Plain as the nose

There should be no surprise
at the expedience,
and contempt shown
by this government,
to People fleeing horror
and to People simply searching
for a better life,
as all you have to do
is shine a light at home,
on how it is prepared
to treat its own.

To Iain Duncan Smith

Mr Iain Duncan Smith,

About this “shake-up“. Could you please find me a job that is tailored to my abilities whilst maximising my potential; one that pays me enough that I could live, not just independently but well; sufficiently that I would require no top-up credits. Of course, I’d still need to retain the gateway awards that I was once told were indefinite and unconditional (such as my DLA and Blue Badge); that recognise how my disabilities are not going anywhere, no matter how cross and determined you are that they will. I apologise for the way my life has unfolded so unhelpfully for everybody – including me – however, I don’t know what real and beneficial work I can do that will be meaningful to Society, will end any State dependence, won’t compromise my health and will satisfy your self-righteous values and relentless need for me to justify my monetary worth within your stupid socio-economic model.

You know that bit where you say “claimants should be made to take up any work they can, even if it is just a few hours”? Well I need a job that I can do as and when I have the physical and mental resources which fluctuate, daily, according to exhaustion, pain level, concentration, the day’s commitments, your downward pressure and my subsequent social anxieties and, consequently, mood, capacity, vulnerability and efficiency. I tend to have problems – even on good days – with travelling, sitting at a desk, walking and standing and my body is deteriorating, generally and specifically – my hands, most recently, to my great distress – from years of coping with my limits and, naturally, I’m not going to get any younger, either.

I’m probably not worth the time and money of an employer who wants me at a shop till or at a desk at a call centre or inputting data, say. And my days of being a cleaner, care-worker, etc are way behind me, now. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not ‘above’ such work – I’ve done many different jobs – but the idea that I’m suitable or capable now is silly. And the notion that it’s worth the financial cost to try to enable me to do such work for an hour or two, here and there, is laughable. I’d really love an actual career but I reckon I may be a bit long in the tooth, now and that the training, itself, would likely be physically inhibitive. Besides, there are plenty of young people who need the start far more than Society should need me to compromise my health further and inevitably cost everyone more as I prostrate myself to prove my sorry lack of market value.

You know that bit where you talk about “a system focused on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need and not just what they can’t”? Well, my best skills are now reduced to the erratic ability to communicate what is in my mind with a certain amount of eloquence. So, if you mean it about the personalised help and support then perhaps you could fix it for me to be paid for the reading, observing, thinking and writing with which I have primarily learned to content myself? I’m sure you know many who are paid handsomely for doing far less. My best times are indeterminate and unpredictable points within a given 24-hour period, according to the spoons I have, minus those I need just to get through an uneventful day. Take them away from me and I will be a husk.

I’m not saying that there’s nothing I can do, at all or that I think I’m not a worthy human being. I’m saying I can’t jump your petty false-economy hoops and that I’m worth more than that. We all are. And I’m not saying that I’m more special than anyone else, either. I’m saying it has taken me a long time to create a productive life that I can bear, with the resources I have and that my well-being is more important than your shameful social experiments. I’m telling you that I think I would rather die than live the empty life you would prescribe for me. I will not be a scapegoat for your ignorance.



Have the eclectic quirks
In people’s online heads
Replaced the curiosity shops
Wherein, among
The bits and bobs
Of whimsy and antiquity,
We browse, instead,
For random gems to spot?

“We’re a ‘broad church'”

Silly Labour
Laid a path
That led to farce,
So rich it made
The face palm
And the belly laugh
As vetted voters,
Left reflective,
Failed their pasts
And forfeited
The Party’s way
To buy a say
According to
The rules
Its Parliamentary fools
Themselves did craft.

And all not-Corbyns,
Right half mast
But clinging fast
To their conceit,
Did swear
With indignation that
The Party’s congregation
Was a ‘broad church’
Where the values don’t compete.
And, as it purged the surge
Of prodigals and fretted
At the flood of new,
Enthusiastic blood, I thought:
Then why is it
You’ve only one hymn sheet..?

When resistance is futile, make like the Borg..?

Protest is a call to stop. It says hang on a minute… It is not the end goal but the means by which objection to an existing goal is expressed. The purpose of protest is to challenge; to oppose intention and policy in practise. It’s the main job of the Official Opposition. And while it protests, it is supposed to say why and argue for what it prefers. In doing so, it both attempts to modify or get dismissed those government policies it sees as detrimental to the public and sets out its own stall, honing its narrative, over a Parliament, in hopes of persuading the electorate to vote for their vision, next time. This should not be cast as a futile power and a democratic irrelevance.

Defiance is to be in a state of resistance. When protest fails, whether by the organised acts of the electorate, by dissenting individuals or by the official governmental opposition (yes, I know that’s been almost entirely theoretical, these last years) and purchase cannot be found on change in attitude and direction, there are two basic outcomes: either defiance or acquiescence.

A lot of people would appear to prefer acquiescence, quite irrespective of desire, social justice and even evidence. A great many of Labour’s elder statesmen, considered political ‘heavyweights’, convey little more than the cold embers of their once-held passions and in ways that seem far in excess of a natural tempering. They are afforded gravitas because they are considered wise by experience and hindsight but they sound tired, defensive and full of cautionary tales that reveal more about their own sense of impotence and the climate in which they worked than about the enduring merits or mistakes in their youthful arguments. They tried, they say. It didn’t work, they say. They learned, they say. They adapted, they say. Whatever the strategic need they sensed for a more pragmatic approach, this once great beast of a party simply diluted and diluted its principles concertedly and for long after it was becoming markedly detrimental to them, the country and, if you ask around, a lot of the rest of the world, too. From here, as a middle-aged woman in the 21st Century, it looks like they mostly compromised their basic socio-economic ethos to flatter a seriously flawed prescription and proceeded to emulate it by increments that masked their own dysmorphia, even from themselves. They modified their philosophy until it fitted so well that they didn’t know if they were assimilating or designing. They adapted by surrendering, really. Poachers into gamekeepers.

But an increasing portion of the electorate is, mercifully, becoming defiant on its own behalf and not as petulant teenagers or anarchists, as the mainstream commentariat would like to infer. It comes from those who have always resisted the narrative that insists that competition and choice are everything; that public interest and prosperity must be sacrificed on the altar of profit by exploitation of resources (including people). It comes from those who gave the neocon bandwagon a fair shot but, whether they did well by it or not, can see and would halt the injustice and instability of this asymmetrical power that wills to plunder and disrespect Life. And it comes from the impulse of a new generation, towards a more ethical, sustainable alternative because it feels, within its whole psyche, that Life should and could be much better than the status quo can imagine.

A Society that acquiesces to the entropic neocolonialism being forced upon it demeans itself. Defiance in the face of a prevailing and overwhelming socio-political ignorance is healthy. It would be a human tragedy not to protest. It will take as long as it takes.

For the Love of It

God is pressure;
Life is movement;
Will, attunement,
Conscience measured.

Light, its friction,
Shadow sifting,
Soul uplifting,
Love, its treasure.


How quickly has it had its day,
The fine idea, whose time has come,
When misdirection leads the way
And its potential is undone.

How many messages are lost
In narrow frames of information,
Making truth and faith the cost
Of cynical manipulation.

Messengers as beacons, thought
More vital than the substance shared;
Projection cracks the vessel sought
To carry more than s/he can bear.

How readily a bridge is burned
When crowds turn on their expectations;
Slower, though, the lessons learned
In reaping failed imagination…

How easily can vision slip
When purchase hires fragile means
And possible becomes unpicked
From opportunity’s bright seams.

Labour’s pitiful hysteria can be seen from Space.

Labour’s pitiful hysteria can be seen from Space. The not-Corbyn Labour leadership candidates have managed to turn a bad workman always blames his tools into a delicious, idiomatic dish of self-reflecting irony. They’re all running around like headless chickens, blaming everyone and everything but themselves. How Tory. Speaking of which: did you read Tony Blair’s tragi-comedy in ‘The Guardian’, where, with melodramatic language, he pleads and threatens like a professional ham and metaphorically wrings his grubby hands? It’s outstanding.

It’s a wonder, to me, frankly, that Jeremy hasn’t left Labour and become an independent or joined the Greens. What a confused and indignant bunch the other candidates are. A piece appeared in ‘The Mirror’ on Wednesday, about how Burnham, Cooper and Kendall suspect that Corbyn is getting access to registration data before them (his team says not). They assume this is giving him campaign targeting advantage. “That means they’ll have to wait until almost half way through the election before they can start pitching to would-be voters,” the paper explained. Whereas Jeremy Corbyn just pitches to all who would listen. Anyway, it would seem that the creaking Labour machine has still managed to ban Mark Steel (and Ken Loach!) from voting because he “doesn’t support their values”. Mark Steel, for goodness’ sake! So the fact that Mark Steel thinks he can support the values of Jeremy Corbyn, sufficient for a renewed hope in Labour, enough to bother registering, makes him undesirable? Labour is clearly determined to lose any advantage offered to it. The Party has lost the plot, big time.

What fools Burnham, Cooper and Kendall are if they think that this spoilt brat behaviour will ingratiate them to anyone but those who already support them. The not-Corbyns have already proved that they are socio-economically inept (that doesn’t mean Jeremy has no blind spots; he does) and now they demonstrate this dreadful sportsmanship and expect no one to notice how much they lack the necessary leadership qualities (I don’t know if Corbyn has many but I don’t think he can have fewer). What bad form, though. And fancy boasting that you represent a ‘one-nation party’ and then having a hissy fit because you need a list of voters to lobby. Imagine one of them or their teams purposefully and directly haranguing you…

There’s Yvette who thinks public ownership is modelled on British Leyland and whose manner is suited more to the patronising receptionist in a company that depends upon outward sincerity while not letting anyone past her desk. There’s Andy who wants to be everyone’s friend, likes to keep his principles in storage and should probably have been a football journalist. And there’s Liz who is gutsy but defensive of her Conservative twitches even as she bemoans ‘preservation societies’ and whose capacity to repeat a complete lack of substance is remarkable.

As you know, I’ve struggled to support Labour and I’m not full-on for Corbyn but no one else stepped up so it’s him or a right-wing clone. Burnham, Cooper and Kendall just aren’t credible and they seem to neither understand nor really want to know why. And that’s worse than them not caring because their recalcitrant groupthink is exactly what poor old Corbyn, if/when he wins, will have to face on both sides of the House. Both sides of the House… I’m just hoping, regardless of the outcome, that all citizens will have the opportunity to engage in the debate that he is enabling because I believe, if space is given for rational, productive arguments, this will shift the centre back to somewhere near an actual, recognisable middle. The state and challenges these isles face – and the rest of the world – are way bigger and far more urgent than this silly, confused, imploding party can comprehend.

Incidentally, if progress and prosperity depend upon correcting the most awful mistakes of the past forty years, then is it really ‘going backwards’? Hardly. Still, this is what detachment, complacency and a sense of entitlement can do to your mass-produced, vacuum-packed politician.

Public Ownership as Aspiration

The latest explosion of ridicule and indignation finds its target in Jeremy Corbyn daring to speak about ‘public ownership of some necessary things‘. Media is abuzz with ideologues, lexical hair-splitters and supercilious interpreters making great effort to draw attention away from any constructive debate. If public ownership of natural monopolies had been advocated as a vehicle of Cameron’s Big Society I wonder whether the response would be this inane.

Clause Four! Clause Four! Oh, my good gods but the hysteria and vitriol, from both political wings, is woeful and tedious in its predictability. The capacity to focus in on the least relevant aspect of a message is remarkable. Clause IV (commitment to the “common ownership of the means of production”), re-nationalisation, pre-distribution, mutualism, socialism… Really, I don’t give a rat’s arse for the semantic games and the expedient framing they afford. The concept matters more than a loaded label, right now and ‘public ownership’ is an appropriate description. I care about the intention behind socio-political ideas, the mechanisms employed in manifesting them and their socio-economic effectiveness. Personally, it’s neither here nor there, to me, whether Labour feels a need to officially re-establish the principle behind Clause IV into its ethos. That’s for the Party to wrestle with. I am just glad that Corbyn is putting the basic principle front and centre.

As I’ve written, several times, over the last couple of years, I’d like for essential utilities and services, for example: energy, water, health, education, public transport.. to be in public ownership. You know: those upon which we all depend for national prosperity and personal well-being. How such public ownership is achieved, at this late stage, is probably going to vary according to entity, current systems, rational and legality so I’m not pretending that there’s a magic, one size fits all formula. However, the debate needs to be had. Rightists may have ‘won’ the argument once, a couple of generations back but it didn’t follow that they were wholly correct, did it..?

Why would the population of a country wish to create public ownership of those utilities and services deemed so essential to a civilised and prosperous Society? Why would such a population choose to hand over such responsibility, accountability, control and profit to (often) mercenary, private corporations? Why is it named ‘aspiration’ when it comes to the traditional reasons for individuals wanting to own their houses or to be self-employed/entrepreneurial but it is called a regressive notion for a whole nation of individuals to scale this up and share the responsibilities and rewards of collective interest?

As you know, I believe that it is We, the People, who are the State and that the Government and Official Opposition are supposed to be agents through which it is represented and its affairs managed. For a long time it has been self-interest that has been represented and public expectation that has been managed. We can’t say the People are represented when even the prospect of valid and valuable arguments is suffocated by the ignorance and hubris of the TINA Brigade and when all permissible discussion has to be funnelled, first, through an Overton Window of pro-exploitative, short-sighted and incoherent modelling. Markets, competition, the private and corporate sectors have their place but it is self-evident that they do not automatically constitute some socio-economic panacea and it is insulting and patronising to keep insisting that they do. I would rather the country comes to see public ownership as a matter of civic participation in an effort to better secure the collective pride and interest and the sovereignty of its citizens. The past and the present prove that the outsourcing of the most basic needs of Society does not.

Lilo in Limbo

Backpack bursting
with overwhelm and boredom,
happened upon the parallel tracks
where light and shadow back on to
no man’s land and Inertia offers
all-inclusive or self-catering
for the price of a lucid dream.