ends the same

Populists are dangerous creatures
Hunting for bugs to sell on as features
Thumping away at their primitive chests
For the tyrannous point
Where the Right meets the Left

Did you get the memorandum?

Did you get the memorandum?
Truth is not a referendum
That’s reflected in a ballot,
In accordance with our palate.
An opinion doesn’t mean you’re right
And blackmail is a pretty risky
Filthy way to start a fight
And bleeding hearted populists,
So expert in promotion,
By exploiting our emotions:
They well know it.
And it shows if you try looking
At the mess they’re busy cooking,
That they haven’t got a frigging clue
Beyond what they told us to do
And if you think about it, nor may you.
For a better understanding,
Take a gander at the chaos
Of the dross with which
They play us.
Do you know which face is speaking?
Can you count the fakes and spot the spin
In all the lines they’re tweaking?
Have you looked around the back for strings?
Seen the cracks within the shite?
Checked your confirmation bias
And that lazy soundbite?
Do not pander to post-truth.
Don’t misunderstand a purpose
Where agenda can usurp us;
Have a pref’rence for some proof.
Stop pretending white is black,
Cease meandering around the facts
And open wide those glassy eyes,
Unglue the ears and hear the guile
And change the dismal diet,
For at least a little while.

Like a yesterday

“We want change”
Wants it like yesterday
Like it has nothing to lose.

But it already came:
They were the change
They wished to see

And it looked like
Tomorrow lost to a history.

promises and piecemeal

Direct Democracy and Devolution sound so grown up, don’t they? Like no-brainers, especially in the 21st Century, where we think we’re all so miraculously connected and enlightened. We complain incessantly that we want more control; that we need it; deserve it. I’m sure we do, in a parallel universe. But, while it is clear that political and civic power are too concentrated in some places and persons, I suspect that most of us wouldn’t have a clue what best to do with more power if we got it. After all, we don’t use what we already have, that smartly.

The People do not always know best. We just don’t. In fact, sometimes we are downright stupid, no matter the consensus that it isn’t good or wise to say so, out loud. For instance: I live in a Cornish constituency where, in the last general election, my shortsighted, albeit understandable hissy fit at the Lib Dems of Coalition merely allowed the Tories to swan back in. It must be really difficult, sometimes, for politicians to feign their respect for the voters.

The human world is a frightened and frustrated place. We can all feel it, or at least see it. The world shook after 9/11 and shifted irrevocably on its axe when the financial crises came to light. Since then, the pace of consequence has accelerated and intensified under our cowardly, short-termist leadership. They – we – build on mistake after mistake. Nearly the whole world is doing the same, on some level. We’ve facilitated ideological hubris and complacency, compounding misery and instability. No wonder there are grassroots collectives pushing for individuals to gain more democratic control. No wonder those who can are keen, or keen to pretend to offer it.

But the People are too busy living, or trying to, to spend 24/7 digesting every connection and implication involved in even the simplest idea. A lot of people don’t even have time to properly absorb a primetime news broadcast, let alone have the inclination to connect the dots around a plethora of single (-seeming) issues and assume direct agency. To participate responsibly, you have to be actively engaged and prepared to contemplate more deeply than on catchy soundbites and echo chambers. In the last general election some people thought they wanted the Conservative Party’s welfare reforms until they realised they had voted for cuts in their own income. Parents opening and running schools sounded like a great idea to a chunk of the populace until they actually tried it and realised how much expertise and time most of them did not have.

We need managers. No matter our sovereignty as individuals, we need leaders and overseers and at least some hierarchical structure of accountable authority to make a Society run. As much as we might feel that ‘’for god’s sake, I’ll do it, myself/could do it better, myself’ impatience, in the face of such overt fecklessness, we are also half hoping that something, someone, will take it off our hands.

Negotiating even our own lives can be more than enough occupation. We want someone else to take care of the other stuff. We don’t all want to have to run schools, sit on every committee, attend every blasted meeting that might affect our lives, keep up with every minute amendment to vote on every policy, engage with every whim and crackpot suggestion, tick-box endless, simplistic questionnaires. Well, I don’t, anyway. It may sound good in the abstract but, in practice, well: observe the EU referendum. Or imagine every category of Labour member having policy input on behalf of the rest of the electorate.

To imagine that the incoherent mishmash of support for Brexit is a thing worthy of unquestionable respect or that, even if Trump’s supporters should not be called out as ‘deplorable’, so much of their motivation clearly is, or that the utopian fanaticism for Corbyn, as the only 21st-Century light around which all the Left must orbit: these are symptomatic of our neurotic times. It took us years to create this anti-intellectual mess. There is no simple fix that can be also universally palatable.

But people tend to cling to hope where they think they have found it. We like to imagine that there must be a magic fix, if only someone would discover it or if we could just make a certain person, the whole country, the whole of humanity see it our way. If only x would happen then everything would be solved. It’s little wonder that idealists and charismatics are popular. They tell us what we should be worried about and who and what to fear and they offer simple yet dramatic fixes with casual and confident ease. This is attractive, particularly to those who think they have nothing left to lose and to those seeking the short-lived catharsis of vitriol.

Still, our leaders are the People, too, despite the quite concerted efforts of some to convey or perceive otherwise. Whether we see those currently charged with shaping our present and future as heroes or villains and all in between, they are merely a reflection of the human spectrum that they claim to serve: weak, sincere, ignorant, greedy, perceptive, compassionate, arrogant, clever, paranoid…

I don’t want ‘Brexit’ but, if we must have it, I obviously want the best achievable version, not an appeasement model for its bulldog fantasists. I want mature democratic reforms but not to serve some partisan agenda and not as a superficial sop to pacify a confused and frustrated populace. The fallout discussions around the Scottish Indyref and Brexit show how the promises and piecemeal of panic and short-term politicking, are downright disrespectful of both the electorate and our constitution.

The awful consequences of decades of causes are threatening, again, to become the new causes for decades of even more dreadful consequences. Unfortunately, a significant number of the electorate does not care and tragically, some have not even noticed.

Live long enough, though and you can feel like you’ve lived it all before. Be careful what you wish for.

John declared the Jezerendum was his finest conversion.

My mind wandered as I read ten minutes of inspired paranoia and vitriol pick ‘n’ mix that is Labour Twitter… I fantasized that we had a Jezerendum and that the country voted overwhelmingly in favour of giving Mr Corbyn one of our small islands. I don’t know which one it was, only that it required a ferry to access the mainland and that it was big enough for all his personal staff and every adventurous, ardent believer. The offer was extended to the rest of the Labour Party but all sides were affronted so that was quickly settled.

Through an excruciating but often hilarious week of hotly tweeted debate about whether this result was down to the magnanimity of a democratic, reason-minded nation, or another covert neoliberal plot by the Blairite BBC (peak purge, Matt noted, wryly), much of the grassroots came to the conclusion that it didn’t actually matter: the momentum was with them.

Jeremy called a rally. He told his congregation that he accepted the result as proof of faith in his will and a definitive mandate for his kinda politics. John declared the Jezerendum was his finest conversion. Jeremy waved his hat: “Jam for all! And bread-making academies! Come, comrades: we shall build ourselves a socialist allotment. Our momentum has just begun! From now on, you are in charge. Our rallies shall be our news, your placards our policies. Everyone has a right to Utopia!” He looked up from his notes, to drink of the rapturous crowd… “Seumas, I’m not sure this is a great idea…” The country held her breath and crossed her fingers.

And then, suddenly, they were off, the haunting sound of ‘The Reg Flag’ fading into the watery mist.

A collective wow… was exhaled throughout the mainland..: Maybe Brexit would fit on the Isle of Wight..?

Labour Twitter is right: Mr Corbyn does inspire. Or, at least, his grassroots do.

Binary Labour

Going long on shares in a mirrored box
Got bullies, got smears, got ghosts, got sneers
Got tone-deaf choirs rocking has-been stock

Got champagne flutes, got red jackboots
And pumped up loyalists in romper suits

Got banners, got spanners, got sickles and hammers
Self-righteous manners and parochial planners

Got intolerance to chart with equality of snark
Got capacity to park and incompetence to mark

Got a telling dark inflection in the malice of projection
And perpetual reflection of foul-smelling misdirection

Got a creaky leaky PLP self-sabotaged by sneakery
That hubris did assist and gift so horribly predictably

Got groupies’ faith and blowhard fogeys,
Tin foil hats and lost apostles claimed as bogeys
Corporate shills and established wizards
With machine-made skills serving diehard lizards

Got facile and sage; got clinical and vague
Got statements of the obvious and hopium made.

Got progress rot and momentum BOGOF
Cracked pots self-kettled in a Gordian knot

Got wave and clap and wring your hands
Got loving like a menace and fearing like a lamb

Got reason on a ration, got hysteria for passion
Got rallies for revivals like it’s going out of fashion

Got entitlement to churn and enlightenment to burn
Got impunity for duty, got excuses under scrutiny
Disunity refracting semiotics symbiotically returned.