Maybe the first thing Labour has to figure out is which side gets to keep the name

Hope suffered a serious heart attack in May’s General Election. Confronted by another five years of callous and casual incompetence from the Government and an all-too acquiescent Official Opposition, when an unexpected gap offered a real choice, Jeremy Corbyn was seized upon and made a sudden and, I think, somewhat reluctant hero. His purpose, for me, however, was always in the need to shake up the Establishment and dispel the myths of TINA; to provide a platform for overdue challenges to the status quo. It was never about loyalty and love for the Labour Party or Corbyn, himself: he was just the only anti-TINA in his party to put his head on the block. Still, the collective relief was palpable after he won the leadership contest and I cheered the fresh air.

The abundant sycophancy for Corbyn, the man, though, is relief made ridiculous. So, too, is the equally abundant carping and vitriol of his opponents. A lot of people like to imagine that if you support Corbyn’s general narrative then you must be a devotee and that if you say anything anti-Corbyn, you must be a ‘Blairite’ or in another party, altogether. This is the nonsense of media mischief and tribal baggage. As a voter, left-leaning is about as near to a default position as I’ve observed in myself. Before plugging into the Twittersphere I just thought I was a humanitarian who believes in democracy. It is only by participation in public discourse that I have had to wrestle with a landfill of labels that are, simultaneously, convenient shorthands and poisonous straitjackets.

The concerns I’ve expressed about Corbyn’s desire and capacity to lead and his lack of willing support from the most experienced MPs are proving depressingly material. I’m sorry to see this decent man chewed up and spat out by the political establishment and shabby journalism. I’m upset by their deliberate undermining of an alternative narrative that Corbyn is trying to facilitate and I’m impatient with his own seeming inability and reluctance to at least play the game to more beneficial ends. It’s all very well saying he shouldn’t have to but that’s naive. The game is a highly popular and historically engrained fixture that won’t disappear by minority wish but is, at least, faster and smarter changed by an appearing to observe its rules. No, I don’t much like it, either.

I don’t think Corbyn is a great orator or effective manager and I do a wits’-end expression every time there’s a seeming bungle or re-interpretation for the Press to milk but I also realise that he is having to learn on the job in a very hostile environment and that this makes it difficult to gauge how much he is being hindered and how much he is hindering himself. Nevertheless, when he – or McDonnell – are interviewed and I hear them speak for themselves, they mostly sound calm, informed and reasonable.

And if not Corbyn, then who, right now? Like so many, I shared much of his general analysis on the state of domestic and foreign policy before I’d heard of him and he was given the oxygen. And condemnation of the exploitation of people and resources for exoteric global dominance and personal gain, by people who have the will, the influence and the power to do so, is what we were waiting for, after all.

What gets constantly overlooked by the journalists and the usual Labourites is that the value perspective Corbyn wants to give space to is the very space that these same MPs refuse to countenance beyond lip service and that a multitude of voters desperately wants and deserves to hear. If those Bubble-wrapped MPs had expressed sincere opposition to this thoroughly destructive socio-economic status quo, their party would have a more can-do-Politics leader. Well, they didn’t. And if genuine acceptance of and support for Corbyn’s position was there, now, there would be a cohesive and coherent message and a more efficient method; if their spinning was genuinely positive, the Conservatives would be not merely shaking in small doses but wobbling magnificently and visibly on their perch.

I don’t know what is really going on. I’d have to be in the Bubble to know, for sure. All I have to go on is what I see for myself and the media commentariat, paid and voluntary. It is hard to watch. We all know how desperately the country needs the Government to face opposition, scrutiny and redirection. I understand and buy the merits of having wide-ranging debates so as to discover consensus and develop a party line but the two sides seem diametrically opposed over too many issues that are fundamental to cohesion.

It looks like Labour is really two parties fighting for what they believe is its soul. Or maybe all that Labour is fighting over is the empty husk where its soul once dwelled. They can’t keep telling us that they are united in their values when their record and the dirty laundry they are now washing says otherwise to the public. Both sides are in each other’s way and that means Labour is not credible or electable, whichever side is preferred.

Maybe the first thing Labour has to figure out is which side gets to keep the name; the name that speaks to the notion of making tedious hard work of everything. Personally, I think I’d let the ‘Blairites’ have it.

I find that I resonate with many of the parties to varying degrees, even if only on a fragment but not one of them represents me enough to wish to become a member, let alone vote for one. The political solutions I could vote for are not available in a party that commands national electoral viability, including the part of Labour that I prefer. I have nowhere to go.


“Shame on you!”

We get the government we deserve. On a long enough timeline, in a Democracy, we are, collectively, all responsible for where we are. But, for a variety of reasons, under the umbrellas of, say, Time and Inclination, this deservedness is not so straightforward.

Still, if your information, choices and references come from a repetitive half-hour news cycle, carefully crafted and selected soundbites, utopianists and the newspaper headlines of an agenda-driven press, whether by choice or accessibility, you really cannot claim to understand or even properly know what is going on in this country or the wider world. You are living in a bubble of gloss.

And this bubble is about to burst for a great many voters who crossed the Conservative Party box in the last General Election and now feel naive or betrayed, as exemplified by the much-highlighted cry of audience member, Michelle Dorrell, in the recent BBC Question Time programme. (Dover, you were magnificent, by the way.) I must admit, dear Reader, to a wry flash of a smile. At last! I thought. To myself.

Many, who consider themselves left of the status quo are seeing this event as an opportunity to reach out, enlighten and invite solidarity and co-operation. Theirs is a sense of relief and optimism that a very dark and oppressive veil is finally being lifted. They perceive the quickening of a shift in mainstream consciousness and potential for momentum in emergent narratives. After all, such Tory voters as Michelle Dorrell must, surely, now ask: if I was tricked over the tax credits (work penalty), then where else and over what else, have I been duped or deceived myself?

But the Public’s response to her new victimhood has been rather mixed, as reading Twitter the next day showed. I know: social media, right? But social media is just the human condition, reflected in all its glory, expressed online. It’s still representative, or at least indicative, if you step out of confirmation bias timelines. Anyway, no matter: it was the negative reactions of so many people (and not restricted to social media) by which I have been most struck.

They appear to see Michelle’s recent voting preference as a wholly unforgivable act. Her plight, now, they say, is simply her just reward and she must take responsibility for it. Like she doesn’t know, already! They express their own and very real victimhood as though it were all delivered by her betraying hand, not just of them but of the whole country. She is being projected as the Face for an entire demographic of electoral traitors.

Anyone who sees the myriad dangers that this Neo-Conservative government presents is justified in their anger at the motivations of, particularly, Tory voters and/or confusion as to there actually being sufficient of them to vote the Tories back in but, even so, it is wiser, kinder, more appropriate and strategically much more astute to cast the blame at the Government of the Day than at individual, private, fellow-citizens.

Calling out elected and/or appointed politicos, public moralisers, stenographic and perfidious journalism is the consequence of critical thinking and a vital ingredient of Democracy. It’s the purpose of satire and a righteous good use of free speech. As is questioning and criticism about how a Society behaves and its sections, thereof. But, singling out private, power-of-one individuals that you don’t even know, just to cathartically project public condemnation and vitriol, is another matter, entirely. It says more about you. It says that you are mean-spirited, intransigent, tribal before Reason and that you risk becoming the bigger hindrance to progress and the longer-lasting problem to Society.

We’re all trying to navigate a dirty, choppy sea of poll-pushing obsessives, propagandising MPs and opportunist journalicians. They’re our real problem. If you keep beating up on and slagging off private citizens then you are mostly helping The Powers That Be to maintain Divide and Rule. We are all infuriating fools to someone and making admittedly gullible voters the enemy – our fellow citizens; our neighbours – is scapegoating and the beginning of a road to civil war.

Our real socio-economic foes are those with the political power over Law, policy and public information; those who distort facts and invent or omit others; those who deliberately manipulate our emotions and toy with our heads in order to control outcomes. To control us.

Know your enemy. It is a spinning entity; a fable machine. That’s what needs calling out and bringing down. Not we, each other.

David Cameron: what is so leaderly about him?

David Cameron… I still can’t get over the fact that enough people voted for this creature of superficial spin to put him back into power. What leadership qualities does he possess, for goodness’ sake? Where is the economic acumen? What principles? How, compassionate? What practical wisdom? What charisma? Who does he respect? What does he value? The Planet? People? Justice? One Nation? Don’t make me laugh. He’s either a bumbling villain or a bought puppet and how anyone can look around, at their own country and the world, in extension and simply put aside his demonstrable emptiness and complacently overlook the myriad connective catastrophes wrought and perpetuated by the collective greedy, selfish, superficial crony mind he embodies and enables – just for the incentive of some short-term, personal profit, at the expense of those who gain little or nothing of good by it – that is truly remarkable.

He and his crew have no respect for, nor understanding of, Constitution, sound Law, Democracy, societal cohesion and public interest; dignity, honour, integrity or consequence. They believe they have a monopoly on such concepts but they confuse Principle with Tradition. A tradition of entitlement and patronising, arbitrary benevolence. So they maraud around, sucking the heart and spirit out of nigh-on anything they so much as look at and tell us it’s the only way and that it’s for our own good.

‘Moral conscience’? If David Cameron had one of those (or even a dash of socio-economic nous) he would not entertain the likes of Iain Duncan Smith as Secretary for Work and Pensions or Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary. To name but two.

All that time spent on how much Ed Miliband did or did not look like a leader. Now, all the hot air about whether Corbyn is electable as Prime Minister. All that time wasted by a magpie Media and a positioned electorate, giving Cameron a wholly undeserved free pass. But, beyond some pretty inadequate middle management skills, what is so leaderly about him? What calibre of leader is he who cannot or will not connect the dots? What kind of leader is he who acts as though some don’t exist while he fabricates others? Honest mistakes, a country can tolerate, even forgive but not this continual hypocrisy, incompetence and purposeful ignorance. It’s insidiously destructive and increasingly embarrassing.

This is a Prime Minister who projects a sordid strength through a reinvigorated imperialist attitude but is so weak in ethical content that he can be led by the nose into dangerous, glory-hunting cul-de-sacs and pushed around by disingenuous and capricious tabloids. This is a leader who has to be shamed into behaving appropriately on an international stage. This is a leader who can’t or won’t govern even his own citizens with respect. Scaled up or down, he is hollow.

David Cameron. Look at him; hear him, with his stiff composure and tardy, doublethink platitudes, proclaiming moral grounds that prove to be constantly, quite beyond his reach.

Another five years?

These last twenty-four hours I’ve found my entire mundane self alternating between shutdown and panic. My personal circumstances and resources; my health and general well-being have been run ragged by the Coalition and dire lack of a decent Opposition and, such is my dependency, now, on reserves of adrenaline just to cope with a normal day that I don’t know if I can sustain myself and keep going like this for another five years. And worse: I’m still actually one of the lucky ones. My heart is breaking for those worse off than me.

It’s as though we were all just involved in a terrible accident for I can’t believe my country actually meant to vote for this outcome; actually wanted this. You see, I’ve heard about the negative perceptions of Ed, fear of the SNP’s gargantuan tail and a persistent, faulty belief in the Labour is the incompetent party narrative until the journalician class were quite blue in their self-fulfilling, prophesying faces. Or should that be proselytising… I’m really struggling, though, to believe that more of the electorate actually actively and consciously wanted this result than wanted it five years ago. Even if true, it can be only half of the story at most.

It seems just as likely to me that sufficient of us managed to vote to our detriment quite by mistake, whether by head or heart, simply because of the tactical and wasted vote conundrums and the glacial opportunity for change in safe and marginal seats that our First Past the Post system invokes. (Not that I’m convinced that proportional representation is necessarily the solution, either, long-term but that’s for other posts.)

From the ludicrous to the tedious, I’ve heard and seen all manner of crap these last few hours. Like that the Labour Party moved too far to the Left. What the f***? Or that because we declined the Alternative Vote that we simply don’t want electoral reform, even though The Powers That Be know it was turned down largely because it was a really rubbish offer. From Jim Murphy on default denial with his deluded romantic show must go on act to Nick Clegg at his exhausted and hurt feelings best to how can Labour sneak another Blairite in… It’s like muzak for muggles.

‘They’ don’t listen and they don’t learn. And I despair. I feel ill and enraged and bored and frazzled and contemptuous and… Just so sad. So desperately effing sad.

It’s a slim Conservative majority that may not yet hold, I know but it has supplied a mandate to govern, nonetheless and it occurs in an already dangerous climate of paranoia and hysteria and in an already severely weakened political environment. The Tories will take the piss in any circumstance so I fully expect them to run amok now they have caught a small whiff of permission. I’ve come close to throwing up at the thought of free-to-roam Cons and I’ve felt like giving up entirely as I’ve listened to the insultingly oversimplified and misguided analyses of what passes for more serious journalism and news broadcasting, these days. The stuff that’s worth reading and listening to is so astute and so too-damned-late-seeming that it physically hurts.

Now, as the political classes pretend to still have souls to search for, we’re being told that election battles and political arguments can only be won from the centre ground. That anything to the left of prescriptive mainstream thought is ‘radical’. But that old centre ground trope is being used to contain our hopes and manage our imagination and I just can’t face doing battle with that mentality for another five years.

‘They’ are going to bamboozle us again, now. Just like they framed the arguments to position us leading up to the election, they’re now busy framing our understanding of went wrong and why and lining up the teeny tiny field of discourse within which the next set of perceptions and expectations can be managed, such as the true nature of the Tory beast and the new party leaders they want us to prefer. We’re not even to get a small break in which to weep, to absorb, to mourn; to restore or muster strength; to gather ourselves to fight neoliberalism for another five years. Nope. They are going to cut the democratic deficit in half and save us the time and trouble. A long-term democratic plan, if you will.

Now, as political parties naval gaze and worry about themselves more than us again, we must be the Opposition. Again. Now, as the Media fails to inform us of something in time to do anything about it, we must be the messengers. Again. Now, as we are steamrollered with yet more false flags, we must be the watchers. Again. Now, when we need a bright and trustworthy media, we must be the source. Again. It’s exhausting. Just the thought is exhausting. I know I say that Democracy is messy and a work in progress and that it requires engagement and active participation but this is getting ridiculous. It’s like we’ve actually been abandoned.

The Tories rose to Con

The Tories rose to Con
upon invested tools,
the fear of fools,
division and collision
of the abstract
and the ‘radical’
and all-too-timid vision
of an idle opposition –
played the Commons’
head or heart decision
in a faith-eroding system.

Breathing space

Pitiful, it is, to know,
to make the Tories go,
that Labour, though
so one step forward
two steps back,
still has to win
just so that we
can catch our breath
and properly begin.

‘red line’

How much for that there red line?
Some buy yourself a (comes with handy ladder)
fine and dandy time?
A redefine?
A redesign?
Is this a line that you might drop a little bit
or lift a lot?
And are you talking red like wine
or pick the shade and shift by trade?

Oh: your ‘red line’ is non-negotiable
Like an unequivocally weighed and
bona fide principle?
Like cast in stone with polished shine
or one those Big Society British values
or a pledge writ large and smugly signed?
Well, show me yours; I’ll show you mine…

Oh, Ed

Oh, Ed
you do my head in
now you’ve said
no deal
no vote by vote
no pacts
no coalition
irrespective of the fact
you know we can’t afford
another five years more
of Callme’s Cons and, too,
despite that you’re still Tory-Lite;
a hold your nose and settle for.

But you have set your sights
on Scottish Labour’s fight and, Ed,
while I appreciate your plight, it pales
beside the millions you would leave
to struggle on just for the want of
a progressive left-wing bloc
and the Union you mock as though
not all our nations should belong
together, after all. And I’m appalled
that you would put your party first
before the interests of a tired, poor
and angry population.

It’s infuriating how entrenched you are
in tribal politics and that you have
the nerve to pot and kettle with
the nationalists as if our future happens
only by the measure of their gift.

And yet I swear I heard you say
the other day that Britain was and is
and definitely could do so much better
than all this.

Oh, Ed, how fragile do you think
the UK is that if a sixth of Parliament
be SNP, endangers our democracy
when actually the biggest threat is
politics as usual and the disrespect
it shows to the Electorate who haven’t
even voted yet.

Coz, Ed, do you know what? You’ll do
just what the bloody hell we damned well
tell you when the ballot counting stops.

We, the People

Dear readers,

I first posted ‘We, the People‘ in March, 2013. In light of the approaching United Kingdom General Election and because this weekend is May Day Bank Holiday, traditionally synonymous with International Labour Day, it felt appropriate to mark Beltane by reposting this chant. I hope it resonates, wither you dwell.

Yours, in Light, in Hope, in Humanity, in Solidarity,

J  xXx

We, the People, we are the Nation,
The Soul of the Land in manifestation.
We are the stewards of all she bestows,
We are the yesterday, glued to tomorrow.

We are the Temple, the priests and the flock.
We are the method; the vehicles; the stock.
We are the warriors, artists and scribes,
The teachers, the healers, protectors and guides.

We are the source of the outcome we seek:
The Light and the Strength and the Hope that we need.
We are the draughtsmen and builders of Will.
We are the answer; the cure for our ills.

For we are the Soul and the hand of our fate
And we are the banners and trumpets of State.
Albion’s creatures in Sovereignty’s land:
We are the People – we are the Command.

[See also ‘Beltane‘ for last year’s offering]