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The politics of duncing…

{For tenuously linked post soundtrack CLICK HERE}

“Bloody (insert generic racial stereotype here), coming over here, stealing our jobs, preying on the livelihood of the honest British workers…” goes the well worn diatribe, rolled out whenever a news story claims we’re about to be invaded by a hoard of recently emboldened foreign nationals, supposedly arriving on our shores to annex whole corners of the employment market.

Such is the voice of the people that some politicians claim to represent, whilst they simultaneously try to impose their views and prejudices on the masses, presumably following some sort of retrospective logic that allows them to believe they are supporting a perceived opinion they themselves generated.
And I suppose to a large extent, that’s their job.

As long as they conform to the same standards they would have us live by, that is.

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UKIP chief buffoon, Nigel Farage, has just launched a two-pronged hypocrisy campaign, centred on the issue of (mainly eastern European) immigrants that are apparently about to take England to the brink of economic collapse by flooding the country with cheap labour.

The hysteria-mongering that surrounded the arrival in the UK of Victor Spirescu and his non-existent companions (Victor was the only Romanian migrant to arrive at Luton airport on January 1st, to be met by a wall of press journalists and tv crews, there to witness the predicted invasion) was just the start of a concerted drive by Farage and his “I’m-not-a-racist-but…” cohorts to persuade us that our very way of life was under threat from an EU conspiracy.

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Hmm, is this a trick question?

Well it seems that UKIP’s sledgehammer tactics have had somewhat the reverse of the desired effect.
Having suffered unwanted press attention for several weeks subsequent to his arrival on new year’s day, resulting in him losing at least one job to date, and experiencing first-hand the English right wing “bullies”,  Victor has used his minor local celebrity status to help promote the pro EU Europeans Party.

As for Nasty Nigel himself, his insistence that the first choice of British jobs go to British workers backfired amusingly when he was asked by the BBC’s Nick Robinson why it was that Farage’s wife, (who is German) was employed as his assistant, at a salary of £25,000, paid by an EU allowance, instead of giving the job to a local worker.
Nige’s response that his efficient German wife was the only one who could do the job, what with the long unsociable hours and having to write up his notes and daily schedule late at night, didn’t do his cause many favours. He claimed that he didn’t know of anyone else who would have the stamina for the work involved.
Although the thought of taking dictation from Farage, as he flosses his teeth before bed in his Union Jack underpants, sighing sadly as he shaves off the shadow of a toothbrush moustache he’s left until last, it strikes me that it can’t be much of a loss to the British jobs market so we’ll allow him that small victory.

A slightly more high profile Doh! moment in UKIP’s recent catalogue of PR cock-ups directly involved their latest poster campaign, namely this one, featuring a beggar dressed in work clothes, accompanied by a pretty unambiguous anti-EU message:

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The only problem with this is that it was soon revealed that the part of the out of work British victim of European economic migration in the poster was in fact played by an Irish actor, and Ireland will still be able to trade freely with Europe, even if Nigel and his mates convince the rest of the UK to pull up the drawbridge.

In an extra twist, another news story from recent days, the Cornish being granted minority status, has spawned a parody of the UKIP poster.
Living as we do in neighboring Devon and visiting Cornwall as often as we do, I’ll refrain from any comment.

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Not all the stupidity, small-mindedness and ineptitude has been provided by UKIP this week though (well, not so far as we know so far) but Whitehall has had a little more egg on its collective face, due to the spiteful interjection of some wag on Wikipedia.

It has emerged that the page of the publicly-edited, inaccuracy-strewn online encyclopedia devoted to the Hillsborough football disaster has come under attack from a troll who has changed passages of the tribute page; “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for instance was changed to “You’ll Never Walk Again” and the “This Is Anfield” banner was altered to read “This Is A Shithole”, while the phrase “Blame Liverpool fans” was added to an entry on the tragedy that claimed 96 lives in 1989.
The editor responsible has not yet been tracked down, although that is apparently only a matter of time. What is known however, is that the IP address of the computer that made the edit originated in offices of Whitehall.
Not only that, it has since come to light that a large number of other malicious alterations to Wikipedia have been traced to government computers, several of them violently racist.

Many of the edits are of course simply mischievous, my own personal favourite being the one that changed the article for American, vomit-inducing-medical-saccharine-a-thon Grey’s Anatomy to describe the hit TV series as “overrated” and a “euphemism for an old mans netherregions”.

The voice of the people indeed…

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Blogging, Humour, News, Social comment, TV

 

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The persistence of memory…

If you spend any time on the internet (which you obviously do if you’re reading this) then there’s a good chance that you’ve seen any number of slightly flippant, jokey posts about how we bemoan the minor inconveniences of our lives, ironically comparing them to the far greater ones of those far less fortunate than ourselves, often tagged as #firstworldproblems.
It isn’t a fad that I’m interested in following, as it strikes me as being a way of pretending to care about things, just so we can let other people know how terrible it is that we didn’t get our morning cappuccino exactly the way we liked it, or that we were just too late to snap up those Kate Bush tickets we so desperately wanted, all the while secretly hoping that someone will fail to see the irony and commiserate with how our comfortable, carefully insulated lives have taken a turn for the mildly irritating.

We all have problems.
Mine are currently……..well, you don’t want to know and I can’t say I blame you, I’m sure you have plenty of your own.
And I’m equally sure that to you they seem like insurmountable obstacles in the path of your existence, but at the same time you realise that, sooner or later they will work themselves out and you’ll be able to return to the relative ease of your comfy first world lives just like I will, our memory’s ability to relegate life’s little hiccups to the recycle bin of enforced amnesia once more coming to our collective rescue.

There are others who are not so lucky however, those who we do remember, and we remember because we consider it our duty to do so.
This post is about just a few of them.

You would need to be living in a box to have missed the fact that 2014 is the anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, or The Great War as it was called, before the curse of hindsight required us to number mankind’s episodes of inhuman folly, like some sort of horrific sequel in the continuing franchise of stupidity and senseless waste.
Like all good historical epics there are many small stories of huge heroism, many of them largely overlooked by history itself until a poignant reminder brings them to our attention, and this is one of those stories.

As a teenager I was lucky enough to visit the Thievpal war graves cemetery at Vallois Bayonne in France, site of vicious fighting in the battles for the Somme and resting place of many hundreds of soldiers, a deeply affecting place that has stayed with me ever since.
One of the extraordinary tales that has recently been brought to light is that of Joel Halliwell, a lance-corporal in the Lancaster Fusiliers who was awarded Britain’s greatest military honour for outstanding gallantry.

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During a blistering German attack in 1918 Halliwell took it upon himself to launch a one man rescue mission, his challenge being to recover wounded comrades who had been stranded in no-man’s-land.
Having captured a stray fallen German soldier’s horse he rode the terrified animal out onto the battlefield, criss-crossed with heavy machine gun fire, and bodily lifted a badly injured member of his battalion across it’s back, returning to the British lines, saving the man’s life in a show of incredible bravery that could very well have cost him his own.
But this wasn’t enough for Joel.
Over the course of the next few hours he made another nine sorties into the terrifying hell of mud, blood, mortar rounds, corpses and barbed wire, bringing back eight more “other ranks” and one officer, all of whom survived to return home when hostilities ceased.
Not only that, having secured the safety of his fellow soldiers – forced to abandon his efforts only when the horse collapsed from exhaustion – he walked over two miles in order to bring the wounded men water, earning himself the Victoria Cross at the age of 37.
Returning to England after the war, Joel Halliwell lived until 1956, although sadly his brother Tom, also fighting on the Somme, died of wounds he received serving his country in 1916.

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(A recent episode of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow programme not only presented Joel’s daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter with a replica of the VC medal that he earned in battle, they also located Tom’s grave, finally allowing the family to lay a tribute to their lost hero, in the corner of a foreign field in which he lay down his life)

But not all of the events that have an anniversary this year are quite so honourable.
Twenty years ago, in April 1994, just 100 days of terror and unbelievably brutal violence meant that the chaotic and deeply divided country of Rwanda soon became one of the most horrifically tortured areas on the planet.

Even though the vast majority of Rwandans in the 1990’s (some 85%) were from the Hutu tribe, the dominant monarchy in the country was made up of members from the ruling Tutsis.
As far back as the late fifties the Hutus overthrew their Tutsi overlords, chasing large numbers of them over the border into Uganda. However, the Tutsis regrouped and returned to take back their kingdom by force in 1990, leading to fierce fighting which continued until an uneasy peace was agreed three years later.
The peace treaty didn’t last long though, because only a few months afterwards a plane carrying the Hutu president and his Burundi counterpart (also a Hutu) was shot down.
Even today, some believe that the deaths of the two presidents was a plot by the Hutu themselves, designed to give them an excuse to persecute the Tutsis, who they publicly blamed for the supposed treachery.
Whatever the case, the Hutu promptly began a campaign of organised violence and appalling atrocities against the returning Tutsis, eventually resulting in the deaths of a staggering 800,000 people, many of them women and children.

Someone who witnessed the tragic events that lead to those 100 days of terrifying infamy was Lindsey Hilsum, international editor of Channel 4 News and veteran of many war zone reports.
This week she told of how she was in Rwanda for the very first days of what would become one of the worst genocidal atrocities in modern times.
I first thought that I would quote from the piece she did on the programme yesterday, but I don’t think I could do her justice. So please watch this short clip of her, relating the heartbreaking story of her experiences in the war-torn hell that she lived through. For I truly believe that only by hearing first-hand how these events shaped the history of a nation on the brink of its own destruction can we hope to understand the inhumanity of which we are capable, and by doing so, making sure we can somehow prevent it happening again.

I’m aware that this isn’t an easy thing to hear, and neither should it be, because if it was then it would only show that we are already lost, along with our empathy for those who perished at the hands of their countrymen, their neighbours and in some cases, their own families.

The final thing I wish to address in this post, and one that I consider to be a stain on our own national conscience, is the decision by our government to allow the faceless murderers of hundreds of innocent civilians to go free after the years of grief and pain they caused so many families.
I am of course speaking of the odious Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill, which will let terrorists of both sides in the long running, bloody and senseless slaughter of “The Troubles” walk away from their crimes without so much as a slap on the wrist.
It seems unbelievably cowardly and callous to simply wipe the slate clean on decades of violence and pain, purely for the sake of political expedience.
I offer no solution to this, neither do I profess any great understanding of how better to handle the situation, but I cannot see that adding to the bitterness and pain of an already blighted generation can do anything other than reignite the hatred and division that brought about so much loss to begin with.

The only thing that any of us can offer is the persistence of memory, the continued pledge that we will remember, in the hope that somehow we can avoid this sort of repetition of history in our future.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Blogging, News, Social comment, TV

 

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A warning from the present…

After my assertion that I would try to provide you with an antidote to all the dreadfullness on the internet in my last post, I have tried my best to avoid the sleazy, the odious and the downright awful that the web seems intent on forcing us to experience whenever we are drawn to that glowing hypnotic square.
But human nature being what it is, we can’t help being drawn to the sort of story that causes that little vein in our collective temple to start throbbing and the communal jaw muscles to clench involuntarily, because awful though some of it is, looking away sometimes just isn’t the right thing to do.
I have always believed that anyone ignorant of the Nazi holocaust should seek out those appalling stories and even more atrocious, harrowing pictures, however upsetting they may be, because they truly are a “warning from history”. In the same way that I don’t think anyone living through our current period of religious and cultural upheaval should shy away from confronting the horrors of what we as a race are capable of perpetrating on each other.

The dreadful things people are capable of never ceases to astound me and for that reason I feel the need to relate some reports that have come to my attention this week.
You may not think that you need more horror in your lives, what with the economic and weather related news stories that fill the TV schedules of late, but if we don’t stand witness to the folly of our times how will we ever learn to restrain ourselves from making the same mistakes again and again.

At the start of the week we were told of a British jihadist who allegedly committed a suicide attack in Syria by driving a truckload of explosives into a prison compound, a story shocking enough in itself, yet we seem so inured to the terror of war that it passes almost unnoticed across our screens, just another episode in the continuing horror story of our rolling news-fixated existence.
But surely nobody can ignore the utter awfulness of the story so eloquently related by Adam Pain on his blog today.
It may not be current (the report is from 2002) but the genuine shock I felt when I read the story this afternoon quite literally left me speechless.
15 innocent schoolgirls, forced back into a burning building by the so-called “religious police” in Saudi Arabia for failing to adhere to an archaic dress code, murdered by the state for failing to cover their hair and faces in their desperation to escape the fire.
I cannot begin to imagine the terror and betrayal they must have felt as they faced the stony faces of their executioners, the justification for their senseless deaths nothing more than something called “religion”.

Religion may bring peace and succor to those who practice it, but there is no excuse for using it as a stick to beat an entire generation or society into submission.

In yet another example of the savagery that lives beneath the surface of faith, another man in the war torn country of Syria made a choice that few of us will ever have to make.
When faced with the terrible choice of whether to surrender his family to the brutal rape and murder threatened by marauding terrorists in his home town of Adra, Nizar chose instead to detonate grenades, killing not only the invaders but also his family.
The thought of being forced to make this kind of horrendous choice fills me with a kind of rage at the human race in general that we should never have to feel.

When I first thought of writing this post, I had planned on using a report of a bungled lesson in suicide bombing carried out at a fundamentalist training camp near Baghdad, in which a teacher somehow managed to accidentally blow up himself and his whole class.
Initially I thought I could use it as a flippant aside to why aliens, after scanning our transmissions, decided we were too stupid to bother visiting because we couldn’t even manage to kill each other properly, let alone be much of a threat to visiting ambassadors from another world.
However, having rediscovered our propensity for horror and violence in the service of hate and intolerance, it seems insensitive.
After all, no matter how misguided the students at the world’s worst school for scoundrels were, they were all someone’s sons, someone’s daughters, someone’s parents, and we should try and remember that it’s the world that made them this way.
It’s everyone’s duty to make sure the next generation don’t have a reason to continue the cycle of violence.

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2014 in Blogging, News, Social comment

 

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Foot in mouth disease…

Sometimes, even the people who you expect to be offensive, provocative or downright ignorant can pull off breathtaking lapses of decency when you’d almost managed to forget they exist.

Then again, there are some people who are only known to those outside their (gradually widening, embarresedly shuffling) circle of friends because they said something idiotic on the telly or typed without due care and attention deficit on any one of a number of social-minefield networking sites.

And then there are the ones who seem to have made an entire career out of spouting ill-informed bigotry in the name of acting like a “man of the people, salt of the earth” kind of guy.

Which would be fine (well, maybe not fine) if they were doing it in a low-foreheaded, bulging-veined, eye-popping huddle in some smoke filed backstreet drinking club.

But they’re not are they?

Oh no, they’re doing it in public, on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and of course, on TV.

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The only trouble is, I don’t think that they realise it half the time.
Not that they’re doing it, nobody could be as wantonly unpleasant as some of these misanthropic morons can be by mistake, but that other people might be watching.

Take UKIP clown-in-chief Nigel Farage, a man so cringingly, excruciatingly out of touch with reality that on a recent visit to Bulgaria he compared the notorious former communist party headquarters in Sofia to the European Commission offices in Brussels, and also seemed  genuinely astonished that, despite his best efforts to apparently promote the idea, there weren’t hoards of eager economic migrants queueing up at the passport office, desperate to get on with the important business of invading Britain.
Indeed, the Bulgarians he met gave every indication of wanting to stay put, complaining that our weather was crap, and anyway they were rather fond of their homeland thank you very much.

If you can peer through your fingers for long enough you can watch the report on his visit, courtesy of Channel 4 News, in all its toe-curling glory right here.
(Make sure you watch the part with the interview on a Bulgarian chat show)

And then there’s the latest in a long line of UKIP contenders for Adam Pain’s Golden Face Palms, the reprehensible shit-weasel that is Godfrey Bloom, who not content with (or more likely, taking advantage of) the controversy surrounding his reference to all-parts-ethnic as Bongo Bongo land, has now waded into the feminist debating arena, saying that it should be possible for employers to sack women if they become pregnant and claiming that they are more suited to finding mustard in the pantry, and should leave complicated things like driving to men.

And just in case you might be thinking “Steady on, that’s a bit strong, he’s probably just misunderstood”, here’s another C4 News clip, tackling him on his possibly unwise use of ever so slightly racist language.

But it seems that the best and easiest way to get both feet into your mouth is by using micro-blogging, life-commentary-obsessives’ favourite site, Twitter.

Whether it’s high profile, arch political glamour-puss, Sally Bercow making ill-advised (and, oops, libelous) remarks about a certain fat man with glasses (I’m not getting any more specific than that, you can’t be too careful) or a simple case of an ordinary citizen venting their frustration about poor service – a 55 year old typist posted a ranting tweet about a company that was late paying their bill and now faces a £100,000 lawsuit – it’s just too easy to hit that send button before you get a chance to engage your brain.

I’d like to say that I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve got to say that, given his record for obnoxious pronouncements, on balance I shan’t be doing so in regard to the delightful Nick Griffin, of right wing troglodytes the BNP, and his latest triumph of Internet diplomacy.

When challenged on Twitter by a gay, Manchester-born Pakistani man about why he was making racist and homophobic comments concerning the gentleman’s possible fatal stoning should he travel to the land of his fathers, due to their alleged intractable position on same-sex relationships, Griffin became increasingly disparaging, finally describing him as a “hysterical little poof”.

In the interest of balance, I’m sure Nick would like a platform from which to express himself, but fortunately i choose how to portray him here (that’ll be like the bigoted twat he is then) so here is his victorious appearance on the BBC political discussion show, Question Time in full.

Prepare to shout at the screen and/or start swearing…

Now I don’t know about you, but if I was sitting in a pub near someone vomiting out this sort of crap to anyone that would listen, I’d make pretty damn sure that everyone knew I wasn’t anything to do with them, let alone trying to I imagine the sort of monumental disregard for normal human decency it takes to say stuff like that in public.

And yet none of these paragons of public service appear to have the remotest compunction about spewing their bilious opinions into the gutter of the information superhighway, and even have the gall to be surprised when the world at large takes offence.
Although in a recent development it seems as though Nigel Farage has finally lost the confidence of his party, saying that he’s going to take a step back from politics, to enable him to “get a grip” apparently.

About fucking time Nige, that’s all I can say.

Update – The excellent Adam Pain at A World Of Pain has written a response post to this little rant, which you can read here.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Blogging, social networking

 

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Don’t panic…

Those of you who are regular readers will know that my lack of theme practically is my theme, and as for having an agenda of any kind, well, it’s hard enough getting inspiration for posts without trying to indoctrinate my followers into the bargain.

But one thing I have tried to do is keep the tone relatively light.
After all, I wouldn’t want to read the blog of someone who just went on about all the terrible things that go on in the world every day, so why would you?

However, given this week’s tragic and appalling events in Woolwich, I find it difficult not to comment on the sort of people that live in our society, often indistinguishable from ordinary citizens, blighting the nation with their presence.

Almost from the moment the terrible events began to unfold in the media yesterday afternoon, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have been bombarded with posts, both from individuals and official organisations, which are so blatantly untrue and/or racist that it seems as though half the country has joined the BNP overnight.

Indeed, the odious EDL (English Defence League)  promised a show of force in the area almost immediately details of the murder came out, allegedly to protect the community from the threat from the enemy within or some such bollocks, but in practice to get pissed and fight with the police.
And overnight their Facebook page alone had increased it’s subscription from 25,000 to 75,000.

This sort of instant fascism rears it’s head every time there’s a terrorist attack involving anyone of even mildly foreign extraction, and yet the same upstanding folks conveniently forget the fact that people like norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik and Timothy Mcvey, the Oklahoma City bomber were both white Christians, and initial reports seem to indicate that the two men who carried out the horrific attack in Woolwich were in fact born in England and spoke with strong London accents.

But that doesn’t seem to matter any more. Now it’s enough for people to have the same colour skin, or to worship the same God as a high profile extremist or terrorist, for them to be tarred with the same brush.

A friend told me today that he’d blocked fifteen to twenty people from his Facebook profile due to the offensively bigoted comments appearing on his newsfeed, and I have seen many posts that border on inciting racial hatred.

Fortunately we also have the wonderful EDL (English Disco Lovers) who, along with Unite Against Fascism, have been posting requests for calm and unity in the face of this kind of rabble-rousing, and I just hope that the ignorance that I’ve encountered so far online isn’t as prevalent in the wider world because at times like these more than ever it’s important for us all to stand together against those who would divide us.

Keep the Faith.
Stop the Hate.

That is all.

 
15 Comments

Posted by on May 23, 2013 in Blogging, social networking

 

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