Springingtiger's Blog

Hard Lessons
August 21, 2016, 23:28
Filed under: disability, Health, Parenting, personal development | Tags: , , ,


Recently a friend posted about her continuing health difficulties. She overexerted herself while suffering from influenza, now a year later she is still unwell and it is being explained as post-viral debility. That is a road down which I too have walked.

When I was a manager and training officer as well as being the Managers’ Association Branch Chairman I was busy. I had been busy in the Union Of Communication Workers negotiating around Operator Grades Restructuring and then I was promoted. As well as being in charge of night staff training I was travelling all around the country training people in Customer Care and I loved it. I also deputised for the Night Manager when he was away for any period. I also managed both a team of Operators and Senior Operators as well as the Exchange training Team, in one year I had to appraise thirty people. I enjoyed the responsibility of management, the satisfaction of running successful trainings, negotiating as am Association official, speaking at conference. I used to get the occasional cold and flu, but they didn’t stop me, I worked through them. Iworked through them until my body just gave up on me. During one bout of flu I became too ill to work and was forced to take a little time off. I rushed back to work as soon as I could, but was hit by bout after bout of illness. I was exhausted, tired all the time. At first I was diagnosed as being ‘post-viral’. Eventually my Doctor diagnosed me as having Chronic Fatigue and Immuno Dysfunction Syndrome. I spent months in bed , but gradually built up my levels of activity. However I was off for a year before after a phased return of several months I started working full time again. Sadly it was felt that the irregular shifts of the night staff would no longer suit me, nor the rushing around the country and so I worked for some years a a day staff team manager.

After a while I was so much better I began getting busy again, taking on all sorts of extra activities. What I had not realised was that the illness was dormant rather than gone. It was not long before I found my body rebelling again. I fell prey to every passing virus and the muscle pain and exhaustion returned. However I gradually learned to recognise when my CFIDS was getting ready to hit me again, and I learned to reign back my activity and rest. Didn’t always manage it and I paid, but I discovered that there was a particular physical sensation heaviness which when accompanied by a distinctive sore throat generally meant an attack was coming. Sometimes I still do too much especially when after weeks of rain I get a couple of good days to get on with the work in my garden. Several times I have paid heavily for excessive enthusiasm. This year I have been struggling with discomfort for much of the summer, but I haven’t hit the point of shut down because I have finally been self disciplined about pacing my activity. I have used a timer to measure my physical labour and made sure I rested. When I have been tired I have forced myself to accept that some tasks had to be postponed. What I have learned is that it is always possible to substitute a lighter physical activity for a heavy one. Sometimes I have to spend a day resting, some days I have been unable to stay on my feet for any period of time. However when I take the rest I need instead of just forcing myself to continue, the sooner I am able to get up and get on with living.

One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that my duty is to myself first and if I cannot function I cannot effectively serve others either. The frustration of my CFIDS when it was at its height aggravated my periodic depressions. Now I have learned that my happiness matters and restores my health and energy. I have found that being ill does not mean I have to be miserable. I have long used the Marx Brothers as a counter for an incipient depression, now I try to always do something pleasurable when unwell because it seems to promote recovery. I read, I watch DVDs, if I am up to it I go to the cinema or even use my over Sixties bus pass to take a day out (sadly I’ve only managed it once so far this year). It is important to have fun and it promotes recovery. Feeling good makes me feel better. Feeling good about myself makes me feel better and feeling good about myself means accepting what is so and being good to myself instead of wallowing in regrets or resenting what I can’t do. And sometimes I reflect on how lucky I am to be able to do all that I can when so many people are compelled by circumstance to do so much less. My illness was a blow, it was inconvenient, I believed for a while it was ruining my life, but what I now know is that it was teaching me the lessons about living sensible and looking after myself that I was too stupid or too busy to learn for myself.

As those who know me know, every day I practice gratitude as I journal. I cannot honestly yet say I am grateful for my CFIDS, but I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from it, and I am glad I have learned to be kind to myself. People say, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” I think it’s probably better for everyone if you do unto yourself what you would have others do unto you. After all why should others treat you well if you aren’t aren’t willing to?

Thoughts On The Gateshead Hustings.


I watched the live stream of today’s Labour leadership hustings from Gateshead. Afterwards I posted a couple of comments from Hootsuite, but I deliberately didn’t go into Twitter because I didn’t want my thoughts to be influenced by anyone until after I had captures them in the raw.

To give credit where credit is due, Owen Smith performed well for the most part. I liked the policies he was putting forward, most of them appear to have originated from the Corbyn left wing of the party, but all the time I had the nagging thought that he is a very recent convert to socialism. I don’t get that there is any consistency in Smith’s position whereas with Corbyn his whole life is in alignment with his policies and stated beliefs. I want to believe Smith, but on his record I find myself suspicious of his conversion to socialism.

Owen Smith and the right claim Corbyn is unelectable, however if –as they claim – the country didn’t elect Labour because their policies were too left wing, why would they vote for Owen Smith who is putting forward the same left wing policies as Jeremy Corbyn? The only difference is that we know Jeremy Corbyn is standing for what he believes, whereas there is a strong suspicion that Owen Smith will quickly ditch his newly adopted socialist policies again in order to make himself electable.

I was a little disappointed at one point by Jeremy Corbyn. When Smith was talking about the importance of opposing the Tories I think Jeremy should have asked him why he just sat on his hands and watched as the Tories passed their Welfare Bill. Corbyn and the left actually did oppose the Bill and voted against it. Sometimes I wonder if Jeremy isn’t too decent and too noble, but he has a strong moral code and he doesn’t hit below the belt.

I have to confess I gave up voting for the Labour Party a long time ago and my last few votes were because I respected the candidate as a person despite them representing Labour. I used to love the Labour Party, I was a very active member, but the day came when it dawned on me that it was pointless to support them because they had become just another party of business. It is small surprise they never sing the Red Flag beyond the first verse and chorus because they might choke on the words of the fourth verse:

It suits today the weak and base

Whose minds are fixed on self and place;

To cringe before the rich man’s frown,

And haul the sacred emblem down.”

Whenever I sing it I see before me Tony Blair’s New Labour and his acolytes in the Parliamentary Party as they try to cling to control of the Party whose values they perverted. I am not saying labour should be some sort of revolutionary Marxist party, But it should be the peoples party, the workers’ party. Labour was built by the trades Unions and their members, its roots lie more in nonconformist Christianity than in Marxist theory and its founding fathers travelled the country with all the zeal of Weslyan preachers. When I look at Jeremy Corbyn I see that zeal, when I look at his supporters I see the vision that brought the labour Party into being and gave us the National Health Service, council housing, education accessible to all. I look and listen to Owen Smith, I want to believe he shares the vision, but I’m not convinced. I see how the establishment has launched a war on Jeremy Corbyn and all he stands for and I see Owen Smith on the wrong side of that war. I want to like him, but I cannot bring myself to trust him.

However much Owen Smith impressed me, and he did impress me, he’s a very good performer, he totally destroyed that on the last question when in his answer he made it clear that regardless of how the party votes in the leadership election, rather than work with Jeremy Corbyn to unite the part and take the fight to the Tories, he would prefer to continue to stay out of the shadow cabinet and undermine Jeremy Corbyn from the back benches. However much I had been willing to see Owen Smith as a possible leader, at that point all his words suddenly rang hollow. It was as if after everything he said he ended with “Oh and by the way I’ve been lying to you all the time and I think you’re stupid enough to let me get away with it!” I have always been inclined to prefer Corbyn, I must admit, but now I am actually opposed to Owen Smith. I don’t want to be, I want to believe he’s a good man, but I have sincere doubts about him. I could well vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party, but it would depend on their position on Scottish Independence.

However I will watch the other debates before I make a final judgement, I hope they will clarify whether they could accept Scottish Independence should the Scots call for it. I can’t help but feel that the final nail in Scottish Labour’s coffin was sharing a platform with the Tories in Better Together, a trap Corbyn didn’t fall into over the EU Referendum. I would also like to hear how they will handle a post Brexit Britain. Owen Smith tonight made it very clear that he will block Brexit if he gets the opportunity whereas Corbyn respects the democratic will of the people, but seems intent on mitigating the damage it might do. Id like to hear their proposals for protecting human rights post Brexit.

This is going to be an interesting summer!

The Lure of Facebook


Oh it is nice to be back on social media, having finished putting the Glasgow Ubiquitous E Steampunk Society Newsletter together! I mentioned the other day just how addictive Twitter and Facebook can be. However they are fun. I still remember how when, after I was given my diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome, I was offered a contact to a social group for Aspies, my wife remarked, “It’s called Facebook!”. She wasn’t far off the mark.

It is strange how many good friends I have on Facebook I have never met and some I have, some I knew first from Facebook and met later. I suppose it is very probable that when you make friends on Facebook with people who share your interests, that sooner or later your paths will cross, certainly if you live in the same city. Much of my Facebook time is spent on special interest groups. I love how someone can share a post which leads me to visit a page where I see something amazing that provokes me to comment. The person who’s page it is replies to my comment and I respond and suddenly I find myself with a new friend and a new source of ideas and inspiration.

Talking of ideas and inspiration. Once I have looked at my notifications, perhaps spent some time on my time line, I like to go to my groups and see what has been added since I last looked. The political groups are very useful for keeping me abreast with various campaigns and sourcing information to pass on to other campaigners. The autism groups let me know what’s happening in the Autism Community, much of it I ignore because I’m bored with many of the debates, particularly around vaccines. At the moment I am spending quite a lot of time on Steampunk groups because they are such a source of ideas and other people’s experience which is a godsend to anyone involved in crafting and creating.

Facebook is a good source of material. The graphic on my Facebook Profile Header I got from Facebook. I hasten to add I am using it with permission. I generally find people are very generous with their work as long as I ask permission to use it and acknowledge their work. I was on a march the other day wearing Steampunk gear and several people took my photograph. It is nice when they ask first, not that I mind particularly when they don’t, but it is courteous. I notice that many professional photographers are very scrupulous about asking. It is even more important to get permission to use other people’s art work. The painting you share in a second may have taken the artist weeks. It is not so bad to share what they have themselves shared on Facebook, but to take a picture from their commercial catalogue and share it without permission or acknowledgement is tantamount to theft. Having said that, most creatives are delighted to have their work appreciated and are happy to have it seen widely. If you ask, they will usually let you. When you share someone else’s music or writing you may be giving away that on which they depend to put food on their table by selling. Again if you ask they may be happy to allow a representative extract to be shared with appropriate acknowledgement. I have said it before, and I will repeat, people on Facebook tend to be very generous as long as you treat them and their work with respect.

I have several ongoing conversations on Facebook Messenger. Often these are related to the groups in which I’m involved, for example one of them is a way the committee of a society can discuss matters relating to the group without putting them on the Group’s page. Another is a means of sharing news reports with a small group interested in a particular subject. Messenger is also a good way to keep in touch with family and friends, some conversations are better not put on an open page.

I am back after just a couple of days. I miss Facebook when I’m not using it, even if it were just a couple of days. However coming back and immediately getting involved in disputes with people whose relationship with reality is utterly illogical and uninformed reminds me why it is so good periodically to take a break from it.

Friends of Trident, Enemies of God and Humanity


20140603_112852_2I was watching on the Parliament Channel a re-showing of the debate on trident renewal that took place on the 18th of July and what became clearer to me than anything was the incredible dishonesty of many MPs on both sides of the house. It is ironic that while MPs try to smear Jeremy Corbyn with being anti semitic the majority of the House of Commons including many of those who pretend to be Jews, Christians and Muslims voted to replace Trident. A move that at best displays no faith in God, by whatever name and at worst displays an utter contempt for God. Any one who supports Trident and professes to be a Christian or a Jew is a hypocrite, possibly a liar. I wont comment on Muslims as I don’t know their scripture well enough. However anyone who voted to replace Trident is demonstrating a faith in the works of man rather than God, effectively everyone who in the face of a dangerous world puts their trust in weapons of mass destruction is an idolater.

The only people who support the use of nuclear weapons are those who reject the power and promises of God and it occurred to me that the story of King Asa of Judah who had on God’s promise defeated a vastly superior Sudanese army but later instead of faith turned to paid allies to defeat the Syrians (Do they never stop fighting in that part of the world?).

‘At that time Hana′ni the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with exceedingly many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this; for from now on you will have wars.” 10 Then Asa was angry with the seer, and put him in the stocks, in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this.’

Those without faith trust in man made solutions and like Asa attack those who stand up for the truth like Hana’ni, who point out the flaws in depending on nuclear weapons.

I don’t profess to be a Christian, I have far too much respect for Jesus to support the hypocrisy of the churches. However I was reading, the other day, that theological tour de force the ‘Letter to the Romans’ even for those of us who don’t accept Paul’s theological premises it is a magnificent argument. Christians are bound to believe it and so I might remind them of Paul’s observations on Abraham,

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthenedin his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.

If someone prefers to put their trust in Nuclear weapons rather than in the promises of the God they pretend to follow they can protest their faith as much as they like but as Jesus says you know the truth about them by their deeds,

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” And Trident is a weapon for faithless cowards. I can say that as someone who has in the face of physical attack turned the other cheek…okay that didn’t actually go too well, if I’m honest, but at least having lost I didn’t go and murder not only my aggressor, but his family, everyone he knew and burn all his possessions. Trident is not a weapon of deterrence, but of revenge and only someone without courage or any moral decency would consider using it. Jesus was awfy hard when it came to morality, he’d say that anyone who is prepared to use nuclear weapons is a murderer; if you don’t believe me read the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel.

There is a somewhat suspect idea that wars can be just and there are criteria for a Just War. Anyone who accepts the possibility of using nuclear weapons is committing themselves to injustice. We should expect that of the Conservatives who think nothing of condemning millions of hard working people to lives of grinding poverty, but we should expect better of the Labour Party.

There are six conditions must be satisfied for a war to be considered just:

  • The war must be for a just cause.
  • The war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority.
  • The intention behind the war must be good.
  • All other ways of resolving the problem should have been tried first.
  • There must be a reasonable chance of success.
  • The means used must be in proportion to the end that the war seeks to achieve.

A war that starts as a Just War may stop being a Just War if the means used to wage it are inappropriate.

  • Innocent people and non-combatants should not be harmed.
  • Only appropriate force should be used.
    • This applies to both the sort of force, and how much force is used.
  • Internationally agreed conventions regulating war must be obeyed.

(What is a Just War? http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/war/just/what.shtml)

It is impossible to use nuclear weapons without killing innocent people. Anyone who is prepared to accept the deaths of millions of innocents is someone who effectively considers the lives and rights of human beings as immaterial compared to the achievement of their own ends. They are exactly the sort of people who accept that it is acceptable to throw people out of work to protect profits, that it is appropriate to exploit those who are powerless to resist and to legislate to remove the power to resist. Anyone who claims to support socialism, yet would squander billions on Trident is a liar. There is no socialist nuclear weapon and no one who has supported nuclear weapons has a right to be called a socialist. Quite apart from the waste of resources nuclear weapons represent, they display an utter contempt for humanity, they generally lead to repression in the name of security and an undermining of democratic rights. If someone who truly believes20140603_112823_2 in God cannot accept nuclear weapons how much more of an abomination are they to anyone who professes to love humanity!





An Honest Politician


Sometimes I don’t manage to avoid listening to BBC’s Any Questions and on a Saturday the following Any Answers, known to its fans as ‘Bigots’ Corner’. I was interested to hear peter Hitchin’s take on Jeremy Corbyn because I tend to think of Hitchin as a bit of a right wing bigot, however he speaks his mind without fear or favour. He pointed out that although he disagreed with almost every one of Jeremy Corbyn’s policies, Jeremy Corbyn was the only political leader in years who actually cared about the country and its people, he suggested that Corbyn was unique in his honesty although Hitchin thought him wrong in his politics. Even more surprising was that there were a considerable number of callers in Any Answers who supported Corbyn and the BBC allowed them to speak. Like Hitchin some disagreed with Corbyn’s politics, but none doubted his integrity.

One of the problems with reading the Bible everyday is that it tends to provide a background commentary, in ones mind to, current affairs. In Psalm 18 the Psalmist sings,

I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity. Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright; With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure; and with the froward (contrary) thou wilt show thyself froward.” (Ps. 18: 23-26)

It is very apparent that even those who disagree with Corbyn respect his integrity and thousands have been moved by it. Those froward politicians who seek to discredit him dishonestly merely appear dishonest themselves because their contrariness is too blatant to be concealed. There is room for interpretation of any event, but it is apparent that opinions are greatly divided about Prime Minister’s Question time this week. Some praise Teresa May’s put downs from the dispatch box. Others deplore her inability to actually answer questions put to her. Worse many in Britain watched her performance and when they saw her lean forward and demand, “Remind you of anyone?” they were reminded of Margaret Thatcher and few people have divided the British people like her. In Scotland we rejoiced more at Thatcher’s death that at the Queens Jubilee so hated is she still. The Tories may mock Labour for losing Scotland (which they first lost to Labour) but as long as they are led by Thatcher’s ghost they can resign themselves to the continuing hatred of the Scots. I think this is why Hitchin respects Corbyn because he is his own man. Each of them speak their truth without tailoring it to win appreciation or applause. Jeremy Corbyn’s mentor, Tony Benn, used to say that there are two types of politician the signpost and the weathervane, the signposts always point to what they believe right regardless of changing opinion whereas the weathervane altered direction with every change of public opinion. Jeremy Corbyn is a signpost like Tony Benn. The winds may blow, but he is not blown off course because his strong foundation is, as Peter Hitchin recognises, his commitment to the ordinary people of the country.

A Party For Labour


I am a member of the Communication Workers Union (When I first joined it was the Union of Post Office Workers) and I am proud that it has already started to withdraw funding from some of its sponsored MPs who rebelled against Jeremy Corbyn, I hope it refuses to continue to sponsor any of the rebels. The Blairite wing of the Labour Party, never friendly to Trades Unions, has declared war on the Trades Union Movement, and upon Socialist Societies and upon anyone wishing to vote in the leadership election who has to depend on benefits.

The Labour Procedures Committee have said that members of Trades Unions with less than six months membership would be barred from voting in the Labour leadership election. This is a deliberate interference in the internal affairs of the Unions, it has also imposed the same rule on socialist societies. The Trades Unions and socialist societies are left with only a couple of choices: accept the dictat of the Blairites or take action against the party they established to represent them.

I personally never thought that the ‘supporters’ fee was a good idea however by raising it to Twenty five pounds the Labour elite are saying that only the middle-class employed or the wealthy are welcome to vote for the leader. The same Blairite MPs who refused to oppose the Tory Welfare bill are now excluding the poorest in our society from participating in the party that should be protecting them. Jesus said “Who is not for me is against me..” (Mt. 12:30) it is apparent that the Blairites are opposed to the right of the poorest in society to have a stake in Labour’s future.

The Labour Party has also banned its own local branches and constituencies from holding meetings to prevent them organising support for Jeremy Corbyn. This will also prevent them putting any motions to Annual Conference or appointing delegates. I am informed that in constituencies (or in at least one) where the executives are acceptable to the right of the party the executive will be allowed to take those decisions on behalf of the membership.

Obviously no one should rush into anything. However during this period of the Labour Leadership Contest I hope the Trades Unions and Socialist Societies affiliated to Labour will be re-evaluating their support for the party. Obviously should Corbyn be re-elected it would suggest that the party is not irredeemable. However should procedural chicanery prevent the membership returning the Leader they want then we should be questioning whether the Labour Party is the party of Labour, the party of the people.

The Unite Union is calling for mandatory reselection of MPs, I hope other unions will follow suit. I am very aware of many Labour members and supporters who are saying that if Corbyn is removed they will not support Labour at the next election. I expect that if they are allowed to select candidates acceptable to the membership they will continue to work for Labour. However if the choices of the members are overruled then there is no reason why they should.

The Trades Unions established the Labour Party to further, in Parliament, the interests of workers and many of the MPs they returned were once workers. These days we have a professional, university educated political class most of whom have never got their hands dirty. They go from university into being a political researcher, or sometimes a journalist and then when they win a seat they become an MP. In some cases like Angela Eagle’s the elite at the top of the party impose them onto a constituency against the wishes of the membership to take advantage of the work of the members whilst keeping workers’ chosen candidates out of parliament. It is apparent that these political professionals have completely lost touch with ordinary people. Worse they think that those who lack their professional political education are so naive they can blatantly break the rules and the ordinary members will just tug their forelocks and fall into line.

One of the things I hate about the new breed is their softness. I heard Angela Eagle being knocked around, politely, by John Humphries. If she can’t handle a BBC interviewer she certainly can’t handle Teresa May. Personally I am sickened at all their pathetic (not an insult, check the OED) complaining about intimidation, whereas not one of them has raised their voice to complain about the unrelenting abuse Jeremy Corbyn has suffered for the past year. Unlike Johanna Baxter and Angela Eagle he just sucks it up and carries on. I know abuse is wrong, but some of the alleged abuse is not abuse. Baxter accused Owen Jones (without giving his name) on television of intimidating members of the National Executive Committee by text. Unfortunately for her he published the text of the message he sent, she was not one of the people he sent it to, and it was a very polite request not a demand. I have actually been reading the tweets on Johanna Baxter’s account and have not found any abusive ones. Okay so someone called her a ‘loser’ everyday language in Glasgow. One of the examples she gave was that someone said she was ‘boohooing’ well she was crying on live television so I think that’s fair and not abusive. ‘Lacking a vertebra’ is hardly abusive, even ‘spineless’ is hardly abuse. I was a trades union branch official for years and we debated at conference, we debated hard and we were a lot more robust in our language than most of these pathetic (OED) Blairites can stand and we just went on; sometimes we lost, sometimes we won, but we didn’t whine.

I think if the Labour Party wants to win back the ordinary people of the country it needs to start allowing workers to represent workers because these middle-class professionals don’t have the resilience or the will to fight their corner. They may have been stars of the Labour Club at University or even the Oxford Union, but they’ve never had to do politics because it mattered. To them politics is just a lucrative career and in many cases an opportunity to get other members of their family a job paid from expenses. The Unions set up the Party and the Unions should, if not take it back, at least clear out those whose personal ambition is standing between them and the members who put them into parliament. The labour Party should, above all, be the Party of Labour

The Times They Are A-Changin’ Corbyn Says So (and Corbyn doesn’t lie)


I watched Jeremy Corbyn politely and courteously knocking all Andrew Marr’s questions for six while remaining relaxed and casual. One thing he said particularly made me prick up my ears and that was, “The times they are a changing”, which is of course, a Bob Dylan song. Andrew Marr who had just been made to look somewhat shallow after admitting that all his opinions were formed from reading newspapers, needless to say, did not pick up on the implications of the remark. In that one line Corbyn demonstrated why he commands a huge following among ordinary people and the young, many of whom have probably never heard the song and certainly weren’t born when it was written. However the words of the song speak directly to the world we live in now.

What the song said back in the Sixties and Corbyn is saying now is that the world has changed and the old certainties no longer apply. There are many among Tony Blair’s disciples like Angela Eagle who think that by dishonestly manipulating rules the status quo can be preserved. Recent events around the world show they are wrong. Unlike many of his opponents Jeremy Corbyn has been an active participant in the movements that transformed society in the second half of the Twentieth Century, unlike the ‘critics who prophesize’ with their pens Corbyn’s eyes are open and he is picking up on the signs of change. The song is not only a song of revolution, but of hope and vision. Corbyn is declaring that he, of all politicians is offering hope because he has a vision that a better future is possible a vision that Angela Eagle’s campaign launch shows she is utterly lacking.

The Brexit vote has revealed that the division between generations so much remarked upon in the Sixties is greater than ever with a very real resentment from the young of an older generation who after dismantling the welfare state, devaluing education, wrecking the economy and destroying employment prospects and rights have now taken the country out of the EU. The younger generation felt European, they felt at home in Europe and now something that they saw as full of promise has been stolen from them. Alone among senior politicians, Corbyn reaches out to the young. Mothers and fathers throughout the land criticise and can’t understand that their interests, aspirations and beliefs are not those of their children, but Corbyn realises that the young demand a voice and a politics that comes from a better future rather than the ‘business as usual’ promised by Eagle and the establishment. The young and disenfranchised look at the Blairites and the Tories and fail to distinguish any difference between them, whereas in Corbyn they see a man who stands, as he has for decades, like a bulwark against a corrupt and oppressive establishment. Whereas the right insist on adhering to the same practices that have allowed the rich to get richer at the expense of the majority, Corbyn is prepared to try something different, to hand power over their own lives back to ordinary people.

The politicians in Westminster and the money grubbers in the city have been so busy feathering their own nests that they have failed to see that outside a battle is raging. Where they do notice protest they either ignore it or use the forces of the state to suppress it. They ban demonstrations from Westminster bridge, put gates on Downing Street, outlaw Trades Union activities, baton charge and ‘kettle’ protestors without regard to their safety, allow the security services unfettered access to citizens private communications, employ venal journalists to propagate the establishment’s claims rather than investigate and challenge them. To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, ultimately apply to much pressure on society and it will explode. When that day comes it is the politicians and businessmen and their allies who will be swept away by the flood.

What Corbyn offers is a real alternative. Not only a kinder politics, but a participative politics. It is no accident that he has built the Labour Party into the largest popular political party Britain has ever seen. Unlike his enemies in the Parliamentary Labour Party, Corbyn is offering ordinary people the chance to participate in the government of their country. Millions of Leave voters voted ‘to get their country back’ and now the Conservative Parliamentary Party, mostly Remain voters, have appointed a Prime Minister without any input from the electorate, a Prime Minister who campaigned to remain in the EU. We know from research that much of the Leave vote was motivated by a sense that Westminster ignored ordinary people. It is to this discontent with the establishment that Corbyn speaks. One of the PLPs criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn is that he was not unquestioning in his support of the EU. His stance was clearly that the EU requires radical reform and it is best to stay in and fight for them, it is a stance that many Leave supporters share. Corbyn’s vision for Europe was one based on social justice rather than greed. However the British people have spoken and unlike other politicians Corbyn puts the will of the people above the interests of career politicians or the profits of financiers. The economic problems caused by Brexit are already leading the establishment to demand further austerity, and let’s not forget Angela Eagle and most of the Labour rebels refused to vote against austerity measures, Jeremy defiantly voted against. If Brexit does cause economic damage, under Corbyn Labour would fight to share the burdens equitably rather than accept disproportionate austerity, whereas Angela Eagle’s record suggest she might complain, but would than abstain and allow the Tories to do what they liked. Since Corbyn became leader Labour has been actively opposing the government and the establishment for the first time in years.

Look around the world, we’ve had a rise in peoples movements, even in the USA socialism is no longer a dirty word. Ordinary people are demanding a voice everywhere and in Britain only Corbyn (and in Scotland, Sturgeon) is prepared to give them that voice.

“Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside ragin’

It’ll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’” (Bob Dylan)

Angela Eagle and the Death of Democracy.


Angela Eagle has announced that she is going to stand for the Leadership of the Labour Party. In her interview on Robert Peston’s show she was adamant that Jeremy Corbyn would have to seek nominations to get on the ballot paper. When it was put to her that some people believed the Leader where there is no vacancy should automatically be on the paper she responded both that it had never happened before and, more tellingly, that the National Executive Committee would decide the rules of the contest.

It is true that a challenged Labour Party leader has never been on the ballot automatically. However the last time an incumbent Labour Party leader was challenged it was before the Party changed the rules. The Left mounted a challenge, with Tony Benn as their candidate, to Neil Kinnock who was demonstrably incapable of winning elections, he never won a General Election. It was to prevent another such challenge that the rule was changed in such a way to make a challenge more difficult and give the sitting leader an advantage. It was never envisioned that the next time a challenge was mounted it would be from the far right of the Party against a sitting Social Democratic Leader.

Angela Eagle also gave away why she is moving now. At the moment the NEC is finely balanced, particularly after the removal of Ken Livingstone, between the disciples of Tony Blair who will back Eagle and the socialists and Trades Unionists who favour Jeremy Corbyn’s fiercely anti austerity and pro Union stance. The elections for the National Executive will be held within the next few weeks and it is highly likely that the balance will change, thus the Blairite wing of the party need to move now while there is a possibility of the NEC interpreting the rules in their favour.

Jeremy Corbyn has built up the membership of the Labour Party to unprecedented levels building a foundation of committed activists who may well take the party into government should a General Election be called. You only have to look at the reasons people in former Labour heartlands are giving for voting for Brexit to see how much they feel betrayed by a Westminster elite insensitive to the conditions in the country. However in these areas there is a massive amount of support, as seen in the turnout for his rallies, for the anti-establishment stance of Jeremy Corbyn. Eagle on the other hand has helped the Conservative government inflict welfare cuts on the poorest in society and consistently voted to squander money that could improve the lives of ordinary people on expensive and unnecessary wars and nuclear weapons.

Jeremy has built up the Party. Angela Eagle has a proven record of disregarding the democratic wishes of ordinary Labour Members in order to hijack the hard work of activists from the left of the Party. Wallasey used to be a Tory constituency however the former shipyard worker Lol Duffy, Labour’s candidate slashed the Tory majority and was only robbed of the seat in 1987 by the intervention of Frank Field on behalf of the Conservatives. As it was, the Tory majority was slashed from 6,708 to 279. In the Labour candidate selection of 1991 Lol Duffy received over 70% of the nominations, the right wing candidate Angela Eagle managed five, not even the Women’s section supported her. In 1992 faced by the prospect of an imminent General Election which would would see Duffy returned as MP for Wallasey the NEC against the protests of the local party imposed Angela Eagle as their candidate. Just as she benefitted by the NEC’s disregard of the rules to allow her to be elected on the backs of Lol Duffy and local activists who had done the work she is now hoping that the current NEC will twist the rules again to allow her to exploit the work Jeremy Corbyn has done in rebuilding the Labour Party that Tony Blair and his followers had reduced to an impotent shadow of its former self.

Angela Eagle has said she wants to stand to heal the party, it is her actions that have torn the party apart. You only need to look at her record to see that she is one of that breed of professional politicians who are motivated by ambition rather than principle. I watched her talking to a fawning Robert Peston and had the uncomfortable feeling that she was in the wrong contest, she’d be more at home in the company of Teresa May and Andrea Leadsom. She is certainly closer to them in principle than to Jeremy Corbyn.

Interesting Times (in the UK)


I have not yet read the Chilcot Report , but we live in interesting times as the old Chinese would have cursed and we are cursed to live in interesting times. We are governed by political elites that have nothing but contempt for the ordinary citizens who elected them. One of the exceptions, of course, is Jeremy Corbyn a man of principle who preferred to oppose an unjust war than seek personal gain. Today he tried to pay his respects to the dead of the Iraq War and those MPs who colluded with Tony Blair to send an ill equipped to die in Iraq barked like jackals as he spoke. Let us be clear those Labour plotters like Angela Eagle who are seeking to displace Jeremy Corbyn as party leader are the same people who not only voted to go to war in Iraq even though the evidence did not support it, but they are also the same MPs who knowing their guilt voted against the holding of an inquiry into the Iraq War.

Even though Chilcot was expressly forbidden to investigate the legality of the decision to go to war he does say that “The circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory” which is as close as he could get to saying ‘probably illegal’. More importantly is his pointing out that Blair’s dodgy dossier was not challenged by his ministers who have, let’s be honest, consistently supported the use of military force regardless of the threat to civilian lives. It is little wonder they hate a man who stands without compromise for Peace and justice like Jeremy Corbyn.

People today have been talking about learning lessons from Chilcot. It is very apparent that the case for war presented both to parliament and the country was founded upon utter duplicity. What lessons have Tony Blair’s disciples learned? None, the voting figures in every election in England since last September show Corbyn to be successful at winning votes in elections, yet they still present an utterly dishonest picture of his performance. Rather than doing the job for which they were elected they are more interest in promoting their own careers than opposing the government. They show utter disregard for their members some attacking Corbyn despite their Constituencies calling for the leader to be supported. Angela Eagle’s CLP has indicated it has no confidence in her, however her contempt for ordinary members is such she just ignores their wishes.

It is interesting in these interesting times that Corbyn managed to secure the votes of two thirds of his party to oppose Brexit whereas many of his detractors who claim he did not enough saw the votes of Labour supporters in their areas going the other way. The only logical conclusion is that it was they who were not pulling their weight, worse some may suggest they were deliberately undermining the Remain campaign so they could attack Corbyn. Would the Blairites sacrifice the good of their country for narrow personal and political gain? You may think that, I could not possibly comment.

And it is interesting to see the fallout from Brexit. With Leave campaigners admitting they didn’t produce a plan for post Brexit because when the Scottish Government presented their plans for Scotland post independence Better Together used it as a means to attack the Yes Campaign. Fair enough, but one might have thought they would have at least considered the consequences of their actions. Are they repentant? No they are blaming those who fought to remain in the EU for not having an Exit Plan, while saying that no one who supported Remain should negotiate an exit anyway. I see that English newspapers like the Express are complaining that the Scottish Government is trying to protect Scotland from the economic consequences of Brexit, the basic position seems to be ‘ We have destroyed ourselves, but we want to drag the rest of the UK down with us.”

Experts did warn us about the economic consequences of Brexit, but Michael Gove said that people should ignore the experts. Yesterday the Governor of the Bank of England somehow managed to avoid sticking out his tongue while saying ‘I told you so!’ and Michael Gove carried on his campaign to become Prime Minister. Were he to become Prime Minister would he discount the advice of experts? Well Chilcot has shown us that Tony Blair set a precedent for ignoring the advice of experts, Gove shows no sign of having learned a thing. One wonders into what further disasters he might lead us after Brexit. Blair ignored advisers who warned him that an invasion of Iraq would play into the hands of Al Qaeda and the direct consequence was the rise of ISIS or Daesh. Now we could get another PM equally contemptuous of anyone who actually knows what they are talking about. Would the Blairites be prepared not to oppose a Tory like Gove just as they failed to oppose the austerity measures of David Cameron? You may think that, again I couldn’t possibly comment.

Loveless Flightpaths (Die Gedanken Sind Frei)

I don’t live on a flightpath, thank goodness. However planes approaching Glasgow Airport pass a mile or so to the North of my house, some closer than others. Some days I sit on my bed and watch them wandering where they’ve come from and to what exotic places they are going next. Some days there is little else I can do but sit, particularly just now when my vertigo is making me very unsteady. My current poverty and unemployment mean that I am unlikely to be flying anywhere myself very soon. My body may be the prisoner of my circumstances, but my mind is free to soar wherever it will.

In some ways with its childlike capacity for infinite wonder my mind reminds me of Dr Loveless, but without the towering genius (and the megalomania). In Wild Wild West Loveless (played by Michael Dunn) is trapped within his dwarfed body and by the prejudices of society. He escapes his limitations by exploring possibilities undreamed of by normal intellects and fearless experimentation and testing of not only his own limits, but also those of the society that has abused him. Becoming a mad scientist is not in my schedule, however the capacity to ask ‘What if…?’ without the fetters of realism brings with it a freedom the realists will never experience. If we have any doubt about the power of the imagination to soar above the walls of our physical prisons we only have to look at the life and works of Professor Stephen Hawking who has crossed galaxies from the prison of his wheelchair.


In German folk song since the Middle Ages the idea that regardless of oppression and circumstances thought remains free has been a recurrent theme. The song ‘Die Gedanken Sind Frei’ a popular anthem of protest was banned in Germany after the various European revolutions of 1848.

When Robert Scholl was imprisoned for the first time by the Nazis his daughter, Sophie Scholl, played ‘Die Gedanken Sind Frei’ outside the prison on her violin to encourage him. She was eventually executed for distributing anti Nazi leaflets. The song, banned or not, remains a reminder of the truth that thoughts are free.

However for thought to be free people must be free to think freely. It is because ideas can be so dangerous that those in power try to program the thinking of people to ensure they think only what the establishment wants them to. Hence we see the book burnings of the Nazis, Stalin’s rewriting of history, and the Tories’ determination to pervert the curriculum to impose a limited, Conservative set of English values on school pupils. Hence we see right wing propagandists like Rupert Murdoch, Joseph Goebbels and Laura Kuensberg peddling half truths and often downright lies to further their agenda.

Oppressive regimes have always tried to control information through state control of the media and the press. When that has failed they have tried to price control of the media beyond the ordinary people. It is noteworthy that one of James Connolly’s first actions as a socialist organiser in Dublin was to organise the purchase of a printing press to enable the IRSP to counter establishment propaganda. When they couldn’t control the production of information the establishment sought to control it with censorship and costly libel laws. Now we have social media and the minority who want to control us are trying to seize social media back from its users by means of instruments like the ‘Snoopers Charter’. As long as the people can disseminate the truth it removes the power of the government and their propagandists to pervert it. Soon, if the establishment gets its way, the voices of Jon Snow and Michael Crick will be silenced and the only news on the media will be whatever they let Laura Kuensberg and Adam Boulton tell us.

‘Die Gedanken Sind Frei’ When the presses are closed to us, the media owned only by the establishment and the internet taken into the control of business and government, all we will have left is the words of our mouths. That is why Connolly told his daughter to keep the songs alive because when the powerful own everything else “yet still thoughts are free” as one medieval German poet wrote. The slaves on the plantations, the exiled Jews in Babylon, colonial peoples and political prisoners have kept hope alive in their songs.

Doctor Loveless was liberated by his thought, our establishment is devoid of imagination, opposed to free thought and truly loveless. The power of thought is the root of freedom, they may try to take everything from us but, unless we let them, they cannot take our freedom.