This article was sent by a friend who remains anonymous. I’m happy to publish it here. For comment purposes, please feel free to attribute it to me if it’s important to you to have someone to hold responsible for the opinions therein.
NEVER BE ASHAMED.
Isn’t it funny that the words spoken by the Tory press or far right groups to be derogatory towards the Labour Party, or for the people who care, are things like Liberal left , Socialist, hard unions, champagne socialists, snowflakes or Woke, activists or liberal elites? I see them as virtues.
Elite’ used to indicate being accomplished. I see them all as virtues, but for so many they’re now seen as insults.
However if the far right March through a town, it’s the liberal leftists and woke’s of this country that turn up to drive them out.
When a minority group are having their rights taken away, it’s the liberal leftists of this world who stand up for them.
When workers are being mistreated by companies, it’s individual liberal elites and unions who stand and defend them.
When institutions are being attacked and stripped of manpower ( Prisons, Police, NHS, Schools Industries ) its liberal left and unions within that stand up for the fabric of our society.
When the right wing attack the poor or less fortunate with lies, and misinformation it’s the left wing liberal minded people who stand up and call it out.
When greed and hate , and racism is someone’s politics it’s labour who stand up against them.
I am happy to be called a woke, socialist and centre of politics, but that’s me. We may not be perfect for sure, but I believe it’s is far better than those who hate with their gammon red faces, We fight injustice rather than peddle hate and anger at everyone and everything!
They don’t believe in contributing anything towards the greater good in society. But yet, they are happy take paid holidays, workers rights , maternity leave, justice and human rights, NHS and pay rises etc. The very thing that the snowflake Unions and Lefty Labour Party fought for and gave them.
Never be ashamed to fight or care about people or community, you are better than those who are filled with hate.
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!
It’s Socialist Sunday. If you don’t know what that means, join Twitter, follow @stuartsorensen and search the hashtag #SocialistSunday. It’s a growing community of socialists who come together to promote compassionate and reasonable politics, equality and to oppose conservative and right wing governments in UK and across the world.
Like many of us, I’m still reeling at the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the British Labour party. Like many of us I seriously considered leaving the party. Many already have. And that doesn’t make us enemies.
Our response now is crucial. Some will leave Labour & some will stay. Some will change their minds either way later. But we all remain true to Socialism. We mustn’t lose that unity regardless of party.
Whatever you may think of Jeremy or of the decision to suspend him one thing is true…
Jeremy Corbyn united a movement, a groundswell of people across the generations (we’re not all students by a long way). Jeremy Corbyn revitalised Socialism here in UK and for that we must be grateful. Jeremy Corbyn showed us that it’s OK to maintain dignity and decency in the face of a hostile press and a deceitful opposition. And he showed us something else…
Jeremy Corbyn taught us never to give up.
Inside or outside the Labour party, I don’t care right now. Me, I’m staying, at least for the present. But whether you stay or you go, so long as you’re a socialist you remain my brother or my sister.
Leave the party if that’s what your conscience dictates. We must not let this divide us, the people.
I’m pretty active on Twitter. Just check out @stuartsorensen and if you’re a fellow Tweeter do, please follow and say hello.
There’s a very strong and growing socialist presence on the platform, not least because of the weekly #SocialistSunday hashtag which has been instrumental in helping us to find and support each other during these dark days of neoliberalism and far-right division. Check it out – it’s a great resource.
But every silver lining has a cloud and this one is no exception. I noticed a popular tweet today. A tweet with lots of reach across the platform, all the more impressively so because the author is a relative newcomer with very few followers.
The tweet calls for solidarity and mutual assistance between socialists. Nothing wrong with that, you might say except that it risks falling into a subtle trap that can only further divide working people along increasingly entrenched lines of right and left. Let me illustrate my point with an anecdote.
A few years ago I was working as a community psychiatric nurse in South Yorkshire. One of my community patients was a young man with extreme far right, Islamophobic and racist views (and a history of very significant violence to boot). Trust me, you really wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of this bloke.
As it happened this young man had multiple social and psychiatric problems and was experiencing some considerable difficulties in accessing the community services he needed. Consequently I invested an awful lot of time, doggedly liaising with other professionals and talking through his mental health difficulties with him to try and get him some sort of a route back into a fulfilling way of life again.
One day I visited him at home to learn that he’d googled my name and found my blog. It happens sometimes. What he found there appalled him. I’m a lefty, after all. I’m what he thought of as ‘the enemy’. He’d had no idea about my politics. In fact, I’d been so non-committal on the subject that he’d actually assumed I agreed with him. Even rabid lefties like me understand the need to leave our politics at the door where work is concerned.
This young man had one, simple question…
He’d made no secret of his politics. He even had mail order toilet roll with verses from the Qu’Ran printed on every sheet and some very obvious pamphlets lying around at home.
Why had I worked so hard to help him – a neoNazi and unapologetic racist? He’d never have lifted a finger to help me if the shoe was on the other foot.
I resisted the temptation to reply that his small-mindedness was one reason why the shoe wasn’t actually on the other foot in the first place. Instead, in addition to discussing my professional duty of care, I briefly outlined the difference between the left wing working class and the right wing working class…
The left wing works for the benefit of all who need it.
The right wing works only for the benefit of those with whom they agree.
To my surprise he acknowledged that this was correct, without protestation or denial. He freely admitted that the left was far more inclusive and compassionate than the right and that this easily explained the difference in our attitudes. Below is a clip from a documentary about the 1936 Battle of Cable Street which illustrates this point far more effectively than I just did.
So far as the left is concerned the needs of the whole community matter. At least – so far as the left wing that I’ve always believed in is concerned. I’m a socialist precisely because I think the whole community is important. Even those very few people I’ve ‘disowned’ have been rejected only because they sought to ostracise others due to colour, nationality or religion. That seems to me to be a form of natural justice from which they just might learn something important.
So whilst I applaud the idea of developing a means to help those in need I worry that by limiting it to a form of socialist ‘mutual aid’ we may be starting down a route that ends with us losing one of the most important aspects of what it means to be a socialist. I put this article out here not to criticise or in any way to attempt to undermine the efforts of my fellow lefty. I think the intention is brilliant and I’ll certainly be participating in what aid I can give but I’d like to ask that, whilst we can and should make it clear that it’s a socialist initiative we really oughtn’t to limit our assistance only to those with whom we agree…
The working class needs to come together. You may have voted for this shameful Tory government and enabled a brutal Tory Brexit that benefits only the super rich but you’re still one of us. We need to stop fighting each other and unite against our common enemy.
The conservative party has never cared for you, your rights or your quality of life. We have what we have only because generations of working people were prepared to stand up as one. Now is the time for us to do the same before we lose everything they sacrificed so much to give us.
From Brexit to Coronavirus, austerity to the global financial crash of 2008 some people seem to have very clear ideas about who’s responsible. So check out the new gameshow from Left Eye View to see if you know who to hold responsible.
This weekend I went to Lincoln, a city I first visited during my homeless days back in the 1980s. It gave me a chance to meet some old friends and make a video combining my two main passions… Left wing politics and social/mental health care. What’s not to like?
I recently commented on a West Cumbrian internet site about my local MP. The site’s anonymous administrators responded to my factual points predictably enough with superficial memes, insults and attempts to discredit me with ad-hominem attacks rather than putting forward any reasonable points of their own. One of their taunts involved the term ‘Lefty loser’ which betrayed a lot about their very limited understanding of the working-class struggle for rights and equal consideration.
The genius behind the keyboard clearly thinks that the Left lost because of the 2019 General election result. They think the struggle lasts for the duration of a general election campaign and now it’s over. Such a superficial understanding of politics isn’t all that uncommon but it’s far from accurate.
In truth, as this series hopes to demonstrate, the fight has been going on for centuries. It was raging long before any of us were born and will presumably continue long after we’re dead. All any of us can do is join the fray in our own time – we won’t see defeat or victory – only periods of setback and progress.
The current government has an overall majority. That means they can do a great deal of damage to ordinary working people and our rights but they haven’t won. In fact, as history shows, despite the episodic highs and lows of our movement, working people have been gaining ground fairly consistently for generations and that overall trend will continue. We’ve lost a bit of ground right now but we’ll get it all back and more. So don’t despair – the task continues, the struggle continues and our work is the same as it ever was – to keep on advocating for justice and human rights, to keep on arguing against conservative greed and the racist and religious bigotry that so often accompanies it. The task for now is to do all we can to limit the damage that Boris and his mates will inflict by watching our neighbours’ backs, by making sure nobody goes hungry or destitute because of sanctions or cruel decisions from the DWP and by educating those around us about the real reason for their declining standards of living.
We need to take the long view. We need to be resilient and not despair. We must never give up the fight but press on, just as our ancestors did whose tireless struggle won for us the NHS and the Welfare state, decent housing and the right to be involved in our own government at every level from casting a vote to participation in cabinet and the Lords.
It was the brave activists of previous centuries that won for us employment rights, universal healthcare and an end to life-blighting childhood injuries from long hours in England’s ‘dark, Satanic mills’ and crippling stresses on developing bones in the mines to small boys suffocating to death in the blackness of chimneys. It was socialist reformers who fought for universal education and the right to more than a single day off a month. It was socialist activists who won for us access to the legal system and equality under the law. Their road to victory wasn’t easy and neither is ours but each generation of socialists makes its own progress overall. The current setback won’t change that so long as we come together, stick together and refuse to give up the fight.
There are no ‘lefty losers’ – only activists, campaigners and educators who continue the fight, hour after hour, day after day, year after year until each little battle is won and the cause moves that bit closer to a genuine, meaningful overall victory.
Like the Levellers, the Chartists, the Suffragettes and even the massacred victims of Peterloo our struggle continues. They didn’t lose and neither will we. There is no such thing as a ‘lefty loser’, only lefties who are in it for the long haul. We are resilient, we are strong, we are part of a centuries old tradition and we will prevail!
The Nazarene (0-33) seems to have been an extreme lefty by today’s measures. He preached against greed (many of his followers conveniently ignore that bit) and recommended compassion instead. He even got a bit ‘fighty’ with the capitalist pigs in the Temple grounds.
Like other socialists, he was especially unhappy with the usurers (like modern day bankers) whom he described as ‘thieves’. These were the money changers, the guys who took normal money in exchange for unsullied ‘Temple coin’ that could be used to purchase sacrificial lambs at Passover. The money-changers charged exorbitant rates – a bit like Wonga (which is linked to the Tory party, by the way) and so profited from the obligatory observance of the faithful. Jesus seems to have had a point there.
Jesus apparently hated inequality. He was the guy who said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He lived among the poor, helped the sick and the disabled and eschewed the tables of the wealthy whose oppressive ways simply maintained the suffering of their fellows.
Like many others before and since from Confucius, the Buddha and Lao Tzu to a host of Gurus and philosophers he recommended living by the Golden rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
That’s why he fed those who were hungry and advocated help for the sick and those without shelter, the direct opposite of this present government’s actions. The tories have spent the last 10 years increasing homelessness, forcing people to use foodbanks to survive and denying sick and disabled people the resources they need. They’re even starving the NHS of funding in preparation for selling it off to private enterprise as a way of increasing personal profit through the suffering of others.
It’s amazing how many Tories profess to be Christians and yet ignore almost everything their Messiah said.
As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once remarked…
“I am confused as to which Bible people are reading when they suggest that religion and politics don’t mix!”
To those non-religious Tories and others and others who either support oppressive Tory ideology or stand idly by and look the other way, the good Archbishop had this to say…
“When the Elephant stands on the mouse’s tail, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality”
It was March 14th 2014. My morning began much like any other. The sun rose, the alarm clock chimed its morning message and slowly I opened my eyes to greet the world.
Like so many others in today’s world I use my smartphone in lieu of an alarm clock and so my first task (after silencing the electronically generated morning cacophany) is to use it to check the morning news online. It wasn’t the best start to the day. Within minutes of opening my eyes I heard the awful news….
Tony Benn was dead. This world would be a poorer place without the wisdom and eloquence of this fine old man of the left. Tony Benn wasn’t just a politician, he was a gentleman. And he is missed.
He was eloquent and insightful with an almost uncanny ability to boil down apparently complex concepts into the simple fundamentals that grunts like me can understand. Consider for example his five questions for those in authority.
I wonder how the current Tory government would respond to these questions. After all if it wasn’t for Boris’ repeated lying, misinformation and restriction of pertinent information, there would be no current Tory government to represent the interests of the wealthy at all.
Tony Benn wasn’t just wise – he was compassionate too. Tony Benn wasn’t just a campaigner – he was a guru of the left. Tony Benn wasn’t just a politician – he was one of my heroes. And he will be missed.
Even well into old age he continued to campaign. I first heard him speak at a CND rally in the early 1980s. He was captivating. More recently he could be found demonstrating against the rise of fascism in UK and neoNazi groups such as the BNP and the EDL.
Tony Benn didn’t just believe in equality and human rights – he dedicated his long life to their attainment. And he will be missed.
Tony Benn was happy to rock the boat when morality demanded it.
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.
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 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…