Grenfell Tower. The Last Straw

It’s a fact that wealth disparity in the borough of Kensington is amongst the most acute in Britain. For those trapped in poverty there it was considered to be among the top 10% of most deprived areas in the country. However something stood out to me as we watched the appalling disaster unfold on the news. T.V. journalists and pundits kept referring to the residents of Grenfell as “poor people”. That description didn’t sit easy with me. Among the survivors I saw a woman described as “The head of a local design company” I also spotted other skilled professionals and tradespeople as events progressed. Such types I wouldn’t describe as poor people, they are aspirational working class people. Intelligent, articulate, hard working. They are also the brutally truthful reminder that this is how tight, how squeezed and how utterly disregarded so called ordinary workers are, especially so in London. It would seem that things are now so bad even skilled professionals can find nowhere more affordable to live than a badly facilitated death trap. Many of them will have fought hard and waited on a long list to get into their homes that are now destroyed. This is your beloved free market. This is where it has taken us.

“There’s no such thing as society.” Margaret Thatcher gleefully said as she saw her dream of economic neo liberalism come into focus. Well…this is where such idealism leads. Are you feeling proud of that?

As things progress some upsetting, disturbing and yet not at all surprising facts are beginning to emerge. It’s not yet proven, yet is highly suspected the cladding on the building caused the disaster.  If two pound more per sheet of cladding at a total cost of five thousand pounds had been spent the disaster would probably have been avoided. But that’s not the point of free enterprise is it? The point is to make the highest profit margin and hold little regard as to how it will affect peoples lives. Are you proud of your profits? You’re always claiming you work so hard for them. How entitled are you feeling today?   Worse still the cladding was put there for aesthetic reasons. So that millionaires would have less of an eyesore to look at and be reminded every day that they have to move among people worth so much less than them. People that don’t count like them. People that they know in their hearts they are just better than. They don’t need ugly reminders of the actual truth of the world. If we can’t actually entirely enforce the idea “There’s no such thing as society.” then perhaps we can paint over it and hide it behind flammable plastics.

For all reading this, all you Neo Liberals , Conservatives, thinkers, economists and patrons of the right, advocates for free market and the age of self.  I’m just going to post here the last words of some that died. These were gathered in the press from social media.

“Forgive me, the fire is here. I’m dying”

“I can’t leave the flat. Please pray for me and my mum.”

“Tell my sons that I love them.”

“Smoke is coming under the doors.”

“I’m staying here with the dogs.”

“We’re not going to make it.”

“Please help me. Please tell my family that I love them.”

“Forgive me everyone. Goodbye.”

Still feeling proud of all you’ve achieved in life? Your profit shares, your mega bonus, you’re filthy lucre.

Your chief representative Theresa May  went to visit the place of disaster. Gutless, afraid, guilty and refusing to speak to local residents. Why was that I wonder. Why can’t she face the very people she claims to serve? Is it because she is a pinnacle representative of every ideal that caused this atrocity to come into being? Well is it? I know the answer, I’m asking you.

Our guy Jeremy Corbyn also visited. He was welcomed with open arms by those who have lost everything. He promises to do all he can to help. Remind me again how you are just better than us. Remind me how we’re not really people, we’re a commodity, a consumer. “There’s no such thing as society!”

They decided to cancel The Mansion House dinner “As an act of respect” This is a dinner of bankers, stockbrokers, establishment and politicians where meals are literally served on plates made of gold. I wonder what the price of one of those plates is? Five thousand pounds perhaps? The difference between an estimated hundred people burned to death and your dinner looking the absolute best it can.  Are you proud of your status, your connections, where you feel you’ve made it in life?  “There’s no such thing as society”

There’s a hurricane coming. And the likes of Theresa May are going to be left in it looking like nothing more than a gasp.

 

 

Orange President. Orange Prime Minister. We’ve been Tangoed.

To be Tangoed as the adverts used to go was to receive a shock to the system, often by a slap to the face. Which is exactly what Theresa May’s proposals for our future Government has been to the British electorate. You remember Donald Trump massaging his special relationship with Theresa? It was all hand over hand with the threat of a locker room grab to the nether regions hanging in the air. I’ve heard to brighten up her general death like demeanour he advised she should turn Orange like him…I’m not sure forming a government with The DUP was what he meant.

Watching the election results come in the other night was a bit like watching a game of Rugby. There’s a lot of stuff going on that we don’t all exactly understand. Then you get to the end asking, “Did we win? It looks like we won! How come the opposition are getting a penalty in the dying minutes? I THOUGHT WE WERE WINNING!”

I don’t ask much from my future government but I do think it a bit important they all believe Dinosaurs were real. The DUP are putting it lightly a bunch of creationist knuckle draggers. Their manifesto is essentially the Bible with the bins going out every fortnight. Anti LGBT, Climate change deniers, anti catholic. Brexit no longer seems to mean Brexit. Brexit means F**k the Pope. They actually believe the European Union was a Papal conspiracy. It seems the Romans are still very much a threat in their minds.

They’re not so keen on women’s rights either. They’re Anti abortion and believe public breastfeeding is an act of exhibitionism. Obviously putting on a bowler hat and a sash while a full brass band belts out sectarian anthems is the work of shrinking violets.

I can only describe May’s desperate cling to power via the DUP as sociopathic. This is a woman who cares not a jot for consequence as long as she still gets to sit at the top of the table. Watching Theresa May right now is like watching a fart trying to be heard in a hurricane. Flailing around in her MayBot way chanting “Strong and Stable” as her programmers try desperately hard to try and figure out to make her user friendly. It’s impossible. She doesn’t like people. Her alliance with the DUP is actually illegal in regards to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. A pact for peace in Ireland that the DUP refused to sign. It is also a threat to that peace and should be fought against at every turn over the coming weeks. Perhaps if we’re really nice to them Sinn Fein might choose to take up their seats in parliament and we can redress the balance. Jeremy Corbyn will drag us back to the 70s they cried. Well that doesn’t seem as bad as going back to the 1690s.

However this doesn’t mean all is lost. The exact opposite in fact. I’ve been a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn since before he was elected leader of the Labour Party. I always believed if we got his name on the ballot paper then his policies would chime with the electorate. I believed this because of what the SNP achieved in Scotland and think we owe them a decent nod for bringing compassion back into mainstream politics. The Tory smear campaign against Corbyn in the election was abhorrent. To attempt to label a decent man as a terrorist sympathiser while we were under attack from terrorists was below the lowest of the low. However now that the Tories are having to for a Government with the DUP…well these accusations seem to have…ahem…blown up in their faces. I really did enjoy the Tweet from the Police Federation page that said, “It’s not the amount of MPs you have Theresa it’s what you do with them. You have to do more with less.” How poignant.

For now Corbyn and the SNP wait in the wings. They look like they’re going to play the long game. I don’t think the changes that are coming are some kind of a flash in the pan either. If you look at what’s happening globally voices of the left are coming in from many areas. I think the changes that are coming to this island will be as seismic as the changes Thatcher ushered in and will probably last as long.  The future’s bright, the future is NOT Orange.

 

Populism (A very short and rather basic poem)

POPULISM (A very short poem)

I’m neither left nor right just full of shite.

I’m neither left nor right just full of shite.

I’m neither left nor right just full of shite.

I’m neither left nor right just full of shite

I’m neither left nor right just full of shite.

I’m neither left nor right just full of shite.

Repeat until elected…

 

Why I’d Love A Progressive Cross Party Alliance.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to see Tony Benn speak at a couple of May Day Rallies. Both times he finished with this anecdote.

“Once upon a time in a town not unlike this a small boy fell down a well. The towns folk gathered to try and get him out. “The blacksmith said, “Hang on I’ve got some rope, we can throw it down and get him out.” But when he tried the rope was too short. Then the librarian said, “Hang on we’ve got rope at the library that may work.” But again it was too short. It was the same with the teachers rope and the nurses rope and the janitors rope. Finally losing his patience the young boy cried upwards. “Come on you people…Just tie the rope together.”

 

Needless to say I was soon getting messages from frustrated Nationalists pointing out they’ve offered an alliance with Labour. It was turned down at the last election and it’s been turned down now. Trust me I fully understand your frustration and I still find the Scots Labour leadership to be a pretty hopeless/Blairite bunch. I also completely agree with the Scots turning their backs on what was Tory Blair’s idea of a Labour movement. But on the notion of an alliance I wouldn’t take everything being said at face value. Milliband’s  Labour party of non alliance were a very different beast to the Labour Party of this moment. There was little difference between a Labour, Lib-Dem or Conservative MP around that time. They were self serving and not much more than puppets of  large corporations and media Barons. I would hope people on all sides of SNP, Lib-Dem and Green could at least agree Jeremy Corbyn isn’t that kind of politician. And in that one initial agreement suddenly we all have something in common.

It’s no secret large swathes of the Labour party don’t want Corbyn there. I feel that after the dust settles on this election he may sadly be gone. If he is I would say, “Good effort, well done for standing up to a corrupt/biased media who dragged your name from the word go. Well done for standing up to members of your own party who’s only interest was career and self preservation. Well done for increasing the Labour party membership by hundreds of thousands and giving ordinary people a choice in who represents them. Well done for getting proper old Labour socialist policies back into the public domain.” The point is that now Jeremy has got these policies out there it’s vital that they are kept on the table. There are people within his party keen to see this happen.

I know there are prominent/ potential leadership figures in both Labour and SNP who do favour a progressive alliance. Just because it’s not out on the table yet doesn’t mean it would never happen. We have to stand back a bit from current dialogues and try to look at a bigger picture. If Corbyn was to come out and say yes to an alliance just now the English/British media would finish him off. There would be cries about England being ruled by the Scots. In short it would be a disaster. But what I hope Scots nationalists should understand is there are hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of people living in England who are entirely sympathetic to Scots self rule and see the SNP as a credible party. That huge group of people have a voice and one day Scots may be reliant on them. If the second referendum fails then the only way forward for the Scots would be an alliance.

In a perfect world a cross party alliance could finish off the Tories for good. Many European parliaments have been built on alliances. So try to put current grievances aside. Try to admit to yourself that many ordinary people all across the UK are all after the same thing. Try to be patient. Tie the rope together.

Stop calling Intolerance “Populism” It Isn’t.

noun: fascism
  1. (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices.
     
noun: populism
  1. Support for the concerns of ordinary people.

I’ve put the definitions of the two words, as you’ll find them in the dictionary, above. The reason I’ve done this is I worry about a future situation where we say to ourselves…Perhaps the biggest mistake we made was calling those with fascist leanings populist…as I’m herded into a camp for being a dissenter.

The Dutch election results are in and Geert Wilder’s far right Party for Freedom failed to live up to supporters’ expectations in a closely-watched Dutch general election. All through the election his party was referred to as “populist” Their key manifesto point is a ban on Islam and zero immigration from non Western countries. So as “populists” they reflect the views of “ordinary people” …unless you’re a Muslim. As far as I remember there are about over a billion people on this planet who would describe themselves as not only Muslims but also “ordinary people.” There are also about 2.2 Billion who would describe themselves as Christian. So this isn’t about faith, it is discrimination it is “intolerance” Now look at the definitions above again.

Populism is not building walls. That is intolerance.

Populism is not banning people from moving around the planet/to safety. That is intolerance.

Populism is not singling out one group of people and laying the problems of a planet at their door. That is intolerance.

I’ll post the definitions again.

noun: fascism
  1. (in general use) extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practices.
     
noun: populism
  1. Support for the concerns of ordinary people.

So please stop it now and call it what it is.

 

 

Why I’m pro Scots Independence.

I think it was around 1990, I was sat in my parents house on my own watching The SNP conference. This was unusual in that my family are a couple of generations  of natural Labour supporters, as was I at the time. So why was a watching this? Well this bloke Alex Salmond was on speaking and it struck me the some of things he was saying sounded decidedly more left wing than what even Labour was offering at that time. Labour had purged the left by this point and were well on the road to becoming “New”. And then Salmond pointed something out. I can’t quote exactly, but it went something along the lines of, “An independent Scotland would NEVER have to be ruled by a Conservative government ever again.” And with that won thought my viewpoint changed.

I’m from a mining area and already at that young aged was well versed in the brutality a Conservative government can bring down like a cosh on people like me. I had a cousin who was a miner who’s suicide I lay directly at the door of Thatcher. He was blacklisted then made homeless by her policies.

But Scottish independence isn’t true to the values of socialism you cry. If I may I’d like to quote a friend of mine Thanasis Manitarellis who said yesterday  “Blaming Scotland for causing further division after Brexit, is like blaming an abused wife for wrecking her marriage after running out of the house. ”

Also can anybody point out any of our main parties who are implementing more left wing policies than the SNP at the moment? Trust me, I know the SNP are far from perfect but free access to education, free school meals and free prescriptions are all steps in the right direction. Of course I am sympathetic to the principles of Jeremy Corbyn (I’m also a Labour party member as I live in England. If I lived in Scotland I’d be with the SNP) but I have no idea what his policies are. And when Scots Labour leaders and mayors of London start comparing the entire Scottish nation to the likes of Donald Trump! Well,  I’m reminded of how completely they have lost the plot and the ability to communicate to ordinary workers/voters.

But they’re imposing cuts. No Westminster Tories are imposing cuts and the SNP are having to follow. We’re not independent remember. Saying this there is much in SNP economic policy I disagree with. But here’s the point. If you don’t like it… an Independent Scotland could vote in a more leftist/Socialist government if they had the power to do so. The way Scottish politics leans the only way I can see someone out manoeuvring the SNP is to move to the left of them. This is something that would never happen in a United Kingdom. For me it’s a win, win situation and the reason I’m for self rule. And I don’t even live in Scotland any more, but if any nation on the planet managed to liberate themselves, even partly, from oppression then I’m all for it…And don’t even get me started on Europe…

Indy Ref. 2 A Poem.

I understand your fear
What are we walking into?
Just look at all the foodbanks
Are you up for joining that queue?
I understand uncertainty
Of our countries destination
It’s all the fault of immigrants
Is the bigots proclamation
That’s the fear they’ll try to spread
Demonising the unknown
But we have bigger family
In that  European zone
I understand your caution
To have heedfulness is wise
“We’ll give you more of your own say”
Do you still believe those lies?
But what about the economy
Our pay will take a squeeze
So put your trust in bankers
There’s nothing they won’t seize
The way they treat a worker
Is more akin to robbery
You’ll break your back, work endless shift
As they shove you into poverty
But what about the NHS
They say it’s safe with them
As you queue for beds eternally
Until your life’s condemned
You see I understand uncertainty
What are we walking into?
But surely now you know
This is the last chance for a breakthrough
I understand uncertainty.
But what shall we become
I’m not sure, but look at this list
And you’ll know what you’re walking from.