Monday, 30 October 2017

The Dictatorship of the Majority




"The paper vote is an illusion of Democracy, where the electorate has been replaced by an audience panel" 
Paulo Ferreira

In my school days I lived an intense political life. It was the time of the Portuguese Revolution, where suddenly a stifling, organised society was replaced by hope, by political debate, by freedom. Very soon, in a matter of days, new parties surfaced and none was better organised than the Portuguese Communist Party. Their knowledge of the political process, of public gatherings, assemblies, voting, was second to none. The scale of manipulation was staggering and soon they took over most of the national structures through a clean cut democratic process. Their youth movement UEC (United Communist Students) soon was agitating school to create student commitees and associations. I remember going to the first assembly to vote the statutes. This assembly was cunningly scheduled for an evening of 1974 at 6.30pm, after school lessons were finished, so there were about 50 people there (on a school of 2500 students).

The chair was voted, the question was asked "is this assembly representative?" followed by an unanimous raise of hands including mine. My logic at 14 years of age was, I was there, I was not going to waste my time to have to do it again. The assembly carried on, most of the attendants were UEC, they had a prepared list of statutes and in 30 minutes all the roles were voted with members of Communist Students. And it took 18 months to root them out because of their directive roles, as per their statutes, they could only be deposed by a General Assembly of more than half of the students (1,250!!!) and with a majority of at least 60%. It was done and Real Democracy won that day.

Why all this? All this because of the infantile way current democracies are running their business... with the vote! Not that the vote is not useful, but it can be counted in a very warped way. It is unthinkable that, something to be voted by the general public as important as currency, independence, leaving an economical area, can be made with a simple vote dictatorship. It is pure laziness and misrepresentation of what Democracy is. Democracy is the will of the people, ALL the people, not the ones that appeared to vote like my "fellow" communists did that evening. 

In the classic Athens time, everybody appeared to say their vote, raising their arm. A paper vote is no longer a representation of the will of the people, not for the big issues I mentioned above. It is just a game, harmless in a way, to put representatives in power to speak for the people and, believe me, I have nothing against that process. It is finite, it has a closed term and it tends to even out every period. It works, well, more or less. 

It is when big questions are put into the public, with the lame, lazy, Western view of Democracy (by paper, because it is the process that validates scheduled standard intelligentsia in power), that things get corrupted. Big questions cannot be decided by a single majority i. e. by more than 50% of the people that appeared to vote. Why? Because they are not representative. 

That is why Scottish Independence, Brexit, Catalunya are a scam, a manipulated process, quite similar to what my fellow Student Communists were using in that Portuguese Summer of 1974. Big questions need to have big processes, big answers. Brexit could only happen if 60% of the registered voters had voted yes, the same for Scottish or Catalunya independence. More, I would even dare to say that the registered voters that wanted to vote "No" did not even need to cast their vote, by default their vote was already stated on the question. It would be up to the ones that want to make the change to mobilise themselves to fulfil the task and be responsible for the outcome. Not like this, with a representation of 20% deciding forever, economic or political secession. That is not a Democracy. That is fascism, similar with votes that were being  cast in Italy and Germany in 1930. We don't need that anymore, do we?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Sunday, 18 June 2017

3 questions

"One can rape the Law without making her scream."
Charles M. de Talleyrand

The image above is pretty much self-explanatory. Politicians have been saying this week that questions must be asked and questions must be answered. I have just 3 questions:
  1. How much did  Kensington and Chelsea Council pay for each "Fire Action" sign shown above? This will have to include charges for design, feasibility, plan, expert assessments and any other related expenditure.
  2. Who approved and signed off the above sign? (if anyone)
  3. What are the relationships (personal and / or commercial) between the signataries of 2) and the leadership of Kensington and Chelsea Council?
Any answers to the above will define not only if there was a crime, but also if we are now confronting a new ugly term, waiting to be coined... Institutional Corruption.


Friday, 16 June 2017

Hell on Earth



"Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do"
Voltaire

I am writing this because it is the only thing I can do. It is too awful to go through it without crying, too raw to put any sense or reason, too avoidable. So, I am only left with words, I am not speechless... yet. I wrote about a similar catastrophe that befell on Lac Mégantic in Québec, Canada, almost four years ago. That time, 47 people died in a blaze of fire of shale gas, when a 50 plus car runaway train, loaded with combustible, descended a mountain, crashed and exploded into the town, without warning. To date, the victims' families are still wrangling through courts, seeking redress, when both the American and Canadian Governments are closing ranks with the rail companies to impede any settlement. Be prepared, because the culprit is once again... Greed.

Three nights ago normal standard folk went to sleep in Notting Hill, just like in Lac Mégantic and similarly, quite a few did not survive the night, I don't know for certain how many (30 so far, maybe 120 in the end). The main difference is that the victims, this time, suffered a long and terrorising death, most expecting to be saved as they were promised they would, others fighting for their lives, trying to escape. 

There is a difference between horror and terror. You witness the first and suffer the second. On Grenfell Tower that night, countless moments of terror were suffered by human beings, while spectators witnessed it, people jumping from windows to their deaths, mothers throwing their babies and children in the hope that they could survive, as they knew they wouldn't if they stayed put. People witnessing the blaze from the ground, powerless, in shock, listening to last words from their loved ones, saying their last goodbyes, inhaling their ashes, in what became an enormous, gory, vertical crematorium.

Yesterday morning I tweeted to The Metropolitan Police that this was mass murder, a crime scene. 8 hours later it finally became one.
https://twitter.com/pfrr/status/875280986384322561
I had friends telling me that I should not politicise this event, should heal the wounds and build on the solidarity already so evidently displayed. I had to disagree. This event has been nothing else but political. This was an Act of Terror, with multiple deaths, with multiple layers of accountability, so many that they all became immune, "organized" through years by political councillors, Members of Parliament, of Government, "Sir Humphreys" of Whitehall.

Where in this country, or any civilized one, can a landlord (Kensington and Chelsea Council) plan a refurbishing, fund it, request planning permission from their own offices, approve it, inspect it and sign it off? How much more incestuous can one organization be? Social housing in London and all over the country is this enormous cash cow, preying on the most vulnerable. The double-barrelled Conservative Leader of KCC (and so is his Deputy) mentioned constantly the £10 million pound refurbishment done last year for the benefit of the residents, when it is obvious that such refurbishment was a plastic (literally) surgery, to embellish the eye sore that Grenfell Tower was for the affluent neighbourhood. It had nothing to do with the residents themselves, it was just an enormous financially legally corrupt operation, to increase and inflate the prices of the surrounding real estate. It backfired (please forgive me the insensitive pun, I will change it when I think of a better description). How was this money spent? There were 120 flats in that tower. It is £75,000 per flat. You could put gold taps in all of them and still have a lot of change:

£7,000 (fully fitted Miele kitchen incl. top of the range white goods)
£10,000 (fully fitted bathroom with gold taps)
£10,000 (fully fitted top quality carpets)
£3,000 (new coat of paint)
£10,000 (painting and refitting common areas)

I am still on £40,000 only per flat (£5 million in total). Every flat could have got a brand new BMW attached to it. Where was all that money spent? It is as unaccounted as the bodies lying on the tower. The cladding was £500,000. They might as well have covered the tower with hay bales, but I guess that would have been more expensive. The total spent per flat was no more than £5,000, the total given to the contractor (under what circumstances?) no more than £3,000,000, the total hardware, materials and workforce expenditure around £2,500,000. Where are the other £6 million? I tell you... it was spent with "friends", with unaccountable (how appropriate) consultants, feasibility plans, health and safety reports, people earning £500 an hour to maintain their millionaire houses in Surrey and their latest BMW leased vehicle. An army of Armani suits landed on Grenfell Tower, with immaculate hard hats, clipboards, looking knowledgeably to their surroundings, taking as much time as they needed, as money was not a problem. By the time the build had to start there was not much left. That is why, very soon, you will hear the words  of "there will be lessons to be learned" which translates as "we did it the cheapest we could, because that people did not deserve any better". This is the inhumane mindset, arrogant, racist, classist, self-serving, (morally) corrupt.

The Metropolitan Police should request immediately all communications (private and official) between Kensington and Chelsea Council, their council leaders and their contractors, verify all the expenditure and money transactions between all the parties involved (including private ones) and make them public, whether or not there is criminal intent, nepotism or contract facilitating.

I hear Jeremy Corbyn asking for posh flats to be requisitioned to re-house the victims on an attempt of some class revenge porn.
That is not the right way. The Grenfell Tower should now remain forever as is, preserved as a National Monument, a stark reminder to all those layers of governing heartless ineptitude, a mark of respect to all that perished there, to all that will have to remain alive, with those horrifying images, screams and smells they witnessed that night. If the tower is demolished for real estate profiteering, you might as well go and spit on the graves of the deceased.

One message of praise to Dany Cotton, the London Fire Brigade Commissioner that under that exceptional emergency situation, ordered her crew to go in at their life's risk to save whoever they could, putting the risk manuals in the bin, as humans should always come before procedures. The fact that her orders were uncontested, only shows the trust and faith the crew deposits on her. Strong and stable.

For me, Theresa May has now become the image, the epitome of all the above failures. That will never change. I know that she goes to church on Sundays as a Christian. I have to tell her, that because of her Lust, her Gluttony, her Avarice, her Vanity, her Wrath, her Sloth, her Envy, for sure she will burn in Hell. That may probably be the only solace for the victims of this event... never have to see her face again.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Amateurs

© Paulo Ferreira 2017

"I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep."


I debated the title of this post between losers and amateurs... amateurs had to win.

Yesterday I went to Event City to attend the launch of the Labour campaign. As a Labour member, I received a few emails inviting me for this celebration and curiosity won. I had to have a look. 

I did not know what to expect. I've seen a lot of politics and good launches and good and bad parties and good and bad professionals. I was not expecting this. I arrived at 10.45am for a 11am launch. The venue was half full. I tried to find the hashtag on twitter for this... none to be seen, at all. It transpired later, that the hashtag for The Big Launch was #ForTheMany. By the end of it it was crawling miserably below 30th and behind... Nick Clegg, of all people. I had a look at the banners, the words, the speeches, everything falling utterly short. 

The original caller, introducing the event, had a voice so enthusiastic that would have made Eeyore jealous. Finally Jeremy Corbyn came on stage. And talked... the same stuff all over again. The For the Many... not the Few. The rich and the poor... the NHS. My disappointment was indescribable.

I do no understand... why For the Many? Why not for All? Why alienate the Few? The ones that actually have the money and contacts and power to embark in a project if it is worthwhile? And the clichés on the banners hanging all over the venue? They could all have been written by the despicable Ian Duncan Smith.

A More Equal Society... Why more? What's wrong with An Equal Society? Why grading Equality? This is stolen from George Orwell's Animal Farm for sure and has been sorted since 1789, if I can remember, with a so much better Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. But there were more, like "Dignity in Old Age" as if the young are not worth of it, "Creating Good??? Jobs", "Public Ownership of Rail" (why Rail only?), and the good old "Fully Funded NHS".

Jeremy mentioned the news published on the last Sunday Times of the 1000 Richest in Britain. He proclaimed the affront this was to the million people that are using food banks all over the country. He even joked about it, saying that Rupert Murdoch has made Labour a big favour with this publication. He mentioned the 14% of wealth increase and how the world would have come down if all the workers on the good? jobs had asked for an equivalent pay rise. And then he said... the wealth of these people would be enough to maintain the NHS for 6 years!!!!

FFS Jeremy... are you telling me that if we muster the entire wealth of the 1000 richest people in Britain, The Few ones that The Many envy, sipping champagne in their manors, on yachts, gently swayed by the warm Mediterranean Sea ripples, all we can have is 6 years of NHS?? And what happens afterwards? We will have the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge plus Richard Branson and Phil Collins adding to the million plus queue in Food Banks for a tin of beans? And wow Bill Gates gigantic fortune is equal to 10 months!!! of NHS. Beans for him too afterwards. It is not numbers that do not add up only, it is the lameness of arguments, the amateurism... because you are missing the point, the other amateurs around you are missing the point too.

You cannot win an election based on numbers, on jokes, on punditry, on bitchiness. You have to understand that 80% of the residents of this country are living pretty well. If your target is having the million votes of the food bank users you have to do better than alienating everybody else... because Theresa May has already grabbed the Just About Managing, which is a joke in itself. The "Just" About Managing are people that have a house, a car, children, full fridge, school, shoes, clothes, jobs, a fortnight holiday in Cyprus on lilos, gently swayed by the warm Mediterranean Sea ripples. And that is being sold to us all as a matter of horror. You have to remember that, Just About Managing is a mother holding tight to her one year old son, hanging for dear life with another hundred JAMs, on a rubber dinghy, gently swayed by the warm Mediterranean Sea ripples. And all because she had a dream she thought it was worth having a vote for. I have to remind you that 10 years ago she also had a house, a car, a full fridge, a job and Assad as president. Is this the same difference?

You will not win this election on 1% Income Tax reduction or by scrapping tuition fees. People need more. People need to hear the words "I have a dream!". Your cult of personality is not enough. Your well kempt unkempt beard, your well curated ragged wardrobe is utterly dishonest. Because you have no dreams. You have nothing to give to people.

To finish, I will tell you a story. It's the story of a people, exploited by a foreign political elite. One day, one of theirs, destined to become part of that elite, rebelled and said "I have a dream. We can live a life of freedom, in our land, where milk and honey will flow. Who's coming with me?" Remember the bloke? A guy called Moses? Everybody followed, The Many and The Few, the rich and the poor.

Apparently the people in this country want to get rid of the Pharaohs. They need a dream now. Do you have one? Because if you don't, this is going to be a hell of a nightmare.




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