Brexiteers don’t understand Gibraltar

The latest Brexit-related stink bomb has been dropped and this time it concerns the overseas British territory of Gibraltar which has been described as a “colony” in a piece of EU legislation concering the travel rights of UK citizens post-Brexit. Gibraltar is a complex and long-running item of heated dispute between the UK and Spain, the latter believing that sovereignty rightfully belongs to them (Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713). Back here, the British government hasn’t taken kindly to the “colony” designation or Spain’s refusal to agree to the footnote in the legislation being removed/changed.

I’m not here to debate the issue of Gibraltar though because it’s a big debate that I’m not fully clued-up on and I’m honestly not informed enough to be hurling ignorant opinions about. Plus, as a British man, I’m probably likely to be biased on the matter.

What I AM here to showcase is this terrible hack-job of a digital poster that one of the various Brexit-backing online organisations has produced to be shared on social media for the purpose of sticking it to Brussels for their brazen use of the term “colony”.

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I’m not even going to comment on the huge message dominating the image because there’s nothing actually wrong with it. What I DO find utterly daft however is that “Leave Means Leave” logo up in the top-right…

…because it’s a little bit massively ludicrously ironic given that 96% of Gibraltarian’s voted to remain in the European Union at the referendum!

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Evidently, the research team for the Leave Means Leave campaign didn’t do a very thorough job on this one. Should I be surprised though? Absolutely not.

You see, these guys didn’t do even the most basic bit of research because they were too busy jumping for joy at being handed another piece of anti-EU ammo to fire back at the evil empire that are now attacking the sacred frontier of Gibraltar. These people don’t give a fuck about the people of Gibraltar or what they want. All they were concerned about was using this latest tit-for-tat news item as a fresh piece of anti-EU propaganda to whip up more Brexit support over social media.

Fucking embarassing.

Brexit is Bullshit II: The Saga Never Ends

I’ve previously posted about the embarassment that is Brexit but I feel like I have more to say on the subject. There will probably be a Brexit is Bullshit III [insert movie-apeing subtitle here] looking at a different element of the process but I felt I had to knock out a Part 2 now based on current events in Westminster.

Y’see, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Theresa May will attempt to win a vote in parliament for her Brexit ‘deal’ that she has put together. The problem is that it looks set to be defeated overwhelmingly by a mixture of Remainers and other MP’s who simply don’t agree that this deal will be good for the UK. The media is reporting that the deal may feature several amendments suggested by Labour (the main opposition party) in order to garner more votes. What this says to me is that this deal (if it DOES survive the vote) will be one of the most pointless, watered-down excuses for a deal since deals began.

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The deal was already seen as a betrayal by those who voted to leave the EU due to how many concessions had already been made to Europe. It wasn’t hard enough; wasn’t “up yours!” enough to the EU and their negotiators. Making more amendments is frankly a laugh and we could – in my view – end up with a deal that goes through the motions of us leaving the EU in formality but with as little as possible actually changing. Let’s not forget that this vote was supposed to have already happened but was postponed once.

It really does feel like an episode of Game of Thrones at the moment albeit without any credible leaders or sexy ladies getting their kit off. At the time of me typing this up, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that “this political chaos cannot go on” and signalled that should May’s Brexit deal be defeated, his party will call for a general election. Isn’t that a bit ironic? Saying that you want the worst British political chaos in recent times to be brought to an end while threatening to throw more fuel on a raging fire by adding a country-consuming election vote into the mix?

Meanwhile, the DUP (Democratic Unionist’s Party) from Northern Ireland – which propped up May’s Conservatives at the last snap election – are set to vote against the deal themselves due to the issue of the Irish border and a refusal to agree with the “Backstop” idea (a plan which will see the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remain as it is now i.e. no hard checks). On TOP of that (as if there needed to be any more complications…) there is currently no government in Northern Ireland since the Power Sharing agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein collapsed two years ago.

You can see now why we are fed up with Brexit in the UK. The whole thing is a monumental train-wreck that will never satisfy voters on either side of the issue. Of course, it could be about to get much, much worse…

If the deal is defeated in parliament (a current, very likely outcome) then we could be leaving the EU without any deal of any sort. Hardcore Brexiteers are championing this idea and looking forward to giving the finger to the EU and making Britain “great again” (more on this in Brexit is Bullshit III – coming to a shitty, rundown shambles of a cinema near YOU soon…) but away from the scaremongering, there are numerous ways in which we – as a country – could suffer after severing the cord between us and Europe. You only have to look at how financial markets are so easily influenced by rumour, loose predictions and “feeling” to wonder how things may pan out once paths are chosen and economic deals not made.

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A reminder of a hideously blind, uninformed campaign [image: The Independent]
But who is really set to suffer from the fallout of a no-deal Brexit? Will it be those in Westminster fighting for control and playing political chess? Will it be the suited MP’s and high profile public figures with enough money to weather the storm? No, it will be people like me – working class people who keep the gears of our economy turning while those we are supposed to trust (LOL) to run the country dump it into the toilet and keep pulling on the flusher, seemingly determined to force the UK into its own sewerage system and make as big a stink as possible.

This should be the time for MPs to realise that this pantomine has run its course, set aside their differences and work together to put some sort of agreement on the table for the good of the voting populance. You know, the very same millions of people who they want to vote for their parties at the next election? But of course, this isn’t how it’s going to go. Instead we will have a PM (who didn’t believe in Brexit) forging on with her widely panned deal, an opposition leader using the situation to gain political power and MP’s from the whole political spectrum forgetting about the man in the street and squabbling amongst themselves, trying to score points instead of securing a stable future for the UK.

As I said in the previous installment of Brexit is Bullshit, I am no fan of the EU and being under the influence of a super-state that can overrule my own country but at the same time, I simply couldn’t vote to leave (as I would have liked to) because I knew that this current farce would be the outcome. I saw no concrete plans, credible statistics or a timetable for how we would deal with the process if we were to vote “Leave”. All I saw were propaganda-decorated buses preying on public emotions, blue-sky dreaming and people shouting “Take back control!”

Obviously, nobody could have predicted just how embarassing and drawn-out the Brexit saga would actually become. If you read this, are living outside of the UK and can’t help but laugh then I sincerely don’t blame you. As for me, I just feel like a powerless passenger on a runaway train. It all comes down to just how bad the derailment is.

Let’s NOT stay connected

Last week, a cataclysmic disaster of earth-shaking proportions struck the UK, resulting in mass panic and untold trauma for the citizens of this fair isle. No, I’m not talking about a natural disaster or a Godzilla attack but the partial service outage for customers of o2, one of our main mobile network providers. Some people struggled with basic calls and the ability to send messages but it was the data outage that triggered outrage and despair. Essentially, a worrying number of people were simply lost without access to the internet on their mobile phone…for what turned out to be a little over one day.

The only people I genuinely felt bad for were emergency services or care homes who relied on o2 in some way and had their communications severely disrupted. Everybody else though? Deal with it. I’ll admit that businesses losing trade was a bad thing (especially for the smaller businesses that perhaps can’t afford to take the hit) but in general, it was those who have decided to completely bin off landlines and go mobile-only that suffered the most. Becoming overly-reliant on mobile networks and technology in general occasionally proves to be a very bad thing. Technology that we ourselves have no control over has woven itself into much of our lives to the extent that we don’t even realise how reliant we have become on it and this – for me – is a massive mistake but that’s a separate discussion for another time.

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Of course, the stories of “tragedy” were all over the news with accompanying interviews of those we were supposed to feel bad for. It’s hard to take the BBC’s online news seriously however when they actually gave airtime to somebody who’s disruption amounted to missing out on placing ebay bids for a Christmas gift because he had no internet. Is this news? Is it even a real problem? My first thought was “why didn’t you just place a maximum bid on the item(s) beforehand?”. Then I wondered if this person was wanting to be online so that he could just keep bidding on something until he won, in which case I would say they had too much money and should have simply purchased said item from elsewhere without pissing about with bidding. Finally, I wondered why I was wasting any of my thoughtwaves even thinking about this pathetic excuse for a “problem”.

It’s ridiculous that a data outage and an inability to connect to the internet and the dreaded social media can reduce people to such frustration so quickly. You don’t HAVE to be constantly connected to the ‘net all the time, refreshing Facebook or flicking between favourite sites while on the move. How about having an actual conversation with a real person? How about looking out of the window on a bus rather than plonking your arse on a seat and instinctively whipping out your fancy iphone 986XR-S Pro Elite Widescreen handset and ignorant noise-cancelling Bose headphones? There’s lots happening all around us and so much detail to take in so look around once in a while and really LOOK at life and your world before it passes you by.

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I personally cannot stand people who can’t exist without fiddling with their phone every few seconds or sit at a table in a restaurant without having it next to their plate, easily accessible to check their notifications. Since when did other people’s “look at me!” ego chasing Facebook statuses and inane Twitter ramblings become so important to us that we’d allow them to disrupt or sit in on other activities?

The thing I detest the most is being contactable at all times. I work as a delivery driver and my phone seems to constantly be buzzing in my pocket with incoming calls from people back at base wanting to ask me questions or add to my workload. I’ll be driving between destinations and thinking that things are going pretty well around the mid-morning mark but then the calls begin and I have people informing me of problems that need sorting (usually other people’s fuck-ups), asking me how to do stuff or telling me about shit that isn’t even on that day’s schedule. This is the curse of being expected to be accessible by phone all day. Sometimes it gets to the point where I feel like dropping the window and launching my phone out into the next ditch. If only they didn’t cost so much to buy.

And you can’t answer a phone while you are driving. I don’t know about other parts of the world but here in the UK, it’s illegal and rightly so after the rise in car accidents and deaths associated with drivers being distracted by their phone call(s). Even so, you still see countless fuckwits speeding while on the phone or looking down at their notifications as soon as they come to a halt at a red light…just what is so fucking important? If these people were to crash and hurt/kill themselves as a result of their own stupidity and lack of prioritisation then I honestly wouldn’t give much of a shit but it’s the innocent victims in other vehicles or on the pavement that tend to pay the price.

So I refrain from answering or even looking at who is calling. I COULD keep pulling over and killing the engine to answer incoming calls but a) there isn’t always a suitable place and b) answering all of these calls just slows me down from doing the job that people are – ironically – calling me about. The inevitable result is a screen clogged with voicemails and missed call notifications or text messages that say “call me back asap”. To say it deflates me would be an understatement.

Then there are those people. “Those” are the people who keep persistently calling until you answer and when you DO answer, it’s usually something non-important that could have been relayed via a text message or voicemail. I even have some people who keep calling and leave literally a single second between every attempt. Just fuck off already! Don’t get me started on the people who know that you are most likely to be on the road but then whinge about you not answering the phone later on.

And yes, I am fully aware of the irony of complaining about staying connected or social media addiction on a blog which is a form of social media in itself. By my own admission, I am often an introverted sort of guy so I have to hold my hands up and say that there may also be a streak of bias running through this post but even so, I find it quite worrying and – in the case of people’s anguish at last week’s data outage – ridiculous how mobile phones and 24/7 internet access have become so integral to so many people’s lives. Just put it down and disconnect every once in while – it really won’t hurt.

Brexit is bullshit

Sometimes I wonder what this trainwreck called “Brexit” looks like to those outside of the UK. I also wonder what they think of the social media-style name for the process which was quickly adopted by the mainstream media and politicians despite being a piece of slang that somebody obviously felt well chuffed about thinking up. Even worse is when a newsreader says “Breggzit”…sorry, I forgot that leaving the European Union had something to do with the output of chickens.

But mostly I wonder what people think because as a UK resident who duly went to polling station on that fateful day, I’m just fed up of hearing about it. Right now, it feels like Brexit is simply not going to deliver what either camp of voters wants. All that has been achieved is greater division and resentment. Hardcore “Brexiteers” shouting about shutting the borders as soon as possible while “Remainers” keep banging on about having another referendum, hoping to reverse the vote no doubt. Overall, I think that Brexit has brought out the worst in everybody who is passionate about the subject one way or another.

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For my part, I find myself trapped in the middle. I voted to remain in the EU but not necessarily for the reason that many others did i.e. the economical benefits of the partnership. Basically, I liked the romantic concept of leaving the EU and going our own way without having an additional layer of “management” on top of our own government, forcing their rules through. Make Britain Great Again and all that. Unfortunately, logic and reason must have a say and so I ultimately ended up voted the opposite way.

The thing is, the Leave campaign was pure vapour with those promoting it (such as Boris Johnson) arguing their case without solid facts or – more importantly – a solid PLAN of how Brexit would work. Words such as “could”, “can” or “might” do not make for a convincing campaign for anybody analysing the situation carefully rather than voting with their heart. What it amounted to was various politicians shouting “take back control!” and the like. No concrete strategy or timeline of how we would leave and achieve these benefits of going solo. Worse still, if voters actually stopped to think about it, none of those standing on stages around the UK shouting about immigration or money for the NHS were actually in the driving seat at Westminster i.e. they had no power to control negotiations or steer the ship once the destination was decided so why should we have put any trust in them?

Fast forward to December 2018 and where are we? The prominent faces of the Leave campaign have gone quiet or resigned from their ministerial positions, we have a Prime Minister who didn’t support Brexit negotiating Brexit and the likes of UKIP (UK Independence Party) have imploded before evaporating into a steamy cloud of irrelevance. A deal has been put together which doesn’t exactly reek of victory and there is the constant threat of the Remain camp achieving their wish of a re-vote which would contradict democracy itself.

On a side-note, even though I “lost” at the polls and pretty much disagree with a lot of Brexit, I still believe it would be a crime against democracy to have a re-vote and alter the decision. Aside from the fact that going back on the all of the negotiations thus far would firmly place our balls in the EU’s vice, you can’t just keep having votes and referendums until you get what you or your side desires at the polls. If it went 52-48% in the opposite direction, I can pretty much guarantee that the Remain side wouldn’t even entertain the notion of a second vote, no matter how loud the Leave camp shouted.

The vote happened and this is the result. Democracy is a fantastic thing but it comes with risks and you have to accept that unexpected results can and will happen.

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I have to give a shout out to the old-school brigade shouting about binning the EU off, slamming the borders shut and getting back to being British. While I do agree with tightening right up on immigration, giving the EU’s daft rules the finger and being proud of our country, it is an inescapable fact that times have changed and globalisation is a thing. The older generation love to bang on about how Britain was great in the past and how we “were alright before the EU so let’s go back to those times” but you cannot simply “go back”. Practically everything in our economy and society is intertwined with those of other countries across the globe – for better or for worse – and simply ripping those connections out could well be like walking up to a complex computer system and ripping cables out at random, assuming that everything will continue to function as normal. Times have changed yet there are many who choose to ignore basic facts/logic and carry on shouting about foreigners ruining the “cun’ry”.

I would love to leave, do our own thing and have a selection-based immigration system and all that good stuff but it isn’t as simple as that and unfortunately, negative consequences have a tendency to topple like dominoes. Cast your mind back to the financial crisis of 2008 (something the world still hasn’t recovered from) and remember how fragile the framework of our everyday lives really is. One aspect that has never sat right with me is that a lot of older people voted to leave based on their memories of how wonderful the past apparently was (you can unearth plenty of reasons why it wasn’t all that rosy…) but it isn’t their generation that will have to deal with the fallout of Brexit should it go sour. Without sounding too harsh, thousands will have passed on from this mortal realm, potentially leaving their descendants a fractured future as an inheritance.

But then there are the Remainers, the sore losers who simply cannot stand the fact that a sure-fire win for their side could actually fail to materialise. Protests marches calling for a second vote, individuals going to the courts to block Brexit and even those suggesting that London could remain inside the EU…it’s been a pretty desperate show. It seems that everybody loves democracy but only when the ‘safe’ result comes up. The truth is that there is no smoke without fire and excluding the influence of outside parties and misleading campaigns, there is a reason why events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump happened. People are fed up the status quo and tired of voting for the same people who peddle the same lies or feed us the same bitter pills and expect us to obediently swallow them. I’m not saying that either Brexit or Trump are positive things but they were always going to happen eventually.

If you exist in the middle as I do and support pieces of each argument as well as disagree with points put forward by both sides then Brexit is just a big stinking turd blocking up the u-bend and refusing to flush. In reality, nobody won and we are now seeing some very ugly sides to people before (likely) accepting a deal that fails to achieve anything other than needless unsettlement with the rewards for sticking with it still not that clear. I just want it to be over and to get the fuck off my TV screen.

Bullshit News: M&S window display “vomit-inducing”

At the time of writing, this is an admittedly “old” story but it’s things like this that encouraged me to create this blog in the first place so I couldn’t resist analysing such a ridiculous news item. It is of course, one of many daily attempts by the BBC to wind up right-wing readers and keep them at war with left-wing liberals in the interests of generating clicks and ad revenue. Nevertheless, the quotes from the article are real as crazy as they may sound.

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For those outside of the UK, M&S (Marks & Spencer) are a large high-street retailer often placed in the supermarket sector in direct competition with the likes of Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s etc. but are considered a cut above when it comes to the quality of their food and clothing. Naturally, the price tags are in line with the additional quality and there are many who will happily brand the M&S shopper a “snob” or say that they must be “getting paid too much” if they do their shopping there. Stupid assumptions and insta-judgments of course but hey, no surprise there.

Anyway, a photograph of a store display in Nottingham which advertised suits for men and lingerie for women was posted up on a Facebook group called “Feminists Friends Nottingham” and the ensuing outrage was typical of our easily-offended society in 2018 where conclusions are leapt toward in a microsecond and bizarre interpretations attempt to overcomplicate everything. For a prime example of reading far too much into a fucking window display, check out what one female interviewee gave the BBC (who must have been rubbing their hands together in glee):

“Ok, M&S Nottingham, have we really not learned anything in the last 35 years? Or am I alone in finding this, their major window display, completely vomit inducing?”

“I also feel very, very strongly about the representation of women as being preoccupied with fancy little knickers, whereas men are presented as powerful and needing to be impressive.

“I don’t have a problem with people choosing to wear whatever they want to wear, I just feel like the juxtaposition is what’s grossly, grossly offensive.

“We are surrounded by sexual images of both men and women. M&S are not by any means the only offenders but that particular window just epitomises everything that’s wrong with current marketing and how far backwards we’ve gone.”

First of all, I have to say that “vomit-inducing” is a fucking extreme reaction to this. If the particular individual in question feels that ill after looking at a photograph of a window display then I dread to think how they will cope with seeing something truly sickening.

I do understand where her core displeasure at M&S’s advertising is coming from but last time I checked, it was completely normal for men to buy suits and women to buy fancy knickers. Should we be hiding sexy lingerie at the back of the store in a dark corner like a dirty secret? When women purchase underwear a step above the basic variety, it isn’t solely to impress the man in their life in the bedroom; it’s also because it makes them feel attractive. Men don’t just buy suits to impress the ladies: they also want to feel smart and look well-presented.

If you thought the above was an overreaction then get a load of this:

Another post, from a man, said the window display was “far too provocative and rapey”.

“It is not the right sort of message especially during this current season when people drink more and their filters are thrown out of the window,” he wrote.

I struggled to wrap my head around this one. A window display advertising underwear for women being sexist might have made some sort of warped sense but to suggest it promotes rape is flat-out laughable and plain daft. And what exactly does getting merry over the seasonal period have to do with this anyway? Is he suggesting that a woman is more likely to be raped after a few drinks if the man finds that she’s wearing an M&S bra? Because that means that she must have been “well up for it”? I don’t even know what sort of nutty angle this guy was coming from and I’m not convinced that this is even a legitimate quote.

There was one more feminist reaction reported on the BBC’s news site:

“As a feminist and a mother to a young daughter I felt embarrassed that I had to yet again explain why women are depicted with so little respect,” she said.

“When companies insist on men being fully clothed and women showcasing lingerie only, it sends a message about women’s place in society as objects to titillate.”

A perfect example of somebody seeing insinuations and subliminal messages and blowing them out of proportion. Women buy lingerie. M&S are advertising lingerie to women. It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Yes, the men have a display of suits but must we really over-analyse every window display as it is being constructed and painstakingly pump it full of equality just to prevent people seeing offence and subtle suppression in every single bloody thing? As I have already pointed out, fancy knickers and bras don’t exist solely for the benefit of men and this window display doesn’t actually try and suggest otherwise. M&S aren’t sending out messages. They are simply providing and advertising what women want to buy, whatever the motivation behind the purchase is.

Thankfully – in this case at least – M&S have confirmed that they won’t be making any changes to their store window displays in light of the complaints and I salute them for not immediately caving beneath a bit of social media pressure as countless other retailers tend to.