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.

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For The Many

Getting up this morning to find that the exit poll which caused my jaw to drop several inches when it was announced at 10 pm last night was petty much spot on was a wonderful feeling. I stayed up for a while but went to bed before it was clear what the result was. This morning’s news- Theresa May’s cynical bid for a personal majority completely scuppered, hanging on as the leader of a minority government was good enough on its own. The massive increases made by Labour, the collapse of UKIP, the high turnout especially among younger voters, the rejection by the voters of an entirely negative Tory campaign- these are the things that put a smile on the face. Having been on the losing side so often politically, Friday 9th June felt like victory.

With perfect timing, to celebrate, here’s a new Andrew Weatherall remix, this time of Nancy Noise.

Non-UK readers- the man in the picture is Lord Buckethead.

Push The Sky Away/Harder Than You Think

Right then, time for action, time for change, time to see what is going on. Today is the day. By this tomorrow we should know what we face. The way I see it there are three potential outcomes of this general election.

1. A victory for a socialist Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn. If I am to believe my Twitter timeline this is a completely plausible outcome, but I fear it is unlikely.

2. A hung parliament. Seeing as there can’t be any parties out there who would prop up a minority government led by a politically damaged Theresa May, I’m guessing this would result in a progressive alliance of Labour, SNP, PC, possibly some Lib Dems, and the Greens. I am happy with this as an outcome.

3. A Tory government, a cabinet of barbarians, who will hold power for the next five years, driving us off the cliff face and into some sort of post-EU, post human rights, right-wing elective dictatorship where the poor are left to fend for themselves and Britain becomes a Poundshop, Daily Mail outpost off the coast of northern Europe.

I’m not looking forward to this.

In 2013 Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds released an album called Push The Sky Away, the first without long term cohort Mick Harvey. It has a warmth that singles it out in Nick Cave’s back catalogue and on this beautiful closing song, a most un-Bad Seeds sound, an almost post-club sound with some optimistic, life affirming lyrics…

‘I was riding
The sun was rising from the fields

You’ve got to keep on pushing and keep on pushing
Pushing the sky away

And some people say that it’s just rock and roll
Oh but it gets down right into your soul

You’ve got to keep on pushing and keep on pushing
Pushing the sky away’

Push The Sky Away

It’s a thing of beauty, even if you’re not much of a Nick Cave fan. But it’s not a song to take to the barricades or the polling station. This is though, Chuck D and Flavor Flav telling it how it is…

Harder than You Think

For The Many

A week today the people of the United Kingdom will go to the polls. Voting Tory is obviously so completely wrong that we will talk of it no further. Views of Jeremy Corbyn are polarised too, among Labour supporters and voters as well as the wider electorate, but the election campaign and the choice facing us has thrown everything into new light, and views of Corbyn have been shifting with people getting on board who previously had doubts. It seems blindingly clear to me (in England at any rate, Scotland and Wales have different issues and different options and Northern Ireland is a different situation again) that if you have any interest in wanting a fairer society, anything approaching some kind of social justice, a society where there will be an NHS for all and an education system that is relatively equal for all, a country where the many are not downtrodden for the benefit of a wealthy few, then there can only be one box to place your X. Whatever your thoughts on Corbyn, Labour are offering a manifesto that promises hope- for the many, not the few. Will they win? I don’t think so but it’s tighter than it was a few weeks ago and if the polls are correct it’s getting tighter still. I’d like a Labour government with the Green’s Caroline Lucas in the cabinet, by far the most impressive of the debaters at the leadership TV showdowns (which Theresa May is too frightened to attend despite seeing herself as strong).

That’s my soapbox speech over, at least until next Thursday. Hull’s Balearic campaigner Steve Cobby and realist poet Russ Litten have recorded a song borrowing the name of Labour’s manifesto, for the many not the few. Smart electronic funk, a bubbling bassline, horns and flutes, and Russ’s words. The original track was a free download. They performed it at a rally in Hull and it turned out Corbyn already had it as his ringtone. You can now get a four track e.p., complete with Corbyn himself edited into one of the mixes Tackhead stylee, for the cost of £1 (all proceeds to the Labour Party). It’s here. You can get the single original version as a free download here. For the many, not the few.

Remain

The author Robert Harris tweeted last week ‘How foul this referendum is. The most depressing, divisive, duplicitous political event in my lifetime. may there never be another’. Which just about covers it. Nigel Farage has forced a ‘discussion’ into public, a discussion which has unleashed all kinds of racist and xenophobic forces which have at least partly contributed to the murder of MP Jo Cox last week. Farage is a political charlatan, a fraud, a man who basks in a man-in-the-street image despite a wealthy, privileged background. A demagogue who hates the EU yet is paid by it, who represents constituents at the European parliament but rarely goes. A man who poses in front of Nazi inspired posters and complains that the murder of Jo Cox has ‘taken the momentum out of the Leave campaign’. On every and any level, he is a disgrace.

David Cameron has to take the blame here too- despite being the leader of the Remain campaign, he is the one who called this referendum, a cynical response to the rise of Ukip and the defection of Tory votes, a piece of political opportunism that has blown up in his face, shown the cracks in his party and that he’ll pay for politically at some point, win or lose.

Let’s Kiss And Make Up

This is original The Field Mice version covered by St Etienne with their Eurocentric cover art.

A vote to Leave is a backwards step, a vote for a past that doesn’t exist. I can’t see any positives in leaving. Taking back control, taking back sovereignty is a smokescreen- how is leaving the ‘undemocratic’ E.U. increasing democracy in a country which has an unelected second chamber and is a constitutional monarchy? My vote today is to Remain. Let’s stay together.

Enough preaching.

Stay

Stay is off Bowie’s Station To Station, sometimes my favourite Bowie album. The choppy guitar part, Carlos Alomar I assume, is wonderful.

And finally Portishead have released this cover of ABA’s SOS, a tribute to Jo Cox.

Getting Away With It

I’ve been off work this week, half term holiday. Not done very much, pottered about, visited an exhibition at The Lowry, popped into town and went to a record shop or two, took the kids out, attended a protest meeting where I met Johnny Marr… that sort of thing.

Trafford Council, the Tory run council where we live, have recently announced that as they have no legal obligation to provide transport for disabled and special needs young people over the age of sixteen that they would be withdrawing the service. Most disabled youngsters from the borough attend Brentwood Special School in Timperley and come from all over Trafford. Transport with an escort is essential for these kids. They cannot travel independently. Trafford Council is in favour of ‘independence’ but most of these young people will never be independent as the rest of us know it. Travelling on a public service bus is simply impossible. Not to mention dangerous. The policy is due to be enforced for all of them from September. This will affect our son Isaac. He cannot travel independently, it is out of the question. Under this policy the choice we will have is to either  pay Trafford’s proposed parental contribution (£400 per month) or to take him to school ourselves. The school is several miles away. As I have to leave for work at 7.30 this obviously affects Mrs Bagging Area’s ability and freedom to work if she has to make an hour’s round trip at 8am and then again at 3pm.

More outrageously they cut the transport instantly for eleven young people last September without warning. This has adversely affected the children and the families- some autistic children have been completely disrupted by the loss of transport. Some have needed new medication as a result. At least one parent has lost their job and others have had to give up work or renegotiate with their employers. Some children have been unable to attend 16-19 education. The transport axe fell without warning and in some cases the council asked parents to provide evidence that their child was still disabled, including a girl with Downs Syndrome- as if she had grown out of it when she turned 16. The total cost of the savings for this year is £70, 000, which is a drop in the ocean in the finances of the wealthiest borough in Greater Manchester. Central government have cut local government funding and asked them to make further cuts. Trafford’s Tory ruling group have bent over backwards to accommodate them.

Trafford Council’s motto, displayed proudly on their recently refurbished town hall (multi-million pound refurbishment I might add), is Hold Fast That Which Is Good. Enabling disabled young people to attend school might fit into the category of ‘that which is good’. The education provision in Trafford is rated as Outstanding. Cutting services for the one of most vulnerable groups in society is not. Many other councils in the north-west have decided that although they are not legally bound to provide such transport for disabled and special needs youngsters, they are morally bound to do so. Conservative Party morality is clearly something else entirely.

On Wednesday night we attended a protest at Trafford Town Hall before full council met. Several Labour and Lib Dem councillors have spoken on our behalf. An online petition has over 2000 signatures. The council have delayed a final decision so far. As we stood in the dark outside the town hall with our banners and placards a familiar figure came into view. Johnny’s niece attends Brentwood Special School so he has a personal involvement. And that is how I ended up on the steps of Trafford Town Hall standing next to Johnny Marr- a man whose poster was on my wall as a seventeen year old, whose records I have bought religiously over the last three decades- as he shouted the words of a chant I made up for the benefit of the council and cameras. Was I freaked out? Just a little. The Manchester Evening News report is here with our son Isaac to the left of Johnny in the first picture. Maybe best to ignore some of the mealy mouthed comments at the bottom. The protest was on ITV Granada’s 10.30pm news too. Let’s hope the press attention counts for something as the Tory ruling group meet to consider their final decision.  So while the protest and the campaign are the most important aspect of this, and persuading Trafford Council to accept their responsibilities is the number one priority I have to say I was a tad giddy about meeting Johnny Marr and before leaving we had time for a brief chat and photo opportunity. Top man Mr Marr.

Get Up And Fight Them Back

Well that was utterly depressing and dismal. Five more years of ideological austerity. English voters opting in increasing numbers for antisocial, narrow minded, throwback politics. Seeing Nigel Farage miss out was the only bright spot of the whole thing really, although I can’t say I was sorry to see George Galloway lose his seat- he’s a shit stirring, self serving, opportunist. Labour need to re-evaluate their policies, message and position entirely. Trying to occupy the same ground as the Tories has led to defeat and the loss of many of their own supporters. We’re all going to pay for this for many years to come.

Steve Mason, ex-Beta Band, one of recent times most political song writers.

Fight Them Back