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.

Bigot

You can keep your tiny boxes
To yourself, my fundamental fool
Along with all the certainty
In which you have been schooled
For if I thought obnoxious doctrine
Were a relevant life tool
I’d have gladly walked the catechism
Of my own accord

So you can take your pious overreach
And shove it where imagination
Festers in your whimsy, flimsy,
Soul-refining mind and wind your neck in
Lest the reckoning
You beckon in is thine;
You mind your own soul, chum
And I’ll take care of mine.

I can do without your pity
And your precious little wisdoms
And your judgemental prescriptions –
You can stick ’em with
Your nonsense conscience
Where the sun don’t shine
Because, despite your crude reproof
I know I’m fine.

(Originally posted, August 2013)

mother tongue

Pardon me
but,
could you speak more slowly, Dave?
Your right-wing propaganda conjugations
aren’t my mother tongue –
I think my ears have integration accent.
I hear
that hate and fear, in the infinitive,
is clearly meant
but wonder at the double-Dutch translation.
See, the doing in your flow
sows predication on imperative,
as though you did construct
a comprehensively deliberate conflation.

Our own worst enemy

There’s a juxtapositional dissonance that haunts our socio-political atmosphere. Like looking but not noticing how your eyes are taking turns at keeping closed.

David Cameron expects a hundred separate factions in Syria to unite around their complex histories and myriad agenda to make a common cause of peace and civic stability. The Labour Party can’t unite just two basic factions who claim, habitually, to share, in common, nearly every cause.

There are sixty-plus million people in this country, self-identifying with any number of every conceivable tribe and demographic and none. But no matter because nuance and perspective are on extended sabbatical so, if you have no idea where you belong or are more inclined toward the none group, there are plenty of people who will happily supply you with a label or two.

Refugee crisis, climate change, scroungers, terrorist sympathisers, Trident, values, etc, etc. Each, a captured meme, irresponsibly loaded, wound tight and released into the wild as a springboard for an emotionally charged and polarised population, fuelled by paranoia, cognitive dissonance and easy bias.

A great deal of the binary manifests as dumb and lazy stereotyping by vitriolic attention-seekers. It is irritating and unpleasant and it’s hardly conversational or constituting rigorous, healthy debate but, usually, the passion is still understandable, even if the right or reason is questionable. Its real harm is in the incremental traction that degrades us all, albeit slowly and less obviously. Still, over time, if polarisation intensifies because it is being incited, even the most reluctant will be forced to choose a corner.

And, increasingly, many do behave as if it were their very duty to directly harass, de-platform, even intimidate and physically hurt any person, public or private, into ‘correct’ thinking or silence. This is the free speech and free will of self-importance and superiority that mocks Free Speech and Free Will. Acting like and treating each other as enemy contestants on a cheap reality show, editing for outrage and sensationalism, has consequences: groupthink and censorship are in conflict with one-upmanship and hedonism. This, as Britain debates how to deal with the terror of Da’esh, a fascistic conviction of religious hysteria, currently claiming and exacting domination and punishment of others as a duty, gifted from God.

We are told: they hate us, not for what we do but for who we are* – Is not what we do informed by who we are? Are we, then, as a Society, as factions and as individuals: are We** acting genuinely, from within ourselves or are we behaving quite out of character? We are well aware of the authoritarian character of our Government that throws its ill-considered, exploitative weight around the world and meddles at home, to divide us and diminish our freedoms and rights. We know it doesn’t trust us. It probably doesn’t even like us. And our fixed horizon is down to more than Media framing and the fractured state of opposition. It is us, too. If we are our own worst enemy, we are outnumbered.

Perhaps, in the grand scheme, we are undergoing a collective right of passage and Humanity’s psyche is negotiating a higher puberty but I listened to Hilary Benn’s rhetorical turn and I thought: Here We are, not only subject to a Machine that holds our democracy and universal values in contempt but We hold us in contempt. We hold our values in contempt. We hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. Here We are, with our own tide of petty, tribal fascism. The Conservative Government tells us that to thrive in the global race, We must be competitive. At this rate, we will beat Da’esh to it and defeat ourselves.

 

*Of course they hate us. They’re an anally retentive death cult.
**Pronouns are interchangeable. I use ‘We’ (and ‘you’) to include anyone or everyone, generally and so as to avoid singling out specific individuals.

gloss and glue

The gloss:
The glee and glint in cheapest print;
The swash of military bish-bash-bosh;
The ministerial sprint for derring-do.

The glue:
Each heavy splash of whitewash;
The supple shadows minting déjà vu;
So many, owned so much, by so few.

Thy Kingdom Come

Opportunity mocks.
On Rapture’s banner
Told you so and jerking knees fly hot and high.
Horizon of Humanity, a chasm, yawning –
Hands are wrung
Bring out your dread
As anthems sung –
A roaring cottage industry.
Some cynical spark remarks upon the latest data:
Productivity is soaring!
And the binaries are rounding; calling
Seed and salt, the reaping spun.
A side: decide.
Choose one
Or one will be assigned.
The long-term economic plan is drawing.
In its end, we are begun
The sum of sums.
Thy kingdom come.

Lording it

David Cameron wants a ‘rapid review‘ of the House of Lords. This is his knee-jerk response to having his Chancellor thoroughly admonished and his intention to cut Tax Credits, rightly criticised for their cruel irrationality.

I followed the Lords’ debate. I read the articles of experts and heard the opinions of vested interests. The constitutional argument cut both ways. The arguments for the four motions put against the government’s tax credits statutory instrument were more convincing. The House of Lords decided that serving the interests of the working poor was justified and more important than serving the arrogance and ineptitude of this government or the conventional expectations of an uncodified constitution. They spent a lot of time considering their remit and the loophole that Osborne’s game playing had afforded them. It was a thorough and earnest attempt by them, to interpret and be convinced of their jurisdiction, responsibility and capacity. It was somewhat akin to the persuasive measures found in a courtroom. Majority consensus was reached. The government was called out on its duplicity and shortsightedness and, in the end, was skewered by its own incompetence on a technicality.

There were outcries of ‘constitutional crisis‘; that the House of Lords had crossed a line; exceeded its privilege and undermined the primacy of the House of Commons. Whether it had or not is still being questioned in some quarters, particularly by those for whom Osbornomics is still acceptable. Hence the ‘rapid review’.

I have sympathy for those who fear jurisdictional ambiguity and power imbalances. I see it; feel it every day and the irony of the who that are suddenly demanding this review is not lost on me. As with Law, we shouldn’t get to pick and choose what applies without consequence. Like state sanctioned execution, we don’t get to say it’s ok just because we don’t like the target. Rules are rules. Principles are principles. But they have to either be consensual and properly codified or be reliant on precedent and convincing argument. In the forever absence of the former, the Lords took advantage of the latter.

I care little for the tribal straitjacket that assumes you can’t be left-leaning and still support aspects of Establishment, Monarchy and tradition. I rather love the rituals, the symbolism, the pomp and circumstance and I don’t feel threatened or diminished by ‘it’ or its people, insomuch as it does not have power to undermine Democracy. We can pare it down, certainly but I don’t think that just getting rid of it or them will strengthen the demos because that’s not where our problems, myriad, though they be, really lay.

The House of Lords is a scrutiny and revising chamber. It scrutinised George Osborne’s intentions, found them wanting and suggested that he revise his plans. Sometimes I agree with its decisions and sometimes I don’t. I only ask that its inquiries and considerations are honest, sincere and thorough.

I like the Lords. I more than accept, though, that it badly needs some reform. The thing is: I really don’t want the second chamber to become yet another House of elected people who fail to represent us. I don’t trust our current generation of politicians enough to see their number increased and I have little faith in the democratic vehicles and platforms, currently already at our disposal. Pun intended. I dislike the idea of having the tedium of what would amount to another General Election and can see logistical chaos and greater risk of political imbalance in it being held at the same time and a completely ridiculous expense if held on a different year. Neither do I fancy the inevitable poison of ego-driven stalemate, a gamesmanship that I see between the two Houses in the United States.

Perhaps I can be persuaded to change my mind, one day and, maybe, I can even be convinced that a second chamber is actually not necessary, at all but both possibilities, particularly as isolated measures, are moot to my present mind and I don’t believe either would hold any more guarantee of democratic progress than the ad hoc promises of devolution will automatically increase people power. We’d need to be a darned sight more grown up and a lot better informed.

Personally, I would like it if we first tried changing the terms and conditions of the appointees. I’d like to reduce, significantly, the total number of peers and curb their ostentatious allowances. I’d set an upper age limit and cancel life peerages and any remaining hereditary privileges by fixing their terms of office to something like between eight and sixteen years. I’d want to ensure continuum and overlap of old hands and fresh blood but also to minimise the effects of nepotism and self-interested expediency that are, currently, all too achievable.

I’d keep the number of Bishops about the same, rename them collectively as Lords Spiritual and try to ensure that they more reflectively represent the diverse make-up of the population’s faiths. Including humanists. After all, it takes a certain faith to not believe, too.

As for MPs: well, there are far, far too many. I would suggest that no Parliamentary Party, even of Government and Opposition, be allowed to appoint more than, say, ten or fifteen Party peers within any Parliamentary term. And even that number seems a bit generous but that’s probably because, at the moment, once they’re in, they take root. I would welcome a concerted cull.

I feel, strongly, that cross-benchers/non-affiliates should at least equal the sum total of politically affiliated members and Lords Spiritual. The House of Lords Appointments Commission – which could also do with shaking up – has the remit for vetting all nominees but also and especially for appointing ‘independents’ but there are relatively few appointed each year since the Parliamentary Parties hog most of the space. The areas of interest, experience and expertise are filled with too many aloof, corporate-scale professionals and too few from vocational careers and familiar lifestyles. As being over twenty-one – which seems absurdly young – ‘expertise’ and ‘a willingness to commit’ are the gateway requirements, we could try elevating to this high office, retired union reps, policemen/women, journalists; retired or on-sabbatical teachers, tradesmen, professors, comedians, medics, actors, hairdressers, care workers, etc, etc, etc. Real people, who look like us and have come from doing the same kinds of work as us and the people we know. Perhaps some kind of scouting and invitation process could be considered and a campaign to promote awareness of the nomination mechanism.

I know I don’t have all the answers or maybe even any, really and maybe the second half of this post is my intellect submitting to intuition. I’m just thinking aloud. But I’m not in charge and I don’t have a plethora of experts on tap to alert me to the consequences and palatable, viable alternatives. And, unlike some, I’m in no rush to create another constitutional fiasco to salve a self-inflicted hissy fit.

Toodle-pip

Be strident
With your Trident!
Just create a hellish if
Whip it up a bit –
Let rip (you know you want to
And you’re MAD enough)
Push the button
Quick!
Get it over with.

World,
Toodle-pip.

~*~

It’s you, Conservative government. Please stop.

Please, Conservative Government, stop putting Britain’s people down. It is fatuous, unpatriotic and downright rude. You are our government; our leaders and representatives. You are privileged to hold the highest offices of public service. Why do you disrespect us so easily? Don’t you like us? Are we embarrassing you? Why do you keep speaking at us and about us as though we were the ones who are letting you down?

Stop selectively comparing us to other countries and other people to bully us and mask your inadequacies. This inferiority complex is yours. It is insulting and becoming tiresome to hear you carping on with your political envy. If their peoples work longer, earn less and have fewer rights, then that is not a competition I wish to enter. In fact, I would prefer that you openly disapproved of such economies. But stop, too, this flippantly pitting of our regions, counties and cities against each other. Stop expediently pointing generalised and judgemental fingers at people. And, please, stop expecting us to be grateful for your mean-spirited crumbs. It is our bread that you are eating.

And stop peddling paranoia to the xenophobes and stop perpetuating scarcity myths over resources that you are squandering. We do not lack the means but that you lack the political will. We do not lack compassion but you lack integrity. We do not lack aspiration; we do not lack gumption and we do not lack self-respect but that you would strip us of dignity and decent opportunity. We do not lack social cohesion but that you keep fostering fear, division and discontent.

Who is in charge of our country’s finances? Who is formulating our country’s policies? Who is devising our country’s laws? YOU. Who has been in charge for the last five years? YOU. Who, in that time, didn’t build enough housing; didn’t train sufficient doctors, nurses, teachers…? Who has denigrated and undermined public service? YOU. Who has introduced welfare reforms without first creating an economy in which this is justifiable? YOU. Who perpetuates a socio-economic system that requires the exploitation of your own citizens? YOU. Who makes blanket policies based on simplistic and insulting stereotypes? YOU. Who is blithely building on and recreating the same conditions that got us into such a fix in the first place? YOU. Who has bent over backwards to accommodate the hyperbole of bigots and Chicken Littles? YOU. Who governs by dubious moral whim? YOU. Who gambols greedily around on the world stage like an oversized and untrained puppy, begging to join in, no matter the recklessness and disingenuousness of the cause? YOU.

Who is ignorantly and wickedly cutting away at the very heart and soul of Britain? YOU.

Who is the biggest threat to the security of our isles, our economy and our families? YOU.

YOU. YOU. YOU.

You are the Government. You are responsible for the tone, content and quality of your narrative and you are responsible for the consequences of your governance. What we really lack is the practical wisdom, maturity and the competent service of an honourable leadership. Change your attitude and behaviour. Stop. Turn around or get out of our way.