Thursday, 12 January 2017

Who Do They Work For? Follow the Cashflow...

As sad as it is, this is what I do in my spare time. I ponder questions, google them, get frustrated at the lack of easily digestible and compatible information and compile my own!

Recently I've spent a fair amount of time contemplating the increasing crisis in the NHS and the motivation of our major political parties. Why is our government reducing taxes with one hand and decimating services with the other? Income based taxes continue to fall, while central funding for local government is also reduced leading to increasing council taxes, which inevitably hit the poorest hardest. So I beg the question, who do they really work for?

While the general public are the ones who vote our government into power, the political parties wouldn't exist without their donors. On the surface, decisions that advantage the rich at the expense of the rest of the country may look like incompetence, but if you're one the the 500+ individuals giving the conservative party an average of £22,000 in 2016 then what would you care about social care? You just got a massive tax break while many NHS trusts find themselves in massive financial deficit year on year.

I've compiled information from the Electoral Commission which helpfully layouts how much each party earns from donations from different sources (Individuals, Companies, Trade Unions, ect) and put them in a series of pie charts:

In 2016 the Conservative Party received a total of £21,116,169.17 in donations,distributed mainly between individual, and company donations

In the same period the Labour party received £22,698,544.18, mainly from Trade Unions and public funds

So if we suppose that political parties are out to keep their donors happy then the Conservative Party are much more beholden to wealthy individual donors than Labour are! These figures also explain a part of the Conservative attacks on Trade Unions in this government, by undermining the power of the Trade Unions they make them less attractive to those who would join them, potentially reducing the amount of money they are able to donate to the Labour party.

Like it or loathe it, we live in a capitalist age. Money is power.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Nightwish - Wembley Arena 2015

After seeing The Independents lazy review, I decided to write one of my own.

Many fans were dissapointed when Nightwish announced they'd only be doing 1 UK show on their European tour, but by playing that show at the SSE Wembley Arena they were finally able to bring their full production to the country!

The fans knew what to expect from the band: we expected them to be tight (not because of the click tracks, but because they're a fantastic group of musicians) we expected Floor to blow us away, but somehow they still managed to rise above and beyond our high expectations.

But before we get into the main event, let's first take a look at the support. Amorphis and Arch Enemy to me seem an odd combination to support Nightwish since they are both very different to Nightiwsh.

Never the less both bands (though not really to my taste) put on good performances. I'll give a special mention here to Arch Enemy's singer for being a truly entertaining lunatic jumping around that stage!

When the curtain came down after Arch Enemy's set, about 12500 people stood and sat round impatiently for the Nightwish crew to transform the stage ready for Nightwish. The anticipation in the Arena was a tangible, electric thing. I can only imagine how the band must have felt waiting the greet Wembley for the first time!

When at last the stage was revealed and the show began in earnest the whole room exploded into pure energy, which is something singer Floor Jansen seems to feed from, Shudder Before The Beautiful was performed better, even, than the studio version! It was a fantastic way to start the show.

To then announce to the audience that the show was being filmed just blew us away!

I'm not going to do a breakdown of the set list (which can be found here) but you should know that every song on it was absolutely perfect, and that there were a few surprises in there too! I for one never expected to see The Poet and The Pendulum on the same set list as Ghost Love Score, the that's Nightwish, they like to surprise you!

One thing I will say is that Floor just continues to impress, frankly the beauty and versitility of her voice is completely unfair! No one should be able to hit the lovely high clean notes she does in Poet and the Pendulum, Stargazers, and Ghost Love Score and also be able to produce that dark dirty growling on Yours Is An Empty Hope - Floor has far too much talent for one person and leaves Nightwish open to do whatever the hell they want!

I find Troy's vocals are also a welcome introduction to the band and the 2 of them with the legend that is Marco Hietala are a powerhouse not to be taken lightly.

Nightwish is a band that just keeps on evolving, when I left Wembley Arena I was sure I would never see a show to top this one - now I'm not so sure, because Nightwish always surprises you.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Divide and Conquer - Election Tactics By David Cameron

It's hard not to notice the baffling stance David Cameron, and my local Conservative Candidate Karl McCartney, have taken regarding public debates. They are refusing to attend any debate that does not invite the smaller independent parties.

The Conservative Party are claiming to be standing up for fair representation of these Parties, however it is clear that they are all to aware that they have strong opposition in the coming election.

Nothing a Party Leader says or does in the run up to a general election is unselfish. The only reason David Cameron could have for giving these smaller Parties a platform is to somehow keep him and his Party in power. How? By dividing those who don't want him there.

All of the parties are aware of the problems with First Past The Post voting, only to the main Parties they aren't problems - they're advantages.

Arguably one of the biggest factors in David Cameron becoming PM was Nick Clegg's stellar performance in the TV debates. In winning votes for himself, with notably left wing policies, Clegg took votes from people who would normally vote Labour, reducing the Labour vote enough to hand David Cameron a Win, if not a Majority.

David Cameron knows how he won the last election and is merely trying to recreate the same conditions this time round.

As for Karl McCartney? I think he's just avoiding having to answer questions about his vote against Equal Marriage.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Let's Stop Dismissing Street Harrasment

Lately, by which I mean the past year or so, this blog has taken a more political, feminist turn. I think that's because I mostly blog when I'm pissed off or when I'm sick of seeing things going unsaid.

I've spoken a few times about slut shaming and street harassment and what really bugs me is that when ever I see this topic on social media or forum sites like Reddit you always see the same dismissal "Yea but most guys don't do that" "it's only like 0.01% of guys who do that"

You're missing the god damn point!

We all know that not all guys are arse holes. But when we talk about sexual harassment and sexual violence towards women we're not talking about 1 in a thousand. 1 in 5 women in England and Wales have suffered some form of sexual violence (2013) those figure don't even talk about harassment.

I would go as far to say that I am regularly harassed in the street. I have been followed by men asking why I wont suck their dick. I have had comments shouted at me from passing cars, I have had men try and make me walk into them and one guy even thought it would be funny to grab me from behind.

On top of that I regularly have to rescue friends from pushy guys on nights out - some of whom go so far as to grab their wrists as we walk away.

So I don't care how many guys are actually doing these things - it's happening to every woman I know.

When you say that it's only a minority of men doing these things not only are you making a completely irrelevant point you are completely dismissing a massive problem. Most women will be made to feel unsafe in public but a man making unsolicited sexual advances in the street. If that wasn't bad enough - we expect it.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Our Modern Aristocrasy

If this gets any sort of attention I'll probably end up on a list somewhere. But I think I need to share the conclusion I've drawn looking at how broken modern politics is.

Democracy is dead. I don't think I have seen it in my lifetime, I'm not sure if it ever really existed.

True democracy and party politics just aren't compatible and - to quot Doctor Horrible - The 'disguise is SLIPPING'. I would love to believe that we could campaign to end party politics or change the system in anyway at all through democratic means - but I can't see anyway it could work.

Imagine - no party line to tread. No part whips. Voting according to you, or your constituents views.

Imagine - how hard it would be for industry leaders to hold sway over hundreds of individuals, rather than a couple of parties.

Imagine - voting for an MP who represents your interests, rather than against a PARTY you don't like. A system where voting independent doesn't fuck you over.

It's a terrible system so:

Why Haven't We Risen Against It?

Propaganda - yay!

Right now the middle classes are too busy being told the lower classes are evil for needing finical aid, it's the poor who cause all of you issues, they're the reason we have to be so harsh on services ect. They're just lazy, layabouts and I bet most of them don't even need the money. Sponges.

At the same time the poor are made to feel bitter towards the middle classes because they are mocked, demonized and generally persecuted for being poor.

And the rich people? The upper class - we'' they're the ones running the news station, and paying for election campaigns and just generally pulling the strings.

It's not sustainable, something's got to give - I just hope the aftermath will be worth the cost and that I'm not alive to see the storm we're heading for.

Because sooner or later more people are going to realize they're being played off against each other - keeping us busy so we don't start asking the difficult questions. And when that starts it's just a question of whether or not our government will turn the military on The People. Either way, things would change for better, or for much, much worse.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Why Women Probably Think You're A Creep....

....before you even speak.

MASSIVE DISCLAIMER: This is about how women are trained to view men, not about how men actually are. I know a few guys who feel like they are viewed as predators by the women who they pass in the street - they're probably right... and this is why:

I saw an interesting tumbler post the other day (LINK) which starts:

Rape culture is when I was six, and
my brother punched my two front teeth out.
Instead of reprimanding him, my mother
said “Stefanie, what did you do to provoke him?”
 The poem goes on to say "It’s starts when we’re six, and endswhen we grow up assuming the natural state of a man is a predator" And that right there is how rape culture hurts both men and women. 

By teaching our daughters how not to "provoke" sexual assault we're instilling 2 detrimental ideas:  
  1. If it happens it's at least partly your fault - you shouldn't have provoked it.
  2. Men are predators. You have to be careful around them.
Some men are predators. And a lot of women are assaulted... and some of them think it's their own fault and don't report it. 

Even if you don't know it I can guarantee you know at least one woman who was sexually assaulted. I know of a few of my friends have been assaulted and I would be willing to bet that there are others who have been too ashamed to talk about it. 

Where does this shame come from? Victim blame.

I had what I consider a close encounter a little while back. I was practically on my doorstep and honestly I think that's the only reason I didn't end up getting attacked. Scariest 2 minutes of my life. This guy was setting off all kinds of alarm bells and in the back of my mind I had "If this guy tries something people are going to blame my clothes" but even beyond that there is so much information out there on "How Not To Get Raped" like it's really something we have control over. With all that helpful advise surely it's partly our fault if it happens, right?

The thing is the advise isn't that helpful. Be vigilant and aware of your surrounding is pretty sound advice for anyone. There's some shitty people in this world. But specifically advising women to hold their keys in their fist like a weapon when they're walking to their car just in case some guy tries to grab them, is just continuing our training: Man = predator. You must live in fear of strange men. 

Living in fear isn't living. 

And all this shit leads to people who think that street harassment is either okay... or funny... or something because it happens far too much

Street harassment is a massive symptom of a culture that disrespects and objectifies women. And it feeds the idea that strange men are dangerous and/or creepy every time it happens. 

And not just because it happens....

Because there is rarely any consequence. 

Most level headed human beings get that street harassment is not okay but at the same time most people aren't doing anything about it.... even if they see it happen. There is no consequence for these arseholes. No one is going to protect, or stand up for us out there in the street. We have to do it ourselves and why shouldn't we, all our lives people have been telling us how ... how to avoid rape....

How to fear men.

I'm sorry guys, but this is why you can't approach a woman you don't know on the street. Even I will probably throw all my guards up if you approach me. Until victim blaming, street harassment and all the other aspects of rape culture die - we're going to see you as a threat. It's not fair, it's not your fault... and there isn't really much you can do about it.

This is how rape culture hurts men.