Equinox, September 2016


The autumn equinox does funny things to a man




I must be going soft.

I saw a flight of seagulls last night on the way home, migrating north in their classic vee formation, and I thought, why do they follow the guy at the front? What does he know that the ones at the back don’t? Are they whispering to each other, thinking, “does he know where the hell he’s going?”

I woke up this morning and the poem pretty much wrote itself as I lay in bed. On the back of an envelope, literally.


After breakfast, I was taking a stroll round in garden lapping up the 30 degree heat and untypically British scorching September sunshine, when a hundred or so gulls began drifting my way. They formed up over my house in a great vortex, swirling hundreds of feet in the air, as if saluting me, then made off to the north.

I swear, there is magic on this planet we don’t even know.




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Has Jo Cox’s murder been used to pervert the outcome of the EU referendum?


I have a queasy feeling this morning as I’m about to set off to the village hall to cast my vote for Britain to leave the EU. My reasons for doing so are many and varied, and have been expounded loud and clear by the #VoteLeave campaign over the last four weeks. If anyone is reading this and is still undecided about which way to vote, I would urge you to watch Brexit the Movie before you go down the polling station. Or if your sympathies lie more to the left of politics, Labour Leave make the case excellently in their Lexit the Movie. I defy anyone to watch either of these two movies, search their conscience, and still vote to Remain in the EU.

So why do I feel so nervous, so queasy about the outcome of this referendum, which all the polls are now saying is too close to call?

Well, a week ago, shortly before 1pm last Thursday, 16th June, if you believed the polls the referendum was as good as won. With only seven days to go, #VoteLeave was running away with it. Over the course of the campaign they had gradually clawed back a ten-point deficit in the opinion polls to open up a six-point lead. A lead that was growing bigger every day.

The Remain campaign was in disarray. David Cameron had become the least trusted, most toxic politician in the country, largely thanks to him ‘masterminding’ a project fear campaign based on scaremongering, dodgy statistics, and flat out lies which took the British people for morons.

Such was the panic in Remain that Cameron was advised to take a back seat as the camp cast around for others to salvage their rapidly faltering campaign. Defeat seemed inevitable. The stock markets grew jittery. Bookmakers slashed the odds on #VoteLeave winning. All the momentum was for Brexit. Most of the pundits were coming round to the fact that it would now take some kind of political earthquake to alter the likely outcome of the referendum. One so unimaginably shocking, that no one could even envisage it.

Then something remarkable happened. Something completely unprecedented and inexplicable, to this day. An event of such troubling savagery as to be pretty much unheard of in modern British politics. Spookily, it also happened at the critical juncture of the most important election in fifty years. An event so bizarre, so freakishly coincidental in its timing, that it felt as if one had stepped into the pages of a John Le Carre novel.

If you had to stage-manage the timing and impact of an incident that would do maximum damage to #VoteLeave, stopping it in its tracks and gagging it from campaigning on its most effective issue, it’s hard to imagine a more destructive hand-grenade you could have thrown into the works than the appalling event that took place in the Yorkshire village of Birstall, a place that until last Thursday few people had ever heard of.

There were many campaigning for Brexit who had been waiting, suspecting, fearing that something like this would happen. Nigel Farage made a speech only the day before Jo Cox’s murder, which he ended with words to the effect: “if you think they (Remain, and the establishment) haven’t been playing fair so far, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Be prepared for them to get really dirty now, now it looks like they are going to lose”.

But this? THIS? Things like this NEVER happen on the streets of Britain. We’ve had the National Front, the BNP and other far right parties getting involved in some fairly nasty stuff. But murder? POLITICAL murder? Assassination? This just doesn’t happen. Ever. Not in Britain. (I don’t count the days of IRA assassinations, which were in a completely different context. I’m talking about domestic politics.)

It would be interesting to know if the police or MI5 had ever investigated Thomas Mair for his links to far right parties, or for downloading ‘build yourself a gun’ instructions from the internet. Was he on their radar? Were they aware of him before July 16th? Simple questions, but I’m not sure we’ll ever get to the truth behind them.

The sheer savagery of the attack on Jo Cox seemed in itself to be completely over the top, as though it had been ‘choreographed’ for maximum effect. The alleged shouting of ‘Put Britain First’ or ‘Britain First’ throughout the attack, like some sick parody of ‘allahu akbar’. Repeated over and over, to make sure everyone heard it. Then when asked his name in court, Mair’s reply ‘My name is death to traitors, freedom to Britain’, was probably one of the most bizarre utterances ever heard in a British law court. And yet, strangely, it seems to have raised not a single suspicious comment, anywhere.

A number of thoughts occur to me here. Firstly, was this man completely insane? Secondly, if he wasn’t insane, why did he do it, where he did it, when he did it? Who had most to gain politically from this horrible murder, and who had most to lose?

Most troubling of all, was the nagging thought at the back of my head: are there even darker and more sinister forces at work here, than just pure evil? Let me spell it out. Did someone put Mair up to it? When the Remain campaign looked like coming completely off the rails, did someone, somewhere, decide to press the nuclear button?

Before you cry ‘empty conspiracy theory’, consider this. This Government, and this Prime Minister in particular, have already proved themselves capable of the blackest political arts. They have also staked their careers and reputations in a game of poker that they dare not lose. There are very powerful vested interests at work here. Both in Westminster, and Brussels. Powerful global forces that are willing to say and do anything to keep Britain in the EU, at any cost.

Faced with the prospect of Brexit running away with the referendum, if you had to think of a hand grenade you could throw into the #VoteLeave bandwagon to bring its momentum to a juddering halt, you would struggle to come up with a more effective ‘solution’ than the appalling act which took place last Thursday.

Naturally the mind recoils from the thought that the people elected to govern us would ever contemplate getting involved in anything as dark as state murder. But we know that such things have gone on in the past, where people have been sacrificed as pawns by faceless men in darkened corridors, to achieve ‘higher aims’. There are those who believe the British Government ‘bumped off’ scientist and weapons expert Dr David Kelly because he knew the truth about the Iraq War, that the BBC journalist Jill Dando was ‘taken out’ because she was investigating child abuse at the BBC with possible links to paedophiles in high places, and big questions still remain to be answered about the Death of Princess Diana. It happens.

There are many who also believe the government have already tried to kill Farage twice. First there was the mysterious plane crash that almost did for him in the run up to the 2010 general election, then the mysterious loosening of the wheel nuts on his car on a French motorway in the run up to the 2015 general election. Now evidence is emerging that the Tory party are under investigation by the police for breaking the law during that 2015 election in order to stop Farage winning a seat as an MP in Thanet South. It is clear that this is a Government that will stop at nothing, and is capable of anything.

There is a whole generation of working class people in the UK and abroad who have been ‘left behind’ by the ‘progressive’ doctrines of middle-class, university-educated, neo-liberal politicians who live in ivory towers far away from the cultural and economic effects of their policies. The EU has come to epitomise this remote, patronising form of government for millions of European citizens. Ideologically opposed to the Tories, betrayed by Labour, first under Blair and now Corbyn, the disenfranchised have found a voice in Nigel Farage. He is the only one speaking up for them, on the issues that matter to them. In that sense, he is dynamite, and very dangerous, because his growing popularity with a large section of society threatens to bring the whole cosy, rotten establishment gravy train down around their ears. Which is why they have so far done their damnest, by foul means and fair, to keep him out of office.

So what has been the impact of Jo Cox’s death on the referendum campaign?

Like most people, I was completely shocked, numb, in disbelief when it happened. I felt so knocked sideways by it that I avoided posting anything on social media about the referendum for two whole days, out of respect for Jo Cox and her family.

I did however notice that during that time, many Remainers were already busy online, tweeting and posting literally hours after the tragic event, about how this terrible crime was all the fault of #VoteLeave. Even though the act had been carried out by a loner with a long history of mental illness and links to far right extremist parties, none of which had anything to do with #VoteLeave.

The self-righteous on the left – who are always so quick to jump to Islam’s defence (and rightly so), following a terrorist atrocity committed by a Muslim nutter – were quick to associate Jo Cox’s death with the whole of the #VoteLeave campaign, with which it had nothing to do. This seemed a little bit hypocritical to me, and highly opportunistic.

It emerged that soon after the event, Will Straw, the Campaign Director for Remain, emailed all his people urging them to make political capital out of Cox’s murder, using it as a stick to beat #VoteLeave in the referendum, which was utterly reprehensible.

Then gradually, they began emerging from the woodwork one by one.

Soon we had Alex Salmond mouthing off in the Scottish press, one minute talking about the need to tone down the rhetoric and start being nicer in our political discourse, and in the next breath accusing Nigel Farage of ‘gutter politics’, and ‘dragging the referendum campaign into the sewer’. Well, Salmond should know, he’s spent his whole political career there.

Then we had our horrible Bullingdon Club Chancellor George Osborne, fresh from trying to slash the benefits of the working poor and people in wheelchairs so he could hand out vile and disgusting tax breaks to millionaires and big business, describing UKIP’s ‘Breaking Point’ poster as ‘vile and disgusting… with echoes of 1930s Nazi propaganda’.

Within forty-eight hours we had Jeremy Corbyn and an army of left-wing luvvies making predictable speeches that were thinly veiled criticisms of the #VoteLeave campaign. Speeches that kept repeating the word ‘hate’ and ‘divisiveness’ so many times they sounded like stuck records.

A particularly low and opportunistic intervention came on Monday 20th June when Parliament re-convened in a special session, ostensibly to pay tribute to Jo Cox. Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, whose parents are reputed to have made £10million out of the EU gravy train, shamelessly stood up and used Jo Cox’s death to score points, by laying the blame squarely at the way #VoteLeave was campaigning in the referendum, and specifically targeting UKIP’s ‘Breaking Point’ poster.


“She would have responded with outrage,” he said, “and with a robust rejection of the calculated narrative of cynicism and despair that it represents. Jo understood that rhetoric has consequences. When insecurity, fear and anger are used to light a fuse, then an explosion is inevitable.”

Coming on a day which was supposed to be a House of Commons tribute to the murdered MP, it was fairly shameless for Kinnock to have made political capital out of it, and frankly come close to slander by implying that #VoteLeave’s immigration debate was directly linked to Jo’s Death.

And of course it wouldn’t have been the referendum without David Cameron blundering around everywhere accusing Nigel Farage of trying to “frighten people, to scare them, to divide people,” which is a bit rich coming from the architect of a ‘project fear’ campaign which has been built upon a tissue of lies, threats, misinformation, scaremongering, bullying and blackmail.

Pretty much overnight following Jo Cox’s murder, the polls turned around a 6-point lead for #VoteLeave, giving Remain clear daylight. It seems clear now that Remain used it from the start to poison the issue of immigration as a legitimate campaigning point, and to pick up a lot of ‘sympathy votes’.

Having lost most of the arguments, Remain have continued to grasp at this straw, and milk Jo Cox’s death right up to the day of the referendum, culminating with yesterday’s almost grand-standed memorial service in Trafalgar Square, where her family, friends, and a depressingly predictable cast of left-wing luvvies all spoke out against hatred and divisiveness in society and politics.

Pretty much all of their speeches, if you read between the lines, weren’t criticisms of the crazy loner Thomas Mair who had killed Jo. They weren’t even criticisms of the far right groups he is alleged to have had associations with. And they definitely weren’t criticisms of the EU’s clear responsibility for the rise of far-right political groups all over Europe in the last decade. No, they were thinly veiled criticisms of #VoteLeave, for daring to campaign on a subject that is the number one issue for tens of millions of people across the UK, immigration. Which Remain can’t even bring itself to utter. They were a criticism of UKIP’s ‘Breaking Point’ poster, and specifically, of Nigel Farage.

Like most right thinking people I acknowledge the huge positive contribution that successive generations of immigrants have made to the prosperity, diversity and vibrancy of our country. Nobody is saying we should stop or reverse immigration. But at a time of austerity when there is scarcely enough money to properly fund our public services and build homes for our existing population, it is clearly a crazy situation where 500 million EU citizens can walk into this country tomorrow, and we can’t do a thing about it. Indeed, there was a great article in Sunday’s Guardian by Patrick Collinson explaining exactly how the influx of low-skilled workers from eastern Europe has had a devastating impact many of Britain’s working class communities.

Before condemning the ‘Breaking Point’ poster, students of politics would do well remember the Conservative Party’s ‘Labour isn’t working’ poster from the 1979 general election. I don’t recall anyone claiming it had echoes of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1930’s Nazi propaganda at the time. No, it was an equally legitimate poster making the same point, albeit on a different issue (unemployment as opposed to immigration) clearly illustrating the consequences of a policy failure.


Yet over the last week, Remain have shamefully talked about hate and divisiveness as if #VoteLeave had a monopoly on them. While a lot of the real hate I have experienced during the referendum has in fact come from the Remain campaign itself. I have seen their activists disrupting #VoteLeave events, swearing and shoving two-fingers up to working class people campaigning for jobs and communities, intimidating #VoteLeave campaigners on the doorstep. You have to experience the hatred on their faces close up, to really believe it.

While we are on the subject of posters that encourage divisiveness or hate, where were the self-righteous howls of protest from the Remain camp a month ago, when this ‘Operation Black Vote’ poster appeared at the start of the referendum, encouraging more ethnic minorities to vote?


Any racist overtones or incitement here? Or just rank hypocrisy?

Why am I saying all of this? Well, I have a funny feeling that this referendum has been rigged from the start, to deny the people of Britain their REAL democratic right to decide their future. There has just been too much going on behind the scenes for this ever to have been a fair and level playing field. Too many rules have been broken. Too many lines crossed. There have been too many irregularities happening, too many inexplicable events, with uncanny coincidences of timing, for the outcome not to have been pre-ordained by the people at the top.

Let’s be clear, this referendum was supposed to be free and fair. The Government was supposed to stand back and let the British people decide on the most important decision in 50 years. And yet from the start, Cameron and the Remain side have been allowed to use the entire Government apparatus (and £millions of taxpayer’s money) to serve Remain’s ends. Not only that, they have been bending over backwards to ensure the result is rigged. And there have been very dark and powerful forces at work in both our own Government, the EU, and dare I say it at world Government level (viz the conveyor belt of ‘interventions’ from foreign leaders and organisation, trying to tell the British people how to vote).

First there was the timing of the referendum, during the Euro football tournament, when more than a hundred thousand England fans (mostly Brexit supporters) would be out the country. Then the illegal use of £9.3million of taxpayers’ money to fund a ‘Remain’ propaganda leaflet that went to every home in the country. The use of the Treasury and state apparatus, before and after the purdah period, to bombard the electorate with a never-ending series of outrageously bogus statistics. The ‘helpful instructions’ leaflet that went out with some postal voting cards, accidentally including an illustration showing a tick in the Remain box. The mysterious ‘crashing’ of the Government’s registration website, followed by the highly irregular decision to change the rules in the middle of an election and REOPEN the website, not for two hours, but for two DAYS! During which time almost 500,000 new registrations were made, two thirds of which were allegedly Remain supporters. The endless bias of the BBC and ITV, stuffing their debates and panel shows with Remain supporters, giving #VoteLeave interviewees a much harder time. We even had David Cameron standing outside number 10 Downing Street two days ago, urging the British people to vote Remain, in clear breach of the purdah rules which state that the Government must be seen as impartial to ensure a fair referendum. Where has the Electoral Commission been while all this gerrymandering has gone on? Sitting on its hands, quietly allowing every violation to be swept under the carpet. Cheating is okay, it seems, as long as it’s for the ‘right’ side.

So let’s just say I’m getting my excuses in early. I’m still hoping, as I prepare to take my fateful walk down to the village hall to cast my vote, that the British people will reject project fear and our lying establishment politicians, that they will rise up and reclaim their democratic rights. But if, despite them doing so, the Government still finds some way to ‘fix’ the outcome, I want all this to have been on the record, so it doesn’t sound like sour grapes after the event.

What I do know is this. If the British people are cheated out of their independence for a second time, #VoteLeave won’t be going anywhere, and David Cameron will only have kicked the can down the road. There will be 20 or 30 million UK citizens who will feel cheated, and very, very angry. And as Arron banks has said, “UKIP will come back on steroids”.

I’ll end by quoting a transcript of a recent video by Paul Joseph Watson, put out a few days ago, which pretty much echoes my sentiment:

“The Remain campaign have just spent the last 4 days shamelessly exploiting the murder of Jo Cox, for votes. The polls were with #VoteLeave. The momentum was with #VoteLeave. Then a mentally ill nutcase who had been under psychiatric treatment killed a Labour MP. Quite what the actions of one lunatic had to do with the EU making 60% of our laws, Britain being deluged by migrants or EU regulations strangling small business, I don’t know. But both camps announced that they were immediately suspending their campaigns. Except that the vote Remain camp DIDN’T suspend their campaign. After project fear failed, they turned to ‘project grief’. They immediately and vociferously went on the offensive, blaming Cox’s death on #VoteLeave supporters. Vote Remain campaign director Will Straw sent out an email urging supporters to cash in on the new context created by Cox’s death, to attack #VoteLeave for creating, quote, ‘division and resentment’, blaming virtually half the country for the demented decision of one moron popped up on psychotropic drugs. This is the same crowd that gave us the hashtag #NotAllMuslims after every single Islamic terror attack. It’s racist and bigoted to even question Islam after every jihadist slaughter, but one drooling mentalist goes postal and suddenly it’s our fault for opposing EU bureaucratic tyranny. No. How dare you suggest that just because we don’t want to be ruled by unelected dictators that suddenly makes us all violent right-wing extremists. But vote Remain were dutifully backed up by endless television coverage implying that the only way to honour Cox’s memory is to vote to remain in the EU. Newspapers published headlines blaming this on Brexit supporters before Cox was even pronounced dead. Angela Merkel warned about ‘radicalisation of language’. This is the same woman who greases the skids for comedians to be put in prison for making jokes about foreign despots. George Osborne slammed #VoteLeave for their, quote, ‘baseless assertions and inflammatory rhetoric’. This, is coming from the same people who threatened World War Three and economic Armageddon if we left the EU. The same guy that threatened to punish Brits with tax hikes if we exercised our democratic will. Nigel Farage suddenly became Hitler because he stood in front of a poster portraying migrants in a negative light. This is how dumb they think you are – “everyone I don’t like, is Hitler”. VoteRemain, how dare you tell me to tone down my rhetoric while your people were out before Jo Cox’s body was even cold, blaming this on your political opposition. You need to tone down YOUR rhetoric. If you’re desperate enough to have to resort to exploiting murder victims to make your case, you’re clearly losing the argument. Brexit isn’t about using the dead body of a murder victim as your own ventriloquist’s dummy to espouse your own political views. Brexit is about immigration, it’s about sovereignty, it’s about the economy. Brits, you were wise to reject the crass, manipulative tactics of project fear, but don’t fall for it again, don’t fall for the same people trying to fool you with this sick, distasteful rebrand of the same old bollocks. Reject project fear, reject project grief. On June 23rd, #VoteLeave.”

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Rise of the robots – how technology is destroying jobs

A driverless car


Are driverless cars speeding us toward an employment wasteland?

A BBC article today headed ‘China’s push for driverless cars accelerates’, reports that the race for driverless car technology is hotting up around the world, and that “Chinese companies are taking big strides competing with the likes of Google and Tesla”.

I sometimes wonder if all the geniuses behind this push for driverless cars have ever paused for a moment to consider that most people actually ENJOY driving their cars. So they are spending £Trillions developing a product most people will never want to buy.

But behind this insanity there is a more serious point, that of how technology is changing the world in which we live, work and play.

Those who look on the impact technology will have on our lives ten, twenty, or a hundred years from now, generally fall into two camps. The optimists, who consider most technological advances to be positive, bringing us things like iphones, micro-surgery techniques, and driverless cars. Then there are the pessimists who in bygone days would probably have been called Luddites, who think a high-tech world isn’t all gravy.

Since like most people nowadays I’d hardly be able to function if they suddenly took away the internet, or my iphone, or 46″ plasma TV, I should be firmly in the optimist camp. But there’s a little hypocritical pessimist lurking inside me, who sometimes worries about where this is all going.

Every age has had its Luddites. As far back as the Bronze Age there were probably people bemoaning how new-fangled inventions like the wheel would put them out of jobs. But the agrarian and industrial revolutions in the last three-hundred years have undeniably transformed the countries we know today, from populations that mostly lived in scattered, rural communities, working in agriculture and cottage industries, to a modern world almost entirely centred in large towns and cities. Whether you think that is a good or a bad thing is a matter of opinion.

But the advent of the motor car, then the computer, have arguably changed our world more significantly than any other technological development. And in the looming spectre of the driverless car, which combines the two, we are facing perhaps the perfect high-tech storm on the horizon.

Let no one be in any doubt, when driverless cars become a reality, they will overnight put millions of cab drivers, van drivers, lorry drivers, ambulance and fire engine drivers out of work, as profit-driven companies replace people with cheaper, more ‘efficient’ robots and computers. Train drivers and airline pilots might do well to think about a plan B too.

If this trend continues, a hundred years from now, a ‘driver’ will be something kids are taught about in their school history lessons, or they look up on Wikipedia, or whatever the higher-tech equivalent of Wikipedia will be called then. The same will go for ‘car worker’, ‘agricultural worker’, ‘office worker’ or ‘shop assistant’. They will all have been replaced by cheaper, more efficient robots and computers.

A few minutes shopping on Amazon, or walking around any farm, factory or supermarket check-out will reveal we’re already half way there.

A recent report by the World Economic Forum predicted that 5 million jobs would be lost by 2020 alone.

And yet, as this trend continues, and the world’s population increases by about 25 million EACH YEAR, does anyone not see a teeny bit of a problem up ahead with that math?

Here’s a scary graph, showing how the world’s population has increased over the last 1,700 years.

Increase in world population 300AD - 2016AD

In fact the world’s population has DOUBLED from 3 billion around 1960 alone, to 7.5 billion today, and is currently increasing at around 25 million a year, while job losses are accelerating in the opposite direction.

And all those displaced millions will do WHAT exactly with their lives, when there are no more jobs to do? And earn a living HOW exactly when there are no more meaningful employment opportunities, or careers that give shape and purpose to their lives? And don’t tell me you’ll all be lazing happily around in some utopian leisure world playing non-stop computer games and other fun stuff like that, because somebody will have to pay for those expensive toys, and if you haven’t got a job, it won’t be you.

Perhaps the geniuses who are rushing us headlong into this ‘technological revolution’ might pause and reflect on the employment wasteland they are building for our grand-children, and great grand-children. Where perhaps only 1% of the world’s population have all the jobs, and presumably all the money.

It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to realise that that is a world which cannot end well.

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