Bollocks to Blair

Tony Blair holds no elected office. Tory Blair represents no one. Tory Blair is a has-been. Tory Blair trots around the globe selling his bottom to any vicious dictator that needs a PR job. Tory Blair is ethically and intellectually empty. Tory Blair is a war criminal.  So why oh why does the media hang on his every word?

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So, who’s been posting stuff on social media without checking its authenticity, eh?

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This ominous ‘Welcome to Australia’ image has been doing the rounds, posted and liked by people ranging from the intelligent and humane to the dibblingly imbecilic — oddly all, within the Cannibal’s line of sight, Brits who clearly feel the Aussies have a thing to two to tell us and are keen to show their righteous disapproval of freeloaders, especially, you know, foreign freeloaders.

Fine. No one likes a scrounger.

One problem here: this photograph isn’t real. The photo isn’t real and the issue behind it isn’t real.

The fact that the ‘sign’ is posted on a country road in Australia, a country that has no land borders, probably ought to set those critical thinking bells ringing.

The image is a Photoshop job. No such sign was ever made by the Australian government.

The image was apparently created and disseminated by an Australian race hate outfit called Freedom of Speech Productions (you can see their logo imposed on the picture), which is associated with the Australian Tea Party (still no alarm bells ringing with the people who posted it?)

It’s a  shoddy fake too. You can actually see the background through the corners of the ‘sign’ thing. Oops!

Clearly the image taps into the myth that there are hordes of people coming over ‘here’ (insert name your country) to sponge off ordinaryhardworkingpeopleeveverywhere, and bring the state to its financial knees, steal the gold from your grandmother’s teeth, etc., etc.

You might be interested to know that not so long ago there was a study done to identify these foreign scroungers in the UK, and find out just how much they were costing the country. You might be even more interested to know that the study was unable to find any of these alleged spongers. The problem is you see, they don’t actually fucking exist.

Not only are they not a millstone on the necks of ordinaryhardworkingpeopleeveverywhere, they just are not.

The scrounging hordes were made up by the tabloids and UKIP and the right wing. Funny how we didn’t hear about that study in the Telegraph, the Mail, the Sun, the Express, the BBC, etc.

Go figure, eh.

Reality check: you can’t claim benefits in the UK if you are not British or an EU citizen. Simple as. Even more simple than that, you can’t claim benefits in the UK even if you are a UK citizen if you are not ordinarily resident in the country. Not even if you are married to a Brit or the progeny of a Brit. Just not a happening thing.

So all this talk of sponging, freeloading, scrounging hordes from other countries is bollocks. Absolute bollocks. And then more bollocks. It is the absolute Platonic form of bollocks for fuck’s sake.

Of course people admitted as refugees will get limited state support. But it is very small, as is the numbers of people — small handfuls — admitted to the country is minute and will have no discernible impact on the economy (except to contribute to it when they start working).

If we want to talk about freeloaders — and there is a conversation to be had about freeloaders — perhaps we could start with Google, Starbucks, Amazon, who are foreigners who DO come over here cap in hand and then pay little or no tax on business done within the UK. Look at the recent deal done between the Conservative government and Google, which let the company off something like 80 per cent of its tax bill. Imagine if you or I went to the tax man and said ‘I don’t feel like paying all this, so let’s do a deal.’ Yes, we’d end up in prison.

Just for fun — because I know at heart you are a rationalist — here’s scrounging and sponging and freeloading in actual numbers:

Social Security Fraud 1.7 Billion

Social Security unclaimed 4 Billion

Tax evasion and avoidance 120 Billion

So welcome to your reality check. If you want to be taken seriously check your facts. Credibility is not free.

Isis wants an insane race war – and we’ve decided to give them one

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/04/isis-wants-an-insane-medieval-race-war-and-weve-decided-to-give-them-one

Isis wants an insane race war – and we’ve decided to give them one | Frankie Boyle

So we decided to stop children drowning on the beaches by killing them in their beds. It’s hard to think of a more poetic metaphor for our utter lack of ideas than spending several years dropping high explosives on to a desert. Dropping something from a great height can never be precise – this is why Santa still parks up the sleigh. I have to admit that I was sort of disturbed by the palpable excitement in parliament, and couldn’t escape the feeling that our politicians like wars because they make them feel important.

The motion they voted on was a vague list of “necessary measures” and “requests for assistance”, with “specifically airstrikes” at the very bottom – as if someone had shouted it out of the front door as they were starting the car: “Oooh! Don’t forget eggs, milk – and airstrikes!!” One MP argued that IS need a lot of space to move and that airstrikes would limit their territory. The Paris shooters lived in one room with a mattress; we could bomb Syria to the average size of a London flat and they’d still find room to manoeuvre. Bombing Syria will achieve nothing. Let’s at least take a swing at China and have these dull winter skies replaced with a curtain of incendiary light.

What is Cameron’s problem with IS? Ordinary people who in their spare time have formed a huge multinational oil trade and a workforce of thousands willing to be paid in rice and fear – that’s the Big Society right there. Cameron called them “Women-raping, Muslim-murdering, medieval monsters” – he carefully avoided saying “child molesters” in case one of the backbench shouted: “Present!” This is before we get to the fact that he used the word “medieval” to justify a military expedition into the Middle East. Of course bombing will cause delight in Islamic State, where it will form the only entertainment. There’s no music, no dancing, and we’re spending a couple of million quid a night providing the mise en scène for these sadists’ fantasy life.

. I think it’s worth remembering that if you say something and Tories start cheering, then you have said something awful. Yes, Hilary, we bombed Hitler, but we were being attacked here by German planes that were leaving from Germany – not by a teenager in west London who had been assembling a Doodlebug in the garage. Benn’s whole speech was played in celebratory fashion the next night on Radio 4, feeding into my theory that George Orwell was so prescient about our society that he moved to Jura to deliberately encourage his TB.

We learned little from the debate, except for the fact that the word caliphate sounds hilarious in a Northern Irish accent, and so do a bunch of other words. Perhaps we’ll soon be so used to the Middle East being in permanent conflict that retaking a Syrian Village from IS will become one of the tasks on The Apprentice. Perhaps destruction is simply easier than kindness. We find it easier to tell a stranger on WhatsApp we want to have sex with their face than hold hands with someone we might be falling in love with. It’s ridiculous really. Charles Manson or Anders Breivik murder people to try to start a race war and it’s laughably insane, but when IS do it we decide to give them one.

Islamic State practise a brand of Islamic law so strict that apparently Raqqa only has two Irish Pubs. For some reason the BBC website keeps reporting opposing moderate rebel groups, but never names them. I know the names of all the cat-hybrid-vegetable-marine-biologist Octonauts, but the differences between the groups fighting Assad are deemed too complex for me. Moderate seems to be a very fluid term when it comes to offshoots of al-Qaida and whatnot, and moderate groups vary from outfits such as Nuclear Allahcaust, who despise the west, and more reasonable elements such as the Al-Jihadi Infidel Soul Harvest, who despise the east, because if you travel east for long enough, you reach the west.

I wonder if the Commons really understands or cares that they are making Britain a target. How affected will MPs be by terrorism? In their high-security lives, the only fear they have of an attack on a bus is that the waiters will be late for a drinks reception. I think we live in a country that sometimes forgets how effective the rule of law is, perhaps because our governments have often found it inconvenient. We invest a vast amount of money in intelligence and terrorists have to, by their nature, take risks: cross borders, move weapons. I think the most effective place for those guys to end up is not in a martyr video, but in a small but comfortable jail cell. Somewhere in Kent, perhaps. No paradise, no virgins, no meaning leant by us to their stupidity, no glory, no attention. Just a guard wishing them a bland good morning, and a regular change of towels. And if you think that’s insufficient punishment, give them a television that only gets terrestrial, and all our newspapers everyday.


Chris Page’s new novel The Underpants Tree, sequel to King of the Undies World, is now available in paperback from Amazon and ebook from Kindle, along with novel Weed and collection of short fiction Un-Tall Tales.

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A letter from the Pope

Today I received a letter from the Pope (the one in the Vatican).

That’s nice, I thought, a letter from the Pope. It’s not every day I get one of those.
I opened the letter with great excitement. The letter was in a copy of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which is a mite unconventional.

image loadingTo be honest, the letter wasn’t just for me. It was for atheists everywhere, non-believers in general.
Atheists and the Pope don’t have much in common. What could he have to say?

He might say, we disagree, but I respect your position. I respect your ability and right as adults to make up your own mind about the big questions in life, as we ought to respect all differences of belief. It is not something that needs saying, but I was stretching to guess what the letter might contain. Whatever it was, the Pope apparently took 2,500 words to express it, so it must have been profound and important.

The part of the letter, the point that seems to be the crux of the thing, the thought that the Pope has for us non-believers is this: “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience.”

Yes, let’s dwell on that: “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience.”

What the fuck does this even mean?

This knob of wisdom is significant and striking for the following reason: it means absolutely nothing.
Whose conscience would non-believer be following? Snoopy’s?

The Pope might like to be told that following one’s own conscience is pretty strongly implied by not having opted not to have religion.

The fuller context of that quote is: “Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart, the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”

I include that fuller context to demonstrate, that even with more to work with, there isn’t a single meaningful thought there.

“Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.” Well, thank you. I think we had that figured out already.

“[T]he question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience,” is not a question. It’s a grammatical and conceptual mess.

One of the questions the Pope sought to answer in this letter was whether non-believers can go to heaven. The answer is no, which is, again, not something that needed answering.

I don’t think the average atheist is lying in bed at night worrying about being admitted to heaven or whether it will be necessary to dodge round St Peter like a naughty child trying to sneak into a fun fair without paying.

The thing is, Mr Pope-man, atheists don’t believe in fucking heaven so thoughts about going there don’t figure. At all. Not even a little bit. Not even as a hypothetical.

Regardless, Pope Francis tells us “God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart”. The key word there is repentant. What this statement means is God’s mercy is infinite but not to the point of accepting to himself people who don’t believe in him unless they repent; unless they change their mind and get on board the god train. It is fair to infer that the Pope means you are free to go through your life unbelieving as much as you want (but doing nice things that God would approve of we learn in other passages of the letter) and then repent on your death bed. That’s OK. You can repent at the last minute, or better, become submitting and obsequious at the last minute and still get to enter heaven on your knees.

Well, thanks for the letter, Mr Pope. I appreciate that you took the time and energy to compose the note, but I think you could have more productively have spent the time learning what it is to live without faith and discovering that non-believers are actually pretty much aware of what they are doing. You might like to learn that we are capable of making decisions about morality and how to live our lives without being told what to do by a church we have chosen not to follow, and that patronising little scribbles like the letter to La Repubblica are not going to cause us to rush wholesale into your irrational bosom.