How do you cure far right extremism?

This is a very pertinent question now that the far right are in power in this country. It was posed this morning by Owen Jones on the front page of the Journal in The Guardian.

This is a question that’s been plaguing me ever since I recognised from the big red bus and Farage’s alarmist poster, that our far right wing were using fascist propaganda and that their attitudes towards people they considered their inferiors is very decidedly fascist. Boris Johnson says young people have a ‘Nigerian interest in money.’ Single mothers raise ‘ill-reared, ignorant and aggressive kids’ and that working class people are ‘drunks, criminals and feckless.’ You couldn’t have the attitudes of a fascist put more clearly than that.

Owen Jones was kicked to the ground and punched by three right-wing hoodlOwen-Jones,-Lums whilst he was out celebrating his birthday and last Friday one of them was in court three of East London’s Snaresbook crown court. His name is James Healy, he is 40 years old and his behaviour and attitudes were revealed with inescapable clarity in that court. His home was full of right-wing memorabilia, white power logos, Nazi death heads and an SS flag and at the end of the trial the judge ruled that she was satisfied that Healy holds particular beliefs that are normally associated with the extreme right wing and that his attack was driven by homophobia and antipathy to left-wing politics. He will be sentenced next month. But Owen Jones doubts whether sending him to prison will do him or society any good at all.

‘The Ministry of Justice’ Owen says, ‘boasts of multiple programmes that help de-radicalise prisoners’, but Chris Daw, QC an expert on crime and punishment has told Owen Jones ‘in broad terms, the whole of the prison system is a complete failure when it comes to de-radicalisation.’ And this is because prisoners spend most of their time with other prisoners, extreme right wing talking to extreme right wing, so that they emerge from prison at the end of their sentences more violently fascist (if such a thing were possible) than they were when they went in.

So how can those of us who oppose fascism make any headway against such a system? Especially now that the government is listing any left-wing pressure groups like Greenpeace, The Animal Liberation Front and Extinction Rebellion, as dangerous subversives who should be dealt with by the police.

Opposition to fascism goes back a long way, Oswald Moseley’s black-shirt fascists were opposed by counter demonstrations by people in the left wingmartin luther back in the thirties. Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement was active in the States during the sixties, his great speech ‘I have a dream’ was in 1963. But the most noticeable thing about that movement was that the members were out in the streets peaceably showing their numbers and their extraordinary self control. Mahatma Gandhi’s followers were equally numerous, equally determined and equally peaceable. These men and women have given us a blueprint for how to behave now.

gandhi

Can we follow it I wonder? It’s going to be a hell of a job.

Perhaps it might be an idea to suggest that the various protest groups that already exist in this country, should support each other in every possible way. We are on the same side and we must speak whilst we’re still allowed a voice. We share Luther King’s dream. If we march, we are marching to show that all human beings are equal, that Johnson’s claims are wrong,  young people DON’T all have a ‘Nigerian interest in money,’  single mothers DON’T raise ‘ill-reared, ignorant and aggressive kids’, working class people are NOT ‘drunks, criminals and feckless.’

As W.H. Auden said in September 1939 ‘we must love one another or die’.

This entry was posted on January 23, 2020. 3 Comments

The tale of a disgruntled cat

wilddixieDixie is disgruntled as you can see. When a cat has to walk up to the second flight of stairs and give you a look of disapproval through the banisters you can be pretty sure all is not well!

And he’d had such a very good night too. He’d spent it in the garden hunting, which is quite his favourite occupation apart from eating, and he returned at around half past eleven in the morning wearing his hunter’s hat and looking pleased with himself. Lottie and I asked him what he’d been doing, as if we didn’t know!

Whereupon he gave us a brilliant example of his activities, by leapindixie3g at my leg and biting it, as one does! The disgruntledom began when Lottie and I both roared at him to desist. He took himself off to the stairs and glared through the banisters at us. Don’t we understand that it takes a little while for a hunting cat to come out of full hunting mode. We can’t turn our natures on and off like taps. We’re not dogs!

And after all the hard work he does, being a literary cat and looking after the books.  It’s a hard life!

 

 

Signs of the times

The selling off of our national health service is now hotting up. The headline in the Guardian this morning says ‘Doctors lead outcry at plan to scrap A&E target’ and the article below it explains what this is all about.

There is a long established waiting time for emergency care in A&E. ‘95% of people arriving at A&E in England are meant to be treated and then discharged, admitted or transferred within four hours.’ Now because so many beds have been shut by the government and so many staff have left and there has been a ten year squeeze on the NHS budget, this target is often not met, through no fault of the dedicated teams in the A&E departments.

Now we all hear that the health secretary, the renowned Matt Hancock, intends to axe this target because ‘it is no longer deemed to be clinically appropriate’. Or to put it another way – it is not ‘clinically appropriate’ to treat NHS patients in A&E departments within four hours because the government says so. It is a sign of the times. Soon people who pay privately for medical attention will get it and fairly promptly, people who have paid their taxes and their national insurance contributions for their medical attention, will not.

We are back to what was happening in the thirties, when a doctor called to attend a sick patient, would not see him or her until he had received his fee, which could be anything from one guinea to ten.  And this at a time when most working class people thought themselves lucky if they could earn more than two pounds a week. They were the unfair and painful conditions that obtained in those days and led directly to William Beveridge’s report and the founding of the national health service and the welfare state by the incoming Labour government of 1945. Or to put it another way Mr Johnson’s government are putting the clock back eighty to ninety years.

There are other, more subtle, signs of this change in attitude too. The last two or three times I’ve dared to phone my local surgery for the help I need, I’ve had to listen to a long and very pointed lecture from one of the doctors, the gist of which being that if we are ringing for medical help we should consider ways in which we can help ourselves, because, as the last recorded voice put it, over three quarters of the requests for help that the clinic received were for things that could very easily be dealt with at a chemist’s shop and various other venues that he listed. It’s another, more subtle way of saying ‘we cannot see you if you do not pay the fee’. The surgery is now divided into two sections. One for NHS patients, the other for private patients. I’ll bet they don’t subject them to such a belittling lecture.

And I wonder, sadly, how long our NHS will survive when the big American pharmaceutical and medical companies begin to buy it up. After all, Mark Britnell promised that this would happen back in October 2013, so they’ve waited a long time.

This entry was posted on January 16, 2020. 4 Comments

Spreading Ideas

 

I am sorry that this is a serious topic to chose to start the New Year – I promise I will do better and more entertainingly next time – but given the situation we are now in, with a dangerously right-wing government firmly in power and Trump arrogantly running the risk of leading us all into World War Three, I can’t just sit by and say nothing. Especially as there are a lot of people on social media asking ‘What can we do about it?’

Well there are some possible answers. I’ll start with the most necessary which could also be the most helpful. Jeremy Corbyn was defeated by the relentless propaganda that was used against him by the ultra right wing, billionaire owned press and TV from the moment he was elected Leader. It was so powerful and so incessantly done that, by the time the General Election began, there were few people who knew what sort of man he really was or what he and his team stood for. Now, unbelievably, there are  various men and women lining up to take his place, hoping for power and believing that they could withstand the pressure. They are on a hiding to nothing. Cummings knows his power. On January 3rd he predicted that he could destroy any candidate with ease, saying ‘ I will bin you within weeks.’ And make no mistake about it, he could do it easily.

So what can be done? Well one possibility would be to chose a committee, who all shared responsibility,  instead of a single vulnerable leader. In that way, as one committee member is set upon by the media, another can step up to take his or her place and the propagandists could find themselves dealing with 11, 13, 21, however many there were.  This is not a new idea. It is a tried and tested method, called satyagraha, and it worked in India during the salt protests and in our own country with the Committee of 100, when we sat in the road in Whitehall to protest ains the use of nuclea weapons, nd were arrested line by line until the magistrates sent a message to the police asking them not to arrest any more of us because they couldn’t handle us. It requires large numbers of people and a lot of self control. If it were used now, it might also make the candidates for the Labour leadership stop thinking about their own ambitions and start working as a team. There is power in numbers but we have to work together.

And what else can we do? Well, we must keep each other informed. Pass on whatever news comes our way. We must tell as many people as we can who will listen what is really going on. We shall probably get a lot of abuse if we do but that is the only way open to us to spread the truth. We must demonsrtate – entire peacefully – no shoutingand bellowing – leave that  to our opponents. And in every sense of the words, we must stand together.

And just to show how seriously our opponents are already taking us, I have already been mocked by right wing trolls for putting up a notice that this blog was coming.

And don’t forget Shelley. ‘Ye are many, they are few.’

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

Battening down the hatches

When I woke on Friday the 13th to the shattering news that Johnson had won the election, I knew that the only thing I could do to get through the day was to batten down the hatches and ride out the first of the storm.

I cancelled the papers as soon as I’d had my breakfast, for I had no desire to read the sort of triumphalist crowing that would certainly be going on there. I didn’t switch on the television or the radio, for the same reason. I knew what was going to happen and I didn’t want my nose rubbed in it. Bad enough to have to face the fact that we now have a fascist government and will have to endure it for the next five years. God help us all. I never thought I would live to see such a dreadful thing in my country.

From time to time during that first dreadful day, I dipped in and out of social media, avoiding the braying and boasting of the conquerors and only listening to voices I knew. Many were saying much the same things that I was thinking. Some were commiserating with one another, all of them were afraid and rightly so.

By the next day the first reports of racist attacks in the street and on the tube were beginning to come in. I found myself wondering miserably how soon it would be before the triumphant Johnson sold off what remains of our NHS to Trump’s American private health companies, as Mark Britnell promised they would be back in 2014, and how soon it would be after that before we all had to pay for any treatment we received and any drugs we were prescribed. It was worrying, because after a heart attack and a TIA, I need quite a lot of treatment and what seems to me, an exorbitant number of drugs. How the hell was I going to find the money to pay for all that? I went to bed with a headache.

But headache or not, this is a very serious and ugly situation we are all now in and there doesn’t seem to be anything I can say or do to make things easier for my family and my friends. I’m slightly comforted by news of Trump’s impeachment this morning. But we must remember that the USA works under a slightly different system of democratic government to our own and that option is not open to us.

How are you all? And how are you coping? Somehow or other and at some time or other, we shall have to find a way to organise an underground resistance. There is a pattern for it in Hitler’s Europe. But it will be hard-going.

Keep in touch. We need one another.

 

This entry was posted on December 19, 2019. 8 Comments

A word of explanation

christmascards

This is a blog for friends, fans and all the people I’m going to send Christmas cards to and it’s by way of explaining something that I don’t want to burden you with on the card.

My life has been rather difficult for the last fortnight. I had a TIA in the early hours of Friday morning nearly two weeks ago, when the room spun all round me and I couldn’t speak, although I knew perfectly well what I wanted to say. That’s a new one for me!

An ambulance took me to hospital where I spent the rest of the night having all manner of tests and was sent home the following morning. I’m now recovering, although rather more slowly than I would have wished.

These things, as the old wives used to say, are sent to try us, but I thought I’d better let you know why I haven’t been as communicative as usual. This is not a plea for sympathy, just a bit of information.

Love to you all. Your cards will be in the post very soon!!

This entry was posted on December 11, 2019. 7 Comments

‘I have never lied in all my political career’

This astonishing statement was made by Boris Johnson yesterday, it beats cock-borisfighting. Does the man really not know when he’s telling lies? This statement is certainly a whopping lie, but then he IS a liar. He tells lies as easily as he breathes but he does it extremely skillfully.

He won a majority of people over to his view that leaving the EU was a good thing by telling two monstrous and deliberate lies about it. Being a skilled operator and well used to the art of propaganda, a lot of people got sucked in by it. The Birmingham voters interviewed on Channel 4 on Monday were repeating it as if it were nothing but the truth. So in this blog I’m going to take both lies apart and explain how the trick was pulled.

We’ll start with the big red bus, where he claimed by implication that if we left the EU we could save ourselves £350 million a week in EU fees and could spend it on the National Health Service. What he deliberately didn’t explain to us, is that the levy we pay to the EU is used to fund all manner of necessary things, like fisheries and farming throughout the union, and that although there would be times where we wouldn’t get the full £350 million back, there were other times when we would get that sum and considerably more to help our economy. That is the way the EU levy works. And would any of it have gone to the NHS? As he also implied.

brexit-bus

No, it would not. And when you know something about the background you will understand why. The NHS has been planned for destruction ever since 2010 and we know that because that is when Mark Britnell, Chairman of the KPMG Global Health, made a speech to a meeting of private health companies in the USA, in which he said ‘In future the NHS will be a state insurance deliverer not a state provider.’ And to underline his point, he told them that ‘the NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be the next couple of years.’ He couldn’t have explained the position more clearly and he knew exactly what he was talking about.

The KPMG is a very powerful, monetary organisation. One of the big four accounting organisations that operate in this country. Our current Tory MP in Bognor Regis, one Nick Gibb, used to work for them. And they have been heavily involved ripping off our NHS, certainly since 2014 when they were ‘suppliers of services’ to six of the nine NHS consortia. And to give you some example of how costly those ‘services’ were, the Arden and Greater East Midland Commissioning Support Group paid KPMG a quarter of a million pounds a month for the first six months of 2014 for ‘services’. I kid you not. And all that money had come out of our pockets either in the form of NICs which we all pay or through our taxes which we all pay.

Now Jeremy Corbyn has published all 451 pages of uncensored documents, which have revealed that trade discussions have certainly been going on for years. One of the things it reveals is that between ‘July 2017 and July this year, senior UK and US trade officials have discussed the NHS, drug patents, the pharmaceutical industry, health insurance and medical devices as part of a post-brexit trade deal’ See the Guardian 28th November 2019.

The poster hinting that Turkey was going to join the EU and that we would be flooded with ten million Turkish refugees, was another lie. And now that Turkey hasn’t joined the EU and there hasn’t been an influx of ten million refugees to this country, most people must have realised it.

turkish refugees

But there are still plenty who have not. The Birmingham voters interviewed on Channel 4 on Monday were a terrible example. They still think that Johnson is a lovely, cuddly, bumbling, harmless man and that Jeremy Corbyn is the devil incarnate.

So can they or anyone else trust this lovely, cuddly, bumbling Bo-Jo? My answer to that would be very definitely no. In fact I would go so far as to say that all the wonderful things he is now promising us – poor mutts that we are – are lies. It is easy to promise £2.9 billion in handouts of one kind or another. He doesn’t need to come across with the money. Once he is elected he will forget all about it. Or tell us it was a joke. But be warned. If you do vote for him the ‘joke’ will be on you.

This entry was posted on December 4, 2019. 1 Comment