Is My Vote Now Worthless?

That is a legitimate question mark in the title of this piece, as I honestly don’t know now.  There may be a debate to be had as if it ever was but that isn’t the point, and also in my case it isn’t exactly true either.

I don’t vote in UK general elections.

Or rather I should categorically state that I do go to the polling stations and I do put a mark on the ballot.  Sometimes more than one mark.  Sometimes smiley faces.  Sometimes quotes from songs.

I spoil my ballot.  There is no party that currently, or for any duration of my voting eligibility, has “promised” enough in their manifesto to make it worth my proper vote but I still hold on to the power of a democratic vote and owe it to at least participate in the process, at least as a thanks to those that fought for it in the UK and for those that don’t have any say in their country’s politics, the world over.

Is that a virtue signal, possibly.

I always vote in my local elections though and therein lies the duality of my choice of legitimate vote versus spoiling.

You see my local council (Wigan) is Labour dominated but I dislike them immensely for their insular, Wigan-centric outlook.  Local politics is a microcosm for the general malaise of UK politics in general.  Wigan looks after Wigan and a few other areas but damns the smaller towns with a few pounds from the coffers ever election cycle.  Wigan itself suffers at the hands of Greater Manchester County Council and their, insular, Manchester city centre-centric outlook.  And then of course the whole of the North suffers from the national governments and parliaments bubble London-centric outlook.

And the more the local towns vote for independent councillors (or anything that isn’t Labour) the less scraps they get.

On the national front (no pub) though, due to boundary changes, my constituency just happens to be a swing one and so my vote there does actually count for something.

But regardless of who my MP was, thanks to a rather unionised, militant mother, I’ve always been a fan of emailing them about the bigger issues that I’m bothered about and the responses were always less than stellar up until my most recent MP got voted in.

Enough for me to vote for them?  On an individual level, quite possibly, on a party political one, quite possibly not.

The shadow of Brexit looms large over all these decisions and whereas the UK has a first past the post (FPTP) system of deciding who “runs” the country for 4-5 year stints, the referendum was an example of  not only direct democracy but of highlighting just why our current elected officials aren’t big fans of it, as you can never rely on getting the result you want.

And so I find myself hemmed in. 650 elected MPs, the majority of which do not wish to enact the result of the referendum of 2016, figuring out ways of getting out of it.

Aided and abetted by a willing media and a very vocal loser contingent.  I use loser not as a pejorative but as a fact, though maybe minority contingent would be better, despite the other images that my conjure up.

A few marches of dubious attendance and an online petition of dubious signatories seem to give credence to wish to halt a process that hasn’t been started properly, because it was never fully committed to in the first place.

Forget about alleged lies and bus slogans, alleged election interference and spending tactics, these are all just bluster to hide the shock of a loss.

What is at stake is what a disaffected populous does if they become even more disaffected with the world around them that only shows the glaringly obvious that they have no say it what happens to them.

The donning of hi-vis jackets won’t do anything.  Nor will mass strikes.  What small amount of power you think you have will just be crushed, possibly physically but at its worst, emotionally.

And then you have to wonder if it is worth taking part in a process you weren’t really welcome in, in the first place.

But when the anti-democrats win and a cheer goes up and all those they labelled with slurs from the very beginning have been put in their place, the precedent will have been set.

Think of it as being stuck in traffic and getting annoyed with those that don’t use their indicators, or drive without lights when it is dark.  Think more on those that never move out of the way of a fire engine or ambulance or police car that is on an emergency call and that desire, deep inside you that secretly, darkly hopes that one day they will know that their action could result in the first responding vehicle they blocked was stopped from attending an incident involving someone they cared about.

Think of Newton’s third law of motion and then realise that a government with power never has a reaction that is equal.

Vive la second law of thermodynamics.

 

Thanks for reading.

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Spoons Workers Against Brexit – a Ha Ha Ha

I’m not going to link to them, you can search for them, they are quite easy to find, as are most of the #FBPE squealers.

A few points I will stress from the start

  1. Politics is indeed best kept out of business
  2. I respect all those who work at Wetherspoons and at pubs and clubs and bars in general.

To take my 2nd point first, I have worked in pubs; it can be hard and thankless (like most jobs) but it doesn’t take much skill to do.  Indeed it takes skill to do correctly, to enhance a customer’s experience but that is down to the individual and no amount of training can infer common sense within people.

Point one; I’m not one to boycott businesses that have different political outlooks to myself, I have a few I do out of whimsy (never once given McDonald’s my money, avoid Coke products) but it is nothing but a relic of my youth with no real morals attached to it (love me a Burger King, love me a Pepsi), plus you try and completely avoid buying anything Nestle don’t own.

But given the political climate we live in today, it is not without notice that there is a complete lack of irony of those that generally object to the politics of a person or business and the fact that they are anti-democratic losers.

But let us look at the demands from SWAB:

1. Withdraw all pro-Brexit propaganda from our workplace. This means that we will no longer be marked down for refusing to distribute beer mats, leaflets, magazines or menus that promote Martin’s politics.

2. Pay us a Living Wage. That means a £9 hourly rate outside London, and £10.55 in London.

3. Trade union recognition, granting the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union negotiating powers over our pay and pay and working conditions.

 

Points 1 to 3 can quite easily be covered in the simple request, go and look for another fucking job.  You work in a low skilled job that does not merit a “Living Wage” especially considering that most of those in this group will probably be under 25 and are no where near worth £9 an hour given the current scale of age dependent National Minimum Wage payments.

You have signed a contract, either honour that contract or go somewhere else and if you can’t then may I suggest going and getting a better education and qualifications so you can go somewhere that pays better and gives you better job satisfaction.

“Be the change you want to be in the world”*

Or as the kids say these days

Learn To Code

 

Thanks for reading.

 

*Which was not said by the racist, nationalist, nappy wearing religious nut job sectarian, also known as Gandhi.

Today in Craft Beer Wut – The Capitalist Communist

My “I’m not on twitter but still read specific twitter feeds every so often” (mainly actual brewers, for information without the white noise) does really pick up around now as its Manchester Beer Week and while I currently pen a response to the “”Diversity” Manifesto” I stumbled across this thread of tweets from Liverpool’s Mad Hatter Brewing, which could indicate that someone is ingesting mercury somewhere amongst their food and beverage intake.

In a thread of 22 tweets it starts off sensibly and logical…

Paints a good background of a fledging brewery starting up mixed in with real world situations (kids, bills, housing, etc.)

Then, halfway through it starts to go off a bit…

Wut?

Is this worse than the nightmare of cake?*

What. The. Fuck?

Ah…

Are we taking the piss now?  Is this a parody?

I hope you paid for the microphone you just dropped.

I hear Venezuela is a nice place to open a brewery, good socialist and communist principles over there.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

*Its a Brass Eye reference

 

An Interesting Beer Interview

Despite being out of the beer loop it was quite a surprise that I had an interview, perhaps a none broadcast pod-cast, fall in my lap quite recently.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories but it does seem a bit odd that I was never made aware of it whilst I was part of that most exclusive of clubs.

Anyway, I present it to you for your own delectation; transcribed as best as I can, all spelling and grammatical errors are mine, as you’d expect.

 

Interviewer (I): Hello, its everyone’s favourite blue-haired beer communicator Simon Jessica Wrighton, here for another episode of “Beer, its a really fucking serious business” and I’ve yet again braved not only stepping outside of London but also, being in the North of England, outside of Manchester and Leeds, to bring you this interview with John, brewer and owner of Common Sense Brewing, here in [remember to add which backwater town this actually is].  So John, as most of our readers and listeners might not know about you and your beer please tell us a bit about yourself.

John (J): Well, my background was in science and I home-brewed for a number of years and then, following a small lottery win I thought I’d see how well a hobby could grow into a business and if I could make enough to leave science and hopefully earn a living doing something I preferred, while being my own boss and hoping that I didn’t end up hating it.  8 years on, so far all 3 of those criteria have been met.

(I): And tell us a bit about the beer.

(J): Well, we brew a variety of beers, your pales mainly, we have a bitter, a mild, a stout and sometimes I try and dabble in what seems to be on trend in the beer world.

(I): So would you say you’re more of a traditional style of brewer or a more modern, forward thinking brewery?

(J): I brew what sells really.  Obviously my main market is my local area and it has a more of what you probably call a traditional feel to it but they all seem willing to try anything.  Likewise I can sell to wholesalers who can ship it around areas it isn’t really practical for us to reach.

(I): Give us an insight into the set-up of the brewery.

(J): Well it is a one man operation, I…

(I): Person.

(J): Sorry…

(I): One person operation.

(J): Er, OK.  So I’m the sole person handling the brewing, sales, admin, accounts, marketing and everything else in between.

(I): So you don’t have anyone else on your staff.

(J): Not at the moment no, I’m handling things quite well as I’ve have done since I started.

(I): But in the future you may need to employ some other people to help, possibly from other ethnic or gender backgrounds?

(J): What?

(I): You’ll be an equal opportunity employer?

(J): Well, yes, because I think it is the law.

(I): So you might end up getting a woman to help out.

(J): I suppose so, but if the time ever comes I’ll get whoever is best qualified or suited to whatever role I need filling.

(I): So what you’re saying is that you wouldn’t employ a woman?

(J): Where are we going with this, I thought I was here to talk beer and brewing?

(I): Yes, of course, but I’m sure our fans want to know that they won’t possibly be buying your beer knowing they are funding someone who doesn’t believe in equality.

(J): Sorry? You’ve lost me, but look, if the time comes I’ll advertise a role, interview whoever applies for it and then make a decision based on what information I’ve gleamed from them and their CVs, but this seems to be a hypothetical discussion so perhaps we should just talk about the present?

(I) Yes, of course. Tell us a bit about your most popular beer.

(J): Right, it is a very simple 4% pale ale.

(I):  What is the grist make-up?

(J): Just pale malt with a bit of wheat for head retention.

(I): So you don’t use any black malt?

(J): Er, not is this particular beer as it is a pale.

(I): But you do use black malts?

(J): Well yes, in my more amber and red beers and I of course use chocolate malts in my mild and stout.

(I): So what you’re saying is you’ve not yet brewed using all black malts yet?

(J): Er, no because I wouldn’t get beer, at least beer as we know it, out of that.

(I): Don’t you think you should at least try?

(J): I could try but experience and the general science behind brewing says that I won’t get beer from it.  If we are still talking about beer that is?

(I): Yes, of course we are.  What is the hop profile?

(J): I use Admiral hops for bittering, I use Admiral for bittering the vast majority of my beers just to keep it simple and cost effective.  The aroma comes from liberal use of Mosaic hops.

(I): Do you use more Admiral or more Mosaic?

(J): Erm, Mosaic but that is because of the nature of the beer.

(I): So why not use more Admiral?

(J): Because that isn’t what this beer requires.

(I): So you’re saying that Admiral and Mosaic aren’t of equal value?

(J): Eh? They both do important jobs but both are quite different in the jobs that they do.  Seriously pal, are we still talking about beer?

(I): Touched a nerve have I?

(J): No, you’re just confusing me with this line of questioning.  Is there anything else I can answer for you.

(I): Yes, of course.

(J): Is it about beer or brewing?

(I): Of course it is.

(J): Ask away then.

(I):  Why don’t you maintain quotas for how much hops and malts you use?

(J): What do you mean by quotas, I record all the weights I take on my brew sheets if that is what you’re getting at?

(I): Good.  So you’re saying we could look through you’re brew sheets and see how equally you spread your use of hops and malts.

(J): What do you mean equally?

(I): To make sure you use everything equally.

(J): What?  I can’t use everything equally, that isn’t the nature of the beer I make.

(I): So you’re saying you don’t use hops and malts equally?

(J): Well, they do completely different jobs.

(I): So they aren’t equal?

(J): What, hops and malt, are we talking by weight?

(I): Yes.

(J): Well, no, as I just said, they do different jobs and they can’t be compared as being equal.  There is no like for like comparison.

(I): Not even as an average?

(J): What? Especially not as an average.  Honestly, are we still talking about beer here?

(I): Thank you John, thank you for your time and a highly revealing insight into the brewing practices up here in [remember to add name of this rainy backwater].

(J): Er, thank you.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Channel Fake News

I did have a whole draft post dedicated to Channel 4 news.

Wondering how a programme that was seemingly so against the invasion of Iraq (2003 – onwards) could be so hawkish for attacking Syria (2011 – onwards), after it was also so drum bangingly for the attacks on Libya (also 2011 – onwards).  Maybe they are so left-wing they love that the UK supply arms to islamists the underdog rebels, or maybe its because everyone’s favourite, can-do-no-wrong US president, Barack Obama, was so adamant that waging war in these additional two fragile, fragmented and unstable countries was the best thing to do for world peace.

It also questioned how its strange bias has got worse over time and how all their presenters; but mainly Jon Snow, Cathy Newman and Krishnan Guru-Murthy (a man whose best days were on Newsround) and moved away from simple interviews to get to any truth and towards posturing, supposed moral superiority and repetitive, nonsensical talking points.

 

But fortunately Channel 4 have been very gracious to allow the release of the simple half hour interview to save me writing any further on the subject.

 

 

That this is from the same channel that brought us Brass Eye highlights how Channel 4 is drowning in its own self-important, puritanical, moralistic, irony-free drivel.

 

Thanks for reading.

Brewing Up A Political Storm

Subtitle: You can’t filter out agendas with Isinglass

May you live in interesting times goes the alleged Chinese proverb brought to my attention by the writings of Terry Pratchett and we certainly do in 2016.

I don’t think it remiss to point out that as broad as the spectrum is that drink beer you would probably suggest that the older “CAMRA” set are to the conservative right and the younger “CRAFT” set are to the liberal left and while I’m not one for grouping people along political lines it would seem that many brewers and bloggers in the beer bubble, to their own detriment, probably do so.

The EU referendum vote in the UK on 23rd of June, that ended up with the result being to leave the European Union caused fissions, unsurprisingly many on my twitter time-line were for Remain.

Schisms formed on 8th November with the results of the US presidential election that saw Donald Trump become the elected, prospective 45th president of the USA.

Of course this lead to more fallout from breweries, brewers and bloggers on twitter.

One tweet caught my eye, from an actual brewery account and I’m not going to post it here simply because this is neither about naming and “shaming” (free speech is an absolute, even “hate” speech) nor do I bear any grudge towards the brewery or the brewer (he is a nice chap) or wish to see his business suffer.

Thing was, they (he) called for the assassination of Trump.  Now, whatever your feelings and political leanings are, two things struck me about that:

  1. Calling for the death of someone, in jest requiring a very broad context, is not right (choose other hyperboles)
  2. Using a business account to do so is stupid.

Then again many brewers & business owners in general, have personal accounts from which to let forth their own thoughts and despite all the caveats they may have in their biographies sometimes it can be guilt by association.

What is also striking is the lack of people who called out the brewery on this tweet and also subsequent tweets about boycotting specific countries.

We can probably, fairly postulate that many people didn’t even see the “assassination tweet” but to those that did see it and did not pass comment on it, you really do need to look inside yourselves and question that whatever morals and integrity you bleat about so often, is it that honestly what you actually practice.

 

“We use selective annihilation of mayors and government officials, for example, to destroy the presence of the state and create a vacuum. Then we fill that vacuum.”

 

Thanks for reading.