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Something happened to me back in November that I can’t seem to shake. A simple interaction over on my weekly mailing list (sent every Tuesday to an elite group of my readers). It was back on the day of the American Midterm elections.
Those of you who know me will know just how obsessive I can get about American politics. It’s a compulsion. It’s like watching sports, except there are no clear winners and somehow we all lose. But I’m very invested in it. I blame Martin Sheen.
Anyway, as America went to the polls, I couldn’t help but reach out to my predominantly American mailing list with a small request. As I wrote in my mail:
“I love the States. The culture of your land runs through me like candy corn. You know how so many Americans consider themselves Anglophiles? Well, consider me the opposite. My favourite bands are American. My favourite authors. Most of my favourite films and tv shows. Hell, I even studied American Politics at University. I consider Aaron Sorkin to be almost at deity level.
So, and please do take this with the greatest of respect (and with the full knowledge this might earn me a few angry responses), as someone who loves your country so much, please can I implore all of you who are Stateside to go and do your best to go out today and vote to save it? It feels increasingly like you guys are standing at some kind of last chance saloon, and I’ll be staying up most of the night tonight to see if you make it through. Hell, if you mail me back to tell me you’ve done so, I’ll even send you a free ebook.”
I sent it. My initial fears that I had opened up a can of American brand gammon on my own arse were swiftly quashed. I had a number of quite lovely responses from readers excited to get out to the polls, some even taking me up on that free book. As the results came in and were not too shabby, there were even a few elated and relieved readers mailing me their stories. And my unsubscribe rate from that particular mail remained fairly low. All told, a good thing.
But, of course, I did get one.
“Guess I’m on the other side and now you've brought this to the fiction I read. You have literally lost me.”
I sent a cordial response, but the tone of that reply, it’s something that’s gotten under my skin in the weeks since. In particular, it’s that one line – “now you've brought this to the fiction I read” – that grabbed me. It brought to mind a lyric from an old Skunk Anansie song I perhaps didn’t understand fully at the time, but which I do now – ‘Yes, it’s fucking political. Everything’s political.’
I consider myself to be a pretty political person, even if I’ve long ago given up on the notion of online debate as a means to resolve the stark differences in our society. But I’m a writer. A writer of genre fiction about killer storms, space monsters and telepaths, yes, but a writer nonetheless. It might not be right out there, front and centre, but politics is key to the stories that I write, and to the characters who live them.
Then yesterday, I had a quick check of my books to see if there were any new reviews, and WOWSERS. This is from the UK Amazon listing for Sleepwalk City.
Apparently I need to brush up on my concept of Western European Identity. I love this review, more than I can say. It's hard to choose a favourite part, but I'm going to go for the errant comma in the third sentence. I’m going to go ahead and assume that for the most part, it’s not going to cost me any sales, and those it might would probably not end up as part of ‘my tribe.’
The Blood on the Motorway trilogy is, at its heart, a story about the battle between good and evil. Not based on any mythological gods or great powers, but on people. It’s about the decisions we make, and the way we approach things. We choose, every day. A thousand small choices, and each of those speaks to who we are as people. Do you approach the world with empathy, or with concern only for yourself? For characters like Tom, Leon, Mira, Burnett, Jen, and the others, it’s these choices that inform who they are, and which rebuild or destroy the fragile world around them. It’s that, personal choice, which decides the balance between good and evil in those stories.
As I’m editing Sunrise, my next novel, I’m seeing the same question play out, albeit on a bigger canvas. But at its heart, I’m still trying to work out that chasm between empathy and its hollow opposite. It’s a story about where we might be heading, about the consequences of the terrible mistakes we seem to be making right now, and how it’ll be choices that get us out of it, in the end. But with space monsters. And telepaths.
I’m not saying that you can’t sit at the opposite end of the spectrum to me and enjoy my books. I welcome everyone. You might disagree with me on, well, everything, and still like my books. That’s great, because my books are not me, and I’m not my books. But I’m not going to entertain for one second the notion of ‘not bringing politics into it’. Because politics is there, in every choice we make. It all goes back to empathy. It’s not ‘keep your politics out of it’, it’s ‘don’t challenge my politics because I’m not comfortable with that.’ And that’s a whole other thing. It’s a choice.
Incidentally, if you’d like to join the mailing list and get weekly updates, a free copy of my first novel, Blood on the Motorway, a free short story, and much more, you can sign up below. Go on, you know you want to.
Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list or read along at Wattpad. Oh, and I’ve got a Patreon. Sign up for free books, a free weekly short story, and much more
If last week’s post was all about taking stock (not drinking it, won’t be making that mistake again) then this one if much more fun, because it’s just a great big list of what I’ve enjoyed this year. Now, bearing in mind I tend to get round to books a good few years after they’re released, and I never get to the cinema any more, the one thing I can claim any current opinions on is music. So let’s start with my top 20 albums of 2018.
20. Allfather – And All Will Be Desolation: One of those rare times where you get to know the people through social media first and then their band turns out to be properly, crackingly good. No nonsense in its approach, this is sludgy thrashtastic metal at its modern finest.
19. KEN Mode – Loved: Given that their last album made it to pride of place in my end of year rankings, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a step backward, no matter how good it is. And that’s true of the music, too, with the band stepping away from the ultra-noise rock stomp of Blessed toward their more chaotic hardcore norm. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great, but it’s not a pinnacle like Blessed was.
18. Harms Way – Postmortem: This album makes me want to fight dance everyone in whatever room I’m in at the time, so I’ve had to stop listening to it at work, just in case.
17. Cult Leader – A Patient Man: If I had a few more months with this one it would almost certainly be higher up the list. The most extreme noisecore you’ll ever hear nestled alongside harrowingly stark folk. Brilliant.
16. King Buffalo – Repeater: Only an EP, and their follow up album later in the year doesn’t exactly set my world alight, but there’s something achingly lovely about this shimmering, sad stone rock, even if it’s over far too quickly.
15. Messa – Feast for Water: Another album with sadness running through its core, this is all big doom riffs and soaring soul vocals, which is rarely a bad combination. This, however, steps above the rest of the pack. Sublime.
14. Boss Keloid – Melted on the Inch: Speaking of sublime. This is utterly baffling, taking the inventiveness of Leviathan-era Mastodon, the chest pumping song writing of Baroness, and throwing big barrels of heaviness at them until you’ve ended up with something quite odd, but utterly compelling.
13. Sleep – The Sciences: Sleep were always one of those stone rock bands I knew I was supposed to like but never really got the point of, until now. This is absolutely brilliant doom.
12. Black Peaks – All That Divides: If there were any justice, these would be the next big thing in metal. utterly modern, with great song writing, fantastic vocals, and just enough of a pop sensibility to be flung at a mainstream audience.
11. Erdve – Vaitojimas: Bleakest of the bleak. This has been a great year for post metal, a genre that seemed to be disappearing up its own collective misery pipe, but this, like The Atlas Moth and a few others that haven’t quite made the cut, show that there’s life in the old girl yet.
10. Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance: If Black Peaks are the underground band who deserve the mainstream adulation, Idles are a band about to burst into the mainstream who sound utterly underground. Pop punk without any of the awful connotations of that phrase, this is politically fierce, packed with great songs, and fierce af. Their Later performance will go down alongside the At The drive in one for sheer joy.
9. Yob – Our Raw Heart: As achingly sad as it’s possible to get without becoming Leonard Cohen, this is somehow utterly uplifting, which is no mean feat. Glacial space doom made from tears of sorrow and joy.
8. Dessa – CHIME: I’ve not really listened to much hip hop this year, it’s just not really been my bag for some reason, but this has cut through that. Stridently feminist, as clever as you’d imagine, but pop enough that it’s one of the rare things I put on in the car without making my daughter want to die of embarrassment.
7. Haken – Vector: On a list of what are admittedly pretty bleak albums, this is a little ray of proggy 80’s synth metal that just makes me smile from ear to ear, just like their last album did. It’s a genre I care not a jot for, and it’s absolutely delightful.
6. Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe. As much as I’ll always enjoy a new Fu Manchu album, I didn’t think I’d ever love a new one again, not like I did when I first heard The Action Is Go. This is astoundingly good, all fuzzed out petrol rock, big riffs flying everywhere before it goes all weird and un Fu at the end with a song that actually goes for longer than ten minutes. Even with that, it never outstays its welcome.
5. All Them Witches – ATW: I adore this band. In a year when I’ve spent a good few months listening to nothing but old stone records, this has been on heavy repeat along with everything else they’ve ever done. Bluesy, loose, heavy when it needs to be, it’s a long night in a good bar with best friends.
4. Conjurer – Mire: I’ve been trying to sum up my feelings about this, because the truth is that it just rages. Thoroughly, comprehensively, relentlessly. Just an absolutely brilliant modern metal album.
3. The Atlas Moth – Coma Noir: This first time I heard this, I hated it. All screechy vokills, pretentious cod-symphonic nonsense. And yet… I just couldn’t stop listening, until I had to admit to myself that I actually loved it very very much. I still don’t know why, I just know I can’t stop listening to it.
2. Dead Meadow – The Nothing They Need: This has been a good year for stone rock, with some great bands returning with career highlights, and nowhere is that more evident than here. They’ve done nothing revolutionary with their sound, still the same washed out Doors and Blue Cheer worship they’ve always done, but it’s miles ahead of their recent albums. An absolute cracker.
1. Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It. Every year, amongst a sea of fantastic albums, there’s always one that stands out above the rest, head and shoulders higher than the nearest competition. That one album that grabs you and won’t let you stop playing it until your children groan at the opening shimmer of the intro because they’ve heard it too many damn times. This is that album. If Rolo Tomassi were always also-rans of the noisecore scene, forever slightly in the shadow of the American giants like Dillinger, the disappearance of those bands has offered them the briefest glimpse of limelight, and chuffing Nora have they taken it. This is an album so confident, so bafflingly complex and utterly epic as to stand entirely on its own. 2018 has been a stellar year for albums, but to my mind there’s no competition for the top slot, and you have to take your hats off to Rolo Tomassi for that.
Book of the Year: Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy. I haven’t actually read any new releases this year, but I did read all three books of this trilogy, and absolutely adored it. Vampire plagues have never been this thought provoking.
Film of the Year: A Star is Born. I cried quite a lot at this, knowing full well how manipulated I was, not caring even remotely.
TV of the Year: Inside No 9 Live Special. Either you saw this and know, or you didn’t, and you don’t.
Podcast of the Year: The Daily. Absolutely essential for politics nerds obsessed with the slow decay of America
So, what did I miss?
Everywhere you look right now, it feels like people are missing the point. I went to a fireworks night over the weekend, and the reasonably excellent display, having thundered through a bizarre playlist of music to underscore the whizzes and pops, ended on the Queen version of God Save the Queen. Which I suppose could be seen as a fitting way to celebrate the attempted bombing of the Houses of Parliament, but getting there is a bit of a stretch. Especially when it came on the heels of a song that seemed to be about unicorns, or something.
Yesterday I saw a picture of some idiot far-right Nazis, hiding their faces and standing in front of a Union Jack, one giving the Hitler salute whilst wearing a poppy. I mean, how do you even begin to unpack that?
Then I saw various people online commenting on the death of free speech because a website vaguely enforced their terms of service. Completely ignoring the fact that speech protection both here and in the US only protects citizens from having their speech tempered by the government.
Then there’s the usual screaming from the rooftops about the poppy in general, with the fervour and histrionics attached to anyone not wearing the poppy (as I myself do not) and the insistence that by not doing so you’re completely dishonouring the millions who died in the wars, rather than trying to make a point about the twisting of what once meant one thing and now seems to mean something else, entirely. God forbid you try to have a nuanced position on anything.
Then you’ve got ongoing coverage of the midterm elections in America, where one half of the country (well, more like 40% but they’re really good at gerrymandering over there) believes they’re about to be invaded by a thousand hungry people travelling on foot and not arriving for weeks. Even after two years of Trump eviscerating social and political norms, that’s all it took to get him back in the good books.
When did we lose the capacity for rational thought? Or did we ever really have it? Has it always been this way, or did we lose something down the back of the sofa when we were rummaging for WMDs in Iraq?
As I write my dystopian sci-fi set a hundred years in the future, I keep thinking about how people will look back on this time, and how random threads and events will stick in the collective mind while most of the rest of it falls away. One thing I keep coming back to is how the thread of our collective narrative woes keeps going back to one event. 9/11.
How many starting guns did that fire? How much of the division all around us stems back to that one event? How different would the world look without that dark day? Impossible to say, but the righteousness of the right at that time, the swagger with which they turned that very real sense of fear into something they could weaponise, it started off a wave that’s turning into tsunami today. And the greatest weapon it has is people missing the point.
Look at Vote Leave. They called the Remain tactics ‘project fear’ and then sent targeted facebook ads to 50 million people about Turkish immigrants coming over, despite it being provably false. Look at Trump and the caravan. You can sit there and try to explain to his base why the caravan isn’t a threat to them until you’re blue in the face, and it won’t make the blindest bit of difference. You can point out the job losses inherent in ‘taking back control’, it doesn’t matter. Because, in the end, we’re all missing the point. We all see what we want to see. And there’s too much vested interest in that fear, because nothing makes us surrender power like fear.
Still, at least it’s nearly Christmas, right?
Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining my mailing list or read along at Wattpad. Oh, and I’ve got a Patreon.
These are dark days. Perhaps you’ve noticed, it’s been in the news. From the never ending shitshow that is the rise of the Far Right in America, to the rise of the Far Right in Europe, or, um, the rise of the Far Right here at home, it’s easy to stare into theinternet and just become despondent. This morning I woke up and spent the first ten minutes of my day filling up with news so grave and toxic that it’s amazing that I even managed to make it out of the covers. Thankfully there’s two tiny people in my house who could give a monkey’s toss about what’s happening in the world — they wanted breakfast, and dressing, and taking to school. So I couldn’t mope.
But really, what does moping get any of us? Where is the good in despondency? All I see on my feeds these days is darkness, wailing, pointing, and howling about the terrible things the bad people are doing. And hey, that’s completely understandable, because they are indeed bad people, and they are indeed doing terrible things, but the worst part of this is that we, the people, seem to be doing this alone. In this country, especially, with a Brexit shitshow looming, there is no opposition. There is no voice of hope.
Hope is important. In the wake of George Bush and Iraq, it took Barack Obama’s message of hope to wrest power away. Throughout the Thatcher years, Labour were the indignant opposition, howling at the unfairness, the disparity, the cruelty of the government. It wasn’t until Blair brought a message of hope, that things could get better, that Labour were able to take back power, before pissing away all that hope to the point we we barely dare to have any more.
This is, of course, a drastic oversimplification. But hey, this is a blog post on the internet, and what would that be without a touch of oversimplification? Still, the point remains that with the Dems in America in disarray, and Labour under Corbyn being as effective as a wet fart into your suit before a job interview, that there’s a distinct lack of voices espousing hope out there right now.
All of which makes me question my place in all this as *whisper it quietly* an artist. In times of trouble and woe, the artist is supposed to be one of the voices of opposition. Laugh it off as ‘moaning celebs’ all you like, but how many of us, especially in our formative years, form our political beliefs off the back of the art that changes our world? How much of my liberal ideology, my belief in progress, comes from Harper Lee, Douglas Coupland, Bill Hicks, Eddie Vedder, and a hundred others? I’d wager a fair chunk of it.
One quote that’s been rattling around my head a lot these last few months is one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
What am I going to do with the time given to me? Well, I am a writer. As a writer, even one of niche horror nonsense, do I have a responsibility to be a peddler of hope? I’d like to think so, even in my books about the world’s end.
Blood on the Motorway may be about a serial killer using the end of the world as the justification for his actions, but it’s also about people finding hope in the dark places, in each other. It’s about how building communities is better than trying to deal with things alone. Sleepwalk City sees the forces who would take control upping their game, but being matched by the efforts of good people, those willing to stand up. In the final book of the series, you’ll see that same message — that opposition, hope, and the goodness of people can shine through in adversity. Or, at least, that’s what I hope you’ll get from it, amidst the gore, the violence, and the stale sandwiches.
Blood on the Motorway – An apocalyptic tale of murder and stale sandwiches, is available on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and more besides. The sequel, Sleepwalk City, is available on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and many more.
Not so long ago, I decided never to talk politics again on the internet, because its roughly as productive as spending an hour applying a cheese grater to your own face, and the results can be just as painful. But I've spent the last few months becoming increasingly obsessed, terrified, disheartened, and just plain slow-down-to-watch-the-car-crash curious as everyone else, so I thought, what the hey, let's put that politics degree of yours to some use, and talk some politics.
If following the news has become a bit like sport in these modern times, then the American election is the World Cup final and the Superbowl all rolled into one. In this year-to-end-all-years of apocalyptic headlines, the apocalyptic rhetoric on display in the Clinton-Trump 'battle to the death of society' has been predictably awful. As someone whose obsession with US politics borders on the insane, I’ve been glued to the whole thing, unable to tear my gaze away from the barn fire on display.
I really don’t get the anti-Hilary sentiment. From the moment she became the frontrunner for the nomination, almost everyone has talked about her unlikeability, her corruption, what a bad candidate she is. ‘I don’t like her’ has been something I’ve heard from people even with only a passing interest. But she is the most qualified candidate for President there has been in living memory, possibly ever. She has a thirty-year record of progressive policies, with a keen track record on helping the disadvantaged, working to improve healthcare, and working on education. She had one of the most impressive legislative records in the senate during her time there, and has her name on over 300 bills. A hell of a lot of the anti-Hillary sentiment smacks of sexual politics that most women will identify with. Loud women are 'shrill', loud men are 'powerful'. Argumentative women are 'bossy', argumentative men are 'outspoken'. Most of the things you see Clinton accused of are things we take for granted in male politicians. She's self-important. Haughty. Aloof.
On the other hand, you have a lunatic whose record, quite aside from all the sexual assaults, the terrible policies, the dog-whistle rhetoric, and the other billion reasons not to vote for him, is that of a mediocre businessman, slum landlord, television personality and mass exporter of his own workforce to China and elsewhere. I've been checking the fivethirtyeight polling tracker on a pretty much hourly basis, and I'm very happy that it appears Clinton is (please God, please Vishnu, please whatever) going to win, but how the hell did it even end up here in the first place?
The tenor of politics both home and abroad seems to be reaching a fever pitch, a dog-whistle crescendo that I worry about a hell of a lot. Last night Ann Coulter, the dog-faced darling of the far-right, told the BBC that 'if the only people who voted were those who had four American grandparents, Trump would win in a landslide,' seemingly oblivious she was invoking the Nazi party's rule that only those with four German grandparents could be thought of as 'full blooded' Germans. (Quite aside from the fact this would also preclude Trump from voting for himself.) This came a week after a leading British shit-smear of a 'newspaper' invoked the Third Reich in calling three judges who had gone against the party line as 'enemies of the people.'
Most people I know are looking around them, wondering what we can do about all this. As King Theoden would say, 'What can men do against such reckless hate?' Well, the first bridge to cross is to make sure Clinton wins tonight, which is something I myself have no say in, but which I feel inordinately invested in. Then, well, shit, I guess we take it from there.
As is tradition in my house, I’ve taken the day off tomorrow, so that I can stay up all night and watch the results, however they turn out. After a year of Brexit, anti-immigration fervour, celebrity deaths, and everything else, let’s hope we can finally get some good news. After all, as much as I love apocalyptic tales, I don't much fancy living through one.
As the wonderful crime writer, Jay Stringer, put it on Facebook this morning: 'Go kick his ass, America.'
As we all wave and turn our backs on the year that was and stare forward into the cold, dead eyes of the year ahead, extending our middle fingers aloft in both directions, it’s quite easy to be daunted. Daunted by how exhausting 2014 was to live through, and daunted by the twelve months ahead of us that holds the promise of more of the same awfulness. 2014 was, let’s face it, a pretty unpleasant time to be a human being. Sure, you might have personally had quite a good year, and good for you if you did, but if you did, you did it against a background of absolute dickishness. A widening chasm between rich and poor, deadly racism, barbaric sexism, transphobia and good old fashioned religious intolerance; with the benefit of hindsight 2014 looks more and more like the year of intolerance.
Wherever you looked in the news over the last twelve months, there was someone being oppressed by someone else. Nothing new there, you might think, and you’d be right, but that doesn't make things any better. Let’s have a whistle-stop tour of the last twelve months, shall we? It’ll be fun!
The UK coalition government continued the deep cuts to public services, the wealth gap got wider and cuts to disability allowance in particular led to rises suicide and homelessness in the most vulnerable. The rise of UKIP in the media and in the polls was not even remotely hindered by their patently racist narrative and a misogynistic streak a mile wide.
Not that that should be a surprise, given the widespread misogyny and the rise of the so-called Men’s Right’s Activists. These miserable internet-based neckbearded trolls decided to punish any woman who put her head above the parapet by threatening them with rape and murder, because once a girl was mean to them, or something. This started with the pathetic Gamergate ‘scandal’ and escalated until you had the ultimate f-you of hundreds of female celebrities and then thousands of ordinary girls and women having their privacy violently assaulted when their personal photos were hacked out of their phones and posted online, then were slut-shamed by the media while the same neckbeards gleefully chalked it up as a victory for them.
Then there were events in Ferguson and wider across America, where the racial divide there turned into a gaping chasm. Across the states, black men and women were reminded just how little white America thinks of them after unarmed black men just kept getting gunned down or strangled by over-militarised police forces, and then the media looked down its collective nose at the ensuing protests and backed the police, all to the background of white people being able to walk around armed to the teeth and nobody batting an eyelid.
Lastly, at the end of the year there was the story of a young transgender teenager in America, Leelah Alcorn, who took her own life in desperation at her own family’s refusal to accept her for who she was. The indignity that followed as her own parents refused to acknowledge the way she died or her orientation in a series of Facebook messages that looked to the outside like the coldest, most uncaring eulogy of all time (even getting the age of their own child wrong) in some ways served as a microcosm of the year. It was a horrible tale of religious intolerance, family neglect and finally tragedy, completely unavoidable if people could be just that bit more accepting of other people’s differences.
This is hardly a comprehensive list, but I know I have felt increasingly powerless over the last twelve months to the brutality of people, the endless well of human suffering that seems to go on around us. You just can’t turn back the tide, try as you might. Not on your own, at least.
So, as I sit here staring at another year to come, and in the grand tradition of meaningless internet lists, I’ve pulled together a list of five things that we each can do to turn 2015 into the year of tolerance. This should totally work, mainly because they're completely self evident truths you already know. Still, I got you to read this far, didn't I?
1. Don't vote for ideologically insane right wing lunatics. Russell Brand doesn't think you should vote. He's an idiot. You may have already worked that out though. If you are of the thought that there’s no point in voting, may I just remind you that if everyone in every constituency in the whole country refused to vote except for one wrinkly old Tory, they wouldn’t call the whole thing off, it’d be a Tory landslide. For the last five years we’ve had one of the most ideologically right wing governments this country has ever seen, slashing the welfare state, selling off the NHS, and dumping billions of pounds of public money into the pockets of the already wealthy. If there is a widening gap between the haves and the have nots in this country, it’s down to them. That's why it's never been more important to get into that voting booth. This isn;t me telling you who to vote for, just who not to vote for. Totally different.
Are the alternatives on offer perfect? No, of course not. Some of them are comically inept, some are untrustworthy, others woefully undersized. But are they better than Cameron and Osborne and their desire to shrink state spending to pre-war levels? Of course they are. We have a general election this year, and the best thing we can do to help the worst off in our society is make sure those bastards don’t get back in.
2. Seriously, don't vote for ideologically insane right wing lunatics. If you read the above and it made you think about voting for Farage and his merry band of hatred, then stop. Read it again. Yes, a strong UKIP turnout might be one of the easiest ways to unseat the Tories, but that’s like fighting a cold with a shotgun to the face. UKIP’s message is one entirely based on hatred. Hatred of change, hatred of the other, hatred of women. Look at the picture below, it’s a direct comparison of UKIP strength and actual immigration. Clearly, UKIP have no foothold in the areas where immigration actually impacts because people in those areas know it’s not a problem. Everyone is just folk. UKIP focus on the areas where there is no immigration, where they can scare the shit out of the white middle classes that the immigrants are coming, and they’re coming to take your pretty house and turn it into a Bulgarian brothel.
These people are absolute poison, and the only way that the media will stop bleating on about them is if nobody actually turns up to vote for them on election day. If you think I’m wrong then ask yourself, when was the last time you saw Nick Griffin’s demented face on your television screen?
3. Stand up against intolerance. The chances are that most of us never really come across major racism or sexual intolerance on a day to day basis, unless we’re out for a walk on the internet. But we do come across it. It might be a ladish comment by someone at work, or a catcall on the street, or even a teen on the bus calling their friend a 'mong'.
My main aim this year is to start calling it out, rather than tutting inwardly and moving on. A lot of people don’t realise their behaviour is unacceptable until they are told it is. That’s how we’ve moved away from monkey chants at football grounds and open homophobia, because it gradually dawned on people that these were not acceptable ways to treat others. So this year, whenever I feel I can, I’m going to call out things. As someone who hates confrontation this is quite hard for me, but if I want to make a more tolerant world around me that’s what I have to do.
4. Support where you can. The best thing about the internet is how easy it is for us to give back. In the wake of Ferguson there was countless ways spread online to help people. There are charities everywhere to help people who are worse off than you, and if you can spare the money, you can help. Sometimes these smaller charities can do so much more with a £5 donation, be they a rape crisis centre, a rights advocacy group, transgender support group or any one of a thousand other things out there. Don’t just tut at the coverage and move on. Get involved, as much as you can. Set aside ten quid a month and donate it to whatever you think best. Do what you can.
5. Don’t be a dick. I’m guessing I’m not really talking to many of my readers here, but just on the off chance this has made it into the Gamergate headquarters, here's a message for you misogynistic trolls… Don’t be a dick. Seriously. If you’re the sort of person who responds to women online who you disagree with with belittling humour, crude threats or worse then just… don’t. Don’t be that guy. (Yes, you’re probably a guy. Deal with it. If you’re offended by me saying you’re probably a guy, stop. Are you a guy? See, I was right!)
Take off the fedora and step away from the neckbeard, because you are really becoming quite an unpleasant person, and nobody else thinks you are cool. That rape joke you just made wasn’t funny, and if you seriously feel the need to interject that ‘not all men’ or ‘it’s about ethics in games journalism’ then seriously, don’t. You’re a douche. You’re the guy at the party nobody wants to talk to. Get it?
So there we have it. My list of five things we can all do to make the world a better place. Let’s check back in twelve months time to see if it worked.