If you ever . . .

October 18, 2014

If you ever want to rail and shout
Then do it. Let your feelings out.
It is good, sometimes, to rant and curse
At this unfair universe.

When life, as it will, gets you down
There is no need to wear a frown,
For I will lend a friendly ear
To vexation, frustration or despair.

If you ever, by accident, happen to chance
On Question Time – don’t look askance -
Perhaps your remote control is stuck, worse luck
Then I will give a Dimblefuck.

Or if the environment gets you vexed
Big questions get you all perplexed,
Climate change, fracking, war, human rights
I’ll be there for you, in a string of bytes.

For friends are there to give a care
When the world is unjust and unfair.
A shoulder to cry on, a warming mug
Of comforting tea and a friendly hug.

Be true to yourself

October 14, 2014

The title of this post might seem like a trite cliche. However, I do think this is a powerful tool to examine ourselves, and our relationship to the world we live in.

Question everything. Take nothing for granted. Don’t follow the herd.

When you next read an article in a newspaper, or watch Question Time on the telly (hard not to do without wishing to throw a brick at the screen, I know) – think about: Why are you being told this? What is the agenda of the person telling you the “news”? Are you getting the full picture?

We delude ourselves by thinking that we live in a free and democratic society, where we have a real choice in who governs us, and the decisions that are made. Putting a cross in a box every four or five years, for a choice of identikit political parties does not constitute democracy.

The word “democracy” means “people power” – in our case those who rule us are hardly representative – an elite political class drawn from private schools and top Universities, careerists who do not serve the interests of those who elected them.

A central problem with our democracy is that the dominant discourse of the media, is decided by the state. That is why small parties are grouped together as “others” in election polls, and why in the UK we have a first-past-the-post system deliberately designed to make it as hard as possible for any alternative view to gain electoral currency.

The dominant ideology seems to be gradually slipping further and further to the right, with Labour, the Tories and UKIP competing with each other to see who can punish immigrants the most, who can most effectively use benefit claimants as a scapegoat, and who can make the most cuts to public services.

But people’s everyday experience constantly clashes with this view of the world. When we rely on public health systems like the NHS, when we use a public library, when our local services are cut, when the elderly have to pay for a private care home, when students have to pay exorbitant tuition fees, when rents go through the roof because of a lack of council housing, we see that there is the need for an alternative, a planned economy run in the interests of all of us, not a rich elite.

The need of capitalism to constantly extract more and more from workers, for less and less pay, in order to maximise profits impacts on our everyday lives. This means that increasing numbers of people see through the smokescreens and lies and become angry. When wars are waged overseas, when MPs are given a 9% pay increase, and we are simultaneously told that we are all in this together and we all must make sacrifices, the hypocrisy of those in charge becomes all too apparent.

When we see time-lapse footage of ice-caps melting in Greenland, or when fracking undermines (literally) our rights to protest against drilling under our homes, we get involved in struggle to protect our environment, for the sake of all life on this planet. It is the only one we have.

It becomes apparent to more and more people, that the direction of travel is forever downward – to lower pay, to working longer for less pension. We are going backwards to Victorian times, when the poor had to rely on charitable handouts, with modern-day food banks replacing the workhouse.

We must be true to ourselves, and a vision of fairness and co-operation.
We need to find our own way.
We must replace the dominant media, by listening not to politicans on the television, or the mass media, but to our conscience.
We must fight back, by joining alternative, left-wing parties, by getting involved in our trade unions and arguing for a fighting strategy for better wages and against cuts.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. In the UK, TUSC is fighting back, planning to stand 100 candidates on a no-cuts platform and 1000 local council candidates in the general election. http://www.tusc.org.uk

In America, Socialist Alternative is gaining support across the continent, with new branches springing up, and hundreds of people applying to join – http://www.socialistalternative.org

In Ireland, the Anti Austerity Alliance has just won its third TD in Parliament as the main parties are increasingly exposed for supporting austerity – http://www.socialistparty.ie

IN Scotland, Solidarity’s server crashed with the demand from people wanting to join a socialist alternative in the wake of the narrow referendum defeat – http://www.new.solidarityscotland.org

In Brazil, 1.6 million people voted for PSOL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) in the recent Presidential elections, winning 5 seats in the process – http://psol50.org.br/site/

In Spain, millions voted for Podemos “We can!” – as a break from corrupt, mainstream parties. http://www.socialistworld.net/mob/doc/6806

In Greece, Syriza is ahead in the opinion polls, and there has been a huge wave of general strikes which have rocked the political establishment. http://www.socialistworld.net/mob/doc/6808

And across the world, people are rising up against this unfair system of Capitalism, which only promises poverty and inequality. http://www.socialistworld.net

Be true to yourself. Join us in fighting for the alternative.

Scotland revolts against austerity

September 18, 2014

Scotland has voted “No” – while it is a pity that it is Salmond and not Cameron who is out of a job at the moment, there is still grounds for optimism. Whatever the result – we would still have to fight against austerity, be it from the SNP in Scotland, the Tories in Westminster, or Labour locally. We would still have to fight to build a mass movement for the working class and to break from Labour, which surely must be massively damaged by being the cheerleaders in Scotland of the Tories’ No campaign. There is much to hope for too, because the overwhelming majority of young people voted for change.

In some ways the referendum on the future of Scotland is hugely historic, in other ways it is not.

On the one hand, it could represent break from 307 years of union with the United Kingdom, a break from Tory Westminster rule and a chance for Scotland to become independent – a once in a lifetime opportunity.

On the other, whichever of the main parties are in power – SNP or Labour – for the people of Scotland, austerity will still continue. There will still be cuts to vital services, poverty and inequality. Independence on its own won’t change that.

Yet, independence opens up a space to discuss socialist ideas – voting for independence is pointless, unless we have independence from food banks, unless we can nationalise the utilities and transport of Scotland, to run these ourselves in our own interest.

Oil has much preoccupied the debate on independence, with Tommy Sheridan positing the revenue this would provide an independent Scotland. However, Scotland also has vast untapped resources of renewable energy and reliance on oil merely exacerbates the threat of climate change. We could, if we had a socialist society, choose to become independent from fossil fuels, to give real energy security and a carbon neutral future to the people of Scotland.

The BBC has been completely biased in its coverage of the independence campaign, showing little of the grass-roots support for Yes that is springing up in cities and towns across Scotland, and with outright lies and distortion. Yet the movement behind Yes did not come from nowhere. It arose from the victory over the bedroom tax, and anger at all three establishment parties. Paul Mason, Newsnight economics editor, said that he had not seen the BBC in “full-on propaganda mode” since 2003 and the Iraq War.

In 2003, the BBC went as far as banning a showing of “Carry On Up The Khyber”, as it “made fun of the British Army”. If you are unfamiliar with the plot of this masterpiece of film-making, it centres around a Scottish regiment in the mountains of Afghanistan. Set in the days of Empire, the British Army are reputed to be invincible, yet word gets out of their fallibility – they are wearing underpants underneath their kilts, putting the very existence of the Empire at risk!

During the referendum campaign, Milliband and a host of Labour MPs were met with someone on a tricycle following them around the centre of Glasgow, with the Death March from Star Wars at full blare. “Bow down to your Imperial Masters! They have come from Westminster, at taxpayers’ expense to tell us how to vote. Bow down to your Imperial Masters!” One poll came up with combined approval ratings for the leaders of the three main parties is at a staggering -92%! However, Alex Salmond’s approval rating is also low at -20% – showing general dissatisfaction with all mainstream politicians, and a movement against austerity.

A survey in The Mirror showed that support for the Yes campaign was highest amongst those who have least to lose: the poor, the unemployed and the working class. We need to break from Labour and build a new political voice to represent our own interests.

Don’t despair – build a socialist future!

Socialist Party Scotland – http://www.socialistpartyscotland.org.uk/

Ballad of Leicester Pride

September 2, 2014

 

The far-right don’t like diversity

They are scared, confused and crude

But I am proud of this diverse city

We won a victory, and subdued

 

Their threats, racism and bluster

They really haven’t got a clue

Hundreds we managed to muster,

Rally against their bigoted views.

 

Mardi Gras the carnival was called

A celebration of human rights.

Faced with violence, the Mercury stalled

Afraid of putting up a fight.

 

So we organised opposition instead

It really was quite easy.

But the march still hung by a thread

Because the council were quite queasy.

 

LGBT, black, white and brown

Unity it was the answer.

We gathered together in Leicester town,

Faced hate with music, dance and laughter.

 

But bullying and homophobia

Continue still, unabated,

Amidst far-right xenophobia,

So we peacefully demonstrated.

 

We are aiming for equality,

So let’s not get in a stew,

We can defeat bullies with frivolity,

Why can’t we love whomever we want to?

 
little red little green

 

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu – – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

TTIP? Nein danke. No thanks. Non merci. No, gracias.

September 2, 2014

Rub the lamp,

Say the magic words, “T T I P” . . .

Kazaam! A muscled, bouffanted behemoth,

A Tory-blue genie

To do the bidding of big business.

 

Billions in tax breaks,

But only for the rich.

We’ll have to survive

On zero hour contracts

And a minimum wage.

 

Gaze in horror

As democracy melts away

Before your very eyes,

And the NHS crashes and burns

In a bonfire of private finance initiatives

Taking us with it.

 

Look on, dumbfounded

As health and safety

Vanishes in a puff

Of asbestos dust.

 

Fancy a bit of fracking?

Worried about pesky red-tape?

Planning legislation?

TTIP makes it all too easy.

Obstructions obliterated.

 

Join the protestors.

Those fighting back

Defending hard-won rights.

Clean water, decent healthcare

A planet worth living on.

 

When we have no say,

We need to take back our voice.

Poor, weak as individuals,

But together

We can stop their supply at source,

Shudder the world to a halt.

 

 
little red little green

 

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu –  – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers)

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.

TTIP? No thanks.

September 2, 2014

TTIP may sound like a new brand of tea, but in fact it is an acronym for the snappily titled Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The idea is that to foster “free trade”, we need to get rid of costly things for bosses. Like nasty health and safety regulations, or pesky state-run institutions, all of which hamper companies’ ability to make profits. The solution? Get rid of any gains workers have fought for over decades in Europe and bring everything down to the level of the United States. The Land of The Free is currently languishing last in a new ranking system of countries’ healthcare – http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/06/us-healthcare-most-expensive-and-worst-performing/372828/ The bad news for the UK, is that the NHS is included in the TTIP deal, leading to further wholescale privatisation of our healthcare system.

Troublesome laws regulating use of land for extreme energy? Get rid of them at one stroke with TTIP! The agreement trumps European-wide legislation, allowing companies to claim billions in damages if their “right” to make profits is damaged. What about our right to clean, healthy drinking water or our right to protect our environment?

TTIP is profoundly undemocratic. Nobody voted for it, and we have no say in the negotations. This deal is being hammered out behind closed doors in Brussels. It was launched by EU President Barroso and Barack Obama. Paul Murphy (ex-Socialist Party MEP) has pointed out that TTIP is a “race to the bottom”, a corporate bill of rights, putting the rights of companies before the rights of ordinary people – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apP3WujWJOw

None of the main parties oppose TTIP.

So what can we do?

The need for general, co-ordinated strike action by the trade unions has never been greater.

The need for everybody to join a union and become active in changing right-wing unions into democratic, fighting organisations has never been greater.

The need to join a political party which is fighting to put an end to capitalism’s rush for profit at the expense of ordinary people has never been greater – http://www.socialistworld.net

In Absentia

August 26, 2014

I wasn’t there.

I can only guess,

Foundering in the mud

The gulf between sides dug in

A chasm of generations.

You were unable to give tongue,

Horrors left unsaid.

 

We weren’t there.

How can such voices span the gap of time?

Unamplified, analogue – signal is too faint,

Drowned out in digital dazzle,

The stampede of politicians,

Hypocrites all too eager to clamber

On bandwagons of false patriotism.

 

They weren’t there,

As realisation sunk in

War-tired, weary

Drenched by the same rain,

Battered by the same cold winds,

Existing on the same meagre rations.

Conscripts lusting after glory and honour;

The realisation – pawns

In someone else’s power game.

Eyeless in Gaza

July 29, 2014

Three ways of looking at a blackbird

 

Why did Blackbird, with beak and talon,

Eyes aglow with weltering anger,

Forged in furnace,

Come screeching and tearing,

Crying bloody vengeance,

Against innocent Earthworms?

 

Because . . .

 

Why do Blackbirds, with drinks and popcorn,

Eyes agog with excitement and tension,

Roll up, roll up, come bring the family,

Perched on deckchairs,

Revel in righteous carnage

Of innocent Earthworms?

 

Because . . .

 

Why do Blackbirds, with banners and placards,

Eyes brimming with tears at wanton destruction,

Comrades come rally,

Against injustice,

Senseless slaughter,

Poor innocent Earthworms?

 

Because . . .

 

Earthworm lay . . .

Bruised and battered,

Concussed and shattered,

Amidst ruins of what once was home.

She had no answers.

New collection of poetry out!

July 21, 2014

little red little green  

 

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my new collection, “Little Green Poetry” is now available from Lulu –  – £4+P&P (paperback) or £2.50 (for e-book readers) 

You can still order copies of my first collection, “Little Red Poetry” from http://www.leftbooks.co.uk or http://www.lulu.com – again for £4 (pb) or £2.50 (as a pdf for e-readers).

I hope you enjoy reading my poems, and, as always, all proceeds will go to help build the fightback against corporate political parties, to build a voice for the millions, not the millionaires.

To find out more about my politics, visit the website of the Committee For A Workers’ International, which is engaged in struggle in around 50 countries worldwide.      

Little Scotland

July 18, 2014

The Celtic knot, a twin S.

Adorned Ravenscraig’s gate.

Long empty, the husk. Silent, brooding,

Still casts a shadow.

 

Where there was industry,

Let us bring job seekers’ allowance.

Where there was militancy,

Let us bring sad resignation.

 

Steel-town of rusted girders,

Work transplanted wholesale.

Puerile promise of prosperity,

Evaporated,

 

Like the last dregs

In a once-proud steel can,

Our other national drink

Now lies crumpled

 

Beside  a torn up

Slip. A frustrated bet

On a winded nag which failed to

Deliver. A ballot

 

Thrown on the ground

To the skirl of pipes.

A cross beside “YES”,

A faded pencil saltire.

 

A broken outpost, aside from the battle

Where Sheridan tours,

Denounces the rule of capital

In stentorian tones.

 

Words echo around halls from

Alloa to Inverness.

They cannot carry

To far-off Northamptonshire.

 

 

Notes: Tens of thousands of workers from Scotland came to Corby, Northamptonshire in the 1930s and 1960s, on the promise of jobs in the steel industry. Thatcher destroyed much of the manufacturing industry in Britain, and British Steel was privatised – the jobs have long-gone. The town recently had a mock-referendum on Scottish Independence during the town’s Highland Gathering. Unlike the Yes campaign in Scotland, which is gathering momentum, the town voted No. Might this reflect a general mood of bitterness, anger and resignation to fate?

 

Tommy Sheridan on independence – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6GsEKrCvgw

 

 

 

 


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