Monthly Archives: September 2016

Whither Canada?

I should have turned over and had just another six months in bed when David Bowie died back in January. It was not a good start and the year only went downhill from there. Since then, we’ve lost Alan Rickman, Victoria Wood, Terry Wogan, Frank Kelly, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Prince (artist formerly known as), Carla Lane, Muhammad Ali, Anton Yelchin, Caroline Aherne and Gene Wilder. And there’s still three months to go.

Then our idiot Prime Minister delivered what will surely go down in history as the biggest political fuck-up since Bonnie Prince Charlie chose Cullodden as a great place for a party with the English. It will take me a very long time indeed to forgive that utter plonker.

The scales have come down from my eyes, I guess. I used to think the English were nice people. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York in 2001, I boggled at the coverage coming out of the US. They know how great they are, do they? Well, the rest of the world sees you quite differently. I confess I felt a peculiar superiority knowing that, as a British person, I could see the US from the outside and know that their superiority was visible only through American eyes. I was smug in the knowledge that I was not like that. Wrong wrong wrong. The English are just as bad. In fact, we’re probably worse, because the US, at the very least, can back its smugness up with enormous political and military power. All we have is the memory of the slave trade and of Empire.

Long ago, when Britain was “Great” and ruled the waves, we explored the world. Not in search of culture and knowledge. No. We went all around the planet, killing the people we found there and enslaving them. And taking over their countries. And stealing their mineral wealth. And imposing rule from London. And exporting toffs to live there and look down their noses at the local cultures. Anything not English was savage; the only way to move away from savagery and towards civilisation was to become like the English. It’s a legacy that remains across much of the world. In the Caribbean, to have lighter skin tones confers a social advantage; in India, there is a thriving market in “beauty” products that lighten the skin. Because being brown is to be savage, of course.

This is our legacy.

And, stupid me, I thought we’d grown up. No. It seems that we’d just stopped listening to people. And when the PM decided to ask them, they spoke up, loud and clear.

It could still get worse, of course. The US could follow the UK in voting for a pack of lies, for bigotry dressed as patriotism. HM the Q might pop her clogs and Charlie 3 could ascend the throne. And Boris Johnson could assume his native form as a twelve-tentacled brain-eating slime monster from Vega VI. And the British government could decide to spy on every single one of its citizens every hour of every day.

What could possibly go wrong?

Please, God, make it stop. I’ve had it with 2016, and I want a rest.

Tired

I am tired.

There is too much going on. Too many people want my attention. Too many affairs demand my time. Too many idiots on my radar. I’m not going to be able to push out a thousand words today.

It turns out that parenting is hard. Who’d have thought. And you don’t get a holiday. Sure, you can take the kids somewhere different, but they still fight each other 12 hours a day and remind you with every passing moment that they are more important than you are.

It also turns out that schools are run by people who want to run the school their way and if that means that they are entirely happy with the service they are providing to you, there’s nothing you can do to request an improvement. Nothing short of an outright confrontation, that is. And I no longer have the energy for that.

Here’s a video about parenting.

Here’s a cartoon about consent.

And here’s one of my all-time favourite web comics.

Have a great day.

Mid-September

Fifteen years and two days ago, a bunch of nutters pointed out that the IRA were small-time amateurs and that, if you wanted to do terrorism properly, you do it with style and go for impact.

I’d argue that the attacks on the USA that took place on 11th September 2001 were the most successful terrorist attacks in our history. Not because 3000 people were killed that day (four times that number were killed, in the US alone, with guns in 2015; ten times that number died on the roads), but that it plunged the world into paranoia. George Dubya Bush launched the War on Terrrr, which hasn’t formally ended. The Patriot Act led to mass spying on US citizens by the US security forces (and similar laws on this side of the Atlantic too). The Department of Homeland Security was created, along with its agency the TSA, in charge of intimidating Muslim women, breastfeeding mothers, transgender people and pretty much anyone already pushed to the edges of society.

Over here, Home Secretary Theresa May (who is now the Prime Minister) has been desperate to get ISPs to retain internet metadata for ages. Even if you are “doing nothing wrong,” if you think that you are being watched, your behaviour will be radically different. Glenn Greenwald specifically says that your behaviour will be “more conformant, more compliant” with what is expected of you by society. Maybe this is why top politicians want these laws, actually.

War after war has been fought since then, mostly using Western armed forces and mostly in far-away lands with Muslim majorities. This, naturally, stirs up resentment amongst the populations of these nations, which forms rich ground for organisations like Daesh to sow its seeds and reap the reward in power, land and threat-level. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions have been forced out of their homes which has, in turn, moved us rich Western people from compassion-as-a-lovely-Christian-ideal to compassion-is-best-left-for-someone-else-we-don’t-want-those-filthy-brown-people-in-our-country.

The world, currently, stinks I can see no end to the stench. Nobody seems remotely interested in human compassion and nobody seems remotely interested in peace. And that is the lasting legacy of 2001-09-11. The world is feels more terror now than it has since the end of World War II, and that is what makes those attacks the most successful in history.

Open letter to Heidi Allen MP

We interrupt this blog to bring you a letter to my MP

Dear Heidi,

I was rather alarmed to read, in the Independent, that Mrs May intends to invoke Article 50 without the consent of Parliament.

In the run up to the referendum, the Leave campaign laboured long and hard about sovereignty and how we’ve given too much of it away. I wonder, then, why the British people should be asked to sit back in silence whilst the sovereignty of Parliament is swept under a rug for the Prime Minister to walk rough-shod right over.

In House of Commons Briefing Paper 07212, Elise Uberoi observes that the European Union Referendum Bill 2015-16 is a “type of referendum known as pre-legislative or consultative, which enables the electorate to voice an opinion which then influences the Government in its policy decisions” and that it “does not contain any requirement for the UK Government to implement the results of the referendum.”

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is not sovereign. Parliament is sovereign. The PM cannot simply say, one day, that it would be lovely for same-sex couples to get married and lo, they can. No. The PM must go to Parliament and make her case and the members of Parliament debate the idea and make an Act of Parliament (or not). It is a crucial check on the power of the executive which means that it cannot just change the law or the constitution because it wants to. It is what Parliament is for.

If the PM cannot just introduce a law that affects the lives of about 10% of the population without an Act of Parliament, I am utterly dumbfounded at the notion that she thinks she can take a steaming dump on Parliamentary Sovereignty and on the Constitution and, for that matter, on the “United” part of the United Kingdom without the explicit consent of Parliament.

We are told, over and over again, that we live in a representative democracy; John Bright described England as The Mother of all Parliaments (a phrase that has been repeated often in the 150 years since he did); the Leave campaign emphasised sovereignty. In light of all of these things, I find the arrogance of the PM to be breathtaking. Do we live in a parliamentary democracy or do we live in a dictatorship where the Prime Minister normally makes a show of consulting Parliament for little laws but decides to run rough-shod over our sovereign law-making body when she wants to.

I will summarise with one simple question for the Prime Minister, which I urge you to ask her with great urgency: Which Act of Parliament gives the Prime Minister authority to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty? And I ask you to keep asking the question until she gives a straightforward answer. I cannot invoke Article 50; you cannot invoke Article 50. I would submit that the PM cannot invoke it either without authority from the sovereign law making body of this country, and I implore you to prevent our PM from acting outside the law and from treating Parliament with contempt.

Yours sincerely,

I Am A Person

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