"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/

Friday, 11 November 2016

Peace




Dedicated to Leonard Cohen 21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016
I've seen the nations rise and fall / But love's the only engine of survival The Future 1992



So every year around this time I write a blog attempting to explain that I am pacifist but we pacifists honour the dead and injured of all conflicts anywhere  and anytime. And that of course those dead and injured include military and civilian personnel. So this year I thought I would give  everyone  a rest and desist. It has not been an easy year for me on a personal front, being a pacifist when all sorts of crap has been thrown at me from all sorts of directions and trying to be dignified and not retaliate [and not always succeeding] has meant that I have been reminded that my often claimed thought 'being a pacifist is hard work and not the easy option' has been reinforced many times.


However when I facebooked and tweeted my 'Armstice message' [that sounds so presumptious!]
Honouring all those who have been lost world wide as a result of all conflicts. Whether they be military or civilian. Praying for the peace which is the best remembrance for them all
I received a couple of replies from comrades suggesting that it was vain hope. But I have to keep believing. When I moved earlied this year I even called the Little House 'Peace' and the first thing I put through the front door was my Peace Tree. One of my kids years ago said that my Pacifism was the most important thing about me. I acknowledge it is the biggest thing about my both my faith and my Socialism. Even with the bad things that have happened to me I still have to believe in the essential goodness of humanity. And one of the biggest influences in literature on me in my youth - Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By* in Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies

Image result for Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By


means that I hope to act in a way that exemplifies that peace which I wish others would display. I would be happy if you joined me if you haven't already

*An interesting article on Mrs-Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By can be found at:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/mary-wakefield-what-the-water-babies-can-teach-us-about-personal-morality-1850416.html

Monday, 19 September 2016

Just another election .......

So online voting for the Labour leadership closes in just over 36 hours from now. It is no secret to anyone that I supported Jeremy Corbyn in both this and last year's leadership campaigns. But my support for Jeremy goes back a very long way. We are of similar ages and of similar political views. We have fought on the same campaigns. I have also disagreed with him about other campaigns. That is called democracy!

I have repeatedly appealed to the Labour Party as a whole - i.e. the PLP and the members - since before Jeremy Corbyn was elected this time last year to be democratic. To respect the wishes of the voters and support the new leader. I refused to be anti democratic throughout the New Labour/Blair years when my choice for leader was not selected by the majority and I only reacted publicly [and noisily!] against Blair over the Iraq war. [That's because my duty to Pacifism is higher than my duty to the Labour Party] I stayed with the Labour Party through the Blair years and worked from within to change what I saw as failings from the leadership but using party rules and not running down individuals to the media etc. 


However when I supported Jeremy Corbyn last year as I had supported John McDonnell & Dianne Abbott in previous leadership campaigns I was dismayed that as it became obvious that if Jeremy did win there was no way that his opponents would sit back and follow rules, opposing 'nicely' when they felt impelled to. They instead planned from the outset to use dirty tricks, smears and more to attempt to destablise Jeremy Corbyn. I realised that the Blair years had changed something more fundamental than the name of the party and a bit of power dressing of MPs. The 'Clause Four moment'* had done more than merely change the wording of the constitution of the Labour Party, it appeared to have changed the DNA of a certain section of the Labour Party membership. There will always be differing elements in all political parties. There has always been a left and right wing in the Labour Party. But suddenly the dialogue between the two seemed to be changing, morphing into a surprisingly vicious and spiteful spat. I have always been on the left wing. Not a problem and for fifty years I co-existed with others on the right wing and we united against the Tories. But suddenly I found myself - without changing my views - described as 'hard-left' and even 'dangerous'.

There has been talk of 'entryists' amongst the recent Labour Party new members who have apparently only joined from other hard left groups to take control of all local CLPs. One way to stop this - always supposing there are enough entryists Trotsky-ite like individuals to do this - is for existing Labour party members to out vote such entryists. As there existing CLPs this shouldn't be difficult and there are of course qualifications for taking part in votes at Constituency Labour Party meetings such as length of time of membrship. On the Dispatches programme tonight the Momentum movement had a rather McCarthy-like examination. It is worth following Owen Jones on this, on twitter today he said: "No-one can call me an uncritical Corbynista. But I know Momentum's leaders + they're genuine, passionate people who just want social justice"


Whatever the result of the leadership election, a lot of people will need to do a lot of thinking about their motives and future actions. Because if the minority won't accept the result that the majority of the voters give, they need to read up a few words in the OED. Starting with 'democracy', 'majority', 'winner'. 'runner-up' and maybe moving on to another book or a website where abstract thoughts are examined. Perhaps 'how can I make myself still look important when I didn't win' or maybe 'how can I convince voters they have made a bad decision without insulting them'. Jeremy Corbyn has asked Owen Smith publicly to work with him after the result has been announced, to heal the party. The latter has refused. Very sad and not a good example for Mr Smith to set his followers.




*Clause Four of the 1918 Constitution of the Labour Party stated:
To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of productiondistribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

Tony Blair's 1995 amendment changed the statement to this: 
The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect

Whilst Tony Blair removed common ownership, Jeremy Corbyn wants to bring it back when he talks about renationalising the railways. Just sayin'         

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Reprimanding Nick Cohen

A facebook friend alerted me [and others] to a piece in The Spectator by Nick Cohen entitled Why you shouldn’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn This piece purports to be a letter from a Labour Party member 'Chris'.

I don't share my facebook friend, 'Chris' nor Nick Cohen's anti - Jeremy Corbyn views. So I thought I would publish here my slightly edited facebook reply. Feel free to disagree. I am hoping that Nick Cohen or 'Chris' might too.

"Dear Facebook Friend
I am very sad that you felt it necessary to promote this load of twaddle. Publicising your choice for whom you are voting in the Labour Leadership contest is fine and if you feel it necessary to explain why you are supporting that choice, that is also your privilege. But to give publicity to a hatchet job, inaccurate piece like this is, sadly, inexcusable. Within the first few pargraphs 'Chris' uses those incendiary words when describing JC and his friends 'his fellow travelers'. Having described himself ['Chris'] as a 'political anorak' he surely knows the impact and connotation of these words to REAL long time Socialists who have worked for and supported the Labour Party for very many years [in my case I have been a member for over 50 years. Unbelievable isn't it because I don't possibly look old enough] But this also means that I remember a lot of the events that the author describes and is quoting too often incorrectly and or out of context.

I also take issue with 'Chris' describing himself as a 'passionate leftist and liberal'. Apart from this statement being an Oxymoron: 'liberal' suggesting sympathies to the left of the centre ground [ie conservative with a small 'c'] and 'leftist' - according to the Collins dictionary online -"Socialists and Communists are sometimes referred to as leftists", but it is more often used to describe left wing groups abroad. However the term 'leftist' here also smacks of a semi-illiterate description of anyone with Socialist sympathies of views
, along with one of what could be described as a favourite bete noire; 'labourite'. Note: Mr Cohen, having studied PPE will probably argue with me on this but I am discussing the ordinary man on the Clapham omnibus connotations not those student discussions on words in a degree seminar.

To those who know little about Nick Cohen one can find out more about him quickly at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Cohen
However when one looks at just a few of his biographical details the fact that he 'He was an advocate of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and a critic of the Stop the War Coalition' explains why he would most probably be on opposite sides to Corbyn [and me!] on lots of occasions. If 'Chris' exists I hope that if he feels impelled to write something like this again he will check his facts a little better, maybe talk to others who can give him more rounded views. And also remember that although I and like thinking party members are now described as being 'on the hard left', 40 years ago I was classified as a moderate. My views haven't changed but the party I love has.




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.



'Giing-er'


*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! 


NB:
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!!