What does Ed know?

I have to say, I’m less than impressed with this latest revelation that Ed Miliband mostly gets his news from a US newsfeed site and a few aides. The first thought that popped into my head was well, no wonder he looks awkward eating: he’s not used to feeding himself.. It’s mean, I know (I take no pride in the thought), for there aren’t many as could turn eating an unruly sandwich into an elegant performance (and I actually disliked that story) but, well, what can one say: the satire writes itself, these days, doesn’t it? Seriously, though, is he really saying that he doesn’t read the “mainstream” press; that he doesn’t even watch the BBC? And yet his party, just like the others, panders to the Media every day. Can he not see this irony? I’m astounded. And disappointed…

For one, albeit I’m sure he’s busy, it strikes me as the worst kind of laziness in a politician, let alone a main-party leader – even more so in a would-be Prime Minister to rely so much on hand-me-down information. For another, it’s pretty ignorant – bloody rude, in fact – that he does not consider it necessary to know what the People he aspires to serve ‘know’. That he should claim to be on our side! To be a leader! He should at least know the propaganda the country is being fed every day. Then he would know why we feel abused, angry and patronised. If he were sharing our diet, he would understand better the battle between oversimplification or manufactured hysteria and paranoia at one end of the mainstream and the attempts by some excellent thinkers at the other, to get to grips with and communicate the connectedness of issues in their opinion pieces. He might even find an idea or two.

I can see that he neither wants nor necessarily needs to read the relentless and often ridiculous ad hominem agenda – who would – but to not experience either the content or delivery of daily, general information as MSM reports and the public receives it, seems either naive or arrogant. It’s hardly as though every news story is about him, anyway, or Labour. At most, he can only claim to have a list of the topics under discussion. The rest is received narrative – doubled. ‘The gist’ of a matter. And gods help him and us if his aides have agendas and/or poor comprehension skills. He doesn’t know if the list is too short or too long. He doesn’t know the information the public is having to work with; the positioning of the public audience. He doesn’t know what we, the electorate, are being told to know nor how we are being directed to understand it. But, perhaps more importantly, he cannot, therefore, see the juxtaposition that is hindering rational debate and political progress:

1) If the mainstream is the main source of information on current events, which it seems to me, it still is, for the majority, how ill-served we are by the continual gaps in ‘fact’ and the distortion of bias. I get that he must already understand this intellectually but he needs to experience the details – walk with us, so to speak. And he most definitely needs to recognise just how unreliable the TV news has become. Then he may appreciate the level of confusion, the misplaced blame and the incredibly selective deafness in much of the country.

Which leads into 2) that for a great many, the mainstream is merely the base reference for the day’s reported events. I, for one, look to see what it wants me to know and then trundle off to a range of other sources, from the overtly gratuitous to the aspiringly objective, (if you can separate the dross, there are some truly wonderful thinkers ‘out there’) in order to try and better inform myself and have some confidence in my own opinions. If Ed realised how much time and effort it takes to be constantly untangling truth from all the nose-leading, he might have some deeper insight into the mix of impatience, despair and downright fury within a growing proportion of the electorate.

I’ve no doubt that Ed Miliband is a clever, decent man but if he wants us to give any credibility to the notion that he understands the People he wishes to serve, he could start with digesting the same crap we get. Who knows: he might even decide to adjust his strategy.

If he were really on “our side” he would not squander his opportunity. If he has a vision he should paint it big and bold. Go for broke: stop pandering; stop tinkering; be properly brave. If he cares about an ethical, sustainable human society, he should cut straight through all the Thatcheritis with a flaming broadsword; counter the inbred philosophy of neoliberalism, utterly and thump some tables; find some earthy passion. He rapidly needs to build a clear, whole picture narrative because, whatever the public does or does not understand, it certainly finds little reassurance in the current political climate and, regardless of whether Ed ultimately finds majority consensus, we, the People, deserve nothing less than leaders with real integrity who can offer clear choices. True Democracy demands it.

[Source: Buzzfeed http://www.buzzfeed.com/jimwaterson/ed-miliband-on-the-road – I’m sorry if the link fails. It keeps detaching so I think I must be doing something wrong. If it does, the original story is at Buzzfeed: ‘Ed Miliband: “It’s Important To Follow Your Own Path”’]


Dear Lib Dems

Dear Lib Dems,

I know you’re heavily distracted right now but you and your leader seem confused about what has gone wrong.

You got excited.
You thought, like most of the people back in 2010, that this was an economic emergency and that you had a public service duty to negotiate a coalition in the ‘National Interest’. Perhaps it is that you were naive; perhaps it was the long, oh so long awaited chance to be in power that made you blind during those early, heady days.

You have acted, ultimately, as the front men, the shills, the appeasers and apologists for your senior partners. You’ve voted with them time after time, irrespective of whether it was in the citizens’ interests or even ethical and sensible. You have contributed to the increasingly desperate vulnerability of every single group bar the ‘I’m alright, Jacks’. [And don’t you dare think to yourself: “but we’ve lifted (blah number) over of the tax threshold” or that 24/7 childcare and free school meals or whatever your particular defence is today, are wondrous salves and believe yourselves righteous.] You have upheld and then perpetuated a crony status quo. You’ve relentlessly tinkered with and demolished so much, so callously and with real ignorance. You’ve continued to subsidise profiteers with taxpayer money rather than facilitate a liveable income for the majority of the workforce. You built misery instead of houses. Courted the establishment rather than served the Commons. Turned Social Security into a capricious game of fare-well-if-we-say-you-can roulette. You’ve done nothing meaningful to address the real problems of increasing serfdom, asset stripping, the corporate tax fiasco, accountability of once public but now private service/utility provision. In fact, you align yourself with a senior partner who has the intention to do the opposite. You’ve avoided everything the sane and ‘common’ person on the street would have you fix and chosen, instead, to support and vote through the kinds of cruel, divisive, patriarchal false economies that so typify Tory mentality.

A year or so into your partnership, here on the ground, those who did not previously understand economics and finance were travelling a steep learning curve. We came to realise that, although this was indeed an emergency, you were being utterly disingenuous and wilfully obfuscating about a varied and complex set of causes and, therefore, about any appropriate solutions.

You thought that because you kept on message that we would not deviate either. You assumed we were all swallowing the mainstream stenographic tripe. We weren’t. We were educating ourselves elsewhere.

A truer picture began to emerge: Labour hadn’t just ‘created the mess’ – not on its own. It had taken time. Thatcher’s Tories arguably started it; Blair’s Labour ran with it and now, with your willing assistance, Cameron’s Tories were and still are, running amok. We learned that Labour’s general culpability was really no more than any other Western government’s. We learned that none of you actually understands how to, let alone cares about constructing and facilitating an economy that works for the citizens.

So, while you were busy feeling chuffed, we were learning new words and concepts and getting our heads around a new acronym every day. We were learning about limitless leverage, derivatives, LIBOR and other price fixing, bubbles, Ponzis, High Frequency Trading, Credit Default Swaps, paper gold, depraved banksters and traders, Investor State Dispute Settlements, vested interests, politics as a wealth-creating career and investment vehicle, fiat currency Wars.. It was and continues to be an astoundingly long list.

We learned that what private collateral there is is so insufficient as to be emasculated and that you are so ignorant and irresponsible that you will sell any public asset you can think of – be it in physical existence such as Royal Mail or packaged as a financial service such as student loan books. We discovered that The City was a hub for everything from the pretty shady to the downright fraudulent. And, under your ‘helpful’ governance, still is.

We learned that ‘neoliberalism’ was shorthand for ‘capitalism, right-wing, corporate’. We saw that Neoliberals love power and money much more than people. We realised neoliberalism is what’s undermining people and the planet and that it is the obstacle to our sustained well-being. The well-being of billions. We looked around; made the connections. It made us imagine a slope towards fascism as a very possible 21st Century consequence.

We began to understand the whole obscenity. You didn’t. Or you just chose to ignore it. It has to be one or the other because we, out here, we’ve managed to at least grasp the rudiments in spite of the concerted attempts of powerful mainstream politicos to hinder our understanding.

Back in 2010, when you sat down to negotiate, you (must have) realised how unpalatable the reality of a junior partnership in a Tory coalition would be if you were to maintain your reputation – which, as you’ll remember, was not bad at all. You could have shown integrity and told the Conservatives to form a minority government and that you’d support them where you could. You should have. But, even if I give you the benefit of the doubt and believe you were truly earnest and noble in your intent, once ‘in’ you would have had even better opportunities to learn at least the same things as were we down here. One would think you’d have had an epiphany by the end of that first year. And what did you do? You carried on as though the Tory narrative was almost faultless. For four years.

Every time you were called out on it you patronised us as though we were too stupid to know what was good for us. And, not content with that, you now justify your behaviour on the back of ‘recovery’. You seem to think you are, or soon will be, vindicated. Here, on the ground, those of us who have been busy trying to live under your ‘helpful’ governance; those of us doing all that learning: we know this is a recovery for those who need it least; a recovery built on bubbles, corruption, cronyism and the serfdom of the masses. The real shit has not even hit the global fan and there you are, trying to sweep our own dirt under a shifting carpet. It’s a fiat recovery, based on fiat ideology, carried out by fiat authority.

Liberal Democrat doesn’t really shout ‘integrity’ now, does it? ‘National Interest’? Yeah, if ‘national’ means ‘Westminster’ and ‘interest’ means ‘self’.

And now you think you’ve done so badly in the EP Elections because of your debate with Farage. Ok, that really wasn’t very impressive… your better arguments were not just lost amongst the crude populism of Farage but you demonstrated that you really do not understand that those people who take issue with the Union, do so for rather different and more sophisticated reasons than the xenophobic, corporate, anti-intellectual platform that is UKip. You were the only party with the integrity – AND platform – to defend the concept of Europe and you wrecked it by wasting time repeating rhetorical catchphrases and endorsing a retarded sycophancy for the technocratic status quo. You seem to think that anyone who sees Europe as having or being a problem, views it through the Tory/UKip lens. You really have to stop listening to hysterical mouthpieces. And we don’t all want to leave Europe just because we don’t agree with you, either. It’s the technocracy, the receding democracy, the neoliberal bullying, the corporatisation, the commodification of our lives that we hate, not the Social Chapter, nor ‘red tape’ that acts for Common Interest, nor our fellow Europeans. You need to understand that for a great many of us, the problems we see in Europe are the same problems we have with our own, successive UK governments; the same problem we see in nigh-on every country on the planet, in fact.

Seriously – that TV Farage-Clegg trip: that was just a recent straw out of a bale’s worth. But why would you see the connection between these points when you can’t seem to even see them individually? Some of your party are even tabloid-riven enough to suppose that getting rid of your leader is the solution. Nick Clegg might be the authorised face of your toxicity but, my gods, if you think we don’t know all your higher profile names or your collective voting record, you probably should all just give up – right now.

It’s a global economy supported by a neoliberal attitude and our country is in trouble because our own politicians, economists, and media are of the same means by which much of this infernal crash came about. You have failed because you cannot appreciate either the details or the whole picture and you have failed to recognise that the electorate increasingly does.

There is much satisfied vitriol in the country at your fall from grace. On the surface it’s deliciously tempting and quite understandable. You brought this circus to town. But it’s also a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for your once rational, honourable party and a serious blow to an already dwindling faith in our democracy.


Is this a stupid idea?

There are significant problems with first past the post, one being because it means that so many votes are ‘wasted’. This mocks Democracy, particularly if you live in a safe seat. It’s also sickening to have to hold your nose and vote tactically. However, the more I watch the world around me – our natural polarisation; small, single-issue parties which are great locally and vital as national agenda setters and re- setters but not actually viable or suitable for national governance, for instance – the more I wonder if proportional representation is any better. Political thought and choice, it would seem, is invariably reduced to an either/or, regardless of the system, so maybe first past the post has an inevitability. PR sounds all grown up but really it amounts to a lot of settling and time-wasting squabbling. It seems like a system destined to serve no one properly and everyone vaguely. Just look at the two-party coalition fiasco we’re suffering now. If you were a Tory then the chances are you feel let down by the dilution of compromise. If you voted Lib Dem, thinking you would get left-leaning wisdom and some integrity then the chances are, you feel as utterly betrayed as those who voted for Labour.

Now, I’m no expert, obviously! – but I am a voter and I reckon there are other mechanisms we could invent if we just used our imagination. I don’t know if it’s naive or sensible but here is one – in the very rough:

I’d like to have two votes in a General Election: one, for the person (US stylee) or the party (Europe stylish) upon whom I would wish to bestow the authority to form and lead a government; and a second, for my local parliamentary representative, as is traditional, to vote on my behalf (let’s assume integrity). This local MP would join the collective HoC pool from which the elected leader would probably construct most of his or her team – though not necessarily: this is ‘rough’, remember – It’s up to us.

This would also potentially sufficiently loosen the loyalty leash of the Party Whip so that a local MP might actually be freer to put his/her constituents’ interests above those of his/her party’s, on those occasions where the government created is still all, or mostly, from the same party.

Obviously, the local vote would be bound by constituent demarcation. However, the first vote – the primary reason for my suggestion – the first vote, the one for the Prime Minister, I would make a popular national vote. (Who knows: perhaps party-independent individuals might also be inclined to come forward..) No constituencies; no geographical boundaries for this vote. One nation, to re-coin a re-coined phrase. Every single vote designed to count. An authentic FPTP result. Maybe, just maybe, more people would show up to mark their cross.

I know this does not necessarily guarantee any of the myriad improvements we urgently need in our political climate nor the integrity of our politicians, nor the quality of their content and substance. But it might guarantee that when we vote, we feel our voice is more accurately reflected. (I actually think it would have a greater impact but my layman’s head thinks to play it down a bit, lest my suggestion turns out to be not just naive but impossibly stupid. Is it a stupid idea?)

Anyway, Progress comes most often by increments. Democracy is a messy business and in constant need of improvement. I say that a lot, I know, but it’s true, nonetheless. Sometimes the smallest, simplest steps make the most difference.

[Actually I may have said it better elsewhere: ‘Making Democracy Work’ https://julijuxtaposed.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/making-democracy-work/%5D

The People’s better Will be done

This is a companion piece to ‘the knees of Reason buckled’

Praters prattle
Tittle tattle
Cattle carps
Britain pushed
To battle

Distraction’s actors’
Preconceived false narrative
As if the right to shift
Is theirs to gift

Among the People of
The Commons
Mostly everyone
Is not so dumb,
They’d swallow it

For Solidarity against
The neoliberal enemy is
Champing to be activated
Knowing that its time
Has come

The People’s better Will
Be done.


The knees of Reason buckled

And Sanity stared anxiously
towards the surreality now
reckoning on spinning freely
through the Eastern Gate

The fat cats and the classists
and the omniphobes began to
glow with slavish lust that
incorrectly spake – not caring
but so glaringly distasteful that
the knees of Reason buckled
under such shortsighted weight

And vitriolic bile poured caustic
scorn upon the lucid who recoiled
in horror at the power of the stupid
to confuse a cause to good effect

And derelict Westminster, tediously
crawling with a narcissistic media,
built mischief-filled potential to upend
the status quo just so

it could defend it.

And the angry split into a polarising
mess between the ones who thought
the best protest is just to cut one’s
nose to spite one’s face and those who
recognised that what gets the attention

and how the wrong kind has displaced
the wider case for solidarity against the
foes we really face:

politicos perpetuating
democratic deficits
division and
indifference to frustrated electorates

Collusion in a broken and manipulated
economic system, making billions slaves
to global, corporate fascism
A passion for intolerance
Environmental nonchalance

The People
Prosperity in Unity
Now all reduced to crony irritant

of spirit

by invitation, sealed
and golem creeping
faster than naive intent
imagines, licensed, now,
in Britain, to foment.

The time is now

Omar ibn Ibrahim al-Khayyám, Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer, 1048-1131.

From Edward FitzGerald’s 1859 interpretation and translation of a most beautiful poet: The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

This small extract is not only one of my favourites but also, I believe, reflects the zeitgeist perfectly:


One Moment in Annihilation’s Waste,
One Moment, of the Well of Life to taste –
The Stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing – Oh, make haste!



So actively passive

Whose world is this?
Who owns it..?

Look at us!
So actively passive;
Singing the songs
Of injustice


All generations
And another
Generation on

With the same songs

It’s like we’re whispering in
Case we make the monsters

Like it makes a difference.
As though they didn’t know,

Are we seriously trying to bell
These cats? Put an empathy
Switch in a robot?

Like they actually matter..

How much longer shall we
Let them get away with that?

Where is the honour;
The glory
In our Story
When it’s being
Written for us?

Just whose world
Is that?