Hi, if you do then maybe you could think about signing this open letter?
It’s May 1997. Tony Blair has led the Labour Party to a landslide victory in the General Election and I’m euphoric. Thatcherism is dead and buried. Socialism will triumph. What a naïve bloody fool I was. I should have known better. But like many others I had forgotten the history of class struggle. I had failed to understand what New Labour and Blue Blair was all about – Power.
It’s May 2015. Cameron and his rich cronies will continue in government. The so-called ‘One Nation’ Tories will continue to mangle and massacre the rights of citizens to a life that is fair equal and just for the next five years. I’m angry and depressed.
Why did Labour lose? Because of Blue Blair. Not only because of his crimes against humanity and the war in Iraq but because his desperation for power corrupted him and corrupted the principles upon which the Labour Party had been founded. The deluded fantasy that New Blue Labour could wash capitalism clean prevailed; look where it has taken us. I say Blair caused this defeat notwithstanding the anti-Miliband campaign run by the Tory press because when you mimic your enemy, wear his clothes, tilt at the same chimeras, you accept the media’s agenda and are doomed to defeat because you are always in the shadow of he who should be your mortal enemy.
We are now at the point where Labour and Tories alike mouth the same inane mantra of being for ‘working people’. We are at this point because Blair and New Labour were Tories in fancy dress, masked in red, closet neo-cons, enamoured of a toxic free market that should have been anathema to them. Capitalism’s acolytes. Devotees of fame and fortune. Thatcher’s beastly bastard offspring.
‘Working people’, ‘Hard working people’, they all mouth. Where are the children? Where the ill beset by sickness in body, soul and mind? Where the disabled? Where the old? Where the poor? Where the excluded? The abused? The oppressed? Where justice and equality before the law? Where the tolerance of difference? They are as nothing. Work is all. Where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Where from each according to ability, to each according to need? Not here. Not now.
At the moment New Blue Labour decided on Blair’s agenda the Labour Party ceased to be a socialist party and became a party of the centre right vying for the approbation of the high priests of the ruling class, the blessing of Murdoch, the friendship of bankers, and the right to sip from the chalice of gold. Since Blair the vacuous and cynical attempt to rebrand New Labour as the Old Labour Party, a party for working people, has failed. It’s failed because it has no heart. No pulse that gives it life. Moribund, mired, manacled inside the Tory’s agenda of the destruction of the state. It is finished. It needs to start anew.
Ed Balls has gone and good riddance! The blustering buffoon’s insistence on being more austere than the Tories was madness. ‘I can be a bigger bully than Osborne,’ he gibbered twirling his conker on a string in the Westminster playground. That’s socialism at its best? I think not. Austerity is a device fabricated to demolish the welfare state. A mechanism to ensure the rich get richer and the poor enjoy the liberty and freedom of choice provided by food banks. Austerity is the glove that clothes the iron fist of capital. But Balls embraced it and has paid the price because it was balls. Problem was, it wasn’t only him but the entire Labour leadership; disgraceful!
Ed Miliband has been accused of lacking the charisma to be prime minister. One would have hoped that the Labour Party might have learnt, from history, that the idea of the ‘Great Leader’ is not a concept guaranteed to produce a good result. We don’t need charismatic Great Leaders – like Blair or Putin! – what we need are great policies that will deliver equality and justice for all citizens no matter how they are ‘classified’. Charismatic policies? Yes. A charismatic party that poses a real alternative to capitalism’s lickspittle sycophants? Yes. Away with the celebrity of ‘leadership’ and back to democratic centralism? Yes.
To do this will fly in the face of the media who are obsessed with appearance. They will ask who will now lead the Labour Party and expect a name, will it be x or y or even z? Will they be pretty? Will they be tall? Will they speak nicely? Will they be media friendly? Can they eat a bacon sandwich? The answer should be that the Labour Party will be led by socialist principles articulated through policies developed by the membership and proselytised by a collective leadership elected by the membership. I could join such a party.
This afternoon I will discover if I’ve been elected as a member of Waddington Parish Council in Lincolnshire. I haven’t stood on a party platform. I’ve stood because there isn’t normally an election for the parish council; those that want to stand are co-opted because no one wants to be a councillor. That’s not democratic. This year, along with an artist friend in the village – Gerard Williams – we have caused an election. My agenda is simple: representation must include consultation. The decisions taken on matters that impact on the lives of the citizens who live in this village need to be based on consultation and not imposed, as they seem to be, by those who believe, wrongly, that they know better.
This latter parish election is trivial in the face of the result of the 2015 General Election but in a way it’s not – no matter how bad the General Election result is, and it is terrible, this is not the time to give up and acquiesce. In fact there’s never a time when it’s right to give in and acquiesce. Before you ask, no, I don’t expect that Waddington is about to become a village soviet – pity.
May 8th 2015
It has been said that if the Ebola virus had originated on the mainland of Europe or in the USA then it would have already been defeated. An antidote to the virus would have been created. Science would have been applied. Which of the ‘Pharmas’, the ‘health’ conglomerates, are interested in creating life saving drugs that make them no profit?
There is a view that the initial lack of ‘concern’ for those suffering from Ebola was because African people were, for the G8 countries and China, in far away places one knew little about, or cared about even less about, and were not ‘important’. It has been suggested that this lack of concern was racist. It’s hard not to think this to be true.
But there’s more to it than that.
Ebola is a zoonotic viral disease (a virus that jumps from an animal to a human animal host). It’s been been around for some time, probably before 1976 when it was given its name. It has, in large part, been restricted to outbreaks in Africa with contamination spreading to other countries through bodily fluids passing between people. I’m not a scientist so I’m not trying to explain how this terrible virus works. I’m aiming to make another set of points that locate such disease within an arrogant western culture where the ‘natural world’ is held either in contempt or is romanticized.
There is a clear disjunction between science/medicine and those who hold political power. How else can one explain the lack of awareness shown by political leaders when told of the danger that Ebola presents? Political leadership, government, in the G8 is, to a large extent, focused on the management of money and the markets that make money from money for those that have money. A consequence of this is an inability to take the insights provided by science seriously – this ranges from a disbelief in climate change to a dismissal of Ebola as not worthy of curative investment – until of course there are cases in Europe and the USA.
There is another dimension to this arrogance and it’s this.
There are those that believe that we human beings are the natural and legitimate rulers of the natural world of Planet Earth. Humans are superior beings. We have the right to exploit the world’s resources as we see fit and often without a care as to the long-term consequences of our exploitation. We can defile and destroy entire habitats for profit. We can sacrifice the future for short-term gain. Sometimes we get it right and real benefits accrue to us humans – but there are always consequences. These are familiar arguments and I need not repeat them here.
The belief that humans are superior to all other creatures ignores, and thus diminishes, the existence of other indigenous life forms. One of these is the virus. Viruses, such as Ebola, are a fundamental and necessary part of the eco system that is planet earth. But that doesn’t make them benign, doesn’t make them safe and doesn’t mean they can arrogantly be ignored.
How can G8 governments and China be so ignorant, arrogant and dismissive of the realities and dangers of the natural world?
There are four reasons that may explain why the West acted so slowly in ploughing resources into fighting Ebola in West Africa:
4. The pursuit of financial profit above all else.
I’m not surprised that the disillusioned, disenfranchised and despairing citizens of the ‘United States of Europe’ have swung to the far Right and that for the first time there will be self-proclaimed neo-nazis in the European Parliament. Not surprised that the French electorate favour Marine Le Pen. Not surprised that in the UK Nigel Farage’s has polled over 25% of the votes cast.
I may not be surprised but I am alarmed.
It would seem that the traditional Left has no compelling answers to the alienation and hopelessness experienced by the peoples of the countries of Europe. The alliance between elected governments and Global Corporate Capitalism (and its lickspittle bankers) has produced a sense of desperation where it is only too easy to suggest that the only recourse is to imagine that fascist and racist fantasies will bring prosperity and safety – whereas the reverse is the case. Fascism and racism cannot, by definition, lead to freedom and enlightenment for all.
Has the Old Left failed? Yes. Failed to bring the universal values of equality, freedom and justice for all to the fore. In the UK for ‘agreeing’ to an agenda set by UKIP so that ‘immigration’, ‘otherness’, and ‘foreignness’ become the territory of debate when the causes of prejudice should be at the heart of the debate.
The poor are not poor because of immigration. The hungry are not hungry because there are ‘strangers’ in the street. Those who are downtrodden, those whom lack access to health, education and welfare are not excluded because there are foreigners in our midst. The poor are poor, the hungry hungry, the excluded and dispossessed excluded and dispossessed because capitalism makes them so – needs them to be so. Where we are all commodities what else can we expect?
Will the Left fail? I don’t know. What I do know is that unless we have values of equality and freedom as the bedrock of our arguments and battles with the Right then we will fight on their terms and that is a battle I’m not sure we can win.
So – what is to be done within the Unites States of Europe? Press for the New and Old Left to join as one and fight for policies that are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights irrespective of any of the categories of oppressive description imposed by those who seek to divide us one from the other.