"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Replying to Owen Jones

Owen Jones has blogged at https://medium.com/@OwenJones84/questions-all-jeremy-corbyn-supporters-need-to-answer-b3e82ace7ed3#.bydsyel8q  He is not happy with the leadership by Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party and has decided to "Go Public"  in this blog. I am using the medium of my blog to reply.

I find this all incredibly sad. Owen Jones knows Jeremy Corbyn very well and I first met Owen when they were both working on the John McDonnell for leader campaign the first time around. I had wondered why he had been so silent whilst all this furore has been building. When Jeremy said after his election to leadership of the Labour Party he wanted to give a new, kinder form of politics [http://www.managers.org.uk/insights/news/2015/october/whats-new-about-jeremy-corbyns-leadership-style] Owen should have expected how it would be and not have been surprised/disappointed with the new leadership style.

Some of Owen's specific 'allegations' against Jeremy I find surprising: eg " he infamously failed to sing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain event" . I can imagine the media uproar if Jeremy had been pictured singing away lustily the word's of what I call The Queen's Song as it doesn't glorify us as a nation which a National Anthem sure should [just think of those memorable words "Thy choicest gifts in store/On her be pleased to pour"] Personally I never sing the National Anthem but  quietly stand by whilst others do. Not a problem. But when Jeremy does the same thing as leader of the party - well we all know the result. Should he have been a hypocrite and sang along? I think not, others must decide for themselves.

I still want Jeremy as our leader. Maybe a bit of "tweaking" in leadership methods could help - but don't those who are to be "led" also need a bit of tweaking and should agree to be led? In retrospect some may think maybe John McDonnell would have made a better leader in terms of "media presentation". He is another Labour politician whom I admire immenseley. But do we want to choose our leader in terms of who will appeal most to the media? Both John and Jeremy are tremendously sincere and I do not think an honest politician would or should compromise his/her stated beliefs just to get a good media screen shot for  a day. And do you not all remember what the media did to Neil Kinnock - there was a concentrated campaign to  'talk him down' - and he was successfully demonised by the media. Michael Foot is remembered for his "donkey jacket" which was not in fact a donkey jacket but an expensive Burberry type wool coat. But of course if the fourth estate says it, it must be true ......

I have been bewildered when listening to some media reports of Jeremy's "performance" at specific PMQs which the media have rated as " a disaster". Somehow this has borne no relation to the same PMQ to which I have just listened. But the general public hear the media reports and not the real thing and think that Jeremy is a disaster because that is what they are told. Victory to the Fourth Estate yet again.

Please don't let the "victors" in all this be [1] those who declared before Jeremy was elected that they would refuse to serve in the Shadow Cabinet under him and [2] the - mostly Murdoch - media who want to decide who should not only lead the country but also every political party.

This debate will carry on, in the media and up and down the country until the leadership vote is declared.  Feel free to disagree. I do love a good debate! I also love democracy and as always will serve under which ever leader gets the majority vote. It is a pity other Party members do not feel the same way.

Please think again Owen. I know how much you care about the  Party but think about some of us out here in the sticks struggling to make our feelings felt and heard. We are bewildered by those who don't seem to want to listen.

Worth reading: By Paul Mason    https://medium.com/mosquito-ridge/labour-the-way-ahead-78d49d513a9f#.xvggg5z2o

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Interlude: The Dog Days or a bit about the Cat

It's one of those still times when the world around me seems to be holding it's breath. The wise old country folk nod and say it's the calm before the storm.  Yesterday's terrible heat seems to be feeling regretful of the damage it inflicted and I kid myself that there is hardly a sound to heard. A little privilege and pleasure that the semi-deaf can indulge themselves in by leaving out their hearing aids when no-one else is around.

Of course it is all a mirage. I am actually only two roads back from the one of the busiest roads in this part of Essex and a short distance from a very horrible, confusing and frighteningly busy junction consisting of one too large and several small roundabouts. This morning one driver took the wrong way around one of the smaller roundabouts. Fortunately - by what many would call a miracle and not too much traffic being about and that present having good drivers - disaster was averted. This time.

In Westminster there are machinations afoot in the corridors of power. Although the dog days are nearly upon us the Fourth Estate will not give up on it's hatchet jobs on whoever says what and why and wherefore. We have a new PM and cabinet so every sneeze must be examined for double meanings and the Official Opposition must be examined in every orifice.  Oldies like me who have held to the same political line for 50 years are getting used now to being called 'The Hard Left', 'Dangerous Agitators' and more.  Still last year before the General Election my peer group was accused of being a bit of a leech mob on society, sucking the benefit system dry. Yes I belong to that dangerous group - pensioners who paid tax and insurance for years, brought up children and now want our children and grandchildren to have what we worked and paid for. You know those dangerous lefty things like good education, health care, libraries, social services.

Further afield, beyond our jewelled* shores, there are all sorts of uncertainty. Speculations about the future of the European Union. Turkey in a very different position to under a week ago.

Yet one hundred years ago, sitting in this same spot it may have just been possible to hear those big guns pounding on the Somme. Unimaginable losses were building. Not far from that roundabout I describe above is a memorial in the fields to two WW1 airman who collided when out hunting a solitary German sniper in March 1916. Life goes on in at its own pace, at all different levels. What exercises one to vehement emotion passes another by unnoticed and it was probably ever thus.

My own life has seen upheaval in a way I could never have imagined two years ago. Yet I sit here by the French Windows for this moment placid, waiting for the cat who seems to have adopted me to make an appearance. S/he has apparently had a very troubled history and at the moment is visiting for a short time each day. I, who really did not like cats at all and have been known to stand outside a room until one has been removed, am feeding her and trying to gain her confidence [today I am convinced it is a she] Whether she stays for any length of time I don't know. But I hope she does. And I will try to make her welcome. Which when it comes down to it is all any of us can do really - hope and try to make others feel welcome.


*A quote from The Book of Lost Tales, Part OneJ.R.R. Tolkien  but to me, as a girl brought up so near 

so near toSouthend-on-Sea it always reminds me of Southend Esplanade on a night like this. Especially when I was 16. Oh the 1960s.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

So. Chilcot ......

Dedicated to all those who died, were injured or otherwise affected by the military actions in Iraq. Whether they were military personnel or civilians. Whatever there nationality. And thanking all those who have stood up for their beliefs all those years. They know who they are.

So. Chilcot .....

In 2002 and 2003, with millions of others worldwide, I marched to try and persuade Tony Blair and George W. Bush that they were wrong to wage war in Iraq against Saddam Hassein's government.

Over the weekend of the 15th and 16th of February 2003 various estimates have calculated that worldwide 8 - 30 million demonstrated in more than 70 countries. It is generally accepted that 2 million marched in London alone and I joined them. And as so many of us said, for each one of us there we were representing at least 5 others - many of us could only be there because of the help of baby sitters, sponsors, employers who allowed many of us to leave work to come and many more.

Generally we were good humoured although determined. We got a few jeers from the crowds, but not a lot really. The shopkeepers came out as we poured through Piccadilly and the Strand and we got lots clapping from the crowds on the streets including the tourists. We passed a choir singing the Internationale in Spanish; Camera Crews from many media stations all over the world and I spoke to David Bailey who - wearing a beany hat [it was a really cold day] - was snapping away like mad.

The speeches in Hyde Park were wonderful. They included the late Mo Mowlem [one of her last, if not her last public, appearances. Many listening were in tears] The late Charles Kennedy made a wonderful, impassioned speech. The late Tony Benn was his usual brilliant, eloquent self.

Well we tried. And as the death tolls went up and the truths began to emerge we collectively wondered if we could have done more. Tried harder to convince the statesmen and the politicians that we weren't all left wing politicos, pacifists who prefered a good march to a good punch up in a foreign land.

I remember writing at the time that surely this was about oil? I remember quoting Siegfried Sassoon in the First World War declaring his opposition to that war [and he was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in that war don't forget] on the grounds that one of the reasons for it was the possession of the oil-fields of Kuwait] [I can't quote it now because the recent house move hasn't thrown up that particular book just yet] Strangely motivation regarding the Oil fields of the Iraq war aren't figuring in the Chilcot report, it seems

And yesterday when the Chilcot report was finally published we had to watch the same Tony Blair blethering on about how Iraq is a better place than it would have been without the war etc etc And politicians commenting how they had been 'fooled' at the time into believing that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction out there ready to blow us to bits in 45 minutes. And all the other time old lies that have always been fed to us when the money is found quickly for a war, the money that is never available for those necessary wars: on poverty, lack of education, medical needs - oh how I could rant! Yet I wonder how all those millions of us who marched in 2003 weren't fooled?

I may add a bit more to this later. And some pictures. But now I want to go away and think some more. About all the deaths. All the suffering. All the destruction. All the lies. All the waste.

To quote Pete Seeger: 'When Will They Ever Learn?'

Monday, 13 June 2016

In, Out, Shake it All About ......* /Remain or Brexit?

Midsummer Dance**

So, for me the debate should be over. I have voted, courtesy of the wonderful device of the postal vote. Why don't I feel relaxed, relieved, reassured or any other 're' that would suggest that I have made the right decision?

I am still watching the televised debates, listening to the radio 'phone-in programmes and occasionally reading newspaper articles. I have read the bumf that has been posted through the door by various political parties and the Government. I go to my local Labour Party meetings and engage in debate. But in the end my decision is, I suppose, the least 'worst' option. And I am still getting annoyed with the 'yaa, boo' aspect of politicians and commentators shouting each other down, apparently convinced that their opponents are so wrong whilst the current speaker/loudest shouter is so right.

I am old enough - just! - to have voted in the last referendum. This morning it struck me that my mother was the same age then as I am now and I remember talking to her and my beloved Aunt at the time and their reason for wishing to be members of the then 'Common Market' was to try to prevent another war; a very good reason to me now for wishing to 'Remain' although in truth if two countries wish to lock horns very little can prevent them. But worth trying.

So much of what the politicians tell us is really down to their opinions, informed guesses, hopes of what will happen after 23rd June depending on the outcome of the  voting. However there may also be suspicions that some of those positing their views have ulterior motives. Maybe their eyes are on higher political 'jobs' or benefits of other kinds. The only certainty is that on 24th June we will have a government and an opposition that will continue to argue, blame each other and an electorate who will not have a chance to express their opinions until the next General Election. Oh dear.

As the little boy used to say in that insurance advert, I haven't been much help, have I? But I do think it is important that we all use the opportunity to vote and if one is really unsure perhaps the answer is to 'take advice' from a politician one admires. Whilst also taking into account possibly that politician may have a personal agenda for making that decision..... No, I really haven't been a lot of help.

23rd/24th June is of course Midsummer Eve/Day and I am not the first to point out that this Midpoint of the year and feast of St John the Baptist in the Christian calendar; a magical time in many cultures  and so is quite symbolic of the importance of the vote. Which is probably why so many of us are so worried about using it wisely. Over to you .........

*The longest known game of 'Okey Cokey'. Started in 1975 with an 'In' move, we won't know until the 24th June whether the second move is 'Out' or 'Shake it all About'. 
**The picture of the Midsummer Dance is probably a better symbolic image of the propensity for change than the 'Okey Cokey' but feel free to chose which ever you prefer! 

Many of you have been kind enough to notice that Elizannie has been missing lately. The big move to the little house has used up a lot more time than previously estimated but hopefully all is settling down and she will be available for more blogs in the future. However political activism has still been happening although her attempt to be elected for the local council was not successful it resulted in more votes than expected and people are still stopping her in the street to confirm that they cast their votes in her favour!!

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Westminster 'uniform'

There was an unpleasant little exchange between David Cameron & Jeremy Corbyn in PMQs in the House of Commons yesterday, when the former lambasted the latter about his choice of apparel. [To see a video of this via the BBC please click here]

Jeremy Corbyn suggested what one is working for [he cited the NHS] is more important than what one is wearing. I happen to agree with him. In this respect Jeremy Corbyn is reminscent of Keir Hardie, first Labour MP, who was also jeered at for his apparel in Westminster:
On taking his seat on 3 August 1892 Hardie refused to wear the "parliamentary uniform" of black frock coat, black silk top hat and starched wing collar that other working class MPs wore. Instead, Hardie wore a plain tweed suit, a red tie and a deerstalker. Although the deerstalker hat was the correct and matching apparel for his suit, he was nevertheless lambasted in the press, and was accused of wearing a flat cap, headgear associated with the common working man – "cloth cap in Parliament". [Wikipedia]

I have been on demos which Corbyn has also attended and yes he wears 'ordinary' clothes. As one of the organisers of some of these demos and therefore responsible for inviting Mr Corbyn and other MPs to these occasions, I can confirm that he will often turn up to such demos to support unobstrusively and not self advertise. I have tremendous respect for him - whatever he is wearing!

Margaret Thatcher was legendary in her care for her clothes, make-up and hair. Not a problem. We do what we think important to ourselves. My only basis for judgement is that a person is clean and decent. Everything else is personal choice, surely?

Corbyn and I are of an age. I probably wear clothes which others think are inappropriate for my age and status, I don't really know. I have promised my podiatrist I will try to wear shoes more often - especially when gardening - after last year's poisoned foot. I hope I don't get judged by what I wear although my new neighours, when I move in the coming weeks, will probably have to get used to me appearing in my plaid pyjamas first thing in the morning but they are respectable and cover me up!

So, please, can we keep to important things in PMQs like what is going on in the economy and how to settle the junior doctors' strike? Looking at the picture of the two protagonists in the tiff yesterday, does it really matter who wears what? They both look OK to me!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Zika Virus, Guillaine-Barre and Life with PollyAnna

You may have noticed I haven't been around much lately. I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself as a few personal problems have been rearing their heads and on top of that moving from my rambling home of nearly 40 years to a more 'compact' one [Estate Agent's speak!] one is becoming a bit of a pain. I do try to face all life's challenges as a bit of an adventure but my PollyAnna side has been hidden a lot lately.

But politics and world news are still high on my attention agenda and I will get back to blogging regularly soon. You have been warned! Although I still haven't found a comfortable home for the 'IT station' in the new abode there is a cupboard in the kitchen which I have my eye on. There are only so many saucepans I can use and it could easily be adapted into a media hub.......

The Zika virus epidemic in South America is truly frightening and the potential for complications to pregnant women and their unborn children are horrific. But another complication talked about in the news today is that it may also cause the additional illness Guillain-Barre syndrome. This little known condition affects many world wide every year and too often claims lives and leaves survivors badly affected yet they get little recognition or allowance made by society [sadly like many others affected by ill health] My eldest son contracted Guillian-Barre in 2011 and we are so lucky that he survived. Yet he has been left with quite bad 'left over' damage. But he often says it was the best thing that happened to him because it has given him the appreciation of what is important in life [his son, quality of life remaining and so much more] And so I realise even more how we should always be grateful for what we have, not harp on about what we have not whilst trying to remember the important things. And endeavour to do what we can do to make things easier for others. I know I can be as bad as everyone in taking things for granted and complaining about what I may have lost. That's when I have to get PollyAnna out of her hideyhole and look and work for the good things that are around and in return what I can still do to help others, even if they are only little things. Like raising awareness of a cause.

Just sayin'.

A few helpful links:

Welcome to the Guillain-Barré & Associated Inflammatory Neuropathies website:

Independent article on the Zika Virus and Guillain-Barre (contains further links):

For those of you who have not read the book or are not old enough to remember the Pollyanna film and the 'Glad Game', here is the low down on the whole thing: 

Friday, 18 December 2015

Democracy and a response to Hopi Sen re Jeremy Corbyn

Didn't really know what picture to post here. So googled images for democracy and this seemed pretty good to me!:

For those who don't know about him, Hopi Sen, to quote his blog, ' After the 2001 election I moved to Party HQ, before becoming the head of campaigns at the Parliamentary Labour Party' to catch up with his career to date, please go to the 'about Hopi' part of his very interesting blog HOPI SEN a blog from the backroom

I enjoy his blog, sometimes agree with it, sometimes don't. That's called democracy, the freedom to discuss and disagree if we are so moved. I don't think I have ever felt moved to disagree, much less publicly do so, until this week and his latest blog: I can’t vote for Corbyn. I won’t leave the Labour party.

This is my slightly expanded initial response to the original blog and not to the later comments and Hopi Sen's replies. That I will do later and separately in my own personna!

Very many people left the Labour Party in the time of Tony Blair [and have returned with the election of Jeremy Corbyn] because Blair then, like Corbyn now was unpopular with some Labour Party members. Meanwhile many of us stayed whilst really, really disliking Blair's political views - in my case because I wouldn't let him drive me away - but we weren't so voluble as those who seem to dislike the idea of Jeremy Corbyn for PM . We stayed because we loved our party and wanted to preserve it. And in the principle of another little word: democracy. We had been beaten in a leadership election [if you must know I had voted for John Prescott] but were not going to throw our toys out of the pram just because our choice didn't win.

So I and others stayed and in local constituency meetings expressed our views but in public supported those elected because of that little word - democracy. We didn't write blogs [OK this was pre '97 and blogging wasn't the thing] knocking Blair and his colleagues. In fact I even defended him on occasion, when he did something I admired. In subsequent leadership elections I didn't vote for his followers, something I didn't hide but when those I supported [John McDonnell] didn't win the popular vote, I once more kept my toys in the pram and - because of democracy - flew the party flag. Even though I didn't like the red rose emblem and missed singing the red flag. I still sang it as a lullaby to my grandchildren as I had to their parents.

This year I was delighted to support Jeremy Corbyn for party leader. I have followed him for many years and when he rocked up and supported a campaign I was helping run from 2009 I was of course highly delighted. But he was again the man I had admired for many years, giving his support in a constant but unobstrusive manner. At some of our demos and rallies he would mingle with the crowd, unlike some MPs [from all parties] who would shoulder their way to the front and get in all the photos but not always turn up to the debates in the House of Commons on our cause. That campaign ran for 5 years, we were successful thanks to those who supported us like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell [and - to show how fair I am] others MPs from other parties. And massive financial help from Unite union. But I digress.

You may have gathered from this I have always been on the left wing of the The Labour Party Not a militant, or a 'trot', but actually a Pacifist, a member of groups like CND, Amnesty, HOPE not hate, even Stop the War [heavens forfend!] But suddenly I find myself in the press described as 'One of the Hard Left', 'An Extremist' and some less flattering titles.

When I was supporting Jeremy in the leadership campaign I constantly appealed to the 'opponents' to act, if he won, as magnaminous in their defeat as I knew our true supporters would be. You can see some of these appeals on my blog here. The comments of some since like Chuka Umunna have not been helpful, sadly, in my opinion. But in the face of democracy he is of course free to make them.

I can understand how Hopi Sen feels. It doesn't matter that he personally does not like Jeremy Corbyn's views. I understand that he is asking people not to leave the party because they can stay in the way he is staying. But I am asking him, in the name of democracy, to accept that Jeremy Corbyn is a man respected by a large part of our party. Individually we may not agree with every single thing he says either. Would it surprise Hopi to find that I part company with Jeremy over certain policy areas?  I can't believe there are any two people in the land who can agree on absolutely everything!!  

I honestly believe Jeremy is a good man who has been consistent in his ideas over all the time I have known him and I trust him. Those who know me will know what a big statement that last one is for me to make. And no, I don't know all the answers. And I would hate to be in his position at the moment. But I am really happy he is there! That is not to say that Hopi Sen is not a good man, just that we differ in our views. But in the interests of the party we obviously both love and to which we both wish to remain loyal please moderate the tone of your comments about Mr Corbyn. There are enough outside the party looking for ways to harm us. without us doing their job for them.

I have always been proud that our party has been made up of those who form almost a rainbow coat of political shades. Let's tolerate the different hue that may be the latest style and sees what will come of it!

Fraternally, Elizannie