What chance have we got against a tie and a crest…part 2

gene pool (2)

By the divine right of Etonians, there is some dreary inevitability about the crowning of Boris Johnson as the next Prime Minister of this fucked up country.  So, in our greatest time of need, we turn to a lying, cheating, spineless charlatan.

Beneath the bumbling oaf character lies real menace. Don’t forget the £350m on the side of that bus, the “letter box” bigotry, the “piccaninnies” and “watermelon smiles” racism, the “tank-topped bum boys” homophobia, the “pat her on the bottom” sexism, the accusations that Liverpudlians were wallowing in their victim status, nor the £46m of public money wasted on his botched Garden Bridge.  And definitely don’t forget his cowardly intervention during the imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran, which only put her at even greater risk, before dismally failing to leave “no stone unturned” in securing her release.  Nazanin is currently still imprisoned and on hunger strike over her appalling treatment, which has included lack of access to her now 5 year-old daughter, a lawyer or medical treatment.  Her husband has joined her hunger strike outside the Iranian embassy in London.  We may be helpless about who is appointed as our next Prime Minister but we can make a difference by offering our support to those who continue to be betrayed by those in power.  If nothing else, please support this petition – https://www.change.org/p/free-nazanin-ratcliffe

I picked out Nitin Sawhney’s ‘Beyond Skin’ CD yesterday and couldn’t believe it’s 20 years since its release.  It remains a thing of beauty; challenging nationality and identity in a gorgeous mix of “indian classical music, flamenco, acoustic drum and bass, hip-hop, jazz and soul”.

From the liner notes:

“I believe in Hundu philosophy. I am not religious.  I am a pacifist.  I am a British Asian.  My identity and my history are defined only by myself – beyond politics, beyond nationality, beyond religion, and Beyond Skin.”

That’s the kind of thinking we need.  God only knows what Boris Johnson would make of it.

Ah believe in a regional voice…

big al

When you go out on Thursday and cast your vote in the local elections…and let’s have no crap about not voting because of the mess that we easily blame on national politicians as a single entity when really we all know it’s not as simple as that…here is a cold hard fact to help you decide:

From 2010-11 to 2017-18 there was a 49.1% real-terms reduction in government funding for local authorities.

My local council  has had its Revenue Support Grant from government cut from £52.2m in 2013-14 to £13.4m in 2018-19.  Instead of giving councils money to spend on local priorities decided by councillors directly elected by local communities, the government makes available funding that can only be spent on what it thinks should be local priorities.  So we end up in a situation where vital services are decimated due to lack of money (spending on youth services cut by 61% over six years) at the same time that councils are blamed for wasting money that they had no choice in spending on unwanted highways schemes.  Does it really matter who is in power at your local council then if the government has so much control of the purse strings?  Well yeah it does because Conservative controlled councils will only reinforce the damage being done by their government.  So more money wasted on services for the few while the vulnerable continue to suffer.

Alan Brown is a poet of the North and his way with words were an inspiration for me from his days in bIG fLAME and then on to his (hopefully ongoing) project, the Great Leap Forward.   bIG fLAME were angular, abrasive and uncompromising…and therefore could only go so far.  When they burnt out, as planned, Alan’s melodic pop undercurrent was released with the intention of taking the message to a wider audience.  Yet the attitude remained and he continued to say what needed to be said.  ‘Well Belle’ is a great example, a call to arms couched as a love song…in this case for “regional voices in regional choices”. Alan remains active and has returned with a couple of Great Leap Forward releases in recent years; still carrying the spark. For more info and songs, try his website – https://www.thegreatleapforward.net

If you want to protect local services, get out and vote on Thursday.








I see no chance of your bright new tomorrow

etonians (3)

So Rees-Mogg can change his mind but 17.4 million people can’t?

This is turning into a very bad week as now comes news that Ranking Roger has passed away.  The Beat brought joy into my heart when I was growing up and, along with the rest of the Two Tone roster, taught me my first dance moves and steered me in the right direction politically.  ‘Best Friend’ is probably one of the best pop songs ever recorded and on the flip side was this…

She’d only been in office a year when it came out.    Unfortunately she didn’t get the message and stuck around for another ten years.

Love and unity.  RIP Roger.

The Old Man’s Back Again


I’ve been lost for words but it’s time to come together.  Debates are being driven by extremes.  52% might as well be 92% and a massive chunk of the population has been sidelined while so-called ‘populist’ views drive the discourse…usually emanating from the hell pits of social media where lurk the snivelling pricks of the right(eous) like Yaxley Lennon, elevated to a position of influence they neither merit nor deserve.  Add that to the cowardly intolerance spread by much of the mainstream media and we end up with the growing rise of hate crime, attacks on mosques, threats (and worse) against pretty much anyone who disagrees with them and the pernicious way that the Brexit debate has been led.  But in our silence it’s too easy to end up with a skewed position of where we are at.  We are better than that.  Think we’ve got to end our silence and get out of this mess.

Such sad news today about the passing of Scott Walker.  Somehow, I came late to his golden voice but I soon grew to love those first four albums in particular.  This seemed the right choice.  A song born of contempt for authoritarianism, oh and what a bass line!

We’ll dream, won’t we?

The hot topic


So Hollywood man finally gets what he deserves and let’s hope it starts to make a difference but there’s such a long way to go.  When funding for women’s refuges in the UK has been cut by 24% in the last seven years, something tells me we haven’t got our priorities right.  And exactly what has changed since this post two years ago?

Supporting women who have the bravery to speak out about the abuse of the powerful is absolutely the right thing but it’s about time we really turned things around and put people in power that are prepared to actually do something rather than offer fake promises suffocated by their own self-interest.  It’s time to start providing real support to end domestic and sexual violence and change attitudes about women that have prevailed for far too long.  This ain’t just a Hollywood thing.

If you’re stuck for something to do,  support End Violence Against Women and celebrate women with Le Tigre…..





How you gonna sleep tonight?


Straight to the point. Two or three things today.

First, please support Stop Funding Hate and, linked to that, Global Justice’s laudable campaign focused on the lamentable and well, just damn-right vile, Daily Mail. Take the Pledge!

Then look out for, and preferably buy, the new Nadine Shah album ‘Holiday Destination’. There’s lots of ways to make a stand, some more effective than others, but sometimes you’ve just got to do what you’re good at and make your point while doing so.  Credit to Nadine because this record simmers with discontent at the state of things and keeps an edge musically as well.  If you get into one of those late night discussions about the lack of modern, radical troubadours, yell out the name Nadine Shah and cut it dead.

Great video and bonus points for the use of ‘cursing’ in a song!

For further info! there’s a good little interview at clashmusic explaining the personal and political behind the album.




Come Together

come together

I’ve largely kept out of the post-election scraps but I was heartened by the shift towards the “for the many” policies being put forward by a rejuvenated and radicalised Labour Party.  Astounded that the Conservatives are clinging on to power despite the blandest of Leader and an appalling campaign.  More so as they have just carried this on through the Brexit negotiations and, in particular, the reaction to the Grenfell Tower disaster.  And this week we have the audacity of Sajid Javid shifting the blame from the absolute ineptness of a Conservative, yes a Conservative, run Council to all local authorities without even choking on his own irony at the fact that, if anything has been the cause of lack of trust in local authorities, it’s the incessant cuts that his government have forced on them.  The goddamn arrogance!

Largely putting this on here because I saw Primal Scream in Hull the other week and Bobby G was in fine form.   Like Massive Attack, the point is mostly made away from the music but there’s a point to Come Together that seems to fit the mood right now.

A rush and a push and the land we stand on is ours!

smiths tshirt

For the first time in a very long while, I have to say that I’ve been impressed with the Labour Party during this election campaign.  I like it that impostors such as Blair and Mandelson have been sidelined, that the parliamentary party has kept on message (ok, I’m not naive enough to know that they’re only after their jobs back and will be back to their usual betrayals in little or no time), that they’ve kept personalities out of it and tried to focus on policies and, yes, that they made a few mistakes.  I would much rather have someone who cares, has a bit of passion but maybe no head for retaining figures than some media-trained careerist who may have the gift of the gab but has had all original thought briefed out of them.

Above all, I like it that Jeremy Corbyn has said he will do the following as soon as he is elected as Prime Minister:

  • Contact Donald Trump and urge him to retract his “unacceptable” remarks about London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.
  • Call Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron on Friday to kick off Brexit talks, saying his win would give him a mandate to negotiate tariff-free trade.
  • Set a date for a quick budget to implement key policies, including lifting the public sector pay cap.
  • Confront Saudi Arabia over its funding for terrorist groups.

Please go out and vote for a fairer Britain.  You might not get a better chance.

One last trip back to the 70s and I think we’ve established that there’s only one party trying to take us back there and if they succeed then it really will be to the dark side of that decade, no better portrayed than by Linton Kwesi Johnson.  Linton was my introduction to reggae thanks to being on almost constant rotation by the late, great John Peel.  ‘Sonny’s Lettah’ is taken from the album ‘Forces of Victory’ (co-produced by the equally magnificent Dennis Bovell) and is a poem in the form of a letter from a man imprisoned in Britain to his mother in Jamaica, setting out the injustice of the racist SUS law that was in widespread use by the police at the time.

Grab it and change it, it’s yours

stop war

You know what, I don’t want someone leading this country who says he or she would actually use a nuclear weapon…in any circumstances to be honest.  First use is obviously wrong isn’t it, second use?  Well, aside from the fact that I would be dead, I’m not going to take any pleasure in some sort of retaliation that would kill millions of other innocent people.  What I do want is a change from the macho posturing and dogmatism that has done nothing but lead to war, death and destruction in this nation’s ignoble past.  And there’s no better example of that than Northern Ireland.  Peace wasn’t achieved by people threatening to push a button or pull a trigger but by people realising that we’ve just got to talk to each other and live with our differences.  It’s soul destroying to see a so-called election debate either stuck in the past (for god’s sake what is it with the IRA, it’s bad enough with England football supporters’ embarrassing obsession…time to move on folks) or transfixed by what might happen in a doomsday scenario that would only have one result, when right here right now we have people struggling to survive in what is supposedly one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Yeah I know I’m banging on again and it’s obvious where my sympathies lie but I think we have a genuine chance here for something radically different.  I want a fairer, equal society, where there is opportunity for everyone and I want to hear people standing up for what they believe in rather than what they think they need to believe in simply to achieve power and reinforce this goddamn elitist, screwed up system of ours.  We have an opportunity, grab it!

Talking of grabbing opportunities, Stiff Little Fingers bravely stood above all the crap that was going on in Northern Ireland in the 70s and tried to point people in the right direction.  Alternative UK anyone?


Weak and wobbly

Bitter Future

The Conservatives think we are fools.  Why else would they think they can get away with a fag packet manifesto for which they couldn’t even be bothered to show their sums.  And within days they are abandoning its content.  So, while you are carrying out your u-turns don’t forget your hard brexit, your failed yet endlessly regurgitated immigration policies, the scrapping of universal free school lunches for infants, those plans to reduce corporation tax and abandon the pension triple-lock, and while you’re at it, I look forward to seeing that £350m per week for the NHS finally finding its way into print.  No?  Well that’s because your manifestos are meaningless anyway…there to be broken within weeks of getting into power – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/yvette-cooper/election-promises-broken_b_7949232.html

Don’t let them get away with it.  If you’re not registered to vote, there’s still time to make a difference – https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Back to the 70s….channeling punk, dub reggae, african rhythms and attitude, lots of attitude, here are the glorious Slits