Weather in Brum Where The Sun Always Shines On The Blues.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn and Winston Churchill

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 I am not a fan Of Winston Churchill but he was well aware of one of the golden rules of politics. A newly elected Tory MP when entering the House of Commons pointed to the benches opposite and said to him, "So that is the enemy". Churchill replied, " No sir, that is the opposition. The real enemy is behind you".  Sadly Corbyn has been the victim of this effect  since he was elected leader of the Labour Party, by a new and invigorated membership, last year,  many of whom had joined a political party for the first time in their lives.

 These MP's have been determined to undermine him since the first day that he was elected, with the single honourable exception of Andy Burnham. Not only have they failed to support him but attempted an undemocratic coup against him as soon as the first opportunity arose. This act of fratricide had clearly been planned for months.

 I have had much experience of MP's and have found them to be an odd and diverse bunch but what they all have in common is a lust for power. Not the least of these is a new boy to the bunch, Owen Smith. He and his cohorts have used every dirty trick in the book against Corbyn, who, in many ways, is too nice a gentleman to respond to dirt with dirt.
 Not content with throwing insults at Corbyn (more on this later) they have now begun to throw dirt at the recently joined members of the party with sordid and untrue accusations that many of them are militants and Trotskyists.
 Having attended a consultative meeting of Corbyn's finance team under the leadership of John McDonnell (where surprise, surprise they were actually asking party members to feed in their views - how is that for a novelty in politics today) and a rally addressed by Corbyn it is clear that nothing is further from the truth. I am aged 72 and a life long member and foot soldier for the party and I can report, dear reader, that all persons of all ages, faiths and ethnic background were at the meetings but their was not a militant in sight.

 Regular readers of this blog (thanks to all two of you) know that a major concern of mine has been has been the plight of the Palestinian people. Corbyn too has regularly been a supporter of their cause and the dirty spin doctor's in the media, and Owen Smith in particular have used this in an attempt to accuse Corbyn of anti-semitism. Indeed I was saddened to see, on 18 September in the last hustings before the leadership election result is declared, that at a meeting organised by "Jews for Labour" this was the only topic of discussion. I was fortunate enough to have known Sydney Silverman and he would have been appalled, as I was, to see this muck thrown at Corbyn.

 Anyone who has followed his career knows that he is a deeply principled man and to accuse him of religious or racists slurs is a disgrace and those responsible for this should be ashamed of themselves. Meanwhile, unlike Kinnock (who failed to support the miners in 1984 and whose family have made a good living from the EU) I think that Corbyn is the last hope for the Labour Party, whose decline began under Blair - and his support for illegal wars and the neo liberal economics that have reduced so many to extreme poverty.

 So Mr. Corbyn, thank goodness, wishes to rid us of this outmoded and cruel economic system and invest in the economy and infrastructure of this country. And, instead of attacking the Tories, we now have these treacherous Labour MP's splitting the Party and causing a massive diversion, whilst Ms May continues to inflict further pain on society

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Neil Young and James Connolly

 I have brought two books with me to read whilst on holiday here in Fuerteventura (literally and metaphorically translates to, "Strong Winds" and it lives up to its name). In addition it more clearly resembles the surface of the moon than any other place that I have visited on this earth. Nothing grows, no animals, except for the odd scraggy goat herd, are apparent and most of the grass that one sees in the few towns scattered around is made of AstroTurf. Rows of empty villas abound their, "SE VENDE" signs lie dirty and torn and half completed, but abandoned, holiday flats and houses are testament both to the deterioration of the island (a victim of climate change which was once a verdant paradise more than twenty years ago) and the recession that grips Spain. I shall not be returning.
 However, dear reader I deviate from my subject so let's get on with a review of Neil Young's autobiography , "Waging Heavy Peace". I gave up half way through, on the advice of Young himself who, at the end of a chapter wrote that he was not into format in a book and if the reader wasn't content with this then to give the book away, which I will. The book appears to have been written on an iPad or something similar, as and when Young ( whose singing I admire greatly ) had ten minutes to spare. There is no continuity and the book covers Young's musical tastes, his recording sessions, his car and train hobbies and he is open and frank about his personal life but meanders back and forwards, in "Back to the Future" style. If you have little concentration span or like to browse a book for ten minutes or so and then put it down then, this may be for you, but for sitting and reading for an hour or more then it grates.
 Although his undying love for his wife of 36 years, Peggi, is repeated throughout, it is badly in need of an update, as since its publication in 2012 he has filed for divorce against her and according to the press was quick to start a new romance with Darryl Hannah. If I had paid £25 for the book then I would have been very miffed, but fortunately I brought a second hand copy for £2.50 from

James Connolly 
"Our aims are modest -
we only want the world."

 Consolation however has come in the form of my second choice, now sadly out of print, but still available, at a price,  from the above bookseller. It is a biography of the towering figure of international socialism James Connolly, shot by firing squad, in Dublin, following the Easter Rising in 1916. The book is, "The Life and Times of James Connolly"  brilliantly written in superb English, something which is sadly lacking today, in 1961 by C. Desmond Greaves.  Connolly was one of the pioneers of the labour movement in Edinburgh, enduring, like today, much discrimination and many hardships as an unskilled labourer because of his political beliefs before moving to Dublin, where he founded the Irish Socialist a Republican Party. Then came a period of seven years in the U.S.A. where he became one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World. In 1910 he returned to Ireland and played a leading part in the working class struggles in Belfast and Dublin.
 I was bought up in the years of the Atlee government and remember the pride of my parents in his creation of The National Health Service and the privitasation of the mines and the railways. Despite the dreadful post war economic situation Nye Bevan masterminded not only the creation of the NHS but the building of more houses in the lifetime of a single government than any other since. Most of these were model estates comprising a decent house and garden and green spaces for play and relaxation.
 My socialist leanings were later cemented when I read Jack London's "People of the Abyss" which recounted his period of living amongst the deprived and starving of London in Victorian times, at the height of The British Empire. Those people were forced to live in disgusting conditions within a mile or two of all of the pomp and elegance of Buckingham Palace.
 In 1964 I celebrated the return to power of a proper Labour government under Harold Wilson, who amongst other achievements despite American pressure kept us out of the Vietnam war, introduced equality legislation and equal pay for women, formed The Open University, abolished censorship, introduced  legislation to legalise homosexuality, ended hanging, and  reformed comprehensive education. Andrew Marr showed his bias and lack of historical education in describing Wilson as a squalid man, much  to his everlasting shame.
 I have now , late in my life, discovered the writings and speeches of James Connolly who through his own diligent reading and apprenticeship became one of the greatest contributors to the formation of internationalist socialist ideals and principles which simply put are an end to wars, poverty, exploitation and oppression.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Life at seventy.

So after all these years of working tirelessly, with a small band of brothers and sisters, to create a nicer world for those that will follow us nothing has changed. War, exploitation, hunger, poverty, the bombs ( dropped by drones these days) and capitalism and neo-liberal economics are triumphant and one of the few consolations is laughing at the lies of the politicians and the media.
 We may have lost most of the battles but the war for peace and an end to poverty and exploitation will continue and those that follow, I hope will know, that we tried and tried and that they can step over our graves knowing that they point them towards Jerusalem.
 Carpe deum while you can. And always. enjoy the ride of uncertainty which is, "The Blues"

Saturday, 11 April 2015

James Connolly, the Royals and the System you vote for.

 In 1902 James Connolly, who was subsequently shot during the Easter rising of 2016 in Dublin, made this speech about the forthcoming coronation of Edward VII. It would seem that little has changed in the last hundred years only nowadays the vast majority of the electorate don't understand the machinations of the system and continue being brainwashed into worshipping the Saxe-Coburgs and Phil the Greek.

 Connolly was a socialist, born in Edinburgh and was active in Scotland and the USA as well as Ireland. He was a huge figure in historical terms but has become one of the disappeared of our age, because it is not fashionable or profitable to publish biographies of left wing socialists.

Unless unforseen accidents intervene to prevent this consummation, His Majesty, Edward VII, King and Emperor, will be crowned on June 26th. Were we able to follow our own inclinations in the matter we would be inclined to treat it with contempt as being of but little importance to the cause for which we stand, or to the workers with whose interests we are concerned. To us, as Socialists, it is but of little moment who may for the time being wear the trappings of royalty; that we are compelled to acquiesce in his rule by the bayonets of his hireling soldiery and police is for us sufficient; and to us, as workers, the personality of the head of the Capitalist system in these islands is of small concern when we realise that our exploitation by the master class would proceed apace even if King Edward VII were a Christian gentleman instead of a –
But although we would rather treat the matter thus philosophically, we find that the machinations of those in power do not leave us that possibility; with them, and because of them, the festivities attending the Coronation have taken on the aspect not merely of a huge parade of pomp and magnificence – cloaking the festering sores of that slave society on which it is built – but have also become an elaborately contrived and astutely worked piece of Royalist and Capitalist propaganda, designed to captivate the imagination of the unthinking multitude, and thus lead them to look askance upon every movement which would set up as an ideal to work for something less gorgeously spectacular, even if more solidly real. The evil effects of private ownership of industries is thus illustrated once more in a manner that ought to appeal to those patriots in our midst who still dread the innovating effects of Socialism on the National spirit of the Irish people.
Because of this private ownership and control of our newspapers, of our shops, of our manufactures, we find our Home Rule press devoting columns to descriptions of all the preparations for the Coronation, nauseating the thinking portion of its readers, but insidiously sapping the manhood of the weak and vulgar, and preparing their minds for the worship of the foul gods of Imperialism. We find our shops stocked with every kind of article, from the toy of the babe in arms to the dress patterns of our womankind dedicated by name to the Coronation; and we find our manufacturers able by their economic power over the bread and butter of their employees, to enforce observance of this saturnalia of tyranny, even upon those workers whose whole beings are hot with revolt against it. Hence we are compelled to speak, lest by those who have trusted us by their adherence, or by those who have honoured us by their hatred for our unflinching championship of the workers’ cause, our silence should be construed either into an approval or even into weakness in front of this demonstration of the power of the enemy, or the imbecility of its slaves.
We are Socialist Republicans; we work for the realisation of that time when kings and emperors will be no more, when they will be remembered by mankind as the strong man awakened remembers the hideous nightmare which oppressed him as he slept. As Socialist Republicans we desire the application to society in all its relations, industrial and political, of the freest republican principles. We unceasingly devote our energies to awakening in the minds of the workers consciousness of the sufficiency of their own manhood and of the dignity of their class; and we hope and believe in the rapid approach of that time when those ideas and that consciousness will have so far leavened the minds of the workers as to justify us in calling upon them to rally up for that final struggle, the issue of which will assuredly usher in the era of free and enfranchised labour, instead of the barbaric splendour of military and financial castes. Meanwhile, animated by such hopes, inspired by such principles, looking forward impatiently to that time of glorious struggle, when the eyes of the world are turned upon that City of London, when Capital and its cringing slaves are united in adoration of the monarch who has been successful in uniting in his person, all the baser attributes of the mediaeval monarch and the modern stockjobbing capitalist; we also in imagination hasten thither in order to offer to King Edward, in the name of ourselves and our class, the only homage we owe him – OUR HATRED.
We are neither awed by the magnificence of the robbers, daunted by the bayonets of their hired assassins, nor dismayed by the plaudits of the multitude. The magnificence of the robbers but serves to fire our hearts with a greater hatred when we think of the squalid surroundings and miserable homes of our class. The glitter of the sunlight on the bayonets of its hired assassins reveals to the vision of the humanist the moral hideousness of a society propped by such means, and the plaudits of the multitude are but useful to him who desires to sound the depths to which such a system can degrade a people.
Let those who are pleased, and those who are dismayed, by the pressure of gaping, cheering crowds of witless ones, remember the pregnant words of Cromwell in the same city on a similar occasion, “My Lord Protector,” said one of his attendants, as Cromwell rode through London, “how the people crowd to see you.” “Yes,” replied Cromwell, “but how many thousands more would crowd to see me hanged!”

Monday, 3 November 2014

The International Brigade and Delores Ibarruri's tribute to them.

La Pasionaria statue in Glasgow, Scotland
La Pasionaria statue in Glasgow, Scotland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 The International Brigade came from all corners of the world to defend the legitimate Spanish Government from the rebel Nationalists led by Franco and supported by Hitler and Mussolini. One of the leaders of the government side was the remarkable Delores Ibarruri (known by her pseudonym La Pasionaria - Spanish for Passion Flower - which she used to write articles anonymously  in various journals). Best known for her famous slogan - "They Shall Not Pass" she was an inspirational speaker  and in this prescient speech in Paris in 1936 predicted the catastrophic events that would follow if France and Britain and others failed to support the Republic's struggle (they didn't):-

September 8, 1936 (Paris).
Conclusion of the speech delivered to a Convention of Solidarity organized in Paris as part of an official mission by the Popular Front to the French government asking for the lifting of the arms embargo against the Spanish Republic.
Our people exude heroism, but a heroic spirit is not enough. The armament of the rebels must be confronted with rifles, airplanes, field guns. We defend the cause of freedom and peace. We need planes and guns to fight, to defend ourselves, our freedom, to prevent the insurgents bombing our open cities, murdering our women and our children. We need arms to defend freedom and peace!
Don't you forget—and let no one forget—that if today it falls to us to resist Fascist aggression the struggle does not end with Spain. Today it is our turn, but if the Spanish people are allowed to succumb, it will be your turn—all of Europe will be compelled to face up to aggression and war.
Help us to forestall the defeat of democracy because the consequence of such a defeat would be a new World War, which we are all interested in avoiding but whose first battles are being fought in our country already. For our children and yours! For the sake of peace and to oppose war demand that the border be opened! Demand that the French government fulfill its obligations with the Spanish Republican government! Help us obtain the arms we need to defend ourselves with! Fascism shall not pass! It shall not pass! It shall not pass.
 When, sadly, it became apparent that the Republican cause was lost she made this moving and historical address to the International Brigade as its soldiers marched through Barcelona for the last time:-

Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria
Barcelona, November 1, 1938
It is very difficult to say a few words in farewell to the heroes of the International Brigades, because of what they are and what they represent. A feeling of sorrow, an infinite grief catches our throat - sorrow for those who are going away, for the soldiers of the highest ideal of human redemption, exiles from their countries, persecuted by the tyrants of all peoples - grief for  those who will stay here forever mingled with the Spanish soil, in the very depth of our heart, hallowed by our feeling of eternal gratitude. 
From all peoples, from all races, you came to us like brothers, like sons of immortal Spain; and in the hardest days of the war, when the capital of the Spanish Republic was threatened, it was you, gallant comrades of the International Brigades, who helped save the city with your fighting enthusiasm, your heroism and your spirit of sacrifice. - And Jarama and Guadalajara, Brunete and Belchite, Levante and the Ebro, in immortal verses sing of the courage, the sacrifice, the daring, th  discipline of the men of the International Brigades.  
For the first time in the history of the peoples' struggles, there was the spectacle, breath­taking in its grandeur, of the formation of International Brigades to help save a threatened country's freedom and independence - the freedom and independence of our Spanish land.  
Communists, Socialists, Anarchists, Republicans - men of different colors, differing ideology, antagonistic religions --- yet all profoundly loving liberty and justice, they came and offered themselves to us unconditionally.  
They gave us everything --- their youth or their maturity; their science or their experience; their blood and their lives; their hopes and aspirations --- and they asked us for nothing. But yes, it must be said, they did want a post in battle, they aspired to the honor of dying for us. 
Banners of Spain! Salute these many heroes! Be lowered to honor so many martyrs! 
Mothers! Women! When the years pass by and the wounds of war are stanched; when the memory of the sad and bloody days dissipates in a present of liberty, of peace and of well­being; when the rancors have died out and pride in a free country is felt equally by all Spaniards, speak to your children. Tell them of these men of the International Brigades. 
Recount for them how, coming over seas and mountains, crossing frontiers bristling with bayonets, sought by raving dogs thirsting to tear their flesh, these men reached our country as crusaders for freedom, to fight and die for Spain's liberty and independence threatened by German and Italian fascism. They gave up everything --- their loves, their countries, home and fortune, fathers, mothers, wives, brothers, sisters and children --- and they came and said to us: ``We are here. Your cause, Spain's cause, is ours. It is the cause of all advanced and progressive mankind.'' 
Today many are departing. Thousands remain, shrouded in Spanish earth, profoundly remembered by all Spaniards. Comrades of the International Brigades: Political reasons, reasons of state, the welfare of that very cause for which you offered your blood with boundless generosity, are sending you back, some to your own countries and others to forced exile. You can go proudly. You are history. You are legend. You are the heroic example of democracy's solidarity and universality in the face of the vile and accommodating spirit of those who interpret democratic principles with their eyes on hoards of wealth or corporate shares which they want to safeguard from all risk. 
We shall not forget you; and, when the olive tree of peace is in flower, entwined with the victory laurels of the Republic of Spain --- return!  
Return to our side for here you will find a homeland --- those who have no country or friends, who must live deprived of friendship --- all, all will have the affection and gratitude of the Spanish people who today and tomorrow will shout with enthusiasm ---   
Long live the heroes of the International Brigades!

Friday, 17 October 2014

The Eagle and The Hawk.

 My two regular readers know, by now, that occasionally on this blog I like to demonstrate very different interpretations of a particular song. In this instance the song was written by John Denver, often dismissed by purists as a pop/folk writer, but he was much much deeper than this and wrote songs with not only a deeply emotional but also a spiritual significance. I hope to demonstrate this in a later post but for now lets stick to the text and play different versions of The Eagle and The Hawk.

John Denver

Blind Pilot

Bonnie Prince Billy

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Problems caused by, "The New Americans"

Early Indian Languages of the USA
Early Indian Languages of the USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A Mark 8 nuclear bomb.
A Mark 8 nuclear bomb. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Of course I am referring to the bloodthirsty puritans and religious zealots who stole North America from the native Americans or more correctly The Indian Tribes, that roamed that continent in comparative peace, for thousands of years before the incomers arrived. Not only did they arrive, but they invaded, tortured and almost wiped out those tribes that were the historical guardians of that fair land.
 But time passed and the settlers found that they needed cheap labour to till the soil and pick the crops. So a good capitalist liberal economic plan was devised to ship Native Africans in rotting and filthy ships from the old world to the new. And these too were treated as second class citizens, and ill treated and killed if they were obdurate, and are despised even unto this day.
 And when these African Americans were grudgingly given their civil rights they then needed another source of cheap labour so to this day Mexicans are dragged in to pick their crops, and I have witnessed the tin hovels that they are forced to live in whilst picking Red Delicious in the Yakima Valley.
 One of the factors that psychologists consider when dealing with psychopaths is their feelings of insecurity, usually but not always. born out of, a troubled early past and a sense of not belonging. This often results in an innate siege mentality and a distorted sense of right and wrong but above all a need to protect what they have. So it it is with the, "New Americans" who are the most bloodthirsty race of people ever to live on this planet which belongs to us all equally and is not there to serve the interests of their ruling elite. Of course it is idiotic to generalise as we all know decent, caring citizens of the USA who are often embarrassed by their chiefs and you will find such agonising in the columns of this astute journal.
 This blogger was born in 1944, and a year later  the, "New Americans" dropped the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. Since then, in the name of democracy and freedom, for God's sake, they have blitzed their way around the weak and defenceless leaving millions of dead and injured in their wake, not for them to tangle with The Russian Bear, for he might do unto them serious non-collateral damage.
 So what's to do? TheRainbow Alliance has been tried whilst the labor unions and Wall Street protestors have been silenced, much like Phil Ochs experienced at the Democratic convention in Chicago, when Mayor Daly set his dogs on those who dared to say enough is enough. And so the coffins continue to roll out on the "New Americans" conveyor belt of death.

Paul Robeson who lived and died in the cause of civil rights for all of the people of this world and the labour movement.