Fear creates a feast

Fear creates a feast
to suit the taste
of each invited guest
that takes a seat
and makes request,
to fill the belly of a beast.
We are what we eat.


Are we so stunned by the grotesque
That all we do is dumbly watch
Our needy leaders crest and botch?

The Ug of the Smug

Who cares about legality –
It’s black and white, if we like,
As and when it feels right –
And Mammon loves solutions
With a sense of finality
Coz principles are pricey
And equivocation suits us nicely
As does your stuff
And you’re not competitive enough

You cannot be electable
If you are not susceptible
To neocon depravity and popular banalities
Coz our way is the highway
And you’re just a formality
What has economics got to do with morality?
There you go again
With your troublesome causalities
Oh, my bleeding heart
Don’t start about Humanity
The planet is too small
For your lefty, needy rights an’ all

You mustn’t win
Just us! Just us!
You can’t come in
Oi! Who the hell taught you to swim?
Well, sell your soul
Get a loan
Buy an aspiration phone
Be a good serf
Know your worth
Or find a ladder of your own
But leave the All Right Jacks alone

What’s ours is ours
And so is yours
That’s why we help you fight our wars
And you oblige so well with yours…

Fie Foe!

Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!
We smell the dread of Establishment
Be it cold and be it sick
We’ll change its blood and break its fix.

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.

false economies

What is gained and what is lost
When priorities become criss-crossed
And fixed upon a template?
And how much extra is the cost
Such effort takes,
Engraving deeper
Every recognisable mistake?