Saturday, 25 March 2017

Trump couldn't deal a hand of pontoon

In my column in the Chronicle and Echo a week or two ago I argued that the best thing the American people could do would be to impeach the dreadful Trump.

I got a response in the letters column this week from, surprise surprise the local voice of UKIP(interestingly enough my gadget that enables me to dictate this blog thought that UKIP was actually Phucket-not far wrong there) In her defence of Trump Mrs Gibben, for it was she, bemoan the fact that I had an occasional column and she didn't.

Despite the fact that the little bunch of local kippers seem to get letters printed every week she still pursued the argument that the far right are badly treated by the media, instead of impeaching Trump she thought that Blair(I think this machine has a mind of its own for instead of Blair it substituted the word millionaire!) should be impeached. She obviously has never read any of my earlier columns or blogs where you would have found that I argued that our former Prime Minister should along with George Bush face a war crimes tribunal.

And strangely enough in her love letter to Trump Mrs Gibben forgot to mention that she had been the UKIP Parliamentary candidate for Northampton South. Obviously it had slipped her mind and obviously it could never be considered fake news or an attempt to hide who this innocent soul was from an unsuspecting public.

Yet the love of her life the unprepossessing president in the White House was not and is not the great dealmaker and political highflyer that he pretends and her party adore.

The fact that his big promise during the presidential election was that he would end within the first 100 days Obamacare fell at the first hurdle. With the largest Republican majority in Congress since the 1920s he was unable to secure a majority vote. His frequent boast of being a great dealmaker collapsed before it even got off the ground. He couldn't persuade over 30 of his own Republican congressmen to support him over his flagship policy.

The reason is quite simple his congressmen realised that to cut medical care from 24 million Americans might just damage them at the next mid-term elections. Turkeys rarely vote for Christmas.

However that is not strictly true, not so long ago a large number well over 50% of the British people or more precisely English and Welsh people voted like turkeys for Christmas. They believed the nonsense of cheap and shoddy populism that promised everything all the time to all people provided they left the European Union, the only surprise is that the populists didn't promise to rebuild Hadrian's Wall, thus emulating the knob head in the White House.

The only political thought in the empty heads ofUKIP and the Trumpists is to blame the foreigners, especially those with brown skins and a particular religion. It must have come as an enormous shock when Farage found out that the man who committed the killings in Westminster was like him born in Kent(incidentally my machine went off again and called Farage- Fawaz-I'm growing to love this machine)

At the risk of once again upsetting our local Trump lover I hope the sensible people of America get their act together and begin impeachment procedures against the brute, otherwise as well as punishing the minorities in his country, as well as intimidating people from other religions, building an ugly wall across the American Mexican border, as well as trampling over the historic rights of the Native American people I fear that the Bozo will probably declare war on North Korea, China and anywhere else he sticks a pin in his child's atlas.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Whatever Jeremy does is wrong

We live in an age of instant comment, when even the president of the United States tells us his thoughts before he's even had them. So it's hardly surprising that the leader of the Labour Party's is more often susceptible to having words and thoughts put into his utterances before they are even altered

Then of course they are deliberately misinterpreted by those in the Parliamentary Labour Party and elsewhere who wish to cause mischief and undermine Jeremy Corbyn's position. There has been no clearer example than today in the commentary about what Jeremy said about the possibility of another Scottish referendum.

There can be no doubt that if the Scottish people and the Scottish government request a rerun of the last referendum in the light of the Brexit vote then that is surely the right of the people of Scotland regardless of what Westminster, Prime Minister, the Daily Mail or even Nigel Farage(it's amusing by the way that my Bluetooth dictation software interpreted Nigel's name as barrage- quite appropriate really)

All Jeremy said was in fact echoing leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, if the people north of the border determine that there will be another referendum then no one in England or anywhere else has the right to interfere with that decision.

It is clear that there are many in the Parliamentary Labour Party and elsewhere who find it difficult to recognise that the loss of Scotland was not as a result of Jeremy Corbyn but rather the result of decades of neglect and arrogance by those who led the Labour Party previously. The crisis that the Labour Party currently faces is the loss of confidence by traditional supporters in working class areas that have been taken for granted by elitists and those who felt they could be parachuted into traditional Labour seats because they thought it was their right, their God-given right shop

The message that Corbyn has been giving out since his election as leader is similar to the one that Bernie Saunders is giving to the American left. The reason evil Trump won in traditional industrial states like Illinois, Wisconsin, and Ohio was because too many ordinary people have been taken for granted for too long stop

It is important that the Labour Party learns that lesson, with half 1 million members throughout the country it should be possible to rebuild a political base where it matters, right in the heart of those communities that have been betrayed and forgotten for so long stop

People elected Labour councillors and Labour MPs in the same way that they use to join trade unions and recognise all have is our solidarity and our capacity to work together, not to be in this together not to be just about managing but to take control of our lives and win our struggles at the lowest level as well as at higher and more meaningful levels. Labour lost Scotland because it was complacent, in order to build or rather rebuild its base in Scotland then it needs to listen not to the siren voices in Westminster but rather to the people of Scotland want something different.

There is of course a solution to what has happened, it's not simply about winning back parliamentary seats in Scotland it's about a whole new settlement. And of course it's not simply in Scotland alone any more, the elections last week in Northern Ireland has shown that the old ways are now history there is a nationalist and republican majority in the province, that cannot be ignored or wished away.

The solution of course and one that the Labour Party must embrace is a creation of the Federation of Independent countries within what we know as the British Isles. I would like that to be a Federation of republics owing no allegiance to a feudal monarchy and a system of government that is at least 300 years out of its time.

Each nation of the British Isles must have an independent and autonomous parliament and instead of the present system the second chamber, the nonelected House of Lords must be replaced with an elected Federal chamber that represents the independent nations but can cooperate on those issues like economic infrastructure, foreign policy and I even concede national defence or rather I'll concede that there should be some sort of civic defence force that can assist in times of emergency and that doesn't need bloody Trident!


There is of course the question of the Republic of Ireland, but it would be possible for a united Ireland to be part of a Federation of the British Isles, indeed that would make a great deal of sense. This piece has travelled a long way from the puerile attacks on Jeremy Corbyn over his recognition that Scotland has changed and can no longer just be a handful of northern seats in Westminster and simply voting fodder for the London elite.

Labour may not win many seats back in Scotland, but with local MPs representing their communities and working with the grain of the people of Scotland then it will be possible I believe to build a new social democratic alliance and who knows maybe even a socialist one.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

What happens after Copeland?

The recriminations have been going on the last three days what happened in Copeland is everybody's fault but mostly Jeremy Corbyn. Or so say everybody who hates the Labour Party who hates leadership of the party who hates the possibility that there might be a socialist party in Britain trying to break out of the inertia of the last two decades.

What is most depressing is the endless criticism of Jeremy Corbyn and the endless blame game that so many in the Parliamentary Labour Party and elsewhere seek to put on Corbyn. What is odd is that all those who call for a new leader are reluctant to name that new leader he appears to be the leader whose name we dare not speak of. It is a safe there is a spectre haunting the Labour Party and that is the one that we dare not speak its name but we imply that he is some sort of Prince over the water or some businessman/property owner/world leader in exile whose name inspires fear and loathing throughout the country.

It is time to make it clear that what happened at Copeland was nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn or the changes that are taking place in the Labour Party. What happened Copeland is as everyone seems to agree a result of the alienation of working people from what was once the People's party. How did that happen everyone is asking but come up with only one explanation "it must be that dangerous Islington radical with a beard and a history of standing up for such causes as international justice, defending the health service, fighting racism, opposing monopoly capitalism and representing ordinary working people.

Copeland was once a seat of one Jack Cunningham, he was the son of a huge power broker who was a leading figure in the GMB union and by way of remembering a friend of T Dan Smith once big cheese in Newcastle. The fact that Jack the Lad was parachuted into Copeland of course was merely a coincidence. If you want an explanation of what went wrong in Copeland there is only one word that can explain it and that is Scotland. Jeremy Corbyn was not responsible for the loss of over 50 seats in Scotland, what happened there was the people of Scotland were fed up with being treated simply as voting fodder for a Labour government and the Labour Party that took them for granted and gave nothing in return.

Until the Labour Party nationally and locally understand what Jeremy Corbyn means when he argues that the party needs to be built up once again from the bottom, from the local communities organising, agitating and educating then the Labour Party is doomed to be irrelevant to most people's lives. It is interesting how badly UKIP did in Stoke a place where they were expected to do well

There is no doubt that there were many people in Stoke who believed in the right-wing ideology of UKIP, after all not so long ago that Stoke had a bunch of BNP councillors and indeed it had the highest brexit vote in the country. But the reason that Stoke did not go far right is probably because UKIP chose as their candidate someone not from the town but rather parachuted in because he was the party leader. The people Stoke had already had that experience of someone being parachuted in, Tristan Hunt, who decamped to the Victoria and Albert Museum a job approved by the Tory government was like so many others of late in the Labour Party. He was the chosen candidate of Lord Mandelson and the Blairite clique. I suspect the folk of Stoke new what sort of candidate Nuttall would be, they are ready had that experience.

The lesson of Copeland that needs to be learnt is that the party will only succeed when it selects Parliamentary candidates and indeed local council candidates who actually represent the people they claim to. They need to come from the communities that they wish to serve, they need to know the real issues that confront real people daily and not what the press office and spin doctors of the party tell them.

Much of the criticism that has been levelled at the current leadership has been prefixed by the notion that the leadership is out of touch. But if you live and work in the community then you know what the issues are that concern people and if you live in a working-class district then those problems are there on your doorstep every day.

That is not an ideological position it is old-fashioned common sense, it is the sort of common sense that socialism was born out of, when Keir Hardie was elected in a Welsh mining constituency it was because he knew about the lives of miners, after all he had been a miner himself.

When you look at the grandees of the Labour Party or rather new Labour Party what you see is indeed a political elite. The fact that many working people have seen through the contempt with which the Mandelson's and the Blairs and all like them hold working people in, then the rise of populism of the right cannot be ignored. But you do not defeat such populism by appeasing it but rather challenge it and remind people that we still live in a class ridden society and the only people who can resolve the problems of working people are people themselves

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The world has gone mad or so it seems

This is an experimental blog, I am not writing it I am in fact dictating it to a machine that is called Dragon, and so far so good.

Talking to a machine seems more sensible at the moment than watching the news or even reading a newspaper everything seems to be going to hell in a hand cart. It's hard to believe that the United States, the place where people fled to escape tyranny, intolerance, hatred and all that could be found in the old world. Who could believe that the country that called for the huddled masses to seek sanctuary could end up with a bizarre president like Donald Trump. Of course America has a dreadful history it massacred the indigenous people set about creating unfettered capitalism and it destroyed everything in its way.

America, has been a contradiction since the founding fathers laid the basis of a nation that was in many ways a product of the Enlightenment. Of course even founding fathers were not perfect, even Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and my favourite president John Adams was not above a bit of political chicanery but compared to what we have now he was indeed a shining light in mankind's history.

It's hard to believe that the country that has so many different peoples, but has a history of almost tolerance- you have of course to remember Phil  Ochs memorable song "Mississippi find some other country to be part of". America cannot forget or ignore the tragedy that was and in some ways still is slavery. But for a few years it seemed that the American people understood that dreadful history and was prepared to make changes to ensure that Afro-Americans, that Latinos, that Native Americans would eventually be treated with equality and justice.

As someone who hated the American hegemony who objected most strongly to American imperialism who objected to the exploitation of other people's by the US military it did all seem to be changing. There was a time when after the Vietnam War there was a dawning in popular consciousness that America was no longer the world's policeman, why it could even elect an Afro American as president, there was a moment in history quite recently that things seemed to be getting better.

But all that fell apart last November when the political establishment of the Democratic party elected as its candidate another waste of space. There was a time when it would have been possible to have welcomed Hillary Clinton as a real change but that time came and went and we were left with just another opportunistic mediocrity. Had the Democrats listened to the mood of the people and perhaps given Bernie Saunders, the Vermont Senator the chance to bring a new political vision to the jaded elite and enthuse the millions of young people who are believed that Obama was merely the start of a new process of political involvement then who knows what could have happened.

However we all know what happened we know that a cynical manipulation of public opinion a juxtaposition of the notion that a billionaire property developer somehow could speak for unemployed factory workers and the urban dispossessed is frankly absurd.
Horror of horrors, as I was reaching the end of this near perfect blog, no spell checks nothing going wrong the phone rang as i was reaching my conclusion, and the dictation process ended.So you may never know how far I think the world has gone mad!

Monday, 6 February 2017

How much bleaker can it get?

There have been many dark times during my sojourn on this planet.Like so many others I thought the time of the Cuban Missile crisis in 1961 was a highpoint of grimness.If you remember it was a time when a new and inexperienced US president, advised by such halfwits as J Edgar Hoover and John Foster Dulles and even his younger brother-the US Attorney-General and onetime  assistant counsel to Sen. Joe. McCarthy.
The Russian leader N>S> Khrushchev seemed at the time to be a bit of an adventurer but in hindsight played a canny hand, and by removing some missiles from Cuba got a guarantee from the Americans not to invade Cuba,and that agreement seems to have held-until now!
That was then and now is now.
Nobody needs a rehearsal of the tragedy that has occurred in the US.The cleverest and most sinister election campaign has resulted in a 'President' that makes Nixon and Reagan seem moderate and reasonable and even gives George W Bush a patina of intelligence.
Things must be bad when billionaire Koch,principal funder of the tea party numpties has called together a bunch of fellow billionaire right wing donors to find ways of shutting down Trump.
Even the most reactionary free market zealots have spotted that protectionism,a trade war,closing borders and picking fights even with the right wing media is not healthy for the good old American capitalist system.
The red necks may well have rallied behind the demagogue and they may well believe that he will open all the mines in West Virginia and the steel  plants in Ohio but the masters of the universe know better and as a more savvy class of capitalist know that their favoured system of exploitation requires the international movement of both capital and labour.
Probably something a frequently bankrupt property developer was unaware of, but even he might have noticed that one of the auto companies he wants to talk to is called 'Fiat-Chrysler'-bit of a clue in the name Donald.
But then of course he shuns elites,preferring to hunker down with his red-neck buddies and those of his supporters in the white sheets and the pointy hoods!
Why I'm so depressed is not simply Trumpy, I have confidence that the American people will take care of him,sooner I hope than later -impeachment is one of my favourite words, and Tom Jefferson and John Adams put enough hurdles in the constitution to screw up any passing illiterate narcissist.
My worries are not simply   lodged in the White House,the contagion is far wider, the arrogance of the Brexiteers and the growing strength of the far right in Europe.
there is indeed a spectre haunting Europe right now and it 'aint socialism, it's national socialism.
What we are seeing step by step is not a revolt against elites, not a resistance to the haves from the have-nots it is pure unadulterated racism! and for the moment Trump and Farage and those like them have given respectability to Le Pen and the rest of the fascist rabble throughout Europe.
And in turn the pressure is on to give way at the edges- Labour politicians burbling about 'immigration' and 'controlling numbers' and the Tories sneaking in little bits of legislation to satisfy the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.
Curb health tourism today is the big idea, although they have to admit that it costs 1/1000 of the NHS budget, and will almost certainly cost more to administer as the BMA (hardly the natural base of the SWP) point out 'implementation will cause chaos in the health service'
I understand tat the former Archbishop of Canterbury,Lord Carey,thinks we should,nt be beastly to the Donald.
The dead parrot sketch lives and breathes after all!


Monday, 16 January 2017

Return from the dark side to another dark side

My last blog was October last year.I was then stricken by the palsy and but for a couple of brilliant paramedics, a whole bunch of doctors and a series of seriously talented nurses ,especially young Vlad I might have been putting this together of a celestial plane(or do I mean plain!)
However it turned I had a minor stroke and after a night in NGH I have been becalmed in Western View-not quite observing the sunrise but reading a huge biography of Rasputin( who by the way comes across as a paragon of sanity compared to Trump.As a matter of fact the people of America might have done better electing a long dead Russian monk of dubious morals than sa still breathing billionaire of dubious morals.
The only still remaining vestige of my strokette is frequent typing errors,infernal slowness and handwriting that now resembles a seven year old child.
My events in November just reinforced my belief in the NHS,well in fact the brilliant people who work in it not the parasitical Tory politicians who are trying to dstroy it, the greedy drug companies who are fleecing it on a daily basis and the monstrous privateers who are working hand in glove or more  precisely hand in pocket to dismantle our health service.
It is no coincidence of course that one of Trumps' most passionate ambitions is to destroy 'ObamaCare' as quickly as he can.
Lets not beat about the bush (which the world should have done to George Dubbaya) this shallow creature is firmy in the pockets of the big pharma companies and  insurance conglomerates.
It's also of course no coincidence that his big mate is that booby Farage,whose party is keen to dismantle the NHS too,whatever they say.
Of course we are hearing on a daily basis May and Hunt claiming the NHS is safe in their hands-and anyone who believes that really needs to see a mental health practitioner (if of course there are any left)
There are many reasons for the current problems in our health service,the major one of course being chronic long term underfunding.The Tory solution revolves around us all living longer-that pesky health service did its job too well and has kept too many of us proles breathing too long.They want to ration health care,to insist that we don't trouble hospitals until we're really on our last legs.
I wonder if 95 year old Phil the Greek will ever spend a few hours on a trolley in a corridor ?
But it's not just underfunding, the cunning plan is to kill off as many GP's as possible by imposing seven day working on them and expecting them to add loads of other things to what they already do, and on top of that spend no more than five minutes a patient.
then they wonder why nobody wants to be a GP these days,and as wll as losing existing doctors the numpties and to make sure that fewer trained doctors come over from mainland Europe.
You couldn't make it up.
Funding is indeed the major problem.but thee are others.
What clowns thought PFI would be a good way of financing the building of new facilities ? Borrow money from the private sector and end up in hock for dcades! (don't answer that question-just think it)
And of course the brilliant wheeze some years ago called 'Care in the Community'-remember it ? The notion was to close all those 'expensive' post operative hospitals like the one at Pitsford,sell the land off, and assume that post operative care would be dealt with the private nursing homes,local authority care homes and by families supported by visiting care workers paid for by local social services.
It all seems a different time...
It seems to me that the only thing that can change  this dreadfully depressing litany of horror is a Labour government based on an understanding of socialist values.That always reminds me of Ken Loachs' film 'Spirit of 45' when Clement Attlee spoke the the party conference and believe it or not used the's' word- you know the one that Jeremy Corbyn uses quite a lot.
I was born within a year of the founding of the NHS.So if you want to blame anyone for its problems, blame me-not that nice Mr Hunt(of whom it was reported today will acquire £16 million from the sale of shares in a company he owned)
Yup- blame me, it was all that free orange juice and cod liver oil that they doled out atthe childrens clinic    

Friday, 21 October 2016

'I was so much older then,I'm younger than that now '

A short wallow in nostalgia, with all the appropriate cheesy cliches to record the latest Nobel Literature laureate.The fact that Bob Dylan,who  was awarded the prize last week has been the recipient of so much abuse and rancour is good reason to celebrate his award.
Indeed if Bob had been of a nervous disposition, or a shy retiring Labour MP he would have probably reported the critics to the National Executive and sold his story to 'The Sun'
Crowds of mournful critics have bleated out of every orifice that Bob is no poet ot writer and should never be allowed into the world portals of 'literature'
Most prominent amongst the arbiters of literary taste has been the Scots born novelist Irvine Walsh- whose claim to fame is the semi-literate novel 'Trainspotters' or some such tome.
Well,can you remember a single word the numpty has ever written ?
If he is the measurement of modern literature then indeed we've need for the zeitgeist !

I can measure my cultural awakening (classy huh!) to my early encounters with Dylan.The cliche 'soundtrack of my life' is something more than another banality.
I grew up in London in a Scots working class Communist household.The earliest 'soundtrack of my life ' was the curious eclectic discordance of Paul Robeson,the Red Army Choir, Jimmy Shand and his band and because my Mum liked his voice Jim Reeves.
It was ever so ,there is a curious bit of the psyche of all Scots  that they appear to have an unhealthy affection for country and western music.
Now it could of course be the simple affinity between Celtic fiddle music and the tunes and stories that the early settlers took across to the mining communities in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky,a style we romantically describe as 'blue grass'.
Or of course it could just be an attachment to slushy sentimental pap,after all.Consider the stirring airs of Irish popular music and what passes for the same in Scotland.How can you compare 'A Soldiers Song with Andy Stewart singing 'A Scottish Soldier' -FFS! 

But as I grew older whilst still enjoying Paul Robeson I was moving into political activity,and that meant going to YCL socials where everything was sedate and almost genteel-a scratched recording of the Red Army Choir was often on offer or a visit to a smoky back room in a North London pub where bawdy folk songs were wailed by bearded blokes with their fingers stuck in their lugs in the style of Ewan McColl or American union songs in the style of Pete Seeger.
Interesting how smoky back rooms are often depicted as the backdrop to revolutionary conspiracies-we know Uncle Joe liked his pipe-but did old LD Trotsky puff away on a cheroot ?

Of course in my more proletarian incarnations a tacky scout hut on the Holloway Road was a venue where we swirled around like demented hornets singing 'I'm 'enery the eighth I am,'enery the eighth ...' whilst a mediocre four piece played out of tune.
Around the age of fifteen or so I forsook much of my musical heritage when I found Dylan.My Saturday job was in Islington Central Library, a much coveted Saturday number where we were paid handsomely-35/6 a day,a rate for schoolkids that the union Nalgo negotiated for us (in those days unions even protected part time schoolkids and we weren't even members)
The average Saturday wage at the time in grim North London was £1.00 a day so my  £1.75 was a cut above.
I also learned how to carry an armload of books that went over my head and found out the hard way what it was to be bawled at by a head Librarian (to this day I can remember Bob Crumpton's unique command of the English language)
Across the road was a record shop, and with my first 35/6 in a wee brown envelope I went in and invested in my first wholly owned LP of my own choice , and for 15/6 I possessed Dylan's second album 'Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'.
The soundtrack of my generation.
I suspect there are few of my age who are unaware of so much of his repertoire and who cannot forget the inspiration that Bob gave us, through the civil rights fight,the Vietnam war,the fight against apartheid and all the domestic and international struggles we lived through and fought through.
Of course there were others that followed,Phil Ochs,Joan Baez,Tom Paxton  McColl and Seeger and then the generations that followed.
There were other styles and genres that followed and arguably have also changed people's lives.
But like Bob:
"I was so much older then,I'm younger than that now."

Perhaps 70 is the new 25!
And Irving, if you think your a writer......up yours!