Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Seventeen Thoughts On Corbyn, Labour and Opposition

1: This election campaign won’t end with the counting of the votes. We now have a clear split in the Labour party and ironically, it is the self-proclaimed modernisers and progressives who wish to maintain the status quo. 

2: Andy Burnham cannot unite the party. Neither can Yvette Cooper. They are too associated with the failure of the past 2 General Election campaigns.   

3: Liz Kendall should be in a different party.  

4: The reaction of the Labour “big beasts” to the startling Corbyn phenomenon has borne a startling resemblance to the famous Kubler-Ross model of grief management. We have had the denial. In many ways the decision to let Corbyn stand embodies that denial – an arrogant, patronising nod to those in the party who felt there was nothing to divide the other candidates. Then, as it became clear that this was a movement that wasn’t going to just go away, we move into anger.  Coups were openly threatened in the papers. The bargaining is already beginning. Burnham has started to say vaguely socialist things. Depression will follow. Acceptance, I’m not so sure. 

5: The Tories won less than a quarter of the vote.  A quarter of the public didn’t vote at all. That there is as blatant a rejection of our current politics as you could wish to see and still, Yvette and Andy and Liz and Alan and all those tired old losers maintain that only more of the same can see a return to power for Labour. It’s like watching your straw house blow down and insisting that only another straw house will keep the wolf from the door. 

6: When Blair won in 1997, it had precious little to do with a move to the right. Any Labour leader would have won that election but a young, confident, visionary one romped it. That he turned out to be disastrously wrong about so many things is water under the bridge, but his victory in 1997 was a rejection of the right and his decreasing returns in 2001 and 2005 was as much a rejection of him and that rightward movement as anything else.  

7: This is not a right wing country. It has a right wing media. It has somehow ended up with a right wing government but all over the country, not just on social media, there are millions like me who wonder how it is we are in this mess. Despite the best efforts of large swathes of the media, the UKIP bubble burst and burst spectacularly in May.  I don’t know anyone who harbours a hatred for the poor or disabled. And yet this is the government we have chosen. And Her Majesty’s Opposition are worse. They have decided that the best way to win the electorate’s trust is not to appeal to the electorate’s better nature, but to collude in the myth of aspiration, blame and fear mongering.  

8: I keep hearing that this is like 1983 all over again. The Telegraph think their aim of getting thousands of Tories to join Labour to vote Corbyn in is the wizardest of wheezes.  They think Corbyn is another Michael Foot. That getting him in to the Labour hot seat guarantees a Tory reign of at least 20 years. But it’s bluster. The sight of thousands of people across the country queuing to hear him speak is worrying them. They don’t like it. People don’t turn out like this to see Cameron. They never did, they never will. Popularity worries them, scares them. What if people like what Corbyn has to say? 

9: Corbyn has at least gone out and said what his economic policy is and how it would work. It’s been backed by credible economists and largely influenced by a prominent expert on taxation in the UK. This isn’t back of a stamp stuff. And all you’ll hear is well, Amazon will just take their business elsewhere if we don’t pay them to come here. Or well if the minimum wage is £10 an hour, then thousands of businesses will have to shut. I don’t see how either would materialise.  We are giving money to tax avoiders to ensure they stay here and pay no tax. Let’s replace two words in that last sentence. We are giving heroin to drug addicts to ensure they stay here and never come off heroin. Okay, a clumsy analogy. But tax avoidance and drug addiction are similar in the sense that they disproportionately affect the poor, and render its host incapable of functioning properly. The Treasury is a junkie. One look at Osborne would tell you that much. 

10: Who is it exactly the Labour Party are supposed to represent now? The poor, the vulnerable, the unemployed – they have lost their traditional champion. And this, despite being elected time after time in the constituencies where these champions are needed most. Labour have become all they once feigned to despise. A dynastic members club giving helping hands to the sons of former stalwarts, step forward young Kinnock, unlucky young Straw. All of them jumping on the gravy train and staining themselves with its brown envelope. Look at Harriet Harman and her Peppa Pig eyes. She wants to get fat on directorships and chips. And Corbyn's going to ruin everything. 

11: Andy Burnham tried to introduce ID Cards. Flowerpot Man faced prick.

12: Labour are a broad church. Most political organisations are. Those of us on the left have been told time and time again that the world has changed, we are the dinosaurs, we lost the argument and that we must compromise. Now, the shoe is on the other foot and all those careerist MPs don’t like it. People who saw that being Tory meant carrying some sort of pariah status and joined a Labour party they saw moving towards its own ruthless take on Thatcherism. There are thousands of people joining the party each week and most of them because of Corbyn. Fuck all those John Spellars and Tristram Hunts. They would run a mile if they came within 500 feet of a dropped aitch. Things are changing. Good. 

13: The SNP have proved that, north of the border, a grass roots movement can yield massive changes to the political landscape. It's highly unlikely that a Labour party could do so in England but unless people try, they will never know. There are alliances to be made with the SNP, with Plaid and the Greens – foreign alliances too so that the Amazons of this world are made to pay their taxes wherever they set up.  

14: Nationalised railways, scrapped Trident, concerted efforts to pursue tax avoiders. These are policies popular with the public, massively popular, but Labour cant see the point of chasing votes by giving people what they want. Not as long as being Tories with UB40 on their iPods is still an option.  And then they wonder why Corbyn is packing out venues and Liz Kendall couldn't get a lift busy. 

15: The fight wont be fair. The press will tell you Corbyn killed Diana, that he high fived Bin Laden at a 9/11 themed disco funded by snuff movie sales. They will distract you with royal babies and gossip and football. They don’t want to discuss the facts, they never have. 

16: I voted Labour in May. Not because I was inspired by Ed Miliband but because I would have done anything to keep those Tory shithouses out of power. Now, I wonder what was the point. A Labour party that would have matched every cruel and spiteful cut Cameron made. I wanted that to win? Fuck that. I want a government that looks at the unemployed and says "What can we do to give these people a sense of purpose?" not "We should threaten these lazy people with starvation if they don’t work for free at one of my party's key donors." I want a government unafraid to stand up to big business, unafraid to confront bigotry and poverty. I want my NHS back. I want a Labour Party at the forefront of a proper investigation into the historical child abuse at Westminster AND Rotherham AND anywhere else it happens. Most of all I want a leader that I can look at on telly and not think "He's one of them." 

17: He's not one of them, is he? And I think that's what worries the others most.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Hitler Queen

"Hitler Queen"

She keeps old Sieg Heil photos
In a secret cabinet
'We were just waving,' she says
hoping that we'll forget
Our much vaunted monarchy
Had plenty of sympathy
For the Aryan nation
that they'd left behind.

Goosesteps and swastikas
Saxe-Coburg relatives
We dont have nothin to hide

She's a Hitler Queen
Mein Fuhrer, guten tag
Wont read this in the Sunday Times

Recommend diplomacy
Secret letters you cant see
Wanna try?

To avoid investigation
She hid behind Royal Privilege
Her consternation
When those photos were published
Met with Palace insiders
Secret advisors
Who said the rat was one theyd

It was the worst night since Paris (diana)
For her she couldn't care less
Accidents happen at night.

She's a Hitler Queen
Mein Fuhrer, guten tag
Wont read this in the Sunday Times

Drop of a bomb she was on our side
English as the countryside
Now photos we can see
Windsors were Germany
She's absoutely fucking wild, wild..
She's all out to get you

She's a Hitler Queen
Mein Fuhrer, guten tag
Wont read this in the Sunday Times

Recommend diplomacy
Secret letters you cant see
Wanna try?

Friday, 12 June 2015

TFI Fridays

For many people my age or thereabouts, there exists this idea that to be young and alive in mid 90s Britain represented winning some kind of jackpot in the eternal lottery of life. To cast our minds back to that time is to conjure up a conflagration of Loaded magazine, Britpop, Euro 96 and the end of the Conservative government. Three Lions on the shirt, Trainspotting posters on every wall, and alcopops for tea. Despite the best efforts of Geri Halliwell; Liam and Patsy draped in the Union Jack made even our national flag seem sexy. Cool Britannia became something that people actually said.
Tony Blair’s arrival in Downing Street that glorious May morning made it seem like our own revolution had taken place. Britain had finally blown up the Thatcherite Death Star and her children danced like liberated Ewoks to the sound of defeated evil.

But just as our parents generation hid the truth about the crazy times they’d supposedly had in the 1960s we too risk forgetting just what a bland period of history this really was. The grey, tired Major government crept pitiably towards its sleaze-tinged demise. The arrival of Blair proved merely to be the moment before the animals peered from man to pig and back again through the farmhouse window.
In the middle of all this averageness, one show stood out as a celebration of that period of time that I like to call “When Bradley Wiggins Saw The Hair He Most Desired”. TFI Friday was a Channel 4 live smugfest, presented by the ever popular Chris Evans and scripted by professional Cockney Danny Baker. Hilarious features included Asian Lookalikes and Sink or Swim. The latter involved mice being put into water which somehow failed to provide the mirth hoped for by the producers.

With a room full of coked up London media wankers there to provide much needed atmosphere and laughter, the show sought to entertain us with live music and controversial guests. Shaun Ryder got the show permanently moved to a pre-recorded format because of his rude words. That’s Shaun Ryder, the missing link between Shane MacGowan and Mark E Smith – a man forever in the midst of a drink and drug episode and therefore a guaranteed provide r of some kind of pre-watershed outburst to be regretted (WARNING – regret may include secret delight at publicity garnered for programme in wake of such behaviour and attendant rise in viewing figures for future shows).
Seeming to feel that being mates with Paul Gascoigne AND Paul Weller was to carry the burden of cultural lodestar, Evans insisted that he be given Fridays off his other job, that of Radio 1 Breakfast DJ, so he could commit more energy to saying how great the latest Reef record was in front of a camera rather than over the airwaves.

The show did not improve with a refreshed Evans. It was tired, self-congratulatory nonsense soundtracked by bands too in love with the past to create any legacy past tonight’s offering – a one night rehash of a show that championed the conservative  and traditional but dressed it up in the clothes of the hip and happening. In short, a very New Labour kind of show.
Tonight’s guests are Jeremy Clarkson, Blur and Roger Daltrey. Oh and Liam Gallagher. Liam Gallagher is an F word outrage waiting to happen. Daltrey’s , ahem, interesting views on immigration won’t be challenged and somewhere in the background, singing songs about working class life as only millionaires with friends in the Government can, will be Blur. It’s certainly an appropriate venue for a Clarkson comeback. A warehouse full of sycophants ready to laugh at the merest hint of anything politically incorrect being said, Clarkson will feel right at home.

 Not so much TFI Friday as UKIPPEE it’s the weekend. And that’s my problem with this false nostalgia of the mid to late 90s. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Mandela and the resignation of Thatcher, many in my generation fooled themselves into thinking that theirs was the generation to make Britain a new kind of great. Channel 4 still made radical, ground breaking television. Radio 1 put a tired generation of Smashie and Nicey presenters out to pasture. The Green Party began to enjoy a modicum of success in elections. We were the good guys. The future was ours.
And what happened? We turned Cold War suspicion into Boys Own colonialism. Mandela ended up as a guest on Alan Bastard Titchmarsh and Thatcher’s greatest achievement was a bloke half her age representing her enemy with a politics that even Maggie would have found all a bit right wing.

Painting our faces in the St Georges flag, dancing to a song sung by Frank Skinner for fuck sake. We took our eyes off the ball, wept for a dead princess and let the centrepiece for our end of the millennia party be a giant dome near Danny Baker’s house.
We moved from caring about the planet to giving the majority vote in Europe to a racist charabanc. And somehow, at the end of an equation I haven’t got the energy to commit to paper, I feel that it’s Ocean Colour Scene’s fault. And therefore, TFI Friday’s too.

Take that, the 90s.You were shit. Never forget.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Sepp Blatter Song


(to the tune of Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel)

You could have a World Cup
if you'd just bring round some slaves
you could have an aeroplane flying
if you fill my world with cash

all you do is call me
I'll be anything you need

you could have a big payout
lots of folding brown, go treat your friends
you could have the tv rights for nothing
this corruption never ends

I want to be your Sepp Blatter
why don't you call my name
oh let me be your Sepp Blatter
There will be no testimony
show me round your suitcase
'cos I will be your money tree
open up your suitcase
where the moolah is as much as can be
I want to be your Sepp Blatter
why don't you call my name
You’d better call Sepp Blatter
put your mind at rest
I'm going to be Sepp Blatter
There will be no testimony
I'm your Sepp Blatter
let there be no doubt about it

Sepp Sepp Sepp Blatter

I've moved the goalposts
saved my skin
They cant be despots
Air conditioning, air conditioning
oh won't you chauffeur me
and I will chauffeur you
chauffeur me, I will chauffeur you
U U U U U U U U UEFA too
only you
you've been coming through
going to build that powerr
build, build up that power, hey
I've been speaking to Russia
I've been speaking to Russia
it's what we're doing, doing
all day and night

Friday, 5 December 2014

Sat Amongst The Pigeons

Sat Amongst The Pigeons

(inspired by Faber Academy QuickFic http://www.faberacademy.co.uk/News-and-Features/QuickFic-05-12-14)

It’s a Saturday. I have my daughter every other weekend. She’s three. I met her mum by the usual bench. I always bring a sliced loaf. Clued up pigeons heard the tiny crackle of bag and landed close to my girl.
One pigeon looked at me. I thought about shooing him.

And then it happens.

I knew it wasn’t just me because of the fear and chaos around me, the way that people clutched their heads to listen closer to the voice, to protect themselves from the sudden madness.

A voice, a voice like none heard yet in the sane world, spoke in all the heads on Earth.

I am the Creator.

I made you. I can unmake you. Abandon your churches. Destroy your banks. Your beliefs are confirmed, your rituals disappoint me. Put down your weapons. Feed each other. Abandon your wealth as you would your worries for the two are one. The next time I speak will be the last.

I heard the explosions, I saw the smoke rise from here and turned as one by one, churches and banks fell into dust. I felt coins burn through my pocket and melt into nothingness.

As I speak, I can hear sirens. The streets are filled with wondrous, upturned heads. Some are crying. 

I sit back down.

Pigeons peck at the crumbs by my daughter. She looks at me, smiling, holding a crumbless bag.

What do we do now she says?

Photo taken from http://www.faberacademy.co.uk/News-and-Features/QuickFic-05-12-14

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Why Greg Dyke Can't Save English Football

Greg Dyke, FA Chairman, has set the target of winning the World Cup for the national side in 2022. It's an impressive target and an impossible one. Our players, tactics, coaching are light years behind the giants of the international game.

There are many disparate reasons England have continually failed at tournaments outside it's shores. I've long felt that the Premier League has corrupted the culture of the national game. Without wanting to make British football pre 1992 sound like some sort of Corinthian feast of virtue and diligence, the obsession with money in every aspect of the sport since the PL was founded has a lot to do with our more recent failings.

Whilst the Guardian's David Conn is to be applauded for his continuous highlighting of the stupidities and hypocrisies of the fiscal side of football, he is a one off. Headlines now aren't about promising new players, they're about the astonishing salaries they will earn. Chief executives are now celebrities. And fans of, by any other sport's standards, successful football teams, now spend their evenings deriding their team's supposed failings during the transfer window.

I've long suspected that the England manager, whoever holds that poisoned chalice at the time, is not the only person picking the squads and teams. The lucrative commercial interests must surely have a say. Shirt sponsor offers the FA, say £10 million. Would like to use Lampard and Gerrard on their promotional material. This material is produced months ahead of a World Cup. Now say England get to Brazil next year. Will Roy say "Well, here we are. I'm thinking of leaving Lampard and Gerrard at home. They've had piss poor seasons and will have low expectations of what we can achieve. Maybe it's time to pick some new blood, players who haven't got a history of failing at major tournaments."?

No, no, he wont.

And it won't just be because Sinister Sporting Goods Ltd have had a word in his shell. Roy, like the last few England managers, knows the cost of daring to venture outside the accepted version of events. The media will crucify him because they have helped create the beast. How many times have you seen a player described as "£75,000 a week ace" or "£40 million rated" in a match report? Players aren't described as promising or up and coming, it's all to do with their earning potential and it's poisoned the well of English talent.

Yes, there's coaching failings, there's a lack of sporting facilities at schools and grass roots level but there's still plenty of kids out there with raw talent. It's about nurturing that talent alongside nurturing the person with it.

The usual suspects will be there in Rio. And Russia. And Qatar. And they'll fail dismally each time. We've picked players on reputation and marketability rather than form and talent for years. The FA won't admit it, the Premier League won't admit it.

The England team is like the Rolling Stones. An embarassing relic trading on past glories, covering up its failing to catch up with the world around it, by celebrating and venerating it in a never ending world tour. The fans still come, they want to see Lampard, they want to see Rooney. They buy the T-shirt. They know all the songs and they don't mind paying over the odds for a ticket.

This isn't breakfast telly, Greg, You can't save it with a rat. The ship sunk years ago.

Saturday, 31 August 2013


For every £1000 lost in tax evasion, the government spends less than a penny on advertising campaigns to ask people nicely if they would refrain from cheating on the system.

For every £1000 lost to fraudulent benefit claims, the government spends £5 on advertising campaigns to get people to inform on those who cheat the system. And for every one of those £1000s lost, the government saves £12000 in unclaimed benefits. So, benefit fraud, whilst entirely wrong, could be seen to have a mainly negative effect on the economy compared to, say, not paying taxes.

For every £1000 lost to procurement fraud in central and local government, the government, for obvious reasons, spends nothing on advertising.

The country loses, by even the lowest plausible reckonings, some £1.5 billion a week in tax evasion. That's higher than the ANNUAL figure lost in benefit fraud and the same amount as the ANNUAL figure lost to procurement fraud.

My house is on fire. It's been set alight by arsonists, people known to me.

Do I a) Go after the arsonists or b) Throw petrol on it, c) attack the firemen and accuse them of setting alight to get more work or d) spend every spare penny I have asking the arsonists to think of people who we mutually loathe so we can blame them. Or e) a mixture of b,c and d.