Socialism Meets Soccer

Your shoes, they were bought in Boohoos

Your dress is from Taiwan

Your bedding’s from Malaysia

Your ruck sack’s from Amazon

That skirt you wear comes from the Philippines

And the phone you use is a Lumia Grey

It was put together in Chengdu

By a girl making seven Yuan a day

 

Well, it’s sundown on the Goldstone

West Pier and the Corn Exchange

A train ride to the Amex

Where no-one thinks it’s strange

Thirty-six quid for a football match

You play their game and pay

Sure was a good idea

Until greed got in the way

 

Well, your dress is made in Suzhou

And all our cars are from Japan

Your silk scarf was bought in Primark

The Fat Face jeans from Pakistan

All the furniture, it says “Made in Brazil”

Where a woman, she slaved for sure

Bringing home 60 pence a day to a family of twelve

You know, that’s a lot of money to her

 

Well, it’s sundown on the Goldstone

West Pier and the Corn Exchange

A train ride to the Amex

Where no-one thinks it’s strange

Thirty-six quid for a football match

You play their game and pay

Sure was a good idea

Until greed got in the way

 

You know, capitalism is above the law

Because “It don’t count unless it sells”

When it costs too much to build it at home

You just build it cheaper somewhere else

Democracy doesn’t rule the world

That’s something you need to understand

This world is ruled by bankers

Who use politics as a sleight-of-hand

 

Well, it’s sundown on the Goldstone

West Pier and the Corn Exchange

A train ride to the Amex

Where no-one thinks it’s strange

Thirty-six quid for a football match

You play their game and pay

Sure was a good idea

Until greed got in the way

 

(With thanks to Bob Dylan for the original idea)

Words for Friends #9

This is part of a new series of blogs entitled Words for Friends, in which I will try to acknowledge some people in my life for whom words of thanks are not nearly enough.

These living epitaphs to my true and lovely friends are published in a random order as fancy takes me.

#9 Clare

Clare is quite simply a rock and my best friend. She is someone I trust and turn to when life becomes tough or we have reason to celebrate.

She is the mother of my son Nathan’s best friend and  we have both marveled at how their friendship has remained close, even though they have been geographically separated by 200 miles for the past two years.

When I went through depression, suicidal thoughts and marital problems a year ago, Clare was always there for me.

An abiding memory is of last 31st December with Gill, Clare and I, our four youngest kids and three friends sharing a New Year’s Eve meal.

Then the mutual parental chuckle after reprimanding two of our teenage children for secretly sharing a bottle of champagne together!

Clare and I share much more than parenting: our love of large open spaces, gardening, green issues, social justice, adventure, beer, food and the wilds of Scotland!

We can – and often do – sit and chat for hours about how we can put right all the world’s ills. Before laughing at how serious we become.

Thank you Clare for being a very special person in my life and being such a wonderful friend.

 

Words for Friends #8

This is part of a new series of blogs entitled Words for Friends, in which I will try to acknowledge some people in my life for whom words of thanks are not nearly enough.

These living epitaphs to my true and lovely friends are published in a random order as fancy takes me.

#8 Sharon

I have known Sharon since 1991, but she has only known me for the last eight years!

I met her via a TV screen and an old VHS video player while I lived in a loch-side cottage on the wild, west coast of Scotland.

Life really was wild and devoid of modern culture in Knapdale, Mid Argyll, without TV reception and the nearest cinema some 45 miles away.

So to stay in touch with the late 20th century, my partner and I would rely on monthly trips to Glasgow – some 102 miles away – to buy a clutch of videos of which ever movies took our fancy.

One such video was called Clockwise  a hilarious 1985 British comedy starring John Cleese and co-starring a then unknown actress.

Sharon turned my head. She was funny, beautiful, slightly quirky and most of all reminded me of my first teenage girlfriend!

So it came as a surprise when some 17 years later I stumbled across her on Facebook and realised that we had mutual friends – largely due to my time at drama college in the late 1970s.

A friendship grew slowly via social media, emails and telephone chats and blossomed with our shared experiences, values and a constant battle against injustice and abuse. We also share very similar humour and a mutual disdain for bullies and deceit.

I now consider Sharon a close personal friend and someone whom I trust implicitly.

Thank you for returning that friendship.

Tears Won’t Wash Out a Word

Bad night

Woke in a deep depression

So bleak

Life is in a sad recession

Too many memories

Too many loved ones

Gone

Need to write myself out of it today

What do you say?

Guess I’m just human

And I’ll get by

I suppose

Remember it is true

Loyalty is valuable

But our lives are valuable too

 

The right words make you listen

In this cruel world

Any change of values I have got to write it down

They are destroying the Welfare State

I have got to write it down

It must not be forgotten

As long as I write it down

 

Bad day

Dealing with this depression

So bleak

Life is in a sad recession

Too many memories

Too many mistakes

Made

Need to write myself out of it today

What do you say?

Guess I’m just human

And I’ll get by

I suppose

Remember it is true

Honesty is valuable

But our lives are valuable too

 

The right words make you listen

In this cruel world

Any change of values I have got to write it down

They are destroying Palestine

I have got to write it down

It must not be forgotten

As long as I write it down

 

Bad month

Coping with this depression

So bleak

Life is in a sad recession

Too many memories

Too many bridges

Burned

Need to write myself out of it today

What do you say?

Guess I’m just human

And I’ll get by

I suppose

Remember it is true

Dignity is valuable

But our lives are valuable too

 

The right words make you listen

In this cruel world

Any change of values I have got to write it down

They are destroying the working class

I have got to write it down

It must not be forgotten

As long as I write it down

 

Bad year

Struggling with this depression

So bleak

Life is in a sad recession

Too many memories

Too many lovers

Lost

Need to write myself out of it today

What do you say?

Guess I’m just human

And I’ll get by

I suppose

Remember it is true

Sanctity is valuable

But our lives are valuable too

 

The right words make you listen

In this cruel world

Any change of values I have got to write it down

They are destroying the news agenda

I have got to write it down

It must not be forgotten

As long as I write it down

 

(Inspired by Nicola Young and David Bowie’s Fantastic Voyage)

Fairness, Compassion and Equality can Finally Overturn the Scourge of Capitalist Greed

WHILE the political pundits in the Westminster village are twisted into knots over Jeremy Corbyn’s so-called ‘Revenge Reshuffle” and BBC duplicity over the resignation of one minor minister, it is time to reset our focus to something much more important.

Put simply, the ongoing scourge of ordinary people by the most arrogant, privileged and right wing government of my lifetime.

For decades our country – and most of Western 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 have been 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 is underpinned by our malicious right wing press who smear and pillory anyone who dares question the status quo or suggest alternatives.

The press barons and their big business buddies are terrified of those alternatives, because they threaten a smug status quo which means that the five richest families in the UK now own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population.

The combined wealth of the 1,000 richest men and women in Britain has more than doubled in the last 10 years. The wealthiest 1,000 individuals and families now have a combined fortune of £547.126 billion, up from £249.615 billion in 2005, despite the world economy being gripped by a punishing recession over much of the last decade.

Meanwhile, thousands of families survive on the breadline, make weekly use of food banks or starve due to draconian benefits sanctions.

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 elitists who care more about their mansions and banking friends than about people.

And their shopping list for change is truly terrifying as this is unshackled Conservative government promises 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.
  • 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, terrorism 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 rather than need.
  • Redraw constituency boundaries so these same corrupt capitalist elitists stay in power for another 20 more years.

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 any hope for a fairer and better future.”

Well the fightback has begun. And I must admit I never thought it possible.

But none of us expected Jeremy Corbyn!

Over last summer this gentle political firebrand 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:

  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 to give Palestinian refugees a “right of return”.
  5. Replacing Trident would be a costly mistake. Jeremy Corbyn 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. The air strikes against ISIS in Syria are a crass mistake. Mr Corbyn 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.
  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 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 despite this weeks’ shenanigans, protecting the BBC.
  14. Private Finance Initiative deals with the NHS should be ended by using government funds to buy them out.

All in all, a brave new world indeed and those Corbyn messages are forever true.

And at last we have a political leader who can offer a true progressive alternative and a way forward for us all. So let’s now all unite and spend 2016 fighting together for that better tomorrow.

Fairness, compassion and equality can finally overturn the scourge of capitalist greed.

 

Roll On John

SO, the West has eliminated its Bete Noir at last!

Unlike recent targets, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi, this man is much more ordinary: Mohammed Emwazi, or Jihadi John as our tabloid press insist on calling him.

The British and US military worked “hand in glove” to launch an airstrike against the “notorious” Islamic State (ISIS) extremist Mohammed Emwazi, the UK Government confirmed today, with sources adding that there was a “high degree of certainty” he was killed in the attack.

The Pentagon confirmed late on Thursday night that US forces carried out an airstrike in Syria targeting Emwazi, the British-born Isis terrorist known as “Jihadi John” after appearing in gruesome propaganda videos depicting the apparent beheadings of eight hostages.

Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement from Downing Street on Friday morning confirming the attack amid reports that US officials were “99% certain” that Emwazi had been killed in a drone strike.

He said Emwazi was a threat to innocent people around the world, adding: “This was an act of self-defence. It was the right thing to do.”

Emwazi, a British citizen, participated in videos seemingly showing the murders of US journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley, American aid worker Abdul-Rahman [Peter] Kassig, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, and a number of other hostages.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said it would have been preferable for Mr Emwazi to have faced justice in a court of law. “It appears Mohammed Emwazi has been held to account for his callous and brutal crimes. However, it would have been far better for us all if he had been held to account in a court of law.

“These events only underline the necessity of accelerating international efforts, under the auspices of the UN, to bring an end to the Syrian conflict as part of a comprehensive regional settlement.”

Is “Jihadi John” dead! And did he ever really exist?

One thing is certain, the US and UK Governments needed Mr Emwazi dead.

For if he had been brought in front of the International Court of Justice a can of worms may have opened, which Cameron, Obama, Bush and Blair combined would have had difficulty closing.

Last month I published a piece called Jerusalem to Riyadh: an Axis of Evil which looked at some of the dirty tricks used by MI5, CIA, Mossad and Saudi Arabia to maintain organised instability in the Middle East for their own capitalist ends.

And between them create and sustain ISIS as a vehicle for that instability.

Israel and its unregulated Intelligence agency Mossad carries out the dirtiest of deeds, including many False Flag attacks: 7/7 in the UK, the Bulgarian bus bombing of 2014, and the Charlie Hebdo outrage in Paris.

From the very start after the formation of its own nation state Israel’s secret services ran rogue operations, stealing money from the Swiss accounts of Hitler’s victims, bombing a synagogue in Baghdad during prayers in 1951 to scare Jewish Iraqis into moving into tent villages in Israel, and bombing British and American offices in Cairo in 1954 (the Lavon affair) to discredit Egypt’s Nasser regime.

Using American funds provided for other purposes, Mossad bribed its way across Africa and Latin America. The late dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceaucescu—who edged Sadat toward Jerusalem and Camp David—received about $30 million from the agency.

Elsewhere, Mossad spies threw in their lot with established power, however autocratic: Iran (where they trained the SAVAK secret police in interrogation methods), Zaire, Chad and other African countries, Singapore, Sri Lanka (where they helped the Sinhalese go after Tamils), South Korea, South Africa (where Israel aided the birth of nuclear weapons), and Argentina (supplying arms during the Falklands War).

They helped Morocco capture and kill an opposition leader, Mehdi Ben Barka, in Paris. While in Beirut, they murdered Palestinians and blew up MEA Caravelles at the airport.

During the 1967 war, they protected the disinformation communications which brought Jordan into the conflict by directing the attack on the US spy ship Liberty, an action in which 34 Americans were killed and 171 wounded.

Misinformation has always been a Mossad trademark.

Many theorists and experts now believe that a Mossad / Saudi axis was behind the 9/11 atrocity.

Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain: planners to financiers, cadres to foot soldiers, ideologists to cheerleaders.

The dictatorship of Saudi Arabia which systematically transmits its sick form of Islam across the globe, instigates and funds hatreds, while crushing human freedoms and aspiration.

Both Israel and Saudi Arabia are honoured by the West in a sickening open display of back slapping support as “our great allies”.

Even more seriously, the pernicious Saudi influence is spreading fast and freely. King Salman has offered to build 200 mosques in Germany for recently arrived refugees, many of whom are Muslims.

He offered no money for resettlement or basic needs, but Wahhabi mosques, the Trojan horses of the secret Saudi crusade. Several Islamic schools are also sites of Wahhabism, now a global brand. It makes hearts and minds small and suspicious, turns Muslim against Muslim, and undermines modernists.

The late Laurent Murawiec wrote in 2002: “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadres to foot soldiers, from ideologists to cheerleaders.”

Remember that most of the 9/11 killers were Saudi; so was the al-Qaeda hierarchy.

The deadly ongoing role of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Britain in the Middle East is truly frightening.

These countries, along with France, Turkey, Qatar and the Gulf monarchies of the UAE have all in the recent past supported al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State (ISIS) with arms, money, and/or manpower.

The United States has already overthrown the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and now is trying to do the same with Syria, thus giving great impetus to the rise of ISIS.

More than a million refugees from these wars of US and British making are currently over-running Europe and North Africa.

The United States has bombed ISIS in Syria, but has used the same occasions to damage Syria’s infrastructure and oil-producing capacity.

The mainstream Western media never mentions the proposed Qatar natural-gas pipelines – whose path to Europe, Syria has stood in the way of for years – as a reason for much of the hostility toward Syria. The pipelines could dethrone Russia as Europe’s dominant source of energy.

US policy in Syria in the years leading up to the 2011 uprising against Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, which began the whole current mess, was designed to promote sectarianism, which in turn led to civil war with the goal of regime change.

So why does the government of the United States hate Syrian president Bashar al-Assad with such passion?

Is it because, as we’re told, he’s a brutal dictator? But how can that be the reason for the hatred? It would be difficult indeed to name a brutal dictatorship of last 70 years that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population; at present the list would include Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.

The United States is hostile to the Syrian government for the same reason it has been hostile to Cuba for more than half a century; and hostile to Venezuela for the past 15 years; and earlier to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; and to Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Chile.

What these governments have had in common is independence from American foreign policy; the refusal to be a client state of Washington; the refusal to be continuously hostile to Washington’s Officially Designated Enemies; insufficient respect and zeal for the capitalist way of life.

So if countries of the Middle East don’t convert to democracy and capitalism, you can bet the USA will bomb them into conversion.

Since the end of World War 2 the USA 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.

During that time the USA has bombed: China 1945-46, Korea 1950-53, China 1950-53, Guatemala 1954, Indonesia 1958, Cuba 1959-60, Guatemala 1960, Belgian Congo 1964, Guatemala 1964, Dominican Republic 1965-66, Peru 1965, Laos 1964-73, Vietnam 1961-73, Cambodia 1969-70, Guatemala 1967-69, Lebanon 1982-84, Grenada 1983-84, Libya 1986, El Salvador 1981-92, Nicaragua 1981-90, Iran 1987-88, Libya 1989, Panama 1989-90, Iraq 1991, Kuwait 1991, Somalia 1992-94, Bosnia 1995, Iran 1998, Sudan 1998, Afghanistan 1998, Yugoslavia – Serbia 1999, Afghanistan 2001, Iraq 2003, Libya 2011 and Syria 2014.

All in the name of Apple Pie and Freedom!

So Jihadi John and ISIS are all part of the latest instalment.

Watch out it could be your country next!

Twelve political tenets I hold true as a human being

  1. The equality of every human from birth whatever their race, creed, belief or orientation. The wholescale scapegoating of people because of their colour, beliefs or origins remains one of the biggest vices of Western society.
  1. The scrapping of Trident and all nuclear weapons as the greatest evil ever devised by mankind. The argument of self-defence and nuclear deterrent was always obscene and corrupt. It is now bankrupt since the end of the Cold War. European countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Spain have never felt the need to use a nuclear deterrent argument to arms themselves. The £100 billion budgeted for Trident replacement would clear our national deficit and be used for the greater common good.
  1. International neutrality. The end of military intervention in other countries’ affairs and a curtailing of the British military services to a simple defence force. Once a man or woman takes up a gun and salary to kill other people they give up the right to be regarded as a human being. The Help For Heroes charity is one of the worst kinds of military propaganda foisted upon us in the past decade.
  1. A Europe without borders or nation states. Whilst I support the campaign for Scottish and Welsh independence from the UK, in the longer term – as an international socialist – I look forward to a continent where small regions and countries are self-governing without nation states.
  1. The abolition of the monarchy and British aristocracy and a replacement of the House of Lords with an elected second chamber. It is an insidious part of British society that from birth we are taught to bow and curtsy to the rich and aristocratic simply due to their birthright. The monarchy and aristocracy are a poisonous legacy of the middle-ages where those with military power conquered countries and rewarded their robber barons with privileges which set them apart from the rest.
  1. The restoration of Palestine and freedom for the Palestinian people from the murder and corruption of Zionist Israel. Since 1947 Israel has been a cancerous sore on the Middle East and the world as a whole. We allowed post World War II Zionist Jews to steal the land of the Palestinian people, rename the land Israel, arm itself with nuclear weapons and become the neighbourhood bully of all Middle East affairs. It must end.
  1. An extended welfare system to care and protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. It’s simple really: our welfare safety net needs to be strengthened and not weakened for the elderly, the young, the homeless, the poor and the unemployed.
  1. A national house building programme with greater investment in council housing and shared housing initiatives with a return to rent control. And no return to Right to Buy which over the past 30 years has led to widespread homelessness and a housing crisis which impairs the poor to a decent home and equal chances.
  1. The abolition of public schools, academies and the grammar school system. A free comprehensive education system for all children under a new school building and improvement programme. The likes of Eton, Westminster, Harrow and Cheltenham Ladies College underpin the worst excesses and causes of inequality in Britain today. We must work towards the best free education and opportunity for all children.
  1. Protection and extension of the NHS with an end to private enterprise initiatives. This requires huge investment in buildings, resources, doctors, nurses and ancillary staff and an end to NHS consultants’ private health care work. Goodbye Harley Street!
  1. An International Human Rights Act to underpin our legal system and protect basic freedoms. A strengthening of human rights across the world in a charter agreed by all countries and underpinned by the United Nations.
  1. A ban on fox hunting, hare coursing, badger baiting and deer stalking and all forms of blood sports. If this had been Golden Retriever hunting, Yorkshire Terrier coursing or Grey Persian Cat baiting everyone would be up in arms. But the pink gin swilling toffs deem it their right to hunt, kill and terrorise wild animals they regard as fair game. No they are not!