Referenda are *really* bad ideas

Referenda are *really* bad ideas. 

No average voter can possibly understand, or work out, the complexities of a situation like Brexit, or Scottish Independence, with sufficient clarity to make an informed decision. Not one. 

Both referenda suffered from exactly the same fatal flaws: the campaign people got hold of a few tasty soundbites and cranked up the rhetoric – on both sides – so that these trivial, unverifiable non-specifics became visceral and dominating aspects that defined absolutely everything. 

The Brexiteers were desperate for anything – absolutely anything – to avoid the xenophobic core of their campaign. So fluffy nonsense like “control” started to become talking points. 

The Scottish seperatists, desperate to avoid discussing things that they knew nothing about like EU membership, central banking, currency, debt and a hundred other things, decided on the same wooly concept of self-control as their core message. 

When the major thrust of a campaign is jingoism, then you know, with absolute certainty, that the public is being lied to, is underinformed and is in all likelihood, becoming the victims of massive fraud. They are being asked to make country-changing decisions based on no knowledge whatsoever. Situations like that are ripe for abuse, and abuse has happened on a huge scale. 

What, exactly, did the Brexiters vote for? Most don’t have a clue. Ask them what their estimated trade balance will be in five years, you’ll get a blank look. Ask them about exchange rates, trade tariffs, cross-border policing, environmental issues, replacements for massive EU infrastructure grants, military cooperation, agriculture policy and any number of other things DIRECTLY impacted by their voting decision and you will get a tilted head and a “huh?” But ask them if they want to take back control, and they’ll get all excited because you’ve used a sound bite that they recognise. 

The theory behind a referendum is great – people get to choose their own destiny. That is, of course, crap, because it misses out the most important word. Informed. Informed people get to choose their own destiny. If that happened, then great. 

But it doesn’t, does it? An informed population is a dangerous one. An informed population sees through bullshit quite easily and can’t be lied to so often. Nobody in power wants an informed electorate. They want a compliant one, an obedient one, a stupid one. 

The very best we can hope for in our system that pretends to be a democracy, is to elect someone every few years that we trust just enough to do what is right. Then leave it to them and hope they don’t screw up too much. 

No, the ideal political system is not democracy but a benign dictatorship. 

Democracy sounds great on paper, and you never know, if someone ever tries it, it might just work. 

But as things stand, at the moment, people are just too fucking stupid for democracy…


Those lovely folk, the Professional Mourners.

A few days back, something nasty happened somewhere and some folk died. No, I don’t remember what it was either, but right on cue, all the crocodile tears started flooding into social media, prompting this from me:

Ah, those lovely folk, the professional mourners. 

Risking life and limb in their headlong rush to they keyboard after every nasty event anywhere in the world to prove just how caring, worthy, moral and virtuous they are. Never flinching from the just cause of narcissistic self-promotion, the more people killed and in more gruesome ways – ideally on television in HD in a never-ending news loop – the happier they are. “Look at me, I can use the death and suffering of others in shameless advertising of myself and as a pathetic validation of my own existence”. 

They are the exact equivalent of the crowds around the gallows in a Hogarth painting; tutting and muttering about how terrible it all is, but wondering if they have time to go to the toilet before the next one comes along because they really don’t want to miss anything. 

Do they really care? Who knows? They certainly care about being seen to care, that much is clear. And as in so many modern things, image is everything and that must be protected at all costs, even if it is only a delusional self-image. 

To whom does all this sharing and caring make any difference? 

Does London give a shit that you’re “praying” for it after some “mass” stabbing? No, of course not. It doesn’t even notice. 

Does Nice or Paris or any other nice cozy Western town who has experienced an attrocity notice that you are Je Suis-ing at them with all your might? No, of course not. They are too busy clearing up, getting back to normal and working out how to stop it happening again. 

Does “Remembering the 96”, or whatever the number was that week, several decades after the event represent anything but wallowing in a much-missed tragedy? No, of course not. It just makes them feel better about themselves in a guilty and barely disguised “thank goodness it wasn’t me, that *would* have been tragic…” 

So what does all of this self-indulgent self-flaggelation actually achieve? 

Nothing. Nobody really gives a toss when the crocodile tears start to flow because they’re devoid of meaning and thought and use. They have no value, utility or merit. It is cheap X-Factor emotion, turned on and off at the flick of a switch and as genuine as Simon Cowell’s suntan.

Which says everything that needs to be said about those whose hobby is to demonstrate their humanity to disinterested strangers. It has no value. So stop it.

Boris still thinks he’s credible. How sweet!

Boris Johnson, in a fit of retrospective wisdom, has attempted to finally put some substance to his unexpectedly successful “leave” campaign in the EU referendum. See his text in the Telegraph here. My response went like this:

Oh, Boris. Bless you, sweetheart! It’s really quite lovely reading your substance-free rants against the left especially when, like this one, they’re so easy to decode and translate into the truth.

All this airborne spittle that your white heat of righteous indignation generates about Europe distils down to just one small thing: envy.

You have absolutely no problem with Eurocrats, you don’t mind their inflated salary and expenses packages, you have absolutely no problem whatsoever with their mostly imaginary lack of democracy and the formation of a federal United States of Europe causes not the slightest problem for your fake and jingoistic patriotism.

The only problem you have is that it’s them getting all this and not you.

You have absolutely no desire to see democracy, accountability and transparency made more widely available to us plebs down here. That would be utterly disastrous! You just want it for yourself. 

Because like a lot of over-entitled toffs that have been educated way beyond your intelligence, you think that what is good for you is, of course, by default, good for the country. What you miss, and what those clones of you like Cameron and Gove always miss, is that it simply isn’t true. It’s all just one great money and power-grabbing egowank on your part. 

We, the great unwashed whose sole purpose in life is to enrich the likes of you, get absolutely nothing out of it. 

So how about you do us all a favour? How about you and the other mindless cretins in the leave campaign take off your baggy union flag boxer shorts and just tell the truth for a change – that it’s all about you, not us. 

You have managed to convince a large portion of the population that their casual racism is actually a great patriotic battle for freedom and democracy plastered in blue woad and strapped to the arse-end of Boudicca’s chariot.

But having done so, you now have no idea what to do. Your five-point plan is as substance and truth-free as the entire leave campaign. 

So by all means, from behind the safe ramparts of the Barclay Brother’s propaganda sheet, feel free to mock those of us that see you for who you are. But always know that you’re not fooling us, and there are more of us than you think.

The irritation of the expectation of empathy

There are many things in life that irritate me – a list that is in no way shrinking as I get older. Fairly close to the top of that list is the expectation of empathy.

When did we stop being allowed to make our own mind up whether or not we cared about something, or if we do, by how much?

In a change that I presume has been brought about by social media, news organisations seem to spend far more time and energy these days telling us how we should feel about something than they do reporting actual news.

“Horrifying”, “tragic”, “terribly sad”, “national pride” and other emotional cue cards pepper the news output way more than any factual content these days. And there is no quality threshold either. The same lines get trotted out for refugee drownings, mass shootings in America or for the murder of an MP as some scripted event “suffered” by the Jendashians, those morons on that The Only Way Is Chelsea Shore programme, Big brother or anything with Simon Cowell in it.

Has the dumbing-down of the population reached its ultimate level now where we need to be told when and how to emote? Has the deliberate dilution of our education system finally reached peak moron, with the achievement of a completely pliable and compliant population of mindless drones?

When did it not only become rare, but almost forbidden to make your own mind up about things? When did independence of thought become an endangered attribute?

And when did minor achievement become a cause for celebration? A semi-professional performer wins a tv “talent” show, some Kardashian clone loses a few pounds, a British astronaut becomes the three hundred and seventy-somethingth visitor to an International Space Station that is positively worn out because so many people have visited, and we’re expected – demanded, even – to care about it. Why?

Someone dies. I didn’t know that person or anyone close to them and they made no impact on my life. I didn’t notice them while they were alive, why should I care when they die? No, that’s not allowed! We have to demonstrate that we are caring, worthy people by mourning this complete stranger. We are expected to praise their “bravery” as though drawing breath is a brave thing to do. Why?

Some narcissistic moron with a GoPro camera strapped to their nether regions and Red Bull logos all over their arse flies face first into a mountain at 150mph, or falls to their death because they were walking on the edge of a high building, or breaks their neck dicking around in waves on a plank and we’re supposed to praise their bravery and value their memory. Follow your first instinct to laugh and call them what they are – idiots – and you’re completely wrong and a bad person. Why?

When did we become so reliant upon group-think that it became the very measure of our self-worth? When did we only ever feel validated and valued when we followed the herd of unthinking drones?

Saying that this is a deliberate policy on the part of the media, corporate and political elite might (but only might) be a conspiracy stretch too far. But it is at the very least a serendipitous occurrence that they seem to be in no rush to fix.

It does, however, neatly explain the rise of UKIP and the other bottom-feeding traders in lowest common denominator thought processes.

EU referendum: Time to write-off my own country.

I am fully in favour of a completely integrated European superstate that is financially, politically and culturally one country. I think that Britain could contribute in an incredibly positive way to the building and maintaining of such a state because of our huge experience, our technical expertise and our influence.

We should be at the very heart of such a project, driving it forward for the benefit of all Europeans, including us.

Sadly, Britain these days is run and populated by intellectual minnows who think the last world war is still being fought and who lack the vision, intelligence and determination to see anything beyond the English Channel as positive. We have become a nation of under-educated, racist morons who are content to be dictated-to by wealthy tax-evading oligarchs like Murdoch and the Barclays. Dumb sheep in all but name that would depress and embarrass Winston Churchill and other great leaders of his time.

As such, for the European project to succeed, we need to be outside of it. We are the killjoys; the sulking losers sitting at the edge of a playground, determined to spoil it for everyone else. The under-endowed bully with minuscule genitalia, lashing out as an unconvincing diversion from our own pathetic shortcomings.

So, as a commited pro-European, I shall be writing off my own country in June and voting to leave the EU.

With the USA, China and a slowly re-forming Soviet Union playing their global power games, the only way Europe can compete is as a united continent, and having us polluting it with bile and selfish bitterness will sabotage that.

I shall feel incredibly sad to be voting that way, but that will not stop me. It will mark the start of Britain’s entry to the also-ran list of countries that were once great but fucked it up. It will mark the point at which we finally lose the Cold War.

It will not be a good day.

Hillsborough Inquiry – the unasked questions

Much fuss is being made by those in denial about the Hillsborough incident about the answers to the ten questions that the jury were instructed to answer. In particular, the nine that relate to the failures in duty of care by the police and by the stadium operators.

When, after an event that included fatalities, asking whether there was a failure of duty of care is a loaded and under-analysed question to which it is almost impossible to answer “no”, because to do so would imply that nothing further could have been done. That is clearly not the case.

Obviously, since people died, more could have been done. However, to use this to blame the police and stadium operators for murder, which is what the baying crowd around the gallows is doing, is completely unreasonable.

The ten questions need to be expanded to enable the full truth to be dealt with. Here are some unasked questions that it would benefit all concerned to answer. Mine are provided.

11. Hillsborough Stadium was a long-standing venue where thousands of football matches, including important cup matches, had been held without incident. Had all fans arrived in plenty of time to get into the ground, would the deaths have happened? Yes or no. No.

12. Have the lessons from the incident been used to make football in particular and crowd control in general far safer today than when it took place? Yes or no. Yes.

13. Can any further lessons be learned from this incident that will improve crowd safety more? Yes or no. No.

14. Will any of the conclusions of this latest in a long series of inquiries make any difference to crowd safety in future? Yes or no. No.

15. 96 Liverpool fans died because they were crushed by other Liverpool fans. Yes or no. Yes.

16. When crowds stop behaving like sentient, mature human beings and demonstrate a behaviour indistinguishable from sheep, they need to be managed like sheep, not humans, for their own safety. Yes or no. Yes.

17. When Liverpool fans stopped behaving in a safe manner, was it reasonable for the entire burden of responsibility for their safety, and the blame for any consequences, to fall on the police, stewards and stadium staff? Yes or no. No.

18. Did the police fail to anticipate the extent that Liverpool fans outside the ground would start to behave like sheep that day? Yes or no. Yes.

19. Were the concerns about crowd safety outside the ground the root cause of the decision to open gate “C”? Yes or no. Yes.

20. Is there any evidence whatsoever that any member of the police, stewarding team or stadium management meant any harm to come to anyone that day? Yes or no. No.

21. Which inquiry used to most white paint, this one or Hutton?…

The one interesting thing about this hugely expensive inquiry is how very rapidly its findings faded from the national media’s interest. For once, they seem to recognise a local story for what it is – of local interest only.

Money well spent? Yes or no. No.

Enjoying your depression a bit too much?

Apparently some depressed person has written a stage play, with songs, about their depression now.

Is there a new variant on depression around these days? A sort of Depression 2.0? One where the sufferers can’t stop whittering on about their precious bloody disease like some sort of latter day martyr movement?

What happened to the old style of depression? The quiet one that didn’t make a fuss and didn’t presume that the world owed it a living. The one that just sat quietly in the corner. I miss that one – the genuine one. This new one is little more than tedious, boring, masturbatory attention-seeking and hardly seems depressed at all. 

There’s a difference between talking about something and (literally in this case) making a song and dance about it. Depression seems to have become the new black.

People who have suddenly realised how little control they have over their own lives (or as it used to be called, “growing up”) are labelling themselves as depressed these days. Any dopy hipster suffering from a morning beard dysfunction is calling himself depressed. Over-entitled people all over the country that get their work ethic from watching the X Factor or Eastenders are labeling themselves as depressed because they have to work for a living.

Basically, anyone with a missing backbone or brain deficiency is calling themselves depressed.

It has become the universal excuse for laziness, incompetence and ineptitude, and it’s time a stop was put to it.