"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/

Sunday 24 May 2015

Who are 'they'?

One of my political greats, in that he made such a dignified exit on being ousted from his seat, and incidently the man for whom I voted in the Labour Leadership ballot in 2010, Ed Balls:

You may have noticed that we now have a Conservative Government. Some of us are not happy about it. I refer to the Tory Party as 'they' because it takes the sting out a little bit. And also, as an oblique reference to a comment by Youngest Daughter: 'Who voted for them? I haven't met anyone yet who will admit to it. Who are they?'

We are not quite three weeks into this new government and of course 'they' are still getting used to the fact, as indeed are the general electorate. The size of their majority was unexpected. It may surprise some of you to know that I did not vote for them. Like many like minded friends I posted on various social media sites 'awful warnings' of what I feared 'they' would do if 'they' got into government. Those fears may have been the subject of a few blogs on here too. I went out and worked for my local Labour party parliamentary candidate. The night of May 7th into the morning of May 8th was truly horrible, not helped by the fact that I had dropped my smart 'phone down the lavatory on the morning of May 7th and couldn't quickly text friends and family when the lamentable results began to roll in.

Now, when I eventually wake in the morning, I tend to think - not necessarily my first thought, but high on the list of early thoughts - 'I wonder what 'they' are going to do today?'

Because [never start a sentence with a conjunction but this is permissible when politically grieving] now 'they' have the permission of the electorate to carry out so many 'promises' they had headlined in their manifesto and campaign speeches 'they' will. Because the electorate have ratified their promises. Promises like cutting the welfare spending by £12bn, without detailing what and where these cuts will be. [Don't worry about this too much all, those people who voted for this government. Because the kindly man who is again in charge of this is that sympathetic figure, Ian Duncan Smith. Sarcasm alert]

Of course 'they' have given plenty of encouraging sound bites since their election victory. Like the pledge for a seven day National Health Service. The same pledge that they gave in the last Parliament but for which we are obviously still waiting. As Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, comments: 
David Cameron’s plans for a seven-day NHS are simply not credible without the extra resources and staff the NHS needs – particularly in areas like general practice, where the Tories have created a GP workforce crisis.........  
to read full comments please go to  http://www.labour.org.uk/pages/news

So a bit of consumer advice here, buyer beware. Election/manifesto promises are not covered by trading standards/consumer law. It is up to the electorate to complain. And those who voted for the Government - or didn't vote at all -aren't really in a position to do that. I didn't so I can. And I will. Watch this space.

Best moment of the Election results: Nick Farage NOT being elected:

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Mea Culpa - I like discussing politics

So today is apology day as I understand that some people are complaining about my use of facebook [and other social media] as a platform for my political views. So I would just like to apologise for expressing my fears for the old, the sick, the unemployed, the poor, the vulnerable and the dispossessed in not only our society but across the world. I have probably annoyed many people during the General Election campaign for upping my output of 'propaganda' [aka known as the truth] about my perceived political opponents who were - in my opinion of course - determined to make the lives of so many worse if they took power after the election. And of course since the election I have been such a bad loser that I have vilified unfairly the new government by suggesting that they may not care about the groups I have identified. 

But as an explanation for my  bad manners I would like to offer an explanation. I thought that we joined facebook to connect with our friends, family and make new friends. After all as it says in the small print: 'Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open & connected' .  I thought that we shared our interests and discussed what is important to us. That's why you will find on my timeline lots of pictures of my gorgeous children and grandchildren, places to which I have travelled, bits about books I have read and music I love. Oh and occasionally maybe [!] politics. I trust that those who are linked to me ignore the bits they don't like. The politicos and journos probably are not in the least interested that Eldest Daughter lives in the house that my father [another political activist] bought in 1961, although I must say that Peter Hain was last year. 

Looking back on my timeline for the past few days to see what dreadful things I have shared, they includes comments made by Boris Johnson and Charlotte Church; worries about the repeal of the Human Rights Act; Douglas Carswell on Nigel Farage; a quote from the late lamented Bob Crowe; ditto Malcom X; lots of adverts for my political blogs. Oh and a link as to how quickly make whipping cream; a photo of my new 'phone case; a 'cheeky' [in more ways than one] photo and quip; and - guess what - photos of one of my grandsons.

So in breaking news, if you don't like it, don't read it. I love a good discussion and have enjoyed the crack with a lot of social media contacts during the election and will keep it up. 

I don't put pictures up of my latest craft production because usually when I have worked on one for so long I am unsure as to how interesting it will be. But you will find a photo on here just in case.

Monday 11 May 2015

History Lessons. Why really all should have voted for the Labour Party on May 7th.

This blog is a joint production of the terrible twins Elizannie and Clarice and appears on both their blog sites. If that seems a little odd, well so do the events of May 7th to the writers.

As Elizannie has have been having a bit of a blog overload in the aftermath of May 7th, she has decided to let Clarice help out for this one. After all she should know more about History and English Lit having lectured for the WEA on both subjects [plus Popular Culture] for many years.

In a discussion with their cousin about what may come next after the May 7th result, it was decided that now history is not a compulsory subject on the school curriculum, perhaps not enough voters on Thursday realised what it was like to live in the patriarchal, capitalist society of the 19thC where money said everything about an individual down to the fact that the poor were showing God's disapproval by being poor and the rich his approval by their riches. This was further extended by having the 'deserving poor' - allowed to receive the charity of the rich [quite often the leavings from their table] and the undeserving poor. The rich were morally bound to reinvest their business profits/wages and by becoming even richer  showed even more God's approval of their life style - which included of course their treatment of the poor and this would extend to the minimum wages paid to employees [dare I add zero contracts?] If an employee became ill/unable work, well basically hard luck. Obviously some sort of sinning somewhere along the line as God once again is showing his disapproval. [An awful lot of sibulance in that sentence. A bit more effort could do something with that]

To reinforce this 'God Given Right', think of the words of the third verse of 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' by Mrs Alexander. Now no longer sung in our churches, it was sung by rich and poor alike in churches up until the 1970s/80s:
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.

This blog is also a homage to the wonderful singer and socialist, our mate Roy Bailey and his 'gigging mate' the equally wonderful but sadly late Tony Benn . They used to perform a wonderful 'gig' which we saw on many occasions, singing along in our cracked voices, which was basically the history of dissent with songs provided by Roy and narration by Tony. Luckily everyone can still enjoy and learn from their inspiration by following this link .

So it was decided that perhaps a reading list should be provided of 19thC and early 20thC novels which would provide a fictional but accurate overview of the differences between rich and poor in this country, which was becoming more affluent in the light of the industrial revolution. But that affluence was not shared by all who produced it. To make a profit three parts are needed: production; investment; labour. The suppliers of the first two were enriched exponentially, the suppliers of the third actually became worse off it their living conditions and welfare is taken into account. And because there was an ever increasing pool of labour [sound familiar] due to the agricultural revolution with workers flooding into the newly growing industrial towns from the countryside, any industrial revolt would be pretty pointless.

Clarice has been awful lazy of late. So she promises that she will go through the list and 'review' each novel in turn in a socio historical way. And so she should. You will notice no Marx is included. Although he may be referred to in the footnotes... but only as are other 19th/20thC commentators and politicians.

So this is the list, no particular order, no particular preference:

19th Century
Mary Barton                         Elizabeth Gaskell
Shirley                                 Charlotte Bronte

A Christmas Carol                  Charles Dickens
Felix Holt                              George Eiliot
Sybil or Two Nations              Benjamin Disraeli
Hard Times                           Charles Dickens
The Nether World                  George Gissing
A Child of the Jago                 Arthur Morrison
Dombey and Son                   Charles Dickens

20th Century
The Ragged Trousered             
Philanthropists                        Robert Tressell
Love on the Dole                     Walter Greenwood
Tono-Bungay                          H.G.Wells
People of the Abyss                 Jack London 

Some, more modern, but giving a good historical overview:
Rape of the Fair Country           Raymond Cordell
How Green was my Valley         Richard Llewellyn
Animal Farm                            George Orwell
Fame is the Spur                      Howard Spring


Blog dedicated to all those Labour Activists who worked so hard in the weeks leading up to 7th May 2015 including Roy Bailey and Elizabeth Ann Mills. It was not in vain.

That's called Democracy! But it doesn't always supply a government fit for the vulnerable......

The picture above just appeared on my timeline on facebook, posted by the facebook group 30th anniversary of the miners strike . I shared it onto my own 
timeline for others to see with this comment:

I just know I am going to get loads of opprobrium for sharing this! I loved this guy although I didn't agree with everything he said. He probably wouldn't have agreed with everything I said. That's called democracy. What he says about becoming a trade unionist I endorse as my reasons for becoming both a trade unionist and a political activist for the Labour Party nearly 50 years ago. And I ain't giving up now just because we failed to win the election last week. That is also called democracy. But living in this democracy means I can start campaigning again tonight for the 2020 election! But only if we can all make sure that there will still be a democracy worth fighting for then. And by 'fighting' please remember I mean this in the pacifist sense!

And to all the media who are writing off the Labour Party, often 'interviewing' party heirarchy by not letting the individual finish a sentence please remember that we have been here before and come back to sort out the country. Just hope that too many people from the 'have nots' won't die when their welfare benefits are cut, they cannot afford to heat their homes or buy medicines they need. Or the bright but poor youngsters who won't get the education they deserve fail to get the 'good' jobs in the future and won't therefore get the wages to pay the taxes to support the welfare system that their parents and grandparents need. Because sure as hell the 'haves' won't be doing it.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Answering the comments that the 'Defeated' in the General Election are not taking it well! And the Vilification of Ed Miliband

I have been mulling this over since I have heard it said/read it in the media. That people like me, the so called 'defeated' in the electorate stakes are bad losers and 'won't let it lie'. After any election there will always be 'post mortems' whatever the results. And people like me who are very involved in politics will also make comments in the media, on meeting friends in the street, on their status pages in social media groups just as we have been making comments and canvassing our views during the election campaign expressing our discontent at the result. 

The Opinion Polls got it wrong, surprising/shocking so many. Although I did hear a representative of pollsters explaining that  [1] They got it right at the exit polls [2] They hadn't really got the pre-poll figures wrong, they just hadn't allocated the votes around the constituencies correctly. So that all good then.

There is no excuse for anyone, either in a private or public capacity, to make scurrilous personal comments about how people voted or the personalities of voters or the politicians. Personally I feel that a lot of people have been mistaken in their reasons for voting how they did - but then I would say that wouldn't I and I am sure no-one is surprised at my feelings!

I don't actually give much credence to most of the media's outpourings except to note its bias - this from the daughter of a political journalist who worked in the press gallery of the House of Commons in the days when there was a lot more honour in journalism. I am also very upset about the loss to the country of many very good politicians across all parties. There have been some ridiculous conspiracy theories floated but then that has happened at many times, including large sporting events and moon landings so we needn't even discuss those.

The vilification of Ed Miliband by the media is disgusting, I did not vote for him as party leader, but my union backed him and when he was elected as party leader I supported him and honestly don't feel he made a bad job of it. No need for anyone to take me up on this - I am not going to change my mind so don't waste your typing fingers energy! We are very lucky in the Labour Party that we have so many excellent politicians in the party very well qualified to take on the leadership of our fantastic party. We are bloodied but not bowed to quote the poet.

As for the worries many of us have about the NHS and for which we are being rather mocked at the moment: Yes many of us feel that it is under threat for its existence under a Conservative government. The reasons for this we have laid out during the campaign. Although I know the NHS has problems they can be fixed. I have lived in a country where if one did not have enough money for life saving drugs you wouldn't survive. My ex-husband is proof of this, not improving from a life threatening illness until money was thrown at the drugs issue. I really, really hope I am wrong and the NHS in five years time is even better than it is now. 

If I say that I honestly feel that this is not the government for the old, the poor, the sick or the vulnerable please accept that is how I feel. Like the delivery man who knocked at my door with a parcel on Friday morning, and seeing my Labour placard in my front garden told me that he had been crying all night as the results rolled in. I know others may disagree with the hundreds of thousands like us but we all have the right to our own opinions as long as we express them honestly and decently. Just as those who are happy with the result and say so! But for now I am making my activism plans for the election in 2020 and all the elections inbetween!

Saturday 9 May 2015

A letter to my Godson on his joy at the Conservative election win in May 2015

My Godson sent me a message to say how glad he is that the Conservatives have won the General Election and maybe Labour would have done better with a more liked front man. Godson knows me so well that he surely would not have been surprised when he received my answer as shown below.

"Firstly I hope you and your lovely family keep well and that none of you need to use the health and welfare services which will surely now slowly disappear. Secondly, I hate the fact that the 'cult of celebrity' may be deemed responsible for Labour losing the election. As a Labour Party member, I didn't vote for Ed in the leadership election, but when he became our leader I naturally supported him. I actually think that there was huge media slur campaign against him, but that is btw. We vote for the principles of a party not whether someone can eat a bacon sandwich neatly. [Ask Youngest Daughter about Ed because she worked with him in Westminster when she was there] A party is a conglomerate [ especially the Labour Party] where even the very 'ordinary' member votes on policy through their local meetings.

You and I will never agree about politics and that is not a problem. But it is the Socialist ideals that I have always believed in that have - strangely enough! - never let me down throughout my life. The 'free' National Health Service that saved my life on a couple of occasions and that of more than one of my children. [Remember we lived abroad for a time where it was only by throwing more and more money at the problem that Other Half's life was saved when he nearly died' If the money had not been there, neither would the life saving meds]; 'Free' universal education gave my children university degrees and got them good jobs - they have 'paid back' the money the State spent on their education through the tax system ever since then, of course. Having never claimed on the Benefits system for unemployment benefit as luckily there have never been employment problems in our family [a lot of the reason for that of course was the help given by the Trade Union movement over the years.More on that later], I must admit I have been a bit profligate on having children so have been a bit of a drain on the Family Allowance system. After all in 1971 when I had Eldest Daughter I was 'rewarded' by the promise of 7/6d [371/2p] Family Allowance that I would get for the Eldest Son when he eventually arrived in 1975. And the suceeding children. And all that bounty was more than repaid in the tax system. Now I receive my State Pension [I know. I just don't look old enough!] and that and some of the other benefits I get [bus pass, free prescriptions, winter fuel allowance] are often begrudged by the younger generations. Conveniently ignoring the fact that I have been 'paying in' and promised these all my working life.

Back to the wonderful Trade Union movement, who just over 100 years ago were amongst the founding fathers of the Labour movement. When I had a severe problem with the failure of my work pension, their financial backing of a very long campaign ensured our success and thousands of us would have lost up to 50% of our pensions - paid for over a 50 year working life - without them.

So we will agree to differ but you know how stubborn I am and I will never turn my back on those who have helped me and so many others. And although Hugh Gaitskell said it in a completely different context about the Labour Party in 1960, I will 'fight, fight and fight again to save the party that [I] love' - but as you also know, this will only in a pacifist way.

I honestly believe that the election results were a disaster for the old, sick, poor and vulnerable. The rich will be OK. I care about the first group. The second will look after themselves as usual. I am typing this sitting on the settee, wrapped up in a blanket with a viral infection. It has done me a favour to get this enthused to write as it is helping me 'sweat it out'! Writing is also my therapy. I have a feeling a lot of this will appear as a blog later on today. Don't take it personally! Or rather do and don't vote Conservative next time!"

Friday 8 May 2015

Six days in life and politics

Throughout May 1831 the coal miners and others who worked for William Crawshay took to the streets of Merthyr Tydfil, calling for reform, protesting against the lowering of their  wages  and general unemployment. Gradually the protest spread to nearby industrial towns and villages and by the end of May the whole area was in rebellion, and for the first time in the world the red flag of revolution was flown. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merthyr_Rising

On a personal note, I had ancestors living in Merthyr at this time and probably working for Crawshay or one of the iron masters. My g.g.g.grandfather John Abrahams died there in 1849 of cholera, a typical illness of the poor working people.

Sunday: Other Half and I take the 200 mile trip to our other home on the other side of the country, having posted by postal vote over a week before in the consituency of our main home.

Monday: Fifty year relationship disappears in less than fifty minutes. Ah well.

Tuesday: Start to empty out the second home of 23 years. Not discussing yet how I feel. Massive support from family and friends.

Wednesday:  Afterwork, Eldest Son arrives, loads car up and brings me home.  Four and a half hours drive each way. Arrive home to get to bed about 3am and he is off to work again about 7.30am.  BTW I have bronchitis. My bed has never felt so welcoming.

Thursday:  Youngest daughter texts to say once more her new house purchase has been delayed and the mortgage offer may not be renewed. Trying to sort this out, whilst feeling like crap from bronchial problems and drop mobile 'phone down loo. Watch it disappear around ubend with all contacts and photos on it. [Eventually buy another on ebay, heart in mouth, but cannot keep in touch with my kids who do not have landlines, without a mobile] 

One of my author friends describes my writings as:  '[Her] humour and spirit are indomitable'. Well that will do for me..

Have been looking forward to watching the election results although I had thought I would do it whilst over looking the South Wales coast, as in previous elections. Never the less set to to make my vegan fruit case which will be nourishing through the night as well as healthy and delicious. Halfway through cooking find all my vegan margarine is in the refrigerator over 220 miles away and have to settle for a vegetarian cake instead. Not - by any means - the end of the world.

As the election results begin to roll in realise this is not going to be a country where it is wise to be old, ill, poor or vulnerable. Dose in front of the TV, eventually fall asleep when reassured that at least the constituency in which I have voted is not going to fall to UKIP as predicted and the returning Tory MP is one of the better ones although of course I voted for my old mate of 40+ years who was standing for Labour.

Friday: Wake up to even worse results than I had feared but at least FARAGE WAS NOT ELECTED.
Bronchitis even worse and decide to take it to the doctor's whilst we still have an NHS.

Three party leaders resigning. A historic time. Nigel Farage blusters, Nick Clegg made probably the best speech I have ever heard him make, Ed Miliband made a  grand speech, very dignified. Some lovely people who have been good comrades in the Labour Party over the years are now wondering how soon they can start campaigning for their re-entry into the House of Commons in 2020. We activists are ready to go, although I think I will need antibiotics first!

Well, I am not going to give in on any front.  Watch this space!