Wednesday, February 13, 2019

UK government: Inflicting the death of a thousand cuts


One recent morning at breakfast, Simon told the story of a lady who got a parking ticket, and then was fined on top of that, because when she returned the ticket with her fine, she had copied the number of the ticket wrong; the extra fine was for that as the ticket said to enter the numbers correctly.

She fought it and, several hundred pounds later transferred to lawyers' pockets, she won.

Several years ago, we got a parking ticket in the car park near the Plymouth Hoe and the Aquarium. We'd have been back to our car in plenty of time, but the pedestrian drawbridge was raised just as we (and a lot of others) got there to let a sailboat pass from the boat basin into Sutton Harbour. We were TWO MINUTES late getting to the car. We thought the guy must have written out the ticket before the appointed hour, just in case, because he was only two rows away from us when we arrived. We paid it. But there's this: they KNOW that bridge is going to go up with no warning, and, depending on the number of boats going through, it could take a long time to come back down. At the very least, there should be a ten-minute grace period; anyone going from that car park to the Hoe or Aquarium will have to cross that bridge, and there is no other place to park.

So, anyway, what does this have with bludgeoning the middle class with a thousand deadly idiocies? Easy. Control. The upper class is currently, in the UK and the US, arranging for the early deaths of the poor and the working class. After a Brexit, the people most likely to starve will be the poor; those most likely to be malnourished will be the working class; both will get scant medical attention in the pared down NHS; the middle class and above generally has some sort of gap insurance. We do.

So the Rees-Moggs, Boris Johnsons and Nigel Farages of the world have pretty much got the poor and working class under control; miserable now and heading for early death.

But what about the middle class? The Tories have  already diminished UK government-run schools and, with the need for the middle class to pay for gap health insurance to maintain what they were used to, they don't have money for private educations anymore. But damn, those pesky, educated middle class people just keep hanging on.
This photo accompanied a story in The Guardian about the homeless dying on the streets of the UK.

What to do? BREXIT. What a great idea!  Make sure the things they buy cost lots more by destroying the customs union with the EU. Make sure the cost of cars and fuel and food all go up wildly so they will, finally, have to spend their last penny to get by. Who knows? Possibly they'll have to give up their gap health insurance so they, too, can wait 6 weeks for an emergency heart bypass, or watch their kid die for lack of funds to pay for out-of-NHS cancer treatments.

But until all that happens--although it's happening well enough already--what in the world will the ruling class do? No, they cannot get rid of ALL the poor, working class and middle class. But then, they need a few of us to mow their lawns, wipe their butts in the old age home, and run their office on zero-hours contracts with no benefits.


Brexit isn't here quite yet. But even after it is, why not send the middle class into misery any way they can, the ruling class thinks. 

How better than to make sure they spend money and time dealing with cockamamie bureaucratic rules about parking? The parking companies do have a ways to go until they get as good as destroying people as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has become, especially since the introduction of Universal Credit. 
Universal Credit replaced other forms of hardship assistance in the UK. Supposedly, it would cut down on overlap, save money AND be better for those in need. The graph above shows how wrong that idea was, and how useless the Tory government is for those in need.

Universal Credit. Sounds innocuous. Maybe a new loan scheme available to everyone....

But no. It's a cunning little Tory government system whereby people already struggling to survive are suddenly supposed to become masters of the financial universe to get the social safety net support once available simply because they needed it. With Universal Credit, those who are in hard times have to perform MBA feats to get any help, and to keep it. And they must also be available any time of the day or night for inspections and/or phone calls from DWP. 


Recently, a woman was docked part of her disability pension for an entire year because DWP said she couldn't properly document her disease, although her doctor had made the point clearly that she was not going to be able to work again. Ever. THEN they assessed an additional penalty--wait for it--because FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER she had missed a telephone call from the witless automatons hired by the DWP on the zero-hour contracts.

The DWP has honed their killer craft for a year now on the poor. I have no doubt that the government, needing to get rid of the mouthy middle class--now objecting to losing their right to travel in the EU, to study there, to move there, to work there, had to find a way to shut us up. The DWP model, and that of the private parking companies selling their services to government, have shown the way. 

And on top of the constant drip of useless bureaucratic rules throughout UK life, now MP Kate Hoey (rhymes with hooey) has decided it would be good to expand private gun ownership in the UK. So what? So this: When people are starving, if they can get hold of a gun, they might well hold up a store, or invade a house. And with Brexit, people WILL be starving.

Whose stores will they hold up, and whose houses will they invade? Why, the middle-class, of course.
Gilets jaunes--yellow vests--in the UK are generally Brexiters who long for complete separation from EU neighbors, no immigration, and no foreign goods. Aside from those unworkable ideas, the poster mentions and EU Army (There is none, and won't be) and a UN Agenda....like peace, maybe? These are the disaffected people being primed to attack others after Brexit.
So basically, Hoey wants to open season on the middle-class, making them infinitely vulnerable and nervous as well. By the way, the despicable Tory government has already cut the national police force by 21,000, and has removed the local cop house from all but the largest towns. Callington, the medium-sized town about 4 minutes from us by car, lost its police station a couple of years ago. The nearest is now in Saltash, 20 minutes away barring farm vehicles on the road. I cannot recall the last time I saw a bobby walking the beat in Tavistock, as I always used to do--before the Tory horde began its rape of the UK.

###

Shortly, in a new column, what PUTIN hopes to gain from having the Tories destroy the decently educated British middle class.
 Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Greed, Inc., or in other words, Conservatives

A bit harsh, my title, yes? But also true.

For a long time, I've been saying that avoiding the EU offshoring rules was THE paramount driving force behind the Tory dedication to Brexit, ANY Brexit. They have spent centuries managing to keep their gains, mostly ill-gotten, from being donated in any small part to the national treasury for the upkeep of either Crown or country. The EU wanted them to stop avoiding UK taxes, and pay their fair (sort of) share. The rest of the EU agreed to pay their fair share in their nations, and their moneyed/political class did not try to quit the club. Only the Brits did that.

This is simple. Even anyone as moronic as Nadine Dorries, MP, author of trashy novels, employer of her own children at our expense...even SHE could understand it. Well, after a lot of tutoring from people with brains. Maybe.

But one has to question the rest of the Tory program, the grinding austerity that has seen people one day from a cancer death told to get a job, that has seen parents docked a year's benefits for failing to answer the phone when DWP called, and then docked some more for that first-time failure. Yes, folks, not for being a serial lay-about; for missing a phone call ONE TIME. Screw the family's kids; they don't have to eat. The DWP horror stories are legion.

Windrush: UK invited them in when we needed help, but Tories are chucking them out when THEY need help

And then there's Windrush, or the reversal thereof. Just this morning, I read of a man deported to Jamaica after 20 years of legal residency in the UK, leaving his devastated wife and two teenage children behind. Why? Because Tories don't like brown people. They don't like brown people for one of two reasons. Either the brown people become unemployed and require some benefits, or the brown people are very successful, which plays havoc with Tory religious dogma that only white men can be really successful.

Why white men only? What about Theresa May?

Have you heard Theresa May, seen her actions? Moronic, psychotic. The Tory men were happy to make her PM because even Boris "The Clown Prince" Johnson would appear smart and stable if he followed her as PM. May was sacrificed by the Tory men to take the Brexit fall and secure their fortunes from the offshoring they dread. Why, after all, return anything to the treasury of the nation that allowed, and often helped, them to make a fortune? It would only be used to help the less fortunate. And some of those might be brown people or women or, in any case, not Tories.


And that's the second point. The Tories dream not of unicorns, but of a society in which there are very, very few pesky middle-class people, demanding good education, health care, old age considerations and so on. Frankly, the modern world has too little work for too many educated people below millionaire level anyway. So, think the millionaires, those people are superfluous to requirements. They might as well be vanquished. How? Brexit. Their jobs disappear, and with it their incomes, making them dependent on the state.


The Middle Ages....and the UK Tory future

How can THAT be good? Because the Tories dream of having virtually NO poor or uneducated people around to support. The modus operandi: Push the middle class down to working class or benefits recipient, and push the poor farther than that. How?


Simple: Limit resources, or in other words, mpose austerity on the social safety net despite the government being flush with funds. Funds they willingly use to bribe people who can help them achieve their ends, but avoid using at all costs to help those who are their countrymen and simply need a hand. So, they destroy health care...food...education...living benefits. 

Those most able to access and deal with increasingly distant and difficult systems and departments in the social safety net will be the educated middle class, so they will get more benefits from whatever of the system is left than will the uneducated poor. The uneducated poor will die younger. The educated middle class will, too. And, after a generation or two, the Tories will have their heart's desire: only enough able workers with only just enough education to do the work the Tory families require. There will be virtually no need for a social safety net; everyone who can work will work, at the pleasure of the Tory overlords, or go hungry and die. And that, for the Tories, would be paradise. Society would consist only of Tories, and Tory slaves. And the slaves? Expendable. So, basically, Tory heaven.



The Tory government has, since Cameron first set foot in No. 10, engaged in social engineering dedicated not to society as a whole, but to the society he runs in, the toffs. There were enough useful idiots like May that he didn't have to dirty his hands. May engineered the hostile environment toward foreigners of the middle and working classes. May engineered a great many of the austerity programs of the Tory government, grabbing the biggest plum of all, the ruination of her country in pursuit of an oligarchical society in which workers--and god knows those who cannot work--are scarcer than a breath from Nigel Farage--Putin's fool and the Tories' fall guy--that isn't tainted with cigar smoke, beer fumes or stinkin' lies.

So, in a nutshell: The Tories are engineering Brexit so they don't have to share ANY of their wealth with anyone else. AND, to ensure that remains true for the foreseeable future, they are also conducting social engineering to literally, over a generation or two, kill off people they see as expendable: the poor, the under-educated, the sick, the old, the brown.


You might not like these ideas, but, to paraphrase a recent social media meme, if you aren't sure whether you are a Tory or an expendable liability to a Tory, check your wallet.

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Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

Friday, February 1, 2019

Freedom dies in the west on two words: Brexit and Wall



Flat of poor family, UK 1960. I think by next year at this time, it might look palatial.


There is no room to compromise. 

There is no solution.

May's red lines are symptomatic of the belligerent intent of a party in thrall to both money and Putin. Putin is not a Communist; there is no such thing anymore, although Putin cut his vicious molars on the USSR's KGB. What he learned there was how to use the decency of other cultures and nations against them, from the inside. The Russian model of moles, in case you are unaware, continues to this very day. A half dozen were outed in the US within the last decade. Doubtless, most now hide on the internet. We know they are there, but outing them takes a long time.

As for Trump, he is in thrall only to himself, which is an untenable position for him right now as Putin demands Trump's total fealty, and gets it. This is probably one reason Trump MUST win on the wall; if he fails, he will not only have failed Putin--whose modus operandi in the UK and the US and godknows which democracy next--but also failed himself. He will be unable to see in himself the greatness, the power, the masterful ruler he imagines himself to be, but only the fat, old, uneducated, cash-poor wretch he is.

Between the UK being led by a vile, vapid, vicious and venal woman who is afraid of Putin, her own party (although why anyone would fear that parliament of fools, I have no idea), and the US being led by a functional illiterate with delusions of his own grandeur, where do we go from here? Where? Led by whom?

For the first time in my life about much of anything, I have no cogent thoughts I wish to convey. I have a few notions, but even to me, they seem weak, lifeless, without much hope of success in saving us from the two-pronged demons, TrumPutin and MayPutin, who are intent on destroying two of the best governmental structures and most vigorous populations the world has ever known.

Why? That part, at least, is simple. Evil cannot tolerate goodness. Wealth cannot tolerate poverty. (I'll come back to this one last.) Suffering cannot tolerate health.


The part about evil is easy; every religion has explained this, and it has entered the human consciousness, even of those who practice no religion. Good people know that evil seeks to destroy good early, often, and always.

Suffering cannot tolerate health is less well-known as a "thing." But consider; Big  Pharma gouges for its drugs to such an extent that a percentage of the population will be unable to afford health under any circumstances. That means whether the patient pays as in the US, or a national health service provides drugs--but can only afford the cheaper, less effective ones. Like the National Health Service (NHS) right now. 

Big Pharma prefers a constant level of ill-health--physical suffering of potential customers--to keep itself in shekels. 

Just so, dictators cannot tolerate a healthy culture; a healthy culture would immediately display how truly sick the minds of dictators are. And they would be overthrown. So they MUST keep the population suffering. (Any time a dictatorship has been overthrown, it has been because for any number of varied reasons, the population they have subjugated has achieved enough peace/health to be strong enough to demand more.)


But now, what about wealth not tolerating poverty? By that do I mean that the wealthy will help the poor out of poverty? 


Not at all. Indeed, the opposite. The wealthy--I suggest Rees-Mogg in the UK and Mitch McConnell in the US as easy examples--cannot tolerate poverty because they will be reminded that they are but a breath away from that condition themselves. They are weak; they know they have no valuable skills, nor spiritual strength, nothing with which to remain alive for very long without their blankets of money. And so they hoard it, and connive to get more, no matter that they take it from the poor and desperately poor.

Then they arrange that as many of the poor as possible die as quickly as possible; a crash-out Brexit should do it with little affordable food, and jobs that have mainly disappeared to nations that still have hearts and souls. The Tories/Mogg contingent had to go there; the depredations on the NHS have not yet killed sufficient numbers of us. Meanwhile, they move the homeless off the streets but not into safe, warm temporary housing. Oh, no. It is up to citizens and citizen-funded organizations to do that. I give money to those organizations. But I have a friend who takes homeless people into her home for the long haul, and helps each "boarder" to achieve a job and home of his or her own. And then she does it again. I applaud her and her husband, a respected medical professional in Plymouth.*




But what do we do? As I said, I have few even marginally workable solutions. The nexus of evil in the US and the UK has grown too powerful, has wrecked the centuries-long balance in which wealth and poverty both waxed and waned, allowing people to climb the ladder, forcing the most incompetent of the basically incompetent rich to slide down to the level their intellect, talent and education could support. For many, since their educations were not learned but purchased, they slid very far indeed. And that was right; time for them to await rescue, as so many whose necks they stood on had done.

It is unfortunate that the poor, when they achieve solvency and even a bit of power, are willing to compromise with the rich. The rich and powerful are never willing to compromise with the poor and powerless...and the political parties that represent each group likewise. 

In the US, Republicans will never compromise with Democrats; in the UK, Tories will never compromise with Labour. At the moment, in any case, Labour is indistinguishable from the Conservatives. Both are selling out their poor nation for another penny of wealth, another tiny whiff of power. This may be why Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson said recently that Trump is bad, but Brexit is a thousand times worse. In the US there is still an opposition party with guts and brains; in the UK, there is none.

I have no solution. Repeat: I, who have spent a career and a lifetime analyzing matters as a journalist and a teacher, have no solution to offer. None. Not one.



I fear we will have to just try to survive this deadly turn of the cosmic wheel as best we can.

Anyone?




* I other friends, a couple approaching middle age, who have for years offered accommodation and food to young homeless people with no family support or job going to university or job training for three nights while local services find them permanent lodging of some sort. Unfortunately, because of Brexit, that couple will have moved to France by spring.

Copyright 2019 Laura Harrison McBride






Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Punks always crumble when you call their bluff

 
French Foreign Legion in training

Frankly, I'm thinking we need to call in the French Foreign Legion to solve our problems. The UK has become a nation of wimps, and I understand the French Foreign Legion is the polar opposite of that. Plus, they are only mandated by the French government to serve in foreign conflicts, so that works. And they are highly trained, able to take on even such despicable targets as Nigel Farage (would YOU want to touch him, even with the end of a bayonet?) 

Apparently, Ms. Dick's Metropolitan Police are too fine to soil themselves shoving thugs away from an MP trying to do the job she was elected to do. It has come to a sorry pass when a female MP--Anna Soubry, for example--is willing and able to stand up to vicious interference by pitiful punks like the yellow jackets outside Parliament, while the cops twiddle their thumbs. Just like the emasculated cops, Parliament isn't able to stand up to an PM who has lied to them over and over and over. Not to mention that they are not able to stand up FOR us, for the nation as a whole, against the deluded little walking rubbish heaps that want to ruin the country.

Are the little rubbish heaps like those who assaulted Ms. Soubry  encouraged
directly by Putin, whose hand has already been revealed in recent US politics and will shortly--since Robert Mueller has already connected the dots--be shown as operative in the UK?  Putin chooses his puppets well, usually greedy people who cannot get ahead on their own. Like Trump. Like Farage failed to be elected at least ten times, and Banks and CA and that little shit Grimes and--without ANY doubt--some of our elected officials. My take? Same as with Trump. May is either in hock to or terrified of reprisals from Vladimir Putin. She will do anything and everything to attempt to destroy the UK. ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. Consider that a warning.

But back to the rubbish heaps. Probably the only one on Putin's direct-dial list would be Yaxley-Lenin. (I refuse to use Lennon, as it sullies the good name of the late wonderful Beatle.) And maybe not him; for all I know, there is a Deep Throat someplace dug into the UK fabric of government encouraging the thugs' behaviour sub rosa. For all I know. But I posit it, and I think it is at least 90% likely. 




1971-era British youth gangs, or in other words, punks who thought they were skinheads
At the very least, however, the systematic dismantling of British education, the needless austerity budget that has made those still striving to get onto the great British gravy train so much worse off and so much farther away from succeeding at life....all this and more conspires like a perfect storm, a hurricane of dashed hopes, physical misery and governmental lack of concern to create the poor, deluded Yaxley-Lenins. It has supported the craven politicians who have protected their own turf at the expense of their constituencies (and among these, I include every single one of Cornwall's all-Tory delegation) have created it. 

Moreover, the Tories created this deadly juggernaut out of whole cloth. When I chose to move to the UK from the US nine years ago, it was a fine and happy place. Although there were a few rips in the social fabric, the fabric of its social safety net was intact. It would have taken little to make repairs.

But no. The population, in a fit of pique at the admittedly unappealing Gordon Brown  (and probably misplaced anger over Blair supporting Dubya's Middle East adventures although he really had no choice as an ally), elected Tories. 

Nothing good has EVER come from electing Tories. Read a little history, and you'll see that it's true. Their hearts are NEVER in the right place because they are NEVER concerned with the welfare of the citizens but only with their own welfare and that of their cronies, the overpaid CEOS like Tesco's who sucks up almost 5 million quid a year in salary and thinks nothing of cutting 9,000 to 15,000 jobs to enhance the stockholder's take. BTW, it is the stockholders who set the salaries of such people, so who do you logically think they are going to serve?  Tesco is cutting jobs to marginally raise profits. Customer service? Pfft. Other people's jobs? Double pfft! (Tesco has been a Leave company from the start, but it's also international, so the health of its UK stores matters a lot less than it would to UK companies who operate only in the UK.)

The Tesco attitude permeates UK big business.  News reports would reveal it to the population, even if indirectly and subliminally. The "rich folks first" attitude is the foundation of the current Tory government. Consider its social welfare debacles:  Universal Credit (might as well be called Universal Homelessness and Starvation); Windrush; the NHS starvation and piecemeal sell-off; the mad slavering for a rich-person friendly, regular-person hurting, poor-person killing Brexit; allowing a nitwit like Theresa May to represent the nation abroad...and on and on. Indeed, I wish someone would collect a list of all the positive things the May government has done for citizens, and the negative ones. I have no doubt which side would be top-heavy.
 
Windrush immigrants who had been promised citizenship for helping Britain re-industrialise after WWII

It is too bad the LibDems got tarred with the Tory brush in the coalition; LibDems are blamed for instituting college tuition, but that was a Tory move which, in the give and take of a coalition, the LibDems traded for something else. That's how coalitions work; neither party gets all they want, but neither party gets nothing. Apparently, UK voters are not sophisticated enough to understand negotiation. It is clear Liar May has not the faintest clue about negotiation.

Plus, she's a punk. Parliament had her on the ropes at least twice in January. Did they send her out of the ring on her butt as they could have and should have? No. 

Only one conclusion: With rare exceptions, MPs are a bunch of wimps, even more wimpy than Theresa May, and infinitely more wimpy than the easily vanquished Yaxley-Lenin junior fascists beginning to crawl out of their holes.

It's really very sad. 

Copyright 2019 Laura Harrison McBride



 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

I'm Finished Being an Apologist for the British



Irish famine memorial in Dublin, Ireland

In 1985, I owed my publisher, Dodd-Mead, a book. I had contracted to write a high-tech book for them--can't even recall what part of high tech at the moment--but the market had changed and neither they nor I wanted to do that book.

My editor came up with the idea of writing a book about Ireland, much like In Search of Ireland by 1930s British travel writer H.V. Morton had done. That sounded good to me. I had been visiting Ireland a couple of times a year and writing about the beginnings of its Celtic Tiger economy for a variety of US magazines and newspapers, as well as doing some tourist-oriented things under the aegis of Bord Failte, the Irish Tourist Board. My entré
to the Celtic Tiger companies and movers and shakers was facilitated by the IDA, the Industrial Development Agency, and Shannon Development, particularly engaged in expanding business in the airport region in the west of Ireland. I wrote the book we had agreed upon, In Search of Modern Ireland, issued under my pen name, Bryce Webster.

At no time did either agency that helped with my research for the book attempt to prevent my contact with UK companies and people; indeed, at one point, one of the agencies (this was in 1986, and time dulls specifics, and notes were long ago left on the US side of the Atlantic) put me in touch with two important Anglo-Irish businessmen to talk about commerce between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The two gentlemen took me to dinner at the Royal Dublin Yacht Club, and explained how it worked.

There are dozens of back roads in Ireland, most of them established eons before the land mass was partitioned to accommodate the British implantation of Scots Presbyterians in the Irish homeland. It was impossible for the British to have checkpoints at all those crossings. So, being creative, businesses on both sides used them to get freight and people from one side to the other without annoying any of the British soldiers at the barriers on the main roads. Simples, as a well-known British-accented TV meerkat would say.

Does the either idiotic or cosmically disingenuous Prime Minister of the UK think that anything less is going to happen again? If she rams her despicable plan to ruin the UK and along with it NI (which I suppose is hers to wreck) and the Republic of Ireland, she will have given tacit approval to making end runs around needless bureaucracy. She will have fostered illegal activity; she will reap the whirlwind. But so will the rest of us.

But I digress. I visited the UK once during the few trips it took me to complete the book. I loathed it. The people were unfriendly; the bureaucracy was ludicrous; the food was all but unpalatable. I vowed never to return.

But STILL--in the book--I was very kind to the Anglo-Irish, giving them the benefit of the doubt, possibly because of the manners and good cheer of the two yacht club gentlemen. I don't forget kindnesses; nor do I forget perfidy.

Note, the soup kitchen was run not by the British government, which was causing the famine, but by Quakers unaffiliated with the vicious British governors of Ireland.
And I shall not forget the perfidy of the current British government. I would, indeed, never have returned to the UK for any reason whatever except for a single, cogent fact: I divorced my husband--the one who claims he wrote the book with me (he didn't), easy to claim since I then wrote under a pen name, given above. Then, 16 years later, I met and fell in love with a British man in the US, and married him. 

Four years after that, I decided--yes, it was my decision--that we should move to the UK. I have Irish citizenship which in the UK is currently (though for how long?) as good as UK citizenship. So the move was easy, welcome, in fact, as neither of us much cared for the US, where my British husband had lived for more than 30 years and I had spent most of my life.

During the first years of our marriage, I had grown fond of Devon, where my husband was raised) and Cornwall as we visited often. I found the people welcoming, as they had never been in the 80s. I found the food quite good. OK, I did have to put up with some ragging on the Irish, but I overlooked it.

Not anymore. I've had enough. I've had enough of British immigrants to Cornwall from upcountry slagging me off when I used the words British and English in the same paragraph. I've had it with pub owners who served in the British Army in Belfast during the Troubles slagging off the Irish in general when he should properly have been slagging off his own government. (Please see my article What Would Theresa May Give to Deliver ANY Sort of Brexit?) I'm tired of having to explain to people that no, the UK never owned Ireland. It doesn't even own Northern Ireland (NI), although NI has chosen (freely? we'll see if there's a Brexit) to be part of the UK. I expect it will join the Republic before it is all over.

So Brits, you were happy enough to have Irish men volunteer to fight in your wars; they only did it because you raped the island nation of its resources and there was no work. So they took the King's pence. You were happy enough to grow crops on Irish land for export to enrich British interlopers, allowing the Irish to starve to death in droves, a million at least in the second half of the 19th century. You were happy enough to prevent Roman Catholic Irish from getting jobs. You were happy enough to cause waves of Irish to emigrate to the US where, with a thirst for education that you had far from satisfied, they got educated and became movers and shakers of industry and liberal politics. You were happy enough to have Irish workers build your roads in the UK and carry the bricks for your housing booms. You're still happy enough to have Irish nurses to be overworked in your underfunded National Health Service.

So yes, I've had enough. The next person who trashes the Irish in front of me can expect a slap to his face if a man, or a turn on my heel with a snort of derision of a woman. I won't be prosecuted for assault if I slap some coarse bugger over an Irish slight; the UK is throwback enough to excuse that behaviour if it's a woman striking a man. So I'll use it. By god, something needs to put you arrogant buggers in your place.

It wasn't enough for the British to profit from Irish farmland while the Irish died; they also evicted them from the hovels the British had allowed them to inhabit until the potato blight meant they had nothing with which to pay the rent.


Copyright 2019 Laura Harrison McBride




Sunday, January 27, 2019

LEAVER Tesco: A special kind of hypocrisy

 
Tesco not only has many overseas Tesco stores; it has joined with French supermarket Carrefour, meaning Tesco, even less than other UK supermarkets, will prosper quite well from Brexit. Will you?

On Jan. 27, 2019, Tesco, one of the UK's four biggest supermarket chains, announced its plans to eliminate 15,000 jobs, many of them highly skilled, such as butchering and baking. This will, needless to say, reduce their payroll substantially. 

Prepackaged meats stacked in cold cases will replace the meat counters, where actual  humans could provide the cuts and amounts of meats a customer wanted, and "bakers" will simply shove thawed out frozen dough into the in-store ovens and bakeries from which, one could assume, the goods had at least marginally fewer additives than frozen or pre-packaged goods, and might even have been fresh.


Tesco is a LEAVE company. I wonder how their witless CEO can explain how letting 15,000 employees go--the highest retrenchment yet announced by a major company during the run-up to a putative Brexit, will help the UK prosper and regain its sovereignty. Possibly he can explain to me where the taxes are going to come from to pay unemployment support for all these workers. Besides the taxpayers lost in his downsizing, just this week, the UK lost 1000 jobs when the European Medicines Agency moved across the Channel. 

Please recall, Dyson has already moved, not that his shoddy products are a big loss, but at least seven major manufacturers have already moved their supply chains out of the UK.  SONY is moving out, and P&O Ferries, an old and iconic UK business, re-registered its fleet in Cyprus, an EU nation. But NOT a British one. So much for the empire.

And no, we can't count on the mirthful rich to float our financial boat; one of the main reasons Rats-Maggot** and friends are so hot to leave is so they can continue to hide their profits from the UK taxman. If the UK stays in the EU, they will have to follow anti-offshoring rules that would ensure they paid at least something into the UK treasury.

Explain to me please how forcing shoppers to buy prepackaged meat, probably more than they want or need as they can no longer specify needs to the butcher, is going to help those shoppers economize in a contracting economy.
  
There would seem to be no reason for this. There would seem.

In fact, the answer is quite simple, and reflects the answer you will find at the base of actions by Dyson, Wetherspoon CEO Tim Martin, and any number of UK LEAVE companies that have, or will, move operations to the EU: enrichment of shareholders and the executive suite. These will be enriched beyond measure as operational costs are massively cut and the least demanding of all possible customers--the half-starved bargain hunters--are served badly. 


So now you know. When Tesco refused to sign a statement by major companies against leaving the EU in Feb. 2016, it was playing the long game. 

Sainsbury's and Morrison's also refused to sign. But it is a little different for Tesco. Sainsbury's and Morrison's trade in the UK  only; Tesco is international, heavily ensconced in the EU and elsewhere.** It basically has not much to lose from the UK leaving the EU, and, with the cynically "thrifty" plans revealed today, it has very much to gain.

For almost the past three years, since before the idea of the referendum had even entered most of our daily thoughts, Tesco was a LEAVE company--for the sole benefit of its wealthy executive suite and shareholders.

Do you feel duped yet?




* Rees-Mogg has already moved his investment firm to Dublin to take advantage of the EU market.If the UK leaves the EU, I expect he'll access his market from there, but bank his profits in the UK where he won't, after a Brexit, have to avoid offshoring them and avoiding UK tax. In short, the despicable fascist is arranging to eat his cake and have it, too.
** "Tesco is one of the largest supermarket chains in Ireland and is heavily involved in eastern Europe. It has stores in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary – all of which are EU countries. It also has stores in Turkey, China and across east Asia."


Copyright 2019, Laura Harrison McBride

 

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







UK government: Inflicting the death of a thousand cuts

One recent morning at breakfast, Simon told the story of a lady who got a parking ticket, and then was fined on top of that, because when...