So you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn

So you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.

How do you know you don’t like him? Have you met him? Have you spoken to him? Did he come round to your house and kick your dog?

No. You saw him on the telly. He was bit scruffy and he didn’t know how to do his tie up properly. He didn’t bow his head enough at the cenotaph. He didn’t sing the national anthem. What else do you know about him? He’s an anti-Semite and a terrorist sympathiser is he? Google it. Where can you find an actual anti-Semitic or pro-terrorist statement? You can’t, because there are none.

You like his policies. You want railways and other utilities back in public hands. You don’t see why foreign-based state-owned rail companies should be taking profits from our subsidised rail system. You want to see our Health Service properly funded. You don’t want to see it sold off in a trade deal with the Americans. You don’t want to see our nurses using food banks. You think that corporations that use our infrastructure should be properly taxed. You are against tax havens and tax cuts for the rich. You are fed up with foreign wars.

But you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.

Shall I tell you a secret? We don’t live in a democracy. You think it’s one person, one vote and that the will of the majority should prevail? It’s not. You get your vote, your thirty seconds of choice, between the man with the red rosette and the man with the blue rosette, but it’s the will of the most well-off that prevails. Power resides in the hands of those who have the most wealth, and governments do their bidding, not yours. So the choices you get are the choices between one set of wealthy people’s priorities and another, between one brand of free-market capitalism and another: between the blue Tories and the red Tories, Tory-heavy and Tory-lite. Your choices don’t come into it.

But you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn.

We’ve had relentless negativity about him since he first appeared on the scene. Why would that be? Maybe it’s because he’s offering you a real choice. For the first time in a generation, those are your priorities being set out before you, as a set of policies, not those of the wealthy elite. The same policies brought to you by the 1945 Labour government, and by governments across the Scandinavian world. Not extremist policies: Social Democratic policies. Policies that are known to work. So, unable to attack the policies, they attack the man.

It’s been non-stop, day-in and day-out, since he first won the Labour leadership, from every branch of the establishment. From the BBC, from the Guardian, from the government, from members of the Labour Party, those whose career trajectory has been knocked off track. From the Daily Mail and the Sun. Is it any wonder you don’t like him really? If the BBC told you that cornflakes were bad for you, and repeated this message every day for five years, chances are you wouldn’t like cornflakes either.

A friend of mine asked me why the Labour Party didn’t pick a more charismatic leader, a more handsome leader, someone who looked good on the telly?

That’s because we were fed up with Tory-lite. We were fed up with only getting the choice between one form of free-market capitalism and another. We were fed up with being told that if you didn’t pick the policies that suited the wealthy elite, you wouldn’t get into power. But what’s the point of power without principles? Tony Blair got us into power. He was handsome, charismatic and he looked good on telly, but look where he took us: into an illegal war in Iraq that has caused devastation across the Middle East, and terrorism across the world.

He also, coincidentally started the process of privatising the NHS. In other words, Tony Blair was a Tory, not a socialist.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson is refusing to talk to Andrew Neil, refusing to meet the public except in carefully stage-managed photo-ops, refusing to take unvetted questions from the likes of you and I. He’s being sold to us like a commodity, like a soap powder brand or a type of washing up liquid. Get Brexit done. Get Brexit done. Hands that do dishes. It’s an advertising slogan not a political platform. How many of you know what his actual policies are?

So this is my appeal to you. So you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn. Fair enough. But let’s look past the individuals and instead look at the policies. Take a look at the Labour Manifesto, then take a look at the Tory Manifesto. Weigh them up and consider them. How many of these policies are for you and your family, and how many are for the wealthy elites?

Meanwhile, to get a sense of what the Tories real priorities are, try these few sample facts out for size (follow links for verification).

Since being in power the Tories have:-

  • increased the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK by 183%
  • increased homelessness by 165%
  • increased foodbank use by 3,800%
  • increased the national debt by 80%
  • increased outsourcing to private companies in the NHS by £15 billion (since 2015)

And you say you don’t like Jeremy Corbyn? Maybe it’s time think again.

Whitstable & Canterbury history: Watling Street by John Higgs

Age old question still relevant

Watling Street is a new book by John Higgs.

As the name suggests, it involves a journey along the old Roman road that stretched between Canterbury and Wroxeter, and which was itself laid over a prehistoric trackway which may have gone all the way from Dover to Angelsea.

That, at least, is the journey that our author takes.

Written in the same year as the Brexit referendum, John uses the symbol of the road as a way of examining the conflicts of identity that lie at the heart of the British psyche.

Who are we, exactly?

Picts, Celts, Romans, Saxons and Normans, Cavaliers and Roundheads, all fought for control of this road. More recently we’ve seen our country divided along ideological grounds, between Leavers and Remainers, between traditionalists and innovators, between those who “want our country back” and those who seek to give our land a new mythic identity.

The question is: what is the nature of the country we want back? And whose country is it anyway, given that most of it is privately owned and off-limits to the majority?

On the Canterbury leg of his journey John is accompanied by a certain well-known writer and postal worker of your acquaintance; which is how I managed to get a copy of the book before its publishing date.

Of course the most famous story about Canterbury is the one telling of the rivalry between Archbishop Thomas Becket and his former friend and mentor Henry II, which, as we all know, ended in bloodshed.

John and I use this story to illustrate the perennial conflict between politics and spirituality; between the ruthless politician willing to kill for his ambitions, and the spiritually engaged person willing to die.

In the process we draw parallels with a more recent conflict: that between Tony Blair, the politician responsible for the violence in Iraq, and Brian Haw, his most prominent critic.

Tony Blair, of course, is internationally renowned, while Brian Haw is in danger of being forgotten. It is this injustice that we seek to redress.

If you’d like to find our more about Watling Street, John Higgs will be appearing at Waterstones in Canterbury on Wednesday the 19th July at 6.30pm.

You may well spot a certain well-known postal worker in the audience.

*******

Links:

Podcast featuring John Higgs and CJ Stone talking about Brian Haw (plus oodles of other interesting stuff): https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/watling-street/id1257578517?mt=2

John Higgs writing about Watling Street for the BBC: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20170710-the-road-that-led-to-1000-stories

John Higgs’ blog: http://jmrhiggs.blogspot.co.uk/

Oddfellow’s Casino – The Ghosts of Watling St (Official Video): song based upon Watling Street by John Higgs:

John will be appearing at Waterstone’s Rose Lane branch on Wednesday 19th July at 18.30. Details here: https://www.waterstones.com/events/watling-street-john-higgs/canterbury-rose-lane

Further appearances:

19748353_923591907781678_3111512017824692351_n

Whitstable People: Brian Haw, conscience for the world

I went to the Brian Haw memorial gig at the Whitstable Labour Club on Friday. In case you don’t know, Whitstable is raising money to make a bench in celebration of Brian’s connection to the town.

What you might not know is that there’s a specific association with the Labour Club too, in that Brian’s brother, Richard, was the chairman of the club for many years. Richard was also at the gig, and it was great to catch up with him again after all this time.

I also met two of Brian’s children, Pete and Catt, both of whom made fine speeches. It was interesting to hear the small details of Brian’s former life, when he was just an ordinary Dad, bringing up a family in Birmingham.

It was very touching because of course he became such an international figure in the end, recognised by people all over the world.

This is what made Brian’s protest so powerful. He was an ordinary man, who, by an unwavering belief and a fierce commitment, became the conscience for the whole world.

He was a deeply spiritual man, but he wasn’t like so many spiritual people, content with just praising God. He saw that he also had a duty to God, to fight against the injustices of the world.

There is no greater injustice than the murder of innocence. Brain Haw left his own family behind and by this act threw off the shackles of tribalism. He gave up his own children to become a father for all children.

As we know, Tony Blair has often claimed to be a Christian. But what a different kind of Christianity this must be to the one that Brian practised.

One form of Christianity revelled in its power and influence and was able to justify the invasion of a sovereign state and the murder and mayhem that followed. The other stood in fierce condemnation of this and, like an old testament prophet, roared out his truths to the world.

One became immensely rich, while the other gave up everything – including his life – for something much more meaningful.

From The Whitstable Gazette.

The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number. Send letters to: The Editor, Gazette House, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE, email kentishgazette@thekmgroup.co.uk

https://christopherjamesstone.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/brian-haw-conscience-for-the-world/

Up ↑