No Frontiers / Sans Frontieres

no_frontiers_EG

Andy is a plumber

He works from dawn till dusk

Barrie is a banker

Money fuels his lust

Colin is a carer

Looking after his old mum

Derek is a beggar

Seeking food to fill his tum

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Edward is a baron

In a mansion cold and grey

Freddy is a homophobe

But he is secretly gay

Gregory is a millionaire

Funding international genocide

Harry is his best friend

Knowing how he lied

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Indira is a seamstress

Making dresses for the rich

Jakinda she sews trainers

One rupee for every stitch

Kondo was a warrior

But HIV has made him sick

Leandro he is starving

Earning a dollar for a trick

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Mendel is a Rabbi

Living in the Promised Land

Noam is quite pleasant

Though no one sees his hand

Ovadia he buys weapons

For the IDF to fire

Pesach is an agent

With 40 guns to hire

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Qasim is a builder

He works to earn some bread

Radi is an Iman

Saying prayers for the dead

Saha she smiles bravely

While burying her mum

Tasnim lost her legs

In the heat of the Gaza sun

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Ursula is the Scottish wife

Of a paedophile parish priest

Vanora owns a town house

On a street in Inverleith

Willie wants independence

From the bastard English rule

Yolanda says he crazy

And a brainless Indy fool

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

While bombs rain down aplenty

On helpless Palestine

The yanks they start to blitz

The bloody ISIS line

The rulers keep us under

With lies and racial fear

They sip their Pimms and cocktails

And serve us promises and beer

No borders

No nations

No warfare

No way

 

Zionist Lies and Suppression of the Truth

SO I have come to end of 14 days of almost continuous writing about the ongoing slaughter in the Middle East.

This small journey started two Fridays ago when I challenged the official statements and propaganda of the killing of so-called Jihadi John.

In my 1,500 word piece entitled Roll On John I pointed at CIA and Mossad dirty tricks and false flag attacks and how all is not as it seems.

Like the rest of the world I was stunned some eight hours later by the massacres in Paris.

So many more pieces followed, including I Cried for You – Now It’s Your Turn to Cry Awhile which looked at the double standards within Western media in grieving over the Paris killings while ignoring similar atrocities in Beirut and Nigeria and Beyond the Horizon o’er the Treacherous Sea which examined the US and Israeli funding and arming of ISIS.

There were many more articles, culminating in a look at how apartheid Israel is supported and allowed to thrive by Christian Zionism in the West.

Now almost 20,000 words later (not including the poems) I need to take stock before I decide how to move on, and whether what I am writing must now become a fully-fledged campaign.

But I cannot do this without doing two things.

First to thank the wonderful friends I have made over the past fortnight, fellow campaigners for a free Palestine and others for a more general peace in the Middle East.

So for the lovely Jane and Samantha in the USA, Nahida, Elleanne and Jackie here in the UK, the amazing warrior Anissa in Paris, Shirene in South Africa, the historian and compiler Hayat in Iran and my long-time friends in Pakistan and India, thank you all.

But before I take a weekend break, I need to pay homage to my one true living journalist hero: John Pilger.

John set me out on the path of investigative journalism when I first read his book Distant Voices way back in 1992.

Since that first reading it has been my journalist’s bible… never accept what you are told by the State, because often it is a pack of lies! So dig and keep digging until you find the truth.

What follows is a piece written by John in 2007 about the situation in Palestine and Israel. It is as relevant then as it is now:

 

Israel: An important marker has been passed

by John Pilger

FROM a limestone hill rising above Qalandia refugee camp you can see Jerusalem.

I watched a lone figure standing there in the rain, his son holding the tail of his long tattered coat.

He extended his hand and did not let go.

“I am Ahmed Hamzeh, street entertainer,” he said in measured English. “Over there, I played many musical instruments; I sang in Arabic, English and Hebrew, and because I was rather poor, my very small son would chew gum while the monkey did its tricks.

“When we lost our country, we lost respect. One day a rich Kuwaiti stopped his car in front of us. He shouted at my son, “Show me how a Palestinian picks up his food rations!”

“So I made the monkey appear to scavenge on the ground, in the gutter. And my son scavenged with him. The Kuwaiti threw coins and my son crawled on his knees to pick them up. This was not right; I was an artist, not a beggar . . . I am not even a peasant now.”

“How do you feel about all that?” I asked him.

“Do you expect me to feel hatred? What is that to a Palestinian? I never hated the Jews and their Israel . . . yes, I suppose I hate them now, or maybe I pity them for their stupidity. They can’t win. Because we Palestinians are the Jews now and, like the Jews, we will never allow them or the Arabs or you to forget. The youth will guarantee us that, and the youth after them . . .”

That was 40 years ago. On my last trip back to the West Bank, I recognised little of Qalandia, now announced by a vast Israeli checkpoint, a zigzag of sandbags, oil drums and breeze blocks, with conga lines of people, waiting, swatting flies with precious papers.

Inside the camp, the tents had been replaced by sturdy hovels, although the queues at single taps were as long, I was assured, and the dust still ran to caramel in the rain.

At the United Nations office I asked about Ahmed Hamzeh, the street entertainer. Records were consulted, heads shaken. Someone thought he had been “taken away . . . very ill”.

No one knew about his son, whose trachoma was surely blindness now. Outside, another generation kicked a punctured football in the dust. And yet, what Nelson Mandela has called “the greatest moral issue of the age” refuses to be buried in the dust.

For every BBC voice that strains to equate occupier with occupied, thief with victim, for every swarm of emails from the fanatics of Zion to those who invert the lies and describe the Israeli state’s commitment to the destruction of Palestine, the truth is more powerful now than ever.

Documentation of the violent expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 is voluminous. Re-examination of the historical record has put paid to the fable of heroic David in the Six Day War, when Ahmed Hamzeh and his family were driven from their home.

The alleged threat of Arab leaders to “throw the Jews into the sea”, used to justify the 1967 Israeli onslaught and since repeated relentlessly, is highly questionable.

In 2005, the spectacle of wailing Old Testament zealots leaving Gaza was a fraud.

The building of their “settlements” has accelerated on the West Bank, along with the illegal Berlin-style wall dividing farmers from their crops, children from their schools, families from each other.

We now know that Israel’s destruction of much of Lebanon was pre-planned.

As the former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison has written, the recent “civil war” in Gaza was actually a coup against the elected Hamas-led government, engineered by Elliott Abrams, the Zionist who runs US policy on Israel and a convicted felon from the Iran-Contra era.

The ethnic cleansing of Palestine is as much America’s crusade as Israel’s. On 16 August, the Bush administration announced an unprecedented $30billion military “aid package” for Israel, the world’s fourth biggest military power, an air power greater than Britain, a nuclear power greater than France.

No other country on earth enjoys such immunity, allowing it to act without sanction, as Israel. No other country has such a record of lawlessness: not one of the world’s tyrannies comes close.

International treaties, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by Iran, are ignored by Israel.

There is nothing like it in UN history. But something is changing. Perhaps last summer’s panoramic horror beamed from Lebanon on to the world’s TV screens provided the catalyst.

Or perhaps cynicism of Bush and Blair – and latterly Obama and Cameron – and the incessant use of the inanity, “terror”, together with the day-by day dissemination of a fabricated insecurity in all our lives, has finally brought the attention of the international community outside the rogue states, Britain and the US, back to one of its principal sources, Israel.

I got a sense of this recently in the United States. A full-page advertisement in the New York Times had the distinct odour of panic. There have been many “friends of Israel” advertisements in the Times, demanding the usual favours, rationalising the usual outrages. This one was different. “Boycott a cure for cancer?” was its main headline, followed by “Stop drip irrigation in Africa? Prevent scientific co-operation between nations?” Who would want to do such things? “Some British academics want to boycott Israelis,” was the self-serving answer.

It referred to the University and College Union’s (UCU) inaugural conference motion in May, calling for discussion within its branches for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

As John Chalcraft of the London School of Economics pointed out, “the Israeli academy has long provided intellectual, linguistic, logistical, technical, scientific and human support for an occupation in direct violation of international law [against which] no Israeli academic institution has ever taken a public stand”.

The swell of a boycott is growing inexorably, as if an important marker has been passed, reminiscent of the boycotts that led to sanctions against apartheid South Africa.

Both Mandela and Desmond Tutu have drawn this parallel; so has South African cabinet minister Ronnie Kasrils and other illustrious Jewish members of the liberation struggle. In Britain, an often Jewish-led academic campaign against Israel’s “methodical destruction of [the Palestinian] education system” can be translated by those of us who have reported from the occupied territories into the arbitrary closure of Palestinian universities, the harassment and humiliation of students at checkpoints and the shooting and killing of Palestinian children on their way to school.

These initiatives have been backed by a British group, Independent Jewish Voices, whose 528 signatories include Stephen Fry, Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh and Eric Hobsbawm.

The country’s biggest union, Unison, has called for an “economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott” and the right of return for Palestinian families expelled in 1948.

Remarkably, the Commons’ international development committee has made a similar stand.

In April, the membership of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) voted for a boycott only to see it hastily overturned by the national executive council.

In the Republic of Ireland, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called for divestment from Israeli companies: a campaign aimed at the European Union, which accounts for two-thirds of Israel’s exports under an EU-Israel Association Agreement.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, has said that human rights conditions in the agreement should be invoked and Israel’s trading preferences suspended.

This is unusual, for these were once distant voices. And that such grave discussion of a boycott has “gone global” was unforeseen in official Israel, long comforted by its seemingly untouchable myths and great power sponsorship, and confident that the mere threat of anti-Semitism would ensure silence.

When the British lecturers’ decision was announced, the US Congress passed an absurd resolution describing the UCU as “anti-Semitic”. (Eighty congressmen have gone on junkets to Israel this summer.)

This intimidation has worked in the past. The smearing of American academics has denied them promotion, even tenure. The late Edward Said kept an emergency button in his New York apartment connected to the local police station; his offices at Columbia University were once burned down.

Following my 2002 film, Palestine is Still the Issue, I received death threats and slanderous abuse, most of it coming from the US where the film was never shown.

When the BBC’s Independent Panel recently examined the corporation’s coverage of the Middle East, it was inundated with emails, “many from abroad, mostly from North America”, said its report. Some individuals “sent multiple missives, some were duplicates and there was clear evidence of pressure group mobilisation”.

The panel’s conclusion was that BBC reporting of the Palestinian struggle was not “full and fair” and “in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture”. This was neutralised in BBC press releases.

The courageous Israeli historian, Ilan Pappé, believes a single democratic state, to which the Palestinian refugees are given the right of return, is the only feasible and just solution, and that a sanctions and boycott campaign is critical in achieving this.

Would the Israeli population be moved by a worldwide boycott? Although they would rarely admit it, South Africa’s whites were moved enough to support an historic change. A boycott of Israeli institutions, goods and services, says Pappé, “will not change the [Israeli] position in a day, but it will send a clear message that [the premises of Zionism] are racist and unacceptable in the 21st century . . . They would have to choose.”

And so would the rest of us.

 

Stop the Bombing

In the East the wind is blowing

Poisoned dust of fire and lies

And the US keeps on killing

Destroying innocent Muslim lives

 

Stop the bombing

Our world is dying

Children crying

Stop the bombing

Now
Behind the door sits evil Zion

In his pocket Washington cries

And down south in deepest Riyadh

A Sheik listens closely to his spies

 

Stop the bombing

Our world is dying

Children crying

Stop the bombing

Now

 

Back in Paris the poets ponder

Bertolt Brecht does up his flies

Vladimir prepares his bright red hammer

The victims cry to the darkening skies

 

Stop the bombing

Our world is dying

Children crying

Stop the bombing

Now

 

And now China joins the onslaught

Blowing desert dirt into allied eyes

The world war is just beginning

Fury lives as mankind dies

 

Stop the bombing

Our world is dying

Children crying

Stop the bombing

Now

I Cried for You – Now it’s Your Turn to Cry Awhile

THE eyes of the world focus on Paris and the atrocity which unfolded on Friday evening.

The civilian death toll from the ruthless killings now stands at 129, with 352 others wounded, 99 of them critically.

It is a carnage of almost unimaginable proportions in our so-called “civilised” Western society.

And it has stirred emotions of sorrow, sadness, love, anger and prejudice rarely seen on such a scale.

But while everyone’s talking about Paris, hardly anyone’s talking about Lebanon.

On Thursday, two ISIS suicide bombers attacked a Beirut shopping district at rush hour, killing at least 43 people and wounding at least 239. However, this atrocity was more or less ignored by the Western media and social media.

Earlier this year in Kenya, 148 students were murdered by four armed terrorists of al-Shaabab.

The clothes of their families are no less soaked in tears than those of the Paris victims. The screams of their sorrows echo around the streets, churches, mosques, homes and fields of their country with no less anguish.

Yet, the world does what to combat, acknowledge, condole or seek retribution for their murders?

There were no foreign leaders’ photo opportunity or Je suis… hashtag. Most newspapers didn’t even run their tragic deaths on any front page.

Meanwhile, in a country dear to my heart, 86 innocent Palestinian civilians (the majority children and teenagers) have been murdered by the Israeli military since 1 October.

Where are the tears for them?

As I look around me I can understand why many of my Facebook friends have draped their profile pictures with the French flag, but did they do the same with the Palestine flag, the Lebanese flag, the Afghan flag or even the Iraqi flag for all the wanton murders carried out there by ISIS, the USA, Israel, Assad and even Britain?

The air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has killed more than 450 innocent civilians, according to a new report, even though the US-led coalition has so far acknowledged just two non-combatant deaths.

More than 5,700 air strikes have been launched in the campaign, which nears its first anniversary this Saturday, with its impact on civilians largely unknown.

Now Airwars, a project by a team of independent journalists, is publishing details of 52 strikes with what it believes are credible reports of at least 459 non-combatant deaths, including those of more than 100 children.

One of the attacks investigated was on Fadhiliya, Iraq, on 4 April where witnesses and local politicians said a family of five had died, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old girl.

My heart goes out to all those people who are shaken by violence and grieving their lost loved ones. And it goes out too, to those who are embattled and just getting by from one day to the next, and that includes those who have fled from violence and now have to confront biting chill of winter of northern Europe.

With Paris in mind, it is natural that people emote and relate to something terrible happening close to home. This is close to our home, this is what we see.

But, what we are witnessing at first hand – led by our governments and national media – is racism, where a Western life is more important than any other.

And it exists because our collective media does nothing to challenge it.

In 2001, I was working as chief investigative reporter on The Chronicle – a daily tabloid newspaper in Newcastle upon Tyne. On 11 September, I returned from a routine job in the town to watch in horror – on the newsroom TV – the atrocities of 9/11 unfold in front of our eyes, some 3,000 miles away in New York and Virginia.

The next day, the newspaper’s senior management determined that all employees should stand and observe two minutes silence for the innocent victims of the terror attack.

I refused.

Not because I did not feel pain or sympathy for those victims, but because my company had never observed even one minute’s silence for the hundreds of thousands killed by Allied military action in Iraq in 1991, the one million murdered in Rwanda, or the thousands killed in Bosnia, just a few years earlier.

Instead I went to the newsroom toilet, sat in a cubicle and cried.

The newspaper’s reaction to 9/11 – and the wall to wall media coverage over the ensuing months – typified everything I had witnessed in my previous 16 years in journalism.

Now, 14 years later, nothing has changed.

If I take Bosnia, Iraq and Rwanda out of the equation, a few other examples may clarify what I mean:

  • Three French skiers are lost in an avalanche in the Alps. The next day there are lengthy reports in most UK national newspapers. Each of the victims is named and in-depth family stories are written.
  • A lone gunman goes berserk and kills children in a US high school. The next day it is front page news in almost every newspaper in the UK and Europe. In depth analysis of the gunman and tributes to each of the victims and their families ensues.
  • A mad man kills hostages in an Australian restaurant. It is front pages news in every newspaper in the UK, USA and Europe. Extensive coverage about the killer and each of his victims finds itself across western media.
  • An earthquake in Northern Pakistan kills thousands of inhabitants. Over the ensuing weeks there is barely a mention in any UK or western newspapers.
  • Tens of thousands of innocent civilians are murdered by US and UK bombing in Afghanistan. But there are few reports of these atrocities in UK and western newspapers.
  • Flooding in Bangladesh kills thousands of people. Over the following weeks there are just a few lines in UK broadsheet newspapers.

You don’t need a microscope to see the differences in the reaction and news reporting. It has nothing to do with distance from our shores. It is all to do with white Western values.

So our news media – even enlightened newspapers like the Independent and The Guardian – value the life and story of a suited, white, Western person quite differently to that of an African black or Urdu speaking Asian person.

We give ‘ours’ names, identities and lives, but the ‘others’ just nationality, religion and race. It is so much easier to avoid reporting the lives and deaths of these people if we don’t identify them as human beings the same as us.

This racism runs deep and has been entrenched more deeply with the Islamophobia which has perpetuated within Western society since 2001.

The white mass murderer, Norwegian, Anders Brevik is reported simply as a ‘madman killer’ – despite the fact he was a zealot Christian with a white supremacist agenda.

In contrast any killing carried out by a person of even dubious Muslim faith is reported as the act of an Islamist Extremist!

Sorry for the pun, but it is as clear as black and white.

But we have 800 years to overcome.

Britain, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland and Portugal have been colonialists since the so-called Holy Crusades to Jerusalem in the 13th century, the colonial exploitation of the Americas in the 16th and 17th centuries, to the dissection of Africa, South America and Asia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Our imperialist ancestors conquered peaceful countries, imposed western values and Christianity upon them, murdered millions and took millions more into slavery.

Now we have been joined by our ‘allies’ the USA, which since the end of World War 2 has:

  • Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.

  • Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.

  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

  • Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.

  • Interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.

Our nations have sown war and hatred all over the world – now tragically there is a heavy harvest as we are seeing in Paris.

People around the world all belong to the same human race; they share the same tendencies to fear, domination, and subjugation.

We need to let everyone know, we are the same, no matter what language we speak, whatever the colour of our skin or the religion we follow.

Well, I cried for you – now it’s your turn to cry awhile.

We gaze upon the chimes of freedom flashing

YESTERDAY’S landslide election of Jeremy Corbyn as the first truly socialist leader of the Labour Party since Clement Atlee is a profound moment in British politics.

Like thousands of other like-minded people, I am still shaking with emotion and trying to get my head round what has really happened.

For decades our country – and most of Europe – has been sleep walking into a world of personal greed, arrogance and self-importance with totems such as The X Factor, tanning studios, Top Gear, designer clothes labels and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Human kindness, gentleness, peace, society and social justice were jettisoned for a winner takes all mentality and a scapegoating of the homeless, those claiming benefits, Muslims, asylum seekers and the poor in general.

All of this was underpinned by our malicious gutter press who daily smeared and pilloried anyone who dare question the status quo or suggest alternatives.

When Cameron’s far right Conservative Party was elected in May this year I genuinely feared for our collective futures.

Here we had the election of a UK government compiled of self-seeking rich Tory elitists who care more about their mansions and banking friends than about people.

And their shopping list for change was truly terrifying as this is unshackled Conservative government promised to:

  • Rip up the Human Rights Act, which underpins our legal system and protects all our basic freedoms and those of persecuted minorities.
  • Spend £100 billion on replacing Trident with new nuclear weapons, which at the push of a button could wipe out millions of lives and pollute our planet for tens of thousands of years.
  • Make £12.8 billion of cuts to welfare, leaving the poorest, the oldest and the weakest in our society facing the bleakest of futures. In turn this will ensure the need for a food bank in every town and extend child poverty ensuring suffering and a loss of opportunity for millions.
  • Begin a phased end to council housing, thus pushing up rents in the private sector and making families homeless. Once again – as under Thatcher – we will see a surge in rough sleeping and begging.
  • Will enact tougher sanctions on migrants, involve the UK in further illegal wars in the Middle East and trigger an increase in racism and Islamophobia.
  • Extend zero hours contracts, thus massaging the unemployment figures and leaving thousands of the poorest people without any job security.
  • Legislate for more private schools which will imbed the class system even deeper in our society, rather focus on improving our state schooling system.
  • Escalate and accelerate the privatisation of the NHS, so medical care will depend on wealth and power rather than need.
  • Then redraw constituency boundaries so these same corrupt capitalist elitists stay in power for another 20 more years.

And the Labour Party, which should have been standing and campaigning against all this, crumpled into a Tory Lite modelled in the image of war monger and former leader Tony Blair.

Just over 18 months ago I had turned my back on Labour as a real alternative and joined Left Unity in a vain attempt to change things.

But outside the Labour Party the Left is too splintered and divided to succeed electorally, rather than uniting to defeat the greed and corruption of capitalism.

Following Cameron’s election victory I said the Left “must begin now to unify around a leader or leadership we can all trust, organise and start the fightback, or we wave farewell to hope for a fairer and better future.”

Well the fightback has now really begun.

And I must admit I never thought it possible.

But we had a hint that it may be possible by the political events in Scotland. There the electorate woke up to years of Tammany Hall politics and Establishment lies and en-mass elected 56 SNP MPs dedicated to social justice, welfare, investment and non-nuclear proliferation.

But other than the SNP standing candidates in English and Welsh constituencies, how could a similar popular uprising spread south?

Well along came Labour back bencher and peace campaigner Jeremy Corbyn – the rank outsider, who only just managed to get the 36 nominations from MPs needed to stand in the leadership election.

Then over the summer this gentle political firebrand, who appears more like a superannuated university lecturer than a Prime Minister in waiting, packed out meetings and hustings the length and breadth of this country with his simple messages of an end to austerity, an end to nuclear weapons and an end to needless wars over oil in the middle east and beyond.

His messages caught the hearts and minds of millions.

These are some of his primary beliefs:

  1. The UK’s financial deficit should be paid off – but not through spending cuts and not to an arbitrary deadline. Instead, a Corbyn government would fund its reduction via higher taxes for the rich and a crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion. “Quantitative easing for people” could be used to invest in housing, energy, transport and digital projects.
  2. Britain’s railways should be renationalised. Energy companies should also be under public ownership. He is “totally opposed” to fracking. However, he says deep-mine coal pits in the north of England could be reopened.
  3. Far more allotments would be good for the UK and councils and builders “should be doing their best to ensure that every new development includes some allotment space”.
  4. Talking to militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah is necessary to win peace in the Middle East. And arms embargo should be imposed on Israel. Mr Corbyn, who is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said that Palestinian refugees should be given a “right of return”.
  5. Replacing Trident would be a costly mistake. Jeremy Corbyn says plans to replace the nuclear missile system should be ditched. He believes the project’s £100 billion price tag could be better spent “on our national well-being“.
  6. A National Education Service modelled on the NHS should be established. Under Mr Corbyn, state-funded academies and free schools would be forced to return to local authority control while university tuition fees would be scrapped and replaced with grants. He would look at ending the charitable status of public schools, although he accepts this would be complicated and might not happen immediately.
  7. Labour should not support air strikes against ISIS in Syria. Mr Corbyn, who is national chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, believes innocent Syrians would suffer and the supply of UK and US arms and funds to ISIS should be cut off instead. He wants to see “illegal wars” replaced with a “foreign policy that prioritises justice and assistance”. This would ameliorate refugee crises. In turn, the arms trade should be restricted. Mr Corbyn would like to see the “brilliance and skill of those in the arms industry be converted for peaceful purposes
  8. Rent controls should be re-introduced, linking private rents to local earnings, and more council houses should be built. Mr Corbyn also believes that council tenants’ right to buy their homes should be extended to private sector renters.
  9. Remaining in the European Union but with changes. Mr Corbyn says he is not content with the EU as it stands, but wants to stay to fight for a “better Europe”. He also opposes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal.
  10. Ireland should be united and returned to Irish rule. Mr Corbyn has long supported British withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
  11. Protect trade unions in the face of Conservative plans to overturn almost 100 years of workers’ rights with new legislation.
  12. A national maximum wage should be introduced to cap the salaries of high earners. He would also introduce a windfall tax on former state assets such as the Royal Bank of Scotland.
  13. Every child should have the chance to learn a musical instrument or act on stage. Mr Corbyn’s arts policy also includes directing a greater proportion of funding to local projects, widening access and protecting the BBC.
  14. Private Finance Initiative deals with the NHS should be ended by using government funds to buy them out.
  15. A “serious debate about the powers of NATO” is needed, but Mr Corbyn says there is not “an appetite as a whole for people to leave”. He also says open eastward expansion of NATO would lead the Russian military to conclude that it had “to expand to counteract NATO”.

All in all, a brave new world indeed.

In his victory speech, Mr Corbyn said: “We go forward now as a movement and a party bigger than we have ever been in a very, very long time, stronger than we have been for a very long time, more determined than we have been for a very long time, to show to everyone that the objectives of our party are intact, our passion is intact, our demand for humanity is intact.”

So at last we have our charismatic leader who with friends in the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru can offer a true progressive alliance and a way forward for us all.

Hope is renewed.

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales For the disrobed faceless forms of no position Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts All down in taken-for-granted situations Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

(Bob Dylan, 1964)

Hope in Hopelessness

Huddled by the puddles

In the corner

Where the drains run

Frozen stiff with frostbite

And soaked to the skin

Victims of a genocide

Your hope is wearing

Thin

Limbless and lifeless

Faceless and eyeless

You’re my cousin

You’re my friend

You’re my daughter

Sons of men

We embrace

We are one

We are brothers in arms

Hunger gnaws with no mercy

At the women

In the awning

Dying to survive

Blisters on her chin

Victims of a genocide

Your hope is wearing

Thin

Limbless and lifeless

Faceless and eyeless

You’re my cousin

You’re my friend

You’re my daughter

Sons of men

We embrace

We are one

We are brothers in arms

Screams pierce the darkness

In the rubble

Of the shelter

Bombs explode above

The Zionist’s dark sin

Victims of a genocide

Your hope is wearing

Thin

Limbless and lifeless

Faceless and eyeless

You’re my cousin

You’re my friend

You’re my daughter

Sons of men

We embrace

We are one

We are brothers in arms

Hostage to blind fortune

In the ruins

Of your home

Peeking out for someone

The light is getting dim

Victims of a genocide

Your hope is wearing

Thin

Limbless and lifeless

Faceless and eyeless

You’re my cousin

You’re my friend

You’re my daughter

Sons of men

We embrace

We are one

We are brothers in arms

Poem: John (Jack) Walker 1888-1968

Uncle Jack

His name was Uncle Jack

He complained about his back

And smelled of liniment and ginger

He sat me on his knee when I was only three

And told me tales of the royal house of Windsor

The kings they eat tea and buns

And the Generals load the guns

For lowly men like Uncle Jack to fire

So come and sit by me although you’re only three

And I’ll sing you hymns you won’t hear from any choir

I was just six and a score

When I was called to that bloody war

To kill the evil Hun or die trying

Buried in the mud and the gas shells they did thud

Around me was the constant wailing of the dying

On one fateful autumn day

In our trench we all did lay

When I heard our captain yell something at me

Look out across the wire where the Germans now do fire

And tell me brave Jack what do you see?

I stared out across the land

And among the filthy blood and sand

I saw my best friend Davey shot and dying

Without a second thought I climbed into no man’s land

And crawled to where poor Davey was now lying

I grabbed his webbing belt in vain

And dragged him slowly back again

But sniper’s bullet suddenly found me out

I dropped poor wounded Davey to the ground

And in the battle noise no-one could hear us shout

So little Nicky listen to your Uncle Jack

This long scar upon my back

Was not won for the flippin’ king

Or the war mongers back at home

But bought by my pal Davey and death’s deadly sting

So take this dish of medals

And buy a new bicycle with pedals

And cycle carefully down to your local toy shop

Tell the folks you see to listen close to me

This bloody game they all call war just has to stop

The years they all expired

And Uncle Jack grew old and tired

But he always found the time to talk to me

My older brother Burnet died of gastro enteric fever

And the poor lad hadn’t yet reached thirty-three

He smelled of gangrene and rot

And his bowels they would not stop

Until poor Burnet’s short life was no more

His face eaten away with screams of pain

Now buried in the drain of the earth on a foreign shore

There is no sense in war

The generals always knew the score

While red poppies tell tales of death and glory

But it wasn’t like that then and isn’t now

Death, mud, blood and disease are the real story

Come you masters of war… I just want you to know I can see through your masks

white poppy

AS a lifelong pacifist I have regularly argued on this blog against our ongoing glorification of war and imperial aggression.
Last November I published a piece entitled: I Saw That His Face Looked Just Like Mine, which chided the charade of Remembrance Sunday and the wearing of red poppies.
For the millions of wearers of these poppies they believe it is a good and noble cause to remember “those who died to protect our freedom”.
I too mourn the loss of these soldiers’ lives, but I also mourn the loss of the lives of soldiers from Germany, Italy, Ireland, Iraq, Argentina, North and South Korea, Afghanistan, Russia and many other countries.
And I mourn the 142 million innocent men, women and children killed in these wars.
I stand by the line of Wilfred Owen’s famous World War 1 poem: To children ardent for some desperate glory, the old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.
To translate from the Latin: the old lie: It is sweet and right to die for your country.
Why should dying for one’s country be a sweet, right, noble and heroic thing to do?
Because some warriors once drew lines in the earth determining where a country begins and ends?
Or because some politician or monarch has ordered you to fight?
Or because your skin is a different colour to someone else’s… or you speak a different language?
I published the words to Bob Dylan’s song John Brown, which in a simple narrative explodes the glory and hypocrisy of war.
I also published a short poem called Red or White, which explains why each November I wear a white poppy.
The white poppy is an ongoing challenge to the continuing drive to war.
And lest we forget, there is a message of support for Remembrance Sunday from the world’s second largest arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, conveniently sited in the underground station below Portcullis House where Members of Parliament have their offices and round the corner from the Cenotaph.
You see, making war is a big and highly profitable business; little wonder then that financiers, manufacturers, trade unions and of course the military and now the growing band of support charities are loath to call for peace and disarmament instead demanding more body armour, tougher boots and more helicopters to rescue the wounded.
The irony lies heavily, because 100 years ago the distinguished economist JA Hobson, neither socialist nor pacifist, saw World War 1 as rational only for the capitalist ruling classes who stood to benefit from the “ever-worsening burden of armaments”.
Many critics of the war also understood that it was being waged for stakes outside Europe in great tracts of colonised land in Asia and Africa.
While it is necessary to acknowledge the sacrifices made by soldiers from these regions, it is dishonest to assimilate them into the popular narrative of “everybody’s war for freedom”.
These were colonised subjects whose war this was certainly not, and in whose countries Britain was doing anything but defending freedom – its own occupying troops as unwelcome as German ones in Belgium.
So in January this year I had another pop at the glorification of war in a piece ironically entitled Dulce et Decorum Est.
My article came after Conservative Education Secretary Michael Gove defended the 100th anniversary ‘celebrations’ of the start of World War 1, publicly demeaned respected historians, then rewrote history himself by stating how the four years of carnage was indeed a ‘Great War’.
But why exactly, Mr Gove, are we using £50 million of public money to commemorate a catastrophe from which, in 2014, there are no survivors?
And if we honour the fallen Allied soldiers of the 1914-18 conflict, will we do the same for the German soldiers or indeed the dead of the Crimean War, Waterloo, the Boer War, the battles of Bannockburn and Culloden or the dead from the English Civil War, Agincourt, Crecy or even the Battle of Hastings?
Where does logic and reality stop and politics and propaganda begin?
And does Mr Gove really know the difference between the Dardanelles and the Somme?
The reasons given for this year’s World War 1 commemoration is that yet again we must remember our dead. “They died for us and our freedom. The cost of sacrifice. Remember Passchendaele. Never forget.”
As a child I remember sitting on my Great Uncle Jack’s knee as he told me tales of the Somme and the mud, horror and death. He showed me the 11 inch scar on his back where a German sniper had almost taken his life as he crawled back to his trench from no man’s land. And he also told me of his older brother Bernet who died from typhus fever in the trenches at the Somme, like many thousands of his compatriots.
There was no glory, no heroism, just the mechanised slaughter of millions of young working class men.
As Wilfred Owen wrote: ‘the poetry is in the pity’.
In the four years of World War 1, Britain endured 658,700 fatalities, 2,032,150 wounded and 359,150 men missing in action. This adds up to total of over three million casualties from one side alone.
Add to this the four million fatalities from the German side and other civilian deaths, the total death toll was in excess of 16 million.
No glory, just death and suffering.
As Lloyd George, Prime Minister in 1916, said: “If the people really knew the truth the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know and can’t know.”
Today the British Government stands out in Europe for its flag-waving jingoism in relation to the centenary. Most Europeans are more sophisticated.
The superb ‘In Flanders Fields Museum’ on the battlefield of Ypres/Passchendaele in Belgium presents the war as a collective human tragedy which we need to understand. A ‘Path of Peace’ runs along the old trench-lines of the Isonzo Front in Slovenia’s Julian Alps. The twinned towns of Newark in Britain and Emmendingen in Germany plan to recreate the 1914 Christmas Truce football match.
And there is much more: places, exhibits, and events which seek to present the war – causes, course, and consequences – as it really was, and to use the commemoration to foster internationalism and peace.
Public money should be used in ways that help us remember the victims, lament the waste, and learn the lessons.
Poetry is again central to how many people regard World War 1.
The No Glory in War movement has arranged a special night of poetry to commemorate Conscientious Objectors’ Day on 15 May.
They have lined up a fine array of speakers, including AL Kennedy, Blake Morrison, Michael Rosen, George Szirtes and Samuel West.
They’ll read from both their own work and that of the war poets and talk a bit about the No Glory campaign.
Given the recent attacks on the war poets by Mr Gove and the Tory Government-backed revisionist historians, it’s important to reclaim their centrality to our memory of that war.
The event is called Cold Stars Lighting – taken from Wilfred Owen’s poem (I Saw His Round Mouth’s Crimson)
So if you’re near London, why not go along. You can book tickets here: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/262403#.UwfWaYXiS8c
Check out this website too: http://www.ppu.org.uk/remembrance/index.html

Poem: No More War

From Cannae to the Afghan hills my battles have been fought
The centuries fall beside me and I am left with nought
In the darkness of the forest the English archers lay in wait
And abused my youthful hope at Crecy’s fallen gate
Saladin’s beautiful velvet army crushed my men at Damietta
Left me reeling for 30 years inside the silk veil of a leper
At the Battle of Watling Street Boudica’s chariot roared like thunder
Left bodies scarred and scared as her followers they did plunder
On Flodden’s muddy fields madmen shed the blood of tears
Left the dead unburied and my corpse to rot for years
The Blitz rained bombs and rockets on our shaking ruined city
Whisky fuelled the fight each night for a soldier’s dying pity
The Civil War was a wretched time and tore families asunder
It bankrupted dwindling coffers as I felt my life go under
And so a final battle was fought on the Verdun grass
The dead of friend and foe knew the warfare could not last
So lay down your weapons now we have had enough of war
Let matters pass between us and battles become no more