Friday, August 30, 2013

Syria - TFFT

As is usual the defeat of the government in last night's vote on "action" against Syria is widely being replayed as a personal defeat of David Cameron (and to a lesser extent Nick Clegg). It was, of course, but it's more than that. It's one of those rare moments when Parliament has acted as a parliament and has reflected on an issue and how the public feels about it, rather than ignoring us and voting the way they've been told to vote by the whips. It happens all to rarely so we should savour the reminder of what politics could be like if we had more direct control of our politicians. If that had been the case it is unlikely we would have invaded Iraq, or even Afghanistan come to that.

In the meantime, the senseless rush to be seen to be "doing something" for the sake of it can carry on across the water. Heaven forbid that Obama miss an opportunity to claim the moral high ground...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lab-grown brains and Syria

On the day that scientists reveal that they've grown human brain tissue in the lab, we have our own leaders parading their lack of the stuff. How else do we explain this rush for yet another military intervention? What the hell are these people thinking - indeed, are they thinking?

Reaching for the missiles seems to have become a stock response. The siutation in Syria is appaling, but the complexity of the situation seems too much for our leaders to comprehend. Like all politicians their first response is always to be seen to be doing something. It doesn't matter what that something is, it just needs to be something that means they can't be accused of standing back and doing nothing. And, like it or  not, the simplest way of showing that they're doing something is to drop bombs on people. To make this palatable you need to have a simplistic narrative. You know, something like evil regime versus freedom-loving rebels, good versus bad. Forget the fact that the rebels include jihadists of the worst kind who hate the regime for being soft on religious minorities, women's rights and so on.

Do our leaders think that the these jihadists will show gratitude when the regime falls? Like hell they will. Recent history is littered with jihadists we have supported turning their weapons on us as soon as they get the chance. There are plenty of Syrian rebels who hate the West as much or more than they hate Assad and his clan. Those brain cells grown in the lab? They've got more memory than our brain dead leaders.

We don't know for sure what these chemical weapons were or who fired them. Both sides are capable of such an act, but the Syrian state had more to lose than the rebels in doing such a thing. In any case it seems that it's enough to give us the WMD moment when our sanctimonius leaders can play elder statesmen and bomb another country. And then conveniently look the other way when it helps to lead to the slaughter of Christians and other religious minorities, the institution of Sharia law and the inevitable blood bath as rebel groups fight it out for the spoils.

Lab grown brains? I'd vote for that rather than the brainless morons now in power.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

UKIP - Not Serious

While the immediate storm over Godfrey Bloom's 'bongo bongo land' may have disappeared from the front pages, the affair continues to reverberate. From my perspective - not aligned to UKIP but becoming sympathetic over the last few years - the effect has been pretty depressing. Like an awful lot of people in this country I've got little time for the three main parties - there's little to differentiate them and most political discourse runs on predictably tribal lines. I hate our political classes with a vengeance but at the same time I care passionately about politics and where the country is headed. So, in many respects I'm exactly the constituency that UKIP should be appealing to. And at times I've felt that perhaps UKIP was the way to go. Not just on the European Union, but also with respect to climate change, wind farms and a critique of the liberal mindset that predominates in our political and media masters. Even on the economy UKIP seems to be on the side of economic liberalism and free markets - though it has to be said it's often hard to figure out where UKIP stands because it rarely seems to talk about the economy in any substantive way. The bottom line is that on a wide range of issues UKIP seems to offer something that 's different to the main parties and appealing to a libertarian (note the small L).

The one sticking point has been race. Although I vehemently disagree with the ideology of multicuturalism (which elevates difference and segregation to the highest degree), I am an anti-racist and have got no time for racists, whether they are BNP, Islamist or BBC. In the past I've been Paki-bashed by Nazi skinheads, racially abused and suffered from racism and discrimination. That was a long time ago and thankfully my kids haven't had to suffer this kind of treatment. Although the left will never say so, we do live in a very different world to the days when the National Front was out on the streets and casual racism was everywhere. Nowadays things have gone the other way and it's the white working classes who suffer unfair treatment - they are the only people not allowed pride in their culture. Multiculturalism is triumphant and to real anti-racists this is a betrayal of the struggle againt racism.

You would think that this too would make me align to UKIP - and at times it has. But this latest affair from Godfrey Bloom makes me pull back for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I have to say that Bloom comes across as an ignorant bigot. He can spin it how he likes, makes half apologies or attempt to front it out, but he comes over as the sort of half-drunk bar-room racist that I would run a mile to avoid. While I don't want politicians to be all smarm and professional blandness, I do expect them to display some signs of intelligence. Ignorance is not attractive to the voter, any more than dishonesty or disdain for Joe Public. Now the fact is that there was a real point in what he was saying - the discussion on the aid budget is an important one which many people, me included, would agree with him. Listening to interviews with many of Bloom's constituents one is struck by the fact that so many people, of all races, were agreeing with him. But it was also striking how so many criticised him for his language and behaviour. So, the end result is that a point on which he has people agreeing with him has been drowned by the furore over his racist language.

Much worse than this however is the attitude of so many UKIP supporters and indeed the missing leadership from UKIP itself. There are plenty of comments of blogs and forums from UKIP supporters who seem to glory in Bloom's display of ignorance. Maybe it's that frisson of outright racism that they find appealing. Is this what UKIP really wants? To go after the BNP vote?

Let's be clear, if UKIP is a serious political party and not the vehicle of a handful of leaders safely esconced in Brussels, it needs to appeal to a wider range of the electorate. It needs to appeal across racial and class barriers, it needs to appeal to those who look for signs of intelligent policy as well as wanting to have a go at our ruling elites. And it won't do that with people like Godfrey Bloom slurring racist comments to the party faithful.

In the blogosphere I see people like Autonomous Mind and Richard North of EUReferendum having intelligent conversations and discussing policy options to a depth that I don't see from UKIP itself. If there's an issue related to some EU policy in the news, where do I go to gain an understanding of it? It's not to UKIP. So, while some are happy to snigger at the 'bongo bongo land' jibe, I suspect there are plenty more who've decided that perhaps the mass media are right after all and that UKIP is a xenophobic little hub of racists and embittered cranks.