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.
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?
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
So the Conservative manifesto failed to receive the same level of scrutiny and hostility from the media as the Labour manifesto. Hardly a surprise to see Laura Kuenssburg, political editor at the BBC, proudly hailing the Tory manifesto as Theresa May’s “bid to be tough not cruel”, while declaring the Labour manifesto to be “more spending, more tax and more borrowing”. After all she needn’t worry about being out of work again as she must be guaranteed a safe Tory seat whenever she wants, for services rendered.
And imagine the response if Labour had been found not to have costed the impact of a manifesto pledge like Michael Fallon did this evening about the Tory manifesto pledge to reduce immigration.
Oh and another thing, the Tory manifesto says there will be no new Leveson enquiry. Those nights that May spent cosying up to Murdoch and Dacre must have been well worth it…for all concerned.
We don’t have to accept this.
The return to the 70s continues…I remember being handed a leaflet outside the school gates when I was 12 or 13 years old promoting a Rock Against Racism gig and all I could do was immaturely snigger with my mates about a band on the bill called Buzzcocks. A year or so later and I finally caught up with them (and things!) but by then their best days were arguably over. Anyway that brings me to Steel Pulse, who were probably also on that leaflet as they played many a Rock Against Racism benefit, and who I would have been ashamedly also clueless about at the time. Thankfully, not now.
Things can’t remain the same. Yah no!
From the depths of despair belatedly comes the realisation that falling silent is not good enough. It’s a shame that it took the calling of an election to spur the Labour Party into getting its message out, particularly when that message is becoming increasingly (and yet not surprisingly) popular but it’s clear that we’re now into an us and them battle. And let’s not blur the battle lines by allowing the Conservatives to suddenly be the saviour of workers rights when their history is built on the blind adulation of wealth at the complete expense of those who created it. When it repeals its own Trade Union Act then I might take them a bit more seriously.
Establishment control of the media is now so blatant that it almost appears careless. To the point where the only difference between the Conservative Party propaganda and the reporting of the state broadcaster is the logo in the top left hand corner…
We have the ex-chancellor of the exchequer editing the Evening Standard, while his pal and stalwart Tory London Mayor campaigner now edits Radio 4’s Today programme. And don’t start me off with the Murdochs and Rothermere.
What chance have we got? Well we have got the chance to bring genuine change because, to coin a phrase, we are the many and they will always represent and benefit the few. Are you with us?
Come on then, back to 70s and while we’re at it let’s prove young Mr Weller wrong…we can win!
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.”
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:
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
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…