skills are needed. Or like me, if you fancy working somewhere German speaking because that’s what you’re good at. This freedom of movement is the only good thing in a world (still) controlled by capitalism, where money is the only thing not ruled by borders.

Yeah it’s not perfect, but the UK isn’t perfect either. And I don’t know if anyone’s noticed but the Empire is over. We’re not a massive world power people should be bowing and scraping to. We’re a wee country with a shaky economy and I’m for working together to work it out. If you pull out of the EU and destabilise the market and it collapses, what chance do we have of improved trading then?

I also really don’t like the Brexit attitude at all. It’s an attitude that would fly absolutely nowhere else. Something in your life is shit? Abandon it. Don’t even try to improve it, just drop it straight away. I mean, that’s definitely what I’ll be telling my children. As much as I’m loath to agree with Cameron on anything (remain, not anything else), his entire perspective towards the EU is currently, ‘let’s have less risk, put less in and get more out.’ Another excellent life lesson I’ll be sure to pass on to the dear children, who are suddenly so important.

Immigreation*

Leave: Immigrants are bad and wreck everything the Tories have so carefully funded and built up. They also irreversibly push down wages because employers in the UK are genetically unable to pay the minimum wage if they can see a way to scam more money somehow. That says far more about our attitude to work, dignity and worth than it does about immigrants.

BJ then purports to be outraged at the democratic deficit in the EU, which we certainly don’t have in a country with an unelected House of Lords (other bicameral gems include Belize, Lesotho, Madagascar, Oman, Russia and Saudi Arabia) and he’s blatantly ignoring the fact that if every single person in Scotland voted to stay and 51% in Wales, England and Northern Ireland voted to leave, Scotland would have to leave as well. Or the other way around, if everyone in Wales voted remain and 51% of the other UK countries voted leave, Wales would have to leave. Is that democratic? I guess it’s a grey area and depends on how much you think the smaller UK countries should have sovereignty over their own affairs. I’m easy, I think if you’ve got a National Assembly/Parliament and your own language, then you should be listened to when your citizens make a decision in a referendum. If the smaller countries can be dragged out by the weight of England, what’s the point in them even voting?

 

E-definitely not a con-omy

Nope, no cons here, not in any’o our figures. This bit got a bit off topic and BJ was desperate to get in his Project Fear jibe, which I found quite disgusting. For the majority of the indyref campaign in Scotland, the YES side had to contend with a huge media bias and still managed almost half the vote. Not a single newspaper was in favour of independence for most of the campaign. The bias was even the topic of university research that the BBC responded to by sending an insulting email to the author’s boss before they tried, and failed, to take the research apart. For BJ to quote that back and claim the remain side are scaremongering on a similar level is out of context, childish and misplaced in the current debate.

The most telling comment from Gisela Stuart about the EU was when she said, ‘They need to sort out their problems.’ And that’s my issue with that statement. I am European, these are my problems, too.

Up next…
I’ll tell you what it won’t be, me making snide comments about Boris’ scarecrow hair or overprivileged upbringing, where he was able to buy a better education than everyone else, because I am a grownup and therefore above all that.
NHS, workers’ rights and sovereignty coming next…

 

 

*This blog post may contain subliminal messaging

**and some sarcasm

 

 

 

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Post-election gin mourning time is over

Says the Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/video/2015/may/13/post-election-downer-time-to-organise-owen-jones-video

Fine. But I’ve got a cold so I don’t have to get up and organise anything quite yet. So, indulge me in one more gin soaked, written on the train ramble and keep your thoughts about my word order to yourself.

What a great show of democracy that was. 36% voted for the Tories, hurrah majority!* Form a government! Form a government with as many paradoxes as possible, including an Equalities minister who voted against same sex marriage and a Disabilities minister who voted against protecting disabled children’s benefits!
And what about that entirely yellow country somewhere up north? Scotland, is it?
A landslide victory for a centre left party who will remain in Holyrood but…a conservative government to rule them still and one ring to bind them. **

WHY?

I don’t resent people for falling into the trap of believing spin doctored rhetoric from politicians. (I do.) I’m sure some people who voted conservative think they’re doing the right thing for the United Kingdom. Those people might like to read this enlightening blog. which says in brief –
1. here are some figures to show economic stagnation under Tory austerity.
2. Here are figures to show marginal recovery when they slow down their punishing austerity schemes.
3. And here are the Tories claiming to have improved the economy.
If you’ve stuck with me, you might see the flaw in this but I won’t patronise you by explaining it. Idiots. (Ed. Don’t say that, it’s cocking offensive.)

HOW?

How did the scare schemes work?? I thought we were on track -the media bias against Scotland disintegrated when they could no longer control what people heard about the SNP. Using words like ‘Nats’ to make people think the SNP were right wing (you’d be surprised how many people don’t know Scotland has a centre-left governing party), saying ‘separatists’ want to ‘break up’ the UK – this was no longer enough once you had Sturgeon on TV in England proclaiming nasty, separatist support for the NHS and campaigning against damaging austerity politics that erode the infrastructure and quality of life for the majority. After that debate, the sixth most googled thing was ‘Can I vote for the SNP?’
People liked this. Sturgeon was winning over even England. But it didn’t work out in the end. Were people really afraid that the SNP would have too much sway over Labour if it came to a coalition? This seems to be the only plausible answer even though anyone with half a brain should be able to see that a party with 200-odd seats could hardly be held to ransom by the SNP with their 56 seats.
At least in Scotland, the SNP won 56 out of 59 seats- what an amazing result for that nasty separatist party against poverty-generating austerity. In Scotland at least, the message has got through.
There is an alternative (a functioning alternative! -even though rUK might not know it, the SNP have been in government and haven’t made half as much of a dog’s dinner of it as the Tories) to the Tories’ economically flawed austerity plans and it’s up to the SNP to make sure they follow through with it.
Show rUK it’s possible to have no tuition fees and free prescriptions (even if the funding for Scotland is currently still tied to whatever England decides to spend that year via the Barnett Formula) and campaign against wasting obscene amounts of money on nuclear weapons as a general insurance policy against an unnamed threat while working families rely on food banks.

I don’t know what to say. Perhaps we’ll see a turnaround like after the Scottish referendum, where although 55% voted against independence, basically the entire country voted for the party that wanted independence in the last election and kept them in government. Perhaps those who voted the conservatives (narrowly) into power will realise as we crowd around food banks in 2 years’ time that maybe letting a party that 64% didn’t want back into government was a mistake.

Oh well. There’s always the delicious irony of the conservatives cutting access to benefits for migrants if they haven’t worked in the UK for 4 years (it’s two in Switzerland) to keep me warm at night.

If anyone wants to get active, get going:

We could save our humans rights

We could ditch the government we didn’t vote for

We could lobby the government to save people who literally drown in the desperate search for a better life.

We could fight against TTIP.

Owen’s right. One more cup of tea and I’ll get up.

* 36% is not a sodding majority.

**This may be from something else

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Debate Games from a safe distance. Or, I might have to come out to my parents as an immigrant.

Oh it’s debate time again. I’m watching from the 651st money swallowing constituency of the UK- Europe.
This free movement of people lark is fabulous. I come over here, get a job, buy toilet paper and pay into their economy and sod off before I get old and ill and drain their health services to the bone. Oh my God that’s barely English, I should probably just sod off now.
And my parents are so proud. I’m not sure why it’s different if EU citizens come to the UK and do the same, but Farage assures us that it is, and my parents, made ever insular by life on two islands (UK and the Village), buy into his rhetoric of blame. They don’t stop to think that I’m doing exactly the same, and that they are proud of me. I try to alert them them to this fact by nice, simple, short emails with detailed footnotes but I don’t think it’s getting through and they’ve stopped answering my calls in the run up to the election.

In order to stop me sinking back into my orphan pit of despair, I’ll take a look at the first debate with all 7 leaders and hopefully uncover more material to email my parents, in the vain hope that they’ll see the light and start answering my calls. Because 1. I really need some summer clothes from home and 2. if they vote UKIP again, I’ll have failed as a human being because it is really not that difficult to point out how dangerous UKIP are.
Anyone who wants to see the loving emails I send my parents, please click here. Yes you may forward it to your hideously right-wing parents too.

First Impressions

Doesn’t David Cameron look a bit like he’s going to cry? I sip my tea wine (we’re an hour ahead, I don’t have to lie to you) and contemplate the rest of the bunch. Natalie Bennett seems very nervous, but you know what, I actually like that. It reminds me that she’s a real person who’s worrying about doing her best and that she hasn’t been so artificially spin doctored and stuffed with rhetoric that she can’t think for herself anymore. Unlike overconfident Farage, who was described fabulously by one Twitter user as looking like a stoned amphibian, at which I nearly had a wine #maccident. I would never stoop to comments about appearance in a serious matter like politics so all I could do was retweet.
Whilst I’m not commenting on appearance, THIS.

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Took me right back to these heady days, which is all I could think of during Clegg’s opening remarks.
Leanne Wood’s Welsh voice made me homesick, but if you listen carefully you can hear Farage choking in the background at the sound of a foreign accent. Awkward, you can just imagine him readying himself to throw her out before remembering the establishment has decreed we’re loving England’s half retarded offshoots beloved equal partners right now.

Yes but deficit?

Farage reminds us that national debt has now officially reached 120 trillion billion zillion according to an independent UKIP think tank and we should stop wasting 0.7% of our gross national income on stopping civilians dying in war zones.
Another huge waste of course is Europe. Everyone knows how much money we chuck across the water to Brussels and quite frankly, for what we get, it’s hideous.
Actually, I didn’t know so I googled. Apparently, the UK public expenditure is more than five times bigger than the EU budget. So the budget can’t be that ridiculous. Only 6% of the EU budget is spent on admin, 94% (yes I did that sum by myself) goes back to the member states. (Same source) The graphic on the BBC shows that the UK contributes between 0.6-0.7% of our GNI to the EU budget. En plus, ‘the UK government estimates that the single market brings in between GBP 31 billion and GBP 92 billion a year into the UK economy – or between 5 and 15 times the UK net contribution to the EU budget.’ Now, I’m not only struck by how similar the abbreviation GNI is to ginbut also how not like a waste this seems. S’ok, I’m tweeting the amphibian about it now.

Next time…

Farage couldn’t move on to his favourite topic of invented health tourism and explosive immigration without a dig at the canny Scots, who dared to prioritise having no tuition fees through their devolved power over education. RUDE.
But of course, they only managed that because England subsidises the crap out of them. In fact, Scotland contributes 9.9% of UK revenues but receives only 9.3% of UK spending, according to the 2011/12 GERS report. Sturgeon pointed out that Scotland has paid more tax per head for the last 34 years than anyone else, so it’s not Scotland who is the subsidy case.
Stay tuned for immigration soon, the more riveting half of the debate where we see Farage wet himself visibly giggling at the thought of the Greens raising foreign aid to 1% of GDP and attempting to help people. HILARITY.

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