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miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
... but I think the disgusting spectacle of politicians of all stripes grubbing over the votes of racists, by pretending to understand their "genuine concerns about immigration" might be caused by our first past the post electoral system.

Let me explain.

In the last few days there has been more than one piece on Lib Dem Voice which might as well, as Andrew puts it, have been entitled "Immigrants: Threat or Menace?". One of them was written by Vince Cable. Vince sodding Cable, who, lets not forget, was married to a lady from Goa. Vince is clearly not racist. Yet he still feels like he has to listen to racists' "genuine concerns about immigration".

Why?

Because in our electoral system, each seat is winner takes all. There are no prizes for second place.
52% of the electorate just said, effectively, that they have "genuine concerns about immigration". Sure, some leave voters voted for a lexit; some were genuine Liberal Internationalists who want us to trade more with the rest of the world; etc. But those deluded people have been shanghaied into the media narrative that they hate furriners.

Now you might, quite logically, think that if the vast majority of politicians are grubbing over the vote of 52% of the population, it'd be sensible for one party to cater exclusively to the 48%. If (say) five parties are fighting for a share of 52% but just one has 48% to itself then that one party is in clover, right? Mathematically speaking?

If we had STV you'd probably be right. But under FPTP, where the winner takes all in each seat, it's not quite that simple. Our electorate is used to voting tactically, so while that 52% ought logically to divide itself up between the "concerned about immigration" vote according to other factors, in practise people who have this as their top concern look at which one of the several options is most likely to win where they live and plump for that one (obviously not every voter decides like this, but enough of them do that it's safe to ignore the minority who vote on principle).

Thus whatever is the minority opinion on a given subject, even if it's quite a large minority like 48%, is pretty much guaranteed to be ignored by all politicians of all parties because the one thing all politicians have in common is that they want to win. This leads to voters of all stripes feeling disenfranchised and resentful, because there is no voter who agrees with majority opinion on everything, and this leads to ugly politics.

TL;DR: we really need STV. It's not a panacea, but it'd certainly help.
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miss_s_b: (Innuendo: Ogg)
There's a lot of different versions of this, but this one is my own version of it. You will need:

- one large (at least 3 litre) container for mixing your mixer
- a 1 litre carton of Cawston Press Apple & Rhubarb juice
- 2 500ml bottles of Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic
- quarter of a cucumber, sliced very thinly
- 2 limes, quartered
- a good handful of fresh mint sprigs
- gin of whatever kind you like
- ice
- glasses for serving

Put everything except the gin and the ice in your container. I used a 5 litre kilner thing we have lying about. Give it a good stir, but don't be too rough or the tonic will go flat.
Seal it up and leave it half an hour or so in the fridge to infuse.
Put ice in glasses, then gin, then mixer mixture.

It's very tasty, and known to alleviate all known constitutional crises.
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miss_s_b: (Mood: Cynical)
(this is mostly adapted from a stream of consciousness I posted earlier on twitter, so might look familiar to some of you)

We all know that there are some politicians who actually are racist, and stoke up racist tensions because they are racist and want to see racism succeed. But what about the vast majority who think they are not racist? Why do we see, over and over again, people who pride themselves on being progressive saying we must listen to people's genuine concerns on immigration* and similar shite? Why did Gary Younge have to write this article?

One reason that politicians resort to (and are so reluctant to tackle) anti-immigrant rhetoric is because they know that tackling racism will cost money, whereas stoking racist resentment to create a scapegoat for your own failings is free. The consequence of telling people that underinvestment is the problem, not immigration (once you can get them to believe it, which will be hard) is that you then have to promise to do something about underinvestment. This means increasing taxes to increase spending. Successive governments of both colours have refused to do the hard stuff on tax and spend because everybody know the British want European public services but USA levels of tax.

The EU mitigated some of the effects of this by spending in deprived areas, but that is probably not going to be the case after last Thursday, and that is because those areas are massively Eurosceptic and voted for Brexit. They voted for Brexit because press has successfully hoodwinked them that all their troubles are the fault of the EU and immigrants because bastards like Murdoch & Rothemere don't want scrutiny of the rich, and the majority of politicians are too chicken to kick against these pricks.

All this makes "but immigrants stealing our jobs/benefits/housing/women/NHS" very hard to fight. But fight it we must, because as I said the other day allowing immigrants to be blamed for problems of underinvestment not only does not solve the underinvestment, but makes resentment and racism worse. I am sick of seeing innocent people suffer for the failings of our political system.

So how do we solve it?

We've got to start challenging the narrative every time we see it** but we also have to agitate for left-behind communities to get more funding, and that means, I'm afraid, paying more taxes. Our current tax system is the most lenient to rich people it's been since just after WWI, so I think they can afford to pay a bit more.

The problem with that is that, in our current political system, politics is mostly a hobby for rich people because the cost of entry is so huge - much more than national median salary for each and every candidate in each and every seat at a general election - and most turkeys don't vote for Christmas.

TL;DR we're fucked in so many ways; and solving the problem of racism (& other prejudices) is going to be hard, and we have literally everything from the current crop of politicians and media down stacked against us.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't try.



* when they say this, they never mean MY genuine concerns about immigration, which boil down to "holy shit, blaming everything on immigration doesn't half increase racism"
** @pseudomonas has been doing that this very morning, I see
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Project Fear

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016 01:16 pm
miss_s_b: (Mood: Terrified)
You all know I think that voting out in the EU referendum was a mistake. Economically, it was a mistake. But, you know, maybe the optimist Leavers are right, maybe this is a blip and our economy will recover. Maybe we're not financially doomed. Maybe.

But even if all that is true, I'm still terrified. I'm terrified because, while it's true that not all Leave voters are racists, all the racists voted leave, and they now think that 52% of the population agrees with them and they can attack and abuse people with impunity. I'm scared for all my BAME friends. I'm scared for all my European migrant friends. And yes, I'll admit, I'm scared for myself.

Why?

Because after they come for the blacks and the Roma and the Irish, they come for the disabled and the LGBT. Every single time. I'm very publicly bi, and poly, and autistic, and I'm frightened. I'm admitting my selfishness here. Sorry. I have always been and will always be a campaigner against racism. But it's not for entirely altruistic reasons.

I don't have a chirpy ending for this post, sorry.

ETA: inevitably this post has caused some upset. I'm not going to delete it, nor an I editing the original text, because I own my mistakes, but I do want to say:
- nowhere does it say in this post that the ONLY reason I fight racism is for myself
- nowhere does it say in this post that I don't know that disabled and/or lgbt PoC exist
- if I am writing a post about my own personal fears, I'm not going to presume to talk for people who's shoes I haven't and couldn't walk in.

Obviously I could have worded this better, & for that I apologise. I shall try to do better in future.
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... can somebody explain the Scottish education system to me? Like, what are the landmark exams? How would it affect a theoretical 13 yr old hypothetically moving from England? Currently, when she goes back to school in September, she'll be starting her 3 year GCSE courses, this totally hypothetical 13 yer old, if that helps...
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
The electorate were misled. Don't get angry at them; persuade them to get angry at the lying arseholes that sold them this crock of shit and told them it was shinola.

The shittiness of the crock of shit is already becoming apparent, but there's no use screaming I told you so at people who already feel crap because they were duped. Telling people they were wrong when they know they were wrong only leads to them doubling down and blaming immigrants, "benefit scroungers", women and LGBT+ folk even harder.

Don't tell them they were wrong, tell them they were tricked. Tricked by the same Bullingdon Boys they thought they were sticking two fingers up to. And then tell them what they can do about it, if they want to.

Show them that there are some politicians who will tell them the truth.
Show them that there is a better way.
Show them liberalism.
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EURef

Friday, June 24th, 2016 06:18 am
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So the pound is in freefall, and the markets haven't even opened yet.
The Nikkei and the Nasdaq have both suspended trading.
We've embraced xenophobia and nationalism.
We've given Nigel fucking Farage what he wanted.

How do I explain this to my daughter?
How do I forgive my mum for voting leave?
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Yes, they use indelible pencils in polling booths.
Yes, these are better than pens because they don't run out and are harder to chemically erase.
Yes, it's very funny that there's a bunch of tinfoil-hat-wearing people who don't realise either of the above facts.
Yes, it would be easily testable by taking in your own eraser and trying it for yourself in the polling booth, and yes, there are far easier ways to alter a ballot than erasing the mark placed there by the voter (putting another mark to spoil the ballot, for example).

However...

Doesn't it say something about how low trust in our democratic processes has got when there are so many people willing to buy into this?

That makes me sad.

Anyway, go vote Remain. I have. You know it makes sense.
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miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
A woman is dead.
Her husband is a widower, her children are motherless, her colleagues and friends are mourning.
The vast majority of the profession to which she belonged is mourning, because we recognise that it could have been any of us.

And yet, and yet...

There's something unspeakable about certain of the tabloids, you know the ones I mean, the ones who use this to decide how they are going to cover an atrocity, who are today saying "don't politicise this". Quite apart from the fact that everything's political, when a politician gets assassinated in the act of being a politician by a man with known extreme political views who actually screams those political views while he's killing her... I honestly think it's not that big a leap to say that this was a political act.

Certainly no less political nor as big a leap as EVERY SINGLE TIME a black or brown person does something, leaping to blame it on Islam.
Certainly no less political nor as big a leap as saying someone has a history of mental illness like that's an explanation, when it's well proven that mentally ill people are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it.
Certainly no less political nor as big a leap as positing mental illness as a shield from political opinions, like mentally ill people can't, or aren't allowed to, have political opinions.

The guy who killed Jo Cox has been described as "polite" (because shooting, stabbing and kicking a person while screaming "Britain First" is awfully polite) "not a violent man" (apart from that whole shooting, stabbing and kicking a person while screaming "Britain First" thing) and the inevitable "a loner who kept himself to himself" (because everyone who needs some alone time is to be feared and mistrusted). Despite the fact that he subscribed to an apartheid magazine, spent time on fascist websites, and made a gun using instructions he obtained from a Nazi book club that he splashed lots of the very little cash he had on, here are some words that much of the mainstream media are shying away from using:

Hatred.
Fascist.
Nazi.
Bigot.
Racist.
White supremacist.

Choosing not to use those words when they are clearly appropriate is just as political as using them, especially when in the act of carefully not using them you instead cast aspersions about the mentally ill.

This happened less than seven miles from my house.
This happened less than seven miles from where I was manning a street stall last weekend espousing the very views that the shooter hated.
I may not be entirely objective about this. That said, there are things we could do.

- We could enshrine it in law that every time a newspaper prints a lie, they have to put the correction in the same size font on the same page, or if it's a lie about someone with a protected characteristic, they have to take up TWICE as much space for the apology as they did for the lie.
- We could make political adverts subject to the advertising standards agency, so that when they broadcast provable lies, they have to stop doing it, or at least be fined.
- We could make it so that rather than "balance", the thing broadcast journalists have to strive for is truth.
- We could, as individuals, say "no" when family or friends or colleagues say something bigoted and wrong, rather than letting it slide to avoid fuss.

We could.
We could, but I bet we won't.

I look at what happened yesterday, and I look at some of the reactions to it, that she deserved to die, that all politicians deserve to die, that this was all staged for a poll boost for remain, and I wonder what we're becoming. As Sarah said on twitter the other day, before this even happened, this is our 1930s moment, and we're failing. How far down the slope do we have to slide before someone puts the brakes on? I wish I knew. I really wish I knew.

I mourn for Jo Cox.
I mourn for politics in Britain.
I mourn for the open, friendly, welcoming, generous country I used to think I lived in.
I want that country back.

Jo's family are raising money for three charities - the Royal Voluntary Service, Hope Not Hate, and the White Helmets. If you can afford to, please give something.
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miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
I acknowledge that people who are "concerned about immigration" think that the immigrants are causing the housing crisis.
I acknowledge that people who are "concerned about immigration" think that the immigrants are causing people to have zero hours contracts in low paid shitty jobs.
I acknowledge that people who are "concerned about immigration" think that the immigrants are swamping the NHS.
I acknowledge that people who are "concerned about immigration" think that the immigrants are bleeding the benefits system dry.

The problem is they are completely, objectively, provably wrong about all of those things.

The problem is that in "acknowledging their concerns", we validate them, and let them believe that they are right.

Underinvestment and policy cockups which make people suffer are not the fault of immigrants who can't even fucking vote, they are the fault of successive governments and the people who vote for them.

If you want a health service that's not bursting at the seams, if you want your local fire station to stay open, if you want disabled people to have a decent standard of living because benefits give them enough to subsist on, at some point you're going to have to realise that immigrants who pay more into the system than they take out, and who just want to quietly get on with living their lives and contributing to our economy are NOT THE FUCKING PROBLEM here.

You blame immigrants because you don't want to face up to your own complicity in voting for successive governments that have done this shit because you want European levels of public services with USA levels of taxation, and then "acknowledged your concerns" and cracked down on immigration so hard that we are actually deporting nurses now because they don't earn enough.

Stop being such racist arseholes, open your eyes, and take some fucking responsibility.
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About This Blog

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Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.






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