A Look Back In Anger. And Every Other Fucking Direction

The Terrorists will not change us…

Except when it comes to delaying our election process, delaying democracy.

Except when it comes to the state wanting even greater powers to actually hack into its citizens private communications.

Except when it comes to freedom of speech because apparently 80,000 people want The Sun banned in Manchester because they are brain-dead twats living in an irony-free zone.

Except I don’t full know how to express myself in words, so here are some emojis.

Except I want people to lose their jobs if they make a joke or say something possibly defamatory.

Except now I’ve got a tattoo – solidarity brothers and sisters.

Except when it comes to being able to actual discuss just what the fuck is going on in the world.

Standard Response

Following the events at the Manchester Arena on the 22nd of Many 2017 there followed the usual, typically predictable response to a terrorist attack.

The #PrayFor and #NotAll hashtags fly like winged monkeys, the avatars changed to accommodate the latest geographical victim, well one that is in the West at least, you’d never have a static avatar if you had to commemorate everyone blown to bits in the Middle East.

The UK press wait a day or so and then dwell upon the attacker(s) because for some reason it feels that the public need to know their name(s), their background, their history because that doesn’t detract from the victims at all.

We also have to preach the mantra that terrorists don’t represent Islam but merely a warped view of it and it has nothing to do with religion.

That last point is bollocks, always has been, always will be…

Give it a week and then the police will release a report about an increase in “hate crime” – quite what being blown up, run over, shot or stabbed is if it isn’t hate is beside the point in this most Orwellian-like crime, but if you’ve been called a nasty name that too is a crime apparently on a par with loss of life and needs as much media focus.*

Above all it is pushed by all and sundry that we should “carry on” and that was should not let “hate beat love.”

Hate

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion.

This past fortnight has all been about love, or people’s versions of what love is, not even Foreigner knew what it was and needed it showing to them but either way its was all about love.

One big, homogeneous, nondescript, identity-less Love.

The avatar changes, the bee tattoos, the candle-lit vigils do nothing but focus on the individual and their suffering, which is nothing, it is absolutely fuck-all to those that were actually killed, their next of kin and those who actually could have been victims.

What, so you didn’t “love Manchester” before you changed your avatar and you will stop loving it when you change it?

Your bee tattoo and graffiti, possibly a nice symbol of solidarity is really just look-at-me narcissism, less about love and more a constant reminder of carnage.

You only have love? You have no hate, because hate is all terrorists have and you are better than terrorists?

Not killing people makes you better than a terrorist, not having any other emotions makes you an unthinking drone.

And this is the problem.  I don’t hate you for changing your avatar or getting a tattoo or painting a picture, or singing a song or lighting a candle.   Grief, if that honestly what it is as opposed to relief, is something personal that we all deal with in our own way.

What I do hate, apart from delusional, murdering fucksticks is the rest of the response; that we carry on as normal and yet we still modify our behaviour, our language, our ability to ask questions or offer up answers and even opinions.

In the Kübler-Ross model there are five stages to dealing with grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

There seems to be a collective brain-fart at work that we avoided the 2nd stage and just focus on the 3rd and 5th.  The world of social media seems to turn into Rimmer after he has had his first meeting with the Polymorph in Red Dwarf.

You neither have to bargain with terrorists, because you can’t and you certainly don’t have to accept it, regardless of what Mayors of London say.

I have love and it doesn’t need mood slime to help flourish, but I certainly have hate too.  The hate won’t keep me any more safe that those apparently without it but it is my response to events, along with continuing to question and to use the same language.

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion. It is all about how you channel it.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

*Hyperbole but it does seems as much gravitas is placed on “hate crime” statistics than any other crime.  Crime is hate, all crime is a hate crime.

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Is The Labour Party Finished in Manchester?

I was going to put “The North” but I’m sticking with my local area for rather obvious reasons.

I’m not exactly a massive fan of the system we call democracy in the UK as it currently stands, I’m more a fan of proportional representation (PR) than first passed the post (FPP) but then again as has been shown with the recent referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, because the vote didn’t go the way of the “enlightened” then it clear indicates that some people shouldn’t even be allowed to vote, let alone the if PR was the system of voting in the UK, then UKIP would indeed have far more parliamentary representation than either the Lib Dems or the Greens.

A great many in the county of Manchester voted to Leave, 7 of the 10 boroughs in fact.  Because the referendum was reduced by some to Leave = right-wing, Remain = left-wing it came as quite a shock that supposedly a left-wing party, Labour heartlands would vote in massive numbers to Leave.  So much so that this somehow fell on the head of Jeremy Corbyn (to be fair the man has been against the EU most of his political career) and so now the Labour Party is tearing itself apart with a leadership election.

As the fallout between Corbyn and ABCs (anybody but Corbyn) continues in the Labour party, it is the face of Tony Blair that always looms large and this 3 consecutive victories (achieved regardless of numerous invasion follies) that are brought up as to why Corbyn isn’t a suitable leader and/or Prime Minister.

Watching spin doctor Alistair Campbell (ever so briefly) on Question Time banging on about how they won over Tory voters highlights what went wrong and what continues to go wrong.  Yes, you need to win over some of these voters but sadly they did it at the expense of their core working class vote.

Its a bit like the mob in the Christopher Nolan Batman film “The Dark Knight,” they had a problem with not having a grip on power any more (Note: any MP using the term “in power” should be viewed with suspicion) so turn to a force they did not fully understand, this brought some initial quick gains but they undercut themselves in the long-term.

Of course that analogy can be applied today, Jeremy Corbyn is no great cure-all but at least he isn’t a Liberal Democrat, a party akin to John Daggett, teaming up with the Tory’s Bane and then looking on in horror as to what destruction they have enabled while they themselves also end up destroyed.

Damn, if only I had a political analogy involving Ra’s al Ghul.

Locally the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), all Labour except 1, a Conservative of the Trafford Borough (which voted 57.7% to Remain).

My borough council, Wigan, voted 63.9% to Leave the EU, it is made up of 65 Labour seats, the other 10 split between local independents and the Conservatives.

Manchester City Council has 95 Labour party representatives and 1 Lib Dem (60.4% Remain).

I’ve blogged about local issues before locally in Atherton and around the borough as Wigan Labour systematically remove popular and necessary public assets for private profiteering.

About the loss of Manchester’s heritage as Manchester City Labour purge history from Manchester’s streets and most recently the evisceration of another historic part of Manchester so Gary Neville can build his own versions of Barad-dûr and Orthanc.

Of course should Labour lose seats not just in Greater Manchester but in its heartlands around the UK, then all the blame by those same MPs will be lain at the feet of Corbyn and the cyclical mess will continue, people will just get more disillusioned with politics and MPs will continue to feather the nests and prime themselves for big paying consultancy jobs when they are eventually gotten rid of, all this while conveniently forgetting about how Labour has been wiped out in Scotland by exactly the same behaviour.

On a national scale, the worst thing about all of this is that you have a new level of patronisation, especially when every Tory and anti-Corbyn entity try to sound magnanimous by uttering “we need a strong opposition to us/the current government in check and better,” and as every TV channel and news services continues to do special programmes about the end of Labour.  These programmes are solely from a political/media point of view and have absolutely nothing to do with actual support within the general public, highlighting the growing gap and level of contempt that both the media and the current crop of politicians have for us plebs.

Many in the media use the term Populism in a negative way, safe way to explain an apparent rise in “right-wing” (Trump, UKIP, Leave winning the EU referendum, etc).  As you can see from the link description the term populism can be ascribed to any side of the political divide and this is the problem, and if you’ve sat at home blaming “stupid people” and “racists” for everything that has gone on in the UK recently than you are just as culpable as those who blame “immigrants” and “Europe” – it is a political malaise but hopefully the tide is turning to something more positive and hopeful.

Thanks for reading.

Petition against Neville’s Vanity Towers

P.S.

As I always feel a blog should have one picture and to show that I’m not actually right-wing myself, I post my latest results from Political Compass

polcomp2016

SpinningFields Manchester – Spreading the Disease

It seems that separate bits of Manchester architecture comes under threat at the same time in an almost cyclical fashion.

In January of last year I ranted about the sad state of some of the proposed decisions facing the heritage of central Manchester.

While the situation with the Fire Station on London Road is resolved in so much as Britannia have finally attained their 30 pieces of silver and like wise the Ancoats Dispensary reached its funding targets, just this week Bruntwood put forward their plans for the redevelopment of Oxford Road Station, which made no mention of its plans for the listed Salisbury Pub (or Grand Central for that matter).

Other news was that another historical pub The Sir Ralph Abercromby (petition) was also being tendered to be flattened along with a few other buildings in the area.

There are a few places in Manchester I don’t like to go to drink; namely the Printworks, Deansgate Locks and Spinningfields.

As banal as Printworks is and as loathsome as the Locks are they are at least honest and exist in such away as to work well with the area they have been created in (unless you are the Police).

The same I can not say for Spinningfields; a place as fake and phony as the wankers that go there and the food, drinks and “culture” that exists between the artificial grass, cold steel and empty glass.  It is a lifeless, soulless place.  A cut-through between Manchester and Salford and a place now deemed worthy of expansion by taking a wrecking ball to more of Manchester’s places and sites & sights of interest.

As plans and rumours keep swirling it may well be that most of the buildings will remain and be renovated but the Sir Ralph will make way for, it would seem, a car park, which given Manchester’s history will be horrendously overpriced parking in a bid to drive trade away from local and small businesses and seemingly push it towards that other soulless place that is the Trauma Trafford Centre.

Councils are not my favourite group of people.  From some reason, no matter the size of the council or the make-up that may consist of apparently local people the continually make decisions that run against popular opinion

This piece is not about the politics (or football) of red and blue, merely another hair-pulling exercise about the short-sighted decisions made by our increasingly untrustworthy public officials and that whereas jaw-jaw is preferred to war-war they all fall to more-more.

I hope you find time to sign the petition(s).

 

Thanks for reading.

Community vs Council

I am going to try to write this piece without it drifting into the realms of party politics and hopefully non-libelous comments.

 

 

Much has been made recently about a Northern Powerhouse and also devolution of power to the major cities of the North of England and giving more autonomy to county councils.  The general hope being that communities will have greater say and therefore a choice of how they are governed.

The town of Atherton in Greater Manchester falls under the control of Wigan Council.

They have a community centre called The Formby Hall.

This hall was a gift to the town of Atherton back in the early 1900’s.

Two annexes were added to the hall as part of the festival of Britain.

In circa 2011, with a valuation of the hall of about £235,000 Wigan Council sold The Formby Hall (and numerous other community centres under their ‘control’) to a company called Rose Leisure (or Eight Wonder, you know how businesses like to change names and have various subsidiaries).

The sale price, on record, for The Formby Hall was £65,000.

The covenant was that the sale would be made under the proviso that Rose Leisure would maintain all their newly acquired buildings so that they could continue to function as working halls to host a variety of activities.

The Formby Hall, for example, hosts (hosted) NHS Blood Donations, various gigs, charity nights, dance clubs, wedding receptions and probably most well-known The Bent n Bongs Beer Bash

Rose Leisure never really maintained the building, the roof is in a particularly bad way and only with some local people did it get fixed to an adequate level so that the Beer Bash could go ahead in 2015.

In about May of 2015 rumours spread that Rose Leisure were telling people with bookings that they would only fulfill them up until July of 2015 and all events after that would be cancelled.

Due to this “leak” it then forced Rose Leisure and Wigan Council to admit that The Formby Hall had been sold to a company called Hilldale Housing Association.

Hilldale are a bit of an odd company in that they themselves are only a conduit for investors to buy up properties for development.

In June of 2015 Wigan Council spent £2m on terracotta tiles

In August of 2015 South East Lancs CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) successfully had an Asset of Community Value (ACV) put on The Formby Hall under the Localism Act of 2011.

Hilldale had made assurances that the hall could stay open until March of 2016 but the doors were locked and as such no one can use the hall, it can fall into a further state of disrepair and of course it can be claimed that it is not being used and therefore it’s now lack of use by the community does not make it an asset worth saving.

In September of 2015 a notice of demolition was put up outside The Formby Hall, this is because due to a loop-hole an ACV can only protect a pub from demolition and the ACV had forced Hilldale’s hand.

There have been various groups formed and a petition of about 4,500 was handed in to Wigan Council to object to not only the initial sale (primarily to Rose Leisure) but also the demolition of a building that in essence belongs to the town and people of Atherton.

It is sad that said local groups have been butting heads with not only the council but with locally elected councillors and that relationships have soured and become cynical and cold.

This is how modern politics work.  It is not a democracy but an elected dictatorship whereby small outlying towns are ostracised.  It is unsurprising that voters are becoming more disillusioned by the whole process.

The case of Formby Hall is still ongoing and very much up in the air, it is hoped the council will listen, for once, to one of its communities.

There is a petition here if you wish to sign it…

Update: January 2016

Council recommends prior approval to demolish Formby Hall

The above link gives most of the information you need to know, the fate now lies in further planning meetings and a possible intervention by Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Greg Clark and the constituent MP Chris Green.

Modernising Manchester – Making it Mundane

This post was provoked by reading this thread – about Oxford Road and the “Manchester Corridor”.  The thread is meant to be about plans and general speculation about the proposed changes to Oxford Road Station and the surrounding area.

Most people (including myself) were struck in mid-2014 by the proposed removal of The Cornerhouse and its relocation to another new build, with the stick-in-the-back-of-your-throat-named-by-committee moniker of HOME.

What peaked my interest was the discussions about The Salisbury Pub being worthy of saving but there was less love for The Grand Central.

Manchester has a fine musical heritage, I’d argue the best and most diverse in the world (but I am biased) and we are used to seeing our musical institutions being converted.

The Grand Central crowd of rockers/punks & goths, etc. were left homeless (for a short time) after the closure of Jilly’s RockWorld and before that, arguably the most famous of England’s clubs The Haçienda was closed down and turned into the same boring red-brick flats you see in every major city.  Jilly’s ended up being a Tesco, or a Pizza Express – you chose the evil empire that fits in with the jist of this piece.

The Salisbury does CAMRA discounts, it also caters to the rock crowd too, but it is what you would call a proper pub.  The Grand Central is very much in the vain of the dirty, stale lager places that I frequented as a kid.  You know, the ones with character, because it wasn’t about what was on the outside that really mattered but who was in the inside.

I’m not trying to match the pubs up against one another, I enjoy both pubs, in fact the whole area along with Font and Thirsty Scholar is excellent for a very, very short-walk drinking crawl.

This comes at a time when there is a campaign to get more money to save the Ancoats Dispensary (direct link to funding is here).

There are also campaigns to save (from the clutches of absentee landlords Britannia) the London Road Fire Station.  A building left to rack and ruin by said landlords inability to do anything with it and a typically inept Manchester Council wishing to spend it’s money more on pot-plants and junkets abroad than pay attention to anything about Manchester centre that doesn’t involve driving (literally) people away to out-of-town shopping centres.

The Star & Garter – another Manchester pub with a massive musical heritage, has a doubtful future as a redesign of Piccadilly Station will see it either removed or forced to close when access to it is severely restricted during the proposed building works.

There are success stories, of a sort, with old buildings being saved.  The Victoria Baths by way of a BBC programme, now sees the venue used regularly for many different events, the most relevant to this blog being the Indy Man Beer Fest.

Case and point about design by committee which isn’t fit for purpose and is fast turning into a danger is Piccadilly Gardens (and its Wall).

People can talk about Grand Central being a bit of an eyesore but Piccadilly Gardens, the first thing many tourists would see from either train or bus, is an absolute shit-tip.  Granted it is a major transport hub now, but what used to be open and actually had something to do with a “garden” is now closed-off (walled-off if you will), claustrophobic and as crime begins to rise and austerity policy means police on the ground have to be cut so Councillors can still get their free holidays abroad, the rise of CCTV will continue unabated, along with that fucking horrible, massive wheel.  Whoo a city centre that doubles as a fairground park.

As I write this MPs have voted against a bid to tighten pub planning laws which really comes as no surprise.

This isn’t some Luddite rant – progress is vital to keep things moving and viable for the future – but taking a look around, everything that is new build, all it is is functional.

I’m struck by the cotton mills near me.  Some being put to use for a variety of things, others bulldozed and left either as wasteland (or a zombie car park) or….oh yes, another bloody big supermarket.  The actually lack of planning for the future is stark.

I could get into conspiracy theories about social engineering, the destruction of communities to build a mass of individuals with no collective power and without he ability to give a crap about anything other than the self, but that is not the point of this piece.

With little or no public consultation, buildings are being ripped down and their replacements have no character, no history (obviously), no romance, nothing artistic or photography worthy.

It seems that each city wishes to become a copy-and-paste job of every other city, not only causing a loss of history but also of identity.

Let us end with a oft-repeated quote amongst pub campaigners but that I feel can apply to all things touched upon…

“When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England” -Hilaire Belloc