Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Tears and Joy : Dedicated to David Milligan (Spike) R.I.P

You veered through life's arduous journey
Sometimes falling prey on the prickly path
When demon thorns pierced your soul
Music and art offered moments of sanctuary.

Through shimmering encounters of darkness and light
Gaping lesions and cemented scars
Uphill struggles and crushing misfortunes
You defiantly battled your beasts of torment.

Your Spanish pilgrimage, a mission fulfilled
With steadfast commitment and tenacious endurance
You consummated your dream
With heroic transcendence.

Sail away my friend to destiny's harbour
Where time is tickless and peace prevails
Dock safely comrade. Flourish anew
Spread your wings. Forever be free.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

George Orwell ( 25/6/03 - 21`/1/50 ) - Prophet of our times

On the 70th anniversary of his death, I explore the life and work of the British author George Orwell, pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, who  achieved prominence in the late 1940s as the author of two brilliant satires attacking totalitarianism-Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. His  novels, documentaries, essays, and criticism he wrote during the 1930s and later have since established him as one of the most important and influential voices of the century and is considered by some to be an uncanny prophet of our times.Orwell’s parents were members of the Indian Civil Service, and, after an education at Eton College in England, Orwell joined (1922) the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that later found expression in the novel Burmese Days (1934). His first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), was a  moving non-fictional account  of self-imposed poverty he had experienced after leaving Burma. He published three other novels in the 1930s: A Clergyman’s Daughter (1935), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), and Coming Up for Air (1939). His major works of the period were two documentaries: The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), a detailed, sympathetic, and yet objective study of the lives of nearly impoverished miners in the Lancashire town of Wigan; and Homage to Catalonia (1938), which recounts his experiences fighting for the Republicans against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War between 1935 and 1937.Orwell’s two best-known books reflect his lifelong distrust of autocratic government, whether of the left or right: Animal Farm (1945), a modern beast-fable attacking Stalinism, and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), a dystopian novel setting forth his fears of an intrusively bureaucratized state of the future. the pair of novels brought him his first fame and almost his only remuneration as a writer. His wartime work for the BBC (published in the collections George Orwell: the Lost Writings, and The War Commentaries) gave him a solid taste of bureaucratic hypocrisy.Throughout his novels, documentaries, essays and journalism Orwell relentlessly and uncompromisingly criticised imperialism, nationalism, capitalism, political dishonesty, power, totalitarianism, privilege and private education.The importance of George Orwell as a writer lies in his questioning of institutions, power structures and political statements. The state, law, religion, charity, public schools, political parties and the media all came under his scrutiny He claimed to be a democratic socialist, joining the Independent Labour Party in June 1938 until after the outbreak of the Second World War.Many of the themes in  Nineteen Eighty-Four are compelling and contemporary, foreshadowing the state of our world today and contain remarkable foresight  given that it was first published in 1949. The novel is set in 1984 in Great Britain, known as Airstrip One.The world has suffered through a global atomic war, and there are 3 superpowers called Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. The standard of living is relatively low.The media is run by the government, which is known as Big Brother and the written word is perpetually changed to suit what the government requires. People  are controlled into what to think, how to act and how to live .It uses telescreens, fearmongering, media control and corruption to control the masses.One of the Party pillars in 1984 is endless war on a global scale. The war, however, is a fabrication accepted and treated as fact. For, unreal as it is, it is not meaningless. World powers become enemies and allies interchangeably simply to keep the masses in perpetual fear, perpetual industry, and perpetual order. War provides outlet for unwanted emotions such as hate, patriotism, and discontent, keeping the structure of society intact and productive without raising the standard of living. The state of perpetual war described by Orwell is also reflected in the wars  that have raged since 1945, across the globe from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen etc etc.  
Winston Smith the main protagonist is  an editor employed by the government and is one of many citizens responsible for rewriting history..In Nineteen Eighty-Four, government surveillance is constant and at the forefront. The state knows every move its citizens make, including their habits, whom they talk to, and what they are doing at any given time. Big Brother is watching and running the show. The people are sheep who are herded and controlled. Winston Smith embarks on a clandestine love affair with Julia, a party member, and joins The Brotherhood, an illegal organisation dedicated to the overthrow of Big Brother. He is caught,and taken to Room 101, alongside everyone else who offended had been taken and subjected to torture and brainwashed . He along with everyone ends up loving Big Brother.
Today across the world there are a lock-up concentration camp style jails where unconvicted, ostensibly innocent individuals are held and openly abused. Electronic surveillance in 2020 is still a common and accepted government practice: cell phone listening, cameras on corners and traffic lights, and electronic toll payment system tracking are all everyday occurrences. By using our credit cards, shopping rewards cards, and even our driver's licenses, data are collected on all of us and sold and used daily, each of us daily profiled. Orwell’s book  was supposed to be a warning, not a guidebook on how to create a surveillance state. It really is remarkable how the many tools that were used to suppress in Nineteen Eighty–Four  are now part of our  everyday lives in 2020.
Newspeak is the fictional language spoken in Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is a controlled and abbreviated version of English.  Also  known as “doublespeak!”. As George himself said " Political language... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.. "  Politicians continue to  use language to deceive and manipulate, through concealment or misrepresentation of the truth, desperately and deliberately using euphemistic or ambiguous language as they have been doing ad infinitum. One of the objectives of Newspeak is also to decrease self-expression. With the  popularity of texting, it would be fair to say that there are similarities. And today we are so busy Facebooking, tweeting, etc,  the following line  from one of the characters that works for  Big Brother.  “The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.” is  still amazingly uncanny.Orwell may not have had a crystal ball, but  he did have was an understanding of the human condition and its weakness.
Orwell began writing the novel in 1944, and wrote the bulk of it while residing on the Scottish island Jura while battling tuberculosis during 1947-1948. Orwell  was recently widowed, his wife having died during a surgical procedure. He was left with his young son, and he was seriously ill with tuberculosis. There was not a known cure for TB in 1947, and physicians typically prescribed fresh air and rest. Orwell was given streptomycin, which was an experimental drug in the US, and after treatment, his TB symptoms disappeared. He raced to finish his novel, and upon publication it became an instant success. Orwell died shortly after of a brain haemorrhage on this day in 1950 at the age of 46.
Nineteen Eighty-Four has been in publication ever since, has been translated into multiple languages, and is often heralded as one of the best novels of the 20th century. Still resonating in the times we live today., still worryingly reliable. Commenting on 1984, Orwell wrote, “I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe that something resembling it could arrive.”
In some cases, what is happening in the world today is more draconian and invasive than anything Orwell conceived. Despite Orwell's influence political journalism is as corrupt as ever. The corruption of language described in 1984 is widespread in the media today, with "Newspeak" terms such as democratic, socialist, fascist, war criminal, freedom fighter, racist and many other expressions being used in a deliberately deceptive, propagandistic way to whip up mass hysteria or simply to ensure that people can never achieve even an approximation of the truth.
We are today all living in a massive prison and George Orwell predicted it. The ability of Big Brother government to observe our every activity is increasing week by week and soon each and every car journey we make, every financial transaction we undertake, everywhere we go will be fed into a computer and if there is a slight variance from what they decide is the norm then we will be taken in and questioned. Give the wrong answers and you could well end up in room like 101, or Belmarsh Jail, Guantanamo Bay etc. We should continue to be on guard, raise alarms, be objective, keep questioning and hold our individual Governments to account.
In 2003 a docudrama was released by the BBC, detailing the life and works of George Orwell. The documentary contains footage from his deathbed, and his final words are certainly chilling. You can here them in the following video. We can't say that we were never warned.

Citizens  today should support bona fide civil liberties groups and actively oppose government measures restricting basic freedoms. Freedom of speech is a basic civil liberty and people should fight to retain it. They should defy group pressure, think for themselves and speak out. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.We should continue to be on guard, raise alarms, be objective, keep questioning and hold our individual Governments to account.

We  are the dead. Our only true life is in the future. We shall take part in it as handfuls of dust and splinters of bone. But how far away that future may be, there is no knowing. It might be a thousand years. At present nothing is possible except to extend the area of sanity little by little. We cannot act collectively.
We can only spread our knowledge outwards from individual to individual, generation after generation. In the face of the Thought Police there is no other way.

- George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty- Four

Though he remains best remembered for authoring the cult-classics Animal Farm  and Nineteen eighty four, he was a masterful essayist first and last. In the following  seminal essay “Why I Write” details his personal journey to becoming a writer. It was first published in the Summer 1946 edition of Gangrel. The editors of this magazine, J.B.Pick and Charles Neil, had asked a selection of writers to explain why they write. The essay is autobiographical. It can be divided into three parts.
 The author’s childhood is described in the first part of the essay. The author pays attention to his first experiences as a writer and notes that he always knew about his future as a writer. Orwell discusses his early writing experiences in detail and accentuates the progress which led him to the profession of writer.
Orwell states that there are four great motives for writing which are typical for any writer. Orwell discusses sheer egoism, the writer’s aesthetic enthusiasm, pays attention to the historical impulse, and focuses on the political purpose.
In spite of the fact these motives can be presented in different proportions, all of them can be used to characterize a writer. The third part of the essay reflects Orwell’s personal motives in writing and the development of his style which is rather public-spirited” because Orwell wanted to reflect the social issues in writing
Following Orwell’s motives, it is possible to state that all writing is political to some extent because the political purpose is always present in writing. According to Orwell,no book is genuinely free from political bias”  The essay gives a great insight to an awesome mind and intellect at work..

"From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.
I was the middle child of three, but there was a gap of five years on either side, and I barely saw my father before I was eight. For this and other reasons I was somewhat lonely, and I soon developed disagreeable mannerisms which made me unpopular throughout my schooldays. I had the lonely child's habit of making up stories and holding conversations with imaginary persons, and I think from the very start my literary ambitions were mixed up with the feeling of being isolated and undervalued. I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts, and I felt that this created a sort of private world in which I could get my own back for my failure in everyday life. Nevertheless the volume of serious — i.e. seriously intended — writing which I produced all through my childhood and boyhood would not amount to half a dozen pages. I wrote my first poem at the age of four or five, my mother taking it down to dictation. I cannot remember anything about it except that it was about a tiger and the tiger had ‘chair-like teeth’ — a good enough phrase, but I fancy the poem was a plagiarism of Blake's ‘Tiger, Tiger’. At eleven, when the war or 1914-18 broke out, I wrote a patriotic poem which was printed in the local newspaper, as was another, two years later, on the death of Kitchener. From time to time, when I was a bit older, I wrote bad and usually unfinished ‘nature poems’ in the Georgian style. I also attempted a short story which was a ghastly failure. That was the total of the would-be serious work that I actually set down on paper during all those years.
However, throughout this time I did in a sense engage in literary activities. To begin with there was the made-to-order stuff which I produced quickly, easily and without much pleasure to myself. Apart from school work, I wrote vers d'occasion, semi-comic poems which I could turn out at what now seems to me astonishing speed — at fourteen I wrote a whole rhyming play, in imitation of Aristophanes, in about a week — and helped to edit a school magazines, both printed and in manuscript. These magazines were the most pitiful burlesque stuff that you could imagine, and I took far less trouble with them than I now would with the cheapest journalism. But side by side with all this, for fifteen years or more, I was carrying out a literary exercise of a quite different kind: this was the making up of a continuous ‘story’ about myself, a sort of diary existing only in the mind. I believe this is a common habit of children and adolescents. As a very small child I used to imagine that I was, say, Robin Hood, and picture myself as the hero of thrilling adventures, but quite soon my ‘story’ ceased to be narcissistic in a crude way and became more and more a mere description of what I was doing and the things I saw. For minutes at a time this kind of thing would be running through my head: ‘He pushed the door open and entered the room. A yellow beam of sunlight, filtering through the muslin curtains, slanted on to the table, where a match-box, half-open, lay beside the inkpot. With his right hand in his pocket he moved across to the window. Down in the street a tortoiseshell cat was chasing a dead leaf’, etc. etc. This habit continued until I was about twenty-five, right through my non-literary years. Although I had to search, and did search, for the right words, I seemed to be making this descriptive effort almost against my will, under a kind of compulsion from outside. The ‘story’ must, I suppose, have reflected the styles of the various writers I admired at different ages, but so far as I remember it always had the same meticulous descriptive quality.
When I was about sixteen I suddenly discovered the joy of mere words, i.e. the sounds and associations of words. The lines from Paradise Lost
So hee with difficulty and labour hard
Moved on: with difficulty and labour hee.
which do not now seem to me so very wonderful, sent shivers down my backbone; and the spelling ‘hee’ for ‘he’ was an added pleasure. As for the need to describe things, I knew all about it already. So it is clear what kind of books I wanted to write, in so far as I could be said to want to write books at that time. I wanted to write enormous naturalistic novels with unhappy endings, full of detailed descriptions and arresting similes, and also full of purple passages in which words were used partly for the sake of their own sound. And in fact my first completed novel, Burmese Days, which I wrote when I was thirty but projected much earlier, is rather that kind of book.
I give all this background information because I do not think one can assess a writer's motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in — at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own — but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape. It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, in some perverse mood; but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write. Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:
(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

It can be seen how these various impulses must war against one another, and how they must fluctuate from person to person and from time to time. By nature — taking your ‘nature’ to be the state you have attained when you are first adult — I am a person in whom the first three motives would outweigh the fourth. In a peaceful age I might have written ornate or merely descriptive books, and might have remained almost unaware of my political loyalties. As it is I have been forced into becoming a sort of pamphleteer. First I spent five years in an unsuitable profession (the Indian Imperial Police, in Burma), and then I underwent poverty and the sense of failure. This increased my natural hatred of authority and made me for the first time fully aware of the existence of the working classes, and the job in Burma had given me some understanding of the nature of imperialism: but these experiences were not enough to give me an accurate political orientation. Then came Hitler, the Spanish Civil War, etc. By the end of 1935 I had still failed to reach a firm decision. I remember a little poem that I wrote at that date, expressing my dilemma:

A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

 And later still the times were good,
We were so easy to please,
We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
On the bosoms of the trees.

All ignorant we dared to own
The joys we now dissemble;
The greenfinch on the apple bough
Could make my enemies tremble.

But girl's bellies and apricots,
Roach in a shaded stream,
Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
All these are a dream.

It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them:
Horses are made of chromium steel
And little fat men shall ride them.
I am the worm who never turned,
The eunuch without a harem;
Between the priest and the commissar
I walk like Eugene Aram;

And the commissar is telling my fortune
While the radio plays,
But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
For Duggie always pays.

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And woke to find it true;
I wasn't born for an age like this;
Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?

The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity.
What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.
It is not easy. It raises problems of construction and of language, and it raises in a new way the problem of truthfulness. Let me give just one example of the cruder kind of difficulty that arises. My book about the Spanish civil war, Homage to Catalonia, is of course a frankly political book, but in the main it is written with a certain detachment and regard for form. I did try very hard in it to tell the whole truth without violating my literary instincts. But among other things it contains a long chapter, full of newspaper quotations and the like, defending the Trotskyists who were accused of plotting with Franco. Clearly such a chapter, which after a year or two would lose its interest for any ordinary reader, must ruin the book. A critic whom I respect read me a lecture about it. ‘Why did you put in all that stuff?’ he said. ‘You've turned what might have been a good book into journalism.’ What he said was true, but I could not have done otherwise. I happened to know, what very few people in England had been allowed to know, that innocent men were being falsely accused. If I had not been angry about that I should never have written the book.
In one form or another this problem comes up again. The problem of language is subtler and would take too long to discuss. I will only say that of late years I have tried to write less picturesquely and more exactly. In any case I find that by the time you have perfected any style of writing, you have always outgrown it. Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole. I have not written a novel for seven years, but I hope to write another fairly soon. It is bound to be a failure, every book is a failure, but I do know with some clarity what kind of book I want to write.
Looking back through the last page or two, I see that I have made it appear as though my motives in writing were wholly public-spirited. I don't want to leave that as the final impression. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's own personality. Good prose is like a windowpane. I cannot say with certainty which of my motives are the strongest, but I know which of them deserve to be followed. And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, decorative adjectives and humbug generally.

                                                                          THE END


Why I Write is part of Penguin's Great Ideas series,

Monday, 20 January 2020

Thoughts on Davos :2020

The world's richest and most powerful people and  a vehicle for unaccountable corporations to influence governments have gathered in Switzerland on the exclusive luxury resort of  Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting this  coming Tuesday with the supposed  aim of tackling global issues such as populism and increasing inequality, but many observers maintain the forum itself continues to be a symbol  of the ongoing problems worldwide.
 A gathering of - in their own words - "leaders of global society." Heads of government with "top executives of the 1,000 foremost global companies," plus "cultural, societal and thought leaders".But for others  an intolerant unrepresentative  composition of elitist rich individuals serving their own self interests arriving  hypocritically in  their fuel filled jets whilst having  the cheek  to  keep on  talking about climate change.
Currently we have  shifts in foreign policy and a climate emergency — just to name some of the main challenges facing global leadership. In the words of Davos attendee and the former Prime Minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, there’s a “new world disorder” that needs to be addressed.
We can be  certain that very little of value will come from Davos, as the  architects of global capitalism bask behind closed doors. it is guaranteed that they will  keep forgetting the  issues of justice and rights that the world is crying out for  and the urgent progress on inequality, poverty, climate change and war. The solutions will not be found in Davos, where sheer power and wealth is  one of the defining factors. that does  not represent those  with much less, the 99%.
Climate change and inequality increasingly impacts us,all, yet  the powers-that-be continue  to be inclined to construct a Fortress World to protect their privileges, borders, and market system,  while  at same time  propping up  global capitalism that is not only  not equipped to offer solutions , but  is leaving millions upon millions in misery  and destroying our planet.
Meanwhile  the  world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth between them than a combined 4.6 billion people, new research has claimed. In a study  international charity Oxfam called on governments to implement policies that may help to reduce wealth inequality.
“If everyone were to sit on their wealth piled up in $100 bills, most of humanity would be sitting on the floor,” its authors said.
“A middle-class person in a rich country would be sitting at the height of a chair. The world’s two richest men would be sitting in outer space.”
The world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth between them than a combined 4.6 billion people, new research has claimed.
 Oxfam called on governments to implement policies that may help to reduce wealth inequality.A 0.5% increase in taxes on the wealthy would generate enough funding to create 117 million jobs in sectors like education and health, according to the researchers.
Other suggestions made by Oxfam to help mitigate inequality included investing in national care systems, challenging sexism, introducing laws to protect carers’ rights, and ending extreme wealth.
“Extreme wealth is a sign of a failing economic system,” the report said. “Governments must take steps to radically reduce the gap between the rich and the rest of society and prioritize the wellbeing of all citizens over unsustainable growth and profit.”
The call for a tax overhaul reinforces the charity’s message ahead of last year’s WEF summit, when Oxfam urged governments to hike tax rates for corporations and society’s richest to reduce wealth disparity.
It is clear to me.that Capitalism  fails us all, whilst the delegates of Davos sip on their champagne, devour their foie gras and caviar we should continue to raise our voices and  make sure they are heard  because we simply  can't continue  to yield  to an unrepresentative political force,  gathering in the interests of the  few to the detriment of the many.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Australia And The Climate Emergency

Right now, a devastating climate disaster is underway in Australia. While some  insist that the situation is part of a phenomenon that is repeated every year, the reality is that the magnitude and gravity of this year’s blazes is unprecedented:At least 27 people have already died, several dozen more are missing,  the conflagration has destroyed an area more than twice the size of Belgium: more than sixty billion square meters, six times the size of the Amazon fires in 2019.
More than a thousand homes have been destroyed, hundreds more damaged, thousands of people evacuated, clouds of smoke the size of Europe… and more than a hundred fires are still active. To pretend that something like this is normal is simply proof that you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Fires are a regular event in Australia. Some species of eucalyptus, in fact, depend on fires to release their seeds. But this year things are different. the fire season started much earlier, coinciding with record high temperatures and following a prolonged drought: exactly what scientists predicted when they calculated the effects of a climate change that is now an emergency.
Estimates for the number of animals lost reach as high as a BILLION. Up to 25,000 koalas may have been wiped out by these fires, with many more badly burned and suffering, and it may spell extinction for the species. 
 Australia’s current season of fires are what happens when an incompetent government is faced with the effects of climate change. Fires and climate change are linked, and to deny this is simply to ignore the facts. But beyond the scientific facts, what Australia’s entry into the Age of Fire, the Pyrocene, proves conclusively are the consequences of irresponsible policy. The fires in Australia are a chronicle of a suicide foretold. Years of conservative governments funded by the coal industry and with no environmental policies have put the country at the bottom of the list of nations working to combat the climate emergency. And when you ignore emergencies, that’s what happens: you suffer their effects.
Australians back strong environmental policies. But the powerful coal lobby in a country that is the leader in exports of this poisonous product, together with a media panorama led by climate change denier Rupert Murdoch plays down or simply ignores the situation, means no action has been taken: hence what we are seeing now. Scott Morrison, surely a candidate for the worst prime minister in the country’s history (and that’s a low bar)  won  the election last year by dismissing the concerns of out of touch city dwellers. His support for Australia's huge coal industry remains undimmed, despite it's role in fuelling the climate crisis.   In a theatrical flourish that has come back to haunt him, Morrison brought a lump of coal into Parliament in 2017 and waved it around while taunting the opposition. “This is coal. Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared,” he laughed, passing the prop around to his guffawing colleagues for effect.
 Morrison personally called Narendra Modi to congratulate him on his election win and assure him that the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland — a controversial Indian-owned mega-polluter — would go ahead. With environmental concerns threatening delays he offered a stern directive to all players involved: “Get on with it.”
The fires he says are a crisis that he is dealing with though in spectacularly poor timing, he still found time to disappear on a family holiday to Hawaii), while his country was burning and it would be ‘reckless’ to set a stricter emissions target for Australia or end coal exports, and since returning home, has tried to play down the catastrophe, saying Australia has been through similar crises, but the evidence is against him.
On return from Hawaii he was asked about the international independent report that rated Australia worst out of 57 countries; instantly, he said the report was “not credible”. He could have said “Sorry, I haven’t read it yet”, but his brain told him the report could not be true whatever it said.
 Six months before the fires, and then again in September, Morrison declined to meet with a group of former fire chiefs who wanted to warn him that an emergency like this was on the horizon. Rural firefighting services in Australia are state-based and largely voluntary. They are often woefully underresourced, and some have been subject to recent budget cuts. Volunteer firefighters watched this season approach — the deadly combination of intense heat and Australia’s worst drought in decades — with dread. Where were the extra resources they needed? And why was Australia still refusing to act on the climate emergency?
The fires in Australia show what happens when we ignore the scientists’ warnings. What is happening in Australia will eventually happen everywhere there is something to burn. People will die, houses will go up in flames, species will disappear and things will be lost that can never be recovered. Either we believe that this is an emergency and take action, or we are destined to see more fires around the world.
Months into the crisis, defense forcerce reserves  are finally being deployed to provide much needed logistical support to firefighters. But Morrison still must answer for all the delays, for failing to communicate with rural fire service and for his governments  continued advocacy of fossil fuels.
 “This is not about any one individual,” Morrison said when asked about the public anger he is facing, and in a way he is right. Experts have been warning governments about the effects of warming for at least 30 years, and few in Canberra — or in Washington, or in so many other centers of power around the world — have listened. But no longer can the climate emergency be posed as a problem of the future. We are moving beyond denial and into a hazy twilight of blame. with many coming tp the conclusion that Morrison is  no longer fit to hold the high office of prime minister.
 Our world is in meltdown. While Australia burns, Indonesia has suffered deadly floods – the worst for a decade. And in the Philippines, Typhoon Phanfone hit on Christmas Day, leaving a trail of death and destruction.
All of these tragedies point to an emergency, a serious climate emergency, so let’s not shy away from accepting or responding to it. We have gone way past the discussion stages, and actions need to happen immediately and quickly.
 We have been given 12 years to drastically reduce emissions, lest our world warm to the point where humans face an existential threat.Climate change is a global human rights and environmental issue that affects us all. The bushfires, drought and flooding prove that beyond doubt, in these challenging times, we must continue to stand together and fight fora safe,a sustainable future for all of humanity.
Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds Are Burning’ was the opening song on the 1987 ‘Diesel and Dust’ album. The song was written by Peter Garrett, Rob Hirst and Jim Moginie. It was a protest song about giving land back to the Pinupi, the last people to come in from the Gibson Desert.
Patti Smith recently set the Oils classic up with a poem about Australia’s toxic destruction of the environment. How can we sleep when our Beds are Burning?

"From the centre of the world,
down deep in the earth,
down were the swirl of dreams are made,
long before the beginning of time,
the gods formed a great rock that grows through the desert,
and this rock was ruby in the sun,
red as blood when the sun smiled upon it,
and from its essence man created Dreamtime,
and they slept in its shadows,
but they did not walk upon it,
but then the settlers came and the tourists and those who did not believe,
and they tramped upon it,
and some fell to their death pulling the red skin of the red rock down into the desert,
creating the dust of sorry all the way to the sea,
and beneath the sea, so many leagues beneath the sea,
Great Barrier Reef, red as blood, red as a ruby,
until man infused it with his toxics, with oil, with his plastic,
and choked the life out of it,
until that great red reef bleached white like the bones of saints in the sun

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Unrelenting Pursuit

( Dedicated to Sheila Rendle and Reuben Woolley  two inspirational  figures in my life who ignited  and reinforced my passion for writing)

On a drifting, plaintive afternoon
painting the brevity of words
respecting the universal
the call of  resistance
beyond the tears of sadness
a breath still wrapped in dreams
letting go of life's sorrow
releasing chords of survival
under the day star's unblinking eye
past impassive midday sky
carry on releasing, freedoms voice
in a world full of chaos
this is my battle cry
unbridled and brimming with love
apathetic thoughts ejected
in humanity we must also rage
for continuing justice to rain.
on Palestine and other corners of the globe
where refugees huddle in shelter
the homeless abandoned outside
our words, fearless and resilient
beyond clouds of darkness
bolstered with flowering persistence
hope scatters in all directions.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart dies after 'incredibly brave' cancer battle (September 12, 1952 - January 7, 2020)

Another one bites the dust, Neil Peart legendary drummer and lyricist for the great iconic Canadian rock band Rush has died from brain cancer aged 67.The musician considered one of rock's greatest ever drummers, died on Tuesday in Santa  Monica . California. His longtime band mates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson confirmed his death in a statement  to twitter, which said: It is with broken hearts and the deepest  sadness we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incrediby brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer. (glioblastoma)
Fellow musicians and fans -- including Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler, actor Jack Black, Questlove, rapper Chuck D, Superchunk's Mac McCaughan, drummer Josh Freese and others . took to social media to pay tribute to the drummer.
His drum theatrics and lyrics catapulted Rush to international fame, and progressive rock itself to the next level. Considered among the most innovative drummers in rock music, Peart was known for the exorbitant amount of drums that he used in his kit, which sometimes numbered over 40. He was also known for his onstage presence and his playing style, known for his carefully crafted, precision drumming and virtuosic solos,Peart  not only created a new kind of drumming that would influence musicians for decades, but was also an eloquent and sophisticated lyricist who would reference everything from classic literature to science fiction touching on mythology, mysticism, humanism , ecology,  self-determination and general outside-the-rock-box themes. Peart expressed affection for political objectivist philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand, culminating in the anthem inspired album '2112' prompting sniping from rock's left leaning establishment.  Side 1 of Rush’s  1976 sci-fi rock opus “2112,” a career-saving album that cemented Rush’s status as progressive rock torchbearers. is a 17-minute song suite inspired by the works of  Rand. The seven-song 2112 side tells the story of a man is a dystopian society where music has been banned. He finds an ancient guitar in his cave and learns how to play it, much to his delight. A dream oracle shows him how the world used to be. But when he takes his discovery to the ruling “priests,” they rebuff and rebuke him: “We have no need for ancient ways, our world is doing fine.” Distraught, the man returns to his cave and sings: “Just think of what my life might be in a world like I have seen. … My spirits are low in the depths of despair. my lifeblood spills over.”
Over time, the vitriol and  criticism of Rush's themes and music itself tailed off. A new generation of rock fans and critics who had grown up with the band, granted them kudos and respect that had not always been apparent in the past.
Rush became  a staple of classic rock radio with such enduring songs as “Tom Sawyer,” “The Spirit of Radio,” “Limelight,” “Subdivisions,” “Closer to the Heart” and “New World Man” — all fueled by Peart’s drumming and lyrics. The group’s popularity was galvanized during the 1980s, when it released six consecutive albums that reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200, from 1980’s Permanent Waves through 1989’s Presto and including the 1981 double live set Exit … Stage Left. After two late ’80s albums peaked in the teens, all of its half-dozen studios sets from 1991’s Roll the Bones through swan song 2012’s Clockwork Angels hit the top 10.
 Often used as a punchline in movies and pop culture, Rush was among the biggest bands of the last 50 years, selling millions of albums in a career that spanned 19 studio albums and multiple live collections as well as elaborate box sets.
Rush’s album sales statistics put them third behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum albums by a rock band. Rush also ranks 79th in U.S. album sales with 25 million units. Worldwide, the band has moved over 40 million units.
 In 1983, Peart was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, making him the youngest to ever be inducted. 30 years later, he and the rest of the members of Rush were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Neil Peart apparently despised the over-commercialization of the music industry. Back in 2015, he told Rolling Stone “I set out to never betray the values that 16-year-old had, to never sell out, to never bow to the man. A compromise is what I can never accept.”
Peart, a mysterious personality even in Rush circles, became a sympathetic figure in the late 90's when he was struck by a pair of personal tragedies. The deaths of his wife Jackie, from cancer  and his daughter Selena in a car accident, just 10 months apart, became the stepping stone for his well reviewed 2002 memoir, "Ghost Rider," which chronicled his therapeutic motorcycle journey across North America.
In 2000, Peart remarried and the band started up again. However, after Rush played its final show on August 1, 2015, at the Forum near Los Angeles, capping its 40th anniversary tour in December of 2015, he announced his retirement from music because of health concerns. Peart is survived by his wife, Carrie, and his daughter Olivia. His band suggested anyone wishing to express their condolences should make a donation to a cancer research group or charity in Peart's name.
 I  personally have a lot of Rush LP's and lots of memories associated with listening to them growing up. Sadly, I’ll never get to see Rush live, but at least I’ll always have their incredible music to listen to.  Here are a few of my favorite songs from Rush. RIP to a transformative visionary artist.

Rush - Spirit of the Radio 

Rush - To Sawyer

Rush - The Trees

Rush - Fly by Nighht

Rush -  Xanadu 

Rush - Natural Science

Rush - Red Barchetta

Friday, 10 January 2020

Tory MP's branded 'inhumane' after voting against protecting key child refugee rights after Brexit

The Government has been slammed as “disgraceful” and “inhumane” after MPs voted to remove protections for child refugees from the EU withdrawal agreement .
Following his election victory, Boris Johnson re-drafted his European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and rowed back on the previous government’s acceptance of an amendment from Labour peer Lord Dubs ( who fled from the Nazis on the Kindertransport to Britain when he was aged six,)  to allow unaccompanied child refugees to continue to be reunited with their families in the UK after exit day.
Clause 37 of the Bill replaces the pledge with a watered-down vow for ministers to “make a statement” on the progress of the talks once the divorce with Brussels is complete.
Lord Dubs and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer earlier wrote to Conservative MP's, urging them to support Labour's amendment to reinstate the pledge.
They said,"We know their are any Conservative MP's including some sat around the cabinet table who know this decision was wrong.
"Boris Johnson may have won a majority in Parliament, but he did not win the moral argument to absolve  himself o responsibility to some of the most vulnerable people in the world.
."With the numbers in Parliament  being what they are, it's up to you - Conservative MP's to take a oral stance and force the government to rethink its approach on this vital issue."
Speaking in its favour in the House of Commons, Labour's Thangam Debbonaire said that removing the pledge was an "astonishing breach of faith with some of the most vulnerable children in the world".
She added: "It is deeply wrong for the government to seek to remove this provision ... just because they can."
In the Commons chamber, SNP home affairs spokeswoman Joanna Cherry urged the Government to accept proposals to protect child refugees after Brexit or risk “tragic consequences”.
She told MPs: “Right now, across Europe, there are thousands of unaccompanied children living in the most desperate circumstances, many of whom are separated from their families.
“And legal family reunion is a lifeline to these children who would otherwise risk their lives in dinghies or in the back of lorries in order to reach a place of safety with their family.”
She added: “For the Government to seek to remove those protections now risks causing panic amongst refugee families currently separated in Europe with potentially tragic consequences.”
And Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said Tory MPs had "earned the labels" of "insular and inhumane" by voting against the amendment.
Yet Brexit minister Robin Walker has said the Government is committed to supporting child refugees.
Mr Walker told MPs: “This Government is fully committed both to the principle of family reunion and to supporting the most vulnerable children. Our policy has not changed.
“We will also continue to reunite children with their families under the Dublin Regulation during the implementation period.”
He added that there was “very strong support on these benches for the principle of family reunion”.
But the amendment, which was tabled by Jeremy Corbyn, was rejected by 348  to 252..on Wednesday afternoon, on the Bill’s second day of committee stage scrutiny in the Commons. Another 48 MPs had no vote recorded for the issue.
Lord Dubs,  called it a "betrayal of Britain's humanitarian tradition  and said it was a “very depressing” outcome. “It is very disappointing that the first real act of the new Boris Johnson government is to kick these children in the teeth. It is a betrayal of Britain’s humanitarian tradition and will leave children who are very vulnerable existing in danger in northern France and in the Greek islands,” he said.
There are around 95,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe, many of whom are subjected to abuse and sexual exploitation at the hands of traffickers. Each and every one of them  has a right to a safe home, every child does  or some, re-finding their families is their only remaining hope. There is currently an urgent  petition  demanding the Home Office maintain safe passage for  child refugees. I would urge you to sign it here :- .
And here is a name and shame list  of all the Tory and DUP MP's who voted to prevent children having rights to a safe and protected environment, denying their basic rights and putting their lives at risk. Shame on the bloody lot of them ,by turning their backs on child refugees the Torys have once again revealed their true colours, showing that they have no moral compass at all, how can they live with themselves, where is their care and compassion?. So very sad and heartless,all of theollowing repesentatives  of a systematic cruel Tory Britain..

The MPs who rejected the amendment are: 

Nigel Adams (Conservative - Selby and Ainsty)

Bim Afolami (Conservative - Hitchin and Harpenden)

Adam Afriyie (Conservative - Windsor)

Imran Ahmad Khan (Conservative - Wakefield)

Nickie Aiken (Conservative - Cities of London and Westminster)

Peter Aldous (Conservative - Waveney)

Lucy Allan (Conservative - Telford)

David Amess (Conservative - Southend West)

Lee Anderson (Conservative - Ashfield)

Stuart Anderson (Conservative - Wolverhampton South West)

Stuart Andrew (Conservative - Pudsey)

Caroline Ansell (Conservative - Eastbourne)

Edward Argar (Conservative - Charnwood)

Sarah Atherton (Conservative - Wrexham)

Victoria Atkins (Conservative - Louth and Horncastle)

Gareth Bacon (Conservative - Orpington)

Richard Bacon (Conservative - South Norfolk)

Kemi Badenoch (Conservative - Saffron Walden) (Proxy vote cast by Leo Docherty)

Shaun Bailey (Conservative - West Bromwich West)

Siobhan Baillie (Conservative - Stroud)

Duncan Baker (Conservative - North Norfolk)

Harriett Baldwin (Conservative - West Worcestershire)

John Baron (Conservative - Basildon and Billericay)

Aaron Bell (Conservative - Newcastle-under-Lyme)

Scott Benton (Conservative - Blackpool South)

Paul Beresford (Conservative - Mole Valley)

Jake Berry (Conservative - Rossendale and Darwen)

Saqib Bhatti (Conservative - Meriden)

Bob Blackman (Conservative - Harrow East)

Crispin Blunt (Conservative - Reigate)

Peter Bone (Conservative - Wellingborough)

Peter Bottomley (Conservative - Worthing West)

Andrew Bowie (Conservative - West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

Ben Bradley (Conservative - Mansfield)

Karen Bradley (Conservative - Staffordshire Moorlands)

Graham Brady (Conservative - Altrincham and Sale West)

Jack Brereton (Conservative - Stoke-on-Trent South)

Andrew Bridgen (Conservative - North West Leicestershire)

Steve Brine (Conservative - Winchester)

Paul Bristow (Conservative - Peterborough)

Sara Britcliffe (Conservative - Hyndburn)

James Brokenshire (Conservative - Old Bexley and Sidcup)

Anthony Browne (Conservative - South Cambridgeshire)

Fiona Bruce (Conservative - Congleton)

Felicity Buchan (Conservative - Kensington)

Robert Buckland (Conservative - South Swindon)

Alex Burghart (Conservative - Brentwood and Ongar)

Conor Burns (Conservative - Bournemouth West)

Robert Butler (Conservative - Aylesbury)

Alun Cairns (Conservative - Vale of Glamorgan)

Gregory Campbell (Democratic Unionist Party - East Londonderry)

Andy Carter (Conservative - Warrington South)

James Cartlidge (Conservative - South Suffolk)

William Cash (Conservative - Stone)

Miriam Cates (Conservative - Penistone and Stocksbridge)

Alex Chalk (Conservative - Cheltenham)

Rehman Chishti (Conservative - Gillingham and Rainham)

Christopher Chope (Conservative - Christchurch)

Jo Churchill (Conservative - Bury St Edmunds)

Greg Clark (Conservative - Tunbridge Wells)

Simon Clarke (Conservative - Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland)

Theo Clarke (Conservative - Stafford)

Brendan Clarke-Smith (Conservative - Bassetlaw)

Chris Clarkson (Conservative - Heywood and Middleton)

James Cleverly (Conservative - Braintree)

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Conservative - The Cotswolds)

Thérèse Coffey (Conservative - Suffolk Coastal)

Elliot Colburn (Conservative - Carshalton and Wallington)

Damian Collins (Conservative - Folkestone and Hythe)

Alberto Costa (Conservative - South Leicestershire)

Robert Courts (Conservative - Witney)

Claire Coutinho (Conservative - East Surrey)

Geoffrey Cox (Conservative - Torridge and West Devon)

Stephen Crabb (Conservative - Preseli Pembrokeshire)

Virginia Crosbie (Conservative - Ynys Môn)

Tracey Crouch (Conservative - Chatham and Aylesford)

James Daly (Conservative - Bury North)

David T C Davies (Conservative - Monmouth)

James Davies (Conservative - Vale of Clwyd)

Gareth Davies (Conservative - Grantham and Stamford)

Mims Davies (Conservative - Mid Sussex)

Philip Davies (Conservative - Shipley)

David Davis (Conservative - Haltemprice and Howden)

Dehenna Davison (Conservative - Bishop Auckland)

Caroline Dinenage (Conservative - Gosport)

Sarah Dines (Conservative - Derbyshire Dales)

Jonathan Djanogly (Conservative - Huntingdon)

Leo Docherty (Conservative - Aldershot)

Jeffrey M Donaldson (Democratic Unionist Party - Lagan Valley)

Michelle Donelan (Conservative - Chippenham)

Nadine Dorries (Conservative - Mid Bedfordshire)

Steve Double (Conservative - St Austell and Newquay)

Oliver Dowden (Conservative - Hertsmere)

Jackie Doyle-Price (Conservative - Thurrock)

Richard Drax (Conservative - South Dorset)

Flick Drummond (Conservative - Meon Valley)

James Duddridge (Conservative - Rochford and Southend East)

David Duguid (Conservative - Banff and Buchan)

Iain Duncan Smith (Conservative - Chingford and Woodford Green)

Philip Dunne (Conservative - Ludlow)

Mark Eastwood (Conservative - Dewsbury)

Ruth Edwards (Conservative - Rushcliffe)

Michael Ellis (Conservative - Northampton North)

Tobias Ellwood (Conservative - Bournemouth East)

Natalie Elphicke (Conservative - Dover)

George Eustice (Conservative - Camborne and Redruth)

Luke Evans (Conservative - Bosworth)

Nigel Evans (Conservative - Ribble Valley)

David Evennett (Conservative - Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Ben Everitt (Conservative - Milton Keynes North)

Michael Fabricant (Conservative - Lichfield)

Laura Farris (Conservative - Newbury)

Simon Fell (Conservative - Barrow and Furness)

Katherine Fletcher (Conservative - South Ribble)

Mark Fletcher (Conservative - Bolsover)

Nick Fletcher (Conservative - Don Valley)

Vicky Ford (Conservative - Chelmsford)

Kevin Foster (Conservative - Torbay)

Liam Fox (Conservative - North Somerset)

Mark Francois (Conservative - Rayleigh and Wickford)

Lucy Frazer (Conservative - South East Cambridgeshire)

George Freeman (Conservative - Mid Norfolk)

Mike Freer (Conservative - Finchley and Golders Green)

Richard Fuller (Conservative - North East Bedfordshire)

Marcus Fysh (Conservative - Yeovil)

Mark Garnier (Conservative - Wyre Forest)

Nusrat Ghani (Conservative - Wealden)

Nick Gibb (Conservative - Bognor Regis and Littlehampton)

Peter Gibson (Conservative - Darlington)

Jo Gideon (Conservative - Stoke-on-Trent Central)

Paul Girvan (Democratic Unionist Party - South Antrim)

John Glen (Conservative - Salisbury)

Robert Goodwill (Conservative - Scarborough and Whitby)

Michael Gove (Conservative - Surrey Heath)

Richard Graham (Conservative - Gloucester)

Helen Grant (Conservative - Maidstone and The Weald)

James Gray (Conservative - North Wiltshire)

Chris Grayling (Conservative - Epsom and Ewell)

Damian Green (Conservative - Ashford)

Andrew Griffith (Conservative - Arundel and South Downs)

Kate Griffiths (Conservative - Burton)

James Grundy (Conservative - Leigh)

Jonathan Gullis (Conservative - Stoke-on-Trent North)

Robert Halfon (Conservative - Harlow)

Luke Hall (Conservative - Thornbury and Yate)

Stephen Hammond (Conservative - Wimbledon)

Matt Hancock (Conservative - West Suffolk)

Greg Hands (Conservative - Chelsea and Fulham)

Mark Harper (Conservative - Forest of Dean)

Rebecca Harris (Conservative - Castle Point)

Sally-Ann Hart (Conservative - Hastings and Rye)

Simon Hart (Conservative - Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire)

John Hayes (Conservative - South Holland and The Deepings)

Oliver Heald (Conservative - North East Hertfordshire)

James Heappey (Conservative - Wells)

Gordon Henderson (Conservative - Sittingbourne and Sheppey)

Darren Henry (Conservative - Broxtowe)

Antony Higginbotham (Conservative - Burnley)

Damian Hinds (Conservative - East Hampshire)

Simon Hoare (Conservative - North Dorset)

Richard Holden (Conservative - North West Durham)

Kevin Hollinrake (Conservative - Thirsk and Malton)

Philip Hollobone (Conservative - Kettering)

Adam Holloway (Conservative - Gravesham)

Paul Holmes (Conservative - Eastleigh)

John Howell (Conservative - Henley)

Paul Howell (Conservative - Sedgefield)

Nigel Huddleston (Conservative - Mid Worcestershire)

Neil Hudson (Conservative - Penrith and The Border)

Eddie Hughes (Conservative - Walsall North)

Jane Hunt (Conservative - Loughborough)

Jeremy Hunt (Conservative - South West Surrey)

Tom Hunt (Conservative - Ipswich)

Alister Jack (Conservative - Dumfries and Galloway)

Bernard Jenkin (Conservative - Harwich and North Essex)

Mark Jenkinson (Conservative - Workington)

Andrea Jenkyns (Conservative - Morley and Outwood)

Robert Jenrick (Conservative - Newark)

Caroline Johnson (Conservative - Sleaford and North Hykeham)

Gareth Johnson (Conservative - Dartford)

Andrew Jones (Conservative - Harrogate and Knaresborough)

Fay Jones (Conservative - Brecon and Radnorshire)

David Jones (Conservative - Clwyd West)

Simon Jupp (Conservative - East Devon)

Daniel Kawczynski (Conservative - Shrewsbury and Atcham)

Alicia Kearns (Conservative - Rutland and Melton)

Gillian Keegan (Conservative - Chichester)

Julian Knight (Conservative - Solihull)

Greg Knight (Conservative - East Yorkshire)

Danny Kruger (Conservative - Devizes)

Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative - Spelthorne)

Eleanor Laing (Conservative - Epping Forest)

John Lamont (Conservative - Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

Robert Largan (Conservative - High Peak)

Pauline Latham (Conservative - Mid Derbyshire)

Edward Leigh (Conservative - Gainsborough)

Ian Levy (Conservative - Blyth Valley)

Andrew Lewer (Conservative - Northampton South)

Brandon Lewis (Conservative - Great Yarmouth)

Julian Lewis (Conservative - New Forest East)

Ian Liddell-Grainger (Conservative - Bridgwater and West Somerset)

Carla Lockhart (Democratic Unionist Party - Upper Bann)

Chris Loder (Conservative - West Dorset)

Mark Logan (Conservative - Bolton North East)

Marco Longhi (Conservative - Dudley North)

Julia Lopez (Conservative - Hornchurch and Upminster) (Proxy vote cast by Lee Rowley)

Jack Lopresti (Conservative - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Jonathan Lord (Conservative - Woking)

Tim Loughton (Conservative - East Worthing and Shoreham)

Craig Mackinlay (Conservative - South Thanet)

Cherilyn Mackrory (Conservative - Truro and Falmouth)

Rachel Maclean (Conservative - Redditch)

Alan Mak (Conservative - Havant)

Kit Malthouse (Conservative - North West Hampshire)

Anthony Mangnall (Conservative - Totnes)

Scott Mann (Conservative - North Cornwall)

Julie Marson (Conservative - Hertford and Stortford)

Theresa May (Conservative - Maidenhead)

Jerome Mayhew (Conservative - Broadland)

Paul Maynard (Conservative - Blackpool North and Cleveleys)

Jason McCartney (Conservative - Colne Valley)

Karl McCartney (Conservative - Lincoln)

Stephen McPartland (Conservative - Stevenage)

Esther McVey (Conservative - Tatton)

Mark Menzies (Conservative - Fylde)

Johnny Mercer (Conservative - Plymouth, Moor View)

Huw Merriman (Conservative - Bexhill and Battle)

Stephen Metcalfe (Conservative - South Basildon and East Thurrock)

Robin Millar (Conservative - Aberconwy)

Maria Miller (Conservative - Basingstoke)

Amanda Milling (Conservative - Cannock Chase)

Nigel Mills (Conservative - Amber Valley)

Andrew Mitchell (Conservative - Sutton Coldfield)

Gagan Mohindra (Conservative - South West Hertfordshire)

Damien Moore (Conservative - Southport)

Robbie Moore (Conservative - Keighley)

Penny Mordaunt (Conservative - Portsmouth North)

Anne Marie Morris (Conservative - Newton Abbot)

David Morris (Conservative - Morecambe and Lunesdale)

James Morris (Conservative - Halesowen and Rowley Regis)

Joy Morrissey (Conservative - Beaconsfield)

Wendy Morton (Conservative - Aldridge-Brownhills)

Kieran Mullan (Conservative - Crewe and Nantwich)

Holly Mumby-Croft (Conservative - Scunthorpe)

David Mundell (Conservative - Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale)

Sheryll Murray (Conservative - South East Cornwall)

Andrew Murrison (Conservative - South West Wiltshire)

Robert Neill (Conservative - Bromley and Chislehurst)

Lia Nici-Townend (Conservative - Great Grimsby)

Caroline Nokes (Conservative - Romsey and Southampton North)

Jesse Norman (Conservative - Hereford and South Herefordshire)

Neil O'Brien (Conservative - Harborough)

Matthew Offord (Conservative - Hendon)

Guy Opperman (Conservative - Hexham)

Ian Paisley (Democratic Unionist Party - North Antrim)

Neil Parish (Conservative - Tiverton and Honiton)

Priti Patel (Conservative - Witham)

Owen Paterson (Conservative - North Shropshire)

Mark Pawsey (Conservative - Rugby)

Mike Penning (Conservative - Hemel Hempstead)

John Penrose (Conservative - Weston-super-Mare)

Andrew Percy (Conservative - Brigg and Goole)

Chris Philp (Conservative - Croydon South)

Christopher Pincher (Conservative - Tamworth)

Dan Poulter (Conservative - Central Suffolk and North Ipswich)

Rebecca Pow (Conservative - Taunton Deane)

Victoria Prentis (Conservative - Banbury)

Mark Pritchard (Conservative - The Wrekin)

Tom Pursglove (Conservative - Corby)

Jeremy Quin (Conservative - Horsham)

Will Quince (Conservative - Colchester)

Tom Randall (Conservative - Gedling)

John Redwood (Conservative - Wokingham)

Jacob Rees-Mogg (Conservative - North East Somerset)

Nicola Richards (Conservative - West Bromwich East)

Angela Richardson (Conservative - Guildford)

Rob Roberts (Conservative - Delyn)

Laurence Robertson (Conservative - Tewkesbury)

Gavin Robinson (Democratic Unionist Party - Belfast East)

Mary Robinson (Conservative - Cheadle)

Andrew Rosindell (Conservative - Romford)

Douglas Ross (Conservative - Moray)

Lee Rowley (Conservative - North East Derbyshire)

Dean Russell (Conservative - Watford)

David Rutley (Conservative - Macclesfield)

Gary Sambrook (Conservative - Birmingham, Northfield)

Selaine Saxby (Conservative - North Devon)

Paul Scully (Conservative - Sutton and Cheam)

Bob Seely (Conservative - Isle of Wight)

Andrew Selous (Conservative - South West Bedfordshire)

Jim Shannon (Democratic Unionist Party - Strangford)

Grant Shapps (Conservative - Welwyn Hatfield)

Alok Sharma (Conservative - Reading West)

Alec Shelbrooke (Conservative - Elmet and Rothwell)

David Simmonds (Conservative - Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner)

Chris Skidmore (Conservative - Kingswood)

Chloe Smith (Conservative - Norwich North)

Greg Smith (Conservative - Buckingham)

Henry Smith (Conservative - Crawley)

Amanda Solloway (Conservative - Derby North)

Ben Spencer (Conservative - Runnymede and Weybridge)

Mark Spencer (Conservative - Sherwood)

Jane Stevenson (Conservative - Wolverhampton North East)

John Stevenson (Conservative - Carlisle)

Iain Stewart (Conservative - Milton Keynes South)

Mel Stride (Conservative - Central Devon)

Julian Sturdy (Conservative - York Outer)

Rishi Sunak (Conservative - Richmond (Yorks)

James Sunderland (Conservative - Bracknell)

Desmond Swayne (Conservative - New Forest West)

Robert Syms (Conservative - Poole)

Derek Thomas (Conservative - St Ives)

Maggie Throup (Conservative - Erewash)

Edward Timpson (Conservative - Eddisbury)

Kelly Tolhurst (Conservative - Rochester and Strood)

Justin Tomlinson (Conservative - North Swindon)

Michael Tomlinson (Conservative - Mid Dorset and North Poole)

Craig Tracey (Conservative - North Warwickshire)

Laura Trott (Conservative - Sevenoaks)

Elizabeth Truss (Conservative - South West Norfolk)

Tom Tugendhat (Conservative - Tonbridge and Malling)

Shailesh Vara (Conservative - North West Cambridgeshire)

Martin Vickers (Conservative - Cleethorpes)

Matt Vickers (Conservative - Stockton South)

Christian Wakeford (Conservative - Bury South)

Robin Walker (Conservative - Worcester)

Charles Walker (Conservative - Broxbourne)

Ben Wallace (Conservative - Wyre and Preston North)

Jamie Wallis (Conservative - Bridgend)

David Warburton (Conservative - Somerton and Frome)

Matt Warman (Conservative - Boston and Skegness)

Giles Watling (Conservative - Clacton)

Suzanne Webb (Conservative - Stourbridge)

Helen Whately (Conservative - Faversham and Mid Kent)

Heather Wheeler (Conservative - South Derbyshire)

Craig Whittaker (Conservative - Calder Valley)

John Whittingdale (Conservative - Maldon)

Bill Wiggin (Conservative - North Herefordshire)

James Wild (Conservative - North West Norfolk)

Craig Williams (Conservative - Montgomeryshire)

Gavin Williamson (Conservative - South Staffordshire)

Sammy Wilson (Democratic Unionist Party - East Antrim)

Mike Wood (Conservative - Dudley South)

William Wragg (Conservative - Hazel Grove)

Jeremy Wright (Conservative - Kenilworth and Southam)

Jacob Young (Conservative - Redcar)

Nadhim Zahawi (Conservative - Stratford-on-Avon)

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Prince Harry and Megan Markle to Step Back From Royal Duties.

Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have announced that they’re stepping down as senior royals. They plan to divide their time between the UK and North America, and will “work to become financially independent.” which has  raised questions about how it would work since British taxpayers now fund their security, among many other expenses.
The  announcement  came amid persistent rumors that Prince Harry and Meghan had tensions with his brother, Prince William, and his wife, Kate, which have been eagerly dissected by the tabloid press in London.
In October, during a trip to South Africa, the Sussexes opened up to the TV interviewer Tom Bradby. The duchess said she was struggling with being a royal and a new mother. Prince Harry kindled rumors of a rift by saying that he and Prince William were on “different paths at the moment.”
It comes also on the back of Prince Andrews recent debacles, after a calamitous interview with the BBC reignited questions about his relationship with the disgraced financier, Jeffrey Epstein that saw him  him being forced to keep out of the limelight  and  Prince Phillip, who because of age and health issues, also ditched Royal duties. Also begs the question where Prince Edward or Princess Anne have gone,  preferring the low key life , while  getting their full  benefits from the civil list with the help of the taxpayer.
 In her annual television Christmas address, the queen made an oblique allusion to all the troubles. “The path, of course, is not always smooth,” she said, “and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy.”
With the future of the monarchy uncertain, Buckingham Palace appears disappointed with Harry and Meghan. An official statement noted “these are complicated issues that will take time to work through”. Reading between the lines, it’s likely the decision - reportedly made without consulting the Queen or Prince Charles - hurt.
Many Republicans are currently welcoming the decision. Nonetheless, it will not effect in any way, constitutionally. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will continue with their charitable works and remain patron of numerous societies and bodies. However their charitable work does not generate income, and they still have a pretty extravagant lifestyle.
 Royal watchers described Wednesday’s announcement as “unprecedented,” though not altogether surprising, given the obvious rising tensions within the family, and has been on the cards or lipping ages. Some saw the couple’s decision not to spend Christmas with the queen and other members of the family at her royal residence, Sandringham, as a kind of road test for separating themselves from the family.Both have said they have been affected by the pressure of the position, particularly on the birth of their son, Archie, after which they have experienced intrusion into their private lives.
Prince Harry will always be a member of,  the royal family, whether he likes it or not. He's got a right to a life with a young family  but he was born into that royal position, and he grew up with all the trimmings of the royal family. He has partaken in the privileges of that position throughout his life until now. To date, his wife has  also enjoyed the lifestyle of royalty she married into. I wonder iF she will resume her acting career, or together they might  now claim Universal Credit.
The  latests news is certainly  a blow for the Royal family as an institution and a brand. An increasing number of people  see the  monarchy itself, as a hereditary public office that goes against every democratic principle, and because we can’t hold the Queen and her family to account at the ballot box, there’s nothing to stop them abusing their privilege, misusing their influence or simply wasting our money.For me personally  the monarchy is a broken institution, that cannot be fixed, that is not fit for purpose in the modern age that needs to be abolished as soon as possible, and when that day happens will not have to waste my time  writing about .them.Who can really blame Harry and Megan wanting to leave a toxic, racist, elitist post Brexit society ruled by a cold, toxic, elitist, disfunctional  Royal Family. and at end of the day where they want to live is not the most important issue facing the country, because  at the moment. Tory MP's have this week voted down bids to help EU. citizens, child refugees and workers rights, but the mainstream media  is ignoring this.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Edwin Starr - War

Originally written under the Motown label, War was an anti-Vietnam War protest song, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong which was recorded by Whitfield and the Temptations in 1969.
War was one of the first Motown songs to make a political statement. The label had always been focused on making hit songs, but around this time Motown artists started releasing songs with social commentary, many of which were written by Whitfield.
 Motown had no intention of releasing it as a single, but many in the protest movement, especially college students, made it clear that the song would be a big hit if it was. Motown head Berry Gordy had other plans for The Temptations and didn't want them associated with such a controversial song, so he had Motown soul singer Edwin Starr record it and his version was released as a single in 1970, Starr didn't have as big a fan base to offend.
 Starr’s powerful vocal delivery brought a real sense of anger and frustration to the recording and
War became one of the most successful protest songs of the 20th century, holding the number one chart position for three weeks. In the wake of this success Starr used his growing profile to criticise American foreign policy in general and the Vietnam War in particular. Whitfield’s lyrics speak of the dishonest futility of war, calling it “the enemy of all mankind” and a “friend only to the undertaker.
 ‘War’ deservedly won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, and went on to  on to emphasise the power of its message to future generations.
A song that will never stop being powerful and relevant  especially since Donald Trump decided to start off the year with an unnecessary war with Iran. May this primal anti-war song long continue to move our hearts.


War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, why'all

War, huh, good god
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing, listen to me

Oh, war, I despise
'Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tears to thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go to fight
And lose their lives

I said, war, huh good god, why'all
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing say it again

War, whoa, lord
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
it ain't nothing but a heart-breaker
(War) friend only to the undertaker

Oh, war has shattered many young man's dreams
Made him disabled bitter and mean 
Life is much to short and precious to spend fighting wars these days 
War can't give life it can only take it away, ooh

War, huh, good God y'all 
What is it good for? 
Absolutely nothing, say it again 
War, whoa, Lord What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing, listen to me
War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker 
War, friend only to the undertaker

Peace love and understanding
tell me Is there no place for them today 
They say we must fight to keep our freedom
But Lord knows there's got to be a better way

War, huh, good God y'all 
What is it good for?
You tell 'em, say it,say it, say it, say it
War, good Lord, huh 
What is it good for?
Stand up and shout it, nothing 
War, it ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker