The PC Awards Season is Over: Thank Goodness

Now that the award season is over and the film-stars/celebrities/musicians have all had their congratulatory, self-love fests for yet another year, all to dismal viewing figures, for the production of cultural output most of us would have to be forced to watch in a similar manner as Alex in A Clockwork Orange, what have we simple proles learned from them?

Well, apart from the realisation that I’m not a youngster anymore and the alarming number of musical acts I didn’t know from the Brit Awards: Stormzy, Dua Lipa, J Hus, Childish Gambino and LCD Soundsystem, despite considering myself to be ‘down with the kids’ (I still listen to Radio One on occasion) was the blatant politicisation of these events as well as the endless social commentary from many of those present.

The aforementioned rapper Stormzy used his acceptance speech to attack the UK governments response to the Grenfell Tower Tragedy. Something that with metronomic predictability, required an official government response of course. Paloma Faith turned up wearing two white roses for the #metoo movement and complained that not enough men were wearing a white rose in sympathy. Being an oppressed woman, those 2.3 million album sales in the UK must have been even more difficult for her to achieve. Those four Brit award nominations since 2011 for ‘Best Female Solo Artist’ must also be another sign of the crushing and endemic oppression that has been thwarting her very successful and enduring career in the music industry.

Kendrick Lamar appeared on top of a giant glass box while a man smashed up a Lamborghini that was contained within. Statement on vacuous materialism? Statement on Italian super-cars? Statement on our unsustainable consumption patterns and wasteful mode of life? Utter waste of time and effort to make a piece of patronising social commentary that no one asked for? That sounds about right. I expect Kendrick Lamarr doesn’t drive a 1.4 litre Ford Focus to the recording studio, but again, let’s not mention that.

The 2018 Oscars weren’t any better. Emma Watson’s ‘Times Up’ tattoo with the apostrophe missing. The host, Jimmy Kimmel, making constant references to the recent spate of Hollywood sex scandals, where he called the Oscar statue: ‘the most respected man in Hollywood [because] he keeps his hands where you can see them, never says a rude word and, most importantly, [has] no penis at all’ or praising Hollywood for producing more films with BME’s and women in them: ‘I remember a time when the major studios didn’t believe a woman or a minority could open a superhero movie and the reason I remember that time is because it was March of last year.’ This ignores films and characters like Spawn, Blade, Hancock, Storm from The X-men franchise played by Halle Berry and Nick Fury played by Samuel L Jackson in The Avengers. But these films didn’t fit the narrative, so again, best to ignore them. Films, where women have a leading or strong support role, are too numerous to mention. Just watch any film. Amazingly enough, they seem to make up about half the cast, depending on the script.

Oscars 2018 also witnessed the first ever transsexual performer to present an award. At some point in the near future, award ceremonies will either dismiss gender-based awards entirely or add another category for ‘gender-fluid’ performers. ‘And the award for best bi-polar, transsexual, two-spirit performance in a lesbian drama goes to…’ This will ensure that the Oscars viewing figures go down even further and the whole ceremony becomes a bloated and unwieldy mess.

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Such politicisation and needless social commentating is nothing new. Ava Gardner was an affirmed supporter of the Democratic party and was a regular on the fundraising circuit. Jane Fonda was involved in the anti-war movement in the 1970s, earning her the moniker ‘Hanoi Jane’. Sting dragged some poor Amazonian Chieftain, with a massive lip-plate and ceremonial headdress, around with him to alert us all to the destruction of the Rainforest.

Bono and Bob Geldof have spent almost thirty years pestering us about some social ill that we are already well aware of and that for some unknown reason still persistently exists, despite their interventions. You’d think that we all lived in some bewilderingly complicated world that doesn’t just bend to the diktats of Bono, Bob and Co.

Screen-Shot-2018-03-20-at-13.31.45-600x451 MakePh

The genesis and nadir of this utterly patronising political attitude was the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign of 2005 and in particular the ‘every three seconds video.’ This involved Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx, Kate Moss, George Clooney, David Beckham, 50 cent, Liam Neeson, P Diddy, Bono and Cameron Diaz clicking their fingers every three seconds to signify that a child has died of extreme poverty. This is a massive human tragedy (the three seconds statistic, not the celebrities)and only the most utterly callous individual would deny that this didn’t need to be tackled. However, to be informed about this by a group of people with a combined net worth of $3,187 million who are lecturing the rest of the significantly less prosperous section of the population about helping individuals in the Global South is galling, to say the least.

They tried a similar tactic in 2016 with the ‘Save The Day. Vote’, where they encouraged people to register to vote, with the unsubtle inference that you should also vote Democrat. Again, talking down to people and treating them like robots awaiting input from their celebrity masters didn’t result in a landslide victory for Hilary Clinton.

As our celebrities delve deeper into politics, ironically, the cracks in their own goldfish bowl existence start to show. Rumors and jokes about Harvey Weinstein were rampant, an ‘open secret’ if you will, but it took decades for anyone to actually do something about it. This hasn’t stopped Hollywood celebrities from now lecturing us on sexism as if they have just discovered it lurking in their midst’s.

With the ability to reach millions of people via social media, and the still highly covered award ceremonies, it has perhaps given celebrities a slightly inflated sense if their own importance and influence on the world. Luckily, the majority of the populace still aren’t influenced by their intervention and stupid stunts. In 2014, I voted for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom. It was part of my identity, my culture. It didn’t make economic sense. I didn’t come to that conclusion because Jenny Agutter was a co-signatory of an open letter, despite her wonderful roles in 70’s sci-fi Logan’s Run and pleasant Sunday night fodder, Call The Midwife.

If any famous person ever reads this, what the majority of us would like you to do is to make cultural products that entertain and enthrall us again. We have enough politics in our lives without our entertainment being infused with your own incongruous brand of extreme-left, liberal, patronising, ‘goldfish bowl’ political ramblings. Get the script, guitar, microphone and get back to work.


The Age of the Label

So, what’s your label? It’s okay, we’re all friends here. Don’t be shy. Okay, I’ll go first shall I, just to break the ice. My name is David and, much, much, more importantly, I’m a demi-sexual-vegetarian-non-binary-cis-male-gender-normative-one-spirit-person. I answer to the pronouns ‘He’, not ‘Ze’ or ‘Zim’ or ‘It’, but ‘He’. Did you get that all? Please pay attention or you’ll offend me and I cant be offended by someone mislabeling me or getting my pronouns wrong, or that could be classed as micro-aggression that would require me to retreat to my safe-place and have a micro-sulk, which will probably end up as micro-lawsuit for emotional stress. My labels are of the utmost importance. Without them, I’m less of a person, apparently.

For a movement and generation that set out to eliminate labels, the millennial Social Justice Warriors and their older allies in academia and politics sure did create a lot of them. I’m buried up to my neck in them over here, like a linguistic quicksand that is slowly smothering me.

I expect that only the most zealous SJW nowadays even knows what most of these labels mean. In the mid-90s to the early years of the first decade of this glorious new millennium, most of us were familiar with the term LGBT. An eminently sensible and needed acronym and label for a minority of people who felt disenfranchised and needed a voice.

Then LGBT was expanded to include LGBTQQIAPP – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, allies, asexual and pansexual. In its current iteration, it is now: LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA+

This first expansion of labels sort of makes sense. Questioning seems sensible enough. As does asexual. I can’t give you pansexual, however. You just love people? Most people are eminently unlovable, with the way they stand in front of tinned goods in supermarket isles, have deafeningly obnoxious phone calls in trains and just generally get in the way when I’m trying to be somewhere else.

This culture of permissive and constant labelling now isn’t only based on sexuality, but that’s probably where most people are familiar with it and why I have used it as an example. As you delve deeper into the internet (Thanks, once again, internet) there is another whole new level of ‘kin’ labelling that frankly is a real mental illness masquerading as labelling.

In the Abstract to ‘Doctors Herding Cats: The Misadventures of Modern Medicine and Psychology with NonhuMan Identities’, Pedro Feijó stated that:

‘As social beings, a sense of identity plays an important role in our relations – and in our own happiness. But identity doesn’t have to be narrowly human’

I must apologise for the Scottish vernacular, but nah, Pedro mate, c’mon ye absolute roaster. The essayist and social critic, Christopher Hitchens (or the lesser Hitchens, as I call him), used to start his talks by referring to himself as ‘The mammalian’, but I expect that this isn’t what he had in mind. Nowadays, labelling yourself as ‘Homo-Sapiens’ isn’t even enough. We have to appropriate the identities of other creatures (sometimes mythical) now and label ourselves with that as well.

A quick search for ‘Kin’, reveals the following varieties:


Dragon Kin






That’s a lot of labels to choose from and added to the far better-known ones, it starts to get unnecessarily confusing and ludicrous. One could argue that some labels are actually more akin to personality traits and don’t require a special label at all. They are personal preferences or attributes that you choose to live by or possess. Not wanting to jump into bed with someone after two dates, doesn’t make you a ‘demi-sexual’. It’s a choice that you’ve made and feel comfortable with. It doesn’t require you to purchase the domain name ‘’, attend a parade and try to squeeze yourself onto that already lengthy acronym. If someone says to you ‘you’ve got a young head on old shoulders’ it doesn’t literally mean that there is an 83 year old man using your body as a spiritual vessel. It means you’re mature beyond your years. You are not an ‘age-kin’. You can have an affinity with cats and still not be ‘cat-kin’.



Most of us get confused with having to pick from 36 varieties of milk to purchase at the supermarket and probably go home with a red, green or blue top. Now imagine being a child or teenager growing up in a world where you could potentially label yourself as a ‘questioning-pansexual-dragon-kin-pescatarian-three-spirit-bi-polar-mono-sapien’ and no adult guardian would attempt to stop you for fear of being labelled a ‘Nazi’.

What about those of us who wish to be left alone, the freakish ‘unlabeled’ if you will? Can’t we just go about our own lives, free from the caterwauling of a tiny minority who seem to be fostering a political viewpoint on us in the belief that we can’t be trusted not to insult someone.

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What about the consequences of being labelled too soon, because the cause is fashionable at that current moment? It’s entirely feasible that our current labels are want to change, recede and advance with the unpredictable ebb and flow of historical currents and social movements. But the social-justice left doesn’t tend to take a long ‘Burkean’ view of history or people where society is, ‘a partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet unborn.’ All policies are viewed in the current moment, but the media is replete with cases of transgender children who were labelled and then changed their minds as they grew up.

Paradoxically, with increased labelling, comes increased recognition of other groups in the vicinity and considering that the vast majority of these differences aren’t based on innate biological principles or physical characteristics, then why add another division between people that purely exists in the minds of a rabid, ‘progressive’ SJW?

With the rise in severe mental illness, particularly in young people, those at the brunt of the ‘age of labelling’, I can’t help but feel that with so many labels, people’s identities are taut, like skin over a drum. Liable to rupture if too much pressure is applied to it. Also, like a drum, ultimately hollow inside as well. Which is a shame really, because I’d like to think that the vast majority of us are far more interesting and dynamic than a few politically loaded labels that have only been invented in the last decade.

Bah Humbug. Christmas Is Coming

It’s CHRISTMAS!! As Noddy Holder from Slade once said back in the 1970s. Slade’s mortal rival at this time, Wizard, declared that they ‘wish it could be Christmas every day’ despite that proposal being both unwelcome and impractical. These two festive Titans slog it out between mid-November and late December on an annual basis, before each returns to their respective realms to gather strength (and lucrative royalties) until next year.

At the risk of being called a curmudgeon at this time of year, I’m starting to get sickened by it all now. Perhaps it’s an age thing. I’m approaching my 34th Christmas (I also hope to have many more). My annoyance isn’t with the time of year per se, but the ways it’s packaged and presented to us by corporations and conglomerates. It’s the ceaseless promotion to buy stuff that is only tangentially connected to Christmas. The repackaging and re-costuming of consumer goods. The fact that it starts sometime in September each year. The ‘Americanisation’ and the ‘Happy holidays’. The heaving high street teeming with total strangers who are evidently stressed.

My journey to this point has been a long one. Christmas is a magical time when you are a child, although the magic seems to be noticeably less prevalent the lower your socio-economic status, but that’s another issue entirely. However, as soon as you enter adulthood the wheels start to come off from Christmas.

The ‘Christmas’ that I consider normal is so far removed from reality, that it’s unreachable. It’s entirely viewed through the prism of American culture. Films like Home Alone, Jingle all the Way, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, Santa Claus: The Movie, Elf and all the interminable ‘True Movies’ that are at this time of year, all present Christmas as Upper-middle class, affluent, softly lit, warm, perfect and with 2ft of crisp, fresh snow covering the surroundings. If you try and emulate this, you will be disappointed. But to this day, it is still my idea of a perfect Christmas, so strong and persistent is its cultural pull.

This year, in particular, two events have occurred to me that were the most cynical and disturbing ‘Christmas’ related occurrences that I can remember.

The least serious of these was seeing a six-foot cardboard cut-out of Santa Claus waving at me from a local shop trying to tempt me into purchasing a multipack of 2-litre bottles of brown sugar water. Now, I enjoy the occasional beverage of brown sugar water in all their wonderful varietals: Cherry, vanilla, and lime. Particularly if I’m out and don’t want to have an alcoholic drink. However, to be accosted by a Coca-cola TM endorsed and produced Santa Claus is another matter. Related to this is the fact that the Coca-cola ‘Christmas’ lorry is a real thing now and has been for some time. I have known many colleagues who take their children to see the lorry when it’s on its UK tour. Selfies are taken and families gather around to gawk at it. I assume they give out free bottles of coke as well. For many, Christmas doesn’t start until they first view the advert on TV. ‘Holidays are coming, holidays are coming’. See, I bet you’re singing it in your head right now, aren’t you? Quite how a giant red American lorry became the harbinger of the birth of Jesus Christ across Western civilisation is a mystery. It has however proved a very prudent move by Coca-Cola who saw it sell £185 million worth of cola in 2012. More importantly, they get to increase their creeping corporate presence into our collective unconscious, which is then passed on from generation to generation. If that fails, there’s always the polar bears.

The other event that I had the misfortune to witness was a recent advert from Currys. Now, the seasonal release of ‘Christmas’ adverts is another potent symbol that the ‘holiday season’ has arrived. Most of these adverts are a bit cloying and saccharine, but if you want to burst into tears at an advert, be my guest. It’s a free country. Some of them are just about heart-warming enough to provoke an emotional response in me; and my hearts a gnarled, desiccated husk by now. Most of them are fairly forgettable after a year. I have a vague recollection of a lonely old man on the moon and another with woodland animals hibernating through Christmas. I think Jamie Oliver did one as well. I remember the term ‘them mince pies are well pukka mate’ being spoken in ‘Estuary English’. No doubt next year, I won’t remember the ‘Christmas Monster’ by John Lewis either. I can barely remember it now.

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No, what I witnessed that dreary November day while watching TV, weak and weary, was the most cynical artifact that human culture has ever birthed and this is coming from a species who tried to sell powdered baby formula to women without a potable source of water. It starts off with two parents telling their children that they are going to have a traditional Christmas. You know, the abominable ones where you talk to your loved ones over a meal. That sort of nightmarish Christmas. Repugnant! However, the dark heart of the advert really begins when it turns out that the ‘parent’ is really a salesperson at Currys. She then tries to flog the family a new TV and utters one of the vilest phrases that has ever been said in late capitalist, decadent society: ‘LG OLED 4K ready TV with perfect black and colour and with Dolby atmos 360 degree sound, it’s what Christmas is all about’. No, it bloody well isn’t. I’d like to think that this time of year is more significant than a 50 inch, black rectangle sitting in your living room. Regardless of what you choose to do or not do, I sincerely hope that your Christmas revolves round something more worthy, enjoyable or noble than a 4k ready TV.

To be fair, this year’s offering from Currys was one of the worst, but every company is at it at this time of year. ‘Buy now in time for Christmas’ DFS yell at me with all the subtly of a SWAT team barging through my door.

The opposite side of the coin to this ceaseless corporate onslaught is the interminable, left-wing, social justice, virtue-signalling Guardian articles about how I’m perpetuating poverty in the global south by shopping at ASDA. Or how by even daring to celebrate a Judaeo-Christian festival, I’m taking part in the cultural genocide of minority groups. Or how we should all have a ‘fat-free Christmas’ instead of gorging to the point of sickness. Or how Mary and Joseph should have given the baby Jesus up for adoption to a gender-fluid couple in order to smash the patriarchy. The sort of people who don’t have Christmas at all, but would wish you a ‘happy, non-material, winter festival time’ instead.

Photo 03-12-2017, 12 16 36

No doubt if the birth of Jesus were to occur now, the three Magi would have followed the Coca-Cola lorry to the manger with a multi-pack of cherry coke (You couldn’t just provide regular coke. Show some respect he’s the Messiah), a voucher for DFS and a retro selection box. In the meantime, the Romans would have tried to enforce a law whereby all cribs must be made with fair trade materials and would have fined the proprietor of the manger, two denarii for not enforcing this.

Recently, a friend accidentally told me to ‘have a Christmas’ when we parted ways in Glasgow. Perhaps that’s enough sometimes. Just have a Christmas. It doesn’t have to be the best Christmas ever. It can still be a nice time regardless if your relatives are sitting on a couch that is three years old, watching TV on a standard 1080p screen.

To that end, I would like to wish you a Christmas and a New Year.

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Alex Salmond and RT: Unwitting Russian Stooge?

It can be hard when you retire. I wouldn’t know much about this. I’m due to retire in 2052. However, in some ways, it can be more difficult for career politicians. You’re at the top of your game. You’ve self-actualised. Where do you go from there? You can’t usually improve upon ‘democratically elected leader of free Western nation’ on your CV.

Well, for some politicians the post-retirement options can vary. Usually, once the biographical memoirs are published, you’ve justified your actions, slandered you enemies and tried to secure your position in history, you have a number of choices.

You could disappear into obscurity. After a number of years in the unblinking public eye, this could be a very attractive option. David Cameron was spotted eating fish and chips in Cornwall a few weeks after resigning as Prime Minister. The press screamed that he’d fallen from grace, but he looked quite content and happy to me. Margaret Thatcher staged a few public interventions with regard to General Pinochet and British Airways removing the British flag from their aircraft after she left Downing Street in 1990, but not anything too substantial. In Britain, it’s customary for former Prime Ministers and high ranking politicians to take up a seat in the House of Lords and contribute your political knowledge and nous to the second chamber. You could opt to become an ‘elder statesman’ in a similar manner to that of former US president Jimmy Carter did; set up a foundation, become a humanitarian and use your political clout and expertise to right social wrongs across the globe.

Or if you’re former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, you can present a talk show on the Russian Government backed news channel, Russia Today. An unorthodox option for a retired politician, but one he has chosen to pursue none the less.

Mr Salmond has made no secret of his dislike of the ‘British state’ in his recent public appearances. But it seems that the former First Minister has started to embark on a concerted and sustained campaign to undermine not only the ‘British State’ but all aspects of Britishness now with little regard for the future. At the Scottish Independence Convention in November 2017, he said to the audience that he has ‘never seen the British state in a state of more disorientation and chaos’ and that ‘The structures of Westminster politics are decaying before our eyes’. You could counter this and argue that from a unionist perspective, the UK looks stronger than ever, with the Conservatives in government thanks to a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the Northern Irish DUP and the SNP having lost twenty-one seats in the June 2017 general election.

Regardless of his opinion on the precariousness and fragility of the ‘British State’, he is appearing on a news network that is officially sponsored by the Russian government. This is a country that has been consistently rated as ‘not free’ when it comes to press freedom, according to Freedom House. A place where LGBT relationships are still not recognised and there are numerous discriminatory laws in place. Russia is rated 119th in a list of the worlds least corrupt countries. The UK is number 11. A place that is infamous for now resembling an oligarchy and Vladimir Putin has held onto political power, in some form or another since the year 1999.

I find it almost impossible to believe that these are issues that Mr Salmond agrees with. I didn’t like him as First Minister and disagreed with many of his parties policies. I didn’t like what he instigated in Scotland with his call for a referendum on Scottish independence. I don’t like the festering divisions that it opened up to questions that didn’t even need answering.

However, I also earnestly believe that he wouldn’t approve of the same policies as the Russian government, which in many ways he is tacitly doing at the moment. A lot of people in Scotland disliked him, but he seemed like a decent enough person and not likely to turn autocratic within the current parliamentary system. Had the ‘Yes’ campaign won the referendum in 2014, Scotland, under Alex Salmond would at least have enjoyed the same freedoms as it currently does with regards to minority groups and press freedoms.

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We could quickly venture into conspiratorial territory if we so wished. Russia was one of the few other nations (The other was North Korea) to support an independent Scotland in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, not because of any vague notion for the self-determination of people, but more because of the damage it would do to the Western World. In Russia, it still seems like politics is very much a zero-sum game to be played in a multi-polar world.

Also, major figures in the UK, particularly those from a leftish leaning persuasion have always had an unhealthy obsession with the Soviet Union and now Russia. Beatrice and Sidney Webb and George Bernard Shaw were all acolytes of Stalin’s Russia, before changing their minds after actually witnessing the squalid reality of communism. To many on the left today, Russia is still viewed as an opponent of perceived Western Imperialism despite its own imperialistic misadventures throughout history. An alternative to the ‘hyperpower’ of the United States.

According to the recently released paper titled ‘Putin’s Useful Idiots: Britain’s Left, Right and Russia‘ since the launch of Russia today, the news network has sought out high-ranking politicians who are known to protest British foreign and domestic policy. The best known of these are Jeremy Corbyn and George Galloway. Alex Salmond has just become the third member in what Dr Andrew Jackson has termed ‘Putin’s Useful Idiots’. How much persuasive power this mild fifth column triumvirate actually has is unknown, but there are a large number of posts on social media that seem to have a great deal of mistrust in Britain and a little too much regard for Russia. The recent allegations from the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, claiming that Alex Salmond is a ‘puppet’ of Russia Today will not help this notion either.

Mr Salmond seems to suffer from the occasional bout of selective memory loss. The United Kingdom was one of the great historical engines of liberal democracy, toleration, press freedom and minority rights. When rated in the terms of soft, cultural power, it is often just behind the United States and is still very much a ‘Force for Good‘ in the world. Russia not quite as much, although her past cultural and intellectual achievements can be regarded very highly. Great Britain was at the forefront of the enlightenment project during the Georgian period and the stream of intellectual and philosophical thought that this precipitated continues to influence us to this day. Scotland’s own part in this cannot be overlooked, so much so that the French political philosopher Voltaire said ‘that we Look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation.’

Equally Importantly for Scotland, and even if you didn’t vote for the SNP or Alex Salmond, he was still the First Minister. If Scotland had voted for independence in 2014 he may have been our first leader. He may not now be an elected politician, but he still has a responsibility to his previous post. It may be that his own show at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe has gone to his head and given him a taste for showbiz and that his appearance on Russian Today is just a misguided and gauche attempt at a post-political career. We can only hope so.

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Skyrim, Skyrim; So Good Its Been Re-released Seven Times

Skyrim. The name needs no further introduction. If you are even slightly interested in computer gaming, you will have heard, or more likely played it. Currently, it has been released on seven platforms, was remastered only half a decade after its original release, has three official expansion packs and has sold over 30 million copies. It’s a game that has probably taken up potentially billions of hours from humanity. Hours that could have been dedicated to reading War and Peace, learning a foreign language or perfecting that soufflé recipe you saw in one of the glossy Sunday supplements.


It’s the very definition of ‘High Fantasy’. If J.R.R Tolkien, G.R.R. Martin, and Brynjar the Viking from Jorvik had a brainstorming session, with copious amounts of coffee and mead; Skyrim would have been the result of their epic meeting. Not being computer programmers, (linguists, authors and the bane of the Saxons are not known for their overwhelming skill with the propriety Creation Engine) they would have passed this onto Bethesda, who would bring their epic vision to life.

I’m something of a Skyrim fan and a keen student of the open-world formula that Bethesda has been refining for well over a decade now, at least since Morrowind, the first truly ‘live your own adventure’ game that I ever played. Morrowind soon became one of my favorite games of all time, despite a shaky start on the titular island of Vvardefell where I stupidly and naively went a puny imperial and was harassed, robbed, mugged, shaken down and killed by all manner of insect life, angry traders and cliff racers. I then created an orc character and had a fantastic adventure, solving every conundrum by hitting it on the head with a two-handed axe in what became an all-encompassing and enthralling adventure that in many ways has not been beaten since 2002.

But back to Skyrim. The re-release on the Nintendo Switch and the lingering VR version on the PS4 (Yes, I’m very tempted, despite not owning a PlayStation 4 or the VR headset) has had me hankering to get back to the snowy and unforgiving province for the first time in about two and half years. This time with the Special Edition that was generously on my Steam account for some reason.


Also, to be honest, with the unfortunate dearth of truly unique single player games this generation (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the standout exception) I was eager to revisit, what for me at least, was the pinnacle of the last console generation.

On installing the game, the basic mechanics have remained identical to the original version and are totally untouched. The Special Edition is mostly an aesthetic upgrade. But the addition of mods cannot be ignored and add an amazing and wide range of gameplay fixtures and features to an already densely packed game. New, unique followers, with often well written, humorous dialogue can be downloaded to accompany you on your travels. Little incidental details like lampposts along the roads and beehives add to the notion that people are meant to live and work here. You can even get a camping mod and one where you get hypothermia.

True to all Elder Scrolls games, you start as a featureless, raceless and nameless protagonist. Bethesda games don’t really start until after the character creation and the obligatory introductory set-piece. Once this glorified cut-scene is passed, the game truly begins. Think of the moment in Oblivion where you leave the Imperial Sewers and are left squinting at the forested hills and sparkling waterways of Cyrodiil after the dank gloom of the labyrinthine sewers under the Imperial City. In Fallout 4 it is the moment that you leave vault 101, take the elevator to the surface, and survey the irradiated and blasted wasteland that used to be your white picket fenced home with the dilapidated skyscrapers of Boston just visible on the horizon.

From this moment forward, the special edition upgrades (and mods, if you have them installed) become apparent immediately. They add another level of detail to an already intricate and beautiful game world.

Clouds gently waft over crags, ravines, and mountaintops. Flecks of light snow prance in front of your eyes before being carried away by a breeze, where they lie in great drifts and twinkle when they catch the light. External masonry looks old and weather-beaten, scarred by millennia of snow and ice. Great iron braziers crackle with fire, keeping the cold at bay, spreading their warmth to the frigid surroundings. Timber is split and has a slight coating of green mold. Landscape features such as mountains, hills, and trees now block out the light with ‘volumetric god rays’ leading to some lovely shadowing effects.


Internal environments are also more noticeable and vibrant. Roots hang down into cave systems, searching for water and nutrients. Ancient Nord burial chambers look damp and mossy with centuries of water ingress. They almost look clammy to the touch.

The game is so richly detailed and so well designed that I’m not sure what was from the original game in 2011 and from the Special Edition from 2016. When I first played the game in 2011 one of the most immersive moments was watching salmon leaping up river to their spawning grounds. This small, almost miniscule detail added to the immersion in a very subtle way. In a similar manner, eagles soar on updraughts and insects swarm over marshland areas. All of this was present in the original version of Skyrim. The Special Edition adds to this sense of place and history by augmenting the landscape with another more detailed layer of fauna, flora, weather effects and lighting.


Admittedly, the quests do all have a certain clockwork monotony to them. Investigate this. Go here. Come back with a snippet of information or a quest item. Within a few days, I was Arch-mage of the College of Winterhold despite being a novice when I arrived at the gate. I’ll be the military commander of the province of Skyrim, after successfully crushing the Stormcloak rebellion, by the time you read this. I’ll be parading through the Imperial City, with a laurel and a slave whispering ‘Memento Mori’ into my ear as a reminder of my mortal existence on this plane.

Unlike Morrowind where you had to make irreversible decisions at certain points in the quest lines, but in a similar manner to Oblivion, nothing is closed to you. You can be a thief and a fighter. Loyally destroy the enemies of the Emperor, but kill him with another faction. Such gameplay features may upset RPG purists, but at least it allows you to access the full game without doing multiple playthroughs.

Like most RPGs, you end up doing menial tasks well below your station. As the only person who can devour the souls of dragons, it probably isn’t appropriate for me to be delivering letters between the members of a love triangle. Perhaps I shouldn’t be collecting three flawless amethysts for a wedding ring when the world is burning in dragon fire. Why can’t this alchemist from Riften collect her own damn nightshade? But alas, you do these things because it’s an RPG and let’s be honest, you enjoy the world revolving around you. You want to be the hero.

For the most part, the quests provide gameplay, narrative structure, XP to level up and a gradual way of exploring the map at a leisurely and constant pace. The well realised world and the sense of leisurely exploration is a gameplay element in its own right and you will end up stumbling into an unexpected quest just by walking into a mine.

Environmental storytelling has always been one of Bethesda’s strong points. For example, skeletal remains can be found at the entrance to a barrow, looking like they were trying to claw their injured bodies from some unknown and ancient horror contained in an antechamber of a long abandoned and foreboding city. Sets of shoes, just outside a tent, can be found next to sweet rolls, implying a romantic liaison that resulted in a tragic death where two lovers were swept out to sea. A woolly mammoth can be found embedded in a glacier with Dwemer (An ancient and long extinct race of dwarves in Elder Scrolls Lore) arrows piercing its side. A man can be found slumped over a bloody grindstone, implying a grizzly and painful end. Often, no further clues are given in these scenarios, letting you construct your own narrative with a few breadcrumb pointers left by Bethesda. It creates a world where people, again, admittedly mechanically, have lived a life, loved and lost.


Skyrim was never quite the ‘virtual world’ where NPCs live their own life, independent of your character. They do have a certain routine; get up, go to work, come back. Nothing complicated. You can get ‘married’ in the game, but your spouse won’t react to your long absences. No computer game has ever achieved this level of realism, despite the promises (I’m looking at you, Fable and Peter Molyneux). And I’m not sure it would be a desirable feature either.

To all intents and purposes, you are a God in Skyrim. Nothing happens without your agency and consent. Leave your character standing forlornly outside a city and nothing will happen. The dragon Alduin won’t enslave the Nord race with the help of his scaly compatriots. The Stormcloak rebellion against Imperial rule will go dormant until you decide to take up arms again.

Bethesda have taken a lot of flack for re-releasing Skyrim on multiple platforms over the past few years and for using this particular IP as a ‘cash cow.’ However, they are one of the few dedicated and large RPG developers still standing, now that Bioware is increasingly directing its efforts on the ‘destinyesque’ Anthem now.

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Regardless of what platform you decide to play on, if you just have the ‘vanilla’ version or are using mods, the core fundamentals of Skyrim are impeccable and it is one of the ‘must plays’ of that last two generations. Very rarely has a game realised a sense of place and history so well through expert world building and the use of in-game lore.

It was a flawed masterpiece on release. The plethora of official and unofficial patches over the years has ensured that the game now runs smoothly and largely without incident. Mods on consoles have delivered a game rich in new features and gameplay elements that were previously the purview of the PC.

All you need to do now is set aside 450+ hours to experience it properly.

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What’s With All The Nationalist Boycotts?

We’re all prone to a bit of pettiness from time to time, aren’t we? Not offering to make a colleague a cup of tea at work just cause you don’t like them. Not texting someone because of a perceived slight that you thought you had incurred. Doing something on purpose just to rile someone. Usually, and in my experience, it can often be caused by a power imbalance or motivated by someone not letting you get your own way. You can either deal with this like a mature adult and acknowledge your childish behaviour or alternatively you can sulk, put your bottom lip out and strike back the only way you can: pettiness.

In general, nationalism and love of one’s own nation is not an unhealthy emotion. No one is totally rootless in life and I’ve never subscribed to the idea that I’m a ‘world citizen’, freely floating in a globalised world who can just blithely move to another culture and settle in it like it’s my native one. I would assume that many of the people reading this article care deeply about Scotland and its place in the United Kingdom.

However, there is a virulent petty streak in Scottish nationalism that is getting increasingly desperate now. With Scottish independence slowly receding into the distance, many nationalists are resorting to desperate and some might say tragic measures with increasingly ridiculous stunts to resuscitate their moribund cause, with many of these efforts only gaining praise from their own zealous peers on social media.

The harbingers of such future pettiness were present during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. Discussion of the boycott of companies that supported a ‘No’ vote in 2014 was rife during the run-up to September the 18th 2014. And the nationalists would have had a hard time staying alive if they had carried through their plans to boycott all the companies they said they would. BP, Shell Oil, William Grants & Sons, British Aerospace, RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, B&Q, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer’s, The BBC, Thomas Cook and Standard Life all voiced concerns over a ‘Yes’ vote. ASDA, in particular, had the temerity to voice some unofficial reservations over their operations in Scotland in the event of an independence vote. They were met with cries from the cybernats including: ‘Well ye wid side with the enemy fool hope yeez go out of business altogether and let the local shops rule again’ and ‘Still think NAW was the right idea ASDA? Traitors !!!!!.’ The notion of faceless companies being ‘traitors’ in Scotland is a relatively new phenomenon and one that is a common feature amongst the most zealous now, especially online

You would like to think that after the referendum, a period of calm would have ensued. Perhaps we all got a bit stressed out and let our passions run out in front of our logic. After all, ultimately, we were talking about our sense of identity. However, a week later, the pro-independence campaign group, ‘The 45’ were formed and they released a large list of brands that should be boycotted immediately. Mostly it was just a rehash of the brands already mentioned.

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Facebook pages titled ‘Remember The Companies That Scared Scotland’ were set up with the noble intention of recruiting citizen activists/warriors to man the barricades: ‘This is a call to the 1.6 million of you that voted yes, the 45%. Let’s never allow these companies to scare our people ever again.’ Quite how M&S scared me into making a well informed political decision during a nation-wide referendum is a mystery to me. The only time I was ever frightened in M&S was when I saw a small jar of manuka honey for £37.50p. Another Facebook page called ‘Boycott Biased Banks and Companies-BBBC’ has a selection of memes one of which says ‘Fuck you Tesco for taking the saltire from the fruit you sell. We in Scotland will buy from somewhere else’. The ‘we in Scotland’ being the 540 people who like the page.

The most infamous display of nationalist pettiness was the ‘Tunnockgate’ boycott in January 2016 where Tunnocks had supposedly removed the lion rampant from the packaging on their teacakes. It turned out that they actually hadn’t, but this was irrelevant. Such a flagrant display of a company exercising its right to independently manage its affairs at the behest of its board members was met by the 24th central-belt cybernat regiment, (The blue and white line, tipped with bile) who bravely tweeted ‘join me in boycotting #Tunnocks. Bad product anyway, Calories galore, no nutrients’ (Incidentally, that’s why people like them) another keyboard warrior stated that ‘On principle, I haven’t bought anything by #Tunnocks since 2014.’ Dark days indeed for the future of Scotland when a grown man refuses to eat a chocolate coated, marshmallow filled confection on political ‘principle’.


More recently Tesco has come under attack for a statement saying that it would be putting British flags on its produce to ensure brand continuity. Again, not unreasonable. Also, these are just products like strawberries. Scotland has a certain ‘brand’ and has foods that are associated with it. Whisky is the most prominent, but other ones include salmon, haggis, shortbread etc. So do all regions of the UK (The English do marvellous cheese pies). But soft fruits? Nothing particularly Scottish about them. However, Tesco withdrew this statement after more nationalist pettiness on social media in what A Force for Good called the ‘THE SUPERMARKET CLEARANCES’. Indeed one Scottish ‘patriot’ was so enraged at the sight of the ‘Butchers Apron’ upon his strawberries that he put a sticker over the offending flag with ‘End London Rule’ on it. I bet that showed the London ‘establishment’. This was a grown man. Follow the entire thought process that he went through and it’s really quite worrying. The faceless company makes a change to its packaging. Seething rage. Go to computer. Design leaflet. Acquire pack of stickers. Print. Go to local Tesco. Place sticker on strawberries. Ignore strange looks from staff and shoppers. Write a post on social media, probably in incoherent ‘Scoddish’ that no one has spoken since 1741. Social media ‘friends’ reply to endeavours. Increase in confirmation bias. Watch as reasonable Scottish nationalists distance themselves even further. At no point was there a period of self-reflection on such a monumental level of petty behaviour?


Again, this is not the whole of Scotland, but we should be concerned when there are people who think that a major supermarket chain selling ‘British Butter’ in their stores, North of the Border are ‘disrespecting Scotland’.

InkedDirespecting Scotland_LI

Such petty antics and boycotts also extend to Scottish cultural and historical organisations now. The National Trust for Scotland has recently appointed historian Neil Oliver as their President in what is largely a ceremonial role. However, this was also been met with howls of petty indignation from many nationalists berating the organisation with threats to cancel their subscriptions to the Trust because they appointed a man who was a unionist and a very measured and polite one at that.

InkedNeil Oliver cancel_LI

Indeed my own small, sleepy, town along the west coast of Scotland is not free from the nationalist pettiness either. A local shopkeeper has been known to throw people out of his establishment if they have a British flag on their clothing and even made the national press for his antics involving an armed forces day flag, that of course, contains the Union flag.

There is probably an underlying reason for such boycotts and one that is not immediately obvious. It’s another attack on ‘Britishness’ in Scotland. Either intentionally or by design, many of these companies are ‘British’. Think John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, B&Q. The first two quintessentially British. The obsession with ridding British flags on produce is another indicator. If you cant get a politically independent nation through democratic means, then the next best thing is to do the same thing in the cultural and economic sphere as much as possible.

The nationalists are losing the political and economic argument. The SNP were given a bloody nose in the 2017 general election and in the 2016 Scottish parliamentary elections as well. Companies and organisations should not be beholden to a bunch of petty nationalists. (What is the plural for a gathering of petty nationalists? A swarm? A hive? A plethora? A clutter?) If you are putting political slogans over British flags, you know you have lost the argument (and the plot). Like spoiled children who have been denied a sweet, the zealous nationalists in Scotland are lashing out anything they deign to be British, particularly the low hanging fruit like flags on produce etc.

The best that any person or organisation can do is it to ignore them and let them have their tantrum. In a way, it’s a positive development; if this is all they can attack now, then good. Just because you are the loudest and the pettiest does not mean you are correct. We made the same mistake of believing it in 2014, where the silent majority didn’t make themselves present until the 11th hour. We shouldn’t do it again.

More importantly is this really the nation that Scotland is turning into? Is this what we want, not even as nationalist or unionist, but as free-thinking Scots and/or Brits? A place where butter and teacakes are viewed as treacherous to a political ideology and a historical organisation takes flack for appointing someone because of their benign political views? Taken to extremes, these are dangerous trends that must be nipped in the bud. I still don’t believe that sensible, stoic, and socially conservative Scotland wants the world that the petty nationalists are trying to create.

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Social Media: Not As Free As It Should Be

What do Disdain for Plebs, the Straight White Capitalist, The Church of Mogg, Lauren Southern, Sargon of Akkad and Markus Meechan have in common with one another? Not a great deal, apart from perhaps coming from the same very, very broad political persuasion.

However, what they definitely do have in common is that they have all been ‘no platformed’ on social media at some point. In particular many have been ‘Zucced’. A term used to describe your Facebook site or profile being removed because of your political views. An event that appears to be happening with increasing regularity. In the case of Markus Meechan and the Church of Mogg, this has come with the added bonus of unwarranted police involvement. Police Scotland (or Poileas Alba as they are to be henceforth called) are obviously more concerned with an anti-Semitic pug on YouTube than criminality.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been a member of some closed political groups and they frankly appalled me. They dealt not with politics, but unadulterated hatred and abuse. Not only were some of their members utterly racist, homophobic and xenophobic but for some reason, a sizeable number seemed to enjoy images and videos of animal cruelty. A video of male chicks being fed into an industrial shredder was met with rapturous applause from the comment section from a bunch of cretins who think they are being ‘edgy’. Another member posted an image of 14 ‘varmits’ that he shot. Another shared a picture of a young girl who had broken her leg and was on her phone at the time. Quite what either of these had to do with being ‘Anti-SJW’ that the group professed, was a mystery to me.

I make no apologies for reporting these images and then leaving the groups. They had nothing interesting to say, added nothing of relevance to the discourse and frankly gave anyone with centre-right views a bad name. However, no matter how repulsive the opinions on these sites they still have the right to exist, just as I have the right to leave.

However, there is very real issue underneath all this. The specific sites and people mentioned above have been banned and/or taken down in the virtual equivalent of being ‘no-platformed’. Their only crime is having an opinion that goes against the grain of the current cultural and political paradigm that the social justice left has foisted upon us all.

Even though they are a diverse group they perhaps don’t support mass migration of people from a totally different culture who aren’t really willing to assimilate certain aspects of the native culture. They may believe in small government. They don’t believe that you can be ‘gender fluid’ and that sex is biologically determined. Some of these views are completely reasonable and are supported by the mainstream population and further reinforced by empirical scientific evidence, but this isn’t necessarily enough to ensure their survival in cyberspace.

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These phenomena of removing dissenting voices is not only unique to social media platforms. Amazon has reportedly removed negative reviews from What Happened by Hillary Clinton. In some cases, this may be reasonable as those leaving reviews clearly have a political and social axe to grind or may just be ‘trolls’ looking for a fight. It’s better known in services such as Netflix, Amazon video, and Steam as ‘review bombing’, where a mass of negative reviews appear in short succession because consumers don’t like the content.

YouTube can demonetise videos that contain ‘controversial or sensitive subjects and events’, ‘Inappropriate language’ and ‘sexually suggestive content’. This leaves a rather insipid and bland roster of subjects left. (Minecraft? Puppies?) It also targets a lot of content creators with no political intent.

The crowdfunding site, Patreon, has removed Lauren Southern from its website because of her involvement with Defend Europe. On the other side of the political spectrum, they also removed the far-left news site It’s Going Down. YouTube has apparently been removing dislikes from its #ProudToBe: Celebrate Brave Voices this Pride. Such actions have a strong political element to them.

It should be noted that democratising and opening debate via social media has not always led to a greater quality of intellectual output. Indeed much of the discourse on the internet is a mile wide and an inch thick or descends into two opposing sides yelling profanities across the electronic ether.

But the sheer scale of removing what they perceived as ‘right-wing’ (and occasionally left) should be worrying for those of us who believe in the free exchange of ideas and the ability to come up with solutions to our societal problems.

Mark Zuckerberg has stated that to counter anti-globalisation movements we need ‘smaller communities’ and ‘intimate social structures’ that meet people’s ‘personal, emotional and spiritual needs’. This is to be facilitated by Facebook, of course.

Apart from the creepiness of the above statement (do you really want your ‘intimate social structures’ tended by a for-profit corporation?), what if you’re an anti-globalisation movement? Or consider yourself just a normal conservative? Well, to Facebook, even this in unacceptable. According to a former Facebook staff member, the tech company was leaving out trending news from right wing sites in 2016.

I expect, before the internet, it was relativity hard to shut down an entire ‘old media’, analog distribution system. There could be more than one printing press. It would require the consent and entire apparatus of the state; police, courts, army etc. Before the Iranian revolution, they used to smuggle VHS tapes with speeches from Iman’s, into Iran. Illegal radio broadcasts could be picked up by anyone

Now, you switch off a few servers or change a few algorithms on social media and because of our utter reliance on new media, an entire segment of the population is given a certain ideological viewpoint or none at all. Considering that two billion users log into Facebook and over 320 million people use Twitter this puts a lot of political power into the algorithms of social media platforms.

Ironically, the original idea of many US West Coast tech entrepreneurs and proponents of the ‘California Ideology’ of creating a virtual community where ‘all individuals will be able to express themselves freely within cyberspace’ has gone awry, or at least only applies to those of a more left-leaning persuasion.

Regardless of my, or anyone else’s opinion, social media is now here to stay with us. Apart from a few anarcho-primitivists, no one is advocating significant change and we usually acquiesce to social media despite the issues.

Social media is now as ubiquitous as the TV or internal combustion engine was in the latter half of the 20th century. An integral part of our social lives and work. Because of its ubiquitousness, which far exceeds ‘last century’ media, it’s more important that it is free and open to all opinions even if we disagree or even find them abhorrent. Perhaps if the tech companies and platform holders treat us like adults who can sift out information on social media ourselves and deal with challenging ideas, we might start to act like it.

Lest We Forget: The Importance Of Our Memorials

We now live in an age where inconvenient, ‘offensive’ history is being forcibly removed by the social justice left in an endless crusade to wipe out the historical and physical legacy of Western Civilisation and national culture.

In the United States, they are in the process of removing statues and memorials to Confederate Generals and those who followed and died for them. So far almost all states have been effected by this regressive desire to rewrite the historical narrative and create even safer spaces for what they perceive to be a traumatised populace. So far, busts and statues to General Lee, Longstreet and Jackson have been removed (usually in the dead of night) and memorials to Confederate war dead have been given the same sharp treatment with no public consultation.

Across on our side of the Atlantic, the UK has been afflicted with its own home-grown version of this with the ‘Rhodes must fall’ movement which tried to remove the statue of renowned (some might say infamous) imperialist Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College in Oxford. Luckily this was stopped, largely by the fact that a number of wealthy Oxford alumni were considering keeping their wallets closed.

In a similar vein, a campaign to remove Admiral Nelson from his column is starting to gain traction, all for his supposed role in the slave trade. His real and definitive role in defeating continental absolutism is unimportant.

At the moment, such actions are just the thin end of a potentially very large wedge. They are just a bridgehead in a looming larger conflict and like all American exports, it will make it to good Old Blighty eventually.

No matter where you live, every town in the UK has statues to some Imperial soldier, a war memorial (probably more than one), a tribute to a former monarch or a plaque commemorating some hero. From the smallest rural village to provincial towns to national capitals, we pass countless such places every day. They were erected in the context of a particular time and by a particular people, who possessed a unique mindset that reflected the era they lived in. None of which makes their views or the memorials abhorrent. They were your ancestors and often not that distant from you in time and space.

Such forced removal of our memorials also wrongly interprets history. Some of our greatest historical figures held questionable and outmoded views, at least when viewed through the skewed post-modern, post-colonial eyes of the social justice left. Churchill, in particular, was a staunch imperialist, ‘the last of the Victorians’. But his leadership and determination probably saved the United Kingdom and consequently led to the opening of a large second front against Nazi Germany. Queen Victoria was aghast at the notion of female emancipation and frowned at the Suffragette moment. I don’t know what she thought of pansexuals or otherkin.

In the United States, General Lee believed in gradual emancipation led by divine providence (A view not uncommon for the time, particularly in border states) and led the confederate army because of his allegiance to his home state of Virginia rather than any strong belief that human beings should be treated as chattels. President Lincoln may have deserved the epitaph ‘The Great Emancipator’, but his primary aim in the US civil war was to maintain the United States as a single political entity with the freedom of the slaves of secondary importance.

Closer to my home, former Prime Minister, W.E. Gladstone has a prominent statue in George Square in Glasgow. Should it be ripped from its plinth because he sent General Garnet Wolseley on imperial expeditions into the Sudan in the 1880s?

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Most of these examples concern soldiers, statesmen, and monarchs. What about scientists? When Charles Darwin visited Tierra Del Fuego and upon witnessing the sorry state of the ‘native Fuegians’ he later wrote in his diary: ‘I believe if the world was searched, no lower grade of man could be found.’ Shocking words by today’s standard. But does this mean that his intellectually poised statue in the Natural History Museum should be removed much like ‘dippy’ and replaced with a different one that better reflects our contemporary era?

To put people into binary archetypes of ‘good’, ‘evil’, ‘offensive’, ‘inoffensive’ is to lose sight of what many of these people actually were: human. Neither Angel or Demon, but human. Often this involves holding conflicting views. Something that the social justice left likes to forget with its onus on human perfectibility and equality.

Of course, removing statues, plaques or memorials doesn’t mean that the event didn’t happen or the person didn’t exist. Removing what one group deems to be offensive does us all a disservice in its attempt to expunge history from the records as well as patronising us with the notion that we can’t accept uncomfortable truths about the past. We can. Most of us are adults.

Also, the idea of a single individual elevated above the general populace is anathema to the social justice left. If you earnestly believe in the absolute equality of everyone, which many of them seem to, then how can you have heroes in a society? No one deserves to be venerated above anyone else. You aren’t allowed to have historical and cultural highs to aspire to. Just a uniform insipid, cultural mush; all in the name of ‘equality’.

On a more personal note, I have recently returned from a trip to Poland where I visited Auschwitz. The name itself comes loaded with preconceptions and emotional baggage. It was a heart rending experience and the camp is filled with a sense of deep, lingering sadness and isn’t a place that would warrant a return visit.

It would have been relatively easy after the Second World War to blast the place into oblivion, to try and cleanse its presence from the soil. But I feel that it is best to examine the dark heart of humanity, face our worse abuses and then stare our demons down no matter how difficult this may be. Only through this can we come to an understanding of our nature and try and ensure that such places and atrocities are never brought forth again.

All events, one day, will pass from the realm of living memory and into recorded history, only accessible through some form of media. When that occurs the only physical evidence left will be our memorials, our artifacts, our statues, our plaques, our weapons, our buildings, our tools; this will be all that remains to remind us of events, even if they make us uncomfortable.

What would leave a greater legacy for future generations? Intact plinths, memorials and public spaces where we have to explain the complexities of human history, motivation, culture, politics, and emotion, and then reflect on them? A place where we can ponder the past and perhaps contemplate the future? A place where we can feel that we are just another generation, one out of a multitude, sometimes no better or worse than those before us. A place where we can see that our ancestors bequeathed us with a culture, a civilisation and a way of life; if often messy at times?

The alternative is flat, stark, barren places, where history was physically removed because one generation, far removed from events, deemed their presence to be too ‘offensive’ for them?

I know which future I would choose.

You Are Not Oppressesd

Are you oppressed? Has the stern jackboot of oppression ever stomped on your neck? Have agents of the state questioned your life choices and thrown you into the back of a black unmarked van because of your gender preference, sexual orientation or political/ideological views? Do you yearn to break free of chains that have bound you so tightly that you have spent a lifetime living a lie for fear of brutal repercussions from the government? Are you struggling with bonds so tight that they have constricted you for decades, leaving deep mental and physical wounds that may never heal?

If you answered ‘yes, that’s me. That’s totally my life’ to the above paragraph I would suggest that you go and put the kettle on, flick that neon fringe out of your eyes, have a nice cup of chamomile and honey tea (or any beverage you want, I’m not some sort of tea fascist) and if you are fortunate enough to live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or indeed anywhere in the Western World, drink it while wistfully gazing out of the window gently uttering the words ‘I ‘am not oppressed, I ‘am not oppressed.’

Along with the tea, I hope you imbibe a sense of perspective and ready yourself for a hard truth.

With all due respect, no one actually cares about your life choices, who you want to sleep with or what gender pronoun you’re using that particular day. You’re just not that special and the vast majority of the population doesn’t care and neither should you. To tell you the truth, as long as you keep your head down, take responsibility for your behaviour, uphold the values of Western civilisation (individualism, property, democracy, capitalism etc) and conform (I know, the ‘c’ word, right) to some basic levels of behaviour and dress, in certain prescribed circumstances, then no one cares.

All people in the UK are protected by the law. We are all equal in the eyes of Themis, the Greek Goddess of Justice. So much so, that she is often portrayed as being blindfolded. The entire British state operates on this principle. The operator on the end of a 999 phone call, won’t ask your gender, sex, shoe size, what party political you voted for in 2017 or if you prefer to be called ‘Him’, ‘Her’ or ‘Zim’ before dispatching an ambulance.

May I suggest that what you are suffering from is prejudice from your fellow citizens and a minority of them at that. This might be wrong, but it’s probably unavoidable. If prejudice is embedded in the culture it could take decades to expunge it from society, if it all. And let’s all be honest, we all have our prejudices as well. None of us is Jesus Christ or the Buddha, we hate as well as love. I expect we all dislike a particular societal clique, or sub-culture, even if it’s illogical. Prejudice can be an insidious phenomena, which can, on occasion, permeate state and social structures. It’s wrong, but it is still not oppression.

The fact is that most people aren’t really ‘anti’ against your lifestyle choices. It’s probably more accurate to say that they are more ‘pro’ something, particularity in the Western World. For example, many Christians don’t agree with same-sex marriage. Does this mean that they are against homosexuality? Not necessarily. They just believe in the sanctity of marriage and that it should be between a man and a woman. It should be noted that they do also have the right to hold this view as well.

If we start down the path of restricting speech, well, who dictates what is allowed to be said anymore. Who is to be the arbiter of this? As Mick Hume, author of Trigger Warning states, people now use the term ‘denier’ in the same way they used to use ‘witch’; as an insult, a tactic to silence and quick method of closing down further debate and investigation.

However, more importantly, does this mean that they wish you actually bodily or psychological harm for loving who you choose or any other personal preference? No, we’re a very, very long way from throwing people off of buildings or hanging them as they do in some other states.

I would say that considering there has just been a massive Pride Parade, with an estimated 26,000 marchers (This is only 5625 less than the police officers at the Metropolitan Police Service) expected to be in London, from every walk of life, it can be hard to play the oppression card. In fact, the state is so oppressive that it’s erecting concrete barriers to stop terrorists driving a car into the crowds. Nor do oppressed groups have entire YouTube campaigns with nearly 5.7 million views on their videos. Oppressed groups tend to have clandestine meetings, slink about from place to place and don’t broadcast their whereabouts. They also don’t use Instagram.

Also, dear reader, I don’t know about you but I’m also far too busy for prejudice, let alone oppression. I get up in the morning, go to work, come back, read, write, watch some ‘fail’ videos on YouTube and then go to bed. Repeat this Monday to Friday. This leaves almost no time in my day to even vaguely consider people who have the same rights and legal protection as me, but somehow consider themselves to be an oppressed minority.

This is not just confined to the most misguided and fringe supporters of LGBTTQQIAAP rights either. Anyone can suffer from the idea that they are being oppressed nowadays.

People now think they are oppressed by President Trump or Brexit or the Conservative party. There is now a new breed of simpering social justice warrior who considers it oppression whenever a political decision or vote takes place that they didn’t like. It’s not oppression. It’s democracy.

YouTube is full of people who claim that they are a ‘free inhabitant of the earth’ who seem to have trouble grasping the idea of national sovereignty or refuse to hand over a driving license to a Police Officer. Of course, the consequence of this is that a minor misdemeanour unnecessarily escalates into a major infraction, distressing all those present and wasting tax payer’s money.

Most of us also find it difficult to oppress anyone, as we don’t have the entire apparatus of the state behind us: police forces, judiciary, prison camps etc. You know, all those things that most non-democratic and totalitarian regimes have used to actually oppress people since we first discovered agriculture in the Fertile Crescent. You know, the sort of behavioural attributes that ultra-oppressive regimes like The Khmer Rouge, who used to jail anyone with spectacles, or The Soviet Union under Stalin, where academics could be arrested and left to languish in a Siberian gulag for discussing agricultural policy actually use.

Trouble is if you start to see yourself as a victim, if it permeates your entire identity, you start to become one. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy with dangerous consequences. It gets to the point that nothing short of 100% acceptance from all of society will do. I’m a heterosexual, white man, but there will have been times where I would not have been accepted wholeheartedly by other cliques in society. Too quiet, too short, too unfashionable, too poor etc.

All of this is partly enabled and hugely exacerbated by social media and the miniaturisation of technology. 10 years ago, I couldn’t have filmed the police for ‘evidence’ of oppression, nor could I have buried myself in the insular world of social media, where I could further indulge my often nonsensical views with the like-minded ‘oppressed’.

Today, you are free to think, do, and live as you see fit, provided you don’t break the law. Fight prejudice, as long as it is safe to do so. Be yourself most of the time, but remember that on occasion you may have to conform to society. Basically, just go and live your life.

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The Hysterical Left-Wing

The past decade has provided us with a steady and constant stream of political surprises. The election of Barack Obama as a beacon of hope and a symbol of Americas post-racial identity. In Britain we had the first coalition government since World War 2, leading to a new era of consensus politics. Then the Scottish Independence referendum, where the people of Scotland choose unity over division. Then in 2015, we had an unexpected Conservative majority government. Then the EU referendum, where the majority of the British people demonstrated that they wanted to leave the EU after 43 years. And now, we can add to this list the 2017 general election. An election that saw the most left-wing Labour leader since the 1970s (possibly since Clement Attlee) gain 40% of the popular vote and narrowly miss out on becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

I’m being slightly facetious in the above paragraph. It also saw the ‘hard’ left-wing (henceforth just known as the ‘left’ wing in this article) in the UK have an epic and on-going meltdown and showed many of them to be filled to the brim with a hysterical, shrill and screaming intolerance that many of them profess to be fighting against.

Of course, It used to be that after losing an election, people would go home. The majority have spoken. That was that. They would go and live their life for another four years until the next election. I live in Scotland and have had an SNP government at Holyrood since 2007. I didn’t vote for it, but I haven’t thrown my toys out of the pram in an almighty apoplectic fit either. The majority did vote for the SNP and I have to live with that.

With hindsight, the continuing situation in Scotland, with left-wing nationalists refusing to be put back in the box, should have served as a bellwether for the rest of the UK and as a dark harbinger of divisive elections to come. Nearly three years on, the terms ‘quisling’ ‘traitor’ and ‘nawbag’ are still bandied about to people who had the outright temerity and audacity to make a different political decision to ‘Yes’ in Scotland in 2014.

Without this basic concept of accepting that you lost an election, democracy itself starts to seem superfluous. Don’t like the result? Just go out and protest against it, even though the majority of the country voted for it. Just overthrow the government if you don’t like it and didn’t vote for it.

Many on the left-wing now seem to be on a ‘constant campaign’ at all times, ever vigilant to anyone with a differing (abhorrent in their opinion) world view. A noisy guardian, an intolerant protector, a white knight. The default reaction now seems to be to go out and protest against the democratic will of the British people. No doubt better men than me will succinctly analyse how we ended up in a situation where people now protest the will of the majority in a democracy and I would be eager to hear their findings and suggestions.

The problem with the ‘constant campaign’ is that it puts people on a heightened sense of political awareness. There is no time for reflection, only battle. There is no time to consider the other side as human beings. They are just ‘toffs’, ‘millionaire Tories’ etc. No time for measured response, only protest. Every disagreement is a personal slight rather than a political disagreement. Most damaging of all, with no time to think, it leads to a simplified, binary world view. Them vs us, with the ‘them’ being the right-wing heartless monsters that must be slain with the silver sword of leftist indignation.

This ‘constant campaign’ is most prevalent on social media and it’s here that we find the ‘heart of darkness’ of left-wing politics and some of their most epic, hysterical, knee-jerk reactions. Behold:

FD insults torie

This is the reaction that I got from saying that I was voting Conservative in the 2017 general election and promoting one of my blog articles on Facebook. Many on the left can’t seem to understand that people might have different experiences in life that might lead them to different conclusions. This is neither good or bad, it just is. Perhaps they might vote Conservative because the local MP has a big presence in the local community. Perhaps they might vote for a totally different party next time, or even vote for different parties at different levels of government. Who knows. It’s their choice and they should be free to make it, without those on the left throwing their dummies at them. Most incomprehensibly of all they might consider themselves to be right-of-centre!

The phenomena of the angry, intolerant left isn’t entirely confirmed to us mere mortals either. The ‘celebratocracy’ also like to have a go at democratic values and their fellow citizens. The Times columnist and writer Caitlin Moran called anyone who was voting Conservative a ‘c#$t’. The Guardian columnist and prolific Twitter user Owen Jones has been trying to encourage protests since the Conservatives won the election. Like many from the left, seemingly unable to comprehend that almost thirteen and a half million people voted for a Conservative government which is further bolstered by the Democratic Unionist Party which gained nearly 300,000 votes.

I happen not to agree with the DUP on its social issues, but I believe in their right to hold these views without being insulted, heckled or ‘no platformed’ by the illiberal left.

However, the irate left is not only confined to the intolerant eyrie of their echo-chamber like groups on social media. The recent tragic events at the Grenfell Tower Block in Kensington, London have been heavily politicised by the left only days after the fire. The anger is understandable, but it seems that the events have been taken over by the left if the smattering of people wearing red ‘momentum’ shirts is any indication. Quite why the protesters were outside the BBC is also a mystery as well. Perhaps cuts and ‘austerity’ were to blame. I don’t know. And that’s the issue at the moment; no one actually does. The difference is that the left pretends to know the answers, even while the tower block is still smouldering and the victims still unaccounted for.

However, this total lack of factual information and data hasn’t stopped the left-wing ‘Movement For Justice’ organising a ‘DAY OF RAGE’ on the 21st of June, with the express aim to ‘Shut Down London – Bring Down the Government’. The word ‘Grenfell’ is only mentioned twice in the main body of the event description. ‘Immigrant’ is mentioned four times and ‘rage’ three times. This belies the real motivation behind the event.

The left-wing in the UK seems to be borrowing tactics and best practice from the social justice moment in the U.S. An appeal to emotion, buzzwords and a vague sense of a being in a self-righteous cult. They seem to conflate numbers on the ground and social media presence with having persuasive power and better arguments. This obviously is not the case.

It can be rather easy to command an army of believers in a cause. It’s much harder to debate the facts, wait until the dust settles, understand that other people have different opinions and that this does not mean that they are all ‘fascist, millionaire, Tory posh boys either.

If you enjoyed what you have read and want to support my work and help my write more articles and potentially a book, please have a look at my Patreon page by clicking the link below:

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