Black & Blue Friday

It’s been a month since I got annoyed enough to open new page on wordpress and talk about the rather inhumane reporting of the UK tabloid media. Since then life has had it’s usual ups & downs, and my interval training program had been keeping me fairly positive. Despite the wall to wall propaganda of the TV/Print/Online election coverage, I’ve still been fairly chipper. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that even though we didn’t have an obvious opposition to the current government, what with Labour having deserted its roots in the pursuit of power, we would still end up with an alternative to the current situation.

A situation where the poorest people in our country have been targeted as the areas where we need to cut costs, while those of us with the good fortune to be living comfortable, can continue to grow our wealth.

A situation where, despite evidence that austerity has had little to do with any recovery (other countries with less severe cuts, are now in as good a financial position as the UK) the message is the same “We can’t afford to prop up disabled folk who want to work, so we’re cutting their benefits to reduce the deficit

Then as I watched the election specials on TV, the exit poll delivered it’s bombshell. With perfect timing, my cat Sergei, came through the door with a mouse in his jaws, still squeaking. There would be no hung parliament. No amount of SNP whitewash in Scotland would allow pressure in parliament. Conservative would hold an actual majority. Anyone with a conscience in the country shrieked like Sergei’s poor victim at the news. We, the UK, were that mouse. Worst of all we’d just voluntarily jumped into the jaws of the predator. (At this point I should mention that Sergei up until a few months ago was rubbish at hunting. I mean really poor. If there was a feline version of The Sun, it’d probably have him on the front page mocking him for the way he tried to eat a half dead sparrow.)

I went to bed hoping that the poll was wrong but knowing that it probably wasn’t, and so I woke to the unpalatable truth on Friday 8th May. A date I think I’ll add to the handful of really rather shocking days I’ve had on this earth.

The overriding emotion was anger. But at who exactly? The people that voted Tory? I know some people treat voting as a family thing. Their Grandad votes party A, so their Dad votes party A and so on. I probably did this myself in my early years. My dad has been in Labour party all his life, has served as a Labour councillor and an election agent for Labour MP’s. But when they started to move away from their roots of looking after the working people I began to lose faith and so I wouldn’t just blindly vote for someone I didn’t believe in based on some misguided tradition. To me the facts and the policies mattered above anything else, and I assumed this was how most folk approached a General Election and therefore find it hard to understand how anyone can look at the last 5 years, and the vilification of ‘scroungers’ on benefits & immigrants, the deconstruction of the NHS, all for private gain of a select few, and decide that it seems a reasonable approach to running our country. To choose a party who’s very existence seems to be based on telling people below them in the food chain that if they would make do with less, life would be better for the rest of us? Really? But then this is just my opinion, and democracy is about having a choice and letting the people speak. If they have all the facts then they can make their own informed decision, right? Hmmm, yeah about those ‘facts’….

This leads me the media. Should this be where I aim my anger? Can I blame folk for voting Tory if they haven’t been given all the facts? While I was not a massive fan of the nationalist approach to the Scottish Referendum (being a Scot myself I was very interested in the vote) I never the less saw this as a watershed moment (for me at least) in terms of the UK media. We all know that our tabloids are at best comics, with the odd fact thrown in for good measure, but when it became clear that the BBC was churning out what can only be described as propaganda, I found it unsettling to say the least. The British Broadcasting Corporation. Owned by the people. Funded by the people, and yet here I was seeing completely different videos and photos of demonstrations in Glasgow that I could see clearly on social media. So fair are the BBC that on Radio One you couldn’t mention the word iPod without saying “other mp3 players are available” by way of their values towards ‘balance’. And yet their home page would show a photo of 20 folk in a sparsely populated area as the main picture of an anti-union demo. Our new age of camera phones meant I could see pictures, some from friends I know in Glasgow who were at the same demo, amongst several thousand other supporters. For years I’ve laughed at the North Korean footage, telling the country blatant lies, while restricting their online access as we in our ‘free’ world exalted the true values of our loyal press. Realising that in actual fact Suzanne Collins probably wasn’t thinking of one of these madcap non-western countries when she conjured up “The Capitol” in her Hunger Games trilogy was a fairly sobering thought. So maybe it’s the press I need to be angry at, maybe the Tory voters are just folk who have been tricked by believing the constant lies they’ve been bombarded with. When the big businesses that own the newspapers are the very people who will benefit from the “rich get richer” philosophy of the Tory party, is it any wonder our newspapers are little more than fanzines?

Along with the lies comes the areas that are ignored or hidden. How many folk who get their news from a tabloid paper know about TTIP? No, It’s not an acronym for a festival in Scotland sponsored by one of the worst lagers inflicted on mankind, but legislation that will allow corporations to ignore the laws of countries that restrict their trade (think things like food safety law) and in some cases they can take the government of a country to court, if it harms their trade. it’s so incredibly dangerous that it’d be laughed out of plot pitches in Hollywood meeting rooms because it sounds too far fetched. Its one of the biggest threats to the NHS. The reason most of you haven’t heard of it is because it’s hardly been reported in mainstream media. Likewise the fact that a large part of good old Maggie thatcher’s cabinet were indulging in paedophilia and when repeatedly sexually abusing kids wasn’t enough of a thrill, they’d murder some too. At this point you’re probably thinking this is the rantings of a madman and it’s gone from being a running blog to a crazy conspiracy theorist. But its out there thanks to an independent team of journalists called Exaro and the Metropolitan police are finally investigating. It should be story of the century, the Profumo of our time, but again has hardly been covered. David Cameron and many other MP’s actually agreed to ensure that the Official Secrets Act be used to prevent people in the police from talking about it.

That Theresa May mentioned reinstating her “Snooper’s Charter” plan before some folk had even woken up on the 8th May was not surprising. New laws allowing the government to monitor internet use of anyone they choose (i.e. YOU)? I wonder why that’s important? I wonder how many Exaro journalists will be first on the list when that law is passed…?

Finally I thought of the non-voters. Approx 35% weren’t moved enough by the fact that the current government are allowing millionaires & corporations to avoid tax while cutting benefits to folk who can barely feed themselves. That David Cameron and his coalition cabinet were obstructive to an investigation of child murderers & sex abusers, didn’t seem a good enough cause to get up off their ass and go and make an X in a box.  I guess these non voters may use the argument here that our votes don’t matter due to our archaic first past the post system but again, using Scotland as an example, thanks to the referendum garnering interest in the masses, turnout was higher and Labour were trounced as a result.

As you can tell by how much I’ve written above, I felt very emotive on Friday. So much anger, but not quite sure who deserved it most. Then after a few twitter comments posted to help alleviate the sense of injustice in my entire being, I had something of an epiphany. If you’re not a football fan, you might not get the next bit. Or if you are, but support a successful team you still might not get it. I am both Scottish and an Aberdeen fan, I know the pain of defeat only too well. There’s a moment, not always, but in some games when your side lose a goal to go behind. The roar of the opposition fans from the opposite side of the ground in your ear, you look at your team’s heads collectively sink. Pumped up, you immediately want to get rid of the negative energy; Shout at the ref for not spotting a misdemeanour, shout at your team for their incompetence, or just gesture to the opposition fans for taking delight in your misery. Then there’s a collective pause before some of you realise this is when your team need you most. The more important the game, the greater the need. The shouts of abuse turn to encouragement, it grows through the crowd before all negativity is gone and you are part of a roar that is lifting the heads of your team as they regroup. Despite it’s origin being despair, it’s always a quite beautiful moment, and it’s borne out of hope more than anything. Hope that this is just a setback, not the end.

This is what I felt on Friday afternoon. Most people that campaign for something must have an ignition point. Something that compelled them to stop thinking and do something. Maybe that’s what this is. Rather than continue trawling twitter for some more validation of my own thoughts (come on, that’s what most of us do!) I started to search for Food Banks in my area (the number I found just reinforced how desperate things are) Looking for some way in which I can help those who are undoubtedly going to need it most while this new government grinds the weak into the ground. He’s taken a lot of stick recently (a lot of merited too, he can be an insufferable tool at times), but there was one thing that Russell Brand said in his election reaction blog, and it was about compassion and how we should continue to fight small fights for those who need it. One thing the tories and their propaganda machines and corporation backing will never have is compassion. It’s one of the qualities that sets us aside from most animals, without it we’re just cold consumers. I’m reminded of Nicola Sturgeon’s response to Nigel Farage’s awful HIV tourist comment, when she said (paraphrasing here) that she saw only a human being in need, not an immigrant. I’m not an SNP follower/member but it struck me as one of the few times I’ve heard a politician sound like she genuinely cared about more than just a vote. At the time neither David Cameron nor Ed Miliband rebuked Farage. Press statements were released later, probably once their PR teams realised that their clients had forgotten to turn on their ‘human decency emotion gland’ during the live debate.

So I’m not going to spend the next 5 years just blindly getting angry at the injustices, I’m going to continue being a decent human being and helping those that need it where I can. I hate this government’s ideology because to me its inhumane, but to just bitch about it is playing into their hands. We need to harness the feeling of anger we have now and use it for something positive before it rapidly dissipates into nothing but more apathy. My own personal situation means that I have a decent enough job right now that keeps me & my family sheltered from the worst parts of austerity. I could quite easily join with the 35% who’ve decided that life is just fine as long they are fine but that’s playing into Tory hands.

So look up food banks in your own area and go volunteer, help with Save our NHS demos, read up on TTIP and try spread the word so that more people are aware. Point out every policy that targets the weak, and challenge it any way you can. Don’t let these f**kers ruin our country. I was angry on Friday afternoon, and really pretty down. But the game isn’t over, it’s just a setback. So now’s the time to get behind those who are working for the needy & vulnerable in our society. The more of us there are, the bigger the roar and maybe we can lift those heads again before kick off.

Graeme.

P.S. Apologies if you think this sounds a bit “Hey man, lets just all get along” but given the negativity and fear that’s been peddled throughout the election maybe we all need a little reassurance that everyone isn’t out to get each other.

Also, I know this seems like its strayed from my original intentions of my blog (exercise/depression) but believe me, getting the above text out of my napper and out into the world has done wonders for my mood this morning, so I think I’m still loosely on message here!

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