Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Parable of Brexit

Once upon a time, there was a baby-faced man named Doofus Dumdum. He was the darling of his wealthy parents' eyes, and they sent him to a great school, EatOne. The school was named thus because it cannibalized academia, luring all the brightest teachers and paying them well to ensure that all the Dumdum boys and their friends got their degrees, even if they knew not one blessed thing when they graduated.

Eventually, it was time for Doofus to find a wife. Alas, all the young, pretty and smart ones had already married. But there was a solution; he chose an older wife, one whose life had had a lot less wealth in it than his...and the woman, Maisie Crayzee...desperately wanted wealth.


For a while, all was well. They moved into an enormous house and began having children. In all, they ended up with a hundred kids. One hundred kids.


When the youngest had become voting age, Doofus decided he was tired of being a father and husband and taking on all the responsibility for the kids and the wife, who had become even haggier than before, and even meaner. No big surprise; she was tired after changing all those diapers and seeing that at least half of her children managed to get an education.

Well, actually, half of them wanted an education and managed that on their own, as Mrs. Crayzee Dumdum  was no help at all. She was never any help at all with anything. She was a waste of space as they say in the US, but she was all that was left when Doofus' friends had chosen their wives.


Eventually, one of Maisie's uncles showed up and began hanging around the house. He was an evil man, her Uncle Booty.  He had grown up in another country, one that had been ruled by a succession of other evil, greedy men, and so he knew nothing else.

"How many kids have you got, then?" he asked Maisie one day.  

"One hundred," she said. "Let me tell you about them. Fifty are no problem to me. The clean their rooms, they did their school work, they go out to work and give me a good deal of money to help run the house. It's a struggle since Doofus left and took all the money with him.

"But the other fifty...well, I don't know what to do with them. Some of them work, but they never kick in for the household expenses. Some of them never finished school because they took what little money Doofus had left us and went out partying. When they get a job, they can't keep it very long. I don't know why. Someone told me it was because I didn't insist they finish school. 


"A few of them have some physical problems. I can't be bothered, so I sent them to live at a care home. At least I don't have to feed them anymore. The care home is free, but the taxes my first 50 pay support it. The thing is, I'm getting complaints from those kids now because the care home isn't feeding them as well. They say there isn't enough money. Well, I haven't got any. I spend everything I get from the 50 who are working on those care homes and of course I need to put a little away for my own old age. I fancy living in a nice tropical spot, maybe the Caymans, so I'm sending every penny I can over there."

Maisie's eyes glowed. "I don't even have to pay taxes on it."

She paused.  

"One of the first 50 said that's going to be illegal soon. Is it?"

Uncle Booty began to drool. He rubbed his hands together.  "Not if we are smart about it, my dear. We can hide the money....No, wait. I have a better idea.


"Let's build a wall around the house and only let your first 50 out to do their jobs. When they come home, we will take all their money and give them a little to they won't get upset. As for the ones in care, who cares? We don't want to be shipping our money off to support them, do we?"

Maisie shook her head no.  "But how will we keep people from knowing we have the money? How will we send it to the Caymans?"

"Very easy, my dear. We will lock the gate, put razor wire on the top of the hedgerow, and won't let anyone in or out through the gate. Then no one will know."

Maisie smiled. It seemed so simple. "But how do we get my first 50 to agree to this? They seem happy to work and go out and contribute to the house and to pay taxes to support the ones in care...."

"We will make life so miserable for them that they won't even have time to miss what they've lost. But first, we have to make sure your second fifty go along with the plan. Can't see why they wouldn't."

And so Uncle Booty and Maisie Crayzee Dumdum set about explaining their plan to all 100 children. All but one of the first 50 thought they were nuts. "We don't want to give up our lives. We like our jobs. We don't mind taking care of household bills for the others; we still have some extra for ourselves. But we won't if we do as you say. Why should we?"

Uncle Booty's eyes became tiny slits in his unfinished-looking face. "If you don't, a great many of them are going to be very upset, because they don't want to work. They like it the way it is. They might hurt you if you don't agree."

The forty-nine knew that; after all, the other 50, plus their brother who was apparently having a mental health event and had joined them, had nothing to do all day but hatch plans to become famous. The 49 knew they couldn't get rich; they had no skills. But famous would do. Like Tommy Robinson. He had started by kicking a cop who was trying to stop him pummeling his girlfriend in the head. Then there were other incidents too numerous to count. And finally Robinson was invited to the United States--weren't the streets there paved with gold?--and feted by its wealthy con man president. Yes indeed, that's the life, they thought. 


Uncle Booty counted heads. "Forty-nine of your children don't want to do this, but some of those were away when we discussed it and voted, so they don't count. Another 49 don't want to do it, so it's even. But wait, I think I can convince the ones in care to agree by telling them they will have much better care, much better food, if we do this."

So Uncle Booty went on his way and told those in care that not only would their care be better, he and Maisie would spend so much money on medicine that they'd soon be cured. A couple of them didn't believe him. But a couple did. 

Then he told the 49 who were working and didn't agree with him that they had to consider the feelings of the others who were not working. "Wait a minute," a few of them said, "We do consider their feelings. We tried to get them to finish their education so they could get good jobs, but they said they'd rather hang out at the pub and the betting office. And anyway, we've been supporting them by giving Mumsie a lot of our money."

A couple of the 49 were standing over them, holding cudgels. A couple of the the working children cowered, and began making little noises including the words, "OK, Uncle Booty...."


Finally, after a few weeks of arguing, Uncle Booty told Maisie it was time to shut the gates, take away the keys of those going out to work, collect virtually all of the money they earned, and spend as little as possible on the household for food and upkeep, and none at all on those in care--that is to say, they were not going to pay any taxes at all but rather send their money to the Caymans. "Let someone else do it," Uncle Booty said, and Maisie Crayzee Dumdum shook her head in agreement.

Before too long, there was no money coming into the house. One by one, as they lost their jobs because a lot of rich people were doing as Uncle Booty said, the working children could no longer contribute.  The situation for the Crayzee family was dire.


Something had to give. Either Maisie Crayzee Dumdum would see the light, kick evil Uncle Booty out of the house, open the gates and beg neighbors to help them out...

Or Uncle Booty would simply decide what work he wanted each of the Crayzee Dumdum kids to do, including the ones in care who had actually become more ill as the money to care for them dwindled, and whip them into doing it. Then he'd give them enough food to stay alive, and ship the rest to the Caymans for himself. He hadn't decided yet whether to keep Maisie with him or not. She had been useful, but still...he really wanted all the money.

Which is it going to be? Do the Crayzee Dumdumbs become slaves to an evil Uncle from a land where it's always winter but never Christmas,* or does Maisie Crayzee Dumdum find her guts, kick out Uncle Booty, and return her family to life in a green and pleasant land where people help each other and don't hoard what they have.


* Borrowed for CS Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Copyright 2019 Laura Harrison McBride









Friday, January 11, 2019

One-Election Putin-izing



The photo above pertains to the US.  I believe it pertains to the current state of the UK as well. In fact, even more so. 

Consider: If Trump creating a tantrum about a useless border wall works, how much better, then, to create a nationwide state of emergency, tossing in fear of food and medical shortages, job loss, instant poverty and the pressing need for vast numbers of police--storm troopers--to keep a thoroughly distressed population under control? Do I believe this is what's going on in the UK? 

With every molecule of my being.

May had a sudden change from Remain to the Scourge of Britain the day after the referendum. She became the Uber-Leaver, a crazed old hag with but a single thought in her head that leads her to do anything--embarrassing things like hounding the EU after they've said NO five times to her manic pleas. This outrageous behaviour signifies only one thing: May is Putin's puppet every bit as much as Trump, and we ignore that distinct possibility at our peril.

No No Deal?

Examine, please, the fact that Parliament virtually killed off No Deal a couple of days ago. Why is it still in play?

Because a madwoman--mad because, I have no doubt, of serious threats to her person by a foreign power--has no choice but to carry on or be killed. Yes, be killed. Putin killed Litvinenko on UK soil, and has tried several times to kill others. Indeed, I think we might be surprised at the deaths that could be laid at his feet if all facts were released. In his own country, there are a number of journalists Putin has caused to do odd things like try to fly from upper-floor balconies. He has had a political opponent thrown in jail just long enough for her to lose the election. Russian operatives have died in odd ways in foreign nations. 

"On the morning of U.S. Election Day, Russian diplomat Sergei Krivov was found unconscious at the Russian Consulate in New York and died on the scene. Initial reports said Krivov fell from the roof and had blunt force injuries, but Russian officials said he died from a heart attack. BuzzFeed reports Krivov may have been a Consular Duty Commander, which would have put him in charge of preventing sabotage or espionage," according to Axios.com.


The odd case of the Aussie in the embassy

And of course, there's Assange. He took up residence in the Ecuadorian Embassy during May's tenure as Home Secretary...and he has never left, despite the two Swedish women who had charged him with rape reneging. He has never been absolved of criminal charges in the UK so he could leave and go back where he came from.


May, please note, is responsible not only for Assange being in the Ecuadorian Embassy, but for keeping him there. At great cost to the UK taxpayer; there is a 24-hour police guard dedicated to arresting Assange the moment he steps out the door.

Last year, The Independent reported that, "Westminster Magistrates’ court upheld the UK arrest warrant, saying despite the fact that rape and sexual assault charges Mr Assange was originally wanted for in Sweden had now been dropped, he was still wanted for refusing to surrender to bail “without reasonable cause”, which is a criminal offence." A sort of thin offence, all things considered, and with the cost of keeping him under watch by UK police.

Why go to such lengths over something that in any sane world would be a non-starter? 

A prisoner of no conscience


Here's a distinct possibility: Because Assange is holed up in the embassy, receiving guests from anywhere without much chance their meetings will be heard by GCHQ, he can be involved in the fascist takeover of the UK. Farage, please recall, has visited Assange, he claims once, but others claim more.  

Consider these two quotes from The Guardian:

"Private investigator tells House panel Farage gave thumb drive to Assange, who officials view as a conduit for the Russian government"

and

"Assange has denied working as an agent of Russia and Farage has ridiculed suggestions that the Kremlin influenced either the US election or Britain’s 2016 vote to exit the European Union."

Do I really need to connect those dots for you? No, I didn't think so.

So it is no wonder that both the UK and US governments want Assange to continue to be held incommunicado. Possibly they have pressured the Ecuadorian government to either keep him there as he is now, reportedly without internet access through which he could ruin plans of both nations if he wanted to, or turn him over the the US. 

That would be tantamount, I think, to signing his death warrant. Assange knows too much about Putin's adventures in the US and the UK. For example, it is likely Assange had a role to play that will be revealed by US investigator Robert Mueller in his quest to prove what we all know: Russia altered the US election to benefit itself. Putin's fear of Hillary Clinton was almost palpable. However, as there is no honour among thieves regarding either loot or nations; Putin's disdain for his little toad puppet, Trump, is quite visible as well to all but Trump. Trump, thus, is expendable.

Government by the Toris and for the Putin Tories

It is no longer conjecture in the UK that Putin influenced the referendum to provide a Leave result. What is also not conjecture is that the Tory government has dragged its feet bringing those who were in on the conspiracy--notably Farage's buddy Banks--to account. It is clear that, for almost a year, the Tory government has refused to facilitate Assange's release or relocation, all the while delaying the discovery and prosecution of the foreign-influenced crminality in the Leave campaign.

Had the Conservative Party been simply asking the nation what it wanted, it would not have countenanced interference in the result. If the Conservative Party/government had been impartial, it would have rapidly prosecuted those who skewed the result. It would have set the referendum aside the minute the conspiracies were known, and either held a new referendum with more meaningful questions and much tighter security, or ditched the entire UKIPutin-hatched plan.

But it didn't do either; it dug in its heels supporting a criminally influenced election, taking on board the destructive demands of a Russian despot, and risking the nation in every conceivable way.



 ###

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Betrayal, thy name is Corbyn



Corbyn voted against Labour in Parliament 617 times. He is still opposing it, because it won’t agree with his Brexiter fantasies. He has mutated from a rebel to a betrayer, & the whole Corbyn story stinks of entryism. The PLP must junk him. Until then I’m voting elsewhere. -- AC Grayling, CBE, UK philosopher and author, Jan. 3, 2019, on Twitter

According to an article in Psychology Today, a betrayal is a "broken agreement, implicit or explicit, that is considered vital to the integrity of a relationship."

One of the main agreements between the leader of a  political party and its members is this: the members tell the leader what they want, and then he or she makes it happen. In late September, 2018, Financial Times reported that 86% of Labour members wanted a second referendum on leaving the EU. One can only assume that number is higher now.

But on Jan. 2, less than three months from the UK leaving the EU under either a useless agreement even now in Conservative leader May's sights to enforce on the UK and then ignore parts of (or at least, she has vowed to ignore the Irish backstop to avoid a return to the troubles) or a crash out  (a deadly matter for a nation and its people under any circumstances), Corbyn has said he is not in favour of a second referendum, preferring more negotiation (by him) with the EU (which the EU has more than once ruled out) or a general election.


Revoke and remain






Most Labour members do not favour more negotiation, most being bright enough, unlike either May or Corbyn, to understand that when the EU said the current deal is IT, they meant NO MORE NEGOTIATION. Finito. Done. Kaput. Go away. Many Labour members favour simply revoking Article 50 and remaining in the EU, or a second referendum about remaining in the EU. 


(It bears repeating early and often: the June 23, 2016 referendum was ADVISORY. IT WAS NOT BINDING. There was no mandate to proceed with any part of leaving the EU, and certainly not by invoking Article 50 precipitately, which Tyrant Tess May did by dint of whips and whatall. It is entirely possible that every single thing May has done for the past two years, based upon her religious and overly zealous dedication to leaving the EU regardless of what the nation wants and sanity dictates, is illicit if not actually illegal.)

As Corbyn is the Labour leader, he controls the Labour whip. This means that any Labour Member of Parliament who fails to vote as instructed by Corbyn, regardless of what that MP's constituents have said they desire, will be sanctioned. 



Whipping it your way


What does this mean? If the Whip does not do as the party leader wants regarding his or her own vote and ensuring the votes of others, then he or she can be removed as Whip. This would mean expulsion from the party. While the MP would retain his or her seat in Parliament until the next election, that MP would need to ally with one of the minor parties until a new general election occurred or he or she was forgiven and reinstated to the party.

As an adjunct, being removed as a whip would put the member's seat in jeopardy at the next election; there would be no campaign money forthcoming from the MPs former party, for one thing.

The entire whip system is draconian in its sanctions, and very undemocratic in its very existence. It is, to clarify its effects and very probably its intent, Parliament having been the creation of historical oligarchs, a betrayal of democracy itself. It is somewhat ludicrous to refer as democracy to an arm of government run along the lines of an old US plantation, involving whips (in this case human and not rawhide), owned by a despot (party leader) and managed by a cadre of overseers (whips). In the US, the whips would be called Simon Legrees, after the overseer character in the anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Legree pursued escaped slaves, earning money and stature by bringing them back to the plantation by whatever means necessary. Much like a Parliamentary whip.

(To be fair, there are whips in the US Congress as well. However, there are no sanctions beyond disapproval for a member ignoring the whip's enreaties. In the US Congress, it is mainly an arm-twisting position and has, as they say, no teeth.)


Most Labour MPs' constitutents favour remaining in the EU. At the very least, many favour a second referendum now that virtually every national poll shows Remain outstripping Leave by up to ten percent or more; even The Independent had it at 54% remain vs. 46% leave a few months ago. Ergo, a great many Labour MPs, if they intend to do their duty to their constituents, will feel the lash of the whip. But it is the only way not to betray those who elected them. Indeed, the whip system is an impediment of a very fundamental nature to anything likely to be regarded logically as democracy.




Corbyn's perfidy goes WAAY back


But let's go back to Grayling's comment. Corbyn has voted against his own party's wishes 617 times. His unwillingness to follow the demands of that party in this most crucial of all votes for 40-odd years is not surprising. But it is despicable.

Corbyn is still the leader of a party he apparently uses just to maintain a position of illicit influence on UK government and life while roundly disregarding that party's desires and underlying ethos. It's astounding, but it is not unfathomable; there are still socialist wannabes crying out on social media that Corbyn will bring a worker's paradise into being. They expect, apparently, that their ordinary jobs will be transformed in character, remuneration, and satisfaction by the simple act of installing a Latter Day Lenin in No. 10 Downing Street. 

Like Leavers, whether these Labourites are willfully ignorant or simply incapable of understanding that a society needs all levels to function--wealthy people, employed people and those who are not capable of employment and, by virtue of their incapacity, provide jobs for others--does not matter. 

They are living in a dream world in which jobs are provided without company owners, in which money to pay workers grows on trees, in which workers pay no taxes but somehow--without even the pittance of tax the oligarchical UK government collects from the wealthy oligarchs outside government--are provided with good housing, food and health care, and in which there are no poor people, never mind homeless ones. Because all this is magically taken care of. I would suggest they ask some quite old Russians how that worked for them; I would suggest they ask young Russians how the "changed in name only" Russian state is working for them today. Start with Pussy Riot. Then ask the middle aged: Sergei Magnitsky's name comes to mind.

An idea whose time never was


Even absent Brexit, Corbyn's either jaded or cynical view of a worker's paradise wouldn't work. The world passed the possibility of such a thing--if there was EVER the possibility of such a thing--the day the first PC and modem reached the first two desks in the UK. That was the day smokestack industries became obsolete, and labour needed to find its niche in, frankly, less distressing industries than coal and steel; Labour/labour needed to step up in environmental work on nature and the built environment, safer transport, continuing education for all of labour who would lose employment as the world changed.

If Jeremy Corbyn is too stupid to understand that time marches on, not backward, then he is not the person to lead Labour/labour, especially in times of rapid change and rising throwback philosophies such as fascism.  

If he does understand it, then he is too evil to be retained in UK government more than a minute beyond the present or, failing that, to be accommodated by the whips in his own party to bring the UK to doom. And then, at the earliest possible moment, he must be tossed onto the trash heap of politicians and ideas whose time has passed, and leaders whose minimal talents in aid of their people were moronic at best, cynically self-serving at worst.

In either case, a leader who not only ignores the wishes of his own constituents, but beats others to do so as well, when those constituents will be grievously harmed by those actions, is engaged in one thing only: Betrayal. 


***

Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride







Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Sign on the PM's Back

by Laura Harrison McBride
(This is another analysis piece I wrote at the beginning our our long and ongoing national nightmare. Don't let the G20 stuff deter you; it's all still true if not top-of-mind, and from the 6th paragraph on, it's all completely relevant today. The final paragraph? I added that today, in despair and after realising the sad necessity that I will spend my last years of life in a nation I moved to because I thought it was a kind and decent nation, and sadly found out it is at least as infested with racists and other forms of low-life as the US I left ten years ago. I legally renounced my US citizenship, so cannot go back except as a refugee; now I wonder if my Irish citizenship will be sufficient after March 29 for me to live in the UK with my British husband.)


Theresa May apparently arrived at the G20 Summit with a "Kick Me" sign on her back, and the other kids followed that suggestion.
The response of the G20 nations to Brexit was predictable if one didn't have one's head firmly stuck up the dark hole created by the Parliament of Fools, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove.
May arrived at the summit unaware that she is the fall-girl, unaware that her endless loop of “Brexit means Brexit” was just something the “big kids” told her to say so they'll like her. And she fell for it.
They don't like her. If they liked her, they wouldn't have cleverly engineered it so that each of them, while professing to want desperately to be PM (well, two of them, with the third such a perennial also-ran that he's got Loser stenciled on his back) really knew they had screwed up and wanted to be as far from the fallout as possible.
BTW, has anyone seen Gove lately? Is he off reading proscribed US literature or something? And Boris Johnson...is he perhaps at the US Embassy FINALLY renouncing his US citizenship? Or maybe he means to join his twin, Trump, and eff up US politics even more. His US citizenship will be useful for that.
But I digress. Whether May is a patsy or not (she is), no one wants to invest in a pig in a poke, which is what the UK is at the moment. Down the road, if Brexit continues its tottering way toward perdition, I expect the UK will be sausage, ground up, filled out with all sorts of chaff and not really meat at all, and stuffed into the bowels of global midgets.
Virtually every G20 representative has a firmer grasp on reality than does Mrs. May, possibly more properly characterized now as DisMay. For if she isn't feeling at best irrelevant and at worst pitiable after being soundly kicked by her colleagues on the field of global commerce and politics, she's more brain dead than I thought.
What will her reaction be? Will she man up and return home saying, "People, we might need to rethink this. We might need to grovel a bit, take our lumps, and go back to the EU with an open mind and a willingness to actually cooperate in world peace and a vibrant European and global economy. We might need to disavow the lies of Nigel Farage and his fascist horde. We might need to roll up our sleeves and do what is right, not what salves the torn egos of people who hate others just because they ARE others. We might need to accept that things have changed since the end of Elizabeth I's reign....and we need to deal with it in real time, right now."
I have no illusions. DisMay is as delusional as rock-star wannabe Boris Johnson, as lacking in empathy as the very Hitlerian Nigel Faux-rage, as dimwitted as Michael "my family's fishing business failed because of the EU/Oh no, son, you lie" Gove. As cruel as Iain Dump 'em Smith, as heinous as old "you stab 'em, we slab 'em", Jeremy "Wreck the NHS" Hunt.

But maybe some kind soul will find a way to haul this PM back from the brink, to keep her from handing over the UK's wealth and good regard to its former friends and neighbours, who, not being morons, will be only too happy to feast on the economic goodies the UK gave up in favour of begging for the crumbs of global commerce.

The Reeve whipping medieval serfs. This is what Mrs. May-Putin desire for us.
Copyright Laura Harrison McBride

Monday, December 17, 2018

Sheryll Murray's votes against Cornwall: Constituents don't count

by Laura Harrison McBride

 (This is a column I wrote right after the referendum. I have rewritten parts of it to reflect current realities.  Information about the EU offshoring rules to take effect in 2019 has also been added. And very unfortunately, Murray has not been replaced.)

Can an MP who campaigned against Remain possibly be for her constituency? 

You be the judge. Here's a scenario based on the intent of the votes of Southeast Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray, very unfortunately the one I've been stuck with despite my best efforts and those of many others to unseat her.   

Newlyn, Cornwall, fishing fleet--owners and employees will be among those who suffer with a Brexit.
---

A fictional Cornish family, the Broke family, is experiencing housing insecurity. They no longer have a right to their adequate council house and have had to move to a smaller one. Now, the Broke family is sleeping in a single room to accommodate the nurse and equipment for the paraplegic father's care. If they desire to bring suit over it, or anything else, they will find legal aid help severely limited.

Meanwhile, they struggle to get medical care at all; in Murray's world, GPs buy services for their patients from a corporation, meaning it is rationed to those who can't pay. The Brokes can't even opt for assisted suicide if there is no hope; Murray has voted against it.

The Brokes will also find heating a problem. Climate change makes the middle band around the earth warmer and drier, and the ends--where the UK is--colder and wetter. But in Ms. Murray's world, climate change is a myth. And increases in heating benefit are not included in her votes.

Should the Brokes earn enough money to travel, they can count on doing it on expensive trains or, if they have a really good year, on even more expensive airplanes. If they want to send a card or letter through the post to the friends and relations they can't afford to visit, they'll pay dearly for that, too.

If any of the Brokes are civil servants who have been made redundant they can no longer count on an adequate redundancy benefit.

Nor will the Broke children be able to help out. If they are at university, they struggle with rising tuition. Nor has the voting age been lowered to 16, so even those still at home, who might be expected to vote for their future and not the past, will be of no help either. 

The Brokes can't get away to a public forest for a bit of relaxation; the forests have been sold off. They can, however, entertain themselves by gambling away what little they have as gambling has STILL not been regulated.

They don't dare complain about any of this, especially on electronic media, which is now regularly scanned and the information retained by government. They needn't look for any help in the House of Lords, either. Hereditary peers have now been banned from the House of Lords, so the only ones sitting are life peers whose sense of noblesse oblige is non-existent.

The Brokes can't expect help from their MP, either, because the number of MPs has been reduced so that each one is serving a much larger constituency. Of course, they could not expect help from oligarch wannabe Mrs. Murray in any case as she votes most often against anything that would help working or poor people. Despite many of her constituents making a living from fishing, she is a LEAVER, despite what that will do to the UK's right to fish; she courts another Cod War or worse. But she doesn't care; her fisherman husband died some years ago.

Happily, the corporation that employs one of the Broke family has not yet off-shored her job because it was just granted enormous tax relief. On the other hand, it is now debating whether to make workers redundant in order to take advantage of even greater tax relief for investing in equipment and buildings rather than people.It would leave the owner all the more to offshore, now that he won't be bound by EU offshoring rules to begin in 2019.

Nor can her union help; its freedom to act has been restricted by Parliament. Still, she may yet get jobs cleaning houses of the wealthy, as taxes on incomes over £150,00 per year have not been raised, so they can afford to pay a pittance. That low pay won't go far: VAT on everything the Brokes buy has increased.

So they're suffering. But all those emmets who've moved in after buying McMansions are still living well, as the mansion tax they could easily afford has never been enacted. The Broke family have a sneaking suspicion this is because the second-homers vote in Cornwall instead of Surrey, where they actually live, in order to avoid the mansion tax. But there's nothing to be done about it. Indeed, there's little to be done about any of it. Murray has ensured that local councils are responsible for more and more of what citizens need, while scarce council funds are spent to keep up roads and infrastructure for the platoons of cars coming south to the McMansions.

Cornwall is not for the Cornish; it is for Sheryll Murray and the wealthy out-of-towners she serves. Her votes have been consistently damaging to the interests of her constituency in the poorest county in Britain. 

This in itself is odd: Murray's husband Neil died in a fishing accident working alone on his boat which did not have a dead man's switch that would stop dangerous equipment if someone were tangled in it--while hauling in nets, for example. In an article in the Daily Mail, a photo caption read:
Tory MP Sheryll Murray whose fisherman husband Neil died at sea has accused the EU of being partly to blame for his death.
There is an odd discrepancy here, one that leads interestingly to Mrs. Murray's vote against remaining in the EU:

In the week of her husband's inquest, Mrs Murray - who did not give evidence but asked some questions of witnesses - had secured an offer of European funding for fishermen to put emergency stop buttons on fishing boats.
Was the Daily Mail at fault for this contradiction because of bad reportage and editing? Or was Murray just casting about for someone to blame for her husband's death? Could a need to blame the EU or the fishing industry or both for her husband's death have solidified her LEAVE attitude? We will probably never know. But her votes on issues of interest to the bulk of her constituency are alone sufficient to suggest tactical voting is required to ensure Murray is not re-elected again, Leave or Remain.
 

 ***

For information regarding the construction of this scenario, visit this website that chronicles all of Ms. Murray's votes: https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24875/sheryll_murray/south_east_cornwall/votes

For another look at the haves and have-nots, focusing on Cameron and Cornwall, visit this page:
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2016/02/real-cornwall-county-poorer-lithuania-and-hungary

***

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Leaver's Vitriol continues: How rational people can understand it

The founder of FB page Vote for Europe, David Welsh, asked me to write a few analytical articles for the page right after the referendum.  I think a few of them are worth repeating there and elsewhere.  This version has been edited very slightly from the original to reflect current voting by at least one Cornish MP.

___

Leaver vitriol has not decreased; indeed, the few remaining Leavers--many having seen how bad Brexit will be and changed their minds--are more violent than ever before, being led by career criminal Tommy Robinscum (spelled that way so it won't be picked up by Google and the thug's fame increased) a/k/a Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, career criminal.

Leavers' post-referendum vitriol: Is there a cure, or even a reason?

by Laura Harrison McBride




I'm not the only Remain volunteer who noticed it; Leave voters were nasty, spewed vitriol both on paper and in person, and often punched Remain campaigners for no reason at all. A friend of mine in Tavistock was punched for doing no more than walking past a Leave kiosk holding his Remain sign.

When we erected a HUGE Remain sign in front of our house, I expected the worst. Fortunately, although I live in that self-hating county*, Cornwall, most of my neighbours are reasonable. Many of them were utterly jazzed by the sign, quite approving in fact.



So what about the vitriol? WHY? It's still worth worrying about, as it continues. What's it all about?



The Leave vitriol is probably best considered to be a form of cognitive dissonance.



A person suffering cognitive dissonance comes to believe something which later turns out to be untrue. Often, the person realises from the start that the concept he or she believes is untenable. Because there is no agreement between the belief and the facts, the person is uneasy, possibly lashes out.



An article** on the Simply Psychology website notes that an early investigation of cognitive dissonance arose “out of a participant observation study of a cult which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to its members — particularly the really committed ones who had given up their homes and jobs to work for the cult — when the flood did not happen.”
 

The article notes that fringe members were inclined to realise they had been gullible, putting it down to experience and moving on. But the committed members, those who had figuratively bet the farm, “were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along (the earth was not destroyed because of the faithfulness of the cult members).”



Just so, the remaining committed Leavers are reinterpreting the crashing economy to prove they were right all along, that the EU--which we still belong to--is what is bad for the UK. They believe they will be proven right just as soon as we tear up the economic, social and defence contract we have with the EU. Until then, in their minds, anything that happens that impacts negatively on them or on the UK is the fault not of the world's mistrust of the UK in the lee of Leave, but of Remain for failing to lie down and play dead about it all...since the Leavers cannot, in their own minds, have been wrong, facts be hanged.



They are, literally, unable to connect the dots. They are unable to see that decreasing investment in the UK and shrinking sales of UK products are because of the world's distrust of a nation that would cavalierly tear up a workable peace-and-prosperity pact because of the lies of a pack of buffoons.



In clinging to beliefs already proven wrong, committed Leavers fail to understand that trade agreements, maybe more so than peace agreements, take many years and lots of money to craft. Spain has been working on an independent agreement about plums with China for eight years. But the Leavers, in order to continue to hold their belief that it is the EU holding the UK down, must insist--despite abundant evidence--that all will be well just as soon as we stop having to write “contains fish” on tuna cans, and other truly meaningless minutiae of EU membership. But such minutiae become important to those who must seek excuses for irrational behaviours.



What's to be done? Nothing, at least nothing directly. It is impossible to force anyone to reverse beliefs founded on lies by providing truth. It's like giving up drink or drugs, no one can make them do it; they must do it themselves. We cannot talk them into it. And they will continue to vote for those who support lies.


The only thing to do is tactically vote out the MPs who pander to fear and low self-esteem, and vote in those who would do the most for the greatest number...even if they are standing backed by a party we don't normally support. 


***

  • NOTE: We have no chance, now, to elect anyone before the looming disaster what will either be avoided by Remaining, or acceded to by Parliament voting yes May's debacle of a deal, or crashing out. What we can do is natter at every single MP who has trod the middle road or has not totally committed to a People's Vote. We will not change the minds of retro-socialist Jeremy Corbyn, or weaselly Gove or the wildly self-imptorant and self-deluded Boris Johnson, for instance.

Copyright 2016 by Laura Harrison McBride

* My constituency keeps electing the gormless Leaver, Sheryll Murray. A great many Cornish constituencies also vote Tories into office, a priori against the interests of one of the poorest counties in the UK and identified by the EU for special grants--which will now disappear--to keep it from disaster.

** McLeod, S. A. (2014). Cognitive Dissonance. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html

Friday, December 14, 2018

Gulag UK--Land of Milk and Honey for Russian Oligarchs

Britons are going to die in greater numbers than they have at any time since Victoria's reign after March 29, 2019. They will die because Putin and the rest of the Russian oligarchs need a place from which to offshore their wealth and avoid taxes. In 2019, the EU will prevent this; therefore, one EU nation would have to leave the EU to accommodate the oligarchs.
Palm trees on Tresco, one of the UK's Scilly Isles, just off the UK's southwest coast. Tropical paradise for Russian oligarchs, and better than Cyprus, their current go-to tropical destination. After Brexit, they can offshore their loot from Cyprus,which will remain in the EU.

The UK was an easy choice. It is governed by British oligarchs, the Tories, and a despicable excuse for a man, Nigel Farage--a fascist since boyhood--had become a spokesperson for the far right, which appealed to those whose lives had already been royally screwed by heinous, inhumane Tory policies.

And so the deed was done, via illegal donations to LEAVE and other criminality.

Eventually, a number of those who had been duped realised it...too late.

The UK was a perfect Putin target. The population is docile unlike the French, undereducated compared to the Germans, less volatile than the Spanish, etc. etc. Plus, it already had a great financial industry in place to service the oligarchs' needs.

But mainly, the population are men who think they are mice. And I despair.

Brexit has been a fact of miserable life for Brits longer than Trump has bedeviled the Americans...and yet, it is clear Trump is on his way out/soon rendered impotent. And it is clear that Brits are still afraid of the oligarchical Conservative Party. Possibly afraid of hurting the feelings of a woman, the sub-Prime Minister Theresa May, who has amply proven she lacks feelings. Possibly trundling themselves to doom because they are afraid demanding a way out of the maze of lies and criminality May's government has constructed will be impolite. These are, truly, church mice. Unfortunately, it is Mighty Mouse that's called for.
  

So here we are, two minutes from Brexit and the mice are still fighting over a piece of mouldy cheese, refuse to take resistance lessons from the French, and are likely to find themselves starving to death, both literally and figuratively, on a small, cold island they will not be permitted to leave, although anyone with a non-UK passport will be put on the first available boat, wrecking families and causing untold emotional distress, all so Windrush-decimator Theresa May and her nauseating band of oligarchs in Westminster can get ten times as much money as any human ever needs, even though they make a pact with the devil, Vladimir Putin.

Copyright 2018, Laura Harrison McBride

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Pain means pain...and Christmas

Today, I woke up early, awaiting a delivery of medicine which will FINALLY relieve pain I have had constantly for the past 2.5 years. No, it is not the pain of Brexit, although I have no doubt that the upheaval in the UK--both while we lived in France trying to get some peace and distance, and in Cornwall now that we have returned to the house we love--has something to do with it.

I ordered the medicine online on Sunday night. That meant that it should have gone out in Monday's batch, and, since Royal Mail   usually delivers overnight for First Class, should have come in yesterday morning's mail. It didn't.


I called the company shipping the medicine and they said it had not gone out Monday because they were both short-handed and swamped on Monday morning. Fair enough, although I wouldn't have thought medicines would be ordered in greater batches just because it's the Christmas season. But perhaps a few packers were out shopping.


Anyway, they said they would send it yesterday, and, according to an email from the company, they did.


Our mail generally comes by 10 a.m. It is now 1:30, and our regular mail has not yet arrived. So I am still in pain.


Historic Royal Mail vehicle: Possibly this is how they send my medicine from Tunbridge Wells
Cleverly, though, when I called the company yesterday to complain, I decided to ensure relief by ordering a SECOND batch to be sent yesterday by Royal Mail Special Delivery, guaranteed to be delivered by 1 p.m. today at a cost to me of 9 pounds. For a package weighing a few ounces. But OK. Worth it. Pain means  pain, which is somehow more existentially true than Brexit means Brexit. 
It is 1:30, as noted, and the Special Delivery has not arrived.

I can request a refund of the shipping fee. I WILL request a refund; at the very least, it will put the company sending the medicine on notice that for future orders, they had better attend to at least ONE of my duplicate orders in a timely manner.

Naturally, I phoned Royal Mail customer service; naturally, they said the package is "in our system." A lot of good that does me when the medicine that should be in my system isn't.

But...I have hope. If it doesn't get here until December 19--today being December 12--it will simply prove a belief I developed decades ago when I was a freelancer selling work to New York City publishers. The belief is that it is pointless to attempt any business between after the first of December until people begin to actually acquire the Christmas spirit they extol.

Rockefeller Center, NYC, with its perpetually lovely angels and yearly tree, 2018
 We developed the theory in one of the early years of our freelance writing business when we noticed that it was not only difficult to get an appointment with editors in December, but if we did, we were greeted by seriously snarly people. Editors are generally snarly, though; later, when I was working as an editor, I was snarly. But it was more than that. Cheques were held up, things were not delivered, that sort of stuff. Doing business in NYC in December felt like swimming through molasses in gum boots.

We noticed it again the second year.


The third year, we decided to just take a holiday from Thanksgiving until closer to Christmas. We theorized (this is not the Royal We, by the way; my husband was my writing business partner) that as people began to worry that Santa Claus would pass them by if they were nasty, they would get nicer.

We thought maybe the 15th would work.


Nope. Too early.

We tried doing business the next day and the next and the next. Nada. Finally, on the 19th, things began to click and hum again. We pushed like mad that day and for three more, and then shut down again until January 2. There was no work going to be done in NYC during Christmas week; too many events and a lot of decision-makers at their country house in Connecticut. 
Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwyck, one of my all-time favourite Christmas films

I have believed that to be true every year since, which makes it about four decades now. And it has been true in several states and two European nations. And now, I don't think it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I might have a certain strength of mind, but I'm not powerful enough to bring business in all those places to a sorry pass year after year after year.

It is now 2:08. No medicine.

See?  If it gets here before the pain finally kills me, I'll let you know how it all turned out.

Meanwhile, fear the first 19 days of December, or take the lumps.






Thursday, December 6, 2018

A proper glass for gin


 You can have one, too, from amazon. Click here.

On our most recent trip to Ireland, I finally got fed up with the glassware in which gin was being served. Granted, whiskey is Ireland's most prevalent and possibly favourite alcohol. But gin is at the very least a close second, and, in fact, the average Irish hotel bar will have a wide variety of gins and only a few kinds of whiskey--Jameson's, Powers, Bushmill's, typically.

But among gins, most will have at least: 

  • Hendrick's
  • Bombay Sapphire
  • Ophir
  • Tanqueray and
  • Beefeater, my staple gin for at least the past 30 years.

Many will also have Beara Ocean Gin and Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin.

These two have reached Top Shelf status for me, surpassing even the discoveries at the beginning of my craft gin odyssey, which involved Hendrick's.

A gin to savour


 

Hendrick's was a new and magical gin in the US market about a dozen years ago. I was served Hendrick's by a friend, and I loved it. But it wasn't until I attended a cocktail-making seminar during Agatha Christie Week in her hometown of Torquay, Devon, UK, that I found that it was best garnished with a spear of cucumber, and that in addition to a gently spicy set of botanicals, Bulgarian rose and cucumber were featured in Hendrick's.

It was the fairly ordinary botanicals that drew me to gin in the first place. When I was a child, my parents kept a basic liquor cabinet including gin, whisky (Canadian or US), rum, and vodka. I didn't care about most of them, but by the time I was ten, I realized that gin had an enticing scent. I probably hung around my father's side when he was mixing highballs, as they were virtually always called in the 50s and 60s, for guests. While I never so much as sneaked a drop of any of them, I would often simply open the bottle and sniff the gin. It was the juniper berries that enticed me, and they still do, prominent as they are in Beefeater and its student-budget counterpart, Gordon's. Gordon's even had juniper berries on its label, at least in the US when I was a starving student and could afford nothing else.

I discovered Sapphire, aptly named for its blue colour, about 20 years ago. I didn't like it at first, although now I'm quite happy with it. I bought some ordinary Bombay a while back, simply because I hadn't even seen the clear stuff in years, and because it was cheap. I didn't like it, having been spoiled by more complex recipes. I first discovered Tanqueray because my husband likes it, and actually, with a slice of lime and smoked salmon, it can't be topped. In recent years, I also discovered Ophir, a very spicy gin that's great in cold weather with a powerful cheese.

But my two favourites du jour are Beara and Gunpowder gins.

I first had Beara Ocean Gin at the East Pub at the King Sitric Hotel in Howth, Ireland, a few months ago. They served it with a sprig of samphire in it. Really fine. I've had it served with samphire as a garnish; when the bar was out of it, a fresh rosemary sprig served well.
A whole shelf full of luscious.

Beara is flavoured with the seaside. Really. Purified ocean water from the Irish coast is added, as is sugar kelp harvested in Kerry. Also mixed in is some fuchsia, the vibrant red flower that graces so many Irish hedgerows; it imparts a floral scent. Juniper and citrus fruits finish off the mix. The company notes that fresh air and salt water are good for you, and so decided to deliver them in another element that, as far as I'm concerned, will cure what ails you.
  I first had Gunpowder Irish Gin later in that same trip, while staying at The Park Hotel in Kiltimagh. The bartender served it with a slice of grapefruit. Also really fine.
More lusciousness.....

Gunpowder Irish Gin does not contain gunpowder any more than New York's favourite soft drink, a Chocolate Egg Cream (see below), contains eggs. Rather, it contains a large raft of botanicals, including local Irish meadowsweet, Indian cardamom, Macedonian juniper berries, Romanian coriander seed, German angelica root, Moroccan orris root, Indian caraway seed, and Chinese star anise, as well as kaffir lime, grapefruit, lemon and, of course, gunpowder tea. Gunpowder tea is a slightly acidic, but mild, green tea sourced, as it has been for hundreds of years, in China.
 

But there is a problem....


Gin drinkers generally want to taste the gin, leaving abundant mixers and fancy glasses for the "just get me freaking drunk" vodka crowd.

Lately, especially in Ireland, gin is served, whether with tonic (anathema to me, but fine for my husband) or neat with ice in Copa glasses, which look like the slightly outdated red wine balloons.

Copa glass for gin and tonic, or just gin. Also called gin balloons; stupid glass for a great tipple.
Gin is not pretentious, only interesting and flavourful. As a result, one wants ALL of the libation one has ordered to go down one's gullet, not one's shirt front. If one is having a shot of Gunpowder over ice, one doesn't really want the ice slamming into one's nose as one reaches for the last drops of the delightful stuff. Very frustrating. Plus, sometimes in one's eagerness to get every last drop, one will spill some gin/ice water on one's clothes.

To my mind, there are only three proper glasses for gin. One is the old-fashioned glass, which will deliver the gin plain or over ice without risking getting your nostrils frost-bit, or worse, spilling some of the precious liquid. These glasses work for a short gin and tonic as well.

A row of vintage, unused Cavan Crystal old fashioned glasses. The ones in my house are well-used for G&T and just gin. OK, and sometimes an Irish whiskey old fashioned.

Then there is the highball glass, tall and elegant and useful for a long gin and tonic or a Collins.

And the martini glass, of course, which was invented for the gin martini--the ORIGINAL martini--in preference to coupes, which also were once used for champagne until champagne flutes and tulips replaced them in all but the most old-school establishments.
Galway Crystal Clarity martini glasses.
 I can't pretend to be to serving gin what William Sitwell, food critic and until recently editor of Waitrose Food magazine, is to serving food. Sitwell famously and volubly does not like the modern habit of serving fine meals on square plates.

Well then. I infamously--construe that word and usage as you will--do not approve of serving gin in Copa glasses. Frankly, it is an insult to the fine art of the gin maker to showcase a stupid glass when the serious art of the gin tipple is underway.


SIDEBAR: The Chocolate Egg Cream
 

It was once known only in the environs of New York City. The university I went to, although five hours from NYC in the southern tier of New York State, had so many "downstate" students that it made egg cream ingredients freely available in the dining halls.


What's in an egg cream? Chocolate syrup, seltzer water and milk. Period. The photo below is to demonstrate how it is actually mixed--many updated recipes present it with a cap of foam, like cappuccino. But that's wrong. It would be thoroughly mixed; I suppose the little bit o whipped cream on the top is excusable.










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C. 2018, Laura Harrison McBride




A Parable of Brexit

Once upon a time, there was a baby-faced man named Doofus Dumdum. He was the darling of his wealthy parents' eyes, and they sent him to ...