When the very foundations of our democracy are under attack

www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/08/electoral-law-broken-fight-for-soul-of-democracy

The Guardian web site has the opinion piece – see link above

Electoral fraud on a possibly industrial scale is indeed chilling as it eats away at our democratic foundations.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Why do politicians talk utter nonsense? Because at times we are all capable of believing a dog-whistle.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/tory-welfare-chief-esther-mcvey-14863815

The Liverpool Echo has one story about a politician seemingly falling foul of the facts – see link above – but this kind of presentation of ‘the facts’ by politicians and indeed newspapers is not new, however, it is widespread.

I’m not going to go into the issue of whether Ester McVey was right or wrong as the facts seem to speak for themselves – she was wrong. But the real question is why did she put her own spin on the Tax Credit issues? It was probably no more than playing to an audience who would like to hear her say such things. It’s the kind of messaging that the politically motivated tabloid press does each and virtually every day.

But what has led to many politicians saying things that may well be very far from the truth and indeed the facts in recent times? It’s likely to be the EU Referendum. How ever you voted the chances are that much of what you heard and read, particularly from the illegally overspending Leave campaign leaders, was wrong, misrepresented, alternative facts or damn right lying.

And since the EU vote that lying and misrepresentation has just bounded on as Leavers try to make their facts fit the real situation or mess that the UK finds itself in. Is it any surprise then that some politicians will misrepresent other issues too?

Often they are simply sending a message to their own supporters; a dog- whistle*. They don’t care whether the facts are correct, it’s all about their own supporters believing the message. The fact that opponents are enraged by the message is of no importance to those who send out the skewed messages.

But look at it another way, you are not just given misinformation or indeed told lies by the politicians and newspapers you don’t trust, you are also having it done to you by those you do trust! Just because a message meets with the agreement of your prejudices and beliefs does not mean that it is factually correct and that’s why I often say don’t trust anyone in power or with power – check out what they are saying and don’t just blindly repeat it as fact because it may be very far from being ‘a fact’.

* Dog-whistle politics is political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different, or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup.

Brexit – Surprise, surprise it now looks toxic even to the Brexit Ultras

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/02/ultras-are-in-fear-their-brexit-now-looks-toxic

The Guardian has an opinion piece on its web site by Polly Toynbee – see link above

Quote from the article ‘The referendum set a fuse under democratic institutions, yet it’s the old Tory “establishment” who are turning into anarchist bomb throwers. They know they will have to defend the indefensible for ever. No instant economic calamity, as claimed by Project Fear may happen on Brexit day, but a slow frog-boiler of losses to growth (estimated by the government to be 2-8%), which will see the UK fall further behind erstwhile equals. How will they escape blame?’

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Note for Phil (in joke) you know you shouldn’t have read it!

Racism – It has no place in our society, end of

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-43328566

The BBC has the article about racist chanting at Nottingham Trent University on its web site – see link above

As a Nottinghamshire lad this saddens and angers me. People are not born racists they are conditioned to be like that by what they learn from those around them; that this is still an issue in 2018 is utterly appalling to me.

I think we all now realise that one of the consequences of the EU Referendum has been that to some it has made intolerance towards those who are non-white and perceived to be non-British something that is socially acceptable again. Well it’s not and those who peddle racism are a threat to us all.

Over the past weeks I have been looking into what I consider to be some dark and frankly racist views that have been held by previous generations of my own family. This seems a sadly appropriate time to publish what I had written as a stand alone but yet to be published blog posting. My point being that my family are from Nottinghamshire:-

Why was my otherwise kindly Grandmother anti-Semitic?

This may seem a odd question to ask but sadly it’s an aspect of my otherwise kindly grandmother, on my father’s side of my family, that has always troubled me.

She lived in the small Nottinghamshire mining community of Kirkby-In-Ashfield, ran/worked in a corner shop, lived in a council house and was I suppose a typical grandmother of her generation. She died when I was a young man in the early 1980’s. But the thing about her that has always troubled me as I have got older is hearing her make anti-Semitic remarks. Sadly, my Dad seemed to hold similar prejudices. Politically I would say she was a working class Conservative.

So what was the source of this anti-Semitism? A check of the census returns for Kirkby-In-Ashfield shows virtually no Jewish people live there now or indeed have done so the past 100 years, so contact with Jewish folk seems highly unlikely as she lived in that town most of her adult life.

She was a religious person, a regular C of E church attender and if memory serves she also refused to go into Catholic Churches. On that basis she must surely have been anti-Catholic too.

Was this anti-Jewish and Catholic thing simply a consequence of tribal religious beliefs handed down from generation to generation?

From a wider perspective I found this Wikipedia article informative:-

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_the_United_Kingdom

Interestingly in discussion with my friend Andrew he pointed to the exodus of Jews from Russia in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries (covered in the Wikipedia article above) as being a possible contemporary event that could have influenced my grandmother’s views significantly.

Sadly, I have the feeling that the views of my grandmother, whilst troubling to me, were not unusual for her generation.

My unpublished blog posting (in italics above) about my Grandmother and the BBC article are obvious coincidental. I have no reason what so ever to think racism is a bigger problem in my former home town and indeed in Nottinghamshire generally than it is elsewhere in the UK but what it does show is that racism needs to be challenged wherever it raises its head as it’s been with us for a long time and it needs to become socially unacceptable again.

The politics of hate and division – It’s peddled by many mainstream politicians and is almost everyday language in our tribal society

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/17/language-public-social-media-politics-repercussions

The Guardian has this opinion piece on its web site – see link above

That we live in rather desperate and potentially dangerous political times is a given sadly, so this piece by James Graham is an interesting wake up call.

I have commented before about how Liberals were always looked upon with a fondness by the electorate generally but ever since Charles Kennedy stood out against the Iraq War, whilst Labour and Tories alike were on a war footing, attitudes have changed and some now have very negative attitudes to Liberals. At first I found this rather odd but I have come to rather enjoy being hated as a Liberal as to me it means that Liberal ideas are seen as a threat by the rich, by the powerful to the right and the left – we must be doing something right!

But ‘hate’ is an every day word these days and some point back to what the EU Referendum unleashed in terms of racism, intolerance and yes ‘hate’. There’s no doubt that Remainers and Brexiters have been pitched against each other and that there is little if any common ground between them. Do I act with intolerance towards Brexiters? Well yes, quite obviously I do if you care to read the many postings from me about Brexit. But is it right that a Liberal should be intolerant?

My brand of social Liberalism is all about radicalism, its about taking power from the rich and powerful so that the ordinary woman and man in the street has real control over their community and their futures. So hey a radical social Liberal is a threat and I expect to be disliked and indeed to be attacked (verbally of course) for my beliefs.

Ordinary people can only take power and use it if they are in full possession of facts. In the EU Referendum they were not, indeed they were lied to on an industrial scale. The referendum wasn’t an exercise in democracy it was an exercise in the abdication of responsibility by our leaders and of manipulating the electorate to do what the rich and powerful wanted them to do. It did not empower the people, as Brexit leaders claim, it cyclically used them in a way that shames our democratic credentials as a civilised country.

Am I angry with Brexiters? Hell yes. Do I feel my country has been had? Of course. Am I proud of my intolerance? No not really as I should not have had to find myself doing battle over such terrible lies and the consequences of them.

This radical Liberal and trade unionist is indeed angry and in no mood to compromise with people who are deliberately destroying my country and its way of life.

And on a different tack, since I have been using social media (Facebook in particular) I have noticed far too often the reach of huge levels of intolerance often about reasonably trivial matters. Swearing is now common and is almost expected as a social norm rather than the odd expression of shock and disbelief as it was once reserved for. I often ponder on whether folks use bad language on social media as they feel it is expected on them or that they will not be seen as fitting in if they decline to use it?

Yes our society has taken a turn towards anti-social behaviour being an every day thing, but how far will it go before the pendulum swings back towards a less racist, more intolerant and more inclusive society again? Or will we march ever further towards a hate filled fascist-type society?

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Labour and Brexit – I despair I really do

Below is a cutting from Friday’s ‘I’ newspaper and the big question is, what on earth is Emily Thornberry on about?

We don’t have to leave the Customs Union at all and frankly it seems utter nonsense to do so. On that basis why is Labour’s policy seemingly (and I say seemingly as nothing is clear with Labour – or the Tories for that matter – when it comes to Brexit) to leave it and then try to re-negotiate something pretty much the same!

Why oh why can’t Labour do their job as the Official Opposition and try opposing the Tories over Brexit for once? It seems however that they want a hard Brexit to go through, despite knowing that it will make the poor poorer for example, all so that they can sit back and try to claim it was the Tories fault. What a mad position for a supposedly progressive party of the left to hold when Labour could make sure that our minority Tory Government is defeated by working with the SNP, Greens, Lib Dems and Welsh Nationalists.

Click on the newspaper cutting to enlarge it