Monday’s Long Song

I’ve posted quite a few of Richard Norris’ Music For Healing series since lockdown began. Part 9 came out last week and it is my favourite so far, a stunning twenty minute long piece of ambient music, led by piano with gentle drones and noise as a backdrop. It works beautifully as background ambience and equally as deep listening, an idea Richard has been exploring in the last two years.

As the government appear increasingly incompetent and the news doesn’t really offer any respite- we have the highest number of Covid 19 infections and the highest death toll in Europe. The government clearly acted too late and mistakes were made in February and March, some of them for political reasons, that have contributed to thousands of people dying. There doesn’t seem to be a well planned way out of this at the moment and the right wing press are massing behind the government, attacking anyone who steps out of line as unpatriotic, lacking bravery or asking questions at a time when ‘we’ should be rallying around the government. The relaxing of lockdown has been clumsy and unclear and many people seem to be behaving as if it’s all over- meanwhile the daily death toll is still well into three figures. The plan for re-opening schools was proposed against the advice of everyone involved, except the government. Given that the government have made such a mess of the whole thing so far, is it really surprising that so few people trust them to get re-opening schools right?

Then there’s the whole Cummings situation, where the people who govern us- this particular person being unelected- clearly think that the laws they make in an emergency don’t apply to themselves and that they therefore are better than you. That this is then followed by the Prime Minister’s defence of this as ‘legal, responsible and [done] with integrity’ is beyond belief, beyond where any modern British government have gone in defending the indefensible. Johnson is a liar. We’ve known that for years but he is now it is obvious increasingly also a puppet. He is so weak, such a piss poor excuse for a leader, that he can’t fire a senior aide. Look at the front bench, a parade of elitist chancers and charlatans, all stacked up behind the biggest chancer and charlatan of them all. What a sham our democracy is.  It doesn’t matter that I am angry. I’d never vote Tory. I voted Remain. I’d never vote for Johnson. But it does matter that Tory MPs from the Shires are being bombarded with letters and emails from constituents, people who followed the lockdown instructions to the letter and didn’t go to comfort family members when they were in hospital, didn’t attend their parent’s funeral, or their child’s. I just hope all those people remember this and that it fuels them when they have the chance to do something about it. I hope that the government’s inability to care about how this looks and the way they clearly despise us, coupled with the rage that people are feeling about this, sticks and wears away at them, burning them slowly, from the inside.

If all of that doesn’t require the need of long- form, calming music to still the dread, the anger and anxiety, I don’t know what does.

We Have Brandy And Half Corona

I wrote this, went back to it, re-wrote it, nearly deleted it and then went back to it again and decided to go with it.

Today is a bank holiday in the UK. The traditional May Day bank holiday that should have been on Monday moved to today- not that it matters very much at the moment, almost everyday’s the same anyway. Today’s bank holiday celebrates the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, the defeat of the Nazis and the end of the Second World War in Europe. This day will be celebrated by some with bunting and socially distant street parties and cosy 1940s vibes, speeches by Churchill and a general sense of national satisfaction. It is a Daily Mail, Tory Party, Brexit, picture postcard version of 1945- cheerful British crowds, Spitfires, the King and Queen waving from the balcony, cucumber sandwiches. I’m uncomfortable with it because it is based on a number of lies and distortions.

The Blitz brought untold suffering to the people of Britain. Two million houses destroyed, 32, 000 people killed and 87, 000 seriously injured by bombs. Cities were flattened. When it began there was no real plan at central or local government level for how to deal with bombing or its aftermath. When the first air raids wiped out whole streets, the local authorities had to invent a response. Clearing bomb sites, digging out survivors and bodies, providing medical care and shelter. Blackout, evacuation, fire wardens and so on were all put in place. Whole families and entire streets were lost. There’s a memorial in Stretford cemetery, just up the road from here, to the residents of Lime Road where multiple houses were flattened by a bomber returning from delivering it’s load to Trafford Park. The wall records the names of fifty people and ‘seventeen unidentified persons’ who were killed in their beds at Christmas 1940, in some cases every member of a family. The trauma that these raids brought is generally overshadowed by the so- called Spirit of the Blitz. Counselling didn’t exist. Dealing with PTSD wasn’t a priority. People buried didn’t talk about it. Even at the time the Spirit of the Blitz was a myth, a propaganda campaign conducted by Lord Beaverbrook, the Daily Express newspaper owner brought into the National Government, to keep spirits up and help win the war. Crime increased during the Blitz. The black market flourished. The King and Queen were booed and jeered  by ordinary Londoners when they visited the East End. Evacuees were often resented by communities and many were treated badly. Public air raid shelters were not widely used, they were often cheaply built, water logged and had a reputation for collapsing. Many people, the poor in the cities, had little or no access to shelters anyway. All in it together?

Newspapers that supported left wing parties were banned under wartime legislation. Churchill wanted to extended the ban to include the Daily Mirror when it published a cartoon critical of his policies in 1942 (above). Under Beaverbrook the newspapers staged photographs of milkmen delivering the daily pint over the wreckage of a bombing raid to keep spirits up. They’d already had to spin the defeat at Dunkirk into a victory. The war was almost lost before it began, 350, 000 troops retreating from the oncoming German army and trapped between them and the sea. This is not to deny the bravery of the men involved but the Dunkirk myth is one of the biggest propaganda spins the British media has ever created. This isn’t to say that keeping spirits up and raising morale aren’t an important job during wartime but the lie has become the truth, officially repeated and that’s the version of the war that is being celebrated today.

During the war some members of the government began to plan for afterwards and there was a growing view that things had to change. The poverty of the 1930s, unemployment, children going hungry, slum housing, no security, were all seen as the old way. There was talk of a new world, of doing away with the old guard and getting it right. Win the war and then win the peace. People started to talk of a welfare state and Sir William Beveridge was asked to write a report. He said that Britain could afford a welfare state and had to afford it, for the national good. Churchill was against it and he began to be seen as the man for the war but not the man for the peace. The British people agreed, removing him from office at the first post- war general election. Ernest Bevin, the trade union leader who was brought into the Wartime Cabinet and in charge of the Ministry of Labour, argued strongly for a welfare state and for post- war security for all, the idea that poverty should be eradicated and that government and the people had a duty to build a fairer society. After all, what was the suffering for, if not this? This has been successively undermined from the 1970s onwards by the right wing press and right wing politicians, with repeated stories of benefit cheats, dependency culture and dole dossers, a concerted campaign to forget that the welfare state was a reaction to the absolute poverty of the 1920s and 1930s and a commonly held desire to provide security for people who had none, who could not afford to visit a doctor, who died because they could not afford medicines, who went hungry when they had no work. The Daily Mail and the Tories who want us to celebrate V.E. Day are the same who want to undermine and override the Second World War’s most long lasting social impact in this country. The causes of the welfare state- war, poverty, inequality, injustice- are ignored in favour of sentimental flag waving and a notion of togetherness. The real togetherness, if it existed, was the sense among politicians and people in 1945 that when Hitler was defeated there had to be fundamental changes in the way the UK and society were organised and the way it treated people. In this new world there was no place for Winston Churchill who was against it anyway. Our current PM’s hero is Winston Churchill. The talk is that he wants to loosen the lockdown, get the economy going again, and that he will announce this on Sunday- backed up by the flag waving Tory press. Many feel that this is too soon. If Johnson sees this as his Churchill moment he may find that a resulting second wave of Covid infections becomes the equivalent of the V2 flying rockets that destroyed neighbourhoods in London 1944 and 1945.

The V.E. Day celebrations also add to the idea of British exceptionalism, that ‘we’ won the war. Yes, the Battle of Britain was a significant moment, Hitler’s plan to invade Britain postponed, but it was his decision to invade the Soviet Union that the war hinges on militarily. The Russian people fought street by street, house by house, cellar by cellar. Russian women served at the fontline. They lost 20 million people as a result. The Red Army, the defence of Stalingrad, the horrors of the Eastern Front and the advance towards Berlin turned the tide of the war. In the west the D- Day landings started to squeeze the Nazis out of France. U.S. soldiers make up two thirds of the 10, 000 casualties from the landings. None of this is adequately represented by the Spitfires, sandwiches and bunting portrayal of V.E. Day.

The newspapers and politicians who want us to celebrate this parochial, one eyed view of the past are the same ones who want to take us out of Europe, who want us to prioritise business over human lives by lifting the lockdown and who want to turn back the clock to a land that never existed. Jon Savage tweeted a comment earlier this week and it’s something that I’ve felt for some time. Jon’s Tweet reads-

‘Have suddenly focussed on the fact that the usual May Day holiday on Monday has been moved by this shower of shit government to next Friday for VE Day: this country has been totally infantilised. GET OVER THE FUCKING SECOND WORLD WAR’

And who can disagree?
Actually loads of people would disagree I’m sure.

Anyway, that’s my take. I’ll inevitably end up feeling like the V.E. Day Grinch when the genuine sense of community down our road that has been fostered during lockdown becomes a socially distanced street party later on today, people drinking and waving flags in their front gardens and there’s some communal Vera Lynn and Churchill broadcasts.

Here are some London Irish trad- folk punks singing a song in 1988 about the serious business of public holidays in Almeria.

Fiesta

 

Is This The Road That We Take To The End?

Brexit is happening suddenly but quietly. It’s largely disappeared as a news story, forced off the front pages/ top of the hour reports by Johnson’s victory in December which has taken all the debate and opposition out of it and a flurry of other stories- the royal family and paedophilia, the royal family and racism, the royal family and the entirely sensible decision by two of its members to get out of it, the Coronavirus, Trump’s impeachment and Iran to name but a few. Johnson promised to get it done. What he’s done is get everyone to stop talking about it. In two days time Britain will leave the E.U. Admittedly we won’t see any real changes until the end of the year. Freedom of movement will remain while the UK is in the transition period, we will still be bound by E.U. laws, and the European Court of Justice, worker’s rights and trade will remain the same but without any representation in the European Parliament. As the press looks elsewhere the government will supposedly get on with the job of negotiating the terms of the real departure and the UK’s future relationship with Europe, trade deals and all the rest. They’ve already passed legislation banning themselves from extending the transition period beyond the end of 2020 which means that we could conceivably slip out of the EU on December 31st without any deal. Something that a good number of these bastards have wanted all along.

Symbolically the moment when we leave is midnight on January 31st (Brussels time, nicely). That’s the moment that this country takes the step to make itself poorer, worse off in all sorts of ways, to cut itself off from the largest single market in the world, the moment this country chooses to be an inward looking, mean spirited, small minded Little Englander nation. There will be some arseholes draped in Union flags having parties where they’ve ‘banned’ French wine, Dutch cheese and German  sausage, Little Englanders to a man. They will be misty eyed dickheads standing staring at Big Ben, willing it to bong, and sharing pictures of the White Cliffs of Dover. These people will be gone one day, forgotten, swallowed up by the mess they created, the country they chose to reduce, the country they willingly have turned into a laughing stock around the world. I hope each one of them at some point has a moment where they see what they’ve done and silently admit to themselves that they made a massive fucking error.

Two late period Big Audio Dynamite songs, both showing in different ways that there was life in Mick Jones’ band after they were seen to have passed their sell- by date. In 1991 Mick put together a new version following the departure of the original line up after Megatop Phoenix. Recruiting three younger players (Nick Hawkins, Gary Stonadge and Chris Kavanagh) and renaming the band Big Audio Dynamite II they released Kool Aid in 1990 and then The Globe in 1991. The Globe was in part a re-working of Kool Aid, kicking off with Rush and the cracking title track plus fan favourite Innocent Child and one or two others that still cut the mustard. The Globe was remixed by ambient house heroes The Orb, nine minutes of bliss starting out with the song, then going all dubby bubbly and ambient before bringing in Mick’s most famous guitar riff to see us throgh the last few minutes.

The Globe (By The Orb)

By the mid 90s B.A.D. II had become Big Audio and then back to B.A.D. They were dropped by their major label and signed to Radioactive. In 1995 they released F- Punk, eleven songs created with the same line up Mick put together in 1990 but now with Andre Shapps on board on keyboards and co- production. Andre is the cousin of Grant Shapps, former chairman of the Conservative party and currently transport minister in Johnson’s cabinet. We can’t really hold this against Andre but it’s a bizarre link. F- Punk contained one end period B.A.D. classic…

I Turned Out A Punk (U.S. Mix)

Counted in by Mick shouting ‘1- 2- 3- 4’, a tinny two chord riff crashes in, backed by wheezy organ and then Mick’s familiar reedy voice…

‘Mummy was a hostess, daddy was a drunk
Cos the didn’t love me then, I turned out a punk…

… Slowly started slipping round, til my ship was sunk
Going nowhere in my life, I turned out a punk…

… took my disabilities, packed them in a trunk
rock ‘n’ roll’s alright with me, I turned out a punk’

Tremendous stuff, Mick still kicking against the pricks and writing from the heart. Fuck Brexit.

Some Folks Are Born To Wave The Flag

There’s a lot of war in the ether at the moment, both real and imagined. Obviously the Iran- USA situation but also Brexit looming and the lunatic fringe making their usual absurd comparisons. Leave.EU recently tweeted that 1st February should see all the church bells ring across the country to celebrate ‘our independence’. The original tweet read-

‘BELLS FOR VICTORY
Just as we did to mark the Allies’ victory in Europe in 1945 we’re calling all patriots to ring the bell at their local church… to celebrate Britain’s new found independence! If the powers that be don’t like it? We’ll do it anyway!’

I’m sure we don’t really need to unpack this swivel eyed insanity any further but this shows what we’re dealing with and where the leave ultras heads are at- leaving the EU is for them on a par with defeating Nazi Germany. Mark Francois, comedy little right wing Tory bellend, repeated this call in the House of Commons, demanding Big Ben ring out to mark the occasion.

The right wing who have pursued this national idiocy have made these World War II comparisons all the way through. Brought up on Second World War films and comics like Commando and Victor, there is an enormous emasculating shadow that falls over them, the knowledge that their fathers and grandfathers served in the two big wars of the Twentieth Century and that they never would. They’re obsessed with the Germans, Dunkirk, Churchill, Spitfires and D- Day, never missing an opportunity to hark back. This idealised Britain of their imagination, all white cliffs, Sten guns and Anderson shelters, is of course a Britain before immigration and before the liberalisation of the 1960s. In their version of World War II the Soviets are always inconsequential, despite losses of 20 million, and the USA always arrives late, ‘after all the serious fighting’s done’. Francois, Farage et al, a lifetime spent wishing the Second World War was on their CV, their little Dunkirk hard ons leading their politics.

Meanwhile in the USA the last two Republican Presidents both had the opportunity to serve in the jungles of South East Asia and both passed it up. Trump had five deferments from Vietnam. George W Bush had his Dad pull strings and served with the National Guard at home. Trump (especially) loves the hard man imagery of assassinating men in foreign countries by drone strike.

These things came together last week. And then I heard Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 song Fortunate Son while looking for some footage of Vietnam for a lesson with my Year 11s.

Fortunate Son

 

For A Life That’s Fit For Living

It never fails to amaze me how servile this country is- a thousand years of monarchy coupled with a political upper class who have managed to hoodwink enough of the voters that they know best, that they are born to govern, have done us in. That has led us to where we are today. There was a new item on the BBC last week focusing on a food bank in Grimsby. A couple who had been priced out of Margate had moved north and survived using the food bank.

The fact that we are accepting the use of food banks in 2019 tells its own story and shows how far people have accepted the fate the Conservatives have delivered to them. In the last five years the use of food banks has increased by 73%. By March 2019 over one and a half million people in the UK relied on them. A third of these people use food banks because their income doesn’t cover the basics. A third of the rest are because of issues to do with Universal Credit, either changes to benefits or delayed payments. There are now more food banks in the UK than branches of McDonalds- how’s late period capitalism working for you?

Back to Grimsby. This couple were interviewed by the reporter and asked who they were thinking of voting for. Forced out of their home, surviving on charity food handouts, at the back end of a decade of government by the Conservative Party, the man said ‘I like what Boris is saying’.

Somewhere there’s a complete disconnect between the impact of the three worst Prime Ministers this country has seen since 1945 and the effects of those Prime Ministers on people’s lives. Each of the three has been engaged in a frantic race, in half the time of the previous one, to reach new lows. From Cameron’s ideological cuts to public spending propped up by the Lib Dems and offer of a referendum through fear of the nutjobs and racists at UKIP to May’s loss of an election that forced her to be propped up by the DUP to Boris Johnson- the only British Prime Minister to have been found guilty of illegally shutting down parliament to prevent it from discussing his key policy, we have been governed by the most incompetent and foul trio of leaders imaginable. And still people say ‘I like what Boris is saying’ and ‘I know he’s a liar but I trust him’.

This election campaign has been the most depressing few weeks, the faked news reports in the last few days about the little boy suffering from pneumonia on a hospital floor, the lies told by Matt Hancock to distract from this, the fabricated story about a Labour activist punching a Tory aide at Leeds hospital, the mass use of spambots to pump out lies about the original photograph, the failure of two of the top political journalists to do even basic fact checking- it is shameful and should make anyone who think the UK is modern, fully functioning democracy think again.

If you vote Tory you are voting for Boris Johnson, a leader who has illegally prorogued parliament, compared Muslim women to bankrobbers and letterboxes, called  homosexuals ‘tank topped bum boys’, called black people ‘piccaninnies’, suggested EU nationals should go home to their own countries, tried to politicise the murder of two people two weekends ago for his own benefit, has lied and cheated his way through life and politics, who has been kept away from both the public and TV interviewers the longer the campaign has gone on and who this week pocketed a journalists phone when confronted with the photo of the child on the hospital floor. You’re voting for his cronies too: Priti Patel who suggested recently while being interviewed in Barrow that poverty wasn’t the fault or responsibility of government; for Dominic Raab, the Brexit minister who didn’t realise how much trade comes through Dover and hadn’t read the Good Friday agreement; for Jacob Rees Mogg, a Tory so embarrassing and politically unsafe that they’ve hidden him away from the voters; Nicky Morgan insisting in the face of all rational evidence and basic that 50, 000 new nurses containing 50, 000 current nurses being retained is not 50, 000 new nurses; a party that doctored news footage of Keir Starmer and spread it via social media; a party whose manifesto has little in the way of actual detail other than that they will get Brexit done, as if the whole thing is finished once the UK leaves the EU when in reality that’s when the business of Brexit actually begins. He, Johnson, and they, the Tories, are laughing at us- the hate us and they laugh at us because they know they can do what they like and people will still vote for them. It’s almost as if with Boris Johnson they have decided to see what they can actually get away with in plain sight. ‘Look, here, an actual total fucking bumbling poshboy idiot- vote for him’. The deference the Tories get stems from this bizarre British belief that they ar the natural party of government, that they are the safe pair of hands. Nothing they have done since 2010 or that Johnson has done since becoming Prime Minister in the summer justifies that deference, that servility, that doffing the forelock as the Eton boys go by.

It’s looking like the best we can hope for is a hung parliament. We have to do the best we can to stop these people. Vote Labour, vote SNP, vote Lib Dem, vote Plaid Cymru, vote for the independents thrown out of the Tory party but vote anti- Tory. If they get a majority Johnson and the Tories will be laughing in our faces while they piss on our shoes for the next five years.

I’m not sure any of this helps but I feel a little better for typing it. It’s difficult to feel positive or optimistic about things at the moment. Watching the TV or reading the paper makes me depressed, hopeless or angry. I guess anger is more useful than the other two and that’s mainly what’s fuelled this post.

This song by Aztec Camera and Mick Jones from 1990 has been picking away at the back of mind for the last few months. In the lyrics Roddy Frame takes the four countries that make up the UK in turn- Scotland ignored by the Conservative government despite never voting for it, Northern Ireland with it’s Catholic population at the end of a gun and the butt of Paddy jokes, Wales suffering from population decrease a a result of incoming holiday home owners and England under the cosh of police brutality and illiberal attitudes.  Roddy and Mick’s rat- a- tat delivery, trading song lines and guitar lines, and the sheer bounce of the tune carry it all along, totally upbeat and Roddy tries to end with some positivity-

‘Love is international
And if you stand or if you fall
Just let them know you gave your all
Worry about it later

The past is steeped in shame
And tomorrow’s fair game
For a life that’s fit for living
Good morning Britain’

Good Morning Britain

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.