This is the 51st state…

appease

When all that’s missing on her return is a piece of paper in her hand, yet again I’m ashamed to be British.  History is there to learn lessons from but our Prime Minister is either ignorant or a fool.  If you appease fascists you’re gonna get yours.  In this case imposing a racist, islamophobic travel ban should have been met with a clear message of opposition, not the holding of hands and the promise of a state visit.  The bigotry and ignorance of the travel ban is matched only by its stupidity.  It is clearly not going to prevent terrorists entering the country.  15 of the 19 Twin Tower terrorists were from Saudi Arabia and yet it is excluded from the ban. Perhaps not so surprising given the money made by the U.S. in selling arms to the Saudis or Trump’s investments in the country so let’s not try to dress this up as anti-terrorist unless you’re willing to admit that the protection of capital is worth more than the protection of human lives.  All the travel ban will do is play into the hands of people like ISIS by providing a “look the West hates us” recruiting tool that they don’t deserve to have served up on a plate.

It’s heartening to see so many out on the streets today in opposition to the travel ban.  If you were unable to make it then you can still try to make a difference by supporting the only travel ban that matters – https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/171928?platform=hootsuite

Back in 1986 it was easy to get entwined in the brash, uncompromising small world of the discordant reactionaries railing against all that was wrong with the world – Redskins, Three Johns, Big Flame, etc – and I did, but unfortunately none of them made much of a dint in the mainstream.  So when Matt Johnson came out with Infected under his ‘The The’ guise on the Epic label that was part of the sinister CBS capitalist conglomerate(!) it would have been easy to turn my nose up (as I usually did back then).  For once I did the right thing because that album was a perfect state of the nation address with Johnson barely able to contain his venom beneath surely enough pop hooks to steal the nation’s heart.  I don’t suppose it did really but it felt like it did at the time and it seemed quite ground-breaking in being accompanied by a video album of every track.

There’s a nice little interview with Matt Johnson here which looks back on the album – “the most political record I have ever done” – and it’s clear from his comments that the anger still burns.   One of the good guys.

“All you can do is reflect as accurately as you can. So the ‘piss stinking shopping centre’ in ‘Heartland’, people immediately recognized that, it resonated; the realisation, as expressed in the lyrics ‘this is the 51st state of the USA’, that actually we’re a colony, we have no independent foreign policy, that we were brought up as a generation in the embers of, shall we say, the afterglow of the British empire, and believed that Britain is a powerful and independent country, and then had this realisation – and it’s so big that you can’t see it for a while –  that we don’t make any independent decisions for our foreign policy, we have no foreign policy, that in fact we are part of the invisible American empire.”


All you fascists bound to lose

we-shall-overcome-1

There’ll be plenty said today but can we at least nail this man of the people nonsense. Aside from his background, and more on that in a minute, Trump is no more a man of the people than that city gent and would-be huntsman Farage.  They’re both the same, they both hate people, be it immigrants, foreigners, women, people with disabilities, gay men, and the list goes wearily on.  And let’s not fall into the trap of singling out individuals.  All this “it’s a reaction against liberal elites” is very well but all it’s being replaced with is an authoritarian, conservative elite.  Don’t let them normalise it, let’s say it how it is and do all we can to bring them down.

My legacy has its roots on my father’s legacy” Donald Trump

In the 1950s, Woody Guthrie, the great American radical troubadour, happened to live in a housing project owned by Donald Trump’s father and there came to see firsthand the racist foundations of the Trump empire.  Fred Trump took advantage of Federal Housing Authority guidelines to avoid “inharmonious uses of housing” to effectively create “whites-only” neighbourhoods.  Guthrie’s reaction was uncovered in lyrics found in his un-recorded notebook from the time:

I suppose
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
Racial Hate
He stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed 
That colour line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project

For more on that story see this article from The Conversation.  It seemed right to point you in the direction of this too…


Not Great Men

pay

By lunch-time on the 4th day of 2017 the average FTSE100 chief executive had earned more than a typical UK worker will earn in the whole year. Leading bosses now typically earn 172 times more than a nurse, 145 times more than a teacher, 324 times more than a care worker and 401 times more than a minimum wage worker.

Pay inequality links to wider inequalities affecting health, crime, housing, education, social mobility etc.

92% of the FTSE100 chief executives are white, 93% are men.

History is not made by great men?


Fascist Thang Advancing….

TOPSHOT-LITHUANIA-US-MURAL-TRUMP-PUTIN

Not sure what’s more disconcerting, the outcome of the US election or the new conciliatory approach from Trump that followed.  Don’t be fooled, there are worrying times ahead.    To see this being hailed as an anti-establishment protest is laughable. There will be no dismantling of the establishment by Trump, just as there would be none in this country by turning to similarly dangerous people like Farage.  The big question is why. if people have had enough of the establishment and centrist politics, are they turning to the hate of the right.  I don’t see anyone on the left answering it right now.

It seemed apt to point you in the direction of this, a jaw-dropping and blistering counterblast to the then emerging twin evils of Reagan and Thatcher.  Just swap Reagan with Trump and the words remain eerily prescient.  This was Heaven 17’s first single following the breakaway from the Human League and sadly they never got anywhere near its great heights again.  Another band that should have split up after their first album. Search out the equally great cover by the mighty Fire Engines as well.

 


Let’s Turn Things Upside Down!

End Capitalism Now (2)

So the new Prime Minister wants to reform capitalism in the wake of the damning report by MPs into the collapse of BHS and Sir Philip Green’s role in plundering the company, leaving its pension fund £571m in the red (from a starting position when he took over of a £43m surplus).  It’s all empty words. She’ll not be wasting her time, let’s not waste ours.

Yeah it doesn’t look good when they get found out but the point of capitalism is the pursuit of profit by any means necessary.  The end product will always be the few getting fabulously rich while the many suffer low pay, then lose their jobs and their pensions.  The Green story is summed up well by Another Angry Voice (again!).  ‘Benefit Cheats’ can expect to have to pay back every penny and face imprisonment.  ‘Tax Evaders’ get to keep their £100m yacht, not pay a penny, never fear incarceration and at worse, risk losing a meaningless gong.  Worth remembering that Green was knighted under New Labour, so it feels a bit rich that Owen Smith is now calling for it to be taken away from him.  There’ll be no end to the greed if he ever gets in power either.

Robert Wyatt doesn’t live all that far from me and years ago he came into the record shop that I was working in at the time.  I should have gone and thanked him for his inspiration but I cowered all awestruck behind the counter, fearful of pestering such a great person.  I was such an idiot.  There will be more words about him but for now enjoy this, a collaboration with the Happy End, a big band collective aimed at “making politics swing”, channelling Brecht, Weill, Chartism and protest songs from around the world.


You all had one job…

twat

Irrespective of the issues that should have been at the heart of the debate, Britain this was your opportunity to end the career of this man (and at the same time take down Johnson and Gove)…and you blew it. You bloody well blew it!

So what are we left with?  £350m per week to be spent on the NHS and other vital public services?  Oh great, Farage is already saying that was a mistake.  Well we can’t let them get way with it that easy.  Keep the pressure on and sign here – http://38d.gs/NHS-promise

Seems only right to play this today…..


We can beat them…

peace

Referendum Day.  Just to be clear I come from a starting position of supporting union with Europe purely through a loathing of that old island mentality and because there is so much to gain culturally.  At the same time I have a problem with the lack of democratic accountability (as I have with the UK) and the wholesale support for free market economics which will reach its zenith if TTIP is accepted.  So, which way to go?

My dreams of a government putting people before profit would never materialise as part of the EU because the free market mantra would never accept it.  Realistically and through experience we are far more likely to get the exact opposite, as we have now, or far worse.  Vote leave and you’re voting for a country of Johnson, Gove, Duncan-Smith and Farage.  You’re gonna need that protection and those rights that came from Europe but, just as you do, they won’t be there anymore.  There’ll be no European Working Time Directive to protect you when you’re  forced to work those extra hours because there’s a sudden shortage of workers to carry out the job and, actually, perhaps we needed those immigrants after all!

One thing’s for sure, you don’t overcome hatred by becoming more insular.

Anyway this all got me thinking about British music that you could class as European music and top of my list was David Bowie.  Europe inspired him and this song inspired many in Europe.  Not my personal favourite but it seemed an appropriate choice today as hopefully we avoid putting up any more barriers.