"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/

Saturday 10 November 2018

Remembering: 11th November 1918

  • It's quite a time now since I have written a blog but I always did a special one for armistice day and so for this special 100th anniversary of the end of WW1
     here I go again. 

    I made this picture many years ago. The postcards were popular around World War One as soldiers and their sweethearts sent them to one and other. The word "Mizpah" is generally taken to mean "May the Lord watch over thee and me whilst we are apart from one and other" and googling it brings interesting explanations. Mizpah jewellery like rings brooches etc were also popular at that time for the same reason. 

    The poppies are self explanatory and I have talked about the meaning of wearing red and white poppies in previous blogs. But just in case this is a first time read for anyone or another reader hasn't heard the story of the white poppies, there is an explanation below*. I always wear a white poppy and often also a red one as do many others.

    So remembering all those from all countries who died and fought in all conflicts, whether military or civilian. And naming for me especially:

    Granfa Williams (Gallipoli)
    Granfer Bunning (Ypres)
    Uncle John Bunning (Burma)
    Uncle Ron Mills (Arnhem)
    My Dad, Trevor Williams (Conscientious objector)
    All my Williams and extended family uncles
    All the Bunning Great Uncles
    My exfather-in-law Dennis Bailey [Marine - HMS Berwick]
    My exGreat Grandfather-in-law Frederick Bailey [Chelsea Guards]
    All the Bailey exUncles-in-law

*The following statements are taken from the Peace Pledge Union website , from whom white poppies can be bought https://ppu.org.uk/remembrance-white-poppies

"A message originally associated with Remembrance Day, after the first world war, was “never again”. This message slipped away. In response, white poppies were developed in 1933 by the Co-operative Women's Guild to affirm the message of “no more war”.
"White poppies recall all victims of all wars, including victims of wars that are still being fought. This includes people of all nationalities. It includes both civilians and members of armed forces. Today, over 90% of people killed in warfare are civilians.
"In wearing white poppies, we remember all those killed in war, all those wounded in body or mind, the millions who have been made sick or homeless by war and the families and communities torn apart. We also remember those killed or imprisoned for refusing to fight and for resisting war. 
"We differ from the Royal British Legion, who produce red poppies. The Legion says that red poppies are to remember only British armed forces and those who fought alongside them.We want to remember British military dead, but they are not the only victims of war. We also remember the many civilians who have died or suffered in war, both those from the past and those in the midst of war today, in Syria and Yemen and many other violent conflicts around the world. Suffering does not stop at national borders, and nor should remembrance. 
"The best way to respect the victims of war is to work to prevent war in the present and future. Violence only begets more violence. We need to tackle the underlying causes of warfare, such as poverty, inequality and competition over resources. A temporary absence of violence is not enough. Peace is much deeper and broader than that, requiring major social changes to allow us to live more co-operatively"

Sunday 14 May 2017

My twopenn’orth - fifty years of Labour Party membership and still a Socialist! Recommending our future Prime Minister.

                                          Billy Bragg & Jeremy Corbyn sing 'The Red Flag'

I have stuck with the party I love for over 50 years. If it swung too far to the right in my opinion, I didn't criticise it publicly* but worked within it's democracy to express my views and hopefully change the views of comrades. This was especially the case in the Blair years. [*The only time I have publicly expressed any disatisfaction with the leader was in the anti-war marches when I considered my pacifism more important than my party membership]

However the reactions of my comrades to the election of Jeremy Corbyn to Party Leader has appalled me. Threats before he was even elected not to work with him, undermining him - I don't have to repeat the examples from earlier blogs. I have followed Corbyn for very many years, not always agreeing with everything he says but admiring the way he sticks to his principles and his honesty. When he takes on a cause he is faithful to it. I unexpectedly found this out a few years ago when he supported a five year campaign in which I was involved. Unobstrusively but always there. Now I am returning the compliment. I am lucky that my local CLP is pro-Corbyn - I cannot imagine how it must feel to be working for someone who may shaft him the moment the election is over.

In the words of the song [!]: Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer/
We'll keep the red flag flying here. Keep the faith brothers and sisters.

So I am confident in recommending Jeremy Corbyn as our future Prime Minister.

Elizannie​ x

I am not so vain as to think you may have noticed a bit of a gap in my blogs lately. However lots has been going on in the Elizannie world: family stuff and mounds of building work in the new abode. But still a party activist with plenty to say!

Who would live in a house with a [new] bedroom window like this?  
                                                                  Elizannie​ x

Friday 11 November 2016


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.


*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.