Archive for January, 2004

Been a long week, too many late nights coupled with early mornings, it’s set to continue at least until Sunday when I might get a lie in. there’s always too much to do.

I come to the end of my penultimate week at work, try to tie up the loose ends and such like then I have a week’s grace before the new job. The only problem with that is of course is the lack of pay for that week. It comes at a time when saving for the holiday funds are tight anyway. Always the bloody way.
Anyway I’m tired so this was just to check in.

…and now check out!

There’s quite a bit of it, the traffic is in chaos, lorries breaking down all over the place it’s mayhem. It is getting a bit parky now though and I have to brave the motorway tomorrow.

Anyway I failed to get online again yesterday so I didn’t get a chance to write any more so no comment on the Tuition fees vote in Parliament. Surprise surprise if Labour didn’t take it by 5, ok it’s very close but that won’t matter to the students so it might just as well have been the full govt. majority for all the good it’ll do. It all seemed like a play that was a little too obvious, capricious timing of events, leaks and announcements it was all a little too staged. As for the Hutton report well I think that was even more concilliatory than one would have thought, the BBC took a pasting and the govt. emerged unscathed. Again on balance this is not astonishing info. a high court judge who has been in the system for many years is a pretty safe pair of hands for such a report.

Now things could go 2 ways as a result of this: firstly the apathy syndrome could worsen and people’s existing poor opinions of politicians and politics will hardly have cause for revision. Alternatively on a more optimistic note people who do decide to vote may wish to take a punt on the new kids on the block as they did in 1989 when the Euro. vote went well for the Green party. The onus is on us to ensure that they know who we are and what we stand for. That being said such a step is not a given, the British electorate have made some very curious decisions in the past in recent times principally in 1992 when Labour looked to have sewn it up. We could end up going the way of the Referendum party or such like. It’s not that there isn’t a market for Socialism here, I think if people voted genuinely the way they felt we’d do very well indeed but people here are conservative (note the small c) and they like to go with what they know, it’s the idea that to vote for a smaller party might let in one of the bigger parties that the voter doesn’t like. The notion is simple, vote for Labour in their heartlands to avoid the Lib Dems and BNP, vote Lib Dem in Tory areas as Labour usually languish in 3rd place. However the Euro elections are PR so if we can just poll enough votes, even if we don’t win many or any seats if the overall % is good it may sow the seeds in people’s mind that we are more than a one-hit wonder. If all the genuinely left-wing parties unite around a Respect candidate and stress to their members the importance of voting and at least some of the Muslim community can be attracted by the anti-war message then you would think the potential has to be there. The Scottish Socialist Party have really shown that it can be done and are even now attracting the support of the Trade Unions north of the border. If we can appeal to a section of the Trade Union Left and those traditional Labour voters dissolutioned with the direction since 1997 anything is possible.

It is hard to see how if a Conservative government had run the country since 1997 things would be much different to the way they are now. Labour isn’t working but the Tories never will.

I did mean to write yesterday after returning from the conference but I couldn’t get my net connection to work, it is a genuine excuse, but a pity because I felt like putting things down.

“It is not the beginning of the end, it is the end of the beginning” [George Galloway] Respect- R for Respect, E for Equality, S for Socialism, P for Peace, E for Environment, C for Community and T for Trade Unionism.
It was a good conference, certainly no damp squib, and I hope that in time we will look back on it as the start of a big movement. There were about 1200 in total present. The largest contingent probably the SWP but the CPGB and representatives of the MAB were present. The CPGB I think were disappointed not to be able to steer the direction to a more orthodox socialist line. I understand their concerns and agree with many of them, but I do feel that we were teetering on the brink of a descent into the same sectarian in-fighting that hampered the SA. Anyway the original declaration was carried and ammendments made. George Galloway spoke twice and was good but there had been some attacks on him earlier and I think that soured his usual verve a little. Again, the sectarianism raised its head. To be honest I don’t care at the moment if George’s politics are not as much to the Left as mine, the key point is that we are trying to forge a broad movement to build on the strength of as much of the Stop the War coalition as possible and for this we need the support of many communities including the old Labour Left as well as the Muslim community who whilst as fervently anti-war as us are not so prone to heavy involvement in left-wing politics. It was also good to have Mark Serwotka the gen. sec. of the PCS union, though his involvement was also questioned by some. There were representatives from the Green party who I’m not sure will come on board as a result of there being not a heavy emphasis on the Environment. That is not to say that this wasn’t discussed nor that it will be brought up again but as with the minutiae of the political points this was not the time to really go into heavy detail on policy. It was a founding meeting, an agenda to open discussions and galvanise support. To this end I think it acheived the objectives and the party was duly founded. The CPB had voted before not to attend and the Socialist party said they would continue to work with us but not affiliate. Tommy Sheridan from the SSP though spoke from the platform and lent his support.

The agenda now is that we will stand candidates in the June 10th Euro elections and GLA elections. We therefore have to work fast, we have to raise £1 million and try to gain 1 million votes. This seems a hefty target but it has to be really with the time available. This is another reason why unity was vital, I don’t think we have a hope of raising our profile or the money then we have to have high profile figures like George and Mark, not to mention Dr. Siddiqqu and Salma Yaqoob. If we were to fractionalise now then we are lost. Salma Yaqoob spoke well at the meeting, I haven’t seen or heard her before, softly spoken but powerful she will be a real asset. John Rees spoke too, I like him enormously, just the right brand of humour and hard-hitting politics. He is one of the prospective candidates for the Euro. elections for the West Midlands seat. He is the sort of person who comes out with key phrases, one I remember was “The pensioners are a burden on society? The pensioners are not a burden on society, they built the society.” The other was when talking about Gordon Brown’s statement regarding the war and when asked how much money would be made available “…whatever it takes” replied Brown, John said “so when we are asked about how much money is available for education the answer is whatever it takes.” Of course these statements lose some of their impact when written down, in the hall though it hit exactly the right note. Another one of his was “They say Education will be free at the point of entry but paid for later, Tesco’s could make the same claim, it’s free when you take it off the shelves, you just have to pay for it when you get to the tills!”

We had Ken Loach the filmaker speaking, Paul Foot was present, Lindsay Germain from SWP and Stop the War. The National Executive was voted in to guide us to the elections and it was agreed that we will then look at a democratically elected executive.

Well that’s the potted version of events so far, as I remember stuff I’ll put it in.

Tomorrow we shall see about the vote on tuition fees in Parliament, I have a sneaky suspicion that the government will win the vote, whether it’s close or not won’t really matter to the next set of students who have to pay even more money.

I had intended to do some this afternoon, honest. Best laid plans and all that didn’t get a chance. Ho-hum.

It’s the night before…tomorrow we shall see what sort of fight and cohesiveness is in the Left. I know I’ve been going on about it, I do think it’s going to be make or break. I hate to think how we’ll all be feeling if it doesn’t work but equally the elation if we come away thinking that this is the start of something big. Everything has to start somewhere and it isn’t necessarily an immeadiate thing after all it wasn’t in Paris in 1871 nor Russia in 1905. However if we don’t start now the damage to the traditional left could be immense. We owe it to our children if no-one else, if we don’t stand up to halt the move of mainstream politics on its move to the right history will not judge us well. It will see us as a bunch of disassociated well-meaning middle-class idiots with both feet in the past. that is if history even acknowledges our existence at all.

It is a shame that the Communists in this country didn’t feel able to sign up, I think we will be the poorer without them but I fear they will end up the losers because it just perpetuates the age old Communist-Socialist barrier that prevents us from all uniting against the common foe to put them to rest before starting to debate the minutiae of our disagreements. The Stop the War and Anti-Capitalist movements have brought a number of unlikely bedfellows together, but to unite at least a large proportion for greater political aim than single issue politics will be a major challenge. I shall report on whether we go some way towards meeting it.

OK so it’s cutting it a bit fine for me to try to get this one in before the day changes, but that’s me, always the 11th hour right on the deadline. I was always like that at school, at university, the archetypal seat of the pants merchant! It is something of a thrill though to have to furiously knock something up, I feel I often perform better with that sort of pressure.

That being said 10 minutes to formulate an arguement or get heated about a topic is not a lot so I have little of substance to say, why bother you ask, well why indeed, maybe just to prove I’m still here, still alive.

This weekend is unlikely to be particularly productive unless I get a chance to write during the day because I have to get up fairly early tomorrow and then of course the Nat. Conv. on Sun. will mean a full day. We’ll see what I can do

I know the title is a bit of a lure but I heard it recently on the radio and it made me laugh, so I decided to use it as a title since I had nothing better to put. It’s a Wednesday what do you expect?

There’s some US film on tv at the mo’, I don’t know what it’s called or anything but I’ve seen it before, I just got a sudden flashback to when I was a child wondering at how my Dad seemed to have seen all the films that were on TV, now I know…they’re all repeated so bloody often!

I sent off my registration for the National Convention today, it takes place in London on Sunday. I feel a real buzz that perhaps this could be the start of a galvanised Left in this country, I’m looking forward to it. There are going to be some of the heavyweights like George Galloway and George Monbiot amongst many others. People seem to have a sense of optimism that we are going to build on the political disolutionment that has been growing through the Anti-Capitalist movt. and the Stop the War coalition. It could turn into a damp squib or it could be one of those seminol moments that defines the way one lives one’s life and talks about to the Grandchildren. I will remember the February 14th 2003 demo for many years and if there’s any justice so will the history books.

So what now, well until Sunday it’s business as usual so sleep time for me.

Back already, mainly because I don’t know whether I’ll get any other chances today so best to try to sort as much as possible now.

I heard some stuff on Radio 4 yesterday that I did want to comment on, it appeals to another one of my pet subjects to discourse on namely religion. There was an Archbishop and other members of the Catholic church talking about the end of the current Pope’s tenure and what may happen in the next etc. One of the things brought up was the subject of contraception and particularly the church’s standpoint on it in light of the AIDS pandemic in Africa. The bishop’s comments appeared to be based around the idea that if you lived a chaste life then this wouldn’t happen and therefore there was no need to sanction the use of contraception because that would be somehow to sanctify promiscuity. Now to be fair the others in the discussion took exception to the bishop’s views but nevertheless they were not as influential in the church hierarchy as him. It seemed to sum up to my mind the obsolescence of organised religion and how it cannot keep in step with the times when it constantly seeks to adhere to cherry-picked parts of a text written around 2000 ears ago. After all there is some science from those times and before that holds weight, but most of it has been developed, expanded upon and modified as technology grows and knowledge allows us to evolve our understanding to transcend what may a century ago have seemed the inexplicable.

Religion said Marx was the “Opium fuer das Volk” and I confess as I get older it simply seems to gather evidence supporting it. There are so many instances of persecution between religions and often within religions, this is well-documented and I don’t really need to go into it now. However I think Marx’s point is about religion’s place as part of the whole ‘Manufacturing consent’ process [Chomsky] is one that is often overlooked. The church maintains an elitist status quo by making people believe that no matter how shite things are here, you’ll get your reward in heaven. That’s a hell of a gamble, what if they’re wrong, then you’ll only know after it’s too late and the only consciousness you have was wasted believing that this was only dry run. Even if there is a God, and I really wish there were, it would make the whole death thing that little less petrifying, surely it is better to live and make the most of one’s life here and not waste it in drudgery and toil. What can we actually benefit when all we do is crap we don’t enjoy and miss out on the many things that exist that give us pleasure. Do not get me wrong there must be rules, there must be a code, people must respect one another and that in turn necessitates a society of structure. The difference is that this should be to provide advancement and development for all people and not only for the small minority that conform to a material or cultural norm. I do not see this as something that cannot be achieved.

For this all to work people must be educated to see themselves each as an integral part in the bigger picture, I have already touched on this. It is no good believing that some are better than others when their skills are different. Why does academic excellence have a higher profile than the ability to fix things or the ability to teach complex concepts to people in an understandable way. Every aptitude that we have is a gift that makes us who we are. To deny it to ourselves or to be denied it by others is something wherein all society loses. The individual is unhappy and unfulfilled, and society at large fails to benefit from the talents the individual has to offer. This happens in our current world too often to be calculated.

Bugger, I meant to continue the last thread but I got waylaid by fatigue and didn’t finish it, so I thought weel, save it or publish and keep a record going from every day. I decided my every day policy ought to at least survive the first week.

What I was talking about on the nostalgia front will come back to me. It was basically that it’s easy to think that the past was great and the here and now shite and that clearly isn’t true but there were from my eyes certain things that were different in the 70s that make me think the 80s had a serious effect on things that lasted in some ways longer than we might previously have thought. I used to go to school on the bus when I was about 6, on my own -we’re talking 1977-8 here. This is Central London, I travelled on the 2B from baker St. to Victoria, not a vast journey but there wasn’t a question of me not doing it for any reason, nor was my Mother especially laissez-faire it was just normal. Now I’m not saying you couldn’t do that nowadays because the journey would be entirely in the public view on busy streets, no side roads, alleys etc. but you wouldn’t send your kids to school like that in London at 12 let alone at 6. Perceptually we believe the danger is far greater whether indeed it is or isn’t. there were certainly peadophiles around in the 70s, I ran into one in the toilets of Burger King when I was about 10 and that was whilst my grandmother was outside in the restaurant. Suffice to say he was just taking an inordinately long time in the urinal and when I came out of the cubicle said “I like boys” and I shot off like a jack rabbit. We went to the Plod and they toured us around in the squad car (a Morris Ital, how and why do I remember that?!) but there was no mass hysteria and the next day things went back to normal. So, the dangers were there but children seemed to have more freedom and more real life experience. Perhaps this is why when kids now hit 14/15/16 they go wild becuase they haven’t had a gradual learning process of life filtration. Again, we had our share of scrapes, under-age drinking that sort of thing but there seemed to be bounds you tended not to cross. Your parents on the whole were still regarded as krypto-fascists but adults in general were to be avoided or just taken the piss out of. I see the extent some kids go to today and I think that’s a bit heavy, pick the wrong adult and you’re going to get your teeth smashed in.

I’m going to post this one now and continue a new thread, again the vanity of keeping a 100% daily record.

Well, it’s officially Monday now, it’s going to be strange that because of the times I like to write the day will always feel one ahead of what I’m on. I’m on Sunday night now. Work tomorrow, ho ho ho, no problem, 3 weeks to go until I leave. My new job is a bit daunting, I’ve gone through the initial euphoria stage, then through the dread phase now I just want it to start so that I know what I’m doing and judge what is and what isn’t going to be a problem. I shall be at a University so let’s hope people are friendly.

I have only been doing this for 2 days but it’s already provided some catharsis. I feel better with an outlet. As time goes on I hope to provide my own daily commentary that I can look back on and see what I was thinking and how I did with my analyses of events, the fact that everyone else will be able to see the same gives a certain frisson to the proceedings.

I have started to see some of the other blogs here. Some are very self-orientated, that’s fine just like a diary, not especially interesting to the reader unless you know the people involved. then there appear to be some like mine that are people who want to write just because… that does interest me, the many voices coming out of the ether I like the thought of it, although more voices than ears to listen seems a little sad somehow. What worries me most are the people who appear to have nothing else, the despair, the self-loathing the hatred of their lives. I guess it’s easy for me to maintain my position, I don’t believe there is anything else after this, scares the crap out ofme but there you go. So ending things in despair seems a terrible way to finish. But I do understand where these people are coming from, there doesn’t appear to be as much hope around at the moment. There are many reasons for this I feel, my take is that Blogging seems to be indicative of one of them. People don’t feel as social any more, now I don’t mean going down the pub for a quick pint after work, I mean sitting with a small group and talking for hours, supporting friends and family in times of crisis. People in the West appear to be increasingly isolationist and they are forced by the way we now live to be so. We are herded into work on cattle trucks, be they the individual ones we think we chose or the communal ones laid on by the train and bus companies. Then we get herded home again to watch the same drivel on television to keep us all quiet and prevent introspection.

I don’t want to wallow in nostaligia, it’s an easy trap and usually without substance.

Back again. It’s Sunday of course so I shall not be staying up too late writing my diatribes (enjoyable though that was yesterday) So I’m writing now so I can get the bulk of it done during the day then tack on anything I may want to later this evening.

I am currently trying to offload a whole load of stuff through ebay. I am a horder, have been for years, I go through a phase of collecting everything to do with a certain topic then losing interest. Hitting 30 started to make me think that whilst it’s all very well to hang on to key things of one’s past. The vasdt array of shite I had built up was a bit much. Especially Apple computers, time to at least get it down to single figures, there is no need for more! I started using ebay in 1998 it was only a US site then the UK people on it were pretty computer-minded so the stuff was good, 2nd hand on the whole and cheap. Now ebay’s overrun by merchants flogging reams of printer cartridges or links to websites for cheap gear or new stuff that’s barely 5% cheaper than the shops. And yet because people think it’s ebay they pay for it. I’ve seen people pay more for 2nd hand items on ebay than it would cost them to get it new if they looked around a little and I don’t mean scour every site on the net just be a little dilligent. It strikes me that sometimes it is just having the item that is important to people rather than what they may do with it. We’re back to materialism again, what can I say, it’s all screwed up. The thrill is now in telling someone you’ve got something, to brag and laud it over them rather than in using what you’ve got. You have to have a widescreen TV, a nicam video, a DVD player with sound system…of course it has to be a known brand. Ultimately we just make ourselves the corporate slaves a la Metropolis. We trudge to work to do a job we dislike supposedly to ensure we can do the things we want in our spare time and then we actually spend all the money on things that we feel we ought to have at vastly over-inflated prices. So we don’t get to really do what we weant at all. Now I don’t suggest for a moment that we can turn back the clock but we shouldn’t need to, it is all about the weighting we give things. If we buy something because we need an item to perform that function we should be looking at whether it can perform it competently not whether the facia looks cool. I had a pair of Levis 501’s once, they disintegrated about the same speed as some of the £10 jeans I’d bought from Mr. Byrite around the same time. Ok I liked the button fly but there are others that have that. I like Calvin Klein boxer shorts and I do find them comfortable and good quality but they are no more than a pair of pants and there’s no way I’m spending £15 on a pair of chuddies. (Especially not when you can get them for £4-5 online, though even that seems a bit steep!)

Anyway, Sundays at the moment have lost their sting since I handed in my notice, I only have 3 weeks to work in my present job before a new chapter begins. We shall see what that brings, I will no longer be in the private sector so the profit motive will have been removed to a degree. I’m looking forward to it.