Saturday, 16 February 2019

Tommy Robinson and his supporters show their true colours

Just when it might have been thought that Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson could not get any lower, he then outdoes himself with the support of his devoted followers.
He and his supporters tried to jam up the phone line to a Rape Crisis  centre for BAME people whose volunteers speak several languages, because he took offence to a poster not mentioning white people.
On on his Facebook page, which has more than a million followers  posted a picture of a leaflet produced by Rape Crisis Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks, urging black, Asian and minority ethnic women who have experienced sexual violence to come forward if they needed support. 
The leaflet also includes a contact mobile number where callers can speak to someone in Punjabi, Hindi or English.
 Alongside the photo of the leaflet, the post was captioned: "I guess it's ok to rape white women then??!?!?!"
Rape Crisis said since the post was shared on Facebook yesterday, the centre has received a "significant volume of abusive phone calls, messages and emails, many of which are of an overtly racist nature.
Some of Robinson's one million Facebook followers jumped on the post, calling the leaflet "horrendous", "discriminative" and "out of order". 
One commenter said: "That sums up what our country has become and what we need to stop."
Another added: "Think we ALL need to phone the numbers advertised & put in a racist complaint !!!"

Rape Crisis has informed the police of the torrent of abuse they have received and slammed the post for "disrupting much-needed service provision for victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse of all ethnicities and backgrounds". 
In a statement, the charity said: "Rape Crisis (Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks) recognises that some groups of women who have survived sexual violence and abuse can face additional barriers to accessing services, including related to language and to the fear and/or past or current experience of racism and racial discrimination.
"As part of its commitment to accessibility and inclusion, it therefore offers a specialist service for black, Asian and minority ethnic women aimed at overcoming some of these barriers.
"An image of a leaflet advertising this specialist BAME service was recently posted on social media with a misleading caption.
"Since then, Rape Crisis (Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks) has received a significant volume of abusive phone calls, messages and emails, many of which are of an overtly racist nature, and the police have been informed.
"These activities have disrupted much-needed service provision for victims and survivors of sexual violence and abuse of all ethnicities and backgrounds.
"Rape Crisis England & Wales supports Rape Crisis (Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks) and all its member Rape Crisis Centres in the provision of fully inclusive, accessible services, including specialist work with specific groups of under-served, minoritised or marginalised victims and survivors."
Robinson  has since been slammed for wilfully encouraging abuse of the charity.
Antony Sheehan wrote: "Congratulations on jamming the lines of a centre designed to help women who have suffered a brutal life changing experience. Hope you’re all proud of yourselves".
Barbara Treen wrote: "The organisation is presumably trying to reach out to a group of women who have experienced sexual assault but are known to not normally seek support."
Robinson has not removed the  post from his facebook account. He and his supporters sought to take it upon themelves to try and destroy a helpline to help rape victims. What kind of profound ignorance and violent irrational hatred drives a man and hus supporters  to attempt to prevent  a  raped woman  from trying  to find and seek help, because of the colour of her skin. What vile disgusting despicable cowards they all are each and everyone of them. As if these women do not have enough to contend with. How can Robinson still manage to garner  support or any form of respect is simply beyond my comprehension . 

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Thursday, 14 February 2019

Love is Liberation.

                                                    Love is Liberation
                                                    Found In the pulse of everyday,
                                                    For rich and poor to ever seek
                                                    Let it reveal it's wild contagion,
                                                    A soothing plaque to heal world
                                                    Touching the void of emptiness,
                                                    Freeing minds and captive souls
                                                    Stretching to infinity, travelling on waves,
                                                    In patterns of endless recurrence
                                                    More than enough to go round,
                                                    Filling the air with dizziness
                                                    An essence that cannot be caged,
                                                    We can all be free within it's grasp
                                                    Casting warm shadows on our lives,
                                                    A taste of freedom we can embrace
                                                    Running relentlessly through veins,
                                                    Generating kindness, shows no fear
                                                    Sharing the gift of understanding,
                                                    Opening eyes to magical emotion
                                                    Can unshackle hearts from tears.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

I Have the Right

I have the right to my own opinions
to state what I believe to be the truth,
I believe in freedom of thought
I believe in freedom of speech,
I have the right to be free from bondage
to be free from chains and mental slavery,
to choose what I want to be, where I need to go
because this is my right to be me.

I have the right to speak out
this is my choice, this is my conscience,
this is my right to freedom of expression
this right allows me to speak out against oppression,
a right that embraces the immortal declaration
a right that recognises the concept that all men born equal,
everyone has the right to life and liberty
to breathe in, breathe out, scream and shout.

I have the right to dignity and pride
the security of peace and protection, 
that allows me to love, laugh and cry
to be treated kindly, not like a fool,
remember when justice is forgotten 
and certain paths trample down opposition,  
keep on fighting for human rights with no inhibition
decency and justice, and all that has been given.

I have the right to pledge no allegiance
to any country, or any bloody flag,
my struggle embedded in the rich earth 
the poetry I release from my breath,
as the shadows wait for the tides to turn
will blister through cement walls,
remembering complacency invites an impasse
what unites us is greater than what separates.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Bring all utilities into public ownership

As hard pressed families are choosing between heating and eating and news arrives  of energy bills set to rise once more there is growing support  for bringing all utilities into public ownership, and   thanks at least to Labour's manifesto pledges, it's now on the political agenda like never before.
Speaking at a Labour Party event on 10 February last year, Jeremy Corbyn reaffirmed Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledge “to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run”.
“By taking our public services back into public hands”, he said, “we will not only put a stop to rip-off monopoly pricing, we will put our shared values and collective goals at the heart of how those public services are run”. He promised “a society which puts its most valuable resources, the creations of our collective endeavour, in the hands of everyone who is part of that society”. He argued that the energy industry must be remodelled to abate carbon emissions, and declared that “in public hands, under democratic control, workforces and their unions will be the managers of this change, not its casualties.
“The growth of green energy and green tech offers huge opportunities for job creation. Our publicly owned energy system will ensure a smooth transition and protect workers and communities, seizing those opportunities for the many, not the few...
“The next Labour Government will guarantee that all energy workers are offered retraining, a new job on equivalent terms and conditions, covered by collective agreements and fully supported in their housing and income needs through transition”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 the same day, shadow chancellor John McDonnell refuted claims that the nationalisations would be unaffordable. He said that shareholders in privatised utilities, which include pension funds, could be given newly-issued government bonds in return for their shares.
A survey by YouGov around the time of the 2017 election showed that these policies are popular. It showed an 84% to 5% majority for the NHS being in the public sector; a 65% to 21% majority for Royal Mail; a 60% to 25% majority for rail; 53% to 31% for energy; 59% to 25% for water; and 81% to 6% for schools. The case for public ownership, and against outsourcing to private contractors, has been strengthened since then by the Carillion scandal.
Corbyn and McDonnell are right to put public ownership back on the agenda. After Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 one  by one, our public utilities, described by Harold Macmillan as the family silver, were sold of  piece by piece among the first were British Telecom, then British Airways and British Steel. The water firms followed along with the energy companies and, finally, in the dog days of John Major, British Rail.
Privatisation, was supposed to give us a stake in the British economy, reduce prices and improve services. Its actual track record has been abysmal with disastrous consequences with  prices soring and standards falling. Just look at the ludicrously over-priced and over-complicated railway system, which we have been left with as the result of privatisation  in the '90's.
Britain’s family silver is now mainly owned by overseas firms and investment groups  who are able to make huge profits from exploiting a captive market.A system was created allowing an elite few to reap extortionate profits via a monopoly service. Executives running these firms could not  believe their luck as they were give free reign  to fleece and rip of people on a massive scale.
The profits of the Big 6 energy companies in the last few years  has been astronomical, their increase in profits particularly galling due to the price rises imposed by the energy companies on consumers.
The Big Six claim that the high prices consumers face are not due to their profiteering, but due to factors beyond their control, such as fossil fuel prices, which they have to pass on. Ofgem have suggested that there is clearly a gas wholesale driver, but that on top of this, the Big Six are not adjusting prices as they should. Overall, the Big Six are making very large profits, profits which have increased substantially over recent years. These profits are a sign of a broken system. It’s one thing to increase profits, dividends and executive pay from providing a good service, but it’s another to do the same while whilst the people of Britain starve and die of cold, because they cannot afford to keep themselves warm and  unjustifiable level of profit are being made and they continue to shower their shareholders with vast amounts of money. This rip off  game has gone on long enough, it should not be allowed to continue.The public deserves better.  It's a national failure and a disgrace.
The UK public is paying through the nose for the provision of services and products  previouly owned by them. These resources  belong to everybody. They should be a common treasury and a human right, not a stock market commodity or a source of profit, we can all benefit from a fairer, not for profit, pricing structure to everybody. All utilities are necessary for the functioning of our society and the preservation of life. To allow life and death decisions to be made based on profit concerns is a violation of human rights.The capital that these industries generate can work for the benefit of us all not just the few and privileged. It is more than time that we renationalise all privatised utilities and services, with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need. Utilities are a public good that should be owned by the public for the people  not profit.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Lepa Svetozara Radić ( 19 December 1925 – February 8, 1943) - Anti- Fascist Freedom Fighter

Lepa Svetozara Radić, was born  on December 19, 1925 in the village of Gashnica near Gradishka (the modern territory of the Republika Srpska – now part of Bosnia and Herzegovina).
She graduated from elementary school in neighboring Bistrica, the first grade of the Women's Craft School, with her somewhat older sister Dara, in Bosanska Krupa - with the help of Uncle Voje, who served as a lugar for several years in Podgrmeče - while she finished the other grades in Bosanska Gradiški.
 Already as a student, she emphasized diligent work and seriousness. Already then,reading advanced literature, Lepa had a strong influence  from her uncle Vlade Radic, who was involved in the labor movement. On 10 April 1941, after the successful invasion of Yugoslavia, the Axis powers established on its former territory the puppet state Independent State of Croatia, which, in particular, consisted of Bosanska Gradiška and its surroundings.
In 1941, at the age of fifteen, she joined the Communist Party, and joined the anti-fascist partisan resistance movement. During the Kozar offensive, Lepa’s father, Svetozar, and her 15-year-old brother, Milan, were killed.  At the time of the first offensive against the Kozara insurrections in November 1941, the Ustashi arrested Lepo and all the remaining members of the Radic family for their dissident activities. However, with the help of illegal Partisan associates, after 20 days of harassment in the Ustasha prison in Gradiska, they were released.
After leaving the prison on December 23, 1941, along with her sister Dara, Lepa became a fighter of the 7th partisan company of the 2nd Krajina Detachment. Shortly thereafter, she was a nurse in the company, and then a listener of the youth course in the village of Lamovita, under Kozar, and a activist on the Prijedor field.
During the Neretva battle in February 1943, Lepa Radic was responsible for transporting the wounded to the shelter in Grmec. During the battle against the 7th Division of the SS she was captured, transferred to Bosanska-Krupu. First, the Germans kept her in isolation and tortured her in an attempt to extract information over the course of three days . She refused to divulge any information about her comrades and was sentenced to death by hanging. With a noose around her neck she shouted: “Long live the Communist Party and the partisans! Fight, people, for your freedom, do not give up to the villains! They’ll kill me, but there are those who will take revenge for me!” "Her captors offered her life in exchange for the names of her comrades, but she responded, “I am not a traitor of my people. Those whom you are asking about will reveal themselves when they have succeeded in wiping out all you evildoers, to the last man."
On 11th February German soldiers reported the execution had taken place and that the "bandit" had "shown unprecedented defiance." This brave act would  eventually propel her into the history books and  consewquently her legacy lives on .She died at just 17 in her fight against the Nazis, but they were never able to break her heroic and courageous spirit. Her execution was captured in a series of haunting photographs. By the decree of Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito on December 20, 1951,Lepa Radic was awarded posthumously the title of People’s Hero of Yugoslavia for her role in the resistance movement against the Axis powers—becoming the youngest recipient at the time. .

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Justice 'Stansted 15' activists will not be jailed

Great news today  on hearing that none of the Stansted 15 will not be jailed for standing up for human rights.
The activists, who blocked a March 2017 deportation flight at London's Stansted airport had cut a fence at the airport and laid on the tarmac, chaining themselves together and forming a ring around a Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office that was about to violently deport 60 people on an immigration removal charter flight.
On their way to the airport, the activists say they took turns reading aloud the emotional testimonies of those who were due to be on board the plane, which had been collected and published by Detained Voices, an independent human rights group which speaks by phone to people being held in detention centers, pending their removal from the country.The activists said many of those detained fear persecution if they were returned. Their desperate pleas for help had spurred the group on.
on an immigration removal charter fligh

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on an immigration removal charter fligh

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on an immigration removal charter fligh

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Last December the group was found guilty of endangering the safety of the airport following a nine-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Human rights campaigners  claimed that the charges brought against them were excessive.In a statement released after their conviction, the defendants said  the real crime was the government’s “cowardly, inhumane and barely legal” deportation flights and that the Home Office’s “out of control system” must be held to account for the dangers it puts people in.
Defendants Melanie Strickland said the verdict was “profoundly disturbing” for democracy in Britain. “It’s the Home Office’s brutal, secretive and barely legal practice of mass deportation flights that is putting people in danger and their ‘hostile environment’ policy that is hurting vulnerable people from our communities,” she said.“It’s the Home Office that should have been in the dock, not us.”
A man set to be deported on the flight but since granted the right to remain in Britain said the Stansted 15 ” were trying to stop the real crime from being committed.
He said: “Without their actions I would have missed my daughter’s birth and faced the utter injustice of being deported from this country.
“For me a crime is doing something that is evil, shameful or just wrong and it’s clear that it is the actions of the Home Office tick all of these boxes.”
This morning, Judge Christopher Morgan at Chelmsford Crown Court declined to sentence the Stansted 15 to immediate jail time, the Guardian reports. (The maximum sentence for these airport endangerment charges is life in prison.) Instead, 12 people received community service sentences, according to End Deportations, a collective whose members include the Stansted 15. The three others received suspended prison sentences due to prior convictions from a Heathrow airport protest in 2015.
As the sentencing was awaited today at Chelmsford Crown Court, anti-deportation activists reported further mass deportation flights to Jamaica, including of descendants of the "Windrush" generation who have lived in the UK for decades. The "hostile environment" policy that encourages discrimination and the abuse of human rights  still continues.using ID checks by healthcare providers, landlords and employers to make life so difficult that undocumented immigrants will voluntarily leave, or face being removed by the state.
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The 15 defendants sat alongside each other in the dock and the direction from Judge Morgan was met with smiles and hugs from the defendants. Hundreds of supporters had spent the morning outside the courthouse with speeches given and banners unfurled cheering as they arrived at court and posed on the steps before entering  and again when the news of their non imprisonment was announced.
The Stansted 15 provided the following statement to End Deportations.

“These terror convictions and the ten-week trial that led to them are an injustice that has profound implications for our lives. The convictions will drastically limit our ability to work, travel and take part in everyday life. Yet, people seeking asylum in this country face worse than this: they are placed in destitution and their lives in limbo, by the Home Office’s vicious system every single day.
“When a country uses draconian terror legislation against people for peaceful protest, snatches others from their homes in dawn raids, incarcerates them without time limit and forces them onto planes in the middle of the night, due to take them to places where their lives might be at risk, something is very seriously wrong. Every single one of us should be very worried about our democracy and our future.”

 If there was any real justice, the activists would probably be given some kind of award, they shouldnever have been charged in the bloody first place, they are heroes and deserve to be recognised for this and standing up against injustice. They have prompted a much needed change  in attitudes, with more people arguing against deportations and detention centers.It's so important that we continue to defend the right to protest, because it's protest that has delivered all of the rights that today we take for granted.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Tipping the balance

In a world fraught with merciless disparity
Embroiled in suffering despair and grief,
One could embrace the madness, concede defeat
Or follow rippling streams of hope glimmering,
That help in ways unseen, as thoughts keep navigating
To go to places beyond fear and desperation,
Where winds no longer deliver agitation.

As long nights still carve deep impressions
Tirelessly we try seek forms of abandonement,
Criss-crossing frantically, obstacles of existence
When all the skies are deeply overcast,
We continue to scatter ourselves among
New arrangements of the dream.

Amidst the pangs of sombre desolation
And the sporadic moments of insufferable solitude,
An infinitesmal light emerges
It's celestial infusions engaging with,
And uplifting doleful spirit
Engulfing it in a crimson cocoon.

As the sorrow laden clouds release their trembling tears
And the sun transfigures the stony sky;
Springs new heart beats and awakens
Its vibrant petals emanating with smell of regeneration;
The solace seeking spirits in succession triumph
And tethered souls are steered by tranquil serenity.

As the swallows head north through the cumulous clouds
And the suns waning rays dwindle into darkness,
Bickering bafoons and charismatic clowns with spurious smiles
Sprout their myopic pernicious poison,
To the oblivious masses and the credulous sheep
Slapping the face of humanity,
In a power-driven crestridden wave.

Revolutionary seedlings shoot through fertile virgin soil
Inducing the spawn of tomorrows cornerstone,
Bearing sweet fruit of the assemblance of unity
To nourish lifes voracious mortal chain,
Consciousness and attitude of this time
Guiding unruly glissanding ideals,
Wanting to come of age and avert the dystopian nightmare

Saturday, 2 February 2019

The Specials - Encore

The Specials one of the most seminal,  electrifying, influential and important bands of all time,have just released their first album of new music in 20 years. Entitled Encore, the February 1st, 2019 release  also marks the return of original lead vocalist Terry Hall, who entered the studio with the band for the first time since 1981’s classic “Ghost Town”. Founding members Lynval Golding and Horace Panter are also back, with drummer Kenrick Rowe and Ocean Colour Scene guitarist Steve Cradock rounding out the lineup. 
Hall, Golding, and Panter produced the 10-track effort alongside touring keyboardist Nikolaj Torp Larsen. While eight of the songs are originals, two are covers: an opening rendition of The Equals’ “Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys” and a take on The Valentines’ “Blam Blam Fever” addressing gun violence.
The Specials’ comeback album arrives in a Britain riven by political crisis, racial tension and the rise of the far-right. The situation resembles the turbulent times of the Coventry band’s prime years in the late 1970s and early 1980s, back when they were one of the few multi-racial groups on the circuit, promoters of a powerful anti-racist message.
The Specials, who were  true innovators in their field, began the British ska revival, combining the highly danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk’s energy and attitude, whilst taking on a more focused and informed political and social stance than their predecessors and peers.
Originally formed in Coventry in 1977 as the Coventry Automatics  by Jerry Dammers (songwriter and keyboardist), Terry Hall (vocals), Lynval Golding (guitar and vocals), Neville Staples (vocals and percussion), Roddy Radiation (guitar), Sir Horace Gentleman (bass), and John Bradbury (drums). Initially an opening slot for the Clash stirred up interest with the major labels, but Dammers opted to start his own 2-Tone label, named for its multiracial agenda and after the two-tone tonic suits favoured by the like-minded mods of the 1960s. The Dammers-designed logos, based in pop art with black and white checks, gave the label an instantly identifiable look. Dammers’ eye for detail and authenticity also led to the band adopting period rude-boy outfits (porkpie hats, tonic and mohair suits, and loafers).
The Specials debuted with the ‘Gangsters’ single, which reached the UK Top 10 in 1979. Soon after, hordes of bands and fans followed in the same tradition and the movement reached full swing. Over the next several months, 2-Tone enjoyed hits by similar-sounding bands such as Madness, the (English) Beat, and the Selecter. Late in 1979, the band released its landmark debut album, The Specials, produced by Elvis Costello. They followed with several 2-Tone package tours and a live EP, ‘Too Much Too Young’. The title track, a pro-contraception song, was banned by the BBC but reached the No.1 spot in the UK. 1980 saw two further Top 10 hits with ‘Rat Race’& ‘Stereotype’.
The Specials released their follow up album, More Specials, with a new neo-lounge persona, bookended by nostalgia nugget, ‘Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)’. The group’s defining moment came during the long hot summer of 1981, courtesy of the eerily evocative ‘Ghost Town’, issued amid race-related unemployment riots in Brixton and Liverpool. The song spent a total of ten weeks in the UK Top 40 and three at No.1. By the end of the year the song had won over critics to be named “Single of the Year” in Melody Maker, NME and Sounds.
Following the release of 1979’s The Specials and 1980’s More Specials, and the recording of “Ghost Town,” Hall left the band ,which continued for one more album, In the Studio, under the Special AKA moniker. Between 1996 and 2001, reunited versions of the group, sans Hall released three covers albums (Today’s Specials, Skinhead Girl and Conquering Ruler), plus 1998’s Guilty ’til Proved Innocent!, which featured new songs by original and new members of the band.
Sadly the new release will arrive without founding member Jerry Dammers, but after their original bust  up, which was so bitter, it was clear that he would never play with them again, steadfastly refusing to participate in any Specials reunions. After the original Specials split up, he carried on as the Special AKA, and dedicated himself to running the British arm of Artists against Apartheid, writing the iconic song Free Nelson Mandela. He has.steadfastly refused to participate in any Specials reunions but has continued  releasing remarkable  music with his wildy adventurous project the Spatial AKA Orchestra.Neither does it  it feature Roddy Radiation and Neville Staple, who both left the reunited group in recent years to carry on releasing their own engaging music. Drummer John Bradbury died in 2015.
However “Vote For Me”, the first new Specials single released  earlier this year fortunately addresses the same social and political issues which were prevalent when the band formed in the late ‘70s, in which  Hall bemoans the state of the political class.
Specials biographer Paul "Willo" Williams  posted an exclusive, glowing preview of Encore, which he states picks up "where More Specials left off" (so there will be bits of rock, pop, and soul with your 2 Tone); and if "'Ghost Town' was the anthem of 1981, then Encore is the snapshot of the world today,-and on a global scale."
'B.L.M.' ( an acronym for Black Lives Matter) finds Lynval Golding telling the story of his own father arriving in the UK on the Windrush to help rebuild a war-torn Britain, and his own experience of racism in the UK and America.
Track 3 Vote For Me bemoans politicians  'drunk on money and power' with an atmospheric arrangement that draws  comprisons  to Ghost Town.
Terry Hall is open and confessional on the topic of mental health and his  own  life time battle with bi-polar disorder on the gently spoken ' The life And Times (Of A Man Called Depression) Showing such bravery in addressing this issue.
Saffiyah Khan, the anti-racist activist pictured in a celebrated news photograph confronting an English   Defence League demonstrator in 2017, delivers a spoken-word feminist reworking of Prince Buster’s  misogynist reggae song “Ten Commandments of Man”.
Embarrrassed  By You  is as ska reggae eant with Goding and Hall, covering kife crime, hoodies, moped gangs and misguided youth spilling on our streets.
  “The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum” adds an enjoyable Latin flavour to a song by Specials spin-off group Fun Boy Three, it's message ever so relevant to the world that we are living in right now., as they were back in the day.
Breaking Point has a dark  feel, combined with swirling keyboards. Lines like ' Social Media is a trend that'll send us all around the bend' gives you the theme of Hall's lyrics, in a world gone wrong.
The record ends with  the glorious  optimistic We Sell Hope for me a highight, a truly memerising haunting track, that is certainly made for these times, truly uplifting ' Looked all around the world, could be a beautiful place.' ' do what you need to do without making the world suffer,'
Needless to say, expectations had been  running high for this release (fans have been clamoring for new material ever since the first few reunion tours, which started back in 2008!). Even without the genius of Dammers on board,  one  wonders what the record would have sounded like with his involvement, and minus a few other members,  some people  are questioning its authenticity,  but I personally am  glad it's out there and welcome the defiant  angry message and  glorius music contained within.The Specials will take to the road in the UK and abroad throughout 2019 in support of the new album.The CD edition of Encore also includes a live album called The Best of The Specials Live.

Encore is released by UMC

Vote For Me

If we vote for you, do you promise
To be upright, decent and honest

To have our best interest at heart
You understand why we don't believe you
You're way too easy to see through
Not the best places to start
There are no rocks at Rockaway beach

And all that glitters isn't gold
You're all so drunk on money and power

Inside your Ivory tower
Teaching us not to be smart
Making laws that serve to protect you
But we will never forget that
You tore our families apart

There are no rocks at Rockaway beach
And all that glitters isn't gold

So if we vote for you, do you promise
To be upright, decent and honest
And take away all of the fear
You sit and wait for us to elect you
But all we'll do is reject you
Your politics bore us to tears

There are no rocks at Rockaway beach
And all that glitters isn't gold

The Specials featuring Saffiyah Khan "Ten Commandments "

The Specials - The Lunatics

The Specials - We Need Hope

Friday, 1 February 2019

Rest in Power Jeremy Hardy, Comedian and Social Justice Campaigner

Sad to hear that Jeremy Hardy ,the  much-loved British comedian and activist, died far to young earlier today after a long battle with cancer aged 57. He is survived by his wife, filmmaker and photographer Katie Barlow, and his daughter Betty who were with him when he died.
"Friends and family of comedian Jeremy Hardy are immensely sad to announce that Jeremy died of cancer, early on Friday 1st February," said   his publicist Amanda Emery in a statement. "He was with his wife and his daughter as he died. He retained to the end the principles that guided his life; trying to make the world more humane, and to be wonderfully funny.He retained to the end the committed principles that guided his life; trying to make the world more humane, and to be wonderfully funny. He will be enormously missed by so many, who were inspired by him and who laughed with him. A fitting memorial will take place, details to be announced soon."
Born in Farborough, Hampshire, in 1961, he started his career as a stand-up comedian and won the coveted Perrier Award in 1988 and best live act at the ITV Comedy Awards in 1991.
His TV debut came in 1986 when he starred in Now - Something Else appearing alongside Rory Bremner. The impressionist posted that Hardy was "unfussy, unshowy, principled, self-deprecating," and "funnier than the lot of us put together"
He went on to play Corporal Perkins in an episode of Blackadder Goes Forth in 1989 Having studied history and politics at the University of Southampton, the life-long socialist wrote at length about social politics for publications including The Guardian and ES Magazine.
Hardy  built a reputation for weaving socialist politics into his comedy acts, balancing outrage at the state of the world and the United Kingdom with a compassion for ordinary people. Away from stand-up, Hardy was known for his social justice campaigning and guest appearances on BBC Two's Mock the Week and BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. He was also an author and actor.
Like many of his '80s contemporaries, Hardy was an overtly political comic who railed against the perceived injustices of the Conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.
 When he started off in comedy he said that he originally hadn't intended to be a "political" comic, but that the atmosphere of Margaret Thatcher's Britain made it inevitable.
"I'd always been a sort of leftist, liberal social democrat, but the country in the 80s was so right-wing that I thought I'd become part of some beleaguered minority of ultra-leftists," he told friend and fellow comedian Jack Dee on the BBC show Chain Reaction.
He was also fiercely opposed to the Iraq War begun by the labour government of Tony Blair.He was ubiquitous on demonstrations against war, austerity, racism and in support of striking workers.
One of his greatest political passions was Palestine. For most comedians, especially those who regularly appeared on BBC panel shows, the topic was too sensitive to broach. Of course, the main reason for this is that few take the effort to do their homework, let alone travel to the region to see the situation first hand.
In 2002, at the peak of the Second Intifada, which had then been raging for two years, Hardy took up an offer by his friend Leila Sansour - chief executive of the Open Bethlehem NGO, to be the subject of a film in which he travelled to the West Bank as part of the International Solidarity Movement to be a human shield.
The result was the very moving, and very funny documentary, Jeremy Hardy Vs The Israeli Army.
which saw the comedian facing down Israeli gunfire and eventually become trapped along with six other British activists in Bethlehem as the town was placed under siege by the Israelis.
Palestine activist Leila Sansour had wanted to bring a "recognised name" - someone famous - to the West Bank to see the occupation for themselves, and to bring the solidarity movement to a wider audience. The only person willing to do it was Jeremy Hardy.
"I could see she had a strange faith in the power of minor celebrity," says Hardy in the film's introduction.

 He remained a committed activist in solidarity with Palestinians, raising money for Palestinian causes including the Palestine Trauma Centre and Medical Aid for Palestinians.
He campaigned against the Israeli military's use of checkpoints, forcing patients to transfer between ambulances on either side of often arbitrarily-placed barriers.
"People die because they don't reach the hospital in time," he told The New Arab. "People also miss appointments all the time because of getting held up at the checkpoints, for example for not having the right paperwork.
"It just highlights the brutality of the occupation in the way it just makes ordinary everyday life, things that we take for granted, impossible."
 In one of his last visits to the West Bank, a trip organised by Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) along with fellow British comedian Imran Yusuf, he highlighted the ongoing plight of the people of occupied Hebron and the attempts by Israeli settlers to gain full control of the centre of the city.
“They want them to leave," he tells the camera. "They want Palestinians to leave. They want the businesses to close, they want people to stop coming here to shop. They want the economy to collapse. And then take all of it, take all of the land, basically."

  There’s been no crop failure here, there’s been no natural disaster - people have just been crushed by being occupied.”
With a few exceptions - such as his close friend Mark Steel - there will be no mainstream voices left in the ever-shrinking pool of "actually well-informed satire" after Hardy's passing, let alone those who can speak and ridicule with authority about Syria or Palestine or war and capitalism.
 Tributes this morning were led by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Who said on twitter
" Jeremy Hardy was a dear, lifelong friend. He always gave his all for everyone else and the campaigns for social justice."
 Fellow comedians and activists also took to Twitter to remember their friend.
 Jack Dee, who worked with Hardy on Channel 4 sketch show Jack and Jeremy's Real Lives and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, tweeted that Hardy was "ground-breakingly brilliant, off the register funny, compassionate and caring".
Fellow comedian David Baddiel called his death simply "a great loss to comedy".
 Deputy Labour leader John McDonnell praised Hardy for "courageously supporting campaigns for social justice".
Journalist Owen Jones added: "Utterly devastated to hear of Jeremy Hardy's death. He was such a wonderful guy, hilarious, full of humanity and heart, committed to fighting for a world without injustice. Just a lovely bloke."
Until 2001, Hardy wrote a column for the Guardian newspaper in which he regularly expressed his support for the Socialist Alliance .His radical views did not always go down well, however, and he was once booed by members of the audience on Radio Four's Just A Minute for ranting about the Royal Family when asked to talk about "parasites".
In 2004, Burnley Council cancelled one of his shows after he said members and supporters of the British National Party should "be shot" on an episode of his Speaks to the Nation programme.
 Hardy’s political history and identity is neatly captured by two recent tweets. The comedian’s own last message on his official account – sent at 2.40am on 8 January – attacked Tony Blair’s latest intervention in the Brexit debate, warning that the former premier risked precipitating hard Brexit and a right-wing Tory government.
Hardy was twice married, to American actress and comedian Kit Hollerbach, who appeared alongside him in radio sitcoms and with whom he adopted a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1990. A memorial to Mr Hardy is set to be announced.
Sadly  he never lived to see the end of the occupation of Palestine or the kind of people he thought should run the country actually taking power in Britain. Though his death was untimely, Jeremy remained philisophical on matters of mortality and the apparent pointlessness of life:
"Why don’t they just accept that life is sad and cheer up? After all, it’s not forever."
 Rest in Power to such a good man  and one of the few genuinely funny and radical comedians who chose to use his comedy to change the world, rather than to fill stadiums.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

To Those Born Later - Bertolt Brecht (10 February 1898 – 14 August 1956),

Bertolt Brecht (1898 - 1852) wrote the following poem in exile  during the early years of the Third Reich in virtue of its title, addressed himself to a posterity he believed, would be unable to understand how it felt to live in a time of acute moral and political crisis. What defines such a time, he wrote, is that disaster becomes the only possible subject of thought, crowding out everything we think of as ordinary life:
 “What kind of times are these, when/To talk about trees is almost a crime/Because it implies silence about so many horrors?” Brecht urged his readers to consider the actions of people living in these “dark times,” finsteren Zeiten, with particular sympathy: “When you speak of our failings,” the poem implores,  “Bring to mind also the dark times/That you have escaped.”
Entitled An die Nachgebrenen or To Those Born Later in a period he referred to repeatedly as "the dark times." From the perspective of this time of desperation and despair Brecht imagined in his poem a different future a time when "man would be a helper to man"
The dark times sadly are still not over, we still bare witness to a world of global war,poverty, hunger, environmental collapse, the unchallenged reign of capitalism, and far-right groups emerging again to take advantage of the fear among us.
Brecht's words are ever so resonant as we also attempt to imagine a better future and find traces of  hope before its too late, his words can still sustain us as we seek ways to escape and resist the politics of division.
These dangerous times  require all of us to dig deep into our common humanity. We must build bridges across all boundaries of difference and nonviolently resist all efforts from whatever quarter to dehumanise and demonise the other as is happening all around the world at the present time.

To Those Born Later - Bertolt Brecht


Truly, I live in dark times!
The guileless word is folly. A smooth forehead
Suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs
Has simply not yet had
The terrible news.

What kind of times are they, when
A talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?
That man there calmly crossing the street
Is already perhaps beyond the reach of his friends
Who are in need?

It is true I still earn my keep
But, believe me, that is only an accident. Nothing
I do gives me the right to eat my fill.
By chance I've been spared. (If my luck breaks, I am lost.)

They say to me: Eat and drink! Be glad you have it!
But how can I eat and drink if I snatch what I eat
From the starving, and
My glass of water belongs to one dying of thirst?
And yet I eat and drink.

I would also like to be wise.
In the old books it says what wisdom is:
To shun the strife of the world and to live out
Your brief time without fear
Also to get along without violence
To return good for evil
Not to fulfill your desires but to forget them
Is accounted wise.
All this I cannot do:
Truly, I live in dark times.


I came to the cities in a time of disorder
When hunger reigned there.
I came among men in a time of revolt
And I rebelled with them.
So passed my time
Which had been given to me on earth.

My food I ate between battles
To sleep I lay down among murderers
Love I practised carelessly
And nature I looked at without patience.
So passed my time
Which had been given to me on earth.

All roads led into the mire in my time.
My tongue betrayed me to the butchers.
There was little I could do. But those in power
Sat safer without me: that was my hope.
So passed my time
Which had been given to me on earth.

Our forces were slight. Our goal
Lay far in the distance
It was clearly visible, though I myself
Was unlikely to reach it.
So passed my time
Which had been given to me on earth.


You who will emerge from the flood
In which we have gone under
When you speak of our failings
The dark time too
Which you have escaped.

    German; trans. John Willett, Ralph Manheim & Erich Fried