Paint it Black

Well, there’s no putting a spin on this one: we lost. As for why, there are probably as many theories as there are stars in the sky – Brexit, media bias, the anti-semitism crisis, a more ‘extreme’ programme than in 2017 – whatever the reason, the result is clear.

I feel a sense of personal grief over this. It’s as if I had lost a very dear friend in sudden and tragic circumstances; I feel the need for a period of mourning before I can even think about anything else. But I’d like to explain in this post why I and so many others (I believe) supported Corbyn.

To understand this we have to go back to 1979, the beginnings of neo-liberal economics and privatisation. I was and remain utterly opposed to the privatisation of public services: I was and remain a believer in a mixed economy as the only way to ensure the viability of said services and to give government a hold over rampant capitalism. I believe unfettered capitalism to be fundamentally evil. The trends are well-documented and I’m too demoralised to go into them again but the rise of those few people at the top at the expense of the many at the bottom is clear for all those who have eyes to see.

This does not make me a communist. I have never believed in total state control of industry – I don’t think it works. A mixed economy was supported by all parties in the 1970’s and what is now presented as ‘extremism’ was then espoused even by one-nation Tories, a breed Johnson claims to represent but which he doesn’t seem to understand. Along with many others I was deeply frustrated by the failure of Labour, especially under Blair, to oppose this lurch to the right, and longed to see an opposition who would genuinely stand up for ordinary people.

Enter Corbyn.

As a man, Corbyn has been more vilified than anyone since Martin Luther King. He’s not perfect; he has flaws but, having seen him in the flesh a number of times as well as on TV and video, having continually asked myself ‘am I being duped? Is this man a charlatan?’ and answering ‘no’; my conclusion was that here was a fundamentally decent man who believed in what he was saying. I found it utterly scandalous that no sooner had he been elected, people in his own party were trying to get rid of him. There was no respect for the democratic process here. (Though people spoke out against Johnson, no such process occurred within the Tory party because they’ve always known how to stick together.)

Yes, we might have got a bit carried away towards the end (a four-day week was probably a step too far at this stage and, just and right as it was, it probably wasn’t good sense to announce that we’d help the WASPI women as this undermined our claim that all the policies were fully costed.) There was a lack of leadership over Brexit, where we should have had a policy in place in 2016, and over the anti-semitism scandal. There’s an excellent article about this here.

The extent of Corbyn’s popularity has been played down I believe, by the main-stream media, but it doesn’t matter now because we lost. However, to put Corbyn and Johnson in the same box as leaders disliked by their MP’s and unpopular in the country, is to miss a fundamental moral point: that they were morally opposites. Corbyn is a decent human being who stands up for ordinary people; Johnson is a self-serving bullshitter who cares for no-one but himself. And we’ve chosen him.

Right now I feel like a stranger in my own country.

More on that story later… in the meantime let’s be good to each other because we’re all going to need more human kindness.

Kirk out

Politicians Ask Themselves: Is It worth Governing?

Do they?  I think not.  This is not a question any political leader is likely to ask themselves, unless they are exceptionally sensitive and thoughtful.  Yet disturbing numbers of voters are asking themselves, ‘Is it Worth Voting?’ and according to recent estimates around a million people may not even be registered to vote.

I sympathise: really I do.  I sometimes wonder myself whether it’s worth it.  Yet come polling day I heave my arse out of bed and get it down to the the polling station and put my pathetic cross against the figure I believe is least likely to do harm.  I think politicians should be made to take something similar to the Hippocratic Oath, to say that they will ‘first, do no harm’.  Not that doctors necessarily stick to this – but that’s another subject.

It’s fashionable – and completely understandable, in the wake of recent corruption scandals, austerity measures, cosying up to banks, privatisation measures etc etc – to think that all politicians are after feathering their own nests.  There are terrible tendencies in our parliamentary system: tendencies which favour men over women, white over black or Asian, public-school educated over state educated, and so on.  The House needs huge reform to bring it up to date; and some family-friendly practices wouldn’t go amiss either, as has been shown in the new BBC series, Inside the Commons:

Still, it’s an advance on the days when we were only to be found in the typing-pool or behind the tea-trolley like Gladys, a character featured on the programme.  She’s a cheery soul who sings in the corridors of power and opens up at 7 am.  But I demand to know how much Gladys is paid.  And does she get a taxi laid on to fetch her for work so she can open up?  I suspect not.


Anyway, to return to my original point: the thing is, politics doesn’t just go away when you don’t vote.  They are making decisions every day which may and will affect you, your work and neighbourhood, your rights and freedoms.  As Jean-Paul Sartre put it: ‘Even if you don’t concern yourself with politics, politics concerns itself with you.’

The more people become disaffected, the more they’re going to get away with it.  We must get involved: demand a better system and work to change the present one.  Because no government, ever, asked themselves: ‘Is it worth governing?’

That’s all for now, so until next time:

Go away.

I’m liking this Charlie Brooker sign-off!

The Nodding Dog: What is the Labour Party For?

Can somebody please tell me what the Labour party is for nowadays?  Who are they supposed to represent?  Who votes for them? – do you?  And if so, why?  What is it you think they will do for you (or to you) that the Tories don’t?

I just don’t get it: who sticks up for the unemployed now?  Or the disabled?  Or the homeless, or the low-waged, or the sick?

I don’t see Labour doing anything at all but agreeing with the government’s plans: they are like a nodding dog in the back of a car driven by Cameron, with Clegg occasionally grabbing the wheel for a few seconds before Dave takes it back again.  So what the hell are they for?

In the past, whether you agreed with them or not, you knew what they stood for.  They stood for worker’s rights against exploitation; they stood for defending the NHS and (occasionally) for nuclear disarmament.  True, they didn’t always do these things very well, and sometimes they didn’t do them at all – but they were the only major party with any claim to stand up for the weak and exploited.

But now?  Though they are in opposition, they don’t oppose.  Milliband just sits there and nods as Cameron pushes through all the budget cuts and privatisation agenda, as he cosies up to the banks and millionaires: as he hits the poor and disabled and members of his party scoff at those who use food banks: all the while Ed nods along and only opens his mouth to say ‘Yeah, right on Dave!’ in that weird nasal voice of his.

So what are they for?

Beats me.

So if you’re in Leicester tonight come along to the Left Unity meeting.  Duffy’s bar, Pocklington’s Walk, 6-8 pm.

Kirk out