Hostile Environment

Greetings, good citizens, today I offer you another piece of work from Manchester Art Gallery.

The label first:

The work the artists sent:

Link to Tentative Collective.

Manchester Art Gallery were no doubt relieved the immigration officer was satisfied that they were in a position to pay for the artist’s travel and accommodation!

This is an example of Hostile Environment. What is a Hostile Environment? It is a set of policies to make life in the UK difficult for immigrants so that they rather leave on their own accord. It turns doctors, landlords, teachers, banks, etc into immigration officers. It intimidates, bullies, separates families, and also probably kicks kittens and puppies.

I only made up the kittens and puppies part–please note that the rest of it is all true.

The Hostile Environment was introduced by then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2012. (The same Theresa May that later became Prime Minister, only to be replaced by the current clown.) “The aim is to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants,” was how she put it. On first glance, it might be tempting to agree with her, illegal immigrants are bad, you think. Legal immigrants are okay. Ah, but you see, once someone has the power to wave a magic wand, or snap their fingers like Thanos, and turn legal immigrants into illegal, what’s there to stop them?

image credit: New European

I was always afraid of the Hostile Environment, and it always worried me; it didn’t matter that I was not a subject to it. The immigrant hate, which I observed almost right from the moment I arrived to UK, had always made me feel uneasy. I don’t like hate. I mean, this type of hate, towards groups; I hate plenty of people and things myself but that is more personal and I don’t engage in any activity that would harm the people and things I hate. An example of a person I hate is the afore mentioned Theresa May, against whom I am powerless. The immigration van on the above picture, May’s own idea, should make anyone shudder. I mean, that is some horror movie stuff.

And yet–

a question I used to be asked during May’s premiership

Oh I don’t know, because I can think beyond myself?

Only she knows which option she ticked on the ballot. It’s irrelevant anyhow, she was the one to trigger Article 50 without any plan, she was the one to insist on leaving the single market and customs union, but I digress, this post is not about Brexit, it is about Hostile Environment.

The biggest victims of Hostile Environment were the Windrush generation. Whatever I say about them will not do them justice, so I’ll just leave a link to the Wikipedia article, which explains all in detail. The Windrush scandal has been covered by Amelia Gentleman, a Guardian journalist, from the beginning; she even wrote a book about it. It took long months before the rest of the media caught up and even by now, I don’t think many of the general public realise how bad it really is. I’m sure they just think it was a glitch, unnecessary bureaucracy or incompetence. They have no idea that it’s like that on purpose, that it is a very calculated system of psychological warfare. The present Home Secretary is Priti Patel, a vile, nasty, violent sociopathic bully, who is also hideous to boot, and has a permanent disgusting smirk on her ugly face. (Image Google her by all means, I’m not soiling my blog with her gross presence.) She herself is a daughter of immigrants, but hypocrisy is only a mild offence compared to her other traits. If the reincarnation theory is correct, then she is a reincarnated concentration camp guard. Maybe even Heinrich Himmler himself (side note, Himmler served as a Minister for the Interior, i.e. the same thing as Home Secretary).

The artists in my photo example are Pakistanis, the Windrush are of Caribbean origin, but I have read stories from white Australians and Canadians who were also caught up in the Hostile Environment. And now, of course, with Brexit and the ending of free movement, it applies to EU citizens. It has started already, people are being stopped at airports and thrown into detention centres. Post-Brexit rules allow travel without visas, but border officials have wide powers to exclude visitors. They also, like the writer of the letter in my gallery photos, must have felt “not satisfied”.

And this was the “good Europeans”, you know, Germans and the French and Italians, not “bad Europeans” like me, of former Communist bloc. What chance do the rest have? As for us, already here, the new “settled status” (I hate that name) is digital only, we have no physical proof of residency. When a situation occurs where we have to prove our right to stay, we can only hope that the system won’t be down. Otherwise, bad luck!

The Hostile Environment is not bad now because it affects white Western Europeans, it has always been bad. The only thing I can hope comes from this is that once people see it, they will realise the awfulness, precisely because it now affects white Western Europeans. Because that’s not a group you expect to have problems at the border, if you understand what I mean. It won’t be known for a while, as so far the only media that is covering it is Guardian, which, unfortunately, gets dismissed by too many as “leftist”, “socialist”, “liberal elite” paper. (But it’s okay for Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Telegraph to spread hate and incorrect information.) What can you do.

But why this obsession over immigration?

That, my friend, nobody can answer.

BIOS

  • basic input/output system, a set of computer instructions in firmware which control input and output operations
  • British Immigration Obsession Syndrome

Read more here.

Ode To Joy

And all men shall be brothers…

Joy, beautiful spark of Divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!
Thy magic binds again
What custom strictly divided;
All people become brothers,
Where thy gentle wing abides.

Who has succeeded in the great attempt,
To be a friend’s friend,
Whoever has won a lovely woman,
Add his to the jubilation!
Indeed, who even just has one soul
To call his own in this world!
And who never managed it should slink
Weeping from this union!

All creatures drink of joy
At nature’s breasts.
All the Just, all the Evil
Follow her trail of roses.
Kisses she gave us and grapevines,
A friend, proven in death.
Salaciousness was given to the worm
And the cherub stands before God.

Gladly, as His suns fly
through the heavens’ grand plan
Go on, brothers, your way,
Joyful, like a hero to victory.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss to all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Are you collapsing, millions?
Do you sense the creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy!
Above stars must He dwell.

~Friedrich Schiller

One day, we will all be brothers.

This is what you get for going to London for People’s Vote March…

Only Sir Patrick Stewart speaking on the stage!

This was my fifth anti Brexit march (I covered the first three on the blog before; the fourth one, which I didn’t post about, took place at the end of September in Manchester during the Conservative Party Conference). One sometimes wonders what the point is, why we still bother, but we do because it’s not the end yet.

I spent the whole time with three other guys from our coach from Manchester. As the coach dropped us off at the Embankment instead of Hyde Park, we decided to walk straight to Parliament Square, where the stage was set up for the rally and which was the end point of the march. So, we didn’t do any actual marching but we saw all the speakers. It’s the complete opposite of last year, where I did march but couldn’t even get to Parliament Square because it was so packed, the police had to turn people away at Whitehall. It’s really good to have experienced both.

I didn’t plan to blog about this march, or any other march again, I don’t want to clog my blog with Brexit posts (it seems to me there are too many but what can I do when I feel it every single day?) but at the same time, I feel like I need to give it a shout out. Truth is, it was an amazing, fantastic, beautiful experience and probably one of the best days of my life, despite getting up dead early to catch the coach at 6:30 and spending altogether about 11 hours on the said coach.

I would do it again.

If you want, you can read more about the march here.

And thus the prophecy comes true…

Content warming – extreme grossness, though it’s probably too late if you’ve already seen the pic in the image preview.

I can’t for sure declare this was a prophecy, but I think it was, because what else could it have been?

I first saw this piece of street art on the very day of the Brexit referendum, 23 June 2016, at the Shudehill Metrolink stop. I remember the day quite clearly, I wasn’t at work because it was my week off (this was really lucky, though I didn’t book that week because of the referendum). I was going to Didsbury to take some pictures and saw the poster from the tram. Two days later I went to Shudehill to photograph it, though by then it was, obviously, too late. People didn’t heed the warning on the poster.

It seemed totally wild then. Boris Johnson was only an MP that campaigned for Brexit and Donald Trump only a candidate, who many people still believe would lose to Hillary Clinton.

I don’t know if I myself believed it, though I had a feeling things would turn out badly. But that’s not important now.

There was another one underneath.

He doesn’t even need that wrecking ball, he is one himself.

Yes it is election today

Election of the Members of the EU parliament, that is!

And this time around, I AM allowed to vote–and sure as hell I AM voting!

You may be astonished, shocked even. Are you telling me that EU is actually not unelected? Are you telling me I can vote for MEPs?

Why yes. How else do you think that horrible nicotine-riddled repulsive frog-face that shouts so much and whose initials are the same as National Front got that job? (I am not typing his name here because I refuse to soil my blog with it–not because he’s Voldemort. He wishes he was Voldemort, but he’s more like Uncle Vernon.) He also passionately loves that job, because why else would he lead such a loud campaign for his new party? Because he wants to get elected again so that he can still have the said job.

But forget about ugly fascists, that’s not why I’m here, I’m here to tell you to GO AND VOTE. If you don’t want Brexit, vote for a Remain party. (This would be Greens or Lib Dems in England.)

Something else I want to say now.

As I say in the linked post, I am–as an EU citizen–allowed to vote in local elections but not in general elections or referendums (yeah, that one that affects my life most, isn’t democracy great?) I am also allowed to vote in EU Parliament elections–but this was not so straight forward.

The way it works in UK is: you register to vote at your local electoral office. Every time you move house, you should do this, so that your address is up to date (also it helps with getting credit). Before an election takes place, you will receive a poll card, like the one on my picture. You don’t need to take this with you to vote, it’s just for information. Now, like lots of people, I never paid attention to any EU elections before 2016. I didn’t even know when they took place and were not on my radar. I was under the impression that I couldn’t vote in those either, because of something someone told me (someone who was either lying or didn’t know). I only found out I could because now I’m connected with other EU citizens in UK and activists through social media. And wouldn’t be connected to them if it wasn’t for Brexit, so ironically, it was Brexit that made me learn about my right to vote in EU parliament elections.

Why was it not so straight-forward, though? Well, because I had to register for EU Parliament elections separately from the usual register. Someone I follow on Twitter, a fellow EU citizen, tweeted a link to the necessary form. So I printed the form, filled it in and posted it to the electoral office. A few days later I received the form back, not the one I sent but a new one, same but with my details filled in by computer and with a barcode at the bottom. So I sighed, filled the fields I needed to fill in, signed it again and personally dropped it at the council offices in their mailbox, while out on a lunch break. I heard nothing from them. In the meantime, poll cards arrived for the other tenants in this house (I live in a house converted to flats with shared letterbox) but not for me (don’t you just love being excluded?) I felt so stressed about it that I rang the electoral office and they confirmed I was indeed registered. I was so relieved.

And my poll card eventually came.

The reason I write all of this is: why does it take grassroots activists for me to find out about my right? Why was I not informed about this?

And it’s not just me, I know the other EU citizens also didn’t know. Luckily groups like The3Million have been doing a great job raising awareness to get everyone registered. But it’s not their job to do so. The councils know if you’re an EU citizen. They know it well enough not to let you vote in general elections and referendums that may ruin your life. So they should know it well enough to inform you in time that you need to register separately for EU elections. The issue is not that there is a separate form for a separate register. I don’t mind filling in another form to get what I need. The issue is that we were never told about it.

Why is there a separate register for EU citizens to vote in EU Parliament elections? If I’m not mistaken it’s because the form is also a declaration that you are not also registered in another EU country, so you won’t vote twice, in two different countries. If you’re an EU citizen living in UK, you can vote either in your home country, or in UK, but not both. I get that.

Of course we don’t do that. That’s cheating and we don’t do cheating because that’s what bad guys do and we’re not bad guys, we’re good guys. For me it makes sense on every level to vote for UK MEPs. Like, I left Slovakia before it even was an EU country, I don’t even know how it works there and what parties there are. I don’t follow Slovak politics. I know they recently elected a woman for a President but I already forgot her name. (BTW, Slovakia is a parliamentary democracy and the Prime Minister has bigger power than a President.) Point is, I want to vote for UK representatives.

How it should work, in my opinion is: electoral offices should send every EU citizen who is registered to vote a letter some time before EU Parliament elections, informing them that they are eligible to vote either in their home country or in UK, but not in both and that if they wish to vote in UK, to complete the enclosed form. Simple.

Why this is not done, I don’t know.

It almost sounds like they don’t want us to vote.

It also almost sounds like voter suppression.

But that can’t be.

Or can it?

PS: Don’t forget to vote.

The Not Christmas Post

Yeah, I had to go there.

But at least I’m doing this on the 23rd, not on any of the Christmas days. Reality is… well, reality, even at this time of year.

So first of all, I had to make a Brexmas card, because of course.

brexmas card1

Open it!

brexmas card2

UK seems like it’s very sick and needs some good care. Just check this out.

uk not xmas card

It also looks like an England flag, which was not my intention–just a coincidence. Moving on to:

You know how the word snowflake has gained a completely different meaning to what it actually is. Used by people who can’t get over the fact that the world is changing to describe mostly liberals and/or socially conscious (aka woke) people. Snowflake? I give you snowflake.

snowflake card

Bonus – a not Christmas throwback

I found this anti-Christmas card I forgot I had among my Christmas drawings and cards (I have this thing I call the Christmas Book, where I’ve been drawing Christmas scenery and stuff since I was very young and in the last few years been saving cards in it, but that’s not what I want to talk about now). I should say I’m not the artist of this brilliant piece–it was done by a coworker. It’s from 2014 and I think it’s hilarious:

not xmas card

The point is, some people just hate Christmas, or can’t handle it. And that’s okay. It’s not an easy time for everyone, whether it’s for mental health issues, having lost a loved one or working in retail, you are all valid. One can also enjoy some aspects of Christmas and not the others. So maybe you like the food but are not thrilled about having to spend time with annoying relatives. I get that.

I have received shit from someone earlier this year when I said Santa Claus wasn’t real. I said it by mistake. (I think I meant to say something else but my communication skills are so poor I’m glad I can express myself on most days, also remember please that I’m not speaking my native language.) But as a result, I ended up hating that figure. Pass me those anti-Santa rockets, by all means.

Let’s just be good to each other, not just at Christmas, but all year round.

Unless you’re a bigot or a horrible person. Then you don’t deserve to be treated nice.

Merry Christmas.

Or not.

The Halloween Post

Some Halloween-themed events took place in Manchester City Centre, for which they displayed these props. So I took some pics of the said props.

And, because I occasionally have ideas, I added some lines to them.

halloween skeleton1

“I went to the market and it cost me an arm and a leg.”

halloween skeleton3

Ethel was excited to show her friend Richard her new discovery: “Hey, Richard, come and have a look at what I found. Richard? RICHARD???”

halloween skeleton2

“This is what happens when you sign up for Strictly Come Dancing with only one foot.”

halloween skeleton4

“And then he said there was going to be a new 50p coin to commemorate Brexit.”

“BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

The End

Happy Halloween!

People’s Vote March, London

I was there.

peoples vote march 9

I have posted in the past about anti-Brexit marches I attended, in Manchester and in Leeds. So now I’m posting about the one I went to on Saturday 20 October–the largest one by far and the largest march in UK since Stop The War in 2003.

It was a People’s Vote March–campaigners demanding a vote for the final Brexit deal, but come on, everyone was there with EU flags and Bollocks-to-Brexit stickers.

peoples vote march 6

An estimated 700,000 took part, I think that is the official figure. Trust me, it was HUGE. I was there. I have never seen that many people together in one place ever, in my life. The march went from Park Lane to Parliament Square (where there was a stage set up for the speakers) but a lot of us couldn’t even get to Parliament Square, because it was so packed with people, so we had to turn around and go back.

Coaches came from all over the country, many of them paid by celebrities or other VIPs. There were four coaches from Manchester and I was on one.

peoples vote march prep
My essentials ready on the eve of the march day

peoples vote march headboppers
Also this on my head

The coach departed at 6:30am. I’m very much a not-morning person, but for this I got out of bed without throwing any abuse at my alarm clock. I was as excited as a kid going to Disneyland!

peoples vote march coach

One thing’s interesting–I suffer from really bad travel sickness, especially on coaches but on this occasion my stomach didn’t flutter once, and I sat right at the back where it’s usually the worst. The Universe was looking out for me on that day.

peoples vote march 8

peoples vote march 7

Some North West representation on the above two pics. (The flags on the bottom one are Cheshire flag and Lancashire flag.)

People really got creative with their banners and placards, though I had no chance of snapping many of them, due to the sheer size of the march. I think my favourite one was “I’m so cross I’m missing football for this”. If that’s not a sign that it’s serious, then nothing is.

peoples vote march 4

peoples vote march 5

peoples vote march 2

peoples vote march 1

At the Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner there was a gathering of dogs with their owners, who campaigned for Pet Passports (this concerns all of us pet owners). They set up a pee station for them.

peoples vote march pee station
Do your business on Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Ian Duncan Smith, go dogs!

What I love about these marches is the atmosphere, everyone is so positive and people are dead nice to each other.

peoples vote march 3

Whether there will be a People’s Vote or not remains to be seen. It’s probably something I won’t be able to participate as I’m not allowed to vote in UK in anything other than local elections (and will lose even that right after April 2019). Once again I will be just watching other people entering polling stations like I had to do on the day of the EU Referendum.

IMG_20170608_001436189
Excluded again

To be fair, the campaigners are demanding a Final Say For All, which would include us and those British citizens living in the EU countries that couldn’t vote in the Referendum because they’ve been out of the country for too long. If David Cameron wasn’t so stupid he would have given us the right and we would have swung the result the other way and he would still be a Prime Minister, but it’s pointless to talk about that now.

I hope this march will still be talked about for years to come. And I can look all my current and future nephews in the eye and tell them, that on that beautiful sunny autumn day in London, I was there.

Link to Guardian that has some good shots from the march.