Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

NHS – happy birthday 72 today!

July 5, 2020
Thoughts on the pandemic – on the 72nd birthday of the NHS

Should have gone to Barnard Castle (with apologies to Frank Zappa)

June 8, 2020

I dreamed I was Dominic C
I dreamed I was a Tory MP
The paparazzi, gathered round see
Under my gate and around my door
Snaps they took, of bobble hat
A hundred degrees, fish-eye view. Ooh!
Oh-oh-Dominic-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
And the public cried,
Oh-oh-ooh-oh-oh
And the public cried,
Dominic – oh, no, no, no!
Watch out where the tourists go, and don’t you take the A68
Dominic – oh no, no. no!
Dominic – oh no, no, no!
Don’t be a naughty spin doctor.
Doo, doo, diddy de wah wah, de diddy
Check your eyesight, don’t travel too far.
Well, I turned around, and I said
Ho, ho. Ooh!
Well I turned around and I said
Ho, Ho. And the northern wind commenced to blow.
And we said, boop, boop, diddy, de woop woop a diddy – with tears in our eyes
Dominic – oh no, no, no!
Watch out where the Tourists go, and don’t you take the A68
Watch out where the tourists go, and don’t you take the A68

Well right about that time, people,
A photographer, who was strictly from the Daily Express
Strictly from the Daily Express
Had the unmitigated audacity to jump up from right behind my BMW
peek-a-boo, wooo-ooo-ooo
and he started taking photographs of my favourite bobble hat
With a Canon EOS 4000D,
I said, with a Canon, EOS, 4000D.
He said, peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo
With a Canon EOS 4000D.
He went right outside my front gate, and he went snap!
With a Canon EOS 4000D.
And he snapped me from the side and he made sure to get my bobble hat in,
With a Canon EOS 4000D.
And that got me just about as evil as a wannabe-Tory-MP can be
So I reached down inside my brain and I made up a preposterous story about the deadly lockdown rules which I helped to instigate.
The deadly lockdown rules.
The deadly lockdown rules, designed to be as confusing as rules can be, so that the public get blamed for herd immunity, just to take the heat off of Boris Johnson.

I can’t see. Do-do-do-do-do
I can’t see. Do-do-do-do-do
Oh woe is me, COVID-19 has blinded me, temporarily.
Here he goes now, all the way to Durham – drive it!
And then, in a fit of anger, I pounced
And I pounced again. Great googly-woogly
I jumped up and down on the chest of; well I injured the photographer.
Well, he was very upset, as you can understand, and rightly so, because
My excuse was about as prepostorous as any excuse can be.

The deadly virus had deprived me of my sight,
So I got in the car, and I drove around and I said
I can’t see. Do-do-do-do-do-do, yeah!
I can’t see. Do-do-do-do-do-do, yeah!
Oh woe is me, I can’t see. No, no, I can’t see.
COVID-19 has blinded me, temporarily.

Well I stood there, with my car keys in my hand
Across the bleak wasteland of the powerhouse of the North
Trying to figure out about what it is I am going to do about my afflicted eye.
And it was at that precise moment that I remembered an ancient Tory legend,
Inscribed into the head of every devious, lying politician
Wherein it is written: that if anything bad ever happens to your eyes in some sort of global pandemic
The only way you can get it fixed up, is to go drive along the motorway, mile after mile
Drive along the motorway, mile after mile.
Right down to the parish of County Durham
Barnard Castle! Barnard Castle! Barnard Castle! Barnard Castle!
Get in your car and drive to the funky Barnard Castle.

Stay alert!

May 10, 2020

Stay alert for virus particles, invisible to the eye,
Stay alert for propaganda, deluding you and I.
Stay alert, not stay at home, so it’s OK to go out?
Stay alert in green, that’s safe, right? Rules which we can flout?

Work from home if you can, but don’t use bus or train.
Work from home if you can, road network not to strain.
Work from home if you can, but cycle if you must.
Work from home if you can, Tories we should never trust.

Limit contact with other people, so it’s OK we should meet?
Limit contact with other people, but friends live down our street.
Limit contact with other people, what about our human rights?
Limit contact with other people – is COVID kryptonite?

Herd immunity by another name, is what our rulers preach.
Herd immunity for their gain, vague rules which people breach.
Herd immunity threatens those who fought for you and I.
Herd immunity is fatal: are loved ones invisible to the eye?

Hubris in face of coronavirus

March 27, 2020

Jonas Salk made no money out of the polio vaccine, but regarded it as knowledge to help the whole of the human race, to be provided: gratis, free of charge, nada, zilch, diddly-squat, zero.Might not some of the same compassionate spirit be in order now?

Such public-minded sacrifice is in all too short supply, it might seem, with a desperately underfunded and privatised NHS, and money-grabbing vultures such as Jeff “unsafe conditions in Amazon warehouses” Bezos, Tim “refusing to pay staff and suppliers” Martin, Richard “eight weeks unpaid leave” Branson; not to mention incompetent politicians: Boris “herd-immunity” Johnson, Donald “coronavirus is a hoax” Trump, Jair “Brazilians never catch anything” Bolsanaro.

But then there is the magnificent solidarity of the general public in defence of the NHS, the small acts of kindness between neighbours, looking out for each other and being there (even if it is only over social media) that reminds me that ultimately there is a greater force than the rich and powerful – it is the cleaners, the supermarket workers, NHS staff – the working class, who are truly essential to society.

Socialism, not capitalism is the only way forward for humanity.

Join us – https://internationalsocialist.net/en/

How (not) to buy an election

November 9, 2019

In Seattle, Amazon spent $1million, in the 2019 local elections, in an effort to secure a more right-wing council. The company had, in 2018, scored a victory against an attempt to tax big business, after 7 of the 9 council members caved in and repealed a “Head Tax” on big business to help fund affordable housing. Starbucks and Amazon stood to pay $millions as the largest employers in the city into the fund. They put huge pressure to bear on the council to repeal the tax. The only two council members who refused to bow to corporate pressure were Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative) and Teresa Mosqueda (Democrat).

Amazon’s most trenchant critic, who helped win a $15 minimum wage in the city has been Kshama Sawant, also said that she would fight to reinstate the tax if re-elected. Has Amazon’s attempt to buy local democracy in Seattle paid off?

Despite promising early tallies for Egan Orion, the Amazon-backed candidate, Kshama Sawant is heading for victory when all votes are counted, as later ballots tend to lean to the left – people who have to work all hours to make ends meet are more likely to vote later in the election. The likelihood is that there will be an astounding third term for the first socialist candidate to be elected in 100 years in the US.

The influx of electoral money prompted a tweet by Bernie Sanders:
“Jeff Bezos and Amazon think they can buy elections. They spent $1 million to stop City Council candidates @d1forLisa, @TammyMoralesSEA, @VoteSawant and @ElectScott2019. Show Amazon that they can’t buy our democracy and that their corporate greed won’t stand. Get out and vote!”

It seems that the people of Seattle are supporting his call and refusing to listen to corporate attempts to buy democracy.

Read more from Socialist Alternative US (the sister party to Socialist Alternative in the UK):
https://www.socialistalternative.org/2019/11/06/amazons-bid-to-unseat-seattles-socialist-too-close-to-call/

How can we get rid of the Tories?

February 2, 2019

The Socialist Party campaigned in the EU referendum to leave the EU. Our slogan was to “vote OUT the Tories”. Correctly, we predicted that a leave vote would cause a crisis for the ruling party of capitalism, and would undercut support for the far-right.

We also said that Jeremy Corbyn should use his position and authority to lead the Leave campaign, and, as part of TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) applied to the Electoral Commission to be the official Leave campaign; for no taxpayers’ money to be given to the Tories or UKIP as the officially sanctioned campaign. We attempted, with our limited resources, to counter the racist rhetoric on both sides of the referendum campaign. We pointed out that international workers’ solidarity was needed against EU attacks on the people of Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland. We explained that Corbyn would not be able to carry through socialist policies without coming into collision with the Lisbon Treaty.

The Leave vote caused Theresa May to lose a parliamentary vote by the greatest margin ever. She is clearly incapable of running the country. By any normal measure, she would have resigned by now, and there would be huge pressure to have a general election. So why is she still clinging to power?

The opposition is no longer (as it was under Blair) a “safe pair of hands” for the capitalists. They are terrified that a left-wing Labour government would raise expectations of working-class people (not that Corbyn’s manifesto is more than mild reformism, with only piecemeal renationalisation of the railways for example, not as we would demand, expropriation of the railway franchises under workers’ control, with no compensation for fat cats). The bosses are afraid of the latent power of the trade unions, if Corbyn were to repeal the Tory anti-trade union legislation. They are afraid for their profits. The last thing they want is for a Corbyn-led Labour Party to be pushed further to the left by mass pressure from below.

Yet, Labour too is split. There is a rump of Blairites, predominantly councillors and MPs who seek to sabotage Corbyn and his supporters. We are calling for them to be deselected. Instead, socialists have been expelled for the nebulous charge of “bringing the Labour Party into disrepute” and have attempted to smear Corbyn with false claims of antisemitism. The majority of Labour councils are still carrying through the Tories’ dirty work, cutting services and jobs without protest. However, there is a beacon of hope – Islwyn and Enfield North councils have voted to set no-cuts budgets and fight back (it remains to be seen how this works out in practice). The Socialist Party (as Socialist Alternative) will be standing against Blairite cutters in a number of seats across the country, to put forward an alternative to austerity.

What are the chances of democratising Labour into a fighting mass party of the working class? We would argue that Corbyn has been too timid in capitulating to and seeking reconciliation with the Blairites. We have asked to join Labour, but our requests have been rebuffed with the retort that we should not have stood against Labour in elections – we asked for a debate, to discuss co-operation and affiliation on a federal basis, but so far we have not been successful in re-joining Labour (our leading members were expelled in the early 1990s). There are some hopeful signs of change, however, with a new layer of activists coming through and a trickle of deselections.

One factor that has been absent in getting rid of the Tories is the organised working class. If Corbyn had campaigned energetically and the TUC had mobilised its members for the recent march against austerity, using it as a springboard for co-ordinated strike action; if there was mass, spontaneous civil disobedience (as is the case in France) – May’s government would face oblivion.

One Tory backbencher commenting on May’s leadership said “stamina is not a strategy”, recognising the desperate situation she is in. On the one hand remainers are demanding a soft Brexit, or to remain, on the other, Eurosceptics want to break with the EU, and the DUP are threatening to withdraw support over the border in Northern Ireland. The situation has reached a critical impasse, and evidently there is no Plan B. The EU has said its deal is non-negotiable, so May is scuttling round Labour Leave MPs offering cash bribes for their support (just as she did with the DUP).

This shows, as we have argued consistently, that the money is there in society to fund public services. The Tories are carrying out an ideological attack, affecting the most vulnerable disproportionately. Yet, this is also an extremely weak and wobbly government – all that is lacking is the political will to bring it crashing down.

It is difficult to predict what will happen in the coming weeks and months. One possibility is that the Blairite left and Tory right will split, to form an SDP Mark II-style party, but holding them back is the likelihood of electoral oblivion.

A no-deal Brexit is still possible, despite the vote in Parliament to the contrary, if a deal cannot be brokered. This would be a blow to ordinary people, with uncertainty around jobs, increased inflation and chaos around our ports.

The right wing of Labour and the Lib Dems are calling for a second referendum, a “People’s Vote” – we say that a real people’s vote is a general election. The Lib Dems would certainly use this as a bargaining chip in return for support for a coalition government, should we have a hung Parliament in the event of an election. To go down the road of calling another referendum would alienate the majority of the working class, drive up support for UKIP and result in a backlash against immigrants. It would be a disastrous climbdown for Corbyn, who has rightly said that he would honour the referendum result.

Any companies under threat of going under should be nationalised under workers’ control, to protect jobs. We would use Brexit to launch an appeal to workers across Europe, to rise up against the rotten capitalist system which enslaves us. We point out the racist nature of EU legislation – the withdrawal of rescue vessels in the Mediterranean, the razor-wire border fence erected in Hungary. We do not blame immigrants, we blame the bosses. We would close tax loopholes and use the revenue generated to invest in our public services which have long been starved of resources. If there was a flight of capital, we would take control over the money supply.

Although this may sound like a socialist flight of fancy, meanwhile in Tory Britain homeless people are freezing to death, the disabled are suffering under Universal Credit, people are in insecure jobs and on zero hour contracts. It doesn’t have to be this way! We cannot afford to wait until 2022 for another general election.

During the election campaign in 2017, with the leaking of the Labour Party manifesto, this resulted in a huge groundswell of support. May’s gamble (on a snap election to pave the way for a majority for her version of Brexit) failed disastrously for the Tories. Despite a huge lead in the opinion polls at the beginning of the campaign, she has barely clung to power since. If we forced another general election now, the Tories could easily be defeated, if Labour were to pose a bold, socialist programme.

The Socialist Party, at this stage, is a small party, but we have a track record of winning gains for the working class. Locally, we played a central role in the campaign to save the Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre. We won millions of pounds of concessions from Thatcher for Liverpool, building council houses, leisure centres and schools. We led the mass non-payment campaign that led to the downfall of Thatcher and defeated the poll tax. Central to our strategy is the belief that workers are the most powerful force in society. We are the ones who create wealth for the capitalists. By withholding our labour, this can be stopped at its source, and they would have no choice but to capitulate. We are the ones with the knowledge and expertise to run society. We can build a new socialist society, based on equality and solidarity rather than profit and greed. We are part of an international movement seeking to overthrow capitalism, worldwide. If you agree with our ideas then – join us!

(Speech to Leicester Socialist Party meeting – 2/2/19)

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.

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.