Wednesday, 30 January 2013

In our time?

Once upon a time a great,  but now failing nation, thought it would shake things up in a democratic election but inadvertantly ended up creating a one party state where all the supposed main parties were in fact branches of the same party in terms of their policies, intent and craving for outright control above all else. In their lust for power and high position individuals would seek to turn their leader's unspoken wishes into reality no matter how vaguely and ineptly these unspoken wishes were hinted at. For his part the leader was happy to utter - in his public speeches - vacuous, meaningless and inane declarations which sounded impressive until you actually listened to what was said; this was basically nothing. This clever ploy meant the Government minister's were continuously vieing and competing with each other to establish their policies as the definitive statement of their leader's thoughts. This did not always work as the leader often changed his mind without telling his ministers. The result was a chaotic government always at odds with itself, constantly struggling to hide its disharmony behind a curtain of what it liked to call 'assertive actions' and public propaganda announcements in the state controlled media which they believed parroted what the 'man in the street' was saying or would, at least, engage with their prejudices on the basis of wealth and ethnicity.

One such program which was held up as a prime example of 'assertive action' was a stepping up of the 'Workshy' program which had first been set in place by government statute five years before. This allowed organisations friendly to the Government to take over 'under performing' government departments such as Welfare and Pensions and put in place their own provisions to deal with the 'workshy'. This included using secret police to spy or obtain denouncements on their targets, agents who did not have to meet the police requirement for evidence or statements. These agents were able to harrass innocent people in an attempt to gain a 'confession' and could threaten them with loosing their homes, starvation and even going to jail for 'fraud'. The Government propaganda with regards to the 'Workshy' was highly successful. So when sick and disabled people who were also included in the 'Workshy' program and then deemed 'fit for work' by these secret police assessors started dieing or committing suicide the general public's view appeared to be, "So what! They had it coming, the lying, thieving, bastards!" while keeping their heads down so as not to attract the secret police's attention to their own increasingly miserable lives and dodgy financial transactions. Many multinationals operating in the country supported the 'Workshy' program as it offered them forced cheap labour, subsidised by Government and a further tax free break.

In the mean time the Government worked hard to weaken the powers and morale of the country's established police force and the military so it could mold them to its own will and perverse ambitions while infiltrating friendly organisations into both to improve efficiency  and ensure they could gain full control when ever they wished. There was much talk of the need to reduce military numbers to pay for the new vengance weapons they were promising would return the country to its former glory.

The real problem the Government was facing was imminent bankruptcy of the country courtesy of the neo-liberal voodoo economics of borrowing against pre-existing debt which was merely building up an unsustainable debt and would inevitably bring the country to its knees as its ability to purchase raw and finished materials was reduced. The leader was warned about the dangers of the economic model, by a number of economic experts but was persuaded by his lackeys and financial friends that his vision for his country's renewal was the best and only vision. To deflect attention from this looming disaster for his country he declared war against the rest of Europe. .......

So is this Hitler's or Cameron's Government  I am describing? 

The parrallels, to my mind, are very close.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The EU Hokey-Cokey.

At the present time the Westminster Government  is having trouble with the choreography of the EU Hockey-Cockey. There is a major stramash going on as to whether the present move is left leg in, both legs out or in out, in out shake it all about. The Blue Tories have been arguing it should be both legs out whilst the Red Tories have been arguing it should be left leg in / right leg out while the Yellow Tories think it is in out, in out, shake it all about. The Tory dancing master is trying to shout over the 'both legs out' camp that it should be left leg in and he was wrong saying it was 'both legs out'. Meanwhile the other 27 EU dancers are firmly in the 'both legs in' camp. The problem is that apart from a few academics and esoteric types no one appears to have a clue as to why the EU is an issue. We know what we have been told about silly laws over cucumbers and the like by the UK Meeja but most of us know squat diddly about the why, what, where or how that would enable us to have an informed decision on 'in out and shake it all about'.

Wee Eck and his Frankenstienian creation, Nicola, (who apprently Eck cobbled together from bits of Wendy Wood, Winnie Ewing and Margo McDonald according to a New Labour spokesperson)  are plum dead sure that an independent Scotland should be in the 'both legs in' camp while a number of quite thoughtful Scots are equally sure we should be in the 'both legs out' camp. Yet our pals over in Norway (both legs outists) are suggesting for a whole load of reasons we should take the 'both legs in' option if it is offered. My problem is I can not see any real objective evidence for either case. My gut instinct pleads for EFTA (both legs out) while my brain is not convinced either way. The problem with the current Westminster Hokey-Cockey argument is that it is primarily on political lines and is not actually about the EU, as such, and more about voter point scoring by the Blue and Red Tories as they seek opinion poll success in their long run up to, what I hope will be, the first elections to the new sovereign parliament for England and Wales in 2015.

I thought the best place to start was to ask myself what is my personal dislike, fear and distrust of the EU based on? Just what informs my 'gut instinct'?

My informed political views were built during the 1960s and at that point the EU seemed to be all about De Gaulle and his repetitive 'Non' to the UK joining the then European Common Market (aka the European Economic Community - EEC). The idea of a Europe open for business made sense to me as a teenager and the advantages of the free flow of people within the EEC made great sense as did doing away with passports, visas and other clutter that benighted even holidays from the UK to Europe in the 60's. The EEC was about making it easier for people to meet and communicate with each other at personal and business levels. The EEC was steeped in the disasterous conflicts of the 20th Century in Europe, a political device to prevent further conflict and a focus to reconcile Western European nations through economic, research and development co-operation. In this the EEC and its successor the European Union have been highly successful especially since the end of the 'Soviet block' and the intergration of these ex-Soviet states into what is now the European Union. In all of this the EU and its predecessor organisations have been very successful - even in the case of the break up of Yugoslavia. So over all  my experience of the EU in terms of its core values, aims and objectives is highly positive and yet there is this seediness in my stomach about the EU as it is at present and is currently developing.

Sadly it is something to do with the 'cucmber type laws and directives' even though I understand that most EU legislation is about a level playing field and the common good of all members. For me this growing concern about the EU as a political structure has its flowering in the present fiscal disaster in the Euro zone and exemplified by what is happening in Greece. To all intents and purposes Greece's economy is now being run from Bonn by an unelected group of technocrats who appear to have the sole aim of 'saving the Euro'. I have this sense that the Euro has now become more important in the scheme of things than the member states. Member states economies will expect to be sacrificed for the good of the Euro. The Euro has become an agent of economic imposition rather than economic freedom. For me it is an examplar of an EU that is shifting from being an agency for international co-operation towards being an agency of micromanagement and control. This increasing sense of the EU as an organisation 'bigger and more important than its constituent nations'. This concern is enhanced further when the reality of the inability of the EU Parliament to hold commissioners to account is considered. Commissioners appear to be only accountable to the EU Council of Ministers and the commissioner's job allocation is a 'carve up' based on political need of national parliaments and treaty deals within the EU rather than the best person for the job. The commissioners are appointed by the Council of Ministers - hence why people of the calibre of a Mandellson or Rompuy gain traction, they will do what they are told to do in return for privileges and a fat salary cheque.

At the core of the trouble will be the Euro and the illogical defence of a fiscal experiment that has failed simply because the fiscal system can not reconcile all the different micro economies in each nation state with the overal requirements of a single currency, to enable the Euro to work. The very opposite of the core  principle of subsidiarity on which the EU is based.

So my 'gut instinct' is about the sense of a supranational organisation that has lost its way, forgotten what it is about and is in danger of creating, within Europe, the self same set of circumstances it was created to avoid over five decades ago; circumstances that will increase tensions within and between the EU's constituent nations.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Section 30 - Dinosaur Preservation Society

The Westminster dinosaurs roared and generally banged around the place doing little or no damage except to themselves while the next evolutionary step said, 'Thank you for making this happen. We could not have done this without you.' while the irony of the opening speech sailed over the dinosaur's heads.

What was sad, was to watch and hear the Brontosaurus Labourii grunt and shuffle thier way through the same speeches they have been trotting out since it became clear their evolutionary niche in Scotland is under severe pressure and shrinking back to a few areas in the Scottish Western wetlands. Even as the Labourii rose ponderously to speak their natural environment was coming under further pressure from discovery of another out break of brownenvelopmycosis which has been causing electoral rot to kill off their core food stuff across Scotland, over the last decade, and to which they are no longer resistant.

The chamber at Westminster held its breath as sub species Labourii Doinasaur took wind and set sail into a powerful concatanation of why being out evolved by these new smaller more agile species of warmed blooded Scotish Native Pinemartins (SNP) was bad news. According to the Doinasaur these furry, friendly and nippy wee political mammals would see an end to the species Englander by enticing them into a trap called Bannock burn and murdering them all if the Labourii did not stop them. The SNP were vermin and needed to be eradicated before they did in all the Brontosaur's Scottish nest eggs and wrecking their present and future generations. Unfortunately none of the pinemartins were present to hear the Doinasaur as they had nipped out to top up on meal worms and a few field voles - Species Microtus Liberodemocraticus: a hybrid vole which can switch between being cold or warm blooded animals. The Libero species have found this a useful survival tactic in the vastness of Scotland, up until recently. This Microtus species runs around in groups of five but rarely vocalise as to do so normally sees them eaten by the pinemartins.

At one point a Liberodemocraticus Moorii did get on its hind legs to squeak but did so from the safety of the head of a Toryraptor, a dinosaur which they have recently entered into a symbiotic relationship to protect themselves from extinction. The Toryraptor is in serious risk of extinction in Scotland and a preservation society has been set up to bring people's awareness to the risk of the Toryraptor's Scottish existence. So far the Tory Development for Maximum survival chances (known as the Devo-max campaign) has seen little support and they are concerned the Toryraptor Mundanei could be the last living example in Scotland. Given the rarity of the Toryraptor Mundanei the last survivor is kept under wraps as its call is said to be grating. Many observers are waiting to see at which point the Toryraptors will turn to feeding off the Libero voles.

Further up the evolutionary tree a final valiant attempt was made by Labourii Awus to warn the Scots off believing anything the pinemartins said. According to Labourii Awus the pinemartins were lead by an all powerful king martin living on the Isle of Bute who would bite anyone who disagreed with him in the neck. Observers of Scottish Native Pinemartins found this hard to believe as at a recent Autumnal event which saw numerous pinemartins collecting around Perth the genral observation was leading the SNP was up there with herding cats on a level of difficulty as the pinemartins all semed to nip each others necks at every turn and were always up for a fight, shifting groups as the whim took them. Some how, at the end, they had been aligned but the process has still to be understood as how it happens is contained with in a massive ball of pinemartins and flying fur.

In the end the Brontosaur Labourii and Toryraptors simply gave in and let the SNP have their way.

Monday, 14 January 2013

NOTA - an English Option?

I was chatting on line with friends and acquaintances in England - as you do, unless you are Alistair Darling in which case you are not allowed to because you are not 'British' anymore. So let's say I was talking to 'disadvantaged Scots so as not to upset the Abominable Noman's latest daft idea. In general they were bemoaning their electoral choice between red or blue Tories and the other fringe parties of which only the Greens cut any sort of mustard but were considered a bit 'geeky', 'Veggie', and 'left wing' for some tastes.

As usual there were wistful comments about it being OK for Scots at least we had the SNP option astride the left of centre political compass - poor wee English electors, they had no such political beast on offer. There was much hand wringing about what they could do.

It seemed obvious to me the answer lay in adopting the core starting point of the 'Yes' campaign, an organisation growing speedily from zero in July of 2012. The clear answer is to mobilise all those other's in the English Electorate who are feeling disenfranchised and the 'yes campaign have a pretty decent model for them to utilise.

The problem is what do they call themselves as anything with Labour or Liberal would be the death of them. The average Englishman appears to consider the word 'socialist' conjures up Citizen Smith and the Tooting Front and social democrat just does not appear on their political radar. The English electorate would appear to prefer things as near to black or white as possible. The light bulb came on and I thought: why not register a political party with the Electoral Commission called 'None of the Above' (NOTA). The more I thought about potential objections by the Red and Blue Tories to such a party name, the more I could only see huge chunks of free publicity for the new party. Just how could there be any major opposition to such a name? It is distinctive, it does not cause electoral confusion as it is a distinctive description of the party and it explains clearly what it is not in the way the Red and Blue Tory Parties fail to achieve.

Imagine the ballot paper in say Bristol South:
  • Conservatives
  • Greens
  • Labour
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Monster Raving Looney Party
  • None of the Above
  • UKIP
There is a distinct sense of logic and precision with maybe a potential objection by UKIP as to their position on the ballot paper for logical grounds. It is an interesting conjecture as to just how many seats, in what many hope will be the first elections to England and Wales new sovereign parliament, in 2015 could be won by 'None of the Above' simply by default.

Imagine if 'None of the Above' developed a social democratic manifesto seeking to create a written English constitution based around Iceland 'crowd source' method, came up with a policy to reverse the privatisation on NHS England to bring it in to line with NHS Scotland and Wales, kicked out university tuition fees, institute a living wage so most of the benefits to working folk could be ditched, rather than business providing minimum wages being subsidised by the tax payer. They could lift the SNP's forward thinking Homelessness Bill and cancel Trident to save billions of pounds. Best of all they could look at shifting Government investment and subsidy from London and out to the regions where the investment would help create a more balanced economy for England rather than all the eggs being stuck in the City of London basket case. Finally they could point out to the 'City' banks they would be getting no more hand outs from tax payers through QE, they are private companies and the risk has to be carried by their shareholders -  at the same time they could give Boris and London full fiscal autonomy and leave them to sort out the 900% of UK GDP equivalent debt the City of London's casino banks are sitting on.

There must be a few English men and women with the stomach to take this idea on - modern day Watt Tyler's and Emily Pankhurst's. Equally I am certain there are many English men and women a bed who will put their hands in their pockets to make such a modern day peaceful revolution happen. Westminster in the thrall of the Red and Blue Tories is not going to reform itself and is why the English electorate need the  'None of the Above' Party as an option, now more than ever.