The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

It's Got to Be True, It Was in the Paper

It's far too early for a lasting shift in public opinion, but some political analysts and media specialists are likening The Sun's defamation of Jeremy Corbyn at the Cenotaph to its initial coverage of the Hillsborough disaster. The paper lied and as a result there has been a backlash. The attacks on a politician who at worst can be accused of having principles have been ratcheted up a few notches to the point where it's getting nasty.

We could be heading for a tipping point - a stage in the proceedings where it can fall one of two ways. The problem is I can't help thinking this is a carefully planned assault, one that gives Corbyn an edge for the next two or three years, but sees it wane as we approach 2020 and the Tory propaganda machine rolls into overdrive and the fear factor is increased, because the Tories probably have already realised that they won't win the next election on policies. We will see a campaign across the media that makes the 'bacon butty face' seem like a playground insult.

Or the PLP will panic, ructions will appear, splits will happen, Corbyn will be ousted and one of the 'others' will step into the breach and return the party more central, angering the CLP and members but leaving them trapped between a rock and a hard place. Can Labour really afford to allow the Tories free reign until 2025 when who knows what the world will be like and how much money there will be to rebuild crumbling Britain.

What has to happen to make all the people who don't care, or who think this government is looking after their best interests, realise that the country is a better, safer, place when the majority are happy, not just those unaffected by cut after cut, destroying the safety net we all agreed to put in place in case, heaven forbid, we need it.

Some people I know think I describe a bleak and unrealistic picture of the world they can't see from out of their windows or that I paint the Tories as borderline Nazis with an agenda that would be admirable if it was physically achievable without damaging the people who need it the most, while rewarding people who, really, honestly, don't need any more. Some people need to realise that austerity might mean not going on a third foreign holiday or buying a new BMW for the missus this year; because an extra 1p in tax you could pay, could help save your life one day by ensuring the NHS is working or you have a good chance of a job if you lose the one you're in. Or it might mean a few kids getting decent meals and maybe their parents too. It shouldn't matter if you think someone is a scumbag, they shouldn't be forced into the fringes of society if it can be avoided - that was how we got the way we are in the first place. The problem is people shouldn't pay tax, the poor should pay for everything and the rich should just preen themselves while being waited on, hand and foot.

I completely understand why the media is the way it is, their masters are genuinely scared that if nothing else Corbyn will get people interested in politics; make people consider fairness as a concept worth trying again. Do you want a world populated by mindless, opinion-less drones, working endlessly while others reap the benefits while dreaming up new ways to work you harder for less so they can have more? Because what do you think will happen to all the people in council estates, housing associations, dingy flats, who might have flat screen TVs and iphones but also have loans with Wonga and live so hand to mouth that if something goes wrong someone misses out. The people with money drove the poor to want to aspire; they made them proud and vain and willing to get in debt to have a TV that they will believe their more fortunate friends will think was achieved through hard work or necessary guile, thus moving them up their friends' respect scale. That was Thatcher's fault - check the history books if you don't believe me.

The feckless are also a bi-product of this; through years of neglect in the 80s entire generations of people lost 10 years of working and many never returned and as a result their off-spring generally felt the world was going to be as fair to them as it was to their folks and that's when some places turned into sink-hole estates in 80s and remain enclaves of the underclasses. A benefit culture has helped create these people, so something needs to be done to break the cycle, but beating the donkey often leads to disappointment or a kick in the shins.

So what benefit does a media organisation have from smear campaigns that could end up with a chunk of their subscribers being unable to continue paying them millions because they backed a government taking money away from people who could be giving it to them?

None. Unless they know something we don't. Perhaps Sky are already losing too much money to debt collectors because all those families in the country's shittiest areas can no longer afford to pay £30 to £120 a month. You can bet the Sun doesn't really make NewsCorpse any money; it's just another tool for Murdock's megalomania.

The ignorant need to realise that if they read something in a daily rag that isn't true, then that's how they should treat everything in that paper, because people being picky and choosy about what they believe was actually one of the key reasons how the Nazi party won power in Germany.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

They Hate it When You Suggest They Are Selfish

If you sat in front of a news channel (and could filter out the repetition) for 24 hours, you would probably never want to leave the house again and I can't help feeling if the sole purpose of broadcasters, or the media in general, is to scare us so much that we don't want to be involved, that we end up switching the television or radio off and stop buying newspapers or looking at on line news.

At a certain point yesterday, I made a mental note of how much the so-called left-wing BBC made of the rather triumphant third PMQs for Jeremy Corbyn - doing a Paxman - and how all the headlines appeared to focus on Cameron saying how good everything will be rather than the fact he obfuscated six times and didn't answer the actual question. The lack of coverage of this in the right wing media was almost conspicuous by its absence and must be extremely depressing for anyone with a moral conscience when the rich do everything they can - quite shamelessly - to punish the poor people who will never vote for them.

But it wasn't just that. There was a report from an island paradise in the south Pacific which has essentially been ripped apart by the discovery of gold. I've always had a small hankering to live on a warm pacific island, but this showed me that soon there will be nowhere that is safe from the scourge of the planet - greed.

Standing in Sainsbury's today, shopping more and more on a budget and hardly ever buying treats or even something that I consider extravagant, I passed a woman with two children standing in front of the bottled water area. I heard her say, "It's no good they don't have what we want we'll have to go elsewhere." And I kind of realised that in that sentence is all the reasons why people don't care about the effect tax credits will have on the poor, or the long-term effect of allowing the Chinese and French to build and mainly own our nuclear power stations, or the devastating effect that money and the desire for more is having on the entire planet, the eco-systems and the future of even the richest peoples' children or grandchildren.

That woman couldn't get the bottled water she wanted, so instead of buying any one of the 30 other varieties, she'll drag her two kids around in her gas-guzzling 4x4 to whatever supermarket that has the trendy label she thinks will make her friends think she's cool and hip. The same way we've allowed a huge proportion of our children to become asthmatic because we'd rather drive them to and from school, because the media has made us terrified of allowing our children to actually walk to school for fear that the streets, that are now teaming with paedophiles, Muslim fundamentalists and child slavery salesmen, will have away with them. Or they might get run over because of all ... the cars... on the road... doh!

The other day, while sitting in the 3.15 traffic jam of the 2nd school run of the day, I was at a set of lights and unlikely to get over on the first, possibly even the second, attempt. It was my fault for being late, so I was surprisingly sanguine about it. Being an observant kind of bloke, I happened to notice a woman, probably in her 40s, come out of the front entrance of the Cynthia Spencer hospice and get into her car - one of those sporty Audis. I didn't get over the lights and sat at the front of the new queue as the ones opposite me changed to green. The woman in the Audi drove over the main road, slowed down next to me, indicated and turned into the slip road where the precinct of shops is (this is Spinney Hill/Kettering Road for those who know Shoesville).

I had a hunch and watched her turn into the road and then... PARK. She got out of the car and walked over to the Tesco Express. She could have walked there with a Zimmer frame in half the time. We are talking less than 150 metres - I could run it and I can't run any more!

This can only be described as the utmost in selfishness and the footprint that woman left was unnecessary and unbelievably pathetic and there you have it. Selfishness in its most basic form (and, it was that really mild day, when the sun was shining and it was like Spain, so she couldn't even blame it on the rain).

We had famous Tory peers fly back to the UK to try and sway the vote in the Lords from preventing an abuse that probably would have tarnished the UK's wonderful human rights record. Famous rich people with peerages trying to help the government target the lowest earning 20% of people in receipt of tax credits with changes that would possibly mean their children going without essential food and heat and probably all because these people wouldn't ever vote Tory.

Remember, the Tory party promote food banks as an alternative to benefits.

What a fantastic world we live in, eh? A world where Jeremy Corbyn is called a red, commie-loving threat to National Security while would-be future PM Gideon Osborne is signing your kids' future away to... the Chinese and the right wing media can't (or won't) see the irony.

I'm kind of glad I won't be around in 30 years when all those pensioners, or not as the case may be, in their 70s are looking at their grandchildren and wishing they hadn't been so selfish back in 2015.

Monday, 5 October 2015

No Surprises

Tax credit abolition. China building our nuclear reactors. TTIP rampant. £2billion short fall on NHS budget. AstraZeneca Zero tax deal. More and more public spending cuts. If anyone is at all surprised by the events in the last week then you need to revise more.

George Osborne's main criteria is to get the deficit down, yet no right wing press has made much of the fact the budget deficit is higher now than it ever was under Labour; or that Gorgeous George has actually borrowed more money - not for the country, but to help line the pockets of his new chums. We get Corbyn and the asteroid in the news, while Tories literally dismantle everything that is admirable about this country and not even a sniff of it - anywhere 'creditable'.

When I suggested that a Tory government would penalise the poor and disenfranchised, many soft Tories I know accused me of the kind of scaremongering our right wing press gets away with on a daily basis. Some even suggested, when I said that tax credits would be the first thing to go that I really had no idea and I was working purely on an anti-Tory agenda. I accused many people of not caring for the country or the people and I was told, quite categorically that despite not having a job and being a victim of austerity cuts TWICE, I didn't know what I was talking about. I accused them of being 'alright Jacks' and was pretty much ostracised and told they were doing it for their kids - because, as we know, the Tories are the party that plan for the future of your kids. I mean look at the amount of schools, hospitals, nurseries and child-based community projects they fund or have built...

Champagne is back on the menu at the Tory conference; but more alarming than anything else are the steel fences around the venue and the armed guards, and snipers on roofs. At the labour Party conference a week before any Tony, Gordon or Mandleson could have strolled up to Jeremy Corbyn and shook his hand. The Tories are the party in power; they have a majority; they are telling us what a good job they're doing - so why are they barricading themselves away from their adoring general public - I mean 60,000 turned out yesterday to wish Dave and Gideon a good conference, did the PM pop out and say thanks?

The pinnacle of how far the general public has lost touch with politics was summed up, yet again, by someone I know who believes that everything on ITV is indicative of the country as a whole. I had had this argument many months ago when my brother suggested that you only had to watch Jeremy Kyle to realise why people should never vote Labour - as if anyone other than Margaret Thatcher can be blamed for the rise of the Chav class. It also is never noted that people who appear on Kyle's show represent less than 0.01% of benefit claimers in the country and according to a survey the majority of these people would vote UKIP or Conservative because they're 'aspirational' - yet, they're not. The problem is when you read facts about things and it doesn't come from a recognised news source, people who don't want to believe it, won't.

All over the news today is Cameron's promise for a 7-day-a-week NHS. This has been trumpeted all over the media, yet senior NHS doctors have been quick to point out that there isn't enough staff to cope with it at the moment and unless the government invests in new medical staff then this is a promise that people will struggle to see. The government are believed to have misplaced £2billion of NHS money - according to less right wing newspapers - perhaps that £2billion is what is going to be used to train the next generation of doctors and nurses?

Also, just to prove what a lefty I am - this 5p plastic bag charge will pretty much only affect the poor. Most affluent Tories who stuff plastic bags with their caviar and Wagu beef can afford to buy a bag for life or more likely pay the 5p charge over and over again - then the poor and disenfranchised will get the blame for all the landfill bin bags, because the media can and will do that and most of you will believe it...

This is England 2015.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Fear of Islam

The climate of fear generated by the current government, the coalition and, sadly, the last Labour administration has finally begun to eat itself. There will still be Daily Mail readers who will quiver with fear at the mention of immigrants, Muslims, communist Labour leaders, or, if they're Express readers the fear will probably be apocalyptic weather, foreign spiders and the ghost of Diana coming to haunt us all... I said this before (it's a famous quote): the only thing we have to fear is fear itself and politicians and newspapers have this tied up like an ebola-infused Christmas turkey complete with ISIS chef hats and a semtex stuffing.

The latest example of our (non) Nanny State was the interrogation of a 12-year-old Muslim lad for using the term 'eco-terrorism', in a French lesson (so he said it in French - that's more impressive than I could have managed), when talking about protecting the planet from global warming. The boy was taken out of class a few days later, questioned about terrorism, about ISIS and naturally his parents went incandescent with rage. Sadly, this didn't surprise me in the slightest...

A few years ago I worked for one of those Academy schools - the kind that essentially are run as businesses and not as benevolent educational centres. The school was results driven, behaviour intolerant and was run by a former businesswoman with less educational experience than the average schoolkid - she cosseted her teachers, abused her support staff (treating them in many ways worse than students) and began a form of ethnic cleansing to ensure her school was never ever regarded as a Special Measures place, ever again.

Regardless of that, this school has a good Ofsted rating, good examination results and a good reputation throughout the town (not too good locally, though). I was employed to work with the 'problem' kids - the disruptive, the non-conformists and the poor and disenfranchised that were needed to be alienated and oppressed so they perpetuated the situation into future generations (but not at this school...). I was taken on by the new deputy head of behaviour; he had a brief to change the way the school worked and looked at problem students, and I got the job because of the diversity I brought to it and the fact that I am a reformer and not a disciplinarian. This school was not addressing issues in a proactive way and therefore the problem was not going away - I was the antidote.

But this isn't about that, because with all the best intentions some things won't change if you get too much opposition from people who don't understand how this new, progressive way of dealing with young people works and want immediate, gratifying, punishment. 50% of the teachers at that school were simply not interested in why, they just wanted blood and therefore my boss continually had to justify my methods - even with the evidence of it working staring them in their collective faces. But, this really isn't about that and I have a gagging order to prove it. What this is about was one of the things that happened that probably just ensured the school enforced said gagging order on me.

I'd been doing the job about a year when I met 'Mohammed'. He was the least likely occupant of my 'bad kids' class - an extremely intelligent young British Pakistani Muslim from an exceptionally good and well-respected family. Mo (as we shall call him) was placed in isolation because he'd hacked the school's computer system and altered all of his mates' exam results. I have to admit to having more than just a bit of sneaky admiration for this. The school employed six IT specialists and this kid turned them inside out and was punished. I argued that we were doing the wrong thing; that the kind of punishment this kid needed was education not being placed with the 'usual suspects'. I also argued that the school should embrace such a precocious talent and get him working with the IT department to devise a way to stop future Mohammeds from hacking their system. This suggestion was treated in the same way as suggesting we made a child porn movie with the pupils - what made it worse was no one, not even my boss, could see the sense in doing something Microsoft and Apple did wholesale in the 1990s - employ the enemy.

Mo spent a week with me and there was nothing I could do with him; a Class A student who was now a cult hero in the school and that was the school's fault - they did nothing the way it should have been done and as a result this extremely intelligent kid was banned from using a computer or mobile devices while on the premises - a school with pretty much a net book for every pupil, limited net access and a progressive learning policy that embraced the future of technology; so they treated a potential child prodigy like a criminal.

Fast forward six months...

My job had changed; a new school year and a new role, one that took me all over the school dealing with unacceptable behaviour as it happened rather than dealing with it in a retro way. It was one of the few progressive suggestions I made that was treated seriously - although the senior members of staff who wanted us to go back to the cane were always challenging my role with my boss. It was hard work dealing with the staff because unlike the kids many of them were set in their ways. I had spent six years working with young offenders and seriously disenfranchised young people - I was actually in a far better position than half of these archaic dinosaurs to understand the whys and wherefores - so I was obviously ignored with gusto.

I got a call on my radio; it was lunch and I was asked to go and check a commotion in the boys toilets. On arrival I found Mo in a seriously bad way. He had had some kind of seizure, and was flailing around saying he couldn't see and my gut feeling was I was witnessing something very very bad. I cleared the toilets, radioed reception and ordered them to call an ambulance. this was initially refused because I wasn't the school nurse. When she arrived and radioed reception to tell them to call the bloody ambulance you would have thought they would have done that, but no, reception informed the headmistress and her deputy and they 'took over'.

Forty minutes of this poor boy fitting, having a seizure and being in complete and utter hysterics because he couldn't see and he had a headache that he said felt like his head was trying to split into two and the school finally called for an ambulance. I was a mixture of horrified and angry, but I had a job to do, as it was made clear to me, bluntly. Mo's family were informed and as his parents arrived at the school, so did the ambulance. Fortunately the paramedics took over, leaving all the staff who were involved to stand around and pontificate about things like Mo's dad and his reaction to his son's potentially serious seizure; how mum didn't seem upset about it and worse than anything else, the suggestion that these Muslims don't think about their kids the same way as us decent British people.

I was appalled and at the end of the day approached my boss and pointed out that I'd worked with Mo for less than a week, but I was aware his father was an Imam and his reaction was perfectly normal, and that because of the diversity training I had had throughout my work with young people, I was aware that the behaviour of the parents was cultural and had nothing to do with how they may or may not have felt about their children, especially in a stressful place surrounded by non-Muslims. He suggested I speak to the designated 'diversity' rep in the school.

I did and she agreed with my complaints and said she's take it to the staff meeting that evening. The following day I was rudely spoken to by the head, in front of my boss, who later tried to say it had nothing to do with me, but it was clear that my criticism of the way the staff treated the boy and the remarks made after had really pissed her off. The school dismissed my call for some diversity training out of hand, claiming it wasn't needed and that I should concentrate on my job and not others. It was an utterly appalling treatment that was made worse by suggestions from senior members of staff that Mo was actually play-acting and was doing it to get attention.

Unsurprisingly over the next couple of months my job was put under tremendous scrutiny; it was clear that I'd upset some people by speaking the truth and the school didn't like that.

The rest is attached to the gagging order - one made, you have to argue to prevent me from talking about the circumstances by which I eventually 'left by mutual consent' and they gave me money too. They didn't want me there, probably because I questioned the way they did things. I even harbour feelings that I might have been set up. I expect nothing has changed at this school; I expect it's still run as a business; culture and cultural deviations are not even taken into consideration and the way the school's CPO goes about her job I'm amazed that we haven't had more anti-terrorist assault squads descend on the school as it has at least a 15% Muslim content and must be regarded as a perfect breeding ground for anti-British, pro-extremist Islam beliefs. The fact that most of these 15% will end up as lawyers, doctors. or successful businessmen is immaterial.

There have been a number of headlines in the press over the last few years about schools and extremism; my guess is the climate of fear has gripped the educational system like someone has laced the chips at school dinners with antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea. If the marginalised see themselves as being targeted by 'authority' then it easily becomes a fait accompli. Having read a number of reports that completely overreacted - therefore inadvertently sowed a seed - and been a witness to cultural ignorance and general disregard by teachers, I'm grateful for some of the kids - whether they're good or bad - because whether you're gay, Muslim, disabled or SEN, most of the kids I have ever worked with have no problem with any of these things. Teachers, on the other hand...


I mentioned 'sowing the seed' and back in 2005, I witnessed something that absolutely disgusted me. I was working at Bassett's Court, doing a night shift and I was standing out the back smoking a fag when a young black lad on a push bike came riding towards me aiming for the alley that ran down the side of the hostel. He looked like any normal 12-year-old kid out, after school, riding his bike. Suddenly a police car came racing along the road to Bassett's (a dead end) and a young copper jumped out of the car and shouted at the kid on the bike; who stopped in his tracks and put his bike down - an obvious sign he was guilty if ever I saw one.

The copper searched the kid and asked him a load of questions. The kid did everything he was asked politely despite the heavy-handed casual racism he was being subjected to and all the time the copper was aware I was standing there watching. The kid finally got on his bike and rode off looking shell shocked and upset, while the copper looked at me. I said nothing, but the young fascist obviously read my mind, "He fitted the description of a shoplifter in town," he said to me like this was all I needed to think he was protecting society from dangerous threats.
"Wasn't him though was it?" I asked. The young copper waved his hand at me, like I didn't understand.
"Just doing my job, sir." He said and I couldn't help but reply...
"Just ensuring that that black lad has just lost any respect he might have had for the police, eh?" I walked back inside the building, I had no interest in arguing with a racist wearing a policeman's uniform.

10 years later and we're actually regressing. That's what fear does. Fear also starts wars and I get the feeling that some people in higher politics view a war as the easiest way to solve the wave after wave of crises we keep being warned about, by the government and the neo-liberal press.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Hollow Victory?

The votes have been irrevocably cast. The losers lost more severely than anyone ever contemplated and that makes it difficult for the other losers. It was a comprehensive decision that could not be questioned legitimately, yet some are and by doing so they have made a calculated risk, which flies in the face of the members - who vote for them in general elections.

Jeremy Corbyn won; whether some people like it or not, Labour is going to be radically different for at least the next few years. The politicians - cross party - are oddly unified by their combined opposition for a man whose politics are being labelled 'left-wing' but are actually far more moderate than any true 'Trotskyite' would have hoped for. Yet, the likes of Cooper, Kendal, Ummana, Reed and Hunt have all resigned from jobs they, probably, wouldn't have kept, in what can be seen as them positioning themselves for the 'inevitable' fall and fallout and therefore not seen as part of this 'folly'. They will all feel they will have a chance of serving under the next Labour leader, or maybe even be that heir apparent, once this idiotic decision is seen for the foolhardy move it was.

The ex-ministers/shadow ministers are all young enough to spend a few years, maybe 10, in the political wilderness and will step up when needed to reposition the party closer to the Tories and in their minds become far more electable.

It's probably more mindless than electing a 66-year-old rebel as your leader. These 'well off' Labour new backbenchers are oblivious to the damage they and the Tories have done - the centre right and right wing MPs who look at balance sheets and profit margins before they look at people, circumstances and things that can never be planned or hoped for which cripple families who then need the help of a benevolent government and are discarded in the same uncaring way as we describe refugees wanting to escape a war. These 'Labour' MPs will be prepared to take a risk for their own purposes and to hell with everyone else and if you challenged them on this and they admitted it was an option, they would also say that following Corbyn would amount to the same thing and being part of his fiasco would mean there wouldn't be any sensible heads the public could identify with. It's appalling that these people are even allowed to be politicians considering the actual regard they have for the voters. The fact many think what they're doing is positive and will end up as a fait accompli are those 'others' mentioned earlier.

Corbyn won on so many fronts that the dislike of his victory has made everyone speak out against him sound like they both fear and loathe him in equal measure. Never have I seen such scaremongering tactics as employed by all parts of the media while completely ignoring the fact that he was the only candidate with ideas, the only candidate that filled hustings halls, the only candidate that didn't resort to bellow-the-belt tactics, the only candidate who appeared to have any dignity, self-conviction and belief in what he was talking about. That cannot be allowed in a world where it is important that you fear everything and know that the government - whatever colour - is there for you, sorting it out in a way that's best for the country (even if they all talk about decentralising government).

The new man will have many problems, but I believe he will rise above it and by doing so will impress people, in a similar way to how Farage rejuvenated disaffected Labour and centre ground Tories. UKIP might have only got one seat, but had the LibDems got their PR wish they would have ended up with considerably less than Nigel and his Purple helmets. People didn't vote for the UKIP candidate, they voted for Nigel. UKIP are a marginal loony party; imagine what a figurehead like Farage could do for a major party? Well, Jeremy Corbyn is as far removed from good old Nige, but in terms of their appeal to the public, they're cut from the same kind of cloth, but maybe from different ends. They talk - people listen. There are a lot more Labour people than UKIPpers; there are a lot of Liberals who will like many - not all - of this new look Labour, and there will be young, old, disaffected and disillusioned people energised by this man who doesn't talk in political double speak, but talks about things that people want their politicians talking about and, more importantly, opposing the Tories, not abstaining or voting with them on anything that isn't in the utmost public interest - and even then depending on the morality of what is being asked.

The self-exiled Labour MPs have made arses of themselves by petulantly walking away from the party at a time when they could have influenced or moderated some of the more extreme ideas and recreated Labour as the socialist party that works with business, Europe and the middle class people who don't trust them simply because of their name. These MPs should be asked to either support the party or walk across the floor to another party or resign and allow a by-election. I appreciate this is what some of the Blairites probably said of Corbyn or Skinner or Benn, but the left wing of the party after the schisms of the 1980s never undermined the way the party changed - they didn't like it, but like Tories, accepted the change to stay a united front. The self-serving Tories had enough foresight to let things happen for the good or the bad of the party because unity is what holds a lot of their vote together - there are so many light blue Labour MPs you would have thought they could see this. The left wing of Labour pretty much hated Blair and co, but having a pinkish blue government was always a better idea than a dark blue one and they retreated to the grass roots of the party and did good constituency work and quietly complained from the depths, albeit not too quietly. Neither do some Tories, to the left or right of Cameron because they have unity - whatever happens.

Corbyn energised a campaign so well he won it by a mile. His words appealed not just to Labour supporters but to many others; he inspired people to rejoin the party (me and several of my friends included) and that shouldn't be ignored - however small the overall percentage of the voting population it transpires to be. He's talking in a way that has made some people both extremely happy and scared. He's talking about politics and the consequences of politics rather than talking in political speak designed to bamboozle the average Joe into not being that bothered. Jeremy Corbyn has an opportunity to make politics cool again; the Labour party have a massive opportunity to make themselves electable by being honest, straight talking and realistic and it will all be for nowt if the sore losers go against the groundswell of support for their own selfish purposes. Politics should be about the people MPs serve not about their own petty ambitions.

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Bookie Knows Best

Maybe I'm biased. Maybe I see signs that aren't there. Or maybe I, like others, see a smidgeon of panic. When the candidates for the Labour leader became public, Andy Burnham was pretty much odds on favourite and the token left wing candidate, some aging MP called Jeremy Corbyn was 100-1 and frankly, bookies probably felt they could offer 1000-1 that was the chances of the 66-year-old winning. Then he opened his mouth and a few people stopped and listened; then a few more, then a lot more and by the end of July that 100-1 had been slashed to 10-1 and now bookies weren't sure they weren't offering people the chance to skin them alive.

Then 'the establishment' got it's act together. The right wing media began its smear campaign and the Parliamentary Labour Party - very much part of 'the establishment' since Thatcher endorsed Blair - started its own campaign - part vitriol, part eating itself. By the middle of August there was a great meme floating about. It had four figures: 4 - 7 - 11 - 0 and these figures were the number of times Burnham, Cooper, Kendall and Corbyn had 'attacked' each other; except it wasn't each other, it was the number of times the three Blair/Brownite candidates had dismissed or been 'nasty' about Corbyn and the number of times Corbyn - 0 - had criticised his fellow candidates. This kind of galvanised his campaign and on August 20th, a bookmaker paid out people who had taken bets on Corbyn at 100-1. The bookies now make Corbyn 1-6 favourite with Burnham at 7-4, Cooper 20-1 and Kendall 250-1 (higher odds than Jeremy had when he came into the race with no chance). Bookies are rarely wrong.

In the Independent, columnist and left winger Mark Steel said, "The problem for Labour and Conservative leaders may be that the enthusiasm for Corbyn isn’t confined to people who consider themselves left wing. It’s a movement of those who feel the poor weren’t, if you study economics carefully, the people who caused the banking crash, so probably shouldn’t be the people asked to pay for it." This appears to be one of the simple messages that Corbyn is getting across and it is inspiring people who for so long have been force-fed the party lines of austerity and all-in-it-together (although some are in it more than others). 

Corbyn appeals to the same people who Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Nicola Sturgeon and Ken Livingstone appeal/ed to - he seems like the antithesis of current party politics and seems to actually question bad decisions with straight language rather than pussyfoot around like his Labour party has for the last six years.

It has been proven that the mess we're in was not the fault of the previous administration. This has pretty much been common knowledge for five years, but have Labour attacked the accusations directed at them? No, they talk rhetoric and have been a tepid opposition. Corbyn doesn't just question this lie perpetuated by Cameron and his cronies, he argues that it has been exacerbated by Osborne's ideology to destroy the welfare state and return Britain to a more Victorian society.

People didn't vote Labour in May because they offered nothing different - they were just a light blue alternative. The LibDems didn't need vilifying by the press because everyone who didn't vote Tory in 2010 blamed them for the coalition and everyone who voted Tory hated them because weren't Tories. What Corbyn has done is ignite debates that have been dismissed or ignored because they have never fitted in with the ideas of Thatcherite/Blairite/Neo-Liberalism and the reason these debates have happened is because people would really like talk about these things and get governments to acknowledge that people feel they need to be on the agenda.

Every time there is an article about Jeremy Corbyn there follows thousands of comments and at least a third of these comments are from people gloating that Corbyn means the Tories will hang onto power for at least another term. They sound like Labour supporters in April who figured they were a shoo-in after the mess the coalition were. No one expected the Scottish Independence Referendum to be as close as it was nor did they expect politicians to suddenly be heard by a wider audience. People suspected that the SNP might achieve a huge win in Scotland, but the extent of it? Suddenly Scotland was full of prospective MPs talking the same language and fighting for the things the people wanted. Nigel Farage's party managed 13% of the vote in May and got one seat (The Libs got 8% and 8 seats - and I'm sure the irony isn't lost on them), but Farage was head and shoulders the most popular 'politician' during the campaign. Yes, he might have lost his chance of being an MP, but 13% of the vote? These 13% weren't just racists and ignoramuses; many of them were poorly informed long-time Labour voters who thought UKIP reflected their historic memories of a Labour party designed to help people first and corporations second.

I'm not suggesting for a second that I believe Corbyn as Labour leader will be the beginning of a socialist utopia, but I do believe it will put the fight back into the opposition. I can't imagine the quietly-spoken Corbyn allowing Cameron to ham it up for the cameras. I expect to see a few uncomfortable screen grabs as Corbyn asks him questions he will struggle to paper over with accusations, blame and self-aggrandisement. Dear old hated Tony Blair says Labour cannot afford to be the party of continual-opposition again, but he seems to unable to see the fact that new governments tend to be formed from oppositions that show steel and push the incumbents on every issue not just the ones they think their voters feel strongly about.

I believe that for every person who tells you that we must continue with our current politics, whether it is right, a bit right or a bit right of centre, there are people who will tell you that we need something that looks much fairer than it currently is and something that doesn't treat the poor and disabled as a contemptible and wasted commodity. Modern Capitalism is just like Soviet Russia except here you get balloons instead of beetroot.

I also firmly believe that the press are desperate. The press is the mouthpiece of 'the establishment', the press do an unbelievable job of obfuscating everything; in the art of deflection the press has no peers. Mark Steel's Independent column is a perfect example - he's left of SWP, the Indy is now owned by a Russian Oligarch who urged readers to vote Conservative. The Internet did a great job of being the Freedom of Speech platform for those that cared until governments and corporations pwned [sic] them; now the internet is just an extension of television and pages like this are less popular than Channel 264 on Freeview - on a ratio scale. But Corbyn has people turning up to meetings like they haven't for donkeys years; he generates masses of column inches all over the place and if he can ride the final shit storm from the PLP - because we all know how desperate Blair and his 'ites' are to keep the red flag slightly pale blue - and can be as moderate as he actually is (someone said Corbyn's politics wouldn't seem out of place in Ted Heath's Tory party) then I believe he could regenerate former voters, defectors and more importantly people who feel politics does nothing for them. He might even help some of the selfish people in our 'society', the ones who really don't care as long as they're okay, to rediscover their love for their fellow humans.

Or maybe he won't win and we'll get the same old same old. That idea seems quite abhorrent now.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Money Can't Buy You Poverty

My dear old friend Andy Winter's late father was one of the reasons I have been a vehement supporter of the Labour party. I was from a family of Labour voters and when I met Roger for the first time I was a die-hard leftie. One of his key messages was that Britain should be a fair country with equality. He wasn't the first person to say this to me - one of Roger's bete noir's in the Labour Party and one of my (and Andy's) ex-bosses, former mayor of Northampton, John ("I'm not dead yet, honest") Rawlings did around the same time; but this was 1984 and Thatcher seemed to have been here forever. Where Roger was a bit left wing, John was more centre ground and he believed in slightly more liberal views - a proto-Blair perhaps (although John would baulk at that and Andy would probably laugh).

The thing was I have always been closer to the Winter's in my real politics than anyone else, so when Andy turned his back on Labour a few years ago I couldn't understand it, I mean, there was no viable alternative, so why throw away your vote? Well, he didn't, did he? Labour hasn't been elected for two General Elections and if you read the papers they don't look like they'll see a whiff of power again before I'm ash in a cannister on the mantelpiece.

Labour probably are in disarray and with hindsight they deserve it. Since Blair departed, Labour has turned it's back on the obvious and championed the idiotic. It elected an unelectable leader - Miliband and steadfastly stuck by him and even believed for a while he might win. as delusions go this is pretty grandiose. They bent over and took every accusation and every bit of blame for the previous world recession, despite actually not being responsible. Not once, during all those Cameron and Osborne lies did someone stand up and say 'You are wrong, stop lying or back this bullshit up with facts." But that note, left by Labour, stopped the party from regaining the truthful moral high ground and allowed the Tories to lie repeatedly. The failure to address this defamation was obvious every week. The Tories told a lie and people believed them, so Labour didn't tell the truth because they were scared no one would believe them. That is a spineless attitude and one that deserved to lose.

Now, we have a situation where for the first time since Roger Winter was alive there's a genuine left wing candidate with a chance of winning the right to govern his party - or in Jeremy Corbyn's case start to go to war with his own party. This is a man who put himself up for candidacy on the basis that someone from the left should go up against the Blair clones and started at 100-1 to win. He is now second favourite and actually looks like he could win the vote based on second choices of Labour voters. This should make people happy, but what it has done is set the press and politics into a frenzy of vitriol and recriminations - there's an odd kind of visible panic.

The Daily Telegraph, a paper that occasionally belies its fascist roots, started the ball rolling by urging Tories to register as Labour voters to ensure Corbyn is elected, that way Labour would never get re-elected ever again. Then we had a couple of Blairite idiots stating if Corbyn is elected they and 56 other MPs will force a motion to have him removed - a vote of no confidence before a word has been spoken. Now we have Mr Warmonger himself wading in and telling people that labour needs to be more central, like he was. He was a Tory who had no hope of succeeding in his own party, so became a Labour MP and turned Labour into a kind of caring conservative party (small 'c' deliberate).

Do you know what this says to me and must be saying to every other casual observer? This says people are frightened of Corbyn and not just because he represents part of the party long thought of as extinct, but because he's now setting the agenda on the hustings; he's got people talking; he's like a male ageing bearded Nicola Sturgeon - people are listening to him and going, "You know, he might be on to something..."

The press and mainstream Labour are screaming that this is a bad thing; but are they protesting too much? Apparently left wing politics is a poison chalice and no one in their right mind believes in it any more. Being left wing is being anachronistic to current needs and concerns. Except, the Scottish National Party is socialist and they destroyed the opposition in Scotland. Plaid Cymru is left wing and they stole a lot of Labour votes, again. And here's a weird one, many working class Labour supporters think UKIP is more left wing than Labour and this is based on the fact that once upon a time Labour didn't want us in Europe. One of my neighbours voted UKIP and his reasoning was that they reminded him of the Labour party when he was younger.

Forget the scary part of that and extrapolate the information. Owen Jones - highly respected left wing commentator suggested that Labour, or the left (to be more accurate), should organise a thoughtful and specifically targeted European Exit - campaign for us leaving the EU because the EU is about a democratic as ISIS and advocates economic Nazism and oppression of people in favour of profit. I think, as a standalone issue, this has deeply concerned a lot of people sitting on the In/Out fence; suddenly Europe looks as evil as Farage has been saying for years. If Cameron holds his referendum then Labour should either abstain from the debate or set the agenda by suggesting we don't need to be part of a club that bullies and kicks dirt in the face of its poorest members and then expects them to starve to death just so a bank doesn't lose profits. Steal that ground from UKIP, because there is approaching 50%, at least, of the population who are leaning towards a Brexit at the moment.

But I digress. If a left wing Labour is so abhorrent and a guaranteed vote loser, then how come Wales, Scotland and even Northern Ireland have strong left wing parties? How come these countries are beginning to embrace fairness and equality, yet in England it is regarded as anathema? Maybe because it's not. Maybe it's the right wing press and the right leaning Labour people who are worried, because Greece elected a bunch of commies (and look at the hassle they're causing); Spain might do the same, so might Portugal. The Left is rising because the Right no longer cares about individuals, it only cares about profit and sometimes that's too much.

Ask yourself this - if Jeremy Corbyn is so bad, why has his stock risen faster than a teenager's penis at an orgy? How come he's gone from the token leftie to almost the heir apparent? It's not been the media; so perhaps what he's saying is appealing to Labour voters. Perhaps Labour supporters do not want to go central; do not want to embrace this ideology that Osborne is pushing through. Perhaps die-hard Labour people believe that the welfare state is there because it is needed not because its a hindrance. We all accept the welfare state needs some kind of reform, it doesn't need destroying.

Perhaps Corbyn scares people because he will emphasise the difference between the welfare budget  - £1.2billion in total excluding pensions - against the £10trillion (that's 100 times greater) lost in tax evasion, deals done by ministers that prevent companies from being responsible for when they cock up and deals for their mates. No one in Labour for five years has even bothered to go there, believing it to be too toxic a discussion - or maybe a topic that they just don't want to do anything about.

We're told every day that the people voted for this kind of change; I don't think that's the case. By voting intentions alone we saw people doing what they did in 1992 - they opted to stick with the devil they knew; it had nothing to do with policies and all to do with personality and failure to focus on the issues that mattered. Miliband was a car crash waiting to happen from the moment the centre of the party decided he was a better bet than his brother.

Corbyn talks the talk for someone like me. yes, he's 66 and that alone smacks in the face of politics needing young, fresh faces to attract people who don't vote. This is also bullshit; people don't vote because they don't feel inclined to. Voting should be compulsory and punishable with community service if you don't exercise that right, but you can't do that if people argue that they didn't vote because none of the parties represent them. If nothing else Corbyn is trying to bring topics to the discussion that his three rivals don't want to talk about and perhaps this is why he's having such an impact. If people are worried about him they're worried because he's saying new things, or things no one else talks about - things that mean something to disaffected voters.

I decided yesterday that I was no longer a Labour supporter, but if Jeremy Corbyn wins then he'll get my support (or until he starts kowtowing to the powers that be). He'll do this because I think he's talking sense in a contest that seems to want to elect a Tory-lite candidate when the country doesn't want another one. If Burnham or Cooper win (and I was a huge advocate of Cooper for years until recently) then I have two choices - become like so many others who don't vote, or move to Scotland or Wales where I can vote with a clear conscience for a party that believes in fairness and equality; because at the moment there isn't a party that offers this in England that stands even a remotely possible chance of being elected.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Could it be the End of the World as we know it?

The rich are getting richer. The divide between us and them is wider than at any point.
The world is becoming less safe. Either through wars, disease, politics or austerity.
The media is obsessed with our fears. It seems to have an agenda that wants to take our minds off of domestic issues and wants to focus on things that many find superfluous or even insulting.

However, possibly the scariest thing is how we've all been led to believe that we have a say in how agendas are set. The press and media, the government, the internet makes us all think that we have an influence, so therefore if the Home Secretary talks about stripping away some of your civil liberties in the name of safety, the world is such an unsafe place many people would welcome this. They have nothing to hide and those who do protest either have something to hide or a some mental case with conspiracy theories and tin foil hats. Or some leftie.

I've maintained for ages that our politicians really are akin to buffoons and so in tune with the real world they look like disco dads at a '70s dance, DJ'ed by Jimmy S for good measure. This illusion of 'inclusion' really is a myth. For people to think some tweet or telephone call they've made might put something on a list of topics to be discussed seriously is less sane than believing you can breath on the moon. If our politicians weren't just in it for themselves, subjects such as the massive number of cock-ups and deaths caused by the DWP's mishandling of Universal Credits and their 'non-existent' targets they don't have to fill or the fact that more money was avoided being paid in tax than the entire country's budget deficit would be on the agenda; yet the major political parties are still telling us how we're going to have to pay for it all, again and again and again...

This was possibly one of the most important issues of the election, yet the apparent desire to get the money the massive corporations owe us and not keep screwing the plebs disappeared when the British public decided it was actually more right wing and selfish than many of us believed. But tax evasion isn't on the agenda of the Tories despite being an obvious elephant in the room. The welfare budget is about £1.2billion and four out of five voters think this is too high. This is because the right wing influenced media (far more prevalent than any left wing media) has told us that £1.2billion is too high and must be stopped. It would be nice for someone, maybe a prospective Labour leader or a non-Tory paper to highlight the fact that tax evasion amounts to HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of POUNDS. Or that deals done between ministerial mates costs the country MANY BILLIONS. But you know, I don't claim benefits so why should someone who needs them get them, they should get a job, or sell their children or just die to save us money. And the average Joe will defend his selfish position by saying they voted Tory for their children's futures. The words 'Tories' and 'children's futures' are as compatible as sticking a beta tape into a VHS recorder. Tories don't invest for the future, if they did they'd see that renewable energy would make them considerably more money in the long run than coal or nuclear power. Or they would have rebuilt schools, hospital and amenities during the Thatcher and Major years. You might remember that it was Blair's party that rebuilt decaying Britain and now you Tory voters have elected them back to allow the country to decay again until someone comes along and fixes it. Stupid, that's what the electorate tend to be.

The fact we live in a world where over 1 million people seem to think that punching a work colleague in the face is acceptable if the person throwing the punch is a 'national treasure'. Or the imminent destruction of Greece by the German Economic Nazi Party and their mates at the ECB. It seems that in a time when everyone is apologising to everyone else for past indiscretions, Germany thinks it's distasteful to be reminded that most of the countries in Europe pretty much verbally wrote off all of Germany's post-Hitler debts allowing them the help to become the economic powerhouse it is today, while Merkel looms over the Greek people like some Teutonic Freddy Krueger, telling them the nightmare is far from over and they all must continue to suffer for the crimes of a former corrupt administration. Germany can't have physical wars with other countries, so they bully them all using money.

What with radical Islam; growing Arab insurgence and a withering relationship with the west; a strangely quiet Israel and all adjacent to this is Africa, which is rife with 3rd world angst, disease, radicalisation and prejudices - and as a result they view Britain as the Holy Land and constantly try to break into a country where, ironically, its indigenous poor are all in fear of their lives.

The far right is growing and oddly enough so is the far left, except it will be crushed by capitalistic right wing governments, because democracy is dead and at some point, some people will realise this and rise up.

War. Revolution. Disease. Famine. Inequality. Prejudice. The list of pretty horrible things grows every day; to people old enough this must be a little like the 1930s except televised and tweeted. The thing is the poor countries want capitalism so they can have what the rest have; and the rest no longer want the richest 1% to have most of it. There might not be the fight in the British for revolution any more - we're too fat or ill or depressed - but there is all over the world; from race rearing its ugly head again in the USA to the Ukraine to North Korea to something akin to history repeating itself - Argentina talking up ownership of the Falklands at a time when their president is struggling to hold onto her country or its support.

Cameron is so confident of the Tories being in power for a while he's already talking up his own war - against ISIS - because prime ministers love to have a war on their CVs. The SNP look to be the only 'organised' party in opposition and the Labour Party is headed for yet another political schism because it no longer has a common ground. The Labour party disgusts me like never before at the moment because the suits are trying to turn it into something it has never been and the real members are essentially being ignored because they might elect someone the suits can't accept. I think Jeremy Corbyn would be a bad thing for Labour, but in an awful situation he's a damned sight more acceptable than the three stuffed suits and pseudo-Conservatives vying for the crown. I have supported Labour all my life, now I am in a political wasteland because there's no one I'd be happy voting for.

Oh and just going back to the Greek business. The UK holds an unbelievably important key to the future of the EU - the In-Out Referendum. Twelve months ago if you'd asked all the MPs in Westminster how they'd vote, you'd see 90% of them in support of staying in Europe. I expect that would be the same today. The big difference here is that 12 months ago almost 70% of Brits would vote to stay in; today the polls (always a laughable example) suggest that figure is down 55% and is still falling. The undemocratic way Greece has been treated has soured a lot of peoples attitudes towards the EU. If Britain votes to pull out next year, it will all come down like a badly designed house of cards. We might not be classed as that important by the Euro crowd, but without any cement, the European house will crumble and fail.

The world is a horrible place for many people at the moment, but for some people it's okay and that's all that matters. I got vilified for suggesting friends and family adopted the 'I'm all right Jack' philosophy that Thatcher championed, by voting Tory and rubber stamping their demonisation of the poor, disenfranchised and disabled. I was accused of scaremongering, of lying about Tory intentions to scare people into voting Labour. I didn't, that was the job of the Tory's papers and media. In the days since they won the election many of the things I warned of are happening, but I have no desire whatsoever to seek out the people who shouted at me and accused me of being disrespectful to their voting intentions. I am also not going to ask for them to acknowledge I was right, because it achieves nothing. If people want to accept being butt-fucked because someone has told them they need to be then they need a lot more help than some twat gloating over his prophecies.

The Tories might turn out to be a benign power, who do what they can for their people. There is evidence that they are not as shit as they could have been, but as with all Tories there is a caveat and that usually means that the poorest non-Tory voters will be punished and in 2015 the British people seem to have lost their compassion and if they don't know an unemployed person, or a disabled person to balance their opinions, then the rest are obviously scrounging thieving bastards, so if they don't get off their death beds and contribute they should die horribly. People are like this now, they just wouldn't admit to it in civilised company.

Monday, 13 July 2015

What's in a Name

A large percentage of my friends and acquaintances are left-wing politically. In fact, despite knowing quite a few Tory and UKIP voters, you'd be surprised to know they're not evil; they're not necessarily in the 'I'm alright Jack' camp nor are they unaware of some of the things that I and many of my friends have tried to make public knowledge.

What the general election did was tell Labour that people trust them less now than five years ago and they've been in opposition. Their election campaign didn't really get off the ground, it only looked that way and because the Tories adopted only had a couple of mantras (that some of the press suggested was a negative campaign) that both worked and vilified Labour enough to not allow any trust back. The irony is had the Tories been in power instead of Labour during Gordon Brown's tenancy, we really might have been worse off.

Regardless of what horror stories you can show people, Ed Miliband and his team became more toxic as the campaign went on - for the average person. Pollsters, politicians, pundits and not us plebs were in a bubble of what ifs and smug fait accompli; while the press, whatever side they were on, did their best, most people just made up their minds on the way to the polling station and like in 1992, didn't like the possible unknown over the hard realities. End of. Subject closed for five years.

Except, the right-leaning press, the media and bloggers are calling this a watershed moment for Labour. Suggesting that this election has been so damaging it could have serious implications for their ability to win an election for a generation - aside from the fact that two weeks ago commentators were suggesting whoever wins inherits a poison chalice, that appears to have been forgotten about because of Labour's woeful performance. Except... It wasn't really woeful.

Labour probably got what they deserved because they fall between two stools too often. Red Ed and Business Balls seemed less authentic - less genuine - than Posh Dave and Gorgeous Gideon, who clearly haven't got a clue about some things but still managed to convince the voters they were the best and most honest alternative. It did seem like they were making reactionary promises - "You have my promise - child tax credits will be safe under the Conservatives" has magically managed to disappear and has been ignored by the right wing press. 

If the press is right and Labour are now in a serious crisis, then the answer might be in the polls.

I want to ask you a question and this is where I'm struggling with semantics because of our fantastic language. UKIP is a British Nationalist Party and I'm not suggesting they're just the BNP in a different coat, but they are a Nationalist/English-centric party. They got a big - LibDem sized - chunk of the vote. UKIP's politics whatever you think of it seemed to appeal to the nationalists in this country and I don't believe for a minute that that percentage of the population are all ignorant racists; many of them voted UKIP because they believed they would help the NHS, look after the disabled and be fairer and less ... political. It's political ignorance at its worst, but in a country where politics is hated by most people it's the best you're going to achieve.

The other shock of the election was the Scottish National Party. They are now the unanimous winners of Scotland. You do not associate the SNP with the BNP do you? When you look at Nicola Sturgeon you don't think she's Nick Griffin's sister or Nigel Farage's cousin do you? You can't imagine her or Salmond or any of the other 56 MPs marching on Edinburgh demanding a Scotland just for the white Scottish with a palpable undercurrent of violence and hate, can you?

Plaid Cymru is the Welsh National Party - once upon a time they might have had an arson problem among their ranks, but they're essentially just like the SNP - they are what the Labour party of the 1980s would have been had it been recreated in the 21st century. These are left wing parties that command a lot of respect in their own countries. UKIP got a lot of votes on the basis they were English and wanted what was best for England - that actually isn't much different from what Leann Wood or Nicola Sturgeon were saying, the big difference is UKIP is driven by right wing ideology and that historically tends to veer towards a more fascistic end.

What if UKIP had been a mirror-image of the SNP? What if Nigel Farage had been the same beer-swilling, fag smoking good old boy, but had similar politics to the SNP? Well, it wouldn't happen, but if in some weird reality it did and this Farage was pro-Europe except with a deep concern about the amount of immigrants coming into the country in comparison to the amount of people unemployed or on zero hours contracts, and a desire to possibly look at changes to benefits rules to ensure the large bigoted amount of the population feel it is being dealt with? UKIP ended up appealing to old skool Labour despite it being a party that makes Dave and Gideon's look centralist. 

If Labour is 'finished' as a centre-left party and need to move further right to encourage the middle ground of Britain to vote for them again, to ensure that kind of majority, then what about all the people who have proved that what they want is a Labour party that is further left than it put itself, but also wants people to aspire and become rich and feel justified and not penalised about paying higher taxes for the privilege of being better off than others. 

Modern socialism doesn't appear to know what it is and therefore has allowed a new form of right-wing communism - commonly referred to as Capitalism - to have become the only reason for us all to survive. If we are not making money for someone we're not a useful member of society and even if we're disabled or mentally unstable that is no longer the problem of anyone but the sufferer and his or her people. If you can't make 'the man' money then you are not contributing to society and it is allowable to think of you as second class.

Now, here's where it gets, knowing me, slightly ironic and humorous. What England needs (because Scotland and Wales have them already) is a socialist nationalist party that also thinks of itself as British and is still concerned about the population of the United Kingdom - being English means being British - full stop.

Except... Socialist Nationalism is not what Plaid or SNP are by any stretch of the imagination. The name that is most closely associated with socialist nationalism is ... um... really, really unfortunate. Take your pick: Hitler or Nazis. That's what that is.

Unfortunately if you type Nationalist Socialism into a search engine the Nazis always come out on top and even if you are the most left wing party in the universe this combination of words just doesn't cut it. Can you imagine the uphill struggle they would face just to explain that their name doesn't mean they want to cook people in ovens.

So what are the SNP?

The SNP's policy base is mostly in the mainstream European social democratic tradition. Among its policies are commitments to same-sex marriage, reducing the voting age to 16, unilateral nuclear disarmament, progressive personal taxation, the eradication of poverty, the building of affordable social housing, government subsidized higher education, opposition to the building of new nuclear power plants, investment in renewable energy and pay increases for nurses and key public sector workers, such as social workers and children's support. 

You look at those policies and there's not a lot wrong with them although I could see Tories baulking at a progressive personal taxation scheme and the other things they can't make heaps of money from. Except, I don't think the SNP is anti-wealth; they're a 21st century party and appreciate that there is as much need for rich as there are for lower waged, because it helps with the aspirations and we need a time where aspirations have to be encouraged in tandem with social fairness and investment in the future from both government and private sector. That sounds like a pretty liberal agenda by 'socialist' standards and I bet you this is the real reason why they won so many seats, because unlike the undecideds in England, the Scots ones said they wanted fairness and progressive government that views everyone as important.

Why can't that kind of politics exist in England. The Greens offer some of that. Labour offers some of that. Lib Dems offer some of that. Surprisingly UKIP even offers some of that. The problem is if the Conservatives or the right wing were as flaky as the left every time they had a party crisis they would have split into myriad different shades of blue. If the Tories had self-destructed the way the left wing regularly does we'd have to have coalition governments because we'd have 20 different parties all with similar but slightly varying ideology and separated by everything from xenophobia to welfare reforms - or Italy as it is often referred to. The Tories are super glue, Labour is a Pritt stick. Conservatism is more cohesive than socialism and people sometimes vote for stability and Jesus, don't the Tories remain stable even when they're in turmoil?

Maybe it's time for a radical approach? Maybe it's time for the left side of the Kingdom to unite and embrace both the issues that deeply concern them and some of the issues that ultimately have led to a Tory victory. Surely it's not in the national interest to have the left side of the political spectrum to be so shattered? Surely national interest should also apply to national politics? It has to be important because it's important to have diversity in everything.

Labour needs to do something I wouldn't have given house room last May had I contemplated defeat of that scale. It needs to ditch any of the Blair/Brown government from its shadow cabinet and more importantly it needs to elect a leader who cannot be associated with the former administration in any way than name. That'd be Jeremy Corbyn then.

If they can do this, then the most radical ideas might be to see if it can create a United Kingdom Nationalist party - a Labour party united with the SNP, Plaid and the SDLP could promote itself as the party that is fighting for the UK as independent political organisations united with a common goal. Have generally similar manifestos and a joint one that promotes growth and fairness as much as aspiration and wealth creation.

Be transparent. Be united. Have disagreements, like the Tories have all the time, but don't allow small differences to prevent moving forward. We've seen throughout history how putting aside differences and finding common ground has benefited mankind.

Labour have lost the pizazz they had in the late 90s and they discovered that peoples dislike of a party benefits the other even if they're not much better. Blair won three elections because people had long memories of Thatcher and what they remembered as the 'punitive right' punishing the poor - punishing the people who didn't vote for them. What Blair did was make labour less toxic for the right, in reality New Labour didn't win by virtue of policies and promises, it won because it wasn't the Tories.

If someone asked me (and they won't) what I'd do, I'd keep it simple. Go back to simple root and branch economics and social policies. Work out the long term affects of everything; don't take unnecessary risks with human lives.

... Now, I wrote this originally back at the start of June. I also wrote a companion piece to this about how the Conservatives play the 'long game' so much better than Labour because Thatcher stole the idea from one of Reagan's advisers - employing probability specialists to look at a multitude of possible outcomes to anything. I also wrote this at a time before Gideon's first budget, that looks extremely fair on the surface but may well come back to bite him and Dave on the arse before 2020. This was also written before the rise of the Economic Nazi party, or Germany as it is often referred to. In a world where banks are regularly bailed out by countries and other banks to the tune of TRILLIONS, best part of Europe want to crush the Greek people under their jackboot heels and effectively turn what is essentially a third world country on mainland Europe into a wasteland of human failure and misery. Alexis Tsipras is on the verge of being humiliated and crushed by the big boys of Europe; his country will face extreme punitive measures for 30 years, where almost everyone will be made to pay for their bankers excesses. That's what our European Union does now - it ruins people and places so that shareholders - the rich - get more.

This isn't the Europe I've supported for years. This is capitalist fascism with added cruelty and I think of myself as well schooled in politics and understanding Europe and how it all works and I have to tell you, on this simple issue alone, I'd vote for us to come out of Europe, because I don't want to be part of a club that has no regard for human life.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Hope Blister

I hope Britain gets what it deserves. Whether that is a better country or one facing a bleak future is where hope becomes a scary thing.

Part of me hopes that whatever the outcome of the General Election, people are happy with it, because if they’re not the following five years could spell the end of life as we know it today (and, really, I’m not being melodramatic, £12billion of planned cuts proves that).

Hope is full of fear and trepidation because, as we’ve seen for the last five years, one man’s happiness has far-reaching consequences – the divide between the haves and have nots has widened – officially. The ‘economic resurgence’ that Osborne assures us is around the corner, but not echoed by others, is highly selective with its bonuses – there are far more people not feeling this economic optimism and it’s being reflected in the polls.

The polls hold hope for just about everyone that isn’t the usual three. Green, UKIP and especially the SNP have benefited from more coverage and it will be reflected in results. The thing is, forget the SNP because there is a certain fait accompli about them, the Greens and the UKIP are going to do a lot more damage than people, pollsters and politicians believe…

I’ll tell you what I hope more than anything – I hope the mood of the nation hasn’t been misrepresented by the press because I have a horrible gnawing feeling that the turn out could be higher than expected and many voters are going to confound the experts.

The election no longer appears to be about policies and visions, it appears to have become a kind of weird Presidential Race, where the leaders of parties dictate the amount of support they will get.

Nigel Farage is many things, most of them arguably libellous, but he said something petulant recently that had more than a ring of truth about it. While accusing the BBC of bias and being left wing, he made the comment that people lie. Activists and militants – left or right – will manipulate procedures to get onto debate audiences, manipulate opinion, etc. Extrapolate that to polls and it is completely feasible that polls can have a greater degree of inaccuracy than offered, or even that the majority of people polled are already decided and might not reflect what the rest of their street feel or intend to vote.

All polls really do is give hope.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time over the last few months subliminally polling people. The election is a talking point and during an average day I will talk to a reasonably substantial number of people – dog walkers, people queuing at the post office, chatting to neighbours, in the pub and I’m building a picture in my head that should have Sally Keeble, Michael Ellis, whoever the Lib Dem candidate is and even Tony Clarke worrying, because if I had to put my poll of about 30 people quizzed in the last week up as any kind of reflection of the mood in Northampton, then Tom Rubython* – the UKIP candidate – is going to have a devastating effect on the vote in this seat.

Let’s put it this way – I have spoken to four people who say they’re voting Green (will make Tony happy); one Labour and the rest have declared for UKIP …

I sincerely hope this isn’t reflected in the election because UKIP could really decimate British politics yet barely win a seat. The effect of them, and to a lesser extent the Greens, on voters could see safe seats overturned and reopen the debate for Proportional Representation, especially if we end up with a minority government with 29% of the vote.

What I want to know is how people who don’t read newspapers, watch the news or politics programmes can form their opinions.

Take one of my neighbours. He has struggled with a damaged foot for the last four years and today he has it amputated. He is a self-proclaimed anti-Conservative. He hates them and all they stand for. He wants a party that will look after the NHS and gives the young a fair crack. So far so good. But he also wants less foreigners, because ‘they’ve caused so much damage to this once great country’. He hasn’t got a clue about the economy; he doesn’t want to know anything except how the NHS is going to be saved and who is going to get rid of all these Eastern Europeans and give their jobs back to people like him who can’t get jobs now because… He wouldn’t vote for that Miliband bloke because he’s a bloody immigrant himself and he hates Cameron because he’s a toff and doesn’t understand the common man. But Nigel? He likes Nigel. Nigel has his vote, even if it isn’t Nigel who is standing in Northampton.

Nigel wants to privatise the NHS, I protest. What if he does, at least it will be British. There was no point in arguing with him because like me, his mind is made up.

When I walk the dogs, I meet all manner of people and unusually politics between ordinary people seems to have become acceptable, almost an ice-breaker now and once where people would keep their voting intentions to themselves, in 2015 they don’t care if you know their fascist tendencies.
Did they watch the debates? No. 
Do they read a paper? No.
Watch the news? No.
What is it about Nigel that they like? He’s a man of the people. He understands the common people. He’s English.
You suggest to these people that he’s ex-Tory and that seems to galvanise him and them.
You struggle to debate with them because they don’t really understand the politics.
Nigel drinks beer, smokes fags, belittles the establishment – he’s everyman.

UKIP is Nigel Farage. People aren’t voting for their local candidate, they’re voting for Farage. If you abolished the monarchy tomorrow and had a presidential election – he would win because everyone would think it was him against the establishment; we all only say these horrid things about him because we’re scared of him.**

If ever there was grounds for a political fait accompli, Farage holds the key to it. What will the pundits and politicians make of it if UKIP split the vote so much that even safe seats suddenly hang in the balance. The ignorant – and I mean that respectfully – view UKIP as an alternative to Labour and its continued march to the centre ground; the wilful view UKIP as an opportunity. For racists, xenophobes and people who view the election as a single issue – immigration – UKIP is a shoo-in, because they’d be even more radical than the Tories.

If this scenario could happen, it should also worry the Conservatives more than Labour, because many Labour strongholds are considerably more UKIP proof than Tory’s would like their safe seats to be. UKIP works on the best way to sell your product – the oldest way – word of mouth; if you are not of a particular political leaning – one of the majority of floating or non-voters – then the passion generated by Farage’s ability to appeal to the silent masses gets their vote.

I see casual racism all the time, even if people aren’t even aware of it and something about the way UKIP has been legitimised by the press has made this extreme Nationalist party considerably much more palatable than the BNP, despite having incredibly similar manifestos. Oh and Nigel isn’t a violent thug.

I’d talk about UKIP policies but frankly they could have published The Beano and the number of people who intend to vote for them might have increased. This is the crazy thing – their ticket is immigration and pulling out of Europe because that’s the cause of the immigrants. No one voting for him gives a hoot about whatever they plan to do with the NHS, the economy, education, anything else, because he will deal with the only real problem they see. The root of all the other problems – get rid of them there immigrants and problem solved.

It is horrible simplistic politics and the damage it could do is unthinkable. There has never, especially in Northampton North, been a better time for tactical voting. I have the greatest respect for Tony Clarke, he’s an old friend and he should be involved in frontline politics; but he could split the Labour vote as severely as UKIP is going to dent Michael Ellis. David Cameron is hoping for a 1992 moment and the floaters will put their Xs next to a blue flag, because that’s what British voters have a tendency to do, but equally many of them might see UKIP as the best form of protest vote they can register and that throws this seat and many others into jeopardy.

Polls suggest a hung parliament with blue and red neck-and-neck on seats and the smaller parties holding the cards. It is quite reasonable to suggest that both the major parties could end up with as many as 20 less seats than forecast and with the Lib Dems facing a real wipe out, UKIP could become the third party by default and have as much bargaining power as the SNP.

Can you imagine that? We get an unexpected 65-70% turn out and pretty much 50% of voter go for a right wing party and 50% for a left wing one. What kind of country - what kind of future - would be have when half the electorate will have politics that is an absolute anathema to them? Especially if two extremes can form a government.

Tories will have it that any Labour government, whether propped up by someone else will destroy everything they’ve done. Everyone else will have it that another Conservative-led government would continue to destroy everything else they haven’t already destroyed and if you are poor or disabled you might as well kill yourself now.

Personally, I’d rather live in a society that views people as equals rather than one that has steadfastly and openly discriminated against the poor and disabled while making their billionaire friends richer.

*Presumably this is the same Tom Rubython that was going to stand for a Dorset seat in 2015 but stood down because of racist comments attributed to him. It is also presumably the same Tom Rubython that used to go by the name 'Batman Rubython' and was convicted of libel in 2006 and someone who can be linked to the infamous tax avoiders the Barclay Brothers. None of this is worth anything to the people who will or might vote for him because all they see is Farage.

** Oh and If you can think of a way to give an easy example of how to dissuade people from voting for a single issue that doesn’t really affect them, when they steadfastly believe that any dissenting voice is through fear and not through logic, I’d be pleased to hear it. I hope you can, because I hope I’m wrong about my UKIP fears.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Frightening Realities

When John Laurie used to say, "We're doomed; all doomed," it usually got one of the biggest laughs in an episode of Dad's Army. Private Frazer had a way with being pessimistic that tends to have become a staple in sitcoms. The glass isn't half empty, it's been drained and then thrown - Greek style - into the fireplace smashed into smithereens.

We are all doomed.

I have a friend; he's poor, he lives in the deep south of the USA. He's a carer; his opportunities to succeed have pretty much been taken away from him by the general scant disregard the USA has for the disenfranchised and yet to 'listen' to him you'd think he was a multimillionaire on Palm Beach or Beverley Hills. When you get him onto the subject of politics he's as right wing a Republican as you can possibly imagine. His hatred of Democrats and them being almost commies belies the fact he is an incredibly intelligent person; yet that intelligence has not seeped into his ability to differentiate between a party that has his best intentions at heart - even if they fail to deliver because of the fubar that is American government - and a party that pretty much prey on all of his fears and then do nothing to solve the problems and only make his life worse.

But saying that, I know a few British people whose politics does not sit with their stature or social position. I presume a lot of people's voting intentions are forged not by the now but by the then...

People think of Labour as the weak, lily-livered bunch of idiots that allowed the unions to dictate ridiculous demands in the 1970s; yet people forget it was Heath - a Conservative - that presided over the 3-day week and was responsible for a lot of the things that meant Labour were going to struggle once they were in office. Harold Wilson claims he was always going to retire at 60; but if you look at the mess Heath and his cronies left the country in you have to wonder if his retiring was more to do with his desire to be seen as a good British PM and not the man in charge when it all fell apart.

History, because it is largely written by those who want you to see some of the past but not all of it, doesn't make any references to the rubbish Heath government; the cronyism, the backhanders, the 'jobs-for-the-boys' - in fact, like many Tory governments most of their most horrendous decisions were never reported on because most of the media then was run by people who donated to Tory fundraisers - very much like today.

Why do you think the press is making more of the Savile case than the HSBC tax evasion. The press will argue that people are more interested in historic sex abuse cases involving former DJs than the fact that HSBC alone contributed to aiding and abetting more tax evasion than the National debt. The poor and disabled are paying for the banks fleecing of the country and yet all we hear about from all the parties is how public spending needs to still be cut... Why? Aside from the fact that most independent economists will tell you that more needs to be spent on public spending to invest in the future and produce people who earn enough to spend enough to generate prosperity. Apparently, it's not rocket science, but Sky and the BBC seem to think it is. The press in general seem to think picking on a woman who had a bad day and making it front page news is more important than the fact that the banks have been walking roughshod over every rule and regulation in the book.

I know someone who isn't on any benefits; who wants to work but has an injury that prevents him from doing much at all. He's been waiting over 6 months to get a referral to see the second level in the new NHS merry-go-round system that basically throws as many obstacles in the path of someone needing something that costs more than a fiver. Essentially, if it isn't cancer, let them wait, seems to be the new NHS motto. This person is involved in a vicious circle that could be solved by simply not punishing the people who aren't responsible for the mess.

And then we get to the really frightening part. Walking the dogs the other day, I sometimes bump into a bunch of fellow canine ramblers who I have given the highly imaginative noms-de-guerre of 'The Old People'. A couple of my dogs have soft spots for them and vice versa and usually our conversations are about their health; the dogs and general stuff; however, this particular day their wives weren't there, so the subject matter changed, the language became bluer and my heart died a little...

Two of them, John and Ernie, I have (or maybe that should read 'had') a soft spot for them. Ernie, like me, suffers with his back and has struggled to get anything sorted by the NHS over the last five years and tends to be one of those 'mustn't grumble' people you kind of wish you could be. John has been struggling with retirement - he worked in the shoe industry for 40 years and was made redundant at 56. He struggled to find work elsewhere from that point, and now 11 years later, he only worked two of those 9 years before he had retirement foisted on him by the DWP. I'm sure their stories are echoed all over the country.

The way Ernie talks I've always been under the impression that he's probably left of centre politically; John has never really voiced a political opinion. In the two or so years I've been talking with them, he tends to avoid the subjects that I like the most. The other day; the day the immigration figures made bad reading for the Tories - who tried to bury it under the latest Savile revelation - which incidentally implicates Thatcher's Tory government so much but without a hint of condemnation from anyone. Ed Milliband's father was a Marxist and managed to garner pages of hate filled vitriol from the Daily Mail, yet Thatcher's government can bend the rules because a high profile paedophile and sex pest might save them a few quid and that is dropped in as casually as an 'And finally...' news story and dwelt on for as long as you hover over the Like button on social media.

Anyhow, we were discussing Ernie's NHS woes and the bad immigration figures when John says (and I apologise for the language), "It's that cunt Cameron's fault. The man's a spineless idiot." Lots of nods of agreement and finally I knew it, John, the working class local had nailed his political leaning on the mast. "What we need is Nigel to come in a sort it all out." I stopped in my tracks, a mixture of horror and hilarity - was he joking?
"The problem with Nigel is he only has one policy - get rid of the immigrants."
"And that would solve all our problems. I never hear an English voice now. Polish shops; Albanians running places; all those people in hospitals and barely any can speak English."
John chimed in with, "Yes, but all of our doctors and nurses are leaving the UK to go and work in countries where they are appreciated more; we have to employ these people." Ah... some sanity at last and I didn't have to open my mouth. "But, if you got rid of all of them it would mean there would be more jobs for us." Egads!
"Yes, but, you just said it, all of our nurses and doctors are going off to the States or Germany to work. We need to employ these immigrants or our hospitals would collapse under the pressure."
"Yes, but if we paid them enough money they'd stay. Nigel is just the man to do this. If we pulled out of Europe it would save us so much money, it could be spent on all the things this lot are cutting back on. Nigel has the working man at his heart." My new-found respect for Ernie disappeared instantly.
"You do know that if we pull out of Europe everything will cost more, don't you? Food, fuel, higher taxes to subsidize our farmers and industry, which the EU currently does."
"If farmers can't make a living then fuck them," says John.
"But John, if we pull out of Europe we'll have to depend on our own farmers more because we won't be able to afford to buy fruit and veg from Europe because we wouldn't be part of the EU." But he wasn't listening, he has it in his head that the way of solving all of the countries woes is by shipping out all the immigrants. That's the solution and he doesn't want to hear why that wouldn't work. He doesn't want to know it'll cost us money. He doesn't want to know that while UKIP go around telling people that's how they'd save the country; they don't ever acknowledge the huge impact pulling out of Europe will have on the wage packets, human rights and general living standards of those who wouldn't benefit from pulling out of Europe. The 1% (of which Nigel is obviously on their payroll).

What followed belied belief. John, who had likened David Cameron to female genitalia seconds earlier was saying the best thing that could happen would be a Conservative/UKIP coalition, because Nigel wouldn't let Cameron get away with the shit that Clegg has let him get away with. I tried once more to tell him that Farage was an ex-Tory who wouldn't know a working class man if he bit him on the arse; but these people were convinced that UKIP was the only way forward and every negative thing you say about them is twisted around and used as a weapon or a conspiracy against them because they represent real people. Well, my final gambit was to tell these people, I was rapidly losing respect for, that Nigel and UKIP are essentially a media friendly wing of the BNP and a vote for them was a declaration that you're a racist. John countered with, "If we got rid of all the fucking Poles and eastern Europeans and all the Indians and coons then perhaps we'd be happy; this country has gone to the dogs once it started letting fucking Muslims in..."

Aha... We have a fully-fledged racist here. We have a man who given enough rope made sure you knew firmly where his flag was flying. A man that Adolf Eichmann would have been proud of. A man who does not have an opinion, he has a belief that foreigners are the root of all evil and you can supply him with all the evidence you can muster, but it won't stop the fact he is just a worthless racist and a worthless racist who will make sure he votes in May. Like people who vote for political parties that couldn't give a toss about them; he was driven by his own deluded belief that Party A would save his soul.

In a week when we discovered that IDS's latest abomination was saving the government £80 a week by withdrawing DLA to an 8-year-old deaf, dumb, blind and disabled child because the assessment decided that a) she was fit to work and b) her DLA should be paid by the Germans as the child's father is seconded there by his British firm. This alone should make people realise that the Tories really don't care about those that need help the most. Can you imagine what kind of life this kid will have if UKIP do have a say in government and they persuade people to pull out of Europe and therefore allow the UK to opt out of the Human Rights Act? It might sound far-fetched and histrionic to suggest that the disabled child's mother could, in the future, be prosecuted, because her anti-government rhetoric would be regarded as sedition and inciting terrorism. Seriously, I'm not joking or scaremongering.

How this country has got to the stage where it is more concerned about the Brit Awards than it is about how unfair and cruel society is becoming can only be attributed to whoever has been in power making people believe that greed is good and those worse off than us deserve no better. When people become more concerned with someone 'stealing' £5 worth of benefits than they are about organisations embezzling literally billions of pounds - the billions that would propel us from being in debt to being the wealthiest country in terms of cash on the planet - then you know that Thatcher probably would be happy with Dave's Britain. Job done; now all the poor have to do is die before their pensions are due to be paid...