Writings, photos, politics and rants... *Original content - may not be reproduced without my consent.*

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Things can only get better...

I've had an absolutely awful time over the past few months. Deaths (two lovely friends Ian O, and Tracy C, from my younger days have died in the past few weeks, and my dad died last year), illnesses, depression, anxiety (and all of that has had an incredible, negative impact on my interactions with people at home and in work) .

But good news really must be celebrated, and I have had four pieces of that in the past few days.

1 I am having my jab on Friday.

2  I won the lottery twice in the past few days.   £2. 70, and £10 respectively.

3 My son just got a job with Morgan Stanley.

4 We decided, after much soul searching not to have Cody put down . This was a really difficult decision ... And we had booked the injection twice. But we have decided that he may be quite incapacitated, but he aint ready and wheels it is, for him! 
Those last two pieces of news are from today and really are the most fantastic, happy, soul lifting things to report.

I am super proud of Michael. It has been very stressful for him. Interview after interview over Zoom/Teams really was getting to him. In the end, three different parts of Morgan Stanley were competing for him and he had a choice. I'm living in a house with two geniuses.   

And I'm absolutely over the moon to have Cody for another while. The Cody death sentence was absolutely awful. There is life in the old dug yet.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

The Frog Chorus Reunited

Last night, looking like the lead singer of an aging re-formed and touring Frog Chorus, Alex Salmond announced his new Alpaca (or something) Party. The twitter/blogger gammonry; parts of the aging alt left, the transphobes and the creepy men who tell us that being a creepy man was acceptable when we were young (I was born in the sixties), cheered at Mr Toad croaking, "We all stand together!" 


By the way, I keep seeing this defence, "sexual inappropriateness, sleezyness, abuse, rape… was acceptable in our day," even though in real life, back in the day, we called them creepy, rapey men. We called them perverts and gropers. We literally jailed them for being rapey, gropey men when they were caught. The odd thing is when they are defending behaviour as, "look, it was acceptable in our day," they are absolutely saying this behaviour, like that of the various BBC kids TV and pop presenters was fine. They are saying that if you lived in the seventies, it was acceptable, nay imperative to grope, maul and rape women. It really wasn't acceptable then and really, truly can't be excused now. And won't be by most of the electorate. These people are slime. 


I'm not sure if I'll ever join a political party again. I was a totally committed member of the SSP from 2002-2015, and a supporter for longer, but left under a drizzling cloud of stinking, pissy acid when I questioned what I felt were too many regressive compromises, for example throwing all of our resources into "taking Morningside" in 2017 for our stoic leader (who had been a tireless unelected and unelectable leader at that time over a decade), and moreso Glasgow for a strange smaller almost unknown, distrusted SWP/ISG byproduct (Rise) we had for some reason poured ourselves into. And I left after the resultant backlash on many of us who had questions, doubts and who opposed drowning our newly re emergent party in this puddle of stupid ego. 


Rise fell apart after the election, and activists who had stayed the course spoke about funds and activists being diverted to two candidates the small vanguardist leadership faction approved of. Thousands of pounds diverted in vanity projects like photo sessions and billboards and car fleets, while long time well known hard working local activists struggled to get a leaflet or two printed. The SWP campaign and organise as the SWP campaigns and organises. 


All of this kind of campaigning and throwing activists and their money at one or two candidates has been done before (with many paper candidates finding out they were paper candidates half way through the campaign). George "Slinky Cat Man" Galloway did it with his Respect Party, using up the SWP useful idiot activist conveyor belt and money strategy to get him elected. And of course, the SSP had a previous disaster after they had almost made it out of the, one trick pony trick party. Tommy "slimy mini-toad" Sheridan had had his own "this is acceptable, creepy behaviour" scandal and had schlupped his way into the swampy wilderness he ironically named Solidarity.


What is it about Scottish men who are fawned over by cult like followers, that they feel they can paw women with their greasy flippers and somehow get enough people outside the circles of bam on Twitter to vote for them? Aye, Sheridan can pull together enough folk to fill a wee hall or crowd around a small stage and throw money in a magical disappearing bucket, but he has never been able to claim back the same amount of voters he had before his exposure as a very naughty boy and convicted liar. Why Salmond thinks he can do the same after admitting inappropriate behaviour towards members of literally half the electorate is beyond me. But hell, he'll go for it, and those bam pounds collected for a party effort will of course, Galloway/Rise/SWP/ISG like, be syphoned off for HIS reelection campaign, not the election of candidates across Scotland. I expect a lot of disgruntled gammon after the election, going at each other with Twitter and blog posts as accusations fly like pitchforks . 


The Alba/Alpaca Party is a diversion; one of money, activists and one the Unionists, especially the diversion seeking Tories love, as the real issues of our time are bypassed for one man and his creepy wee frog croaking vanguard. 


My vote for independence will be going to the SNP, and the un-gammon progressives in the Scottish Green Party.  The Frog Chorus Gropey Money Tour 2021 will sink in to the ego swamp with Rise, Solidarity Gorgeous in a leotard George Galloway. 



Saturday, 20 March 2021

Joy Division

Im not sure how Joy Division became my "core" group. But they did, back when Love Will Tear Us Apart came out. I thought when I first heard it that it was the most amazing sound around at the time. Urgent. Important. Layered. And when I saw the band performing on a late night "grown up" music TV programme in 1980 (I think), I was blown away. And they, and later New Order, became part of me.

I've written lots, but not enough, about them. (I really must update my index page, above!)

Anyway, I wrote this post on Facebook...

"Although Joy Division's songs were not overtly political, and Curtis had been, like many working class people persuaded to vote for Thatcher (admittedly unaware of the decimation her government would carry out on working class communities), I always think of the production and feel of Unknown Pleasures and Closer as a commentary on the bleakness of the smashing of the UK's industrial base and working communities in the late seventies and early eighties.

Art really does at times, thrive in seeming hopelessness and Thatcher's Britain, her solutions to post war industrialism, certainly freed up young people to either create, or destroy (and mostly destroy themselves in the hell of addictions and self destructive activity). JD's haunting, stark, beautiful music was a soundtrack to my teenage years in Thatcher's Ulster. As was the hopefulness of New Order. Politics have at times ground me down, or offered hope... But Joy Division and New Order narrated those  times for me.

(photo, Joy Division played at a Rock Against Racism gig in October 1978)"


Comments on FB:

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Fuck Farage.

What to say about this ...

I wouldn't normally post anything this man has uttered. He is a proto-fascist, racist, narcissist who was given way too much coverage by the BBC because at first, they thought it was almost incredible what he was getting away with saying. Then, because their parameters of what is neutrality are totally set wrong, they took a stance of neutrality between his lies and bigotry, and truth. Its like one person saying, "The sky is green polka dot," another saying, "no, the sky is blue, here is the science of light refraction..." and taking a neutral stance in that. You can't. You shouldnt. And as a news organisation, it should be the factual you report. Racism and historical distortion became as valid as truth in the UK, in a similar way it did under Trump in the USA. We have a huge problem (and Facebook and its profit making algorithms have a massive part to play in that. The massacre of the Rohingya people really wont be the only sectarian genocide Facebook creates if they are to continue this profit before truth trajectory). 

Farage's lies and distortions and disruptive bending and breaking of anti racism and equality laws, then became the way the right felt they could impose a nationalism that rescued and preserved a system so rancid, that most countries of the world ejected it two hundred years ago. A system that closes us off from the world, and imprisons our working class. The beauty of it all for the rancid people who promoted it, is that it preserves their privilege and by playing on base, uninformed xenophobic economic myths (*they come here taking your jobs and using our nhs*) they can make a pretence of reform while selling off everything they pretended to protect.

Many vulnerable people took their simplistic, hateful solutions to heart and helped them wreck an outwardish looking social democracy. Unfortunately those people will understand too late, when (for example) they begin to pay for services our superb system paid for through taxation... And foriegn travel becomes a bureaucratic nightmare . These things, are now happening, plus my home nation, Northern Ireland is beginning to suffer from what has been imposed (though the narrative is already, "the EU are doing this to us." Tories, nor Farage really give a shit about Ireland- they havent for many, many years... There is a pretence of doing so when they need the foolish Unionists votes in Westminster.).

This statement about royalty is breathtaking in its ahistoricity and its racism. A whole continent, Africa, still suffers today because of the history of our Aristocratic rulers greed. America still suffers because of our Aristocratic rulers trade in slaves, kidnapped from their homes and treated like some sort of lower form of life. Farage's jingoism and racism is all about blaming poverty on the poor, and racism on the targets of racism. 

I find it shocking and beyond sad when I see people sharing this man's utterances. Family members of mine died fighting the fascism this man extols and exudes.

If Scotland does not become independent from the awful system that has normalised fascism in England (with leakage into Scotland, Ireland and Wales), i cant see us remaining in the UK, because the hatred and lies these people vomit will only become worse, and it is going to become a very unsafe place to live for more and more people.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Down the Tube...

What a very different world we lived in then (see video). An over confident crumbling State, newly enriched by oil, but draining hope and resources from a working class seemingly happy to give power to Tories that hate it. Hmmm.
A world in which a culturally cut off East pronounced to its people that another five year plan would enrich them further, while whole industries literally ground to a halt. And a culturally frivolous West impoverished its workers by forcing them to pay for the things they needed to live in order to enrich an already rich minority. And we were all under threat from nuclear oblivion.

Nuke oblivion was not something we spoke about much in Northern Ireland. We were more worried about cars parked at the side of the road, or wandering in to the wrong pub. Or our parents or children returning from work.

But there seemed to be much more hope at that time, regardless of political reality.

I dont think there is much hope in the entity called "The UK/Britain" nowadays. I feel the only way we are going is into a shiny toilet bowl, polished crystaline by Tories. The basics that kept us from utter devastating poverty are being stripped from us. The NHS , the Welfare State, critical thinking skills... 

As Mumford and Sons reveal that the braces and beards were just cover for upper class bigotted nazi views; working class pop culture dies in a fart of boring sameness and pocket entertainment based on very base attitudes and instinct (everything boils down to looking good/odd/unnatural in selfies), where is the united bite back from working class politics, and culture we have had, generationally, for years? Where is the rock n roll socialism, the anarchic punk, or even the Things Can Only Get Better third wayism that ignites hope and music (Brit-pop, though, really was the exploitation of a scene that should have stayed just below the surface, shouting, sneering at power rather than singing alongside it. Chumbawumba knew this... Others made millions from this, and then fucked off...) ? Is the utter lack of young, angry, unifying voices because of the fact "mass pop culture," is now pocket size and so milisecondly disposable that it cant last long enough to carry messages of mass change?

During Thatcher's reign, mass pop culture here could bite back... Punk, post punk, alternative comedy, comics, books, and satire... And even mass events like Live Aid and amazing, fearless journalism that shone a, light on regimes and individuals, who were fucking us over. Nowadays, the media seem to want to legitimise shitty views about race and mental health (see Piers Morgan ), or at the very least compromise between goodness and shite and landing themselves and in turn, us, in a slurry of excrement, rather than expose powerful people and organisations as being wrong, nasty bigotted and self serving.

Boris Johnston, during his tenure as London Mayor rolled out the chitter chatter around a proposed bridge in order to way lay our gaze in case we saw just how shitty he and administration was. Nowadays, bigger mire of shit, bigger bridge as lives are lost during this pandemic and more are threatened as Ireland's peace begins to crumble. Obfuscation and lies are now the only skills needed to govern. If you can do this well, join the Tories. If you can compromise with that, join Starmer's Third Way mark II. 

I loathe the Chinese government. Their human rights record and the treatment of Uygur Muslim peoples, their volte face on promises to Hong Kong and their strangulation of its democracy are all dreadful things. But in China, there is hope. A massively expanding wealth and modernity that promises health care and work and a (heavily policed), young, vibrant culture.

I dont want to be China. I really don't want a generation of children scarred by an education system and socially conservative culture that wrecks lives. I dont want a system in which we have no hope to stop "progress" that eats up cultures and creates a bubblegum , generic, policed, compliant safe, fearful, popular culture that does absolute, terminal damage to communities and lives. And I really do think the unchecked industrialisation that drives Chinese (and ours, even though it is grinding to a bureacratic, criminal halt) capitalism is our way to the death of civilisation and many millions of people. China, does not have an equivalent of The Jam, The Clash, The Specials, X-ray Spex or The Slits. And if they arose, they'd soon be in reeducation camps.

But China has hope. Modernity. And it has been redistributing wealth not only in China, but in Africa and other places it is buying up. China is buying and controlling the world.

I'm not sure what I want to say here, other than HOPE really has to be more than a poster from Obama's presidential campaigns. And democracy really must be part of that, and pop culture really needs to be a vehicle taken over by working class people, rather than the daddies money of the Mumfords and the bland, homogenous producers seeding our radios and films, and tv and games, books, civic narrative and Internet.

We need a new way. One that does not use lives up in slave capitalism, and one that does not police hope and dreams and a fight for a better, inclusive , culturally diverse world.

The answers are not China, as they were never in The American Dream, or post war Britain, or Thatcherism or some sort of utopia, as dreamed up by Edward Bellamy or Karl Marx. 

Hope is a shout that is heard by everyone, and hope gives confidence to change and retake what has been stolen from us by Thatcher, Cameron, Google, May, Bush, Clinton, Blair, Christopher Columbus, Big Oil, Johnstone, Sony, Murdoch, Amazon, Facebook, Trump and Xi.

Friday, 12 March 2021

Never Forget...

I'll never forget March 13th, 1996. The night before, I was at The Red Comyn-Inn in Dunblane, partying, happy, mixing with the superb people of the village. The next day, my door was banged by another hotel worker, to let me know my mum was on the phone. It was mum, in Northern Ireland who told me that something had happened in the town I was living in... Children had been shot in the local school.

I wrote this ten years after the awful events.

"I know exactly what I was doing this day ten years ago. I had just turned 30 and was taking a year out of Uni to work off some debt. I was working in a huge hotel and living in the hotel living quarters. On the morning of the 13th March, I was having a lie in – I was on a day off. The night before I had been out on the tear with my two friends from Euskadi (the Basque Country) and a few others who worked with us. We had drank calimotxo and smoked dope and had listened to Pulp, Oasis, McAlmont and Butler, Garbage, Sleeper, the La’s, Supergrass et al. We managed to sober Sharkey up enough to go in for his shift as Head Porter and Jamie was in trouble again for mixing with us low life – Managers were not supposed to drink with the staff.

I can’t explain that time easily enough. It was a time of drink, partying and total madness. Someone tried to burn down the big house we were living in on a number of occasions.  Onditz, Aitor, Jamie and I travelled around the west coast of Scotland in his dad’s Mercedes and were absolutely out of our faces every night – Jamie passed out one night and pulled the most incredible face during his blackout. Onditz, Aitor and I laughed until we cried for hours and smoked his weed. We ate from the hotel fridges thanks to a knowledge of where the keys were kept and I introduced Aitor to George Best.

An incredible time. One of the most fun of my life (until that time). A time that came about by accident. A time that changed me forever. A time that wiped away most of what had happened previously, including having my heart ripped apart on one occasion by my “pragmatism” and on another by a blonde. A time when I had long hair and decided to cut it in order to get out of the accounts department and into portering. 10 years ago. My hair is temporarily long again – a ten year anniversary. This experience was the culmination of the madness that had started when I gave up my job in Northern Ireland and decided to get educated. A culmination of two years in college drinking and arguing with Big Ian and two years in Uni, drinking with Matt  and arguing with everyone; a fantastic wedding and road trip with my cousin; smoking with Kev and loving everyone. Then getting pissed off with it all. So I left the student digs and moved in to Ledcameroch House.

I did night shifts as a night auditor, I did day shifts on reception. I worked in the accounts department and couldn’t get on with a boss who liked to hate so I asked for a transfer to portering where I carried cases, gave dollar bills back to Americans who thought they were actually tipping me with something valuable and had a joint or two out the back with a radge porter from Stirling.

I woke up on the 13th March earlier than I wanted to because someone was banging my door. I lived in a huge room – but it was dingy and dark. I had accumulated lots of furniture from my work as a cleaner during the summer in the University. Furniture rich students had left behind at the end of their student life. I had posters of Betty Blue; a woman smoking; an advertising poster from the Bad Ass Café in Templebar in Dublin and a “stop smoking” poster. I had an old TV a student had left behind. I had a small kettle my sister had bought me and lots of coffee and tea from the hotel. And someone through the haze was shouting, “Neil – telephone!”

Who the hell was phoning at this time? The person who was at my door told me it was my mum. What did she want?

I walked to the other side of the building in my pants and long teeshirt with the Indian saying, “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.”

“Hello?”

“Hello, Neil? I was just ringing to see what was going on. They’re shooting children.”

I didn’t understand. I thought she was saying that some other atrocity had happened in Northern Ireland. I was pissed off. If they had shot children, the peace would never come about. These “cease-fires” were a sham. We had all been fooled. I thought for a moment. If mum had thought it important enough to phone at this time in the morning it must be close to home.

“Where? Not Banbridge?”

“No. There. Dunblane. In a school.”

“What?”

“There have been children killed. There.”

I remember someone walking past me. I remember asking them did they know anything about it. They didn’t.

It was around 10am. The children were just in the school really. Just changed for gym. Then the darkness had taken over that man. Those wee souls left never having experienced life beyond learning to change and writing their names.

I could tell you more about the rest of the week. How the journalists took over the wee village. How some of them treated the place like a war zone. How they insulted and broke people who had relatives caught up in the hell.

*edit..
 One journalist in particular had been a horror. He had complained, shouted at staff and in fact broke a journalists agreement not to photograph the funerals (local police gave him a night in the cells). I was on reception when he was checking out. I started running the night audit programme on the computer, delaying his check out. He started complaining to me about everything about the hotel , the area, the staff etc. I told him to take the time and write it all down. He did. When the computer was back on line, he came back and started whinging again. I lost the plot with him. I told him he was rude. He shouted, "I've been in war zones all over the world and I've had better service..." I shouted back, "This isnt a war zone... This is a village where everyone has a connection to the murdered children, including everyone who served you this week..." and I listed the staff he had insulted who had family effected. I shouted at him about how he had made a terrible time that bit worse for villagers, who worked there, and went through his list, explaining why people had not brought him his mineral water ultra fast (we were short staffed because of the fact the world's press had descended upon the sleepy wee village where everyone had a connection to the school and the killer). He looked quite shocked that someone on my side of the service/public relationship had snapped back. He said, "If all of that is true, rip up that list. I lifted it and ripped it up in front of his face.

I remember my night manager telling me I had been very close to the bone. But I didn't regret it, and the manager and two of the other night staff who had watched it all play out, applauded me. *

I could tell you about the stars who came to the hotel and strutted around as if they were doing something more than showing up. I could tell you of the exploitative management who asked people to work for nothing on the back of what had happened and made people feel guilty if they mentioned pay for the day (not me – I told them directly I wanted my pay for the day given directly to the Dunblane fund - i insisted I was given it in to my hand, and I dropped it into the fundraiser outside the manager's door). I could tell you of the thousands of pounds the hotel made. Of the children I met. Of the wee girl in crutches who had been shot in the Gym and who had the most angelic smile when she recounted meeting the Celtic Football team. Of the heart ripped out of a wee village.

That time changed my life."

.             {Me a few months before}

Saturday, 6 March 2021

The Media Bullshit Mountain


"Each decade we declare that we buried class- each decade the coffin stays empty." Richard Hoggart, 1989 introduction to George Orwell's Road to Wigan Pier.

Lately, rather than sitting down to BBC Breakfast or Sky, I've been watching the previous nights American chat shows; Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel or Seth Myers, or news from CNN or MSNBC. The chat show hosts shout, laugh and smile opening monologues that expose newsworthy political stories and question their political system and representation, nightly. It is satirical comedy as polemic. Mr Fish says of it, "a slide whistle and a pair of cymbals for the consequences of a safe that is being pushed from a 10-story window above a crowded sidewalk will not alter the physics, of gravity sufficiently to temper the tragic consequences." But hey, it is a daily pointer to the falling safe that we don't have. We really don't have an equivalent here, daily, on our screens in the UK. Our media continues to trivialise and demean us by being a wall to wall OK magazine of xenophobia, mysogyny, racism and love of the GOOD (not foreign) Royals. These American channels are openly centrist, or their hosts are openly centrist or centre left, unafraid to talk about socialism, spit in the eye of the right and quip on how awful the Republican Party is. It really is the nearest thing to clear eyed truth I have seen on current affairs "reportage" type TV for years, as, of course, The Trump Republican Party is awful and even those channels which would have reported non partisanly in the past, seem like rabid Democrats. The Trump Republicans are so hellacious, we would have  been at war with them 1939-45. 


Perhaps post Trump we can return to a culture were every aspect of accumilated thought is accessible to anyone in a conversatuon about anything. A return to a bubbleless culture where your blocklist and isolation from other views dont stop you from experiencing alternatives. And access to reasoned argument and philosophical reasoning in magazines, on tv, in comics, prose, poetry and research is taught to everyone and is never, ever again mistaken  for reading facebook, twitter and watching YouTube (though these things will have their place of course). 

We really aren't post Trump by a long chalk, if Trump signifies the bullshitmountain our culture has become. In Scotland, we have our own Monro of bullshit… Ben Bullshit. And currently the bullshit landslide from the mountain is enveloping the left, the right, the unionists and the pro-independence groups. The origin of the avalanche of shit, is of course from the right.  Right, narcissistic and stupid just about covers it, and that shit starts building. A world were shitees confirm the shit of other shitees, roll in it, spread it as truth from their shit satellites and printing presses, and employing more and more shitees and shitee progeny, fucking each other and producing more shitees… Well, you can see how that mountain of shit builds, and covers and captures us all. That is Trumpism. The epitome of every Oxbridge consanguineous marraige. The epitome of the partisanship of America. The epitome of a patriarchal, engorged, racist base camp on bullshit mountain


The thing is, American TV nowadays is always partisan. These channels have openly cheered the Democrats. Stephen Colbert heroises Bernie, the Obama's and AOC (and experts and intelligence - commodities attacked by the right and the TrumpAnon anti intellectualism of Fox), and all of them, for years, attack Trump, since he of course, launched a shit war on them. On the right, America has the absolute wide, gapingly empty arsehole abyss of Fox News; a channel so dedicated to falsifying, exaggerating and obfuscating, to watch it as a middle-aged, reasonably educated "brit" (small b, and certainly not stereotypical brit) who was brought up on Not the Nine O'clock News, On the Hour, Action Comic, 2000ad, Mad Magazine, protest music and movements for change, lefty "alternative comedy," etc, its hard not to find it hilarious. My hilarity at its knowing espousal of dumb, of course, will be attacked by some as elitism. Remember, it takes a smarty to play the fool, and fools are being played by Murdoch and the shitees stuck to him… At least those with an unfortunate and untaught lack of critical thought. 


At present, the weakness of a totally politically partisan /sectarian/ biased media is showing - again- in America as the Andrew Cuomo sex and carehome covid deaths scandal gets deeper. If you aren't familiar with it, well, thats really how many on America's left felt until relatively recently. It seems to be hitting the CNN/MSNBC audience very hard, as their media bubble have almost until lately, been playing down the reports of Governor Cuomo's misogyny and awful covid record etc, as he is a Democrat. If you dont know what I mean, think about it like when last week Boris Johnstone's Government, were found guilty of lying, pilfering and of bullying, in courts and inquiries, while we all raged about Megan, held our breath for Philip and shook our fists at Nicola/Salmond. 


News/information bubbles, isolate and polarise. Commentators on the US media understand the Fox effect. Chat show host Seth Meyers, in a monologue during the run up to last years US election said of Fox and their coverage of Trump, "Just goes to show you they can’t actually campaign on their records, so instead they’re trying to concoct an alternate universe where coronavirus is over, the economy is back, and a president who brags about arms sales is anti-war. If that doesn’t work Trump will probably just try to convince people that he’s Joe Biden." In America, that parallel universe envelops just less than half of the adult population. 


Here in the UK, the weakness of our media is also an open sore for different reasons.  


During my formative years in Northern Ireland, the British media's strengths and weaknesses were clear to be seen. The BBC, publicly funded, has been a political football between the Tories and Labour since its inception, and capitulation to the ruling party has always been a problem during years when the Director General has swung one way or the other, or has been weak. It has, on occasions, had "Reith-ien" DG's who have upheld its brand of impartiality, and during The Troubles, especially during Thatcher's tenure, this was sometimes clear. Reports regarding the British intelligence officer's biography, Spycatcher and exposés of Thatcher's part in the sinking of the Argentinian ship Belgrano and the BBC moving to employ voice over artists to give voice to "banned" Sinn Fein and IRA spokes people, showed that there was, regardless of the military attempts at control of journalism, a healthy group of investigative journalists and managers who would not be silenced across our media. Death on the Rock, a documentary about Thatcher's shoot to kill policies, and how they led to the SAS shootings of unarmed IRA operatives in Gibraltar, and a dreadful cycle of tit for tat atrocities at the time, was not a BBC programme. It was Thames TV. Academic Christian Potschka described "Death on the Rock" as part of a decade of "unprecedented conflict between government and broadcasters over... investigative documentaries" Lord Thomson, chairman of the IBA, believed the dispute between the government and the authority had a "very substantial influence on Mrs Thatcher's attitude towards broadcasting policy", which led her to the belief that Thames' franchise should not be renewed. The 1990 Act abolished the IBA, which Thomson believed was directly related to the authority's decision to permit the showing of "Death on the Rock". 


Government's with political and military things to hide, attack those who expose. And of course, some in the media moved to help demonise strikers like during the miners strike and the Liverpool Dockers strike, but there was at least, some who lashed out within the confines of much more politically deferential organisations. The media's impartiality has always been attacked or stymied, especially in war time or during times of political strife. But there was a period of this being questioned, when the grammar school /new university's working class flattened the social barrier, for a short moment.  


Trying to steer a non partisan furrow, in a society skewed between a tiny powerful upper class and the rest, is hugely politically difficult.  Our media is owned or controlled by management almost totally coming from elitist universities. And power tends to replicate itself, especially when that power only understands those who share the same experiences. Our "top political reporters" are _almost_ invariably from upper middle class, or inherited money/power families, or have political, personal or familial connections to the Tory Party.


Any compromise or attempt in neutrality or impartiality becomes skewed by this failure to pull down the British class system.


This, more than the political interference of power in the more socially mobile sixties, seventies and even eighties of my younger days, is the bigger problem. Social mobility in the UK is next to zero. Gone are the days when our media had working class voices, and stories, elequently and accurately represented. Nowadays, working class voices are feigned by Public School and Oxbridge  educated poshos in TV, film, art, pop and reportage. And reportage is seeped in daddy's money, school ties and a small intimate circle that is part of a small, intimate posh circle of friends of a certain class. 


New Labour (working class) ex-spin Doctor, Alastair Campbell tweeted this week, 

"We are governed by crooks and liars but because they have the posh accents of Eton, Winchester etc, and because most of the media is basically in league with them, they are for now getting away with their crimes and lies. It cannot last. If it does the country has had it. 


If Parliament does not do a better job of exposing the truth and driving change and media a better job at holding power to account then I don’t see how this carries on much longer without serious disorder. There is so much anger out there with nowhere to go right now. "


Of course, this class skewed media has exposed fault lines in the Tory Party. Cracks that have meant that the aristocratic and ultra rich families presently in Number 10 (or sitting around the cabinet table) are defended by, or bad behaviour covered up by, those who sit in the boardrooms of our media organisations. Brexit, of course, was a Tory class war  between an old aristocratic ascendancy, and the middle class intellectual conservatives. The Aristocracy won (with the help of a few "edgy" Disaster Capitalism types) . The grammar school or lower middle class/working class tories, who by way of actually sweating their way into their jobs rather than unpaid internships sponsored by inherited money and promotion to the board to keep it in the family, are angry. This split is very different from the Trump and Trad Republican split in the USA.  The split is between inherited power and those who educated themselves to cross classes… the latter now a dying breed as, as i have said, social mobility in the uk is  almost zero. 


By the way, contrary to the belief of some, the BBC is not the worst corporation for replicating this zero social mobility within its ranks. Sky has a worse record. As have some of the print media organisations. Social mobility in the private media sector, is far worse. 


Our media also wears the pretence that it steers a middle path between political poles. Rather, it pretends to steer between extremes of political statements. If one political side lies, then it is treated as fact, especially when that lie or mistruth or alternative fact comes from a Government source. The truth then becomes the other extreme. Brexit and Scottish Independence are prime examples of when our media does not challenge fake news/lies/political hyperbole ... instead, it treats them as valid political narratives, and truth then is negated as it is questioned in the same way lies are. Polar "truths" are also easy. It is easier to tweet about absolutes. Its easier to write headlbes about absolutes. To actually reason over complex problems takes time, and our media, with its 24 hour show time agenda and pithy condensation of themes into three word slogans, really isn't up for that . The business model doesn't suit real dialogue and enquiry. 


Post truthism is partially because of our system moving towards a Fox/CNN model, but with the particular problem that our media veers towards the obfuscation and fakery of its circle of school friends in Downing Street. 


Scotland suffers no less than the rest of the UK from these problems. In fact, truth and balance is buried further within media organistations that mirror an unequal political union. Scotland is viewed as a small population within a larger mass, overshadowed of course, by the political priorities of England and the Westminster leadership. And Scottish Independence will, this time, be a fight the aristocracy will use every ounce of "hidden legality," hidden money and hidden influence to win. Think Brexit, because that is the shitslide about to pour down on us from Ben Faeces. 

At present, a section of the Scottish political, polarised over a former First Minister, are minute by minute posting pithy comment that confirms their pole, when an inquiry and a trial really needs vast amounts of words. The press play on this interest in poles, and play to the stalls. 

Is it necessary for the UK to move to a more political sectarian, simplistic media... One in which Fox News promotes the latest proto fascist leader and policy 24 hours, and one in which something like Channel 4 news becomes 24 hour news from the centre/centre left? One in which we choose to watch Unionist or Nationalist telly? That way, at least reading into the reports becomes easier for those educated in how to read a biased media (not as easy as many educated people might think…And not as easy as many educated politicians absolutely rely on) . We can KNOW and we can educate people to know which news source is promoting which political point of view. Many on the right are pushing to change impartiality laws to make this so. Though, as we've seen, truth suffers as much as it does with our present aristocratic model. And as we see in America, polarisation into two political bubbles can be hugely dangerous - we aren't there… Yet. 


Or rather than continuing the present dystopia or creating a new one, do we find a way to ensure the UK truly tackles inequalities, stalled social mobility and equal treatment between truth and untruth that has led to our media board rooms and news programmes nodding along with Boris, Farage and Rees-Mogg? In an independent Scotland, will our media be free to poke fun at our political leaders, but also will our media be free enough to report the open sores, sewers and stench of bullshitmountain? 


Mr, Fish said about the Daily Show (of, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and subsequently of Trevor Noah), 


"So minus the existence of a well organised, well informed, deeply passionate and viable peace and anti-establishmentarian movement in this country, what will usually end up happening is that contemporary satire will often convert our rage at dominant culture into whimsy and transform us from a threat to the social structures that berate us into complacent idiots. Political comedy, without practical application within a political strategy, will merely satiate our hunger for real change with a punch line and rob us if our sensitivity to any number of social and political injustices. " 

We can laugh at the shit, but without the tools and will for change, we'll continue to be covered as we guffaw. 




Photos (and two quotes) from "Nobody Left; conversations with famous, radicals, progressives, and cultural icons about the end of dissent, revolution, and liberalism in America," by Mr. FISH.