Free speech: A privilege we must defend!

Many people I know and love seem very happy about the recent deplatforming of the likes of Donald Trump and some others. I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been a Trump fan. But there’s a much wider issue here and it really should concern us all, especially those of us on the left who aren’t supported by the big corporations and billionaires who prop up social media platforms.

This video is quite old. It’s from the Left Eye View channel’s early days but it makes the point, I think. The relevant part begins at about 7:40.

https://youtu.be/B3vz0lWkXeE


Let me know your thoughts too.

The deal is done!

Boris got his deal, the economy is tanking (which is bad news for everyone except Boris, Rees-Mogg, Farage and their disaster capitalist mates). The UK faces major shortages and price rises on imported goods and other goods like medicines.

The financial sector is legging it to Europe, as are several of our remaining manufacturers but at least, for once, we really are in it together… including Tory and Brexit voters, most of whom lack the means to profit from Brexit like Aaron Banks will.

Hopefully, one day we will return.


So let’s face facts, accept the disaster we’re stuck with and pull together to maintain our community. The lesson of history predicts major social division and unrest anytime from mid-January onward. Fuelled by the likes of Farage and co who will be desperate to blame others for their own actions, it’ll be easy for us to collapse into rioting and mutual hatred not seen in UK since the civil wars of the seventeenth century.
And (almost) nobody voted for that!

let’s stick together and come through this disastrous mess as a nation united by adversity, not a people destroyed by self-inflicted misery and the resentment it so often brings in its wake.

Far right bingo card: Representing the working class

It seems ridiculous to me for anyone on then right wing of politics to claim to represent the working class. The right has always been about exploitation, about keeping us, the riff raff in our place and about squeezing every last drop of profit from us that they can get away with. That’s why the working class has always opposed the right – because it’s the right that uses our hard work to enrich others. This was obvious once but over the years the inequalities of life have become so normalised, so expected that many people think they’re inevitable. But they’re not.

Why should it be inevitable, for example that business owners can earn hundreds of thousands a year whilst their employees survive on subsistence wages?

Why should it be inevitable that these same business owners pay so little tax whilst their employees cannot access the public services they need because the country hasn’t the funds to provide for them?

Why is it that the people who do the hard work, put in the long hours for minimum wage, aren’t the ones who see the rewards from their labours?

These are the questions that the left want addressed and that’s why socialist parties insist upon better wages for working people. Thast’s why we demand proper taxation strategies to ensure that those at the top of the income ladder pay something toward helping those at the bottom. After all – they’re not the only people who invest in businesses.

As the late, great, Tony Benn once remarked…

“Your people invest their money… My people invest their lives.”

When the right wingers oppose the left they’re not doing so on behalf of the working class – they’re undermining us.

When the right wing oppose brown people or Muslims, Poles or LBQT citizens they’re not supporting the working class – they’re dividing it. This is the strategy of the cynical ‘man’ at the top of the tree. He knows that a united working class could easily force him to accept a fairer system so he works hard to keep us at each-others’ throats. And the stupid little neoNazi with his EDL tattoo or his Britain First mug spreading hatred between working people of different races or creeds is part of that machinery of oppression.

The real enemy of the working class is the wealthy tax avoider with his offshore account who leeches funds earned by our labour out of the only economy that could help improve our situations.

When you give tax relief to working people they spend it – that money goes back into the economy and other businesses prosper, local traders and local employees start to feel more confident and their money circulates. Everyone gets wealthier. When you give it to the rich banker he just puts it with the rest of his unnecessary pile in the Cayman Islands and forgets about it.

The far right claim to represent the working class whilst supporting right-wing policies and policy-makers such as our present government whose ministers gorge themselves whilst ordinary people are forced into destitution. Our conservative ‘masters’ vote to reduce benefits payments for the most needy and yet give themselves a ten grand bonus just for staying at home. When you support these nest-featherers you do not represent the working class.

The right wing has normalised its abuses so much that many of our own people think it’s inevitable that working peoples’ children should go hungry over Christmas and that a 10% tax cut for millionaires is just how it ought to be. Even the most obviously weak excuses don’t demonstrate just how badly they’re being played by a cynical financial elite.

And they call us ‘cucks’!

These people don’t represent the working class – they undermine it by falling for the divide and conquer politics of those who purport to be our ‘betters’. And in doing so they maintain the very system that treated them so unfairly and made them so very angry in the first place.

They’re on the wrong side and they don’t even know it!

Thankyou, Tories!

Dear Tory MPs.

Thankyou so much.

Sincerely, thankyou all from the bottom of my heart for what you have done (and failed to do) about working class children during this pandemic.

Not only have you voted TWICE to deny help for hungry children whose parents lost their incomes because of the Pandemic. Not only did you claim TWICE that there wasn’t the money to pay for such help at a cost of less than 1% of the money you ‘Spaffed’ up the wall on Dominic cummings’ mate’s failed ‘Track and Trace’ programme. Not only did you demonstrate your incredibly skewed priorities but also… and this is the best bit…

You revealed to a struggling nation just how bestial, how selfish and how corrupt you really are. A handful of MPs, including you, Mark Jenkinson MP, my own constituency’s incumbent made some remarkable claims about abuse of food parcels without a modicum of evidence or a hint of plausibility. It may be, of course, that you, Jenky and your monstrous mates were telling the truth but many of us are extremely skeptical, to say the least. And skeptical we will remain until sufficient evidence is produced to support your outrageous claims.

But here’s the kicker – to top it all off, your own dear leader, the one who got you to show your true colours in the first place, U-turned in the face of public pressure… TWICE

Let’s face it… you’ve been well and truly screwed by the very man you looked toward to save you. You have been the architects of your own downfall, choosing this most ridiculous of hills to die on, to throw away your credibility by denying the people a paltry sum for massive social gain, not to mention political goodwill. That goodwill might have been yours but has gone instead to a footballer – a brown footballer at that!

Thankyou all so very much. Especially you Jenky – you’ve shown the people of Workington exactly who and what you are. A self-serving monster!

Thankyou for revealing your true selves – warts and all.

Now get back under that rock you crawled out from.

Paul’s gone to the dogs part 2

Part 2 of my interview with Paul from ‘Gone to the dogs’. He has some very big plans to harness the power of the community to help those in need. It goes way beyond feeding people, important though that is.Here Paul talks about some of the fantastic help and goodwill the project receives from local people and businesses. This really is a community working together for the common good.
https://youtu.be/BLoovB3opVs

Harness that anger – quickly

So here’s the thing. It’s New Year’s day 2020 and like many of us I struggle to think of much to be optimistic about for the year or even the decade ahead. Tory austerity will continue, most likely at an accelerated pace and even more people seem likely to fall into poverty with an ever shrinking social safety net to support them. I know I’m not the only one who worries about this today because I see my contacts on social media saying exactly the same. That’s the Facebook echo chamber at work, I imagine.

But let’s just take a breath. Pause for thought and see if we can’t make a little better use of our characteristic, socialist compassion.

I have long believed that the difference between the right and the left is this. The right looks after its own, be they defined through race, religion, nationality or social class whereas the left wants to make the world better and fairer for everyone. And that includes the people we might be angry with as the country embarks on another decade of Tory inequality.

Too many of us are promising never to befriend a Tory voter again. Too many of us are venting our anger, our sense of betrayal even on our working class neighbours who voted Tory, LibDem or worse. I understand that anger. I feel it too. But it’s not what we should be about and it certainly won’t help restore fairness and decency to the UK.

We’re all fallible, even us and so are our neighbours. In my view nothing demonstrates that fallibility more than the recent election result. Our friends and neighbours have just voted for austerity, privatisation of public services, greater inequality and the destruction it working class communities across the land. And we’re all going to suffer for it – including them.

If we are to survive the next few years with our rights intact and our people protected we have to come together. That’s not just an option, it’s a necessity. We need to heal our broken communities and quickly because the Tories aren’t hanging around. And we’ll never do that by ostracizing our neighbours because they made a mistake, a mistake fuelled by the concerted efforts of the mainstream media and a right wing network that wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and bit them!

Personally I’ve only ever disowned a single relative and that’s not because he’s a Tory. It’s because he wants to treat Muslims, refugees and asylum seekers as less than human. He even claimed to want to sit stop the white cliffs with a machine gun and execute desperate refugees. Him, I disowned years ago but I won’t be rejecting anyone for voting Tory, angry and disappointed that I am.

They’re part of our community and we need them!

Welcome to the Twenties

It’s 2020! Welcome to the Twenties!

What a decade it’s been. We began 2010 in the throes of recession thanks to a global recession that began in 2008 with the American sub-prime mortgage and investment fiasco and quickly spread across the globe. By 2010 our economy here in UK  had suffered massive damage but we had a working welfare state to protect our citizens from the worst of the crisis.

Then, in May of 2010 the real British catastrophe began, The ConDem government introduced austerity and so began a decade long process of starving our social safety net of funds while throwing massive tax cuts at the wealthy. Ten years on and our vital services are almost unrecognisable, they’re so depleted by years of Tory and LibDem cuts and back door privatisation. And now, in the closing weeks of 2019 a new disaster has begun to bite.

Boris Johnson has such a huge parliamentary majority that he can do whatever he wants and make no mistake, he will. He’s already made it clear that he plans to ‘review’ the relationship between the government, parliament and the judiciary in such a way that he and his ministers will be able to rewrite any law they choose without recourse to anyone – not even the law. Privatisation of the NHS is increasing quickly now and manifesto promises about minimum wage rises and working peoples’ rights are already being fudged. The new decade looks set to be a whole lot worse than the one we’ve just left.

If this nation is to survive the next ten years and still retain even a modicum of decency, if we are to maintain anything close to the social safety net we have taken for granted for so many years we  need to come together as one. We need to put the differences of the last few years aside, forget the petty prejudices and paranoia centering around race, religion, country of origin or social status and work together for the good of the whole community.

Many of us are working hard to do just that. Join us – help keep UK society together until the storm of this far right government is over. It’s a storm we need to face together or few of us will survive it at all.

Rose to the occasion

Heather.png

What do you do when the world you thought you knew is falling apart before your very eyes? Heather is a teacher who has seen her life change dramatically over the last 9 years. Once all she had to worry about was in-class discipline and the arduous task of trying to instill not just knowledge but understanding and the skill of critical thinking into her pupils’ heads. All that’s changed now.

These days she sees her colleagues buying shoes for children who would otherwise be barefoot (yes, really), charging electricity keys, buying food for hungry families, paying for pupils’ lunches. She even works with some of the older students who’ve started a uniform recycling bank to help the families with younger children equip them for school.

Like many others, Heather allowed herself to dream in the run up to the general election on December 12th. Like so many of us she dared to believe that things could be different, that things might get better with a change of government and that the poverty and hunger that surrounded her might change with it.
“It didn’t happen” Says Heather “So I decided I’d see if anyone wanted to make that change happen with me”.

Lynette.png

Lynette works as a Transformation project manager in social care.
“I’ve seen the knock-on effects of underfunding services, health, education and voluntary services. I just can’t bear to see people struggling to get by and thrive. I believe everyone should have equal opportunity to have a good, secure life.”

I interviewed Heather and Lynette this weekend. Together, along with Fiona and Claire, they represent ‘The Rose‘, around 100 concerned community activists, all worried about the impact of the next 5 years on communities, upon individuals and upon rights and all ready, willing and able to do something about it.

The basic idea is straightforward enough. Lynette explained…
“We’ll run a national Rose group that has oversight and local Rose hubs that are able to spot gaps in provision and many willing volunteers to help support filling those gaps.”
The principle is simple, but what about the logistics? The ladies had an answer for that question too as Fiona told me…
“We have several people with specialisms in mental health, web techies, researchers, writers, people with experience of organising…”

“… We want to improve the lives of people on a local and (hopefully) national scale.” Claire interrupted. “Anyone can benefit from The Rose’s services be it children, disabled or sick people, homeless people, those suffering with mental health issues, the list is pretty endless. We want to do this whilst spreading the message of positivity and hope.”

Fiona has an enduring mental illness and is reliant on ever dwindling benefits and over-stretched support services herself. She tells me of her fears for the future of UK society.
“I am on PIP, ESA and pay the bedroom tax. Tory benefit reforms have been devastating. I also have seen cuts to my support service. I’m lucky to have excellent family support, so many don’t. I’ve seen many in the disabled and mental health community pushed to breaking point, and tragically even to their deaths. There are many great charities and organisations, helping with great ideas but there is so much need you can never have enough help.”

Fiona’s anxious for the health, well-being and quality of life of our minorities and other vulnerable groups. She tells me how devastated she is at the loss of support for so many and how she abhors the right-wing narrative infecting the country today.
“I just felt there must be some way of helping.” She said.

Although, as Claire was quick to remind me, The rose project is still very much in the ‘ideas stage’ at the moment, the plan is to create a network of regional hubs attached to a central co-ordination point. Each local Rose hub will identify the greatest need in its own area and then that need will be met either locally or via central co-ordination involving all the other hubs. There’ll be specific Rose hubs for specific skills and areas of work such as mental health, homelessness and housing, benefits advice, advocacy etc. Many of the necessary skills already exist within the group membership which continues to grow as people spread the word.

So far they have the beginnings of specialist groups for mental health, education, disabilities, advocacy, benefits advice, homelessness and housing and NHS volunteering. They also have strong links to existing foodbanks and even a free psychotherapy network for people unable to access NHS psychotherapy in their areas and who cannot afford private sessions either.

Just as great oaks grow from little acorns, beautiful Rose gardens can begin with a few good seeds and the determination to make this happen couldn’t be more obvious. With around 100 willing volunteers already signed up from all across the UK it seems as though nothing can stop these very determined ladies and their colleagues as they strive to help not just their own communities but every community in the land.

I look forward to revisiting the Rose project and to watching it grow into something truly worthy of its name in the future.

Find out how you can get involved in your area, share your expertise or lend local support by contacting the Rose here…

Email:info@rosecommunity.org

Website: http://www.RoseCommunity.org

Twitter: @TheRoseCommuni1

Corbyn’s Christmas challenge

Mia and Jade are just a couple of ordinary Northern women – but they have a dream. Not only that, they have a plan to go with it.

Like many others, these two Lancashire ladies were devastated when the news broke of a Tory majority last Friday. They knew all too well what that landslide result will mean for Britain’s most vulnerable people. 130,000 unnecessary deaths due to Tory policy already is hard to ignore, after all.

Like true Northeners the pair decided not to wallow in despair, despite the disaster that has befallen the nation. They decided to sort things out.

As Mia told me

“It’s time for the many to look out for the few!”