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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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: Health tourism- I once had a giant scab ripped off by a doctor in Greece, does that count?

Debate continued…

One last word on the deficit…as important as it is to get the deficit down (and people are always saying it’s important nowadays and since when has anyone in the public eye ever lied to us? Why on earth would they?), as Nicola Sturgeon and Natalie Bennett point out, it’s not worth the drastic austerity measures if in doing so, you cripple the infrastructure and drive a section of society into poverty. And it certainly won’t be the section who told you how important it was to cut the deficit. Talking about the debt legacy left to our children is all very well, but I’d rather children with debt than a decimated public service and a worse quality of life. Sturgeon is proposing to cut the deficit too, just not at any cost.
(In all seriousness though..was that last bit a pun?)

Health Tourism

So glad Farage brought that up. It certainly didn’t feel like tourism when that Greek doctor looked at my leg and announced he wanted to ‘take it off.’ Was pretty sure my insurance wouldn’t cover that. I was actually relieved when he just used pincers to rip the scab off and doused me in iodine.
Firstly, that Hunt was talking nonsense and ‘the UK is actually a net exporter of patients, with more now leaving the country for treatment than arriving here.’ Brits are going abroad for things like cosmetic treatments and weight loss surgery, according to the article. It does seem a bit rich to then complain of people coming here, getting an address and then demanding to see a doctor for their flu or to have their ingrown toenails operated on.
Pure hedonism, I call that.
In fact, the Guardian points out that those coming here are from rich countries and bring an economic benefit of £219m with them. So we should actually be bloody grateful, it looks suspiciously like they’re propping up our NHS at the moment.

Zoe Williams wrote a great article underlining the fact than EU and non-EU migrants who come here to work are young and less likely to be ill and a drain on our health service. So in actual fact, Migrants are better for our NHS than you are.
I love her exposé on Polish medical centre alternatives to the NHS, where people are willing to pay for what they see as a more thorough service. One of her interviewees mentioned they thought GPs rarely refer people to specialists and another joked GPs prescribe paracetamol for everything.
In my own experience recently in Germany, at the gynaecologist’s, (now there’s a module we should have studied at university. There was an awful amount of describing round certain terminology going on) I was given an ultrasound on the spot, something which I don’t think would happen in the UK. That being said, I haven’t had the bill yet.
And he said I had a small womb. RUDE.
*Edit: Got the bill. It was a Sonographie, not an ultrasound. Easy mistake, it was cold, wet and weird.

You can’t round off the health round without a despicable comment from Farage and he duly obliged by informing us that 60% of HIV patients being treated aren’t British nationals. If that wasn’t enough to make me choke on my emergency chocolate (it was), his smirk when Sturgeon said she tends to think of people recently diagnosed with a horrible virus as human beings and not of their nationality would have. If you can smirk at that, you shouldn’t be in charge of a tissue, let alone a country.

Immigration Infatuation

“Immigrants drive the wages for everyone down, therefore they are bad.”
Ugh, typical example of politics focussing on symptoms as oppose to addressing the problem. Everyone’s wages are low, you say? RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE AND FUCKING STICK TO IT. How is no one outraged at the employers who are paying non-British workers less to save themselves money? The real issue is that there isn’t enough work for everyone and that is an economic problem. The only way that can be solved is to get the economy growing again and that’s not done by austerity and restricting the spending power of the majority of the population.

Also, the way we look at the issue of immigration and work is insane. If you were to imagine the situation in another way and took nationality out of the question and accepted that there’s not enough work for the population, you wouldn’t come to the logical conclusion that the answer is to reduce the population. Yet that’s exactly how the immigration/work debate goes. What would we do?
“I’m terribly sorry everyone, there’s not enough work for the current population. Unfortunately, everyone with an IQ under 65 has to be exterminated. But don’t worry, it’s only until the economy picks up again.”
Focus your efforts on fixing the economy, for goodness’ sake. Anything else is distraction politics to draw attention away from the fact that it doesn’t matter too much to the ruling elite if they improve the economy or not; they won’t struggle like most of us will in a bad economic climate. And the ultimate cheek of it all – their solution, austerity policies, hurts the average-earning majority and doesn’t touch the rich minority.

Welcome to politics in a chronically unfair society.

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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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