Monthly Archives: July 2016

Girl Power

main-leadsom

I don’t usually like attacking those who are into ‘intersectional’ or ‘identity’ politics.

In much the same way that new atheists are often simply providing a cover for Islamophobia and Western intervention, anti-intersectionalists are frequently looking for a left cover to justify their sexism and reaction.

Thus, the question of women in politics continues to generate some appalling nonsense. Exhibit A: last year’s Labour leadership contest.

The issue of working class women being excluded from politics isn’t what concerns Suzanne Moore here. It’s the exclusion of women. Period. Irrespective of how fundamentally anti-women their politics actually are.

This sort of thinking reaches its nadir with truly reality-shunning rubbish of the type spouted by Daisy Benson here. Where she actually writes “the only truly progressive thing for Labour to do would be to elect a female leader this time around – no matter what her policies are.”

That isn’t feminism. That’s insanity. It means we should’ve voted for Thatcher. Because she had a vagina.

It’s whining, middle-class entitlement which will do nothing for working class women. Except to ensure their continued exclusion because they aren’t the right type of women. Single mums from council estates, women working three minimum-wage jobs, unemployed women; these are not the women with which the Moores and Bensons of this world are concerned.

Labour had two men and two women contesting the leadership. Kendal and Cooper’s politics were  dreadful; austerity-lite policies which would have done zero for emancipating working-class women. It’s a shuddering irony that the candidate best representing women – Jeremy Corbyn – was a white, middle-class man but hey; them’s the breaks.

The answer wasn’t and isn’t to ditch Corbyn and choose Kendal or Cooper; the onus is on Cooper and Kendal to dump their reactionary politics and start really representing women; not just privileged, middle-class, white ones.

Exhibit B, in terms of spectacle, surpasses even the aforementioned. The Tory Party leadership election also features two women. Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom. The nasty party is, obviously, the most fundamentally patriarchal formation in mainstream British politics. ‘Family values’ and ‘traditional’ mores are the Tories’ home turf. Disgusting, however, doesn’t even come close to accurately describing one woman trash-talking her ‘sister’ because one womb is less functional than another.

Austerity impacts harder on women than almost any other group in modern Britain. ‘Feminism’ of the type supported by either May or Leadsom – and even Angela Eagle, too, for that matter – is the feminism that enslaves. It is feminism concerned only with allowing women access to the machinery of exploitation, alongside men. More women CEOs, greater numbers of female directors and women party leaders will benefit working-class women in no way at all.

As always, the choice is about one type of politics or another; theirs or ours. Their feminism – the opportunity to exploit, disadvantage and disenfranchise – or ours; feminism that enables, liberates and emancipates.

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Chilcot etc

blair-evilBefore proffering any comment on Chilcott, I’m mindful of David Osler’s typically dry observation of earlier today: “Prepare for a deluge of a 140-character opinions about a two million-word document nobody has read.” Well, quite.

That said I did have the pleasure of driving across England at 11.00am this morning, which afforded me the opportunity of hearing Sir John’s précis. The facts, as he saw them, which require no recounting here, were as expected.

For me, however, Chilcott’s seven-year 2.6 million-word magnum opus served merely as the hors d’oeuvre. It was Tony Blair’s response to the report that gripped me. That unnerving, not-quite-entirely fake, humility married to a truly chilling Messianic hubris, has made for compelling political theatre, over the years. Today’s events were his equal, though. As history met the man who will not yield to its cold reality, the result was grotesquely mesmerising.

With voice audibly breaking, the former Prime Minister simultaneously accepted all responsibility for “mistakes” while giving not an inch on the substantive matter; the morality, the legitimacy, the legality of going to war in Iraq.

Nor did he accept that those events have led to today’s. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, so what of the destabilising of a sovereign state? What said Blair about the bloodied recasting of Iraq as a 3D representation of Bruegel’s Massacre of the Innocents?

Unless we could say with certainty that things would not have been any better had the war not occurred, then “…you are a commentator; not a decision-maker” was his belief-defying defence.

Listening to him in his trademark unleaded and fully unleashed Man of Destiny mode, on today of all days, was sickening, yes, but…

… he’s both merely a symptom and only a product of the forces that drive us, isn’t he? Humanity is, undoubtedly, seated firmly in the antechamber of annihilation and it’s taken many Tony Blairs to get us here. So what about the next one? And the one after? And, if we’re still here, the one after that?

But such a question is facile. It’s the Great Man of History theory; reducing the seismic events that shape the future and rewrite the past to the whims of the Great Ones; with humanity cast in the role of hapless observers. Only history doesn’t work that way.

Other questions occurred as I drove along quiet English lanes. The media’s framing of deceased Brit soldiers, for example. The curious Hillsborough-isation of their deaths; the references to ‘The Families.’ As though there is a comparison to be made between ninety-six working-class football fans who might reasonably have  expected – no, demanded – that they live and professional soldiers for whom death is, quite literally, an occupational hazard. Would that a million dead civilians, even brown ones, command such rage.

I’m given to understand that the lack of adequate equipment for military personnel is a source of anger for ‘The Families.’ Also, the possible illegality of the conflict itself (a bizarre thought with which to grapple. Had the war been legal, then, the resulting massacre of innocent civilians would, presumably, have been acceptable). Perhaps, then, we may see a grassroots movement spring up, dedicated to creating a system of checks and balances? Surely only a matter of time before The S*N launches its JFT179 campaign? Some mechanism designed to prevent soldiers dying in such circumstances again? I don’t know, maybe a trade union for the armed forces, say…

Something which, I’d humbly suggest, is far less outrageous than a nation that actually has the possible deportation of immigrants occupying mainstream discourse.

I’ve never felt less equipped than I do now – battered and assailed by history, on an almost daily basis, as we are – to address such questions. And what monumental arrogance consumes me that I should even consider such things to be my concern anyway?

Only that they are the concern of us all.

With Friends Like These…

corbynThere’s plenty of justifiable criticism to be made of Corbyn, from those of us to his left, and most of it in terms of his actual politics, rather than the manufactured trash regarding his appearance, style and lack of ‘leadership qualities.’

Almost every back-stabber and turncoat (waves at Owen Jones) – as well as his outright enemies – has praised Corbyn as a man of principle and integrity; while bemoaning his lack of leadership abilities. What exactly, one can only wonder, do you consider leadership qualities to be, if not principle and integrity?

Again, I could spend a week criticising Jezza’s politics and not run out of things to say but when I hear “ah but he just couldn’t win a general election; he just isn’t a leader” well, that tells me absolutely nothing about him and everything about you.

It tells me that you’re an unthinking swallower of the media consensus; that a slick suit and superficial charm are what you think makes a leader; that you are happy to let your political enemies tell you what and how your leader should be.

You whine and you moan about spivs, con-men and liars; remote, privileged toffs who know nothing of us; who care nothing about how we live and how we die. You turn from your TV in disgust at the fiddling, the corruption and the sheer unmitigated self-interest and greed. You yearn for an honest man. You pray for a champion who will restore your party to its former proletarian glory. You want socialism! Or say you do. And then comes Corbyn…

A man whose cumulative parliamentary expenses for the last hundred years amount to fifty pence, a Refresher and a packet of fucking crisps. A man who lives in a normal house, on a normal street, and whose front garden gives an alibi to working class men all over the country: “It’ll be all right for another week, love. I mean, you seen Jezza’s?”

You’ve finally got your champion; you’ve got a leader who understands your life, lives your life and even looks like the kindly teacher we all had. And yet you moan because he dresses like a normal geezer. You bitch because he doesn’t wear a tie. You take the piss out of his allotment and you sneer at his bike.

Because the media do.
Because the established political class do.
And you swallow it.

You’re too stupid, you’re too blinded by establishment propaganda to recognise normal when it passes you on the street! This is your ordinary bloke – not in it for himself – that you always claimed you wanted. But you complain because he doesn’t dress, speak and act like those you claimed to despise. You fool.

And now they’re doing him in. They’re queuing up like a bunch of prison rapists in the showers – but with less integrity – to stick in the blade. When the posh boys, along with their establishment and traitors in the Parliamentary Labour Party, line up to shank the guy in the exercise yard, while the guards are locking the gates and the governor is urging them on, isn’t it just a basic expression of class solidarity, of decency, to join the prison riot?

His own MPs – the careerist chancers you were bitching about just last week – are now, suddenly, an infallible barometer of the electoral mood? Fuck you. You’ve bottled it. A shiver scuttled around Corbyn’s ‘friends’ looking for a spine to run down, eh?

And what did you expect anyway? A socialist of some sort finally leads the Labour Party and you thought, what? That The S*n would scatter rose petals down his garden path? That he and Dave would chuckle amiably together as they exchanged matey bantz across the dispatch box? That it’d be easy?

Let me tell you, in all seriousness, as someone who knows more than a little about conflict – when they come for you like this, when they hate you like this, you’re doing something right.

It isn’t people like Corbyn who lose Labour elections; it’s people like you.

Now, grow a pair and fight for Corbyn; because he’s spent his entire career fighting for you.

 

Eddie Truman: 1963 – 2016

hibsphotoSo the Calvinist Atheist has passed.

A rare case of a man deceased who needs no whitewashing. Whenever his “lover, comrade and friend”, his beloved “Feminist Avenger”, has to sit down and talk to someone about the ‘arrangements’ there will be no awkwardness, no embarrassment as imaginations are deployed; desperately searching for something nice, something worthwhile, to say. We need only tell the truth. A blunt – like him – plain recounting of the facts will be all the tribute required.

The integrity in the face of adversity; the wisdom to watch this Island’s most successful left project rise and then burn at the hands of… well… someone unfit to share his oxygen and yet not succumb to despair and an abandonment of the class he loved and for which he tirelessly fought.

The crabbit irascibility; the rapier-like humour that would often leave you gasping; the sheer force of character that saw him navigate foul, dangerous and treacherous waters with dignity and resolve.

And, for me, the enduring memory of that lanky frame, which dwarfed my own considerably smaller form and yes; considerably smaller character. Memories of texts swapped after a Hibs win or a H*ns defeat; of arranging hurried catch-ups in coffee shops and retail parks on the outskirts of Auld Reekie; all cobbled around which granddaughter was being picked up, dropped off or otherwise placed right at the centre of his universe.

Christ, he schooled me on the national question, Islamophobia waaaay before it was a thing and how to accurately assess the balance of class forces. But he saved his greatest gift till near the end. After near twenty-five years as friends and comrades, he welcomed me as a fellow grandfather. And that was undoubtedly an area where his expertise was unsurpassed. A flash of humour here, a seemingly off-hand remark there, all that wisdom, humanity and love distilled. I only had to reach out and take it. And I did.

As is always the case, he was different things to all of us. But this was the Eddie Truman I knew. And loved.

See you on the barricades, pal. I miss you.

Slàinte mhath.

Well Done Us

eyuopAs a potential Prime Minister, BoJo was a truly frightening prospect. A mendacious, unscrupulous and venal chancer, even by the current low standards we seem to accept from our politicians.

A privileged posh boy smirking his way up to the potential break-up of the United Kingdom, the shared destiny of some 63,000,000 human beings reduced to the geo-political equivalent of the Eton Wall Game; larks, a jolly jape in the common room.

Privilege is protection and now he’s finished smashing up the tuck shop, all to steal his mate’s job, the chubby clown can decamp to anywhere else he feels like. We, on the other hand…

Meanwhile, knives have sharpened for Corbyn. A bumbling, unpolished man with a modicum of some integrity. Whose biggest failing in the eyes of the V.E. Day tribute act now comprising half our electorate, is not his weak politics growing ever weaker, but that he actually cares about people. What an out-of-touch, metropolitan, lefty wanker, eh? Burn him. Burn him now.

Those of us (by which I mean me) who actually thought that this mood might now be channelled into addressing the ‘unaccountable and unelected bureaucrats’ here at home; the patronage, the privilege, the sneering contempt with which the political class view us, are terminally damaged by our own unreality. There is no revolt. It’s over. The war is won. As long as patrician public school-boys and faceless English mandarins rule over us in perpetuity, that’s fine. Just as long as they aren’t Frogs, Krauts, Spics or Wops. Half the country can’t see the fucking wood for the bulldogs and spitfires. And they don’t want to. They’ve got their country back.

Instead, the only thing passing for revolution are tens of thousands of indignant Remainers marching in the Imperial Capital. Demanding that their country is taken back from the Brexiteers. For those of us crippled by ambivalence, there is little chance of recovery. Sympathy for people trying to overturn a democratically-decided referendum is hard to muster. For all the decent folks involved, many of whom are good friends, it’s difficult not to smell a passing whiff of middle-class entitlement; fury that, for once, things didn’t go their way. Instead, those uppity proles smashed the pub up. “But they lied!” wail the Remainers. Christ, where to even start with that? Perhaps best not to bother. Perhaps a curt “no shit?” with all the scorn one could possibly amass is all the response required.

We chose between European bankers and racists and British bankers and racists. Fortress Europe or Little Britain. Put like that, if I’m surprised at all it’s only that the space between the numbers wasn’t the width of the Atlantic. While it certainly was a working class rebellion, it sure as shit aint no working class victory.

My mate Mick Connole, former striking miner and thoughtful observer of current events, was saying for weeks before the vote that there is no way we’d leave the EU. Even if Brexit won. He was joined in that prediction by Comrade Wife. As we watch the Eton Rifles back-peddling furiously, talking about there being ‘no rush’ and urging themselves to ‘take our time’ and to make sure ‘the best possible deal for Britain’ is secured before pulling the Article 50 trigger, you can only gape in amazement. They’re actually going for it. They’re actually going to try robbing 17,000,000 Brexiteers of their win. Mick now looks far less like a tinfoil-hatted conspiracy enthusiast and considerably more like a modern sage of no mean perspicacity. Comrade Wife, too, is on course to shatter her personal best of fifty I Told You Sos in a single day.

So, to summarise… a sitting Tory PM campaigns openly on a policy of brutal austerity. In an unprecedented display of political honesty he actually tells you, up front, that cuts, shortages and pain are on the way.

You either sit on your arse and vote for no one or you vote for him. He wins the election and, again in a hitherto unmatched display of consistency, implements his election pledges.

You then vote to leave the EU which you blame for austerity while pretending you’re also voting against the PM who actually did give you austerity and who you really hate now but not enough then, evidently, to ensure he didn’t get elected in the first place.

Meanwhile, every opinion poll bar none tells you the number 1 concern around the EU is immigration, you tell me that it’s your number 1 concern but if I raise this then you get offended because you’re not racist but and I’m told I’m a sneering member of some metropolitan elite that hates the working class and you just care about ‘democracy’ and ‘austerity.’

At the same time half the left is celebrating because this is a progressive workers’ revolt; they just forgot to send that memo to Marine Le Pen, Britain First, UKIP and National Action. Now, after throwing immigrants under the bus, that same half of the left is busily and sanctimoniously, patronisingly, organising ‘solidarity’ activities for immigrants.

Those of us actually living in working class communities where all twenty-seven of our pits disappeared because of non-immigrant white-British scabs working hand-in-glove with a Tory government, and have had zero-hrs contracts for our kids as the replacement, can no longer look forward to an influx of funds destined for our public services. Because they lied. And you believed them. And we’re now going to end up with Theresa May as Prime Minister.

Well done, us.