2016-06-27 02:13 pm

Posted from Facebook.

This is going to be a long post tying together many things I have thought and said over the past two weeks. People keep asking me "why?" and "what now?", and while I am no better a reader of the future tea leaves than anyone else, here goes.

How Did We Get Here?

Capitalism is broken - or, to be Marxist about it, is doing exactly what it was always going to do. The conflict between capital and labour is over, and capital has won. Overlay that with two other trends: first, the middle class, or the wealthy working class if you like, is dying - slowly strangled by automation, by globalisation, by disposable consumerism, by a society where it is no longer valued as it was. My hypothesis is that the world's supply of consumers has not kept up with its supply of workers, and while this has been a fantastic boost to many developed countries, it has also increased the stratification of wealth and raised expectations beyond which the current global economic system can supply. At the same time, the jobs of those who used to supply rich consumers are increasingly disappearing from rich countries. I don't think they are coming back, and we've yet to find sustainable, aspirational jobs as replacement. The jobbing economy offers great flexible work opportunities but again, any gains from efficiency go to the owners of capital, not the providers of labour.

Secondly, the young have been born into a world that offers them everything - chances our parents' generation would have (and our grandparents did) kill for: modern comforts, relative global security, a full belly. All they have had to give up is reasonable aspiration. We deny them the security of decent but unskilled work, and complain they won't push themselves through the insecurity - the coddled generation, not taking risks like us! But why? They will never buy a house, never feel secure in a job or even a profession, never be sure of their position.

(At this point it would be traditional for a left winger like me to mention Thatcher. As the architect of this system, she undoubtedly accelerated our movement towards it. And yet even without her, I think the writing was on the wall as soon as the Winter of Discontent and the Great Carter Failure were deep in the consciousness of the UK and US respectively. Looking at the Marxist critique, we would have got here anyway.)

And so along comes a spider: immigration. In truth just about as pure a win for the country as you could get - supporting our economy, our public services and enriching our food and culture (and often, sex lives and dating experiences). But, but but but. It increased competition in some areas – insert joke about Polish plumbers here – and in many cases drove up quality without a concomitant increase in prices, effectively reducing wages for those who had a good thing going before their arrival. They filled many agricultural roles, taking jobs away from the schoolkids and students who used to fill their holidays doing them – again, probably working rather more efficiently, with more dedication; in some cases, being exploited by (British) businesses, working under the minimum wage, undoubtedly undercutting British workers.

But then, these were always supposed to be transitory jobs. Before, in stage of life terms – each summer a new set of students appearing. Now, internationally – paid well compared to the East of the EU, people coming to save, and often leaving again.

The character of places did change. My home town was a place not unused to Polish people, given the many Polish airmen who helped win freedom for Europe in WW2, and the Polish Cemetery in still in the town (nearly 400 brave Poles were buried there, along with – for a time – General Sikorski, war time Prime Minister of Poland). And yet, my GP suddenly had its electronic appointment system in Polish as well as English. Tsykie and Lech beer appeared in Morrisons. People no longer spoke English in the market square. Friends of friends reported their jobs were uncomfortable and lonely, as the working language shifted to Polish. What is that worth? Internationalists like me celebrated the advantages, celebrated the transformation of the town revitalized by their activity and hard work and tax receipts. But others were never so sure. Taking their jobs. Destroying their culture. And, underneath it all, a loss of certainty, of primacy, of belief the country and its leadership was on their side.

Take back control.

The Meaning of Brexit

So, you take a lot of angry people who felt life was no longer theirs and the leaders no longer represented them. Fed lies and quite some truth about the role of the EU in all that, including the amount of money the EU “controlled”. Told that leaving would allow them to take back control – of the economy, of the borders, of their lives.

Offered the opportunity to give the establishment a bloody nose, they did. Offered the opportunity to close the borders, they jumped at it. Offered the opportunity to stop “sending 350 million to Brussels and spend it on the EU”, they voted Leave.

We knew – both the Remainers, and the thoughtful Leavers, that there could be a contradiction here. Only by a rapid ramp up of trade with the Rest of the World could the uncertainty and loss of single market access be compensated for. Some Leavers argued that this was a certainty, that the EU held us back in global trade terms, that all would be well. These voices have been very quiet these past days – probably because, as the UK enters economic turmoil of a kind that was wholly predictable, they fear the credibility of their arguments. A shame, because to my mind this is the only answer that’s left.

The “Norway” or “current Switzerland” models don’t work for the reasons people voted. They don’t “take back control”, and no amount of spinning will fix that. As it stands, we need a solution that has no EU say over UK borders, no money flowing to EU coffers, no role for EU lawmaking in UK legislation. That’s what people were told they were voting for. The Tories and their “no top down reorganisation of the NHS - promise” may have let people believe that campaign promises are there to be broken, but this wasn’t an election campaign, to be reconsidered in five years.


What Now?

As I have said elsewhere, I can only see two ways forward now:
1) The voters vote in an unambiguously pro-EU government, with a party or parties campaigning explicitly on remaining in the EU, or
2) We leave the EU completely. No EEA, no EFTA. Out.

I would obviously prefer 1), but I fully expect 2). Why?

Firstly, I don’t think the political parties as they are now can survive. The Tories must already be realising this – the referendum was a last throw of the dice to keep the party together, and it has clearly failed. Labour hasn’t caught up with reality yet – Blair and the Blairites still don’t get that Centralism has undermined much of their core northern vote, or why it has done so; I believe Corbyn was the best chance Labour had to talk to these voters, but the London party has undermined him from the start and (especially if he really did undermine the Remain campaign, as it’s currently looking) I can’t see him lasting the week. If there’s an election this year, neither will have a clue what to do. In the meantime, no Tory will be able to resist the pressure – from the EU and from his or her own party – to invoke Article 50 without removing him/herself from power. It may not be Boris, who could well be finished now, but it’ll be somebody.

Then the election. What do you campaign on? “You’ve made a mistake, vote for us and we’ll fix it?” “We’ve found a way to listen to the letter of the vote and ignore the spirit – it’ll be good for you”? That’s exactly what helped fuel this anger, this disgust, this lashing out out there in the first place. The problems with the EU – and we all know they exist – will still be there too; probably worsening as our nation demands attention from other EU members even while they have their own deep, deep problems to deal with (refugee crisis and the Euro, especially). From potentially helping fix Europe, we’ll only increase the pressure on it.

Nevertheless, perhaps a pro-EU party – a centrist one maybe but based on a proper mix of practicality and ideology (so drawing in Tories, Labour and Lib Dem members) – will emerge and take on the election. If UKIP can rip more Tories away, as the Tory party debates a weakened response to the referendum (like the EEA plan), then perhaps this could happen. I could definitely see it by 2020. But this year? Not so sure.

Assuming no pro-EU party does win, what then? Another referendum in two years to discuss what’s been agreed? What happens if the people say no – as they almost certainly will, between those who think we’ve gone too far and those who dismiss it as not going far enough? Referendums reward negative campaigning, as we’ve seen – the Leave campaign had no plan beyond “say no”. No manifesto, not even a vision. And again, here we are.

And as to where we’ll go. We’ll leave the EU, the single market. We’ll demand an end to EU immigration, and that will probably spill over to non-EU immigration too (this government’s great guilty secret). Those EU workers in jobs might be able to stay as long as they stay employed – a difficult ask given the turmoil to come – but those self-employed, good luck; studying, nope; those dating Brits, nope; those looking for jobs, nope nope nope. In return Spain will send us back our pensioners, either directly or by imposing crippling healthcare costs on them; Germany our workers; even Switzerland, already trading blows with the EU, won’t make keeping British workers a priority (and why should they? Non-EU workers already find it very hard to get a visa, and that’s just what UK citizens will be).

And we’ll know that this was the Leave campaign’s arguments. This is what they campaigned on. This is what they did, and we voted for it, and now it needs to run its course. Unless a way can be found to let the people change that course – and only an election will do. And by the time one comes that can be won, I’ll be too busy fighting for the future of my new country, Scotland.
2010-05-14 03:40 pm

(no subject)

I'm in London!

Also: oh hai LJ.
2009-01-09 08:35 am

Comments are screened

Tell me something, ask me something, shout at me, complain, tell me you're still alive. Anything.

Tell me where to reply if you just pass by. Anonymous allowed, no IP logging.
typisch: (owls)
2008-11-05 02:26 pm

Facebook status

Niall salutes a man whose first executive decision was to buy a puppy.
2005-05-04 12:10 am

A special post

(Stolen from [livejournal.com profile] ciaranmcnulty - he's my mate too, though!)
My chum Paul has just put a track up here on garageband.com. The player annoyingly defaults to 'Lo' quality and I'd really recommend changing it to Hi unless you have some sort of vendetta against sibilants.

Normal service is now resumed over on pringle.
2004-07-14 08:50 am

(no subject)

I'm still not writing anything here - all my writing goes to [livejournal.com profile] pringle if you've not worked it out yet. So if you want to read all the stuff about my life, go there, add it as a friend if you like too. You won't be added back though, because friends list politics still sucks :)

Anyway, I'm posting here because I'm housemate hunting and I wanted it to get to those of you whose journals I read but who don't read mine.

If you are, or you know, a cleanish and tidyish female looking for a room soon, in a lovely shared house in SE London (zone 2/3), close to transport, piddlingly easy to get to Canary Wharf / Bank and nearly as easy to Waterloo / Charing Cross / Victoria, around £340 pcm exc (just over £410 pcm inc, ish) please get in touch :)

We'll consider guys too, but as there are 3 men and (potentially) 1 woman so far, it'd be nice to get some equality..
2001-06-21 01:45 pm

(no subject)

From The Guardian today:

Racetrack ban after Viagra gets greyhounds going

The mechanical hares of Ireland will rest easier this morning following news that Irish greyhound authorities have banned trainers from administering Viagra to their dogs.

<snip>

John Garrahy, regulations manager at Bord na gCon, which oversees the sport in the Irish Republic, confirmed the drug had been banned. "I don't think this drug is a problem in the industry. We've had no positive tests and our drug-testing regime is pretty comprehensive." He added that it was thought Viagra might give racing dogs "an extra yard".

:)
2001-06-20 11:30 pm

(no subject)

My Oz Prison Bitch Name is Towelboy.

Um.

I went climbing at Mile End today. It was hot and sweaty and there were many scantily dressed women and men with ripply muscles. Whooo.
2001-06-19 07:54 pm

(no subject)

1. Who was the last person you yelled at?
I honestly can't remember last time I yelled at anyone.

2. Who was the last person you kissed?
No comment. :)

3. What was the last memorable book you read?
Well, The Republic by Plato, if I'm allowed a book I'm still reading :) Otherwise.. erm. The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book.

4. When did you last dance?
Saturday, dressed as a schoolboy in a very busy, hot and sweaty club in Hammersmith.

5. What's the last thing you want to hear from your parents?
"You're a disappointment"

6. When did you last go for a walk in the park?
Well, I walked through a park on the way to the tube? And I'm about to go for a run.

7. When did you last do you ironing?
Approximately 4 years ago.

8. When was the last time you smiled all day?
I can't remember a day like that.

9. What color of socks do you normally wear?
Black with some character or joke on them. Yay. I love good socks.

10.did you ever attend private school?
Yes, for one year I attended Nottingham High School (11-12) and then ran away for many, many reasons.

11. Do you like stuffed animals?
Only owls.

12. Have you ever smashed pumpkins?
No, but I saw the Smashing Pumpkins at Wembley.

13. Do you read labels when shopping for food?
Yes. "Suitable for home freezing".

14. Can you quote Shakespeare?
Bits and pieces, yes.

15. Do you like playing baseball?
No.

16. Are you a neat freak?
Um.. let me think..

17. What is the worst injury you have ever given someone?
*thinks* I've injured the pride of many people, the confidence of a few, and the trust in humanity of more.

18. Do you ever eat lemons plain?
No. I do drink lots of lemon squash.

19. Have you ever fired a gun?
Yes. I was an ATC marksman for a while. I've been clay pigeon shooting. My cousin once removed with a house out in the Campsies had a gun, which I played with, too.

20. Do you own any knee-high boots?
No. :)

21. Are you attached to extreme people?
Um. Extreme?

22. Do you like swimming in lakes?
Yes.

23. Have you ever streaked at a football game or any other public event?
Yes.

24. What is you favorite gemstone?
*shrug*

25. Have you gone on many blind dates?
No.

26. Has someone done something extra nice for you?
Yes. Too many people to list, but I hope they recognise themselves in this question.

27. Did you have a crush on any of your teachers?
No. Several of the pupils, though.

28. Have you ever been lost in a bad part of a city?
Bad part of a city? Pah. I laugh at danger.

Though walking around Paddington Green at 3am isn't something I'm intending to repeat soon.. mainly cos there were no bloody kebab shops open :(

29. Would you rather have a mint or fruit flavored gum?
Mint.

30. Do you have road rage?
Yes, when people do stupid things.

31. Have you ever eaten grass?
Yes. Both types.

32. Do you ever eat food right out of cans or jars?
Cans, when camping etc.

33. Has your mind ever gone blank?
Of course.

34. Have you ever met anyone interesting at the laundry mat?
Yes, but only at the communal college one.

35. Do you have recurring dreams?
No. My dreams are alwaysunique.

36. Are you kind?
Unlikely. I'm as honest as I can be, though?

37. Would you give a needy person the shirt off your back?
Yes.

38. Do you have any beanie babies?
No.

39. Would you rather be hot or cold?
Cold..

40. Is the glass half full, or empty?
It's completely empty. *burp*

41. Do you exercise or work out regularly?
Yes. I try to swim 3 times a week. At least. And it's run time now.

42. Could you kill if your life was threatened?
Probably not. If someone I loved was in danger, though..

Hrm.
2001-06-17 01:16 pm

(no subject)

I went to a school disco last night.

Fun. :)

Have a look. I may have to return there sometime - though with more alcohol first. Mmm.

Was fun, and people from work are all nice. Yay.

Waiting for people to get back from Oxford now.

Should rehydrate really, and wash too :)
2001-06-14 09:59 pm

(no subject)

It's about time I updated properly.

So. Erm. Yes.

Work is going ok, if hard - always lots to do and yet again I feel like I've been handed a promotion of responsibility with no difference in any other area. Ho hum.

My personal life is hardly sparkling. I've been out plenty, I have some good friends - some great friends. I still hark back to all those I've let down, ran from, haven't got round to writing to just yet, had to walk away from cos it just hurt too fucking much.

I'm single. I don't like it that way, but it's better than any alternatives. I don't feel able to be *with* someone right now, I need to know I can run away and bury my head in the sand when I need to.

I've just vacuumed my room. An old internet friend from the States called emo is coming to stay tomorrow on her way to work camp. I hope we get on.

I feel amazingly fat and ugly. I NEED to cut my hair but I can't afford London prices when I don't know anywhere decent. I also NEED to join a gym and actually get that fucking flat stomach.

There are people on here I may never meet. There are people on here I fancy who I know would never reciprocate. There are books I'll never read, music I'll never listen to, places I'll never go.

I'm not depressed. Just realistic.

I want a fuck. But I damn well do care who with.

My webcam isn't working, because Windows sucks.

There are people I love who I never want to see again.

There are people I loved who I do.

I'm going to see Radiohead in Oxford.

I'm not going to do that damn numbers thing. If you want to know, ask.

This is quite an offensive post. If I've talked to you today, you can be sure you're not included in any of the sentiments, and that you hold your places dear in my heart.

The world is going mad. Even Plato sounds sensible tonight. Stop the world...

I want to get back on.
2001-06-12 02:19 pm

(no subject)

Since Stu asked.

Anyone want to come to the first [livejournal.com profile] london_party meet? Tomorrow..
2001-06-12 10:18 am

(no subject)

My webcam was on last night, by the way.

It's not any more, though.
2001-06-10 05:51 pm

(no subject)

Well, went out with Ciaran, Neil and Katie last night and got suitably drunk. Again.

Today I bought "Our Kid, Eh", the new Shirehorses album which is very very funny. :)

And I bought a webcam. Setting it up as we speak.

Mmmm. :)
2001-06-09 11:37 am

(no subject)

Just playing with lj-specific tags... )
Can you close these tags? (Later - yes, you can, though </lj> looks weird too!)

You can have [livejournal.com profile] typical which is less html but looks, well, weird.

I've already used the poll one lots :)
2001-06-08 01:39 pm

(no subject)

Tired.

My spoiled vote protest made no difference - Airbrush held Cambridge. And the Tories retook Newark :(

The turnout was very low. Lower than I'd dared think about. That worries me very much *sigh*

Someone made a promise to me last night I'm sure she regrets in the morning. But yes. Becky stayed over, which was nice, and we watched election together and I cooked (well, reheated) curry.

Yay curry!

Yay Becky!

Boo apathy :(

Boo BNP :(

And Well Done William Hague for falling on your sword in such a selfless way (shame you fucked up the campaign, isn't it?) And cross fingers Seb Coe will never again be name-dropped in a serious political discussion...

(Webcam search under way...)
2001-06-07 10:52 am

(no subject)

I'm knucking fackered.

Went to see Paul play the Boat Race. He was brilliant as always - if you like angsty guitar folk stuff (like Mutton Birds, Jeff Buckley, Counting Crows, usw) get listening. Especially if you're a top record producer. You can hear stuff he played at the Virtually Acoustic Club gig I was at online now.

Today I voted - or rather didn't. Feeling childish and knowing there was nobody I wanted to vote for - usually I'd vote Labour, but not for Anne "Airbrush" Campbell - I spoiled by ballot paper by writing "NO" in every box and "NONE OF THE BELOW" in big letters at the top of the paper. It was important to me I was counted in the turnout figures, though. Why can't there be an official 'abstain' box?
2001-06-06 10:42 am

(no subject)

Last night. Um. I don't think I've been that drunk since university. I vaguely remember drinking lager out of a 4 pint jug and getting it refilled and beer beforehand and a few 'nibbles' (nice tatties and cheese, awful spring rolls) and more beer and how the fuck did I get home?

I didn't wake up with someone in bed next to me, though. Probably a good thing.

Everyone except Roz thinks I should get a webcam. Ok then, I shall.

And I'm impressed with the curry survey. Average of nearly 7 out of 10 for curry liking, that's good :) And nobody voted either 1 or 3, yay!

Mmmmmmm.. curry.

I feel rougher than a sumo wrestler's jockstrap.
2001-06-05 01:15 pm

(no subject)

For those of you who don't know, I've got a job. Yay. I'm going to be a Technical Consultant still with Symbian, from the start of next week. I'll be working just by Waterloo, rather than up in Marylebone. And I'm going to join a gym there and get toned. Ooh yes.

What else in my life? Erm. People were very very supportive. Thank you. There's an election coming with all the subtlety of a breeze block. I'm going to Cambridge to vote - probably tomorrow. Back on Thursday to watch the election take shape with Becky. Tonight there's a works do in Camden, which should be good.

[Poll #1251]

Hope that works. Mmmmm, curry.
2001-06-01 02:48 pm

(no subject)

I'm better than when I wrote the last entry. Thank you to so many wonderful people.

I've been reevaluating myself a lot recently. Today, again, I had to stop and change my opinion of myself (not in a good way, but hey). I don't really know what to think of myself (but I do know that pride comes before a fall, and having hinted at gaining some confidence it was always going to end in tears).

I still don't think I live for myself enough. I also don't have any inclination to change this fact - if anything, as things happen, I want to go more towards the extreme where I exist only as an extension of other people's lifes.

The problem is, of course, that requires me to survive when people don't want me.

I've always had to cope with a strange dynamic within myself - I quite often want to be alone, just to do whatever the hell I want to (usually sleep) and not feel bad that someone else is having to put up with it. But at the same time I want to be there for other people whenever possible - people who I care so deeply for.

Can you ask people to let you in, whilst keeping them out? I guess that's where I've been floating around at for a long time - though some people do get let into my world, I'm sure it bores them senseless and so conversation gets steered back to them. I can't talk about myself to individuals. That in a way is why this journal is so good. I want people to read it - or at least, I want people to want to read it - and I'm (sometimes alarmingly) honest in it.

I don't want people to read this and think I need help or comfort. I'm not feeling bad any more, nowhere near. I know how special my friends are and how much I care for them, and somewhere deep down some part of me can accept they (you..) feel something similar about me. But to my mind, this is the person I am. I'm not sure how many of you realise it, or perhaps want to realise it. Maybe I come across is different ways to different people. But fundamentally I am not that great, not that wonderful, but just a guy who has just one strategy to survive life: to be there for anyone who needs a shoulder, an ear, a cuddle.

That's it.