Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Federasts do not realise just how stupid they are

I am getting very worried about the Federasts, I really am.  Being stupid is one thing, but your average Federast is so thick that he thinks he's clever, and that is the root of all the problems that they have. I commented on this in One Man's Brexit, but it is ceasing to be funny and has become a bit pathetic.They really do need to come to terms with their utter stupidity, because only then can they begin to come to terms with the reality of their defeat.

I was in Manchester the other day, having a pint in a pub, and some woman sat at the next table saw my Brexit T-shirt. She leaned forward and asked me in a deep and serious tone if I had really voted to leave the EU. When I said that I had she leaned forward still further, and asked me what Brexit meant - so I told her that it meant leaving the fucking European Union!

During the campaign I once pointed out on Facebook that all my sons are native Spanish speakers, and that Spanish is the language that we all use when we are together. Quick as a flash a Federast jumped up and argued that I was denying my Spanish sons the right to move to the UK! People, I do not have Spanish sons, since being a Spanish speaker is not the same as being Spanish. My sons are all Mexican, and none of them give a stuff about the EU, or Spain come to that. Besides, they all have UK and Mexican passports so can come and go as they please to both countries.

The Federasts only started their campaign to stay in the EU the day after the polls closed, and now they have set up an outfit called Open Britain to try and reverse the decision. The problem is that is a long established site that aims at encouraging disabled people to come and visit Great Britain, and if you put Open Britain into Google it is that site which comes up first. The silly sods could not even come up with a name for their Federast front that someone else had not come up with years before them.

So come on, Federasts: if you are serious about reversing the vote, then start by analysing where you went wrong in the first round. That means facing up to the fact that you really are as thick as two short planks.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Grammar School Debate

I see that Teresa May has floated the idea of bringing back grammar and secondary modern schools, and the usual suspects are cheering or howling, depending upon their respective points of view. As an old secondary modern fellow I know the type of posting that I am supposed to write here, one that condemns the system that failed me so totally, but I can't because it didn't. 

One memory from my primary school sticks in my mind: the fear I had of the 11-Plus examination. I was not afraid of failing it, but I was terrified that I might pass the damn thing and have to go to the local grammar school. In my innocence, I believed that if you went to the grammar, aside from having to wear a poncy uniform, you had to stay there until you were 16, whereas I knew that the secondary moderns kicked out at 15. Even at that tender age I was bored shitless by school and just wanted to get the torture over with so that I could go off to work somewhere or other.

On the day in question I sat the exam and some weeks later I remember my mother telling me that I had got my wish and was going to the secondary modern. I remember jumping for joy and my mother clapped her hands at my enthusiasm.

Funnily enough, I found out in about 2010 from one of my cousins that if you stayed in bed on 11-Plus day then nobody asked you were you had been and you got an automatic pass to the secondary modern, so he and his three brothers had all done that. I mention that anecdote as an answer to the story that we will be reading time and time again as the idea of restoring the 11-Plus gets debated that everyone who went to a secondary modern felt a failure. Actually, a fair few of us did not give a stuff about going anywhere but a secondary modern.

My father had won a scholarship to the Manchester Art School back in the 1920s and according to my uncle, his brother, there were just two scholarship boys a year admitted back then. My father's compatriot went on to design, or help design, the Festival of Britain in 1951, whereas my dad ended up as a labourer at Mather and Platt's engineering works. He wasn't at the school very long, just a few weeks, because the middle class types who infested it made his life a misery, besides which the family was very poor, so everyone in the Bell Clan was very happy when he called it a day and went to work.

The uncle that I have just mentioned was a warehouseman, who used his gratuity money from the army when he got demobbed in 1946 to set up a small literary journal, and my dad used some of his to try and make a living as an artist, but neither succeeded in their respective aims. Years later, but before the Open University began, my uncle did a University of London External Degree in Law, completely on his own, with nobody to help him make sense of the text books. Then he managed to wangle his way into a cushy number with Manchester Council, but my dad stayed a labourer.

What all this meant was that I had family that believed in education as a good in itself, but who had a dislike for what passed for education in the schools. So my parents would buy me as many books as I wanted and always encouraged me to go off to the library to educate myself further, but they had no interest in pushing me to pass the 11-Plus.

My friends who did go to the grammar tended not to go to university, either. Most left at 16 and took jobs in local government, or became clerks in the factories where people like me worked. They wore suits and we were in overalls, but we earned more money than them, especially with overtime, because of our strong unions and the magic of time and a half.

I really think that the only people who gave a stuff about the abolition of the grammar schools were those members of the teaching trade who had a vested interest in change because they could see jam on their butties with the new system.

I have few memories of my secondary school, but I can remember the first day as if it were yesterday. We were dragooned into the hall by the headmaster, whose name I have long forgotten, and told that we were not to worry as Brookdale Park Secondary Modern was from that moment on Brookdale Park Comprehensive, as Manchester had abolished the 11-Plus. I had taken the exam just down the road, since my primary school came under Lancashire County Council, and they kept the two tier system for a few more years, which is why I had sat it.

Why would any of us be concerned, I remember thinking? We were the winners in all this since we were going to leave at 15 so we only had four more years of the fool to put up with. He went on to tell us that the school was then offering a full range of O-Levels for those who wanted to stay on the extra year and I tried to make myself as small as possible in case someone had the bright idea of signing me up for anything like that.

Some parents did sign their offspring up for the O-Level stream, but I am pleased to say that I stayed out of it. Pleased also to say that I took my dad's advice and kept my head down, made no waves, rarely got into trouble, and four years later I walked out of those gates for the last time one July day when I was still, just, 14. The following Monday I started bastard work, and over a decade later I went to university, but those are other stories for other times.

Not everybody wanted to go to a grammar school, that is a myth. Many of us were delighted to be at a secondary modern since we were expected to stop providing employment for the teaching trade at an early age, and we were only too happy to do just that. The notion that the grammar school was a ladder to success is also partly a myth since an awful lot of grammar school people did not go to university, they ended up as factory staff who often earned less than the factory workers.

So, what's my attitude towards the debate? I give a big shrug, since I had no interest in school when I was a schoolboy, so I'm hardly likely to develop one now. I educated myself in the libraries, and the internet is the greatest library that the world has ever known

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Brexit: For a New Country is now a best seller

I had a good evening earlier on. The beer in the pub was just right, and it felt like an angel weeping on my tongue as I poured it down my neck. The conversation flowed freely as the good old free and frank exchanges of views took place.

Then I wandered home and discovered that Brexit: For a New Country is now an Amazon best seller. That was when a good evening became pretty bloody perfect.

Not as perfect as Salma Hayek calling me up to offer a quick knee trembler down Leith Docks, should she ever feel in the mood for a bit of Mancunian rough, but pretty close. Yeah, pretty close indeed.

I think you should read my other books as well. Go on, make an old man even happier than he is already.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

One Man's Brexit - now available to download from Amazon

One Man's Brexit is now available to download from Amazon. The price is 99p, unless you are a member of Amazon Unlimited in which case you can always get it free.

On the 23 June 2016 the British people shook the political system to its core by voting to leave the European Union. One Man's Brexit is an account of those momentous events as seen through the eyes of a rank and file volunteer in the Brexit campaign. I helped man a street stall, and the series of essays that make up One Man's Brexit really do give a picture of what life was like for the foot soldiers of the Brexit army. If you want to know why over half a century of British state policy was overturned in just 24 hours, then I reckon that One Man's Brexit is a good place to start.

One Man's Brexit is a collection of  rewritten postings from this blog with a dash of original content, that now joins my other scribblings. If you want to relive the glory days of our referendum triumph and join in the mockery of the Federasts, especially the dickheads who forgot to vote, then this is the one for you.

Monday, 18 July 2016

We need a new voting system for our new political day

When I wrote Brexit: For a New Country I predicted that a vote to leave the European Union would lead to chaos in the political system:

It is funny the way in which the Federasts who want this country to remain under the thumb of Brussels think that they can predict the future. They fill the newspapers and television screens with their lurid fantasies about how terrible life will be, but the simple truth is that they don't really know what will happen once the country is independent anymore than I do.

Certainly the middle class who have taken control of the Labour Party, and who tell us that the Tories will remain in power forever unless we remain under the cold hand of Brussels, are talking utter bollocks of the highest order. The notion that the political class, all of them, right across the board, will just be able to carry on as if nothing has happened after the people have just rejected the cornerstone of over half a century of political and economic policy is just too ludicrous to take seriously.
 I have to be honest and say that it feels nice to be proven right. As I look at the post-referendum chaos in our political system, a chaos that we caused just by rejecting what our betters wanted for us, it is obvious that we are in the morning of a new political day and for a lot of us the future looks a lot brighter than the past ever did.

We have done what the Federasts told us was impossible and got rid of not just a Prime Minister, but pretty much the entire cabinet as well. Just about the only senior Tory figure still standing who played a major part in the referendum campaign is Boris Johnson, with almost everyone else now sitting on the back benches, punch drunk and baffled.

On the other side of the House of Commons, Labour is engaged in yet another bout of internal blood letting, and this time it could be a terminal battle that will leave only the dead on the field as the fighting ends. That would not have happened had we trotted along like obedient little doggies and voted to remain in the European Union

The two main political parties really are like the rotten husks of long dead trees that lean against each other for support. It is quite likely that if one collapses it will take the other with it, which is a good thing when you think about it since neither outfit is fit for purpose.

Labour was established to represent the urban working class, the people who leave school at an early age and who rely on collective action, through their unions or via the Labour Party in parliament, to ameliorate their conditions. Today that party only truly speaks for the polyocracy of local government workers who dominate its membership. In that sense it does not really matter who wins the party's current bout of internal blood-letting, since neither faction really seems to give a tinker's cuss for the people living on the council estates who rely on tax credits to supplement their incomes. Still less does it even try to speak for the skilled, especially the skilled self-employed, who are battling to kept their heads above the deluge of foreign scab labourers that Britain's membership of the European Union has brought to these shores.

The Tories seem to be in somewhat better shape, in that at least they managed to cobble together a new leadership, but the divisions in their ranks between the socially liberal globalists who are employed in the financial sector and the socially conservative shiresmen are there for all the see. The Tories relied on the votes of the people who were told that if they kept their noses clean, got a clutch of decent A-Levels with maybe a degree in something or other afterwards, then a white collar office job as a bank clerk would be theirs for life. Globalisation and new technology are destroying the cushy world that they were led to expect would be theirs just as much as it has already destroyed those in industrial Britain a generation ago.

Neither Labour nor the Tories can fully comprehend that by voting for Brexit we were voting against free market globalisation, just as much as were were voting against social liberalism.

Given this, and given that the two parties are basically dead from the neck up, the need for new parties that represent the real divisions in our country has now become pressing. The giant coalitions that try to cover every interest have failed, and what is needed are at least two new parties, one that would be socially liberal and globalist, the other socially conservative and regulatory. They could keep the old names of Conservative and Labour, as a realignment is possible within parties, which is why the American Democratic Party no longer supports the extension of slavery into the territories, but the realignment has to come about for the new politics to begin.

Standing in the way of that realignment is the voting system, which has to become more representative of the population and the way in which we vote. Back in 1997 the Jenkins Commission reported that the UK should adopt the Additional Member system that is now used in both Scottish and Welsh elections, with considerable success in both countries.

The bulk of the seats would be the single member constituencies that we  have at present, but with a regional set of lists seats that would be elected on a proportionate basis. Jenkins suggested that only twenty percent of the seats should be additional members to avoid getting into the coalition habit, but my feeling is that the weaker a government is the better life is for the ordinary people, so coalitions really do need to be the other of the day. Thus a two-thirds constituency, to one-third AM contingent would meet the requirements under normal circumstances.

Jenkins also suggested that the constituencies should be elected by the Alternative Vote system, where the voter lists his candidate in other of preference. That was rejected for Scotland and Wales, and should probably also be ruled out for Westminster as well, since it makes life complicated. Let the constituency members be elected by the simple plurality, first past the post system as it is more usually called, that we have at present.

The additional members would represent regions of the country. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all small enough in terms of population that they could be regions in their own right, but England would need to be divided, probably into the nine existing regions. If each of the twelve regions had 16 additional members then that comes to 192, which is almost a third of the 600 member House of Commons that is already planned.

Those members would be elected by party list, with the parties nominating more candidates than there are seats to fill. That way, if someone dies or retires, the next person on the list is able to take over without the need for a by-election. Needless to say, constituency vacancies would continue to be filled via by-elections as they are at present.

The advantage of this would be to remove the need for parties that are giant coalitions that are only held together by inertia.  We could have two core parties, one socially liberal and the other socially conservative, with a myriad of smaller parties to the right and left of the big two. The old Monday Club Tories could have their party as could the people on the council estates who still believe in the 1945 consensus. UKIP, if it still exists following British withdrawal from the EU could represent the smaller towns as it does already, but secure in the knowledge that votes in those towns would lead to MPs in Westminster. Regional parties could exist to push their particular interests, as could parties that seek to represent women, ethnic minorities and the disabled.

Compromises would still be made, of course, but they would be open and above board, unlike today where they are made behind closed doors with the political elite deciding what few concessions they need to make to the rest of us to hold power firmly in their own hands. 

Let's be honest, here. We have just overturned over half a century of British political policy with our votes, and left the political elite and their trendy hangers on with their collective arses hanging out the window. Compared to that, changing the voting system so that it reflects the views and wishes of the people who are still ignored by it on a day to day basis looks to me like a piece of cake.

So what are we waiting for? Let's have 'em!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Three mistakes that the Federasts made which cost them the vote

The Federasts should have won the referendum, let's be honest about that. They had everything going for them, including the entire political machinery of all the main parties, a big chunk of the media, and the A/B social class who work for that media. They could use fear as their main weapon, and argue that we were offering nothing more than a  step into an uncertain future, which when you think about it is the potent argument that won the Scottish independence referendum for the Unionists in 2014.

They failed partly because of their own hubris, but mainly, I think,  because they did not realise that we were voting for different things than them. The Federasts are mainly social liberals, and they ran slap bang into social conservatism, and the latter won.

There were three factors that made our victory certain, and all of them were handed to us on a plate by the Federasts. The first was using individuals that a lot of people regard as downright weird to front the Federast campaign, the second was the gloating by rich dilettantes at working class people, and the third was the failure to take Brexit seriously. Put them all together and defeat for social liberalism was pretty much certain.

I don't know who had the bright idea to put Eddie Izzard up against Nigel Farage on the BBC's last Question Time before the polls opened, but it had to be worth a few thousand votes to Leave at least. You see, if you are a metrosexual hipster, then Izzard is the post-modernist voice that points to the future, but if you are a normal person then he is a weird bloke in women's clothing. Say what you like about Nigel Farage, but he comes over as being fairly normal, what with his wife, children, beer and fags.

The use of Izzard reminded people that whilst not all Federasts are weird, all weirdos tend to be Federasts.

In any fight between normality and weirdness, then normality can be expected to win because there are just more normal people in the country.

Then we had the site of Bob Geldof and his merry band of wealthy dilettantes mocking the fishermen. It was not only Geldof aboard his floating gin palace, we must also include the people who could afford to take time off work, then hire small dingies to sail in and out of the fishing flotilla. Trust me, the site of the rich flaunting their wealth at hard working men whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the EU and its bureaucracy was worth any number of votes for Leave.

Again, it reminded people that whilst not all rich bastards and their middle class stooges are Federasts, all Federasts come into those two categories. So the vote came down to a contest between the weird and the wealthy against the normal working people people of Britain.

Finally, the Federasts convinced themselves that they were the bright ones and we were the people too stupid to take seriously.

What they did not realise is just how heterogeneous the Brexiteers are. The activist core was made up of old socialists like me who have no interest whatsoever in social policy, but want the 1945 corporatist consensus restored so that everyone can earn a buttie without having to bust a bollock to get it. We were the first Brexiteers because we were the ones who argued in the 1983 General Election that the EEC was a capitalist plot to undermine socialism. We believed as we still do in a transfer of wealth from the wealthy to working people and their families, and accept fully that you cannot make a socialist omelet without cracking a few capitalist eggs. The biggest egg of them all is the European Union, so we have wanted to destroy from its very beginning.

We were joined by the solid, mustn't grumble, get on with life, middle classes of the 1992 Maastricht generation, who had decided that the EU was just not for them. Working together, activists from those two strands set up small anti-EU groups in the early 1990s that studied the EU and took it very, very seriously. Just about every Brexit group in this referendum had at least one activist from the those days who had dedicated his life to understanding the EU and could answer just about any question that was raised by a puzzled member of the public.

Not only that, but we could work in all areas and speak to just about everyone. The socialists could work the council estates and the old Tories could get to work with the provincial middle classes. It sounds as if we were saying different things to different people, but the message was actually pretty much the same because the middle classes are often as happy with railways and utilities that are in public ownership as we are.

The Federasts seem to live in a bubble in all the big cities, and could only speak to other members of that bubble. So they spoke to each other and reinforced each other's existing beliefs, all the while ignoring the wider society which was left entirely to us.

They seemed to have believed that the rest of society would just trot along behind them as they wandered off to the polls, assuming they did, since turnout was so low in the under 34 year age groups.

What they did not realise is that people were voting not just for their country, but against the Federast vision of what the country should be. We don't want to live in a land of wealthy weirdos and we turned out mob handed to make sure that we don't have to.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Guest Posting: The Road to Canterbury – The Brexiteer’s Tale

 Tim Collard was one of our men in Peking for many years before becoming HM Consul-General in Hamburg until his retirement. He is fluent in both German and Mandarin and now forms a part of the Oxford Union in exile which meets up every Wednesday evening in an Edinburgh swill shop to discuss matters of great weight and drink beer. He has resolved to enjoy a long retirement at the expense of the hard working family taxpayers of Nuneaton.

In 1998 the annual convention of the Universal Postal Union was held in Beijing. (When writing a story, always draw the reader in with a real zinger of a first sentence.) At the time I was working in the British Embassy, analysing and reporting on China’s international relations. But, at such conferences, it was always essential for the EU – only 15 members at the time – to arrive at a common position to set before the delegates. This, of course, would need to be co-ordinated, and it was agreed to hold a meeting on the first day of the convention to assess the papers and arrive at a unified response. We all had advance instructions from our capitals, and there seemed to be no important points of difference between us.

Now, EU liaison was part of my portfolio. In theory a small part, consisting of attending one monthly coordination meeting. But there was no escape; this one was clearly a job for Muggins. So I sallied forth from my ‘safe space’ in the Embassy and hied me to the venue, a hotel ten miles away on the edge of town, where I met up with my regular muckers from the monthly coordination sessions.

Several hours later I reported back to base.

"Hello, Tim, how did the meeting go?"
"You will be back with us tomorrow, won’t you? It’s pretty busy…."
"Um……well, we haven’t actually started yet."
"You see, we took about three hours to collect and collate all the papers from one secretariat or other."
(My head of section slapped his forehead, but had enough experience to know that I wasn’t kidding and hadn’t been skiving.)
"And then – I’m afraid there’s been a complication."
"Well, there’s been a row over the designation of the Palestinian delegation…."
(Head of section repeated his action, and his thoughts, from the last parenthesis.)
"And we all have to go back to capitals to agree the wording."
(Great sigh of resignation.)

I should point out that there is virtually no overlap between working hours in China and Europe. We’d only get the new instructions overnight, and next morning it would be once more unto the breach. In a further complication, all the telegram traffic would be classified, and we couldn’t use the convention centre’s fax machines. So it was all haring around in the car with shedloads of paper between two places ten miles apart, with Beijing traffic well on the way to becoming the gently undulating car park it is today.

You can guess where this is going. Were the fifteen sets of instructions sent by the fifteen capitals to the fifteen delegates identical, by any chance? Were they……. So there was nothing for it except to spend hours trying to agree new forms of words, and then send the new draft back to capitals for overnight consideration. And the next day the process would resume. And the next, and the next. I should add that at no point were we ever in contact with, let alone under pressure from, either the Israelis or the Palestinians to slant the wording in their direction. It was an entirely internal circle-jerk.

Meanwhile my Embassy colleagues were going up the wall, as we were a small team – seven I think – and the 99% of my job which I was prevented from doing was either not getting done at all, or having to be covered by colleagues who were quite sufficiently occupied with their own jobs. (I was discovering that they don’t call it the Universal Postal Union for nothing.) I asked my boss whether it might not be better to pull me out and let it go on without the UK (a proto-Brexit, in other words). No, he said, EU etiquette wouldn’t allow that. I remembered that many member states had much smaller Embassies than we did, and they weren’t pulling out either. We’d just have to keep right on to the end of the road.

And every day the bulging briefcase in the back of the car racing against the clock through Beijing rush-hour traffic. To my eternal shame I once caused a minor accident when just for a moment haste drove out due care and concern. My bosses had resigned themselves to losing my services (expensive if not necessarily valuable) for a day; they lost them for two whole weeks. When I say ‘expensive’, I don’t just mean my pay, which was generous if hardly bankeresque; but you, O taxpayer, were also paying for my 4-bedroom city flat and my children’s education in international schools which – I swear – cost more than Eton. To do a job which I wasn’t able to do because I was fossicking around in a spanking new Chinese hotel arguing about Middle Eastern semantics and knocking people off bikes for two weeks.

And still they are no nearer to solving the dispute over the postal problems between Israel and Palestine, or any others for that matter. And no-one writes letters anyway these days except to dun people for money. And the poor bastard who is my successor has now got 28 sets of slightly-differently-worded instructions to deal with. (For a little while, anyway.) Friends – the EU isn’t all shiny happy people holding hands and singing Ode to Joy. Britain has been a member for 43 years. The total time wasted by highly-paid civil servants in this sort of palaver runs to a hell of a lot more than 43 years. As for the cost, it would make your calculator go all squiggly.

This tale could have been a great deal more Chaucerian. I discovered, just too late, that a young lady in whom I maintained a strategic minority interest had been attending a week-long residential convention at an adjacent hotel. That might have, er, changed the character of the narrative considerably. But heigh-ho.

I assure you, dear Remainer friends – and relatives – that my Leave vote contained not the slightest trace of racism or xenophobia. But enough is enough.
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