Sunday, 29 May 2022

The Mail on Sunday's glaring front page lie

Boris Johnson's latest ruse to distract attention away from the corruption, incompetence, and degeneracy of his regime is to stoke up a load of culture war bullshit over imperial weights and measures and crown symbols on pint glasses.

Appealing to the nostalgia of a bunch of tabloid-addled geriatrics is a simplistic distraction tactic, but it's one that Johnson and the Tories have played before with blue passports, and the right-wing propaganda rags are once again enthusiastically helping him out with this trivial nonsense.

This time it's got so bad that the front page of one of Britain's most widely read newspapers is blaring out the absolute lie that the EU banned crown symbols on pint glasses.

What the EU actually did, if you're interested in the actual facts, was to pass directive 2004/22/EC to introduce the CE mark on pint glasses in order to protect European citizens from undersized measures.

There was never anything in the CE rules to say the crown symbol had to go. In fact the EU commissioner G√ľnter Verheugen explicitly stated that the crown symbol could be kept "as long as it is done in a way that is not confused with the CE marking".

Not only did the EU not ban the crown symbol, they explained that Britain could keep using it if they wanted to. But the UK government decided that they couldn't be bothered pointlessly duplicating the certification process, and scrapped it from 2007 onwards.

If the Tory party really cared so much about crown symbols on pint glasses they could have brought them back at any time between coming to power in 2010 and the present, because they were never banned by the EU.

So why is the Mail on Sunday pushing this brazen front page lie that the EU forced Britain to remove the crown symbol from our pint glasses, and that plucky Bodger Johnson is bravely bringing it back?

Daily Mail propaganda hacks know perfectly well that aside from corporations and the mega-rich, who vote Tory out of self-interest, the Tory party's core demographics are the far-right ultranationalists they nicked off UKIP and the BNP, and other low-information voters.

Tory propaganda hacks love to appeal to the nostalgia, nationalism, and anti-European xenophobia of their readers by portraying trivial and archaic stuff like blue passports, crown symbols on pint glasses, and ludicrously over-complicated imperial weights and measures as quintessentially British things that have been banished by the evil EU.

It doesn't matter to Daily Mail readers that the UK could actually have kept blue passports for the entire time it was in the EU.

It doesn't matter to them the EU never forced UK retailers to stop using imperial weights and measures if they wanted to.

And they literally don't care that the EU never actually banned anyone from putting crown symbols on pint glasses.

Tell them that the European Union forced Britain to get rid of these beloved things, and low-information voters quiver with rage.

Tell them that brave Bodger Johnson freed Britain from the EU tyranny in order to bring this stuff back, and they're supposed to jiggle with delight.

We've entered an age in which people are actively encouraged to ignore the facts, and evidence, and experts, to believe whatever the hell they want.

And it's got to the point now that the newspapers feel emboldened to tell outright lies on their front pages, in order to help Johnson push this absurdly vapid culture war bullshit.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. Access to my online writing will always remain free. If you see some value in what I do, please consider supporting my work with a small donation/subscription.



OR

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Do the royals really make us richer?


At times like this, the crawling sycophants always appear in droves to misleadingly insist that the royal family constitute a net benefit to the UK economy.

The absurd creeps making these claims are often so economically illiterate, that they've even been known to claim the entire £19 billion (declared) net worth of the royal family as an annual benefit to Britain!

Putting aside the ludicrous claims that the royal family contribute their entire net wealth to the UK economy every single year, the usual tactic of these subservient grovelers is to place the annual profit generated by the Royal Collection Trust, and the revenue of the Crown Estates in the positive column, without any effort whatever to properly explain what these things actually are, or to add any of the costs of the royal family into the negative column.

Tourism

The most common claim from these fawning royal boot-lickers is that the royal family generates huge amounts of cash in tourism, usually citing the annual profits from the Royal Collection Trust, which are mainly made through tickets to visit royal properties, and gift shop sales.

In 2019/20 they made £49.9 million in profit, but this figure has to be offset by the fact that most of these royal residences would be making far higher profits without a bunch of idle scroungers occupying the properties and dictating opening times.

The former royal palace of Versailles is one of the most profitable tourist attraction in France generating 65 million euros in ticket sales alone in 2019, yet the combined income of all of the royal properties in the UK combined amounted to only £71 million!

Versailles obviously wouldn't be generating anything like as much cash if it was barely open to the public because it was still being occupied by a bunch of inherited wealth squatters, would it?

Imagine how much Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle would generate if they were fully open to the public most days of the year, rather than used almost exclusively for private purposes.

Imagine how much these properties might generate as ultra-luxurious hotels, where obscenely wealthy guests could pay tens of thousands to dress up in royal garb and pretend to be king or queen of England for the night.

In reality the £50 odd million royalists endlessly claim as a benefit to Britain actually represents a huge loss on what could be being made if the royal family was abolished and the properties were efficiently managed to actually maximise revenues.

The Crown Estates

The claims about tourism are misleading enough, but royal brown-nosers adding Crown Estates revenue into the positive column constitutes downright deception.

The Crown Estates include a 384,000 acre landholding, and the Duchy of Cornwall (another separate estate which has been run since 1377 for the benefit of the heir to the throne) which consists of another 133,000 acres.

Added together, over half a million acres makes the Crown Estates the third biggest land holding in the entire country, after the Ministry of Defence and the Forestry Commission, yet somehow it only brings in £269.3 million in net profit (2021).

If you were some kind of simpleton, you'd add this £250m+ into the positive column for the royal family, but this would simply illustrate that you don't know what the Crown Estates actually are, or how they operate.

In the 18th Century the debt-laden royal family handed over the royal property portfolio to parliament in return for an annual subsidy paid out of public funds, which is loosely based on Crown Estates revenues. In 2020-21 this subsidy amounted to a whopping £86.3m.

Without this whopping Sovereign Grant being taken out of Crown Estates revenues to fund the lifestyles of these inherited wealth layabouts, the public finances would be almost a hundred million quid better off per year!

It's absurd to argue that the wealth generated by the Crown Estates constitutes a net positive, while allowing the royals to siphon off a massive chunk for themselves, and without considering the potential that this vast land-holding could be put to more efficient use without their involvement.

Just like with potential tourist revenues, the continued existence of the royal family actually cause a drain on Crown Estates revenues.

The hidden costs

Aside from the royal sycophants' tactic of brazenly misusing tourist and crown property revenues to make an misleadingly-positive case in favour of the royal family, these grovelling creeps also love to omit the hidden costs from the negative column too.

Boot-lickers love to forget that the fortunes of the royal family are not subject to Inheritance Tax.

If we accept the £19 billion net worth figure as legitimate, they'd owe £7.6 billion when Elizabeth II dies, which adds up to an astonishing £109 million for every single year of her reign so far!

If anyone was interested in doing a fair cost-benefit analysis on the royal family, they'd surely have to add in the £100m+ annual cost of their absurd Inheritance Tax exemption, wouldn't they?

Then there are the secretive royal powers to interfere in parliamentary legislation for their own financial benefit. The UK government still vehemently refuses to reveal which laws have been tampered with by the royal family, meaning it's extremely difficult to estimate what these secretive powers have ended up costing the UK economy.

It's been especially difficult to estimate the economic damage since the Tory government decided to exempt the royal finances from Freedom of Information requests back in 2011, However it's still easy to see how the royals could use this secret veto on democratic legislation to enrich themselves at the expense of the wider UK economy.

Beyond economic considerations

beyond the money, there are other costs to be considered too:

The United Kingdom one of the most unequal countries in the developed world with unacceptably high rates of poverty and destitution, and incredibly low levels of social mobility.

The royal family exist as the figureheads of this unequal and iniquitous system, which is built on valuing inherited wealth and establishment connections ahead of qualities like hard work, integrity, ingenuity, and intelligence.

A bunch of idle malingerers occupying the very top positions in the social order, based on nothing more than hereditary privilege, provides compelling evidence that the UK is nothing like a meritocracy.

Some people are so lacking in self-respect that they actually like to think of themselves as lowly serfs in comparison to their inherited-wealth lords and masters, but the existence of this squalid mob at the top of the pile is an absolute affront to those of us who consider no human as being more inherently valuable than any other, purely by virtue of birth.

Then there's the national embarrassment of a family that insists on bailing out an absolute creep like Andrew, to the tune of £millions, in order to buy his way out of facing up to child sex allegations in court.

What does it tell the rest of the world about the British people that we allow this disgusting creep to continue parading around in public, and representing our nation on the world stage?

What does it tell child sex abuse survivors in Britain, and across the rest of the world, that this vile individual is being allowed to get away with what he's accused of, purely because he was born into a family of born-to-luxury grifters?

Conclusion

Tourist revenues would obviously be higher if the royal properties were fully opened to the public, rather than housing an idle bunch of inherited wealth squatters

The Crown Estates could almost certainly be run more efficiently without the involvement of Elizabeth's squalid mob, and definitely without them siphoning the best part of a hundred million quid out of the public finances each year to fund their lavish lifestyles.

Even if we accept the £19 billion net wealth figure is valid, and not minimised through the hiding of overseas assets, that still adds up to a whopping £7.6 billion in Inheritance Tax these idle parasites are going to avoid through their unjustifiable tax exemption when Elizabeth II dies.

The royal powers to interfere in democratic legislation are so secretive that it's impossible to even estimate how many £billions worth of damage they've done to the wider UK economy by rewriting legislation for their own benefit, but even with such a shroud of secrecy protecting the actual figures, it's clearly an affront to democracy that these powers exist at all.

And then there's the social damage of maintaining such a grotesque social hierarchy, especially when one of the most high-profile figures at the top of it is a sweatless-creep like Andrew.

In light of all of this, the only way to maintain the fiction that the royal family constitutes any kind of benefit to the UK, is through an absurdly biased, and downright misleading interpretation of the actual facts.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. Access to my online writing will always remain free. If you see some value in what I do, please consider supporting my work with a small donation/subscription.



OR

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Why is Starmer so intent on reanimating the corpse of late-stage Blairism?

Keir Starmer’s inner circle is heavily dominated by Blairite loyalists. That’s a pretty indisputable assertion right?

Starmer’s Blair-hagiography of a Conference Speech made it absolutely clear that he’s worshipping at the altar of Blairism (to anyone who had the misfortune of actually listening to it at least).

And to match his words with actions, it’s also crystal clear from his strategy of removing and demoting the soft-left, which has followed his purge of all the genuine socialists and social liberals from his so called “unity cabinet” (via his depraved loyalty tests of whipping Labour MPs to abstain on vile Tory stuff like rape cops and war crime impunity, and booting them out of his cabinet if they refused).

One of the most interesting aspects of this Blairite involvement in Starmer’s vapid form of managerialist posture politics is the way they fail to even recognise the way Starmer has been imitating the failing late-stage Blairism that ended up driving millions of traditional Labour voters away, rather than the exciting early Blairism that promised to do away with a shambolic and sleaze ridden Tory government, that should surely have been removed from power at least half a decade previously.

In order to make the case that they’re imitating the wrong kind of Blairism, it’s necessary to admit that Blair and his government actually got some things right, which I’ve always been willing to do.

The increased investment in public services that began in 1997 was a damned-sight better than the privatisation-obsessed Tory shambles that preceded it, or the economically ruinous austerity extremism that succeeded it.

Other positives included The Good Friday Agreement and improved economic freedom for Scotland and Wales. But it’s the economic investment in infrastructure and services and the living standards increases that are most relevant here. We don’t need to talk about their lamentable policy failings here, because everyone who has even read this far should be well aware of where Blairism went badly wrong.

Blair did some things right to win power and then delivered some good policies in the early years in government ,and the parallels with now are pretty damned obvious. Yet for some absurd reason Starmer and his inner circle are intent on bringing back the hectoring and unpopular late-stage Blairism that drove people away instead.

In 1997 Blair absolutely trounced Major’s Tories by giving people a bit of hope, then he cemented his position in power by being seen to deliver: Rising wages, economic growth, resuscitating the UK’s vandalised social safety net, education, and NHS funding.

So if Starmer and the people who surround him idealise Blair so much, and have so much nostalgia for the Blair years, why aren’t they following Blair’s recipe for electoral success, rather than desperately trying to reanimate the risible and unpopular politics that Labour slumped into after they’d been in power for ages, run out of ideas, and complacently imagined themselves invincible after winning a third straight election, even after creating a disaster like the invasion of Iraq?

Why are they like this?

The answer seems to be that most of the architects and big players in the early Blair years are past it, retired, or deceased, leaving a pathetic residue of obsequious yes people, who were parachuted into positions of power and influence by Blair’s inner circle, without ever having learned where the power actually comes from.

The power comes from the people.

Even in a country like the UK that suffers a hopelessly rigged, archaic, unrepresentative, and decaying democratic institution like Westminster, you have to offer people what they want, rather than overtly mocking and ridiculing their desires for policies that would actually make life just a bit better and fairer for ordinary people.

But the Labour right Blair-loyalists who control the party now have no idea how to offer this, because they were raised in an environment in which it was their job to bend public will to fit the objectives of the Labour government, and to castigate anyone who argued that they should actually be doing things better.

How many of the big figures from Blair’s 1997 triumph are still kicking around? Blair retired to his riches a decade and a half ago. Brown only pops up occasionally. Prescott’s long-gone. Darling, Milburn, Straw, Hoon, and Blunkett are dinosaurs. Beckett and Harman are among the last in still serving in the Commons, and they’re both retiring next time around. Robin Cook, Frank Dobson, Tessa Jowell, Mo Mowlam, and Donald Dewar are all dead. And long-standing Labour Chief Whip Nick Brown has recently been kicked to the sidelines by Starmer.

What’s left of Blairism now is a profoundly unpleasant residue of arrogant and complacent career politicians who mainly got their positions through privilege and patronage, without ever having put in the the hard work of creating genuine public appeal.

Between 2015 and 2019 these second generation Blairites saw Corbyn trying to offer hope, But they clearly thought that he was ‘doing politics wrong’ by trying to appeal to the public, especially his efforts to woo young voters and new demographics who had rarely or never voted before.

As far as they were concerned he should have been offering uninspiring neoliberal gruel,  performing parlour tricks for the media, rehashing the arrogant “this is all you’re getting” stance they cut their political teeth on, and bitterly chastising any objectors for the impertinence of suggesting politicians could and should be doing better.

They were so convinced that Corbyn was wrong, that once they took control of the Labour Party again, they even made it an immediate party priority to  kill off public hopes and aspirations by systematically salting Corbyn’s allotment of policies, and deliberately driving away the hundreds of thousands of politically engaged and active supporters he’d attracted to the cause.

Rather than picking the best and most popular of Corbyn’s policy crop for their own use (investment economics, public ownership of essential infrastructure and services, workers’ rights, higher wages, better education, mass party membership rather than reliance on mega-rich donors ...) and discarding anything they really disliked, they decided to salt the lot, and revert to the only kind of politics they’re familiar with:

Telling people what to think, playing parlour tricks for the media, and chastising the public for daring to want any better from them.

So here’s the challenge for any Blairites who have managed to read this far without suffering fits of rage at the “thoughtcrime” of believing that Labour actually needs to be doing miles better at the moment:

Can you offer a better explanation than mine for why Starmer and his supporters have failed to adopt the positive, vibrant, hope-inspiring and ultimately winning version of Blairism, in favour of trying to reanimate the rotting corpse of late-stage Blairism that the electorate had already had more than enough of 12 years ago?

And more importantly, do you think it’s even possible to make them change course now, after watching them try to flog the same rotting corpse into action for two interminable years?

I mean these are people who steadfastly refused to learn or utilise the power-winning tactics of their own political figurehead before they resumed control over the Labour Party, so what would it actually take to make such a bunch of nitwits suddenly and dramatically improve their game now, after two years of this mind-numbing inertia?

Essays and video clips from from the likes of Another Angry Voice, Novara Media, and Owen Jones certainly aren’t going to wake them up to what they’re doing wrong.

So unless you’re going to sit there and actually try to convince people, including yourself, that these hopelessly inept people aren’t asleep at the wheel, what is it that you need to do to wake them up?

And I say “you do” because they’re only ever going to listen to it from their supporters, if they listen to it from anyone at all. Never from anyone like me.

Do you guys want to wake the sleeping driver? Or do you want to just sit tight, pretend they're doing an excellent job, and hope that everything’s somehow going to work out fine through pure luck?

It’s clearly up to you lot if you want to save your own project from itself, isn’t it?


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. Access to my online writing will always remain free. If you see some value in what I do, please consider supporting my work with a small donation/subscription.



OR