Theresa May Shocked To Learn ‘Red, White and Blue Brexit’ Still Not A Real Plan

Speaking on a two-day cruise to Bahrain, Prime Minister Theresa ‘What Even Is SSL, Anyway?’ May has described the need for a “Red, White, and Blue Brexit” only to be met with raised eyebrows from everyone paying attention.brexit_recession

“What? What did I say this time?” She asked.

When pressed for further details, May quickly responded with “What I mean is, Brexit Means Brexit” to be met with, yet again, further stunned silences. At one point, one top-level economist was seen to mouth the words ‘what the actual fuck’.

Brexit Is As Brexit DoesIt’s The Brexit, Stupid… Read My Lips: Brexit…”

“Okay, look, everyone…” May finally conceded. “We’ve gone over these plans in high level cabinet meetings. Believe me, we have formulated many, many potential plans for how this shit-show is going to go down.”

“We went over some other prospective candidates, such as ‘Super-Brexit‘, and ‘New Brexit: Now With a Hint of Mint‘ and our thorough analysis of those revealed they just wouldn’t work. We even hired some top-level consultants to think outside the box and come up with ‘Diet Brexit‘ and ‘Brexit With Bells On‘, and we even considered ‘Brexit II: The Brexoning‘ until one of the clerks pointed out we’d probably need a ‘Brexit I’ before we can have a ‘Brexit II’. At one point Phil the intern even suggested ‘Follow the existing pattern of existing affiliated member states, secure free access to the common market and existing trade deals via allowing free movement, then slowly phase out the EU regulations and directives that we don’t need in order to minimise sudden impacts to the economy, and put the resulting details to the public in a second referendum in late 2017… Brexit‘ but come the fuck on guys, that doesn’t fit in 140 characters so is completely unworkable as an idea.”

After walking away, May was replaced by a close advisor who revealed further details of the cabinet’s current plan. “Right…” he said. “You know how in RPG there’s a quest, yeah? Well, we’re on a quest called ‘Get Britain Out of the EU’, right? So, it stands to reason that there should be some old guy with purple hair standing at the back of a convoluted dungeon, sealed behind some ancient possessed hell beast, and he’ll have access to the ‘Elixir of Brexit’. Right? See, we’ve got this down, guys! Now worries. So Brexit Means Brexit, right? Come on, what more do you fuckers want from us?”

Every Conversation With A Brexiteer Ever

Well, perhaps not ever… but this seems to be the summary of many:


Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: But the referendum was only ever advertised as advisory, it was never legally binding for the government to enact. So it really should be given parliamentary approval in a free vote. Particularly, the terms agreed upon after 2 years of Article 50 negotiations should be ratified through our representative democracy.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: But perhaps it’s dangerous to just enact something without proper expert consideration, especially now that multiple Vote Leave promises have been rescinded and it’s become clear that the population may have been (read: definitely were) mislead. The political and economic landscape has changed significantly since June, so you can’t say a decision taken by non-experts in one situation should be, by default and without consideration, applicable to a much different different situation at a later date.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!brexit_recession

Remainer: But it was a very small win for Leave. The margin was a few percent, almost on par with a margin of error. Given the number of people expressing regret over their vote – a proportion that polls suggest would be high enough to swing the referendum in a different direction if it were done today – is it wise to plough on without further due consideration? Can we not take into account further opinion polls taken after a reflection on the impacts to the value of our currency, the economic impact, or the fact that many Vote Leave promises turned out to be complete fabrications?

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Okay, but we have a constitution based around representative democracy. We elect people to make decisions on our behalf based on the fact they can take the time and do enough research to make an informed decision, whereas the general public can’t afford the time. In line with both the country’s precedent-based constitution, parliament should have a final say in both leaving the EU and accepting post-EU terms. They should take popular opinion under advisement ( as this was advertised as, and as they’ve always done) without accepting the narrow referendum result as a mandate for sweeping, unilateral change.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Thing is, many aspects of democracy require supermajorities to enact rather than 50% +1. Things like amending the US constitution, for example. That’s precisely to stop bad decisions being made on the back of popularism and to ensure broad, representative consensus rather than making sweeping changes when there’s a clear split and the margin is tight. It’s also why arguments about the counterfactual case of ‘Remain’ winning by a small margin don’t hold up – because you don’t need to get a supermajority or a large margin in favour of the status quo to keep with the status quo, because there would still be no strong mandate for change. This is also the essence of basic conservatism, incidentally, as well as part of mainstream political thought about democracy since the term was invented.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Part of the democratic process is that you can’t just accept things blindly, even when popular – as you have to have safeguards against a tyranny of the majority, where the rights of minorities can be removed or oppressed just because a majority says so. If some groups will be more negatively affected by a decision than others, then not everyone is equal when it comes to a simple ballot. Something that sounds good to a large number of people but will probably not affect them might be absolutely devastating to a small number of people who will never have their voice heard in a popular vote. This should be taken into account when taking the voting results into consideration as this forms the basis of a representative, egalitarian and equal society – again, the basis of democracy and mainstream political theories of justice.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Democracy doesn’t begin and end at voting. It starts at representation, and ends with beneficial decisions made through consensus – with voting as a means, not an end. It’s an involved process that continues beyond just voting when and where they tell you. There are countless opportunities to petition, or get involved in decision making. It doesn’t stop, it continues. That’s the actual point of democracy if we want it to mean something positive and beneficial rather than just hanging on the idea that it’s a popularity contest and the majority rules. Leaving it at “vote, and the majority rules!” is a really stunted view of democracy, one which really limits its ability to do the most good for the most number of people – particularly so when the question asked of the populace at large is a simple binary but the real-world options and their ramifications are numerous, complex, and nuanced.

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Fine, fine… but… how? How are we going to implement this? The vote was a binary choice of in/out. There was no concrete plan suggested at all – especially by the people pushing the ‘Leave’ option. We’ve literally been left alone to figure this out. Sure, we can do it… but there are no details. What are the details? What do you actually want?

Leaver: It was a vote, you have to accept it!

Remainer: Fuck it, I can’t be bothered with this shit anymore.

Leaver: SEE! YOU SILL LITTLE REMOANERS CAN’T ENGAGE WITH ANYTHING! WHAT STUPID IDIOTS YOU ARE!!! ALL YOU DO IS CALL US RACIST FOR BEING BRITISH!! YOU DON’T HAVE ANY ARGUMENTS, JUST INSULTS!! NOW SHUT UP! IT WAS A VOTE, YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT IT!


Addendum: The high court rules that parliament should vote on leaving the EU. Good. This isn’t about preventing Article 50 being invoked, it’s about making sure it’s done with our actual sovereignty intact, through the due process of our representative parliamentary democracy. It’s about making sure that the more complex and nuanced options available in reality, and not on an idealised voting slip, are explored democratically. If you’ve bleated on for a year or so about us leaving the European Union in order to restore our “sovereignty”, and then supported the government unilaterally and autocratically passing a law without parliamentary approval, then you are – plain and simply – a hypocrite. If you still can’t wrap your head around this, read here, and keep reading until you understand.


Addendum 2: If any of the above sounds like “bullshit” or “whining” to you, or you still think “but democracy is about voting”, I suggestion you begin with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s article on democracy. Rather interestingly, it doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about voting, because – louder for the people at the back – democracy doesn’t begin and end at a vote.

Fuck Millennials

For context, this is what I hear every time I hear the word “millennial”.


Fuck the millennial generation! Screw them. They’re what’s wrong with the world right now, they’re the root cause of everything.

Of course, I mean, well… it’s not like they’re old enough to ever hold serious political office. But, it’s definitely their fault that laws are messed up. It’s the young peoples’ fault, definitely. Laws, the EU, the country! Young people today, that’s the fault!

And their voting record is terrible… they just… okay, fine, so anyone under the age of 23 has only been able to vote in one election in their entire lifetime so far, but it’s definitely how they vote and their lack of voting that’s screwing the world up. Damn their entitlement. If they wanted to vote they should have been born ten years earlier!

And they just screw the economy… I mean, none of them are old enough to buy and sell a house, hell, most kids barely can afford a car, but they’re definitely the cause of the economy flustering. Because. They are. Aren’t they? Just useless, the lot of them.

But what really hacks me off about Millennials is jobs. I mean, sure, sure… they don’t, by and large, have any hiring or firing experience…  They don’t run big companies or trade shares because people fresh out of school and college don’t do that sort of thing… they just… it’s clearly just their fault because. Because Millennials.

They’re just too self obsessed with themselves! They should be worrying about my problems, like my pension and whether my house price will go down and whether I’m allowed to call a coon a coon and not trampling my right to say how I want Muzzie-foreigners deported or shot. Because me, me, me… not the me-me-me generation!

Fuck their entitlement. I need my high house prices, I need my cheap fuel and cheap cars, I need my pension and to retire at 65. Why should I care that they won’t get that, the entitled whiny bitches…? What about me and my needs and wants? I’m entitled to things, they aren’t.

And screw their “activism”. If they were really anti-war or whatever, they’d have the good sense of doing something about it by being older and having actual political power rather than having to do their lazy protests and reading and sharing… I mean, come on, how pathetic is that? Why don’t they form their own opinions instead , and quit being so young and just do what I tell them because I’m right and they’re just stupid.

Okay, so they don’t have political power, they don’t vote because they legally couldn’t until recently, they don’t run big companies, they occasionally care about people other than themselves, they don’t sell houses for a profit because they’re literally not old enough to have had one for long enough, and they don’t get high powered jobs because they’re not old enough…

…but it’s still all their fault. Obviously.

Putting Britain First… well, fifth.

In which I thought it’d be clever to catalogue two-days of Britain First posts to see what they talk about – the answer won’t shock you.


 

If you’re like me (and I grant this isn’t entirely likely as the majority of the English-speaking internet is American), you’ve probably spent the last week concerned about two major events. They’re two events of extremely insular national self-interest.

  1. Almost the entire NHS is on strike over working contracts being imposed by the government.
  2. Some leaked documents confirm what we’ve always known – rich people avoid tax by parking it out of the country, and our Prime Minister is amongst them.

You may have also been following issues with the UK steel industry, and at this point I throw my hands in the air and say that’s just one of those things I haven’t had the brain-space for. I know it’s a thing, I know not the intimate details.

Anyway, these are stories of insular, national self-interest. So the US election and the rise (and, may the gods be willing, eventual fall) of Donald Trump and the on-going refugee crisis across Europe and whatever shit Daesh have done this time aren’t things I’m counting. Why? Because of a little quasi-political organisation known as Britain First.

They don’t need an introduction, really. We know what they’re like. At best, concerned citizens who are disheartened, disenfranchised and unfortunately misinformed; and at worst, violent, nasty, illiterate, “send-all-the-nig-nog-towelheads-back-to-bongo-bongo-land” hardcore racialists.

Anyway, in light of these 2-3 stories of, I reiterate, national self-interest, I wondered if Britain First did indeed, and as advertised, put Britain first?

Do they show interest in what is happening in this country? Do they show interest in our politics? Our leaders? Our health service? Our education?

At this point, you probably won’t express surprise that the answer is “do they fuck“. I went to their Facebook page, scrolled down, and started categorising fairly broadly. Here’s the post breakdown from the last 48 hours, April 7th and 8th:

BF-2

First observation: they post a lot. It works out as a post every half-hour or so.

Second observation: they mostly post about themselves and Muslims, and after that almost entirely about other countries. They want to take our country back; and while they seem to have plenty of idea who they want to take it back from, they aren’t too clear on where they want to take it back to.

A few explanations of the categories.

  • Self promotion: Britain First do a lot of this, as you can tell. They advertise their protests, put up vlogs by their figureheads, and post pictures about how you should vote for them in London. Buried in these stories might be things relevant to the United Kingdom, but it’s encapsulated and subsumed entirely within their brand.
  • Muslims: This includes any story about a Muslim that was posted only because they were Muslim. Man raped woman? Only counts if they were brown! White Muslim found? Well, that proves it’s not racist! You know, that sort of thing. Two of these posts could be considered “British” as they feature Winston Churchill.
  • European events: Indeed, their major source of news is stuff happening overseas. A lot of these were about the Dutch vote on the EU, and a lot were about Muslims in Europe – making it hard to distinguish between this category and the one above.
  • US Politics: Yes, the United States were a big thing due to a massive surge across one of these days (see below). They have quite literally said “VOTE TRUMP” more times than they’ve said “SAVE UK STEEL”. Because Britain should come first.
  • EU Referendum: And this is the first category that might be considered about Britain. As far as importance go, Britain seems to be fifth in line for their priorities.
  • ISIS: I originally had this as “middle east events” to make it as generic as the “European events” category – but, let’s be honest, these are their “brown people make big boomy bang-bangs in sandy faraway land” stories.
  • Im’grints: It was hard to split things between this and “the towelheads are coming”, but this is anything that’s a bit more general and aimed any migrants of any ethno-religious grouping.
  • Clickbait: Britain First are famous for this. They’ve put up misleading “donate to save the animals!” posters to attract attention, but in this sample they haven’t done much of it.

The rest are effectively “misc”. I will point out the “Fucking commies!” section. One of these stories is about Jeremy Corbyn getting The Morning Star delivered to him.

I broke it down by two days. This shows that their God Bless America fetish was a bit of a one-day spike, so perhaps not representative. As you can also see from this one, their posts about the Panama Papers came in day 2 (April 8th), and only in the last few hours – so they’re a little late to a party that’s been going on all week.

BF-1

Now, in fairness, they have actually used one of these Panama Papers posts to call for David Cameron to resign – in line with a lot of liberal thought on this.”Wait, Britain First and the UK left agreeing? Surely not!” I hear you cry. And you’d be right. Given the details of their posts on the EU referendum, a lot from the last day have objected to Cameron being on the pro-EU (the “in” campaign) side, and seek to punish him for it. After all, if anyone can sway the UK right to stay in the EU it will be Cameron, and it’s probably in our selfish interest to support him on that, rather than call for him to resign over something comparatively minor. You can also back through Britain First’s comments on the Panama papers, where many resort to the “but it’s legal” defence, suggesting they really aren’t too bothered about the wealthy fleecing them, but are happy to see a Left-wing Socialist Communist Liberal like David Cameron fall on his sword regardless.

Anyway… why, again?

Britain First is followed by over a million people, and are slowly becoming what counts as mainstream thought in the UK – regardless of what they claim about the ‘mainstream media’ they are not as far onto the fringes as they claim. They’ve grown from obscurity to having quite a voice amongst real, actual people, with actual voting powers.

And remember, this is 48 hours where the major events of national self-interest have been the NHS going on strike and the Prime Minister’s involvement in a tax scandal. These are not stories that only affect Guardianistas who are snorting their third line of avodaco, either – the entire country relies on the health service for emergency care, ambulances, accident and emergency, and most medical training. We rely on its scale and purchasing power to negotiate better rates for medical drugs and treatments. We rely on its doctors for cutting edge research. Meanwhile, tax avoidance by the wealthy accumulates into the Tax Gap, which is one of the largest government expenditures and a firm contributor to the government deficit – and it’s the working class, average person, not the millionaire, that gets punished in their attempt to close this gap. They are definitely important and, as I’ve said, very much within our insular national self-interest.

These are big things ignored in favour of posts about how all Pakistanis are rapists.

For anyone who really wants to put this country first, and put the people who live here first, these are major stories. For anyone who doesn’t care about those particular things, this is a country of 64 million people and so it can’t be hard to find some relevant news about us if we want to be selfish. Why is a page that puts Britain, supposedly, first, hardly talking about us? Why are they talking about a “foreign” religious group more than their own religion? Why are they talking about a non-EU county more than they’re talking about the upcoming EU referendum?

So it’s time to stop pretending this is even remotely about “patriotism”.

Context and Double-Standards

A few weeks ago, a handful of Muslim extremists killed 130 people in Paris. Many people were quick to condemn the attacks, while simultaneously defending mainstream, moderate (and liberal) Muslims. Of course, Islam had nothing to do with those attacks – they were the work of extremists who misinterpret the faith to justify violence.

Not long after, a Planned Parenthood clinic in the United States was attacked in an act of terrorism that left 3 people dead (the body count being the only tangible difference between this and Paris, frankly). In this case, liberal progressives were quick to point out the shooter’s Christian and right-wing political beliefs, asking if “moderate” conservatives and pro-lifers would condemn the attack and sort out their extremists.

Double standard?

A shallow analysis says “yes”.

Facebook has no shortage of memes and comments from Right Wing News and other pundits and politicians pointing this out exactly. “A week ago, religion had nothing to do with the attacks… this week, it has everything to do with it” points out one (though paraphrased, as I don’t care to type ‘libtard’ that many times).

And, in fact, I’d agree – with the caveats expressed in the bulk of this below – that we need to be very careful about cherry picking when we place blame on abstract entities like religion. I don’t think ‘Islam’, the abstract religious entity, has anything to do with the Paris attacks – and I don’t think ‘Christianity’, the abstract religious entity, has anything to do with the Planned Parenthood attack, either. Mere ‘religion’ simply isn’t that good a prediction of violent dickishness.

With billions upon billions of people adhering to a religion of some kind, if religion, the abstract entity, was to blame – and by blame I specifically mean it is the best predictor of said behaviour – for violence, we’d all be fucked way more than we are. If anyone wishes to disagree, I invite you to do the calculations that show P(violent|religious) is higher than any other factor we can look at. If it’s meaningfully higher than P(violent|breathes-oxygen) I’d be very impressed.

Anyway, with that said, why don’t I think the above alleged-contradiction is a double standard? Mostly because in order to be a double-standard, you have to contrast like with like. It is a double standard after all; it implies you’re measuring two suitably similar things differently for no real reason than Just Because.

So, in no particular order:

  • Following the Planned Parenthood shooting, we have not seen an increase in anti-Christian attacks on people.
  • We have not seen politicians say we should make Christians wear special badges to identify themselves.
  • Some people are so desperate to shake off the Planned Parenthood shooter’s association with the rhetoric of the Religious Right that they tried to say he was a liberal trans woman. I mean, what the actual fuck?
  • We don’t see states and countries close their borders to Christian refugees on the off-chance one of them is a terrorist despite a Christian having conducted an act of terror on behalf of the Religious Right.
  • If you’re a Christian and called ‘James’ in the United States, you’ll probably get a better job or have to work less-hard for it than if you’re Muslim and called ‘Muhammad’.
  • We don’t see the media make a big deal of the Planned Parenthood shooter’s religion as its first port of call. (in fact, I’m aware that I’ve used ‘Muslim extremist’ as a term twice in this very article, but not ‘Christian extremist’ even once – this meta-aside excluded, obviously)
  • So far there have been no serious calls for the ‘Christian Community’ to condemn and dissociate themselves from the attacks. By which, I mean a call apropos of the attack alone, rather than as a facetious response to the “white=not-a-terrorist, brown=terrorist” narrative.
  • Similarly, there are no serious calls for Christians to sort out their extremists. The calls that do are merely a response to the actual double-standard going on.
  • Christians who publicly endorse or celebrate the Planned Parenthood shooter aren’t vilified in the press – while Muslims are the baddies even if they don’t support Daesh or extremists. In fact, some of those assholes are celebrated in the right-wing press, whose increasing popularity is encroaching so much as to be the new mainstream. So, yes, mainstream pundits have celebrated a terrorist.
  • There’s no long history of treating Christians as terrorists in popular culture and fiction as the default of what ‘being a Christian’ means. Evil Muzzie-towelheads, though, are the fuel that award-winning television is made of.

Do I really need to go on with this? The list is practically endless. The surrounding background context makes these attacks very different, even though the only direct difference in the events is the number of people killed.

We’re not comparing like with like here. In order to be a hypocritical double-standard, making a big deal of religion (or not) would depend on whether those religions are viewed equally. And in the case of Christianity vs Islam, they’re definitely not. You’re sadly deluded if you feel that “the killer’s a Christian!” has the same social impact as “the killer’s a Muslim!”

So we live in a world where Muslim extremists can commit acts of terror and the entire faith of billions is vilified and thrown under the bus no matter the low levels of support those extremists have. Meanwhile fairly mainstream (in the United States) Christian politics are ‘pro-life’, and often use violent rhetoric to make their point – yet we’re met with hand-washing and denial from those people when someone takes their words literally. Now, to me, that sounds like a double standard on behalf of western culture and society.

Make no mistake, mere religion explains neither event – extreme political brainwashing does. But it seems like the majority are only happy to accept that in one case, not the other. That’s where the real double-standard lies. It’s seen as the default, The One And Only Way, and the norm. Any attempt to address that, by pointing in the direction of the Planned Parenthood shooter and saying “hey, look, Christian terrorist!” will be seen as an unbalanced view simply by its very nature of not conforming to the status quo.

And these Christian politicians, pundits and talk-show hosts, amongst countless commentators on message boards over the internet, may need it thrown in their face once or twice to see if they get the point.

“Democracy” my ass…

If you ignore the paranoid raving about Skynet coming to eat us, I think this is one of the more lucid thoughts from Eliezer Yudkowsky – that people say things just for the sake of inviting applause. They’re trite and pointless things, but they sound good at a first, uncritical, glance.

This is particularly important to realise in an era where such soundbites aren’t just used to invite the audience to clap, but also used to is used to shut people down. And one phrase I think has come up a lot goes along the lines of “that’s democracy”. I.e., “but people voted for David Cameron and Conservative policy, you shouldn’t be allowed to protest because that’s democracy.”

Because what does “democracy” even mean these days? If it isn’t about putting up a sign that says “APPLAUD NOW”? As Yudkowsky points out “let’s bring more democracy to the process” sounds nice, but doesn’t mean much when you try to figure out their point.

We tend treat it as a magic word that just means ‘Good Thing’. It’s tautologous.

“Democracy is a good thing” simply means “The Good Thing is a good thing” to most people. We fight for it. We rile ourselves up for it. But rarely do we seem to take a step back and ask why it’s a good thing. What properties of “democracy” are the Good Things that we want? Much like “freedom of speech”, democracy is should be the means to a better world, not the end in itself. When people didactically declare that “we have democracy” and “we have freedom”, is that just a meaningless platitude and a thought-terminating cliché?

Anyway…

So what is “democracy” really about? Or, more precisely, what should it be about?  And even more importantly, do we have it? Do we have good things, or do we have the didactically self-declared Good Thing? Have I used too many rhetorical questions in this post so far? Yes?

Is it about elections?

Well, we get those so infrequently we could host most of one of the World Wars in between them, and a lot can change in those 4-5 years. To put it in perspective, we complain that students are a demographic that don’t vote, but about 2-in-5 university students  won’t, statistically, get even the opportunity to vote because elections are so comparatively rare. A degree lasts 3-4 years, and so you could go that entire time without the opportunity to vote. You could be paying fees imposed by a government you had no say in and will have no say in while tuition has salience to you.

But when these elections do come around, our choices are constricted already. We don’t get to choose the candidates, those choices are made for us by the Parties. They have to undergo pre-selection before hitting a ballot paper – and while you can go it alone as an independent, please, don’t make me laugh at you for suggesting they have a genuine chance of making a difference. Our selection process is truncated at the first hurdle without our input.

I hate to say it, but on their own with nothing else to support them, our elections are mostly meaningless.

election results

Or, to be brutally honest, you take more dumps in a week than we’ve had general elections since women were allowed to vote in them. Well, not literally, if it’s literally true for you, see a doctor. But you see what I mean, though? Right?

Is it about voting in general?

Well, we get to vote… occasionally. As I pointed out above, the elections come around every 5 years. Twice a decade.

But we certainly don’t get to vote on most policies, voting for those are covered by our representatives. In theory, that system arises because voting for every little thing is a pain in the arse – elections and referenda are difficult to organise. So we avoid doing it and have representatives.

So, no we don’t get to vote on specific things, or even on general things most of the time. We vote on representatives who we trust make decisions for us. And, as recent UK political events have shown, quite frequently elected governments do the opposite of what they claim. After the election, we’ve got no power to object save protest and petitions. And less said about how the whips system and party power means representatives rarely get a free vote to follow the will of the people, and leaving their constituents high-and-dry in the process, the better.

We will not introduce ‘top-up’ fees and have legislated to prevent them. – 2001 Labour Manifesto, a position which was reversed entirely by January 2004, conveniently before the next election

Is it about representation?

At this point I would like to say I think this is the biggest key point in the democratic process. You can have all the votes in the world but they mean nothing without representation. Meanwhile, while you can, at least conceivably, do accurate representation without formally voting even once. For instance, you can randomly select people to serve as representatives like jury service – thus making sure you have a statistically representative cross-section of the country, without ever having to poll the whole population at a ballot box once.

Well, the current UK government are in power with about 7 in 10 people not voting for them. Or “actively voting against them”, if you will, since we have a first-past-the-post system that doesn’t allow us to transfer votes and gauge broad support, or empower people to vote for their true preference.

All of our electoral woes translate into a disproportionate number of seats in Parliament compared to the popular vote and our best guess for what the will of the people actually is. More people voted for UKIP than the SNP, yet the translation of that into representative seats is farcical.

Basically, it ain’t representative. Not in the slightest. If you think otherwise you are fucking delusional.

Let’s be clear, though – I fucking hate UKIP. But I have to be consistent. In the 2010 election, Nick Clegg’s performance in the televised debates caused a near-unprecedented surge in popular support for the Liberal Democrats. Despite this increase, they lost a seat. It was absurd then, it’s even more absurd now.

And if you want to change the meaning behind “representation” slightly, don’t forget that Parliament is way off our actual demographic make-up on all counts. Gender, ethnic groups, disabilities, sexual orientations… In fact, the Lords – the appointed house – is a comparative trailblazer in that respect, probably because it’s appointed and not elected. We tend to elect people similar to “us”, and in most places the majority is, as they say, male-and-pale. Given our winner-takes-all, first-past-the-post system… well, it’s an unfortunate side-effect of elections that we don’t get demographically representative representatives. There’s also probably nothing we can do about that.

Graph of MPs demographics compared to the general population

This is direct from parliament.uk, which looks… okay, until you realise it took until 2010 to get that far. Now, one can argue that representatives should be more educated and older so have better experience, but when we have a health secretary who believes in homoeopathy and a PM that doesn’t realise the effects of his own policies, then clearly that plan is, to use the technical jargon, bollocks.

What about electing the leaders and holding them to account, that must be what democracy is all about, right?

Again… you don’t vote for the leader of the country, that’s selected for you. You vote for your MP, and that translates into a seat, and the side with the most seats takes their preferred MP and sticks them in the executive branch of government.

Even the cabinet you don’t vote for. They’re appointed based on connections and party loyalty, and certainly not their qualifications or suitability for the post. And they’re reshuffled at will, at quasi-random intervals, and usually with regard to what looks good on the news.

So, think about that: in UK politics, the people actually wielding the power are not voted for.

The whips mean the Party must vote the way the government want, and the government – that is, the cabinet and the policy-makers – are selected and appointed from the pool of MPs, not elected directly to their positions. Doctors have zero say in who the Health Secretary is, school teachers have no say in who the Education Secretary is – because no-one, save the Party Elite, has that power.

Oh, and when we petition a vote of no confidence in one of them because he’s fucking up the job at an objective and demonstrable level, we get nothing. In fact, we occasionally get laughed at.

Because fuck you, that’s why.

So, if “that’s democracy”, then screw it.

Democracy is evidently shit.

I’d rather have meaningful voting, qualified representatives, an accountable executive branch, houses that accurately reflect our opinions, and the ability to be continually heard. Because those are good things, not Good Things.

When you say “that’s democracy” like it’s a good thing, to avoid talking about problems with the government, or to shut down protesters, complaints, and petitions, then you’re doing nothing but buying into a load of bullshit. If you want “democracy” to begin and end at elections every five years, if you want representatives that aren’t allowed to represent us, and you want executive leaders who are appointed through their connections and party loyalty, then you probably shouldn’t be engaging in the political process in the first place.

A Skeptical Cynic’s View of the Cameron-Oxford Letters

We’ll get onto these megalomaniacal folk in a moment, but first…

In 1954, social psychologist Leon Festinger and his collaborators, Henry Riecken and Stanley Schachter, embedded themselves within a small but intense doomsday cult lead by Dorothy Martin. The cult claimed that the world would end in December 1954 through a great apocalyptic flood, and that the believers of the cult would be whisked away by a quasi-magical group known as ‘The Guardians’. The date came, and the date went. No apocalypse, no knocks at the door from the Guardians. Psychologists expected the group to disband – with their belief shattered, surely these rational humans would quit and get on with their lives. What actually happened shocked Festinger and his colleagues – the group expanded. They proselytised, preached and practised, and their numbers grew. The cult became ever more embedded in its beliefs, despite being proven wrong.

In 1994, a relative unknown named Harold Camping predicted the end of the world would happen on September 6th of that year – being a committed Christian, he called it Judgement Day, and the Second Coming. September 6th came and went, but Camping remained unfazed by this lack of realisation. With his 1994 date largely ignored and forgotten, Camping would go on to make a number of other Judgement Day predictions – cumulating in a massive, national campaign that stretched across the United States in 2010. He predicted the end of the world for May 21st, 2011 and became a household name due to it. His followers and believers sold their possessions and donated the proceeds to him to continue the awareness campaign. Some may have even killed themselves or their relatives in anticipation. The date came and went, and Camping’s Judgement Day was nowhere to be seen. Still, Camping stubbornly adhered to his belief – he dismissed the May 21st date as a “spiritual” judgement, and rescheduled the real Judgement Day for October. His campaign ramped up further still – billboards were erected, believers became more fired up for the real judgement. That date came and went, with the world spinning on as physics dictates. Camping died in December 2013, before he could make any other predictions or cause any more damage through them.

Since the 1950s, there has been an unprecedented boom in biological research. Beginning with Crick, Watson and Wilkins, genetics has shown us the heritability of traits from generation to generation. It has made sense of evolution, our ancestry, and how all species on the planet are related in a complex tree of life. New major discoveries that all fit within this network of evolutionary biology are added every day to the great pile of scientific knowledge. Yet, in 2007 – and with a price tag of $27 million – Ken Ham of the organisation Answers in Genesis opened the Creation Museum. The museum would stand as a monument to everything that 150 years of scientific exploration and evidence knows to be wrong. In 2010, Ham decided to press on with yet a new, large project; the Ark Encounter. Built as a giant, replica boat, it would be a living museum dedicated to the myth of Noah’s Ark, with an accompanying price tag an order of magnitude higher than that of the Creation Museum. Yet scientific discoveries such as the Tiktaalik in the ’00s and the mapping of the Neanderthal genome in 2010 haven’t pushed back our knowledge towards Biblically-literal 6-day creation. Ham’s responses have intensified in the opposite direction to the evidence.

The three stories above illustrate a concept well known to skeptics; cognitive dissonance. When faced with contradictory information, information that makes our internal view of the world less consistent, we react with discomfort. The discomfort forces us to either re-evaluate everything we believe to be true, or to adjust the evidence to fit. A total re-evaluation of our lives requires rewiring large sections of our beliefs, as if re-writing the software that our brains run on from scratch and building up our worldview all over again from nothing. Cognitive dissonance is more than just a face-saving exercise where we deny that we were wrong about something – the cognitive load to admit we’re incorrect, and fix ourselves appropriately, is simply beyond what we’re capable of.

So in September 2015, David Cameron exchanged letters with the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire council. In the letters, Cameron expressed his disappointment that the council was cutting essential services – libraries, museums, care homes, youth clubs – and that the council should instead look for savings in efficiency and in offices. The Oxfordshire councillor replied almost bluntly; we have done that, and the Conservative government’s cuts are too drastic, too deep, and we must cut front-line services. In other words: the policies of David Cameron’s government have left us with no choice but to hurt real people.

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David Cameron expresses disappointment that such a thing had to be done. As if he had no idea it was needed. George Monbiot’s article on the subject suggests that Cameron is merely ignorant of the effect his own policies have. And he may well be right; as a millionaire with a fund in an offshore bank, and effectively in stable employment on a massive salary provided by the state, it’s very likely that Cameron has no idea of what austerity means to people who rely on council and state-funded services.

David Cameron has had evidence almost-literally thrown into his face about how severe, damaging, unproductive, and outright dangerous his austerity policies are, in particular to his own home constituency – the tiny little packet of the country he’s been voted to directly represent. This isn’t a new thing, of course; the UK’s slow recovery from a depression that happened 7 years ago is due to these policies, and when the policies fail to provide growth it completes a feedback cycle that proves such policies are needed.

So the ideology of austerity has been challenged, and its real effects made clear. The evidence is in: it doesn’t work. In an ideal world Cameron, Osborne, Hunt and the rest of the government would change their track.

But, instead, everything we know of cognitive dissonance tells us that we should be very, very scared of what will come next.