Tories out. General Election now.

November 17, 2018

Theresa, Theresa. Fly away home.
Your party is dead and your majority’s gone.
All except one,
And his name is Gove,
And he hid under the kitchen stove.

Here, if I had the skills, I would have drawn a witty, topical cartoon of a ladybird taking flight, with Theresa May’s head and six faux leopard-print shoes on its feet, but I am afraid you will have to use your imagination!

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Melting

October 19, 2018

The Cenotaph stood in the park, silent.
Amidst the frost, we exchanged glances, quiet
Unsaid, we shared our thoughts.

Or so it seemed to me.
I cannot say what was going on in your head.
Winter sun slanted through hoar frost, red.

Around us, people went about their business
Time stood. Motionless. Frozen, as icicles
Festooned green blades, contained within a germ.
Spark of life, now dormant, hidden gem.

Winter casts everything in hush.
I remember your hand, the final touch.
The rattle and dying away of your breath.
You lay imprisoned between four legs of the hospital bed.

In the world outside, time raced by.
The last short, all too short days of wintertide.
I remember that night, we shared a last meal.
Jollity, slightly forced, spilled beer on tablecloth.

Little did I know then, you would never leave the flat again.
To be confined, as cancer ran its fatal course.
Germ of life, trapped in frosty core.

I wish we had the time again.
Memories are all I have, no more.

 

little red little green

If you have enjoyed my poetry on this blog, my collections, “Little Green Poetry” is  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.

Advice for Jackie Doyle Price (Suicide Prevention Minister) on her first day at work

October 11, 2018

It shouldn’t be too hard. I will even give you a few tips.

Causes of suicide:
Drug and alcohol misuse, history of trauma or abuse, unemployment, social isolation, poverty, poor social conditions, imprisonment, violence, and family breakdown.

Invest in services (women’s refuges, LGBT services, ESOL provision, etc.) which vulnerable people rely on.

Allow asylum seekers to have jobs.

End benefit sanctions.

Increase welfare so that it acts as a genuine safety net for the unemployed.

Provide meaningful and well-rewarded employment.

Get rid of academy schools, SATs and league tables, which stress our children needlessly.

Invest in mental health provision.

Stop criminalising street drugs – instead control and license their use.

Cut the prison population, by giving the mentally ill support and help, rather than “punishing” them (around 50% of the male prisoners in the US and 73% of female prisoners are mentally ill – I haven’t been able to find figures for the UK).

End austerity, so that millions no longer have to rely on food banks.

Make decent maternity and paternity leave compulsory.

Start building council houses, to begin to end homelessness and give people a secure place to live.

Renationalise the NHS.

Reduce loneliness and isolation for the elderly.

Oh wait, you are a Tory, whose policies are largely responsible for suicides in the first place. The best thing you could do would be to resign. Preferably now.

But we can do something ourselves.

None of this is going to happen under the Tories (red or blue).
Bring on Corbyn. Get rid of the Blairites.
Join a trade union and demand leadership from those who should be leading the struggle.
Join a political party (I am a member of the Socialist Party) and fight for a more humane, just, socialist society.

Save Intensive Care beds at the Leicester General. No more cuts to our NHS.

September 22, 2018

Public Meeting – Saturday 29th September 2018, 2.00pm, Hansom Hall
Leicester Adult Education Centre, Wellington Street

Leicester Socialist Party, as part of Save Our NHS Leicestershire, is protesting against plans to cut intensive care beds at the General Hospital. Across the country, the amount of NHS land being sold off has increased dramatically – 718 sites have been deemed “surplus to requirement”, compared to just 418 two years ago. As services are cut, hospitals are selling off land to private developers to make ends meet.

These one-off payments are not going to be adequate to ensure our NHS is funded properly. The NHS continues to be funded at lower than the rate of inflation, as the Tories have restricted budget rises to just 1% since 2010. The fire-sale of public land creates serious problems for any future expansion of NHS services. As Health Campaigns Together argue, “Retaining public sector land for future use is far better value for money than selling it only to replace it at a higher price later.”

The biggest financial problem facing the NHS is PFI – Profit From Illness, as Dave Nellist has called it – but more commonly known as the Private Finance Initiative, which gave private companies the opportunity to take over the running of NHS hospitals. Cleaning and catering were sold off first, resulting in an increase in “superbugs” as private companies cut corners, regardless of the hygiene risks to patients. NHS privatisation has gathered pace since, with the introduction of the Tories’ Health and Social Care Act, selling off NHS services to “any willing provider”. All NHS services are now up for grabs. Just one company, Richard Branson’s Virgin Care (registered in a tax haven, the British Virgin Islands) has been awarded £2bn of NHS contracts.

In Leicestershire, the so-called STP (Sustainability and Transformation Partnership) is the blueprint for local NHS services over the next five years. It includes Plans for reconfiguration of Leicester City Hospitals from three to two acute sites”.

What does this mean for Leicester General Hospital and why are intensive care beds being targeted as part of the cuts? The loss of intensive care beds will be the first step toward downgrading the General Hospital as an acute hospital, with other services, such as renal and urology services, also removed. Leicestershire NHS Trust are going ahead with these cuts, without even going through the motions of holding a public consultation, such is the pressure they are under to cut services. Hospital managers claim that these plans are necessary because of duplication, and sometimes triplication, of services across Leicester’s three sites, leading to “inefficiencies”. We agree that there is much that can, and should, be done to improve the provision of local services, but the plans currently put forward by the Trust are far from satisfactory and should be subject to full public consultation.

The threat to Leicester General Hospital is part of a wider process of privatisation, underfunding, fragmentation and cuts which has affected every part of the NHS, over the last forty years. We welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement that he would end private involvement in the NHS. Hospitals would no longer be awarded PFI contracts, and existing contracts would be bought out. The Socialist Party would go further – we say the unions urgently need to mobilise their members to protect our NHS, and we would renationalise the NHS, with no compensation for fat cats like Richard Branson, after all they have stolen enough of our public resources already! However, Corbyn’s plans are a vital step towards taking back control of our national health service.

An edited version of this article is in this week’s Socialist newspaper.

I do not like the Daily Mail

August 27, 2018

I do not read the Daily Mail;
Against its views, I rant and rail.
I do not like the Daily Mail.

I do not want a trial subscription;
I’d rather get an ear infection.
I do not like the Daily Mail.

I do not care for your free gift.
I’d much prefer being stuck in a lift
than have to read the Daily Mail.

What it lacks in news, it makes up in puff,
I do not care for that sort of stuff.
I never read the Daily Mail.

Against Corbyn, it runs a personal vendetta.
I feel like writing a strongly-worded letter
to the editor of the Daily Mail.

Headlines attack, divide the working class;
As racist scroungers who never get off their arse.
I do not like the Daily Mail.

With a few billionaires in charge of our press,
No wonder British journalism is in such a mess.
And then there is the Daily Express.

Brexit Blues

August 7, 2018

Tories they are in meltdown, they’re going round the bend
The Tories are in meltdown, they’re going round the bend
When we voted for Brexit, seismic shockwave we did send.

It was felt all the way to Dublin, and far-off Athens too
It was felt all the way to Dublin, far-off Athens too
Syriza caved in to Brussels, and the Greeks were feeling blue.

That damned Lisbon Treaty, Thatcher’s proudest boast
I said, that damned Lisbon Treaty, Thatcher’s proudest boast
It privatised our railways, and privatised our post.

Their flag may be blue in colour, but it ain’t got no soul.
Their flag is blue in colour, but it ain’t got no soul.
The posted workers’ directive, chucked thousands on the dole.

I ain’t gonna be no hamster, ain’t nobody’s guinea pig.
I ain’t gonna be no hamster, ain’t nobody’s guinea pig.
Sinking deep in Eton mess, this problem’s way too big.

There’s one man who can pull us out, and he is called J C
I said, there’s one man who can help us, his name it is J C
But this ain’t no second coming, it ain’t no epiphany.

Let’s chuck out Blairite turncoats, they are not our friend.
Get rid of Blairite traitors, they’ve never been our friend.
We need a socialist Europe, we need austerity to end.

All around the Clocktower (apologies to Bob Dylan)

July 8, 2018

“There must be some kind of a way outta here”, said Sir Soulsby to the thief.
“There’s way too much crosstown traffic, I’ve got to build me a relief
road through Aylestone Meadows. JCBs dig my earth.
None of our fifty Labour councillors, have any idea what its worth”.

“No reason to get excited”. The thief, he kindly spoke.
“There are many here among us, who think you are but a joke.
But you and I, we know the score, and this is not our fate.
Here is a shiny £1 coin, payment for Braunstone Gate.”

All around the Clocktower – the homeless slept right through
buskers endlessly busking, and street preachers too.
Outside, by cold Welford Road, the Tigers they did roar.
Two riders were approaching, Leicester rain began to pour.

Study of a Girl in Blue

June 28, 2018

In this hitherto undiscovered artwork, we see the transition between Picasso’s blue period and his move away from direct representation. The face of the girl is simplified in a clear break with artistic norms.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why #SPYCOPS matters

June 27, 2018

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The Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS) has been in the news a lot in the past few weeks, as a result of the high street cosmetic chain Lush’s highlighting of this issue. The Lush window display originally featured a montage of half a uniformed police officer and half the same person in plain clothes, with the headline “PAID TO LIE”, underneath which some fake police tape said “POLICE HAVE CROSSED A LINE”. It encouraged people to tweet support for victims of #SPYCOPS, innocent people who were “SPIED ON FOR TAKING A STAND”.

This display was later changed, as a result of a backlash from the UK cop humour site, with Lush staff being threatened and harassed. The Lush facebook group (which previously had an 80% approval rating) was targeted, with a slew of negative reviews and threats to boycott the company. Ironically, takings at Lush were actually up 13% during the campaign – brandwatch has done an interesting analysis, explaining that Lush’s customer base and the visitors to the police website were completely different, and Lush’s customers overhelmingly approved of the campaign.

The police units concerned operated since 1968 until at least 2010 and may well still be operating under a different guise today. The tactics which were employed included using the names of dead people as cover identities, without knowledge of the families concerned; having non-consensual sex with victims and in some cases even having children with their targets.

The full extent of the police operation is unknown, but at least 1,000 groups were infiltrated in this way. The only thing all of them have in common is that they are all left wing! Environmental campaigners, trade unionists, socialists, the Stephen Lawrence family, animal rights campaigners all found themselves targeted by the state, including members of the Socialist Party, of which I am a member.

Under pressure, Theresa May began a public enquiry in 2015, but this is not expected to give any answers until 2023, officers have been granted anonymity, and the enquiry does not cover Scotland. There is a petition for full details to be released and for a fair and transparent enquiry, with justice for the victims – https://www.change.org/p/sajid-javid-support-victims-of-spycops-get-access-to-justice

#SPYCOPS matters because we are supposed to live in a democratic country, with freedom of speech, where we have the right to join a trade union and the right to criticise the government. It matters because we need to stand up for the environment, because we need democratic, fighting trade unions to improve our working conditions and to fight against privatisation and casualisation of jobs. It matters because there are victims up and down the country, mostly women, who were left bereft as the men they thought of as their partners led double lives. It matters because the police’s record on investigations is abysmal – e.g. Orgreave, Hillsborough, Jean Charles De Menezes, Stephen Lawrence . . . It matters because police resources were wasted in deceiving innocent protestors rather than targeting criminals.

To read more about the campaign visit campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/

Leicester – a smarter city

June 13, 2018

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To create a smarter city:
Signs are installed,
to attract exhaust fumes
and be daubed with graffiti.

In this smarter city,
the address points forlornly
to Page Not Found.
Your search did not find any results.

To create a smarter city:
The council chops down trees,
holding them responsible
for ‘anti-social behaviour’.

Create a smarter city.
Protect our few wild sanctuaries.
Don’t try to improve on Nature.
Living things should be left
to flourish in peace.

In this smarter city,
we will build cycle paths, not link roads.
We will take our buses back.
We will re-open closed libraries,
use empty offices for housing.

In this smarter city,
people will no longer sleep on streets;
ordinary people will regain their voice
and demand what should be theirs.
We can provide for all.