Tuesday, 3 May 2016
A few short weeks ago, the high and mighty, shitey-tightey piece of shit they’ve had to call President for the best part of a decade told Blighty to get to the back of the queue if she dared call time on the disastrous four-decade long EU dalliance. Yes, the weak and feeble cried, yes we must stay! Outside lies hunger and starvation and loneliness and decline. But inside, the machine will feed us and care for us and keep us warm. Stay, stay they pleaded, it’s so cold outside.
The overbearing, unaccountable European Union has been compared to the old USSR and echoes of 1984 appear in the news on an almost daily basis. The Ministry of Truth, the rewriting of history, but above all the aspiration to control every aspect of the lives of its citizens blinds it to the fighting instincts of human nature. If only the humanity could be bred or trained out of us entirely. The social engineering that has been more evident recently has borne down upon the last two generations as an apparently benevolent velvety-gloved fist... or a boot, stamping on a human face – forever.
1984 is, of course but one in a long line of allegories about big state control and the helplessness of the little people. Unlike many such apocalyptic visions it holds no hope for redemption; Big Brother always wins and the best you can hope for is that you want him to. If you encountered the absolute certainties of the Remainians outside of this context you could only conclude you were in the company of a cult member. The EU is unforgiving church, tough loving family and ruthless captor in alternate measures. Do as we say and we’ll stop beating you; you have the power to stop the pain
And the threats of beatings have been coming thick and fast of late, with talking head after talking head lining up to say how badly we will get bruised if we dare to take on the machine. Like the first Rocky movie, they land blow after blow but the underdog still has fight in him and just won’t stay down. Logan’s Run, The Matrix, The Island; all visions set in totalitarian regimes and in every one of them we root for the maverick. Nobody yearns for the machine to win. And yet in the most quoted allegory of all the future is bleak, fatalistic... WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH ...this is the clear direction of travel of the EU story.
But a progenitor of all of these tales is E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, a tale of soft subjugation where divide and rule is taken to the ultimate degree. All are apparently served by the machine but give up their independence and freedom to do so. Who can deny that European leaders are building their machine with the collusion others and the exclusion of its populations from democratic choice? Is Greenpeace’s revelation of the aims of TTIP evidence for this? The Independent, a generally pro EU mouthpiece certainly seems to think so.
How we will remember washday in the EU
The most wondrous machines work best when their mechanisms are mysterious, unknown, yet perform an essential task and do so until a better alternative supercedes them. One day in the future the working parts of the EU will belong in a museum, alongside cassette recorders and washing dollies. One day, with our intervention or not, the EU machine will just stop.
Monday, 2 May 2016
I’ve seen a lot of angry Remainians asking, nay demanding, that the leave camp produce their own fictional facts and figures to show what Brexit actually means. But isn’t this the point, nobody knows? None of the forecast doom and gloom is reliable because it all assumes that foreign investment will end, trade will cease, day will no longer follow night and in the latest laughable idiocy, Gromit, the former leader of the new Nazi Party has declared that the world as we know it will end. Always willing to put himself out there for a laugh Ed Miliband returns to the fray with a statement that even makes the Edstone look serious.
They all want to know – and growing numbers of fence-sitters are now prompted to ask – what will happen to the economy if we leave? While a few voices, such as Neil Woodford’s, have risen above the clamour to say all will be well, there is a sort of awkward silence in the Leave ranks. This is because, as previously stated, nobody knows. It entirely depends on who runs the show and how the economy is actually measured and for whose benefit it is managed. Because in or out, the current model is warped and dangerous.
Do you rejoice when you read yet another story of a local authority knocking together two or more dwellings to house the family of fifteen who live entirely on benefits? If so, you definitely should vote to remain; your utter disregard for the country deserves a moribund future home as a vote drone to endorse more such stupidity. Because this is the current model; growth at any cost. No wonder we have piss-poor productivity figures when our national wealth is not really measured by what we produce, but by what it all costs. Gross GDP is meaningless and misleading.
Under the EU economic growth is achieved by growing the population. And given that the indigenous peoples of Europe no longer wanted enormous numbers of children the answer, they saw with myopic eyes, was immigration and expansion. But while more and more lower and lower paid workers might grow the headline GDP figure, the value per head declines and with it, the point. If a million people share a billion pounds, we’re all grand. But if two million people share a billion and a half we’re all poorer. And that is even assuming even distribution. I see no demonstrations against people being better off.
So, this is what remaining in the EU has to offer; more of exactly the same skewed and deceptive reporting of tractor production. More dodgy dossiers designed to tell you you have never had it so good while the world around you crumbles. This model relies on the presumption that there is no end to the number of people we can take in; that immigration can never be a bad thing; that we need the immigrants to pay the pensions. But ask yourself this – where does it end? And who will pay the pensions of the fecund immigrants and their children’s children?
There! Now we are all better off...
I don’t believe we can go on like this. Neither does Migration Watch, which has said that current levels of immigration are unsustainable. Why not strive for a stable population and aim to improve everybody’s chances? Why not have an economy we can control and run for the benefit of UK citizens, not for the EU machine? So, if you want to know what a post-Brexit economy would look like, John Major is quite right. It wouldn’t look like what we have now; this could only be a good thing.
Friday, 29 April 2016
As referendum day draws rapidly nearer, the claims and counter claims of the two sides and their hangers-on defy political gravity. Every new ‘fact’ is claimed as evidence to simultaneously support remaining in the prosperous country of Future-Europe yet also flies the flag for farting in its face. The EU brings prosperity, the same EU hampers prosperity. Open borders are controlled by being in yet also remain gaping wide open. The level of cognitive dissonance displayed by some in the debate must surely warrant investigation or at least an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.
At times it veers into the comical with each side trying to outdo the other like some Eurovision Four Yorkshiremen sketch. In the latest televised debate, passions are running high as David Cameron finally takes to the stage to debate against Nigel Farage. He does so with trepidation, having resisted the call thus far and - wary of appearing weak - he launches into his time with a re-hashing of the Remainian mantras.
“We are stronger in Europe,” he repeats, for the thousandth occasion.” The EU lets us trade with the rest of the world and strengthens our home security. By cooperating with our European allies in a reformed European Union we can secure a more prosperous future for our children and our children’s children.” The crowd duly applauds.
Nigel Farage stands at the microphone and sighs. “You see, what we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a man who has nothing to lose. All the big names backing the Remain camp are wealthy individuals and businesses or political opportunists who see the EU as a means of feathering their own nests and keeping the little man down. We need to leave the EU, take control of our borders and be a free, independent confident nation again.”
Cameron rebuffs: “There we are again with the little Englander line. Mr Farage wants us to pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world. I say again, leaving the EU would be a leap in the dark when the alternative – staying in the Union and driving meaningful reform – means we can have the best of all possible worlds. Britain alone would be powerless to alter the tides of history and defenceless against global movements of antipathy. The treasury report we commissioned last month shows that every household will be £4300 a year worse off if we leave the EU. Is this what his side wants?”
Farage “Outside the EU we will be free to make our own trade deals with the rest of the world. Free of the stifling red tape of Brussels, free of the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies, free to make this nation great once more. What Mr Cameron is proposing would make Britain just another subservient region of the super state called Europe.”
Cameron: “Again, what he says is simply untrue. We have obtained special status in the EU whereby we can control our borders, we will never adopt the single currency and we are exempt from deeper integration into a European Federation if – and here I find Nigel’s conspiracy theories quite alarmist – if, indeed, there even is further and closer political union. The facts are on our side. History is on our side and remaining in the EU is the right thing to do, the right thing for Britain and the right thing for the stability of the free world.”
Nigel steps back to the microphone and takes a deep breath: “Right. Britain has always been a strong, independent, trading nation. We can become so again. Outside of the EU we can rebuild our society, regain control, restructure our economy and compete against the best in the world. Everybody who needs work will be able to have a job, no child will leave school insufficiently educated, nobody will need to beg for food and we will protect our sick and helpless. A mighty new Britain will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of our European misadventure and we will once more become a mighty, world-bestriding force to be reckoned with.”
Cameron stands up and interrupts: “Nigel, you are talking bollocks.” The audience gasps to hear such intemperate language from the PM. Nigel turns to look him in the eye, glances back at the audience to make sure they are with him and smiles. Cameron has walked straight into his oratorical trap. He replies, coolly, “Maybe I am, Prime Minister... but you started it.”
Thursday, 28 April 2016
A recent report found that the rate of dementia in men of a susceptible age is less than all the horror stories predicted. A decade ago we were told of the ticking Alzheimer’s time bomb that would devastate the state of old age and bring unbearable pressure to the NHS. Not only has that doom prophecy proven false, the onset of senile dementia is actually 40% lower than expected. Perhaps the wisest thing Nostradamus ever did was set his vague predictions in the distant future where the gullible of a certain bent could, by squinting and being selective with interpretation, fit a prophecy to an event.
How is it, people will ask, that the very best medical soothsayers were so wildly incorrect in a forecast that has been used to plan expensive intervention with public funds? How indeed. This is, of course, a perfectly regular phenomenon and relies for its efficacy on the general tendency not to worry too much about the truth; better yet to just let such sleeping dog predictions lie. We are, of course, still awaiting our colonies on the moon and the cure for cancer but most of the output of futuristic think tank thought is long forgotten.
But there is another option; fit the current ‘facts’ to the retrospectively adjusted past. They say the victor rewrites history to suit the narrative and this has been happening for years, but why be so blunt when instead we can use the current news to drive change? We can fit the future to the present, rather than fixing the past. Veteran reporter Martyn Lewis said recently that negative news is disempowering. We don’t want to hear bad news - it makes us ill – so we should instead be focusing on what has been called ‘solution journalism’. (Or, for Labour perhaps, 'final solution' journalism.)
Events, he suggests, should be reported more positively and constructively and instead of just laying bare the facts as they are known, journalists could offer helpful solutions to the misery inducing problems those tricky facts bring. So, hey, a tsunami may have just swept away hundreds of homes on a Haitian shoreline but on the positive side, watch out for some fabulous opportunities to buy seafront real estate at garage sale prices! Or, the economy is tanking but at least this should deter the number of immigrants who want to come to Britain... eventually. And the trains will only ever be late because of the right kind of leaves on the track.
As a commentator observed, this approach risks journalism veering perilously closely to becoming PR, media spin for the promulgation of centrally approved stories. In 1984 the chocolate ration is ‘increased’ by the ingenious device of altering last year’s chocolate ration figure to around half of today’s and presenting a decline as a doubling. Last year’s terrorists become this year’s freedom fighters and grubby events of the past are given a thorough hosing down and sanitised for current consumption.
There are no problems, only opportunities. You may be out of work but the jobless figures could be presented as a count of the growing number of optimists out to realise their true potential. Kids may no longer be able to read and add up but this is a good thing, preventing them from ever discovering the joylessness of critical thought. And now that Hillsborough has been disinfected and all traces of unpleasantness expunged we can see that everything we ever believed about the football supporters of the eighties was wrong. They were all blameless angels and you are a hater for thinking otherwise.
The next twenty years' headlines
Yes, the news of the future will only ever be spotless, scrubbed clean news. No more death or war or famine, just endless shining solutions for a brighter tomorrow. Dour, negative reporting of disasters will be consigned to the dustbin of history – and not any old rusty, fat-streaked galvanised dustbin hiding dirty secrets and surrounded by wasps, but the Brillo-pad scoured, gleaming wheelie bin of joyful past carnivals. They must think we are all going senile.
Tuesday, 26 April 2016
In science a theory is said to be true just so long as it resists attempts to disprove it. In politics it often seems the opposite is the case; where a scientist would yield to the conclusions of new evidence a politician would simply alter the evidence. Or, better yet, make the new evidence fit the old facts, or vice-versa depending on the current narrative. Thus, bizarrely, junior doctors are striking, but not over pay they say, even though the principle reason the union will not agree the new contract is in fact money.
Isaac Newton, on observing that the apple fell to earth set about formulating a theory to explain it. He noticed a relentless and unwavering cause and effect and determined to find out why. Had he discovered that actually the apple fell earthward only 95% of the time he would have to have concluded that his theory of gravity was incorrect and set about finding another. In politics, however, although you may still begin with a theory, that theory is rarely borne out of observation but out of prejudice, a gut feeling, a desire for a dream to be true... or possibly just plain old, common-or-garden insanity.
Science done properly should involve a willingness to change your mind when the facts shift; to adopt a different position when the weight of evidence goes against your early hopes. As it is impossible for humans to be totally dispassionate, many a favoured theorem must have been abandoned with a heavy heart in the light of more complete knowledge. Politics, however, adopts an entirely different approach; where science is about enlightenment, politics is about 'frightenment'. It is more like religion than science, seeking to bend opinion to a narrative regardless of any verifiable truth.
Had a political Newton seen, or thought he’d seen, an apple fall sideways just once and concluded this was the more desirable outcome he would have lobbied support for the legitimacy of the phenomenon, coercing people who had no opinion either way to support his view. Anybody objecting, especially on the basis of their never having seen sideways falling fruit, would be branded dissenters and driven from the forum. Apple trees would be uprooted to prevent anybody directly observing ‘unhelpful’ contrary events and should it be said that pears, for instance, invariably fell downwards it would be pointed out with a patronising sigh that pears were obviously different and that only the naïve could claim such a lazy equivalence.
Striking junior doctors, for all their professional intellect are political sheep, just like the teachers and other unionised masses. And just like the millions who will be driven back into the EU pen having been shown a fabricated lie about life on the outside. That grass, they will say as they point beyond the barbed wire, is a bit too green for the likes of us, falling for the EU ‘science’ that economic gravity only works if we all join hands. Like bad scientists the alchemists of the EU insist that those economic lead boots will become gold only if we keep on wearing them.
Onward, to Europa!
The more the electorate can be coerced to go along with the outlandish and unverifiable claims of those committed to a future where there is only one country called Europe, the closer we will get to shutting down all debate. UK government bad, Brussels government good. Real, undeniable facts are thin on the ground these days. But who needs facts when you have Euroscience? It ain’t brain surgery.