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The First Post. Not the Last…

Politics and stuff. With fluff.

Parental Advisory Lyrics…

I started this blog when I was trying to get planning permission. I didn’t get planning permission. Life changes, so I’ve carried on. I don’t have the heart to dump it now. My opinions may have changed over the years, but there we are… that’s what happens. 🙂

This is Jodrell, and she’s a bit pissed off. Probably.

You can buy my books by yur. Click the pics x

Black Pill

This news about studies showing serotonin is nothing to do with depression and everyone jumping on the SSRIs are a myth thing is interesting.

As someone who relies on these pills to not drive off the Cleddau bridge, and in order to deal with my “diagnosed” conditions, I find the knee jerk reaction to the perceived placebo effect quite remarkable.

Anyone who has a little drinkie of an evening or who smokes crack, or whatever other drug they choose, is already well aware that life is better when chemically assisted. If Fluoxetine is having the mild effect of a gentle early nineties ecstasy pill, then of course they work.. der….

The fact that some rely on SSRIs or Barbiturates or crack or whisky or wine or cigars or vapes or stinky fags, surely implies that it’s all just a case of tell us a joke we know.

A cursory look at the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental illness and disorders, version 5, will tell you that pretty much every behaviour you observe is because you have some kind of personality disorder. The differentiating between mental illnesses and disorders, the clusters of illnesses, the classifications, the symptoms, the criteria, the assumptions, the detective work, that all goes into a diagnosis, firstly, rarely happens because we don’t have the health infrastructure to support it, but when it does happen, hey presto, everyone is happy to accept Prozac because it makes stuff better, it makes life bearable, in the same way that beer does, but without the crappy taste, the cash or the calories.

In essence, the human condition has been reduced to a categorisation of what’s wrong with everyone. Even someone who is having lingering grief at the death of a loved one, is classified at having “adjustment disorder”. Any behaviour is a disorder, even neat, tidy, organised behaviour. A mind that sees the faults of the world is an autistic mind, or an ADHD mind, or a Mania mind. They say that these things are a spectrum and that these things only get diagnosed when the symptoms are such that they cause problems in life functioning. Do you know anyone who is fully functioning, and not just pretending?

I think you’ll find it’s LIFE that is causing these issues in life functioning. Its LIFE that makes us wait hours to get through to a doctor, to have to queue for ages in packed supermarkets, to be presented with fruit that makes you ill because it’s impossible to wash off all those traces of pesticide without destroying the actual piece of fruit. It’s trying to get though to BT or HMRC, or the insurance company, or being stressed at work because you’re short staffed, and being tired but still having to get by, like trying to find a place to live, like wondering how to feed the kids, like wondering what the hell awaits them by the time they’re our age?

But now, the police are gonna take your license away of you take any drug. ANY. Except alcohol and prescription drugs. You know, the fun one, and the ones that don’t work. Again, I feel like I’m missing something here.

These are things that all achieve the same aim. Society choosing which drugs are ok and which aren’t, is already a problem, because the people who don’t see the irony in this, are the very ones running the show, and the ones up top running the big show, are all off their faces, but the ones who wanna end your life for smoking a bifta, and discussing your fall from grace later on over a brandy at the Lodge, are the very ones voting for the ones who come to Prime Minister’s Questions with powder around their noses.

The hypocrisy is not the problem in this specific situation though. Well it is, but the biggest problem I can see, is that by questioning the acceptance that all these drugs serve a purpose, and trying to take the attention away from the shit show of the world, by playing with the minds of people who need keeping level, and who may now feel that they should come off meds, because they’re just imagining them to work, is dangerous territory indeed. We’re all coping how we can, and some people are not coping.

No wonder access to easy drugs is the choice most people make, as in, pretty much nearly all the people. Show me someone who abstains from everything, and I’ll show you someone whose friends take the piss out of them and accuse them of being vegan.

War on drugs? Any substance is a war on disappointment, despondency and stress. There’s no point leaders touting such slogans when they’re forever raging war on life choices, on the family, on communities, on communication and compassion, on education, on societal needs. Their mates are the ones benefitting from the profits of all these prescription drugs, so it makes sense to prescribe, and it will make sense for the socially conscious to abstain, but if you need them, and now you’re being told you don’t need them, and it was all a con, who are you going to believe? And if we don’t need them, well, clearly we need something. What is that something going to be? Needing nothing at all can only work if we could somehow live a life where we aren’t constantly bombarded by problems we haven’t evolved to deal with.

Remove the resources and you get war. But you can control the situation, the populations, by keeping them shitfaced. Not that kind of shitfaced. The official kind of shitfaced. The perfect escape. The get out of jail free card. But the drugs don’t work. And they’re bad.

Let’s go and have a drink, shall we?

Circus Maximus

Did you know, that for the price of an extremely dodgy one bedroom flat in Pembroke Dock, you can climb Everest? I say climb… rather, you can walk up guided by a sherpa, with no previous climbing or altitude experience, and then come home and tell all your mates you achieved the impossible. I say impossible, rather, impossible if you don’t have forty grand. You might die, lots of people do, but they usually die on the way down, because summit fever grips you and even though you know you’re holding up the queue and that being a slowcoach means that you’re gonna be cutting it proper fine, you still do it, because, as George Mallory said.. “it’s there”.

Last night, whilst watching one of the million documentaries about the 2019 Everest disaster, where 11 people died, I was struck by the answer of one of the young lads, asked why he wanted to climb Everest. Most people said it was for achievement and all sorts of other nonsense, but this lad answered that it was a way of making life simple, of being just you against the elements and nature. Life becomes about food, ablutions, breathing, survival; all the basic things that in society we take for granted. He said that real life problems are no longer relevant. The stresses of life disappear, and you become just a person, with nothing except whatever guile, energy and lung capacity you possess. Real world concerns melt away.

His answer struck me as familiar, as that’s how I used to feel when living in a field. I used to prefer the stress of cutting wood to keep warm, over the stress of having to work in a hectic job to pay a fuel bill. I preferred the agro of growing things in the garden, and seeing what you got left with to eat, because that was tons less stressful than going to a supermarket and dealing with hordes of people, just to pick up some foodstuff in some packet or another. I preferred being in the dark, and going to bed early, than living in electric light world, where you can stay up and be amused by electronic things for as long into the night as you wish, probably binge watching “The Crown” or some suchlike on Netflix.

Speaking of which…. It’s the jubilee weekend, and we’re half way through the celebrations of a colonial system with a figurehead that’s never been allowed to have a thought of her own and operating instead within the divine right of kings. The working class have filled London to capacity, they watched the planes, they waved their flags, they cheered. Is it because it’s easier than going home and trying to rustle up something for the kids’ tea with very little to work with? Is it to take their minds of the rent increase or the fact their landlord is selling up and they’ve gotta move house again?

Trying to distract myself from work last week, I decided to watch the closing statements of the Depp/Heard case. Suddenly I was hooked. In the same way that if I go to my mum’s and EastEnders is on, I find myself drawn in within seconds, wanting to know why Ian Beale is still alive and who those other people are and are there are still Mitchells around and where’s Sharon?

Our minds instantly jump to distraction, I suppose it’s part of human nature. And no-one knows this better than the media, who point and click us at will, destroying our emotions with Disney cartoons that either put us full face into tragedy, like Nemo losing his dad, or convince us that fairy-tale marriages and handsome princes are thing. Before you know it, your expectation of life is so skewed that you’re all of a sudden giving a crap about the Kardashians, and wondering how to get similar eyebrows. That you’re watching Kate Moss stick up for Johnny Depp and finding yourself wondering if he’ll get back with her or Winona. Or you find yourself watching videos about Everest, because you’ve got bad lungs this week and it makes you feel better to see others having trouble breathing, especially cos you know it cost them 40k for the privilege.

We jump on Ukraine, but we ignore Yemen. We celebrate a jubilee, but ignore the logic of why we have a monarchy, we lap up the trials of Jonny Depp, yet we ignore those of Ghislaine Maxwell, even though her mate Andrew has made it into the news for getting covid on his mum’s big day, so that the crowds can forget that he’s Lillybet’s favourite, and that he’s just cost us more than Johnny Depp cost Amber Heard. Did you see the picture of the 72 chairs at the empty jubilee party at Grenfell? And did you then put it out of your mind and have a celebratory megapint?

Did I dream that Charles and Camilla were on EastEnders? I can’t even really be bothered to go and look it up. I am willing to believe that that actually happened, because it’s elementary isn’t it, that as they’re potentially wheeling out the plot of Weekend at Bernies, they need to set the stage for the new fella. What better way than sticking ‘im and ‘er indoors in Albert Square, the epitome of British working class culture?

Cynicism is rife. If you can manage more than 20 seconds on twitter without hanging yourself, you’ll see that indeed, a lot of people believe that the smiley, spritely Liz we saw on thursday was actually a stunt double, and that’s why on friday she was not in appearance due to “discomfort”. There’s talk of weather control, the rainmakers holding off and making sure that the celebrations were sunny. You ever seen a rainy royal wedding or funeral?

It seems that half the population are driving themselves crazy by not believing anything at all put out by the mainstream media, understandably paranoid about being perpetually lied to, and the other half are completely ignoring everything, paying their bills with credit cards, putting up union jack tea towels and becoming amateur lawyers as they pick apart a trial about rich people arguing. It’s so easy to fall into this trap, that it nearly gets me on a regular basis. I start getting all insular about still trying to buy a house and viewing endless properties, and having purchases fall through due to stupid reasons to do with landlords, leases, mortgage company paranoia and tenants who have nowhere to go.

And back we are at the beginning, because when I lived in a field and ate nothing much but spuds and cabbage, and life seemed what most people would consider difficult, it was an absolute doddle compared to trying to accept these real world societal problems. I brought myself back from my self imposed exile due to the council disallowing me to do anything else, and for 18 months I’ve been trying to set everything up to work, in order to simply achieve what I had a in a field, a roof ever my head, some outside space, and somewhere for the dog to run about. Not much. I don’t ask much. I don’t wanna be a Kardashian. And it turns out that these young high flying bank types, who seem to relish stress and spend their lives chasing dollars, and have lovely homes, are all just desperate to spend that heard earned on achieving exactly what you get if you’re essentially homeless and living a in a field, they just do it on the side of a mountain. The sense of nothing else mattering except for those essentials. Warmth, food, survival.

Do we really break our necks like this, just to get back to the beginning? Has society worked out like they said it would? When you’re sitting around with a lung infection, grateful to Queeny for a long bank holiday because if you don’t work you don’t get paid and you’re short for your bills, and you can’t sort your lungs out because the doctor isn’t answering their phone and the thought of 13 hours in A&E would push you ever the edge, and watching crap about rich kids on Everest, or rich kids who married old actors, or even old actors having a cameo in the queen of British soaps, as the actual son of the actual queen, you can see how the media, how the world, how the ruling class, are engineering this entire situation in order to make us grateful for our lot, even when our kids are malnourished and have mostly lost their minds, we can’t pay our bills, bread is nearly two quid and filling up with petrol is enough to give you a stroke

How much did the jubilee cost? Less than track and trace, more that benefit fraud. Less than tax evasion, more than Amber owes to Johnny. Is Ghislaine guilty yet? Will we ever know? Or is she round Andrew’s house, pretending to have covid? Are we ready to see all this yet? Or are we terrified of the madness it fills our minds with?

The endless paperwork of trying to get a mortgage has made me verge on being happy to have digital ID. The stress of keeping a rented house going and keeping the money together is enough to drive me to the trials of filmstars. The jubilee celebrations are enough to make me feel like there is no real solution, where you see so many gathering in London, to celebrate our country’s dishonest history, and you realise that you’re perpetually fighting a losing battle. The fact I can’t get a doctor, and can’t even be bothered to try, tells me that my apathy has reached full tilt. I understand why an entire populace can feel the same. But if no one fights, then what? Where will we be? Where will we all end up?

Caesar tried to save Rome, and they just got his mate to stab him in the back. It seems the ruling class are desperate to have their fall of empire, even if it destroys them too. Just so that the good men can’t win.

The current solution? Is distraction of epic proportions. Who’d be a good guy? You’re gonna get shot. Better be a bad guy and get rich, surely, or be a neutral guy, like the Queen, and pretend you don’t have any real power.

Attend the celebrations, watch the TV trials, check out the bloke who ripped off Cornwall on the Eastenders, climb a big mountain.

Life is good.

The Vape of Good Hope

Vapes. They’re everywhere. They’re the coolest thing on the block.

Should we be grateful that they seem to have reduced the smoking habit of teenagers? Smoking is far less prevalent than when I was a kid, and I hear fags go for up to a quid on the black (that is, school) market. That’s not good business sense on limited pocket money, not when there’s something much more easily nickable from B&M. And smoking is way not cool. You have to have a colourful device that emits strawberry vapour to be anyone these days. I’m not even gonna go into drugs, because that’s a whole different kettle of ballgames. Let’s just concentrate on legality and influence for a moment.

The marketers know what they’re doing. Of course they do. Not since alcopops has their cunning plan been more obvious. An array of bright, sparkly, magical looking items of stuff… sleek or space-age, and all manner of potions and liquids with strange exotic names to try. The boys, the older ones at least, and by older I mean about 13, seem to prefer the giant Sony Walkman sized ones with lights and petrol colours, with full chimney and pazazz regalia. They look like walkie talkies from some epic adventure space set. The girls tend to prefer the sleek, pink, diamante versions, a lot of the time not even vaping, rather flashing them around like the accessories they are and that young people have been trained by our media to value. At a push, you’ll make do with the disposable ones cos they’re easier to get hold of for the common teen. These things make their way on to tiktok vids, and dance ensembles, and there’s a raging market in our town that is consuming kids from younger than eight upwards. How do we address this? Can we address this?

Most Gen X, ie, my age.. are the grandparents of these kids. Their parents are Millennials. God help them. Show me a gen x/millenial that resisted the temptation to mess about with fads, gadgets, light up stuff, and all manner of substances that seem to always find their way everywhere. You can’t. There aren’t any. We’re too messed up from the Cold War, Reagan, Thatcher, and the Sega Megadrive. This generation dominate certain social media sites like Facebook, their after work status declares, “it’s wine/beer o clock”, and we’re the ones still huddled outside venues, bars, workplaces, or anywhere else, like social pariahs, smoking fags. Or you get the giver uppers, who stopped smoking, and now constantly chew on their vape like an old farmer with a pipe, consuming far more nicotine than they ever did, but it’s ok.. this nicotine is apricot and mint flavour.

What about long term? Is popcorn lung a thing? We don’t yet have any long term studies. Back when cigarettes were considered good for you, or at least not dangerous, or at least not yet publicly dangerous cos of, you know, profit and tax and that, back when I was twelve, my two favourite clothing items were my Marlboro t-shirt, and my JPS jumper. Twelve year olds wearing these things was no issue. When I eventually started smoking seriously, at the relatively late age of 19.. guess which smokes I smoked? Yep.. Marlboro. And then I found Sobranies in a local garage in Holyland road next to West Wales Kawasaki, neither of which exist anymore, and of course it became all about Sobranies, because they were different colours, until I got older, and it was all about cheapest.. onto Berkeley’s, cos my mum’s friend smoked them, and then turned into half ounce of Golden Virginia and green rizlas please, where it has stayed ever since (don’t get me started on grams, and now you can get blue rizlas. I’m keeping up with the fads, you see?).

The Sobranies were super cool (in my eyes), especially the pink ones… the Black Russian ones tasted horrendous.. but man.. black fags, gold filters.. how cool is that? The coolest race bikes were the Marlboro Ducatis, the Rizla and Lucky Strike Suzukis, the Rothmans whatever they weres.. Yamaha? I remember the logo more than the bike itself, and that’s from someone who loves bikes. My point is… it was cool, right? It was what vapes are now.

Now the shops hide the cigs away, in generic death brown packaging, which means that the shopkeep takes ages to find the one you want. Contrast this with the colourful, beautiful, pony and trap / grapevine infested packaging of wine? Or the memories of those amazing super cool ads for Stella Artois and Guinness, and Budweiser, and Fosters that have taken on cult status. Mum and dad love a drink. If you don’t drink, you’re considered a bit of a weirdo, let’s be fair.

I’m currently living opposite a Bargain Booze shop. It’s the only shop in town that has customers all day and all night long. On Christmas eve, Christmas day…. all the time, all the days. It’s by miles the most frequented shop in town. What we’ve done is create a culture where everyone is self medicating, and where children still feel like they want to emulate the adults around them. For all of society’s changes, that’s a non variable.

Frankly, there’s no way on this earth that we can fight the culture of kids wanting vapes and vodka. Maybe one day all vapes and bottles of wine will have to be the same mummy brown/ corpse green colour as fag packets are now. Maybe one day they won’t reserve whole double aisles in supermarkets just for stocking pretty coloured liquidy stuff that will make you feel better. I go in my local bargain booze a lot too. I don’t even drink, but they sell milk and bread and baccy and sweets and cat food and they’re closer than Londis. As I’m queuing behind the Stella boys and Gin girls, I eye the bottles on the shelf, and to be fair, they all look wonderfully attractive. They make a magnificent display.. like art.. bottles with hats, and glitter labels, and colour therapy on every shelf. If I wasn’t already aware of how smeggy most of it tastes, and didn’t have a long personal relationship of hate with alcohol, then I would definitely be tempted pretty quickly to just pick one up, especially if my friend got one too. Tobacco may be deemed ugly now, but tequila is still here, looking swish, and vape juice is just getting started.

The young people I work with want to show me their vapes proudly, and I try to explain all this to them, but you try condensing this down into a one minute conversation with someone who knows it all just like you did when you were thirteen. I’d love it to be a case of, I get emphysema so you don’t have to! But unfortunately, do as I say, not as I do, ain’t gonna wash with the generation who have access to all knowledge, even the knowledge that their habits are dangerous. They don’t care that it’s dangerous. We may moan about internet influencers, seeing that influencer is now a term, a job. But the big influencers, are friends, peers, and I hate to say it, us elders.

Perhaps, let’s level the playing field a little. Let’s replace the grapes and ponies on alcohol labels, and replace them with beaten partners, drunk driver accidents, lost jobs and families, suicides and all the other wonderful things that alcohol incentivises. Shall we? Lets make vapes look like the Vicks Sinex things they give you to give up smoking on the NHS, or better still, let’s stop inventing ever more ways of committing some slow death wish, and pushing them onto a largely unsuspecting young public. Can we?

Shamens, and holy men, and their ilk.. they used substances to gain enlightenment, not to fuel up for a fight outside the Prince of Wales. We’re all looking for our truth, and our peace. And until we make inroads to this, the props we rely on will always have the upper hand. It’s no good banning one thing, making it unfashionable, like smoking, and then just shifting the desire onto some other addictive consumer good. Are you trying to “rescue” the public or aren’t you?

Even better, isn’t it about time we tried to create the type of society where no-one feels the constant need for some kind of pacifier? Because after all it’s just some insecure fidget spinner oral fixation thing that we’re partaking in here, because we spend our lives in a state of anxious terror, but it’s ok, because they have watermelon flavour now, to go with our super summer banana split cider. We should probably go down Spar and get a throwaway barbecue.

Happy days.

It’s Not What You Know….

729 new houses in Slade Lane have just got planning permission. A new service station, all the stuff to go with a development of that size.. roads.. whatever. Originally this was on condition of 25% affordable homes being built. Now, somehow, that’s not the case, and the planning has been approved by our beloved council and this pre-requisite of compromise has quietly been abandoned.

You can be sure that someone, somewhere, is benefitting personally from this. Not necessarily the developer, although he obviously is, but Mr Developer clearly has friends in very high places. Who are these friends?

I dare you to have a look at Rightmove website right now. Have a look for what is affordable to you in your own personal circumstances. Some of you may be lucky. You may have a bit of inheritance. You may have parents who can give you a deposit. You may be in a couple and both be on 30k a year, although that’s unlikely in this current employer climate where qualified people with degrees are being offered £9-£10 per hour. If you’re a single person, working in food retail or similar, on minimum wage, and have no access to a deposit – because you can’t save anything, because the rent your paying is pitched at refinery employee prices – then none of the houses on Rightmove are affordable to you. Bear in mind that a large part of the population locally fit into this category. Even a couple on 20k a year each can only get a mortgage for around 150k, and that’s if you have an impeccable credit history, and what working class person has that? Who has never made a mistake and got a late council tax payment sent to creditors or similar within a few weeks? Also, forget it if you’re self-employed, and forget it if you’re an employee on a zero hours or low hour contract yet working more than your contracted hours. Also, chances are if you’re looking at the cheaper end of the market, you’ll be looking at flats with leases. Mortgages companies don’t like leases. So forget that too.

These houses in Slade Lane… all 729 of them. Who are they for? They’re not for us. I imagine the prices will be upwards of 200k. They usually are. We already have lots of housing stock in Pembs for those prices. Who is buying them? Perhaps couples moving in together, who have just sold their respective smaller properties, but mostly, it’s people from away. What are the first-time buyers supposed to buy? The ones who prop up the property market? Every big sale relies on a smaller sale, so when you get to a position where there are no first time buyer properties left, because they’ve all been bought as Airb&bs, then what happens? This is completely unsustainable.

People who can afford bigger houses don’t want to be next door to people who can only afford so called affordable housing. Because they imagine that a family that can only borrow up to circa £145k must be rough, joyriding, glue sniffing serial killers. They imagine their homely estate turning into Tower Hamlets. They all live on an estate but their neat lawns compared with the unkempt lawns are the great signifier, and you can always tell who is a druggie by how often they cut their grass, obviously.

What this county needs, more than anything, is 729 affordable homes. Not £145 type affordable, because that’s bullshit. Proper affordable. Less that £120k. With homes for single people for around £60k. And not shoe boxes. Poor people like space too you know. Build them for less profit, make homes that are warm and safe and spacious that people can actually afford. Support the market so that the 729 posh houses up the road can be bought by locals moving up a ladder, and not by retirees coming here to vote tory and complain about neighbours and mud on the road. So they can be bought by families wishing to stay close to extended relatives, and not full of work from home middle executives that want to run the show the minute they enter town. The kind of people you get in villages that state on the internet once all the locals have been driven out “what a lovely safe community we have now”. I kid you not. That actually happened.

The fact that the council act at their discretion, and can deny planning to low impact homes for locals, but can pass an application that changes the entire character of a town for absolutely no local benefit is beyond me. Someone decided to approve this, and someone decided to let it through. Who is the planning officer? What did the committee say? Did no-one oppose this? Who benefits? Who is benefitting from the lorry park in the dock? Are these all the same people? How far would we have to dig to see whose pockets are being lined by all of these arbitrary decisions? How far up the council hierarchy do you need to be before this information becomes available to you? Is it like Scientology? Where you move up a level and are exposed to ever more secretive happenings? Is the fact that most of the council are attached to Masonic Lodges anything to do with this? How many times does the phrase, “Where was your mother born?” pass the lips of the people in the higher echelons, the type of people that can afford any house they want, even the stupidly large amounts of houses in Pembs that are on the market for more than a million quid? Yes, they’re on Rightmove too. Have a look. Who owns these places? What did they do to get them? Why are they selling? Who will buy them?

I know, for a fact, that money has changed hands on a number of occasions, when someone has needed to get some controversial planning through. You know how I know? Cos they guy told me. He told me who he gave the money to, and how much it was, and how many times it happened, because it was more than once. It was multiple times. I’ve heard stories and rumours about this for years. We all have. But never has someone actually told me the deets. So. I have the deets. I know who is benefitting, or I suspect, based on the knowledge I’ve received from the horse’s mouth. I’m watching. And as yet again I find myself with nothing to lose, because of the actions of people like you, I’m just waiting.

Worried yet?

Ice Cream… Lolly Pops…

Ok, imagine. You apply for a job. Interview goes well. You’re negotiating some start dates and boom, the employer asks if you’re double vaxxed.

This happened to me recently. I replied that I wasn’t. His staff were worried about me working with them, as they had all been double jabbed. I declined the job, because I really don’t want to get vaxxed. Not that I’m anti vax, indeed, I wrote in support of vaccinations a few months ago. But this one, I don’t trust. I had the luxury of turning down the job, because it was a job job, not a career job. To be fair to the guy, I was impressed that he took his staff’s feelings into account. Not many bosses do that. I don’t blame him at all, and I don’t blame his staff. Society has made me an object of fear.

A friend of mine, finding herself in a similar situation, and going for a career job, and not a job job, has decided that she will get vaxxed, because she really wants the job, even though she doesn’t much want the jab.

This is how coercion works.

I’d love to say that I wouldn’t be strongarmed no matter what, but if my dream job came along, something that I’d always wanted to do, and the choice was jab or no job, would I really stick to my guns? What would I do?

Truthfully, I don’t know. I’d probably cave. Would I? Are my choices to do with my principles/ my beliefs, or what? Probably just fear.

You can understand why everyone is so confused. When a population doesn’t trust its government, then inevitably this kind of thing is going to happen. A headline today stated that a third of people in Wales who have Covid are unvaccinated, which clearly implies that the other two thirds are vaccinated, yet they still have covid. Some studies have shown that vaccinated people are just as infectious as not vaccinated, yet the vaccinated do not have to isolate if someone around them tests positive, with a test that’s notoriously unreliable. You see why we’re all so confused?

My buddy over the art shop is turning away lots of customers for his art classes, because they’re not jabbed, and because most of his clientele are elderly, and he wants them to feel comfortable. That’s totally fair. But if the vaccine was any good, there would be no reason to feel vulnerable, would there? You don’t get “two thirds of people with TB are vaxxed” headlines. You don’t actually get much TB, because everyone is vaxxed against it.

I’m not sure what I’m so scared of. At first I just didn’t want to be ill, because everyone I knew having the jab was being ill, and I couldn’t be bothered to be ill, and then, as time went on and I saw the coercion more and more, and was exposed to more stories about the vax affecting people in weird ways, and then talking to a doctor who said I’m probably better off steering clear, due to various health problems, I just decided not to have it. I’m pretty convinced I’ve had covid about three times anyway, so I can’t really see the point. That should be the end of it, shouldn’t it? Are they going to really force his upon us? I used to say that they wouldn’t dare. Now I’m not so sure.

My real question, is why? During the plague, if someone had offered a way to not get it, you’d have jumped at it. But this vaccine doesn’t seem a way to not get covid, and covid doesn’t seem much like the plague. So why are they kicking off so hard?

If Covid hadn’t happened, they would have been caught proper red handed if a proper pandemic had hit; the infection rate of Covid with the death rate of Ebola. Proper messy. In fact, what Covid has given us the chance to do, is sort our shit out before that happens. But even if we do, the people won’t trust whatever plan the government come up with, so whatever happens, we’re eventually screwed.

And now today, after someone somewhere said quietly the words “possible fuel shortage”, and the worlds has gone mental and completely sold out of derv, we see that we have been well and truly trained to believe every teeny tiny word. They say “jump”, we say, “how high?” It’s so easily achieved – all those juicy Facebook posts to share with their media led disasters. It’s all just so easy.

We have to be more discerning, and more to the point, we have to keep an eye on what they’re doing with our freedom to choose, because frankly, they’re sneaking that one right up on us, and if we don’t start paying attention, and if we continue to turn on each other over vaccinations, Brexit, and all the other bullshit distractions that they like to throw our way, we’ll have all been bribed into stuff we don’t want to do with the promise of shiny things. That’s how it starts peeps. That’s how it starts.

In a World of Kardashians, be a Kardashian…

Yeh yeh ok.. AOC’s dress. We’ve all seen it now.

In law enforcement, they call that a clue.

The comments have been interesting, as always at these times of dressed up revolution that isn’t revolution. Tax the rich. Sounds good. And yes, we should. But why don’t we? Could her dress have said something like, “why are we not taxing the rich?” Make a statement, everyone claps, it’s well worn, it’s commonplace.. even Jeremy Corbyn is saying it. Nice, easy, tasteful. Well, apart from the arse.

Because yes, interesting placement. And yes, she knows everyone is looking anyway. Why not capitalise on that? I’m sure Bernie would look pretty shit in that dress. So who are the ones who are seeking media inches gonna call to wear it? Someone needs to wear it. The fact that it’s designed by a rags to riches black woman is genius. The Left have something so total to love here that they’re beside themselves with joy. The capitalist left have the perfect model in AOC. And they’re capitalising hugely.

I’m not sure whether to be this cynical or not. I’m not sure whether to believe she does or doesn’t know what she’s doing or not. It’s easy once certain pennies have dropped in your mind to see these mistakes for what they are, but it’s also easy to see why it’s so irresistible to her audience and why she’s so tempted to do it.

She’s young. She’s got a bit of a story. She plays the ex-barmaid/waitress thing pretty well. She’s good looking so that gets a certain demographic interested in “democratism”. She’s a legend to many of her followers, and when she first arrived I though she was pretty cool, like I though Bernie was cool, and like Tulsi Gabbard was cool. Turns out, they’re not that cool if you listen closely enough, or should I say, if you know where to be really listening..

When everything changed for me, I saw cracks where I’d never seen cracks, holes where I’d never seen holes. That change came when I started reading Marx, Engels and Co. When I started to study, I started to take more notice of what was backstage. In the first few months, I lost the plot a bit. The things that I was learning were blowing my mind so much that I think I had a bit of a breakdown. At the time I was living in a field with goats so it didn’t really matter. Now, here I am, back in the world of work bills work bills. I have less time for study, but I still try to slot it in because it’s important, and it’s interesting. Quite apart from that, it holds the key to everything and everyone would see that if they just had a look. A breakdown is much harder to deal with in the land of work bills work though. So people don’t look.

I have read books by Lenin and Stalin that made me suspicious. Why, when I’ve been told what lunatics these two are, do they sound so lucid and make such sense? Mein Kampf by Hitler reads like the ramblings of a psychopath full of amphetamine. Not surprising, seeing as that’s who it was written by.

I’d been lead to believe that if you even opened a book by Joe or Vlad you’d disappear in a puff of McCarthyism. But if you gave these books to any sane person and changed the author – for instance, “Anarchism or Socialism”, by “Bob Mcphee”, or “What is to be done?” by Bob Mcphee – they’d get to the end and say.. who is this Bob Mcphee? Why have I never heard of him? He’s a bloody genius! Why don’t we do what this guy is saying? And you’d be forced to say that it’s actually two guys, widely regarded as being batty, immortalised for being nothing more than crazy dictators that did famines and stuff.

No-one seems to want to remember the reason the Russian revolution happened. The Tsar was ripping the country apart while living excruciatingly well, and there were a million soldiers getting slaughtered on the Eastern front, the rest of whom all turned up in town after getting the hell out of there only to find a bunch of women marching about bread. They joined in, they were armed. The people were starving. What would you do? The time was ripe, and all Lenin did was lead them to continue the fight, instead of letting them all go home and watch the march on the 6 ‘o clock news, trying to spot themselves and their banner in the crowd, spending the next twenty years proudly proclaiming – I was at that march you know. The stop the war march. Did you see that stop any wars?

Same goes for this dress. Tax the rich, by all means, go ahead. I’m up for that. But then what? What you fail to see, AOC, is that the same mechanism that allows you to spread your message, is the same organisation that’s run by the rich, in order to facilitate you wearing a dress at a posh dinner, and the same organisation that own the press that are flooding it all over the world, and the same organisation that would not be giving you any publicity at all, and would crush you like a fly if they considered for a second that you were any real threat. Instead, you’re a supermodel, and the world has been set right in leftie land, and everyone can go home for tea.

So I’m glad you wore the dress, because I’ve been wondering how to make this point, and now I have the opportunity.

But AOC, try next time not to give every rich, slimy man in that room, and in the world, even more reason – or permission – to look at your arse. Unless, of course, that’s what you want.

Monopoly

There are signs up all over Pembroke, telling readers about the regeneration programme in the town. Building works loom over the Royal George like an ogre after one too many, and there’s a general buzz of new – so far empty – retail units, a new holiday village in the old Gateway building and queues of Jesus’s fifty thousand outside Rowlies, clamouring to be fed with fishes.

There are a lot of other signs up in Pembroke too. For sale signs. Locally, Guy Thomas and John Francis are the most well known names in local history; their names are on a billboard on every second property all the way up both sides of Main Street. Most of these are commercial properties. For sale or to let. A lot of them are ex-banks. Yes, no longer can you see your bank manager, because he’s disappeared in a puff of candy floss. No cashpoints, because they don’t want you to use cash, not really. Cash is a bit too fluid. A bit too manipulable. What you need to be an admitted member of their new, shiny, technological society is capital. Lots and lots of capital.

I discovered this recently, whilst getting on a mission to see what it takes to get hold of one of these commercial properties, and turn it into a viable business. Let’s look first at planning permission, because we all know that’s my super favourite subject.

High street businesses come into separate categories. You’ve got yer basic retail. Then financial services etc, then cafes etc. Then there are others outside these groups, but for now I’ll focus on these. It’s not inconceivable that if you bought an ex-bank, you might want to turn the place into retail downstairs and flat upstairs. You might want to turn one floor into a shop and one into a café. In England, they relaxed the rules in order to encourage businesses to set up and to regenerate their towns and high streets. Basically, if the property is in the main business area, you can basically do what you want with it. Just open something up and make the street better please.

Can you do this in Wales?

Nope.

In Wales, the categories are under an umbrella category. A1, A2 and A3. If your building is a bank it’s classed as A2. You can change this to A1 without planning. So you can have a shop and a flat upstairs. However, you can’t have a café, because that comes under A3. You can’t change from A2 to A3. You can change from A3 to A1. You can change from A1 to A3, but not if it started as an A2. By the time you’ve worked all this complication out you don’t feel like going into business anymore. Because all of a sudden, if a sandwich you make is eaten off the premises or on the premises, the planning regs change, and you end up in yer A1 when where you really wanna be is in yer A3.

Quite.

Imagine then, that by some freak of nature, your plans match available requirements and everything is A1. You might perhaps approach someone for finance.

To borrow on a commercial property you need at least a 30% deposit. Say you don’t have that kind of capital, but you have an asset to the tune of. Then you may think that it’s a simple matter of borrowing from Peter, paying Paul, and borrowing against any existing property that you own. And yes, you can do that. But guess what? Your options extend to an interest only mortgage for a shortish term, whereby you pay just the interest and you still don’t own the building. 100 grand and ten years later you’re back where you started. Alternatively, you can take on a repayment mortgage for 25 years at a repayment price that is more than it would cost to lease the same building, with the added bonus that if during those 25 years you default, they can take your existing asset that you used as the deposit, and then make you sell it within 30 days for a greatly reduced price in order to service your business loan.

I also forgot to mention, interest rates to buy a house are currently hovering around 3%, subject to status etc. Commercial mortgages are about twice that at around 6.99%. And I said that it’s cheaper to lease, but of course, if you’re leasing somewhere, all changes you make to the property are dead money, and the leases are at least five years, leaving you possibly stuck with a business that you find out doesn’t work after three. And if you default, possibly by no fault of your own, or because lockdowns keep putting the kybosh on you, bingo. You’re done. Kaput.

So, dear Pembroke, I’d like to see how you’re gonna pull off this spectacular regeneration feat. Will it be simply that we’ll lock down all winter, and open up for the summer when the money is around? And the hobby businesses will be still be around, and so will KFC and Dominos. But the small places that needed to make money to survive are all gone, the properties all being bought up by land-bankers. The holidaymakers won’t notice much, as long as Rowlies is still there.

Last night, Friday night in Pembroke, was dead. Absolutely dead. When we were kids the place looked like an Everest expedition on a weekend; people trying to get from one place to the next, one foot in front of the other, balancing a kebab. Now, tumbleweed, and some teens hanging around outside the kebab shop. The only thing that’s survived is kebabs. The only time town has any life is when the Middlegate does open mic on a Wednesday and you can actually hear some music. All I could hear last night on my walk was a bit of shouting from the Castle Wine Bar and the Conservative Club, and that was it.

In the orange street lights, the for-sale boards hung like unhappy sentinels. Historically, after Cromwell kicked the crap out of the castle, Pembroke was a dead town for a long time. Eventually those old money lovelies, the Owens of Orielton, bought all the land and put up their nice Georgian houses. The building of the dockyard breathed a bit of life back into the dead market town. Workers housing was built, the market was bustling. Businesses opened. But then the firing range came, and the farms were all wiped out and relocated. So the market town died again. Are we waiting for the new type of Owens from Orielton to come and buy up all these banks? They’ll obviously know the right pocket at the council that they’ll be needing to put their sovereigns in. But for yer little man who doesn’t want to risk what tiny amounts he’s accrued during life, and punt it all on something that’s deliberately made so complicated and risky, forget it.

Eventually, the Owens lost their money. They became politicians and then one of the sons pissed all the money up the wall. I’m not surprised. If I could be bothered to look, I’d probably find that his lifetime coincided with the instigation of the planning laws and Pembs County Council. After all that A1 A2 stuff, you need a stiff drink. But hurry, cos pretty soon, there won’t be a pub to go to.

Mutiny in the County

Three Tenby restaurants have had to close due to staff shortages, the Western Telegraph reports today. Shall we do a little bit of analysis?

A few predictable comments have instantly said Brexit, so let’s put that one to bed immediately. Employers getting away with paying under minimum wage to European workers doesn’t mean your economy is working and that you can blame everything on what you perceive to be a travesty, that now employers will have to pay actual legal wages to actual legal workers.

Myth number two.. furloughed people don’t want to work. Furlough is over apart from in sectors like the council and other office-based jobs. Most restrictions have been lifted and the county is full again. So, no.

Some people have commented that people on Universal Credit don’t want to work. I think you’ll find that they do, but factor in childcare and the low wages on offer, and you see why it’s completely pointless to give your time to something that doesn’t pay. As workers, we sell our labour power for wages. There’s no point selling your labour power for tuppence ha’penny a week. The people that say this have never tried living on benefits. And they’ve also never had to work full time for minimum wage. In both instances, you end up in exactly the same position. Perpetually skint.

Tenby is now owned by second home owners, much like the rest of the desirable parts of the county. Years ago, the Tenby kids filled these jobs. Seasonal work such as this is of no real benefit to an adult paying rent or a mortgage because of its intermittent nature. Now the Tenby kids are all gone. They all live somewhere else, because their parents all got priced out of the market by investors from the cities and rich incomers. There is nowhere to park in Tenby. The public transport situation is dire. Mix all these ingredients up and there you have it, a work force pushed away, either into another area, or into a state of depression about their situation that makes them unwilling to work for just pride and no money.

Here we see capitalism disintegrating before our very eyes. A business model that may have worked a few years ago, with cheap available labour, where staff were easily replaced and everyone was clamouring over the few jobs available, has tuned into a worker’s market, where people can afford to be a bit more choosy about how they spend their lives.

The ruling class hate this of course. I don’t see these self-proclaimed middle class right wingers out picking veg or waiting tables for minimum wage, but they’re expecting other people to do it. The obvious answer is to raise wages. Yes, you say, but that means that we have to raise prices, because profit is what it’s all about. They’re not willing to take less profits, because they got into business for no other reason that that. It’s nothing to do with public service, and providing what people need and want, it’s about maximum profits. It always has been.

There are a few ethical small businesses that pay their staff well, and look after them, and are willing to forego some profits for a happy workforce and a slick running operation, and they’re the ones that are surviving. Some businesses will say that they don’t have the money to pay more, then respectfully, I’d ask, what business do you have being in business, if you can’t run it in such a way that your staff are fairly paid, with good working conditions, and that you can also make a few bob? Small businesses that survive on exploiting their staff, are not going to last very long, because the staff will not stay loyal, and in this current climate, the worker is king, and starting to be able to name their terms a little bit.

And as these little demonstrations on how capitalism will inevitably fail continue to dominate our headlines, I can’t help but feel that people are beginning to catch on. There is no future for this profit driven fight for the top by the little man. Because the little man will always be the little man, unless he exploits his workers to the maximum. And what sane person wants to do that?

As the workers start to stand up for themselves, and refuse to accept these conditions of life, we’re beginning to see change.

Mutiny in the county.

Love it.

The Walls Have Ears…

There’s not much that’s more entertaining than to cast your eye over Facebook each morning and come across the latest spate of drama that’s kicking off between local councillors and their followers.

Pretty much every day, you can guarantee that somewhere on your newsfeed there will be one side or another posting opaque, and sometimes not so opaques digs at the other side. You can read the comments over a cup of tea, and note how much more extreme each post gets. The more extreme, the more comments. The more comments, the more entertainment. I’m assuming that’s the point? Entertainment?

In general terms, you’ve got yer “right”, and you’ve got yer “left”. Diametrically opposed, extremely angry, and doing a great job of winding each other right up.

The trouble with this, is that the idea of what constitutes right and left is clearly pretty skewed. There is the left column, supportive of all things considered left and progressive. There is the right column, supporters of all things considered conservative. Dare step out of your column, and the lions will eat you, lions from both sides.

There is an episode of South Park where Strong Woman takes part in the Strong Woman contest as reigning champion. Her ex-boyfriend, full of revenge, enters the contest, having identified two weeks earlier as a woman, calling himself Heather. Strong Woman accepts this. She has to. She’s the partner of PC Principal, and mother of the PC babies. She’s as PC as you can possibly get. Heather is moustached, muscular, and dressed as cowboy. He kicks the unholy crap out of the other contestants, lifts heavier weights. Is faster, stronger, bigger. Invariably he wins the contest, and Strong Woman is relegated to second place, which she accepts, because suddenly, she finds she’s painted herself into a bit of a corner. The episode concludes with both she and PC Principal accepting that there are nuances and there is no way that a one size fits all opinion can possibly be in any way sensible.

Nuance. Remember that? Two sides to every coin. Remember that? Respect. Remember that?

Social media has made it possible for people to press buttons and offend people. It’s become the new barrier, like a car, when a driver cuts you up and you swear almighty abuse at them, but if the same person accidentally walked into you in the street, you’d both apologise in a friendly, apologetic way. Online, you can find anyone, call anyone, watch anyone, and have opinions about anyone, which you can post freely online for everyone to see. Your whole personality, all your beliefs, all nuances of thought, everything, is on display for people to have an opinion about. If you veer from your column, you will get the shit kicked out of you by the “other side”.

I remember when Paul Dowson was running for councillor. We were chuffed. A normal person running for council? Great stuff. It doesn’t take much digging, or even any digging, to come across supportive messages to him from people who have now become his arch enemy. Dowson was one of those old faces that was always around. He’s rough around the edges, he says what he thinks. That’s why people were excited when he announced his candidacy. Somewhere along the line he’s lost his way. Maybe it’s the pressure of the job itself; once elected, it all becomes very boring, I’m sure.

Josh Beynon and his tiktok videos have also come under scrutiny. A funny one that. The people up in arms about those videos, calling them disgusting, are probably quite happy to watch young female popstars reveal themselves in much worse ways, but I take their point that when you’re a councillor, you should probably be a little more subtle in your public persona. It was a private account, but when you have enemies, you know that anything you do is going to come under scrutiny. And it’s probably better to keep your head down a a bit and be a bit less brazen. I’m pretty sure that most of the complaints about these videos are to do with homophobia, but there is such a thing as playing into the hands of your enemies.

I don’t want to offend either Josh or Paul. They are local boys that got involved in something that has now grown into a monster, and has certainly got way out of hand. This is how wars begin. You have two strong leaders, and you have followers. The followers will defend everything their leader does out of loyalty, and even when something isn’t quite right, you’ve already nailed your colours to the mast, and backtracking becomes difficult. It’s escalated into threats, on both sides. Unwanted phone calls and messages, on both sides. Threats, chaos, drama…. Endless complaints to police and the ombudsman, and everyone who is in the middle watching both sides, will be too afraid to say anything, and keep a respectable silence.

Paul stated on his Facebook last night that public office isn’t for the faint hearted. Tell me about it. Try being the Wales officer for Galloway’s party, a man so full of nuance that he manages to offend everyone, while at the same time gaining support from people who understand the nuances that he references. But what I see unfolding in Pembs right now doesn’t seem to be anything to do with public office, more to do with each side doing everything the can to wind the other side up. I’m sure that they both have supporters that have acted in ways that they don’t like, but as they have split into two very clear teams, then everyone has to keep their mouths shut and allow the situation to escalate.

Both these guys are products of their time. Dowson is the ubiquitous Pembs 80s geezer. Jokes about women and gays, because that’s the culture in which he grew up. It’s prevalent locally among a certain age group who grew up on comedy that was not PC, A world of where Jim Davidson was considered funny. It’s all changed very recently. Frankie Boyle wasn’t that long ago.

Beynon is young. He grew up in the modern world of social media. He does TikTok vids because they’re his culture. It’s easy to look on as an old ‘un and feel that what he’s doing isn’t his finest hour, but most of the rest of the council think tiktok is the sound an old clock makes. It’s a different world.

A friend’s daughter told her dad the other day that the kids in her year are all “coming out” as various things, bisexual, pansexual, trans, etc. These kids are 13 years old. That freaks me out a bit. One, they’re too young to be thinking such things, to my mind. And secondly, it seems that this is merely becoming a fashion, and goes no way to addressing the real problems of people who are genuinely trans or bisexual or whatever. What happened to these things being personal? What liberal hell is this? But as I often come across as someone who is the in the “left” column, if I dare to state these opinions I will be lynched by people I’ve known for years telling me that they’re “disappointed” in me for thinking such things. Like their disappointment means I have been a bad citizen.. that I am suddenly a right-wing devil, negating everything I have ever stood for that they agreed with me about. This is the problem when you insist on living in columns, attacking anyone who dares to step outside the box.

The elections are in May. There is nothing stopping anyone running as a candidate. But remember, if you get in, the point is to work for your ward, and serve the people. It’s about being discreet and respectful. It’s about understanding nuance, and accepting that being in a responsible position is just that. It doesn’t mean that you have to become a saint. It doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to a term of keeping your mouth shut. People usually get voted in because they have things to say, and people want those things to be said. People are looking for champions, for leaders, for guidance, for help making their lives better. Just because Josh made some videos, doesn’t mean he’s all the vile things that he gets called. He’s a young lad who does good stuff for his community with energy. I also remember when Dowsy started all this council stuff. He was dead keen. It was all about bins and helping his crew. What happened?

I had to write this as a blog, otherwise I’d have been too tempted to comment on one of the many crazy posts I’ve seen, which is fruitless, because it takes something this long to discuss the nuance, otherwise people assume you mean something, and they pile on. I’m trying not to add to the hysteria, some will read this, and some won’t. It’s a choice. It won’t be pushed into someone’s eyeline for anyone to knee jerk against. And if you’ve got this far without losing patience, then fair play. I lose my patience all the time when I see stuff online, and sometimes I’m as guilty as others at making what I think is a reasonable enough remark and then having people tear it to pieces, either through lack of nuance, or because they plain old disagree.

Without social media, we’d still be relying on the mainstream press to bring us news, and we all know how unreliable that is. But social media also brings out the worst in people. It’s a fabulous tool. Essentially useful mainly for entertainment, and at the sharing of info to help each other. Why has it become a big bashing ground? Is that just human nature? To fight? Or is it just that’s it’s too entertaining to watch the car crashes and not be able to ignore the drama that’s going on, because it’s gossipy, because it’s fun for onlookers. That’s all very well, but it’s all very on-show, I think people can forget that. Talk about airing your dirty laundry in public.

Instead of the service social media could provide of all joining together as an oppressed mass of workers who have been taxed to death, held out the housing market, furloughed, hired and refired, forced into self employment, lost pensions, lied to by government, left to die on hospital beds, spent hours on doctor’s phone lines, had assets stripped by unscrupulous banks, lost business due to monopoly capitalism, cars taken away, homes repossessed, freedoms assaulted, free speech supressed, we argue the toss about distractions instead, and that’s just what the ruling class want. Why do you think they allow it to continue? They don’t want you knowing truths, but they know truths are hidden by cancel culture and culture wars. They know how the people will react. They know facts will get buried and people will become confused, scared and argumentative. They know the left, when arguing against fascism, will unironically want certain figures to be cancelled for their opinions. They know the people will use the resource to destroy each other. It’s working well.

There used to be signs up during the war – Careless talk costs lives. Chatter was kept to a minimum. No one wanted the enemy to know the thoughts of the campaign. Our enemy now is the ruling class, that keep us all chained to our places in society, allowing some to progress and others to not. Like a field full of horses – if there’s plenty of grass, the horses are chilled, amiable and happy. When there’s no grass and resources are limited and to be fought over, tensions occur. Tis is what’s happening. We are not each-others’ enemies. We are herd mates. There’s just not enough grass to go round. People can get pushed into becoming antagonistic when threatened. It’s human nature to pile onto a fight it seems. And it’s human nature to want to be entertained. Bread and circuses. They’ve provided this behaviour with the perfect habitat to exist. Social media. They knew what they were doing. And while we all spend our time with our popcorn watching, or with our vitriol, commenting – the ruling class are doing whatever they like to do, unnoticed, silently, and easily, because the truth has been lost, and no-one is watching.

Bagley and Spend

A little over a week ago (blimey, was it only a week?!) I was standing in the belting sun outside Birstall library, acting as the teller for the Workers Party. I loitered around like Billy No Mates from just after 7am, awkwardly asking people for their voter numbers as they left the building after voting in the now historic Batley and Spen by election.

Standing as I was, a few feet away from the spot where Jo Cox was killed, and with time to think between voters, it occurred to me that it hadn’t taken long for the street to seem so normal, so busy about its business, in the place where such a shocking event occurred. I guess time moves on, people move on and go about their life. It seemed such a monumental thing to be doing, standing there for a rival party, running against her own sister, and I worried that recent propaganda may be making people feel as they passed that I was a terrible imposter on their turf.

A few days before, the worst ever photoshop had appeared of George holding his daughter with a gun balanced on two fingers. It was clearly faked and I laughed when I first saw it, and because it was so badly done I thought it was a joke. What soon hit me was that this was no joke, and had been put out to instil the kinds of feeling in the locals that I was fearing as I stood there, telling. More images emerged, each as badly put together as the last, but there seemed to be an almighty amount of people on social media believing these pictures to be real, or at least, pretending to.

The roar of social media during this election had shocked me. Yes, there was division. At least online there was. But the online account of proceedings in Batley was so far removed from what was actually happening on the ground that it took a while to hit me; this is what the media do. This is what propogandists do. This is how society works. A line is picked, and the line must be followed. A decision is made, somewhere, anywhere… and that it is not deviated from, no matter what, and the populace will be brainwashed thus. They will be shown so much propaganda that they will disbelieve what their eyes and ears tell them is actually happening, until everything is so mushy it’s impossible to separate truth from reality.

The media onslaught of George was shocking. It was clear that an attitude was being forced onto anyone watching. I could imagine my mum back in Wales watching the news and thinking.. bloody hell.. what’s she gone and got herself involved in now? Some of the reactions I had from the public made it clear that a lot of this propaganda had worked. The only thing that made me feel better were the reactions from the people on whom this had clearly not worked, and were supportive in what we were trying to achieve as a party by being there.

George and Gayatri turned up around lunchtime with three bodyguards. That made me realise that what we were doing was in fact as risky as I’d thought. When out canvassing we saw Kim Leadbeater with her campaign buddies, but I didn’t see anyone who looked like a bodyguard, which surprised me. I would have thought that in the circumstances that all candidates would have that sort of thing laid on. One of their guys told one of our guys that they’d been having a crappy response, and they conversed like friends on the same trail. No division. Another day, we turned up on an estate and saw Ed Milliband out with a crew, so we waved, told them good luck, they smiled, we left and went to a different estate. No division.

During the Saturday before the election, the place was crawling with endless police as it had been told that the  far right-wing groups were coming to town to campaign. We stayed the hell out of Batley that day, and campaigned in other parts of the constituency.But one of our team, headed back to the HQ in Heckmondwike to get some water, and ended up having to lock herself in and call the police, as around a dozen right wing campaigners tried to get into our HQ and shouted through the windows at her, scaring her to death. The division of the following week locally was clearly more to do with the fear about the right wing groups than anything to do with us, but the media continued their onslaught, ignoring the abuse we got later from Labour campaigners, ignoring our broken PA system, ignoring the posters being taken down, ignoring everything that would split their narrative and prove that we were playing a fair game everywhere we went, and all felt as sensitive about the occasion and the situation as I did that day I sat next to Jo Cox’s murder scene and thought about her all day long, admiring the roses and the lavender planted there and hoping that they were in here honour. As it was a Thursday, the garden volunteers were there, doing a brilliant job of making it look nice for Birstall in Bloom. They were kind and friendly, we chatted. No division, just a bonding over flowers.

During polling afternoon I had the company of a couple of tellers from the tory party. Nice elderly chaps, who were too nice to be tories I thought, helped me to pass the time, and were both masters at getting polling numbers. They had both been doing this for a long time. One had been a councillor. At one point, a woman walked into the polling station with a big black bag that said “Postal Votes” on it. I remarked to my tory teller chum that it seemed weird. Very weird he agreed. He mentioned something about a four o’ clock deadline for postal votes. I don’t know what the rules are, but I do know that when I ran for the Senedd, the agent meetings were very clear about the strict ways in which postal votes were treated and transported. Around fifteen minutes later, the lady came back out, carrying the same bag. I joked to my buddy.. hey – looks like a switch to me. He didn’t take my intended joke. He thought I was deadly serious, and agreed. And then again commented on what a weird scenario it was. I’ve never been a teller before, so I don’t know, but it got me thinking about how easily a vote can be rigged.

We had spent weeks with voter lists, with all their information on, addresses, voter numbers…. We had called at nearly every single door. Many people told us they wouldn’t be voting. How easy would it be to rock up to a polling station and give a name, the name of someone you’re pretty sure isn’t going to vote, and vote on their behalf? A few wigs and a reliance on the returning officer seeing hundreds of people and you could pull a lot of votes if you had enough people doing it. It would be really, really easy to do. How do we know this doesn’t happen? If you had the kind of budget that a big party has, where money is no object and you could pay actors or suchlike to do the dirty work, and then you could hide those outgoings, then you could easily win an election when there are 40 odd polling stations. Is this a thing? How would we know?

George is calling for ID at polling stations and a lot of the “left” are against him in this. Why is that? Yes, the working class are less likely to have photo ID, not drivers, no passport or whatever, but if they made it compulsory to show ID, then cards would be released free, surely? The old arguments about ID cards are long obsolete, seeing as your phone and Alexa follow your every move. What’s wrong with ID cards? It’s not a human-rights issue as much as potential voter fraud is. All those bin bags of votes turning up in Batley on the middle of the night took me straight back to the memory of the lady, unaccompanied, strolling around with a bag full of postal votes like it was just her make up and laptop. No security, no checking… nothing.

Are the powers that be scared of voter ID because they saw the plan of fake votes at polling stations before I did? Is that what’s been happening for all these years? Is democracy actually even a thing? Judging by the media controlled outcome of Batley and Spen, the lack of conservative candidate on the campaign, the fake stories about division, the egg incident, the extremist incident, the poster incident, the PA incident, the BBC and channel four incidents, it wouldn’t surprise me if the whole thing has always been fixed, or at least, for a very long time.

Money is where it’s at. Labour paid some bloke to come over from France and tell Kim what to say to the tune of God only knows how much a day. They still only got a third more votes that a new party on a four-week campaign where we relied on volunteers and George’s local buddies.

Hopefully, and with all my heart, I’m hoping that the people are seeing through it all. It looks like that may well be the case. I liked Batley. It’s a great place. The people are lovely. The constituency is very different from one end to the next, but I hope they all get what they need with their new MP. I suspect however, that they won’t. And the system has ensured that the spotlight is not going to come off them for a very long time yet.