Archive | April 2020

Get over it

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I’ve read these three words, many, many times since the Brexiteers won the referendum vote in 2016 and I find them more troubling every time I hear them. So now I’m blogging about them.

I read them first on the morning after the result, when a young man, whom I knew about because he was a Trustee of the Blake Society and followed because I assumed he would be a man of principle, wrote a twitter message about the election. He was in a triumphalist mood, claiming it was the biggest electoral victory this country had ever seen and bragging that they’d overturned the establishment and that nothing could stop them. I wrote back to point out that there had been other victories even larger and with more resounding majorities, and quoted the election in 1945, stressing that it too had led to massive changes, among them the foundation of the NHS and the Welfare State.

It was a mistake because it made him angry. He wrote back to dazzle me with statistics to prove that he was right and I was wrong and ended by saying, ‘We’ve won and you’ve lost. GET OVER IT!’ It was unmistakably triumphalist and so full of hatred it reminded me of Oswald Moseley’s Blackshirts. So I blocked him. But not long after that, those of us who had dared to vote remain were being mocked as ‘remoaners’ and ‘Get over it!’ had become a signal of the Brexiteers’ power.

Now, two days ago, I read a tweet from a kindly woman who doesn’t think it’s right for anyone to criticise the government’s handling of the present crisis and wants us all to support them. I didn’t argue with her, partly because I haven’t got the energy and partly because I knew she wouldn’t listen, but my heart sank. Have we really become a nation of subservient yes-men? And if we have, does it matter?

Now I know that the written word can be misinterpreted. We don’t see the speaker nor hear the voice so we can’t be entirely sure how the words are being used. These particular words could be gentle advice not to let a difficulty overwhelm us, or they could even be a joke, but when they are used alongside an injunction that we should all ‘pull together and support the government and not criticise what they are doing’ they become a threat to our freedom of speech. We’re not robots. We don’t all think the same. We still live in a democracy – just about – and we are entitled to have different opinions and to speak truth to power. Or are we?

The millions who voted leave took Johnson’s words, emblazoned on his now famous red bus, in exactly the way he intended them to. Without thought. But they were skilfully chosen and were propaganda of a most potent kind. Johnson is a skilled operator. We were all supposed to think that the £350 million we sent to the EU every week was money thrown away. Whereas the truth, had anyone been around to explain it, is that the fund is used to support necessary industries, like farming and fishing, in all the EU countries,  as and when it’s needed, and that in some weeks we would get slightly less than the full 350 back in grants while in other weeks we  would get slightly – or even considerably – more. And the statement hinted at by the words ‘let’s fund our NHS’ is a complete and utter lie, which is becoming more and more obvious as the reasons for the tragic loss of life caused by this terrifying virus is revealed week by week and more and more people are beginning to understand that our NHS has been deliberately run down for years so that it can be declared not fit for purpose and sold off to the big private health companies  in America. The vote leave millions of the electorate were brain washed into that vote and now we are supposed to keep quiet, say nothing and let this corrupt government do whatever it wants. And that would be death to our democracy and an open gate to Fascism.

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil,’ as Edmund Burke famously said, ‘is for good men to do nothing.’ We simply can’t stand by and do nothing. It’s too dangerous.

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Ultracrepidarian government.

I saw this useful and impressive word yesterday – and no, I didn’t know what it meant either until I’d looked it up. It means a doddering old fart who bores people to tears by lecturing them about things he doesn’t understand and knows nothing about. It reminded me at once of baby faced Hancock, who looks more and more baffled every time he appears on TV and talks utter rubbish. He makes me think of a rabbit caught in the headlights. And other members of the Prime Mendaciter’s front bench team are every bit as bad, Gove assuming his baby face and trying to look bland, Ian Duncan Smith trying the same trick, and looking devious, Pritti Patel trying to look sympathetic and failing dismally, with her carefully rehearsed non-apology. And so on and so on. They are a totally deplorable gang.

But of course what they’re up against is not just their own incompetence – and by God are they incompetent! – but the necessity to tell lies  to cover what they are not doing and why they are not doing it. And that is proving to be almost impossible. And now more and more people are seeing through them.

One of our foremost writers has got them nailed. Our clear-sighted Phillip Pullman has put our case for us most powerfully. He writes:

”If it turns out to be true that the government, for Brexit related rUnknowneasons, refused to take part in the procurement advantage offered by EU governments, thus making it harder for the NHS to deal with Covid19 and placing thousands at risk, the entire front bench ought to resign.

But of course, they won’t: they have not a single grain of shame. So they should be arraigned on charges of conspiracy to murder. Nothing less will do. They knew the risks and thought they’d rather appease the foaming zealots of Brexit.”

That’s fighting talk. Thank you Phillip. We need that.

But now and at last all sorts of people are beginning to see through the tricks too. For example, Izzy Wildheart, writing on Twitter says, ‘I’ve got to the point now where I don’t believe anything the government says. They are con artists, the lot of them.’ And she asks, ‘ What happened to this country and how did we get into such an abysmal mess?’

And Kathie Bennettt goes further, saying, ‘Boris Johnson must resign now. His lousy leadership has cost us thousands of lives.’

And David Head, looking into the future and seeing how desperately change is needed, writes, with considerable anger, ‘If we come out of this with all the rickety, flyblown, worm-eaten old structures still intact, the same vain, indolent public schoolboys in charge, the same hedge fund managers stuffing their overloaded pockets with greasy fingers, our descendants will never forgive us.’

The Prime Mendaciter’s men and women may look and sound like an ultracrepidarian government that bores us to tears by mumbling and talking rubbish as if they don’t understand what they’re doing, but they know exactly what they’re doing – or not doing – and why.

Have we reached the point when we are prepared like Phillip Pullman to call them out? Are we strong enough and determined enough to bring about the change we need? Are there enough of us? Take heart, all you who know what’s going on. ‘The times they are a-changing’.

 

This entry was posted on April 22, 2020. 3 Comments

Captain Tom shows the way.

As I write this, the news has come through that Captain Tom Moore, our superb centenarian, has raised over £18.5 Million for our deliberately cash starved, understaffed, under-equipped and much loved NHS. While The Prime Mandaciter is being a convalescent at Chequers and his empty faced cabinet of useless nonentities have been spouting the usual piffle-paffle, wiffle-waffle, slogans and lies from their carefully prepared platforms in front of their now not quite so carefully controlled journalists, he has been walking round his garden showing us what can be done.

Respec’ Captain Tom. This is to let you know we admire you and love you. Your guard of honour was richly deserved.  And next Thursday when we come out on our doorsteps in our millions to clap and cheer and bang our saucepans to thank all the superlative men and women who are caring for us in our hospitals and nursing homes – the doctors and nurses, ambulance drivers, porters, cleaners and cooks –  we shall be cheering you too.

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Let’s have a break from the news

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and no, I don’t mean ignore it. None of us could do that. What is happening is too overwhelming and too incessant for any of us to ignore. But now and then we need a break from it, a chance to turn our attention to something other and less harrowing. And sometimes, as in my case two days ago, it just happens that a crack opens before our eyes and we step through it into something that simply intrigues us or entertains us or whatever needful thing it might be. And that gives us a chance to relax.

The crack opened for me when I had a message on Facebook from a Felpham lady who said she’d just found my blog wishing William Blake a happy birthday and told me that she was one of the few people who was able to get inside the cottage when a TV crew were filming it and how lovely  it had been to be walking about where Blake had Blake7lived. But she seemed saddened that no repairs had been done to it. Naturally I slid through the crack at once to answer her and we had quite a conversation. During the course of it, she told me she lived 100 metres away from the cottage, and I told her I’d written several blogs about the long struggle Felpham people had had to try and persuade the Triumvirate who now own the cottage to start repairing it and confessed that I had given up hope of ever seeing any repairs being done at all and was afraid that it would be demolished. But I suggested that she might find the blogs interesting.

After we’d finished ‘talking’ I looked out my folder on the cottage and found that I’d written fourteen blogs about it. Quite a history. And then this morning, when I opened the blog alongside all my other links, I found that  it had had 36 visitors, and all of them bar one – who was my old visitor who keeps tuning in to the blog about Violet Elizabeth Bott – had visited one or other or several of my many blogs about the cottage. Maybe the roots of truth are beginning to send shoots through the earth of the story. Wouldn’t that be lover-ly? as Eliza Dolittle sang. And maybe there will turn out to be some hope for the cottage after all. I do so like a happy ending.

williamblake

This entry was posted on April 9, 2020. 1 Comment

What is going to happen next?

Today is a sad day for democracy in this country. It is the day that Jeremy Corbyn steps down from the position to which he was twice elected by the majority of the Labour Party membership. During his time as leader of the Opposition, as JonathanPieNews said some time ago, ‘Jeremy Corbyn has been stabbed in the back so many times, he’s like a f…..g colander. He’s never stopped working #4TheMany when others would have buckled under the weight of hate. We owe him, ALL of us.’

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Another writer on Twitter called Michelle, put her feelings equally clearly and movingly. ‘It was,’ she wrote, ‘and has never been about just ONE man, it was and always will be about ALL of us wanting a better world for OUR children and our children’s children. That fight and aspiration continue. Today I want to pay tribute and thank @jeremycorbyn for his inspiration.’

So what will happen now in our sordid political world? Will the fight and aspiration continue? I do hope it will because there is so much at stake. I am 89 now and very old, so old that I actually saw the first Labour Revolution in 1945 and that was an absolutely wonderful day. I would like to stay alive long enough to see another. But today’s revolutionaries have much more stacked against them than we did and their job – ours if I’m still around to join them – will very, very difficult.

For a start the billionaire-owned media will be stridently against them. The next leader of the opposition will be ripped to shreds with exactly the same indefatigable venom as Corbyn has been. In the Forties our newspaper represented pretty well every shade of political opinion from the Daily Mail’s slavish adoration of the British Fascists and the Daily Worker’s more impoverished admiration for the Communists who opposed those Fascists, through the middle of the road papers who supported the Tories, the Liberals and the Labour Party. The Mirror and the Daily Herald put the Labour point of view throughout the war. You can’t say that now. As far as I can see there are only two places where Labour supporters would be given any attention at all and those are at the Guardian and Channel 4 News.

Then there’s the problem of communication. During the war in the run up to the 45 election, most people worked in large centres, mills, mines, steel works, munitions, workshops of various kinds, schools and colleges. It was easy to pass on news and information, and fine tune our ideas and ambitions. Now we work in small factories, or from home or we’re out of work altogether and we don’t have the opportunity to gather and pass on information to one another. Social media are a poor substitute for direct and daily contact and sadly, they can be and are censored by their rich owners.

0 RAnd thirdly, nobody has yet written a blueprint for this second revolution in the way William Beveridge did his Report. It came out in 1942, was an instant best seller and became our blueprint for what needed to be done and how we could do it. A job for Jeremy, perhaps with a trustworthy team of knowledgeable Labour supported.  It was three years from the Beveridge Report to the Labour victory and I fear this second campaign will be a long haul too, maybe even longer, because there is so much worked up hatred, venom and propaganda to counter. Whoever takes over as Leader from Jeremy Corbyn will be torn to shreds in exactly the same way he has been and for exactly the same ugly reasons.

But ‘Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire” will arrive.

”… the rockets red glare, Bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

Revolution IS possible.

This entry was posted on April 3, 2020. 4 Comments