Nothing very “centrist” about that.

Laissez-faire
Less fair
Fewer fare
Welfare

Nothing very “centrist” about that. I remember when the common complaint of the Left was that Labour had moved to the right; that it was ‘Blue Labour’ and I remember how the Conservatives had the nerve to claim that they held the Centre when it had clearly shifted the country to the Right. Those were the days when the idea of a middle/the centre, though politically subjective, was understood to be relative; a moveable feast, eagerly sought and fought for – when to be moderate was not condemned as wishy-washy and most certainly was not used as a euphemism for ‘neoliberal’.

I wrote loads, here and on twitter, about the centre and the middle. Some of it was creative mischief or naive reactionary hyperbole, of course (just scroll up and type “middle” or “centre” into the search box) but the connective thread through my arguments was not and the topic was ripe in the Press and on social media. Back then, I was tweeting such sentiments as: “Labour stop fuss-assing with this insipid centre ground tosh. Take us Left & call it “The Centre” like Thatcher & Blair taught us 😉 #bbcsp” [April, 2013]

Those were the days when the middle/the centre was a desirable direction for those who are now calling anti-Brexit and not-keen-on-Corbyn people “centrists”, as though to hold such a position were right-wing and, therefore, anathema to Reason and decency. They forget that, like austerity, moderation is more than just a socio-economic philosophy. It is also an attitude; a reflection of an inner worldview response, mindful of extremism and hysteria, constantly taking responsibility for checking itself. There is nothing Thatcherite, neoliberal, Blairite or any other lazy labelling about that. There is little about our current political climate that is.

Once everybody knows

Once everybody knows, does the poison fade or grow? Where do the pumped-up paranoia and the daft denial go?

Does common knowledge get a welcome in the hillsides and the streets? Enough that moderation wakes to see and win the light of day? Does forgiveness and a sense of humour meet and greet the anger and embarrassment half way? So that vitriol and vengeance dissipate? Does it sweeten up the atmosphere? Does superstition disappear? And do the floodgates spring apart to send a purifying tide to heavy head and fizzy heart or make the distance side to side become a roiling sea? Does the constant churn return us, endlessly, back to the start, where faith and proof demand to function separately? Does some truth unite the factions or divide to further fractions? Will it eat us up or will it set us free?

queen of cracks

Raise an eyebrow
Ask an obvious question
Lean in slightly and she folds
Susceptive of suggestion

May be told
When moths of right and left
Expose her warp; her weft
Undone
More holes in her control
Than summed in any round
An orange golfer says he’s won

And the sterner she becomes
The more the brittle can be seen
She is the queen of cracks
And bending back and all her
Narcissistic hacks will shit a cat
When European Power tells her
What she can and cannot “mean”

So if this vexed election
Doesn’t lead to her collapse
You can bet your bottom fiat that
The EU and her Bulldog Blighty Brexit
Is the straw that makes her snap.

When is enough?

When is enough enough?
When will it give?
When ornamental plans
And the dead hand of hubris
Berate the precipice?
When is too much?
When the State is who hates?
When fake is the real news
And theocracy an economic startup?
When the individual and collective
Are mutually exclusive?
When is enough enough?
When Overton is the squeaky wheel
And emotion is its grease?
When it takes police with guns
to protect Democracy? And Gina
To remind us who and what it is for?
When the greater mass has barest weight
Yet bears it all
And snake-oil is imposed as fate?
When the coiled springs
Of claustrophobic souls take leap?
Too late.

Weeble

The would-be queen of Blighty land
Straddles UKIP and Miliband.
She has kiplits predicting her upcoming plans
While from Red Ed’s campaign shtick
Is busily nicking as fast as she can

With a flat for the earthing
She’s birthing a sham;
With a kitten she’s fishing
to reel in the JAMs.

There’s no substance;
No matter:
This one-woman-band
Is controlling the trust
As she grand-tours the Kingdom
She means to command.

She’s the coalesced boss of
The chaos at hand
And many have wondered:
How is it May stands?
But the Press and electorate,
Absent of light,
Keep on playing her song
And cementing her right
And a scaffold so strong
Keeps a weeble so long
As the pump and the heel
Are the deal in demand.

got rote right down

wash, rinse, repeat
time and rhyme
our story beats

got rote right down
in lines
in rounds

the past unlearned
returns to reach

tomorrow bound
the earworms burn our dancing feet

 

 

We’ve got ourselves a good old-fashioned revival, folks.

Daily Mail – Junk Mail

It is because I love this land that I despise
Your dirty rag. It is because I love this planet
And humanity in all its hues that I have never
Purchased you. And yet your reputation,
So preceding is it, that I’ve never needed to,
For what you do and say is parroted from every
Right-wing quarter every day and poured into my
Eyes and ears by all your corporate, mainstream
Peers as though your narrow, xenophobic tract
Did constitute empirically known fact.

But you are everything you claim to hate –
So rabid in your enmity of citizens and State.
You make your living sieving any information
That ingratiates you to the racists, homophobes,
Misogynists, elitists and the nationalists who’d
Have us in our places. You are bigots with a
Passion for a petty use of microscopic focus;
You are locusts to the fields of understanding,
Tolerance, compassion and perspective; an
Invective to goodwill and unity and common
Decency.

You are the dumbest form of patriot, besotted
By false flags, nametags and high-horse myths
With which to moralise. It might be funny if your
Preaching wasn’t reaching the messiahs set on
Profitable power and the happy-to-be vacuous,
Enthralled and tooled up with perceived consent.
Yes, you’re a self-important vent to fundamental
Imprecision and pernicious propaganda for a
Willing and uncivil baying mob that sees a virtue in
The seizing of some value from your puritanic gob.

[October, 2013]

Do do re-run

“Let’s not re-run the referendum campaign” – Those that say this might have a vaguely reasonable point if a rational and more honest campaign had been run. The reason that arguments still need to be had is because they were not actually had at the appropriate time; because politicians and journalists did not know or understand the substance requiring consideration nor their various consequences, any better than voters. And because some simply did not care. But the electorate needed to know all manner of what questions to ask and precious few people ever asked them.

If you think about it, every plebiscite re-runs arguments. It’s part of the messy, ongoing nature of Democracy. Politicians do it all the time – and social media, too, now. Hell, people are re-running arguments from decades, even centuries ago. Whether or not they are helpful or even relevant, still. This one is.

I don’t particularly want to want another referendum, either. Certainly not several (Scotland and Ireland.. Wales..?) You know I always thought the first EU ref was reckless and unnecessary and that the result was swung by a misdirected hissy fit. But, seriously, Brexit: what the heck did you expect? That Remain would cave and go quietly into catastrophic but preventable repercussions?

And it is foolish and weak to cry voter fatigue when, short of Parliament coming to its senses and riskily circumventing the People’s much-fêted Will, another public vote is the best available solution to settling something properly. Anyway, it serves ‘us’ right for not doing it properly, in the first place. We could have had a double majority. Cameron said no. We could have had a minimum differential. Cameron said no. We could have let 16/17ers vote on their futures. Cameron said no.

That cross in the box: it was just the start. Now comes the hard bit. A healthy democracy requires ongoing engagement and active participation. What a sorry lot we are if voters can’t take some responsibility for the “will of the people” and the downside of political choices and show keenness for a better understanding and a sharper attention to detail. After years of voters protesting that politicians don’t listen, it is surreal to imagine people preferring to make sure they don’t.

If all things now have a Brexity lens and if Brexit suddenly looks and sounds more complicated than sold, well, too bad. It always was going to be and if clarifying “the will of the people” sounds like too much effort, too threatening, too divisive or patience-testing, especially after having actively supplied the need, then, tough shit. Can’t willingly open cans of worms and then complain about the tangled fallout because “people are tired of elections”. Another tedious plebiscite is surely more sensible than simply rushing into a permanent mistake.

And it has to be a referendum rather than a general election, not just because the choice needs to be clear of party promises but because the latter option gives us no viable, electorally palatable alternative. No matter the demonstrable tunnel-vision and incompetence of the Tories, Labour offers a demonstrably incompetent ideologue. Both have bought into Brexit. Faced with yet another least-worst-option choice, the Conservatives would likely get another mandate. And then they will be Brexit on Viagra.

[PS: If any anti-Brexit moderates of the Conservative and Labour parties should conclude that their party is a democratic dud and decide to stand up for the best interests of a United Kingdom by giving their numbers to the Lib Dem benches – and voters a real choice, thereby – I reckon I could live with that.]

Attack of the Vapours

Human Nature loves a vacuum
See how quickly it is filled
With all noisome indiscretions
And as hastily distilled

People breathing in the moonshine
They’re producing at the glug
Willing workers in the factory
Where the atmosphere’s a drug

All tottery and swivel-eyed
Hysteria has found its place
Rebranded as the stuff of life
That fumes and ripens off its face

How long before this tolerance
For clumsy, loud and noxious gas
That permeates to radiate
Achieves its critical mass?

How long before resistance freaks
And turns to intervene
And closes down production
Of the poison in the steam?

neither democrats nor patriots

The times are crazy, so, perhaps it is not surprising that those who deliberately frame Brexit as an act of patriotism and every reasonable challenge to it as being anti-democratic would be the same people who are actively undermining both. Still, it is shocking. Depressing enough that Brexit was allowed to be framed this way, in the first place. But, since it is…

The dumb vitriol and intimidation of our wilfully ignorant right-wing press is a disgusting assault on intelligence and the shortsightedness and selective deafness of our MPs and certain celebrity lobbyists beggars belief. Almost.

Hardened Brexiteers who cheer Theresa May on, as she and her team rush to craft our cultural and economic suicide and who bay indignantly, at all thoughtful doubters; influential Brexiteers, who manufacture, insist, threaten and coerce, in order to act, self-evidently, against the national interest and well-being of the citizens. They are neither democrats nor patriots. They are nihilists.

It is also difficult to stomach those politicians and journalists who spend their print space and airtime expressing very real concerns over all aspects of this Brexit foolishness, only to vote, anyway, with those who are intent on driving us as deeply and quickly into it as possible. Would-be Remain politicos who buy into Brexit’s illogical crap, for fear of a mythologised Will, are turning themselves into the sorry enablers of Britain’s treacherous course.

Adding to this vainglorious chapter is the cognitive dissonance of ’ordinary’ Leave voters who, impatient or bored already, suddenly cannot fathom how Brexit is now the default prism through which all our social, political, economic policies and debates – domestic and global – will be expressed for at least another generation. This, despite their own stuck record insistence that they all knew, absolutely, exactly what they were all voting for, all along.

Hubris and Denial continue to need scapegoats for the myriad political betrayals that they could have smelled, with or without a referendum. Not surprising, perhaps. After all, scapegoaters scapegoating is what started this folly. Still, it is shocking.

I can’t stand it.

The democrats and the patriots are those who are openly resisting or at least earnestly trying to mitigate a national act of completely unnecessary self-sabotage. You’d have to be very cowardly or arrogant, indeed, to think that their caution, scrutiny and counsel are bad things. Or a bit thick.