"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/

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

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Was there a winner in the vote to bomb Syria?

This has been a very sad few days for those of us who as pacifists want to find better ways to reach a solution to the troubles in the Middle East. I was attending a Church carol concert this afternoon, with the images in the church of the Middle East at the time of Jesus, and all the messages of Hope, Love and Peace that this time of year brings. In my head were the thoughts that the vote in Parliament last night carried with it on a "Very dark night in Parliament. [I] Will never forget the noise of some Labour and Tory cheering together at the idea of bombs falling." - as described by the youngest member of Parliament, the SNP Mhairi Black.

Listening to news reports and the comments of others on the 'Labour Party Split' supposedly engendered by the vote, I do wonder about some of the prognostications and conclusions. The following was put on a FaceBook page to which I belong which discusses current affairs and I thought it so succinct that I begged permission to put it here:

"The government won the bomb Syria vote by a lot more than 66 votes. So ultimately the Labour 'free vote' did not lead to war. What it did do is let everyone know where our [individual] MP[s] stood on the issue. Useful to know at the very least. Also when Blair went to war in Iraq 139 Labour MP's rebelled and voted against and Robin Cook resigned. 66 pro-war rebels is nothing compared to that."

So in the middle of the tragedy of war being declared, political gamesmanship is also being played out over whether or not the leader of one party is 'suitable' and whether X or Y will be the next leader. And the number crunching begins when in fact it is more important to look at the numbers of innocent people who may be caught in collateral damage from whatever side should be considered. And discussions should be ongoing in all political parties to find a better solution, not who will be more popular with the voters and who looks better on the TV and vox pop by the tv interviewers should be about the death and destruction which our representatives have just voted for not whether or not one man is popular with all those in the parliamentary party he leads. He is popular enough with the members of his party as a whole to have had an overwhelming vote to make him leader less than three months ago, and since all those who voted him - like me! - knew his views on military action once can be sure that they were in our minds when we voted. We knew the context. Read on.

Context is everything when quoting political speeches etc. Journalists know this. So always check the context when looking at a quote - the context of the time and place where the quote is made; the context of the speaker and the audience; and the context of those doing the quoting and where that quote is making its appearance. History is another important contextual fact. Looking at the actions of the British Parliament today in the light of the historical context of the last 2,000+ years gives one plenty of pause for thought.

Remembering the context that I am a pacifist in a - what I feel -is a more violent society, I expect some of you to dismiss my views. That is your right. But you will still allow me to believe I am right, I am sure. I hope and pray that the better way will be found and followed.

Anyone interested in my views may like to read more at: http://http://www.stopwar.org.uk//

Friday, 6 November 2015

White Poppies and Pacifism - again

I wasn't going to bother with my almost annual explanation about my wearing of the White Peace Poppy and my Pacifism. Those interested can still read my archive* articles after all and it has been a bad year for me, hanging on to my Pacifism in the face of all that has been going on around me [read on if interested!]


However attending a service at a church not of my own denomination this week, I was surprised to be challenged by another attendee as to why I was wearing a white poppy. I had forgotten it was on my coat but willingly explained all about the Peace Pledge Union, how long they had been in operation and selling the white poppies [since 1933] and my personal statement that by wearing a white poppy I feel that I am remembering all who suffered in all conflicts, military and civilians, of all nationalities. Working for peace is their best memorial. My questioner still gave me a very doubtful look, tinged with disgust and moved away, wearing her diamante studded poppy. Earlier that same day I had been accosted by an individual who said I should be ashamed of myself for wearing a white poppy.  For my whole conscious life I have worked for peace however I could, although always feeling I have not been able to fulfill my aims for myself by not always keeping my temper as I should.

This year has been difficult personally and politically. There have been family problems which I have tried to deal with in as placid and a pacifistic way as possible. It wasn't until I got nearly to a state of collapse and when a family member took me to one side and said that being 'such a bloody pacifist' was not a good thing! and I must allow myself to feel if not anger [such a negative emotion] at least - as a two year old granddaughter once said 'not happy' that I would be able to heal. So I now let myself 'feel cross' at those who are acting in a 'not good' way! And when the Estate Agent let me down in my property changes it was easier not to rant but calmly walk away.  I have had bigger things to fret about and their perfidy will not faze me!!

Politically I had a few insults from former activist colleagues who disagreed with my choice of Labour Party Leader, which was disappointing. But when I had the great pleasure of seeing my choice voted overwhelmingly into the position I couldn't feel triumphant because after all, my choice is, imo, better for the country so not for my sole benefit!

So my choice of a song to end this ramble may seem odd. Its not a hymn although we do sing it in my church. It is just a joyous expression of what I believe we should all feel. It is also part of one of my favourite fillms, Scrooged starring Bill Murray. As it is nearly Christmas you will probably be able to catch it on TV over the festive season. I dare you to watch it without crying!

Put a Little Love in your Heart Jackie Deshannon
Think of your fellow man
Lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart
You see it's getting late
Oh, please don't hesitate
Put a little love in your heart
And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me, you just wait and see
Another day goes by still the children cry
Put a little love in your heart
If you want the world to know
We won't let hatred grow
Put a little love in your heart
And the world will be a better place
(And the world)
All the world will be a better place
(All the world)
For you and me
(For you and me)
You just wait and see, wait and see
(Just wait)
Take a good look around
And if you're feeling down
Put a little love in your heart
I hope when you decide
Kindness will be your guide
Put a little love in your heart
And the world will be a better place
(And the world)
And the world will be a better place
(And the world)
For you and me
(For you and me)
You just wait and see
(Just wait)
People, now put a little love in your heart
Each and every day
Put a little love in your heart
There's no other way
Put a little love in your heart
It's up to you
Put a little love in your heart
C'mon and
Put a little love in your heart

and to watch it performed by Annie Lennox & Al Green on youtube from the soundtrack of Scrooged click here

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Suffragettes and after

Warning: there is a 'Risque warning' on the penultimate paragraph

I went on a 'Females of the Family' outing to see Suffragette at the cinema this week. I thought it was a great film and would recommend it to you all, however this is not written as a review but as a musing upon the position of women in society since 1912, the year in which the film opens.

I have written before in celebration of the politically active women I am so proud to have in my family tree! If you haven't read it, Is Political Activism Hereditary? which I wrote in 2008 explains about these lovely women.

 My political activist Grandmother, the original Elizannie 
[and Grandfather, another politico] circa 1913.
So watching the film with my family, sitting with my 13 year old granddaughter who has already been on a political rally with me and been interviewed on television about the reasons for her attendance on that occasion, led to me pondering how far we 'working class' women have really come.

Obviously, remembering the way the working class women in the East End - portrayed in the film so ably by Cary Mulligan and Anne Marie Duff - were treated when at work and in their living conditions, 'working class' women and men are  undoubtedly better treated just over 100 years later. In the film men are expected to keep their wives in order, to behave and a good slapping if they 'misbehave'But I am also thinking about the way women are still viewed in society as a whole. Listening to & watching/studying lots of media programmes and reading lots of articles and books I have always been struck by how many women still complain that when they come home from work they are still expected to 'run' the home and family. And how many still allow their husband/partner to have the last word.

And it doesn't always apply to the view of 'working class women'. I remember reading a comment many years ago made by the actress, comedienne and writer Maureen Lipman. Her husband, the writer Jack Rosenthal was then alive and Ms Lipman had just published a book or an article and someone asked her if he had written if for her. An empty headed comedienne obviously could not have written something herself. I have found myself that when producing politcal stuff I have been asked if my then other half 'helped' me! Mind you, I was only asked that once. I once mentioned, very many years ago, to another [male] political activist I had campaigned with for many years, that I had started a degree course. He said 'What in, pizza making?'. He apologised later .....

I have always been an independent thinker and decision maker. I come from a family of independent women, as I as so proud to repeat. Possibly that is why Other Half became ex! However although that hasn't changed the way I run my life, it has noticably changed the way I have been treated by society! So much so that I find I have had to talk about my sons when asking for quotes from workmen or my boyfriend when buying goods to get taken seriously. When I had an Other Half lurking this didn't seem necessary and I find it totally annoying. When I discovered that my computer had been hacked I actually had expressions of disbelief from friends, especially males - who thought me incapable of such knowledge 'as a woman' but admitted that they would not know how to find such a thing. Well I did know, found it, sorted it and got the culprit to admit to it. Yes I am a woman. And incidentally know these things. Although I am not a very good cook. But I can set up a new lap top and email account when I have been hacked.

Risque Warning:
So always remember, we women have so much strength. As the old saying says, 'If men had periods they would go to bed and call their Mum. And their Mums would come .......'

Nb: 'Working class' is a term far more difficult to define in the 21st century when compared to pre WW1. So I haven't tried and leave it up to the reader to make their own decisions!