Thursday, 9 November 2017

Tesco's Christmas Advert Annoys Headbangers

The headbangers appear to be in full retard mode as they scream about Tesco's 2017 Christmas advert. To my mind, it's just about getting people around their tables to munch tasty Tesco grub, but the headbangers are screaming all over the web that by having Muslims and Sikhs in the video, Tesco has somehow perverted the Christian nature of Christmas with this advert:

Do you think that somebody should tell these utter and complete head-the-balls that the relationship between the sky fairy and late-December is tangential, to say the least? Christmas is a boozy feast that starts about the 24th December and ends around the 1st January. Between those dates, anybody who is sober and not overeating is really not getting into the true meaning of the festivities.

I say about the 24th December because the works' parties will start in early December and just last week I went into a Tesco and saw one worker there with raindear antlers on his noggin, which has to be a record of some kind for the first week in November. The date when the festivities end is also flexible with Scotland having the 2nd January as a public holiday since no true Scotsman is capable of thinking straight until that day at the earliest.

Hardly anyone thinks about the supernatural at any time of the year, still less when they are three sheets to the wind in December. I doubt if most people really fix themselves on the Dawkins' Scale, or have even heard of it, but they are secularists to the core and December gives them an excuse to enjoy themselves, just as Easter is their chance to get away for a few days.

This is why the American habit of wishing people "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" has always struck me as a bit silly. Since Christmas has nothing to do with religion for most normal people, the traditional greeting is now a secular one that has no need to be changed.

If Muslims and Sikhs can be brought into the Bacernalian delights of Christmas then there is a good chance that they will become as post-religious as we are and that can only be a good thing for Britain and her future.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The Catalan Crisis Has Become the Catalan Farce

The Catalonian independence crisis has turned into a farce with the leaders who planned the declaration of independence taking refuge in Belgium, of all places, less than a week after they proclaimed Catalonia's freedom.

Let's start from the beginning: pretty much all the countries that have ever declared their independence have done it unilaterally. Countries that haven't tend not have such declarations in their founding documents. Canada, for instance, has the British North America Act, 1867, passed by the parliament in Westminster along with subsequent British legislation. She did not need to proclaim her independence as it was granted by Britain, the colonial ruler.

Countries that issue a declaration of independence do it against the backdrop of a ruling power that can be expected to oppose that declaration. There then follows either a war of independence or at the very least, such a level of civil unrest that it is obvious to all concerned that this is a serious matter that needs to be addressed. The USA became independent as a result of a war and large chunks of the old USSR did it via the second method of popular insurrections on the streets.

Sometimes a country will win and other times it will lose. If the latter happens then a secessionist state has two options. It can do as the Confederate States of America did and accept the defeat with good grace, or it can copy the Irish strategy of trying again and gain down the generations until eventually, the colonial power decides that it has had enough.

What it cannot do is declare its independence and then refuse to defend that declaration. No state is bound to accept the independence of any other state that does not have the means or willingness to defend itself. In the case of a seceding state, nobody will recognise such a state if it shows no willingness to defend its declaration by force of arms.

Following on from the brutality shown to the Catalans by the Spanish authorities during the country's independence referendum, it was widely expected that following a declaration of independence the population would be busily engaged in building street barricades in Barcelona, filling bottles with petrol and tearing up street cobbles to throw at the incoming Spanish forces. Had Catalonia done that then it is highly likely that more than a few countries would have recognised her as an independent state.  Countries like Venezuela and Bolivia had already been talked about as early recognisers, but even Finnish politicians were discussing it as well, so the numbers could have been quite large.

That would have given hope to the Catalan population and encouraged the government, presumably by then living in hiding, to begin the creation of an underground army in preparation for taking the conflict to the next level.

Instead, the senior Catalan political figures, including the president, jumped into a fleet of cars and drove to the French border where they took a flight to Brussels. Meanwhile, the Catalan people seem to be blithely going about their business, as the Spanish authorities turn the screw tighter and tighter.

One of the problems that you have in all the Latin countries is a belief that the striking of postures and the making of noise equates in some way to the making of progress. So demonstrations are carried out at the drop of a hat because people genuinely believe that this achieves something. It doesn't, of course, and neither does the sounding of car horns in a traffic jam, but they still do it.

This attitude seems to have been at the core of the recent Catalonian Declaration of Independence, but it was coupled with one other factor which may have doomed the venture from the start.

If you look at the photographs of the people who were cheering the declaration they all seemed to be very well fed and dressed. They looked to me like the same types who demonstrate in Britain against Brexit. That is to say, arseholes with dentures and types like that don't intimidate anyone.

The people who do put the frighteners on governments are the denizens of the barrios, the tough neighbourhoods that we would call estates in English. The toughest of them are called barrios jodidos in Spanish and they are on a par with what is known in Portuguese as the favelas. It looks as if this whole business was carried out from start to finish by the middle class who wanted to strike a  radical pose. Those types who have now received a serious dose of heavy manners from los federales and have run away with their tails between their legs, as you expect the middle class to do when things get rough. Meanwhile, for reasons that are still unclear, the boys in the barrios are completely disengaged from everything that has happened.

The end result of all this is that Calalonia has become an international joke, and nobody in power in Madrid will even pretend to take the views of Catalans into account when decisions are being made.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Why the British Government Is Failing With Its Catalonia Policy

This famous cartoon from an August 1864 edition of Punch pretty much sums up how the British government should respond to the Catalan crisis. Punch and the then Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston pass Jefferson Davis on the street, and Punch asks Pam if he recognised Davis. Palmerston, ever the politician, replies that he doesn't, but may have to one day.

The joke with its play on words works very well because it has always been British government policy not to recognise secessionist entities until the day arrives when the entity shows that it can stand on its own two feet. At that point, it is recognised and ceases to be a secessionist entity and joins the family of sovereign states. The Confederate States of America was never quite able to reach that point, although it came very close, so Britain never recognised it. 

In the case of Catalonia, the jury is still out on whether the newly proclaimed sovereign state will be able to maintain its independence, but that does not explain the rather fatuous, almost cringing statement that was put out by a Downing Street spokesman:
The UK does not and will not recognise the Unilateral Declaration of Independence made by the Catalan regional parliament. It is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts. We continue to want to see the rule of law upheld, the Spanish Constitution respected, and Spanish unity preserved.
All that was needed was a holding statement from the British government calling for calm and stating that HMG had no plans to recognise Catalonia, but instead, we have been treated to this drivel. The government is going to look very silly indeed if Spain does no offer any goodies as a mark of her gratitude, which she won't and why should she? London has already given Madrid everything and asked for nothing in return.

Looking silly is something that Theresa May should be used to by now, but there are two issues at stake, here, which make the statement even more incomprehensible than it would otherwise have been.

The first is that the UK does not owe Spain any favours. The issue of Gibralter is still outstanding, with Spain sending naval vessels into the waters around the Rock as an irritation to Britain. If Spain is bogged down in an internal conflict then Gibraltar is safe for another generation at least and we are not going to see a repeat of the Falklands War in 1982 when Argentina, another international joke of a country, decided to distract attention from a looming internal crisis by creating a foreign one. 

Secondly, and far more important even than Gibralter, is the fact that as part of the Brexit negotiations, it is not in Britain's interests to have a confident, united, European Union on the other side of the negotiating table. On the other hand, it is in Britain's interests to have an EU that is divided against itself, with Britain siding with one faction or another on the basis of her self-interest in getting the EU to sign up to most of what London wants.

Looking at the Eastern Marches of the EU we can see countries like Poland and Bulgaria that are totally opposed to the influx of Muslim migrants. That attitude has brought them into conflict with Germany and that is a further issue that Britain can use to her own advantage. It is not a case of supporting Poland, merely that London should be more neutral in the dispute between the outer reaches of the Empire and its central heartland.

So it is with Spain and Catalonia. By doing nothing Britain could help ensure that the crisis continues to rumble. A continuing crisis is not good for Iberia, but it might just be good for the United Kingdom.

This is all something that Britain once understood, but doesn't seem to today. Ending this piece as I began it, with the Americans in the 1860s, the British blockade runner captains, had a toast that pretty much sums up how Britain has historically behaved in times like this:
Here's to the Southern planters who grow the cotton; to the Yankees that maintain the blockade and keep up the price of cotton; and to the Limeys who buy the cotton. So, three cheers for a long continuance of the war, and success to the blockade runners!
 Theresa May and today's government would do well to remember that.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Catalonia Declares Independence: What Happens Next?

By all accounts, Barcelona and other Catalan cities are awash with the Estelada, the national flag of Catalonia, which declared herself independent of Spain today. Within an hour of that declaration being made the Spanish government announced plans to strip Catalonia of what autonomy she enjoys and send colonial administrators in to run the country at the behest of Madrid.

It is unlikely that we would have reached this crisis had the European Union not thrown its entire weight behind Spain. A more relaxed, neutral stance from Brussels might have given the Neo-Falangistas in Madrid pause for thought, but Brussels has in effect told Madrid to do as it pleases so Spain appears to be about to do just that.

One would have hoped that the British government could have adopted a more hands-off approach, but Theresa May has already pledged full support for Spain. Given that this is a European Union crisis that does not involve us, it might have been a better idea to offer no statement at all and then await events. As it is, London has given up a valuable piece in its own chess match with the EU for no return that is visible to this writer.

What happens next really depends on events on the ground in Iberia. If the Spanish do nothing then Catalonia will become independent by default. If the Spanish send their army into the country and Catalonia does not resist then the country will go back to being a region of Spain. The notion of rights does not enter into the equation: all that matters is the respective willingness of young men in Catalonia and Spain to be willing to die in the cause of one side or the other. 

Given that Spain has an army and Catalonia has to build one from scratch, the advantage is clearly with Madrid at the moment, but Catalonia does have two valuable cards to play.

The first is that one of the causes of the Spanish Civil War which broke out in 1936 was Catalonian independence, an independence that was crushed by the Spanish Republic's defeat in that war. Until 1975 the Catalonian language was suppressed, the country's Estelada flag was banned, and Catalonia was basically run as an occupied country. Post-1975 and no government was willing to make the surviving fascist rebels from 1936 pay their dues, so it is quite likely that one of the issues that motivate today's Catalonians is revenge for those past injustices. If that is the case, then Catalonia might just have a population that is willing to pay any price to achieve independence. 

Secondly, we need to ponder on the reaction of Latin-America to all this. There are rumours swirling around that Venezuela and Bolivia may recognise Catalan independence, so we need to keep an eye on developing attitudes in Caracas and La Paz. If countries do start to recognise Catalonia as an independent republic then that will encourage the country to resist Spain to the utmost of her ability.

Sadly, to reach the stage where countries with issues of their own with Spain give support to Catalonia, an awful lot of young Catalonian men will have to die first to show that the people are serious about this declaration of independence.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

The Repression of Catalonia Makes Scotland Less Supportive of the European Union

The Spanish repression of Catalonia has given a boost to Brexiteers in Scotland since it is obvious that the EU has little or no interest in trying to prevent the Neo-Falangistas who currently hold power in Madrid from continuing to turn loose their goon squads. The end result of this is that supporters of Scottish independence are starting to see that the EU is actually a handicap to their aims, rather than a help. 

To be fair, it always seemed to me that Scottish support for the EU was skin deep and tactical, rather than being a deeply held ideological commitment to Brussels. The SNP used the EU during the IndyRef as an argument in favour of the notion that Scotland could leave the UK, but everything would remain the same, via the EU.

During the 2016 Brexit campaign, a lot of Scots were moved to support Brexit having seen what the EU had done to Greece, and more than a few SNP activists defied their party's leadership and campaigned for Leave. However, Catalonia is far more important to the Scottish mindset than Greece will ever be and the sympathy for that occupied country is palpable here in Scotland.

During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign, Edinburgh was awash with Saltires, of course, but running a close second to the Saltire in terms of popularity was the Catalonian Estelada. On the weekend before the vote, central Edinburgh seemed to have more Esteladas than Saltires as thousands of Catalans came over to Scotland to see the country's referendum first hand and make plans for their own.

So close are the two peoples that in 2016 when the Madrid government decided to ban the Estelada from being waved by Catalan supporters of Barcelona football club, the supporters announced that they would carry Scottish Saltires instead. In the end, the Madrid Fascists decided to back down and the Catalan flag was allowed in the Madrid stadium, but the story is illustrative of the strong, warm feelings that exist between the peoples of the two small countries.

At the time of writing, we still do not know what the outcome of the crisis in Catalonia will be. However, we can be pretty sure that Scottish support for the European Union has taken a hit and the SNP is now pretty much unable to use the EU as a club that can be used to beat Westminster with.

That alone is good news for Brexit.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

What Labour Should Do to Help Ensure Brexit, and Win the Next General Election

As the Labour conference ends with a party seemingly more united and optimistic than it has been in many a long year, what should Labour do about the pressing issue of Brexit?

The question was, of course, rhetorical, and Labour should do nothing at all. In fact, it should keep its collective mouth shut and leave the government to continue making mistakes. Let the Tories take us out of the European Union, which is what most Labour voters want, and suffer as much internal damage in the process as possible, which is what Labour as a party should want.

Once we are free of the EU, Labour can then put forward some policy or other at the next general election that aims at closer links with the EU. The aim here would be to keep the Metropolitan, Guardian-reading, wankerati element happy and voting Labour.  Given that politically it is impossible for Labour to ever agree to free movement, the EU can be expected to reject those overtures. For its part, Labour can tell the wankerati that at least it tried and the failure can be placed at the door of Brussels.

Before doing that, of course, Labour will have tiptoed into office over the twitching corpse of the Tory Party, and with a bit of political luck, that corpse will not be able to crawl out of its coffin for many years to come. Labour could be in power for two or even three elections, which is time enough to wrench the political centre of gravity back to 1970s levels - especially if there is no real opposition.

Jeremy Corbyn seems to be following the say nothing much line, certainly if his leader's speech to the 2017 party conference was to be believed. He told the delegates that Labour wanted "unimpeded access to the single market" which is fine as that is also what the Tories want, so there is a broad consensus there.

 Earlier in the conference he had said: “I would also say that we need to look very carefully at the terms of our trade relationship, because at the moment we are a part of the single market and that has within it restrictions on state aid and state spending and pressures on it, through the European Union, to privatise rail and other services.”

In other words, there is plenty of Brexiteering wriggle room in Corbyn's statements and it is all a far cry from what the party's Federast element want which is full membership of the single market. The devil, as always is in those details.

So long as those details remain suitably vague, Labour can remain a Brexit party with a newish membership who are too thick to realise that they are being pulled by the short and curlies towards the exit. By the time that parasitic shower of local government placeholders who now infest the local Labour branches wake up to that fact we should be out of the EU. Then, as I said earlier,  Labour can toss them a bone or two with a pledge to try and improve relations with Brussels, and by the time they discover that Brussels is not interested it will be too late to do anything about it.

The polyocracy will feel like something that a dog has spewed up, but with any luck, by then Labour should have recreated its links to the workers who produce wealth by their labours and the buffoons with their crappy little poly degrees and puerile desire for status can be safely ignored.
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