Celebrities flock to provide new Red Wedge for Corbyn

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THE right wing press loves to depict Jeremy Corbyn as a dour, out-of-touch “retired geography teacher” who is more at home pottering on his allotment than connecting with real people.

Oh, how wrong they are!

Corbyn’s leadership election campaigns in 2015 and 2016 gave the electorate a glimpse of the man’s universal appeal.

And anyone who has met him or heard him speak publicly, will attest to the 67-year-old’s contagious charisma and genuine human warmth.

Small wonder therefore, that celebrities from the world of acting, music, sport, and elsewhere, are flocking to support him in his bid to become the UK’s next Prime Minister.

An unlikely quartet of multi-millionaire snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan, Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, Welsh diva Charlotte Church and the Modfather himself, Paul Weller, are leading a 21st Century Red Wedge for Corbyn.

This new Wedge kicked off last December with the hugely successful Concert for Corbyn at Brighton’s famous Dome auditorium.

The People Powered concert was a real return to the days of Red Wedge and Rock Against Racism, when musicians publicly stood up for political causes.

In the case of Red Wedge, a collective of musicians spearheaded by Paul Weller, Jimmy Somerville and Billy Bragg, the aim was to support the left leaning Labour Party of Neil Kinnock in their battle against Margaret Thatcher and her far right Conservative government.

Red Wedge was launched in November 1985, with Bragg, Weller, Strawberry Switchblade and Kirsty MacColl invited to a reception at the Palace of Westminster hosted by Labour MP Robin Cook.

Red Wedge was not officially part of the Labour Party, but it did initially have office space at Labour’s headquarters.

And it organised a number of major tours.

The first, in January and February 1986, featured Bragg, Weller’s band The Style Council, The Communards, Junior Giscombe, Lorna Gee and Jerry Dammers, and picked up guest appearances from Madness, The The, Heaven 17, Bananarama, Prefab Sprout, Elvis Costello, Gary Kemp, Tom Robinson, Sade, The Beat, Lloyd Cole, The Blow Monkeys, Joolz and The Smiths.

It was mind-blowing in its style and political swagger – particularly with under 25 electorate.

But after the 1987 election produced a third consecutive Conservative victory, many of the musical collective drifted away and Red Wedge was formally disbanded in 1990.

Billy Bragg remembers the days clearly: “I suppose the Wedge came about because we all kept meeting at benefit gigs for Nicaragua or whatever. Those were the darkest days of the Thatcherite 80s, as well. There was a feeling that something had to be done.”

Paul Weller added: “The MPs we’d meet around the country were more showbiz than the groups. It was an eye-opener; it brought me full circle in how I feel about politics. It’s a game. I’ve very little interest in it. I’m not talking about what’s happening to our planet or our country, but about organised politics.”

But the last few years have seen an upsurge in radicalism in both music and politics as the economic conditions for the poorest in particular reach crisis point.

Now the people are hand-in-hand with celebrities speaking their minds about Theresa May, the Conservative government, austerity, homelessness, the NHS and the greater Establishment.

Last December’s Concert for Corbyn was organised by music journalist Lois Wilson and the Brighton branch of Momentum; and it persuaded Paul Weller, to take part in his first direct support of a politician since the days of Red Wedge.

The Dome was sold-out and the organisers smartly utilised both the bar area and main auditorium for a ‘revue’ type affair.

Edgar Summertyme Jones and Kathyrn Williams played to an enthralled bar; and later Ghetto Priest and his band delivered one of the sets of the evening; a superb concoction of dub, grime, percussive African-fusion, and rock, that had the audience tapping away, many with big smiles on their faces.

With many bands to get through and short turnarounds, there was very little time to relax before the quirky three-piece all-girl band Stealing Sheep took to the stage in fetching polka dot onesies.

Guitars dominated concert hall proceedings, beginning with The Coral founder Bill Ryder-Jones, who claimed on stage that he personally got the call from JC to appear.

Paul Weller, ever the rebel, puffed on a cigarette beside the stage, ready to go on with a collection of musician friends, put together for this occasion, including an exceedingly rare live gig for the wheelchair-bound Robert Wyatt.

He, Weller and Steve Pilgrim alternated songs, based around keys, guitars, drums and the double bass of the legendary Danny Thompson.

A personal highlight was Steve Pilgrim dedicating his anthem Explode the Sun directly to Jeremy Corbyn.

Meanwhile, Wyatt, like Weller, opted for a series of lesser known songs, such as Mass Medium, which originally appeared on his 1985 Old Rottenhat album, a song that Wyatt introduced saying the whole press had turned into gutter press.

Jeremy Corbyn followed them on stage and delivered a short speech; a mix of his politics and the importance of music in general.

The final words were left for The Farm front man Peter Hooton who said if he had to plant a flag in a field, he would want Corbyn on his side.

Prior to playing the Dome gig in December 2016, Weller said: “When Red Wedge came to an end I said I would never get involved in party politics again.

“’I’m doing the gig because I like what Corbyn says and stands for. I think it’s time to take the power out of the hands of the elite and hand it back to the people of this country. I want to see a government that has some integrity and compassion.”

Billy Bragg is with Weller on this.

Last August (during Corbyn’s second successful leadership campaign) he accused the Murdoch owned Times of twisting his words in a report claiming he thought Jeremy Corbyn was unable to reach enough of the electorate to become an effective political force.

In response to the Times article Bragg said he had “joined the long list of people stitched up by the Murdoch papers”.

“Don’t believe the bullshit about me in the Times,” he said, “I’m still supporting Corbyn.”

He then urged his followers to “stay calm”, adding, “don’t let Murdoch sow discord”.

He later said: “I’m a socialist which means my glass is half full. I’m encouraged by the young people being mobilised.”

But while the support of veterans, Weller, Wyatt, Bragg and award-winning film producer Ken Loach may be taken for granted, it is the new celebrity supporters who have caught the eye.

Snooker superstar Ronnie O’Sullivan has been positively verbose on Twitter about his support for Corbyn.

Recent Tweets include:

“I love paying tax. As long as it goes to the right people who need it, like the NHS and education”

And taking a swipe at Donald Trump and the Tories he tweeted: “Everyone should boycott the USA and any other country. Also the bankers who stole the tax payers’ dosh for fiddling the books.”

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In an interview last month with the Daily Mirror, O’Sullivan said people should give Jeremy Corbyn a break.

“Jeremy Corbyn is a man of his word,” he added. “He is unwavering in his beliefs whether he is criticised for them or not. I’d like to be his friend.”

And step forth Harry Potter to lend some magical support for Corbyn.

Actor Daniel Radcliffe energetically praised the Labour leader saying it was “just so nice to have people excited about somebody.”

“It seems to be more or less because they are excited about sincerity,” he said. “I think we all suddenly realised that we are so used to politicians lying. Even when they are being sincere, it feels so scripted that it is hard to get behind them.”

Singer and activist Charlotte Church is a well-known Labour supporter and is also 100% behind Jeremy Corbyn.

She called Corbyn: “A cool-headed, honest, considerate man”.

In a post on her blog, she said: “He is one of the only politicians of note that seems to truly recognise the dire inequality that exists in this country today and actually have a problem with it. There is something inherently virtuous about him, and that is a quality that can rally the support of a lot of people, and most importantly, a lot of young people.”

Shia LaBeouf, the actor from the universally acclaimed Transformers films normally delivers lines such as: “Not so tough without a head, are you?”

But for Corbyn, LaBeuf speaks plainly: “I like Jeremy Corbyn. I like him in every way.”

Former Roxy Music keyboardist Brian Eno wrote a whole opinion piece in the Guardian on his support for Corbyn, saying the Labour leader has spent many years sticking to his principles.

“He’s been doing this with courage and integrity and with very little publicity,” Eno said.

“This already distinguishes him from at least half the people in Westminster, whose strongest motivation seems to have been to get elected, whatever it takes.”

Turner prize winning artist Grayson Perry he would back Jeremy Corbyn, as he was “doing something interesting for the political debate.”

“I think he’s gold,” he added.

Comedian Josie Long has shown her support for Corbyn from the start of his 2015 leadership campaign.

“I think people are voting for Jeremy Corbyn because they like and are excited by him,” she said.

“There is so much excitement and so many people are desperate to get involved in a positive way.”

Pop star Lily Allen, is also an ardent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, and has worked hard to highlight the plight of the refugees.

She strongly supported Mr Corbyn’s campaign to remain Labour leader in 2016, stating: “He seems to be the only dignified person in Westminster.”

At a Corbyn rally in Manchester, former Corrie star Julie Hesmondhalgh said she’d left Labour after it “parted company with its principles”, but that recently she’d “started to smell something that smelled like hope”.

She spoke at the event, telling supporters: “Welcome to the vibrant, mass movement of giving a toss about stuff.”

And Maxine Peake, star of Channel 4 drama Shameless, and The Theory of Everything, wrote in The Morning Star, that Corbyn has put Labour “back on track”.

“He has inspired a movement of young and old to fight for education, health, welfare, peace and justice and we will quickly organise and mobilise ourselves in his support”.

But let’s leave the final words to three veteran celebrities

Pink Floyd guitarist Roger Waters has nailed his colours firmly to the Corbyn mast.

“I think it is fabulous that somebody has risen to the surface who could describe themselves as being heir to Aneurin Bevan or Tony Benn or Michael Foot or one of the genuine left wing Labour Party leaders,” he said in a BBC interview, before almost vomiting the word “Blair”!

Celebrated playwright Alan Bennett – the man behind The History Boys – said he “very much approves” of Corbyn.

“I approve of him. If only because it brings Labour back to what they ought to be thinking about,” he said.

And Star Trek’s captain Jean-Luc Picard (actor Patrick Stewart) believes Corbyn can “Make It So” for a Labour victory in the General Election.

“I think that Jeremy Corbyn has begun to find a voice that’s clearly authentic and passionate,” he states with conviction.

“I’m beginning to have a feeling that there’s a route for Labour that might be very exciting for the country. I carried a placard for the first election after the war in 1945, when Clement Attlee got in, and those principles remain my principles.”

Jeremy Corbyn: unfashionable and out-of-touch?

Think again!

  • Further Concerts for Corbyn were planned for Liverpool and Manchester this summer, but Theresa May’s ‘snap’ General Election has delayed those gigs, at least for the time being.

Music was my first love and it will be my last

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Over the past decade, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times a new musical artist has touched my soul and changed my order of all things.

That is quite a profound statement from someone married to the bone to Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Paul Weller, and other septuagenarian dinosaurs of rock.

My first new awakening happened in 2004, when a long-time musical friend Michelle Shocked, suggested I look up her New York based pal Mary Lee’s Corvette (aka Mary Lee Kortes).

I ordered Mary Lee’s first two albums – purely on the back of Michelle’s recommendation – and was entranced.

A few months later I hurried along to watch her perform as support to Thea Gilmore at Newcastle upon Tyne’s famous Cluny venue.

I was knocked out and left the gig before Thea appeared, not wishing to dim the experience.

I have since followed and listened to everything Mary Lee has produced and over time, she too has become a good friend.

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Check out her whole album homage to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks if you are not convinced and her new concept album The Songs of Beulah Rowley, is probably one of the most important releases of 2016.

My second enlightenment occurred in 2007 when I happened to go and watch the legendary Fairport Convention at Shrewsbury Music Hall.

The support act that cold February evening was an acoustic band, named Tiny Tin Lady.

Whoosh… these four young women’s playing of their own self-penned songs was mesmerising and their album The Sound of Requiem (which I bought during the interval) didn’t leave my car CD player for the next four weeks.

By various connections, in the May of 2007 I was asked to undertake the PR for the band and a long-lasting friendship was made.

Self-described as indie celery with a side of hummus the girls had already toured with Midge Ure, Jah Wobble and the English Roots Band by the time I first met them.

Whereas most girls in their early 20s may be star-struck by the likes of the Arctic Monkeys or Robbie Williams, Tiny Tin Lady were happy to admit that meeting Robert Plant was one of the highlights of their career, who walked into their dressing room after seeing them perform with Fairport.

Plant described the band as: “Absolutely marvellous, brilliant. And incredible voices.”

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The Sound of Requiem, released in 2005, had received rave reviews from the music press. Soon after I met the band, the girls began work on their second album Ridiculous Bohemia.

Released in 2008, it remains one of my favourite ever albums, and the song Fall Into Line is simply amazing.

The band split in 2010, but their bass player Helen Holmes has remained a best friend, soul mate and constant source of inspiration.

The next surprise addition to my music catalogue came just last Christmas at a mega concert for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Simply titled Concert for Corbyn, the gig at Brighton’s Dome included a stellar line-up including Kathryn Williams, The Farm, Robert Wyatt, Bill Ryder Jones, Stealing Sheep, Danny Thompson and Paul Weller.

The event was four hours of pure musical pleasure. But the surprise was a singer and guitarist in Paul Weller’s band called Steve Pilgrim, who was given the space to perform four solo numbers.

One of these songs, which he dedicated personally to Jeremy Corbyn, was Explode the Sun – one of the most amazing numbers I have ever heard.

Steve was originally the drummer for The Stands who were part of Liverpool’s Bandwagon scene in the early 2000s. After leaving the band he played with The Cuckolds and began work as a session musician playing with artists such as Akeboshi and Sophie Solomon.

Steve then went on to drum for Paul Weller joining his band for the 22 Dreams tour and played on the album Wake Up the Nation (2010).

But this drummer also began establishing a career as a singer-songwriter, releasing three amazing solo albums Lover, Love Her (2007) Sunshine (2009) and Pixels and Paper (2011) – on which Explode the Sun appears.

So within two weeks of first seeing Steve on the Brighton stage, I bought all three of his albums and have already pre-ordered his new album Morning Skies, scheduled for release next month.

For this stripped back and intimate acoustic album Steve enlisted the help of two of his mates from the Brighton gig: the legendary double bass player Danny Thompson and Paul Weller on keyboards.

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If you are already familiar with Steve’s work this album is his most melancholy, the most honest and most intimate work to date. Pure musical joy.

The stand out song is the title track, which is simply sublime.

Believe me, this guy is worth listening to!

And so that brings us up to date… well, not quite.

Now for the newest and latest addition to my personal play list, and what a find she is!

Through an accident on the social media picture messaging board Instagram, I stumbled across Canadian born – but LA based – singer-songwriter Lindsay Kupser, and what a discovery!

A graduate of Berklee College of Music where she studied Jazz Composition and Performance, Lindsay is a significant and unique musician, with a naked sound reminiscent of the aforementioned Steve Pilgrim, or a young Joni Mitchell.

Her first album The Boston EP, was recorded in February 2014, after she graduated from Berklee and each of the six songs have a certain jazz feel – such is the comparison to Joni Mitchell.

The song It Hurts, is a number I keep playing – just beautiful.

Lindsay’s second album Quiet Songs was released in 2015 and recorded live in the studio. It is an emotional and musical gem.

The album opens with the wonderful All of my Bones Broke on Thursday Evening, a nu-acoustic song of brutal observations on love and heartbreak.

Lindsay’s voice resonates somewhere between Kathryn Williams and the wonderful Laura Marling.

“I don’t want to take her picture, she needs it to breath,” she sings… wow!

The stripped down soundscape continues with Couldn’t Move to Brooklyn where Lindsay sings about her decision not to follow so many young artists and make the well-worn pilgrimage to Brooklyn in New York.

“Pour on the Turpentine and ignite the flame, I’m not afraid of the light or the pain,” she sings on It Is My Turn, a mournful ballad, with the stunning refrain: “It’s my turn and I want to get burned”.

The song is already a classic.

On Tough Country we get a snatch into Lindsay’s childhood memories, as she describes her Calgary childhood home while sitting and observing old photographs. It is sweetly reminiscent of Michelle Shocked’s Memories of East Texas.

The five-track Quiet Songs concludes with Everything Feels So Hard Always, beautiful reflection of the difficulties of big life decisions.

Look out for this woman… her songs might just change your life.

 

Where have all the leaders gone?

Pete Seeger
TWO days on and I am still finding it hard to come to terms with the death of Pete Seeger.
Okay the old buffer was 94 years-old, and his passing was surely imminent; but like Nelson Mandela of a similar vintage, his death is more than sad.
He touched countless lives singing for unions, children and presidents and ordinary working people.
He turned a Bible verse and an African chant into hit records, travelled with Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly and championed Bob Dylan.
He also adapted a gospel song to sing for union workers and created a timeless anthem for civil rights with We Shall Overcome.
As a singer and songwriter, Seeger led the re-emergence of folksong performance during the 1950s and was a key figure in the folk revival in the 1960s.
A multitude of artists recorded and performed his work across six decades, including Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary.
He recorded more than 100 albums himself.
But above all, Seeger, blacklisted in the mid-1950s at the height of McCarthyism, was a radical and a true leader of dissent against what is/was wrong in our world.
Seeger made his first recordings in New York in 1940 with the Almanac Singers and the group recorded popular anti-war ballads.
But war is war, and Seeger was drafted into the US Army and was drafted to the Pacific in 1942. The following year he married his lifelong sweetheart Toshi Ohta.
In 1948, together with Lee Hays and other veterans of the Almanacs, Seeger formed the Weavers.
They quickly became one of the most successful musical acts in America.
But then came the anti-communist blacklist.
The Weavers were banned from radio and television.
As the US wide paranoia grew and with their scheduled appearances and commercial recording contracts cancelled, the group dissolved in 1953.
In the 1960s came the folk revival, and later the folk-rock boom caught up with him. Covers of songs he wrote or recorded became global hits.
The newer generation of more commercial musicians owed him a deep debt: Peter, Paul and Mary regarded themselves as the Weavers’ successors, and singers from Joan Baez and Judy Collins to Joni Mitchell, Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan have all paid tribute to him.
The 2005 Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home contains insight from Seeger, Bob Dylan and others into that legacy.
Seeger’s political activity increased after his blacklisting in the 1960s, with the challenges to liberalism and the division of the US over the Vietnam War.
Despite musical progression, Seeger remained a favourite at demonstrations, teach-ins and sing-outs of all kinds for the next 40 years.
He continued to adapt to changing situations and political issues.
In 1969 he launched the sloop Clearwater in the Hudson, beginning a 30 year campaign to clean the river, which was close to his home in Peekskill, New York, and to publicise the ecology movement.
Over the past few years he spoke out strongly against US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Through all this, Seeger endured and performed steadily.
During the inauguration weekend for Barack Obama in 2009, Seeger, on stage with Springsteen, delivered a rousing version of the Woody Guthrie favourite This Land Is Your Land.
It was an extraordinary moment in American life with the singer-rebel at the very centre.
But it was also steeped in deep irony, as like Bob Dylan before him at Bill Clinton’s inauguration Blue Jeans Bash in 1993, here was the leader of counter-culture hand in hand with the leader of the corporate world he so deeply distrusted.
And the similarities don’t end there.
At his death we have a world tangled up in blue, a world gone wrong, a world in the grip of greedy bankers, corrupt politicians, wall to wall pornography, war mongers and global murderers, a police state set fast in imposed capitalist ethics.
Pete passed on the folk protest movement baton to Bob Dylan and Joan Baez at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964 as the ‘younger generation’.
Bob may have dropped that baton a few times and the music has moved on, but others such as Billy Bragg, Michelle Shocked, Ani DiFranco, Tom Robinson and Paul Weller have picked it up and tried to carry it.
But with Pete’s passing we lack a global leader… a living spirit of musical protest.
Even my own hero Bob Dylan is almost 73, and his political candle never burned as brightly as Pete’s.
Something is missing… or more poignantly, someone is missing.
We need the oxygen of a new leader to help us learn how to think and question this insane world we live in.
We live in a corporate world begging for the individual to make a difference.
Music and true word can do that.
RIP Pete… never forgotten

I Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More (Last thoughts on Thatcher)

thatcherGETTING older gives a few new perspectives on life and self.

I was raised in the cosy middle-class environs of Sussex as the only son of a hard working father and loving mother.

I guess my father’s often right wing doctrines influenced my own, and as a teenager and college student I followed those politics quite radically.

At 21 years-old, against a typical 1970’s university backwash of Trotskyism and Marxism, I was regional vice-chairman of the Federation of Conservatives Students. I was a proud radical Tory, brushed shoulders with Michael Portillo, shared a whisky with former PM Ted Heath and fought hard in Thatcher’s election victory of 1979.

That remains the eternal shame of my youth.

But life influences and chalk face experiences over 34 years changed all that… it changed me as a person, socially, spiritually and politically.

I remember the year Thatcher was first elected, a more socially aware friend of mine warned: “There will be war in three years!”

How right she was!

In 1982 we were at war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, ostensibly to liberate islanders loyal to the British Crown, but in reality because we had discovered huge reserves of oil in the South Atlantic a few years earlier!

But it was what I discovered 14 years later as a newspaper journalist, which cast the Falklands War and Thatcher in a new light.

Not only was our prized battleship cruiser HMS Sheffield sunk while carrying nuclear depth charges, but against all international treaties to keep the South Atlantic nuclear free, Thatcher had deployed a British nuclear-armed submarine into the area.

The orders were clear: if the Argentines sunk another of our flagships, a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Cordoba was to be considered.
Just think for a minute where that might have led in 1982, at the height of the Cold War. Thatcher was prepared to risk a global Armageddon to secure her political ends.
Thankfully that scenario did not come to pass.

But it was at home where my opinions of Thatcher and her politics changed me forever.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s I lived and worked as a teacher in the small mining village of Darton near Barnsley.

Most of my pupils were the sons and daughters or miners. I played cricket each weekend with miners. My neighbours were miners. I went to football matches at Oakwell with miners. And I bought my first house from a miner.

The sound of the local pit hooter and the rattle of coal trucks woke me each morning and the coal dust got into my clothes and my life.

But what struck me then and has stayed with me ever since was the sense of community and friendship which imbued every aspect of life in that village.

If one of my charges misbehaved at school you could be sure his or her parents would know about it and he or she would be disciplined at home.
If I was ever ill in bed, a neighbour would knock at the door and ask if I needed any groceries or would leave a casserole of stew.
If the snow was deep we would all help clear each-others’ drives or pathways.
If anyone had a party in the street, the whole street would be invited, no exceptions.  And those parties were real parties with Yorkshire beer, pies, gravy and puddings.
And if my girlfriend had to walk home late at night, I wouldn’t fear for her safety.
It was a time of the greatest friendship and community I have ever known.

I moved away for misled career aspirations in 1983.

One year later, Thatcher’s brutal decision to crush the trade union movement at any cost laid waste to this community and countless more like them.
It was never to recover.

For those not familiar with this time and place, watch the movie Billy Elliot or the BBC TV series Our Friends in the North to gain a little perspective.

All that was wonderful had been lost forever due to Tory greed and Thatcher’s need for unbridled power.

We had a nation divided against itself where the rich got richer while the rest fought for the scraps.

A whole street’s belief in Sunday’s roast beef
Gets dashed against the Co-op
To either cut down on beer or the kids new gear
It’s a big decision in a town called malice.

(Paul Weller)

My politics were changing fast.

In 1987 and 1988 I was in hospital in Cardiff undergoing surgery for a malignant cancer in the right shoulder and right lung.

It was a time of personal trauma, but also the making of new and lasting friendships.
Many of my new friends were former miners from the South Wales valleys. Many were suffering from lung cancer due to a lifetime working among coal dust.
But it was their tales of how Thatcher crushed the miners’ strike that will always stay with me.
Sure they blamed Scargill for getting some of the NUM tactics wrong. But it was Thatcher whom they blamed for the decimation of their lives and families.
I learned how she used MI5 and the Met Police and every dirty trick imaginable to tarnish the personal reputations of the striking miners, even down to the conspiratorial murder of a taxi driver.

When I had fully recovered from the cancer in the mid-1990s, I was prompted to travel back to my old village near Barnsley to see how things had changed.
What met me was post-apocalyptic!

All vestiges of the coal mining past had gone, the shops had steal shutters on their windows, litter blew around the main street and grey youths gathered on corners with eyes that seemed devoid of hope.

The ghost of a steam train – echoes down my track
It’s at the moment bound for nowhere –
Just going round and round
Playground kids and creaking swings –
Lost laughter in the breeze
I could go on for hours and I probably will –
But I’d sooner put some joy back
In this town called malice.

(Paul Weller)

It was a scene I later witnessed in Northumberland and County Durham where three generations of families had been unemployed since 1984.

Their former pit communities had crumbled into decay, with all manner of social problems: derelict housing, crumbling schools, drug dependency, street crime, high rates of teenage suicide and homelessness.
These villages remain, with three buses a day to their nearest towns and any chance of a better life, the lasting memory to Thatcher.

I could also ramble on about the abuse of power I discovered as a journalist with Thatcher’s henchmen… personal battles with the liars Jonathan Aitken and Jeffery Archer, the criminal ruination of anyone who stood against her, the machinations of the Duke of Argyll and Lord Willie Whitelaw and much, much more.
But then my brief story would become a book… and maybe one day it will!

For me Thatcher’s memory lies in the coal dust of the communities she destroyed.

I hold no emotion over her passing earlier this year, but I do fear that in the current Prime Minister David Cameron we are seeing Thatcher revisited.

But sadly my personal politics have moved so far to the left, that there is not one political party I feel able to vote for anymore… not even the Labour Party, whose socialist credentials were surrendered by Tony Blair almost 20 years ago.

I now feel massive empathy with Russell Brand when he recently wrote: The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change. I don’t think it does. I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty, when they hop a few inches left or right…

“The US government gave a trillion dollars to bail out the big five banks over the past year. Banks that have grown by 30% since the crisis and are experiencing record profits and giving their execs record bonuses. How about, hang on to your hats because here comes a naïve suggestion, don’t give them that money, use it to create one million jobs at fifty grand a year for people who teach, nurse or protect…

“If we all collude and collaborate together we can design a new system that makes the current one obsolete.

The reality is there are alternatives. That is the terrifying truth that the media, government and big business work so hard to conceal.

I don’t mind getting my hands dirty because my hands are dirty already. I don’t mind giving my life to this because I’m only alive because of the compassion and love of others. Men and women strong enough to defy this system and live according to higher laws.

This is a journey we can all go on together, all of us. We can include everyone and fear no one. A system that serves the planet and the people. I’d vote for that.”

A system so far from the evil of Thatcherism that I would join Brand’s journey and enjoy spending my latter years fighting for it.

Come the revolution!