Thursday, 31 May 2018

Stand up for Asylum - Ahmad's Story

Another story of heartbreak and despair. Ahmad, his wife, his elderly parents and younger brother spent three years moving from one neighbourhood in Syria to another in search of safety.Ahmad also spent a year in jail. where he was repeatedly tortured by the Syrian regime. In, 2016, Ahmad arrived in the UK, where he has an older brother. He had hoped to find a chance to rebuild his life in safety and ways to support his family who he left penniless in Turkey. What he found was long months of uncertainty, fear and desperation.
People are forced to flee their homes for many different  reasons ranging from war and violence, to natural disasters and climate change and deserve a duty of care, yet the UK governments treatment of asylum seekers and refugees is institutionally incapable of showing any humanitarian outlook and is simply not fit for purpose when it comes to dealing with these issues, and falls seriously below the standards of a civilised society.This system still denies sanctuary to those who genuinely need it and ought to be entitled to.
The asylum system should mean safety and a new life for people like Ahmad. It needs to change. Join us at #StandUpForAsylum Please email your MP today. to ask them to ask the Home Office to urgently reform the system. Immigration detention is the system whereby the government can detain individuals, supposedly for the purpose of removing them from the UK. We are alone in Europe in being able to detain people without a time limit, with thousands of people detained, not knowing whether they will be held for a few days, a few months, or a few years. If  you would like to change this you can sign up here.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Wat Tyler and the Peasant's Revolt of 1381

In 1381, some 35 years after the Black Death had swept through Europe decimating over one third of the population, there was a shortage of people left to work the land. Recognising the power of ‘supply and demand’, the remaining peasants began to re-evaluate their worth and subsequently demanded higher wages and better working conditions.
The Peasants' Revolt the first great popular protest in English history started in Essex on 30 May 1381, when a tax collector tried, for the third time in four years, to levy a poll tax, to try and raise money for Richard 11's war against France,arrived at the village of Fobbing to find out why no tax had been collected but locals attacked the tax collectors as they came to collect this hated tax, and were thrown out, as were soldiers sent soon afterwards.This led to the phrase 'fobbed off'. This crippling tax meant that everyone over the age of 15 had to pay one shilling. Perhaps not a great deal of money to a Lord or a Bishop, but a significant amount to the average farm labourer! And if they could not pay in cash, they could pay in kind, such as seeds, tools etc. All of which could be vital to the survival of a farmer and his family for the coming year.
The uprisings spread rapidly, gaining much support, soon both Essex and Kent were in revolt, partly because of  effective organisation by the rebel leaders who had a clear set of political demands.Wat Tyler was elected as leader and with other leaders in tow, such as John Ball and Jack Straw, the men of the southeast seized Rochester Castle, Maidstone, and then on 7th June Canterbury. Tyler at the head of 4000 rebels broke into the cathedral, demanding that the Arch-Bishop Simon Sudbery, who was a leading member of the government, be deposed. During the run-up to the revolt John Ball and other renegade English priests had preached radical religious thinking that had gone hand in hand with the social revolution that had sparked the current revolt. They preached social equality and that men did not need the help of a rich priest in order to find God and that the church was greedy and corrupt. With Canterbury under rebel control they marched on London, their ranks now swelled as every day more men flocked to their banner. On the road to London any symbol of what they saw as state oppression was smashed or burnt and any tax collector or landlord that they happened to come across was dragged aside and killed.  
The peasants were not just protesting against the government. Since the Black Death poor people had become increasingly angry that they were still serfs, usually farming the land and serving their king. Whipped up by the preaching of radical priest John Ball, they were demanding that all men should be free and equal; for less harsh laws; and a fairer distribution of wealth.The term “Peasants” Revolt is somewhat misleading as many of the men who were to take up arms that summer were far from what we would today think of as peasants. Many were from the yeoman classes, skilled men and village leaders. Their fight wasn’t against misery, hunger or poverty, instead it was a call for liberty, justice and an end to the feudal system that still kept many free born Englishmen as mere slaves to the lords of the manor. It was a moral crusaded for emancipation and for what they believed to be right
On Thursday, 13 June, the rebels gained entrance into the city, streaming through Aldgate . They burned John of Gaunt's London palace, the Savoy, along with Fleet Prison and the Hospital of St. John. On June 14th, with no close military support at hand that could stand in the way of the rebel army, King Richard, who was only fourteen, rode to Mile End to hear the rebels' demands, which included provisions for free labor contracts (doubtless a reference to the Statute of Laborers) and the right to rent land at fourpence an acre. Richard promised them justice,and made vast concessions including the abolition of serfdom, market monopolies and feudal service with the result that many Essex commons returned home; but other peasants broke into the Tower and executed, among others, Archbishop Sudbury and Robert Hales, Royal Treasurer and Prior of the Hospital of St. John's, who provided something like a flashpoint for the mob's fury.
The following day the King again met with the rebels, this time at Smithfields, and Wat Tyler bravely rode out from the rebel ranks armed only with a dagger to present their final demands. He demanded that all Englishmen should as treated as equals and that all aristocratic titles and privileges were to be abolished and only the king was to retain a superior title. Wat proclaimed:-

“There should be equality among all people save only the king. There should be no serfdom and all men should be free and of one condition.” 

He demanded that all church property should be confiscated and divided out among the people save for a small amount to provide the clergy with “sufficient sustenance” Finally he demanded for his people “We will be free forever, our heirs and our lands." 

At some point according to an eyewitness (on the King’s side), Tyler behaves disrespectfully towards young King Richard, he shook the Kings hand roughly and after calling for water, he rinsed his mouth "in a very rude and disgusting fashion”. Wat Tyler, alone and far ahead of the ranks of the rebel army was set upon by the Kings men and murdered.
On seeing the death of their leader the rebel ranks joined battle formation and began to string their bows until the King rode out in front of them declaring “I will be your Captain” He called for further negotiations and re-affirmed the concessions he had previously made the rebels. Leaderless and with their aims apparently achieved the rebel army gradually faded away.
With the rebels dispersed the King acted swiftly. He immediately rescinded every concession he had made and he sent Royal troops out into the country where the remains of the rebellion was mercies crushed. One chronicler tells us that over 500 leaders of the rebellion were sent to the gallows, including John Ball and Jack Straw who were hanged, drawn and quartered. On a later tour of Essex the King would sneer at his English subjects,:-

“Rustics you were and rustics you are still. You will remain in bondage, not as before, but incomparably harsher”

Both Wat Tyler and his rebellion were dead but his name lived on to become a watchword and a rallying cry during public demonstrations and rebellions that his actions inspired throughout the later medieval period and up to this present day.
Wat Tyler and his kinsmen were brave and courageous men who refused to be intimidated by a political elite who wished to dominate them and refused to have their ideals curbed by the social constraints of the day. A cry for social justice and freedom that has since been planted in every single country that draws its culture and tradition from those very same Anglo-Saxon people. Wat Tyler epitomised something that we very often forget about the English and that is their tradition for radical thought and action – in short people just like Wat Tyler and John Ball who were prepared to think the unthinkable no matter what the consequences.
Although the Revolt was defeated, its demands – less harsh laws, money for the poor, freedom and equality, all became part of our democracy in the long term.
The Peasants' Revolt was a popular uprising. In its demands for rights and equality, it was similar to the Chartists of the 19th century, the Diggers and the levellers at the time of the English Civil War, then the sufragettes, and the modern Trade Union Movement and the campaign against Margaret Thatcher's dreaded Poll tax in the 1980's and the protests it provoked that led to her downfall, an echo of the poll tax from centuries before, opposition to which had contributed to the Peasant's Revolt.It is  remembered by all those who stand for freedom and justice and stand against oppression, still inspiring people to fight for change.
Just like all those centuries ago the rich and todays rulers, the corporate and financial so-called elite are still taking what they want from the people, getting their ever more outrageous ‘rewards’ by appropriating from the people who do the work, the wealth that they produce. Anger in the air still palpable, as ordinary people again hold the political class in contempt.

Wat Tyler - Robert  Southey ( 1774 - 1843)

“WHEN Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?”
Wretched is the infant’s lot,
Born within the straw-roof’d cot;
Be he generous, wise, or brave,
He must only be a slave.
Long, long labor, little rest,
Still to toil, to be oppress’d;
Drain’d by taxes of his store,
Punish’d next for being poor:
This is the poor wretch’s lot,
Born within the straw-roof’d cot.
While the peasant works,—to sleep,
What the peasant sows,—to reap,
On the couch of ease to lie,
Rioting in revelry;
Be he villain, be he fool,
Still to hold despotic rule,
Trampling on his slaves with scorn!
This is to be nobly born.
“When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?”

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The trouble with Tommy Robinson

The inability of Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon, to shy away from trouble has surfaced once more during another incident that happened outside court precints that he was supposed to be avoiding. This time, the alleged free speech campaigner, that's free speech for him, but not for Muslims,  in which  he demonises an entire religion time and time again, visited a court in Leeds, where he fell foul of the law again, for allegedly breaching the peace outside a court during an ongoing grooming trial.The far right extremist  had showed men entering Leeds Crown Court  in a livestream on Facebook, where he claimed to be " reporting" on the case.
After more than an hour of broadcasting, footage showed police officers approaching to arrest him for alleged breach of the peace and incitement."Can you get me a solicitor?" he pleaded with his supporters at the time, "This is ridiculous, I haven't said a word... I've done nothing.
But Robinson was already under a suspended sentence for committing contempt of court  regarding a gang rape case heard in Canterbury last year. The judge handed him  three months imprisonment in May last year suspending it for 18 months on the proviso he did not commit further offences.
Regarding the recent incident, Robinson spoke of his freedom of speech, but the judge told Robinson, it is about justice and ensuring  that a trial can be carried out jutly and fairly, it's about being innocent  until proven guilty, Judge Norton, said " There are notices all over the court buildings making it clear that filming or taking photographs is an offence and may be a contempr of court."
Judge Norton went on "This is not about freedom of speech or the freedom of the press. This is not about legitimate journalism or political correctness. It's about justice and ensuring that a trial can be carried out justly and fairly, and ensuring a jury is not in anyway inhibited in carrying out its important function.It appears that Robinson was given a thirteen month sentence for contempt of court and taken to Hull prison.
This saw scenes in Whitehall in central London yesterday, where several hundred of his supporters held a short rally and protest, Some sat in the road, among them, UKIP,For Britain members and fascists from the National Front and Britain First. They had earlier heard from one organiser who insultingly read out Pastor Niemoller's. "First they came..." poem, written about the Nazis rise to power in the 1930's. The fascists there mocked the poem being read out. Another speaker, thought to be from UKIP said Robinson was the new "Nelson Mandela" for goodness sake
The fact remains that Robinson's racism and trouble making activities has long been evident from his days in the BNP to his founding of the the English Defence League (EDL) in 2009, at its height under his leadership the  EDL ventured from town to to town across the UK,leaving a trail of destruction and division in its wake. In 2012, it was revealed that policing costs for its demonstrations had risen to over 310m during four years, with violence being commonplace. He then went to  to work with the Quilliam Foundation,he also established Pegida UK an anti-Islam organisation, named after the ultra right German group Pegida. Robinson had  previously broadcast his activities on Twitter as well as on Facebook, but was permanently banned from the platform earlier this year.
He also has a long list of criminal convictions for violence and has been arrested many times during demonstrations and at fights between football fans, and imprisoned for entering the U.S, illegally in 2012, as well as being jailed for mortgage fraud in 2014.
In June 2015, he met with other far-right activists , including Anne Marie Waters of Sharia Watch UK, Alan Avling, a former funder of the English Defence League and Jim Dowson, formerly leader of Britain First. The group planned to host an exhibition of Mohammed cartoon exhibitions in September that year, and according to Dowson, they hoped to spark a civil war.
He later. became a correspondent for Canadian right wing website Rebel Media and his posts and emails were said to have radicalised the Finsbury attacker Darren Osborne, rather than take stock and toning down his hysteria, Robinson  has doubled up and played the victim. The far right have nothing . if not a serious persecution complex, and this gives them something to unite around, to them Tommy Robinson  is seen as their hero, their poster boy, who they see as a defender of the truth, a warrior for justice. Robinson meanwhile is currently cavorting with the racist and extreme ethno-nationalist Generation Identity movement whose leaders have been prevented from entering the UK, Robinson promotes and shares their videos frequently. A number of ex-National Action neo Nazis have recently been identified as new members of this group. There is clearly a porous boundary between new far right groups like this one and other neo-Nazi and extreme right groups.
A 2017 report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue entitled The Fringe Insurgency, explains that far-right groups around the world are increasingly collaborating to achieve common goals, such as keeping refugees out of Europe, removing hate speech laws and getting far-right politicians to power. This is despite often stark differences in their publicly stated ideologies and public image.The report states that although different groups' communications are tailored to different audiences and highlights topics ranging from white nationalist activism to freedom of speech protection, this has worked to increase the profile of all groups feeding off each other as they seek to drum up intolerance, fuel grievances, foster division, using social media as their critical tool. 
Robinson is trying to reinvent himself as a journalist, which he is not in anyway, who thinks this will give him immunity in his never ending quest to spread hate and lies. Under the pretext of freedom of speech , what he does is spread racism, islamphobia and foster division, many consider him a mere attention seeker, but he is a dangerous  provocateur, rabble rouser who uses every opportunity to spread his  inflammotary  anti-muslim  messages, while offering no competent solutions to the  issues he raises. His freedom of speech is not free if it oppresses others.He essentially spreads  hate as he calls Islam evil, blaming a whole religion for most wrongs in society. A child growing up hearing that another religion is wrong, hearing another religion follows a hateful doctrine , hearing that they support a religion which preaches unspeakable acts, will likely to grow up to hate that religion too.
The dangers of Tommy Robinsons  hardcore politics, being propagated on.a wide scale, by his friends on the internet, and allied with racist street movements must not be underestimated. Robinson is every bit as worthy of our contempt as the Islamist fundamentalists he claims to oppose, and needs to be treated as such.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Shadow Dance

We should chase our shadows strongly
before another can find us fully
accept ourselves as the planet shapes us
before the angry winds howl again
follow St Vitus's dance
every kiss that is blown,
ignore loops of hatred
that try to cancel out laughter
hold onto love and all its residues
follow templates that know your heart,
like old petals of passion
a gleam in the sky
cascading overhead
glistening with continuance,
absorbing thought with compassion
releasing its dove tails across the land
as the world spins slowly on its axis
waltz on with ever cautious steps, 
allow thick, warm, healing air inside
listen to the sound of lulling waves outside.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Ken Livingstone's dignified resignation statement in full

It is with much sadness I have heard that  Ken Livingstone has been driven out of the Labour Party by a concerted campaign of misrepresentations of what he has said.
He dramatically  announced his resignation from the Labour Party on Monday evening.The former mayor of London and Greater London Council leader, was one of Labour's most recognisable faces for decades, Chris Williamson Labour Party MP for Derby North said " Ken Livingstone is a towering figure of the Labour movement ,who helped popularise  progressive socialism , who was labelled a 'loony lefty' nearly 40 years ago for his efforts to champion public services, and stand up for marginalised groups and fight all forms of racism."
He had been suspended since April 2016 pending formal internal investigations into his conduct after refusing to apologise for statements he made about Adolf Hitler and zionism. Mr Livingstone, whose suspension was due to expire in April but was extended, said he was quitting the party as the row over his comments had taken attention away from other vital issues.
I personally do not believe, and he has demonstrated this time again that he is a antisemite but that his opponents want to use his case to intimidate the rest of us into silence on Israel’s crimes. They will fail.Anti-semitism has become increasingly weaponised by the Israel Lobby and pro-Israel supporters and is being used to shut down critics of Israel, pro-Palestine supporters  and many innocent people like Ken Livingstone are being smeared with false claims of antisemitism. Anti-semitism used to apply to people who hated Jews, but is currently being used against critics of Israel, pro-Palestine supporters and  the rising Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaigns. Ken Livingstone has been caught in this crossfire for simply quoting a historical fact. The Israel lobby is controlling freedom of speech and actually destroying peoples lives. In desperation the attempt is made to say that any critcism  of Israel is antisemitic.
One should  not forget that Anti Zionism and anti-semitism are not the same thing.And opposing a state that's built on systematic Palestinian oppression is not antisemitic, it is simply anti -injustice, and anti-racist.Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish lie since it first emerged in 1897. In my humble opinion it is entirely legitimate for non Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it. Ken who I admit has used crass language at times, I do believe though, that like me, does not hate Jews, and I will continue to oppose clearly anyone who peddles this insidious point of view, we must all stand against this form of hatred, against racism wherever it comes from, and it  must continually be exposed and fought against, while anybody who questions or mocks the Holocaust and puts forward their twisted conspiracy theories and peddles their hatred  should be thoroughly ashamed.
l finally note that the Chakrabati inqury has already demonstrated that antisemitism is not endemic, in the Labour Party. Many believe this is a witch hunt to oust the 'old guard', the socialists and those critical of the occupation of Palestine, and an attempt to undermine Jeremy Corbyn's popular leadership, cementing an alliance between Labour's ardent Israel supporters and its neoliberal Blairites.  Corbyn  reacted to Livinstone's resignation  by saying it was "sad after such a long and vital contribution to London and progressive politics" but that resigning was "the right thing to do " Sadly Corbyn has refused to speak out in support of other comrades, primarily Jewish non Zionists, who have been booted from the party by the right wing bureaucracy on bogus pretexts. And he has even rolled back his previous support for BDS. So its victory for some at the moment I guess. In the meanwhile lets keep fighting for justice for the Palestinians, fighting racism in all its forms, including antisemtism.
Below I post Ken Livingstone's dignified resignation statement in full.

Statement From Ken Livingstone; 21 May 2018

After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party.The ongoing issues around my suspension from the Labour Party have become a distraction from the key political issue of our time, namely getting rid of a Tory government that is overseeing falling living standards and spiralling poverty whilst starving our beloved public services such as schools and the NHS from the resources they need. The suspension has made it difficult for me to speak out on a range of issues I care about. Whilst I have no plan to run for elected office, I do wish to continue speaking up for social and international justice, and I believe that taking this course of action will best enable this
We live in dangerous times and there are many issues I wish to speak up on and contribute my experience from running London to, from the need for real action to tackle climate change, to opposing Trump’s war-mongering, to the need to end austerity and invest in our future here in Britain.
I am not resigning because I accept the allegation that I have brought the Labour Party into disrepute – nor because I am in any way guilty of antisemitism (not that this has ever actually been put forward by the Labour Party as a reason for my suspension). I reject both allegations in the strongest terms.
I abhor antisemitism. Racism, including antisemitism, is a uniquely reactionary ideology, used to justify the greatest crimes in history. I believe that an ideology that starts by declaring one human being inferior to another is the downward spiral which ends at Auschwitz. I totally reject any such attitude, towards Jews, Muslims, black people or any other group. believe that the Holocaust was the greatest racist crime of modern times.
The contribution of Jewish people to human civilisation and culture is extraordinary. You only have to think of giants such as Einstein, Freud and Marx to realise that human civilisation would be unrecognisably diminished without the contribution and achievements of Jewish people.
I have fought racism and antisemitism all my life. When I have served in public office I have not just given lip service but I have taken real action to tackle antisemitism. As Leader of the Greater London Council in the 1980s and as London Mayor in the 2000s, I ensured London’s government resourced the fight against racism and antisemitism, as well as supported Jewish community organisations and cultural events.
When I was Leader of the Greater London Council (GLC), it funded a number of Jewish community organisations, including the Jewish Social Responsibility Council, the Jewish Association for the Physically Handicapped, the Jewish Employment Action Group, the Redbridge Jewish Youth Association and Agudas Israel in Hackney.
As London Mayor, I hosted, took part in and promoted events to mark the annual Holocaust Memorial Day. I hosted the Anne Frank exhibition at City Hall and the lighting of the Menorah ceremonies for the Hanukkah festival. I organised, in partnership with Jewish cultural organisations, a Jewish festival in Trafalgar Square – the Simcha on the Square. I also supported the Jewish Museum’s exhibition on multicultural Britain and published several guides to Jewish London.
t is wrong to accuse someone of antisemitism because they make a historical argument about a part of the Zionist movement’s relations with the Nazi regime in the 1930s.
I believe that a major reason for the attacks on me is that I support the Palestinian people’s human rights, which can in no way be equated with being anti-Jewish. I have strongly criticised the policies of successive Israeli governments, and campaigned for Palestinian rights for decades as part of a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The brutality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is renowned. In 2008-9 and 2014 several thousand Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed by Israel’s military assaults on Gaza. This violence continues to this day, as demonstrated when hundreds of Palestinian civilians in Gaza were gunned down by the Israeli army this month, with scores killed, including children. I am an opponent of the political regime that is responsible for these crimes, not the Jewish people.
I have been subject to numerous and hurtful smears and lies over the years. As Mr Justice Andrew Collins stated, in his judgement in the 2006 High Court of Justice case between myself and The Adjudication Panel for England,: ‘It could not sensibly be suggested that he [Ken Livingstone] is or ever has been antisemitic. He has not approved of some of the activities of the State of Israel and has made his views about that clear. But that has nothing to do with antisemitism.’

Antisemitism in Britain

Recently the results of two surveys of public attitudes to antisemitism were published by YouGov and by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. Both of these surveys showed that, unfortunately, there is a worrying persistence of antisemitic attitudes in Britain. The evidence is that it is much stronger on the right wing of politics than among Labour supporters and voters.
But antisemitism, an ideology with potentially genocidal results, must be fought wherever it is found, and I will continue to oppose it wherever it rears its head.
What is misguided is the cynical exploitation of the issue for the political end of attacking Jeremy Corbyn and others who are rightly concerned at the plight of the Palestinians who have been unjustly driven from their lands and kept in conditions of discrimination and repression for the past 70 years.
In Britain we desperately need a government that will implement policies along the lines of Labour’s popular manifesto at last year’s general election on which the party achieved widespread public support. The Tories and the newspaper barons are desperate that this should never happen.

My suspension from the Labour Party

As I resign from the Labour Party I would like to use this opportunity to set the record straight on what has happened over the last two years and my thoughts below should be read in conjunction with my defence from last year’s hearing, which can be read here.
Between the election of Jeremy as Leader in September 2015 and my suspension in April 2016 I was overwhelmed by media interviews to defend Jeremy from attacks by the media and some Labour MPs.
As part of this, I was often asked if Labour had a problem with antisemitism. I responded that I never heard or saw an antisemitic incident in a Labour Party meeting. I’d heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians, but I’d never heard anyone say anything antisemitic in a Labour Party meeting. I am sure however there are some antisemites in all parties, including Labour, and I am totally opposed to their views as with every other form of racism.
In April 2016, 80 Jewish Labour party members wrote to the Guardian saying ‘We do not accept that antisemitism is “rife” in the Labour party … The tiny number of cases of real antisemitism need to be dealt with, but we are proud that the Labour party historically has been in the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism. We, personally, have not experienced any antisemitic prejudice in our dealings with Labour party colleagues.’
At 8.50am on 28th April 2016 I was asked by Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London to respond to a social media post by the Labour MP, Naz Shah, quoting Martin Luther King, that ‘what Hitler did was legal’. King’s point, obviously, having been that just because something is legal (talking in the context of racist segregation laws in the US in the 1960s) does not mean it is right. I saw no relevance between Hitler and Labour so I responded in under 40 words pointing out that in the 1930s Hitler had supported Jews leaving Germany – including moving to Israel and he had arrived at a practical agreement with Zionist organisations on this.
The Prime Minister of Israel had told the World Zionist Congress on 20th October 2015 that ‘Hitler did not want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jew.’
The 1930s Transfer Agreement, between the German Zionist organisation and the Nazi government, is a documented matter of historical fact. Anyone wishing to confirm that can for example access the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial website and read the study by Y’Faat Weiss: ‘The transfer agreement and boycott movement: a Jewish dilemma on the eve of the Holocaust.’
In the hours that immediately followed my interview with Vanessa Feltz no journalist asked me to comment on my statement. At Millbank at 11.45am I was confronted by Labour MP John Mann shouting that I was a ‘lying racist’ and a ‘disgusting Nazi apologist’.
This was followed by 39 Labour MPs demanding my suspension. The Guardian reported that David Abraham had likened me to Oswald Mosley; Wes Streeting tweeted that I ‘had form on antisemitism’; and other Labour MPs denounced my views as bigotry. On the Daily Politics Show John Mann claimed I had suggested that Hitler was a Zionist. On 29 April, Ian Austin MP tweeted the following ‘joke’: ‘This row about Ken Livingstone & Hitler is so unfair. One was a horrible extremist obsessed with Jews. The other was leader of Nazi Germany.’
These accusations are utterly false. Had I said Hitler was a Zionist I would have apologised, as it is an evidently ridiculous idea. Hitler loathed Jews all his life and I would never suggest he was ‘a Zionist’. I simply stated the historical fact that Hitler was, for his own loathsome reasons, prepared to do a deal with Zionists to remove Jews from Germany.
At 1.20pm I received an email stating that I had been suspended. No one from the Labour Party General Secretary’s office phoned to check what I had said. My suspension was the lead story on the front pages the following day distracting from the local election, at a time when Jeremy’s critics were talking of a leadership challenge if we did badly in the elections. Fortunately, Labour won the mayoral election in London with a strong result.
My suspension gave credibility to the lie that my statement about Zionism was antisemitic. At the 2016 House of Commons Home Affairs Committee antisemitism enquiry, the Chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews suggested to the Committee that I had said that Zionists were ‘like Nazis’ and that ‘Hitler was a Zionist’ – both these notions are factually incorrect and are not statements I have ever made as I totally disagree with them.
Hundreds of people stopped me on the street to show their support and express their dismay at the media smears against me. Many of these people were Jewish. I had not experienced such a wave of support since the 2000 mayoral election.
My interview by the Labour Party Disputes and Disciplinary Panel was delayed by seven weeks thus preventing me standing for the NEC.
I handed evidence to the chair which showed what I said was true, but she replied she was not interested in history, and was determined to avoid what I said and whether it was true. In their report to the NEC there was no reference to the claim that ‘Hitler was a Zionist’ nor did it admit what I had said was true. It was suggested I considered Zionism was equivalent to Nazism and that I ‘raised Hitler as a defence’ – all entirely untrue. That this malign report was submitted to the NEC without my being allowed to see it and challenge it is a violation of justice.
It is quite clear that this campaign against me has nothing to do with antisemitism, for which no evidence has been produced, to the point that the legal representative for the Labour Party at my NCC hearing did not accuse me of it. This campaign is in fact because of my criticism of the massacres and discriminatory actions carried out by the leaders of the Israeli state and is using the pretext of my accurate statement of historical fact, that a practical agreement was arrived at between Hitler and some Zionists in the 1930s.
My hearing at the NCC was delayed for 11 months until it coincided with the launch of our 2017 local elections campaign. The barrister representing the Labour Party stated I was not antisemitic and no one claimed I had said Hitler was a Zionist even though that precise allegation is repeated by my detractors to this day. Instead it was claimed I was wrong to say that Labour MP Naz Shah’s social media posts were not antisemitic. One post showed Israel as a 51st state in the USA. This had also been posted by Norman Finklestein – who considered it a joke. A second post was a quote from Martin Luther King saying what Hitler did was legal.
I was also told I caused offence using the word ‘support’ when I said Hitler supported Zionism. However, the respected professor of Holocaust studies, Francis Nicosia, in his book Zionism and Antisemitism in Nazi Germany, said ‘there was almost unanimous support in German government and Nazi party circles for promoting Zionism among German Jews.’ Nicosia detailed that support in his December 1978 article ‘Zionism in National Socialist Jewish Policy in Germany, 1933-39’ (University of Chicago, Journal of Modern History).
Before the NCC hearing the Jewish News website carried an opinion piece by David Wolchover: ‘Kicking out Ken Livingstone for Hitler remark would be a bad mistake,’ stating ‘he was widely misquoted as claiming that Hitler was a Zionist but he has rightly emphasized that what he actually said was that Hitler supported Zionism.’ The article concludes with ‘Holocaust denial has alarmingly been on the increase among a vast new generation of young people… should we not be thankful for small mercies, that an influential and likeable public figure… has nonetheless reminded them that the Holocaust is a historical fact.’
However, I recognise the fact that the way I expressed a historical point caused real offence and upset in the Jewish community, and I deeply regret that.
I told the panel that in my years as Mayor of London antisemitic attacks in London had halved, whereas under Boris Johnson they had more than doubled. Just as at the House of Commons enquiry (see my submission to the Select Committee here and further submission here) no one wanted to question why this had happened or to give me the opportunity to further elaborate on my record as an anti-racist politician.
In the hearing, I was supported by Jewish witnesses (see here) and many others signed a letter in my defence (see here.)
Everyone expected the panel to expel me and I said if they did I would go for judicial review. The decision to merely extend my suspension was a shock but I suspect their lawyers warned I would win and it would be embarrassing for the NCC to have to explain to a judge why I was expelled for stating a historical fact whilst Labour MPs who libelled me faced no disciplinary action.
I appeared on that evening’s Newsnight to say that we should put this behind us, concentrate on the local elections and that I would be doing no more interviews after this. Unfortunately, Labour MP Wes Streeting turned up denouncing the decision thus re-opening the issue. In the following days, over 100 Labour MPs ensured it continued to distract attention from our local campaign. This led to my being besieged by the media demanding interviews and further distracted from the local elections. No action was taken against the MPs who had denounced the NCC decision.
In the 11 months the party spent investigating this issue no evidence was found to confirm any allegation of antisemitism against me, which is why at the NCC hearing this accusation was never made. This was never about antisemitism but about undermining Jeremy.
Had my hearing been open to press and public it would have been difficult for MPs to denounce the decision. In future, our disciplinary procedures should incorporate Britain’s legal principles and basic human rights by implementing the changes in our disciplinary procedures proposed in Shami Chakrabarti’s report. We also need to recognise that spurious claims of antisemitism undermine the importance of tackling genuine antisemitism.
Labour needs to stop its party bureaucracy wasting so much time investigating its membership. The Information Commissioners Office ruled that Labour’s HQ should not trawl through members’ social media accounts for disciplinary purposes as this is a breach of the Data Protection Act. But in the run-up to Jeremy’s second leadership victory the bureaucracy wasted a vast amount of time investigating 70,000 Labour members for suspension. Those thousands of hours should have been spent preparing for the general election. So, I would urge Labour to stop its staff wasting their time in this way and instead concentrate on preparing for the next election.
If the Tories had lost their seven most marginal seats (which they held by a mere 2,227 votes) in the 2017 General Election, Teresa May would not have her working majority with the DUP and Jeremy could be in Downing Street. Had our party not wasted so much time with internal schisms we could have won more than another seven seats from the Tories.
It is unbelievable that over two years have passed without this issue being resolved. On just one day in April this year I saw the false claim that I had said Hitler was a Zionist repeated by several newspapers.
Under Labour’s new General Secretary I am sure there will be rapid action to expel anyone who genuinely has antisemitic views, but it is important too that false allegations made about others are rebutted.
Throughout my political career I have become used to bogus attacks on my character as a way of trying to silence and discredit me. On the day I became Leader of the GLC, Margaret Thatcher said I intended to impose on Londoners a communist tyranny like those of Eastern Europe. When we cut bus and tube fares the Daily Mail warned that this was the first step to a full communist economy. I have also been accused corruption, violence, and tax dodging. Not one of these allegations are true, which is why they have never been proved.
There is nothing new in all of this. At the 1945 general election the Tories claimed that a Labour government would create a British version of the Gestapo, and when President Roosevelt introduced benefits to the unemployed he was accused of taking the first step toward communism. Whilst we will continue to have the Tories and the Tory press carry on with their lies and smears our membership have the right to expect that Labour MPs should not repeat those smears unless they have evidence that they are true.
In the run up to this year’s local elections and since numerous newspapers and individuals have continued to smear me as an antisemite. It is now being widely reported that I am to face another disciplinary hearing. This can only be to appease those who were not satisfied with the severity of the penalty imposed on me at the first hearing. I had no right of appeal, but, evidently, my detractors have unlimited rights of prosecution until they are satisfied, which I suspect they will not be unless and until the prospect of a Labour government under Jeremy has been defeated.
Throughout this career, my family and friends have given me every support, for which I am sincerely grateful. I am also grateful to the thousands of Labour members and supporters who supported me during last year’s hearing through signing petitions and sharing social media posts, and all those labour movement activists who have supported me throughout the last decades.
I no longer have the responsibilities of an elected politician. However, I do have the responsibilities of a husband and a parent of young children. It would be unfair for my wife and children to continue to be impacted by the cynical and worthless campaign that has been mounted against me in recent years.
The party must change urgently a process where prior to due process taking place leading figures in the party declare people guilty in the media and pre-empt the decision of the relevant bodies.
I also recognise that the way I made a historical argument has caused offence and upset in the Jewish community. I am truly sorry for that.
I am loyal to the Labour party and to Jeremy. However any further disciplinary action against me may drag on for months or even years, distracting attention from Jeremy’s policies.
I am therefore, with great sadness, leaving the Labour Party.
We desperately need an end to Tory rule, and a Jeremy Corbyn-led government to transform Britain and end austerity. I will continue to work to this end, and I thank all those who share this aim and who have supported me in my own political career.


Monday, 21 May 2018

Robert Creeley (21/5/26 - 30/3/05) - Poet, a rich lasting legacy of simple wisdoms

Robert Creeley, was one of America's most celebrated and distinctive poets and writers and for more than half a century a leading figure in the literary avant-garde who I have admired for a while, many of his  collections on my bookshelves,  I was originally drawn to his work because of his associations with the Beat movement, but there is far more individual richness about him, so was surprised that on what would have been his birthday, I've never actually done a blog post about him, I will correct this with the following post
Born on  May 21 1926 in Arlington, Massachusetts, two weeks before the birth of Allen Ginsberg in Newark, New Jersey. He lost his father, and the use of his left eye, before he was 5, and was subsequently brought up on a farm in West Acton. A year with the American Field Service in India and Burma (1944/5)  followed, which interrupted his time at Harvard; on his return he married Ann McKinnon Creeley, left Harvard without graduating, and, in 1948, went to New Hampshire to try subsistence farming. His attempt two years later to launch his own magazine failed, but prompted a long correspondence with the poet Charles Olson and provided material for Cid Corman's journal, Origin. In search of a cheaper way of life,  after his marriage,,the Creeleys moved in 1951 to France and the following year to Mallorca, where they stayed until their divorce in 1955. There they set up the Divers Press and printed books by Creeley himself , Robert Duncan, Olson, and others. His only novel, "The Island" (1963), drew on his time their and his relationship with his wife.
At Olson's invitation Creeley taught at Black Mountain College (spring 1954 and autumn 1955) and founded and edited the  innovative literary journal Black Mountain Review (1954-7), a crucial gathering place for alternative senses of writing at that time. Through the Black Mountain Review and his own critical writings, Creeley helped to define an emerging counter-tradition to the literary establishment
After his divorce, he returned briefly to Black Mountain before moving to San Francisco, where he associated with Allen Ginsburg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac and other members of the Beat Generation of writers. His work appeared in the influential anthology "The New American Poetry: 1945-1960" (1960), edited by Donald Allen.
Creeley's poetry was predominantly concerned with love and the emotions attending intimate relationships. Among his strongest influences he listed not only poets, like Olson, William Carlos Williams, and Ginsberg, but also jazz musicians, like Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, jazz taught him, he once wrote, that ''you can write directly from that which you feel."
Creeley's poetry emphasized the personal, the lyric, the improvisatory. he developed a spare, minmalist style. Reacting against such poets as T.S. Eliot, he rejected the ''literariness" of allusion and metrical form. There's a singularly stripped-down, casual quality to his poetry. For him, breath was the determining element in verse. ''I heard words/and words full/of holes/aching. Speech/is a mouth," he wrote in his poem ''The Language."
The most mannered thing about Mr. Creeley's verse was its absence of manner. He wrote in free verse, with short lines and stanzas. Not everyone approved: ''There are two things to be said about Robert Creeley's poem," the critic John Simon once wrote. ''They are short; they are not short enough."
In poetry, Mr. Creeley once said, ''form is never more than the expression of content." Yet a central paradox defined his work: For all that he wrote in a minimalist style, his great subject was the most maximal of human emotions, love and the complications that arise from it.
Creeley's early poems, collected in Poems 1950-1965 (1966), are minutely detailed,often obscure-analyses of feelings, their verse invariably free, their lines and stanzas short, and their sentences terse. A new disillusionment with analytical thinking is evident in Words (1967), Pieces (1969), and A Day Book (1972), and  following Creeley's second marriage  to Beat poet Bobby Louise Hall ending in divorce in 1976, his  poetry from that time reflected a brooding sense of loss. and a  less exalted view of love in Later (1978) and Echoes (1982). More notable for its continuities than for its changes, however, his poetry managed to sustain its unique brand of vigilant minimalism  as evident in For Love: Poems 1950–60 (1960). His manner became even more fragmentary in later volumes, notably Words (1965), Pieces (1969), Hello: A Journal (1978), and Memory Gardens (1986). Life and Death and The Dogs of Auckland appeared in 1998. He would finally marry gor the third time in 1977 to Penelope Highton who he would remain with for the rest of his life.
Creeley wrote more than 60 books during his lifetime and is often cited as one of the most important and infuential poets of the last century, he was also known for the diversity of his collaberations with artists outside his own authority. These include records with two decisive jazz composer/ musicians, the bassist Steve Swallow and the saxophonist Steve Lacey, and the alternative rock group Mercury Rev, with their 1993 musical setting of his poem ' So There'. He also worked for more than three decades with such visual artists as Robert Indiana, Jim Dine, Francesco Clemence, Alex Katz and Susan Rothenberg among others.
He subsequently taught at the University of New Mexico, and then would teach Poetry at Brown University and also served as the Samuel P. Capen Professor of Poetry and the Humanities at State University of New York at Buffalo He was admitted to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1988, and was the recipient of the Frost Medal (1987) and the Bollingen Prize in American poetry (1999),and received the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 .
He died  in Odessa, Texas 30 March 2005, he had been struggling with a lung ailment and died of complications from pneumonia. In his last years he often wrote of the anxieties of aging with humor,  and wistful anticipation. He leaves a  rich lasting legacy, I for one admire his poetry a lot, simple wisdoms that serve to remind us all of our deepest truths..

Goodbye -Robert Creeley

The century was well along
when I came in
and now that it's ending,
I realize it won't
be long.
But couldn't it all have been
a little nicer,
as my mother'd say. Did it
have to kill everything in
did right always have to beso wrong?
I know this body is impatient.
I know I constitute only a meager voice and mind.
Yet I loved, I love.
I want no sentimentality.
I want no more than home.

Self-Portrait - Robert Creeley

He wants to be
a brutal old man,
an aggressive old man,
as dull, as brutal
as the emptiness around him,

He doesn’t want compromise,
nor to be ever nice
to anyone. Just mean,
and final in his brutal,
his total, rejection of it all.

He tried the sweet,
the gentle, the “oh,
let’s hold hands together”
and it was awful,
dull, brutally inconsequential.

Now he’ll stand on
his own dwindling legs.
His arms, his skin,
shrink daily. And
he loves, but hates equally.

DO YOU THINK THAT - Robert Creeley

Do you think that if
you once do what you want
to do you will want not to do it.

Do you think that if
there’s an apple on the table
and somebody eats it, it
won’t be there anymore.

Do you think that if
two people are in love with one another,
one or the other has got to be
less in love than the other at
some point in the otherwise happy relationship.

Do you think that if
you once took a breath, you’re by
that committed to taking the next one
and so on until the very process of
breathing’s an endlessly expanding need
almost of its own necessity forever.

Do you think that if
no one knows then whatever
it is, no one will know and
that will be the case, like
they say, for an indefinite
period of time if such time
can have a qualification of such time.

Do you know anyone,
really. Have you been, really,
much alone. Are you lonely,
now, for example. Does anything
really matter to you, really, or
has anything mattered. Does each
thing tend to be there, and then not
to be there, just as if that were it.

Do you think that if
I said, I love you, or anyone
said it, or you did. Do you
think that if you had all
such decisions to make and could
make them. Do you think that
if you did. That you really
would have to think it all into
reality, that world, each time, new.

Language - Robert Creeley
Locate I
love you some-
where in

teeth and   
eyes, bite   
it but

take care not   
to hurt, you   
want so

much so   
little. Words   
say everything.

love you

then what   
is emptiness   
for. To

fill, fill.
I heard words   
and words full

of holes   
aching. Speech   
is a mouth.

Ground Zero - Robert Creeley

What's after or before
seems a dull locus now
as if there ever could be more

or less of what there is,
a life lived just because
it is a life if nothing more.

The street goes by the door
just like it did before.
Years after I am dead,

there will be someone here instead
perhaps to open it,
look out to see what's there --

even if nothing is,
or ever was,
or somehow all got lost.

Persist, go on, believe.
Dreams may be all we have,
whatever one believe

of worlds wherever they are --
with people waiting there
will know us when we come

when all the strife is over,
all the sad battles lost or won,
all turned to dust.

Mind's Heart- Robert Creeley

Mind's heart, it must
be that some
truth lies locked
in you.

Or else, lies, all
lies, and no man
true enough to know
the difference.

Mercury Rev-So There (As read by Robert Creeley)

Sincerely Y'alls - Chris Massey , John Mills, Steve Swallow & Robert Creeley, 1999

Sunday, 20 May 2018

'Killing Gaza': A New Documentary on Palestinians Under Siege

In their  powerful new film "Killing Gaza," journalists Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal capture the harrowing stories of Palestinians who survived the 2014 Israeli assault and their struggles to recover and persist under a crippling blockade.Featuring direct testimony and evidence from the survivors.
Their new film "Offers an unflinching and moving portrait of a people largely abandoned by the outside world, struggling to endure." - Pulitzer- prize winning  journalist , best selling author and activist Chris Hedges. Killing Gaza captures the culture of resistance and might  help us all understand why so many Palestinians have been prepared to risk their lives and rush the gates.
You can watch the whole film here ;-
With thanks to The Real News Network
However the Palestinians have long lived under occupation, and remain steadfast with perseverance despite their collective feelings of oppression, represented by the concept of sumud that allows them a sense of rootedness to their land. Sumud is about persevering despite all the oppression and hardships that Palestinians daily face. Continuing to speak up, keep on going on with daily life at a time when there are massacres all around, as seen in Gaza.
Meanwhile the UN has at least voted to send an international war crimes probe to Gaza after the body's leading human rights official slammed Israel's reaction to protests along the border as " wholly disproportionate."
After Israel killed 60 Palestinians at mass border protests last Monday.The council voted through the resolution with 29 in favour and two opposed. while 14 states abstained.
The resolution also condemned "the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israel's occupying forces against Palestinian civilians."
Shamefully the UK abstained from the vote, in doing so going against a general international consensus among international Palestinian human rights organisations, which agree that the only way to approach justice is through an independent inquiry.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Levellers Day

In April 1649, Robert Lockyer, a leveller who had refused to serve during Cromwell's notorious rampage against Catholics in Ireland, was executed , then on May17th 1649, three soldiers Cornet James Thompson and Corporal  John Church and Private Perkins were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire. They belonged to a revolutionary movement  of radical thinkers which arose in the English Parliamentary Army in the 1640s, popularly known as the Levellers, with beliefs in civil rights and religious tolerance, equality for all. Considered by some to be the first socialists. During the Civil War, the Levellers fought on Parliament’s side, they had at first seen Cromwell as a liberator, but now saw him as a dictator. Angered by arrears in pay they were prepared to fight against him for their ideals..
The movement had developed within Cromwell's New Model Army, England's first professional force comprised of volunteers and with an openly political ethos. Inspired by the parliamentary cause and by the ideas of John Lilburne, Richard Overton and other radical pampleteers, and faced with the reality of pay arrears and unacceptable orders from Parliament, they quickly became radicalised and organised.
Their demands set out in a manifesto called the Agreement of the People, published on 1 May 1649, included universal male suffrage, abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords, land reditribution and the equality of all under the law. These demands in particular posed a serious threat to Parliament, dominated as it was by wealthy landowners.They also demanded universal state schools and hospitals to be provided at public expense anticipated the welfare state that would come 300 years later.
Leveller leaders had led mutinies in the Army during the civil war and had been arrested and imprisoned. The Burford mutiny followed on from the defeat of radical ideas at the Putney debates in 1647.However, on previous occasions the generals had not executed mutineers.Cromwell could not afford rebellion in the ranks of the parliamentary army and was determined to crush them. After government troops caught up with the Levellers at Burford. Three hundred were imprisoned in the Church.According to Christopher Hill, here the defeat of ‘the more extreme radical’ activists, resulted in a ‘total rout’
 In 1975, members of the WEA Oxford Industrial Branch went to Burford to reclaim a piece of history that seemed to be missing from the school books. They held a meeting in remembrance of the Leveller soldiers. The following year, Tony Benn came and read in the church and in each succeeding year, people have come to Burford on the Saturday nearest to 17 May, debated, held a procession, hearing radical speeches,listened to music, placing wreathes in the churchyard and remember the Levellers and the importance of holding on to ideals of justice and democracy.
Many years have passed since the Levellers made their stand, but many of the issues they struggled for remain as relevant today.
While universal suffrage has been achieved Parliament the political process is still dominated by the wealthy, as the current government shows only to clearly.The monarchy still  unfortunately with us and we have the House of Lords  that still ensures  privilege and heredity are directly represented in the governing of the country. We can at least look back and take inspiration of the struggles of the Levellers.
At least in their resistance to unnaccountable power and their relentless push for democracy and self determination, the Levellers set the stage for furure movements to follow in their wake, from Tolpuddle to the Chartists, to the battles we fight on the streets now.

 SERTUC has published The Levellers Movement, an account of perhaps the first political movement to represent the ordinary people. You can download it free here The Levellers Movement.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Stuff the Royal wedding

The Royal couple said they wanted a people's wedding, but the fact remains  people are not being treated equally.
Why are people allowed to camp out on the streets awaiting the Royal wedding, while those who are actually homeless have their sleeping bags ripped from them  and their few possessions trashed, and are forced to move on? This is completely disgraceful.
It's certainly a sad indictment of modern Britain, that nothing really changes. In 1820 there were homeless beggars outside palaces. In 2018 it's still the same. 30 million quid obscenely spent on a family whose inherited wealth and privilege by birth is the norm and people without a roof over their head watch them go by.
Around two thirds of Britons are simply not interested , in the forthcoming wedding, according  to a new poll by You Gov .
The research found 6% of the 1,615 asked saying they were not very interested or not interested at all in the ceremony, while 60% planned to have a normal weekend.Other findings showed 57% of those surveyed thought the royals should pay the full cost of the wedding including funds spent on policing and security.
Anti monarchy group Republic, which commissioned the poll , is planning to hold a republican convention in central London as the couple tie the knot in Windsor.
Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, said ;"We chose the day before they did. When they announced the royal wedding we decided to keep it.
" It's an opportunity to highlight the alternative and point out the problems with the monarchy."
They will continue to fight for an end to the "corrupt monarchty"
The latest campaign on their website entitled " Fat cat monarchy earns average UK salary in one hour." claims each member of the Royal Family earns £19.1 million each year and costs the public purse £10.95 every second.
While the right wing media and the establishment will try to cultivate a spirit of national unity, there remains a palpable sense of resentment amongst a significent  section of the population who are repulsed by this fawning celebration of wealth and privilege that simply exposes the extreme division of wealth across the land .The cost of this forthcoming  marriage will be 110 times that of the average  couple. This extravagence  serves to remind us of the lives of the super- rich who have not suffered the decade of austerity the rest of us have, and a distraction from the abject poverty that has become a common feature under the Tories' watch..
I am am happy when people fall in love, but there should be no place for these relics of primitive feudal times  in a modern society, so stuff the royal wedding, abolish the monarchy and fight the cuts.

Thursday, 17 May 2018


We are heading towards a transition
We're not wasting our lives by tradition,
Because we're finally running the show
And in our hearts and minds we glow,
Filled by the promises of riches untold
The gift of friendship that can't be bought or sold,
With truth and justice make the righteous fall
The innocent freed, proudly walking tall,
While the summer slowly comes out to play
Sun shining down,seasons beauty here to stay,
World's heaviness crumbling into dust
Humanity's darkness restored with love and trust,
Power given to the oppressed who fight and fight
Tearing through barricades to get whats right,
With flags of red, black and green, make a stand
Cloaks of privilege removed, hope spread across the land,
Pecking through rubble, picking remnants, planting anew
Clearing spaces,overturning wrong, paths of peace grow.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

70 years since the Nabka the Palestinians right to existence still ongoing.

The Great March of Return in the Gaza Strip has served to remind the world of the Palestinian people and their ongoing struggle. Since March 30, Palestinians in Gaza have engaged in peaceful grassroots protests at the Israel military fence that daily imprisons them, calling for an end to the dire conditions that they are forced to live with, as well as for the right of return to the land which they were expelled 70 years ago, what Palestinians call the Nabka or catastrophe, and an end to the suffocating 11 year siege on the Gaza Strip. The protesters have literally been placing their bodies on line with the risk of being shot by Israel snipers. After the US embassies incendiary move to Jerusalem and  the incredibly insensitive recognition by Donald Trump as Israel's capital,  the world has witnessed up to 59 unarmed protesters being massacred in cold blood. with over 3,000 injured  in an abhorrent violation of international law and human rights, with many injured reporting wounds to the head and chest.That must be met with condemnation and protests of solidarity.
In human terms in comparison 1948, saw the mass deportation of a million Palestinians from their cities and their villages,  it saw the massacre of civilians, and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages.Zionist forces used a terror campaign to expel 800, 000 Palestinians from their land. Today Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza strip, as well as pro-Palestinian supporters across the globe, will mark the 'catastrophe' and the inception of the State of Israel. Today is the Palestinians annual day of commemoration of this displacement. The vast majority of Palestinian refugees, both those outside the 1949 armistice lines at the wars' conclusion and those internally displaced, were barred by the newly declared state of Israel from  their right to return to their homes or the reclaiming of their property, and in doing so Israel violated international law which they continue to do with impunty..
Sadly to this day, there is no peace in this stolen land, especially when people are forced to cry for liberation and the right to return to their lands.Remember Palestinians in Gaza have only four hours of electricity and 97% of water is unfit for human consumption. And currently hospitals already crippled by shortages of supplies, are unable to cope with the daily influx of the wounded and dying.,
To make this tragedy more unbearable, just 60 miles away from Gaza, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, David Friedman and other US officials have been celebrating the opening of the US embassy, a move that cements US complicity in Israel's occupation and its seperate unequal apartheid policies and simply tells Israel that they have carte blanche to continue the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
As Palestinians bury their dead and tens of thousands continue to march in processions across the s to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nabka, I will end with this statement released by  the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation recently which called for the international community to act and end the "ongoing Nabka."
"For the Palestinian people, 70 years of Nabka means seven decades of subjugation by Israel, characerised by segregation, apartheid and colonial policies and practices.It also attets to the chronic inaction and failure of the international community to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities under international law, to a lack o accountability and protection, and to the continued support of a shallow and biased peace process incapable of bringing about peace and justice." it read.
The rights group claimed more than eight million of 12.7 million Palestinians are displaced worldwide and accused Israel of colluding with the US stop humanitariam aid programmes providing support to Palestinian refugees,"
In these incredibly dark times we should all continue to condemn Israel's use of excessive lethal force. All people should have the right to march peacefully for their rights. As the protests continue lets remember and commemorate too the Palestinians 70 years of displacement, marching for their lives, their freedom , their homes and their human rights, who continue to resist the Israel Government's continued efforts to erase their collective  memories of suffering, who despite Israel's blockade of the West Bank and open prison we know as Gaza, do not stop their dream for their right to return and or having Jerusalem as their capital.
Their catastrophe ongoing, their will though unbroken, lets stand with them  in solidarity, until they are given back the dignity and respect  they deserve as human beings.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

NHS: You were warned

A shocking bill proposed by a right wing M.P  that would see increased charging is listed to be debated in Parliament.
MP Christopher Chope wants to increase charges throughout the NHS and will use the debate in the House of Commons to persuade his fellow Conservatives to include it in their next manifesto.
Currently NHS charges are restricted to only a few areas such as dentistry, eye tests and prescribed medicines. Chope's bill would open the floodgates to charging for a host of other services which would include GP appointments and some hospital procedures.It has no chance of being passed without Government support but could be debated in the main chamber if there is time in an attempt to spark a national debate on the issue.
The National Health Service (Co-funding and CoPayment Bill)
 would make provision for co-funding and for the extension of co-payment for NHS services in England.
Meanwhile hospitals are increasingly understaffed and ill-resourced and unable to respond to the urgent need of patients - even those of emergency patients. It is not the fault of the staff , it is the fault of the Tories, who have driven the N.H.S to breaking point. Waiting times are up, and it is getting increasingly  difficult to see  your G.P  when you want,  combined with ambulance services  being put  under enormous pressure. 
The N.H.S is in crisis because it is continually being undermined by this government through covert privatisation  that carries on the wreckage and destruction that Margaret Thatcher started. The N.H.S is on a cliff edge because of underfunding which threatens to push it over,  with continuing attempts to make the N.H.S unworkable by making impossible demands on the system and its staff.
So we have to continue  to fight to save it from  the grips of the privateers, because we owe it our lives. We can not afford to sit back while it is being chipped further away and falling increasingly into the hands of those who seek to make profit out of our healthcare.
The Torys  keep pledging that the N.H.S is safe in its hands but at least we can now see this  for the lie that is. Don't say you were not warned.
Contact your MP here

Friday, 11 May 2018

Bertolt Brecht ( 10/2/1898 - 14/8/56) - The worst illiterate is the political illiterate.

  Cheers Bertolt Brecht, ( the late brilliant German poet and playwright) as long as we excuse ourselves from politics,  our countries will continue to be run by rogues. Those in power will continue to fill their pockets at the detriment of the people. 
If good people continue to avoid politics, the bad will continue to leave their mark, any chance of a better world is lost. The world does not need political illiterates it needs you to make a difference. Is it not our collective responsibility to stay engaged with matters arising. Have not we as human beings, evolved to the extent  that we cannot fail to notice certain things are undesirable and need to be opposed. This does not mean that we have to follow systems of political authority, we can remain outside and question the status quo, with a careful and deliberate observation of events. 
The way to change society is not to be folded into systems of control, but to counterbalance and neutralize , we can do this by the way we live our lives. There's nothing apathetic about that.
Because of toxic conditions, people are finally waking up, refusing to be political illiterates any more, refusing  formative culture and its attendant cultural apparatus that create a form of manufactured consent. Political illiteracy kills the imagination, our questioning spirit, the need to question and revolt, our informed judgement and critical capability. This simply allows those in power to remain unaccountable, enabling them to continue to cause damage to our society. 
Meanwhile the British public has allowed right-wing press barons like Rupert Murdoch to frame the political debate to such an extent that the actual meanings of basic political words and phrases have become lost, basic political words and phrases like ' socialist' and left wing' have been divorced from their actual meanings. 
This also  allows the Tories  to carry on regardless, creating so much damage to our society, releasing their brand of conscious cruelty, currently stripping our assets,  privatising our NHS  piece by piece, and with their policy of universal credit simply designed to blame the poor for their own poverty. This what they do as they give tax cuts to their friends the rich, this is their morality, a form of  sickness, which allows people because of political illiteracy to accept their lot , and lose sense that they are being exploited and robbed blind on a daily basis.
We cannot afford to close our eyes and drift to sleep, we have to learn to fight, continue to shout out, engage ourselves  beyond apathy and indifference, for a brighter future, in which justice and equity belong to everyone, for the many not the few.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Henry Vincent (10/5/1818 - 29/12- 1878) - Radical Chartist

Today marks 200 years since the birth of radical Chartist Henry Vincent .Vincent, was the eldest son of Thomas Vincent , a goldsmith, who was born on 10th May 1813 at 145 High Holborn, London. When the family business failed in 1821, the Vincents moved to Hull. Henry received little schooling, though he was an avid reader. In 1828, he was apprenticed to a printer. During this apprenticeship, his early interest in radical politics, taking note of the agitation and revolution taking place in France, and influenced by the work of Thomas Paine, which would lead him into activism with his election as vice-president of a local Paineite discussion group and as a member of the Hull Political Union. Upon the completion of his apprenticeship in 1833, Vincent’s uncle helped him obtain a position at Spottiswoode’s, the king’s printers, in London.
In 1836, Vincent became involved with a dispute at Spottiswoode’s and left the firm with about sixty other employees. About this time his mother inherited an independent income, which freed Vincent of family responsibilities (his father had died in 1829, leaving a widow and six children). Vincent started getting more heavily involved in radical circles and in 1836 joined the London Working Men’s Association.
He became a very successful lecturer and travelled extensively promoting the People’s Charter.The Charter demanded the reform of parliament, At this time very few people were qualified  to vote, around one in twenty of the population of England and Wales, voting was done in public and votes were often bought, Chartists demanded votes for all men over the age of 21 ( some wanted votes for women, but it was felt that this would make the movement a laughing stock) and annual elections to ensure that MP's were instantly answerable to their constituents. They also wanted the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies redrawn so that each seat would have an equal population. To allow anyone, whatever their background to become an MP, they demanded the end of the law which said that an MP has a large amount of land and MP's were to be paid. Secret voting was asked for to ensure that people could bot be victimised for their favoured candidate, and to prevent votes being bought.
In December 1838, Vincent contributed to the Chartist cause through the founding of a weekly newspaper, The Western Vindicator based in Bath.'Chartism was the result of increasing class consciousness in the working class, as this extract from a leaflet issued by the South Wales Chartists in 1839 shows: 'The wealth producer is made the slave to the possessors of wealth that he has laboured to create; power is transferred from labour to capital and the producer sinks into a mere instrument to be used as needed, and thrown aside as soon as a more efficient one is presented.'
Chartism is often dismissed as only being about reform of the polling system, but it was much, much more. Workers thought that when the Charter was law their lives would be transformed for the better. They believed that 'children would no longer labour... men and women would only work for six hours a day... the distinctions between rich and poor would be swept away.' After the government turned down the mass petition for the Charter, leaders like John Frost and Henry Vincent called for 'physical force' to obtain the Charter, amounting to political revolution. Parliament’s refusal to listen to their concerns led to increased working class anger. erupting and  South Wales  would become the storm centre of this discontent.
Vincent was sent to Wales by the London Chartists as a ‘paid missionary’, to spread support for the People’s Charter and during the spring of 1839 he addressed mass meetings across Monmouthshire. His lecturing and writing activities were brought to an abrupt halt  though after his arrest in May, 1839.The warrant from the Newport magistrates charged him with having participated in ‘a riotous assemblage’ held in that town on 19th April 1839. He was taken to Bow Street, charged, and committed to Monmouth gaol to stand trial at the ensuing assizes. So great was the rage felt outside the court that the mayor was obliged to read the Riot Act. His trial took place on 2nd August 1839 before Sir Edward Hall Alderson, baron of the exchequer. Sergeant Thomas Noon Talfourd conducted the case for the crown, and John Arthur Roebuck that for the defence. Roebuck showed clearly from the admissions of the chief witnesses for the prosecution that Vincent had told the people to disperse quietly and to keep the peace. The full text of what Vincent wrote, and his own account of what he said that day in Newport, can be found in an article from the Western Vindicator now published on the vision of Britain website.
Vincent, neverthless was found guilty and sentenced to twelve  months’ imprisonment. He applied for the use of books and writing materials but was refused all but religious books. On 9th August 1839, Lord Brougham brought Vincent’s case to the attention of the House of Lords. Vincent,though only found guilty of a misdemeanour on one count only, was treated as a felon. The intense feeling in South Wales at the time about Vincent’s treatment in prison  would help glavanise the Chartist cause  which would  result  in the rising that would follow in Newport..
 On the morning of 4th November 1839, large crowds, estimated variously at from eight thousand to twenty thousand, marched towards Newport,intending to rescue Vincent from prison and seize the town. They believed that his  release would signal a large-scale insurrection throughout the country. However they came into collision with the military and when John Frost and the marchers arrived in Newport they discovered that the authorities had made more arrests and were holding several Chartists in the Westgate Hotel. The Chartists marched to the hotel and began chanting "surrender our prisoners". Twenty-eight soldiers had been placed inside the Westgate Hotel and when the order was given they began firing into the crowd, ending in a bloodbath with 30 dead.

 Afterwards approximately 200 Chartists were arrested for their involvement in the march. The three principal leaders, John Frost, Zephaniah Williams, and William Jones, were found guilty of high treason and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered. Although their sentences were later reduced to transportation for life following a national outcry, they were the last people to be sentenced to this punishment in England and Wales. Courageous men who were all prepared to fight fot the Chartr and the cause of the working class.
 In March 1840, Vincent was tried a second time at Monmouth for ‘having conspired together with John Frost to subvert the constituted authorities, and alter by force the constitution of the country’. A second count charged the men with having uttered seditious language. Again Sergeant Talfourd conducted the prosecution. Vincent having been dissatisfied with Roebuck’s conduct of the defence at his first trial, now decided to defend himself. He did so with such skill and persuasion that the Monmouthshire jury, while finding both prisoners guilty, recommended clemency for him. He was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment. Talfourd was so impressed by Vincent’s defence that he indicated his regrets at having undertaken the case for the prosecution and became involved in the efforts to obtain better conditions for Vincent.
After his release Vincent married Lucy Chappell, daughter of John Cleave, at the register office, St Luke’s, Chelsea, on 27th February 1841. They settled in Bath, where Vincent resumed lecturing and publishing The Vindicator until it ceased publication in 1842, and continued to spread the Chartist cause throughout the country, while joining the National Charter Association..In July 1841, he stood as a radical candidate for Banbury in the first of what was to be a long list of unsuccessful attempts to gain a parliamentary seat.
His ideas became more moderate, concentrating  ore on moral reform than of class conflict, though his ultimate political aim of universal suffrage did not waver, He joined groups linked  with the Temperance movement and teetotal political societies, which condemned the social evils of drink. Because of his now more moderate approach , previous close allies of his in the Chartist movement disagreed with him over his watering down of the physical force message of Chartism and  the distraction of the Temperance message. In 1842, Vincent helped set yp the Complete Suffrage Union  that had similar aims to the Chartist movement and though still a member of the National Charter Association, he was no longer the envied spirited orator of old, and some of his old friendships and bonds were now broken, some Chartists, broke ranks with him, because they did not support his allegiance tothe Complete Suffrage union, some heckled him and branded him a traitor.
Despite these setbacks Vincent continued to hold and develop his progressive views and was invited to speak on long tours of America in 1866, 1867 and again in 1875 and 1876.His wider travels would stimulate  his interests in world politics and working conditions.He became stoutly anti-war, seeing war as a means of domestic oppression orchestrated by oppressive governments.In 1848, he lectured for the Peace Society Anti-slavery too became  his focus at this stage and he lectured on a number of social and historical questions.  In these later years  he also spoke out in favour of popular education, free trade, and religious tolerance. Vincent’s own religious sympathies were with the Society of Friends, though he was never formally received into membership. In addition to his public lectures, Vincent frequently conducted services on Sundays in free church chapels as a lay preacher.
Vincent died on 29 December 1878 and is buried at Abney Park Cemetary in Stoke Newington..
By 1918, most of the Chartist demands had been met, and women over the age of 30 were also entitled to vote. Ten years later all women over the age of 21 could vote.But the Chartists had wanted all their demands at once, this after all is what had made them Chartists in the first place, and the important demand for annual elections still has not been gained. Only a reduction in the term of parliament from seven years to five was passed.But Chartis and men like Henry Vincent helped spread early socialism and the events in Newport are now rightly celebrated each year as a symbolic step towards winning some democratic rights, leaving us with a tremendous legacy that serves to inspire and educate all those who wish to change the world.