I See A Change Coming

There’s a lot going to happen this week. It looks like this week will present the only chance for our elected representatives to assert the fundamental principal of British democracy- that parliament is sovereign in the UK, not the government or the Prime Minister. If Johnson and Cummings plan to drive a No Deal Brexit through by proroguing parliament is going to be stopped in the Houses of Commons and Lords then this is it. I hope they are up to it.
The large numbers of people out over the weekend marching show that there is public outrage and fears about this Tory right wing power grab but the pressure has to be maintained. Although Albert Square was fairly full on Saturday afternoon there were significantly more people shopping in the Arndale Centre or going to watch City play Brighton. There is an apathy about the English, a feeling that it couldn’t happen here coupled with the view that Johnson is a man of action and he’s getting things done. Marches and demonstrations are easily ignored by governments. A million people marched against going to war in Iraq. If parliament fails this week, the numbers on the streets and the intensity of the marches have to be increased. I sometimes think that witty placards and polite marching isn’t necessarily going to do very much and that the only way the strength of feeling will be noticed is if things start getting smashed up. I’m not one to advocate violence but it worked with the Poll Tax.
It turns out that the people who talked so loudly in 2016 about taking back control and returning sovereignty to the mother of parliaments don’t really give a fuck about that- they are ignoring the very thing they said they wanted to restore. What the last week has shown is that this country seriously needs a revolution, a wholesale change in its systems and practices. At the very least the UK needs a codified and written constitution, formally setting out the powers of the different branches of government with clearly delineated checks and balances. This necessitates a Head of State with actual political power who would have the constitutional right to resist the request from three members of the Privy Council to prorogue parliament last week. The Queen had no way to do this. I have no idea if she wanted to resist or didn’t but that doesn’t matter. Politically constitutional monarchy is dead in the water and has to go. Outdated, hamstrung and archaic, it serves no practical or political purpose. The House of Lords has got to got too, obviously, replaced by an elected second chamber (private education needs abolishing as well if we’re going to break down the completely unrepresentative run of Prime Ministers who went to Eton). We need significant change, asap.
In 1989 Spacemen 3 called for a revolution. The one that Sonic Boom had in mind may have more due to the harassment he got due to his chosen lifestyle and the supply of hard drugs in the Rugby area than any real political concern but he does get to the point with ‘well I’m through with people who can’t get up off their ass to help themselves change this government and better society’ before concluding ‘hold on a second… I smell burning… and I see a change coming round the bend’.

These Are Dark Days That We’re Living In

I suppose at the least one thing was made very clear yesterday, 28th August 2019, and that is that there can be no doubts now about where we all stand. The hard right wing of the Tory Party that have taken over government of the UK, an unelected government and Prime Minister, have no fear of getting rid of democracy to impose their will on us. The decision to prorogue parliament, no matter what they say about the Queen’s speech, normal process and preparing legislation for domestic policies, has been taken to enforce a No Deal Brexit. The trio who visited the Queen yesterday to tell her to sign the paperwork to approve suspending parliament, to prevent it from challenging the government and it’s No Deal fanaticism, have shown what Johnson and his government are. This is an undemocratic, right wing coup. If this was happening in another country, another Western liberal democracy, the media would be reporting it as such, and portraying it as a step on the road to dictatorship. Yet still we see vox pop interviews on the TV news with ordinary people saying that Brexit must be delivered whatever the cost. The cost is democracy.

The government and its advisers care for nothing else except delivering Brexit at the end of October. The constitution, democracy, the United Kingdom (Scotland will surely depart in the next five years), peace in Northern Ireland, everything else, is collateral damage. This also illustrates the weakness of the British political system and fragility of an unwritten constitution. Tradition and convention have been bent out of shape and there is no actual system of checks and balances to protect us from a power grab by the executive. We have a constitutional monarch who cannot interfere with politics. At least in a republic the head of state has legal powers to prevent executives from running out of control. From the palace’s point of view, I guess it has at least distracted everyone from that nasty business with Prince Andrew, the underage girls and the dead paedophile.

This is and always has been about the Tory party. In the 90s pro and anti- EU Tories split the Major government. They’ve been arguing about it ever since. One Tory Prime minister offered a referendum because the Tory party were frightened of the far right UKIP. Another attempted to appeal to both wings to get the UK out of the EU after the referendum. A third is now going to suspend parliament to drive No Deal through (partly in response to the battering the Tory party got from Farage at the elections in May). A few hundred thousand Tries chose the latest Prime Minister despite his history of lies and incompetence. We are all now paying the price of the Tory party and it’s problem with Europe.

The opposition are hopelessly split. Individual MPs speak sense but cannot collectively agree on a strategy. There is no precedent for a legal challenge and the media have been undermining the courts since the 2016 vote (Enemies Of The People anyone?). The Labour Party has spent three years fudging the issue. A vote of no confidence looks unlikely to succeed- the maths doesn’t add up; a government that doesn’t care about parliament would probably attempt to ride it out anyway; a date for a general election would be determined by the Prime Minister and my guess is he’d go for some time after 31st October.

Following the moment in May 1970 that the US army acted against it’s own people, shooting four students dead at an anti- Vietnam demonstration in Ohio, Neil Young sang ‘tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming/We’re finally on our own’. I think that is where we’re at, finally on our own. We have to take to the streets. Last night’s protests can only be the beginning.

At the start of this 1993 Sly and Lovechild remix the voice of the Reverend Jasper Williams speaks out over some piano- ‘these are dark days that we’re living in, bad situations, a world of tensions and frustrations, joys and sorrows, violences and upheavals, you don’t know hardly which way to turn… but you’ve got to have a determination that I’m going on anyhow’.

The World According To… Weatherall (Soul Of Europe Mix)

Green Milkshake

I thought it was interesting that the message the two major political parties took from the local elections three weeks ago was that ‘the British public want Brexit got on with- get us out of the EU’. That I suppose was one interpretation, despite both of the them losing seats nationwide (Tory losses admittedly outstripping Labour losses by some distance). Another take on the results was that the parties that gained the most at the local elections were those explicitly taking a stance against Brexit, who have opposing Brexit as policy. Today we have European elections, three years after voting to leave which is a small victory in itself, and it seems that this is an ideal opportunity for those of us still against leaving the EU, those of us who have seen and heard nothing to convince us that leaving is in the national interest, to send a loud and clear message. The only way to do this is to vote for parties who have remaining in the EU as their policy.

The Tories want to leave, it’s their baby, they started digging the hole and have kept on shovelling. Labour, despite Keir Starmer’s efforts, are a leave party- it is party policy and they have spent the last three years fudging it. The ongoing attempt to appeal to both leavers and remainers, for fear of ‘losing the north’, is misguided and unprincipled (which is odd in itself for a party led by people for whom principles are supposedly the key to their politics). Labour’s stance on Brexit is political, has nothing to do with principles, and is failing. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party will undoubtedly mop up lots of votes, from disillusioned Tories and ex-UKIPers, from people who voted Leave in the referendum but rarely otherwise vote and from Labour too. I’ve been told repeatedly in the media recently that having voted Labour at the 2017 general election (as I have throughout my adult life) that I am one of the 81% of British people who voted for a party who want Brexit. I’ve seen Farage staring down the camera telling me this even though I voted Labour despite their Brexit policy not because of it. That won’t be happening again. These are European elections that matter (for once), where our votes may count more than usual and where the whole election is about the future of Europe and our relationship with it.

The advice I’ve read is that if you want to vote for remain/oppose Brexit you should do the following depending on where you live- vote SNP if you live in Scotland, Plaid Cymru in Wales and either Lib Dem or Green if you live in England. I can understand why some people on the left will have a problem with voting Lib Dem, memories of the coalition lingering, but going off the local elections there are increasing numbers of people able to vote for them. There are plenty of good arguments for voting Green and their stance on Brexit is one of them- I voted Green at the local elections three weeks. Putting my X in a different box really wasn’t that difficult under the circumstances.

This is Brian Eno’s lovely piano remixed beautifully by Mojo Filter.

Another Green World (The Blue Realm)

While we’re in the political arena the rise of the milkshake as the weapon of choice against fascists and rabble rousers has been a real highlight of 2019. I know some people have said it adds little to public discourse, that reasoned debate and discussion should always be the way to win arguments, and that the throwing of milkshakes is the thin end of the wedge but these people – Farage and Tommy ‘Robinson’- have been spreading the seeds of hatred, xenophobia and racism in the public realm for years now and it’s no surprise that when faced with that some people will use more direct action. For two men who like to pose as outsider tough guys, they also go scuttling off quickly crying ‘foul’ when small quantities of dairy products are used against them. Violent language will always breed similar responses and you reap what you sow. Plus, it is very funny and maybe humiliating these people is the best way to deal with them. This article by Aditya Chakrabortty is a much better articulated piece about the milkshake spring. All of this can only be soundtracked by Kelis.

Milkshake

Monday’s Long Song

Sometimes things just come together really nicely. I had something else planned for today’s long song but then Twitter throws this photo up and one thing leads to another and we have Neu! instead. Krautrock against Brexit!

Fuer Immer

I originally wrote a long post here about the ongoing Brexit disaster but then deleted it- does anyone need any more opinions right now? Then I remembered Daniel Avery’s ambient/techno track from last year, a track named after the label our Prime Minster (at the time of writing) gave to nearly half the population a couple of years ago back. On Wednesday night Theresa May claimed on live TV that she’s on ‘our side’ and that actually parliament is to blame. Nice bit of anti-democratic demagoguery there. Thankfully, in a world increasingly full of right wing demagogues and populists, our own version is a shit populist, completely lacking the common touch and with little actual popular support.

A Very British Coup

This week Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested that if The House Of Commons continues to make every effort to avoid a no-deal Brexit the Queen should suspend parliament. There you have it, if there was every any doubt, the actual face and voice of a right wing coup, not by thugs in jackboots but by Old Etonians with upper class accents. Suspend democracy to get what you want. ‘If Adolf Hitler, flew in today, they’d send a limousine anyway…’, as Strummer put it in 1978.

So this is very well timed indeed, a new song from a very post-punk line up of Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, Richard Dudanski, Youth and Mark Stewart and this fantastic musical melting pot, a comment on the madness of Brexit, a piece of 2019 brilliance. Even more excitingly, there’s a Weatherall remix to follow. Levene and Wobble’s former PiL colleague, Brexit and Trump cheerleader Lydon, is nowhere to be seen.

Flying

I last posted this song three years ago in January 2016 and it’s fair to say a lot has happened since then. Theresa May stumbles on, unable to act, held hostage by her own red lines, her own party and the wingnuts and closet racists of the right wing, and her deal with the DUP. A government that can’t deliver whatever it was the 52% imagined they were voting for. The vox pop sections of TV news and the papers are currently full of people saying they want it over, they want out and they’re happy with a hard Brexit so ‘we’ can get back to being ‘great’ again (never mind the fact that almost everyone who uses that phrase seems to think that the word Great in Great Britain means amazing or powerful and isn’t actually just a geographical term to describe a landmass containing England, Scotland and Wales). Many of these people seem to have an unlived, deluded nostalgia for a England of the early 1950s, a post-Dunkirk and World War II but pre-Suez Crisis country, with an Empire overseas, where the milkman came every morning whistling as he left glass bottles on doorsteps, the birds chirruped in the trees and you could get an appointment at the doctor’s the same day (and there weren’t any people with darker skins or eastern European accents living down the road). I fear we are heading for a No Deal Brexit and that there are plenty of people happily welcoming this, all of whom are also suddenly experts on WTO rules and tariffs. How leaving the E.U. is going to achieve this is unclear to me. From where I’m sitting, it looks like a total disaster, for all of us. People that want to live in the past usually get stuck there. Does any other nation other than the English have such an obsession with its past, a past that never really existed? The only faint glimmer of hope is that the Tory Party will have to own this fuck up forever (and if this whole debacle led to the break up of the United Kingdom, that would be an even sweeter irony).

Back to the song and a total change of mood. St Etienne’s third single was Nothing Can Stop Us, an uptempo slice of indie/dance/northern based around a Dusty Springfield sample and the then new vocalist Sarah Cracknell. The single was a double A-side, the flip being Speedwell, a chunkier, deeper, house influenced tune. The 12″ single was followed up by second 12″, released a week later, with two remixes of Speedwell and an instrumental version of Nothing Can Stop Us. The remixes of Speedwell were by Dean Thatcher and Jagz Kooner, as The Aloof, and are superb. Totally 91.

Speedwell (Flying Mix)

Mindfighter

Despite her woeful performance as Prime Minister, unpleasant views, potential alliance with a highly dubious Northern Irish political party and the nasty tone of her election campaign there’s a good part of me that wants Theresa May to carry on, limping on for months as a Prime Minister with no authority, unable to choose her own cabinet, unable to get what she wants through parliament, constantly hamstrung by her decision to have a general election. It also holds off the grimness of Boris Johnson.

Totally unrelated, this is a track from a forthcoming Timothy J Fairplay ep on Hoga Nord. Mindfighter is like an 80s video game soundtrack with everything turned up, tuned up and sped up.

Racunari was a magazine for computing enthusiasts published in Yugoslavia in the 1980s and 1990s. If you want more front covers on a sexy, retro-futurist, former-Communist theme, then go here.